Friday, 30 May 2014

May in Books

Guys, it's the end of May. In approximately one month (1st July) I will have been in London for a whole year. JEEZ LOUISE. I'm definitely not planning a massive party to celebrate (totally am). Anyway, enough of future times, I'm here to talk about my May reading.

May has been a funny month. I've been super busy on the one hand, but then I've had more reading time than usual because I've actually let myself relax. A few things have suffered because of it, but I was about reaching crazy point so I think it was for the best. 

The Goals...

  • Knock a book or two off my kindle to read pile
  • Keep up with the non-fiction reading
  • Start re-reading The Diary of Anne Frank (it only seems right if I'm going to Amsterdam)

  • With all that extra reading time I've done semi-ok with the goals I set for myself at the end of April. I've crossed off the non-fiction goal even though I haven't technically kept up with it. I started reading Faulks on Fiction but have been distracted by all the other goodies. I can tell it's going to be a winner so I'll be cracking on with that again. Only one book I read was from my Kindle tbr (The Goldfinch) but three other reads were from my physical tbr so it's swings and roundabouts really.

    The Books...

    28. Bhalla Strand by Sarah Maine
    29. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
    30. Stoner by John Williams
    31. Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Mary and Bryan Talbot and Kate Charlesworth
    32. Her Privates We by Frederic Manning
    33. Battle Hymns by Cara Langston
    34. Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf

    I'm so pleased with my reading this month. I have been completely blown away by the quality of books I've been reading - Stoner and Sally Heathcote stick out - including two really brilliant debuts. Aside from my disappointment with The Goldfinch, which I still can't really call a disappointment, I have basically wanted to eat up every book on this list. I'd also just like to draw your attention to the variety here: we have a book from my Spring Reading list, a Classics Club choice, a graphic novel and a book from my War Novels project. You can't see but I'm doing a victory jig right now.

    Book of the month: this honour goes to Stoner by John Williams. Congrats John!

    I had a look at my 2014 in Books page today and realised that I've consistently read 7 books a month since about March. I know that's only really three months but, surely, two is a coincidence and three is a pattern? No? WOW. If that's all I have to talk about then someone please get me a life.

    How was your May? Read any good books?


    Tuesday, 27 May 2014

    Graphic Novel Review: Sally Heathcote: Suffragette

    Sally Heathcote: Suffragette
    Mary M. Talbot, Bryan Talbot, Kate Charlesworth
    Jonathan Cape

    It was a stroke of fate when I walked into Foyles on Saturday to buy a present for my sister and laid my eyes on Sally Heathcote: Suffragette. I've been thinking a lot about the Suffragette Movement this last week, what with the vote and the anniversary of Emmeline Pankhurst's 1914 arrest at Buckingham Palace, so it seemed fitting that this graphic novel fell into my hands.

    Sally Heathcote: Suffragette tells the story of the campaign for female suffrage through the memories of Sally, a maid and seamstress who becomes a loyal (and militant) member of the WSPU. It is an impressively accurate work that gives a brilliantly concise overview of the key events of the campaign. Though concise, it is also vivid and gripping. Basically, this is a book I would add to a school curriculum and one I wished was around when I was at school, college and university.

    I'm not much of a graphic novel reader, but if this is the calibre of works out there then I'll be found in the graphic novel section at the library for the next few weeks. The illustrations are wonderful and the colour symbolism of the WSPU is utilised really nicely. It is mostly in grey scale except the purple, green and white of the WSPU colours and the red of Sally's hair. I really like this affect as it keeps the message consistent as well as making the pages a joy to look at. There is a hunger strike/forcible feeding scene which is made particularly harrowing by the use of (or, lack of) colour. I also really like how the posters, banners and magazine pages are reproduced within the illustrations - this is why it is such a good social history.

