The Little House Series Read-Along is happening throughout 2016! Join us for some or all of the books - find details here

Saturday, 27 August 2016

August Book Haul of Gigantic Proportions!

I haven't done a book haul post in a reeeeally long time, mostly because I always forget to keep track but in the interests of being back on my book buying ban (bookshop crawls excepted) I've been trying to keep a bit of a handle on it this month and since I've got some really interesting looking stuff I thought I'd share with you. Feel free to tell me if you've read any of my books and what you thought in the comments!

The first week of the month I got several excellent book parcels. Firstly my final Secret Sister parcel of the last round arrived and contained Phillip Pullman's Grimm Tales which I've been after for a while and this edition is super beautiful so I'm excited for that. I also got a parcel from my sister containing Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce which is the August pick for our kid lit bookclub - Rhys is reading it at the moment so I've not had a chance to get to it yet, but he's adoring it so that's a good sign! Then I got an excellent belated birthday present from Charlotte (to whom I now owe her own belated birthday present! It's coming I promise!) containing This Savage Song by V.E Schwab which I know pretty much nothing about but since I'm in love with A Darker Shade of Magic I'm pretty much willing to read anything she writes now, and Nimona by Noelle Stevenson which I've been wanting for so long. It's kind of super-villainy and sounds a little bit like Kick Ass but not? Basically I've heard great things! Then I got a thank you parcel from Chantelle who was the Secret Sister I'd been sending to last round and because she is excellent she got me Caramel Hearts by E.R Murray which is YA and contains recipes so that's obviously excellent, and then A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn which is clearly a sign since I've had The Dead Travel Fast on my shelf for a couple of years now recommended because I wanted to read more mysteries, and haven't got to it yet, so clearly now's the time! And finally (for the first week!) I received on request a copy of the excellent The Outrun by Amy Liptrot from the lovely publisher Canongate. You can see what I thought about it here.

The second week I got three books in the post. The first one, The Diabolic by S.J Kincaid is billed as Star Wars meets The Hunger Games, so when the publishers asked me if I wanted a copy I said yes please and am looking forward to getting to it soon! The others were a gift from lovely Ellie who passed them along to me after she'd finished them, having scouted out my wishlist ahead of time - a tactic which I'm now using to guide my reading! She sent me Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein which has been on my wishlist forever. I think it's about gender and how Disney and the 'girls like pink' thing affects girls growing up and obviously that is the most interesting thing ever for me. She also sent me a lovely Persephone copy of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson which I've never read but I will read absolutely anything Persephone publish and I also have the excellent film with Amy Adams so yes, excited for that.

Then the Bath Bookshop Crawl happened and obviously there were books... I'm still working on a post about the crawl but basically it was great and this is what I got:

One by Sarah Crossan is about conjoined twins and is written in verse. I bought it because loads of people on twitter had been saying how good it was and Ellie also recommended it and then I read it when I got home that night in one sitting and it is so good and so beautiful and sad. Read it. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter I'm really going to read soon because I've been hearing such great things about it and it's also pretty short. It's about a family who is grieving and a crow comes to stay with them and help them through the process. It sounds really intriguing and my copy is also signed by the author which is excellent. Then I got a couple of nonfiction titles, both of which were on the recommendation of other bloggers and/or Book Riot. Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland is about forests and their place in our history and landscape and also how fairytales have their roots in forests so obviously I had to get it. I also bought Yeonmi Park's memoir In Order to Live about her family's escape from North Korea. Not easy reading I'm sure, but I've heard many excellent things about it. More things I bought because Book Riot (specifically All the Books) recommended them are Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (which Ellie also recommended) which is about a girl who takes up with a guy who is wanted for something awful I think? (the book is upstairs so I'm kind of ad-libbing here...) Anyway it sounds excellent. I also bought Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho for Rhys (but also for me) because he mentioned it sounding excellent a while ago but also because Rebecca has been talking about it on All the Books for months and it sounds excellent. Magicky school type book? Yes please! I got the second volume of The Wicked and the Divine because I want to find out what happens next although I don't entirely remember what happened in the first one? Something to do with reincarnated Gods... and the art was beautiful. And then finally I got That Girl from Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson (whose name alone sells books to me because I know they'll be great and twisty and very readable) and The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence because I remembered Charlotte saying how great it was. And then Katie Morag for the boys, of course!

