Library List 009

I haven’t done a library list in a while, but of course, I am always taking advantage of the reservation system at the library, to reserve books that I want to read and hope that they don’t all come in at the same time!

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This is on my list because it’s one of the Guardian’s Top 10 epistolary novels that I am going to try and read as part of my 36 Before 36 challenge. It was on the reading list at university, but it was one of those that I didn’t get round to reading in full (there were a few of them!). This book is actually available to pick up now, I just have to get to the library!

Lullaby by Leila Slimani
I have no idea where I heard about this, but I suspect it was on one of those ‘Books to be excited about in 2018’ lists that I have to be really restrained around. It’s about a nanny who works for a Parisian couple looking after their two children, and it sounds like a terrific thriller, so I’m excited to read it.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
I spotted this on an Instagram account that I follow and love (@topshelftext); Madeline posted about it at the end of last year, and liked it so much that she edited her top ten of the year list to include it! That was enough for me; I almost downloaded the audiobook of it, but changed my mind at the last minute and added to my library list. It’s the first in a series as well, so I’m hoping it’s going to yield lots of good reading.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
I’ve had this reserved since the middle of November, and it still hasn’t arrived, which speaks to its popularity! It was one of the big children’s books of 2017, and was everywhere for a while, so I’m hoping it will arrive soon.

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The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
Part of another challenge – I asked Janet from Someone Somewhere to recommend a book (one of my 36 Before 36 is to get recommendations from 20 people and read them all), and this is what she came up with. It went straight onto the library list, and I’m looking forward to getting into it.

The Watcher by Charles MacLean
When I put this post together, I assumed that another one that was on one of my challenge lists, but it’s not. It turns out that this has been on reserve since October, which means that it is more than likely one that I wanted to read for Halloween, as it is a horror. Now that I’m looking at it, in all honesty I probably won’t get around to reading it, and I will probably end up taking it off my list!

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
This one is on the Guardian’s top ten list of novels on rural America. I’ve not read much Toni Morrison before, which is a travesty considering that I studied American literature for three years. I believe that this book is already at the library, waiting for me to pick it up.

The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
Another one that appeared on a load of ‘Best of 2018’ lists at the start of the year, and it’s not actually out until next week. It’s clearly influenced by Rear Windowas it’s about a woman who is housebound, and while looking out of her window, witnesses something in a neighbour’s flat. It certainly sounds like another exciting addition to the psychological thriller that doesn’t show any signs of going anywhere.

The Bookish Side of Life #5 ~ TBR

Library Haul

If you’re a reader, chances are you have a TBR pile. For the unitiated, TBR means ‘to-be-read’. For some people, this is a small pile of books on your bedside table, maybe in the order you’d like to read them. For others, along with that pile, there might be another pile somewhere else in the house. And then for others, there’s an entire bookshelf full of books that you have acquired that you definitely want to get around to reading.

Reading isn’t a competition, so it doesn’t matter if you’re in the first camp, or the third, or you fall somewhere different altogether. But I’ve been thinking about my own TBR pile recently – there’s a pile on the floor of my bedroom that I definitely want to read, so I don’t want to donate them to charity, or give them away. But that doesn’t stop me from picking up at least one book at the library every time I go, or scouring the shelves of a charity shop, or popping another book into my online basket when I get the chance.

That’s because I’m a reader, and as much I would like to pretend that I want to get through my TBR pile, secretly I just want to add to it. I just want to be surrounded by books, so that when I put one down, I have a multitude to choose from to read next. And I think that most readers would probably say the same. We might put ourselves on book buying bans, but we don’t really want to get to the bottom of the pile. We just want more books to read, all the time.

December 2017 Books

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I didn’t actually realise that I hadn’t read anything in December that wasn’t a festive story, but they all were! I was trying to tick off ‘Read five Christmas books’ from my 36 Before 36 list, and with these and Last Christmas in Paris that I finished in November, I’ve ticked it off!

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
This has been on my Christmas reading list for years, but somehow I have just never got around to it. This year, I reserved it at the library nice and early. In age old Poirot fashion, the story involves the murder of a wealthy old man, whose family have convened at their old family home for Christmas. It’s not the best Poirot story that I’ve ever read, but as ever, it involves a convoluted plot, plenty of red herrings and imposters, and a clever reveal. It’s well worth adding to your festive reading list for the future.

Christmas at the Dancing Duck by Daisy James
With a specific festive book goal in mind, I resorted to Kindle bargains when some of my library reservations didn’t arrive in time. This was one of those bargains, though that word suggests a piece of quality work for a small amount of money. I hate being overly negative, but this book was not for me. Granted, you have to expect a certain type of book when you’re dealing with a cover like this, but it was sloppily written, had annoying characters, and a silly conclusion that I saw coming a mile off. It wasn’t for me, sadly!

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Horniak
Christmas books so often revolve around family coming back together, and not getting on, and that’s exactly what happens here. When Olivia returns home from Sierra Leone, where she’s been treating victims of Haag Disease, she has to go into quarantine with her family for a week. This is a family with secrets, who don’t actually seem to enjoy spending too much time together, so the forced proximity is not welcome. We get alternating points of view throughout the novel, so we are able to empathise with the family members, even if I spent most of my time wanting to knock their heads together. This isn’t a criticism however; I don’t have to like a character to find them well-written and engaging.

