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 – I 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!

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TL;DR April Review

Hello Bookworms!

HEATWAVE!!! HAPPY EASTER!!! BANK HOLIDAY!!!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

I can’t believe how warm it was over the Easter bank holiday weekend! We went out on bank holiday Monday in SHORTS and I had to put suncream on! We even sat out at night in the garden with our wood burner going after having a barbecue and it was lovely.

April saw the launch of the library as a full volunteer led community resource, which means we’ll have much more flexibility about the kind of things that we can use it for – we already have a poetry evening, farmers market and various kids clubs but we’ll be expanding even further, which is both super exciting and a lot of work. The launch day itself was really great – the whole community pulled together to create a fantastic atmosphere. I got up at the crack of dawn to marshal a fun run but it was all for a good cause so I didn’t really mind.

I’ve been out quite a lot in April – we visited Snowshill Manor for the non-hubs birthday (getting more usage from our National Trust membership) which is absolutely fascinating as it houses the most eclectic collection of hand crafted items from all over the world. The interior of the house reminded me of Grimmauld Place so it was perfect for a mooch around; this is just one of the many rooms:

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We also had a meal at The Fleece Inn near Evesham which was amazing – a proper traditional English pub with a great beer garden and fabulous, locally sourced food. We even went back there a few days later after we’d been out antiquing at Malvern, where I got a lovely German studio pottery bowl and French vase.

We had my parents over for Easter Sunday lunch which involved loads of hot food, wine and chocolate which was really nice. My Mum had her birthday too so we went to Edingale, the village where she used to go during the holidays (some scheme run by the Church maybe?) to stay with a woman called Miss Abel. She hadn’t been back since the 1950’s and amazingly it hadn’t changed much. It’s a lovely place, still very rural and the house that she used to stay in was still there, looking pretty much the same.

Our other house is slow going – we’re still sanding down the cement like filler round all the door frames but we’re close to finishing the woodwork, so that’s something. Disasters this month have included ants in the kitchen (why? there’s literally nothing for them to eat) water ingress into my lovely new kitchen (I think the upstairs window is leaking) and some more problems with the plasterwork but we’re on top of them now.

In terms of my book blogging life I’m now halfway through the Read Harder Challenge which is obviously ahead of schedule and I’m doing ok in the Goodreads Challenge, although I have slipped back a bit.

This month, I took part in the April Calendar Girls meme where I chose Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough as my favourite book with a surprise ending. I took part in a blog tour run by The Write Reads for After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward and expanded my mini review feature to two postings a month – Mid-Month Mini-Reviews and Monthly Wrap-Up Mini-Reviews.

I also did a discussion post about blogging pressure called Are We Having Fun Yet? and continued with Sorting Out the Shelves #5.

I posted eight reviews despite having a pretty bad reading month quality wise:

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie: A fantastic essay that really cut to the bones of why it’s important to be an intersectional feminist in the 21st Centuy. Loved everything that she had to say. Five out of five stars

Bloodchild by Octavia E Butler: I loved this novella, especially as it felt like proper old school sci-fi. I’m super interested in the rest of the series now! Four out of five. 

After the Green Withered by Kristen Ward: An interesting debut with a great message but a few problems with pacing and structure. Three and a half out of five.

A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor: I found that again, a restrained, something-might-happen-but-then-it-doesn’t plot dull as ditchwater. Some characters were brilliant but unfortunately they didn’t feature heavily enough for me.  Three out of five. 

First Love by Gwendoline Riley: One word: depressing. I hate books that don’t have redemptive arcs and this was just one horrible character after another, even though the writing was excellent. Two and a half out of five.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry: I didn’t hate this book but it dragged on and on with very little in the way of plot. It was beautifully written but I needed more action. Average. Two and a half out of five. 

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley: I hated this book – the confusing structure of some sentences, the character names, the incongruous details that didn’t sit well within the Victorian setting…urgh. I made it through to the end but my God it was a slog. One out of five. 

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville: I hated every single thing about this book and DNF’d it half way through. One out of five.

So that’s April wrapped up! Did you read better books than me? Are you making plans for the summer? 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 😯😯😯 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 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!

 

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 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: 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 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

TL;DR April Review

Hello Bookworms!

I don’t know what it is about April that sends me into a reading and blogging slump but it seems that every year I unintentionally give myself a month off. Perhaps it’s because everything kicks off in the garden/on the allotment, perhaps it’s the weather warning up that makes me go out more or possibly it’s because April is The Month Of Family Birthdays but anyway, enough excuses. I had shit to do, ok? 😆

April has been pretty cold and wet here, except for a mini heatwave that fooled everyone into thinking that summer was on it’s way. I spent two days frantically digging out summer clothing and dealing with my jungle of a greehouse, only to revert back to wooly jumpers and rain battered plants two days later. 

The house renovation project is turning into a black hole for my finances – last weekend I paid the balance on the kitchen and bathroom, bought a new front door and had it fitted, got the paint to paint it with, bought the skirting board and door architrave and all the bathroom tiles. The bathroom is finally being fitted next week and once that’s done the kitchen will be going in too. There’s still some prep work to be done, plus various other bits that need our attention (boiler, skirting boards, floors, interior doors etc.) so loads to do still. I can’t wait to get that skip ordered!

I’ve been to various places for the aforementioned birthdays, but the best day out was Chatsworth House. 

Me and the non-hubs had a lovely walk round the grounds and house, which was huge and really interesting. If the house looks familiar, it’s where the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was filmed. Sadly, Mr Darcy did not make an appearance. If you’re in the Derbyshire area, I’d highly recommend a visit. 

In terms of my blog, I only made two posts which is quite frankly rubbish and has put me behind with everything, including my Les Mis read along. I got through 11 chapters last night though (which is more impressive than its sounds – they’re really short). My ARC’s now have three books outstanding so I need to get on it. 

I wrote a fun discussion post called Describe Yourself Like a Male Author Would which I hasten to point out meant #not all men but was intended to highlight lazy stereotyping and needless descriptions of women’s bodies/attractiveness by authors of both genders. Have a go and let me know in the comments!

I also wrote one solitary book review (it was a good one though) – here’s the TL;DR three sentence summary:

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An absolutely enthralling novella with later upon layer of symbolism. An absolute must read forgotten classic. 🌟Five out of five🌟

So that’s April wrapped up! It seems like every month I say this, but hopefully by the end of May I’ll have a bathroom fitted (and maybe a kitchen too!)

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

Much love,

Lucinda xxx