Sunday, 19 June 2016

INDEPENDENT BOOKSHOP WEEK 2016 TAG



It's the tenth anniversary of Independent Bookshop Week!

This week (Saturday 18th - Saturday 25th June) is Independent Bookshop Week which was created to celebrate independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland. There are tons of events happening in independent bookshops everywhere and I highly suggest you check out your local bookshop to join in (you can find your nearest independent bookshop by using this handy link).

The lovely people over at the booksellers association contacted me and invited me to join in with their Independent Bookshop Week tag with ten questions to celebrate ten years of Independent Bookshop Week! So without further ado let's get into the tag:

1. What book(s) are currently in your bag? 
Well I'm actually scheduling this post in advance because when you're reading this I'll be on holiday (woohoo!) so I'll most likely be toting my e-reader around in my beach bag. But at the time of writing the book that's in my bag is The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre, which is a much hyped mystery-thriller that I haven't figured out my thoughts on yet!

2. What’s the last great book you read?
I read quite a lot of great books so this is a difficult one! But it probably has to go to The Girls by Emma Cline which is a recently released debut novel published by Vintage. I did a full review of this book which you can read here.

3. What book have you gifted the most?
I don't often gift the same book to different people because if I'm giving someone a book I want it to be the perfect book for them and something that they'll really enjoy. However last Christmas I gave Ready Player One by Ernest Cline to both my boyfriend and my brother because although I haven't actually read it myself, I've seen that many rave reviews that I knew they'd both love it - and they did!

4. What’s your favourite independent bookshop?
Gosh this is a hard one, I've visited so many wonderful bookshops that it's hard to pick just one! I visit North Norfolk with my family at least once a year and whilst there we always visit as many bookshops as possible, but my favourite is probably the Old Station bookshop in Wells-Next-The-Sea. As you can tell by the name it used to be a railway station that was built in 1857, it's a really beautiful building and the twisty-turning rooms are piled high with books, including antiquarian books and rare first editions. No matter how busy it gets, it's always almost silent and the dusty air is filled with that special anticipatory atmosphere only found in the best bookshops. The couple who own and run the shop are so lovely and I rarely walk away from there without a tote bag full of books. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Wells.

5. What’s been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller (or fellow booktuber)?
I feel like most of the books I read these days have been recommended to me by booktubers or other bloggers! I probably wouldn't have discovered the Saga series of graphic novels (or graphic novels in general) without booktube and I absolutely adore that series. As for my favourite book recommended by a bookseller I think that would have to be Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel which I was pondering buying in a bookshop when a bookseller jumped in and told me it was their favourite read of the year, which just sealed the deal for me, and it then became one of my favourite reads of 2015!

6. What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
I don't have any specific favourite bookshop memories but living in quite a remote area and dealing with chronic illness means that I don't get a chance to visit bookshops very often so each time I get to do that is special to me.

7. What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?
Ever since I was little bookshops have been the most magical places for me. There's just this feeling of excitement, joy and intense satisfaction that I get from being in a bookshop, surrounded by stories I love and so many potential stories. Bookshops are one of the places I feel happiest, most comfortable and just like I'm where I belong. I think it has something to do with my various anxiety disorders and how out of place I often feel in public spaces but in bookshops I know I'm around 'my people', people who love the same thing that I do, and it just makes me feel so much more comfortable. It's always been a dream of mine to be a bookseller and I'm definitely going to make it happen one day, no matter what.

8. What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you?
This is possibly the most difficult question ever, I've read so many books it's hard to narrow down the ones that have influenced me most! I'm going to the get the obvious out of the way first and say the Harry Potter series because the books were released when I was growing up and I felt like I was growing alongside the characters, and I think those books got me through my difficult teenage years and kept me reading when I might've stopped.
I'm also going to say The Colour Purple by Alice Walker as it was one of the first books that I studied at school that I really loved and was passionate enough about to write an essay that I was really proud of and that ultimately convinced me to study English Literature at university, without which I might not be where I am today.
But I would say that every single book I've read has affected me, influenced me and enabled me to become a more thoughtful reader.

9. What book do you recommend readers gift for Father’s Day?
Well, obviously all fathers and father figures are different and I'd definitely say a thoughtful and personal book would be best (my dad would love nothing more than a book on fly-fishing that he hasn't read yet!). But if we're talking generally I think The Martian by Andy Weir is a great gift for Father's Day, although I haven't actually read it myself yet, I haven't heard one negative review and it's a book my dad and brother both really enjoyed.

