#BookadayUK July 2014 -week three round-up

Week three! Hello!

The topics for July 2014

The topics for July 2014

July 14th – For Bastille Day, your favourite novel about or set in France

this is life

Ok, so the author had to gently remind me of this book when I exclaimed on twitter that I had NEVER read a book set in or about France, but once that reminder was duly made I was delirious as:

1) I was beginning to fear I was some kind of  narrow-minded reader with a desperate need to cast my book net a bit wider (quelle horreur!)

and

2) I now have the opportunity to urge you all to get on This Is Life by Dan Rhodes. How I forgot about this book, I will never know, as I absolutely loved it! Hilarious, inventive, thoughtful – I ate up every page. I will add the overlook to the other pile of stuff I have forgotten this year – LIKE MY MUM’S BIRTHDAY (sorry mum).

If you weren’t quick enough to get a copy of When The Professor Got Stuck in The Snow you should definitely pick this up instead!

July 15th - I totally missed this! Argh! Sorry! Can anyone let me know what the topic was?

July 16th – Favourite book to take to the beach

under your skin

I am not much of a beach bunny. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the sea, but my beach days are usually chilly and involve walking along as much of the front as possible, prodding at stuff. There’s not too much time to read when you are prodding at stuff. However, as the sun is beating down and I can get to the seafront by bus, if I was to go down I would be taking Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant as its my current book and I am really rather enjoying it!

July 17th – Novel that surprised you most

gone girl

For all the wrong reasons – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. If I had taken a pound from everyone who banged on about how brilliant this was I would be Scrooge McDucked by now. In fact, I should have taken a pound from all those who banged on about how brilliant it was as I feel like they owe me. I read it all, because I’m some kind of sadist, and you can read my review here.

July 18th – Favourite crime novel of all time

prime suspect

I don’t often read crime books, I don’t know why as I [mostly - see above] always enjoy them. Possibly not the greatest crime book ever written (in fact I believe it was adapted from the show’s screenplay), but simply for giving the world the remarkable and flawed Jane Tennison I have chosen Prime Suspect by Lynda La Plante.

July 19th – Most memorable plot twist

one day

Not so much a “twist” as a happening, but it has to be One Day by David Nicholls. I have never been punched so hard by a book, nor worried I might actually be ill over myself. A shocking, physical, moment the reader feels in the bones.

July 20th – Your Desert Island novel

tokill

It has to be To Kill a Mockingbird again! This novel has everything in it, I just wouldn’t need anything else and it would never bore me!

 

 

 

Judge a Cover Friday! The Accidental – Ali Smith

the-accidental

This was a book I bought based purely on the cover. At the time I was going through an ill-advised retro-hippy stage and I wanted everything about the prostate red-head on the cover.

Everytime I picked the book up I debated whether the girl was dead, on the brink of death, or just in the grip of momentary bliss. I wanted to know what pictures were on her camera, were they, as I suspected, mostly of herself or was she merely holding the camera for some other, unseen photographer.

I read this ages ago and really enjoyed it, I have no idea though, where my copy has gone! Ialso don’t know why I haven’t picked up anything else by Smith since, recommendations would be greatly received in the comments section!

What is your earliest memory?

So yesterday I posted about writing more, and how I had been using writingexercises.co.uk for prompts and inspiration. I also said that I would post the piece I wrote yesterday, so as I am true to my word and never lie, here it is.

 

What is your earliest memory?

The Great Memory by Valerie Hammond, 2007

The Great Memory by Valerie Hammond, 2007

When I asked, Science told me that my first memory was almost certainly not real. Anything you think you remember before two years of age was probably formed in your brain using material from other people’s anecdotes – little memory building blocks you borrowed and turned into something of your own. But, as with memory itself, it depends who you ask as to what Science you want to believe.

I have a vested interest in my first memory being real, so I’m probably going to go with whichever Science says I can believe in it. This winter-clad moment, when I wasn’t yet two, is my only connection with someone whose presence was much missed in my life.

