TL;DR February Review

Hello Bookworms!

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Welcome to spring! Considering I started last month’s review with the word snow, this month has been positively balmy. The bulbs are flowering, the tortoises are wandering around eating everything in sight and we haven’t had the heating on in weeks. I even saw my neighbour going out in shorts and a t-shirt!

February was my birthday month so I went out a fair bit – I even went out out to a nightclub! I felt very old and had a two-day hangover so I’m not doing that again. I also had a few nice meals out and used my National Trust membership to go to Upton House and Gardens where we had fun looking at the renaissance artwork collection, especially as there were some hilarious kids asking brilliant questions like “what’s God?” and “is that a cat?” (It was the 12 apostles) 😂😂😂

Due to my birthday/valentines/hangovers we haven’t done too much to the house – I can’t reach a corner of the ceiling even on ladders so my progress has been somewhat thwarted. Once the non-hubs pulls his finger out and finishes it off for me we’ll be back on track.

I also have some excellent bookish news – I’m going to be a library volunteer! I have mixed feelings about the role – obviously I’m not a librarian and it’s a shame that the local residents are going to receive a reduced service due to our lack of expertise (it’ll be entirely volunteer run) but I’m excited about the opportunity and it’ll keep the place going which I guess is the most important thing.

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I’m still doing well with the 2019 Read Harder Challenge but I’ve fallen behind a bit with my Chapter-a-Day Read-Along – oops. I’ll have to try extra hard in March to get back on track.

This month, I took part in the February Calendar Girls meme where I chose Lullaby by Leila Slimani as my favourite book by a black author. I continued Sorting Out the Shelves, I took part in the Unpopular Opinions Tag and I also did a Valentine’s day post recommending books that feature different types of love.

I posted six reviews (and also some mini reviews!) this month:

The Martian by Andy Weir: Just fantastic, I loved everything about this brilliantly entertaining book – except for the gardening advice! 🌟Five out of five🌟

Lullaby by Leila Slimani: A brilliantly twisted, disturbing novel that kept me engrossed from the first page to the last. Great stuff! Four out of five.

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen: Unexpectedly great, I really enjoyed this super fun, quirky book. A great easy read. Four out of five. 

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens and Siobhan Dowd: This was such a lovely middle grade read, really fun and with great autism representation. Four out of five.

The Never Dawn by R. E. Palmer: Intriguing and engrossing but I had a few issues with pacing and I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Three and a half out of five. 

The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan: Again, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novella but I was pleasantly surprised by the great writing. If you’re a romance fan I’d definitely check this one out! Three out of five.

So that’s February wrapped up! Do you feel like spring is here? Did you have a good Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments!

 

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TL;DR January Review

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Hello Bookworms!

One word you guys – SNOW! It’s been trying to snow for a few days now (on and off) but nothing has stuck. However, we’re due more tomorrow so I’m excited!

January, as always, has been a month of sorting things out, making plans, buying new stationary and Taking Care of Business. I wrapped up my 2018 and even wrote a New Year’s Resolution post! I got a laptop for Christmas so I’m slowly making changes to my blog to make it prettier and more diverse. I’ve literally just learnt what a Gravatar is so with any luck next month you’ll all be able to see what I look like (unless you follow me on Twitter, in which case you already know).

Speaking of Twitter, I was Blog of the Day on The Write Reads Twitter feed which was very exciting and earned me a load of new followers (welcome!). It’s a great site for finding new book blogs and making bookish friends ☺

Our house project is coming along nicely – we have PAINT ON A WALL! OK it’s a ceiling but same difference. Thanks to my cousin, we also have skirting boards and we’ve done lots of boring fiddly jobs like sealing the kitchen top to the new tiles, filling in a gap next to the toilet (with a bit of windowsill – sounds bodged but you can’t tell) and sticking on approx one billion bits of plastic trim. Everywhere. Not fun in a house with no boiler but it feels like we’re getting there now.

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I’m on a roll with the 2019 Read Harder Challenge and I’m pretty much up to date with my Chapter-a-Day Read-Along, yay! I took part in the first Calendar Girls meme of 2019 where I chose The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden as my most anticipated book of the new year. I also introduced a new feature called Sorting Out the Shelves where I posted about getting rid of some books and keeping others. I’ve done this twice now (second post here) so hopefully I’ll be able to make this a regular feature.

