April 2019 Wrap Up Part 2

April has been a great reading month for me. I have read a real variety of different books and a lot of my inspiration for the books I have read has come from social media. I know it may not be great to be led by social media, but it is a great platform for getting books out there, that you may not necessarily pick up. Part two of my wrap up is here, and as I have said before, I am very behind on my blog posts for full reviews, but I am slowly working my way through them.

Raising Readers by Megan Daley

Raising Readers: How to Nurture a Child's Love of Books

This lady knows her stuff about books and she is a great inspiration for promoting reading and books it is infections.

Some kids refuse to read, others won’t stop- not even at the dinner table! Either way, many parents question the best way to support their child’s literacy journey. When can you start reading to your child? How do you find that special book to inspire a reluctant reader? What can you do to keep tween reading into their adolescent years?

Raising Readers is published by University of Queensland Press and is available now.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her; bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is. Ayoola starts dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back; but to save one would mean sacrificing the other……

My Sister, The Serial Killer is published by Atlantic Books and is available now.

Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton

Remembered

It is the 1910 and Philadelphia is burning. The last place Spring wants to be is in the rundown, coloured section of a hospital surrounded by the groans of sick people and the ghost of her dead sister. But as her son Edward lies dying, she has no other choice.

There are whispers that Edward drove a streetcar into a shop window. Some people think it was an accident; others claim that it was his fault; the police are certain that he was part of a darker agenda. Is he guilty? Can they find the truth?

All Spring knows is that time is running out. She has to tell him the story of how he came to be. With the help of her dead sister, newspaper clippings and reconstructed memories, she must find a way to get through to him. To shatter the silences that governed her life, she will do everything she can to lead him home.

Remembered is published by Little Brown.

Wundersmith The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Wundersmith : The Calling of Morrigan Crow Book 2

Crow has escaped her deadly curse and joined the Wunderous Society. It promises her protection, friendship and belonging for life – but then Morrigan doesn’t receive the welcome she hoped for……

Morrigan is a rare Wundersmith, but instead of the Society helping her to embrace her power, they seem to want her to suppress her mysterious ability at all costs.

To make things worse, the magical city of Nevermoor is quickly turning from a place of safety into one of danger. Society members are disappearing, someone is blackmailing Morrigan’s new friends, turning them against her – and Ezra Squall, the evilest man who ever lived, is determined to lure Morrigan from the Society by promising to teach her how to use the Wunder that calls to her, which is becoming ever harder to resist…..

Has Morrigan’s dream of escaping her cursed life ended before it truly began?

Wundersmith The calling of Morrigan Crow is published by Orion.

The Art of Not Falling Apart by Christina Patterson

The Art of Not Falling Apart

We plan, as the old proverb says, and God laughs. But must of us don’t find it all that funny when things go wrong. Most of us want love, a nice home, good work and happy children. Many of us grew up with parents who made these things look relatively easy and assumed we would get them, too. So what do you do if you don’t? What do you do when you feel you’ve messed it all up and your friends seem to be doing just fine?

For Christina Patterson, it was her job as a journalist that kept her going through the ups and downs of life. And then she lost that, too. Dreaming of revenge and irritated by self-help books, she decided to do the kind of interviews she had never done before. The resulting conversations are surprising, touching and often funny. There’s Ken, the first person to be publicly fired from a FTSE-100 board. There’s Winston, who fell through a ceiling onto a purple coffin. There’s Louise, whose baby was seriously ill, but who still worried about being fat. And through it all, there’s Christina, eating far too m any crisps as she tries to pick up the pieces of her life.

The Art of Not Falling Apart is published by Atlantic Books.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club

In California’s Sacramento Valley, six people meet once a month to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. They are ordinary people, neither happy nor unhappy, but all wounded in different ways, all mixed up about their lives and their relationships. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable and under the guiding eye of Jane Austen, some of them even fall in love……

The Jane Austen Book Club is published by Penguin.

Bad Blood Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood

The riveting true story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar Silicon Valley biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who uncovered the biggest corporate fraud since Enron.

Bad Blood is published by Picador.

No Friends But The Mountains by Behrouz Boochani

No Friend but the Mountains

In 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island. He has been there ever since.

This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile.

No Friends But The Mountains is published by Picador.

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April 2019 Wrap Up Part 1

I have been managing to get a lot of reading done in April, it is always helpful that there is a long weekend and my husband has been taking the children off my hands for a bit of time so I can get some well deserved quiet time. With also the children sleeping amazingly well, I usually have a full evening where I can read as much as I want to without any distractions or interruptions, which is perfect.

