London Indie Book Haul

I went to London for a work meeting the other day and decided to make the most of being in the Big Smoke and checking out some of the amazing independent bookshops there.

Starting out with Daunt Books in Marylebone (about a 20 min walk from Paddington Station), I got a facsimile hardback edition of The Body in the Library – isn’t that cover beautiful!


Love the way the shop is laid out with a huge part of it organised by country, with a mixture of fiction and non-fiction in each section. It was also so nice being able to browse a bookshop with nothing particularly in mind to look for, I just got to look at everything I was drawn towards, and definitely could have left with more books – I’ll defnitely have to go back and would highly recommend a visit if you’re in London. I’m interested to see how the other five Daunt shops in London compare to this flagship one.

After some wandering around and going to my meeting, I found my way to Persephone Books, which is an absolutely gorgeous little shop, and they also publish neglected/out-of-print, mainly female, authors to celebrate works of fiction and non-fiction that would otherwise be forgotten.


The books are all published with a signature grey dust jacket, but each book has individual full-colour vintage endpapers and they are beautiful.

“Persephone books are all grey because – well – we really like grey. We also had a vision of a woman who comes home tired from work, and there is a book waiting for her, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like because she knows she will enjoy it.”
Persephone Books (2018, “About Us”)

I ended up picking up Long Live Great Bardfield: The Autobiography of Tirzah Garwood, who was taught by and then married to illustrator & printmaker Eric Ravilious. I also picked up the Persephone Book of Short Stories because, well, dippability, and The Journey Home and Other Stories by Malachi Whitaker because I saw the words “Holborn” and “bookshop” and was intrigued? I also like that it’s a short story collection because I do not read enough short stories.


I’ve already had a look at their catalogue and decided what books I want to get next! Dangerous, this book lark.

Next up I went to Gay’s the Word, the LGBT bookshop in King’s Cross and really enjoyed the experience! I don’t often go into specialist indie bookshops because there’s just not enough of them outside London, I suppose, but I really enjoyed looking around knowing that everything there had a common theme in that they were written by or about gay people.


I went with the first in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series, because it’s been so long since I read a book in a series!! It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I also picked up the first in Nicola Upson’s series featuring Josephine Tey, a real-life Golden Age detective fiction writer. I really enjoyed Andrew Wilson’s A Talent for Murder which was a fictionalised account of what happened to Agatha Christie during the 11 days in which she disappeared in 1926, so I feel like fictionalised stories featuring real-life crime writers is a thing now and i’m all for that.

I also picked up a pamphlet about “LGBTQ+ Night-time Spaces: Past, Present & Future” which I haven’t had chance to look at properly yet but I am looking forward to.


That’s it for my London indie book haul, if you’re ever in London I would definitely recommend checking out all of these shops, and I was also hoping to go to Magma and Gosh! Comics as well, bit gutted I didn’t have time.

Are there any other independent bookshops in London you’d recommend for next time I go?

Thanks for reading,
Amy x


Books on my Christmas List 2018

I know it may be a little early but there are so many amazing books, amazing editions of books, coming out this season and I want to share with you the ones I’m most looking forward to (and some oldies I would just really like for Christmas)!

1. The new special-edition hardback Agatha Christies

Harper Collins released a special edition hardcover of Murder on the Orient Express last year, and they’re following it with The ABC Murders (my fave Christie), 4:50 From Paddington and the Mystery of the Blue Train. They are beautiful.


2. The Boy – Oliver Jeffers


Containing three stories and a load of sketches from the making of those stories, The Boy is a kind of behind-the-scenes look at how Jeffers works and that is very exciting to me!


3. Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies – edited by Scarlett Curtis


This contemporary collection of feminist essays seems really interesting and definitely like a book worth owning!


4. Vegan Christmas – Gaz Oakley


Because I don’t own a Christmas cookbook and this one seems great! I only had a quick flick through it so far but it doesn’t look like it uses any weird/expensive ingredients and I’m all for more food inspo. One does get to the point where one lives off pasta and bourbon biscuits occasionally… But that won’t do at Christmas!


5. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie (2006 Facsimile Edition)


An old edition, but I do love the facsimile editions of Christie’s books Harper Collins released in 2005/2006. Who doesn’t want a festive Poirot story?


6. The One Hundred Nights of Hero – Isabel Greenberg


Published in 2016, so not a release this year but still one I’m interested in owning, the One Hundred Nights of Hero is a gorgeous hardback “feminist fairytale” and I do love Greenberg’s illustrations!

If you’re interested in any of these books, I would recommend ordering them from your local indie bookshop – most will take orders over the phone and post your order to you if you’re not close enough to pop in!