I'm almost done I promise! I got my first parcel from my new Secret Sister for this round. It was Great British Bake Off themed and excellent! Little Bites by Christine Chitnis and Sarah Waldman is a really fantastic recipe book full of seasonal, exciting snack recipes for kids and I am in love with it. It has all kinds of helpful tips for how to eat seasonally and I am so all about that at the moment! She also sent Chocolate Treats which has a plethora of yummy looking things I can't wait to try.

Finally I got a lovely parcel from Myriad Editions today containing some really exciting sounding titles!

The Busker by Liam Bell Murray is about a guy who is about to be the next big thing in music and then it flashes forwards in time and he's sleeping rough on the streets, and the novel goes back and forth filling in the gaps I think. Very much looking forward to reading it. Also excited for The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock which is historical fiction about a test pilot who is offered a chance to become one of the first men in space. I love space things, particularly if they're about early exploits into space so I'm looking forward to this. Finally they sent me Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago by Douglas Cowie which has as a character Simone de Beauvoir. I'm excited to read them all and will be reporting back in due course!

That brings my grand total for August to twenty four which is quite crazy considering that I only actually bought nine for myself, so I definitely don't need to be buying books really and many many thanks to wonderful friends and lovely publishers who have made my month so full of bookish goodness!

If you've stuck with me this long then I hope you've found some loveliness to add to your wishlists and I also want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because my goodness that was longer than I thought it would be!

As usual all titles link to Wordery and are affiliate links so should you use the link (or the general one in the top left of my sidebar) I'll get a small commission. You should - Wordery are independent, excellent and will ship worldwide for free and send you a bookmark with your book!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

If you follow the Wainwright Prize (which I didn't until recently!) you'll probably have seen that The Outrun just won it, and very deservingly so!

I got in touch with Canongate way back when I featured them in my Make Mine an Indie series to request a copy of this book, and they were kind enough to send one. Firstly can I just say, the cover is gorgeous! And secondly, my goodness does the book live up to the expectations built by its gorgeous cover.

The Outrun is probably one of the best books I've read this year. I do have a soft spot for stories of people overcoming their demons and when paired with so many other interesting things it's both compulsively fascinating and inexplicably soothing. The idea of escaping the city for somewhere remote has always appealed to me, and although there is more of an element of return than escape in Amy Liptrot's book, the idea of healing through solitude and silence resonates strongly with me.

The amount of history in the book was unexpected too, because it was billed as a kind of biographical nature writing which it is, but it also has lots about Orkney's history and traditional and a lot of really interesting stuff about uninhabited islands. I guess it's a by-product of living on an island and being fascinated by the sea, but I've always wondered about all the islands dotted around the edge of the map of the British Isles, and during the course of her recovery throughout the book Amy Liptrot visits several of them and tells a little of their stories.

At one point after her return to Orkney she works for the RSPB and drives around documenting one particular endangered bird. She talks about the experience of spending the hours she would have previously spent drinking and partying driving around by herself listening for the call of this elusive bird.

Although I've never had any problems with addiction myself (besides sugar and book buying!) I definitely relate to solitude and nature (and particularly solitude in nature) as ways to help manage mental health issues. Something about the vastness of the sea, and the incredible things that happen in nature regardless of us is very grounding and always helps to calm my inner critic - a similar experience to what takes place throughout The Outrun.

For me this book was a bit of a gift. It was a reminder that you can't recover unless you confront the problem and that recovery doesn't look the same for everybody. I particularly loved Amy Liptrot's writing. Throughout the book she blended autobiography with history and nature so seemlessly that it all just became part of the story she had to tell. Often when I read books like this I'll skip over the 'boring' parts but in The Outrun there were no boring parts - everything she wrote became interesting because she is an excellent writer.

I honestly can't recommend this book highly enough. If you're at all interested in biography, nature, or how we interact with and function in the natural world and the effects it has on us, you should pick this up. Bonus - it's beautiful!

Order a copy from independent, excellent Wordery (who will pass a small commission my way!) here.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Little House Read-Along: These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm breaking tradition by posting this before the last day of the month! My only excuse is that I've been paying much more attention to the blog than normal since I've been posting daily this month and so I've been scheduling way ahead of time. Until now I think Farmer Boy has been my favourite but These Happy Golden Years just blew everything else out of the water. I actually got a little tearful this month!

