Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The Writer Tag

I wanted to dedicate a post to writing this week since I mentioned in a post a few weeks back that I’m doing my own thing for #NaNoWriMo this year. I rediscovered Bee’s ‘The Writer Tag’ whilst I was browsing the Vivatramp archives and I thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss my writing process for those who are interested. Snaps to Bee for creating this tag!


1. What do you write? What genre? Any recurring themes?

I’m currently in the middle of writing a historical fiction novel set in 17th Century France which I’ve been working on for around two years. I’ve always been a history buff and I love reading historical fiction so this has always been a genre that’s drawn to me. The story focuses on love, intrigue, relationships, and the politics of life in Paris during the 1660’s.

I’ve also recently started dabbling in writing bits of poetry and flash fiction, which are nice pallet cleansers when I need a break from novel writing. My shorter pieces don’t always follow particular genre but I like to focus on the dark and macabre.

2. What or who inspires you to write?

I can’t say what exactly inspired me to start writing a book about the intrigues of Louis XIV’s court, but the idea sprang from somewhere and I sort of ran with it. I visited Paris with my sister a few years ago (before I started writing it, although the idea had already blossomed) and our day trip to Versailles really got my creative brain ticking. I wanted to bring my story in to the walls of that magnificent palace, to tell a story about real people who walked those halls. I love to draw inspiration from real places and real people.

Authors also inspire me. V. E. Schwab is a new favourite of mine and I’m in awe of her world building and ability to create memorable characters.

3. Where do you write, when, and with what?

I do a lot of my writing at home, either in my little nook on the sofa, or on my bed. I have notebooks where I scrawl ideas down but a lot of the time, I write on my laptop so I can edit easily and move things around if I feel they belong elsewhere.

4. Sound or silence when writing?

Sound, always. I find silence very distracting when I’m writing so I like to have something unobtrusive playing to help me focus. I like to listen to classical music, film soundtracks, or soft house music.

5. Have you studied writing? If so, what was that like? If not, where do you feel you learnt your craft?

I have an MA in English Literature but I never studied writing during my course. I was more interested in studying the writing of others than creating my own at university. I was always of the mind that I couldn’t write and it took me a long time to get my story down on paper because I thought, what if it’s no good? Even now, there are times where I think my writing completely sucks. I just push through, read as much as I can, and experiment with ideas. I don’t believe you need to be have studying writing to be a writer – you just have to do it.



(photo credit)

6. What do your family/friends think?

Here’s something about me: I’m actually a super private person so there’s hardly anyone in my personal life who has read my writing. They know of it, but I’m only just now starting to share it with my friends. I overthink a lot – a by-product of my anxiety - but becoming part of Bee’s Patreon has helped give me confidence in sharing my creative work. If you're looking for a creative community to be a part of, I definitely recommend Bee's Patreon. It's a lovely little coven full of lovely people. 

7. What do you find challenging?

Writer’s block is a real struggle and I find it difficult to work my way through it sometimes. I have the skeleton of the story in my head and filling in the gaps so I can get from A to B can be like pulling teeth.

8. What’s your favourite thing about writing?

I love reading over something after being away from it for a bit and realising that I actually like what I’ve written. It gives me a real boost and reinvigorates my confidence.

9. Any tips for writer’s block?

Take time away from your project. Trying to work through it can sometimes be counter-productive and I find my brain works through it better if I take a break. Also, read. Read as much as you can. I find reading something different to the genre I’m writing can help me think outside of the box.

10. What are your life long writing goals?

I would love to have a novel published someday. Maybe even the one I’m working on now – if I ever finish it…

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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Recent Favourites (in doodles)



September through October were a bust couple of months for me, from work, to general life stuff, to trying to manage the anxious wreck that is my brain. The last few weeks haven’t been great where my mental health is concerned, so I thought it would be a good idea to focus on some of the things I have enjoyed lately. I’ve never done a favourites’ post before and I thought, hey, why not express my recent loves through drawing? I invested in a new set of coloured pens a while back and I figured this would be the perfect time to out them to good use. That way I get to focus on all the things that have been bringing me joy and do some creative therapy at the same time.

For this edition (I might make this a regular thing, who knows?!) my favourites are largely autumn focused. I’ve been all about cosy nights in with pizza and films, snuggled up on the sofa watching Hocus Pocus. This is actually how I spent my birthday evening and it was one of the nicest nights I had in ages. I won’t lie when I say I’ve loved digging my jumpers out of storage and investing in some new, good quality knits. I’ve also got my paws on some new winter boots so I’m all prepped for the coming months – just waiting for it to be cold enough for me to wear my faux fur coat.