I posted five reviews this month:

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden: A beautiful novel that went far deeper than I thought it would and created a fabulous ending to the trilogy. Five out of five.

Good Samaritans by Will Carver: A brilliantly twisted, darkly comedic novel about lies, relationships and murder. A total page turner! Four out of five. 

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris: An interesting novel about a child with synaesthesia, autism and a love of parakeets that could have been amazing but got a bit tedious. Three and a half out of five. 

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield: A fantastic beginning that meandered about and in doing so lost all of it’s tension. Three out of five. 

The Map of Us by Jules Preston: Cute but quirky for the sake of it, I struggled to fully engage with this book. Two and a half out of five.

So that’s January wrapped up! Do you have snow? What plans have you made? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

 

TL;DR December Review

Hello Bookworms!

I can’t believe that’s Christmas over for another year.  As usual, we ate a lot, drank a lot, saw family and friends and even squeezed in a bit of reading (although not as much as I would have liked. We were at my Mum’s this year, which meant the usual Xmas eve crisis (no butter) and as always, one item of food being forgotten about on the big day itself. This year it was the pigs in blankets:

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We had some fun days out over the festive period, including a trip to the magic lantern festival at Birmingham Botanical Gardens:

…as well as a lovely Boxing Day walk round Kenilworth Castle (which was basically me saying LOOK AT THE DOGGIES!)

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We also had a family party and a get together for my friend’s sons birthday, which was nice – he’s three and him and his friends were very cute. We’re out at my friend’s brewery for New Years Eve so that should be fun too!

We’ve done almost nothing to the house this month – Christmas got in the way and it’s no fun doing DIY in an empty house with no central heating! We’ll start again in the New Year. It feels like the jobs will never end but when you consider that this time last year it looked like this:


And now it looks like this:


We’ve not done too badly! (No idea why the non-hubs is always bending over in my pictures, no wonder he has a bad back).

I completed the Read Harder Challenge in early December (which is unheard of – I’m usually finishing off the final few books over Christmas) so I can start afresh next year with the 2019 challenge. You can read my wrap up post here. The 2019 challenge has already been announced and I can’t wait to get started!

As usual, I also took part in the Calendar Girls meme where I chose Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist  as my favourite book that’s set in Winter. I also did a fun Bookish Naughty or Nice tag where I found out that I’d been naughty – oops!

I was so busy with Christmas that I didn’t post many reviews on my blog but I did finally finish Les Miserables which had taken me all year to read (!) I was so pleased that I’d stuck with the novel (even through the boring bits) and I’m looking forwards to a new four-book challenge – more news to come shortly!

The reviews I managed to post were:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: An epic, sprawling novel that sometimes drifted off into existential waffle but was nonetheless brilliant. Four-and-a-half out of five.

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton: A fun, fast paced adventure that he somehow published from beyond the grave. Not his finest work but still a good book. Four out of five. 

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: I didn’t understand the hype around this book at all. It felt disconnected, unrealistic and many of the characters felt underwritten. Not terrible by any means, just not for me! Three out of five.

Of Women by Shami Chakrabharti: A fantastic overview of all the issues facing women but written in a dry, textbook style that loses the impact of the data in the way that it’s presented. A good overview but a thoroughly dull read.

So that’s December wrapped up! Have you had a good Christmas? Have you read any of the books I read last month? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

 

TL;DR November Review

Hello Bookworms!

I am currently sat watching the remnants of Storm Diana thrashing the branches of the tree outside and listening to the sound of my neighbours wheelie bin tumbling down the entry behind out house. November is decidedly with us!

I really hope at least one of you will understand where this picture of Slash is from.

November now seems to be the month that Christmas starts – the shops (and some of my neighbours) have their decorations up, my Mum is constantly pestering me for a Christmas list and Coventry City Centre has erected what the locals are calling “The Festive Cone” instead of a Christmas tree. Merry austerity everyone!

Apart from the obligatory fireworks display, I’ve been out for quite a few meals this month – a group curry, dinner and drinks with the bestie and a family lunch out in Birmingham. I even wore a skirt and proper eyeliner!

