Crap, crap crap. I’m really late on this post aren’t I? I was determined to get it finished by the end of June, and then July happened and now August is happening – arrrgggh. To my credit I’ve written half of this post on a couple of my many couch journeys between Leicestershire and Wales – all whilst squeezing in a full time job with other exciting life things too.
I guess you don’t have that much time for all the things you used to occupy yourself with when you end up in a new relationship with someone who lives about four hours away on public transport! I should have shares in National Express coaches with the amount I’m spending on them at the moment, I really do need to hurry up and pass my driving test pronto!
These posts aren’t going to be as late anymore after the next couple of weeks, and in fact you’ll be getting even more book and lifestyle posts in future – but more on how and why later, I think it’s about time I started talking about some books I read ages ago:
How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran
I laughed, I howled and I even cried whilst reading Caitlin Moran’s book, and that’s pretty rare for me. Books don’t often make me feel anything apart from the joy of escape on a raining afternoon with the biggest mug of tea I can find in the house but I couldn’t put Moran’s book down. Bonus to Waterstones for me stacking up so many loyalty points and a sneaky Love2Shop card I found lurking in the bottom of my purse because this book somehow ended up only costing me a couple of quid and it was damn worth it.
Based (sort of) on Moran’s experiences of growing up in Wolverhampton as a stroppy and overly-dramatic teenager in a family living below the breadline, the book follows a young girl as she deals with a) growing up, b) discovering boys and c) kinda becoming a big deal at a young age in a grown up industry. This isn’t really a rags to riches kind of story but it paints the picture of a young woman growing up in an environment where she makes something of herself through sheer ambition.
Right… so reading that back I don’t think I’m exactly explaining the book and it’s story in the best possible way.
This book will make you laugh through different scenarios such as if you’ve ever experienced cystitis as a woman (btw, it’s totally horrible and don’t Google it), Moran’s been through it and written about in a laugh-out-laugh kind of experience of her own (kind of – because this book isn’t really a memoir). Oh and she’s totally got down what it’s like to be walking embarrassment as a gawky teenager – because let’s face it we’ve all taken ourselves far too seriously at some point when we were younger and she totally gets that.
Yeah it’s a tale about how a girl is so determined to want something so much she makes it happen even though she comes from a completely under privileged background but this book isn’t really about that at all, it’s about someone writing down some of what they went through when they were younger and making it just really funny so you end up nodding your head in a few places and thinking that you totally get it.
Buy it or borrow it, just read it – you won’t regret it!
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab
I saw this book making the rounds on YouTube first before I saw it hit Instagram and Tumblr but it was the synopsis that got me interested before I noticed how photographic the cover is. You know me, I’m always on the prowl for something that’s going to fill the void that the Harry Potter series left within me all those years ago so my ears always prick up when I hear about something in the magic/fantasy genre that might be a bit similar.
This story follows Kell as one of the last travellers who can move between worlds, in this case different versions of London, such as ‘red’ London and ‘white’ London etc. As the synopsis reads: ‘ Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see.’. As you can guess, I was hooked from that alone and eagerly awaited for this to hit my local bookshop so I could get my grubby mitts on it.
Now I’ve finished reading it I’m super excited for the follow-up and yes there will be more. I’m sure I’ll be following this series from start to finish just because of the universe the author has created alone. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book where I can imagine the settings so vividly whilst I’m reading and the characters were fleshed-out enough for me to easily place them there in this book. In retrospect the ‘action’ happened a bit too quickly for my tastes but this is a medium-sized novel with the idea of more books and adventure to come so I’m totally prepared to let that slide as a niggle of mine.
All in all I loved the story and this book is now taking pride of place on my bookshelf ready for the next instalment to keep it company.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Here’s a random fact for you, when I first met my partner we were both reading this book at the time and we both had a fair few things to say about it. I had been dragging my feet for a few weeks over it and he’d finished it within seconds (as he usually does when it comes to any book, that man reads real quick) and actually enjoyed it. Me? Well I struggled after getting about three quarters of the way through. Actually thinking back on it now I don’t think the story was even memorable enough for me to actually recall what happened. Okay so I shouldn’t be so damming over quite a good book so ignore me if you wish because I’d totally encourage you to read it anyways and gather your own opinion.
Some people have loved this book and found it poignant and others (like me) just haven’t quite got what everyone else is on about. The tag-line sounds great alone, a travelling symphony performing plays of Shakespeare’s classics years after a pandemic has destroyed over two thirds of the worlds population, but that just wasn’t enough to make it interesting for me. I did enjoy finding out what happened to some characters and how they linked from the beginning to the end of the book but the order of events itself was kind of annoying to me.
Basically, everything is run-down and horrible and there’s some serious cult-like behaviour being spread around that’s hinted in the book but nothing really happens – as per when it comes to these sorts of books. It was a good read for me and I find some parts engaging as a reader but it doesn’t particularly stick out to me in retrospect nor does it take pride of place on my bookshelf – sorry.
After Dark by Haruki Murakami
I was introduced to Murakami through a blog post I came across months ago and was desperate to get my hands on a few books by such a reputable author. Try walking into your local high-street (or off the beaten track) book shop and you’ll be accosted with so many books by this man you really won’t know where to start. The good news is that most of his work has been re-issued in a gorgeous and simplistic black design with bold colours and after you’ve brought your first one, you’ll love adding more and more to your collection because they all look so perfect together on the shelf.
But enough about how the book looks by it’s cover, its what’s inside that counts. The ‘bit on the back’ reads: The midnight hour approaches in an almost empty all-night diner. Mari sips her coffee and glances up from a book as a young man, a musician, intrudes on her solitude. Both have missed the last train home. Meanwhile Mari’s beautiful sister Eri sleeps a deep, heavy sleep that is ‘too perfect, too pure’ to be normal; she has lain asleep for two months. But tonight as the digital clock displays 00:00, a hint of life flickers across the TV screen, though the television’s plug has been pulled out.’ Freaky right?
This book was leant to me in a book swap through the post and this short story was a great introduction to Murakami’s work. Not too heavy and just short enough to give you a taster of what he’s all about, I really enjoyed this and finished it within one sitting. Some people have said that it’s too short and not really one of the best examples of his work but I for one am a newly converted fan, regardless on if this supposedly isn’t his best.
So there it is, my incredibly delayed May in reading – what have you read lately? Let me know in the comments.