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

Autumn Book Haul // Part Two – Adult Fiction & Poetry

I bought and got given a load of books over the last month or so so I wanted to share them with you! I spoke about Children’s and YA books in Part One and now it’s time for adult books:

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Six Against The Yard by members of The Detection Club

I read Floating Admiral, the Detection Club’s first co-authored title back in August (I even included it in my Wrap Up) and got this one as a Spookathon back-up, what with it having purple on the cover. So excited to get to this one, even if it doesn’t quite make Spookathon.


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Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer

Definitely one I’m going into blind, just really liked the cover and got my hands on an imperfect copy – let me know if you enjoyed this one!


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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 9780349134284

I really enjoyed Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere when I read it last year and thought I’d try her earlier novel. I was a bit disappointed I couldn’t get a copy with the original cover but I guess this one is supposed to match Little Fires Everywhere? I think the original cover is way cooler, but still looking forward to reading the story.


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Normal People by Sally Rooney

I’ve already read this but absolutely loved it and wanted to own a copy. I also wrote about it in my August Wrap Up.


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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

I’ve been eyeing this one up for a while and then got this exclusive paperback edition in my first Books That Matter box – more about that here.


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The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

Managed to get a signed proof of this when the author popped into the shop the other day and I’m so looking forward to reading it! Likened to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, it’s going to be a biggie, I think.


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Running Upon the Wires by Kate Tempest

Spotted signed copies in the shop and I reeeeeeeally want to read more poetry, I think it’s just a bit difficult knowing who you might like if you’re going into it blind. I’ve heard great things about Kate Tempest and enjoyed what I read while flicking through it so I picked this one up. If anyone has suggestions for poets/poetry that I should pick up, let me know!

And there you have it.
My Autumn haul 2018.
My book ban is going great.

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

Autumn Book Haul // Part One – Children’s and YA

It occurred to me that I’ve bought and been given quite a few books over the past month or so and so I thought I’d share them with you!

Starting off with children’s and young adult books:

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The Lizsts by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julia Sarda

I found this when re-alphabetising the shelves in the shop the other day and accidentally bought it – this organisation lark is dangerous.

I absolutely love Julia Sarda’s illustrations, they feel so characterful, moody and contemporary.


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One Day in Wonderland by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Julia Sarda

A retelling of Alice in Wonderland, I also bought this because of Sarda’s amazing illustrations. Possibly my favourite kids book of the year! Just so beautiful!


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The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, illustrated by Neil Packer

I do want to learn more about world history, and this just seemed like a really well-produced, highly illustrated book that would make learning about history less dull. I’m sure there are plenty of non-illustrated history books that aren’t dull but I felt this was one I particularly wanted to read. I’m defo open to suggestions for interesting history books, so let me know if you have any favourites!


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Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood

I love the idea of co-authored books and recently fell in love with What If Its Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (see my post about that book here). I heard some really good things about this one, and I’m super excited to get around to it!


IMG_8883 copyThe Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

I finally succumbed to the teal sprayed edges and bought myself a copy of this. I read the His Dark Materials series when I was younger and remember really enjoying them, but I’m not at all into fantasy books as an adult, so I wonder if I’ll enjoy this? It’s a beautiful edition either way so I don’t mind owning it.


I thought I’d better do this haul in two parts so keep an eye out for Part Two: Adult Fiction & Poetry tomorrow.


Amy x

What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

I don’t read YA really, at all. However I got given a proof copy of What If It’s Us at the BA Conference a couple of weeks ago and then found out a couple of days ago that it’s coming out on the 18th October and thought, how cool would it be to read a book and share my opinion on said book before the book even comes out, like other bloggers do.

Now, when I say I don’t read YA, I did read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda a couple of months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

This one is no different.

The proof is 433 pages long and I read the whole thing before lunchtime.

I loved it.

I wasn’t checking page numbers to see how much there was left to go, like I’ve found myself doing lately, I was just reading and getting totally gripped by the story and the characters.

So, What If It’s Us is a story about an unlikely meeting between two boys as one is trying to dispose of a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. They get separated by a flash mob before catching each other’s names and the first part of the story follows Arthur (Art) trying to find, or let the “universe” find Box Boy again.

There’s ups and downs, cookies and panic attacks, coffee and ill-fitting suits. And love rectangles. It is great.

Maybe I should read more YA? I always feel like there’s such a difference between YA and adult fiction, particularly in the way YA is so happy to address the emphasis social media and technology have on our lives. Love also seems more important, more new, more special when you’re young. I don’t know, it makes me feel nostalgic, hopeful.

Definitely going to read more Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera.
I do love a co-written story.

TLDR: you need to read this book. I don’t care how old you are.

Amy x

Crickhowell Literary Festival 2018 Wrap Up

#CrickLitFest is over for another year.

What a crazy, tiring, inspiring, amazing nine days that was.

I met some great speakers: authors, poets, comedians, musicians. I was pretty restrained with my book purchasing however and only got 4 books over the festival!