We’ve done quite a lot of boring jobs in the house this month like fitting plug sockets, grouting tiles, sealing in bits of trim…all quite dull, massively time consuming and you don’t get a lot to show for it. 😢

I’ve almost completed the Read Harder Challenge (just 31 chapters of Les Mis left) which will also see me complete the Les Mis read-along challenge. Hurrah! I’m quite proud of myself because I usually get to this time of year and have to panic read/review the five or so books I’ve usually got left. I also got sent my first hard copy ARC (for The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, no less) which was incredibly exciting! I’m literally winning at life 😆😆😆.

For some reason I’ve focused more on discussions this month, with three separate posts: Overused Phrases in Book BloggingRating Systems for Books and I Don’t Like YA, Please Don’t Hurt Me. I also took part in the Calendar Girls meme where I chose The Girl in the Tower as my favourite middle book in a series. 

I had another meh reading month this month, although I did have one five star review. I think it’s because I subconsciously push all the books I don’t want to read for Read Harder to the end of the year (even though I think December will be decidedly better). The books I read were:

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: Amazing! Absolutely loved everything about this book 🌟 Five out of five 🌟

Not That Bad ed. Roxane Gay: Such a moving, important book. Hard going but well worth a read. Four and a half out of five.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan: A bit of a weird one, some lovely vignettes in here but the whole thing felt utterly disjointed. Two and a half out of five.

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by Hope Nicholson: Another weird one, I felt like this book was written for a very small section of geek society. I’m sure that if you got it you’d absolutely love it. A classic example of “great for you, but not for me”. Two and a half stars.

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter: I hated almost everything about this book. Urgh. Two stars.

So that’s November wrapped up! How was it for you? Have you read any of the books I read last month? Are you a Calendar Girl? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

TL;DR October Review

Hello Bookworms!

The clocks have gone back (causing much confusion), the fire is on and the leaves have created a slippery death trap on the steps going up to my front door. It must be October!

I can’t believe that last month I was on a beach in Devon and this month I’m digging out my massive winter coat but I am enjoying the novelty of getting cosy during the dark, cold nights. 

Due to various illnesses and my non-hubs putting his back out lifting a bag of compost – how glamorous – we haven’t done much in the way of leaving the house this month (non-hubs works at a University so we still succumb to freshers flu every year). We have had the damp issue sorted in the other house though and have finished off a few more bits and pieces in the kitchen so a small amount of progress has been made. 

Allotment/garden wise everything has been tidied up and stored away in preparation for the forthcoming cold weather. Due to a labelling error, all of my winter veg have got somewhat mixed up so I have lots of massive unidentified plants romping away. I’ve also got carrots, parsnips and kale still growing (plus a freezer full of beans) so we’re nicely stocked up for the months ahead. 

I’m ploughing ahead with my reading challenges and I’m nearly there with #Read Harder – I’m having a big push next month to finish off what I can (one of the books is Les Mis which I’m trying to read a chapter a day of, so won’t finish that until the end of December). 

Due to my unshakeable belief that since Winter is upon us there’s nothing to do but eat and hibernate, I’ve been quite busy with my blog this month. I wrote a discussion post about whether ARC’s are actually worth it and introduced a new feature called Viewpoint for which I wrote two posts; Top Bookish Podcasts and I’m a Book Blogger, Not A Publicist (which I wrote in response to some nonsense bit of book blogger bashing on Twitter). I also took part in my first blog tour and also the Calendar Girls meme where I chose The Worst Witch as my favourite book with witches.  

I had a bit of a meh month in terms of the books that I reviewed this month but I guess my little run of consistently high ratings had to end eventually. There were a couple of great picks but the rest were pretty dull 😑. They were:

Giant Days by John Allison: Squee! I loved this graphic novel as it gave me such nostalgia for my first few terms at uni. Really enjoyable. Four out of five.

No Tomorrow by Luke Jennings: The second in the series of books that Killing Eve is based on, this was far superior to the initial novel. Still not as good as the TV series but an enthralling page turner in it’s own right. Four out of five.

Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott: I loved this book for it’s innovation, humour and sense of nostalgia. Brilliant -and also a nice stocking filler for Christmas. Four out of five.

The Life and Times of a Very British Man by Kamal Ahmed: I really wanted to like this book but despite a few interesting chapters it was all a bit dull. Two and a half out of five.