I have decided to split the wrap up in two blog posts as there are rather a large amount of books. Some I have already managed to complete a blog post, others I have not quite got around to it yet, but will do at some point.

The Editor by Steven Rowley

The Editor

As I said in my April newsletter, this book provoked quite a reaction on social media with a lot of people wanting to read or being their anticipated read. There is no blog post yet live about this book, but I have drafted some thoughts so hopefully in the forthcoming days I can complete this and post it live.

After years of struggling as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally gets his big break when his novel sells to an editor at a major publishing house; none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie, or Mrs. Onassis as she’s known in the office, loves James’s candidly autobiographical novel about his own dysfunctional family.

As Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. But when a long-held family secret is revealed, he realises his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page….

The Editor is published by The Borough Press and is available now.

Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

As I have said before I adore anything Jen Campbell writes and this little book is full of such love for bookshops and made me laugh out loud.

A John Cleese Twitter question (‘What is your pet peeve?’), first sparked the Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller’s collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor.

From ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast next year’s weather; and from ‘I’ve forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter’ to ‘Excuse me…..is this book edible?’ here is a book for heroic booksellers and booklovers alike.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Silence of the Girls

I am currently reading the Women’s Prize Long-list which The Silence of the Girls is nominated for.

When her city falls to the Greeks, Briseis’s old life is shattered. She goes from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to the godlike warrior Achilles is a prize of battle. She’s not alone. On the same day, and on many others in the course of a long, bitter war, innumerable women have been wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters.

As told in The Iliad, the Trojan War was a quarrel between men. But what of the women in this story, silenced by their fates? What words did they speak when alone with each other, in the laundry, at the loom, when laying out the dead?

The Silence of the Girls is published by Penguin

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

The Orchid Thief

This was on my recommended page when I was ordering other books, and it sounded like my kind of read. I love reading about plants and flowers and the lengths people go to, to get the rarest of them. It is mind blowing.

A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower – the rarest ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii – a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of American’s strangest flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean – and the reader will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.

The Orchid Thief is available now

Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind

This was another book on my recommended reading page when I was purchasing other books and immediately knew I had to have it.

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school – but NO ONE knows it. Most people – her teachers and doctors included – don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows….but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind- that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice…but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

Out Of My Mind is published by Simon and Schuster and is available now.

My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

My Life with Bob

This book I devoured within a day it is a perfect read if you like books about books and a full review is available on my blog now.

Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for twenty-eight years – carried throughout high school and college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand moved from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk. It is reliable if frayed, anonymous looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob.

Bob is Pamela Paul’s Book of Books, a journal that records every book she’s ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina, from Catch-22 to Swimming to Cambodia. It recounts a journey in reading that reflects her inner life- her fantasies and hopes, her mistakes and missteps, her dreams and her ideas, both half-baked and wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment.

But My Life with Bob isn’t really about those books. It’s about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader. It’s about the way books provide each of us the perspective, courage, companionship, and imperfect self-knowledge for forge our own path. It’s about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It’s about how we make our own stories.

My Life with Bob is published by Henry Holt.

The Lido by Libby Page

The Lido

The Lido is another book I have not stopped thinking about or banging on about, quite frankly I am boring myself about how much I love this book.

A full review is available on my blog now.

Meet Rosemary, 86 and Kate 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers……

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, to show the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.

The Lido is published by Orion.

Eating by Nigella Lawson

Eating

I adore these mini reads they are perfect for your handbag and I have a tendency to read these whilst the children are doing their swimming lessons.

Nigella Lawson sets out a manifesto for how to cook (and eat) good food every day with a minimum of fuss. From basic roast chicken and pea risotto to white truffles and Turkish Delight figs, Nigella brings the joy back into the kitchen.

Eating is published by Vintage books.

April Wrap Up Part 2 will be available on the blog shortly.

April 2019 Book Haul

There are so many good books out there at the moment and so much choice. I thought I would show you some of my recent purchases.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie

Sometimes I feel frantic. And I feel like everything has just spun out of control out of my hands? I don’t know. I feel a bit like for a while I have been carrying ten balls of wool. And one ball fell, so I dropped another to catch it, but still didn’t catch it. Then two more started to unravel and in trying to save those I lost another one. Do you know what I mean?

Meet Queenie Jenkins.

Journalist / Catastrophist / Expressive / Aggressive / Funny / Dramatic / Loved / Lonely / Enough

Queen is published by Trapeze and is available now.

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

Stone Mothers

Marianne was seventeen when she fled her home, her family, her boyfriend Jesse and the body they buried.

