Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I’ve had this on my shelves for a while, yet I only just got around to picking up. Like Arcadia, I’m not entirely sure why it took so long. There was so much hype about Celeste Ng’s debut, and with her second novel Little Fires Everywhere coming out soon I was excited to catch up.

This novel has perhaps one of the most memorable opening lines I’ve ever read:

Lydia is dead, but they do not know this yet.

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Post-Deadline TBR

At the end of September I will hand in the final 40,000 words for my Masters course. I have loved this year – it has taught me so much and given me great opportunities. But it has also cut down on my reading time. This time last year I was about thirteen books ahead of where I am now. Overall, I’m pleased with how much I’ve read alongside studying, but of course I still have a stack of books I haven’t read for now which I want to read once I’m done. Below are a few of those…

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Review: Arcadia by Iain Pears

I bought Arcadia shortly before the paperback was published because I wanted the hardback edition and its beautiful cut-out. That was more than a year ago – for a long time I resisted actually picking it up. I’m not sure why; perhaps because at 596 pages in hardback it looks like a tome. As with many other books, I originally was interested based on a video by Jen Campbell. I finally gave into temptation. I fell in and got swept up and now I am in love.  

Arcadia follows three strands of a story which are slowly, brilliantly, drawn together. In 1960s Oxford, Professor Henry Lytten is creating an imaginary world on paper, telling his young neighbour Rosie about this world he has created. She reminds him that eventually something will have to happen: Don’t they fight, or have adventures? Couldn’t you get someone to fall in love, or something?

In Anterwold, a young boy called Jay sees a strange apparition. In a futuristic laboratory, eccentric scientist Angela Meerson is creating a machine which may allow travel between parallel universes – or perhaps travel in time. We move between these threads, and gradually it is possible to draw connections between them – in place, time, characters. Some things the reader has to leave in the hands of the author to reveal, trusting that it will all, eventually make sense. The narration is so deftly and carefully handled though that this is never a difficult trust to have.

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Review: Franklin’s Flying Bookshop, written by Jen Campbell, illustrated by Katie Harnett

Today is something a bit different. Franklin’s Flying Bookshop is a picture book, which I’ve never reviewed on this blog before. I pre-ordered it months ago because it’s written by the amazing Jen Campbell – she of the amazing YouTube channelWeird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series, The Bookshop Book, a brilliant poetry collection The Hungry Ghost Festival. Her short story collection The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night will be published in November, which I’ve also obviously pre-ordered. I was so excited when Franklin landed in my hands a week early and took a writing break to read it. And then I read it again, and then a third time for good measure.

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Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Back to non-fiction again. Trevor Noah writes about his childhood in South Africa incredibly touchingly in this memoir covering his life up to about his early twenties. I listened to this as an audiobook, which I would absolutely recommend – Noah’s voice is brilliant to listen to, and you will have the benefit of hearing the many South African languages he refers to spoken properly.

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Review: What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

What We Lose is a fragmented meditation on grief and loss. Revolving around the loss of a mother in small sections of intense prose, it powerfully evokes the far-reaching effects of a major bereavement in a beautifully written debut novel. Using a first person narrator interspersed with excerpts from blog posts, photographs, biographies, Clemmons carefully stitches together many disparate elements into one whole.

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