I just thought I’d do a little post to catch you all up on where I’ve been and more importantly what I’ve been reading.
Just recently I was reading Little Eve by Catriona Ward (W&N), it’s such an amazing book but it has a very convoluted plot and very in-depth characters. As I was reading it I was beginning to get anxious and I couldn’t at first figure out why. Then I realised that I was reading it from the perspective of a blogger. That is to say I was already thinking about how on earth I was going to review this brilliant book with its very nuanced plot and characters that deserved in-depth examination. Then a thought struck me, this was a book that I had had on my shelf for a couple of years at least. It was a book that I did not need to review in the sense that I had not promised a publisher or publicist I would review it. I bought the book with my own money and I was under no obligation to review it at all. With this realisation came the thought that if I was feeling like this and my reading pleasure was diminished because of these feelings then maybe I should have a little break.
Back in August I had a few days off but this time I wanted to give myself a larger chunk of time just to sit back and read whatever I liked. To have the freedom to peruse my shelves and just take what I wanted to read on a whim. No pressures, no obligations to review and to just enjoy my reading time. Real life has also been slightly stressful recently so this was a perfect opportunity for a little hiatus.
But now I’m back! I feel thoroughly refreshed and ready to get back to this business we call blogging. Whilst I’ve been away I have of course been reading and I just wanted to update you on where I’m at and what books I’ve been enjoying.
Well. There is Little Eve by Catriona Ward that I’ve already mentioned. As you know, I’m not going to review this book but trust me when I say it’s a good solid four to five star read for me. I’ll insert the blurb for you so you can check out whether it’s a book you may be interested in.
Little Eve By Catriona Ward – BLURB
Eve and Dinah are everything to one another, never parted day or night. They are raised among the Children, a community of strays and orphans ruled by a mysterious figure they call Uncle. All they know is the grey Isle of Altnaharra which sits in the black sea off the wildest coast of Scotland.
Eve loves the free, savage life of the Isle and longs to inherit Uncle’s power. She is untroubled save by her dreams; of soft arms and a woman singing. Dinah longs for something other.
But the world is at war and cannot be kept at bay. As the solitude of Altnaharra is broken, Eve’s faith and sanity fracture. In a great storm, in the depths of winter, as the old year dies, the locals discover a devastating scene on the Isle.
Eve and Dinah’s accounts of that night contradict and intertwine. As past and present converge, only one woman can be telling the truth. Who is guilty, who innocent?
Then I picked up a another book that has been on my shelves for a good few years now that I picked up secondhand. The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a book that I have heard lots about and when I put a picture up online of the book so many people replied and said it was one of their favourite books of all time so I had high hopes from the outset.
However, at the risk of alienating those staunch fans this book was not for me. I just didn’t care enough about the main couple Henry and Claire. The time travel element was a bit mindbending for me, let’s face it I struggled with the plotline of Back To The Future! Not only that there was an awful lot of time travelling and appearing naked, vomiting, stealing and beating people up! I gave it a good hundred or so pages but eventually I had to concede defeat and call it a DNF. I do hope I’ve still kept a few of you as friends in light of this confession!
I then picked up A Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape). This is a book about her year of insomnia. I’ve not read any of Samantha Harvey’s fiction however I do have an interest in sleep issues as I suffer from night terrors myself. I’m still in the process of reading this one so I will let you know my thoughts in due course.
I then picked up another book that has been on my shelves for a while and one which a lot of you recommended to me when I put a tweet out recently regarding books to do with changelings. The Good People by Hannah Kent was just the book I needed. I tore through it and it was totally up my street! It’s one of those books that you kick yourself about the fact that you left it so long to pick up. I also have one of her other books Burial Rites to read, which I’m now really looking forward to.
I’ve also been enjoying short story collections (as always) the main one being Why Don’t You Stop Talking by Jackie Kay (Picador). I picked this one up on my recent trip to Main Street Trading Bookshop and decided to tuck in. It became my bus book and I’ve been enjoying it on my lunch hour at work. So much so that I had to go online and see which of her other books I could get my hands on. I’ve managed to pick up another of her short story collections from the library called Reality, Reality and I’m really looking forward to delving in. Jackie Kay is a new author to me but I know she’s going to become a firm favourite. She’s also written poetry collections which I’m going to be brave and get my hands on as I think her writing will be accessible enough that I have a fighting chance of understanding it!
I was also recently sent a spooky short story collection called Women’s Weird published by Handheld Press, which is a collection of weird tales written by women from the late eighteen hundreds to the early 1900s. If you know me at all you will know that this is perfect for me! Just reading the introduction gave me the tingles. I’ve read the first two stories and both have been hit so far so I’m looking forward to cracking on with the collection over the Halloween period.
I’m not much of an audiobook listener but I had a few audible credits and decided to download Breaking And Mending by Joanna Cannon and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. I listened to Joanna Cannon in what felt like one big gulp, most probably at a time in my life when it was a little bit triggering (I’m not always keen on that word) however I was absolutely spellbound! I have read and enjoyed Joanna’s fiction and her memoir of her time as a doctor is absolutely compelling, heartbreaking but also life affirming. I would recommend it to anyone. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes however, deals with death in quite a humorous way. No less thought-provoking than Breaking And Mending but Caitlin deals with the murky depths of death with a robust sense of humour. I’m still listening to this one and have a few hours left but I have recently taken the decision to walk home from work at night which is at least an hours walk so I will have plenty of time to indulge in audiobooks (finally!).
Oh! I almost forgot I also recently picked up a collection of flash fiction, something which I don’t read a lot of despite being a fan of the short story. I think I had my fingers burnt when I read the collection Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine by Diane Williams. This flash fiction was absolutely nonsensical to me and I was wondering whether it was me or the writing! A quick peruse on Goodreads told me I wasn’t on my own and then I left fast flash fiction well alone! The Lobsters Run Free is a different kettle of fish (if you’ll pardon the pun) and I have been enjoying the very brief short, sharp bursts of fiction. Books like these are so handy to just pick up when you have a few minutes spare. I will definitely be looking into more flash fiction in the future.
Finally I saw this book mentioned on Twitter recently and asked Serpents Tail if I could have a copy to review. This Is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill is less than 90 pages long but is a total powerhouse of a book. My review for this one will be coming in early November, keep your eyes peeled for it!
I think that’s all I have to update you with reading wise. As I said I’m back and I’ll be coming at you with my usual reviews and discussion posts. I will just say that I’m not going to stick to my twice weekly Tuesday and Thursday slots as I find this too much pressure. I will be reviewing or putting out blog posts whenever I feel like it which will be no less than once a week so you’re not getting rid of me that easily! I just want to be able to read and enjoy reading without pressure. I know you will understand this and I know you are all behind me.
It’s so good to be back!
See you all soon!
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx