Books That I Have Been Afraid To Read

I know it’s a strange blog post, but it is true. I have been wanted to read Greek mythology books for some time and they have been taking up space on my book shelves. However, I was not reaching for them as I was afraid I would simply not get them or understand what on earth is going on.

As some of you may know, I have recently returned back to studying and the first novel I had to read was The Odyssey, what a way to start. The book that everyone lies about reading, I can officially say I have read it and enjoyed it. As I was so fearful about it, I did read up simple guides. I then had a light bulb moment happened and I came to realise, I had nothing to fear.

The one thing I am told a lot at the moment by my husband is I have lost all of my confidence in life stuff. I never used to be fearful of anything, but with having two small children and wanting to find work, it seems my confidence is one thing that has disappeared. So I am making baby steps to try and get it back in one shape or another and taking the decision to re-train to be a teacher is the start. Anyway, back to the books.

I have now become slightly addicted with reading Greek mythology and made my way through Circe, The Penelopiad and just about to finish Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships.

I have also made my way through both of Stephen Fry’s books and they are complete heaven and I simply adore his writing. He somehow has the magic touch with his writing.

The only one I have left to read off my reading pile is The Song of Achilles – which, I have only heard amazing things about. I cannot wait to make a start as soon as I can.

My message to all of you who may be afraid to read certain books on your bookshelves, they may not necessarily be the same as the ones I was afraid of. Take the plunge, push yourself, take those books off your shelves, dust them off and give them a go. Even if you do it in small sections, you can do it.

Let me know which books you were afraid of.

x

Weekly Update Oct / Nov 2019

I am sorry that I have been so quiet recently, I have started studying. Yes, I may be completely mad by I thought that if I liked books so much why don’t I study them. So, a mix of the books in the above pile are ones that I have to read, lets be frank I would not read Hamlet out of choice. This is my reading pile this week, I will of course update you as to how I get on and when I finish them and my thoughts. Let me know if you have read any of them and what your thoughts were?

 

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (published by Vintage )

In this vivid portrait of one day in a woman’s life, Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of a party she is to give that evening. As she readies her house she is flooded with memories and re-examines the choices she has made over the course of her life.

This is one of my study reads.

This is another of the books that I need to read as part of my degree. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. I believe Maggie O’Farroll is due to release Hamnet her first historical novel around the story of Hamlet (Tinder Press) which I cannot wait to read.

Hamlet is considered one of Shakespeare’s most rich and enduring plays, the depiction of its hero Hamlet as he vows to avenge the murder of his father by his brother Claudius is both powerful and complex. As Hamlet tries to find out the truth of the situation, his troubled relationship with his mother comes to the fore as do the paradoxes in his personality. A play of carefully crafted conflict and tragedy, Shakespeare’s intricate dialogue continues to fascinate audiences to this day.

A Thousand Ships

I was very excited to see A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes (published by Mantle at my local library and knew that I had to pick it up. I have become obsessed with this type of book after reading Circe, I thought A Thousand Ships was an ideal companion.

In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash……

The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretched from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all……

I have put This Is How We Change The Ending by Vikki Wakefield (published by Text Publishing) I heard Vikki talk over the weekend and she is one inspirational lady, if she is talking near you, she is a must to go and see.

Nate McKee is doing his best to be invisible. He’s worried about a lot of things- how his dad treats Nance and his twin half-brothers; they hydro crop in his bedroom; his reckless friend, Merrick.

Nate hangs out at the local youth centre and fills his notebooks with things he can’t say. When some of his pages are stolen, and his words turn up as graffiti on the centre, he realises he has allies. He might be able to make a difference, change his life, and claim his future. Or can he?

Targeted

The last book on my pile and I need to say a big thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of Targeted by Brittany Kaiser I have already started reading this. It is an addicted, eye-opening read.

They know what you buy.

They know who your friends are.

They know everything about you- most of all how to manipulate you.

When Brittany Kaiser first sat down with Alexander Nix, the charismatic head of the upstart political communications firm Cambridge Analytica, she believed that personal data- the information collected about you from your smartphone, social media and online habits – could be a force for good.

What began as an unlikely job prospect soon became something much more nefarious, as Kaiser’s efforts to build the world’s leading data-science company culminated instead with Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump.

Going behind the scenes of Cambridge Analytica’s rise and fall, Kaiser pulls the curtain back on the big business of Big Data, explaining how people’s online behaviour is influence when their data is weaponised against them.

A pretty diverse reading pile. What are you currently reading?

Have a good weekend

x

If you are a publisher and would like your book to feature in my reading pile, please message me at thesecretworldofabookblogger@mail.com

New Book – The Changing Room by Christine Sykes

I wanted to say a big thank you to the Ventura Press team for sending me a copy of The Changing Room by Christine Sykes which is due to be released on 1 November 2019.

