Friday, 25 January 2013

Review: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans
M.L. Stedman

'They [the stars] just kept shining, no matter what was going on. I think of the light here like that, like a splinter of a star that's fallen to earth: it just shines, no matter what is happening.'

Well blow me down. What a book. It has taken me a few days to consider this book before I could actually write down what I thought of it. I loved this book but since finishing it I have felt quite uneasy about the storyline and the general morality of it. Maybe that is the point and if it is, Stedman is very clever, she certainly got me. It is not that I have felt uneasy about how Stedman has written it, or the moral path that she follows, but more by my own moral compass and the ease with which I made my decision of how I wanted the book to end. If you've read it, I think you'd understand, but if you've not then all I can say is go read it, like, right now.

Ok, so the novel follows the story of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne and their life on the lighthouse island Janus Rock. Tom is a veteran of the First World War who took a job as a lighthouse keeper on his return from the Western Front. Janus is probably the most isolated place they could be, short of actually being in the middle of the ocean on a boat. After three miscarriages, a boat washes up on the island containing a dead man and baby who is very much alive. Their decision to keep the baby forms the basis of the novel and brings up some very interesting questions.

I particularly like how the novel starts with a prologue type chapter from the middle of the story. There is no slow lead up here, Stedman gets right on in there, gives us a taste of the action and then returns to the beginning. I like this because it's like we already know what the characters are going to do before we even know who they are. Then as we find out about them, the knowledge of those actions is constantly there, changing our relationship with the characters. Clever that, I think. It is also clever how, in such a morally complex story, I found myself rooting for every single character. I wanted everyone to have Lucy.

Tom is definitely the central character here. We see everything through his eyes even though it is written in third person. He is still a complete mystery though, we know he was in the war and we know it damaged/changed him but we don't know any specifics, much of it is just based on assumptions and inferences. Too many novels which have veterans in try too hard to give them a war story which can often seem fake and disjointed. By simply implying that he had a rough time and almost counting on a general knowledge of the war in her readers, Stedman creates much more of a rounded character. I liked him at least.

The writing is brilliant, the language stunning and the story completely compelling but I do have an issue with the ending. Without putting any spoilers out there, I think it is an unnecessary ending, one which ties everything up in a neat bow, cuts off all those questions and rounds off all those tricky story lines in a way that, I think, did not need to happen. It is good and I did shed a tear or two, but Stedman was saying things that did not need to be said. That might just be me, though. I've got my English grad hat on here and could potentially be being a bit harsh. I would love to hear what any of you who've read it thought of the ending?

Critical moment aside, The Light Between Oceans is heartbreaking and lovely and it finishes with some of the most subtley hopeful lines I have ever read:

'There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way. Scars are just another kind of memory. Isabel is part of him, wherever she is, just like the war and the light and the ocean. Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just another unvisited headstone.
       He watches the ocean surrender to night, knowing that the light will reappear*.'

I think this is a book I will re-read in a few years and have a completely different reaction to. I look forward to seeing what that reaction will be.

* In case you were wondering (probably not), this is part of the reason why I love lighthouses


I'm going on holiday

holiday holiday holiday holiday hollllllllidayyyyy...*ahem* just going to take a minute to compose myself...I'm ok, let's carry on. On Monday I am going to Egypt for an entire seven days (the excitement is barely containable, you may have noticed). Just before Christmas my bestie and I decided it was high time we had a trip, nothing crazy, just a relaxing week in the sun to make up for all the hours we knew we'd be pulling over the Christmas period. So the weekend before last we sat down at her computer and searched for last minute, all-inclusive deals somewhere in the sun. We stumbled across Egypt and, without further ado, hit that 'book holiday' button and, well, away we go.
I have never done an all-inclusive strictly touristy holiday before. I tend to go for trips where I can soak up the culture through museums, food (mostly food) and architecture. But for this one time only, all I want is to sit in the sun, read my books, swim a bit and drink cocktails. I CANNOT WAIT.

