Saturday, 31 May 2014

what I've read this month (May)

I've been a bit of a reading slump this month and haven're felt very inspired by most of the books on this list.

Luckily after reading a fair few kindle sample, I found a couple of new books that have sparked my interest and that I'm looking forward to reading the full versions of.

May's book list:

1. Irvine Welsh, Filth
2. James W. Nichol, Transgression: A Novel of Love and War (45% of the way through and then abandoned)  
3. Liz Jensen, The Uninvited 
4. Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl
5. Martina Cole, Two Woman 
6. Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall
7. A whole heap of kindle samples -
  • Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death
  • Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker
  • Krys Lee, Drifting House
  • Wesley Chu, The Lives of Tao
  • Eliza Victoria, A Bottle of Storm Clouds
  • Andrew Vu, Halfkinds Volume 1: Contact  
  • Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon 
  • Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Cold Town 
8. Dave Eggers, The Circle
9. Andrea Eames, White Shadow  
Worst of the month was Two Women (even though I finished it, unlike Transgression) it was on of those books that you just feel slightly soiled after reading. 

The Icarus Girl gets the award for most disappointing, I had high expectations and whilst the novel as some good ideas it is let down by the execution.    

Prize for most original goes to Filth and the narrating tapeworm.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Dave Eggers, The Circle

I'm not that fussed about Dave Eggers, I know some people absolutely love his books, but before The Circle I'd only read What is the What and I wasn't blown away. After reading The Circle my position hasn't really changed.

Dave Eggers, The Circle, paperback, review, UK edition, book cover, photograph, photo

The Plot: Newly graduated and ambitious, Mae is determined to rise through the ranks when she joins mega-corporation The Circle. By linking users personal emails, social media and finances together, The Circle has heralded a new age of internet transparency, people can no longer hide anonymously behind a screen, troll or catfish without consequences. However this new accountability begins to threaten privacy and liberty.

Rating: «««¶¶ (3/5)

Full review under the cut *warning may contain spoilers*

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

kindle samples 2

Continuing my quest to discover new authors, I downloaded a couple more kindle samples (the first part can be read here), here's my findings:-

Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor 
Synopsis: On a beach in Lagos, aliens first make contact with a marine-biologist, a rapper and a solider 
My Thoughts: After really enjoying the first sample if Nnedi Okorafor's work (Who Fears Death) I've ever read, I had high expectations. I wasn't immediately grabbed with this though, it does however have potential. I'm a fan of alien films/tv shows (star trek enterprise and voyager in particular) so this sounds like it would be my kind of thing. Basing it just of the short samples I've read though, I think I'd rather read Who Fears Death first.
Verdict: would like to read the full book.      

The Coldest Girl in Cold Town, Holly Black 
Synopsis: Vampirism is regarded as an infectious disease, those who contaminated are contained in Cold Towns, and ostracised from the rest or the society.
My Thoughts: I secretly liked this. I say secretly because it's not the sort of book I'd like to be caught reading in public, so it's ideal for kindle, it's kind of trashy. It's YA fiction so no doubt will be full of teen angst, and I suspect a love triangle. Holly Black as certainly jumped on the Twilight bandwagon. Which means this novel is pure easy-reading escapism. 
Verdict:  would like to read (in fact I've already ordered in from the library- but shhhhh, don't tell anyone)       

Monday, 26 May 2014

Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl

Oh I had such high hopes for the Icarus Girl, but I'm left feeling dissatisfied.

paperback, The Icarus Girl, Helen Oyeyemi, review, British-Nigerian, Ibeji, literature
The Plot: Jessamy is an unusual child, sensitive and imaginative, she has trouble making friends at school. On a visit to her mother's homeland, Nigeria, she meets Titiola, a ragged little girl who can offer Jessamy the friendship she craves. When Titiola unexpectedly follows Jessamy back to England, it becomes apparent that she is more than she first appeared. Unseen by anyone else, and with a eerie knowledge of secrets and the ability to hurt people, Titiola growing power over Jessamy has the potential for dangerous and damaging consequences.