Now, forced to return she can feel the past closing around her. And Jessie, who never forgave her for leaving, is finally threatening to expose the truth.

Marianne will do anything to protect the life she’s built; the husband and daughter who must never know.

Even if it means turning to her worst enemy……

But Marianne may not know the whole story – and she isn’t the only one with secrets they’d kill to keep.
Stone Mothers is published by Hodder and Stoughton and is available now.

Diving Into Glass A Memoir by Caro Llewellyn

Diving into Glass

Caro Llewellyn was living her dream life in her adopted home of New York, directing an international literary festival. Then one day, running in Central Park, she lost all sensation in her legs. Two days later she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Caro was no stranger to tragedy. Her father Richard contracted polio at the age of twenty and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Dignified, undaunted and ingenious, he was determined to make every day count, not least seducing his nurse while still confined to an iron lung, than marrying her.

But when Caro was herself blindsided by illness, cut loose from everything she depended on, she couldn’t summon any of the grace and courage she’d witnessed growing up. She was furious, toxic, humiliated. Only by looking back at her father’s extraordinary example was she able to rediscover her own grit and find a way forward, rebuilding her life shard by shard.

Diving Into Glass is published by Hamish Hamilton and is available now.

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Machines Like Me

Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In an world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding.

Machines Like Me takes place in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first synthetic humans and – with Miranda’s help – he designs Adam’s personality. The near-perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong and clever. It isn’t long before a love triangle forms, and these three beings confront a profound moral dilemma.

Machines Like Me is published by Penguin Random House and is available now.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History

When Richard Papen joins an elite group of clever misfits at his New England college, it seems he can finally become the person he wants to be. But the moral boundaries he will cross with his new friends – and the deaths they are responsible for – will change all of their lives forever. The Secret History recounts the terrible price we pay for mistakes made on the dark journey to adulthood.

The Secret History is published by Penguin.

Now all I need to do is find sometime to sit and read these amazing books.

Milkman – Anna Burns

I have been reading the Women’s Prize Long-list books at the moment. To be honest, I have read half of the list, and my brain in somewhat unfocused to complete the list at the moment. I have been enjoying the fact I can read whatever books I like with no blog tours and no what may be perceived “enforced reading”.

I have enjoyed the fact the long-list has made me read books that perhaps I may never have picked up and introduced me to authors that perhaps I would not have considered reading. Milkman has been one of those books, that I have wanted to read for sometime but have been somewhat put off by the reviews and the hypes surrounding the book.

Unfortunately, this book, I have had to put aside for the time being. I have made a start but stopped at pg39. There are many reasons I have stopped reading this book. I have two toddlers one of which is going through toilet training so I pretty much spend most of my life sat by the toilet waiting for him to finish and Milkman with such big chapters and very little natural breaks within the chapters is not an easy book to read whilst being regularly disturbed by two tearaways it is not easy. I am fully invested in the story, and was wanting to read the book, but how the book is set out just leaves it difficult for me to keep going.

It is not a put aside forever, I will go back to it when I can have long periods of being undisturbed so, I can make sure I am 100% committed to the book.

I will return to Milkman at some point……..

Milkman is published by Faber and Faber

My Life with Bob – Pamela Paul (Full Review)

I have just finished My Life with Bob and I did not need no time to reflect or think about my review because this book ticked all of my boxes

What is a book about books? – yes it was

Does the author show passion about reading? – without a doubt

Does it inspire me to continue to read? – yes and has given me more recommendations of books I need to seek out.

Pamela Paul is an author who knows her stuff about books, not only that she is a passionate advocate about sharing her passion and encouraging others to read. Initially, you get the impression and it was a generation thing, that reading was a hidden act, when I was a child, I was seen as the rude and unsociable one because I wanted to read. When in fact, I was incredibly shy and felt true comfort in reading. It is a place where you do not get judged, you do not have to prove yourself to anyone and you can simply be yourself. I used to and now to some extent get lost in a story and sometimes dream about the books I had been reading. I would try and read everywhere, even as Pamela herself reported I was reading on the maternity ward. My baby had been born, he was asleep and he was my second child so I was a lot more relaxed about having a baby. I had a couple hours spare before the hospital wanted to discharge me so I was like why not. In my baby bag there was a book, which my husband did question why, but you never know when you may get the opportunity to read and I had found a couple of hours without any disturbance apart from staff getting on with their job and my new born fast asleep. Perfect. I was judged by the other mothers, but what could I do I was up showered, dressed and my baby was ok, whereas they were still walking around in their PJs a little lost.