    The story itself is pretty action packed. We are first introduced to Sally as a maid in the Pankhurst household. She has to move to another position when the family move towards London and it is in this position that Sally faces sexism and harassment at the hands of her employer. Once she arrives in London Sally is involved in militancy from quite early on so there are plenty of protests, arrests and general unrest. All the familiar faces are here - Emily Wilding Davison, the Pankhursts and the Pethick-Lawrences. Even Constance Lytton (who is perhaps the suffragette I most admire), has a cameo role. If you're familiar with the time line of the suffrage campaign then the key protests and events that crop up will not be a surprise to you. What makes this more than just a graphic walk through the campaign is Sally's personal story. I have always questioned my own feelings about militancy and Sally's story makes me do so even more, but in a good way that enables me to truly assess my opinions.

    The final image of the novel is of a girl approaching voting age in the late 60's saying 'oh, I don't think I'll bother' when asked if she will vote. This is a pretty powerful final image after all the pain, humiliation, passion and determination of the preceding pages. I know voting and politics is a touchy topic and I'm not going to get into it here, but personally I will always vote (even if I'm not totally clued up on politics) purely because what so many women went through to allow me that right. 

    If you hadn't already realised, I am passionate about the suffrage movement. I lived and breathed the WSPU, the Pankhursts, Constance Lytton etc. etc. for such a long time and it is really wonderful for me to be able to find that passion again in this graphic novel. Whether you're familiar with the movement or not, like history or not, like graphic novels or not, I would recommend Sally Heathcote: Suffragette. It is informative, thrilling and pretty darn beautiful.


    Monday, 26 May 2014

    This Week in Books: Payday Treats

    I'm not usually one to go wild when payday comes, but it is my sister's and my bestie's birthday in June so I had to go shopping this weekend. I went into foyles with the intention of buying my sister a book. Unfortunately (for my sister) they didn't have it so I came out with two books for myself instead. Not even guilty. 

    Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Bryan and Mary Talbot and Kate Charlesworth
    This is a graphic novel about (yep, you guessed it) a suffragette. I've already read about half of it and am impressed by it's accuracy. It touches on some of the topics of my dissertation so I'm very much looking forward to sitting down and devouring the rest of it later. 

    Some Corner of a Foreign Field: Poetry and Art of the First World War ed. James Bentley
    This is such a coffee table book and I almost left it there because I do have several anthologies of WW1 poetry. This one is something special as it does something I've not seen in an anthology of this kind before so I went back and picked it up. Aside from it being an entirely beautiful object, this book pairs poems with a piece of WW1 art making it a very well-rounded anthology. Come on, this book has it all: art, poems and WW1. This was an extravagant purchase, but it ticks all the boxes for things I love so I think I'll be spending many an hour delving into its pages. 

    Are you having a bookish bank holiday weekend? 


    Friday, 23 May 2014

    Lit Nerd Recommends: The Nostalgic One

    A while ago when I was musing on my habit of comfort reading I was trying to think about which books I have read and re-read for their comfort value. Many of the books that popped into my head were books I had read multiple times when I was a teenager. I had really bad insomnia when I was younger so I used to spend my nights reading book after book after book. I'll never actually know if it was the books that caused my insomnia or the insomnia that caused the reading...

    Most of you will know that I am not a big YA/teen fiction reader. I did it to death when I was in the age range and was happy to move in to the big wide world of classics and adult fiction. Yet there are still so many of those books lingering in my mind and, as I'm feeling unusually nostalgic today, I thought I'd recommend my favourite teen/YA reads from way back when.

    1. Witch Child by Celia Rees

    This is the first book that comes to mind. It was my favourite for so many years and sparked a life long interest in the Salem Witch Trials. I've never read a bad book by Celia Rees (she is brilliant) but this is definitely my ultimate favourite. The sequel, Sorceress, is pretty amazing too.

    2. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares

    Hello, teenage tears.

    3. Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend

    My brother and I adored this series when we were younger and I have re-read them all since. I remember reading the slightly off the wall boyish bits to my friends during break times and gigging like the school girl I was.

