August Wrap-Up – Part II

Here’s a wrap up of what I read in the second half of August 2018 – find part I here.

 

Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman

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I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while,  I guess just not enough to get around to it before now. Written from the point of view of 17-year-old Elio, growing up in his parent’s mansion in Italy, it follows a summer when Oliver, a 24-year-old American university lecturer visits to help Elio’s father work on some academic papers. The story then follows the relationship between the two of them, against a backdrop of sun, swimming and peaches.

Call Me By Your Name is well written, well paced and you do get to empathise with the characters, however thinking back to what the story was about, I don’t know if much will stay with me in the future when I try to remember what happened in it.

I would recommend, but wouldn’t say you need to read it right this minute. I would say I’m looking forward to seeing the film one day.

 

 

Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney71e3DnQEAeL

*****

After reading Normal People, I should have known I’d love Conversations with Friends. It is absolutely superb writing from Sally Rooney. She is definitely cementing herself up there with my favourite authors.

Conversations with Friends follows Frances, Bobbi, Melissa and Nick as they navigate the intricacies of friendship, fame, and extra-marital affairs. A really well-paced story with plenty happening in it – I would definitely recommend!

Can’t wait for new new Sally Rooney books!

 

 

 

The Mitford Murders – Jessica Fellowes

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I read Nancy Mitford’s Pursuit of Love last month and learnt a bit about the Mitford sisters – and then I found Jessica Fellowes’ Mitford Murders, which was a kind of mystery story including the Mitford family as characters – and I really enjoyed it!

It begins with the murder of Florence Nightingale Shore (Florence Nightingale’s goddaughter) on a train (which really happened, and is unsolved to this day). It follows the story of Louisa Cannon – a runaway from London who begins work as a nursery maid for the Mitford Family, and how she and Nancy team up to try and find the murderer.

There are plenty of secrets, clues and interesting relationships to keep the story going, and I would definitely recommend. I heard they’re going to make it into a TV show which I’m looking forward to seeing. The next book in the series, Bright Young Dead, is also out soon – can’t wait for that!

 

 

The ABC Murders – Agatha ChristieABCmurders

*****

Classic Christie, this is a murder mystery that keeps you on your toes. I found this one particularly fast-paced and easy to follow – and I didn’t guess the ending (but then I quite enjoy not trying to guess the ending because I don’t want to spoil it for myself!) even though I had some suspicions.

Possibly my favourite Agatha Christie to date?

 

 

 

 

 

The Scandal – Fredrik Backman (Published as “Beartown” in the US)

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Another 5 star book this month! At first there just seemed to be a lot of characters introduced but I think I was just being a bit sleepy and from then on I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In a good way.

It’s. a superb story about loyalty, friendship, ice hockey and living in a tiny town in Sweden. You get a real sense of loneliness and of community, and then SOMETHING MAJOR happens and you get to delve a bit deeper into what people do in certain situations and I feel like Backman has written about some important things in this book.

A must read.
Can’t wait to read the next in the series – Us Against You.

 

What are your thoughts? Have you read any of these? Can you recommend me anything based on what I’ve enjoyed this month? What have you enjoyed this month? Let me know!

As always, thanks for reading

Amy x

August Wrap-up – Part I

Here’s a wrap-up of the books I’ve read so far this month:

 

The Floating Admiral by The Detection Club:

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*****

I picked this up in a charity shop for £1 back in April (I’m always looking for Agatha Christies) and loved the idea of this mystery story with each chapter written by a different author, but for some reason it just sat on my shelf until now. I thought it might be quite a good way to find new authors to read – maybe thats why I put it off, I had too many books on my TBR to fall in love with a new author’s work with an entire bibliography to scour, haha.

Anyhow, I was not disappointed.

It is a story of Admiral Penistone, found stabbed in a boat by a fisherman in the early hours, and how he came to be there. There are all the components of a good detective story – plenty of red herrings, motives and alibis.

It was thoroughly engrossing like any good golden age detective story, but I found the epilogue particularly interesting because it included all the possible solutions to the story written by each author. There were so many ways the story could have gone and it really makes you appreciate the work of the great detective fiction writers, I think.

