Category Archives: books roundup

Books Bought and Read – June 2018

Books Bought

Firstly I visited Foyles on a trip to London, and even though I wanted to buy ALL THE BOOKS, I limited myself to two. I got Heartburn by Nora Ephron, and To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell.


The next book I got this month was a copy of Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller. This is exciting because it was sent to me by Penguin, and I never get books sent to me. This is the first one, so I’m pretty excited about it.


Later in the month I visited Oxford and went to the Oxfam books there. I got Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn – I had a copy that I lent out years ago and never got back, so I’ve been waiting to replace it! I also got Interpreter of  Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and Girls in their Married Bliss by Edna O’Brien.


While I was in Oxford I was staying at Christ Church College. I was literally having breakfast in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, and let me tell you I was beyond excited about this. I know I don’t look it in the picture, but it was very early, and very busy, and I was trying to take my photo without looking like too much of a knobhead. Also, the stairs up to the hall are a Harry Potter location. Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hogwarts!


The final purchases of June, were part of my Happy Pay Day celebrations. I bought myself four books: I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek, The Boy With the Top Knot by Sathnam Sanghera, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, and The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest.


Books Read

Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates


A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf


Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi


Little Black Book –  Otegha Uwagba


Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKee


How to Stop Time – Matt Haig



20 Books of Summer – Month 1 Update

I’m taking part in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge. It’s exactly what you think: try to read 20 books over June, July and August. I like this challenge because it’s jut a bit more than I normally read, and I have my long summer holiday to help!

I also find it amusing that I can not stick to the intended plan. I set out at the beginning what I think I’d like to read, then it goes off track quite quickly.

So how am I doing after month 1? I finished 6 books plus read a third of The Iliad, so that’s perfectly on track. Two of the books were quite short, but that’s ok.

Here’s the original list, ones I’ve read in red, links to reviews at the end. Books not on the original list are just tagged onto the end.

  1. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi (review)
  2. Still Me – Jojo Moyes
  3. Conclave – Robert Harris
  4. Sarah – J.T. Leroy
  5. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley – Charlotte Gordon
  6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  7. How Do You Like Me Now? – Holly Bourne
  8. The Pisces – Melissa Broder
  9. How Not to be a Boy – Robert Webb
  10.  Things a Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls
  11. The Iliad – Homer
  12. Story – Robert McKee (review)
  13. How To Stop Time – Matt Haig (review)
  14. 2666 – Roberto Bolano
  15.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  16. The Dark Dark – Samantha Hunt
  17. Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life – Helen Czerski
  18. The Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash
  19. My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
  20. The Mother of All Questions – Rebecca Solnit
  21. Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates (review)
  22. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf (review)
  23. Little Black Book – Otegha Uwagba (review)

I realise I’m writing this halfway through July, and so really I’ve already read 3 more books! Shhhhh those will be in the next update!

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I’ve seen a few other blogs doing this book tag and thought I’d join in as a little halfway through the year review of what I’ve been reading this year. I’ve read 31 books so far, not bad. Click on the book titles I mention to go to my reviews of the books.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018?


Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Out of all the books I’ve read this year, this is the one I’d read again, and the one I’d most want other people to read.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018?

I’ve only read one real sequel this year – After You by Jojo Moyes – and I didn’t really enjoy it. So I’m going to cheat a little bit on this one and choose:


Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. Not really a sequel, but a re-imagining of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The Frankenstein character and the people who encounter him are used to explore how a community continues despite horrific conditions of war going on around them.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?

There are three books I really want to read that have been released in the first half of 2018, that I haven’t got round to reading yet. Even worse, I have copies of all three through NetGalley, I just haven’t had time. The three books are:


The Pisces by Melissa Broder. “Profoundly modern, deeply disturbed and darkly comic, The Pisces is about a heartbroken PhD student who over one summer falls in dangerous, ecstatic love with a merman.” I’m reading this next. I need to.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Yes, I am the only person that hasn’t read this yet. Aaarrghhh.

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne. The first book aimed at adults by Holly Bourne. I’ve read a few of her YA books and have really, really liked them. Excited!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

I haven’t spent much time looking at what is going to be released later in the year… but going off my NetGalley queue I am looking forward to:


Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford.Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and as yet unrealised that will give them new language to articulate their experiences.” I’m sold.

5. Biggest disappointment?

after you

After You by Jojo Moyes. Despite my misgivings, I really ended up enjoying Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. So I had some hope for the sequel, but I really didn’t enjoy it at all.

6. Biggest surprise?


A recent one for biggest surprise of the year so far, Story by Robert McKee. I really wasn’t expecting a lot from this book about writing screen plays, but it was a really enjoyable, informative, interesting read.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)?