Inspired by the woman behind the charity Dress for Success (DFS), The Changing Room is an uplifting and heart-warming story of female empowerment, proving that there is more to fashion than just clothes.

Following the recent launch of Meghan Markles’ clothing line in conjunction with Smart Works, a similar service to DFS in the UK, The Changing Room captures the diverse stories of the women working with these charities.

Author Christine Sykes volunteered at DFS at their Sydney headquarters for many years before penning the novel. Motivated by the women working behind the scenes and many success stories they inspire, Christine captures the transformation that such a service can provide for women from all walks of life.

Synopsis – A story of hope, second chances and the power of female friendships.

Anna is in her sixties with dream job and the man to match. Claire is a forty-six-year-old philanthropist with a picture-perfect family. And then there is Molly, who has seen more strife in her twenty years than anyone should, but has more love to give than most.

When their lives are turned upside down, these women must discover how to start over. Guided by Sustainability, a clothing and styling service for disadvantaged women, Anna, Claire and Molly find the courage to rebuild their lives – with a few outfit changes along the way.

The Changing Room is published on 1 November 2019.

Weekly Update – October 2019

I have had an okay reading week. Although, I am struggling to finish my books, I have been wanting to start books and then just don’t fancy them. Perhaps it’s the typical I have so many clothes, but nothing to wear but with books. I am sure you will understand.

A Moth to a Flame

On my reading pile A Moth To A Flame by Stig Dagerman. This book is part of the Penguin European Writers collection. I have read a couple of chapters and already want to collect the rest of the books within the series. Stig Dagerman was a popular writer in Europe but had not quite made the same impact on the UK market. I have made a start with this book, I just need to finish it, there is nothing wrong with the book – it’s just me and my little brain unable to concentrate for longer then five minutes.

Synopsis – In 1940s Stockholm, a young man named Bengt falls into deep, private turmoil after the unexpected death of his mother. As he struggles to cope with his loss, his despair slowly transforms to rage when he discovers that his father had a mistress. Bengt swears revenge on behalf of his mother’s memory, but he soon finds himself drawn into a fevered and forbidden affair with the very woman he set out destroy….

Unfortunately, this book I did not managed to get to this weekend, but of course it will remain on my reading pile.

A Moth To A Flame is published by Penguin .

Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore

The next book is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store by Robin Sloan which is another book that I am nearly done and hoping to finish over the weekend.

Synopsis – Clay Jannon, twenty-six and unemployed, reads books about vampire policemen and teenage wizards. Familiar, predictable books that fit neatly into a section at the bookstore. But he is about to encounter a new species of book entirely; secret. Strange and frantically sought after.

These books will introduce him to the strangest, smartest girl he’s ever met. They will lead him across the country, through the shadowed spaces where old words hide. They will set him on a quest to unlock a secret held tight since the time of Gutenberg – a secret that touches us all.

But before that, these books will get him a job.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store is published by Text Publishing .

PS_chosen final.png

The next amazing book is Paris Savages by Katherine Johnson, with the long weekend coming up I plan to make a dent in this novel. I must focus.

Synopsis – Fraser Island 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. When German scientist Louis Muller offers to sail three Badtjala people – Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera – to Europe to perform to huge crowds, the proud and headstrong Bonny agrees, hoping to bring his people’s plight to the Queen of England.

Accompanied by Muller’s bright, grieving daughter, Hilda, the group begin their journey to belle-epoque Europe to perform in Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and eventually London. While crowds in Europe are enthusiastic to see the unique dances, singing, fights and pole climbing is relentless and the culture in the world, the attention is relentless and the fascination of scientists intrusive. When disaster strikes, Bonny must find a way to return home.

Paris Savages is published by Ventura Press..

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, I managed to get this book finished over the week. I adored this story and just simply find Jessie’s writing addictive. That is why I gobbled the book up in one sitting.

Synopsis – There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of her home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist; whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realizes the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?

The Miniaturist is published by Picador.

The War Artist by Simon Cleary I completed today. At the end of the novel I was a completely emotional mess. Being an ex-military wife, I found a real connection with this novel, especially Penny, who was the wife of Brigadier James Phelan who had just returned from Afghanistan with the body of a young soldier. Brigadier Phelan has PTSD and we witness the consequences and impact war can have not within the environment, but at home and the ripple impact on the family.

Penny was such a believable and what I would say typically a military wife, she has learnt to get on with life at home and ensure it is running smoothly for when your husband / partner returning home. But what you do not realise until you have a partner who is away for long periods is that life can pass you by and it can be difficult for soldiers to fit back into “normal” life.