It was also particularly great because it started out as a game between members of the club (which included Agatha Christie, GK Chesterton, Dorothy L Sayers, etc.) and it wasn’t written necessarily with the intention of publication but I for one am very glad it was published – such an interesting concept and a gripping story!

Can’t wait to read more of these story-games from the Detection Club!

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney:

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Rooney’s “Conversations with Friends” has been on my TBR for quite a while but it’s just been another one of those which never quite made it to the top of my pile…

However, our lovely Faber rep brought a proof copy of Rooney’s new story, “Normal People” to the shop and I just had to take the opportunity to read her work, and again, I was not disappointed. It got read in a day.

It’s a story of Marianne and Connell growing up, battling social norms, dealing with bullying and anxiety but the story doesn’t approach these subjects in a cliche way. Rooney’s characters are so deep and well-rounded that I got so absorbed into their relationship with each other and the people around them, I want a whole series to read just about them and their lives.

There’s not much more to say; just go and read it.

(n.b. Conversations with Friends has been ordered.)

 

Pietr the Latvian – Georges Simenon

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The first in the series starring Inspector Maigret, I was keen to start reading these as I found out they were on telly and I do like to read a book before seeing an adaptation.

There was plenty of murder and action and identity crises and I would definitely recommend it, however it took me longer than usual to read considering it was only 160 or so pages, which I’m not sure was a reflection on the book or on my use of minimal spare time. Maybe a bit of both.

Will be keeping my eye out for more of these – I know Penguin are currently translating a new Maigret story every month and are now on around #67? I better get cracking.

 

The Consolation of Maps – Thomas Bourke

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An interesting story about a young gallery worker from Tokyo who deals in antique maps, getting a job offer to work in the US and then meeting the interesting Theodora Appel.

The story was good, I mean the book was only like 206 pages long so it was pretty easy to get through. It was paced well until the very last chapters where a LOT happened way too quickly. I don’t think the plot had anywhere near as much impact as it would’ve done had there been a little bit more to it.

I did think about the story when I wasn’t reading it, however, which is a sign of a good, immersive story – right?

 

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

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I managed to finish off the audiobook of the first Sherlock Holmes story, narrated by Stephen Fry, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I do love listening to audiobooks when cooking, cleaning, building new bookcases etc so when I found the new Stephen Fry series on BorrowBox (my local library’s ebook and e-audiobook service) I had to borrow them!

I’ve seen the Benedict Cumberbatch TV adaptations of the Sherlock stories, but it was really interesting seeing how much they differ from the original stories, and I love them both! Conan Doyle seems to be a brilliant writer, and I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the series! (And read them in book form one day…)

 

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock – Imogen Hermes Gowar

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Another 5 star book! I’ve been putting this one off for a while because it’s quite chunky, but I’m so glad I got around to it!

I never think historical fiction is my thing, and I really didn’t have high hopes for this – not because I didn’t think it was good but just that it wouldn’t be my cup of tea – but I was so wrong! Now, I did try this on audiobook a couple of months ago and genuinely didn’t get on with it – I suppose that’s a testament to the format you consume books in being important in how to engage with the story.

The characters were excellent, the plot was so good, I can’t wait to read more of Gowar’s work! I think readers who may think they’re not fussed on historical fiction should definitely give this one a go as well as people who love it. It kind of makes me want to try out more but what if its boring?

 

Good Bones, Simple Murders and The Tent – Margaret Atwood

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I finally got around to finishing the audiobook I started for Read-eh-thon over a month ago!

There was something I didn’t really like about it, and I think it might actually have been the narrator of the audiobook. I thought the stories were really imaginative and although I don’t read many short stories, I do like the format.

I think I’ll try them in book form one day and see. Or maybe I should just try one of Atwood’s novels instead?

 

That’s it for now! What a busy half of the month! And some good 5 star books there.
Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

 

Charity Shop Book Haul

We went to get Max’s holiday snaps developed (because we’re either like 70 or total hipsters?)  and while we were waiting I managed to drag him into almost every charity shop in town!

