Tag Archives: Books

Books Bought and Read – September 2017

Overall a slow month for reading. New term at school though, and littlest starting school, so it was always going to be a struggle to fit it in. Still bought a bazillion books though…

Books Bought

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride. Finally got a copy of this. It’s been hovering near the top of my ‘must be read’ list for a few years, and now I actually have a copy I will get around to it probably sooner! I finally bought it after hearing it be praised on the Bookshambles podcast – source of lots of my book purchases!

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The Sun is also a Star – Nicola Yoon. Kindle bargain and I’ve heard good things about it.

Oxfam books visit. Can’t leave without a handful of them! This was my birthday visit too. I got:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Steven Chbosky
  • The Earthsea Quartet – Ursula Le Guin
  • Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  • Einstein Dreams – Alan Lightman

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Now for a trio of physics books, because I needed to buy a prize for a poster competition I ran at work.

  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – Carlo Rovelli
  • Storm in a Teacup – Helen Czerski 
  • Forces of Nature – Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen. 

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Ended up giving Storm in a Teacup away because it’s the one I most want to read myself. Of course, I now need to buy it gain so I can read it…

The Secret Pilgrim – John Le Carre. kindle deal and bought due to my extremely long term plan to read all of his books. I know own 5 times more than I have ever read. It’s going great!

Books Read

Click for links to reviews.

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens – Eddie Izzard.

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead.

See I said it was a slow one!

Bedtime Stories

Tried to get my oldest child (age 7) to have something newer and more exciting to read at bedtime, but he insists on us read the Faraway Tree books again! He just loves them. Saucepan Man and all that.

The Enchanted Wood – Enid Blyton

Folk of The Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton

Also with the small one:

A German picture book that we have to look at all the pictures in. OMG.

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Book Review: Queen of Spades – Michael Shou-Yung Shum

I received a pre-release copy of Queen of Spades from Netgalley. It’s a reworking of Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades – a book I also didn’t know anything about. So after reading this I have got a copy of the Pushkin version to read so I can compare the two.

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Queen of Spades is a book with a slightly, magical-leaning look at gambling. It’s set in a pacific north west USA town (Twilight country in my mind), in a casino called The Royal. We focus on a dealer called Arturo Chang and his obsession with a mysterious Countess who comes to the Royal every night to watch the high stakes game Faro. She rarely gambles, though does occasionally, and no one can figure out her system.

I’m not a gambler, I don’t go to casinos and I don’t know the rules of these games. Queen of Spades doesn’t require any of this knowledge and it doesn’t get bogged down with the games. We learn early on that there is one legendary game of Faro played at the Royal, and we are building up to this game and its consequences.

You get to know a whole cast of characters who are all associated with The Royal and it’s a really enjoyable read. There’s a dealer with a gambling problem, his ex-wife who attends a support group for gamblers, his bookie and his bookie’s goons – who really just want to open a salon and gym! It’s nice to read something about such different characters to the ones I normally read about.

I enjoyed reading Queen of Spades and recommend it of you want an interesting look into a world of gamblers.

Books Bought and Read – August 2017

A slow month for buying and reading. I thought I’d be able to read loads in the Summer holiday, but of course that hasn’t really happened! Children needed entertaining. Pfft! 😉

Books Bought

Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman (127p kindle deal). I wanted a paper version of this, but the kindle deal was too great a bargain to miss.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal – Jeanette Winterson. In October I’m going to see Jeanette Winterson interviewing Rebecca Solnit as part of the Manchester Literature Festival. I haven’t read anything by Jeanette Winterson and saw a recommendation for this.

Antigone – Sophocles (Penguin Little Black Classic). I am going to read a book soon (Home Fires – Kamila Shamsie) that I read is based on Antigone. I don’t know this story so thought I’d better start here!

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Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood. This is a book club choice for October. Huge so need to make sure I start early.

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Watch out! 3 paperbooks for £10 deal:

The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas. My good friend Clancy, book recommender extrodinairre, told me to read this. I’d already heard great things about it, so I am!

