Showing posts from February, 2018

Book review: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Written by Richard Bach Published by Harper Element Synopsis: This bestselling modern classic is a fable about seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe or neighbourhood finds your ambition threatening (at one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock). By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan learns the meaning of love and kindness and gets the ultimate payoff – transcendence. I r ead this book for the first time in my early teens, if not earlier than that, and I vaguely remember not having enjoyed it. That's why - when I saw the cover in my local library last week - I thought it might be nice to revisit this classic and find out whether my adult self could find something good in this story. The long and short of it is... sadly not! I say 'sadly' because I really wanted to like it. I wanted to prove myself that my taste has evolved in the intervening 20+ years... but perhaps I've been a reader with a strong sense of what

My favourite quotes #4

Buying books isn't shopping, it's breathing. Kathryn Flett in an Observer Magazine article What are your favourite quotes? Share them on Twitter or in the comments below!

Book annotating or not book annotating?

I have recently come across the controversial topic of book annotating . Does it make me very naïve that I didn’t even know this was ‘a thing’? Apart from a gentle spot of highlighting and note taking in textbooks, I have never considered writing in my books. Until I came to live in England and discovered charity shops – a concept that is still relatively foreign to Italians – I would have never even thought of buying a second-hand book. To be honest - for a good few years into my it’s-ok-to-be-buying-second-hand-books new life  - I would only buy books that looked as if they were new! No discoloration around the edges, no dents, no spine creases (oh, the horror!) and – definitely – no annotations of any kind. The price pencilled into the inside of the front cover was enough for me to have to put up with! Perfect books, that’s what I wanted. I would then read them with the utmost care so as not to create any spine creases and be generally as unobtrusive as possible so that the bo

Podcast review: Book Off! Lionel Shriver and Tracy Chevalier

I came across this podcast on Twitter and it has already become my favourite! There seem to be only three episodes so far. On the one hand, it’s great as there isn’t an overwhelmingly large archive to navigate. On the other hand, it’s not great at all as… there isn’t an overwhelmingly large archive to navigate! The first episode I chose to listen to is the second in the series. The combination of Lionel Shriver and Tracy Chevalier was too good to resist and it was indeed phenomenal! It was so good that I’ve already listened to it twice! For the main part of the episode, the two writers chatted with host Joe Haddow about all sorts of literary and non-literary delights. Appearing in the former category: the authors’ publishing journeys and their relationship with editors, the difference (or lack thereof) between researching for a historical novel or a contemporary novel, autobiographical elements in novels, reading fiction and non-fiction books, Shakespeare. Appearing in t

Book review: Rebel Voices + competition

B y Louise Kay Stewart Illustrated by Eve Lloyd Knight Published by Wren and Rook , Hachette Children's Group Rebel Voices – The Rise of Votes for Women – is a children’s book. A children’s book with a difference. I mean, take a look at that bold, feisty and unapologetic front cover. Doesn’t it make you feel ready to take on the world? That same world that you can see reflected in those beautiful eyes. Such a smart cover! Equally smart is the content. Girls will be inspired and empowered by the women portrayed in this book. Women who take risks, break rules, speak out. Women who are dedicated and passionate. Women who are not afraid to lose everything they have – including their lives – for a cause they believe in. Women who fight and – ultimately – women who win. On the centenary of some women gaining the right to vote in the UK, this is such a brilliant homage to all women who have linked arms all over the world to fight for equality. The text is informative and eas

The Bookish Naughty List Tag

I have recently come across The Bookish Naughty List Tag , which was created in December last year by Jenniely . The idea is that – once you’ve been tagged – you have to answer 15 questions and spill the beans on your bookish sins. I have just got back into blogging and I haven’t been tagged by anyone but this sounds fun so… here it goes… 1. Received an ARC and not reviewed it? ✓ I am afraid so. In my previous incarnation as a book blogger I struggled to keep up with the number of ARCs and books received, which is part of the reason that ultimately led to my giving the blogging up. 2. Have less than 60% feedback rating on NetGalley? No. I don’t actually have a NetGalley account, which to some might seem a bigger sin that having a low feedback percentage! 3. Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)? No, simply because I don’t have a Goodreads account. Is this heresy? Have I now been excommunicated from the bo

Books through my lens #25

Street art in Falmouth, Cornwall! I took this picture during the Christmas holidays in 2016 and this portion of wall is part of a much wider mural that I hope is still there.

Book review: after you'd gone

By Maggie O'Farrell Published by Headline Review Synopsis: A distraught y oung woman boards a train at King's Cross to return to her family in Scotland. Six hours later, she catches sight of something so terrible in a mirror at Waverley Station that she gets on the next train back to London. AFTER YOU'D GONE follows Alice's mental journey through her own past, after a traffic accident has left her in a coma. A love story that is also a story of absence, and of how our choices can reverberate through the generations, it slowly draws us closer to a dark secret at a family's heart. How did this book end up in my hands? This is another one of those books that have been moving home with me for a good few years so I don’t actually recall how it’s ended on the shelves. Was it a page-turner? Not in the beginning but as I kept learning more and more about the women of the Raikes family, I could hardly put it down. I just needed to know what would happen to

My Rad Life - A Journal + Competition

A couple of weeks ago I was the lucky winner of a copy of My Rad Life . Calling this 'a journal' is way too modest so I will grab a marker and add 'a source of inspiration' on the cover! You might as well start as you mean to go on! Written by Kate Schatz and skillfully illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl , this beautiful journal published by Ten Speed Press is the perfect gift for women who know - or should know - how awesome they are! Browsing the pages, you meet women you know and women you don't know - in the end, all women you will be happy to know and whose words will make you think, question, wonder, dream and so much more. The colour scheme is vibrant and the pages, with their quotes and prompts, invite you to draw, doodle, write and pour your creativity between the covers in any way you want. There are blank pages to fill, lines to follow (or not, it's up to you!) and speech bubbles to give a voice to. I can already see how this journal will

My favourite quotes #3

With each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not. Nick Hornby What are your favourite quotes? Share them on Twitter or in the comments below!