    4. The Noughts and Crosses Series by Malorie Blackman

    This is a series set in a racist dystopia and it is so good. I haven't yet read the final instalment but I may start re-reading them this year so I can get to it. Although to be fair, I can still remember huge chunks of the story. And obviously, Malorie Blackman is a complete wonder woman.

    5. The Doomspell Trilogy by Cliff McNish

    I was obsessed with this for so long. Even now whenever I hear Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory album, I'm thrown straight back to this trilogy (love a bit of music memory).

    6. Old Magic by Marianne Curley

    Magic, a fit boy and a vaguely historical setting at points...basically sums up my teenage reading.

    7. Mercy by Caroline B. Cooney

    I think I was quite a dark teenager as this is about an Indian tribe attacking a settlers village - it's pretty violent but pretty amazing.

    8. Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

    This is a novel told through letters and is probably the reason I am obsessed with the epistolary form.

    9. Heaven Eyes by David Almond

    David Almond's novels had me completely mesmerised but this one sticks out the most. Skellig is also pretty fantastic. Both are so other worldy but at the same time really human and 'normal'. 

    10. Raider's Tide by Maggie Prince

    Ok, I was either super dark or really romantic. As with Mercy this is all about raiders/violence etc. but there is always a love story in there somewhere.

    11. Absolutely anything and everything by Jacqueline Wilson

    I remember when Midnight came out in hardback I was given it for Christmas and I  had finished it before we sat down for our Christmas lunch. All other presents could wait. I was also given the Jacqueline Wilson Diary every year. Ah...the good old days.

    Have you read any of these? What was your favourite book as a teenager?


    Thursday, 22 May 2014

    Review: Stoner by John Williams

    Stoner: A Novel
    John Williams

    Since its re-release by Vintage in 2013, this almost forgotten novel has been everywhere. So much so that is has been hard to ignore and I had to add it quickly to my reading wish list. I have to admit that momentarily I did take the title at face value (come on, and you didn't?), but I stood corrected upon reading the blurb. Yes, Stoner is a  the main character's name.

    Stoner recounts the life of William Stoner, an academic who faced disappointment at every turn. The novel starts with Stoner as he heads of to university to study Agriculture at the request of his parents (they believe it will help him when he takes on the family farm). During a compulsory English Literature class Stoner has what can only be called an epiphany and switches his major to English. So starts a love affair with the written world and his life in academia. But Stoner marries the wrong woman, is thwarted in his career, and loses the love of his life. It is an immensely sad novel but one that I think will stay with me forever.

    • At times I thought Stoner was a bit of a wet blanket (generally in relation to his horrendous wife), but overall it's safe to say I fell in love with him a little bit. 
    • His wife is seriously horrendous. I've never felt the urge so badly to reach into the book and punch someone's lights out.
    • This quote made me so sad: 'With wonder stoner realised she was crying, deeply and silently, with the shame and awkwardness of one who seldom weeps.'
    • So did this one: 'He went out of the office into the darkness of the long corridor and walked heavily into the sunlight, into the open world that was like a prison wherever he turned.'
    • This is quite a claustrophobic novel - it feels like Stoner is stuck in his prison-like world with no possibility of escape or happiness. There are tiny fragmentary moments of freedom though, which are so full of hope it makes the rest of it seem bearable.
    • This:  'In his forty-third year William stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.'
    • I loved the sections which talked about academia and English as a subject (this is an academic novel, I would say). They are detailed and fascinating and really demonstrate the author's passion.
    • The writing itself, completely separate from the content, is brilliant. It's hard to describe what is good about it but it is so open and engaging that you just sink in to it. I think it's a re-reader in that sense.
    • Stoner isn't really about anything. It is the story of a quiet, unassuming and wholly disappointing life but you do not want to stop reading. Who needs an exciting plot line?!
    • Stoner's antagonists (Hollis Lomax, Charles Walker and his wife, Edith) are skillfully written and his clashes with them are painful yet thrilling to read. This is where my wet blanket impression came in, but some of his later actions and reactions completely defy this label.

