#BookADayUK September | Week Two

#BookADayUK September | Week Two
I participated in #BookADayUK in June and after a little break, I thought I’d participate again in September. This month it’s hosted by We Love This Book. I’ve also been tweeting and posting a new photo on Tumblr every day, so here’s a recap of the second week! Clicking on each image takes you to the Tumblr post.

#BookADayUK September | Week Two

8th: Favourite literary dinner party
I’m terrible at picking characters to invite to fictional dinner parties, so I’ve chosen one of my favourite books featuring FOOD. Obviously I picked a book about cannibals. Matt Whyman’s The Savages is ‘dark humour at its best and I cannot imagine I’ll ever come across a book like it again’, I said in my book review. OH WAIT. I now have the SEQUEL, American Savage. I’m looking forward to devouring it.

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#BookADayUK September | Week One

#BookADay September | Week One
I participated in #BookADayUK in June and after a little break, I thought I’d participate again in September. This month it’s hosted by We Love This Book. I’ve also been tweeting and posting a new photo on Tumblr every day, so here’s a recap of the first week! Clicking on each image takes you to the Tumblr post.

#BookADay September | Week One
#BookADay September | Week One
1st: Favourite book about books and/or bookshops
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry (also known as The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry) by Gabrielle Zevin are two very different books but are amongst my favourite books about bookshops! I wrote a blogpost about books for book lovers earlier this year and these two were featured. I love books about books!

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Behold the Pretty Books! / August Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / August Book Haul

Here’s the books that I bought and received in August:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
The Complete Collected Short Stories Volume One & Volume Two by Roald Dahl
Day 21 by Kass Morgan
The Dogs by Alan Stratton
Half Bad by Sally Green
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe
The Little Book of Lunch by Caroline Craig & Sophie Missing
Penguin’s Great Food series by Various
Lockwood: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud (e-galley)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (eBook)

As you may know, I’m trying to buy all my books from bookshops this year, but if a book is extremely cheap or unavailable from bookshops, I have been using Hive and Wordery. I hold my hands up – I haven’t abandoned online book shopping completely! I can’t quite remember how I came across it, but when I saw that The Book People were selling Penguin’s Great Food series for only £5, there was no way I was going to be able to resist. I love a sale as much as anyone else! I also bought The Complete Collected Short Stories Volume One & Volume Two by Roald Dahl for £4.99. I have been a little curious about his short stories for years, but not being much of a fan of short stories (as I’ve said numerous times), I hadn’t gotten around to reading them. After now having read a few of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels and loving them, I’m willing to give them a try.

As I’ve had two cookbooks on my wishlist for a while – A Girl Called Jack (recipes for making inexpensive but delicious meals) and The Little Book of Lunch (because it’s about time I stop buying lunch and start making it) – I also thought it was the perfect excuse to add them to my basket. I’m looking forward to trying out recipes from both books!

I was also sent two books unexpectedly for review: The Dogs, which I’ve not heard too much about yet since it’s not published until February (about a boy and his mother who go on the run), and Day 21, the sequel to The 100 (about a bunch of kids who are sent to Earth from space to see whether it’s survivable after a nuclear war). I’ve only seen a few episodes of the TV show – I need to catch up.

I also visited a used bookshop and was delighted to come across The Luminaries for £1. It’s one I’ve been curious about since it won the Man Booker Prize in 2013, but I have no idea whether it’s something I’ll enjoy. It’s time to find out! I also downloaded a few books: the sequel to The Screaming Staircase, which I’m determined to read this year, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which is longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. I already know the ‘twist’, but hopefully I’ll still enjoy it.

And lastly, I was given two books by friends: Helen gave me a physical copy of Half Bad (I already have it on my Kindle) and Jim gave me Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, since I also have read a few other David Levithan and Rachel Cohn books.

Have you read any of these books?

Behold the Pretty Books! / August Book HaulBehold the Pretty Books! / August Book Haul

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Book Review: Relish – My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Book Review: Relish – My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Shelved: Non-fiction (graphic novel, memoir)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

In the spirit of a foodie Bank Holiday weekend (I blogged about Penguin’s Great Food series yesterday), it seemed only appropriate to start my review of Relish: My Life in the Kitchen too. I first came across this foodie graphic memoir when I saw that it had been nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in 2013. I love books and I love food, so I added it to my wishlist straight away. It wasn’t until last month that I finally got around to buying it, after a trip to Gosh! Comics with Debbie. We had never visited Gosh! before (neither of us have read many graphic novels or comics) and were looking forward to it. We loved the huge curated display table as soon as you set foot through the door, and this is where we found Relish (Debbie bought Friends with Boys). We both definitely want to go back, especially because the staff were super friendly.

I loved Relish as soon as I started reading it. It’s 29-year-old Lucy’s graphic memoir of growing up surrounded by food and food lovers, from her chef mum’s home cooking to exotic foodie adventures on trips abroad – what food means to her and what food she particularly loves, and what memories they bring back. She says, ‘I can remember exactly the look and taste of a precious honey stick, balanced between my berry-stained fingers, but my times tables are long gone, forgotten, in favour of better, tastier memories’. Lucy’s drawings are wonderful and colourful – an exquisite mix of food writing and delicious illustrations. You can’t really ask for more.

