TL;DR July Review

Hello Bookworms!

Well, I may as well leave this review blank because I HAVEN’T PUBLISHED ANYTHING FOR A WHOLE MONTH! Life has just REALLY got in the way this month. Oops.

Sad news – the allotment has been RAVAGED by I-don’t-know-what; slugs, snails, naughty foxes having a dig around, caterpillars… you name it, we’ve been attacked by it. Even the strawberries have been rubbish! The only thing currently surviving is my celery. Sad times. I’ve got some half eaten kale, brussel sprouts and beetroot to plant out but I really don’t think they’re going to do very well. At the moment I’m avoiding even going to add to the compost pile because I know it’ll just be a weed ridden mess up there¬†ūüė≠

In better news, this month I’ve been out to a BBC West Midlands radio recording about Coventry 2021 (all very exciting, although slightly worrying that we don’t currently have nearly enough hotel rooms for the expected numbers of visitors to stay in). I visited Coughton¬†Court which was really interesting and had some of the most beautiful garden borders that this picture really doesn’t do justice to:

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However, our main event this month was going for the full three days to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. We had a fantastic time, ended up accidentally sitting with the Orange Army of Max Verstappen fans (all crazy Dutch people) and – unusually for Silverstone – didn’t get rained on too much. All in all, a brilliant weekend and it was fantastic to see Lewis Hamilton bringing home the win.

The library is just as busy as always and the council have done several things this month to annoy us (which I won’t get into here) but we’re gearing up for a super-exciting refurb of the non fiction area – it’s going to be called the Reading Room and is now going to be a chill out/computer area by day and an events space by night. We have SO MANY ideas for what we could do in there and I’m really excited about what it’s going to look like.

Our other house has caused us many, many problems recently (when does it not) but the most recent one is the local neighbourhood moggies using my nice new gravelled areas as a big litter tray. The final straw came when we discovered a dead rat (!) had been killed by a cat and left in the middle of the patio. One heavy duty binbag and two bottles of bleach later, we’d cleaned the area up and have spent an inordinate amount of effort on cat proofing. We currently have two sonic cat alarms (which I can hear!), some rubber spikes nailed in to the top of all the fence panels (they’re pretty soft and are designed to prevent anything from jumping up on the fence in the first place rather than to cause any harm), a large metal mesh to block off access from the garden at the rear and a water squirter alarm that sends a jet of water out when something walks in front of it. My family have always had cats so I feel quite guilty but we desperately needed to do something. So far, it all seems to be working so we’ll probably get rid of the water squirter in a couple of weeks.

Overall, July was not a great month for me (especially for the blog) but there’s lots to get excited about in the near future.

So that’s July wrapped up! Are you slumping like me? Any tips for keeping cats at bay? Let me know in the comments!

TL;DR May Review

Hello Bookworms!

Mmmmm, it feels like summer might finally be on it’s way!

It’s been so nice and warm recently that we’ve almost run out of rainwater in our water butts so I’m probably one of the few people in the country hoping for a downpour! This is England though, so I expect my wish will be granted pretty soon. I have been sooooo busy getting the allotment prepped and ready for our crops – we’ve got the peas, beans and squash in, the strawberries are coming on nicely, the onions are doing well and the brassicas, celery and spring onions are all growing strong in the greenhouse ready to be planted out.

We had a lovely bank holiday working as per usual, sorting out the never-ending sanding, filling and generally tidying up of the woodwork at our other house. We’ve had the final last few electrical bits sorted, dealt with a mini-flood (upstairs windowsill is faulty) and got people booked in to fit a new boiler and hard landscape the gardens. It’s still nowhere near ready, but once these items have been ticked off the list we’ll be onto painting and then it should hopefully look habitable.

I went out to see “We’ve Got Each Other – the almost entirely imagined Bon Jovi musical” at Warwick Arts Centre with the BFF Juliet which was incredible – a one man show where the narrator asked the audience to literally imagine a musical based 50% on West Side Story and 50% on the lyrics to Livin on a Prayer. Loved it! If you get the chance to see it you should definitely go along, it’s already won loads of awards. May was also the month of Eurovision, so we had a party for that (where there was a SAUSAGE DOG!!!) which was super fun and camp and awesome.

We had a nice day out to High Wycombe and Amersham Old Town, which was gorgeous and old fashioned (and posh). We had a lovely picnic in the park and picked up what will be a very nice new tortoise enclosure (once we’ve got round to building it). We also had a lovely day out at Croome Court where we saw (amongst other things) their Grayson Perry exhibition, which was amazing:

 

I’ve had a fair few library meetings this month including one with the lovely Ellen from the Coventry 2021 team (when Cov becomes the City of Culture). We’ve got some very exciting ideas for a complete library revamp that may or may not come to fruition – watch this space!

I’ve had a terrible month blogging wise (but still managed to gain new followers. Not sure how? Also, hello!). I’m behind in the Goodreads challenge, although it’s hard to track when you read seven books at once – I can go for weeks without finishing anything then suddenly I’ve finished six in one day. I’ve not even looked at Read Harder as I knew I’ve been ahead for so long – I need to finish off a load of old ARCs then I’ll get back onto it.

I did manage to take part in the May Calendar Girls meme where I chose Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine bu Gail Honeyman as my favourite book with a mother/daughter relationship. I also published Mid-Month Mini-Reviews and Monthly Wrap-Up Mini-Reviews.