BOOKS. There have been some great books on my list lately but a stand out for me was The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It was the perfect read for October and it was exactly what I needed – a dilapidated house, a family from a dying class, and creepy goings on. I’m all about creepy/chilling stories in the cooler months.

T.V. AND FILM. Aside from the Great British Bake Off (Kim-Joy is a winner in my heart), I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix lately. Last week I watched all of the Twilight films because I fancied something easy and cheesy to get lost in (don’t judge me, lol). On another end of the spectrum, the earlier seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race have been re-added to Netflix and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been relying on YouTube to get my regular dose of Season Six clips and at last I can finally watch full episodes again. My soul feels cleaned.

MUSIC. I’ve also been in mood lately to listen to the same songs over and over again obsessively, which is more or less how I listen to music most of time, but my latest obsession is St. Vincent. More specifically, her song Los Ageless and its music video. The video gives me series Wes Anderson vibes and the song, I just can’t get enough of it. I heard it on the opening episode of the new series of BoJack Horseman and the soundtrack for that show is gold. If you haven’t watched it already, please do. Just get ready to feel.

I do find drawing/doodling very therapeutic and I would like to do it some more. I’m looking for ways to help manage my mental health and I think this exercise/post is definitely a healthy and helpful way to look at all the things I’ve enjoyed lately, and I feel good for doing something creative. Double whammy.

What have been some of your favourites lately? Any stand out books or films that you highly recommend?

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018?




November is upon us, guys. The nights are drawing in and there’s definitely a winter chill lingering in the air. My sister asked me earlier today what I wanted for Christmas and I’ve not mentally prepared myself to even think about Christmas just yet. One month at a time, please. Where November may mean pre-Christmas hype for some, for the writers among you it might mean just one thing: NaNoWriMo.

I’ve taken part in the online creative writing project that is National Novel Writing Month for the past two years and I can really see the merits of signing up to the challenge. Writing 50,000 words of a novel may seem impossible, and trust me some days it’s not without difficulty, but it is doable if you set your mind to it. It’s helped me write the vast majority of the book I’ve been working on for the past couple of years and if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo I’m so sure if I would have had the confidence to write what I have.

Like many of us out there, I’ve dreamed of writing a book it being published one day but in the back of my mind I always felt silly for trying. Whenever I put words on the page I’d cringe at my own writing and question everything about my idea – is it good enough? Does the story make sense? Due to this constant over thinking I could never make it beyond the first couple of chapters because I was obsessed with trying to perfect everything. My inner editor was stopping me from moving forward. So in the autumn of 2016 I decided to challenge myself and signed up to NaNoWriMo to help me get my story off the ground and actually get words down rather than editing what I had already written.

And – it worked. That year I managed to hit my goal and wrote 50,000 words in a single month. It took a lot of hard work and my entire November was spent doing little else other than writing, but it stopped me from overthinking everything about my idea and to just write. It was surprising how the story flowed once I actually started typing and it was encouraging to know that whilst I what I was writing wasn’t perfect, it was progress. First drafts aren’t meant to be good. NaNoWriMo encouraged me to keep writing instead of trying to perfect it.



Two years down the line and I’m still working on the same novel. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written anything new and in those empty months of not putting words down on paper I’ve fallen out of a routine. NaNoWriMo sounds like the perfect time to start up again, right? So, this November I’m going to get back to my story again, only this time I’m going to use NaNoWriMo as a bit of gentle motivation as opposed to a challenge. I’m not aiming to write 50,000 words, I simply want to start working on my book again whether that means I write 1,000 words or 10,000. As long as I write something I’ll be happy.

The reason I’m not completely committing myself to NaNoWriMo this year is because I know I won’t have the time to throw myself in to the project as I did previous years. My job starts to get super busy around the build up to Christmas and last year I really struggled to keep up with the word count, so I don’t want to stress myself out. Mental health always comes first. I want it to be a fun experience so I’m doing a mini version of my own that I know I can reasonably achieve. As long as you’re writing, well, that’s what National Novel Writing Month is all about isn’t it?