10. What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?
This might seem like a rather strange one but I read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton last year and I unexpectedly really enjoyed it and I've been really wanting to get to the sequel The Lost World, which I'm hopefully going to read on holiday! They're not the most well written books and the science is fairly questionable but they're such gripping page-turners and I mean, come on, dinosaurs.

So those are all the questions! I hope you find a way to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week and if you're reading this and you want to do this tag then consider yourself tagged!

I'm also going to tag some of my favourite bookish bloggers and friends: Emma of The Eggplant Emoji, Grace of Almost Amazing Grace, Emma of Emma's Bookery, Ali of Ali Caitrin and Aisling of Aisling's Beauty Bites!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEWS | MAY


Total number of books read: 8
Total number of pages read: 1595
Genres: 1 adult non-fiction, 5 graphic novels, 1 adult thriller, 1 adult fantasy.
Nationality of author: 5 USA, 1 UK, 1 French.

We're about half way through June so why not take a look back at May? May was a bit of a funny reading month for me, although I read eight things, five of them were graphic novels, which didn't take me very long to read, so the rest of the month was spent plodding slowly through just three books. I think I was just exhausted after reading an incredible twelve books in April, and that exhuastion has crept into June somewhat. Oh well, swings and roundabouts. Let's get into the reviews!

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling | ☆☆☆☆
Why Not Me? is Mindy Kaling's second collection of memoir-essays and unlike Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? which was a collection of funny musings and anecdotes on Kaling's childhood, Why Not Me? is a more focused memoir of her career and her journey to success. I found it a little difficult to get into at first because jumping from the fiction I'd been reading, to Kaling's very distinct voice was a little jarring but once I got into it I couldn't get enough. Mindy Kaling is exactly the kind of person everyone can imagine being best friends with; she's hilarious, confident and self-aware and she has some really interesting, honest and inspiring things to say in Why Not Me? This book reminded me how much I love her and inspired me to rewatch the show she created, wrote and stars in, The Mindy Project, and I'm loving every second.

The Invisible Kingdom by Rob Ryan | ☆☆.75
I've categorised this as a graphic novel in my reading statistics to simply things but it's really more of a picture story book, aimed at 'anyone aged 8-80', according to Goodreads. Rob Ryan is an amazing artist who specialises in papercutting and this book is a story about a lonely young prince that is accompanied by Ryan's papercut illustrations. The images in this book, as always with Rob Ryan's work, are absolutely stunning, but the story just lacked something for me. It was quite sweet but there wasn't a lot of plot and part of me thinks that the images could tell the story better by themselves. I think this might be part of a series but I'm not sure I'll be picking up the others.

Saga Volumes 2, 3, 4 and 5 by Brain K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples | ☆☆☆☆☆
After reading Saga volume one all the way back in January, I finally got around to borrowing the next four volumes from my local library and devoured them in just a few days. I absolutely love this graphic novel series, it's definitely my favourite by far. Saga is a sweeping space opera with a young family at it's center who are fighting to stay alive in an intergalactic war. It's difficult to describe the plot other than that but it's one you should just dive right into. The art is just incredible and the writing is sharp, compelling and hilarious. Read it now.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh | ☆.25
After being thoroughly disappointed by Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Cuckoo's Calling, I'd figured that mystery-thrillers just weren't for me. But my lovely friend Emma wanted me to read this book so much that she very kindly bought me a copy and after my other friend Emma gave it a rave review, I thought I'd better give it a chance, and I kind of loved it. I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a remote Welsh village after a tragic accident, but she finds that no matter how hard she tries, she can't escape her past. Sounds kind of like every mystery-thriller ever right? Wrong.
My issue with mystery-thrillers is that after a lifetime of watching pretty much every episode of CSI and Dexter, I tend to figure out the mystery pretty quickly and I don't usually find them very thrilling, but I Let You Go just threw out all of my preconceptions about this genre. I can't put my finger on what it was, maybe it was the writing, or the pretty unpredictable plot, but this book had me totally gripped from the first page and I just couldn't put it down. It was heart-wrenching, terrifying and at one point so shocking that I actually audibly gasped so many times on the train that the woman near me may have been concerned for my sanity. If you love this genre, or think you hate it, I urge you to pick up I Let You Go. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery | 
This book was kindly sent to me for review by ED public relations on behalf of Gallic Books, who publish books that have been translated from their original French, into English. It is about two young foundlings who, although living thousands of miles apart, are connected by something mysterious, and whose presence blurs the lines between our world and another. Those who loved Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog will find The Life of Elves to be quite a departure both in genre and somewhat in style. The Life of Elves is magical realism bordering on fantasy and is written in a very lyrical style, which might not be to everyone's taste. I personally enjoyed losing myself in Barbery's writing which had an almost ethereal quality to it and conjured up vivid images of nature, innocence and magic. The Life of Elves is definitely more character driven than plot-driven and every character was described so richly that they felt almost real. However the plot did move very slowly and could have done with a little more structure; there seemed to be a lot of descriptive narrative which suddenly culminated in a slightly confusing climax which felt a little unfinished (it might be part of a series, but I'm unsure). Overall, I really enjoyed Barbery's writing and would recommend it to fans of lyrical style and a more relaxed pace.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

