Saturday, 28 October 2017

Autumnal Reads! Bonfire, The End We Start From, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, His Dark Materials, The Bear and the Nightingale, Comet in Moominland

Hello and Happy Autumn to you! I come to you from the damp depths of October, barrelling fast down its flood waters into the chilly chasm of November's dark embrace. It's been raining a lot, but when the rain stops for a minute you can look around and see the many pretty orange and red and brown leaves all falling from the trees into crunchy/mushy piles. The squirrels are busy squirrelling away nuts and the crows all seem to be up to something... so it's about time we all retreated indoors where the hot chocolate is only 2 mins in the microwave away, the heating is on, the fluffy socks have been dug out from the back of the drawer and a fine stack of Autumnal Reads awaits! 

I may be a little delirious from the v bad cold I currently have, but I'm not letting that hamper my efforts to recommend some cosy reading choices. And with the clocks going back you might as well use your extra hour in bed to enjoy some cosy reading time! 

Bonfire  is the first novel by Krysten Ritter, star of such excellent television shows as The B in Apartment 33 and Jessica Jones. This story takes place in the small town of our protagonist Abby Williams' childhood, where a 10 year old mystery disappearance has plagued the minds of every townsperson. Back as a grown up and a lawyer investigating the potential water pollution of the local massive plastics firm, Abby digs up both the town's and her own past. This gripping thriller is perfect to keep you curled up where it's safe and warm indoors. 

The End We Start From is the first book by Megan Hunter. Indulge those dooms day thoughts with this apocalyptic novella, sparsely written but somehow with such a vivid sense of place and emotion. It's a fairly intense read, but perfect for reading in one sitting while avoiding the howling winds of autumn.

His Dark Materials is the wonderful series by Phillip Pullman. Shroud yourself in the comfort and magnificence of this wonderful world, or should I say multiple worlds. Yes I should. I've been rereading the series in preparation for the return of Lyra's Oxford in the new The Book of Dust series. I've got my copy of part  one, La Belle Sauvage, now but thank the actual lord I decided to reread the others as I had entirely forgotten almost everything. To be fair to myself The Amber Spyglass did get published when I was 10, and I have a signed first edition of it, so odds are that was when I last read it! I really recommend making this series part of your autumnal reading line up.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is probably more wintery than autumnal given that it is set in winter in the Russian wilderness. There's plenty of exploration in the forest, horse whispering, rubbish step mothers, and most importantly magic and folk tales. Maybe save this one for the autumn to winter transitional period. Best served under blanket with mug of hot chocolate.

Comet in Moomimland is a wonderful moomin adventure story by Tove Jansson. With a comet headed for Moominvalley, much adventure and excitement ensues. I have a lovely new Sort Of Books collectors edition which has the original 1950s/60s cover designs. There are a few new editions which you can gaze at admiringly in between reading! I'm hoping to get my mitts on all of them.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is a very creepy novella about sisters living in the big house outside of a small town. Their whole family was poisoned to death over dinner several years ago, and the sisters have continued living in the family house, hiding from the gossip and hostility of the people in town. It is so strange and creepy and brilliant and includes a 10/10 cat character. Read this one in candle light with cat on lap or curled up nearby. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Books I read in September! Now I Rise, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Hunger, The Doll's Alphabet, Men Explain Things to Me, Letters to Klara

Helllloooooo! I read a lot of vvvvvv good books in September. Forreal all of them were really good and tip top as far as I'm concerned. The bar was set high at the beginning of the month with Now I Rise by Kiersten White, the sequel to And I Darken. I loved part one so was anticipating enjoying part two v much which I did! It was great being back in the Ottoman/Byzantine empires with Lada and Radu and Mehmed. It was fast paced, but v long, so after that I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, which I think is classed as a novella. It was strange and creepy and had 10/10 cat best friend action. I used my audible credit this month on Hunger by Roxane Gay and oh wow was it intense and draining but so worth reading/listening to. 

Next I was in the mood for more creepiness and some short stories so I picked The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova off my to-be-read pile. It's a beautiful blue Fitzcarraldo Edition and was just as strange and creepy as I hoped. My lunchtime reading for the month was Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. I tend to read a non-fiction book over lunch breaks as I'm more likely to take it in during the day, so I decided to finnnnnnally read this. I have a really nice blue Haymarket Books edition, and I enjoyed the contents too! I rounded off the month with this year's new Tove Jansson translation from Sort Of Books, Letters to Klara. I love Tove Jansson's short stories so this was a pleasure to read! 

What a nice selection of books eh? A YA historical fiction novel, a creepy novella, a body memoir, more creepiness in short story form, some feminist non fiction, and some lovely Finnish short stories too!

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Hunger by Roxane Gay

The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Letters to Klara by Tove Jansson

Review! The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a powerful novel by Angie Thomas. An unapologetic look at race based violence in the United States, centred around the aftermath of a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. Starr is the central character- a teenage girl who navigates the worlds of her hood neighbourhood home and her private school education. After her childhood friend Khalil is shot by a police officer while Starr is in the passenger seat, she has to work out how to find strength to speak out, be a strong witness, and figure out a way to be brave in the face of tragedy.

It's amazing and important and has been topping the NYT bestseller list for about a million weeks. The events in The Hate U Give are an indictment of the crazy times we're living in. If you haven't read it yet then really what are you waiting for. Here are six great quotes:

1. “Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, Starr,” she says. “It means you go on even though you’re scared. And you’re doing that.”   
2. “I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang, some attitude, but not too much attitude, so I’m not a “sassy black girl.” I have to watch what I say and how I say it, but I can’t sound “white.”  
3. “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right”  
4. “People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice.”  
5. “I hope none of them ask about my spring break. They went to Taipei, the Bahamas, Harry Potter World. I stayed in the hood and saw a cop kill my friend.”  
6. “That's the hate they're giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That's Thug Life”