    Considering how much I enjoyed this novel, I've found this an extremely difficult review to write (hence the brevity and bullets). It's hard to put my thoughts into words when my thoughts were not so much thoughts, but rather feelings. It's fair to say that I had an emotional reaction to Stoner. It made me unspeakably sad at points, chuckle at others, and feel enlivened at others. I'm glad it has been rediscovered because it is certainly not a book you would want to forget.

    'Thus he found it possible to live, and even be happy, now and then.'

    Have you read Stoner? If so, what did you think?


    Saturday, 17 May 2014

    Lit Nerd Abroad: Amsterdam

    There were beautiful canals and bridges

    Picturesque views
    Stunning architecture
    Lots of bikes (and bike related near death experiences)

    Morning runs through Vondelpark
    Art and Alain de Botton
    Quirky buildings
    Things that look like baby triffids
    Bookish things
    WW1 poetry on windows
    Non-human dating
    Book markets perfect for chefs
    Quotes on buildings
    And lighthouses.
    Amsterdam is a beautiful place. We walked and walked and walked. Exploring the cobbled streets and canals, enjoying food and book markets (I can find English books anywhere), sitting back and taking in the views. I would definitely go back. 

    I'm no photographer and these are just from my iphone but I thought I'd share anyway.


    Friday, 16 May 2014

    Lit Nerd Recommends: Amsterdam

    I'm sure you're all fed up of me banging on about Amsterdam now (can you tell I loved it), but it occurred to me that there are books I've read set in or around Amsterdam that have been brilliant. It seemed only fitting that Amsterdam became the theme for this week's Lit Nerd Recommends.

    1. Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

    I saw this in the gift shop at the Rijksmuseum the first time I visited when I was about seventeen and this book has never quite left my mind. It's about Dutch art, passion and deception - doesn't get juicier than that.

    2. The Apothecary's House by Adrian Mathews

    This is one of those books that I can never remember the name of but elements of the story have stuck in my head. I actually asked my Mum the name of this book (we always read the same books) and she knew what I meant just from me saying 'that book in Amsterdam which has a scene on a house boat'. For a book to stay in my head that long, it must have been good!

    3. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

    Well, I couldn't not include this.

    4. The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss

    This isn't strictly set in Amsterdam but it is Dutch. Like Anne Frank, Reiss was a Jewish child hiding from the Nazis. This is one of the books that got me interested in World War Two.

    5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    I have literally just finished this one and again, it is arty and partially set in Amsterdam. 

    Dutch art seems to be a common theme in this list...

    Bonus Recommendations:

    I'm going to add in two novels that have very recently come onto my radar which I have not read but look brilliant.

    6. The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal

    This novel looks at the complex background of Rembrandt's famous painting of the same name.

    7. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

    This is either just out or just about to be released. It sounds wonderfully disconcerting and has been described as similar to Sarah Waters's style. I'm intrigued.

    Can you add any to this list?


    Thursday, 15 May 2014

    A Few Thoughts on The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    'He was a planet without an atmosphere.'

    I don't want to review The Goldfinch because I barely have any coherent thoughts concerning it but, if you don't mind, I would like to share some of those incoherent thoughts now that I've finally had some. I finished it this week (it took me about a week and half to read), and I actually feel pretty wiped out. I don't know if anyone else has had that reaction, but I feel like this book has taken it out of me a bit. I can't even decide if I enjoyed it. Mostly upon finishing it, my thoughts went a little like this: 'ok...right'. That is what I'm dealing with right now. A complete mind blank.

    'A great sorrow, and that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts...We don't get to choose the people we are.'

    This was my first foray into Donna Tartt's writing (I'd love to know how this compares to her previous novels if any of you have read them), and I have to say, I was impressed. Tartt must be a terrifyingly brilliant woman. The layers of meaning, the allusions and the references to so many elements of popular culture, non-popular culture, history, art, literature, are pretty mind blowing. This is a big book with so much in it (perhaps too much?) that at times I had to take a minute to process. 