The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey. I tried to watch the film, but it was TOO SCARY. So Clancy appears to tell me the book is great! So I’d rather tackle the book again than the film – which looked great, if you are less of a wimp than me (not difficult) you should watch it!

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (Song of Ice & Fire Prequel) – George R.R. Martin. I read and loved the Whole Song of Fire and Ice books. Funnily enogh it was Clancy who recommended these to me too!!!!

and I also bought:

Staring At The Sun: Being at peace with your own mortality: Overcoming the Dread of Death – Irvin Yalom. I’ve had an awful time this month. I remembered I heard them talking about this on A Good Read and thought it might be a good time to read it myself.

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Finally, I preordered a book that looks AMAZING, out in October:

Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide To Leaving The Planet – Dallas Campbell

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Books Read

Click for a link to the review, if it exists!

Lincoln In The Bardo – George Saunders

The Beautiful Bureaucrat – Helen Philips

Hope In The Dark – Rebecca Solnit

How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne

The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas

 

Bedtime Stories

Boy – Roald Dahl. Wow, I’ve never read this before.I wasn’t sure how my son would like it as it’s a collection of stories from Roald Dahl’s childhood. He seems to like it though. Probably helped by our visit to the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden early on in the month. I  cried my eyes out during the one where he talks about the last phone call he had with his mother, where she knew she was going to die, but he didn’t.

Rosie Revere Engineer – Andrea Beaty. The same night I read the chapter of Boy that made me sob. My daughter chose this book and I can’t get through this one without welling up! I love love love this book.

Bedtime Stories for Girls – Like the evil twin of the nice books I buy. Daughter obviously loves it.

The Scarecrow’s Hat – Ken Brown. 

5 minute Christmas Stories. We’ve read these for a whole week now every night. How seasonal?!

 

Summer Book Challenge wrap up! #20booksofsummer

How did I do?

I struggled to get through my books in August, but almost managed it – getting up to nineteen books altogether. I was totally on track, but I had a close family bereavement at the end of July and this has been very difficult to deal with. So I’m really very happy with how I got on overall. I thought about squeezing in a really short book on the last day, but I just didn’t have the energy. I’m also a few books behind with my reviews, but I’m sure I’ll get back on track soon.

Throughout this challenge I’ve definitely had it reinforced to me that I can not plan what I will read very far in advance! There is just no point. I need to read what I feel like reading at the time.

Here’s my list of twenty books I originally planned to read, with the books I actually read in red. Any that were in addition to the original list of 20 are added beyond book twenty. So I ended up reading twelve that weren’t on my original list, and only seven I planned to back in May.

  1. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry (review)
  2. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng (review)
  3. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor (review)
  4. the Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  5. Hope in the Dark – Rebecca Solnit
  6. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit (review)
  7. Nobody Told Me – Holly McNish
  8. Dear Fatty – Dawn French
  9. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  10. The Power – Naomi Alderman (review)
  11. The Lottery (and other stories) – Shirley Jackson
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  14. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
  15. A Quiet Storm – Rachel Howzell Hall
  16. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran
  17. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  18. The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave (review)
  19. Wonder – RJ Palacio
  20. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  21. Queen of Spades – Michael Shou-Yung Shum
  22. Living the Dream – Lauren Berry (review)
  23. Inferior – Angela Saini (review)
  24. Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris (review)
  25. The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen (review)
  26. Nasty Women – 404Ink (review)
  27. All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg (review)
  28. Anger Is An Energy – John Lydon (review)
  29. The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas (review)
  30. How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne (review)
  31. Lincoln In The Bardo – George Saunders (review)
  32. The Beautiful Bureaucrat – Helen Philips

I’ve really enjoyed this challenge. It’s motivated me to get through a few more books than I otherwise might have. I’m sure I’ll do something similar next year!

20 Books of Summer – 2 months in update #20booksofsummer

I’m now up to fourteen books read – eight read in July. Helped by being on holiday for the last few weeks while my kids were still at school! As you can see, the idea that I can plan my reading in advance is a total nonsense. I have only read six from the original list of twenty books I made, and three of those were book club reads that I *had* to read.