My top 5 books in 2017

Am I too late to write a post about my top 5 books in 2017?  Yes? No? I can't hear you so I'll just go ahead! Without further ado, here are the books I loved last year: 1) The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga Very simplistically, it could be described as a rag to riches story with the Indian caste system thrown in. Absolutely fascinating. I couldn't put it down.  2) Big Brother by Lionel Shriver This should really be in joint first place. Adoring sister helps obese brother get back on the right track. I drank every word of this book only to find myself chocking at the end. Only McEwan's Atonement has had this effect on me so far and that's another book I love! 3) Gloria by Kerry Young This was a book group read and I spent the first 50 pages wondering how on earth I would be able to read the Jamaican dialect it was written in. I just wanted to correct grammar and spelling - and I'm not even an English native speaker. And then it happened: Glo

Podcast review: Book Shambles S07E02

Today I started listening to my second episode ever of the podcast Book Shambles and only a few minutes in I thought 'Oh no!' as host Robin Ince and science fiction writer Andy Weir started discussing Doctor Who , Star Trek and Star Wars in what I - armed with my complete ignorance in such topics - considered too much detail. I know that science fiction embraces many subgenres. I even like some of them. I probably like more than some but I have never learnt how to define them. For example, last year I read Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison. How would you classify that? Speculative fiction, dystopian fiction, climate fiction, apocalyptic fiction? I have no idea but I did enjoy it. It is silly but when I hear the words 'science fiction' my mind immediately conjures up aliens and intergalactic battles - and I don't particularly like either of those. I decided to keep listening to the episode anyway - as I was also chopping leeks and potatoes fo

Book review: Wavewalker

By Stella Duffy Published by Serpent’s Tail Synopsis: Saz has been hired by a mystery employer, the Wavewalker, to investigate the activities of Dr Maxwell North, an internationally acclaimed therapist, healer and guru. She starts by experiencing ‘The Process’ at a meeting in London, then insinuates herself into North’s life and home, not realising the extent to which North will go to protect the dark secrets of his past. Starting in ‘70s San Francisco, then crashing into her own ‘90s London life, the investigation propels Saz into dangerous territory and a highly combustible conclusion. How did this book end up in my hands? I bought this book many years ago. I’m ashamed to say I can’t even remember when I bought it but long enough ago to have followed me through many house moves. Was it a page-turner? Yes, every twist in the plot was completely unexpected – right to the very end. Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? Yes. The story was well develope

Books through my lens #24

Tectonic Model (Flow) - Takahiro Iwasaki's installation in the Japan Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2017


A few days ago, I woke up to a light dusting of snow outside my window. It was gone a few hours later but it lingered enough for me to reach out for my copy of Snow by Maxence Fermine. This is a book I first read a long time ago. I was still living in Italy at the time (hence the Italian edition of the book) and I loved it so much that it was among the very few books that moved to England with me back in 2005. I haven't read it again since that first time and I think that now might be a good time to do that because - as I looked it up on Goodreads - I was shocked to see it received a rating of 3.74 out of 5 stars! That must be a mistake... I remember a beautifully poetic and evocative book narrating a fragile story of searching and loving. If I had to rate it as I remember it, 5 stars wouldn't be enough. I will be coming back to this before the year is over. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your views on this book if you've read it or are reading it.

Valentine's Day book review: Committed

Happy Valentine's Day, book lovers! Today I am recommending a book that I enjoyed reading last year in the run-up to my wedding: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert . I found this lovely second-hand paperback in the cosy  Berliner Büchertisch while I was in Berlin for a friend's wedding. Having loved Eat Pray Love , I knew the moment I saw this book that it was going to come back to England with me so the fact that the title incorporated 'A Love Story' didn't seal the deal. I have however seen that replaced with 'A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage' in other editions and I am not sure that I would have felt the same enthusiasm if that version had landed in my hands instead. Whether you're in love, in love with the idea of being in love, single, courting, engaged, married, divorced or what not, I would whole-heartedly recommend you read this collection of honest introspection and well-pondered reflections on the meaning of marriage. I knew befor

My favourite quotes #2

The truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more. Gabriel Zaid What do you think of this quote? I personally like it because it's a perfect excuse to keep buying books! What are your favourite quotes? Share them on Twitter or in the comments below!

Podcast review: Book Shambles S07E01

I have recently come across the Book Shambles podcast while listening to Podcast Radio Hour on BBC Radio 4. In the words of Josie Long, it is a podcast where the presenters get to " meet mainly authors and poets but also just people we are interested in and people we like and we just ask them about books that they love and about what got them into reading, what they are reading now... ". I was hooked before she could even finish the sentence and this morning I listened to one of their episodes.  I would normally start from either the very first or the very last episode and work my way up or down from there. This year, however, I would like to be less structured (not that there is anything wrong with structure!) and I purely picked an episode based on something that caught my interest. The episode in question if the first of the 7th season (gosh, I have a lot to catch up on!) and has Jeff Garlin as guest. In the introduction, books about trees are mentioned... and t