Rating: ««¶¶¶ (2/5)
Review under the cut *warning may contain spoilers*

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall

Kindly lent to me by my older sister, The Shock of the Fall won the Costa Book of the year prize in 2013. Written by Nathan Filer, a former mental health nurse, the novel tackles some big issues, including grief, mental illness and guilt.

paperback, the shock of the fall, Nathan Filer, mental health, review, book, literature,  

The Plot: Matthew's brother, Simon, dies whilst on a family holiday to Dorset. This tragic event has tragic and long reaching ramifications, as Matthew and his parents struggle to come to terms with their loss. Currently undergoing treatment for a metal disorder, Matthew reflects in a series of journal entries on his upbringing, his mental illness, Simon's death and his resulting guilt.

Rating: «««¶¶ (3/5)

Full review under the cut:

Thursday, 22 May 2014


"Every generation get the end-of-the-world anxiety it deserves; it used to be transcendental, then it became elemental, and now it is environmental"
-Will Self, from the introduction to Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

kindle samples; science fiction & dystopian novels

One of the best things about kindle is the 'try before you buy', where you can get samples of books, usually the first chapter, sent to your device for free.

Dystopian fiction (like The Handmaid's Tale, The Huger Games, The Road) is my favourite genre to read, and I've recently being getting more into science fiction. I'm always on the lookout for more authors, so taking advantage of Amazon's free samples I downloaded several to try.

Drifting House, Krys Lee:  
Synopsis: A collection of stories that looks at Korea in the turbulent years post World War II and crosses the ocean to record the struggle of immigration and assimilation.
My thoughts: From the sample, there is currently no indication of SF, so I presume that this collection includes a mixture of genres. I did enjoy the first chapter though, partly because I used to live in South Korea and have interest in the culture, but also because the immigrant experience has a lot of dramatic potential.   
Verdict: would buy the full novel 

The Lives of Tao, Wesley Chu
Synopsis: A civil war is raging between the peace-loving Prophus and the ruthless Genjix, and as both rival factions use humans and animals as hosts, the war is threatening the survival of Earth and humanity.
My thoughts: The sample starts with a high-octane chase, very James Bond. I get the impression the rest of the book will be more plot driven than character based, so will probably make a good beach read. I am slightly put off, because I can't help but compare it with Stephenie Meyer's The Host, which also includes parasitic aliens and which I though was a poor read.
Verdict: wouldn't buy (unless cheap) but would borrow from the library 

Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban
Synopsis: Set in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, 12 year-old Riddley is trying to survive in the ruins of civilisation. Written phonetically with a distorted syntax, for example "O Im so col Im afeart Im going to dy" it is difficult to read.
My thoughts: The premise of this is right up my street, a classic dystopian novel about survival and rebuilding society from the rubble of the past, I'm not sure if the phonetically language would get on my nerves. I did have to use at lot of concentration to understand what was being said, and I'm not sure if my dyslexia would be a hindrance or a help in deciphering the language.
Verdict: would try and borrow from library, as there is a strong possibility I would give up halfway  

A Bottle of Storm Clouds, Eliza Victoria 
Synopsis: A compilation of short stories, considering morality in alternate realities. Including a story that features a pawn shop in which healed bones can be traded for a month's laughter, or sight for a singing voice.
My thoughts: The sample included one full story, and half of another one, both of which I loved. The supernatural and the mundane are beautifully and surprisingly blended. The only downside is, I'm not really a fan of short stories, I would prefer it is they intertwined somehow.
Verdict: would buy the full book (plus it's only a tiny £1.23 for the kindle edition) 

Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor
Synopsis: In post-apocalyptic Africa the world is harsh and violent, the Nuru kill and rape the Okeke without remorse. Onyesonwu is conceived through rape, and therefore shunned and feared, even more so when she starts to exhibit signs of powerful magic. 
My thoughts: since reading Octavia Butler's Wild Seed I've been on the look out for some more afrofuturism, so was thrilled to discover this. The book is of to a strong start, and the sample left me wanting to read more. 
Verdict: would buy the full book