The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver
I bought this at the same time as Christmas at the Dancing Duck, and after that one failed to set my world on fire, I didn’t hold out great hopes for this one either. But I was pleasantly surprised. It’s the story of two sisters who have grown up mostly separately after the divorce of their parents saw them living apart. Ella has forged a successful career in London and lives well with her upper class husband, while Maddy, the younger sister, has lived in Greece with her mum, living a simple life as a waitress, but dreams of fame as a singer. Through a contrivance of events, the sisters swap places for Christmas, and have to work through their own issues, which thankfully are not all relationship and men related. It’s a predictable ending, and the story won’t stay with me, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it.

Books in 2017 – 41

36 Before 36 – Read five Christmas books

October & November 2017 Books

October November Books

Death in the Stars by Frances Brody *
I’d probably say that a murder mystery is my favourite type of story, which is very much borne out by my 2017 list – there’s quite a few on there! This is one that I reviewed as part of a blog tour (you can read my full review here); I’ve reviewed the last three Kate Shackleton mysteries, and I’m a huge fan. I think the sense of time is spot on (speaking as someone who didn’t live through the post-war years), and the mysteries always keep me guessing!

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Enger *
This book has been floating around for ages; I follow so many bookish people on Twitter that when a book has a bit of hype around it, I see it mentioned over and over again – this is one such book. It lived up to the hype for me, luckily, despite having a subject matter that it dark and frankly horrifying. Over a decade after leaving grandparents’ vast estate in rural Kansas, Lane returns to look into the disappearance of her cousin Allegra. Being back in the small town brings back memories that Lane has tried to bury, and the narrative splits into two, weaving between Lane’s first summer in Roanoke and the present day, with a bit of old family history thrown in as well. This structure allows the tension to build, so we are left waiting to find out the reason for Lane’s abrupt departure in the past, and what has happened to her cousin in the present. It’s a really great novel, I just loved it.

He by John Connolly
He tells the story of Stan Laurel, famous for his comic partnership with Oliver Hardy. It’s a fictional account, something I had to keep reminding myself of throughout the story. While all the factual major life events are covered – his various marriages, his financial problems, how he came to star in so many films with Hardy – but the rest is a construct. But it’s beautifully imagined, and lends a tragic air to Laurel’s life. It took me a while to get through it, but ultimately I really liked it.

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler
Having recently renewed my Audible subscription, once a month I find myself trying to find a new audiobook to download. In October, I settled on this one, and then ended up regretting it slightly. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fascinating and well-researched list of 100 authors you may never have heard of. Some were prolific, some were incredibly famous for a short time, but most of whom the average reader probably have heard. My problem wasn’t with the book, nor wit hthe narrator (it was read engagingly by the author), but with the fact that I should have read it, rather than listened to it, as it would have made list making a lot easier!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng *
This was another book where I read a lot of the hype about the book before I finally got to read the story itself. I really do love it when I have a lot of good things about a book, and then an email lands in my inbox asking if I’d like to be part of a blog tour for it! You can read my review hereLittle Fires Everywhere is a slow story, but not to its detriment. It just takes time to build the characters, and the setting of Shaker Heights, meaning that everything that happens to them is felt on a deep level.

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter *
My iPad is full of books that I have downloaded from Netgalley and not got around to reading or reviewing, so when I was on the Eurostar on my way to Disneyland Paris last month, I decided to delve in and find one. I landed on Bonfire by Krysten Ritter, another book that I have heard good things about, but one that ultimately, I wanted to read because I like Krysten Ritter. I wasn’t disappointed; it’s a great thriller about a corporate cover up that descends into something even more nasty.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
This has been all over Instagram as a festive read, and though I tried to reserve it at the library, I ended up having to buy it as a Kindle download. It’s a World War I story about a young couple who start off as friends, but through their wartime correspondence begin to fall in love. It’s an epistolary novel, which is one of my favourite types of story, and it’s beautifully written. It reminded me a little of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers.

Books in 2017 – 37

Book Blog Tour ~ Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Little Fires Everywhere is an engrossing read, set in what at first glance appears to be a surburban paradise. A cast of fully engaging, perfectly rounded-out characters make for a compelling but slow-moving story.

Elena Richardson is a journalist, a homemaker, a wife and mother, and Shaker Heights, the suburb of Cleveland where she grew up and is raising her family, is her perfect habitat. Everything is meticulously planned, and everyone plays by the rules, even when they don’t.

Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, arrives to rent a house from the Richardsons, and moves in with her teenage duaghter Pearl. Very soon, the two families, so different in their make-up and outlook, begin to weave themselves into each others’ lives; Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson children, Mia begins domestic work for the family, and develops a relationship with Izzie, the youngest Richardson daughter, long since marked out as the black sheep.

The novel begins with a fire destroying the Richardson house, and from there the action takes us back to the day that Mia and Pearl arrived in Shaker Heights. The story weaves a slow-moving and insightful journey through the six months that elapse between their arrival and the fire, and the reader is left guessing as to what will come next. A custody battle involving a Chinese-American baby provides the catalyst for the drama, leaving Elena and Mia on opposing sides of what they see as a moral battle.

This is the first Celeste Ng book I have read, despite hearing nothing but praise for her debut novel Everything I Never Told You. I just love how absorbing this story is; all the time I was reading it, whenever I had to put it down to do something I else, I just wanted to head back to spend time with these characters. They aren’t all likable, but they are so well written that they feel entirely real. The setting of Shaker Heights feels just slightly oppressive, but is written about with a knowing tone; the idea that you’d get a fine for leaving your lawn uncut for too long is written about humourously and we are encouraged to roll our eyes at this kind of autocratic dictate.

Now that I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for Ng’s writing, I’m going to be seeking out Everything I Never Told You.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Publication Date: 9th November 2017
ISBN: 9781408709719
Little Brown
Provided by publisher