    'For humans - trapped in biology - there was no mercy: we lived a while, we fussed around for a bit and died, we rotted in the ground like garbage. Time destroyed us all soon enough.'

    Personally, I found it all a little to cloying and neat. I mean, good heavens did Theo have a mightily shit time of it, but still, something stuck in my throat as I was reading it. Mostly I just thought Theo was an ass. In fact, I don't think a single character in the novel felt likeable. Hobie, maybe. I know likeable characters aren't necessarily the goal but I quite like to be able to empathise with them at least slightly. Here, there was nothing but sarcastic comments running through my head. Particularly around the drug use. I'm not one to get high and mighty about things like that but I have to say it does bore me in books.

    'Quickly I slid it out, and almost immediatley its glow enveloped me, something almost musical , an internal sweetness that was inexplicable beyond a deep, blood-rocking harmony of rightness, the way your hear beat slow and sure when you were with a person you felt safe with and loved.'

    But then there's Tartt's writing. Even with my disappoint with the story, I keep coming back to her writing. I've added a few quotes into this post because I think they say enough about the novel as a whole to make sense of the fact that I like and dislike this novel in equal measure.

    'And as much as I'd like to belive there's a truth beyond illusion, I've come to believe that there's no truth beyond illusion. Because, between 'reality' on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there's a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very difference surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.'

    To try and wrap up my own thoughts I think I can conclude the following: I did not like The Goldfinch. I liked what it was trying to say and I loved Tartt's beautiful way with words. This outweighs my dislike of the general being of the thing. But nevertheless, I still come away from it feeling cheated and slightly sickened. Maybe that's a strong reaction, and that's exactly why I cannot review this novel and can only merely attempt to somehow voice my reaction to it. I've probably not even done that. 

    Have you read The Goldfinch? Did your reaction differ from mine?


    Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Review: Bhalla Strand by Sarah Maine

    Bhalla Strand
    Sarah Maine

    If I'm being brutally honest, which I do always try to be, I did not have high expectations for this book. I was intrigued by the blurb and the fact that Ronald Frame (author of Havisham) recommends it on the cover, but it is let down by the cover. I know, I know, I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I do. And yet, Bhalla Strand has proved to me that judging books by their cover is not necessarily the way forward. This is a thoroughly readable and compelling plot-based debut that would appeal to fans of novels with an arty/Edwardian/mysterious bent. 

    Bhalla Strand is a dual narrative novel with one narrative in set in 2010 and the other set around 1910/1911. In 2010 Hetty inherits a dilapidated house on a remote island but when she arrives to examine the property a gruesome discovery is made - a set of bones are found buried underneath the conservatory. Using letters and diaries and the stories passed down through generations, Hetty sets out to discover who has been buried beneath the house and why. The background reveals that the house belonged to famous artists Theodore Blake and his wife Beatrice. In the parallel narrative we are with Beatrice who realises that her husband may not be the man she thought he was and who struggles against the attraction that draws her to Cameron, the Factor's son.

    The plotting in this novel is very tight. There are so many twists and turns but the loose ends never get lost. Usually with a dual narrative novel it takes me a while to settle in a get a handle on what's going on in both. Here though, the differences are clear and the story set from the beginning. I really enjoyed both narratives but Beatrice's sticks in my mind. I have a soft spot for the Edwardian period anyway and this captures the tone of the age really nicely. Beatrice is passionate about women's rights and animal rights, both of which are a sticking point between her and her husband. Then Cameron comes along, all brooding looks and anarchical views, and makes her views grow that bit stronger and the distance between her and her husband that bit wider. I did find myself willing for the return of Beatrice's narrative but the parallels set up between the two were engaging and kept me reading through Hetty's narrative. 

    I do have to admit that I found myself a bit lost when the plot began to focus on land ownership issues and other such confusing things. Still, with a story this tight, I can forgive a writer for confusing me (to be honest, it's not hard to do). 

