Holiday Reading List

Reading List I am now apparently that person who cannot read unless she’s on holiday. During the week, the guilt of reading anything other than work related learning materials is too high and by the time bedtime arrives my face doesn’t work any more and just wants to fold in on itself and reboot for the next day.

I need to do some catching up whilst I’m off, when I don’t find time for reading I can practically hear the blood curdling screams of my brain cells as they hurl themselves into the black hole of my vacuous mind. Too dramatic? Yep. My writing almost certainly suffers too.

So I have two weeks one week left and I’m about a third of the way through Station Eleven. Sigh. I wasted a good bit of my first week off bingeing on Luther. But one week to go, four and a half novels and a cook book hybrid thing to get through and a renewed respect for the brain enhancing power of the written word.

Gluten Is My Bitch – April Peveteaux

Probably the best book to come out of a blog I reckon. Sarcasm, diatribes and recipes. I’ve dipped in and like it so far.

The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

I started this ages ago and love love love the voice and story. Progress halted, see above re readers guilt.

Blurb: ”ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.

The Humans – Matt Haig

Matt Haig could write a blow by blow account of the after effects of eating a bad prawn and I’d devour it, his writing is bloody wonderful.

Blurb:  After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

What could possibly make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandell

This is the next Bloggers Book Club read and looks like such an interesting story. Not like anything I’ve come across in a while.

Blurb: One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America.
The world will never be the same again.
Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse.
But then her newly hopeful world is threatened.
If civilization was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

This has been on my tbr pile for the longest time now, since my mamma recommended it. I already know the twist…I’m good with a spoiler or two so I think I’ll live.

Blurb: Rosemary’s young, just at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we’re not going to tell you too much either: you’ll have to find out for yourselves what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. So now she’s telling her story; a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice.

Oh and Mr Mercedes – Stephen King

Which I bought after reading Cat’s review and because Stephen King is my spirit animal.

Blurb: A cat and mouse suspense thriller featuring Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is tormented by ‘the Mercedes massacre’, a case he never solved. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of that notorious crime, has sent Hodges a taunting letter. Now he’s preparing to kill again. Each starts to close in on the other in a mega-stakes race against time.

How about you? Do you struggle to fit in reading time? Does your mind tank suffer? Read any of those on my holiday reading list?


Into the Darkest Corner (Book Review)

image1I first read Into the Darkest Corner a few years ago and – ‘loved’ feels like the wrong word for this kind of book – I loved it.  I picked it up again recently and devoured it over a weekend which, for someone who bangs on about how much time she doesn’t have, was no mean feat.

I’ll try not to give away any spoilers so bear with…

Into the Darkest Corner is a heavy, psychological thriller which follows the relationship between Catherine Bailey and a handsome, charismatic nut job called Lee.

I know I was drawn in by Hans Frozen but generally I’m a good judge of character, I knew Lee was a wrong ‘un from the off. Sort of. Although Haynes does brilliantly at setting the scene and creating a romantic smokescreen making Lee seem ‘oh so dreamy’ so that, like Catherine, by the time you fully realise just how bat shit crazy he is, it’s far too late.

The book unfolds along two narratives; one chronicling the development of Catherine and Lee’s relationship, where we see Lee get more and more monstrous, building to ‘the incident’ (via a whole trail of hideous incidents along the way) and the other following Catherine’s life post-Lee. I enjoyed the split narrative , the contrast in the voices of Catherine pre and post Lee was a stark reminder of the devastation of domestic abuse.

The present part of the story is set after Lee has been charged for his crimes and sent to prison. Terrified of her own shadow and battling debilitating OCD and post traumatic stress, Catherine must try to continue with her life whilst knowing that Lee is due for release any day. It’s an incredibly intense read and there’s a growing sense of doom that builds steadily through both arcs of the story; you know you’re heading to some very scary places both in the past and the future. It’s a real edge-of-your-seat read.

Read it if:
You want a fast paced, challenging thriller.

Don’t read it if:
Domestic abuse and rape are triggers for you or you want something nice and gentle to read before bed – It’s a disturbing story that doesn’t skimp on violent details.

Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought.


Home is…

Tea and books

Yesterday husband, who has earned himself untold brownie points, waited at home all day for delivery of some ginormous book cases for the dining room. And THEN, when I finally got home, they were pretty much assembled and ready to receive ALL THE BOOKS. This was a pretty big deal, normally he gets quite wound up about DIY and ends up naked and sulking. Neither of us are sure why this happens but it does. Every time. Not only did I come home to a fully clothed husband but dinner was on the go and my bookshelves were begging to be filled (they’re dirty innuendo bookshelves, who knew)?

I hadn’t realised just how much I’d missed having my books close to hand but last night I got to get them all out of their boxes in the garage and find them all new little homes in our new little home. Best. Night. Ever.

We’d been desperate to move from chavsville for so very long that we didn’t really spend any time on the old place and my poor little tomes had been relegated into cupboards in the dining room from hell that was never used. If I wanted one it involved actually opening the door followed by the eye pain of the atrocious décor and some kind of book moving related RSI to shift them all out of the cupboard to find the one which was invariably located at the very bottom of the very last pile. But now? Now they’re back in full sight waiting to be organised into some fandangled system by a surprisingly willing teen. Our whole place feels instantly more homely.


I wrote a post aaages ago about the things that remind me of home and I’m a firm believer that ‘home’ is less about the building and more about the people, the pets and the feels. As it happens, for me it’s also having all of my books around me. For every book I popped on a shelf, I found another three that I wanted to revisit or that had *shock horror* never been opened. Is it too much to say it made me a euphoric? It did. Big cheesy grin euphoric. Sneaking out just to peek at the books euphoric. Although the sneaking out was directly related to giving my eyes a break from the monstrosity that was Mary Berry’s jacket on last night’s GBBO.