Thank you, Simon, what a beautiful and important story you have shared. This is a conversation that is often hidden or not discussed; however, the realities can have a catastrophic impact that no one can predict.

What a book!

Synopsis – When Brigadier James Phelan returns from Afghanistan with the body of a young soldier killed under his command, he is traumatized by the tragedy. An encounter with young Sydney tattoo artist Kira leaves him with a permanent tribute to the soldier, and it is a meeting that will change the course of his life. What he isn’t expecting on his homecoming is a campaign of retribution from the soldiers who blame him for the ambush and threaten his career. With his marriage also on the brink, his life spirals out of control.

The War Artist is published by University of Queensland Press.

There have been three novels / novella’s that have crept onto my reading pile.

Joan Smokes

The first is, Joan Smokes by Angela Meyer (which I have featured on my blog).

Synopsis – She used to be someone else, but now she’s arrived in Vegas, where she can start again. It won’t do to let the past leak in. It’s the Sixties now. She’s going to become…Joan. She makes a list; Buy a dress (fitted, floral). Dye her hair (dark). Curl it. Buy red lipstick. Buy cigarettes and a lighter, too; Joan, she decides, is a smoker. There’s no need to dwell on why she’s here, what went before. She is just moving forward, one foot in front of the other, becoming that new person. Joan. This city of flashing neon, casinos and shows is full of distractions. Finding a job will be quick and easy. Things to do. New People to meet. A clean sheet. She’s certainly not thinking about Jack, or…No. Not anymore. Her new life starts right here, right now.

Joan Smokes is published by Contraband an imprint of Saraband.

Happiness

The next book is Happiness by Aminatta Forna another book I have only heard good things about.

Synopsis – Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide; Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying urban foxes. Jean joins Attila in his search for his niece’s missing son, and mobilises the network of volunteer fox spotters she has built up, mainly from the West African immigrants working London’s streets and hotel doorways.

As Jean and Attile’s friendship deepens, Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.

Happiness is published by Bloomsbury.

Image result for The Polyglot Lovers

And the last novel, The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff (Translated by Saskia Vogel)

Synopsis – Ellinor is thirty-six. She wears soft black sweatpants and a Michelin Man jacket. She fights. Smart and unsentimental, she tries her hand at online dating, only to be stranded by a snowstorm with a literary critic. Cut to Max Lamas, an author who dreams of a polyglot lover, a woman who will understand him – in every tongue. His search takes him to Italy, where he befriends a marchesa whose old Roman family is on the brink of ruin. At the heart of this literary intrigue is a handwritten manuscript that leave no one unaffected.

The Polyglot Lovers is published by Andotherstories.

Hopefully, with the bank holiday weekend here in Australia I can get started on my reading pile, I of course will keep you up to date on how I get on.

If you would like your book to feature in my wrap up or on my blog, please do email me at Thesecretworldofabookblogger@mail.com

Have a great week x

New Book – Joan Smokes by Angela Meyer

I was very excited to receive this novella by Angela Meyer, Joan Smokes which is due to be published on 5 December 2019. I adored Angela’s novel, A Superior Spectre and wanted to read pretty much anything she writes. She is a simply an outstanding author.

Synopsis – She used to be someone else, but now she’s arrived in Vegas, where she can start again. It won’t do to let the past leak in. It’s the Sixties now. She’s going to become…. Joan. She makes a list: Buy a new dress (fitted, floral). Dye her hair (dark). Curl it. Buy red lipstick. Buy cigarettes and a lighter, too: Joan, she decides, is a smoker. There’s no need to dwell on why she’s here, what went before. She is just moving forward, one foot in front of the other, becoming that new person. Joan. This city of flashing neon, casinos and shows is full of distractions. Finding a job will be quick and easy. Things to do. New people to meet. A clean sheet. She’s certainly not thinking about Jack, or…. No. Not anymore. Her new life starts right here, right now.

Joan Smokes is published by Contraband and imprint of Saraband and is available to purchase on 5 December 2019.

Big thanks to Ruth Killick for sending me an advanced copy.

To find out more about Angela Meyer, you can view her website here.

A full review will be on the blog shortly.

Reading Update September 2019

This weekend has been kind to me and I have managed to finish two books. I have certainly got my reading mojo back.

The OverstoryThe first book I managed to complete was The Overstory by Richard Powers. I believe this may be my favourite book of all time. I know that is a big statement but my mind was completely blow by Richard’s writing style. He embraced the love and adoration his characters had for trees and the importance trees have not just for the environment but to people’s lives. The Overstory reflected the greed and disrespect humans have for trees and potentially forget that we need to look after nature and trees to enable the world to work in harmony. My mind is completely blow, with The Overstory. This book has left me wanting to read more and despite the 625 pages, I was sad to say goodbye to the book.

