I hope you’re okay! We’re nearly there and I’ve only got one book left on my pile for my advent calendar. But, I’ve opened two excellent books in the past two days that I’m quite excited about too! I’ve got a lovely day with my dad planned today but I think I can safely say, I’m ready for Christmas! 🎄
The Last Thing To Burn looks so good that I’ve picked it to read next. I wasn’t sure which to go for last night so this feels like a sign to me.
I’ll see you all tomorrow for my Christmas Eve book and also the book I was gifted for Jolabokaflod. I also just wanted to say thank you for those devoted bloggers who have been following the Unwrap It! series. You’re all wonderful and it means the world!
I promised recently that I would catch up with all my book reviews and today I am thrilled to be doing just that! I’d fallen really behind in my Book Bingo Reading Challenge but I am pleased to say that I’ve completed it! Hurrah! Today’s post is all about November’s choice: Read an award winning book.
This led me to a lot of research and I’ve found out that there’s so many prizes for books which is incredible! You’ve got the big, prolific ones but I wanted to go for an award that I’d never heard of before. I chose Slough House by Mick Herron. This book won the Theakston Old Peculier crime novel of the year award. I knew the drink because my dad likes it so I wanted to pick this. It also naturally fits with my favourite genre – crime – so it was meant to be! For more information on the Theakston Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, please see here. Let’s crack on!
What’s it all about?
I don’t plan on spoiling anything here but Slough House is book seven. You all know how I feel about a series but as a stand alone book, this was really easy to follow and I didn’t really feel like I’d missed anything (not discrediting earlier work). It’s a book that you can read as a stand alone but I imagine the reading experience is bettered when reading the series in order.
“History has an open-door policy. Any fool can walk right in.”
The boss, as it were, is a character called Jackson Lamb. The book opens with himself and his crew coming to terms with the death of Emma Flyte and their own J K Coe in Wales. However, they have more pressing issues at hand. Roderick Ho (Roddy) has learnt that someone is wiping their records from the service database. Does this impact them? Well, they’re getting paid but it does mean that they don’t exist anymore. Furthermore, when Louisa Guy discovers that she is being followed, leading to the other agents realising the same, things feel more on edge. I found myself gripping the book a little firmer too.
River Cartwright, is my favourite character. The fact that they’re being followed doesn’t interest him much to begin with. He is more centred on Sidonie Baker (Sid) who is alive and not dead as presumed. However, she’s turned up at River’s dead grandfather’s house in Kent, needing his help. She thinks that there are two people trying to kill both her and him. Yet, due to the significant injuries she sustained from a gunshot wound from the end of book six, we are never quite sure just how real that threat is.
“Even I’d put me way down on a list of people worth killing. You’d have to be halfway through the Cabinet first. Not to mention whoever invented fruit-flavoured beer.”
Weaved within that plot is the character of Diana Taverner (Lady Di) who has decided to strike back at Russian services in retaliation for the Novichok poisoning attack that happened in Salisbury. But she cannot do this alone. She forms an alliance with the ex-politician, now working in PR, Peter Judd. He managed to put together a group of Patricia lot minded billionaires willing to fund these operations. This doesn’t come without a price and Lady Di soon realises that these people have demands of their own, demands which she isn’t overly comfortable with. An example of this is the YouTube billionaire turned new channel owner, Damien Cantor who would like Lady Di to do an interview on his channel.
Whilst the slow horses try to piece together what exactly is doing on, they find themselves caught up in events outside of their control. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to ruin the ending but when they’re against a ruthless enemy, there’s going to be fireworks. Not being used to Herron’s style, I didn’t see that ending coming at all and that closes the book perfectly.
“Funny thing. When I hear the words “trust me”, I get the feeling someone’s pissing in my shoe.”
I can totally understand why this book is a prize winner. I love the blend of events in our time and fiction. The characters, all deeply flawed, really are lynchpin of the book. I’d have no qualms about reading the other books in the series at all. The weaving of alternative plot threads is expertly done and for a smaller book, each page feels like it packs a punch. I really enjoyed entering this world and the experience it took me on as a reader. I also found it deeply humorous and full of quick, clever wit. This just adds another dimension but it really did work with the plot.
The Christmas countdown is on! I’ll see you soon for an update on my book advent calendar!
