Sorting Out the Shelves #3

Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of sorting out the shelves! This week it’s a special feature – cookbooks!

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Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

I have tons of cookbooks because EVERYONE buys them for me despite having, you know, the internet to find recipes on. So, I’m overrun with the bloody things and I need to get rid.

Lets play own or re-home!

Own

Vintage cookbooks inherited from my mother-in-law plus New Covent Garden Soup recipe books

Cookbooks should be battered and covered in stains…

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I mean, look at the state of the Be-Ro book – that tells you everything you need to know about how useful it is. Seriously, it’s my most used recipe book by far, even though it must be forty years old. It also houses a number of handwritten recipes from my non-husbands since-departed mother and possibly his ex-girlfriend, all of which I’m very grateful for (even though the non-hubs always complains when I use them to make something it don’t taste as good as when his Mum/ex made it). The Marguerite Patten cookbook is even older – it must be getting on for fifty but again I use it all the time. I love how simple the recipes are and how there’s an easy “blueprint” guide, with variations to try once you’ve mastered the basics. There’s also a brilliant “what to do when it goes wrong” section at the back that’s absolutely indispensable when you’re first learning to cook. The soup books are lovely, easy to follow and even though all of the recipes are probably available online I always find it’s easier to use a hard copy book than try to keep a tablet/phone open when you’re in the middle of cooking. They’re all definite keepers!

Re-home

A totally random assortment of cook books

I’ll just use BBC Good Food…

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Clearly, at some point someone found out that I’d bought a slow cooker and got me some recipe books to go with it – failing to realise that there’s really only three things you can make in one and the recipes are all just variations on a theme. There’s also a jam/chutney making book (I might look at this once a year when I have a glut of allotment veg but I’d rather look online) a veg cookbook (too weird) a couple of “British” cookbooks (fancy versions of what’s in Marguerite Patten) a Delia Smith How to Cook book (again, Patten does it better) and a “Mediterranean” book (featuring ingredients that I never own). Off to the charity shop you go!

Do you have a million recipe books that you never use? Are any of them quirky, old or unique? Do you have any treasured inherited recipes that you can’t make as well as your relatives did? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Mid-Month Mini Reviews!

Hello bookworms!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I seem to have created somewhat of a backlog of books to review recently and rather than drown in their vortex I’ve decided I’m going to try a few mini-reviews! This is something I’ve never done before and as someone who does like to waffle on a bit I’m not sure how well they’re going to turn out… but I’m giving them a go anyway.

This month, I’m focusing on three books that I’ve read for the 2019 Read Harder Challenge for Book Riot. They are:

#4 Read a Humour Book

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

I wasn’t really looking forwards to this book – to be honest, I thought it would be frothy crap – but I was pleasantly surprised at much I enjoyed it. Aisling is a small town, sensible girl-next-door; the kind of woman with a french manicure, comfortable ballet flats and a swipe of brown mascara. She’s the dependable friend who plans the itinerary, books the tickets and packs a cardigan in her handbag “in case it turns chilly later”. Aisling has her whole life mapped out (steady job, marriage, kids, house, pension, retirement plot) but when her boyfriend refuses to fit in she shocks everyone by ditching him and building a new life for herself – one that’s totally off plan.

I loved seeing the character of Aisling develop and even though at times she was utterly clueless she always remained resolutely herself. I loved how Irish the text was too – the slightly unfamiliar words and cadence added a real authenticity to the characters.  The book reminded me a bit of Bridget Jones’ Diary – it had all the same humour and warmth and it was really good fun.

Four “what on earth are presses?” out of five.

 

#14 Read a cozy mystery

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The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens and Siobhan Dowd

This was more of a middle grade mystery than a cozy mystery (which I hate with a passion) so again, I cheated a bit – whatcha gonna do? I really enjoyed this book with diverse representation, an autistic mc and some Mums who actually did stuff (even if that was getting arrested and disappearing for a large chunk of the book). The story follows Ted, a twelve year old boy with Aspergers who has to solve the mystery of a missing painting taken from The Guggenheim Museum on the day that he happens to be visiting. I loved how Ted (along with his sister and cousin) worked methodically through their list of suspects, piecing together information and drawing logical conclusions to arrive at the correct answer.