STARTING A NEW BULLET JOURNAL WITH BUREAU DIRECT*

Starting a new bullet journal Sarah's Chapter

You might remember that back in February I posted about starting a bullet journal. At the time I had only been bullet journalling for a few weeks and thought that it might be helpful to share my experience with others, I had no idea that it was going to be so well-received. My 'Starting a Bullet Journal' post has been my most popular post of all time; it's had over 20,000 unique pageviews and has been pinned over 67,000 times on Pinterest. For a small/medium sized blog like mine, those are crazy huge numbers!


Well, four months later and that first bullet journal has been completely filled, it's totally changed how I organise my time and has made me infinitely more productive. The bullet journal is the most helpful and innovative organisational tool I've ever come across and I'm now definitely a committed bullet journaller. With that in mind it was time to start a new one and the lovely Isaac over at independent stationery company Bureau Direct offered to send me a bundle of bullet journal essentials so I could up my bujo game and share them with you guys. In this post, I'll be reviewing the items in the bundle and showing you how I've been using my new bullet journal.


Ever since starting my first bullet journal I'd been dying to try out the Leuchtturm 1917 which is the notebook of preference for so many bullet journallers, so I was delighted that this was included in the bundle that I received. The Leuchtturm 1917 comes in so many gorgeous colours but I went for the lime green as I wanted something bright and cheerful. This is the A5 dotted version* of the notebook which I find to be the best for everyday bullet journalling, as it fits perfectly in your bag and the dotted pages are perfect for both writing and drawing. I've found that since switching from lined to dotted pages I've been much more creative with my journalling as it makes drawing neat boxes, banners and grids really simple.


In my first journal I'd pretty much just used ballpoint and gel rollerball pens and after watching Boho Berry's videos I was eager to expand my pen collection so the Kaweco fountain pen and Mark's HiBi ballpoint that were included in the bundle were perfect. The Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen* is a pocket-sized pen with a really unusual design, mine is in a forest green with gold detailing and it really is beautiful. I went for black ink cartridges as I mostly write and draw in black because it's practical and I find that way the pages don't look too busy or messy. This fountain pen writes so smoothly, the line is the perfect thickness and I find that it doesn't bleed through the Leuchtturm's pages. The Mark's HiBi ballpoint* is very slim, making it so light and easy to hold and it writes with a very fine line that is perfect for taking quick notes and drawing grids. Bureau Direct also included a Papelote notebook strap* which is perfect for carrying the notebook and multiple pens round on the go, I love this little extra and use it constantly.

I've been using this new bullet journal and all the little essentials for a few weeks now so I thought I'd dive right in and show you how I've been filling it out so far and the spreads that I decided to migrate from my old bullet journal.


The Leuchtturm 1917 is perfect for bullet journalling as it already has a built-in Index and numbered pages, making it so much easier to keep track of collections. I find this really helpful but the small section for page numbers in the Index does mean that if a collection (such as June dailies) is dotted over different pages you might need to make several entries for that collection.


This '2016 goals' spread is one that I migrated over from my first bullet journal as I want to continue to track these goals throughout the year. I'm hoping that by the end of the year I'll be able to see some progress on each of these goals and it'll give me an idea of how to move forward with them next year. I also had a play around with the MT pastel washi tapes*; I love using them for headers, dividers and borders, they brighten up the page whilst keeping it fairly minimal.


