Thursday, 25 May 2017

Classic Children's Books: The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

Book Review

"Plop was fat and fluffy.
He had a beautiful heart-shaped ruff.
He had enormous, round eyes.
He had very knackety knees.
In fact, he was exactly the same as every baby barn owl that has ever been - except for one thing.
Plop was afraid of the dark."

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is written by Jill Tomlinson and illustrated by Paul Howard. It is published by Egmont.

My last review was on a book about kidnapping and rape and now here's a review about an owl called Plop who's scared of the dark, I like to mix it up.

I thought I'd do another review of books from my childhood. I loved The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark when I was younger, I think I had the audio book on cassette too (yes, I'm old) and used to listen to it before I went to sleep. It's funny, it's sweet and it teaches children not to be afraid of the dark without being preachy.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Room by Emma Donoghue

Book Review

Room by Emma Donoghue - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

“Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing.”

Room is written by Emma Donoghue and published by Picador.

Room has divided a lot of readers, with some loving the 5-year-old protagonist and others not able to read much further than the first few pages. I for one read Room in one sitting and found it an odd mixture; naïve and horrific at the same time.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Book Review

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

“The rest of us become narrow and mean when we live falsely. I'm sick to death of living falsely. I've been doing it for years.”

The Paying Guests is written by Sarah Waters and published by Virago.

I’ve never read any Sarah Waters before but I’ve heard good things. Unfortunately, though there is some excellent writing and interesting characters, I felt The Paying Guests dragged on much too long and ran out of steam.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

10 Roald Dahl Tattoos - Literary Tattoos Series

I started the literary tattoos series back in February, and am only now putting together the next post. By series I clearly mean, when I can be bothered to post.

I'm following on with the children's book theme of the last post, but this time with a specific author, Roald Dahl. With such an imagination, not to mention brilliant illustrators like Quentin Blake, there are lots of amazing Roald Dahl tattoos out there (and some terrible ones).

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

April 2017 Link Love

Basset's Cove The Cornish Life - Reading, Writing, Booking

I don't know what to write for this introduction so I'm keeping it brief; here are some links to webpages I've liked in April. Enjoy!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

April 2017: Favourite Books

April 2017 Favourite Books - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

It's been a full month of reading this April, with a little more variety than usual, though there's still the usual big dose of murder.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters

Book Review

A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters

"It was an ordinary pocket notebook, ambushed by a person's desperation to record his or her life."

A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip will be published in hardback on 5th May 2017. It is written by Alexander Masters and published by 4th Estate.

I was really excited to read A Life Discarded because the author, Alexander Masters, wrote Stuart: A Life Backwards, which I loved (the film is also amazing, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch being brilliant). However, I think, like a lot of other reviewers, this book just didn't live up to the level set by Stuart. A Life Discarded is a unique, intriguing book, and I definitely enjoyed reading it, but I think it unfortunately fails by being compared to its older, prettier, more accomplished sister (does that work as a metaphor?)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

Book Review

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"It wasn't over. It had only just begun."

The Killer On The Wall is published in the UK today (20th April 2017). It is written by Emma Kavanagh and published by Cornerstone.

That quote is a little overly dramatic and cliched, and I'm afraid there is a lot of that in The Killer on the Wall. What starts off as an interestingly original thriller concept soon gets let down by the fairly unrealistic plot. If you suspend belief it's an enjoyable enough read and an interesting look at the science and debate around the makings of serial killers.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Sweetpea by C J Skuse

Book Review

Sweetpea by C J Skuse - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"It's an exciting privilege to watch someone die, knowing you caused it. Almost worth getting dolled up for."

Sweetpea will be released in the UK this Thursday (20th April 2017). It is written by C J Skuse and published by HQ.

If Georgia Nicolson (Angus, Thongs and Ful-Frontal Snogging) grew up and developed some seriously disturbing urges, this would be the diary she'd write.
A slightly more accessible example is Dexter meets Bridget Jones, but with infinitely more grit.