Anyway, Bob is Pamela’s Book of Books where she has documented every single book she has read. I have started doing this as like Pamela have the worlds worst memory of books and when asked to recommend a book, I can see the cover of the book, and at times be able to tell you the title or just tell you the author but that is it I forget everything else – that is in part why I started my blog to help my memory.

We follow Pamela’s journey for her love of books and it is just enticing and shows that actually it is okay to be reading whilst everyone else is watching the television, its not anti-social its just you are allowed to like different things and you are still spending time with one another, just doing different interests. Pamela entwines a journal of her life, her travels, relationships, career and children throughout her book journey and sometimes they even impact on her book choices. I admired Pamela’s honesty about her life, and acknowledges that she may not have read all of the classics that everyone may have read but she has made her own choices, or choices influenced by her family or friends and is always happy to listen to a recommendation. I feel sometimes when people talk about the classics they have read, I do contemplate whether they had read them because then they can show off and didn’t actually enjoy or understand them or have, they just read them that’s it. I still do not know. I also find these people can be book snobs and be very critical about what others read. In my view, does it matter, all I care about is people needing to read and that does not necessarily mean books, it could be papers, magazines, journals anything. Just read.

At the moment there seems to be a lot of books out helping parents and being an advisory about how to encourage your children to read. The world is not so full of technology and screens, it seems the world is suddenly waking up to the fact, children are no longer turning to books. I believe, there are some children who will simply love reading and will pick up a book no matter what other options are on offer, but there will be some children who will need some gentle encouragement if not persuasion to read. Both of my parents were not big readers at all, and I did not receive any encouragement at all, but out of three daughters, two are avid, hardcore bookworms so they must have done something right. Now as a mother of two boys who are still very young, I am planning on what I want to read them when they are older and have in fact been slowly putting together some of the books, I would like them to read and of course, I will leave some choice to them. I do not want them to miss out.

‘But the best children’s books also encourage young people to ask big questions about who they are and what their place is in the world. When you read children’s literature as an adult, you get to revisit the same sense of newness and discovery that you did as a child. You can delve into big emotions, without cynicism or jadedness.’

One of my favourite parts of the book which I believe Pamela summed up perfectly was how you feel when you are choosing a new book. Because, that is exactly how I feel. When I am nearing the end of a book, I am already thinking about the type of book I want to read and get a little excited about the prospect of starting a new adventure. Even now, this feeling never goes away.

‘Choosing a book is so gratifying, it’s worth dragging out the process, starting even before finishing the current one. As the final chapters approach, you can pile up the possibilities like a stack of travel brochures. You can lay out three books and let them linger overnight before making a final decision in the morning. You can Google the reviews, ask other people if they’ve read it, collect information. The choice may ultimately depend on the mood and the moment.’

This book is a masterpiece in reflection of Pamela’s book history her DNA. She is a true ambassador to reading and encouraging others around her to pick up a book, any book and give it a go.

When I finished My Life with Bob all I want to do is have a nose through Pamela’s bookcases to see what books she has and what she intends to read next. But I pretty much have that feeling all of the time when I spy a bookshelf.

About the Book

Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for twenty-eight years – carried throughout high school and college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand moved from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk. It is reliable if frayed, anonymous looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob.

Bob is Pamela Paul’s Book of Books, a journal that records every book she’s ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina, from Catch-22 to Swimming to Cambodia. It recounts a journey in reading that reflects her inner life- her fantasies and hopes, her mistakes and missteps, her dreams and her ideas, both half-baked and wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment.

But My Life with Bob isn’t really about those books. It’s about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader. It’s about the way books provide each of us the perspective, courage, companionship, and imperfect self-knowledge for forge our own path. It’s about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It’s about how we make our own stories.

My Life with Bob is published by Henry Holt .

The Lido – Libby Page (Full Review)

It has taken me a couple of days to think about this review, as this book has simply blown my mind. I am so cross with myself that it has taken me so long to read The Lido and wish I had got to it sooner. It did cross my mind that I may never finish the book, not because it wasn’t good but I just simply did not want it to end.

In my half time review I said:

‘We follow several characters who make up the local community. Predominately we follow Kate who is 26-year-old journalist who has no confidence, seems lost and is riddled with loneliness. She is such a relatable character and one that I have been cheerleading for throughout the first part of the book, she deserves a break, which would only boost her confidence. Then there is Rosemary, she is 86 years old and has been swimming in her local Lido for pretty much most of her life, even the war did not put her off. These two unlikely characters come together when the Lido is threatened with closure and Kate has been tasked with writing the story about the closure and the local community. You witness the first chink of “The Panic” as Kate describes it being chipped away. So, far I have been slowly watching Kate come out of her shell like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.