Six have been netgalley reads after I went a bit crazy requesting books and then realised they were going to have to dominate my reading to get through them! I’m nearly through them and have now done the exact same thing with requesting Man Booker Prize longlist titles…

Two have been audio books. This has been great on my commute to work (40 mins each way). Not so much since I’ve been on my summer holidays.

And one was over 500 pages!

I have one month left on this challenge and I think I should be ok to get though 6 more books and reach my target!

  1. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry (review)
  2. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng (review)
  3. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor (review)
  4. the Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  5. Hope in the Dark – Rebecca Solnit
  6. Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit (review)
  7. Nobody Told Me – Holly McNish
  8. Dear Fatty – Dawn French
  9. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  10. The Power – Naomi Alderman (review)
  11. The Lottery (and other stories) – Shirley Jackson
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
  14. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
  15. A Quiet Storm – Rachel Howzell Hall
  16. How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran
  17. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  18. The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave (review)
  19. Wonder – RJ Palacio
  20. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  21. Queen of Spades – Michael Shou-Yung Shum
  22. Living the Dream – Lauren Berry (review)
  23. Inferior – Angela Saini (review)
  24. Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris (review)
  25. The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen (review)
  26. Nasty Women – 404Ink (review)
  27. All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg (review)
  28. Anger Is An Energy – John Lydon (review)

Books Bought and Read – July 2017

Bought

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I love this book. The stories of loads of amazing women written like fairy stories with amazing illustrations. I just want books like this lying around my house for my children to pick up and look through!

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small girl looking at the fabulous illustrations

Bit of a kindle 99p sale spree:

  • The Circle – Dave Eggers
  • Alice – Christina Henry
  • Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  • I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • Anger is an energy – John Lydon

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi. I’ve been after this for ages and it popped up on a lightning deal for under £5.

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The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas. The next book for a book club I’m in. I don’t know anything about it.

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Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty. 99p kindle deal. I LOVED the TV series of this

I’ve decided I should always have an audiobook on the go, so have been getting the audible daily deal. I won’t get many listened to until I’m back at work at the end of August though. I’ve now got:

  • Engleby – Sebastian Faulks 
  • Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
  • Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy (99p kindle deal). I’ve seen too many giant book shop displays of this to pass it by.

After the Man Booker Prize longlist announcement I had to buy a couple of them to read so I picked up:

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack. It’s one sentence. I’m intrigued!

Swing Time – Zadie Smith. I have on goodreads that I’ve read White Teeth, but reading the plot summary I’m not sure I ever actually did read it! So this might be my first Zadie Smith.

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More kindle 99p deals:

  • The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
  • Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Read

Click to link through to the review:

Anger Is An Energy – John Lydon

A Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg

Nasty Women – 404Ink

The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen

Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris

Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Bedtime Stories with my Children

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie – Book 1. Utter trash that my son adores.

Danny the Champion of the World – Roald Dahl. I didn’t think I’d ever read this one before but the story seems familiar, so I must have read it once as a child.

Matilda – Roald Dahl. Again!

The Witches – Roald Dahl. Genuinely terrifying!

Picasso and the girl with the ponytail – Laurence Anholt. I know… it’s great though!

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Cinderella. *yawn*

Aliens Love Underpants – Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. -The noisy book version. At least it’s over quickly…

Book Review: Anger is an Energy – John Lydon

I like John Lydon. He is straight to the point and I agree with a lot of his core attitudes and beliefs. That’s not to say I agree with everything he says, and boy, does he have a lot to say. At almost 520 pages this is no quick read. Still, I loved every minute of it. You are fully getting his no holds barred opinions here. Or if he is holding back, you certainly can’t tell!

If you stand up for whatever it is you really believe in, if you really stand up, and be accounted for, people will rate you highly.

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Anger is an Energy on the kindle with some other punk books!