Anyway, the point of this post is to show you what books I'm intending to read over the week. I have a fair number of unread books hanging about on my kindle and I have downloaded some specially for the holiday using a gift card my bro got me for Christmas (he knows me so well). Usually on a week away I can get through about five or six books but I am taking plenty to give myself some choice. That is probably the main reason why I love my kindle; you can have so many books all in one place and it weighs barely anything. My suitcases used to be half-filled with books and would weigh an absolute ton but now, all my books are in one  handy piece of kit. My arms are thankful. Delightful.
  • Dark Places Gillian Flynn
  • The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon (this would be a re-read but I want to read the follow-ups and can't remember what happened at all!)
  • Slammerkin Emma Donoghue
  • Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel (probably won't rush to read this one, it is mighty chunky)
  • Half Blood Blues Esi Edugyan
  • Alys, Always Harriet Lane
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce (definitely reading this one first)
  • The Sisters Brothers Patrick deWitt
  • Swimming Home Deborah Levy
  • The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared Jonas Jonasson

I'm also still trundling my way through Parade's End so I can turn to that if I get desperate for something seriously literary. That, and I have a subscription to the London Review of Books on my kindle and I've got a couple of issues to catch up on.

Actually, looking at that list I think I may have one too many. Does anyone have any recommendations for which books to read first? Or at least which books I definitely need to read whilst I get the chance?


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sometimes only poetry will do

Today I have been really struggling to settle down with a book without my mind taking random travels. I think I spent a solid five minutes thinking about biscuits which led me to various other weird and wonderful tangents until I actually got up and got myself a biscuit (dark chocolate hobnob, if you're wondering). Instead of trying to read and realising five pages later that I have no idea what happened in those five pages, I thought I'd look through some poetry. What could be better for those days when my attention span for biscuits is longer than for books?

I have a love/hate relationship with poetry. Sometimes I just want to shake the poet and shout 'what are you even saying?!' Obviously, that isn't possible so I tend to just put the books aside and not look at it again for several months (yes, I hold poetry grudges. Imagine what I'm like with people...). But today, I realised how uplifting it can be to read a good poem and how beautiful the right arrangement of words can be.

My favourite poets are William Blake (I can recite lots of his, because I'm cool like that), Carol Ann Duffy, Rainer Maria Rilke, Matthew Arnold and Emily Dickinson. I also have particularly soft spots for Rupert Brooke (and the rest of the war poets), Louis Macneice and Wendy Cope. Oddly, my favourite poem and my favourite lines of poetry are not written by any of my favourite poets (why not mix it up).

Invictus by William Ernest Henley is one of the most perfect examples of poetry, in my opinion. It may not be the best out there but it is one of the few poems that I can actually relate to. Invictus means invincible and it gives me such a feeling of strength and a go-get-em attitude whenever I read it. It reminds me that I can do anything I want to. Fun fact: my little sister has the word 'invictus' tattooed on her foot, because she truly is invincible.

I'll leave you with my favourite lines. I'm not a massive fan of T.S Eliot but this extract is from part five of Little Gidding, one of the Four Quartets:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

I think I may set myself the challenge this year to read more poetry, particularly more contemporary poetry. How do you guys feel about poetry? Any favourites?


Monday, 21 January 2013

Musing Mondays


I thought I'd have a go at one of these weekly update thingy-ma-jigys. Just for cheap thrills. I like this one because it means I can be meandering and chatty. Lush. Off to it then.
  • Describe one of your reading habits
  • What book you've recently bought yourself or another and why
  • What are you reading now, why did you choose it, what you think of it, are you enjoying it

I don't think I have very many reading habits. I tend to just whip a book out and read it anywhere (and pretty much everywhere). But I do like to listen to music as I read. Classical music if it's a generally difficult or mind-boggling book but otherwise anything along the lines of Bastille, Ben Howard, The XX or Alt-J. Got to treat the ears as well as the eyes. Having a all round party in my head. Delightful.

I recently bought my sister The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Her kindle has broken (paper 1 - digital 0), and I am determined for her to be a reader (crazed book-nerd sister moments frequently ensue). I have heard very good things about this book and I know the fact that she could see a film adaptation at the end will be a real bonus. Plus it is quite short which is generally a winner for her.

