June Book Haul


 
It’s the end of the month which means: Book Haul time!

I’ve been relatively good this month, buying only 11 books, most of which were second-hand.

I’m going to jump straight in and show you what I’ve been buying this month!

 
 
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

I am currently reading this and really enjoying it. I’m very much into my feminism right now and this is one of those books that is often recommended in the community. I don’t actually like Lena Dunham, not that I’ve really experienced much of her work, but her TV series Girls really frustrated me and I just didn’t find it funny. But her book is very well-written, if a little haphazardly structured. Full review will be up soon.

Girl Up by Laura Bates

This is probably my book of the month. I’ve seen it everywhere and every time I walked into a Waterstones or WHSmith I picked it up and really wanted to get it. But for someone who is currently job hunting money is pretty precious and for £12.99 it was too much. But when I found it for £6 on Amazon I couldn’t resist any longer. I started it last night and already I’m really enjoying it!

The Museum of You by Carys Bray

I was really happy to find this book in my favourite second-hand indie shop butI couldn’t’ get into it. I’m going to try again in a few weeks but it felt very dreamy and not very well explained. I didn’t get far, like I said, and I do like the premise so I’m going to put it down and come back I think.

Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell

This is possibly my favourite read of the month. It is a collection of short-stories about growing up and I thought it was fantastic. The writing is wonderful, the stories gripping and the overall feel and layout of the book were really great. I’d highly recommend it.


Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

I’ve actually got this book on eBook and now paperback. I’m fascinated by the premise: In an alternative reality, where Hitler has won the Second World War, a young girl enters a motorbike race in order to assassinate Hitler. What? How? Why? Can’t wait to read this!

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

My Red-Spine Vintage collection is slowly growing and this was a classic I thought I would add to the collection. I have no idea when I’ll get around to reading this but it was a great find in a charity shop.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

After, finally, reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood a few months ago I wanted to try out some more of her work. Alias Grace is considered her most literary novel, which won several accolades along with The Handmaid’s Tale, and I think I’ll give it a try soon.


The Suffragettes by Various Authors (Little Black Penguin Book #94)

When I went on my recent Independent Bookshop Crawl across London I popped into Housmanns, a political bookshop just round the corner from Kings Cross Station. I had to buy something, and as an avid collector of the Little Black Penguin Classics I though this one would be perfect!

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

I picked up a £1 edition of Perfume, again would you believe. I’ve read this book twice and there is something intriguing about the narrative which makes a bad man turn into a really creative/fascinating protagonist. It’s also an exotic story full of smells, France and murder. I quite enjoy it.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

I’m going to start off by saying I didn’t enjoy this book. I don’t know why but I just didn’t. There were some lovely sentiments and an interesting layout and theme but I just didn’t like it that much. Or, at least, not as much as the various prizes and reviewers I’ve seen. Oh well.

The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Safon

I’ve seen Carlos Ruiz Safon’s work everywhere over the last few years but when I spotted the cover of this book it was the first time I’ve picked one of his books up. I think this is an older children’s book, about a watchmaker of some kind. It is fairly short with a gorgeous cover so I thought I might enjoy it.

So there we are. They are all of the books that I’ve picked up this month. There’s not likely to be many books in July due to the ‘job-hunting’ aspect of my life right now, but we’ll see.

I’ve got plenty of books to read in the meantime.

Happy Reading!

 