This year I read A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. Surprisingly, this is the first Virginia Woolf I’ve ever read. I obviously now want to read more.

8. Newest fictional crush?

I don’t really do crushes from books I read. Perhaps I’m reading the wrong books! Recommend me some?


The nearest I can get will have to be Achilles from Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles. But it will have to be Achilles from the end of the book, when he’s an actual adult of 27 years old. Hahaha. He is the greatest Greek warrior, beautiful and a half God, after all.

9. Newest favourite character?


I’m picking Default Man from The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry. Not because I like Default Man, but because I like the idea of the character of Default Man and how he’s used throughout this book. If you want to read some more about Default Man, there’s an article here, if for some strange reason, you don’t want to read the whole book (which you should).

10. Book that made you cry?


It has to be The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I loved this book and I was sobbing by page 30!

11. Book that made you happy?


I will have to pick Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher because it’s really, deeply funny. I haven’t reviewed it yet, but should get round to it soon.

12. Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year?


I’m not sure I have. Number one question about books I get from friends is ‘How do you manage to read so much?’, given I work full time as a teacher, and have 2 smallish kids. Obviously, neglecting my kids is top, but I also don’t watch a lot of TV (ok, this is the main one really). So I haven’t watched much this year. I’m going to go with Rick and Morty, totally cheating, but I loved it, hadn’t watched it before this year, and there are comic books based on it.

13. Favourite review you’ve written this year?

after you

Strangely, I’m going to put my review of After You by Jojo Moyes in here. I just scrolled through all my reviews from this year and it’s one that stood out! I think probably because I used a couple of good gifs in it that I find pleasing.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)?

Definitely this copy of Heartburn by Nora Ephron. It’s gorgeous and has lovely shiny dimples.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Oh god… so many. I’ve just had a quick look over my bookcase and pulled out this pile that all shouted ‘read me!’ at me the loudest:


We have:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 by Brian Vaughan and Joss Whedon.
  • Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark
  • Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh
  • The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (though will probably need to read Jane Eyre first, right?)
  • White Line Fever by Lemmy
  • Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi
  • Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick
  • The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius by Graham Farmelo
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
  • Pathfinders: the Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili
  • I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek
  • Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Quite science heavy and also only one crossover book with my 20 Books of Summer List (though I’ve now finished five from the original list – more about that later!).


Top Ten Tuesday: Red, White and Blue books covers.

Ok, I know it’s not Tuesday. I’m always a bit slow doing these things. I don’t take part that often, so just to explain, every Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl does a top ten themed blog post. Lots of other people do too and you can find the links to all the others over there.

Here’s my top ten books with red, white and blue covers (click the book title to go to my review, if it exists!) :


1. Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet by Dallas Campbell. A really fantastic book all about getting up into space. There’s history, funny stories, facts, and plans to make!


2. Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. A fictionalised account of a real story of a working class couple who carried out small acts of resistance on their own in Berlin, 1940.


3. Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy by Kip S. Thorne. This book was EVERYTHING I wanted from a book when I was 17. EVERYTHING. Physics, black holes, discussion of time travel *swoons*.


4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. A classic and one I genuinely, truly loved to read.

 “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed. “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.”

If you haven’t read it, but want to, I urge you to bump it up your to read pile.


5. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. I haven’t actually read this one yet. But it will be brilliant. Oh yes, it will be brilliant.



6. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. One of those books that I find myself thinking about every now and then, even though it’s been years since I read it. It’s about artificially increasing intelligence, and the consequences of that.


7. The Great American Pin-Up by Charles G. Martignette amd Loius K. Meisel. Just a massive cheap book shop type of book full of illustrations of pin-up ladies by different artists. Full of happy, saucy ladies.


8. Pretty in Punk: 25 Punk, Rock, and Goth Knitting Projects by Alice Benevides and Jaqueline Milles. Why would you not want this book? Please someone knit me the camo arm warmers 😀


9. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I adored this book when I read it. I loved the love story set across time. I loved the crazy, disjointed time line that takes a long part of the book to properly figure out.  Also tears and sobbing (yes!).


10. Rebel Voices: the Rise of Votes for Women by Eve Lloyd Knight and Louise Kay Stewart. This beautifully illustrated book covers how and when women got the vote in different countries.


So that’s it. My top ten books with red, white and blue covers. That I could also find on my book shelves!!!



Books Bought and Read May 2018

Books Bought

Conclave by Robert Harris for book club next month.



Books Read

Click on the book title to got o a link to my review.