I read Sweetpea a couple of weeks ago when I had a horrible cold and this book was a brilliant distraction; funny, disturbing and unexpected. It's the diary of a serial killer with very relatable kill lists and a twisted sense of humour. This won't be everyone's cup of tea but I loved this refreshing book.

(FYI, bad language coming up. If you don't like swearing then don't read this review and don't read the book.)

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

Book Review

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"She carried the Database around inside of her; it floated in her brain like a net for catching and killing any glistening idea that came along."

The Beautiful Bureaucrat is released in the UK today (April 13th 2017). It is written by Helen Phillips and published by Pushkin Press.

This is a strange book, it's not really sure what it wants to be; it's part thriller, part magical realism, part exploration of the mundanity of modern life and part completely surreal hallucination. The Beautiful Bureaucrat attempts too much and doesn't quite hit the right note, but I did enjoy reading it and, having been a data drone in my work life, connect with Josephine a lot.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza

Book Review

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza - Reading, Writing, Booking

"His wildness was a gift. She wanted never to forget the immense favour he did them, the kindness of reminding them that no matter how lonely the city became, you could open a window or a door or even just an eye and find a mass of life that listened back."

How to Be Human is released in the UK today (April 6th). It is written by Paula Cocozza and published by Hutchinson.

I don't think I'm the only book blogger finding it difficult to review How to be Human; I've had a scout around Goodreads and a lot  of reviewers mention struggling to write up their feelings about the book. It may be because How to be Human is not like anything I've ever read before. It has similar themes to several books I've read; isolation, obsession and depression, but Paula Cocozza handles it in a totally unique way.
Honestly, I'm still not sure if I enjoyed the book or not, it's been a few weeks and I still don't know how I feel.
None of this is very helpful to you, is it? I'll crack on with the blurb.

Monday, 3 April 2017

March 2017 Link Love

Knights Templar Caves Discovers in Rabbit Hole - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

Another month, another round-up of links I've been loving on the web. As usual, there are lots of book reviews from fellow book bloggers, including a couple of classics. I've also found some useful writing tips, especially if you're a budding children's book author.
Finally, I've got some random links, with everything from underground caves to inspiring women standing up against sexual violence.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

March 2017: Favourite Books

Reading, Writing, Booking - March Favourite Books

As usual, I've ploughed through a lot of books this month. Most of them are from the same Ann Cleeve crime series, which I am loving. I've also been reading a lot of new releases from NetGalley and, while some have only been OK, there are a couple that have really gripped me.

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

Book Review

The 12 Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"Like those craters, Hawley's scars were signs of previous damage, that had impacted his life long before she was born. And like the moon, Hawley was always circling between Loo and the rest of the universe."

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley will be released on 6th April. It is written by Hannah Tinti and published by Tinder Press.

Wow, I loved this book. It's a little bit Tarantino and a little bit coming of age story. I know I'm not the first person to reference Tarantino when talking about The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley but the violence, beauty and characters really reminded me of his films. Yet, dare I say it, a little better written?

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Book Review

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"The missing girl's name was Rebecca Shaw. When last seen she'd been wearing a white hooded top."

Reservoir 13 will be released on 6th April. It is written by Jon McGregor and published by 4th Estate.

This was such an unexpected but interesting little book. That sounds really patronising but I don't mean it to. With a missing girl story line I thought the plot line of Reservoir 13 would focus on the police investigation, but instead author Jon McGregor looks at how this event effects the community of the village she went missing in. It's not really like anything I've read before. It's about ordinary people and everyday life, yet it celebrates the beauty of the mundane.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Larchfield by Polly Clark

Book Review

Larchfield by Polly Clark - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"He can write about a hero, but he cannot be one."

Larchfield will be released on 23rd March. It is written by Polly Clark and published by Quercus.