I am small, not pram small, toddling small, but not full-blown conversation big. I am sat in front of a fire, a medieval grate towers in front of it like a castle, protecting my little person flesh against the whip of flame (there may also have been hired orcs standing guard on either side with water buckets at the ready, I was a well protected child, but I’ll accept their presence in this story is almost certainly down to one of those “conjured” memories). I am fussing with something in my lap, a doll I think, something handed down from my sister, but no less loved by me. I’m feeling its hair tag through my fingers, thinking to myself “I’d like this knotty, unmanageable hair for myself…I will make Having Awful Hair my life’s work” (there has to have been something that triggered my almost punishable neglect of my locks).

The rest of my family are in the room, standing behind the sofa that has been pulled up towards the heat of the fire. They are chatting happily, hovering by the door, anticipating something. My mum talks quietly, my dad’s belly fills with laughter, ready to be let free to bounce around the room when the waited-for moment comes. A sibling or two flits in and out of the corner of my eye.  The sky is just starting to slip into grey outside, we light the room with the fire and one table lamp – everything is soft orange.  It is cold outside and festive feeling inside, but not quite Christmas. There is excitement and peaceful contentment decorating everything – It feels perfect.

A bell chimes and people scatter, I look up from my toy for any instruction from mum, non are given so I stay in my position, finger-combing Tiny Tears. But I can’t ignore the influx that has roared into the room for long. A fierce love pours from the front door, the whole room has flooded with it in an instance. I look from person to person, trying to pick out the new one in the room. My sister laughs and claps her hands to her chest that is fit to burst, she has packed her bag with happiness and positioned herself firmly on the brink of Fun-To-Be-Had. A smile edges the corners of my brother’s shy mouth, his eyes turn up to the newbie, bright and shiny with boldness. Both my parents beam, picking up drink fetching and banter duties respectively.

It is then, having checked off everyone I know, that he leans into my orbit. I cannot hear the words he says, but his mouth forms shapes and I follow its dance. He seems jolly nice, I think. Thick rimmed glasses are perched on his nose and he bends down onto one knee with the unthreatening confidence of Family. He is like a sea-bitten Buddy Holly. I do not budge. I do not sharply shuffle, knees raw on the carpet, for escape behind my mother’s legs like I usually would. I sit there transfixed as he points at things and smiles.

Under his arm is a long green snake and after a time he introduces it to me. He weaves its head hypnotically towards me, to and fro, as though it has come to life before us. But I still do not budge, not even in the face of a marauding green serpent; this man is safety and he will stop dead any danger it may possess. He would wrestle the stuffing out of that thing should it turn on me. Somehow, I just know this. He turns the snake about and rattles its bead-filled tail at my nose, I giggle and grab for it.

He pushes himself up then, hand on knee, satisfied with Uncle-duty so far,  touching my soon-to-be nest of hair on his way up. He returns to the brood and the warmth of gleeful eyes. He has left the snake lying next to me, gazing happily into the fire with its goggly eyes. Its felt tongue sticks out the side of its long mouth at me. I am not sure if this deposit bestows ownership, but as I grew up, no sight of that snake went without a thought of him and the warmth and the love of that moment.

Ok, so the mind makes flourishes, but sometimes, I assure you, you should let it. The man who made my first memory will die in a clattering, undeserved way, walking to a telephone to ask for help. No one came to pat away the snakes that day. The reality of that is worth swapping for the conjured warmth of a toddler’s building-block-built mind any made-up day.

Getting my write on

...that, and inaction.

…that, and inaction.

As I only work part-time at the moment I have forced myself, kicking and screaming, to pick up my writing in a serious, and regular, manner (also, have you seen Jeremy Kyle lately – holy hell.). Writing is something I have always wanted to do, but it is a strange passion – you are filled with both delight and horror at the prospect.

But, mostly always horror.

For something I really enjoy doing, it doesn’t half take a cartload of motivation to get me to actually do it.

Do windsurfers feel this way? Do they really enjoy windsurfing, but spend days sulkily building up to pulling on the wetsuit before  going out and actually doing some windsurfing?