The Overstory is a must-read novel and one that certainly should not be missed.

Synopsis – An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut tree. A hard-partying under-graduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan.

This is the story of these and five other strangers, each summoned in different ways by the natural world, who are brought together in the last stand to save it from catastrophe.

When looking at the words I wrote on Friday I still believe this book is simply breathtaking overwhelms you with nature and what we miss because in this day in age people do not look around and spend too much time on phones or just being busy. Richard has triggered a reminded in my brain to take some time and look around me and really appreciate nature and how it is imperative to our lives.

Thank you, Richard Powers, – what a book!

The Overstory is published by Vintage .

A Moth to a FlameI am also reading A Moth To A Flame by Stig Dagerman. This book is part of the Penguin European Writers collection. I have read a couple of chapters and already want to collect the rest of the books within the series. Stig Dagerman was a popular writer in Europe but had not quite made the same impact on the UK market.

Synopsis – In 1940s Stockholm, a young man named Bengt falls into deep, private turmoil after the unexpected death of his mother. As he struggles to cope with his loss, his despair slowly transforms to rage when he discovers that his father had a mistress. Bengt swears revenge on behalf of his mother’s memory, but he soon finds himself drawn into a fevered and forbidden affair with the very woman he set out destroy….

Unfortunately, this book I did not managed to get to this weekend, but of course it will remain on my reading pile.

A Moth To A Flame is published by Penguin .

The BeesAnother book I have managed to finish this weekend was The Bees by Laline Paull. This is another book that has been sat on my shelf for some time and I have not managed to get to. Another book that I am crossed for neglecting it for so long. Another book that will be in my top ten for the year.

Synopsis – Accept. Obey. Serve. Flora 717 is a survivor. Born into the lowest class of the totalitarian hive society she is prepared to sacrifice everything for the Queen, surviving internal massacres, religious purges an terrifying invasions by vicious wasps. With each act of bravery her status grows, revealing both the enemies within and the sinister secrets overwhelmed by a fierce and deeply forbidden maternal love, she breaks the mast sacred law of all….

When you finish reading this novel, you really appreciate the complexities within the bee community. Even within the hive. Every bee has their own social standings and roles / responsibilities and do not cross that line. We witness seasons with the bees and the survival of the hive and the impact foreign visitors have and how the bees deal with them. At times the violence and barbaric behavior is mind-blowing, but when you reflect this is the circle of life and how the bee community continue to live and attempt to keep the hive going and fulfil their jobs which have an integral part to the maintenance of a healthy hive.

We follow Flora, she is certainly a special bee who has many sides to her story. Her heart is in the right place, however, at times she puts herself at risk of being killed by her fellow bee colleagues. We witness the terrible downfall of not only the hive but the Queen too which was simply heartbreaking. We also go through the grieving and mourning process with the hive, and how they cope without a leader. It was simply sad demise.

The Bees is a special book, and enables and empowers you to understand the complexities and dynamics of the bee community and how such a small issue can have a catastrophic impact on them.

The Bees is published by 4th estate publishing.

Mr Penumbra's 24-hour BookstoreThe next book is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store by Robin Sloan which is another book I did not managed to get to over the weekend, but will remain on the pile to be read.

Synopsis – Clay Jannon, twenty-six and unemployed, reads books about vampire policemen and teenage wizards. Familiar, predictable books that fit neatly into a section at the bookstore. But he is about to encounter a new species of book entirely; secret. Strange and frantically sought after.

These books will introduce him to the strangest, smartest girl he’s ever met. They will lead him across the country, through the shadowed spaces where old words hide. They will set him on a quest to unlock a secret held tight since the time of Gutenberg – a secret that touches us all.

But before that, these books will get him a job.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store is published by Text Publishing .

PS_chosen final.pngLastly, is Paris Savages by Katherine Johnson, this is another book sadly I did not manage to get to, but with the bank holiday long weekend coming up I intend to attempt to make a dent in this pile of amazing books.

Synopsis – Fraser Island 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. When German scientist Louis Muller offers to sail three Badtjala people – Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera – to Europe to perform to huge crowds, the proud and headstrong Bonny agrees, hoping to bring his people’s plight to the Queen of England.

Accompanied by Muller’s bright, grieving daughter, Hilda, the group begin their journey to belle-epoque Europe to perform in Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and eventually London. While crowds in Europe are enthusiastic to see the unique dances, singing, fights and pole climbing is relentless and the culture in the world, the attention is relentless and the fascination of scientists intrusive. When disaster strikes, Bonny must find a way to return home.

Paris Savages is published by Ventura Press .