I am just finishing off The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. 'Loving it' would be a ridiculous understatement. I am pretty much drooling over this book (urgh). I choose this book for shallow reasons: I adore lighthouses, the sea, and the cover is really really cool. Dork. But, the story has intrigued me from the start and the further I get into it, the more I struggle to put it down. Expect gushing reviews.

(You're only meant to answer one of these questions but I'm in the mood for talking so I guess you'll just have to listen (read))


Saturday, 19 January 2013

2013...It's going to be a goodun

I know it's mid-January and potentially a bit late for the whole 'yay, it's 2013' deal but there we go, I've never been one to stick to convention. I, myself, am very excited for this year because there are some new releases that I cannot imagine would be anything but exceptionally good reads. In general I think this year will have quite a buzz to it, what with the various anniversaries, like the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice in January and the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath's death in February. Also the anniversary of the birth of Albert Camus, the death of Aldous Huxley and the assassination of JFK. Blimey. That's one heck of a year. Along with World Book Night in April, the first Women's Prize for Fiction (woohoo, we love women!) in June and Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 4 issue in April, I don't know how the literary world will cope. 

So, to books. I don't have a long list, just a few that have really stuck out purely because of the authors.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I've always loved Kate Atkinson, both her Brodie and non-Brodie novels. This is a non-Brodie and sounds terribly interesting. Alternative realities, death, life then death again and it's set in 1910...what's not to love?

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I don't think I need to say anything about this, particularly if you've read either The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Last Friends by Jane Gardam

The third in a very clever trilogy, this novel tells the same story as Old Filth and The Man with the Wooden Hat from the final character's point of view. 

New Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding

Apparently, Bridget is at a different phase in her life. Can't wait to find out what phase. Motherhood, menopause? Likely to be just as funny as the other two.

Untitled Bond by William Boyd

Boyd is the latest to try his hand at writing a James Bond novel. No details have been released as yet but that pretty much just adds to the Bond mystery. I like Boyd's writing though so I'm sure it will be worth the suspense.

For me though, the highlight of this year will be a film I have been eagerly and somewhat desperately awaiting ever since it was announced. They have pushed the release date back and back and back but seem to have finally settled on the 17th May. Yes, of course I'm talking about The Great Gatsby, directed by the absolute babe that is Baz Luhrmann. Hello, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in the best roles ever. Ever. Yum and yum.

Anyone else overly excited for anything specific this year?


Friday, 18 January 2013

Baby it's cold outside

It's only gone and started snowing! Even though we have had a fair bit of the white stuff in recent years, I still find it deliciously exciting to open up my curtains and see so much snow everywhere. Basically, I am a child.

I've just spent ages outside with the pooch and she absolutely loves it. She's only a puppy so this is her first snowy experience. Here she is, just chilling:

Griffin (our old dog, who we still miss very much), on the other hand, just did not know what to make of it. Though he did later join us in some sledging adventures.

I do have to go to work later, which should be interesting, but for the time being I am going to enjoy the fact that I am inside in the warm whilst outside there is a bit of a blizzard going on (yes, I am exaggerating, just go with it). So I've got my book, my moleskine, a large cup of tea and leftover Christmas snacks. Perfect.

(I'm reading The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. And loving it, I should add)


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Paper vs Digital: My two cents...

Every blogger and their dog has an opinion on the dreaded ebook/ereader vs real books question. I have a very simple opinion: I love books. I love words. I love sentences. In whatever form they may take.

I have been known to unashamedly peruse the yellow pages or a take-away menu just for something to read.  If I get particularly desperate I will read trashy magazines like closer or heat (bear in mind, I pretty much have to be weeping out of sheer desperation to turn to these. But, still, I will and do.) I would find it difficult to call myself a lover of the written word if I did distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable reading apparatus. I mean, that's pretty much the definition of hypocritical is it not? Some of my fellow MA-ians at uni scoffed at my kindle when I whipped it out of bag during breaks. That hurt, my kindle is amazing and I love it. I just don't understand the snobbery. We all love books so why should it matter whether it is a paper book or an ebook?