This book is a sequel to The London Eye Mystery (which I now really want to read) but worked fine as a stand-alone. It must have been really difficult for Robin Stevens to take Siobhan Dowd’s idea and turn it into a full novel but I thought she did a great job.

Four “how did I not see that?” out of five

 

#16 Read a historical romance by an author of colour

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The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

So I thought that OMG What a Complete Aisling was out of my comfort zone but The Governess Affair REALLY wasn’t something that I would ever pick up out of choice (hence why I cheated a tiny bit and chose a novella for this category). The story is somewhat predictable – an uptight, no-time-for-romance, I’ve-been-damaged-by-my-upbringing type falls in love with a headstrong woman and the usual enemies-to-lovers storyline plays out. Despite much eye-rolling from me the writing was actually very good and as a novella I quite enjoyed dipping into it for a bit of escapism. In fact, the only thing that I didn’t enjoy was the description of the tea that they drank. From a hip flask. Urgh. It reminded me of the time that I saw an American couple tip the milk into the teapot before pouring *shudders*. Sort it out Americans!

Three “that sounds like cold tea and a spam sandwich” out of five

 

So, how do you like the mini-review format? Have you read any of these books? Are you doing Read Harder 2019? Let me know in the comments!

 

Love in all its Forms…

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Photo by Rahul Pandit on Pexels.com

Happy Valentines Day, Bookworms!

Now, I know today isn’t for everyone (me included) so I’ve put together a little list of books that take a more alternative approach to love – everything from queer interest to to platonic friendships – so hopefully there’s something for everyone. Forget going on a date and snuggle up with a novel instead!

For people who think they’re too gay for all this boy-meets-girl rubbish

There is SO MUCH excellent stuff being published about queer romance at the moment. A lot of it is YA based (which is not my thing) so if you’re looking for something featuring slightly older protagonists, I’ve got a couple of recommendations. For m/m romance I love anything by Nick Alexander, especially his earlier books like Fifty Reasons to Say Goodbye. They’re funny, sweet and often eye-opening and I loved the entire series. For f/f relationships I really liked Women by Chloe Caldwell which is less romance and more breakup driven but still an excellent piece of writing. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, which I have spent the last twenty minutes trying to describe; it’s a love story, it’s a coming of age novel, it’s a terrifying and sad exploration of the intersection between faith and homosexuality, it’s hilarious and charming and warm and yet completely disturbing.

For people who think they’re too nerdily awkward for relationships

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls ed. by Hope Nicholson is a really interesting compendium of the niche loves of women who self -identify as geeks – everything from random fandoms to cosplay relationships. The content is really varied, champions the whole of the LGBTQ+ spectrum and celebrates alternative love stories in a really cool and creative way.

For people who prefer Galentines to Valentines

I love reading about female friendships and there are some fantastic books out there that represent women getting stuff done with the help of other women. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is a personal favourite of mine – I love the different personality types of the the four March sisters and the fact that they’re all so different and yet they all pull together when needed. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is a more modern take on the theme (and is a cracking good mystery at the same time) and The Lido by Libby Page is a brilliant example of women from different age groups finding commonality and friendship across the generations.

…or who just want to see platonic friendships

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a fantastic book featuring neurodiverse representation, as well as a lovely platonic m/f friendship. It has some difficult themes but they’re handled really well and there’s a good dose of humour to stop things from getting too dark. If you want to read something with more of a sci-fi/fantasy feel, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson has a really strong m/f friendship at it’s core, features a number of young male and female characters but crucially contains ABSOLUTELY NO SNOGGING – hallelujah!

For people who love their pets more than anything or anyone

There’s loads of really heartwarming tales of people who love their animals – think A Cat Called Norton by Peter Gethers, A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen or Marley and Me by John Grogan. For a broader take on one woman’s love for her dog, Spectacles by Sue Perkins is an autobiography that hits every theme I’ve just mentioned above but it’s her love for her dog Pickle that really stands out. I defy anyone to read the letter that she wrote to her without bursting into uncontrollable tears.