We learn about Rosemary’s back story which is filled with a lot of love but sadness and grief. Rosemary acknowledges her body is failing her, but the Lido is a part of her life a part of her being and she does not seem to want or could face losing it too. Rosemary is an integral part of the community she has lived there for all of her life even during the war when everyone was being evacuated, and she has slowly seen Brixton change over time, shops changing, the people, the local library closing, the one thing that seems to have been a constant in her life is going to the Lido every morning. Standing out on her balcony and seeing the Lido, when she is due to go to bed, seeing the Lido closed up in anticipation for its early morning visitors. Rosemary even knows the routine for the local wildlife who seems to like to have a dip to.

The Lido is the one thing that brings the community together. You may not know the names of your fellow swimmers, but that is chatter and a clear connection and acknowledgement that coming to the Lido is a moment in time for you, to reflect, to be able to float away any problems and possibly forget for a little time. You are able to leave you issues in the changing room and that moment in time there is nothing for you to be concerned about. The Lido does not discriminate young and old use it, people who are rich or poor use it and there is no judgement.

My half-time thoughts are, I have fallen in love with this book. My husband asked how I was doing with the book, and I simply had no words to describe how much this book has touched me, and has had a real effect on me, in a positive way. The characters I am invested in, the community, the Lido and the fight. I want to be part of the movement, I want to help – and then I realise, it’s just a book.

So far, this book is just breathtaking and my favourite for the year. Fingers crossed the second half is just as good.’

In the second part of the novel, we continue to experience the fight from the community to save the lido. It seems that some of the local community did not realise the importance the lido had in their lives until it risked not being there anymore. What I found fascinating was how the community came together as one to make every effort and attempt to ensure this precious thing did not disappear from their community and from their memories.

Kate’s and Rosemary’s relationship just gets stronger and their love and respect for one another only grows. They are good for one another and only boost and strengthen each other’s confidence. They both recognize they are lonely which I understood:

In the silence loneliness is like a third person between them. They had their heads to it, acknowledging it is there but never calling it by its name.’

I know this feeling; I know what it is like to be lonely. People have a tendency to talk about the older generation being lonely, this is not necessarily correct, loneliness effects everyone and does not discriminate.

Libby managed to beautifully craft strengthening relationships with characters such as Kate and her sister which made me smile and just felt real, like it could happen.

What were my feelings at the end of the book?

Well, I was very sad that the book was over and I really did not want it to end. I experienced a range of emotions towards the end, again, such a believable story which I kept thinking to myself, this could actually happen to a community. I got a real sense of positive community coming together to fight for what was rightly theirs. They may not have realized or sensed how important the lido was to them initially, but came to understand that if the lido disappeared this would have left a massive hole in their community.

The lido also came to be a savior for Kate, it potentially saved her in more ways than again she had ever anticipated when she originally took on the story. For Rosemary, the lido is her life, her memories her heartbeat.

All I can say is thank you Libby, there are not many more words I can say as I just feel incredibly overwhelmed at how powerful a book can be and I have never really felt this way about a book. This is a story I will cherish and remember and would recommend.

That is it, there are no more words…….

About the Book

Sometimes, the only way to change your life is to swim outside the lanes.

Meet Rosemary, 86 and Kate 26 dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers…..

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband, George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows the story could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, to show the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.

The Lido is available now and is published via

April 2019 Newsletter

I thought I would try and attempt to start a monthly newsletter with not just my book life but how I am getting on with emigrating to a new country. It is a diary to show my children really, that we were not mad with bringing them to a new country to start a new life and hopefully when they are older to understand and appreciate why me and their father made the decision which would hopefully give them different opportunities in the future.

So, we have been in Australia for three months and at times it feels like they have flow by and in other ways it feels like we have been here forever. I am not sure whether that is good or bad. At the moment, I am making attempts to find work. This is tricky as when I had my children, I had to give up work immediately as my eldest child was born very premature. This means I have not worked for a couple of years, with being a military wife and having no family to rely on to help me with childcare the decision was made that I would stay at home. What I never anticipated was the ignorance some employers have; I had a very good career before having to give up work so suddenly but apparently being a stay at home mother means you are stupid and lack any skills when in fact it is totally the opposite. I have managed to establish amazing people skills and conflict management qualities with two warring toddlers. Managing lots of complex tasks whilst managing difficult people. Try taking two toddlers into a supermarket. Anyway, enough of my moan, something I am sure will crop up when I least expect it.