The MiniaturistI have two books joining my reading pile. The first book is The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton I cannot believe I have not read this book before, but love following Jessie on Instagram. (I have serious house envy). I found a copy in my local library and am hoping to read this over the week. I know once I will start reading it, I will devour it.

Synopsis – There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of her home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist; whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realizes the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?

The Miniaturist is published by Picador.

The War ArtistThe next book that I have added is The War Artist by Simon Cleary I have always had an interested in war and the impact this has on soldiers and families. With being an ex-military wife, I have heard a lot of stories and just wanted to continue to hear them as I believe this is important to educate others who may not necessarily by touched by military life.

Synopsis – When Brigadier James Phelan returns from Afghanistan with the body of a young soldier killed under his command, he is traumatized by the tragedy. An encounter with young Sydney tattoo artist Kira leaves him with a permanent tribute to the soldier, and it is a meeting that will change the course of his life. What he isn’t expecting on his homecoming is a campaign of retribution from the soldiers who blame him for the ambush and threaten his career. With his marriage also on the brink, his life spirals out of control.

The War Artist is published by University of Queensland Press

Hopefully, I can get started on my reading pile, I of course will keep you up to date on how I get on.

If you would like your book to feature in my wrap up or on my blog, please do email me at Thesecretworldofabookblogger@mail.com

Have a great week x

Weekly Update – September 2019 Currently Reading

I am still struggling with blogging and wanting to do it. I am not so sure why I am so stuck at the moment. Life just seems to pass by so quickly and blogging is a last priority of my list of things to do. However, I thought I would write about my pile of books I am currently reading.

The Overstory

The first is The Overstory by Richard Powers. This book I have been putting off reading with its 625 pages was just overwhelming. However, this week I have made a real conscious effort to make a start and I am kicking myself at putting this amazing novel off. I have finished part one and I am addicted and it may potentially by my favourite book of the year.

Synopsis – An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut tree. A hard-partying under-graduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan.

This is the story of these and five other strangers, each summoned in different ways by the natural world, who are brought together in the last stand to save it from catastrophe.

This book is simply breathtaking overwhelms you with nature and what we miss because in this day in age people do not look around and spend too much time on phones or just being busy. Richard has triggered a reminded in my brain to take some time and look around me and really appreciate nature and how it is imperative to our lives. Strangely, it’s a book I do not want to end, and when it does, I know I will be sad. For a book to do that and provoke a response like that from me is rare.

The Overstory is published by Vintage .

A Moth to a Flame

I am also reading A Moth To A Flame by Stig Dagerman. This book is part of the Penguin European Writers collection. I have read a couple of chapters and already want to collect the rest of the books within the series. Stig Dagerman was a popular writer in Europe but had not quite made the same impact on the UK market.

Synopsis – In 1940s Stockholm, a young man named Bengt falls into deep, private turmoil after the unexpected death of his mother. As he struggles to cope with his loss, his despair slowly transforms to rage when he discovers that his father had a mistress. Bengt swears revenge on behalf of his mother’s memory, but he soon finds himself drawn into a fevered and forbidden affair with the very woman he set out destroy….

A Moth To A Flame reflects the emotions and turmoil you go through when grieving, and the secrets that may escape when a person dies. So far, I really feel the sense of confusion Bengt is going through and trying to work out the issues in his mind which is already clouded with grief.

A Moth To A Flame is published by Penguin .

The Bees

A book that has been on my shelves for a long time is The Bees by Laline Paull another book that I have only heard good things about. Another book left abandoned on my shelves, for no other reason other than it was pushed aside.

Synopsis – Accept. Obey. Serve. Flora 717 is a survivor. Born into the lowest class of the totalitarian hive society she is prepared to sacrifice everything for the Queen, surviving internal massacres, religious purges an terrifying invasions by vicious wasps. With each act of bravery her status grows, revealing both the enemies within and the sinister secrets overwhelmed by a fierce and deeply forbidden maternal love, she breaks the mast sacred law of all….

The Bees reflects the complexity of the bee community and the social dynamics within the hive. I did not fully appreciate all of the different roles and responsibilities each bee has and the social standings and specific roles which enable the hive to run in harmony. We also witness the barbaric violence that occurs and the consequences of when you step out of line. When I am not reading this book, it certainly plays on my mind. Even if you are not a fan of bees or nature books, this is a fabulous reflection of the dynamics of any social community and the writing although simple, has an amazing way of connecting author to reading which I have not witnessed in a long time.

The Bees is published by 4th estate.

Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore

The next book I found at my local library sale for $1 which I simply could not refuse Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store by Robin Sloan. We follow the story of Clay who has recently been made redundant and finds another job working in a 24-hour book shop which is not your usual book shop. There are some quirky and eye-opening characters he meets at all times of night coming in to collect their wish list of books. If only this book shop existed near me, I would certainly use it.

