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

 

August Favourites

I have compiled a list of my favourite things this month, consisting of everything from bowls to paint – hope you enjoy!

In no particular order, I’m going to start off with this bowl from TKMaxx, which I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog post because I eat my breakfast out of it every single day and it just makes me enjoy my mornings a little bit more.

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Next up is this band tee from Oro Swimming Hour and Art is Hard Records, designed by Nicholas Stevenson. I actually picked this up from a recent gig they had in Bristol, not sure if they are available to buy anywhere else but I got a large and it is the comfiest and coolest top ever.

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I also got this zine in the post recently, which was a lovely surprise because I preordered it back in May – glad it arrived before we moved! It’s full of beautifully illustrated articles on mental wellbeing and profits are going to charities and non-profit organisations like Mind, Beat and Sisters Uncut. It really is worth a read – you can purchase a copy here.

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This month has been particularly significant because I’ve gone from brunette to pink! (There is a blog post about that coming!) so I wanted to include the Bleach London Total Bleach kits and Directions White Toner and Carnation Pink dyes in my favourites as they are all amazing products. The reincarnation mask that comes with the Bleach London kits makes my hair feel so soft and healthy even though I’ve bleached it three times over the space of about a month. Would recommend – you can also buy it separately if you don’t need the bleach, which is good!

Deodorant next – I used to use the lavender and vanilla version of Salt of the Earth’s spray deodorant but recently went unscented (in all honesty, it was slightly cheaper) and I love it just as much. It’s so nice having a natural deodorant in a spray form that doesn’t contain any aluminium or other nasty things that are in standard deodorants. It’s easy to use, I find two sprays under each armpit is plenty to get me through the day and a bottle probably lasts a good 8 months.

 

I’ve also been loving Rose Jam body spray from Lush, which I managed to pick up from the new Cardiff Spa store when it opened, but I recently saw them in my local Lush (#TeamWorcester) so I think they’ve probably been rolled out to most stores, in the UK at least. Now, if you’ve read my recent blog post about my everyday Lush faves you’ll know that (Spoiler Alert) Princess Cottongrass is my super duper all-time favourite perfume from Lush. However, I think it’s important to change it up from time to time so you don’t get fed up, and August has just been particularly Rose Jammy for me.

I also treated myself to some new art materials lately. I picked up this Clairefontaine Naturel pad from my local indie art shop and it’s so nice to work on natural colour paper – sometimes white is a bit too bright and intimidating. I find I can use pretty thick layers of gouache on it too without it buckling, which is really nice.

If you follow me on my “work” Instagram you will also know I’ve been loving Winsor and Newton’s gold gouache. It’s amazing. It’s like foiling in liquid form. I got mine from Cass Art and I must admit I’m now a bit tempted by the silver…

Hope that compilation was interesting! As always, you can check out my illustration work via my website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

Amy