If you’re looking to finally getting that idea down that’s been swimming around in your brain, I think NaNoWriMo is a great kick-starter. It shows you the amount you can achieve in a single month if you knuckle down and just write – don’t question yourself, don’t edit - and by the end you’ll feel amazing. Whether you’ve written 50,000 words or 5,000 words, it’s more than what you started off with and I think any achievement, however small, is worth being proud of.
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Thursday, 11 October 2018

September Wrap Up


Hello and happy October! Now that September is over I really feel as though autumn has well and truly arrived: the leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in, and yesterday I wore my big winter coat for the first time. I love autumn although I think my body is suffering from a bout of post-summer blues as I’ve been fighting a chest infection for the better part of two weeks. This has put me a week behind my blogging schedule, but hey, sometimes we humans don’t feel 100% and that’s okay.

With that, I thought for this week’s post I would talk about the books I read throughout September. I had a pretty good reading month and managed four books in total (one of them I’ve had on hold for nearly a year!). Anyway, here we go.


First up:

BURIAL RITES BY HANNAH KENT
2014  355 pages   Picador

I found this little gem in a charity shop a few weeks ago and just had to pick it up. I first heard about Hannah Kent on Booktube and her debut sounded like an interesting, if somewhat sad, story about the real-life events of a woman called Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Set in early nineteenth century Iceland, Burial Rites follows Agnes after she has been tried and sentenced to death for murdering her lover and her relationship with the family she has been sent to live with while she awaits her execution. From the offset I knew this was going to be a sad tale, but the tragic nature of the story and Kent’s beautiful prose had me hooked. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s a literary mystery thriller with elements of gothic woven in against a vivid Icelandic backdrop. A slow read but it still encapsulated everything I love about historical fiction.

Overall rating: 4 stars

THE SILKWORM BY ROBERT GALBRAITH
2015  580 pages   Sphere

With the latest instalment of the series having just been released, my interest to continue with the Strike books sparked after not being invested in the story for nearly a year. I read The Cuckoo’s Calling and loved it and quickly watched the BBC adaption afterwards. For The Silkworm however, I watched the show and then tried to read the book and couldn’t connect with it because I knew how the plot panned out. Nearly a year later, I decided to try again and I had much better luck.

I didn’t enjoy The Silkworm as much as its predecessor but it was still enjoyable. It tells the gruesome murder of a disgraced writer found killed in the same way as the protagonist of his final manuscript. I did get some of the characters a bit muddled and couldn’t engage with the mystery all that well, but I love Strike and Robin’s relationship and I'm eager to see how things move on for them in the next book. The two lead characters carry these books for me and I found I was reading the story more for them as opposed to the actual mystery.

Overall rating: 3 stars

THE GROWN UP BY GILLIAN FLYNN
2014  67 pages  Weidenfield and Nicholson

I’ve now read all of Gillian Flynn’s published work I think The Grown Up emulates Fylnn’s classic style: a flawed narrator, a psychological twist, and a peculiar family at the centre. For a short story I think it does a lot - it’s creepy and definitely thriller-eque and I love how Gillian Flynn’s writing manages to keep me on my toes. In the middle part of the story it seems like the plot is going to go down a paranormal route, which I was actually quite excited for, and then Flynn twists it to fit her more well-known psychological style. I felt the last third of the story was the weakest and I didn’t feel completely satisfied once I turned the final page. It was an enjoyable story but the ambiguous ending let it down for me.

Overall rating: 3 stars

THE VATICAN PRINCESS BY C. W. GORTNER
2016  400 pages   Hodder and Stroughton

I love the Borgias. I find them so fascinating and they’ve certainly had their fair share of attention in popular culture over the past 10 years thanks to two TV shows and countless books being written on them. The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn is what first piqued my interest in this notorious Renaissance family and so when I found a copy of The Vatican Princess for just £2, I had to pick it up. The story follows Lucrezia Borgia, daughter to Pope Alexander VI whom history has painted as an infamous femme fatale. Gortner however shine a new and more plausible light on Lucrezia and we follow her from the tender age of 12 to 19 when her family was at the height of their power and Lucrezia was a pawn in their game. 

It’s fast paced. The book isn’t quite 400 pages and we cover seven years full of intrigue and drama. At times it felt as thought things were moving a bit too quickly – you could jump half a year in just a couple of pages but I liked Gortner’s portrayal of Lucrezia and how she grew throughout the story. She felt realistic and I loved her character development, as well as the development of the other central characters. It was a fresh insight in to a woman history has branded as notorious.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

There we are! My September wrap-up. Which books did you read in September? Any new favourites?