My friend Laura’s book, Queen of Bedlam, came out this year and do you know her secret? She just wrote it! (ok, so she used to get up hours before work and write before dawn, but you know, same fing) I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I KNOW that the first rule of writing is just bloody getting on with it, but sometimes I just feel completely incapable.

I used to use these excuses:

  • I’ve been at work all day, lifting things from one point to another, I’m so very tired. Can’t you just hold me?
  • I’m in a terrible rut of comparing myself to everybody else and just, well, whats the point? Sue Townsend happened already.
  • I’m 31 now so I CATEGORICALLY cannot have any rave reviews that say things like “Renowden, whose debut novel topped the Christmas charts when she was only 19, has just accepted an invitation to be the sole attraction at this year’s Hay-on-Wye
  • I don’t know what to write about…

Well, I will just have to shut those voices up, because:

  • I’ve been at work for SOME of the day, for SOME of the week and Davina McCall workout videos aside, I’m still pretty perky at 5pm. This is a privilege, so stop pissing about.
  • Comparison is completely stupid, futile and will get you nowhere so STOP IT.
  • The only thing not possible in a scientific way about this sentence is “19″. The rest of it could happen. And that’s science FACT.
  • Oh please…

Everyone, even you, has something to write about. But yes, I’ll accept, that sometimes you sit down and just nothing happens. You shake your pen about, drum the keyboard, ask someone to rub your shoulders, but still – nada.

And that’s where freewriting comes in!

For the past month or so I have been trying to put some time aside to write freely. Some days I will set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and smash out any jumble of words that come to mind. Its quite spectular what the brain can come out with under pressure, and the 200 or so words I manage I can pad out and plump up in my own time. I now have a handful of “usable” short stories from doing this.

I used to do something similar when I was at uni; having just done an essay on Dadaism (yes, I did do English Literature, how I ended up writing about an art movement is another (not very interesting) story) I decided to spend months writing Dada poetry. This basically involved cutting up newspaper and magazine articles, jumbling up the words and pulling them one by one from a box (in my case a Tampax box – yes, I thought I was “that” person) to make a bizarre, and often hilarious, stream of words. Again, a suprising amount of workable material came out.

But, as we have pitifully established, I am not 19 so I can’t as easily get away with pretending to be part of Dada. So, instead, I go to this website writingexercises.co.uk for a fix of inspiration. This site is great, you can ask it to spew out a character name, a plot, a first line or a random subject and before you know it you are away! When I use this site I usually give myself 1000 words as a satisfying target to meet. I’ve been pretty pleased with what I have written so far, and I have had the chance to write creatively and biographically.

Now that I’m writing pretty regularly again, I’ve decided to post my efforts on the blog now and then. So don’t be shaken or ask “what the hell is she going on about? This isn’t a review of Franzen’s latest…” if a rambling spiel turns up on your feeds and in your inboxes. I was going to use Wattpad, but most of the advice I read pretty much concurred that if you already have a blog there isn’t much point.

I’ll have the piece (oh, “piece” !) I wrote today up tomorrow (“What is your earliest memory?”), I thought this post was probably enough of a meandering mash or words for one day.

 

#BookadayUK July 2014 – week two round-up!

The topics for July 2014

The topics for July 2014

Hello Week Two! I am in you!

July 7th – Most chocolately novel -it’s National Chocolate Day! – I’ve literally got nothing for you! Nope, nothing. I haven’t even read Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Which seems like a horrendous oversight. Maybe this is my cue to do just that?

July 8th – Favourite Great War novel 

all-quietI usually read non-fiction when it comes to the World Wars, but All Quiet on The Western Front has been sitting on my shelf for about a year now. So, having seen that this was to be a topic this week, I decided to read it. I finished it yesterday on the bus, and it was all I could do not to ding the bell and fling myself into the nearest field for a sob. I probably should have done, this will be a book that will stay with me forever, and perhaps having a break down in front of some cows may have given me some closure. But I want this book to stay with me, haunt me and inspire me.