I hope you’ve had a good Valentines Day! Do you have any suggestions for alternative takes on love/romance? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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Genre: Sci-fi, dark comedy

Similar to: A tiny bit like Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, or The Revenant but set in space

Could be enjoyed by: Everyone, even people who don’t think sci-fi is for them

Publication date: 27th December 2012

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 6

I’m wandering round Poundland (gotta love a bargain) looking for a cheap notebook to, well, make notes in when I come across the “re:cover” section of books. Basically: secondhand books for a quid. And The Martian was there. So I picked it up because of the hype I’d seen surrounding it and bought it because of the blurb – essentially a man (Mark Watney) gets stranded on Mars after he has an accident evacuating the planet and his crew think he’s dead. He has to survive on his own with broken equipment, broken comms and a limited stock of food. No wonder the first line is

“I’m pretty much fucked”.

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 14

I start reading.

Mark you really are fucked, you absolute spanner. There is NO WAY that potatoes would grow in such shallow soil PLUS I’m pretty sure that “compost” would need to have well rotted manure in it. Trust me, I’m a gardener.

Trusted Amazon review:

 Incorrect advice

Read book about potato growing. Potatoes don’t grow in shallow soil, even on Mars. 0/10.

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 57

Ok so I’ve suspended my disbelief and now I’m hooked on the story. Like, totally hooked. I could do without some of those massive number info dumps but that’s a minor criticism. Thank god for the black humour because without it this book would be pretty dry.

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 134

LOVING how pacey this storyline is. Every page is:

“I’m probably going to die!”

“So I thought about it and…science!”

“I’ll just try to use radiation/deadly gasses/fire/duct tape”

“I nearly died but it sort of worked so I did some more science and now it really works! I’ll live to fight another chapter!”

Yay duct tape indeed.

LOG ENTRY: SOL 254

Mark is such a juvenile idiot but I can’t help but love him. I’ve suspended my knowledge of plants, I may as well suspend my feminist principals too.

Hehe, boobs (.Y.)

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 345

The scientific research in this book is astounding. I mean, I have literally no idea if any of it checks out but it seems totally plausible so I’m going with it. If I’m honest, I don’t really care. It’s making up one hell of a story.

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 405

Speaking of feminist principals, there’s pretty good representation of women working in science (as you would hope for a book set in the future). I feel better now about the 80085 thing earlier.

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 467

Mark Watney, why aren’t you just a tiny bit depressed about what’s going on? There’s no way you can survive this. I love how chipper you’re being but you’re not really that believable as a character. Then again, it’s a lot more fun reading about an upbeat engineering genius than Marvin the Paranoid Android.

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 504

I am so excited about the conclusion to Mark’s little issuettes. Yes it’s far fetched and yes I’m sure that in real life NASA would have to cut the funding but I love how this has all panned out. Brilliant stuff.

 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 549

I guess this is the end. What a ride! I loved every second of reading this book.

Premise: Go!

Pacing: Go!

Characters: Go!

Representation: Go!

Humour: Go!

Research: Go!

Gardening advice: Houston, we have a problem.

 

Five inconceivably home grown potatoes out of five.

Compelling, engaging, funny and ingenious; I loved everything about this book!

 

Unpopular Opinions Tag

Hello bookworms!

I’ve been tagged by the amazing Orangutan Librarian to complete the Unpopular Opinions tag (yay!) – she’s seriously one of the best book bloggers out there so definitely check out her site!

I know I have a lot of opinions that might be a little… different to other bloggers so this should be interesting!

A POPULAR BOOK OR BOOK SERIES THAT YOU DIDN’T LIKE
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I’m soooo tempted to also say The Foxhole Court but I’ve just read Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie and I just. did. not. get. it. It’s got over 4 stars on Goodreads and won the Women’s Prize for Fiction but to me it was the most awkwardly written, boring book ever.

 

A POPULAR BOOK OR BOOK SERIES THAT EVERYONE ELSE SEEMS TO HATE BUT YOU LOVE

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I wouldn’t say I absolutely loved this book but I did enjoy reading it, even though the rest of the world seems to think it should be banned/ it’s scarred them for life etc. etc. Don’t get me wrong, the level of violence is extreme and the endless lists of clothing are repetitive but the atmosphere that’s created is incredible.

AN OTP THAT YOU DON’T LIKE

 

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A what now? *googles* Oh, Ok. I will forever dislike Ron and Hermione being together. Won-Won and Lavender were far more believable. Hermione and literally anyone else would have been better.

A POPULAR BOOK GENRE THAT YOU HARDLY REACH FOR.

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Young adult is not my bag. Too obvious, too cheesy, too unrelatable. Not all of it obviously but… a lot of it.

A POPULAR/BELOVED CHARACTER THAT YOU DO NOT LIKE

Literally anyone in this book. They were all horrible. Cries of *but they’re all so damaged!* butters no parsnips with me.

A POPULAR AUTHOR THAT YOU CAN’T SEEM TO GET INTO
Can I say John Green again? Ok, I’ll think of someone else…
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I see this book all the time in the library and I just. Can’t. I hate semi naked bodies on book covers (especially stereotypically perfect bodies), I don’t like how teenage the book sounds, I saw that Cassandra Clare also has a book called “What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything” and just nononooooo. They might be brilliant but nothing about any of her books appeals to me.

A POPULAR BOOK TROPE THAT YOU’RE TIRED OF SEEING

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Abusive men portrayed as damaged romantics. This book should have read;

“I like you. By the way, I’m really into BDSM.”

“Oh, I’m not.”

“Ok, bye”.

NOT that shitshow of isolation tactics, stalking, “punishment” and abuse of power and privilege.

A POPULAR SERIES THAT YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN READING.
Haha, most of them?

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Maybe the Lunar Chronicles  – not least because a) my ankle looks like that after breaking it and I can feel the metal in my leg – urgh and b) what on earth is this fractional numbering convention all about?

 

THE SAYING GOES “THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE”, BUT WHAT MOVIE OR TV SHOW ADAPTATION DO YOU PREFER MORE THAN THE BOOK?
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Oh gosh, Killing Eve was soooooo much better than Codename: Villanelle. The books were ok but the TV adaptations were phenomenal. Can’t wait for series two!

I tag anyone who wants to do this!

Have you read any of these books? Have I been overly harsh or do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Review: Lullaby by Leila Slimani

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“The baby is dead, It only took a few seconds.”

Genre: Domestic thriller

Similar to: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Could be enjoyed by: The happily child free (the book hits very close to home)

Publication date: 18th August 2016

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #10 Read a translated book written by and/or translated by a woman.

I’d heard a lot about Lullaby from various different sources; what with it being the genre-du-jour (domestic thriller) and the winner of the Prix Goncourt there seemed to be a lot of buzz about it. So when I saw it in the library I couldn’t wait to start reading it – and I can honestly say that the book is well deserving of the hype.

Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, is the mother of two children. Her and her husband Paul vowed not to let the kids dictate their lives but since becoming a parent Myriam has struggled with her role as stay-at-home-mum. She decides to return to work and employs Louise, a seemingly Mary-Poppins-perfect nanny. Louise is all the things that Myriam isnt; a great cook, a calm and efficient caregiver, a neat and tidy individual who leaves the apartment looking better than it ever has. But as Louise works her way further and further into Myriam and Paul’s lives, they slowly realise that no-one is perfect…

I’ve just finished reading Lullaby and I honestly couldn’t put it down. The book is super tense – claustrophobic even, written in an unusual style (you know what happens in the first few pages; the narrative then goes back to examine the events that led up to it). Even though the characters are all horrible people, you get completely drawn into their lives and I spent the whole book trying to psychologically profile them and even apportioning blame (which is a terrible, judgemental thing to do, even to fictional characters). But that’s part of the book’s charm – it forces you to look at the judgement surrounding child-rearing and it magnifies each and every lazy stereotype that we have of the clueless father, the selfish career woman, the stay-at-home mum, the immigrant domestic help, the borgeoise children, the educated liberal elite… I could go on.