Codename: Villanelle by Luke Jennings: The first novel in the series that Killing Eve was based on, this book was a mish mash of four novellas that just didn’t work for me. Watch the TV show instead. Two and a half out of five.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed: Could be summed up as “a woman goes for a long walk in incorrect footwear”. I found it all a bit self indulgent. Two and a half out of five.

So that’s October wrapped up! How was it for you? Have you read any of the books I read last month? Are you a Calendar Girl? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

TL;DR September Review

Hello Bookworms!

Finally, it seems like the weather has turned and I can get back to my usual attire of slouchy jumpers, boots and cute scarves. Hurrah!

September was our holiday month and we had a lovely trip to Devon with my parents. I’d actually forgotten what it’s like to spend long periods of time with them and to be honest there were times when I could have killed my mum for her incessant talking but overall we all had a great time.

Views across the edge of Dartmoor:

We went round Powderham Castle (very interestng, brilliant estate shop), visited lots of quaint villages and did a boat tour round Dawlish where we met this cheeky fellow:

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to Greenway, the home of Agatha Christie, where I got to sit in the chair that she edited her manuscripts in and generally nose around at her families collection of antiques. If you’re ever in South Devon I’d highly recommend a day out there, especially as it’s so remote and has beautiful views of the River Dart. 

As such, we’ve been massively lax about DIY although we have had the damp patches in the living room plaster looked at. It turns out it’s something to do with the salts in the new brickwork which the new plaster has drawn out and are now attracting moisture from the air. In some ways this is good news (no structural issues) but it’s still going to cost us a load of money to sort out. Luckily, the owner of the house next door is a director of a damp proofing company so they’ve revised their original quote (we had them round before we found this out) to make it a bit cheaper. So, until the plaster work is sorted out we can’t do that much (oh no! Poor us 😜).

I managed to contract some weird virus thing mid September which knocked me out for a whole week (and was followed by the worst migraine I’ve ever had) so I’ve had a really quiet month blogging wise. I wrote a couple of discussion posts about Weird and Wonderful Books I Wouldn’t Have Read Without the Read Harder Challenge and one called Confession Time where I talked about my bookish confessions. I also took part in the Calendar Girls meme where I chose Big Little Lies for my favourite book set in a school.

I wrote four book reviews in September, again surprising myself at the consistently high ratings. They were:

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: Bloody hell, this book was not what I expected AT ALL and it affected me in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. Still can’t stop thinking about it. 🌟Five out of five🌟

The Kite Runner Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini: I’d read the book when it first came out and I can honestly say that the graphic novel surpassed my expectations. I loved how it retained everything of the original whilst adding an extra dimension. Four and a half out of five. 

1Q84 Book Three by Haruki Murakami: Ah, the final instalment of this incredible trilogy where we get to find out…precisely nothing. Every single question was left unanswered and yet I still loved it. Four and a half out of five. 

The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt: This was such a cute, classic kids fantasy tale. A great middle grade read that deserves to be better known in English speaking markets. Four out of five

So that’s September wrapped up! I’d also just like to say thank you to you all for following my blog – there’s now over 300 of you and whilst I don’t put much stock in blogging stats it’s lovely to think that my little corner of the internet is growing 😀.

So, how was your September? Have you read any of the books I read last month? Are you a Calendar Girl? Are you taking part in the Read Harder Challenge? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

TL;DR: August Review

Hello Bookworms!

Well, that little run of “ohmigosh isn’t it HOT” comments at the beginning of my previous monthly roundups seemed to be well and truly over and I thought I could comfortably get back to my large collection of knitwear and jeans – except today the weather is bright sunshine (typical – on the day I decided to clean the house and tackle the ironing). I miss cozy jumpers!

Some of you may remember the photo that I took last month of my garden in the pelting rain that was nominated as picture of the month for a charity calendar ⬇. Unfortunately, it’s been disqualified for not being the correct orientation (seriously – surely the people putting it together are using photo editing software – can’t they just stretch it?) which is a shame but I still love the picture and lots of people got to appreciate it, which is the main thing. 