July 9th – Most irritating character in a novel

Meatspace  This is a pretty easy one for me and he’s from a book I read very recently, its Aziz from Meatspace. God, he couldn’t disappear from the page quick enough!

July 10th – Novel with most memorable picnic for Teddy Bear Picnic Day! 

the-wind-in-the-willowsThe Wind in The Willows, who wouldn’t want to be stretched out on that riverbank with Rat and Mole? Bliss encapsulated.

July 11th – The book that made you cry

tokillThe second appearance of To Kill a Mockingbird already this month! But this book never fails to make me weep for all kind of reasons – man’s pointless anger, a father’s love, justice, hope…its all here, nudging that lump up your throat.

July 12th – Novel that best conjured a place for you

vulgarthingsVulgar Things – another recent read, and another topic that I probably have many examples to choose from, but this really made an impression on me. Southend-on-Sea is a place I know fairly well and this book really bought alive the almost sinister clash of nature and town.

July 13th – Best title for a novel

Again, I’m completely stumped by this, and didn’t want to rattle out Mole and Mockingbird again! I think I might make this a blog topic further down the line, and list a top ten or something.

 

 

Why I Don’t Make Reading Lists

A few recent(ish) acquisitions...

A few recent(ish) acquisitions…

The book blog world is currently abuzz with people publishing their Summer Reads lists. I won’t be doing this. I am rubbish at this kind of structuring. Especially when its sunny and the tiniest hint of heat makes just getting out of bed a Krypton Factor-esque battle with nature.

It is tempting though, tempting to see if I could join in with something and perhaps learn a bit of self-discipline.

But just two seconds after writing “self-discipline” I know it isn’t going to happen.

I can see why people make lists at this time of year. Holidays are abound and kindle-free decisions have to be made as to which books will make it into the baggage allowance.

But weight restrictions aside, I can’t help feeling that listing books in this way is giving yourself unnecessary boundaries; self-imposed, teacher-less homework.

Everytime I finish something I know I will be spending the next couple of days, picking stuff up, turning it over, putting it down, picking it up again. And that’s what I love about that period between putting one book down and starting another. I sounds horribly corny, but you do need to root about for a while to find the book that feels right.

I’ve spent a while now going from one proof to the next in release date order and it hasn’t felt as organic (oh yuk! “Organic”?! Really, we’re going there?!) a process as spending those moments thumbing through a stack to find the book that fits.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every proof I receive and am grateful for them, but my urgency to pay back publishers and authors for their generosity means I miss out on one of the simple pleasures of being a book-lover – those moments of browsing your own personal collection for a gem.

Sure, I always have a few titles that I’m eyeing up, but when I pick something up to start, I (hopefully) don’t know how its going to end, I can’t possibly anticipate that Book B will follow Book A as perfectly as my would-be list anticipates.

So with all these book lists going on I think it’s about time that I steered my blog back to its initial purpose – to focus on charting the books that have lain neglected on my shelf for YEARS, with proof reading as an added extra. Perhaps I shall try for one of each a week.

So with that in mind, and inspired by #BookadayUK’s topic from Tuesday (Favourite Great War novel), I have started a book I have wanted to read for years, but constantly browsed passed – All Quiet on The Western Front.

all-quiet

How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

howtobuild

The Blurb:

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bröntes—but without the dying young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

This is a difficult review to write – I have always been a fan of Moran and was one of many women who jumped up on chairs to shout “I AM A FEMINIST” when she tore the book charts apart with the brilliant How to Be A Woman.

In fact, I loved her so much that I was baffled when people told me they didn’t like her. She so encompassed everything I was passionate about that I felt personally affronted, and a little bit like the person making these comments mustn’t be that great a feminist – as if Moran herself was the goddess embodiment of the movement. I defended her against some of my friends accusations that she was  “a keyboard warrior”, “unbearably smug” and “just a jumble of annoying facial expressions.”

Moran has come out and said her position in the feminist fight is resolutely sat at a computer writing rather than down on the frontline and I can see how irksome this is (especially to those I know who march and petition and bash down doors), but someone has to write a battle cry. Yes she can come across as a bit “smug” – but for me this is just another example of how women aren’t allowed to be pleased with their life’s work without being seen as showing off and not exhibiting the right amount of girly modesty.