I travel a lot. I commuted to uni. I like to carry books around but I read a lot of chunky hardbacks which are not very shoulder friendly (though they are brain friendly). I think the kindle gives you the best of both worlds: portable reading. What on earth could be wrong with that? I know I wish I had one when I went travelling.

Having a kindle has not stopped me from buying books. Take a quick browse through this blog and that will quickly become apparent. Perhaps I'm just greedy but I want books and ebooks. I find this to be a nice compromise. And I like to think that buying both means I don't have a destructive effect on the book industry.

Have I stressed that I'll read anything? Leaflets, fire extinguishers, car registration plates (anyone else like to make words out of them? No? Just me?)...

Anyway, meandering rant over. What have you learnt?

1. I like books
2. I love books
3. I talk too much about rubbish


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Muriel Barbery
Original Language: French

'Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside, she's covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary and terribly elegant.'

Can I just say 'wow'?! Is that an appropriate review? Perhaps not, but don't fret, I could go on and on about this book.

So, to business. I read this book as part of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm's 2013 Translation Challenge. I decided on this one to start off the challenge because I'd had it on my shelves for far too long. That, and it coincided nicely with my New Year's trip to Paris. I would like to thank Ellie for setting up this challenge and forcing me to pick up this amazing book from the unread and unloved pile. How dare I leave it there for so long?!

Seriously though, the quote from a Guardian review on the back cover swung the purchase and consequent reading of the novel for me: 'Resistance is futile...' That's pretty much the Trekkie vote right there*.

The novel is a snapshot of the lives of a group of people living at the apartments of 7, rue de Grenelle, seen from the point of view of Renee Michel (the concierge) and twelve-year-old Paloma Josse. Putting it simply, the owners of the apartments are shockingly upper class and are completely unaware of the intelligence of their concierge. The book kind of floats along in a contemplative fashion until one of the apartment owners dies and his apartment is purchased by Japanese businessman Kakuro Ozu. Together, Kakuro and Paloma slowly draw out Renee's character and allow her to accept her own intelligence regardless of her place in the social ladder.

I did find the novel hard going at times. It is very deep and philosophical and my brain tends to go to mush when I think too much about the whys and the hows of the world. But having said that, some bits were just truly lovely to read. Like this bit:

'It's as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within a never.'

I love the language (I can only imagine how beautiful it'd be in French) and the dual narration. I love Renee's passion and Paloma's intelligence. I love how uplifting and hopeful it is. Most of all I love how the whole novel destroys the boundaries of age, sex, class and intelligence and proves how they are completely unnecessary in the world. That is pretty much my view of the world and it makes me feel quite hopeful seeing it at work in a novel.

'Moving' is such a cop-out word but my goodness, I was certainly moved. And the ending, oh the ending. Be warned: there were tears. A heartbreaking but totally necessary ending which pretty much answers the 'what is the meaning of life' question that seems to fizzle below the surface. I'm welling up again. Don't judge me, just read the book.

*If you were guessing why this blog is called Lit Nerd, there's your answer. I am a geek.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Bookaholics Anonymous?

If there is such a thing as bookaholics anonymous, sign me up. Right now. The atmosphere in my house is growing increasingly tense as my book buying habits are threatening to take over every available bookshelf. I've doubled up and piled high on all mine and now I'm starting to encroach on any space whatsoever. Kitchen table, windowsills, the floor...Needless to say my parents are unimpressed. And yet, I am still unable to exercise any self-restraint. However (and this is a big however), I am able to provide my reasoning behind every purchase (sounding desperate now, I can tell).