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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Authors to Check Out This Autumn

In light of my post on Autumn Reading Prep, I’ve being giving a lot of thought to which books I want to read over the coming months. I’m not one for set TBR’s as I’m most definitely much more of a mood reader, but lately I’ve found myself gravitating towards certain books. Historical fiction, crime thrillers – anything spooky and suspenseful. With that in mind (and instead of having an autumn TBR) I thought I’d discuss some authors I want to read over the next few months.


First up:

SHIRLEY JACKSON

For cosy autumnal reading, Shirley Jackson may come as no surprise to those of you familiar with her work. Her stories scream gothic horror and mystery and if that doesn’t make for an ideal read by the fire on a chilly September evening I don’t know what does. I’m going off how I’ve heard others describe her work because I’ve never read any of Jackson’s novels. Whoops. I feel like I should have gotten around to her by now, but with an ever growing TBR and an endless list of books vying for my attention, she’s slipped under my radar. However, over the past weeks she’s been brought to my attention and I’d love to finally get around to reading some of her work. I think The Haunting of Hill House will be the first novel I pick up, but first I'll try The Missing Girl to sample a bit of her writing style. 

SARAH WATERS

Last year I wrote a post titled Authors I Want to Read More Of, and Sarah Waters was one of them. Shamefully, I haven’t managed it yet but this autumn I plan to get stuck in to one of her big chunky novels and give her writing another shot. I read her novel Affinity whilst I was at university and I didn’t think much of it, but Sarah Waters writes the kind of books I should love and I’m determined not to write her off because of one mediocre experience six years ago. I have a copy of Fingersmith and The Little Stranger is high on my list (I confess, watching the trailer for the film got me all giddy) so I will be getting my hands on a copy ASAP.


DAPHNE DU MAURIER

To me, Daphne du Maurier is the QUEEN of autumnal reading. Gorgeous prose, historical settings, a sinister undertone – her books are exactly the kind of reads I want to snuggle up with and autumn is all about being cosy, am I right? I’ve a few of her books already on my physical TBR but my heart is drawing me back to Jamaica Inn so I might have to give that a re-read. Nothing like re-familiarising yourself with an old favourite. In regards the books I haven’t read by Daphne yet; The King’s General is high on my list.

DONNA TARTT

I feel like kicking myself over the fact that I haven’t read ANY Donna Tartt when she’s been on my radar for the longest time. The Secret History was on my summer TBR for this year and I didn’t manage to pick it up but I’m determined to read it before the year is out. I think because it’s been on my mind I’ve been seeing it everywhere (and by everywhere, I mean all over Bookstagram) and my curious little heart wants to see what all the fuss is about. Donna Tartt, your time has come.

Which authors are on your autumn reading list? Do you see any of your favourites here?

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Friday, 14 September 2018

Review: The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner



THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD BY RENA ROSSNER
2018  464 pages  Orbit Books

Raised in a small village surrounded by woodland, sisters Liba and Laya have lived a sheltered life -although there are whispers of troubling times ahead for Jews in surrounding communities. When their grandfather takes ill, their parents must leave the sisters behind while they travel to his sickbed, but life for Liba and Laya is about to drastically change. Before their parents leave, Liba discovers that the fairy tales she heard as a child are in fact true as she learns that their Tati can turn in to a bear and their Mami in to a swan. Liba must carry this secret in order to help protect her sister, but the arrival of a mysterious group of men in the village carries more danger as Laya is dragged under their spell. Both sisters must stick together if they are to survive what is happening around them as they soon realise that not all dangers lie in the woods…

I’m finding it hard to pinpoint what kind of book The Sisters of the Winter Wood is. It’s a blend of Jewish folklore, fairy tales, a splash of poetry, magical realism, all wrapped up in a series of historically inspired events. It’s jam packed with so many different ideas inspired by literature and history alike that I’m impressed by how Rena Rossner managed to pull it off, but she did.  If I was to use one word to describe this book, it would be rich – there’s so much within its pages it feels as though they’re fit to burst. It’s detailed, magical, and atmospheric.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely sure at first. Magical realism is always something that takes me a minute to get my head around because you’re in a story that feels real and was inspired by real events, then suddenly you’ve got characters who can shapeshift. But I soon got used to the appearance of swans and bears and found I was actually enjoying the story. The characters and the sheltered community they live in felt well-constructed and the elements of magic and folklore were woven thoughtfully in to the narrative. The sisters learn that they too have inherited the ability to shape-shift but in the absence of their parents both Liba and Laya have to learn how to control their capabilities on their own, something which - as you can imagine - proves to be a bit of challenge.