At least whilst I have been off, I have been doing a lot of reading, and trying to fill my gaps in my reading life which I have enjoyed doing. I have been enjoying my adventure of finding new Australian writers and books which is just amazing. I have been searching out recommendations from local bookshops and booksellers which has just blown my mind what I have been missing out. In the future, I am very much looking forward to reading these. Australia seems to be on the positive path and what the government do not realise is the amount of reading ambassadors (that is what I call them) out there encouraging everyone, not just children to read.

Books Read

Stack Of Books Clipart | Clipart library - Free Clipart Images

 

Some of the books I have read in the month of April, there is a lot so I will be doing a round up in a full blog post at some point. Sorry, I am a bit behind on my blog posts and unfortunately am prioritizing reading rather than blogging. Its just where my mind is at, at the moment.

 

The Editor by Steven Rowley – When I put this on my Instagram, the amount of responses and comments I received was amazing, it seems to be on everyone’s reading list. I will be doing a full review on my blog shortly.

Image result for the editor steven rowley

After years of struggling as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally gets his big break when his novel sells to an editor at a major publishing house; none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie, or Mrs. Onassis as she’s known in the office, loves James’s candidly autobiographical novel about his own dysfunctional family.

As Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. But when a long-held family secret is revealed, he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page…….

The Editor is published by Borough Press and is available now.  

Maggie & Me by Damian Barr – To be frank, I adore Damian Barr and love listening to his Podcast Damian Barr Literary Salon he is funny and incredibly knowledgeable about books and the one quality I like not just about his Podcast but his writing, he is very humble.

Media of Maggie & Me

Glasgow, 1984. Eight-year-old Damian Barr watches in horror as his mum rips off her wedding ring and packs their bags. As Thatcher takes hold of Britain, she snatches school milk, smashes the unions and makes greed good. Yet somehow, despite the rioting, strikes, AIDS and Clause 28, Damian manages to fall in love, dance to Madonna in Glasgow’s only gay club and discover that stories can save your life. Maggie and Me is a remarkable memoir about growing up gay in a straight world and being clever enough to come out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the Iron Lady.

Maggie & Me is published by Bloomsbury and is available here.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – This book was in my recommended home page and unfortunately, I got sucked into marketing and had to purchase this book. I really like reading books that have been written by journalists who have undertaken in-depth investigations to shine a light on what is actually going on.

Bad Blood : Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup - John Carreyrou

The riveting true story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multi billion-dollar Silicon Valley biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who uncovered the biggest corporate fraud since Enron.

John is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning investigative report at the Wall Street Journal. for his extensive coverage of Theranos, John was awarded the George Polk Award for Financial Reporting, the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in the category of Beat Reporting, and the Bartlett & Steele Silver Award for Investigative Business Journalism.

Bad Blood is published by Picador and is available now.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell – Jen Campbell is one of my favourite authors. She is not only incredibly talented but she has a way of encouraging new writers to put their work out in the big wide world as she runs her own creative writing courses. I read everything Jen puts out there and this is one of my favorites and made me laugh out loud.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

A John Cleese Twitter question (‘What is your pet peeve?), first sparked the Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller’s collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor.

From ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year’s weather; and from ‘I’ve forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter’ to ‘Excuse me …. it this book edible?’; here is a book for heroic booksellers and booklovers alike.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops is published by Little Brown and is available now .

Wish List

There are so many amazing books coming out at the moment so the list could be a long one. My current three books I want and I know one of them is not a new release are as follows.

Diving into GlassMachines Like MeFreshwater

Podcasts I have been listening to and loving at the moment is ABC The Bookshelf . I love the fact it seems to be like attending a book club with the in-depth conversations about books and interviews with authors. The Bookshelf is a Podcast I would recommend.

Image result for ABC The Bookshelf

If there are any books or Podcasts you think that I would like, or would recommend, please feel free to leave a comment below or to message me.

Until next time….

Brit Book Lover Down Under x

Half Time Review – The Lido by Libby Page

I thought I would do something a bit different with some of my reviews. I wanted to start doing a half time point of view, to see how my reading is coming along.

I have been following Libby for some time on social media, I love her honest approach when it comes to her writing and is more than willing to say when she is having difficulties or when she has a creative moment to be able to move her book forward. Any aspiring authors should follow her, because she is an inspirational woman and honest which I respect.

The Lido is a book I have been wanting to read for some time and I am cross with myself for not picking it up sooner. From the first chapter, I was fully engaged and felt that I was part of the community. Libby seems to want you to be part of the local people and the people written are people that seem familiar.