For me, the festival kicked off with the amazing Paul Henry & Brian Briggs, a poet/musician combo reading and singing stories based around the local canal. It was heart-warming and heart-wrenching. It was great.


Next up for me was the amazing Robin Ince, talking about his latest book, I’m a Joke and So Are You. Talking about life, death and everything in between in true Infinite Monkey Cage (minus Brian Cox) style, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and I bought his book.


Then we had a local writing group launching their anthology to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, we had Oliver Bullough and Katy Mahood. And then there was Tristan Gooley, natural navigator.

Now I am not one for walking, not just going out just for a walk kind of walking anyway. However, I was really inspired by Tristan Gooley and his signs in nature that tell you where you are, which way you are facing etc just by looking at the shape of a tree or the angle of Orions Belt. Or knowing which direction the wind is blowing just by looking at the shape of a cloud. He was definitely inspiring, he made me consider the pros of walking for the sake of walking.


Friday was a school event with Adam Baron (loads of fun),


Frankenstein (super interesting),


And Dr Brian Brivati talking about an exhibition of portraits of Yazidi women, survivors of Daesh.


Then there was my faaaaaaaaaaaaave, Stuart Turton, interviewed by none other than Sophie Hannah! They bounced off each other so well and I enjoyed their conversation so much, I felt like the biggest fan girl in the room, or maybe second biggest after Amy from Tomes with Tea


Sophie also had her own event in the evening, discussing her new Poirot story and how she got to write continuation novels for Agatha Christie. Words cannot express how excited I was for that and how lucky I felt for getting to be there. Swoon.


On Sunday, the last day, I saw Neil Ansell and Bella Bathurst talk about sound and hearing loss and it’s effect on them. It turns out birdsong is usually one of the first sounds you lose when your hearing deteriorates, and that just made me feel so grateful for the fantastic things that are ears.


Then there was Martin Dorey of #2minbeachclean fame, talking about his new book, No. More. Plastic. He was so interesting and it was great to see such an engaged audience for  a talk on saving the planet.


Can’t wait for CrickLitFest19, but first, some sleep…

Amy x

Spookathon TBR

I’ve decided to join in with #spookathon this year! Spookathon is a readathon hosted by BooksandLala, running between the 15th and 21st October where you read spooky books to fit these five challenges:

1. Read a thriller
2. Read a book with purple on the cover
3. Read a book not set in the current time period
4. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
5. Read a book with pictures


Here is what I shall be reading:


Thriller: The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

I actually managed to get a signed edition of this – perks of being a bookseller and getting first dibs on new books, hehe. Super excited to read it after seeing that Kayla from BooksandLala enjoyed it. Haven’t read any other Ruth Ware so let’s see how it goes!

Purple book: A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

Managed to pick up a proof of this at the BA Conference a couple of weeks ago – thanks Simon & Schuster! Unfortunately it’s not out until February 2019 but at least I’ll be able to tell you my thoughts on this one before it comes out! How exciting!

Historical Setting: Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

Because we can’t do a readathon without a bit of Agatha, can we.

Spooky Word: An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato

This one’s been on my radar for so long I thought I’d use Spookathon as an excuse to get around to it! I’ve heard so many good things!

Book with Pictures: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Because I don’t read enough graphic novels and this one has a mad scientist in it?


Let me know what you guys are reading! Can’t wait for it to start!


Amy x

I went to the Booksellers Association Conference 2018 and here are some photos


I went to the BA Conference in Aston last weekend and thought you might like to see what we got up to! Here’s a sneak-peek of the “book bus” which came in very useful when transporting all our goodies home!



First up was the Gardners Tradeshow where publishers shared with us what they were loving and promoting for Christmas. We found our good friend Adele Nozedar’s new book “Foraging with Kids” on the Watkins Media stand!


After the Tradeshow, we got treated to Afternoon Tea with Harper Collins as they introduced us to some of their new titles – I got my proof of Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers signed by Anna James and really can’t wait to read it!

We then had a dinner provided by the Independent Alliance, who are a group of UK publishers including Atlantic Books, Faber & Faber, Granta Books and more. We got to hear from speakers like Robin Ince and Tiffany Watt Smith – it was a great evening!


Breakfast saw Vaseem Khan talking about his newest Inspector Chopra mystery – I’ve loved these so far and am so excited for the new one!


We then got to hear from TED speaker Margaret Heffernan and poet Benjamin Zephaniah – both were great speakers, very inspiring!

After some workshops, we got treated to a dinner by Pan Macmillan to celebrate their 175th Anniversary and got to meet Marianne Power, Alex T Smith and Kate Morton talk about their new books, another fab evening! (Do people say fab anymore?)


Should have brought a bigger suitcase.

Can’t wait to share with you all what I’m loving out of what was generously shared with me, watch this space!


Thanks for reading,

Amy x


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


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


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)


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:



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:


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


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


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


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


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


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