But when it comes to this book, this book I looked forward to for months, that had me dancing around my front room when my B/F bought it home to me, that led to me wondering how many flappy bits of paper I would be inserting into it to mark all the wonder-nuggets within….

"Joy! My fella came home with this beauty last night! I wonder how many flappy bits this one will get...

“Joy! My fella came home with this beauty last night! I wonder how many flappy bits this one will get…”

….I was disappointed.

If I have read my How To guides correctly, the second rule of writing (after JUST WRITE DAMNIT!) is Write What You Know, and after one biographically-based non-fiction work, one biographically-based sitcom (Raised by Wolves) and now a second biographically-based novel, it is clear that Moran takes this rule very seriously and that to get me to engage with it again, it would have to be something pretty special.

The Author Note can protest all it wants to the contrary, but there is no getting away from the fact this is Moran’s teen years (again) wrapped around a few fictional incidents. The cover even shows a girl kicking her heels in a pair of Moran’s trademark DM boots. Moran’s story is an interesting and funny one – a monumental rise from benefits to bestsellers – but I can’t help wondering if this really is all Moran has to write about?

Before this book came out Twitter exploded in 140 character rage one morning when Moran made this comment to The Bookseller:

“It’s always about teenage boys going off and having amazing adventures. You don’t see teenage girls anywhere unless they’re being bitten by vampires so I wanted to write about a funny, weird teenage girl having adventures, particularly sex adventures.”

This was a bizarrely out of touch statement to make, and my Twitter feed swelled with excellent examples of YA fiction, from readers and writers, which represented funny and fantastic female characters (some that weren’t even interested in sex either, fancy that!). As a former children’s bookseller who mingled with the YA community in one way or the other on a daily basis, I couldn’t believe such an apparently informed person could make such a clanger. To my knowledge Moran never responded to this (please correct me in the comments section if I’m wrong), only to tweak the answer in a later interview to say it was more the dystopian novels she had a problem with:

“It’s so great that there are things like Divergent and The Hunger Games out there, but they’re set in horrible dystopias where a girl has the burden of saving the world.”

As the hashtag #whatcaitlinmoanshouldread will show you, Moran is pretty much dead wrong about this, and her comments make you feel a little like she is being a tad selectively blind.

Also, she can herald this as a new sex-adventure book for teenage girls as much as she likes, it doesn’t change the fact the book has been released for adults. I get that she likes the idea of girls sneakily reading this like my generation sneakily read Jilly Cooper, but if you are so determined to offer something you hope will inspire teenage girls – give it to the teenage girls. I am being cynical here (that’s me breaking the number one Moran rule), but you can’t help thinking that a) deep down Moran knows this story isn’t missing from the YA section and b) that she’d get an awful lot more sales from an adult readership that already loves her.

I’ll agree with her, it is hard to relate to girls existing in dystopian futures (although, bizarrely her own character becomes obsessed with wanking over gothic, satanic imagery so IT IS ok to like vampires and such, but only in a Moran way), but as someone who has struggled with employment in one way or the other since I left uni, the story of a girl walking into a dream job at 16 is pretty hard to relate to. And I don’t think people ignored the lessons of, say, 1984, just because it had an unreal societal setting.

Personally, I would take Katniss and her simmering inner strength over Johanna’s blathering on about sex like a six former at the back of the bus any day. And as this is so clearly Moran’s story, its hard to care about Johanna’s future when you know Moran’s ends up pretty brilliantly. All you do end up with is wondering when Johanna will have sex, and when she does, it is a pretty one-sided affair, something she initially relishes. It takes an uncomf0rtably long time for Moran to redress the balance and stop her character saying stuff about making men come being her job.

This book is also crammed with men and male accomplishment, female bands and writers are mentioned a bit, but most of Johanna’s idols seem to come from a very laddish place. I would have liked Moran to include more examples of creative women for her sneaky teenage audience to discover and be inspired by. Sure, Courtney Love gets a good look-in, but it’s Cobain’s face on the back cover.