June Wrap-Up




It’s that time of the month again. No, not that type. It’s time to wrap-up what I’ve been reading!
This month has been rather poor, for me, I only read 5 books in total. But I am currently reading 5 at the moment as wellI don’t know why I’ve started so many!
Anywaythe reason behind my lack of reading is simply that June is Birthday Month in my family. Every week there is often more than 1 birthday or event to go to – this month was my 21st, my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary, my dad’s birthday, my mum’s birthday, Father’s Dayand so many more!
I had hardly any time to wrap presents let alone read. So 5 is actually pretty good.
Here are the books I read:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling
I did my yearly re-read of the Harry Potter series and finished the last book this month. I also bought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I’m a bit excited now. Nothing much to say. I still love it. 5 stars.
The Yellow Brick War by Dorothy Paige
I’ve done a full review of this book here so I won’t say much. I don’t think it was as strong as the first book, and probably on equal measure with the second, but there is still a magic to this series which makes me read these books super quickly. I think that it is just a lot of fun.
Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell
Definitely my book of the month. This is a collection of short stories, which I have reviewed over on my youtube channel so I’ll link that here. I adored this collection, from the layout to the voice to the cover and plotlines. It was gripping, powerful, poignant and funny. Everything I want in a series which encapsulates childhood.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
I finally got around to reading this book this month andI don’t understand. It didn’t feel amazing or special to me. It was well-written and interesting, with some really heart-breaking, yet lovely, sentiments but ultimately I just finished it for the sake of finishing it. I gave it a 3 stars and I would interested to know why people love this book, I just didn’t.
One by Sarah Crossan
I’ve had this book on my kindle for a while, I picked it up on Netgalley, and since it was relatively short and a children’s novel I thought it would pass the time whilst I was at work and it did! I was hooked! I read this story in two sittings and was moved and fascinated and amused. The story is about two sisters called Grace and Tibbi, and they are conjoined twins. The story is in first-person narration from only one of the twins: Grace, which makes the book really special. It’s a metaphorical separation of twins and it’s beautiful. The story itself is a tear-jerker but one that is handled well, and is well-deserved of the accolades it has won!
Currently I am reading, and hope to complete in July:
-      The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides
-      Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
-      Girl Up by Laura Bates
-      Sisters by Jennifer Copeley
-      The Vagina Monologues
I am feeling the feminist vibe this month – to next – if you haven’t noticed. I will be doing a few feminist posts over on my lifestyle blog in the next few weeks so watch out for that.
In the meantime though
Happy Reading!
 

Independent Bookshop Week Tag


This week is Independent Bookshop Week, a week I have had in my calendar for some time. It is the week to go shopping for books in all the small, or big, independent bookstores across the country.

There is an organised book crawl on Saturday 25th, which I cannot take part in, but I am going to be going on a small bookshop crawl tomorrow when I’m in London.

Independent Bookshop Week is a lot of fun – and it is not wholly based in Loddon. Go to their website and check out all of the fun independent bookshops near you!
I was contacted by the lovely #IBW team to blog about my experiences and one of the fun things that you can do to tag part is complete the #IBW tag!

Which I shall do now

1.   What book(s) is currently in your bag?

Currently, Grief is the thing with Feathers by Max Porter. I have actually finished it today andI must admit it hasn’t touched me in the way it touched everyone else. But that is the book I am carrying around with me.

2.   What’s the last great book you read?

The last great book I read was Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell. It is a short story collection which I reviewed over on Youtube. I really enjoyed it, it totally gripped me. The writing was fantastic, the stories fascinating and the whole gist of the book was wonderful.

3.   What book have you gifted the most?

I rarely gift but I occasionally do book swaps and by some sort of private joke, with myself, I always end up gifting Burial Rites by Hannah Kent although I am yet to read it myself.

4.   What’s your favourite independent bookshop?

My favourite is actually a second-hand independent bookshop in London called Any Amount of Books. It’s on Charing Cross Road and is a gem for a bargain-find book. You can get proof copies in there for books that haven’t even been released, you can find new-releases below R.R.P, and it has the shelf size and atmosphere of a Harry Potter library. I love it.

5.   What’s been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller (or fellow booktuber)?

I’ve never been recommended a book by a bookseller, unfortunately, but via a booktuber the best book was probably The Butcher’s Hook. Jen Campbell reviewed it and did a podcast with the author and I had to have it and I really enjoyed it.