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin


The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller


Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller


This Must Be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell


Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge


After You – Jojo Moyes 

after you

20 Books of Summer Challenge 2018

I’m going to take part in the 20 books of summer challenge again this year. The aim is to try and read 20 books in June, July and August. It’s slightly more than I normally read, but I do have a summer holiday to fill with exciting books. The challenge was created by Cathy at 746 Books. You can find other people taking part in the challenge at that link too.

I also enjoy this challenge for the slightly ridiculous reason that I enjoy seeing just how badly I can predict what I will read. I like planning out what to read, and than really find I can’t stick to it. Maybe this year will be different! Here is a link to the results of last years challenge. I did alright considering I had a rough Summer personally, and read 19 books.

This year for 20 Books of Summer I will Read:

  1. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi. Just started it and it’s for book club.
  2. Still Me – Jojo Moyes. Another one for book club. See my review of After You to see how highly anticipated this is.
  3. Conclave – Robert Harris. Book club again. I’m only in two book clubs, I swear.
  4. Sarah – J.T. Leroy. A friend recommended this so I will read it soon, so I can judge him.
  5. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley – Charlotte Gordon. A friend lent me this ages ago, and I have loved what I’ve read so far. I just think it’s size has intimidated me. It’s quite a beast.
  6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman. I’ve got a copy. I just haven’t got round to it yet, but it sounds ace and I really want to get to it!
  7. How Do You Like Me Now? – Holly Bourne. As above!
  8. The Pisces – Melissa Broder. This book sounds amazing. “The Pisces is about a heartbroken PhD student who over one summer falls in dangerous, ecstatic love with a merman” Erm… yes!
  9. How Not to be a Boy – Robert Webb. Have heard lots of good things about this one, and I couldn’t go three months without reading something about gender.
  10.  Things a Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls. I’ve read half already and I need to finish it!


I’m quite confident I’ll get through those, now the second half of the list is purely speculative fiction:

11. The Iliad – Homer. hahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahaha. Yes, this summer I will read The Iliad.

12. Story – Robert McKee. Fairly confident I will read this because I was lent this by a friend who I’m seeing in a couple of weeks, so I need to read it and give it back!

13. How To Stop Time – Matt Haig. Again, I have a copy waiting to be read.

14. 2666 – Roberto Bolano. Yes, this is the summer I will read this gigantic book.

15. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou. A classic I feel I should have read already.

16. The Dark Dark – Samantha Hunt. Short stories that sound a-fricken-mazing.

17. Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life – Helen Czerski. I’ve not been reading enough science books and so I need to add at least one to this list. I love the premise of this one.

18. The Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash. Recommended by my favourite book recommending friend! So it’s bound to be good.

19. My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante. I feel so out of touch having not read this yet!

20. The Mother of All Questions – Rebecca Solnit. Got to get some Solnit on this list. I’m savouring her books, but I’m also in danger of just never reading them!


here are 15 of the books – 5 are on my kindle

I’m going to enjoy seeing how accurate this ends up!

**update** Since writing this blog post, I decided I actually am going to read the Iliad this summer. I only need to read six pages a day and that is very achievable. So welcome to my SUMMER CHALLENGE SIDE PROJECT: read the Iliad at last.


6 pages a day will do it. 


Books Bought and Read – April 2018

Books Bought

A quite good month on the book buying front. One I needed for book club. One because a boy recommended it (unfortunately already consigned to history, but at least I’ve still got the book to read ❤ ❤ ❤ ) . And three EMERGENCY purchases due to finding myself out of the house and bookless.

Let’s start with the emergency books. I was reading In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan and I was going to meet my friend for cocktails and food.


friend and cocktails

I had a 40min rail replacement bus journey to get there and back. Sorted. Except In Watermelon Sugar doesn’t take long to read. Half the pages don’t have text on the full page. So I had finished it just after I arrived. Luckily there was a massive Sainsbury’s next to the train station. I found a sale section with some super cheap books left over from a promo they had recently had and got this lot for under a tenner!

Things A Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls

A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space – Libby Jackson

Rebel Voices: The Rise of Votes for Women – Louise Kay Stewart


cheap amazing books

Later in the month I picked up Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi for a book club in June.


Finally I got Sarah by J T Leroy. Since getting this book, a friend told me I have to watch a film made about JT Leroy (Author: the JT LeRoy story). So I need to get round to reading this book, then watching the film!


Books Read

6 books. Yes. Click on the book title to go to my review.

Nobody Told Me – Holly McNish


Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach


In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan


The Hidden Man – Robin Blake


The Descent of Man – Grayson Perry


Sight – Jessie Greengrass