Quiet by Susan Cain (unofficially aka 'all hail introverts')

Red, the Waterstones Anthology
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
The Great Gatsby notebook

Now, my sister's kindle broke as we were sitting down in the eurostar departure lounge just before new year. There were tears and there was shouting (all from me, she was fine). I gave her a tenner and sent her off to Smiths to get something to read. To fill in the back story: my sister is not a reader, the only one in my family who is not a reader and I have been desperately trying to get her to read for years. I bought her the kindle last Christmas and since then she has not looked back. She lives in London so it is ideal for all her tube journeys. Especially when you compare our reading material in this picture:

Liv with her kindle and me with Pat Barker's Regeneration series (all 3 books in 1)
Anyway, she is home at the moment and looking for something else to read. Unfortunately she didn't fancy any of books; if she had this whole debacle could have been avoided. So we took a trip into Waterstones. Rookie Mistake. There were buy-one-get-one-half-price signs everywhere, sale signs and so so many pretty books. I literally felt I had fallen into some sort of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas drug induced book-mad state. I walked out of the shop to find I had unwittingly purchased three books and one notebook and several cards with pictures of books on (why?!). I was a quivering wreck for the rest of the day.

Onto the actual reasons why I chose these specific books: Quiet and The Land of Decoration have just come out in paperback. I have wanted them since they came out in hardback but held off so I just could not refuse (surely?). Quiet I am very excited to read because I am most definitely an introvert and would like more of an insight into introvertedness. The notebook I got because it was cheaper than my usual moleskine (how I love thee), although I am wishing I stuck with the moleskine just because they are so pretty. I have been intrigued by the Red anthology since it was released because it seems to be an interesting concept and there are lots of interesting contributors like Emma Donoghue, Max Hastings and David Almond. Yet again I just couldn't resist when I saw it in the flesh: hardback, red, gold lettering. I am shallow when it comes to buying books. Shallow and somewhat promiscuous. 

Wow. All of that to explain why I've bought some books. Had enough of hearing my excuses? I think that's called denial, isn't it? I'm clearly well on my way to becoming a fully-fledged bookaholic*.

* unfortunately I am slightly proud of this fact so I'm thinking I will not be changing my ways any time soon. No matter how many bans I put myself on. Oh dear. 


Monday, 7 January 2013

Translation Challenge Update

So, with January and the first book currently underway, I have started planning the translated reads I will be notching up for the rest of the year. Is it weird that I am super excited about this?! I still have books on my shelf that have been waiting to be read since I was at college (basically 5 years ago) so the prospect of some structured reading is really quite appealing to me right now. Although those five year old unread purchases do not fit the criteria for this challenge, some other books on my TBR do so at least I'll be making a slight dent. Only slight, but enough to lessen the guilt momentarily.

Next month I'm planning on a double whammy and will aim to read Primo Levi's The Periodic Table and Elie Wiesel's Night as they go together well. I have quite the collection of books by Primo Levi, my favourite being If this is a Man which is a ridiculously powerful book that I would highly recommend if you are interested in a truthful, unsentimental portrait of life in a concentration camp. Night is, as far as I can tell, along the same lines as If this is a Man so it will be interesting to compare the two.

It is my aim to read twelve (thirteen, possibly, if February goes to plan) books from different countries and I so far have quite a few options:

1. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (French)

2. Night by Elie Wiesel (Romanian - Originally written in Yiddish)
3. The Periodic Table by Primo Levi (Italian)
4. The Bookseller of Kabul by ├ůsne Seierstad (Norwegian) This is a piece of journalism/non fiction but is written in the style of a novel.
5. Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos (Spanish)
6. Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (Polish)
7. Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius (German)
8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Russian)

Any recommendations are more than welcome to fill up my 13!

I look forward to reading all of these books and to reading everyone else's translation challenge reviews so let me know if you are doing it too.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Reading Update

I thought I'd do a little update on what I've read recently, what I'm reading now and what I'm hoping to read in the next few weeks.

I haven't had too much time for reading recently as work is really quite manic with the Christmas production but, happily, I have still managed to get through a few books. I think that fact they have all been good has helped the situation enormously. The week before Christmas I finally got around to reading The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson which has been hanging out on my shelf since it was released. I don't usually mind leaving books on the TBR pile for years but if I feel the urge to buy a hardback I like to read it fairly sharpish, at least before the paperback is out. After this chilling but immensely atmospheric read I picked up the sequel to Jane Gardam's Old Filth, The Man with the Wooden Hat. I love Gardam's writing style as it is so darkly humorous but also very revealing of the human condition. The character of Filth is wonderful and this is a very cleverly written sequel which retells the same story from a different point of view.