This post today comes from London as I’m here this weekend to get some Christmas shopping sorted. It’s been a bit manic at school (one week to go – I can totally do this!) so I’m a little behind with the unwrap it posts but there’s been some excellent books in the advent calendar that I can’t wait to share with you!
So far I’ve not managed to guess any of the books from the clues but that’s ok! I’m really enjoying seeing what’s wrapped up. I’ve taken so much pleasure from it and it’s something I want to do again, for sure.
Sorry there’s so many in this post – I’ve well and truly fallen behind but that’s ok! I hope you’re all enjoying the unwrapping with me. Do continue to let me know which ones you’ve read and enjoyed. It really does help me decide where I should go next on my reading adventures!
With so much festive love from London, until next time…
Time for me to play catch up and finally after being held up in the post, I’ve got my head down and finished my book choice for October. (I know – I’m sorry…) The obvious choice for October was: ‘Read a story that’s dark and mysterious’. If I’m being completely honest, I actually really struggled with what to read because I am really not a fan of horror or scary reads. But, dark and mysterious is something I could do, I just had to find the right book for it. My Victorian Literature background meant that I went back to ghost stories of that time but, I stumbled across a modern equivalent. Eventually I found this gorgeous little collection, The Haunting Season – Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights. I’m really not very good at reading collaborations but there are some prolific writers in here and the cover was shiny, so I was taken in by it for sure. It includes short stories by Bridget Collins, Imogen Hermes Gowar, Natasha Pulley, Jess Kidd, Laura Purcell, Andrew Michael Hurley, Kieran Millwood Hargrave and Elizabeth Macneal. I can’t wait to share my favourites with you in this post.
What’s it all about?
Before the tales eve begin, the front cover acknowledges the long tradition of the ghost story. Winter nights historically meant that the family would all get together to share the story by candlelight. The most historically prolific writers, Charles Dickens and Henry James, has paved the way for the eight best selling writers to continue the gothic tale tradition for the next generation. For me, I am going to share with you a little snippet from each of them to tempt you to light a candle, sit back and enjoy them for yourselves!
A Study in Black and White – Bridget Collins On the surface, this mysterious house seems like the perfect place to be. The protagonist, Morton, a chess enthusiast, was taken in by the topiary chess pieces but all is not as it seems. Pawns move, an old leather chair that doesn’t seem to be as empty as originally perceived and consequently, minds are being tricked. The fact that this tale is first in the collection means the tone is set and you are right where you need to be; on the edge of your seat.
‘He grabbed convulsively at the stem of the candelabra and went out into the passage; and although the skin beneath his shoulder blades crawled, he didn’t allow himself to glance back.’
Thwaite’s Tenant – Imogen Hermes Gowar This is the tale of a young woman who desperately wants to escape the cruel clutches of her husband. However, her father doesn’t agree at all and sends her to a crumbling estate where she is ultimately trapped. The protagonist, Lucinda, realises that the ghost of a wronged woman in the house is her means of escape… I do think this is one of my favourite stories in the collection!
‘I felt like a drunk, tottering and histrionic, my terror spinning around me. I groped for facts, for rationality, but knew myself capable of nothing beyond an inchoate burst of feeling which would only be grist to his mill. I slumped, and held my tongue.’
The Eel Singers – Natasha Pulley Unlike the other stories in the collection, this one starts off uncharacteristically cheery: a Christmas market. Nevertheless, it quickly becomes atmospheric and haunting. The supernatural elements of this story are vivid and the characters had very distinct personalities. Personally, I didn’t know the characters (you will if you’ve read Pulley’s other work) but it was very easy to get carried away with this story.
‘Thaniel had to pause. He had been about to say, eventful, but now he was thinking of it, he couldn’t remember why he had wanted to say that. It had been the opposite. In fact he couldn’t pin down any particular memory of Christmas at all.’
Lily Wilt – Jess Kidd I really loved this one actually. I found I was gripped straight away. Telling the story of Pemble, a photographer, this short story focuses on the photographs of the dead, not the living. When taking photos of Lily Wilt, something much more eerie and darker happens. This could be seen as predictable but I still really enjoyed it.
