Review: Free Love and Other Stories by Ali Smith

I first read Ali Smith when I was in University. On a Waterstones wander I picked up the newly published There but for the. I read it in almost one sitting and was completely entranced by writing so different to anything I’d read before. I’ve since made quite a collection of Ali Smith’s books – there are now nine on my shelves, and yet for some reason I haven’t read most of them. Why? I have no idea.

A few weeks ago I saw Ali Smith speak at Bath Festival, which was a amazing. As a reader and as a writer, I was inspired by everything she said – the passion and enthusiasm she spoke with. It was at that event where I bought a copy of Free Love and Other Stories, which was Smith’s first published book. I started reading on the train home and, as I was with There but for the, I was completely swept away by the beauty of the prose. Read More »

Summer 2017 Top ‘TBR’

As a rule, I don’t like to write prescriptive TBRs. I usually don’t manage to stick to them. But I have so many unread books on my shelves at the moment that it’s starting to feel like a little bit of planning might be necessary to be sure I’m paying attention to the things I really want to. Having so many books around the house makes me very happy, but it also means that browsing as an activity is split between bookcases and rooms.Read More »

May Wrap Up (2017)

May has been a slower reading month, and that’s because for the most part it was a writing month. The other factor was reading A Court of Wings and Ruin and needing quite a while to recover from the trauma. So the theme of the month then became rereading YA fantasy. I’ve also been dipping into the Throne of Glass series again, but I’m not recording them as it’s more of a skipping between favourite scenes. I am also slowly reading a collection of short stories by Ali Smith, but that is being savoured, one story at a time…Read More »

Literary Festivals and Expectations

Until a couple of weeks ago, I’d been to fewer bookish events than I would like this year, mostly due to focusing on my MA course. However the arrival of Bath festival was a brilliant chance to get back out and hear some really amazing authors interviewed by amazing people. My health unfortunately meant I didn’t get to everything I wanted – but I did have a great week at what I was able to do.

All of this got me thinking about what makes a good literary event – what is it that we’re looking for when we turn up and take our seat? Someone I know commented on an event being directed towards readers rather than other writers – which surprised me, because that’s what I had expected from this kind of event. But what you walk in expecting will influence how you feel about whatever it actually is.

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Stage ready for Ali Smith at Bath Literary Festival, May 2017

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Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

I was so excited for the release of A Court of Wings and Ruin that I accidentally pre-ordered it twice. Then when it arrived at the beginning of May, I had to wait to start reading because I had a lot of uni deadlines. But once I finally handed that work in, I immediately picked up ACOWAR.

A Court of Wings and Ruin is the third in a trilogy by Sarah J Maas – you can find my previous review of A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury here.

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Review: Clade by James Bradley

This book is the last of my university reading for this term. It’s been an up and down collection of things I’ve loved and things I didn’t get on with. Fortunately for a last book, Clade was interesting and surprising.

It follows scientist Adam Leith, beginning while he is working in Antarctica and his partner Ellie back in Australia is waiting for their latest IVF treatment results. Each section jumps between perspectives, using both third and first person, in present tense except for sections which fill in backstory. There is a lot of story layering in the first few chapters, of backstory interspersed with the present moment, which creates an interestingly textured narrative. Every aspect of this novel is layered and faceted – everything has a meaning, an impact beyond the surface level.

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April Wrap Up (2017)

This month has been an improvement, reading-wise. I’ve got into a better rhythm and felt properly engaged with at most of the books I picked up. More importantly, I feel motivated to read again for reasons other than uni or meeting my reading challenge goals. Whisper in case it hears, but the sort-of reading slump might be in retreat…Read More »

Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. After a lot of umming and ahhing, I decided that I was interested, just in time to get the first book in hardback. Having finished I’m really glad I did, because it will now match my edition of Waking Gods. I didn’t want to be in the same situation as I was with Becky Chambers’ books, having one in paperback, one in hardback, and no shelf were they can sit side by side.

The series name, Themis Files, should have been a clue to how the narrative is presented. I hadn’t expected it when I picked the book up – possibly because when I’ve flicked through in shops, I was looking at the prologue, which is written in a traditional narrative style. A young girl goes out for a bike ride when the ground gives way beneath her, and she falls into a giant metal hand. She grows up to be Dr Rose Franklin, and seventeen years later is leading the effort to understand what she discovered as a child. The story from there is structured as numbered files – personal journal entries, project logs, and transcripts of conversations between the major players on the project, and an unnamed man from an unnamed secret agency.

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Review: ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman

I love being able to easily explain the idea of a book, especially when I want to pass on the recommendation. ‘Summing up’ is difficult – it’s one of the things I find trickiest about writing reviews, trying to succinctly convey a broad sense of theme, tone and plot. The Power is easy to describe. My problem might actually be to stop talking about it.

This novel explores a scenario in which gender power dynamics are, in one major change, completely shifted. Young girls across the world start developing the an electrostatic power – the power to electrocute at will, to tickle, maim or kill at the flick of their fingers. We follow a tight group of characters who help us chart a slowly changing world.

I first dipped a toe into The Power months ago. When I first signed up to Audible it was the first thing I downloaded before realising I don’t get along with new-to-me fiction as an audiobook experience. Great as audiobooks are, they work better with nonfiction for me. However, I was enthralled by the premise of the book, and have had it in mind ever since. When the paperback cover was revealed I decided, pretty as it is, that I wanted the hardback, which is gorgeous. Also with the hardback, you get two covers to enjoy, the dust jacket and the hardcover underneath.

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