I loved the different cultural norms that were explored, especially in relation to race and social status and I think that perspective could have only been written so sensitively by an author of colour. For example, at one point Myriam states that she doesn’t want to hire a nanny with the same heritage as her because their shared culture and language would create an uncomfortable intimacy. Whilst I can understand this on some level – I guess it’s a bit like employing your friends – I would never have considered the tension that this could create and blithely assumed that Myriam would want her children to be as entrenched in their dual heritage as possible. That’s another of my lazy assumptions challenged!

I listened to a podcast where Lullaby was being discussed and one of the contributors said that she had to DNF the book because it hit too close to home. I can completely understand that – the book is an exploration of imperfect family life, guilt about not being a good enough mother and having the worst thing that can happen to you actually happen – in graphic detail – so it obviously hits quite a lot of sensitive areas. There’s no doubting that it’s a disturbing read. Several scenes made my skin crawl and as Myriam starts to see Louise in a new light I could viscerally feel her revulsion.

The ending is not for everyone but I enjoyed the open-ended finish. Again, you’re left to draw your own conclusions and I appreciated not having any kind of moral judgement or explanation foisted upon me.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lullaby and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fast paced domestic thriller – as long as they had a strong stomach.

 

Four “The chicken carcass scene will haunt me forever”s out of five.

Thrillingly fast paced, enthralling but with just the right amount of disturbing imagery, Lullaby is a fantastic read.   

 

 

 

Calendar Girls February: Favourite Book by a Black Author

Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of the Calendar Girls!

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Calendar Girls was a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books and Flavia the Bibliophile and will now be hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favourite book from the theme and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post.

So without further ado, this month’s theme is…

calendar girls february

…and my top pick is…

Lullaby/The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani*

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Taken from Goodreads…

When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.

The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered… 

I’ve just finished reading Lullaby and I honestly couldn’t put it down. The book is super tense, written in an unusual style (you know what happens in the first few pages; the narrative then goes back to explain how it all happened.) Even though the characters are all horrible people, you get completely drawn into their lives and I spent the whole book trying to psychologically profile them and even apportioning blame (which is a terrible, judgemental thing to do, even to fictional characters). I loved the different cultural norms that were explored, especially in relation to race and social status and I think that perspective could have only been written so sensitively by an author of colour.

I listened to a podcast where this book was being discussed and one of the contributors said that she had to DNF Lullaby because it hit too close to home. I can completely understand that – the book is an exploration of imperfect family life, guilt about not being a good enough mother and having the worst thing that can happen to you actually happen, so it obviously hits quite a lot of sensitive areas.

Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lullaby and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fast paced domestic thriller.

Have you read Lullaby? Do you have any bookish plans for Black History month?Let me know in the comments! 

*I’ve taken “black author” to include mixed race people so while I’m not entirely sure of Leila Slimani’s heritage, she gets included in a lot of articles about people of colour so I’d say she counts for the purposes of this post.

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!

 

Sorting Out the Shelves #2

Hello Bookworms!

A bit late this week but welcome back to my new feature, where I try to Marie Kondo my massive collection of books that I’m fast running out of room for. I hate getting rid of them but needs must, so bring on the binbags! *Side note: obviously I’ll be donating my books to the charity shop, not actually chucking them away. I’m not a monster.

This week’s selection features some beautiful vintage hardbacks that have sentimental value and some popular paperbacks that I’ll probably never re-read – plus a bonus book that somehow escaped the first cull!

Keepers

My Grandad’s 1950’s Encyclopedias

I could spend all day looking through these…

I know it’s hard to believe, but back when I was at school the internet was not a thing and we had to rely on encyclopedias to obtain information. If you couldn’t find the topic that you were looking for… tough. Dark times indeed.

These encyclopedias were printed in the 1950’s when books were luxuries that most ordinary people couldn’t afford, so quite how I managed to inherit these is something of a miracle (my Grandad died with 22p in his pocket and zero savings – he’d even cashed in his funeral plan). I guess he must have thought that they would be useful to my Mum and Uncle so found some money from somewhere? My Mum thinks that he got them from a door to door salesman so probably bought them one book at a time, which would have helped with the cost. Considering my Mum grew up with very little, I love the idea that my Grandad prioritised her education over all of the other household expenses.

The books themselves are beautiful, in fairly good condition considering their age and have some gorgeous colour illustrations (?) (I’m not entirely sure what they are, they look like paintings but they’re so realistic they might be black and white photographs that have been coloured in). They’re fascinating to look through and a real slice of history, as seen through a very British colonial lens (i.e. racist). Despite their problematic language I love what they represent to my family and I could never throw them away.

Donations

The Millennium Trilogy plus a stowaway Eclipse book.

Read them, next…

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Bleurgh, look at the stickers…

I enjoyed reading the Millennium Trilogy and although I like the look of the spines all sitting in order on my shelves, I’ve read them, I’m not re-reading them, they have to go.

Also, although I admire the tenacity of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, how did it manage to hide itself when I was chucking out all the Twilight books last week? It was right next to them! Whatever, I can’t really remember what it was about, I’m not going to look at it again, It’s just taking up space. Bye Felicia!

Do you have any inherited books that you just can’t throw away? Do you own any unique books that have sentimental value? Can you remember what The Second Life of Bree Tanner is about? Let me know in the comments!

 

Review: The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris

 

Genre: Adult fiction, Mystery

Similar to: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of quirky characters who don’t mind repetition

Publication date: 27th December 2018

 

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #13 Read a book by or about someone who identifies as neurodiverse

Jasper is a teenage boy being brought up by his Dad after the death of his Mum some years ago. He’s autistic and also has face blindness (literally doesn’t recognise anyone’s face, only their clothing/jewellery etc.) and synaesthesia (sees colours and patterns when he hears sounds i.e. a barking dog looks like it’s surrounded by yellow french fries). When free spirited Bee Larkham moves into Jasper’s street and starts playing loud “alien” music, disrupting the peace and causing Jasper to see shiny silver shapes, he’s intrigued. When he meets her and finds out that her “colour” is a rare shade of blue (just like his Mum’s) he’s excited. And when he talks to her about his beloved wild parakeets that nest in her tree and she actively encourages them, Jasper thinks he’s made a new best friend. So why is Bee Larkham missing, and why does Jasper think that he’s killed her?

As you can probably already tell, this is a highly original book. Jasper is a great, multi-dimensional character  – an unreliable narrator whose innocent view of the world puts a very different spin on the main narrative. On the other hand, Bee Larkham is a horrible, manipulative individual. She had a terrible childhood and I’d guess that she was mentally ill but she’s literally a paedophile. A lot of people seem to have glossed over this (perhaps because a woman having sex with an underage boy is somehow seen as not as bad as a man having sex with an underage girl?) but as far as I’m concerned abuse is abuse – and there’s a lot of it in the book. However, because of Jasper’s narration, it’s all wrapped up in a kind of cozy, childlike innocence that takes away from some of the horror – but works brilliantly to amplify it when something bad happens to him.

The main plot of the book is fairly straightforward, but with Jasper narrating the action you have to very carefully read between the lines to see what’s really going on. His inability to recognise faces (even those of his parent’s) adds another layer of complexity, although this makes the story somewhat hard to follow in places and the repetition of endless descriptions of colours did get a bit tedious. I also thought that the plot could have been a bit tighter – to me, the book felt overly long and there were some slack parts during the middle chapters where nothing really happened.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the light and shade within the novel – the overall tone was lighthearted and amusing despite the dark subject matter. Jasper was totally naive to the situation going on around him but there was just enough information for the reader to be able to guess at what was really happening. There were a few red herrings thrown in for good measure too, which kept me on my toes and meant that I didn’t even begin to guess at what the final conclusion might be.

Overall, I liked The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder for it’s charm, complexity and uniqueness but there were times when the writing got a bit tedious and I disengaged from the storyline. I liked the neurodiverse representation and felt that this really added to the intrigue but the novel felt overly long and I sometimes found it hard to follow who was who. It’s a shame because this could have been an absolutely brilliant read – it’s certainly a great idea – but unfortunately the author didn’t quite pull it off.

 

Three and a half “don’t eat that pie!”s out of five.

Quirky, funny but oh-so repetitive and slow in parts.

A good – but sadly not great – read.  

 


Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of NetGalley. Thanks NetGalley!