‘The lovely little corpse reposes – But wait! Pemble grabs a magnifying glass, turns up the gaslight, scrutinises the image. Leant against the mantlepiece, looking dead at the camera with a twisted grin, stands…
The Chillingham Chair – Laura Purcell Long time followers will know how much I love The Silent Companions so I was really excited to see Purcell in this collection. It did mean that I had high hopes and actually, I wasn’t disappointed. Atmospheric but humorous and unnerving, this short story is really well written. A wheelchair that seems to have a life of its own with the protagonist being stuck in it. Will she survive?
‘The chair didn’t stop. If anything it gained speed, reversing until she felt a bookcase connect with the back of her head. There was a moment of tension, of gathering; like a horse beginning to jump. Then she shot forward.’
The Hanging of the Greens – Andrew Michael Hurley This is a writer I have no idea about which meant that this was a surprise for me. I had no expectations but I did enjoy reading this one. It isn’t my favourite but I appreciate the plot behind it. Telling the story of a homeless man who wants to redeem himself and right the wrongs of his lifetime. If only it were as simple as it sounds…
‘Every year at this time, I’m forced to try and understand it all and I get nowhere. I only know it happened. It happened. And that’s all there is to say. But it’s not enough, I know. To say it happened lays nothing to rest.’
Confinement – Kiran Millwood Hargrave I think this is my favourite in the whole collection! I loved it! Considering the plot, that is a strange sentiment. But, it’s so well written, it’s impossible not to like it. This one is the most victorian in style – a new mother, her confinement and the reality of the restrictions of that time with the added supernatural element. A classic!
‘I will write this record as though it is a testimony given before God, a prayer poured straight into the ears of angels, for there is none now I can trust but myself: my own heart, my own pen.’
Monster – Elizabeth Macneal The final story in the collect and once again, another excellent addition. Its premise is simple: a newly married man takes his bride on the search for a monster that hopefully will give him the fame and recognition he so desperately wants. He also hopes it gives him some validation too…
‘Below him, the mouth of the ocean waits, its tongue clicking back and forth over the stones. Victor hurtles forward, slipping and sliding on the wet earth, his fingers grabbing the creature’s soft red hair and cold blue lips…’
This collection was perfect for the theme of this month, in fact, despite being so late to it, it’s perfect for any winter evening so read it! I’m also really pleased I’ve branched out into short stories too. There’s so much talent into writing something that’s so short and keeping your reader entertained means that there’s added pressure in less words. I’ve said my favourites but the overall story that stands out for me is Confinement. If this collection is the next generation of gothic stories; we have absolutely nothing to worry about for this genre.
I’ll see you next time for an update on my book advent calendar. I’ve got November’s book to read and review too! Keep going all – we’ve got this.
Happy Advent Eve! I love December so I am very excited about it approaching. Have you got your advent calendars and candles ready? I definitely have! I’ve got a very exciting advent treat that I can’t wait to share with you too. However, it’s sat in a Royal Mail depot somewhere at the moment due to the strikes – along with my book choice for October and November… I solemnly swear that I will catch up on my reading challenge in the next week!
Anyway, November has been quite a good reading month for me, despite being mock season at school. I’ve also found the lack of daylight really difficult – I miss the sunshine! I’ve been struggling a little but my books have kept me going – that and getting excited for Christmas to be honest! I’m super pleased that I managed to read 12 books this month. I had a little slump in the middle because I was stressed about my reading challenge but I decided to read anything that takes my fancy and it really did take the pressure off. I’ve neglected my blog a little but I can’t wait to show you these 12 amazing books. Let’s check out the shelves!
November gave me a real mix of titles really and to be honest, I’ve loved it! Picking a top three is always difficult but when there’s been a slump in the month, I’m always grateful to the books that have pulled me out of it. Anyway, here’s my top three – what do you think?
Are YouReally Ok? – Roman Kemp. There’s one main reason why this is the top of the list and that is because it raises the importance of mental health, especially in men, and the need for friendship groups to open those lines of communication to be there for each other. It was really moving and as a teacher in an all boys school, really important.
We’ll Meet Again – Anton Du Beke. Most famous for being on Strictly Come Dancing, I was lucky enough to receive the first few books prepublication. I LOVE them. The setting, the glitz, the characters, the dancing and the wartime background mean these really are the perfect read. They’re usually set in Christmastime too (just saying…) I must admit, if you read this get some tissues ready – I sobbed.