The end result:

A good haul.

I got:
Books to Die For – Declan Burke and John Connolly
The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – Joel Dicker
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Big Over Easy – Jasper Fforde
The Winter Queen – Boris Akunin
Thrones, Dominations – Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh
Unfinished Portrait – Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and which one(s) you think I should read first!

Thanks for being interested in my charity shop excitement,

Amy x

Read-eh-thon Wrap Up

(If you haven’t seen it already, you can find my Read-eh-thon TBR post here)

Hello!
It’s the end of Read-eh-thon! Thought I’d just update you on how it went…

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So I started off with The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill and absolutely loved it! 100% of my favourite books I’ve read this year.

I enjoyed the format where every other chapter was about Pierrot or Rose (the two main characters) – their lives running parallel to each other. Without giving too much of the story away, it’s so satisfying when you can piece together clues in each other’s story about where the other person is and what they’re doing, but they have no idea. Don’t you think?

I found the ending really well done and I didn’t expect it, and I would highly recommend this one.

I also had a look on Goodreads afterwards to see what other people thought and soooo many people thought it was an awful, crass story but I think it’s just reminiscent of the era it’s set in. I loved it, did I say that already?

 

murdercanadian

Next up was Murder on the Canadian by Eric Wilson. Now I’m well into my cosy crime and thought this was a really great short story – I know it’s meant for children but I think it’s definitely worth a read if you can squeeze a 94 page book into your TBR.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more in this series because it was well-written, the ending was somewhat unexpected and I read it in one sitting. Always a plus.

 

 

Then I realised I needed to read a library book that was due back on the 6th and I couldn’t renew it because someone else decided they wanted to read it too! How dare they. It was The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti if anyone is interested – which I found readable enough, it just lacked a bit of spark to me, there was not enough of a story and maybe a bit too much talking about mountains? I don’t know, I still thought it worthy of 4 stars.

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Back to my Read-eh-thon TBR, I read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel which I didn’t realise was post-apocolyptic/speculative fiction. Because I hadn’t read the blurb. Now, speculative fiction normally isn’t my jam, whatsoever, however I found Station Eleven so readable and interesting that I must have read it just over 24 hours – when I had been at work for 8.5 hours, and slept for about 8.5 hours of that. Basically, it’s good! Even if you don’t think its your cup of tea, you should definitely give it a go!

 

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By this point (Saturday evening), I had of course realised I probably wasn’t going to get to Life of Pi and decided to try and find an audiobook on BorrowBox instead, that was written by a Canadian author etc. and I found Margaret Atwood’s Good Bones, Simple Murders and the Tent, which is a collection of teeny short stories. I will admit, it’s Monday now, the readathon finished last night and I haven’t quite finished this one but I am enjoying it! I love me some tales about misunderstood fictional people telling their stories.

 

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I also managed to get to Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland, which was fine, but certainly didn’t live up to the hype. I also went into this one not realising it was a bit post-apocalyptic, but just felt that Station Eleven was far more interesting? I don’t know, maybe its just because I read that one first.

Girlfriend in a coma was fine, and you should give it a go if speculative fiction is your jam but this one just wasn’t for me. I think it was written in a bit too much of a teenage voice for me? However the character development was good and the girl-being-in-a-coma-for-17-years was somewhat interesting as a plot device.

 

So all in all, I managed to read 5 and a half books in eight days, bringing my 2018 total to 63 so far! And I enjoyed nearly all of them – yay! Considering early last year I didn’t read anything besides non-fiction for my dissertation I am very proud of myself.

What did you read for the Read-eh-thon if you took part? Also, have you read any of these books & what did you think of them? I definitely want to read more Heather O’Neill and Emily St John Mandel after this week.

Let me know your thoughts!

Amy x

My Pre-Holiday/Library Book TBR – July 2018

So I have accidentally managed to accumulate quite a few library books over the last couple of weeks that I need to/want to return before I go on my holidays. I also have some proofs/ARCs I need to return to work so as not to be the greedy bookseller who borrows all the good proofs and goes on holiday, haha.