This spread shows two collections that I migrated over from my previous bullet journal: my blog statistics tracker and my TBR page. The idea of the TBR (to be read) page is that I write down unread books that I want to get to then colour them in once I've finished. It's a nice way of having a visual representation of what I'm reading and how well I'm doing at tackling my TBR. I used the Mark's HiBi ballpoint to draw both the stats grid and the bookcase as it's ultra-fine line is great for precision.


Again, I've carried over this 2016 reading statistics spread from my previous bullet journal as I want to continue to track these throughout the year. I want to do a post about my reading statistics at the end of the year, like I did for 2015, and tracking everything each time I finish a book will save me so much time overall, it's also super motivating. I used the Mark's HiBi ballpoint to draw the grid lines and the Kaweco fountain pen for all the writing. I absolutely love writing with this pen, it's just so smooth and is great for drawing titles and doing any calligraphy.

Future Log Sarah's Chapter

The future log is one of the key sections of the original bullet journal set up that was created by Ryder Carroll (watch this video for a great explanation of how the bullet journal system works). I use it to store events and tasks that are scheduled months in advance and I refer back to it when creating my monthly spreads.


This is my monthly spread for June. Over the last few months I've played around with different monthly spreads as some months I found I wasn't really using it, but then other formats didn't quite work for me. For now I've settled on the original monthly spread suggested by Ryder Carroll. Although it looks empty in this photograph (I'd only just set it up) I actually use the monthly task list quite a lot to note down things I need to get done in the near future. This spread is helpful when creating my weekly and daily logs.

Starting a new bullet journal Sarah's Chapter

This spread contains my monthly 'things I'm into' and my June habit tracker. The 'things I'm into' collection is kind of a mix of a gratitude log and a 'monthly memories' and it's basically where, throughout the month, I doodle the things that I've been enjoying that particular month, whether it's an item, a memory or something random. It helps me when putting together my monthly favourites posts and it's also just nice to look back on and see what I was enjoying in any particular month.

The habit tracker is something many people use in their bullet journals and basically works as a motivational tool to improve daily habits such as keeping up with skincare, blogging and getting an early night. This particular habit tracker layout is inspired by Boho Berry who actually has a habit tracker printable that is very similar. I use Papermate InkJoy pens that I picked up at The Range to fill in the tracker and it's one of the only colourful pages in my bullet journal.

Another great thing about the Leuchtturm 1917 is that it contains two built-in ribbons which means you can mark two important pages in your bullet journal. I keep one ribbon on the above spread, as I refer to it every day, and one on my current page. It's little details like that that make the Leuchtturm stand out from other notebooks.


These spreads are some examples of weekly and daily logs. The weekly log is not included in Ryder Carroll's original system but I think I got the idea from Tiny Ray of Sunshine. I use the weekly log mostly as a task list of things that need to get done that week but not necessarily on any specific day, I will then refer to this when creating my daily logs. The daily logs are standard bullet journal fare and at the moment I mainly use them as a task list.

I like to be creative with my bullet journal and I really enjoy experimenting with banners and practicing doodles (I often use Pinterest as an inspiration for these) but that doesn't mean that you have to. The best thing about the bullet journal is that it can be whatever you want it to be, it doesn't have to be 'Pinterest-y' or pretty or embellished. The most important thing is that it functions for you as an organisational system. If you want to also use it as a creative outlet, that's fine, but you certainly don't have to. Boho Berry has made an excellent video on this topic if you want to check it out.

I hope you've found this little update on my bullet journal helpful and hopefully it's given you some ideas and recommendations for new bullet journal essential items. I just want to say thank you so much to Bureau Direct for sending me this little bundle and I'm genuinely loving every single item. If you're looking for a new notebook or just want to drool over some beautiful stationery, head over to their website.

Do you keep a bullet journal? Let me know!

* Disclaimer: the products marked with an asterix were sent to me for free by Bureau Direct in exchange for an honest review. However all opinions are entirely my own and I would never review something that I didn't honestly love!

Friday, 27 May 2016

BLOG TOUR: THE BAD MISS BENNET ABROAD BY JEAN BURNETT



The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett
Published by Canelo
Release date: 23rd May 2016.
Source: Canelo via ED public relations, e-book review copy.