His account of the Sex Pistols days is fascinating and quite sad. He felt alone and disregarded and/or ignored by the rest of the band most of the time. It comes across that the other three (Glen Matlock, Steve Jones and Paul Cook) never really accepted him fully into the band, as they already formed the band before John came along. I have no doubt that John, as he freely admits, isn’t the easiest person to get along with! and he just rubbed them up the wrong way (a theme throughout the book). I would definitely like to read some other accounts of that time period to get some other perspectives on what happened. As you can see from the picture above, I have Steve Jones’ book ready to go.

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L-R Glen Matlock, John Lydon, Steve Jones, and Paul Cook.

 

It is fascinating though. That band were truly at the heart of an amazing moment in history. It probably helps that I’m a fan of punk rock. I love his scorn of the majority of punk bands. I share a lot of the same views. So many identikit bands trying to out macho each other. Repulsive. The bands he praises are all stand out bands like the Buzzcocks. He hates that punk quickly became very narrow in its definition: there’s a certain uniform, a haircut, a way of treating people, a sound – and woe betide anyone who doesn’t conform. John refuses to be narrowly defined – especially musically, but actually in every aspect of his life, and so he gets constant abuse in his life beyond the Sex Pistols. A constant minority who seek him out and are angry because he ‘sold out’. In other words, he dared to move on and try new things that musically interest him.

Being open-minded to all kinds of music was Lesson One in punk, but that didn’t seem to be understood by many of the alleged punk bands that followed on after, who seemed to be waving this idea of a punk manifesto. I’m sorry, but I never did this for the narrow-minded. I was horrified by the cliche that punk was turning into.

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The Sex Pistols after Sid Vicious had replace Glen Matlock. L-R Steve Jones, Sid Vicious, John Lydon, Paul Cook. 

Earlier in the book we get some of his home life growing up. He’s from a very working class London background. His descriptions of himself at school were great and really clear – I know EXACTLY what sort of student he would have been in my classroom – one of those cheeky, annoying but lovable ones! Frustrated with their lack of effort because you can’t follow their particular interest all the time. Full of questions that are related, but are a distraction to what you actually need to teach that day. Oh, sorry, just having high school teaching flash backs there!

His move from a school to basically a technical college for naughty kids chucked out of school is interesting and there he meets Sid. I love this quote about his time at the technical college. The idea that he still wore his school uniform is absurd, and says so much about his personality!

It was basically just school by any stretch, so I wore my William of York uniform still, because I didn’t want to wear anything that I liked. But it was a bit of a fashion parade. Sidney certainly used it as a catwalk.

After Glen Matlock leaves the Sex Pistols, Sid is brought in and the break up of the band seems almost inevitable at this point. It’s such a dysfunctional relationship they all have.

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Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten (aka John Ritchie and John Lydon)

After the Sex Pistols you get a lot of details about line up and management changes for Public Image Limited (PiL). I’m not familiar with the musicians from this band, and didn’t know any of the many people discussed. It’s still interesting, but in more of a vague way of seeing how all over the place the band and John’s life was. This continues up until the later 90s where you get a Sex Pistols reunion tour. Then in the 2000s there is I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here – which I remember watching because Lydon was on it. Followed by a few nature programs he makes. And of course the infamous butter commercials!

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John Lydon by Paul Heartfield from http://www.clashmusic.com/features/in-conversation-john-lydon

At this stage you discover that Lydon, and his wife Nora, begin to parent Nora’s grandchildren. It’s a sweet part of the book where he explains how they had to change their lives to give everything they could to these wild teenagers that they were suddenly responsible for. All the parts of the book where he describes his love for Nora are quite beautiful. They fell in love when they met during the Sex Pistols time, in 1975, and they are still together today.

Overall, this is a great book. It possibly helps if you have some interest in Lydon to begin with, but I imagine you must if you are considering reading 520 pages about him! It’s glorious that there is a note from the publisher at the beginning basically begging you to not sent in grammatical errors from the text – Lydon has his own way of using English and the ‘mistakes’ are just how he is talking!

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‘Don’t let tiffles cause fraction’

Lydon is upfront, unapologetic, harsh, and uncompromising. But he’s also a family man, loyal, a supporter of education, and interested in everything the world has to offer. There’s a place for him at the table of my imaginary perfect dinner party anyway.