Synopsis – Clay Jannon, twenty-six and unemployed, reads books about vampire policemen and teenage wizards. Familiar, predictable books that fit neatly into a section at the bookstore. But he is about to encounter a new species of book entirely; secret. Strange and frantically sought after.

These books will introduce him to the strangest, smartest girl he’s ever met. They will lead him across the country, through the shadowed spaces where old words hide. They will set him on a quest to unlock a secret held tight since the time of Gutenberg – a secret that touches us all.

But before that, these books will get him a job.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store is an easy read, which is not a negative comment, it is the ideal book when I have had a busy day with the children and I just need some quite time to get lost within my own thoughts and this is the ideal companion.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store is published by Text Publishing

PS_chosen final.png

Lastly, is a book that was kindly sent to me by Ventura and I have just read a couple of pages and that is Paris Savages by Katherine Johnson. I was so desperate to make a start on this book that as soon as it arrived on my doorstep, I could not resist to start reading it as soon as the package was open and I know from the start this book is going to be simply outstanding.

Synopsis – Fraser Island 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. When German scientist Louis Muller offers to sail three Badtjala people – Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera – to Europe to perform to huge crowds, the proud and headstrong Bonny agrees, hoping to bring his people’s plight to the Queen of England.

Accompanied by Muller’s bright, grieving daughter, Hilda, the group begin their journey to belle-epoque Europe to perform in Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and eventually London. While crowds in Europe are enthusiastic to see the unique dances, singing, fights and pole climbing is relentless and the culture in the world, the attention is relentless and the fascination of scientists intrusive. When disaster strikes, Bonny must find a way to return home.

This novel reflects the complexities of combining communities and people trying to push their own ways of living on others to try and get them to fit in. Whatever fit in means? It’s a book that I believe will be on the must-read lists of all publications.

Paris Savages is published by Ventura Press .

My hope for this weekend coming up is to put another dent into The Overstory, finish The Bees and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store and continue to work my way through A Moth To A Flame and Paris Savages. I certainly have some diverse but amazing books to get lost in this weekend.

If you would like your book to feature in my wrap up or on my blog, please do email me at Thesecretworldofabookblogger@mail.com

Have a great weekend x

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

The Man Who Saw Everything

Small confession before I start this review, I have never read any books by Deborah Levy. I have had every intention of reading the likes of Hot Milk or The Cost of Living but just never got around to it. However, since devouring The Man Who Saw Everything that is all about to change.

We are introduced to a young historian, Saul, who let’s just say, is very much about himself, it is almost like he has forgotten to look around and understand that others involved in his life have stuff going. He seemingly has forgotten about others. We are transported back to 1988 when Saul is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. Yes, that Abbey Road where the Beatles had their famous photograph taken which has been copied so many more times that I have lost count. He suffers no serious injuries, although a lot of changes in his personal life happens thereafter. His photographer girlfriend, Jennifer breaks it to him that she is leaving to move to America, whilst Saul is heading off to East Germany for a research project.  Whilst in East Germany, Saul falls in love with his translator, Walter Muller and his sister Luna, becomes obsessed with leaving East Germany she wants bigger better things with her life and does not see a future in East Germany. As we all know at that time in East Germany and the Cold War era it is filled with propaganda and surveillance which we are fully immersed in.

We are then whisked to 2016, Saul is hit by a car on Abbey Road and taken to hospital where he receives treatment. However, his world in 1986 and 2016 collide together with characters entwined in one another.

During both stories we understand the difficult relationships Saul has had with his father and brother, they are both authoritarian figures and seem to have differing opinions and views about Saul and his behavior, his appearance and his lifestyle. Saul’s mother passed away so, he no longer has that person to go to. What you come to realise, is Saul pretty much either does not get on with people or relationships are very much on his terms. It seems people grow tired of him and worn out by his conduct, however, do turn up when he needs them the most.

You are often left wondering whether the accident has meant Saul is remembering his past and somewhat confusing this with the future or, when you read the novel, may interpret this in another way. That is the beauty of the book, it leaves readers with differing impressions and opinions. What I found fascinating and didn’t really appreciate the complexities of the memory and how parts of your past can remain dormant somewhere in your brain and come to the forefront when you least expect it.

The complexities and multi-dimensional within the characters Levy writes are just fascinating. One minute I was feeling sorry for Saul the next I found him an incredibly selfish and arrogant, self-indulgent man and I kept flip-flopping between what I should be feeling. In the end, I am still not too sure and despite finishing the book a few weeks ago, whenever it crosses my mind, I continue to change my thoughts and perspectives. Clever writing.