Whatever happened next to Lydia Bennet? A rollicking romp that follows the fortunes of Pride and Prejudice ’s most badly-behaved Bennet sister Having controversially run off with George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Lydia is confronted with his untimely demise on the battlefield at Waterloo. Merry widow Lydia Wickham, née Bennet, is therefore in want of a rich husband. Failing to find one in Europe, she embarks on a voyage to Brazil accompanied by her trusty maid, Adelaide, to join the exiled Portuguese Court in Rio de Janeiro. She soon catches the eye of the heir, Dom Pedro. Staying out of trouble doesn’t come naturally to Lydia as she is captured by pirates, then makes a second disastrous marriage, and even finds ways to ruin the Darcys’ tranquil existence all over again. Will she return from the tropics with a cache of jewels? Could she ever succeed in her quest for ‘an agreeable husband with an estate and two matching footmen’, or must her taste for adventure lead her astray yet again? [blurb from Goodreads]

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the recently released The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett! I'm thrilled to share a guest post from Jean on the enduring appeal of Jane Austen, something which is very close to my heart as an Austen fan! (You can read my reviews of some of Austen's works here and here). So grab a cup of tea and enjoy Jean's post!

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What is the enduring appeal of Jane Austen? 

We live in the age of the Janeites, fanatical followers of Jane Austen who have helped to put her novels up there with Dracula, the Bible and other unlikely titles as the most read, loved and copied in various forms.

The term Janeites was coined by Rudyard Kipling, a great admirer of the novels. He wrote a long short story called The Janeites, set during the First World War about a group of soldiers who discussed Janes work in the trenches as an antidote to the horrors around them. They even named some of their big guns after her characters. Today people all over the world, but especially in North America, proudly call themselves Janeites.

The recent two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, has increased the urge to be Austentatious, fuelled by more and more TV and film adaptions of the novels – and originally, of course, by Colin Firth in that wet shirt. There was a film out recently called Austenland in which a Janeite indulges her ultimate fantasy and disappears into a Jane Austen theme park dressed appropriately. Are the thousands of spinoffs a tribute or a curse?

The fact is that writers have been appropriating Jane’s characters since the first spinoff novel was written in 1913. Old Friends and New Fancies by an American writer, Sybil Brinton, mixed up characters from all the novels and married them off neatly - Georgiana Darcy from P and P marries William Price from Mansfield Park.

Since then, the tendency has grown into a minor industry. The recent 200th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Pride and Prejudice saw a number of well-known writers producing modern versions of the novels. Joanna Trollope has tackled Sense and Sensibility. Has the Queen of the Aga Sagas introduced one of those beasts into Barton Cottage? I recall that it certainly needed one. Alexander McCall Smith has re-written Emma for the modern age and Val McDermid has published a modern Northanger Abbey set in Windsor rather than Bath. P.D.James wrote a spinoff (Death Comes to Pemberley), which was shown on TV.

Today, Jane’s heroes and heroines are much more intrepid, battling aliens (Pride and Prejudice and Sea Monsters), doing time travel and going Bollywood.

Women love to compare themselves to Jane's heroines and this is part of her enduring appeal. They were doing the same thing in the Regency era. The Prince Regent's unfortunate daughter, Princess Charlotte, apparently compared herself to Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.

Perhaps the most obvious and well known modern take on an Austen heroine is in the Bridget Jones novels and films. Although Bridget has a lowly job in a publishing house her principle concern in life is finding the right man. In this she matches an Austen heroine, but while there very good practical reasons for this obsession in the 1800s - no other option being available to women, the situation hardly applies today.

Feminists will despair but women are still brainwashed from birth about the necessity of looking good and finding a man. We lack a modern day Almacks, the ballroom where the fashionable elite (the ton) met to find partners, but we have internet dating! Today's heroine haunts bars and drinks to excess but the search for a good man with the equivalent of £10,000 a year goes on.

Would Jane spin in her grave over this or would she be excessively diverted? We can never know; but it is a truth universally acknowledged that we need our Austen characters more than ever. We project our hopes, fears and fantasies on to them - and we love them.

- Jean Burnett.

--

The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad is a hilarious take on the life of Lydia Bennet after the events of Pride and Prejudice. It's a fast-paced romp through Brazil and beyond and I found it really interesting to see well-loved characters like Darcy and Elizabeth through the eyes of flirtatious, spoilt Lydia Bennet! Jean Burnett has a great writing style and I'd definitely recommend this along with her other books if you're looking for an alternative take on the Austen world.

The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett was published on 23rd May by Canelo Books, priced £3.99 in eBook.

*I received this e-book for free in exchange for an honest review from Canelo Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review*

Friday, 20 May 2016

THE GIRLS BY EMMA CLINE | SPOILER-FREE REVIEW


The Girls by Emma Cline
Published by Chatto & Windus.
Release date: June 16th 2016.
Source: Penguin Random House.
I received this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat. 

