Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Year in Books

It's new years eve today (obviously) so I'm going to reflect on my year in books.

By my count I've read a grand total of 103 books this year, the reviews for which can be found in either my review tag, my year in books tag or on my alphabetised list page. 

Under the jump is a general sort of breakdown of the books I've read, plus the worst 5 reads of the year. Not sure if this post will be of any interest to anyone, other than me, but I had fun looking back and considering what I've read this year.

If your a bibliophile I highly recommend recording (either on blog form, or just in a notebook) what you've read.  

what I've read this month (December)

Another short list this month, I haven't read as much as I expected over Christmas.

1. Lyndsay Faye, Dust and Shadow
2. Mary Roach, Gulp (non-fiction)
3. Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves   

I also started a couple of books J by Howard Jacobson and Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century, Paul Collier and another Man Booker - To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. I'm probably going to polish them all off next both.

I found it a real struggle to get into a book this month, I felt quite apathetic about reading, plus I was short on time. The three books I did read however, were all rather good. Glup was my favourite, an unusual choice seeing as it is a non-fiction book about digestion.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Yay! I've managed to cross another Man Booker off my list, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

Much has been said about the plot twist, and this review would seem incomplete if I didn't so BIG SPOILER WARNING. If you are planning to read this novel, avoid reading this (and any other) review, as I don't think it'll be half as effective or enjoyable reading it already knowing the twist.

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The Plot: Rosemary is unsociable and awkward, a legacy of her unusual upbringing. Rosemary's family life is dysfunctional. Her father, a psychologist, treated her and the rest of her family as a scientific experiment.
 When Rosemary's sister, Fern, vanishes , she is left feeling guilty, although she is unable to remember her role in Fern disappearance, This event also has repercussion on the rest of the family. Her mother becomes unhinged and neglectful, her brother runs away and engages in criminal activity that brings him to the attention of the FBI.  

Rating: 3.5/5
*spoiler warning*

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers! ( or, if you don't celebrate, I hope you're having a fantastic break from work/school).

The postman in the picture comes from my favourite Christmas book ever, The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Janet & Allen Alhberg. It is beautifully illustrated, and includes lots of  of fairy tale characters.

Have a very merry Christmas
Book & Cuppa 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

currently reading

I'm not going to be bloging over Christmas- I'm going to be busy making merry. So here's a quick update of what I'm currently reading:-

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
This seems like a Christmas appropriate novel, it's all about dysfunctional families. Rosemary's father has used her childhood as an experiment, her half-sister vanished and she hasn't spoken to her brother in 10 years.

I've just started this, and it looks good. I'm finding it far more engaging than J  by Howard Jacobson (another man booker prize short-listed novel).

Also if you're a literature fan and entertaining family this year you really need to try Ex Libris, We played it last year, and it was hysterical. You're given the basic plot outline of some classic fiction, then everyone has to write down your attempt at the first or last line. Then all the lines are read out anonymously, (including the real line of the book) and everyone casts a vote about which they think is the real sentence.

I've explained this in a really muddled way- but trust me it's brilliant! You can see how creative your friends/family are. Some of the entries are so bad they're funny, and there is a smug satisfaction if you successfully manage to convince others that you can write like Jane Austen or Siegfried Sassoon.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Mary Roach, Gulp

As Christmas is 3 days away, this book about digestion seems kind of appropriate, as no doubt a lot of people will be indulging and over-eating. 

Synopsis: (non-fiction) Mary Roach takes a tour along the alimentary canal, from mouth to rectum, making stopoffs along the way to discuss pet food, drug smuggling and fecal transplants. An informative and disgusting look at our digestive system. 

Rating: 3.5/5   
full review under the cut:

Thursday, 18 December 2014

IWM- modern warfare

I'm going to step away from the Christmas posts and show you some more (rather un-festive) pictures from my recent trip to the Imperial War Museum, London.

I've followed the floor plan of the museum and split my posts to reflect the different exhibition, these pictures are all from the modern warfare section:-

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Time for Tea

Another good idea for a Christmas present is to treat a loved one to a spot of tea somewhere special. You could make an event of it, or do it as part of a day trip or shopping expedition.

Here are a couple of places I'd recommend in London and the south:-

Monday, 15 December 2014

present ideas for readers

I've got a slightly smug face on as I've only got one Christmas present left to buy, but if you're struggling to think of something to buy for the reader in your family I've got some ideas.
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List under the jump:-

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas ideas- Non fiction

One of my new years resolutions for 2014 was to read more non-fiction- I've kind of failed on this one.

Still, here are some non-fiction releases that have caught my eye, and are potential ideas for Christmas presents:-

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Lyndsay Faye, Dust and Shadow

Seems ages ago that I did a proper book review- so allow me to present Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye....

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The Plot: A serial killer is on the loose, dubbed The Knife, he is murdering, then mutilating street-walkers in Whitechapel. Unable to solve the case, the metropolitan police engage the help of a renown crime-fighting duo, Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes. It isn't long before suspicion falls on Holmes himself, and the private detective may well have met his match with Jack the Ripper.  

Rating: 3/4

Friday, 5 December 2014

WW1, Imperial War Museum

As I've already said, the First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum have recently been renovated.

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Let's take a closer look:-

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Imperial War Museum, London

This weekend I went to The Imperial War Museum. It has recently been renovated to coincide with the centenary of the First World War this year. 

I'm going to split up my photographs, to cover the different exhibitions in depth, but I just wanted to briefly give an overview if you are considering visiting IWM. 

The museum is free to visit, open daily 10:00-6:00. Due to the high volume of visitor at the moment, it is timed entry for the WW1 exhibition, but again this free (but still very crowded). 

Photograph is allowed in the museum, apart from (and rightly so) in the Holocaust exhibition. Another thing to note- the Holocaust exhibition is not recommended for children under the age of 14, and includes graphic photographs. 

We spent about 4 and half hours in IWM and didn't manage to see all of the exhibitions. We didn't go in Truth and Memory or A Family in Wartime, simply because we ran out of time. 

I'd recommend you bring your own food and drink. There was a poor choice of sandwiches and both the tea and coffee are horrible.    

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


With Christmas coming up (hey, it's officially December, it's ok to talk about it now) I thought I'd start giving you some gift ideas for your bibliophile friend.

I was given this bracelet for my birthday by my smallest sister- but this is the first time I'm showing it off on the blog.

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It is available on etsy  and The Literary Gift Company. It designed by Bookity, who makes handmade jewellery from damaged books.

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My particular bracelet is made from Kafka of The Shore by Haruki  Murakami. I'm a big fan of his work, read my reviews of The Underground  and  Tsukuri Tasaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. There are plenty of other authors to choose from including Tolkien, Austen and Agatha Christie.  

The bracelet feels tactile, the inside is smooth. The only downside is, that the clasp is non-adjustable.  

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P.s Happy Birthday to my big sister!

Monday, 1 December 2014

what I've read this month (November)

This post should have gone up yesterday, but I was out and about. This month I've read a grand total of two books:-
  1. Patrick Rothfus, The Wise Man's Fear 
  2. Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North 

The Narrow Road was this years' Man Booker winner, but as you can see by my review I wasn't blown away by it. 
The Wise Man's Fear is the second book in a fantasy series I'm intending to work my way through. My review of the first book can be read here.  This one is more of the same really, a solid fantasy epic, that is sometimes formulaic but nevertheless entertaining. 

I've started several books this month, but have yet to finish them. On a morning I'm just picking up whatever is to hand and whatever can fit in my bag, so it has meant my reading this month has been bitty. 

Hopefully I'm going to be more organised this month, and be able to read more and blog more regularly.