We follow several characters who make up the local community. Predominately we follow Kate who is 26-year-old journalist who has no confidence, seems lost and is riddled with loneliness. She is such a relatable character and one that I have been cheerleading for throughout the first part of the book, she deserves a break, which would only boost her confidence. Then there is Rosemary, she is 86 years old and has been swimming in her local Lido for pretty much most of her life, even the war did not put her off. These two unlikely characters come together when the Lido is threatened with closure and Kate has been tasked with writing the story about the closure and the local community. You witness the first chink of “The Panic” as Kate describes it being chipped away. So, far I have been slowly watching Kate come out of her shell like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.

We learn about Rosemary’s back story which is filled with a lot of love but sadness and grief. Rosemary acknowledges her body is failing her, but the Lido is a part of her life a part of her being and she does not seem to want or could face losing it too. Rosemary is an integral part of the community she has lived there for all of her life even during the war when everyone was being evacuated, and she has slowly seen Brixton change over time, shops changing, the people, the local library closing, the one thing that seems to have been a constant in her life is going to the Lido every morning. Standing out on her balcony and seeing the Lido, when she is due to go to bed, seeing the Lido closed up in anticipation for its early morning visitors. Rosemary even knows the routine for the local wildlife who seems to like to have a dip to.

The Lido is the one thing that brings the community together. You may not know the names of your fellow swimmers, but that is chatter and a clear connection and acknowledgement that coming to the Lido is a moment in time for you, to reflect, to be able to float away any problems and possibly forget for a little time. You are able to leave you issues in the changing room and that moment in time there is nothing for you to be concerned about. The Lido does not discriminate young and old use it, people who are rich or poor use it and there is no judgement.

My half-time thoughts are, I have fallen in love with this book. My husband asked how I was doing with the book, and I simply had no words to describe how much this book has touched me, and has had a real effect on me, in a positive way. The characters I am invested in, the community, the Lido and the fight. I want to be part of the movement, I want to help – and then I realise, its just a book.

So far, this book is just breathtaking and my favourite for the year. Fingers crossed the second half is just as good.

Swan Song – Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

Swan Song has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and I am attempting to read the longlist at the moment. Although, at the moment I am really struggling with focus on completing it. I have so many books I want to read right now that unfortunately the longlist has taken a bit of a back seat.

Swan Song is one book that I wanted to read. You know when people ask if you were to pick a generation to live in, I believe this is it. I love hearing about what Truman Capote got up to and his connections with all the “celebrities” of that time. Truman was “friends” with many, he almost forced himself upon them. I could not work out whether they are true friends or whether Truman knew what he was doing and wanted to find out more about their secrets and lies and expose them. Did he take it too far and then could not get back to where he originally started his friendship?

“We were the wives he’d never know. The mothers he wished he’d had. We loved him as we loved our own broods – more so, perhaps, No one would dare leave Truman behind with the nanny. His childlike zeal and raunchy wit proved too heady a cocktail. He’d even seduced the husbands. Those alpha males who launched networks and empires, who found themselves confiding in our androgynous sprite in ways they couldn’t confide in us.”

Truman’s persona was difficult to read, he was on one hand respected because of his writing and his friends / associates were fascinated by this. It seemed Truman on one day thought he was the best writer that ever lived and on another he could not seem to find the right words and was so riddled with doubt that he would ever be able to produce the next best thing. This seem to drive him to despair and have an impact on his mental health and his inner demons.

There were days when he mesmorised his friends with his words almost blindingly overwhelming them, seducing them it was described as.

“He seduced us with words – and Truman knows full well the power of his words. They’re both armor and weapon, the one thing he’s sure of. They alone have never failed him, their lyricisms, hinting at the beauty trapped within his stunted body, not to mention his conflicted soul.”

The turmoil Truman experienced was like a wave continuing to hit him and at times, you got the sense that he was not sure who to turn to and where to go. He didn’t have a confident about his writing, he didn’t seem to trust anyone to be the go-to for advice and guidance. He did not seem to really have the skills or the emotional coping strategies to get through the difficult writing stages and the overwhelming anxiety that he either thrived on or just paralyzed him for long periods of time. During these periods, this was when the people who loved and cared for him, he just drove them away.

“He no longer believes that words and phrases are generated from him. Rather that they exist as independent entities, and the best one can hope for is to lure one or more of them into a trap in order to use for narrative purposes. He no longer has faith that even a boy genius could hope to act as anything more than hapless hunter. Even then, they might – possessing minds of their own- choose not to cooperate.”