The Twelve Days of Christmas – Alex T Smith. First of all, there is nothing to not love about this book. The illustrations are incredible, each page is a pop of colour and character but also, I just love the premise behind it. We all know the popular Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, but do you remember what each day brought? If not, this quirky, hilarious take on this book is for you. It’s also excellent for little readers too.
There we have it! Another excellent month of reading even though I didn’t get to my book for November. I will make sure that happens this weekend as well as my new post, especially for the advent period. I cannot wait to show you that! I plan to post most days too so stay tuned! I’m genuinely so excited about it.
I hope you all have a wonderful start to December. Thanks for being there with me, even when I don’t quite reach my own goals that I set for myself.
Happy Sunday! I hope you’re all well rested and enjoying the weekend.
Whilst the rain is lashing down my windows, I thought now would be a good time to share with you all my round-up for October. October was a great month for reading which I’m really pleased with. I’m also surprised because even though I had half term, I was in London so only read one book! Anyway, there were some great books last month and some potential Christmas presents if you’re needing ideas! I do have to admit something though, I didn’t manage to get my book read for the book bingo but that’s ok!
So, I managed to read a thrilling 13 books in October. To be honest, I’m really chuffed! I’m desperately trying to get down my to be read pile and not buy anymore so I’m pleased with the progress I’m making, albeit quite slowly! Let’s check out the shelves.
I’ve already blogged and reviewed a couple of these: The Journey and Beyond the Wand. I absolutely loved both of those books and highly recommend them. However, I’ve picked a top three that lies outside those two.
The Bullet That Missed – Richard Osman. The third book in the series and this was just as witty, thrilling and well developed as the others. Featuring our favourite Thursday Murder Club and another mystery that needs solving.
Platform Seven – Louise Doughty. I received this in my halloween subscription box and it really didn’t disappoint. It’s just as gritty as Apple Tree Yard and I found myself falling into the depths of the murky world of murder. (Do not read if you’re planning on travelling around via train – I read this in London when I was hopping on and off tubes and I became super paranoid.)
All About Evie – Matson Taylor. This book really was a breath of fresh air. It was utterly delightful and charming and I absolutely loved the character of Evie. A feel good read for those times when you really want one!
And there we have it! 13 fabulous books including one I’ve got for the tiny human in my life: Five Penguins. I must admit, it’s got beautiful illustrations and is perfect for the little ones. Who doesn’t love penguins as well?!
All in all, October was a brilliant reading month and I’m really excited about seeing what November brings on the reading front. It’s getting a bit exciting now with all the books being advertised for Christmas. I just need to resist temptation and get my pile down a bit more…
See you next time where I promise I’ll catch up the book I should have read for October and share with you some of the wonderful experiences of London.
I hope you’re all well. I’m back from an incredible few days in London with my family. We have had an action packed time with adventures I’m sure I’ll share with you as time goes by. Just know I carried you all with me with the power of phones and internet! Big statement alert: this is my favourite book of 2022 so far. There, I said it. And that’s coming from a Gryffindor girl! As soon as it was announced that Tom Felton had written a book, I desperately wanted to get my hands on a copy. This book is everything and more and I am proud to say that I read this in just a few hours. I had to share my review with you all. For those of you who are not into Harry Potter, don’t worry. This book is an exemplary example of non-fiction. Let’s do this!
What’s it all about?
The novel starts with a foreword by Emma Watson. What we learn from foreword is the beauty of their friendship and how they are soulmates and will be in each other’s lives forever. It made me reflect upon my own friendships and having that specific connection with someone is truly remarkable. From here, Felton takes us through his childhood in chronological order, with each chapter being linked to the magical world of Harry Potter. It starts off quite humbly, with Felton showing us just how difficult it is to juggle a normal life with being a huge film star on one of the biggest franchises the world has ever seen. In his ever reflective narrative, Felton explains about an incident at HMV and an adult DVD. The incident itself isn’t that dramatic but it’s the fear that comes with it; the disappointment from his Mum and the fear of Warner Bros finding out and taking away his acting career. There’s a fine line between having a laugh with friends and being reckless.
“While the young Tom Felton was no Draco Malfoy, he was no saint either. Maybe that’s what got me the part in the first place.”