After reading The Man Who Saw Everything, I was certainly left with a lot more questions to ask then I had answers for, but not in an annoying way, Deborah leaves you to continue to use your imagination to potentially reach a satisfactory conclusion in your mind. Sometimes, you may continue to ask yourself questions, which I just found provoking but yet beautifully satisfying that Deborah does not insult the intelligence of her readers and leaves a little for a spark of imagination in their mind.

The Man Who Saw Everything is a must read for all, and I believe this book will be in my top ten of the year reads!

About the Book

In 1989 Saul Adler (a narcissistic young historian) is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art-student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then break up, but not before she has photographed Saul crossing the same Abbey Road. Saul leaves to study in communist East Berlin, to months before the Wall comes down. There he will encounter – significantly – both his assigned translator and his translator’s sister, who swears she has seen a jaguar prowling the city. He will fall in love and brood upon his difficult, authoritarian father. And he will befriend the shapeshifter Rainer, who may or may not be a Stasi agent, but will certainly return to haunt him in middle age.

About the Author

Deborah Levy is a British playwright, novelist and poet. She is the author of seven novels: Beautiful Mutants (1986), Swallowing Geography (1993); The Unloved (1994); Billy & Girl (1996); Swimming Home (2011); Hot Milk (2016) and The Man Who Saw Everything (2019). Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012; and Hot Milk was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and the Goldsmiths Prize 2016. Deborah is also the author of an acclaimed collection of short stories, Black Vodka (2013), and two ‘living autobiographies’, Things I Don’t Want to Know and The Cost of Living. She has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

The Man Who Saw Everything is published by Hamish Hamilton and is available to purchase here.

Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan

Dead Flowers jacket

I have not read a crime book in some time. I have no idea why I have not picked one up. I suppose at the moment I feel overwhelmed by the choice there is. As there are some pretty amazing books currently available for us to devour.

When I was given the opportunity to read Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan I simply could not refuse.

We meet Sian Love who was a DNA Analysis for the murder squad. She quit the police force as she become disillusioned about the corruption, sexism and racism in the police force. And quite frankly, she knew she was up against something she just could not sort out herself and took the option with a heavy heart to leave the force. When she inherits her uncle’s pub, she discovers two dead bodies in the cellar. She clearly does not trust the police, and there is a reluctance to get them involved. However, she takes up her own personal investigation. She certainly has the attitude if you need a job doing properly you do it yourself. She comes under an immense amount of media and social pressure and is forced out of her home whilst the investigations are being conducted.

Sian takes matters into her own hands and completes her own personal investigation; this has certainly become personal. She is convinced her uncle is innocent and is adamant that his good name is not tarnished, especially as he is not alive to defend himself.

Throughout the story there is a lot of past history brought up, stories from within the pub from the landlord to the drinkers and their questionable past and what secrets may remain within the walls of the pub. These secrets are slowly being uncovered throughout the novel.

Nicola’s writing is complex and she somehow manages to cover you in as a reader in layers, which almost suffocates you and keeps you guessing. The story is twisted and cunning and to be frank it is one of the best crime books I have read in a long time.

The characters are beautifully flawed and emotionally damaged. I adored Sian Love she is independent, protective of herself, difficult to crack and certainly has trust issues. She was simply protective of her family name and wished to only seek out the truth without having corruption engulf the investigation.

There are vast complex social issues covered including the treatment of women during the sixties to this current time, corruption within the police.

The setting is beautifully staged and the pub is treated as the heart of the community. Dead Flowers will leave you captivated throughout and leaves you always guessing. Nicola somehow manages to edge you closer to what you believe is the truth you can feel yourself edging closer and closer and then you turn the page and you realise you are miles away from discovering the truth, just simply amazing crime writing.

With each chapter title there is a musical reference which was a touching nod to the amazing music of the sixties and seventies. Towards the conclusion of the book the past and present stories meet on a collision course which join together and lead you continually guessing in the web of lies, deceit and corruption

I am so pleased to have discovered Nicola’s writing she has joined my list of crime writers who I continually look out for. I would recommend Dead Flowers; you will gobble this novel up as it is gripping and a great discovery.

About the Book

She doesn’t trust the police. She used to one of them.

Hardened by ten years on the murder squad, DNA Analyst, Sian Love has seen it all. So, when she finds human remains in the basement of her new home, she knows the drill. Except this time its different. This time, its personal….

Her new home, The Loggerheads, is a pub Sian has inherited from her dead uncle. Did he know about the bodies buried in the basement? How could he not have?

Corruption is rife in the police and Sian’s distrust of the local force is immense. She begins to investigate the mystery herself. But when she profiles DNA samples from the remains, she uncovers some shocking family secrets…Can she preserve her uncle’s memory without putting her own life at risk?