I relate to her because she’s a foodie, but not a food snob. She love artisan bread and good quality chocolate, but she won’t say no to McDonald’s or a packet of Oreos. (‘We wouldn’t be eating it if it didn’t taste good’). She writes so eloquently, but clearly, showing us how memories of food are memories of growing up, and how tasting all the different flavours – from home and from other cultures – is like no other experience. I craved so many different kinds of food while reading Relish, including food I’ve never even tried (where can I find a tomatillo or honey sticks?). At the end of each chapter, there’s an easy-to-follow tasty recipe to make one of the foods featured in that chapter, such as the best chocolate chip cookies and sushi rolls. It was perfect for bedtime reading and it made me want to pick up more graphic novels – and eat more food!

I can’t wait to pick up her travelogue, French Milk, next and her new book, An Age of License: A Travelogue, is published in September. She also posts lots of lovely things on Tumblr.

Published: 26th April 2013
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 192

Behold the Pretty Books! / July Book HaulBehold the Pretty Books! / July Book Haul

Penguin’s Great Food Series

Penguin's Great Food Series

When I saw that the Penguin Great Food series was only £5 for 20 books from The Book People, did you really think I’d be able to resist? I love food. I love books. It just wasn’t going to happen. All booksellers seem to acknowledge how beautiful they are because I’ve seen them on display in so many different shops. I can’t help but pick them up each time yet I’ve never been able to decide which one to buy – now I don’t have to worry! They’re all pretty wonderful, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith (who’s also the designer of the Penguin English Library series, which I also love) and typography by Stephen Raw.

Throughout the history of civilization, food has been more than simple necessity. In countless cultures, it has been livelihood, status symbol, entertainment – and passion. In the GREAT FOOD series, Penguin brings you the finest food writing from the last 400 years, and opens the door to the wonders of every kitchen.

I’ve started reading The Pleasures of the Table by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin as it was the first book: “His 1825 book The Physiology of Taste defined our notions of French gastronomy, and his insistence that food be a civilizing pleasure for all has inspired the slow food movement and guided chefs worldwide. From discourses on the erotic properties of truffles and the origins of chocolate, to a defence of gourmandism and why ‘a dessert without cheese is like a pretty woman with only one eye’, the delightful writings in this selection are a hymn to the art of eating well”.

If you love food. I mean, if you really love food – if you can’t wait to go on a trip/on holiday because it means eating out and the chance to visit food markets; if you look up the menu before visiting a restaurant because you just can’t wait; if when someone asks you for suggestions for places to visit, you can only name restaurants or bakeries or cafes; or if the perfect day out is a visit to a dessert bar (okay, I think we both know we’re talking about me here), then you probably won’t be able to resist this colourful, eclectic food writing series either. I cannot comment on the essays themselves yet, but I can’t wait to delve in.

Penguin's Great Food Series Penguin's Great Food Series Continue reading

Top Ten / Books People Have Been Telling Me to READ RIGHT NOW!

I participate in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week the theme is Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read. I’m always surrounded by bookish people, mainly book bloggers and publishing people (and sometimes they tend to be both!), but also booksellers and librarians. It means I get to hear about a lot of books. Here’s a list of books that these people have been telling me to read right now – I’ve picked a mix of books on my wishlist and books on my bookshelves (or Kindle), but just haven’t gotten round to reading yet (much to my friends’ despair). Click the book’s title to find out more about the book on Gooreads.

Top Ten / Books People Have Been Telling Me to READ RIGHT NOW!

Solitaire by Alice Oseman, especially around YALC when everyone was scrabbling to get a copy! Lucy, Debbie, Caitlin have been telling me to read it since and have all said it’s one of their favourite books of the year so far, which is very high praise indeed.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo because even though my friends know I’m not much of a fantasy reader, they think I’ll like this. After starting the Throne of Glass series and really enjoying it, I’m looking forward to giving this one a shot! Charlie in particular has been nudging me about it.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is probably the middle grade novel that has been recommended to me the most. I finally got my own copy a couple of months ago, so I can’t wait to read it. I feel like the only one in the world who hasn’t.

Lobsters by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison, which is another YA contemporary novel that everyone has been talking about. I’ve been promised that I’ll laugh out loud!

Far From You by Tess Sharpe is one I’ve borrowed from Debbie and still haven’t read (sorry Debbie!). It’s very high up on my TBR though!

Top Ten / Books People Have Been Telling Me to READ RIGHT NOW!

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud is one I’ve had on my Kindle since last October. I’m usually not one for paranormal entities, but there’s just something about ghosts that I love… My book blogger friends (who read all sorts of different genres) have all been telling me to read it. Perhaps I’ll read it in October as the sequel will be out then too!