We learn about his family, the influence of his brothers and how his early auditions and acting experiences weren’t amazing. However, none of this stopped him and he got a part in The Borrowers. This led to his first film premier where it was all unknown really. His family went with him in another example of lovely family unity. Little Tom Felton had no idea what his future held and if it wasn’t for his mother, he wouldn’t have attended some of the auditions that he did. The next film was Anna and the King and this took Felton to the lights of Los Angeles for an audition, where he was successful, which led to filming in Malaysia. More new experiences for a young Felton who appreciated all the lessons that these experiences provided. From here, the calling of Harry Potter wasn’t far away. Yet, it wasn’t to be as expected. Felton made a bit of a fool of himself quite early on. But, this led him to a different part; one that he could never have imagined.
“Would Draco have gone home to mug up, Hermoine-like, on Harry Potter books? I think not. Would he have blagged his way through a question about which character he was most excited to see on screen? Possibly.”
We are taken through the filming and what life was like for a young Felton and his appreciation of his fellow actors. There’s anecdotes about working with Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Rickman, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Maggie Smith and Zoe Wanamaker, just to name a few. Likewise with Emma Watson, Felton shares his views with the world about her. Their relationship is pure, innocent and utterly compelling. The support they share for each other and the unquestionable loyalty they have for each other means that the two will be connected for life. I also think his appreciation of Daniel Radcliffe is also reflective and kind. It’s always lovely as a reader to see that the friendships on screen are mirrored in real life. We are also aware that some of the cast have since passed away. I too appreciated the acknowledgement of these and of Felton who, now as an adult, appreciates those interactions even more.
“We grew closer and the more I saw and understood what he life was like, the more empathy I had for her. I became very defensive of her, whenever she needed defending. I began to see her not as a little girl, nor as a public-property celebrity, but as a young woman who was doing her very best to negotiate a life where ordinary social situations and interactions were practically impossible.”
For me personally, the part of the novel that made me feel a whole range of emotions was when we saw an older Felton struggling with the reality of life post Harry Potter. Say goodbye to being anonymous and having a sense of real life outside of the public eye. This in itself sounds easier said than done and I found the honesty of Felton humbling. I am not afraid to say that I shed a tear or two! His family felt the need to stage an intervention based on Felton’s alcohol consumption. The end of the book is all about Felton’s struggles with his mental health and his addictive behaviours. He found himself in rehab – something that has a stigma and a label attached to. Like the rest of the novel, it’s unapologetically honest. I was relieved to see by the end of the novel that whilst mental health can still be an issue, Felton is now in a better place, cementing himself as a hero for his generation for being so open and honest.
“I realised that before I had been existing a state of absolute numbness. It wasn’t that I was ready to jump off a bridge; it was that jumping off a bridge and winning the lottery seemed like equivalent outcomes. I had no interest in anything, good or bad.”
I cannot deny how much I love this book. I didn’t want to put it down, I’ve recommended it to my friends and also some of my students at school. I think that Felton is a role model for young people and his honesty and reflection throughout this is commendable. As a massive Potterhead, I know I was always going to read this book but I didn’t appreciate how much I come to value this book. The issues around mental health are so key and prominent – I could relate to many things – and that is absolutely acceptable because life happens and things impact our state of wellbeing and equilibrium. People, young and old, Harry Potter fan or not, read this book. It might just change your life. It has mine.
I hope you’re all well and enjoying the run up to the spooky season! It’s time to play catch up and share with you the book I read for my Book Bingo Reading Challenge for this year. For September, I picked ‘Read a tale of overcoming a challenge‘. I wasn’t sure where to go with this but you may remember from my post way back in November 2021, I posted a review of the Big Panda and Tiny Dragon story written and illustrated by James Norbury. You can remind yourself of that post here. I found that story to be a refreshing tale of hope that I desperately needed. Therefore, I could barely contain myself when I saw that there was a second book out! It’s just as delightful and wholesome as the first and fits perfectly with the reading challenge. I really hope you love it just as much as I do.
What’s it all about?
Featuring the wonderfully created Big Panda and Tiny Dragon, this book is all about the journey they are faced with and how they manage to overcome the obstacles along the way. I feel like I’m at a crossroads in my life so this felt like a case of perfect timing really. This book gave me the moment in my life to stop and reflect, just like the panda and the dragon too.
