I was literally scared to go downstairs whilst reading The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

Book Reviews, literary london, London, Recommended, Uncategorized, Writing

1837. Sarah Gale is sentenced to hang for the death of her ex-partner’s new wife, but not everyone is convinced that she is guilty. Lawyer Edmund Fleetwood is set the challenge of revisiting the evidence and making an appeal. But an untrusting Sarah isn’t cooperative, and very few people are – and even the stories Fleetwood hears are twisted and confusing, and no one seems to be telling the truth, even within his own family…

Oh. My. Goodness. This was amazing! For some reason I wasn’t expecting much when I picked this up, but I enjoyed it immensely. And also got so scared that I asked my husband to come downstairs with me when I had been reading in the middle of the night. We were in desolate, pitch black Scotland, in a pitch black and creaky house. He said no. I just about coped. But the twisting and turning and tales told and lies and mysteries here were just fantastic!

Technically great but rather miserable – Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

When a car crash sends a woman off her bike in Salisbury, five different people interact with the moment in different ways, bringing their experience of the city and of life. We meet Rita, flower stall holder and drug dealer, whose life has been disaster after disaster but who meets it with a sort of profane bravery, teenage Sam who is trying to cope with his Father’s illness and his first love, elderly George whose wife has just died and who was driving the car, lonely military wife Alison who misses her husband and feels she has missed her son, and security guard Liam who has returned to Salisbury for reasons he can’t quite explain. 

This book was clever. It was revealing; it got under the skin of totally different people, showed their thoughts and feelings and fears and loneliness. It exposed different ages, walks of life, experiences. It told first person tales through different voices and styles, coming from the central point of the crash and going backwards and forwards with each character, painting a picture of that moment and it’s significance. And it made me never, ever want to go to Salisbury.

The four things that make me keep a book forever.

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, London

When we moved to London, we threw out SO MUCH STUFF. We thought we’d be moving into a pocket-sized apartment, and planned accordingly. It was hugely refreshing, and though we ended up moving somewhere way bigger than we had expected it made me determined to keep throwing things out.

I’m a natural hoarder, so this was a big step for me – and particularly when it comes to books. I have always had stuffed shelves, but I resolved that from now on, particularly since I get so many books these days, I will only keep them if they fulfil one of these particular criteria:

More fun teen Egyptian melodrama in Recreated by Colleen Houck

children's books, teen book reviews, Uncategorized, Writing Thoughts

Lily has been trying to adjust to normal life after her gorgeous supernatural, ancient Egyptian boyfriend Amon disappeared to save the world from chaos, but it’s just not working. It comes as a slight relief when the god Anubis turns up at her grandmother’s house to say they need her help again – Amon is trapped in the Netherworld and Lily is the only one who can save him. But it’s not an easy process, and involves becoming a sphinx, a huge change that will affect Lily forever…

I knew exactly what to expect from this book having read and enjoyed the first book. A  action packed teen adventure packed with drama and spirit, plus a load of gorgeous gods and a plucky heroine. It didn’t disappoint, and I think I actually enjoyed this one more. It felt more confident, and focussed more on Lily as a character rather than Amon, which I really enjoyed.

I’m so glad I gave Jessie Burton another chance with her new book The Muse

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

In 1967, Odelle Bastion gets a new job in an art gallery, where the eccentric and enigmatic Marjorie Quick takes her under her wing. But when Odelle’s boyfriend brings a painting to be valued, Quick becomes even more mysterious, and Odelle becomes determined to discover the secrets. In 1936, Olive Schloss moves to rural Spain with her family, and they become involved with a local painter and his sister; and it is the events here that bring about the painting and it’s secrets.

This was an exceptionally pleasing book. There is a feeling I get a few pages into a book when I know it’s going to be a good one; supreme smugness and anticipation of enjoyment, a relaxing and trust that the author is going to be trustworthy to take me on a worthwhile, enjoyable and satisfying journey. Like sinking into a hot bath, or the first taste of a truly terrific meal. It really wasn’t long into this book that I felt this feeling wash over me, and settled back to enjoy myself.

The pictures tell the story in Charlie and Lola’s Clothes by Lauren Child

children's books, picture books, Uncategorized

I’m a massive fan of Lauren Child and have been since way before I had a baby and therefore a legitimate reason to read her books. But when I first read this book I was disappointed. It seemed to be a list of clothes, not a story at all, which is always a terrible terrible thing – but soon I realised that actually, the pictures were telling the story.

All my favourite books – new RECOMMENDED feature!

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts

As well as being super fun and awesome, my blog is a project to find awesome books and persuade people to read them.

In honour of this and to help out any of you who are looking for awesome books to read, I’ve made a new page… the RECOMMENDED page! Basically, it will display all the books that I read and LOVE so you can choose from the best, with the latest at the top.

It’s up there, on the menu. Go on, go and check it out! You might find your new favourite book!

Plus, I would ALWAYS love to know if you read anything that I’ve posted about, and what you thought. Please let me know!

Secrets of the deep and bizarre beings in Riverkeep by Martin Stewart

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, children's books, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

When Wulliam’s father, the Riverkeep, is attacked by a monster from the deep which takes over his body, Wulliam is desperate to save him. Abandoning the piece of river his father has kept his whole life he starts to journey down the river through land he has only heard of to find the Mormorach, the legendary and magical beast that could cure his father. But he’s not the only one looking for it, nor the only one on a journey, and William’s trip turns out more colourfully than he ever would have imagined.

For me, this book seemed to have two very clear sections. The start was fairly slow, fairly tedious world building, telling us much too much information about the Riverkeep and the river etc etc etc. It was fairly dull, dark and dense. Then suddenly Wulliam embarks on his quest, and everything starts being faintly ridiculous and completely bizarre. In an enjoyable way – but it was just totally unexpected!

Finally a fictional experience of motherhood I can relate to in Bishop’s The Other Side of the World

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, Writing, Writing Thoughts

Charlotte and Henry married, and had a child, then another. Charlotte is run down by the monotony of motherhood and Henry by the English weather as opposed to childhood memories of India. Henry decides to move them to Australia, where Charlotte continues to struggle, and their marriage becomes less and less close as they refuse to recognise what each other needs.

After my recent revelations of the lack of realistic mothers in fiction, this book was refreshing. Here was a young mother facing what I do every day; the relentless needs of (admirably adorable) children, the sacrifice of self that you aren’t quite sure you signed up for, the challenges of being at home on your own. Though for me this was the most compelling as it is the closest to my current experience, the rest of the book was excellent too, with the themes coming through the sparse prose almost between the words rather than through them.

And it’s rather lucky that I enjoyed it, as I’m going to an event with author Stephanie Bishop tomorrow, as well as Eowyn Ivey, author of one of my all time favourite books The Snow Child and new release To the Bright Edge of the World. Exciting!

Back to the book.

So apparently people had sex in the olden days – The Vatican Princess by C W Gortner

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

When Lucrezia’s father, with a mixture of force, bribery and persuasion, is made Pope, Lucrezia becomes a pawn in the power games always going on all around her. And her beauty is her chief weapon; but this works against her as often as for her. Trying to navigate between her brother’s deadly rivalry and desire for her, the husbands who try to wrest her loyalty away from her father, Lucrezia finds herself right in the middle of huge historical events as well as her own personal trauma.

I was hoping here to find out some more about a historical period. To discover more about the life of a historical figure I hadn’t heard of before. And, this kind of happened. But mainly this book seemed to be making the oh-so-laboured point, people in the olden days actually had sex. I mean, it was pretty much all the book was about: Lucrezia and the many men she attracted. I was hoping for a fuller picture.