6.   What’s your favourite bookshop memory?

Finding a bookshop when I was on the worst holiday ever. I went to Norfolk when I was 12 with 4 books. I was there for a week and read them on by Day 3. It was terrible. We found a Waterstones on the way home and I spent all my ‘’holiday’ money, which I hadn’t spent, on the first three books of the Twilight series and read them all on the way home. I was so happy.

7.   What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?

The atmosphere. I’m not so big on the smell – unless it’s a classic library kind of bookshop – but the atmosphere of being tucked into close shelves bulging with books, and getting that thrill when you find a bargain or a book you’ve been looking for ages.

8.   What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you?

Twilight – I know – but this series really got me into reading. Harry Potter – they kept me reading and probably books like Apache by Tanya Landman, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. Books that made me want to be a writer and read everything.

9.   What book do you recommend readers gift for Father’s Day? (Next year then)

Crisis by Frank Gardner. I met/worked with Frank at Transworld on work experience and he was lovely and the book is the first in a new trilogy of James Bonds for the modern reader kind of books. Sounds good for most.

10.  What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?

Smoke by Dan Vylet. I am reading it, bit by bit, but I’m finding it a bit dense and not very Harry-Potter-ish as described in the blurb. We’ll see.

So that is the IBW tag and it is easy yet really fun to complete. I tag all those taking part, in one way or another, in IBW and I’ll speak soon!

Happy Reading!

I Started a Booktube Channel


Only a short post today. I’ve finally started up a Booktube channel after 2 years! and I’ve been posting semi-regularly.

This week’s youtube video was a book review of Lucy Caldwell’s short story collection ‘Multitides’. It was fabulous! I gave it a 5-star review and made this short video explaining why I loved it and telling you about my favourite stories inside.

I highly recommend the book. I hope that you’ll watch the video to find out why and I’ll write soon!

Happy Reading!


Childrens Books to West End Shows


Summer time, for me, is the period in which I often see the most West End shows and, recently, a lot of West End shows seem to be adaptions of children’s literature!

Today I thought I would focus on the books that have been adapted for West End and are currently showing, or will be showing soon, in London!  

o   Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Cambridge Theatre

This is the musical adaption of one of Roald Dahls most famous novels. The songs are infectious When I Grow Up/Revoltin’ Children are it features a lot of swings and dances. It’s a story of a little girl who has a very poor childhood yet through reading excessively from a young age develops magical powers that help her to thwart her evil headmistress and bad parents! A lot of fun for kids and parents alike!

o   The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

COMING SOON Ambassador Theatre

This charming children’s classic is coming to London in the summer months and is aimed at children from 5+. Mary Lennox parents are tragically killed in India and she is brought to live with her Uncle at Mistlethwaite Manor. There she meets a sickly cousin, finds a secret garden and makes friends. It’ll be lovely to see how this develops into a stage play.

o   Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Drury Lane Theatre
CLOSING SOON

The year is the last year to see this musical before it finishes its run. It’s fun, it’s colourful and has a lot of memorable songs from the Oscar Wilder movie It’s Just Your Imagination with a real flying glass elevator and Oompa Loompa’s what’s not to enjoy about this musical.

o   The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Kings Cross Theatre

Featuring a real-life steam train that is the centre of the attraction this stage-adaption of the novel has been getting a lot of rave reviews. Three young siblings’ lives are torn apart when their father is taken from them in London and they must relocate to a small Yorkshire village in near poverty. What develops is a keen relationship with all the local inhabitants who are charmed by their kindness and naivety and a story about three children missing their father.

o   War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
COMING 2017

This popular stage play is returning in 2017 as a touring production of puppeteering horses in the First World War. Told from the point of view of a horse who is taken from his best friend/owner to help fight the First World War, this has been described as one of the most moving and powerful plays ever adapted from a children’s book.

o   Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
CURRENTLY TOURING
 
This fabulous stage play has been brought back on tour after leaving the West End some ten years ago. Hugely popular and wonderful fantastical this is an aesthetic treat for kids and parents alike. With songs from the famous movie to accompany the production and a Child-Catcher to add a little terror this stage play has a bit of everything.