Truman’s friendships slowly crumbled around him, he went from being admired and respected to being pushed from the circle of friends. This was all down to his written word, the power it gave him and his friends being complacent about what they may have divulged to him, their secrets which they did not want to be made public information, their skeletons in the closet which they did not want to open. You could not work out whether they were cross with themselves for telling such intimate secrets to their ‘friend’ or whether they simply trusted him and should not have, perhaps trusted their initial instincts. The strange thing was, Truman did not seem to see that divulging such intimate secrets to the world was such a problem, he simply felt “But all literature is gossip!” he made out his friends were making a bigger issue out of his writing then it needed it to be. He simply wanted them to enjoy the stories. He did seem to have a glimmer of doubt before publishing, and simply considered fate made the decision for him on his behalf, dissolving him of any responsibility.

“We recognize what easy pickings we were. Ripe for the fantasy that Truman peddled. Even then we knew that our heads could be turned by half-truths and enough booze and the illusion of beauty. We knew on some levels that it was a fiction, nothing more. One of Truman’s finest. He had gathered us all there – his cast of characters.”

What an amazing book, it was an incredible addictive read. Do not be put off by the size of the book, it just draws you in from the beginning where you are simply picked up and put into Truman Capote’s world. Surrounded by beautiful, influential people of that time, divulging secrets and lies that they never wanted to come out. Kelleigh explores the turmoil of Truman’s mind and the lines being crossed when you have friends that perhaps should never have been crossed, you are left to answer that question. Throughout the book, you experience first-hand relationships being destroyed and how one man had such an impact on a friendship group, did he do this because selfishly he knew that he could write a bestselling novel from this or did he simply get out of his depth?

Swan Song is an impeccable researched book and for a debut novel is simply remarkable. Kelleigh is certainly an author to watch.

About the Book

Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing to the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatan beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely.

In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him? Whatever the motive, one things remains indisputable; nine years after achieving wild success with In Cold Blood, Capote committed and act of professional and social suicide with his mother lethal of weapons…..Words.

Swan Song is published by Hutchinson and is available here

Puffin Classics Haul April 2019

I feel there is a massive gap in my reading. When I was younger my parents never really encouraged me to read any classics so I have read very few of them. Now I am a mother, my children are only two and three I do not want them to miss out so I have been purchasing some of the amazing and beautiful Puffin Classics to read to the children when they are a bit older. In the meantime, I can enjoy them myself.

So I am buying them when I see them and here is a few which I have recently purchased.

Winnie-The-Pooh – A. A Milne

“Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Saunders…….”

And so begins the classic tale of Edward Bear – better known as Winnie-the-Pooh. For nearly seventy years, readers have been delighted by the adventures of Christopher Robin and his lovable friends.

The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum

Follow the yellow brick road.

Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto from Kansas into a magical world. To get home she must find the wonderful Wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival – will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

Tales of the Greek Heroes – Roger Lancelyn Green

Walk amongst the Gods and Men.

In this gripping collection of tales of the Heroic Age, you’ll meet the mighty Poseidon, God of the Sea; Zeus, the King of Heaven and Earth; Hades; Lord of the Dead; Artemis the Huntress; Aphrodite, Immortal Lady of Beauty and Love; and many more gods and mortals. Their adventures are some of the oldest and most famous in the world.

The Odyssey – Homer (retold by Geraldine McCaughrean)

Follow Odysseus, the hero of ancient Greece, on his perilous journey home.

After ten years of war, Odysseus turns his back on Troy and sets sail for home. But his voyage takes another ten years and he must face many dangers – Polyphemus the greedy one-eyes giant, Scylla the six-headed sea monster and even the wrath of the gods themselves – before he is reunited with his wife and son.

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table – Roger Lancelyn Green

Step up to the Round Table and join the Knights of the Realm.

A legend is born when young Arthur meets Merlin and draws the mighty sword from its stone. This spellbinding retelling beings to life King Arthur and the adventures of his knights, from the Quest for the Holy Grail to the final tragedy of the Last Battle.

The Adventures of Robin Hood – Roger Lancelyn Green

Meet Robin Hood – the hero of Sherwood Forest.

In the vast Sherwood Forest, Robin hood, the legendary outlaw, continues to outwit his sworn enemies – the evil Guy of Gisborne and the treacherous Sheriff of Nottingham. With Little John, Friar Tuck and the rest of the band of Merry Men, Robin Hood fights for justice, and for the return of good King Richard the Lion Heart.

All of the above books are Puffin Classics and are available to purchase here