It starts at the temple they call home but it’s worn and needs some work. How it looks doesn’t matter to them because they have each other: friendship and companionship. As wonderful as this is, Tiny Dragon feels like something is missing.
“This place is incredible, Big Panda. The trees, the mountains, the birds and the animals, they are all so magical; we are so lucky – so why do I feel like something is missing? Why do I feel incomplete?”
After identifying the feeling of incompleteness, the friends prepare to embark on a journey together in order to find happiness. They head towards the rocky trail and follow it out of the mountains and down to the river. They have each other and so they have everything they need. Big Panda reassures Tiny Dragon repeatedly – the lesson is for Tiny Dragon to learn. It’s not easy; there are huge challenges along the way and at points it feels like they will never make it.
At the darkest point, the weather is relentless and progress is slow. Tiny Dragon also loses his beloved tea set and is naturally distressed. Yet, Big Panda is this strong, wise force that is still there with him, every step of the way despite being exhausted and sad himself.
“Nothing is under our control, little one…not really. I just trust in life to take us where we need to be.”
The two friends continue their journey, refusing to give up hope or lose faith. Each step they take means that they are closer to their new home, their new futures. It’s terrifying but they can only ever go forwards. Silence falls upon the pair as they trudge onwards. But finally, they manage to see the light and see what potential the future has for them.
Tiny Dragon is so upset that he needs time to himself. He manages to finally see the beauty in the world and realises exactly what his purpose is. He asks the big question, ‘What is the purpose of the universe?’ and is desperate to work out exactly what it means for him and his dear friend, Big Panda. Their journey finally comes to a close. They find a new, blissful and perfect home for themselves. Tiny Dragon is still sad about having to move, the loss of his beloved tea set and leaving all that he knows behind. But, he has learnt to see the beauty of the world in front of him. He also knows what impact it has on his character too.
“I feel a bit like this cup… I’ve been through a tough time and I feel like I’ve been damaged. But these little cracks are what let the light shine through.”
I love this book so much. It reads like a hug that we all so desperately need. I loved the honesty too. How many times have we found ourselves stuck or feeling overwhelmed? How many times have we sat and thought, ‘I just can’t do this’? I know I have and the wisdom from Big Panda for Tiny Dragon resonates with me. It’s the perfect book in so many ways. It fits beautifully with my choice for this month because the two characters need to overcome the challenge of feeling so lost, mentally and physically. This book is the perfect medicine for that. Just to add, the illustrations are beautiful too. I wish I was that talented. And so, there’s another box ticked off on my Book Bingo Reading Challenge. Just three more to go to complete this year! Amazing!
Well, it appears that I’ve dropped a bit of a clanger… I didn’t seem to do my round-up for August! So today, I’m going to share with you the books I read in August and September so we are all back up to date. I cannot believe I’ve done that! I guess life gets in the way sometimes but still I’m super disappointed in myself really. I hope you can all forgive me and hopefully this acts as some form of redemption…
Anyway, let’s start with August. Like the end of July, I spent the majority of August on holiday which was excellent. I had a fabulous time but looking back now, it feels like such a long time ago. In August I managed to read a total of 16 books which I am really pleased with. There were some excellent ones here too. I’m surer you’ve got to them already but I’m still really excited to share them with you. Let’s check out the shelves!
Picking a top three from this lovely bunch is going to be really difficult. I enjoyed the majority of them so much to be honest! I’ll give it my best shot though.
The Paper Palace – Miranda Cowley-Heller. For me, this had real Crawdad’s vibes and I utterly ate it up. I couldn’t put this book down. I loved the characters and the story and found it to be my favourite book of the summer.
The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell. I think I said before that I am relatively new to Lisa Jewell but I really enjoyed this one and cannot wait to progress onto the next one in the series. Long term followers know that I absolutely love a psychological thriller and this was just that. Edge of the seat kind of stuff really!
Takeaway – Angela Hui. I blogged about this book because I absolutely loved it and I’ve decided that this is my favourite non-fiction book of the year so far. It talked about Chinese culture, that food is the language of love and the importance of family. It was an excellent read and one I couldn’t recommend highly enough.
Now onto September. September was a much slower month for me. I was back at work, with the relentlessness of the daily grind and reading went out of the window. Then I was completely thrown by the death of a Queen and finally I got poorly. How the mighty have fallen! Upon reflection, I always tend to read more when it’s holiday time. It’s a shame that during the most stressful times, the one love I have, seems to vanish… Does anyone else have the same issue?