This book is mainly focused around Laura teaching school, which she doesn't like but seems to be quite good at, and she and Almanzo working their way up from 'I'm only driving with you so I can see my parents' to 'yes I do quite like this engagement ring you gave me'. I thought their courtship was so ridiculously sweet. I loved how patient Almanzo was and that he just kept on doing things to help her out even when she told him she wasn't interested, and I really enjoyed knowing the way it would turn out. It made me feel really smug when Laura didn't think she liked him to know that she'd end up married to him by the end of the book. It also (as usual) put all the wedding planning we did for our wedding into stark comparison. Yes, we planned a big wedding and they didn't, but come on, Almanzo had to build a house before they could get married! As always, points to this series for making me feel lazy!

My favourite favourite thing this month though was the conversation Laura and Almanzo have about whether or not she's going to promise to obey him and how she doesn't feel that she could ever promise to obey someone if she thought they were telling her to do something stupid, basically. It's so similar to the conversation Rhys and I had about the same thing before we got married! Laura is awesome and my love for her will be eternal.

Their family makes me happy too. They're such a functional, loving, responsible family and I physically feel cozy whenever I'm reading about them. When Laura left home to live in her new house I was a little tearful with her that she'd never get to go home for good again!

How did you find this book? Just a few more to go before we're done!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Re-Readathon 4: The End!

Apologies that I dropped off the radar for a bit towards the end of the Re-Readathon - yesterday was the Bath Bookshop Crawl so I've been super busy organising that and we also visited family for a long weekend so I wasn't as on top of the updates as I'd have liked! Speaking of which, I need a co-host for the next Re-Readathon. I'm not sure yet when it will be since they tend to be kind of sporadic, but since my visions of the event never live up to the amount of time I actually have it would be really good to have another person share responsibility! If you're interested please let me know in the comments or via twitter or email!

Here are the closing survey questions, feel free to answer them on IG, twitter, blog, wherever!

Closing Survey

How many books did you end up re-reading? I finished two (The Fellowship of the Ring and Fangirl) and am 3/4 through my third (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) which I'll definitely be finishing before moving on to something else!

Which was your favourite re-read? Probably Fangirl although I really enjoyed all of them!

What do you feel would have made the Re-Readathon a better event? A better organised host! I wanted to update more regularly and I totally flaked on the twitter chat, but unfortunately life got in the way this time around!

Anything else? I do love the Re-Readathon. I'm not sure if 10 days is too long though, maybe next time I'll go back to a week!

Everyone taking part in Bout of Books this week have an excellent time! I'll draw the winner of the book of choice giveaway tomorrow or Tuesday and announce it on twitter :-)

Link up your closing posts below

And again, if you want to be a co-host please get in touch!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Bath Bookshop Crawl: Good Buy Books, Skoobs & American Dream Comics

You may have seen that I'm doing some posts ahead of the Bath Bookshop Crawl on August 20th (if you want to join some fellow booklovers & book shop with people who won't judge please do! Tweet or email me for info!) on the bookshops we'll be visiting, just to whet everyone's appetites. I've done Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights and Topping & Company already, and I'm giving Waterstone's a miss purely because I assume everyone knows what Waterstone's is (not because the Bath branch isn't fantastic. I have been and it is very much fantastic!). Two of the last three shops I've actually visited before and know them to be fairly small so I thought I'd put them all together and just give a little round up of what we can expect when we get there!

Good Buy Books
The first stop in our day will be Good Buy Books, a small discount bookshop which I visited on my recent pre-bookshop crawl reconnaissance trip to Bath. They have a really good selection of local interest books, kids books, Jane Austen related things, and Classics, as well as lots of other non-fiction, biography etc. I think it will be nice to start the day off with some bookshops with lower prices - it means I won't have spent all my money by lunchtime hopefully!

If the group ends up being bigger than it currently is we may have to split in half and the other half go to Skoobs (no relation to the London one!) in the Guildhall Market, which I also visited. It's a second hand book stall which has been trading in the market for over 30 years, and which has an immense selection of titles and genres, so I think there'll be something for everyone!

Image result for american dream comics bath logo

Finally a late addition to the itinerary, American Dream Comics. You probably know by now that I'm a sucker for any shop that sells graphic novels and a quick peruse of American Dream's website shows that they also sell American snacks, pop vinyl figures and geeky t-shirts. Definite win!