Rossner’s narrative style was an interesting choice – both Liba and Laya have their own short chapters, but where Liba’s is written in prose, Laya’s is stylised in verse. I think this may have been an artistic decision to show the differences between the sisters. Liba is the older, more pious of the two where Laya is the young dreamer, the more romantic. The narrative also features both Yiddish and Hebrew phrases and I was thankful to find a glossary in the back pages so I could understand their meaning, but their presence in the text does help echo the Jewish sensibilities running throughout.

The fairy tale elements and the violent history which courses through this book’s pages does mean there dark moments. There’s talk of poison, blood sucking, and murder surrounding the village and Laya becomes enchanted by the group of boys believed to be responsible. Laya’s chapters in particular are centred around forbidden fruit and an unquenchable desire which gave me serious ‘Goblin Market’ vibes. There is romance to counterbalance the dark parts and it’s the powerful and occasionally overbearing kind that you find in some YA novels. Seeing as this is an adult story the romance did feel a bit heavy for me at times, but it worked for the sisters’ characters arcs well.  

This book may be full to the brim with ideas and themes but the heart of the story centres around the bond of two sisters who would do anything for one another. Their relationship really shines through and it was a delight to be drawn in to such a magical atmosphere. It’s out in the UK on 25th September so keep your eyes peeled for then if you want to get your hands on a copy!

Overall rating: 4 stars

If you'd like to check out more of my reviews you can find them here.

My arc copy of The Sisters of the Winter Wood was sent me by The Bookbag and my review originally appeared on their website.
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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Autumn Reading Prep


Summer is steadily melting in to autumn and everything seems to be in a transitional stage at the moment. From putting away our summer dresses and digging out our beloved jumpers, to swapping iced coffees for the warming comfort of pumpkin spiced lattes. September is that month in the year where everything feeling as though it’s starting afresh - it’s like having a spring clean in the latter half of the year. With that thought in mind I thought I would write a post about prepping for autumn. More specifically, preparing our autumnal reading.

These are some of things I’ve started doing to help me get ready for those cosy September/October days:


Bookshelf TLC

With the cooler weather here after a long, hot summer, I felt my bookshelves were in dire need of a damn good clean. The summer months had caused dust to settle more easily and my shelves needed more than just a quick going over with a cloth and Mr Sheen. It took me a full afternoon but I removed all of my books, dusted them down, wiped the shelves, and reorganised them before putting them back. It was a tiring job – books are heavy – but it was worth it because now my shelves are lovely and clean, ready to see me through another season.

Un-hauling books

I’m no stranger to un-hauling books. In fact, I find it quite liberating. There’s something strangely pleasing about taking those tomes of your shelves that are no longer as well loved as they should be and sending them off to a better home. Plus, it leaves room to buy other books that you’re more excited about. I have a pile in my room that I’m going to donate to my local charity shop. I might do a little un-haul post about the books I’ve decided to no longer keep before they go off to a new home.


Pick out some autumnal reads

A subjective one because autumnal reads can be different for everyone. It might mean you want to pick up the next instalment to that fantasy series you’ve been meaning to carry on with, or a maybe a crime thriller to keep you on your toes. My perfect idea of autumnal reading involves Daphne du Maurier (shocker), historical fiction – particularly if it’s set in a cold climate, and the occasional thriller. I’ve currently got Burial Rites by Hannah Kent on the go and there a few unread du Maurier’s on my shelf, but Jamaica Inn is calling to me to be reread. Early nineteenth-century in Cornwall? Yes please.

Figure out my reading goals for the rest of the year

Now that we’re well in to the latter half of the year, I've been thinking about my reading goals for the next few months. How are my goals for 2018 looking? How's my GoodReads challenge going? Which books do I absolutely want to get to before the year is up? Lots to think about. In regards to the latter, I'm going to try and get around to picking up a Sarah Waters novel because autumn sounds like the perfect time of year to delve in to one of her books. I must get my hands on a copy of The Little Stranger *makes mental note*.

Organise my virtual shelves

If you’re an avid user of GoodReads (like me) you’ll love organising your reading. Over the last few days I’ve really been getting on top of documenting my books and making sure my virtual shelves match up with what I’ve got on my physical TBR. I also use a spreadsheet designed by Sophie from Portal in the Pages, but it’s been neglected these last few months and it’s in desperate need of being updated. My organised little brain loves to document everything.
                                                            

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And there we have it, my autumn reading prep. I’ve plenty of reading material to keep me busy over the next few months and I’m excited to get in to those novels that I’ve been saving for now. What are your autumn reading plans? Do you have an autumn TBR planned?