Anyway, in September I managed to read 8 books. This was a real surprise because there was about two weeks where I didn’t pick up a book. Regardless, again there were some good choices here and writers that I know I enjoy so that helps also. Let’s check out the shelves!
It’s a little easier this time to pick my top three because there’s less to choose from and there’s a couple I wasn’t too keen on. I read them but they aren’t books I’d rave about, if that makes sense? I did blog about The Sun, The Sea & The Stars previously, so I’ll leave that out.
The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman. I was a little late to the party with this one but they are excellent books. I love the characters, I love the group and I love the mystery. All completely relatable and remarkable.
How Do You Like Me Now? – Holly Bourne. Wow! I’d never heard of Holly Bourne but I absolutely love her writing style. I felt like it was hearing my own thoughts but being voiced much more eloquently.
Four Aunties and a Wedding – Jesse Sutanto. I got the first book, Dial A For Aunties, in a book subscription box and then I saw that the next one was out. I find the writing style really funny and this book was a easy read. I also love the fact that the characters were larger than life and completely out there.
The round-up has been really strange for me. I feel like I’ve messed up but I do enjoy looking back and seeing what I’ve read. Bring on October with autumn leaves, scarves and hopefully more books. My aim is to read the book choice for September as soon as possible and get blogging about it. It’s time to prioritise my blog and I again!
I haven’t posted anything because what can I say? Isn’t it all just very overwhelming at the moment? School has started and that is overwhelming – lots of changes and on a much larger scale, the death of Queen Elizabeth II has completely thrown me and brought up my own experiences of grief. I am deeply moved daily by the scenes surrounding the death of her. I guess it isn’t a shock but the sense of loss is overwhelming. With work and life I took myself off to a place that brings me great joy and comfort: the book shop. I’m back in a stage of buying many (I am on a ban…so far so good) and not being able to read them. Whilst aimlessly walking and not staring too hard in case I get tempted, I did spot something that felt like a sign from the book gods. That sign was The Sun, The Sea & The Stars – Ancient Wisdom as a Healing Journey. Firstly, it’s a beautifully illustrated book and I knew it would be a manageable and healing read.
What’s it all about? Small but mighty is the best way to describe this book. It opens with a personal message from the author and illustrator Iulia Bochis where it is revealed that this book was born out of the feeling that everyone is different yet we share so many thoughts and feelings the same. We all face moments in our life that cause us to stop, think and reflect whilst we are navigating our journey through life. It was just the antidote that I needed at this period in time.
Starting in Autumn, we see a season of great change. Bochis wants us to remember that there is beauty in every season and as we are approaching Autumn, it’s perfectly apt now. Whilst the seasons are changing around us, our natural world is also changing and adapting around us too. We need to remember to be at one with the natural world – we help to shape it of course.
“The trees look vulnerable, shedding their past lives.”
We have to remember that time doesn’t stand still. Therefore, we have to keep moving because we can’t stop time. It is only when we continue that we are able to see what actually happens next. Autumn leads us into Winter when our surroundings are naturally darker. Yet, it is within the darkness that the stars and the moon shine brighter for us all to see. The world rests in Winter and time moves us towards Spring – the time of new beginnings and bloom. We have the opportunity to start again. We bloom too.
“Being still does not mean don’t move, it means move in peace.”
The book ends with Summer. Everything is different again, including ourselves. The summer is naturally a happier time for people purely because we see light and for me, this book was like summer because it provided me with more light for our current times. It’s become part of my journey and by sharing it with you, I hope that it is becomes part of your journey too.
Final Thoughts This book gave me the opportunity to stop and pause just to reflect and recover. When everything is overwhelming, it is really easy to run away or bury our heads. I do both of these things. Yet, it is just delaying the inevitable. It is much better to take time and explore the world around us. There is beauty wherever we look, we just need to remember to look. It is really easy to glance and let it all pass us by. This book gave me the opportunity to remember that. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like it is all a bit much at the moment, take half an hour and read this book. It’s one I am certain I will be dipping in and out of/
“What feels like the end is often the beginning.”
Until next time my loves, thinking of you all. This post dedicated to her majesty the Queen.