Tag Archives: Books

All the Beautiful Girls – Elizabeth J. Church

I ended up quite enjoying this book about a girl with a horrendous childhood making her way in the world of 1960s Las Vegas show girls. Although I nearly ditched it when I had to read so much about the horrendous childhood. Just not the sort of thing I like reading at all.


I realise for the story to do its thing, we needed to have Lily come from a place of horror. Her parents and sister die in a car crash when she is eight years old. She is sent to live with her stern aunt, and paedophile, rapist uncle. He abuses her until she starts her period at twelve years old. It’s so horrible. I was just at the point of giving it one more page, and if there was any more rape descriptions I was giving up. Thank you menstruation!

Lily is a dancer, but of course what she ends up doing is being a showgirl. She’s beautiful, you see! Now here’s where I really quite enjoyed the book. Glamour, booze, gifts, growing up.

I also haven’t yet mentioned one of my favourite aspects of the book, Lily’s friendship with the man who crashed into her family’s car, killing them: the Aviator. It’s a weird, sweet, strange relationship.

If you can stomach the section where her horrible childhood is set up, then want a lovely growing up girls adventure in 1960s showgirl Las Vegas, then this might just be for you!


Books Bought and Read – February 2018

Still managing to not go too mental with buying books, and managing to read more. Phew!

Books Bought

Not for me, but I bought Inferior by Angela Saini and Hope In The Dark by Rebecca Solnit as gifts for a friend because I love these books with all my heart. ūüôā



A Woman’s Work – Harriet Harman. 99p kindle deals strike again.

I also picked up a copy of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver for a pound in a second hand book sale!



Books Read

Click  each title for a link to the review

On Tyranny: 20 Lessons From the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

The Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch

Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi



Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi

Set in US-occupied, war torn Baghdad, bombings are a daily event, and bodies are commonplace. This is the setting for a Frankenstein inspired take on life in Baghdad. I really enjoyed reading Frankenstein in Baghdad, and would encourage you to read it too! It’s not a retelling of Mary Shelley’s¬†Frankenstein, it’s about life in US occupied Baghdad for the ordinary citizens.


Hadi, a junk collector pieces together a full body from pieces of bodies he has found in the street. This corpse gets reanimated by the soul of a car park attendant, killed in a car bomb attack.

The monster wants to get revenge on all the people who wronged the people he is made up from. He spends a lot of time exacting revenge and contemplating his motivations and methods.

But the monster isn’t really the main thing that goes on in Frankenstein in Baghdad. The real story, is about a community that tries to go about it’s day to day business, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.



We meet various people in the neighbourhood. We learn who their local friends and enemies are. We learn about their histories, their triumphs and their tragedies. We find out about family members and friends who have already abandoned Baghdad, and wrestle themselves with if and when to take refuge somewhere else. I’m not going to delve into all the individual stories here, because I don’t want to reveal any plot spoilers, but one of the characters is an old woman desperately hoping for the return of her son, missing for many years. Her story really touched me the most.

Frankenstein in Baghdad won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and Saadawi lives and works in Baghdad. I don’t read many books in translation, and want to read more. This insight into the daily life of Iraqi civilians living in, what for most of us are, unimaginable conditions. It’s grim in parts (obviously!), it’s darkly funny, and it’s satirical. A great read!

P.S. I was given this copy of the ebook in return for an honest review. Thanks NetGalley!


Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

I was very excited to be reading Little Fires Everywhere after absolutely falling in love with Ng’s first novel: Everything I Never Told You.¬†Happily, Little Fires is also a great read. I didn’t love it quite as much as Everything (though this would have been difficult – I loved the first one so, so much).


Little Fires Everywhere is about the meeting of two very different families in a nice suburban, American town. There are the Richardsons. A family who play by all the rules of society and are rewarded for it. Then there are the Warrens, a mother and daughter who defy convention.

Mia Warren is an artist who moves her and her daughter, Pearl, to a new town every six months or so. They take what they can fit in their car and leave the rest.

Pearl befriends the Richardson children. She is drawn to their nice, stable, family life. Whereas the misfit Richardson daughter, Izzy, is drawn to artist Mia and her unconventional approach.

There’s a fairly huge cast of characters and, brilliantly, they are all fleshed out and completely believable. I always come away from a Celeste Ng novel feeling all the feelings. I feel like I was 100% with the emotions of the characters and like I completely understand their motivation and the reasons for their decisions. I love this about her books.

I also love that Little Fires Everywhere isn’t solely focussed on the teenage characters. As events progress we learn a lot about the history of both mothers, and understand how this influences decisions they make. We learn about the circumstances of Pearl’s birth, and the kind actions of a fairly grumpy neighbour nearly broke me! That’s probably due to the very clear memories I have of just how difficult those early baby days were.

The first night back in the rented room, Pearl had cried and cried until Mia herself had begun to cry… Then there was a soft knock at the door, and stern Mrs. Delaney appeared and held out her arms. “Give her here,” she said, with such authority that Mia handed the soft bundle over without thinking. “Now you lie down and get some rest,” Mrs. Delaney said, shutting the door behind her, and in the abrupt silence Mia flopped down on the bed and fell instantly asleep.