Halfkinds Volume 1: Contact, Andrew Vu
Synopsis: In the near future animals are now equals with humans, but some taboos remain, including interspecies relationships. When an isolated human prostitute dies, her children (the result of interspecies liaisons) are threatened with exposure and experimentation.
My thoughts: I was hoping for something like Margaret Atwood's The Year of Flood where gene splicing had given animals near-human intelligence, but Halfkinds isn't anything like that. Actually is weirded me out, and I couldn't even finish the sample. Plus it isn't very well written and it doesn't feel like the alternate reality has been comprehensively created.
Verdict: would most certainly not buy or read 

What do you think? Have you read any of these books, or would you like to? If you've got any suggestions of dystopian/ science fiction I should read please leave your suggestions in the comments below:-

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Martina Cole, Two Women

I'm so ashamed to admit I've read this, it's absolute trash and not even good trash like The Other Boleyn Girl or funny trash like Twilight. There is nothing redeemable about Martina Cole's Two Women

Martina Cole, Two Woman, review, book, paperback, misery memoir, trigger warning, appalling

The Plot:  A victim from childhood, Susan Dalston becomes notorious when she murders her violent husband with a claw hammer.

Rating: ¶¶¶¶¶ (0/5)

trigger warning- violence, rape, domestic abuse, incest 

I was after a easy read and fancied a detective story or a thriller, so God knows why I picked this up at the library. I was mislead as it was in the crime section and claimed to be 'the no.1 bestseller'. There's no mystery to be solved, and its basically a fictional misery memoir. If books like A Child Called It etc. are your type of thing you'd love this, but it's really not for me.

It is poorly written and predictable. The plot is just a series of cliches and stereotypes and I quickly became desensitised to the many, many, many tragedies of Susan's life. I've spent quite enough of my time on this crap book, so am finishing my review here. Save yourselves some time, and don't bother with this book at all.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Wolf Hall at Aldwych Theatre

If you haven't read Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and its equally brilliant sequel Bring Up the Bodies I highly recommend you get a crack on and read them. They chart the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, a powerful minister in the court of Henry VII.   

I was so ridiculously excited when I found out the RSC was adapting the books for the stage and was thrilled when the production came to London. 

Aldwych theatre, Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel, RSC, production, review, Row AA seat 3, 4, restricted view, tickets

I felt incredibly lucky when me and my mum managed to get tickets to see the Saturday matinee, and even more when we got them for a bargain £10. However, as soon as we got to Aldwych theatre we realised we hadn't bagged ourselves a bargain at all. 

We bought the tickets fully aware they were restricted view, what we didn't realise that 'restricted' in this case meant no view. We were devastated. When we bought the tickets we consulted the theatre map and to our understanding it looked like we were in the top section, at the front and far to the right, we assumed we would have a bar or a railing partially obscuring our view. We we're even on proper seats, we faced the audience rather than the stage, and only could see a tiny slither of stage and only if we cramped up against the wall and contorted our bodies to lean over the railing. In my opinion these tickets should not have been on sale. For future reference our tickets were AA seat 3 and 4. DO NOT BUY THESE TICKETS. 

So I don't feel I can probably review the production as I didn't really see it and therefore can't really comment on the staging, performances or even costumes. All I can say is it sounded good, and despite the disastrous tickets, we did enjoy ourselves. I'm hoping we can get some decent tickets for Bring Up the Bodies so we can have the proper experience. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Liz Jensen, The Uninvited

I'm holding The Uninvited partially responsible for the reason why I woke up screaming a couple of nights ago. I can't fully recall my dream, but this novel about murderous children is pretty freaky, so I'm pretty sure it's in part to blame.
Liz Jensen, The Uninvited, asperger's syndrome, review, book, paperback, photograph, literature,

The Plot: It is Hesketh's job to look for patterns and make connections, so when acts of industrial sabotage and child violence because a worldwide pandemic, it is up to him to determine the cause.  

Rating: ««¶¶¶ (2/5)

Full review under the jump *spoilers warning*:

a voice is a human gift

"A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerless and silence go together" 

- Margaret Atwood 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

bike ride

The sunshine encouraged me to do something I haven't done in years- go on a bike ride!