August has been the month of DIY in our house as my non-hubs works at a University and has loads of holiday to take before the beginning of the new academic year. So it’s been four weeks of sanding, tiling, grouting, cleaning and a few little arguments. I’ve even been up the ladders sorting out the upstairs windowsill which was so much scarier than it looks – I have a newfound respect for window cleaners! As a result, the bathroom is pretty much finished and the kitchen is well on its way:

We’ve had a few nice days out this month including lunch and an afternoon in Stourbridge (whilst tile shopping) and a day at Malvern Collectors Fair where I bought a bargain linen basket and the non-hubs got a copper spills jar. Not too exciting but I love looking round at all the old and collectible items searching out a bargain. 

We also had a great day at Hidcote Gardens where I bought a beautiful Russian Thyme plant followed by THE BEST meal at The Howard Arms Ilmington. Seriously, the food was beautiful and the service was fantastic – really friendly and welcoming. If you’re ever in the North Cotswolds I’d highly recommend it. 

For some unknown reason, we have asked my parents to come to Devon with us for a week at the start of September. My Mum and Dad mean well but they have very, let’s say old fashioned views so I can already forsee a few arguments. My mum is also determined to get on the beach in her new swimming costume and is already stressing me out with daily phone calls about what luggage I’m taking (a bag?), what have I packed (nothing yet), what are we eating (fish & chips?) etc. My Dad is annoyed that the child restrictions on the Wi-Fi mean he can’t have an online bet and I know I’ll have to suffer their “jokes” and “concerns” about how I’m not married, pregnant or in a good career, my hair is too long, I’ve put on weight (I checked – I haven’t), you’re not wearing that etc. etc. What fun we shall have!

I’ve had a little play around with my blog and done a bit of general admin like sorting out menus and adding my Twitter stream. I still don’t quite understand Twitter but I’ve sorted out my account (Lucinda is reading @islucinda – hit me up!) and I’m slowly getting to grips with it. 

In terms of my blog, I’m sticking to my decision to write more discussion posts so I’ve done a couple more about reading more than one book at a time and whether it’s ok to DNF an ARC. I’ve also taken part in the Calendar Girls meme which was really fun – I’m just finishing off my September post now. 

My Les Mis read along is all caught up and my ARC’s are up to date so I’m focusing on getting ahead in #ReadHarder as I’ve got a few massive books to read for it. 

I wrote seven book reviews this month, three of which were dystopian feminist novels (not on purpose) so I couldn’t help but compare them to each other. Amazingly, I rated TWO books at five stars and three at four stars which is absolutely unheard of – I can go for months without reading a five star book and four star books are pretty rare. I must be going soft 😜.

The TL;DR overview for August is:

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic: Just…yeah. I still don’t know what this book was about. One and a half out of five. 

Vox by Christina Dalcher: Great to begin with but tailed off into nonsense at the end. Very disappointing. Three out of five.

The Power by Naomi Alderman: A great premise and a surprisingly nuanced look at power and gender dynamics. You can definitely see the Margaret Atwood influence! Four out of five.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: A totally innovative way of writing that I quickly found myself engrossed in. A great page turner. Four out of five. 

Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton: I love Dolly Patron and I loved this book. Funny, warm and honest, this was a great memoir. Four out of five.

The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson: Unexpectedly brilliant, this was an absolutely fascinating story. Who knew fishing flies could be so interesting – or so bizarrely connected to organised crime? 🌟Five out of five.🌟

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I absolutely loved this book, even the unpopular ending. Clever, engaging and weirdly prescient, I couldn’t put it down. 🌟 Five out of five.🌟

So that’s August wrapped up!

How was your August? Have you read any of the books I read last month? What are your thoughts on reading lots of books at once or not finishing ARC’s? Follow the links or let me know in the comments – and please follow me on Twitter!

Much love,

Lucinda xxx

TL;DR July Review 

​Hello Bookworms!

It seems like every monthly review post that I do starts with the same sentence but my God July has been HOT. Thankfully we FINALLY got some rain so my crops/garden plants are saved, if somewhat battered. There is honestly no better sound than rainwater trickling into my bone dry water butts ☺.

I snapped this picture with my phone, uploaded it to the BBC 4 Gardeners Question Time Facebook Group without thinking – and now they want to use it for their unofficial charity calender! I’m not sure if it will actually happen (I took the pic in portrait and they’ll only accept landscape images and I can’t squash it into landscape dimensions without ruining the composition) so we will see.