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever? [blurb from Goodreads]

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I knew that I wanted to pick it up. I've always been fascinated by the 1960s/70s era of American history and the California setting just drew me right in. The Girls is heavily inspired by the Charles Manson case and the Manson Family, and although it isn't a direct fictionalisation of the case, there are many parallels between the events of that summer and the plot within the novel. This aspect lends a certain reality to the atmosphere and the characters, making them all the more evocative.

The novel is set in dual timelines; it seamlessly flows between present-day narrator Evie and her account of the summer of 1969. I sometimes find dual timelines confusing or jarring but that wasn't an issue with this novel, it is largely set in 1969 but the present-day narrative adds a level of nuance as an older Evie reflects on the past.

One of the things I found most interesting about The Girls is its deconstruction of the dreamy, hippie, late 1960s version of the manic pixie dream girls. Even now, almost 50 years after the Manson girls were thrust into the public eye, society is still fascinated by them. They are iconic, held up as figures of mystery - there's a sort of dangerous attraction in the contrast between their girlish looks and the horrific acts they were involved in. Similarly, when we first encounter the 'girls' in the novel, Evie is drawn to how seemingly different they are from everyone else, their carefree laughter, unwashed hair and skimpy dresses. She is completely enthralled by them and immediately wants to find out more. She creates this mystery around them but as we get further into the book the reader, if not Evie herself, begins to see that these are just girls, who, in an attempt to escape from the roles assigned to them by traditional patriarchal society, have fallen into the false freedom and subservience of life at the ranch. They are flawed and real and frank and ultimately not mysterious at all.

The Girls is about women, and the roles they often play in the lives of men. They are wives and dutiful daughters and sexual objects and pawns in the schemes and manipulations of men, and in a way, our main character Evie rejects this mentality but is still a victim to it. Evie is not infatuated with the enigmatic cult leader Russell, as everyone else seems to be, but with Suzanne; one of the 'girls'. Evie does have sexual encounters with men but they are disconnected, unemotional and unsatisfying. In fact all the references to sexual interactions between men and women in the book are unromantic and they are portrayed as predatory and animalistic. Even in the present-day, the older Evie is often repulsed by men and is sometimes fearful of them. The Girls demonstrates the reality of systemic patriarchy and it's all-too-often destructive nature.

Even if you just read The Girls as a fictional memoir of a 1960s cult-esque lifestyle, it's excellently written, completely absorbing and the perfect atmospheric summer read. But if you look more closely, you'll also find a nuanced look at feminism, femininity, sexuality and the patriarchy.

Emma Cline is an author from California and The Girls is her debut novel.

I'm thinking about choosing The Girls for a Girl Gang Book Club pick this summer, so please do let me know if you'd be up for that!

Friday, 13 May 2016

LIBRARY HAUL | MAY


How great are libraries? If your answer to that wasn't 'OMG SO GREAT!' then you really need to check out your local library. After all, having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!

Seriously though, I'm pretty in love with my local library and I'll be writing about that and the importance of libraries in local communities very soon, so look out for that!

Recently I've been getting a lot of books out of the library instead of getting through my own huge TBR because well, it kind of feels like I'm buying shiny new books, but it's free. So why not, right?

Now let's take a little look at my latest library haul, pretty much all of these are ones that I requested on my online library system and I didn't quite expect for them to all come in at once, but oh well!


Saga Volumes 3-5 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Look at these beauties! Aren't they just gorgeous?! This graphic novel series gets so much hype but it's worth every bit because it really is excellent. The art is stunning, the plot is fast-paced, gripping and twisty and the characters, oh the characters, I love them so damn much. If you haven't already picked up this epic space opera then you have to immediately. Volume six comes out in July and I'm definitely going to be re-reading these at least once before then and hopefully getting my hands on copies of my own.


Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
After reading The Girls by Emma Cline last month I wanted to find out more about the case it was based on, the Manson family, so I requested this book which is a non-fiction account of the case by the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. I've always been into true crime documentaries and podcasts but I haven't read many true crime books so it'll be interesting to see how if I enjoy this format. It's a lot heftier than expected so I'm not sure how closely I'll actually read it but I think it'll make for some interesting further reading.