It’s also pretty ‘daggy’ as Nicole might say and most spectacularly uncool how excited I am to start searching for the perfect little spot in the new place from which to devour each and every one of them, my money’s on the floor by the patio doors or nestled in the bay window in the lounge, I’ll let you know how that goes. Wherever my reading nook ends up being (and really, it should have been in here right?) I will of course share it with you.

Every day this little building transforms more and more into the home we’ve hoped for for such a long long time and I couldn’t be more thankful.

And for you, home is…?

P.s. please feel free to use the word fandangled liberally in your conversations, it should definitely be a bigger part of the English language.


Book Review: The Ladykiller

Image found here
First things first, this book is pure trash. It’s not going to change the world or your outlook on life (although it might change the way you look at that little old bloke walking towards you in the street!) It’s one of those I pick up when I need a little bit of distraction or something to dip in and out of amongst all the busy.
Secondly there’s nothing ironic in the title; this book is literally about a man who kills women. So if crime writing isn’t your thing, steer well clear. George is the titular bastard and the story unfurls as a cat and mouse affair between him and the heroine DI Kate something-or-other.
Crime thrillers are my guilty pleasure but I’m not a huge Martina Cole fan. I find her violence a bit gratuitous and some of her characters a little (a lot) clichéd; a lot of ‘apples and pairs’ and ‘awwight me old china’. To some extent the same is definitely true of The Ladykiller and yet it still keeps me coming back when I want to escape a little. I think that’s all to do with George who is, without a shadow of a doubt the vilest and most terrifying old codger I’ve met in a book. I don’t want to give anything away if, after this glowing recommendation, you fancy a read but the thing Martina Cole does really well is developing his back story. She manages to elicit, if not empathy, then a better understanding of what broke George in the first place. I did find myself feeling a bit sorry for him (I gave myself a talking to)! It’s pretty fast paced too and, dare I say it, funny in places. It’s also hide-behind-your-hands horrific in places.
Kenny is a woefully under developed character (he could have been brilliant), the setting is pretty bleak, the daughter is an arse and George will make your skin crawl but you might just enjoy it.

Read it if: you fancy getting away from it all, you don’t mind a bit of cheesy rhyming slang, you like a fast paced romp of a crime thriller, you’re a tiny bit warped.

Don’t read if: you struggle with Crimewatch let alone graphic violence, you can’t handle a bit of patronising colloquialism, you’re after a mind bender.  
What’s your guilty book pleasure? 

The need to read

I’ve banged on enough about how little time I get to read…or pretty much do anything else. The time for talking is over people, this week we’re moving on to the action stage. 

So far this has involved deconstructing the leaning tower of books into manageable chunks (hillocks of books if you will) as well making some geektastic folders on my iPad Kindle app thingumy. I thought that adding the word ‘pronto’ in there would make me panic a little and get on with it. I don’t mean to be over dramatic about it but I feel a little bit dimmer when I don’t get time to read, like any intelligence I have is just seeping out of me and nothing’s going in to replace it. I’m sure inciting a bit of pronto panic in myself will definitely help the situation… 

So without further ado this is what I’ll be getting stuck into Kindle wise:
The full leaning tower of books is over in this post. 

Mad About the Boy – Helen Fielding: not 100% sure how I feel about this one and the ‘big reveal’ was already revealed by Chris flipping Evans. But I loved Bridget’s first two outings so I’ll give it a go out of loyalty (always a risky little game!) 

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn: I read Gone Girl on holiday last year and was hooked. It wasn’t the most literarily (totally a word) challenging read but it was a jolly good crime thriller with a fairly predictable twist. As a lover of too many American crime dramas and the books of Tess Gerritsen, I’m sure Gillian and I will get on just fine second time round. 

Game of Thrones – George R R Martin: I love love love the TV show but have been a bit intimidated by the books til now. Funnily enough it looks less scary when it’s a 2cm square on a screen as opposed to a three inch thick brick of a book on top of a teetering pile. I think I’ve put it off too because it just feels a bit wrong to be reading the books after watching the show but I do love immersing myself in a completely new world (also firmly believe that I’m Khaleesi…with slightly fewer dragons).

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce: I picked this up for an absolute steal from Amazon but have been wanting to read it for AGES! It follows Harold as he sets off to post a letter and just keeps on walking to save the life of his friend. I can’t wait to get into this one, some of my absolute favourite stories involve a seemingly ordinary person doing something extraordinary or embarking on some kind of adventure. I just love the transformation some authors get so very right. No pressure Harold/Rachel!! 

Happier at Home – Gretchen Rubin: I bought this after reading the Happiness Project and having a mini revelation last year. Hoping that when I get to this one it’ll nudge me back into action with my own happiness project. Not that I’m an unhappy person in any way but I do think it’s something that needs to be worked at. 

Coffin Dodgers – Gary Marshall: All I know about this is that it’s a dark comedy which is actually supposed to be bloody funny! I’ll give that a go any day of the week. 

Before I Go To Sleep – S. J. Watson: A good old psychological thriller that will undoubtedly keep me up all night long and make me look at C in a different way. It’s about a woman whose memory erases itself every night. Each day her loving husband patiently explains the situation. He sounds swell…but is he?? Dun, dun, duuuuun. 

The Perfect Husband – Lisa Gardner: ha, this one shouldn’t really come after that last one should it? Makes me look like a bonkers wife. I’m not, take my word for it. And I’m sure C is nothing like the secret serial killer ex-husband in this book…

I think we’ve all learnt a little something about me from this list, I know I have! Namely that I like a healthy dose of trash in my reading material and I may have one or two trust issues.  

Have you read any of these? If not, what are you reading at the moment?