So, I have 9 days to read six library books and three proofs. Now, I have a feeling I’ll be DNF’ing one or two of the library books anyway because I’m just not feeling them right now, and because 9 books in 9 days seems a bit impossible.

But we’ll give it a go!

So, I have…

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
  • Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
  • When God was a Rabbit – Sarah Winman
  • My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  • Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly

 

  • The Water Cure – Sophie Mackintosh
  • Normal People – Sally Rooney
  • The Mystery of Three Quarters – Sophie Hannah

 

Wish me luck!
Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts on them?

Laters,
Amy x

My Read-eh-thon TBR

I’ve decided to participate in my first readathon!

As a regular viewer of BooksandLala on Youtube, I found out about the Read-eh-thon that’s happening between the 1st July (tomorrow) and the 8th July (a week tomorrow) and decided its about time I do one of these things.

The Read-eh-thon is all about celebrating Canadian authors and literature with these five challenges:

• Read a book with red on the cover
• Read a book by a Canadian woman
• Read a book with “E” and “H” in the title
• Read a book by an indigenous author
• Read a book set in a province you’ve never visited

I will be honest – I just could not find a book by an indigenous Canadian author that I wanted to read and would have arrived in time, but I do still have five books to read this week!

And so, my TBR…

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The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O’Neill
• Read a book by a Canadian woman
• Read a book with “E” and “H” in the title
• Read a book set in a province you’ve never visited

I bought this back when it first came out in paperback just because I thought the cover was so nice – I’m glad I finally have an excuse to read it!

murdercanadian
Murder on the Canadian
Eric Wilson
• Read a book with red on the cover
• Read a book set in a province you’ve never visited

Love a bit of cosy crime! So glad this one is only 94 pages though because reading five books in 8 days might be a bit unrealistic otherwise, haha. It’s also a children’s book and has illustrations, we might do it!

 

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Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mantel
• Read a book by a Canadian woman
• Read a book set in a province you’ve never visited

Haven’t even looked into what this is about, it just keeps catching my eye in the bookshop so I had to squeeze it into the read-eh-thon didn’t I, once I found out the author’s Canadian.

 

dc-girlfriend-in-a-coma-2Girlfriend in a Coma
Douglas Coupland
• Read a book set in a province you’ve never visited

Another one I’ve been meaning to read because it keeps catching my eye in the bookshop – it also got recommended to me by another bookseller once so now’s its chance!

 

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Life of Pi
Yann Martel

This one’s been sitting on my shelf for a while waiting to be read so since finding out Martel is Canadian, I’ve decided to add it into this week’s TBR – yay! Even though it doesn’t seem to fit any of the challenges – we’re doing this thing our way!

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So that’s it! That’s what I’m reading this week (hopefully) – let me know if you’re participating in the Read-eh-thon and/or what you’re reading this week!

Amy x

I’M BACK! & My May Playlist

Hello friends!

I’ve been neglecting my blog.
Sorry.

Adjusting from student life/summer holidays to moving house and starting a new full time job meant I stopped blogging – oops.

But it’s nine months later and I’ve started making a bit more of an effort to be productive in my spare time and so here I am!

I have some more ideas about posts I want to make but there’s definitely going to be more of a focus on books and illustration and tattoos and vegan stuff and whatever wants to come out of my brain, I guess.

If that sounds good, please stick around!

And just to give you a treat – here’s some music I’ve been particularly enjoying this last month – would recommend!

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Amy x

Books I got in October (2017)

The last month or so I’ve really tried to get back into reading, and working in a little indie bookshop has definitely helped!

I also decided around a month ago that I want to look into doing a Masters next year, and found a course that sounds really good in Cardiff. It’s an MA in Art and Design, which then has seven different pathways. Although they have an Illustration pathway, I am leaning more towards the Philosophy or Ecologies pathways, to explore contemporary illustration from a different angle.

That led me to decide I wanted to learn more about philosophy, so I bought some books! I started off with an AS Philosophy textbook that I got used off Amazon for a penny (the only reason I use Amazon is for books that I can get for pennies and cope with a used copy of) while I waited for Teach Yourself’s Philosophy: A Complete Introduction to be delivered to the bookshop.