My neighbourhood isn't exactly scenic, it's a bog-standard housing estate, but nearby there is a cycle-route into town which looks almost pretty.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Irvine Welsh, Filth

Picked up for an absolute steal at Hylands House, I intended to read Filth on my journey to Edinburgh, but didn't get round to it. I've read a few of Irvine Welsh's novels, (click for my review of Skagboys) so I knew what I was in for, but I must admit I did find this novel a bit much.

spoilers, synopsis, Irvine Welsh, Filth, review, book, Scottish Literature, experimental, contemporary, modern, racist, un-pc, crime, police, book cover, paperback, photo, photograph

The Plot: When the body of a young black man is discovered on the Playfair stairs in Edinburgh, it is the duty of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson to investigate. Bruce is a thoroughly unpleasant man and a corrupt officer.  Racist and violent Bruce's main concerns are his upcoming trip to Amsterdam and his schemes to secure a promotion rather than justice for the deceased.
spoilers, synopsis, Irvine Welsh, Filth, review, book, Scottish Literature, experimental, contemporary, modern, racist, un-pc, crime, police, book cover, paperback, photo, photograph

Rating: «««« (4/5)
For my review, click under the jump *spoilers warning*:

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Bookish Birthday

Yay! It's my birthday today and at the grand age of 26 I feel I am officially a grown adult woman. So to honour the occasion I've put together a small ideas for the literature-lover in your life.

1. Doubleplusgood necklace, quoted from Nineteen Eighty-Four, £28.00, sold here   
I'm a fan of Orwell, so things makes my list. Also it's bang on trend at the moment as delicate gold  accessories are going to be massive this summer.

2. Bookish....and proud of it notebook, £7.99, sold here
I'm always slightly cautious when I get a new notebook as I don't want to spoil it with my dreadful handwriting. Both these notebooks would be perfect for readers to write reviews of make lists of what they want to read next.

3. Old Junk, Penguin Notebook, £8.99, sold here 

4. Roland Dahl Matilda t-shirt, £19.99, sold here 

I think Matilda is my favourite Roald Dahl, but the Fantastic Mr Fox and BFG are also pretty wonderful.

5. Game of Thrones, Westeros leggings, $85.00 AUD, sold here 
Possibly over-priced (and I'm not totally sure I could pull these off) but as a huge GoT fan I had to include these snazzy Black Milk leggings. The print also comes in a dress.  

6. From small seeds necklace, £20.00, sold here
 Staying on the Game of Thrones theme, I think the tree on this locket look like it belongs in a weirwood.

7. Personalised Penguin Kindle Cover, £19.99, sold here

This is so cool! You could use the details of your fave book, but  I think I would be tempted to use my own name as the author, or is that a bit sad? I really love the classic penguin design, when I went to a charity shop I had to really resist buying a bulk lot of these orange and white books, but as I didn't actually want to read any of them it felt a bit fake.

If you want to find my previous gift ideas see here:

Or if you are on a budget or fancy giving a home-made present, check out my DIY ideas here:-
quote bunting 
framed penguin postcards 
I'm off to enjoy my day! 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Gluten-free Chocolate and Elderflower Cake

I've made some proper baking disaster in the attempt to make a decent gluten-free chocolate cake, but I'm onto a winner with this one.
simple, gluten-free chocolate cake, grams, UK, recipe, home baking, elderflower, tasty, delicious

If you are gluten intolerant ground almonds are my top tip for successful cake making.  

Thursday, 1 May 2014

racial diversity in children's books

I was catching up on listening to Radio 4's Women's Hour today, and heard the shocking statistic that out of the 3,200 children's books that were published in the US last year, only 93 were about Black people. British publications are also lacking diversity.

If you want to listen to the programme, follow this link, the programme was first broadcast 11th April 2014.

The absence of diversity is really saddening, I think it is vitally important that the entire spectrum of people are represented in pop culture and the media. For the development of children's self-esteem, and for their enjoyment, it is crucial that they can relate to the characters they read about, or see on telly.  


"Usually when a man calls a women a bitch [...] it's because she's doing something right." 
- Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men