The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre
This is an adult thriller about a woman with murderous tendencies who has locked herself in her apartment for three years because of this. She makes money by being a cam girl, performing online for paying viewers. But a missing girl leads her to leave her apartment for the first time in years. I've heard quite a few people on booktube talking about this book and I've been getting quite into thrillers lately so I'm looking forward to seeing what it has in store.

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Another pretty dark sounding book, Tricks is a YA contemporary following five interweaving stories about growing up, love, sex, family and abuse. I know that Lindsey Rey highly rates Ellen Hopkins books so I picked it up on that basis. The interesting thing about this book is that it is all told in verse, which I think is something that might take some getting used to but I'm looking forward to giving it a go.


Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
This is the sequel to the brilliant but disturbing You which I read last month and I'm equally excited and terrified to read this. Hidden Bodies follows charasmatic, disturbed-AF stalker-y Joe as he moves to Los Angeles to try and put his past behind him, but no matter how hard he tries, it can't stay hidden forever. Like I said, I want to read this, but I'm also kind of scared. Someone give me the courage?

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
I'm not actually sure where I heard about this but it's been on my Wordery wishlist for a while now and I thought I'd just get it out of the library. As far as I know it's a YA contemporary with LGBT themes and that's enough for me!

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
I've been wanting to read this ever since it came out so I'm glad I've finally got my hands on it! In Order to Live is a memoir from human rights activist Yeonmi Park about fleeing from North Korea with her mother at age thirteen and the harrowing two years before eventually arriving in South Korea. I'm pretty sure this is going to be quite a stressful and difficult read but I've no doubt that it's going to be an important one.

So those are the books I'm going to be reading soon and hopefully I'll get through them before the library tempts me back again!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

BANK HOLIDAY BOOK HAUL

I'd been doing so well with my book buying ban this year, I hadn't really bought any at all...until I went to Norfolk for the bank holiday weekend. Oh North Norfolk, with it's plethora of charity shops and their excellent selection of books - it's always my downfall, I just can't resist.

I ended up coming home with five books, which is actually pretty restrained for me, and the book buying ban is now back on until I've whittled down my ever-growing TBR. So let's have a look at what I picked up...

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell.
This is a collection of short stories written by Karen Russell which I've heard a few people talking about on booktube lately so when I saw it I knew I had to have it. I don't think I've read any short story collections since I was younger and it's something I really want to try. I like the idea of being able to read one complete story each night before bed, I think that would be really satisfying. I'll let you know how it goes.

The Humans by Matt Haig.
I read Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig last year but I've never read any of his fiction. I honestly had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up, I just wanted to read more from Matt Haig. But according to the blurb it's about aliens, mathematics and what it means to be human. At under 300 pages it looks to be a fairly quick read and I'm looking forward to getting into it.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.
This was another author buy as I'm a bit of a Kate Atkinson fangirl, even though Behind the Scenes at the Museum is the only book of hers I've read, it's one of my favourite books of all time and I now compulsively collect her books whilst also being too afraid to read them in case they don't match up. From what I can tell Life After Life seems to be a historical/speculative fiction/sci-fi novel and it just sounds kind of perfectly up my street, I really can't wait to read it.

Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple.
Look at the photo above and I'll give you one guess as to why I bought this. You got it, it's a persephone book *sighs happily*. Persephone is an independent publisher which publishes previously neglected works by mid-twentieth century women writers. They all have the same grey cover but each has beautiful individually chosen patterned endpapers based on fabric designs. Someone at a Distance's design is that of a furnishing fabric from the 30s (fitting with the setting of the book) and it 'combines a menacing feel with a hint of the domestic' (according to Persephone). Basically these books are works of art and brilliance and everything I look for in life, and I found one in a charity shop for three pounds. I die.
It is about a deceived wife and a foolish husband but honestly it didn't matter what it was about, I had to have it, and I'm sure I'll love it for more than it's beauty.

In Real Life by Joey Graceffa.
I'm not actually sure why I bought this, apart from the fact that it jumped out at me from amongst all the discarded copies of Gone Girl and Fifty Shades of Grey that populated the charity shop. I used to watch Joey Graceffa's YouTube videos and whilst I don't anymore I still think he's an interesting person and I'm kind of fascinated by these 'YouTube memoirs'. So that's that.

And that's the handful of books that I picked up in my various charity shop jaunts over the bank holiday weekend. I also got that cute little chalkboard sign and a pretty sweet Zara jumper - kerching!

Have you read any of these? Let me know what you thought!