Even though it seems like ages ago now, July was the Month of Sport in our house, what with World Cup fever and our annual pilgrimage to Silverstone to watch the vroom vroom cars. For once the oven-like ground temperature made sitting in the usually freezing cold stands quite palatable and it was lovely to not have to drag 25 jumpers, a rain poncho, hat scarf and gloves and my winter coat round for three days (not even joking, that’s literally what I take). This year we stayed on for the Friday evening’s entertainment and watched Dodgy, Heather Small and Jo Wiley (doing a 90’s indie disco set) perform live. It makes me slightly sad that I’m clearly now within the target age range for F1 fans – when we first started going we would laugh at the dad rock musical offerings but it was a brilliant evening and gave a real festival/illegal rave atmosphere to what I refer to as “expensive picnic day” (the only F1 “racing” on Friday is free practice, so not much action on track).

There’s no more news about the potential closure of our allotment and to be honest, the lack of having water up there has been such a nightmare that we’ve seriously questioned whether we should move to a better run site anyway. Frustratingly, there is provision for running water but the committee have turned it off due to problems with kids leaving the taps running. There’s a few other sites that are closer to us and have more plotholders so it depends what happens.

The house renovation has stalled a bit – the non-hubs is still tiling the bathroom and I’ve been rubbing down exterior paintwork but it’s slow going. I can’t wait to get the tiles grouted, light fitting in, shower installed and windowsill in, then that’ll be one room finally finished! Unless we decide to put in a blind…we can sort that out later. 

We’ve been out for a few more meals this month with family and friends (to the same restaurant we went to last month – it’s become a favourite) and had more yummy Italian food. I’ve persevered with my morning yoga routine and I’m starting to notice a bit of a difference with previously tight jeans feeling a bit looser. I definitely feel stronger and I think it’s really helped my posture too 🙏.

In terms of my blog, I wrote an extremely uncharacteristic discussion post about re-reading books which got much more interaction than my usual review posts. I still feel like my discussion posts are usually rubbish but I’m going to try to write a few more and see how they go. You only get better at something with perseverance, right? I also wrote a “help me!” post asking for book recommendations and I’ve got some great new additions to my TBR, so thank you to everyone who made suggestions. 

My Les Mis read along has seriously gone by the wayside this month (I’m currently in a bit where the chapters are really long) so I’ll have to make a concerted effort in August to catch up. My ARC’s are in better shape (I’m even starting to clear out my backlog) so that’s good and I’m a bit further forward with #ReadHarder so I’m quite pleased with my progress there too. 

I wrote six book reviews this month which were mostly rated 4/5 so a pretty good reading month overall.  

The TL;DR overview for July is:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: I really struggled with this book. I found the whole thing slow, confusing and ultimately depressing – although lots of people love it. A possibly unpopular two and a half out of five.

After The Party by Cressida Connolly: A weird book – well written but I just couldn’t feel sorry for a member of the British Union of Fascists. Historically interesting but not for me, I’m afraid. Three and a half out of five. 

The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin: I love Armistead Maupin and this book did not disappoint. Touching, dark and beautifully written. Four out of five.

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks: Literally couldn’t put this down. Read it all in one go – highly recommended. Four out of five.

A Short Affair ed. Simon Oldfield: A fantastic anthology of short fiction, brought to you by the amazing Pin Drop project. Brilliant for dipping in and out of. Four out of five.

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi: A twisted love story about the mother/son bond. Absolutely loved it, even if it was slightly uncomfortable at times. Four and a half out of five.

So that’s July wrapped up! I hope you’re not too sunburnt!

How was your July? Have you read any of the books I read last month? What are your thoughts on re-reads? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

Much love,

Lucinda xxx

TL;DR June Review

Hello Bookworms!

My God June has been HOT. We haven’t had any rain in about a month and the temperature in my greenhouse is currently 115°C so I’m spending an awful lot of time watering plants.We don’t have access to running water at our allotment and our harvested rainwater is all used up so we’re having to take big plastic drums of tap water up there in the car. Carrying those things in this heat is not fun, believe me. 

So, now I’ve done my obligatory grumble about the glorious weather (I am British, it’s our national pastime) on to the rest of my life. For the first time ever I’m starting a monthly wrap up WITHOUT an excuse as to why I haven’t been blogging very much – something I said last month that I didn’t think I’d ever do. Gold star for me! 🌟

There’s no more news about the potential closure of our allotment. The non-hubs has been incredibly useful this month by casually suggesting that he knows someone who does contract work for the Environment Agency who could do an Environmental Impact Assessment for the site. It’s so big and overgrown that I’m confident it’ll be a significant wildlife habitat so hopefully that’ll put a spanner in the works of any planning applications. I regularly spot everything from foxes to birds of prey to unusual looking bees and butterflies up there so fingers crossed.