About the Author

Nicola Monaghan

Nicola Monaghan has lived and worked in London, Paris, Chicago and New York but returned to her home town of Nottingham in 2002 to pursue a masters in Creative Writing. She graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2004 with a distinction, and went on to write her first novel, The Killing Jar, set on the council estate where she lived as a child. This debut novel was highly critically acclaimed, and won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Prize and the Waverton Good Read. She has written several other novels, novellas and a collection of short stories. She also teaches Creative Writing at De Montfort University, and online at YouTube, Udemy and Skillshare. Follow Nicola on Twitter @nicolanovelis

Dead Flowers is published by Verve Books and is available for purchase here.

A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer

A Superior Spectre on my initial thoughts when reading part, one was not my cup of tea, however one I was part of the story it became a very addictive read and I was fully immersed in Angela’s writing and simply could not put this novel down.

We follow Jeff’s dying days he runs away and ends up in Scotland. He has a piece of technology which means he can enter someone else’s mind in the past. However, he has been warned about the technology and has been given strict rules and regulations to abide by. Of course, Jeff believes nothing negative would happen to him and it is almost like because he is dying, he simply does not care.

Jeff ends up in Leonora’s mind. Leonora is a young girl trying to find her feet in the 1860s class system. She falls in love with a man she is aware will not marry her, because is the local laird. Leonora’s mother is no longer alive; however, you sense she has questions about this and through the novel, you get glimpses of what could have happened. Leonora is sent to her Aunts; in one way I believe her father wished that she had a female role model to ask those difficult questions to and be a positive support network. However, you learn later on there is a complexity to the past which potentially will have an impact on Leonora’s future.

I adored Leonora, I wanted the best for her, I wanted her to feel like she is someone and to find love and settle down with someone she could be happy with, forgetting the class system, forgetting where she was born and bred. There were so may dynamics and intricacies involved you just sensed Leonora had no chance. I believed, even she did not believe there was a future she had dreamed of available to her.

Leonora was aware something was happening to her, someone was there, not in person but there. She was aware, if she spoke about this, everyone around her would think she is mad.

‘I gasp. It is dark now. There is someone else here. No, it is the cat. I must have left the window open. He is curled beside my left leg. I don’t want to move and wake him. I cannot move very fast, anyway my muscles are like liquid. But the cold is coming in. The smoky air is invading.

It is all coming in. I cannot stop it.’

Now, Jeff, I found to be incredibly selfish character, running away from almost his end responsibilities. He did not seem to care about the impact his behaviour had on the people he was involved in with his life, this including Leonora. He did not seem to care, how Leonora may be perceived by her peers and her family. I just simply got frustrated with him. Every time, he wanted to know more, I questioned why? He simply wanted to know because he was feeling sorry for himself and not putting any closure on his “real life” relationships. He seems to lack the ability to reflect not just on his life but the impact his behaviour had on others. Not really understanding that people may want to say goodbye and have their own closure with him.

‘Ghosts held the answers to a realm beyond that I sometimes suspected was an actual, physical dimension, and at other times understood as a layering within one’s own mind; that you created the ghosts from your unconscious. It made me no less frightening. Now I am a part of my own ghost story. I am the ghost, even before death. I straddled realms.’

Angela managed to do something that not many authors can do and that is to make me like and really enjoy and connect with a book when initially, I did not think I would like it. Angela manages to wrap you up in the characters lives and be committed to them and somehow towards the end of the book, she manages to make everything align to almost make sense but leaves you asking some more questions. This is not a bad thing, it leaves you in your own mind to make sense from your own perspective and your own opinion, as I can imagine everyone will finish this book with different thoughts and opinions.

Angela’s writing has a breath-taking complexity. She explores life and death, mental health and how she writes from a selfish character’s perspective is haunting.

I would highly recommend.

About the Book

Jeff is dying. Haunted by memories and grappling with shame, he runs away to a remote part of Scotland with a piece of beta tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone in the past. Instructed to only use it three times, Jeff-self-indulgent, isolated and deteriorating – ignores this advice.

In the late 1860s, Leonora lives in the Scottish Highlands surrounded by nature. Contemplating the social conventions that bind her, her contented life and a secret romantic friendship with the local laird are interrupted when her father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh. But Leonora’s ability to embrace her new life is shadowed by a dark presence that begins to lurk behind her eyes, and strange visions.

About the Author

AngelaMeyer-OldMansGarage-6

Angela is an exciting new talent; a debut novelist whose short stories have been published in Best Australian Stories, Island, The Big Issue, The Australian, The Lifted Brow and Killings. By day she works as a commissioning editor for Echo, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing Australia, where she has identified and published international bestsellers including The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

A Superior Spectre is published by Contraband and is available here for purchase.

A big thank you to Julia from Ruth Killick Publicity for sending me a copy of this book.