Over Christmas I decided to opt for something new rather than reread an old favourite. In the end I went for Mrs Dalloway as it is my intention to eventually make my way through Woolf's writing. Considering I used to think Virginia Woolf was the epitome of pretentious literature, I am quickly coming around the beauty of her writing. If only my college Lit teacher could hear me say that now...Anyway, I thought Mrs Dalloway was brilliant and I think it is quite remarkable how she gets inside the shell shocked mind of Septimus.

Over New Year I read The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore and then began Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford. Unusually it is the TV series that has encouraged me to read the novel, usually it is the other way round, I watch a series because I've read the novel. I was slightly worried I'd find Ford's writing style a pain because I wasn't blown away by The Good Soldier but I find I am actually rather enjoying it. I am reading it on the kindle though because it is a bit of a chunker! Also, cracking on with the 2013 translation challenge, I am about half way through The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It is pretty deep but very interesting and I'll be posting a review when I've finished it.

I am hoping to read the books I have recently purchased (see previous post) by the end of the month but as I am such an unpredictable reader, who knows what I'll actually get around to!

 Reading Challenge for 2013: Read as many books as possible from the ever-growing TBR pile.

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Bonne Annee!

So Christmas is over, it's a new year and I have a few cheeky purchases to share with you. I have just come back from my new year break in Paris which was absolutely brilliant. I have eaten an unbelievable amount of food (moules and crepes) and walked an unbelievable amount of miles to counteract said excessive eating. In between meals I have been exploring, reading and buying books.

I devoted an entire morning, as any bibliophile would, to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop near the Notre Dame. There are no words to describe how phenomenally amazing this bookshop is. I mean it's pricey and annoyingly cult which means it's very busy but, seriously, I adore crammed bookshelves and books piled on every surface. I wasn't going to leave without buying something and getting it stamped with their legendary mark.

I treated myself to a second hand Contemporary Poems (yellow cover) which has got all my faves in and a lovely cover design (winner all around). Next up is the Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason. I adore Greek myth and the whole Odyssey/Illiad genre and according to the blurb this is a series of re-tellings of sections of the Odyssey. I am intrigued! Moving into non-fiction I picked up Charles Dickens Pictures from Italy which, as far as I can tell, is a piece of travel writing. Italy is my favourite country in the world and I can imagine Dickens would uncover some interesting sights so I think this may make for some interesting reading. Plus it has some beautiful illustrations. Finally, I picked up the shops own literary magazine, The Paris Magazine.

I have made a couple of purchases from Foyles and the Book Depository (my new favourite website). Foyles had a bit of a sale and Oliver Sack's Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain caught my eye with 50% off.

On boxing day I sat down with my laptop and browsed the sales. I didn't really find anything I liked and was in the mood for spending money so swiftly clicked on to the book depository. I was, however, very well behaved. I knew what books I wanted and without stalling I added them to my basket. It's fair to say, I was very proud of myself.

I don't know why I have held off for so long with buying The Light Between Oceans. I have been drawn to it since it came out but never actually found the impetus to buy it. I opted for the US version with the lighthouse  on the cover because I pretty much have a thing for lighthouses (personal fact: I have a small lighthouse tattooed on my back). I used to really dislike hardbacks because I carry my books around but I have recently got into the habit of having more than one book on the go: one for portable reading and one by my bed. I have seen so many good reviews of this novel and it has cropped up in a few end of year favourites lists so I just could not refuse.

Another obsession of mine which has popped up in a few of my posts is war writing. The Yellow Birds is war writing from a modern war whereas I have tended to stick with the First and occasionally Second World Wars. It has been compared to All Quiet on the Western Front and I am very interested to see how they do compare. Very excited to read this one.

Well, that's that. A few not so guilty purchases. A Christmas treat, if you will. I would love to know what any of you made of the Shakespeare and Co. bookshop or if you have any thoughts on the books I've bought recently.

Happy New Year!
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