If you’d like to read more of my book related posts, you can check them out here.

Happy reading, booklovers!
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Monday, 3 September 2018

Holiday Diary: What I Read This Summer




Why, hello! It's been a busy old summer of travelling for me this year. I first took a holiday to Spain with my family and then I was off camping around France for three weeks with two of my best friends. It's been hectic and I've loved every minute of it. Spain was the relaxing trip I needed whereas France offered me the adventure I didn't even know I was craving! It was the trip of a lifetime and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Anyway, let's move on to the real reason I'm here today... to discuss all of the books I read on my travels! I managed a fair few so let's get straight in.

 

Vicious by V. E. Schwab
2013 • 366 pages • Tor Books

This was one of only two books that I actually read from my Summer Holiday Reading List post. That TBR may have been a bit of a fail but this book was a complete gem. Schwab is fast becoming one of my new favourite writers and I’ve devoured four of her books in the last year. It was actually her Shades of Magic series that got me out of a dreaded reading slump at the beginning of 2018 so her books have done me a world of good. Vicious is different to Shades of Magic in that it’s a contemporary about super-villains as opposed to a heavily detailed fantasy, but I loved it no less and savoured every minute of it. I’m steadily awaiting the sequel which comes out this month and I’ve even got it on pre-order. Excited, much?

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

A Song of War by Various
2016 • 444 pages • Knight Media

I’m a bit late getting around to reading the third novel by The H Team but I finally decided to pick it up this summer. I had similar feelings for this one as I did for A Day of Fire – I liked it but it didn’t blow me away. I still think the authors themselves did a great job at working with one another and weaving together an epic retelling of The Illiad, but something was missing that stopped me from falling in love with the story. I enjoyed the time I spent with this one, but it’s not my favourite.

Overall rating: 3 stars

2017 • 366 pages • Tor Books

Honeyman’s debut really surprised me. I’m always a bit cautious about reading books that have a lot of hype surrounding them but, in this case, I needn’t have worried. I was swept up in Eleanor’s story and although I found her to be a slightly annoying protagonist at first, she grew on me as the book went on. By the end, I was in love with the story. The best part is I didn’t see it coming, which I think is why I enjoyed it so much.

Overall rating: 4 stars


The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
2011 • 328 pages • Granta Books

I’d first heard of The Sisters Brothers a few years ago when it was nominated for the Manbooker, but I didn’t have any interest in reading it at the time. Then out of the blue, I stumble across the trailer on YouTube for the film coming out later this year. Naturally my interest is piqued and I order myself a copy right away. Amid this new-found excitement I was keen to get started on it straight away, but unfortunately the whole experience ended up being a bit underwhelming. The plot didn’t grab me, I felt the characters didn’t have a lot of depth – overall it wasn’t for me. Trial and error, guys. Trial and error.

Overall rating: 2 stars

Beatrice and Benedick by Marina Fiorato
2014 • 416 pages • Hodder Paperbacks

This is my third Marina Fiorato novel and she’s become my go-to for when I’m in the mood for some light historical fiction. Any of you out there familiar with Shakespeare might be able to guess that this one is centred around two of the main characters from Much Ado About Nothing, my personal favourite of Shakespeare’s works. Beatrice and Benedick was so much fun and I was worried at first because on paper it sounds like it shouldn’t work, but Fiorato builds a backstory that felt real and fits with the structure of the original play. I’ve got two more of her books waiting to be read on my shelves so I’ll be sure to get around to those.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
2008 • 592 pages • Penguin

It turns out whilst I was on my travels around France, I discovered that I didn’t bring enough books with me. Terrible, I l know. Luckily, I was travelling with two of my besties who also love books, so my friend Victoria let me borrow one from her own portable library. Company of Liars came highly recommended and I had never read any of Karen Maitland’s novels before, but gritty historical fiction about a band of misfits during the Black Plague sounded right up my street. I trusted my gut on this one and it payed off because I loved this story. I fell in love with the characters and throughout you can sense something untoward is going on but I never saw it coming. And the ending – that twist, guys. Well worth the read.

Overall rating: 4 stars


So, there we have it. The books I read on my holidays this summer. Not a bad wrap up, I don’t think. Vicious was a standout read for me this summer but Eleanor Oliphant and Company of Liars are the two that really took me by surprise.

Which books have you read and loved this summer?


If you’d like to check out more of my reviews and wrap-ups you can find them here.

Until next time – happy reading, booklovers!


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