o   Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
The Palace Theatre

Hugely anticipated! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1 & 2 opens at the end of July. Shrouded in secrecy but anticipated with more hype than we ever thought possible this play is sure to be a hit. The story has been a closely-sealed secret, which will only be revealed with the opening night and the publication of the script for all those unable to attend the play it is sold out until March 2017 this is a play that may make the record books.

o   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Gielgud Theatre

And lastly a subtle West End play that is as powerful and moving as the lot. A young boy with Asperger’s Syndrome discovers his neighbour’s dog has been killed one night and sets about trying to discover who killed it. It is a story centred on a child with Asperger’s relationships particularly with his parents and is creatively and beautifully staged at the Gielgud Theatre in London. One not to miss.

So there are some children’s books adaptions for you to consider going to see over the next summer! They’ve been fantastically reviewed, enjoyed and anticipated and will make for pushing your children’s books up your TBR!

Let me know if you have seen or are going to see any of these productions soon!

Happy Reading!

 

The Yellow Brick War || Book Review


Rating: ***

Review:

The Yellow Brick War is the third book in the Dorothy Must Die series. I thought it was going to be a trilogy but by the way this book ended I imagine/hope there is another book coming.

This book felt like the shortest of the series for me and a lot less happened in comparison to the two other books. The first book Dorothy Must Die will remain the best in the series for length, plot development and character building but there is something really gripping about this series as a whole and even when I got annoyed reading this book I was also really enjoying it.
 

I can’t say it’s good because, in fact, I don’t think it is. We spend a lot of time in the modern-day during Yellow Brick War and from my review of the first book you’ll learn how much I disliked that setting, I thought it was the weak link. It was the same in the third.

There were a few details in the book which don’t make sense as well: Amy Gumm, the protagonist, has been gone a month but the pregnant girl from Dorothy Must Die has had her baby, got thin, gone back to school and started to feed the baby solidsin 30 days? Huh? I want to know her secret.

The writing is also flawed. I want to say ‘simplistic’, but it is almost ‘childish’, yet there is undoubtedly a thread of something purely gripping throughout as, like I said, when I picked it up I couldn’t put it down.

The pace of this book was much better than the second, The Wicked Will Rise, in which I felt the storyline was rushed. It calmed down in the third but a lot less happened and since it was so short at only 200 odd pages it really needed a bit more exposition rather than fight after fight after fight.

There is one character who I shan’t spoil who terrified me. I read this book, in the majority, before I went to bed and this character made me scared to turn out the light. He’s one of those characters that could have their own horror movie but not horror as in ‘bloody-torture’ but horror as in ‘I-can-see-you-watching-me-in-your-dreams’ kind of monster. So simple but scary good.

I think the best thing about the series as a whole, beyond that of its originality of plot, is the characters. They’re just brilliant and they’re constantly evolving. Whilst Danielle Paige kills her characters off as frequently and sporadically as George R.R. Martin in Game of Thrones she does it with such ‘sparkle’ and grotesque description it’s enthralling. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the land of Oz except the actual killing bit.

There is yet to be any information for an upcoming book in this series but where it ended and with several more plotlines introduced I would be horrified if there wasn’t another book or two. Paige does has another novel out soon Stealing Snow which is a story on a similar vein retelling the story of the Snow Queen. I’ll have to pick that up and read that in lieu of the next book in this series.

Whilst The Yellow Brick War is nowhere near as strong as the first novel in this series it remains gripping with strong elements, but also incredibly weak ones. It is certainly not worthy of a higher rating that 3-3.5 stars but it is still fairly enjoyable.

Let me know your own thoughts on the book if you read it, or any of the books in the series!


Happy Reading!

Top Ten Books set in High School



I am currently working as an invigilator it is the worst job in the world, but it pays well and I am seeing a lot of students taking exams.

So in honour of these children (they’re children to me!) I thought I would do a post on books set in high school that’s secondary/grammar school for us Brits.