Larchfield is one of those books that is well written, has fleshed-out characters and covers interesting themes, but it's also one I just could not get into. I should like it, I know, it ticks all the boxes but I really struggled to finish it. Maybe I'm just not intellectual enough. I only know a couple of W. H. Auden's poems and not much else about him. Whatever it was I just didn't connect with this book.

Friday, 17 March 2017

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

Book Review

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey - Reading, Writing, Booking

"There is the feeling here that civilization is still just a speck, and it makes me feel small in a good way."

To the Bright Edge of the World is written by Eowyn Ivey and published by Tinder Press.

This book is bloody amazing. I don't normally give out 5 star reviews, or reveal my star rating at the beginning of the review, but To the Bright Edge of The World is definitely a 5 star worthy book. I already mentioned it in my February Favourite Books post, and now I've finally got round to giving it a proper review.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Book Review

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

"People think that good and bad are opposites but they're wrong, they're just a mirror image of one another in broken glass."

Sometimes I Lie will be released on 23rd March. It is written by Alice Feeney and published by Harper Collins.

I wanted to read Sometimes I Lie both because of the blurb, which has drawn everyone in, and because it has had rave reviews. Sometimes these majorly hyped thrillers fall flat, but I did enjoy this one and it felt fresh and a bit different to the usual Gone Girl wannabes.

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Sultan, The Vampyr and the Soothsayer

Book Review

The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer by Lucille Turner

"He would have the eyes and ears of the wolf, and the strength of the wolf, but he would also have its hunger."

The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer is written by Lucille Turner and published by Hengist Press.

Usually these days any book with vampire (or vampyr) in the title has me running for the hills, as it's usually some nausea-inducing teen love story, but when Lucille Turner approached me to review her book I was intrigued as it is based on the life of Vlad Dracula, aka the real life inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. I'm also fascinated by the era and have a soft spot for beautiful Romania as I spent a month there doing a journalism internship (as you do).

The Sultan, The Vampyr and the Soothsayer is a fascinating book which is bound to appeal to historical fiction fans and provides an insight into an enigmatic figure. At times the book is a little over ambitious and gets swamped in facts and characters, but overall it's a good read and I now want to learn a lot more about the era and the Dracula legend.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Born Bad by Marnie Riches

Book Review

Born Bad by Marnie Riches - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"It had been madness then. It was still madness now."

Born Bad will be released this Thursday (9th March 2017). It is written by Marnie Riches and published by Avon.

I was intrigued by the sound of this Manchester gangland book, I like a bit of gangster fiction. But, while there is a good story in there somewhere, it's hard to make it out from the rather untidy story telling. That sounds a bit odd, but it's the best way I can think of to describe it, Born Bad has so many story-lines and characters, but they're all a bit sloppily executed.

Friday, 3 March 2017

February 2017 Link Love

Tiny Bohemian Home - Reading, Writing, Booking

I think this month's Link Love post reflects my financial situation in February; completely broke. Even the Writing links join in, with a post on keeping your day job even when published. There's also an article on a woman who saved £22,000 a year by buying nothing but the essentials.
Don't worry though, I'm still obsessed with books, and I've found some great reviews and reading lists around the web this month. Books count as essentials, right?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February 2017: Favourite Books

February 2017 Favourite Books

I've read quite a lot this month and I've had a few books that I enjoyed, but I wouldn't say they were favourites (follow me on Goodreads to keep up with what I'm reading). These four books are the ones that really stood out for me. For once they're not all crime fiction, I'm branching out!

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Book Review

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

"STRANGE NEWS, they'd say, of a monstrous serpent with eyes like a sheep, come out of the Essex waters and up to the birch woods and commons!"

The Essex Serpent is written by Sarah Perry and is published (appropriately) by Serpent's Tail.

I've finally got around to reading the hugely popular The Essex Serpent. It's had such a lot of hype that I was worried it wouldn't live up to expectations. However, The Essex Serpent is something wonderfully different; enthralling, Gothic and at the same time very human.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Book Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

"Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die."

The Roanoke Girls will be released on 9th March. It is written by Amy Engel and published by Hodder & Stoughton.