    Bhalla strand had me glued to the spot for the last hundred or so pages (literally sat still in my gym kit getting awfully chilly). I was desperate for all the questions to be answered and my goodness, were they answered. Everything came together perfectly, not in a predictable way, as there are a fair few twists along the way but it finished exactly how I hoped it would (albeit not quite how I thought it would). If you're a fan of a good mystery with an archaeological and arty background then I'd recommend Bhalla strand. It is excellently paced, those burning questions are held on to until the end, and the characters are surprisingly real. If none of that wins you over then the descriptions of the Hebridean landscape are pretty wonderful too.

    Thank you to the publisher, Freight Books, for providing me with a copy for review.

    Are you a fan of dual narratives done properly?


    Sunday, 11 May 2014

    The Classics Spin #6: Edit

    EDIT: And the winner is...A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. I've wanted to read this for ages but put it in the 'significantly unenthused' category because I'm not sure serious women's issues is what I'm feeling right now. But, having said that, I can never refuse some lady-lovin and the opportunity to get my feminist hat on. Ibsen's Hedda Gabler is one of my favourite plays ever (non-Shakespeare), so actually I'm thinking I may enjoy this one. Here's hoping! Did you get lucky?

    Did you really think I wouldn't spin?! Bit late in making my list but I couldn't resist joining in after having four out of five successful spins. Will this one be a winner too? 

    If you don't know the drill, the Classics Club explain it here. Basically, you choose twenty books from your classics list and post it on your blog. On a set day the amazing club leaders will pick a number and you have to read the corresponding book by a set date. Easy? Easy.

    I'm sticking with the same categories as before with the same reverse numbering system because it certainly worked a treat last time...

    Unabashedly Over-Enthused

    20. The Diary of Anne Frank
    19. Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner
    18. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    17. Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf
    16. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

    Controllably Enthused
    15. Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
    14. The Beautiful and the Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald
    13. Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
    12. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
    11. Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford


    10. The Common Reader by Virginia Woolf
    9. The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby
    8. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
    7. Testament of Friendship by Vera Brittain
    6. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

    Significantly Unenthused

    5. The Monk by Matthew Lewis
    4. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
    3. Beloved by Toni Morrison
    2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    1. A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

    The lucky winner will be announced tomorrow (Monday) so thankfully I don't have long to wait. The suspense usually kills me a little. If you're participating, good luck! 


    Saturday, 10 May 2014

    This Week in Books: The Blind Date Edition

    As you know, I finally cashed in on my Christmas present from the sis and went to Amsterdam this last week. It was amazing - very bookish and cheese-ish. We spent hours walking around exploring all the little streets and coming across cute little markets full of second hand books (win). When we weren't looking for book markets we could usually be found in the many cheese shops making our way through the plates of tasters. Either there, or in the pub. 

    I think it is necessary to say that I didn't go there to buy books but once we'd come across the American Book Centre, it was just all down hill from there. Then again, my sister did give me permission when she said 'you buy books and I'll buy cheese'. We did both in excess and added an extra 7kg to our suitcase on the way home...So, without further ado, here is what I purchased.

    Second hand books
    These two were amazing finds from a second hand market. I love Olive Schreiner and this book is just absolutely beautiful. For €5 I couldn't say no. Night Flight and Antoine De St-Exupery have been popping up frequently in my life recently so finding this felt a bit serendipitous. I'm really looking forward to diving into his world.

    Now, to the best bit - my blind date. I have seen this idea around twitter before but never come across it in a bookshop. The minute I did, I was all over it like a rash. Seriously. The idea is to stop you from judging books by their cover. As someone who does that constantly, I was pretty excited (and slightly nervous) to do some blind book buying. I wasn't disappointed. I love a bit of death, mourning and dysfunction in my novels so it wasn't a hard decision choosing this one. 