I am going to start off with some pretty obvious ones:

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

-      This series is practically set in high school, with the addition of all the other vamp-y bits, and yes: I enjoyed these books! I was one of those fangirls with the ceiling to wall-postersnot anymore, the movies really aren’t that good, but I still like the books. But of course girl meets boy, boy is a vampire, girl falls in love with said vampire, girl and boy go through a load of drama but end up happily ever after.

Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling

-      It feels weird to say that this is set in high school but technically at least for us Brits it is. High school in America is from the age of 14? Right? In Britain it’s from 11 so Harry Potter is a high school novel! Woop woop! I think Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince deals best with the high school tropes puberty, first kisses, rumour-spreading etc but this is still the ultimate high school!

Now for the YA

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

-      This is a new purchase for me, so one I have no read. This book revolves around a bit of loner/layabout (the ‘Me’ from the title) and how his mum forces him to befriend a girl who has been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. He and his friend Earl make videos and out springs a coming-of-age/slightly romantic novel by the sound of it. It’s also a bit of tear-jerker, for obvious reasons, so a bit of a grittier high school novel.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

 
-      My favourite YA! Geeky girl, slightly larger than normal protagonists and a Korean-American lad meet on a bus and fall in love. It’s so wonderful I couldclap like a penguin. I love it. This to me is probably the best high school novel in competition with the following novel for realism and being relatable. It’s just so sweet.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

-      This is most definitely an ultimate choice for this Top Ten and it is a good one. I love how this book deals with mental-illnesses and repressed memories, particularly with humour, music and the letter-format. It’s really sweet I still prefer the movie but it is a really good story and one I would definitely recommend to High-Schoolers.

Love Lessons by Jacqueline Wilson

-      Another slightly ‘younger’ high school novel. This story revolves around a young girl who has been home-schooled for her entire life when suddenly circumstances change and she has to attend school. She is an odd one out, wearing odd-clothing, not understanding what the social norms are and is simply struggling. The only person she can relate to is her art teacher who befriends her and gives her a job as a baby-sitter to his children. Subtle, slightly reserved, antics ensue. It’s meant to be read by a younger audience but it is a more-adult novel to Wilson’s usual style.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

-      Another High School novel with themes of mental-health awareness and also the topic of suicide. This is a deep book very heavy and a tearjerker again. The cover is probably my favourite thing about it, but it does have a good story revolving around high school normalities and the people we pass in the corridors without thinking. Well worth a read, but not a re-read probably.

Paper Towns by John Green

-      John Green is synonymous now for writing YA fiction set in high schools, or around people that should be in high school, and falling in love with their peers. This story is about a boy who falls in love with his neighbour and has one night of merry-making revenge before she suddenly disappears and he goes looking for her. Again, I’ve never read it but I’ve seen enough reviews and watched the movie trailer enough times to know that this is a favourite of the high school novels.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks

-      Just to add another British novel to the mix. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is actually about a teacher, Miss Brodie, who teaches at a Scottish Boarding school for young ladies. She reminds me a bit of Professor Slughorn in Harry Potter she has a lot of favouritism for a teacher, is very vain and self-aware and her actions have consequences she never foresaw. It is a novel set in high school, but it is from the teacher’s perspective, not the students.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

-      My last top ten is the Art of Being Normal. I loved this book, it touched me. I’m not a member of the LGBT community but I am an avid supporter of them and Transgenderism is a part of the community which I think is not portrayed enough in literature or media of anywhere. This was the first book about a transgender boy I had ever read and I thought Williamson did a fabulous job. It captures attitudes and opinions on transgenderism in school from teachers to students to parents and peers and it is really inspiring and very well-written.

So there we have ten books set in high school. There is a recurring theme that most high school stories are Young Adult fiction, but that’s okay. You’re hardly going to find a lot of Historical fiction set in high schools at the moment although wouldn’t that be fun!

I hope you enjoyed, leave a comment below or fill me in on any other high-school novels you think I would enjoy.

Happy Reading!