The house renovation has kicked up another gear – the bathroom and kitchen are fitted, the bathroom tiling is almost done, the plumbing for the shower is complete, the drainpipes and soffets have been replaced, we’ve bought new windowsills and edging strips (all the finishing bits you don’t think of) as well as some new light fittings. There’ll be a lag now where we’ll be waiting for a new boiler to be fitted (after the bathroom has been grouted) so I’m not expecting much progress next month. It’s too hot to be doing manual labour anyway!

It was my Dad’s birthday and Father’s Day all in the same week so we went out for a family meal to celebrate. We went to a lovely Italian restaurant and ate far too much (shortly before my mother telling me I’d put on a lot of weight recently) so I’m trying to be good and incorporate more exercise into my life. I’ve started a free 30 day yoga plan on doyouyoga.com which is actually a really nice way to stretch out in the morning or before bed and I’ve already noticed a difference. I also seem to have more energy which is a nice added bonus although that could be from the sugar in the FOUR THOUSAND TONNES of soft fruit that I’ve harvested from my allotment. I’ve given away boxes of strawberries and frozen loads but I’m running out of space to store everything! Now the blackcurrants have gone mad so I’ll definitely be making a summer pudding one day this week. What was that about me being good?

In terms of my blog, I made eight blog posts which is right on target. I also did a fun“Books I’ll Probably Never Read” tag which was a great change from recommending books!

I’ve caught up with my Les Mis read along, yay! I’m a bit behind in my Read Harder challenge but I’ve still got six months left so I’m not stressing. My ARC’s are pretty much up to date except for one book that I just can’t get into. Also, I finally managed to hit 80% feedback on NetGalley, hurrah! I didn’t get a badge though? Does that only happen when you’re 81%+ or have they just given up awarding them?

I wrote seven book reviews this month and they were pretty evenly split between great and terrible. So a weird reading month really but I’ve got some exciting books up for review in July so looking forwards to that. 

The TL;DR overview for June is:

Tetris by Box Brown: A fantastic graphic novel about the origins of the game Tetris. An unbelievable story that really suited being told in a simple cartoon format. Amazing! Four and a half out of five.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata: A super cute story about fitting in with society. It reminded me of a Japanese Eleanor Oliphant…A great short read. Four out of five.

Bottled Goods by Sophie Van Llewyn: An odd little novella which provides an evocative look into life in 1970’s communist Romania. Fascinating, gothic and slightly sinister – I really enjoyed it. Four out of five.

Elefant by Martin Suter: A slightly confusing, overly graphic story of how to genetically engineer a tiny pink elephant. A weird mix of science and magical realism with waaay too much detail about elephant ejaculation. Disappointing. Three out of five.

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny: A book that seemed to lack the fundamentals of both a plot and a structure. A meandering nonsense of a novel, I found it incredibly slow going. Two and a half out of five.

I Still Dream by James Smythe: Another slow going dirge of a book. I was so disappointed – I loved the first few chapters but then the plot fell off a cliff face. Two and a half out of five.

Girl With Dove by Sally Bayley: A confusing as hell memoir with too many unfamiliar characters, a lack of action and super slow pacing which ruined my enjoyment of this novel. A great idea poorly executed. Two out of five.

So that’s June wrapped up – where is the time going? Happy summer heatwave everyone!

How was your June? Have you read any of the books I read last month? Let me know in the comments!

Much love,

Lucinda xxx

TL;DR May Review

​Hello Bookworms!

Well, what an exciting month May has been. Unfortunately this has meant my blog has been a bit neglected, plus some technical issues have meant that I had to write out a quite complicated review three times before I could finally publish it – so again, more time wasted. Oh well. I think I’ve figured out a solution so it shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

*One day I will start a monthly review without an excuse as to why I haven’t been blogging very much (not this month though!)*

May has been the Month Of Summer, meaning the weather has made all my plants go mental. Some things are way ahead of schedule, others just won’t germinate. I’ve managed to secure some space in a state of the art greenhouse and even that hasn’t had much impact. It looks like it’s just going to be one of those years.