    And this is my blind date book. It's a book I hadn't heard of though I do think I've heard of one of Tropper's other novels. If you've read it, let me know!

    Would you go on a blind date with a book? Surely it's better than a real blind date...


    Friday, 2 May 2014

    May Reading

    I've been looking forward to May coming for a long time. Since Christmas, in fact, when my sister presented me with plane tickets to Amsterdam for the 5th May. I've been waiting and waiting for this weekend to come around so I can actually pack and get ready without it being weirdly over-prepared. Now it's here, and I've spent the last hour or so assembling my various bits and bobs and, most importantly, taking a preliminary look through my kindle to see what I can read (priorities). We have a coach trip to Bruges (definitely more excited to go there since watching The Monuments Men) on the Wednesday so I'm thinking I'll need some reading material for the times I'm not staring out of the window taking it all in.

    I'm keeping my reading goals relaxed for May after a couple of bumper months. Oddly, it's mostly non-fiction that is really grabbing me at the moment so I suspect I'll crack on with another couple this month. I'm thinking Inconvenient People by Sarah Wise and The Fateful Year: England 1914 by Mark Bostridge. One fulfills my love of Wilkie-esque Victorian madness and the other, my obsession with World War One. Otherwise I have a couple of blog tour books to read (at least one is war related - I think this blog should be called War Nerd), and I'd like to tackle a classics club read.

    Reading Goals...

    • Knock a book or two off my kindle to read pile
    • Keep up with the non-fiction reading
    • Start re-reading The Diary of Anne Frank (it only seems right if I'm going to Amsterdam)
    What are you looking forward to in May? Any recommendations for Amsterdam (bookshops?!)?


    Thursday, 1 May 2014

    April in Books

    Happy May!

    April was a funny month - kinda quiet but I feel like a lot was squeezed into a short space of time. I've been to exhibitions, watched the London Marathon, been to an interactive theatre show, attended a World Book Night event at the Southbank Centre, spent a long weekend at home in Somerset, dealt with a smashed car window, picnicked indoors, and just generally enjoyed the sunny weather whilst it lasted. 

    April Goals...

    • Start Lolita or Crime and Punishment
    • Read Books, Bedbugs and Baguettes - I started this but was distracted by WW1
    • Knock something off the TBR Pile Challenge list - um....nope, didn't do this
    This month was brilliant for reading. I feel like I gush about more or less every book I read which either makes me a not very discerning reader or very good at choosing. But this month was full of books to gush about. The only book I didn't enjoy enormously was The Care and Management of Lies. I have no issues with the book itself, I just don't think it's quite my style. I guess that'll serve me right for jumping at every single World War One book out there.

    April Reading...

    21. The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

    22. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
    23. The Undertaking by Audrey Magee
    24. Wounded by Emily Mayhew
    25. Secret Warriors by Taylor Downing
    26. The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
    27. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    I'd just like to point out that there are two non-fiction books in there *gives self a round of applause*. If you can believe it, Wounded by Emily Mayhew, one of my non-fiction reads is probably my book of the month. I don't think non-fiction has ever provoked such an emotional response for me as this one did. I'll be reviewing it for Centenary News but I think I'll post something here too because I want everyone interested in war (and the ordinary heroes in war) to read it.

    I think I did pretty well with my life goals in April too. Whilst perhaps not exercising daily, I made good use of the gym and managed to get my running mojo back (I totally did a 10 mile run out of the blue). I have also been acting more like the 23 year old I am and seeing 10pm on most nights of the week. Big cheer.

    I'm going to add a shameless Centenary News plug right here because I am stupidly excited about it. This month I was invited to read and review Secret Warriors by Taylor Downing and then interview the author (squeeeeeal). The book was released today so we put both the interview and review live on the site this afternoon and I am (ridiculously) excited by it all. If you're interested, you can have a read here.

    My Favourites on the blog...

    How was your month? Do you have a book of the month?

    © Lit Nerd. All rights reserved.
    Blogger Templates by pipdig