God bless stern Mrs. Delaney!

I haven’t really mentioned the plot at all, and I won’t give away any spoilers, but it’s probably important to note that the book starts with the Richardson house burning to the ground, and their daughter Izzy missing and the chief suspect.

There’s a situation with an abandoned baby which forms the main part of the plot and both families are intricately linked with the scandal.

Little Fires Everywhere is a great book. ūüôā


P.s. I was provided with a free copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks NetGalley!


Books Bought and Read January 2018

After last month’s buying extravaganza, I knew I wanted to scale back a lot this month! It’s also been a difficult month personally, and I lost my reading mojo a little bit. I’m really far behind with even the small amount of reviews I need to do! oh dear.

Books Bought

Are you ready for this?

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green. A 99p kindle deal I couldn’t pass by.

That’s it!

Books Read

Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (review)

Slayers & Vampires: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Buffy & Angel –¬†Edward Gross,¬†Mark A. Altman (no review yet!)


Review of my 2017 Reading Challenge

Hahahahahahahahahaha I can not stick to a reading list, and actually I’m OK with that. I don’t want to ever have to stick to a long, rigid reading list.

I planned last year to read as many books from The Rory Gilmore Reading List as I could manage. I started this challenge enthused after watching the entire of Gilmore Girls, over a couple of months in Summer,  in preparation for the new episodes they had made (and ready to attend my friends watching party when they were released). I was impressed with the bookishness of Rory and I also knew I wanted to get back into reading after quite a few years of not finding the time for it, so finding a reading list of books she read on the show was motivating.

I started off well, but read fewer books from the list each month. I know I will still dip back into the list from time to time when choosing new books to read, because a lot of the books from the list have been absolute favourites of mine. I also had a problem with the list being very restrictive. It’s largely white, American or European, authors, and I want to read more diversely than that. I also got side tracked (rightly!) by a lot of newer books that obviously weren’t going to be on that list.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson with this year long challenge: don’t try and be so restrictive with what I read! Also, it’s probably worth noting that I own copies of at least 21 of the books I haven’t read from this list! So I will definitely still read a few of them ūüôā

Here is the full list, with the ones I had already read in red, the ones I read last year in pink:

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven¬†by Mitch Albom
  • ¬†Little Women¬†by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Kitchen Boy¬†by Robert Alexander
  • Brick Lane¬†by Monica Ali¬†¬†
  • Oryx and Crake¬†by Margaret Atwood¬†¬†
  • Emma¬†by Jane Austen¬†¬†
  • Sense and Sensibility¬†by Jane Austen¬†
  • Oracle Night¬†by Paul Auster¬†¬†
  • Fahrenheit 451¬†by Ray Bradbury¬†(review)
  • Jane Eyre¬†by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Master and Margarita¬†by Mikhail Bulgakov
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay¬†by Michael Chabon
  • The Awakening¬†by Kate Chopin¬†(review)
  • The Meaning of Consuelo¬†by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  • Heart of Darkness¬†by Joseph Conrad
  • Fat Land¬†: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World¬†by Greg Critser
  • Cousin Bette¬†by Honore De Balzac
  • Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia De Burgos¬†by Julia De Burgos
  • The Red Tent¬†by Anita Diamant¬†¬†
  • David Copperfield¬†by Charles Dickens
  • Crime and Punishment¬†by Fyodor Dostoevsky¬†
  • An American Tragedy¬†by Theodore Dreiser
  • The Bielski Brothers¬†by Peter Duffy
  • The Count of Monte Cristo¬†by Alexandre Dumas
  • Ella Minnow Pea¬†by Mark Dunn¬†
  • The Name of the Rose¬†by Umberto Eco¬†¬†
  • Middlesex¬†by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Sound and The Fury¬†by William Faulkner
  • Time and Again¬†by Jack Finney
  • The Great Gatsby¬†by F. Scott Fitzgerald¬†
  • A Passage to India¬†by E.M. Forster
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl¬†by Anne Frank
  • Bee Season¬†by Myla Goldberg
  • Lord of the Flies¬†by William Golding¬†¬†
  • Autobiography of a Face¬†by Lucy Grealy
  • My Life in Orange¬†by Tim Guest
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time¬†by Mark Haddon
  • The Scarlet Letter¬†by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Sacred Time¬†by Ursula Hegi
  • The Sun Also Rises¬†by Ernest Hemingway
  • Siddhartha¬†by Hermann Hesse
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend¬†by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Rescuing Patty Hearst¬†by Virginia Holman
  • A Quiet Storm¬†by Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The Polysyllabic Spree¬†by Nick Hornby¬†(review)
  • Songbook¬†by Nick Hornby
  • The Kite Runner¬†by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame¬†by Victor Hugo¬†¬†
  • Brave New World¬†by Aldous Huxley
  • How the Light Gets In¬†by M. J. Hyland
  • The Lottery: And Other Stories¬†by Shirley Jackson
  • Nervous System¬†by Jan Lars Jensen¬†¬†
  • The Metamorphosis¬†by Franz Kafka¬†(review)
  • The Story of My Life¬†by Helen Keller¬†(review)
  • On The Road¬†by Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo‚Äôs Nest¬†by Ken Kesey
  • Flowers for Algernon¬†by Daniel Keyes
  • The Secret Life of Bees¬†by Sue Monk Kidd¬†
  • A Separate Peace¬†by John Knowles
  • Extravagance¬†by Gary Krist
  • The Namesake¬†by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Devil in the White City¬†by Erik Larson¬†
  • The Song of Names¬†by Norman Lebrecht
  • The Fortress of Solitude¬†by Jonathan Lethem
  • Small Island¬†by Andrea Levy
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West¬†by Gregory Maguire
  • A Month Of Sundays¬†by Julie Mars
  • Life of Pi¬†by Yann Martel
  • Property¬†by Valerie Martin
  • The Razor‚Äôs Edge¬†by W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Nanny Diaries¬†by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†
  • Quattrocento¬†by James McKean
  • Death of a Salesman¬†by Arthur Miller¬†¬†
  • Beloved¬†by Toni Morrison¬†(review)
  • Speak, Memory¬†by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books¬†by Azar Nafisi
  • The Time Traveler‚Äôs Wife¬†by Audrey Niffenegger¬†¬†
  • How to Breathe Underwater¬†by Julie Orringer
  • 1984¬†by George Orwell¬†
  • When the Emperor Was Divine¬†by Julie Otsuka
  • Bel Canto¬†by Ann Patchett¬†(review)
  • Truth & Beauty¬†by Ann Patchett
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker¬†by Dorothy Parker
  • My Sister‚Äôs Keeper¬†by Jodi Picoult
  • The Bell Jar¬†by Sylvia Plath¬†¬†
  • Complete Tales & Poems¬†by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Fountainhead¬†by Ayn Rand
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers¬†by Mary Roach
  • The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters¬†by Elisabeth Robinson
  • The God of Small Things¬†by Arundhati Roy
  • Empire Falls¬†by Richard Russo
  • The Catcher in the Rye¬†by J.D. Salinger¬†(review)
  • Sybil¬†by Flora Schreiber
  • The Lovely Bones¬†by Alice Sebold
  • Holidays on Ice¬†by David Sedaris (review)
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day¬†by David Sedaris¬†(review)
  • Hamlet¬†by William Shakespeare
  • Pygmalion¬†by George Bernard Shaw
  • Frankenstein¬†by Mary Shelley¬†(review)
  • Unless¬†by Carol Shields
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress¬†by Dai Sijie
  • The Jungle¬†by Upton Sinclair
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn¬†by Betty Smith¬†(review)
  • Of Mice and Men¬†by John Steinbeck
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde¬†by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Uncle Tom‚Äôs Cabin¬†by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Opposite of Fate¬†by Amy Tan
  • Vanity Fair¬†by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Anna Karenina¬†by Leo Tolstoy¬†¬†
  • A Confederacy of Dunces¬†by John Kennedy Toole
  • The Song Reader¬†by Lisa Tucker
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn¬†by Mark Twain
  • Just a Couple of Days¬†by Tony Vigorito
  • Galapagos¬†by Kurt Vonnegut¬†(review)
  • Ethan Frome¬†by Edith Wharton
  • Night¬†by Elie Wiesel¬†(review)
  • The Picture Of Dorian Gray¬†by Oscar Wilde¬†¬†
  • The Code of the Woosters¬†by P. G. Wodehouse
  • Old School¬†by Tobias Wolff
  • The Shadow of the Wind¬†by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


This year I’m attempting the PopSugar Challenge. This involves trying to fit what I read into different categories and so is much less restrictive!


The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

*this review contains some discussion of the whole plot of the novel. They aren’t really spoilers though because it’s not that sort of book. But you may want to avoid reading my review until you’ve read it*

Remains of the Day is a quiet, subtle novel about dedicating your life to a profession and the realisation that this might not have been the best way to live your life. At least that’s what I took away from it after finishing the book. It’s a very gentle rad, but I really enjoyed the journey.


Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, is going on his first short driving holiday, to the West Country. While he’s there he is going to visit Miss Kenton, an old housekeeper of Darlington Hall. He’s hoping she will come back to work with him. It is 1956 and he’s been the butler at Darlington Hall for 30 years.

While he travels he reminisces about the glory days of Darlington Hall, and when he considers he was at the peak of his profession. This was between the world wars when the Lord of the house was involved in international politics and therefore the house was often busy, and visited by important people.¬† It transpires that Lord Darlington’s efforts became an embarrassment in later years, due to his sympathetic attitude to Germany and his association with right wing extremists. Stevens is unwaveringly loyal to Lord Darlington and sees this as a measure of his professionalism.

So much of this novel is gained from what is not said. Stevens reminisces touch on his definition of dignity and how this has shaped his behaviour in life. He never allowed himself to be ‘off-duty’ unless he was alone. This affected his relationships, or rather lack of them, throughout his life.

The discoveries he makes about himself, as he reminisces on his driving holiday, are completely heartbreaking. I really enjoyed this novel and it’s very quiet style and would quietly recommend it.