Speaking of the crops, we’ve had some pretty devastating news regarding the allotment that we rent. Unfortunately, it seems that the whole site has been put up for sale and the rumour is that the council are going to allow houses to be built on it. This has made me beyond sad and angry so I’m investigating ways to try to fight the planners. As the non-hubs said, “there’s always one wanker who reads the small print…and I am that wanker!”

The house renovation project is s-l-o-w-l-y gaining some momentum; the kitchen is almost fitted and so is the bathroom. Finally! The non-hubs has been tiling the bathroom (again s-l-o-w-l-y) so it actually feels like we’re getting somewhere. We’ve (I’ve) also cleared the front and back gardens and got rid of all the crap lying around – we’ve filled the biggest skip we could hire so full that we’ve had comments from passers by! I’ve also finished painting the front door (at one point blasting it with a hairdryer to dry it enough to be able to shut it and go home). The joys of adulting!

Oh, and we pulled down the “conservatory” which actually turned out to be half a greenhouse:

And we knocked down those breeze block walls too. And bought light fittings. And sorted some flooring. There is still so much to do it just feels never-ending but we are making progress.

Things that have hindered us this month include some delightful rising damp that has appeared on the new plaster. We’re chipping it off to investigate.

Happily, I’ve been out quite a lot this month, even though a very much looked forwards to Eurovision Party failed to materialise. I’ve been out to Warwick Arts Centre twice, once to watch My Dad Wrote a Porno and once to see Ben Folds. MDWAP was hilarious as expected and Ben Folds was brilliant – he’s such a amazing musician. He even got the crowd singing a four part harmony and filmed it on his phone.

I also went for an afternoon tea and tour of Stoneleigh Abbey, which was really lovely and so interesting. Stoneleigh Abbey is apparently what Jane Austen based Mansfield Park on (she gets about a bit – or perhaps all stately homes get to lay claim to her work). This is my mother’s idea of appropriate clothing to wear for a day of walking round the grounds (they’re block heels – walking heels!).

In terms of my blog, I made seven blog posts which is actually quite good going for me. I even did a sort of discussion post about the top 100 stories that shaped the world (I do hate writing those) that literally no one read and appears to have deleted itself. If you didn’t see it, you didn’t miss out on much!

I had a lovely surprise mention in a post called “Bloggers Who Deserve More Attention” by the wonderful Orangutan Librarian who was celebrating three years of being an amazing blogger. I definitely didn’t expect it and I’ve gained quite a few new followers as a result – hello!

I’m still a few weeks behind in my Les Mis read along but that’s only a couple of hours worth of actual reading time, so I’m not stressing too much. I’m one book behind in my Read Harder challenge but again that’s not terrible – I’ll catch up by the end of next month. My ARCs are still three books outstanding so I’ll focus on those for the next week or so. 

I wrote six book reviews this month, four of which were solid 4/5 star reviews. That’s pretty unusual for someone as difficult to please as me, so I think May might be my most successful reading month so far! However, and for the first time ever I awarded no stars to a novel- read on to find out why:

The Apollo Illusion by Shari Lopatin: A super fun YA novel that’s pacey, intriguing and unique. Thank you Shari for letting me read it! Four out of five.

Clean by Juno Dawson: A captivating page turner about addiction with great representation, realistic outcomes and characters that will win you over. Loved it. Four out of five.

The Lido by Libby Page: A gorgeous, summery read about female friendship across generations, community and standing up for what you believe in. Perfect for holidays. Four out of five. 

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough: An addictive thriller with an extremely clever, intricately woven plot. You definitely won’t guess the ending! Four out of five.

A Good Time to be a Girl by Helena Morissey: A fairly dull novel about one woman’s idea to get more females into positions on the board of directors. Good for business students but not recommended for anyone else. Two out of five.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It’s just an awful, irresponsible way to glamorize suicide. I wavered between being really annoyed and really bored. NO STARS

So that’s May wrapped up – and I finally have the majority of both my kitchen and bathroom fitted! Hopefully by the end of June I won’t have rising damp any more (a girl can dream!)

How was your May? What will you be up to next month? Let me know in the comments!

Much love,

Lucinda xxx