It is also a shame that John Kite (the would-be hero of the piece) keeps referring to Johanna as “Duchess”. In my head he kept morphing into Jimmy Saville talking about his mum, and when a book covers older men having sex with a 17-year-old, it felt particularly ugh-some.

I can’t read anymore of me” Johanna laments on page 311, and by this time, neither could I. This book is testament to the contrived eccentricity of being a teenager and her top hat, name-change and general self-centred awareness becomes pretty grating.

But when Moran drops the narrative in Chapter 24 to offer her own voice and sisterly advice about building and rebuilding yourself, it is brilliant, and a timely reminder of how excellently she can put a point across (even if that point is the same “be yourself-whatever self, or how many selves that is” type of a point that appears in all those other books Moran says don’t exist). It’s just a shame the rest of the book contained such a unrelatable (to me) and slightly annoying character, this felt like the only moment where this became a book about TEENAGERS and not just about ONE TEENAGER.

The potential for something brilliant always bubbles around Moran, but for me this was a lost opportunity.

I would say, there can never be TOO many feminist friendly YA books (and argument Moran SHOULD have made), and its a shame this book will be shelved in the adult fiction section as it would have made a good companion to the  likes of Holly Smale and Dawn O’Porter. But as many enraged YA writers will tell you, they just don’t need her.

But I still love Moran, I read How to Be a Woman during a really painful,  difficult time and she was like this great towering powerhouse of advice and wit that helped push me through it. I will still read what she writes, as she writes like an astounding dream. I just really, really don’t need to hear this story, or badly pitched arguments about the state of YA,  any more.

 

#BookadayUK July 2014 – week one round-up!

The topics for July 2014

The topics for July 2014

So this month, the #BookadayUK baton has been handed from Borough Press to Doubleday, and as I was so rubbish at keeping up with last month’s hashtag, I have decided on a Sunday to do a little round-up of the week’s topics.

So here we go!

July 1st – A book that made you laugh out loud – One of the easiest questions to answer so far, without a doubt the book guaranteed to make me howl on the bus is The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and 3/4. Everything about it is utterly perfect.

TheSecretDiaryOfAdrianMoleJuly 2nd - Favourite SF/Fantasy novel for world UFO day! – Not genres I bother too often I have to admit. But seeing as he is always shelved in that area of bookshops I’m going to go for Under The Dome by Stephen King. I literally finished it last night and it completely blew me away. I had to be stopped from hurling myself straight into The Stand, a little King break of a day or two is probably wise to get the old blood pressure back to norms.

underthedomeJuly 3rd – Favourite novel in translation – Another fairly easy one to answer, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (translated by Carol Brown Janeway) is utterly devastating and remarkable. The translation is so perfectly done that you do not wonder for a second what nuances and emotions you may be missing. The film holds its own too.

thereaderJuly 4thAll time favourite American novel for 4 July Independence Day – This is basically asking me to name my favourite book. I adore American Literature and could hand you a list of books that have rattled my mind and solidified my soul, but it goes without saying, its this:

tokillJuly 5th - Most delicious novel about food – This one has me stumped I have to say. Not being a foodie I’m not really drawn to books of a culinary bent and if I have read any, they haven’t left much of an impression. So, with that in mind, I’m going for The Silence of The Lambs by Thomas Harris, a book with, surely, the most devastating foodie character ever written.

thesilenceJuly 6thWhich book will you put down today to watch the Wimbledon final? – Today I’m reading How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. I can’t say I’m going to put it down as such, I will probably read WHILST the tennis is on, and with a big wedge of cheese on toast.

howtobuild

 

Landline – Rainbow Rowell

LandlineI hate the word “gushing”. Its something I imagine coming up frequently on YouP*rn’s “Most Searched” list.

But eff it. I am going to be gushing about this book so we all need to get used to it.

The (unedited and quite long) Blurb:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

I don’t usually add so much of a book’s blurb into posts, but I wanted to spend more time “gushing” in this blog than telling you what it’s about.