So that's the places we'll be visiting. If you're joining us, I can't wait to see you (again, for some people!). If you're not make sure you check back for my post about the day sometime next week!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

TBR Inspiration #3

So this list is possibly my favourite so far, mostly because although I love the film I often forget that I've actually read, let alone loved, the book but here it is in my notebook, proof that I had enough book hangover after reading it to want more similar stuff! Be warned, this list is quite foodie. I'm...sorry?

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

My Life in France by Julia Child

A Year in the World by Frances Mayes

Life with the Lid Off by Nicola Hodgkinson

A Boy's Own Dale by Terry Wilson

The Tree House Diaries by Nick Weston

So yes, this is my favourite of these lists so far. I pretty much want to read all of the books on this list immediately (except the Molly Wizenberg one because I've already read it and you should too). 

Have you read any of them? What's good? 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Bookshop Crawl Expectations: A Guide for the Overwhelmed

Bookshop Crawl organisation seems to be my new thing. Because meeting up with a group of strangers organised by an overenthusiastic lady 'from the internet' can be nervewracking I thought it might be helpful if I wrote a post about how it all works and what (if any) expectations there are.
The aim of these events is purely to have fun, promote friendship within the book community (by which I mean the community of people who love books, rather than any specific group or organisation - you don't have to do anything to do with books in order to join us, just read them!) and discover and support excellent, often (but not always) independent, bookshops.  

The only requirement for coming on any of the bookshop crawls is that you want to spend a day shopping for books. You can be an internet person or have heard about the crawl from a friend of a friend. I can know you or we can have never spoken before, you're equally welcome either way. The relationship between the attendees for these events (London earlier this year  (and hopefully again next year) - and Bath this Saturday) are based around nothing stronger than being book lovers who are in or can get to a certain location on a specific day.

There will be an itinerary on the day and generally most of the group follows it, but if you want to spend more or less time at one or all of the stops or feel the need to go off by yourself for a nap/alone time/to buy sweets during the crawl you're absolutely welcome to do that. I will circulate my mobile number beforehand so you can easily call or text if you want to know where the group is. You are under no obligation to come (or stay) for the whole day, but if you're leaving please let me know in person or via text so I'm not looking for you!

If you're worried that everyone else will know each other, see above about the totally random way in which I gather people for the events. It's very unlikely that you'll be the only new person there, but even if you feel that you are, there will be several other people, myself included, who will take you under there wings and ask you boring questions about your journey and introduce you to other people until you feel more comfortable. In London most people spent most of the day reminding each other of their names and everyone still seemed to have a great time so please don't worry!

A lot of people who have come or are coming on crawls are bad at meeting new people or suffer with some form of anxiety (myself included). If this is you then please do whatever you need to do to make the situation easier. We have a twitter chat before each crawl where people can get to know more about each other and to make it easier to put names to faces and give starting points for conversation on the day. If you want to bring a partner, sibling or friend(s) with you for support please feel free - the more the merrier! I brought three siblings, three friends and a brother-in-law on the first crawl I organised!

If you arrive at a bookshop or meeting place and have one of those moments a lot of us have probably had, where you're just unable to bring yourself to walk in by yourself or come over and say hi, please text or DM me and I will happily come and find you on my own and have a chat so you don't have to walk in alone. One of the major ways I keep my own anxiety in check is by making sure everyone else has what they need, so if you need help let me know!

There are no requirements at all for the number of books you buy on the day. On the London Bookshop Crawl I bought the most (14) but my friend only bought one. Nobody is judging your budget. If you can afford to go crazy and buy books in every shop by all means do, but if you can't then feel free to use the day as a way to make new book loving friends, get recommendations, add to your wishlist and discover excellent bookshops to revisit when in more affluent times! It's all about the experience, not how much you buy!

Basically I want to make fun events that can be enjoyed by as many people as possible, and I want to make lots of new book lover friends! The London event was so much fun - everyone was lovely, there was hardly any awkwardness and we all got on really well - and I'm confident that Bath and all forthcoming events will be too, so if you're thinking about coming please bite the bullet and just do it!

If you have any questions I've not covered here please feel free to ask them in the comments or via twitter (@NinjaBookSwap). If you'd like to join us for the Bath Bookshop Crawl on Saturday August 20th please tweet or email me for the itinerary details.