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson because she’s one of my favourite authors (I loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer) and so people are surprised that I haven’t read her third novel yet. I’m surprised at myself too.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which people aren’t necessarily telling me to read ‘RIGHT NOW’ since it’s not yet published, but I saw that my friend Anna was reading (and really enjoying) it, and there’s been a few quite excellent comments about it on Twitter so far. It’s the perfect excuse to buy this beautiful book. I also have tickets to see David Mitchell talk about it in a few months.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab, which is another YA fantasy novel that people have been raving about, particularly Caitlin and Daphne. I don’t like to miss out on excellent things, so I’ll give this one a go too.

The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier, which is the newest addition to the list! I was chatting to my friends Colette and Kate last week and they both said this should be the Daphne du Maurier novel that I read next, since I’ve already read Rebecca.

Have you read any of these? Which one should I READ RIGHT NOW?

Behold the Pretty Books! / July Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / July Book Haul

I went to quite a lot of bookshops and bookish events in July, so here’s the latest book haul:

John Diamond by Leon Garfield
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Vivian Versus America by Katie Coyle
This Book is Gay by James Dawson
Hollow Pike by James Dawson
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner and illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (UK Special Collector’s Edition)
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (eBook)
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (eBook)

You may know that #BookshopCrawl took place as part of Independent Booksellers Week last month and even thought I couldn’t participate, I did visit a few bookshops that day. Blackwell’s Charing Cross unfortunately has had to relocate, but that did mean they had an amazing 50% ‘move our stock’ sale. You’ll be pleased to know that I couldn’t go too crazy because I had to leave to meet my family for lunch. But before I left, I couldn’t resist two Vintage Children’s Classics editions: Little Women and John Diamond. I also bought The Templeton Twins Have an Idea because I added it to my wishlist two years ago. I was drawn to the cover and Lemony Snicket-style storyline. I also visited the wonderful Gosh! Comics the same day and picked up Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, which I’ve already read. It’s a perfect combination of books + illustrations + food. I’m looking forward to picking up her upcoming graphic memoir, An Age of License: A Travelogue. Rainbow Rowell came to visit the UK (I wrote about her event as part of the Landline blog tour) and so I picked up this special collector’s edition of Fangirl from Waterstones Piccadilly to get signed. It’s beautiful and I posted a few photos of it on Tumblr.

I also attended the UK’s first Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) and purchased Vivian Versus America even though I haven’t yet read the first book, Vivian Versus the Apocalypse – I will do, promise! I donated a book to the book swap and picked up James Dawson’s Hollow Pike in return – I now have all his books! A few of my friends will be happy that I’ll finally get around to reading it. We were also given This Book is Gay and Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List at the Blogger Brunch. It was an incredibly fun convention, but the best part was meeting up with all my bookish friends.

I’m also a member of Caboodle because I received a few National Book Tokens gift cards this year and I got to claim a free book – Wuthering Heights. It’s now my second Penguin English Library edition; I also bought Two on a Tower in June. I’ve never read it, so it’s another one to add to my 2014 Classics Challenge. I was also given Elizabeth is Missing by a colleague after I said that I kept seeing it everywhere, and Finnikin of the Rock by a friend because it’s our August book club choice.

Lastly, a friend of mine pointed out that The Cuckoo’s Calling and its sequel were incredibly cheap on Kindle, so I thought I’d downloaded those because I bought the hardback of the physical book when it was revealed that J.K. Rowling was the author, but I still haven’t read it. It’s much too large to take with me on my commute to work, so I thought the eBook might be more of an incentive to finally pick it up!

Phew! I would like to add that I got most of these books in the first week and a half in July… I’ve been rather good since, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

Which books did you get in July?

Behold the Pretty Books! / July Book HaulBehold the Pretty Books! / July Book Haul
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A Day Out: Finchingfield & Thaxted in Essex, plus a Bookish Surprise

I haven’t done a Where Are the Books? post in a few months, so I thought I’d finally share some photos from my day out in Finchingfield and Thaxted in Essex. If you only know Essex from The Only Way is Essex, you’re missing out. It might have a certain reputation, but Essex has some really lovely villages and there’s so much to do. One of my favourite weekend trips is driving into ‘deepest Essex’, discovering somewhere new.

Last August, we headed to Finchingfield after seeing that it had been described as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ and ‘a chocolate-box village’ – and it certainly is! We spent the day wandering around the village, looking at the pretty houses and old buildings, and the beautiful countryside. We visited a tea room – my idea, of course – and had a lunch of sandwiches, salad, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes and coffee. After lunch, we came across the local church. I wouldn’t be the first person to volunteer to visit a church, but I’m so happy we did because we discovered an amazing bookish surprise. Over the summer the local church was home to an exhibition. The local kids had decorated it with creative displays inspired by various children’s books, including Dodie Smith’s 101 Dalmations as she was a resident of Finchingfield.

After we had walked everywhere and were full from all the cake and sandwiches, we headed to Thaxted, another lovely village a few miles from Finchingfield, to explore the countryside a bit more and track down the windmill. It was such a fun day out, so if you’re in the south of England and looking for something to do one weekend… head to Essex!

A Day Out: Finchingfield & Thaxted in Essex, plus a Bookish SurpriseA Day Out: Finchingfield & Thaxted in Essex, plus a Bookish Surprise Continue reading