I posted seven reviews in total:

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman:¬†I couldn’t believe how powerful this book was. What an amazing story, pitched exactly right for the YA audience. Just a shame I was too old to have read it as a teenager when it first came out.¬†Four and a half out of five stars

Becoming by Michelle Obama:¬†A fantastic autobiography that really showed what an amazing person Michelle is. I thought it would be boringly political but it wasn’t at all. Loved it.¬†Four out of five stars

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones:¬†I loved how much this book made me think, long after I’d finished it. The characters were all horrible, the plot didn’t really go anywhere… and yet I still really liked it. Weird.¬†Four out of five stars

Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks: This was such a page turner! I loved the setting of an island for a thriller (what a great plot device) and the atmospheric writing. A great book to take on holiday. Four out of five stars

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney:¬†Despite seemingly everyone not liking this book – I did. I felt oddly compelled by the characters and completely identified with that post-teenage angst that comes partly from boredom and partly from not having any sense of who you are or what you’re meant to be doing. A great read.¬†Four out of five stars

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend: Amusing but lacked direction РI needed more plot! Not her greatest work. Three out of five stars

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh:¬†I felt like this was kind of a nothing-y book. Not much plot, horrible characters, a distinct lack of tension. I’m sure it’s meant to be a subversive comment on modern art or something but I’m afraid that went right over my head. Two and a half out of five stars

So that’s May wrapped up! Are you slumping like me? Is anything interesting going on in your gardens? Let me know in the comments!

TL;DR March Review

Hello Bookworms!

Oooh, for the first time today I went out without a coat! I mean, I was quite cold but nonetheless I survived! The central heating has had to go back on again at night so it’s not THAT warm but it definitely feels like Summer is on it’s way. Check out the Hummingbird Hawk Moth that arrived in my garden last week:

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March has been a month of library admin. I’ve got myself involved in three different committees (Fundraising, Social Media and HR) as well as generally helping out. We’ve got a launch date set up for the 6th April (when we officially become a community library) which is going to involve all kinds of fun stuff so there’ll be lots to do for that too. I’m even marshalling a fun run! It’s¬†been really heartwarming seeing how great the local community has been at supporting our cause – people have been so generous.

Going out in March has mostly consisted of a library social event in the pub, a family trip out for Mother’s Day, a brunch meeting in a cafe (again with new library friends) and for a family meal for my non-hubs Uncle’s 80th.

We’ve slowly been cracking on with the other house, finishing lots of odd jobs that needed doing. I’ve befriended a local cat called Marmaduke who is SO floofy and always comes in for a nose around.

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I’m way ahead in the¬†Read Harder Challenge and, despite initially loving Don Quioxte I’ve officially DNF’d the book. It’s just one long farce and for me, the joke got old pretty quickly. I’ll pick the challenge back up again for the next book – The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m also ahead in my Goodreads Challenge so overall doing pretty well!

This month, I¬†took part in the March¬†Calendar Girls meme¬†where I chose Skyward by Brandon Sanderson¬†as my favourite book with a strong female lead.¬†I continued¬†Sorting Out the Shelves,¬†I wrote an A-Z of me Part One and Two, I did a fun recommendations post for Books to Get You Through Brexit¬†and I did the Good Reading Habits Tag. I was also Blog of the Day again for my review of Circe (which boosted my stats sky high) so thank you to everyone who participated in reading and sharing my post! Somehow, the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction found the review and contacted me on Twitter to ask if I want to take part in a Q&A with the author, Madeline Miller ūüėĮūüėĮūüėĮ which was a huge honour, even if I didn’t have long to prepare my question:

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

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle¬†by Stuart Turton: A brilliant, if slightly confusing book with a thoroughly engrossing plotline. Couldn’t put it down! Four and a half out of five.

Circe by Madeline Miller:¬†Such an original concept, which sounds stupid for a re-telling but her perspective and lyrical prose felt totally fresh. I’ve already got hold of her previous book!¬†Four out of five.

Golden State by Ben H. Winters: I loved the old school sci-fi feel to this book but was badly let down by the ending. Such a shame! Three and a half out of five. 

Lucky Star by Holly Curtis: Quite an enjoyable look at some nostalgic, realistic YA but I thought that the overall structure of the novel needed some work. Three out of five. 

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine: An interesting, if somewhat depressing read, I struggled to emotionally connect with the author. Three out of five.

Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett: DNF’d at 60%. I REALLY gave this one a good go but the meandering storyline went precisely nowhere and I got bored. No idea why this is such a long book!¬†Two out of five.¬†

So that’s March wrapped up! Is Spring definitely in the air where you are? Are you looking forwards to Easter? 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 ūüėĎ. 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 May Review

‚ÄčHello 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

TL;DR Nano Reviews – January

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Hey everyone, guess what this post is?

What, Lucinda?

It’s the TL;DR nano wrap up!

WTF?

It’s my monthly wrap up where I write a nano review (three sentences or less) of my own book reviews.

Wow!

I know! So now, I have to trawl through my rambling musings to pick out the essence of my reviews, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome!

I reviewed five books in January which is pretty crap considering I have at least ten unfinished review posts in the pipeline. I need to crack on in February!

The books I reviewed were:

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn – FIVE FREAKING STARS!!! Really loved everything about it. Settle yourself in because you won’t be able to put this one down.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet Ann Jacobs – One of those important books that you don’t exactly enjoy (far too harrowing) but tells an amazing story in an own voice about a period of history that’s uncomfortable to learn about. Highly recommended. Four stars.

Everless by Sara Holland – If you named all of the YA fantasy tropes then you’d get the plot of this novel. Fast paced but utterly predictable. Three stars.¬†

A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen – A bit meh. Two-and-a-half stars.

The Confession by Jo Spain – Great premise but sexist writing, horrible characters, a flat storyline and the repetition of the term “Celtic Tiger” drove me insane. Disappointing. Two stars.

I know a lot of you do monthly wrap ups, but I thought that nano reviews would be fun to try. If anyone wants to join in and write their own January TL;DR feel free – just tag back to me!

Lucinda xxx