The Roanoke Girls is garnering a lot of attention, both for its subject matter and excellent writing. Yes, this is a disturbing book, but, unlike a lot of books that deal with taboo subjects, The Roanoke Girls doesn't shove it in your face but lets the story unfold slowly in all its disturbing glory. I was thoroughly hooked, wanting to keep reading while also having my skin crawl, a weird feeling.

Friday, 17 February 2017

10 Picture Book Tattoos - Literary Tattoos Series

This is the start of a new series I'm doing on literary tattoos. It's something a bit different to break up the book reviews and writing ramblings.

I've been vaguely wondering about getting another tattoo, but not sure what. Being a reader, I was thinking of getting a literary tattoo and had a scout around the internet for some inspiration, queue getting lost for several hours down a Pinterest hole. There are so many book related tattoos, some awful and some amazing. I thought I'd share a few that I've found in some round up posts.

The first post features tattoos inspired by children's picture books. Picture books are the very first books you discover and they have a lasting effect, so it's no surprise that there are a lot of meaningful picture book tattoos.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Classic Children's Books: The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber

Book Review

The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber and Nicola Bayley

"At the far end of England, a land of rocks and moorland stretches itself out into a blue-green sea."

The Mousehole Cat is written by Antonia Barber and illustrated by Nicola Bayley. It is published by Walker Books.

I haven't written a review of a children's book for a while so I thought I'd re-read one of my favourite children's books, The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Birds Art Life Death: A Field Guide to the Small and Significant by Kyo Maclear

Book Review

Birds Art Life Death by Kyo Maclear - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"There are no big reasons to live. Just little reasons."

Birds Art Life Death: A Field Guide to the Small and Significant is released today in the UK (9th February 2017). It is written by Kyo Maclear and published by Fourth Estate.

Here's something a little different; if you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know that I read a lot of fiction, but this little nonfiction gem intrigued me when I saw it on NetGalley. An exploration of birding, it sounds like it will be dull beyond reason, but it's actually about the appreciating the small beauties in the world.

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Book Review

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

"Yes, exile was as old as mankind. But the Russians were the first people to master the notion of sending a man into exile at home."

A Gentleman in Moscow will be released on 9th February. It is written by Amor Towles and published by Hutchinson.

It's taken me quite a while to write a review of A Gentleman in Moscow as I'm still not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand it was a delight to dive into the beautifully worded story of Count Alexander Rostov and the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, but on the other hand this book really dragged for me, and as beautiful as the language was, I felt there was too much of it at times.

Friday, 3 February 2017

January 2017 Link Love

Bare Minerals GEN NUDE Lip Products

My first Link Love post of the New Year. I don't know about you but January has really dragged for me, I know it's a cliche to hate January but this one has been rather dull and dismal. Although it has been punctuated with a few bright frosty days which make the twice-a-day dog walks bearable.

However, though January has been very Januaryish, there have been a lot of great things on the web, probably because content makers know that everyone's going to be staying in staring at their phones.

I've deliberately left out a lot of bloggers' resolutions and aims posts for 2017, I'm sorry but after twenty or so they become rather repetitive. Instead I've got some excellent book reviews on new releases and older classics, some great writing tips and a lot of randomness, including satirical comedy and lipstick.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

January 2017: Favourite Books

January 2017 Favourite Books - Reading, Writing, Booking

Although I've read a lot in January I haven't actually finished many books, and the ones that I have finished have been a bit...blah. So, this month's favourite books post is a little light. Luckily the ones that I have enjoyed this month have really stood out, so there's not too many of them but they're all little gems.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

Book Review

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

"You ever hear that saying about Tokyo being a million cities all at once? You wonder if maybe some of them are good and some of them are bad?"

Blue Light Yokohama will be released on February 2nd. It is written by Nicolás Obregón and published by Penguin.

Back to the new releases after last week's classic. Out next month, Blue Light Yokohama is a crime thriller set in Tokyo that is both tense and well-written.