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Now, I haven’t got around to reading much of the textbook yet but the Complete Introduction to Philosophy is AMAZING. The information in it feels so digestible and each chapter briefly covers a philosopher and their ideas, ending with a bit of a multiple-choice quiz to test how much you’ve understood. I never thought I’d be the kind of person to understand someone like Aristotle but this book has led me to buy his Nichomachean Ethics, which I am quite excited to read!

I also picked up a copy of Plato’s Symposium because of that book, and luckily it’s one of Penguin’s beautiful Great Ideas series. Having only picked it up yesterday, I haven’t had chance to open it yet – but it’s going to be one for the weekend I think.

Speaking of Penguin’s Great Ideas series, I also picked up their versions of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature and Chuang Tzu’s The Tao of Nature and I am excited about growing this collection! I feel like the size of the books (they are pretty short) will mean they are easier to digest and can be read while commuting, or over breakfast, that kind of thing.

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I thought I’d also include library books in this post, as I recently became a member of my new local library and I think they’re great! I’m leaning towards borrowing fiction books from the library over buying them, generally, because I think fiction is a lot more personal, and I feel I’m more likely to dislike a fiction book than a non-fiction. Maybe?

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I’ve started reading Meet Me in the In-Between, and being about halfway through, I am enjoying it. I heard/read a lot of mixed reviews on this book before reading it but I think it’s a good book, and definitely worth a try.

The Lesser Bohemians is a book I noticed in the bookshop and I was intrigued by the blurb so thought I’d give it a try – looking forward to that one.

Stay With Me is another one I’m excited about! I’ve heard so many good reviews, can’t wait to give it a read! I found out about it from watching some Booktubers’ videos on the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, specifically SavidgeReads and Reads and Daydreams (with Jen Campbell).

On the topic of Jen Campbell…

IMG_5770I also got this beautiful book of hers, illustrated by Katie Harnett, called Franklin’s Flying Bookshop in October. It’s a beautiful story and I’d definitely recommend it for a kid (little or big) in your life. I mean, it has copper foiling. Oof.

And that wraps up my October book haul!
I’ll let you know my thoughts on these books when I’m a bit closer to reading them…

Thanks for reading!

Amy x

What I Got Max for His Birthday (2017)

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Max had a birthday and I got him presents and I thought I’d show you what I got him! Almost everything is from small/independent companies/artists and he loved it all which is great!

First up (his favourite) was this cassette from Art is Hard Records, where different artists on the label covered Pavement songs.

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I also got him this single from Art is Hard, because he was obsessing a bit over Trust Fund around his birthday and noticed they had done a record for AIH’s Postcard Club. We don’t have a record player yet but I’m sure he’ll love it when we do get around to getting one!

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Next up is this postcard from Claire de Lune which I actually bought back in June/July…. I just love getting people presents, ok? I love the colours in it, thought they were very “Max” and it does now live on our studio bookshelf, so he must like it.

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Another piece of art I got him was this print from Yuk Fun that still hasn’t been framed yet… I love this so much and I think he does too? Again its pride of place on the studio bookshelf at the moment.

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I also got him a pin from Yuk Fun, because I want to inflict my love of pins onto Max and he did love this one!

 

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He’d hinted a couple of months ago that he might like an enamel mug to use in the studio as a ‘work mug’ so I found this one from Pirrip Press which is so nice I wish I bought myself one too! But they’d sold out of the other design in this range.

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As a bit of an extra little something, I also found these pushpins in a bargain bin in Waterstones that I thought would be nice for the cork board he’s nicked off me.

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After opening presents, we had a pretty chilled out day, made cat friends and drank hot chocolate.

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A couple of days later we also went to Bath and had such a nice day out (I also surprised him with a Hard Day’s Night spa treatment at Lush which he loved! Might do a separate blog post on that?)

Thanks for reading, and do check out all these amazing creative businesses I’ve mentioned!

Amy x