I absolutely loved everything about Landline! I haven’t read any of Rowell’s stuff before, but my twitter feed lights up with her name on a near daily basis. So, when I saw this listed on Netgalley I took a punt. And boy-o boy-o am I glad I did!

Rowell’s writing is effortless. You just drift along with her so easily you may as well be watching a film (which I have no doubt this will become). Shes funny, dead funny, and though the plot seems ludicrous, it’s no more bonkers than Groundhog Day - proving that as long as you can write like a genius you can make people relate to even the looniest of concepts.

Its romantic without being sappy, fantastical without relying on a big, reveals-all, climax. Its very much up there with the last romantic novel that gripped my heart, One Day, and if you loved that as much as I do, you will lap this up.

The gorgeous mini-hardback! (photo taken from fiercefiction.tumblr.com)

The gorgeous mini-hardback! (photo taken from fiercefiction.tumblr.com – click to visit them!)

The only downside is that I didn’t read this at Christmas as it would have been perfect. But come December 20th, this will be coming out again, and it will hopefully be the gorgeous hardback copy getting pulled from the shelf.

And the best thing? It is rare that me and my bestie both like a book (our tastes are VERY different), the fact we both LOVE this book will mean it will always have a special spot on the shelf….awwww!

Book info:

  • ISBN: 9781409154914
  • Published by Orion, July 3rd 2014
  • Sent review copy through Netgalley

Friendship – Emily Gould

friendshipThe Blurb: Bev Tunney is stuck in circumstances that would have barely passed for New York bohemian in her mid-twenties: temping, living in a shared house, drowning in debt. Her friend Amy Schein is a charismatic and fiercely impetuous Brooklyn media darling still riding the tailwinds of early success, but reality is catching up with her – her job, her lease and her relationship are on the brink of collapse. And now Bev is unexpectedly pregnant.

As Amy and Bev are dragged into their thirties and genuine adulthood, they are forced to contemplate the possibility that growing up might mean growing apart.

There is no better way to engage with me than to write a book about thirty-something women floundering about in their lives. I have a platinum membership card in life-floundering.

I’ve felt like I’ve been missing something since I was about 17, and no matter how many other pieces of the life-puzzle I slot into place, the bit labeled “what I should be doing with myself” is always lost down between the cushions of the sofa.

At 31 I am surrounded by pretty equal measures of people excelling in careers they have had since uni and will probably still have in one form or another come retirement, and those just starting to work towards possible careers they will be great at. The third wedge is filled with people who flit from one idea to the next, one job to the next, never feeling like they are anywhere near being in the place they should be, and not having the faintest idea what that place should be.

The image of the chattering sparrows on the cover couldn’t be more accurate in depicting Amy and Bev – it doesn’t matter how gregarious and outgoing you are, sometimes you just don’t get that far from home.

This book will probably end up with a comparison or twelve to HBO’s Girls, but whereas Dunham roots her themes of dislocation with twenty-somethings who still have a right (and the time) to a bit of indecision, Gould focuses on the fears of newly 30 year olds, wondering what it is they have been doing for the last decade. This is where Hannah (oh, how apt) and her ilk will be if they don’t get a grip.

But as the title suggests, this isn’t just a book about women full of career woes and baby questions, it is about getting to an age where you need to really know who your friends are. When these big life decisions are rearing their heads and clocks seem to start ticking, you need to be sure you have the best people around you with the right intentions for you.

How many of you may be somewhere else (good or bad) if it wasn’t for the advice of a friend?

I really enjoyed this book, it was light and funny, but still managed to raise important questions that directly affected my age and circumstance brackets.

My one main criticism would be that at times I couldn’t differentiate between Amy and Bev’s voices and had to keep reminding myself which character had the mic. But in the end that didn’t really matter too much, I related to both women and so they just kind of morphed into one über character. Probably not the greatest compliment you could pay an author, but perhaps its just me!

Friendship may not make you feel any better about your life and the parts that are missing, but it may make you tune your search a little better.

Book info: