Book reviews – Joanne M. Harris – “The Gospel of Loki” and David Coles – “Chromatopia” plus book confessions @ShinyNewBooks @ThamesandHudson #amreading

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First off I need to tell you about “Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Colour” by David Coles, which publishers Thames & Hudson were kind enough to send me to review for Shiny New Books.

This truly spectacular book would grace any coffee table with ease, but it’s more than just a pretty face, with fascinating facts in abundance and offers a good read to anyone interested in art, colour or indeed chemistry.

Read my full review over at Shiny. I’ve just had a look at Thames & Hudson’s autumn catalogue and there are some smashers in it, although I have a couple more from May and June to read and review before I can start frolicking amongst those!

Joanne M. Harris – “The Gospel of Loki”

(23 November 2018)

I bought this one because the lovely Annabookbel sent me the sequel, “The Testament of Loki” (which she didn’t finish, see her review here) and I am just unable to read the second part of a series first, it seems.

This is a really nicely done retelling of the Norse myths from the point of view of Loki. His voice is great, and the little details of swapping a Chaotic life in the form of a flame for a corporeal aspect that can feel all the senses give a depth to it that makes it not all just about stories. His motivation is laid out for us to see, and plausible, and he’s got a modern way with words while being firmly rooted in his context (a bit like the Marvel films, and of course it’s now hard to visualise the characters without seeing the film characters). He has to experience emotions, too, adding another layer. All the familiar tales are here, so there’s lots of nice recognition if you’ve basically been a bit obsessed by this stuff since you were 8 or so, but it’s all from his side of the story, so retains the interest. The mystery of who actually wants Ragnarok to start is a bit of a twist too far, perhaps, but it’s both competent and fun.

Incoming

Oh dear. You’ve seen the state of the TBR and noted that I can’t have cleared much from it if I’m reviewing my second book of the month. But then this happened.

Somehow Jon Bloomfield’s “Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham” got itself published without me hearing about it. How did that happen? When I heard about it, I just had to have it right away. It’s got at least one person I know in it, and looks just so well done and fascinating. It also adds to the diversity of my TBR, which I’ve been a bit concerned about.

More diversity with Japanese novel “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Murata, about a woman struggling to keep the way of life and work she wants while being buffeted by expectations from her family and employers. This was one Meg was given for Christmas and I apparently expressed a need to read it, so there it was when I met her for her birthday!

And then Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca”. Ali had a du Maurier reading week recently to celebrate their joint birthdays. She had a competition to win a copy of “Rebecca” and one other book, and as I’ve managed never to read this novel, I entered, along with a few other people. And then, to everyone’s slight embarrassment, I won. Ali shared with me at the weekend that she drew me with the first random number generator run, and was horrified, so ran it again … and I won again, at which point she decided the fates wanted me to read it. Fortunately she’s said I can do it for DDM Reading Week NEXT year!

Currently reading

Once I’ve shoehorned these onto the shelf, I’ll get back to reading the first of my 20 Books of Summer, “This Cold Heaven” by Gretel Erlich, a fascinating book about her long-term love affair with Greenland. It’s very absorbing so far, although I have the thought of getting to my next Iris Murdoch before too long hovering gently in the background …

Happy reading everyone! How are your 20Books going?

State of the TBR June 2019 and #20booksofsummer pile #amreading #bookconfessions #WolfsonHistoryPrize

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Well I read seven books in May (not all reviewed yet) and a look at the Book Confessions tag will show you that just a few came in. There is a gap at the end of the front shelf but only the size of one book (and next time I see Ali, I’ll be presented with the copy of Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” that I somewhat embarrassingly won in her competition). And inconceivably stupidly, I’m sure, I’ve not included any of my review books or my Iris Murdochs in my 20 Books of Summer pile for this year. I think this might be the year I fail!

A small confession

First off, new books in I haven’t told you about yet.

Gill had read “Narrowboat Dreams” by Steve Haywood recently and very wickedly brought it along to our regular Sunday coffee. So there it is. Then Kaggsysbookishramblings had recently read Vijay Menon’s “A Brown Man in Russia” (her review here) and very kindly sent it on to me (more about these below as they are in my 20 Books pile).

Then I was very flattered to be asked to be part of the blogging panel for the Wolfson History Prize 2019 shortlist (see the full shortlist here). I’ve been lucky enough to receive Jeremy Mynott’s “Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words”, which is an exploration of the role of birds in Roman and Greek society and culture. I was aware of fortune telling using, um, birds, as such, but I am enjoying reading all the painstaking research that has gone into this entertaining book. The author wrote a seminal work on birdwatching and our modern relationship with birds, “Birdscapes” which went straight on my wishlist as soon as I heard about it.

My review is scheduled for 6 June and I’m also going to be reviewing it for Shiny New Books. The other reviewers are a great bunch and I’m looking forward to reading their thoughts on their books, too (there’s only one of us reading each book, so not so much a shadow panel or a book tour but yet another way of going about things!).

Now and next

So what am I reading now and next? I’m currently in the middle of Joanne M. Harris’ very entertaining “The Gospel of Loki” which retells the Norse myths from the point of view of Loki. She’s got his trickster ways and egocentricity down to a T, and I love all the little details like what it feels like to change from being a creature of chaos to being embodied. Although there are a few fights and bits and bobs, this is one that doesn’t mind where it’s read, so useful for mealtimes etc.

Then I’m also onto Jeremy Mynott’s “Birds of the Ancient World” we’ve talked about above, and it’s being prioritised of course!

Next up I have my Iris Murdoch of the month, “Nuns and Soldiers” and you can read more about that in my preview post here. I can’t quite believe I’m on Book 20 of my re-reading project, but I’m heartily enjoying it. I’ve chosen what I’m going to do for my next project already, but I’m not ready to share on here QUITE yet.

And then we’re on to the next review book, Michael J. Benton’s “The Dinosaurs Rediscovered” which is about the strides forward in science that have been made in the last 20 years, not just the renaming but finding out what colours they were and what coatings they had. It looks fascinating and appeals to the grown-up non-fiction reader and the little girl who loved dinosaurs in me!

 

 

20 Books of Summer 2019

I’m excited to be taking part in 20 Books of Summer 2019! I’ve done it since 2016 and have a dedicated page for it here with a pic of the books and links to all I’ve read (I’m adding that next so if you’re super keen and clicky you won’t see the updated version!). Here’s the pile …

and yes, there are 19: one of them is an omnibus! Here’s a bit about each one. As usual, I’m including my All Virago (and Persephone) / All August challenge in there, so it’s weighted towards those (also I should have finished my review books by August!).

I’m horribly aware that this pile isn’t very diverse. The weighting to Viragoes and Persephones makes it woman-centric but not that much on people of colour, LGBTQ people, etc. and I am sorry for that. I do have two books about or by people of colour in there, but then I also have two books on Norse and far-northern culture. Not sure about the LGBTQ quotient until I’ve read some of them. My NetGalley list is more diverse and I will continue reading from that amongst these and working to broaden things further.

Here are the non-Viragoes:

Gretel Erlich – “This Cold Heaven” – seven seasons in Greenland. A dense book but came recommended and I do like reading about Greenland.

Lynne Murphy – “The Prodigal Tongue” – she writes a blog about US and UK English and here’s the book, talking about the differences, similarities and histories.

Neil Gaiman – “Norse Mythology” – his retelling of the tales, can’t wait to read this.

Clair Wills – “Lovers and Strangers” – a history of post-war immigration to the UK

Harriet Harman – “A Woman’s Work” – her autobiography

Cathy Kelly – “The House on Willow Street” – her usual multi-character-stranded work, set in a seaside village outside Dublin this time.

Paul Newman – “Lost Gods of Albion: Chalk Hill Figures of Britain” – needs to be read before I run past the White Horse of Uffington (of which I am oddly afraid) when I do my ultramarathon in July.

Joe Harkness – “Bird Therapy” – an Unbound title I supported, about the value of birdwatching to one’s mental health.

Steve Haywood – “Narrowboat Dreams” – man amusingly travels the canals of Britain – maybe our ones!

Vijay Menon – “A Brown Man in Russia” – author from India does the Trans-Siberian Express.

And the Viragoes and Persephones:

Margery Sharp – “The Eye of Love” – you can’t beat Margery Sharp and this promises to be a great novel.

Ellen Wilkinson – “Clash” – the story of a political activist set against the General Strike of 1926

Henry Handel Richardson – “The Getting of Wisdom” – coming-of-age novel by this (female) Australian novelist

Henry Handel Richardson – “Maurice Guest” – a doomed Australian-English love set over 500 pages (this might be the one I swap out but Kaggsy gave it to me so that’s a good sign)

Angela Thirkell – “Before Lunch” – more Barsetshire fun. I have about six of hers TBR so have confined myself to just one for the moment.

Dorothy Whipple – “Young Anne” – her first novel and the last to be republished by Persephone and another coming-of-age novel

Ada Leverson – “Tenterhooks” and “Love at Second Sight” – I read “Love’s Shadow” a couple of years ago and picked up the omnibus also containing the other two.

Edith Ayrton Zangwill – “The Call” – a woman scientist abandons her career to be a suffragette.

Nicholas Mosley – “Julian Grenfell” – acclaimed biography of the First World War poet.

So there you go – 3 June to 3 September, 20 books, 15 by women, 9 non-fiction, will I read them all?

 

Book reviews – Sarah Vaughan – “The Art of Baking Blind” and Debbie Macomber – “Rainy Day Kisses” plus books in #amreading #bookconfessions

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Lots of lovely work, lots of running, officiating and preparing to officiate and a bit of learning Spanish have cut into my reading time and also my reviewing time. Here are two books I read while I had a cold the weekend before last (I appear to have only been reading Iris Murdoch’s “The Sea, The Sea” since then!) and then some lovely new books in for review. Well, I say lovely, and they are, but where am I going to put them??

Sarah Vaughan – “The Art of Baking Blind”

(23 April 2019)

One of my most recent acquisitions, bought when I went to meet up with my friend Linda in Shirley and couldn’t leave the charity shops alone, this was an idea poorly read. It’s a well-done novel set during a competition to find the next Mrs Eaden, housewife and home baker extraordinaire (and just passed away, thus avoiding any Mary Berry comparisons!) run by the supermarket that still bears her (husband’s) name. Bake-Off gets a mention: it’s not a Bake-Off novel but lovers of the show are sure to like it.

Life has happened, away from a preheated oven and a greased baking tray. (p. 111)

We get the stories of the five contestants plus extracts from Mrs Eaden’s own life story and recipes/handy hints, which were well pastiched. Note that all human and family life is here, so there need to be trigger warnings for fertility issues and loss and also eating disorders (both well sign-posted but done in a bit of detail, although carefully handled and resolved). There’s also an amusing MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) in the form of one contestant’s very annoying marathon running husband – I loved the description of his daughter’s growing discomfort as she supports his marathon and his wife and daughter’s reactions to his self-obsessed silliness (while of course hoping I’m not the equivalent MAWIL!).  Nuclear options are faced up to, mothers and daughters might be reconciled, and it’s all done really nicely with some good set  pieces and characters, showing different types of bravery.

Debbie Macomber – “Rainy Day Kisses”

(14 July 2018)

Picked off the middle of the shelf for cold-day comfort, neither the title story nor the accompanying novella were unfortunately DM’s strongest work. I suspect that “Rainy Day Kisses” with its handy modern-day frame is a re-do of an older story (she does this quite a lot, and fair play, her books are a brand that are consumed in great numbers by many) and it’s a slightly annoying tale of an undomesticated woman and the man who saves her. Yes, she’s an ambitious businesswoman, but …  “The First Man You Kiss” is a silly but amusing tale of a lucky wedding dress: slight but fun. That’s all I have to say about those two!


Books in

I continue to receive lovely parcels for my attention at Shiny New Books – I’m very grateful to Harriet and Annabel for allowing me to be one of their reviewers and the publishers for sending me such lovely books to read.

The first to arrive were the other two I’d requested (any of) from Thames & Hudson’s superb catalogue. Michael J. Benton’s “The Dinosaurs Rediscovered” looks at the last couple of decades of dinosaur research and how things have come on both in the technology and the facts it reveals.

“Chromatopia” by David Coles is a lovely wallow through the history, attributes and mixing of colour – it has various sections but I was immediately attracted by the series of pages with a delicious illustration and then text about the colour, covering the whole palette:

You expect beautiful books from Thames & Hudson and this is no exception: stunning images and clear, fascinating text. And hooray, I’ve noted down all the publication dates and this is first up!

Then a couple of days ago, Stephen Rutt’s “The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds” arrived, which details the author’s travels around the British coast examining the lives of the birds found there. What a treat!

It’s nearly time for #20BooksOfSummer again and I have to work out whether to put whatever I have left of these on June 03 onto my Pile or keep it just for the TBR itself. Hm.

Book review – Simon Armitage – “Gig” plus MORE confessions! #amreading #bookconfessions

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I’m a bit behind with my reviewing, as I was making myself work on my review of “Invisible Women” for Shiny New Books (what more can you say about this much-reviewed book? I will share what I’ve said when it’s out) before I did the books I’ve finished. I ended April with two books on the go, which I’d started on my travels to London last weekend, and I was a bit under the weather this weekend, hence picked some easy reads off the TBR. So be prepared for an influx.

In other influx news, on Friday and then unexpectedly early on Saturday, I have received two books from the publishers, one on a subscription model that I was more than happy to lend a helping hand to, one from the publisher from a selection I expressed interest in earlier in the year! See below for a pic of these absolute beauties that I am privileged to have in the house.

Simon Armitage – “Gig”

(10 April 2018, Oxfam Books)

I bought this on the day I started using my new hairdresser, so precious memories and all that!

A book of loosely connected anecdotes about his own poetry ‘gigs’, music gigs he’s been to and his forays into band membership, imagined and real, and fandom/subculture membership (it’s hard to be a punk in a northern village with a scathing dad, it turns out). Funny and poignant as usual, we get a lot about his mum and dad (I love the long piece about the family’s amateur dramatic tradition) and his wife and daughter. Good to see his Iceland trip referenced and there are some great comparisons, including this on Mark E. Smith, who he says is like

the owner of a family-run furniture manufacturer in provincial northern England, bullying his staff and mocking his customers.

There’s some birdwatching (he’s the one in the back of the car with the silly comments and biscuits) and family jokes (Alan Bennett mode is a corker!) and I laughed out loud at his list of band names and why they got rejected. A great read.


So a while ago I joined an Unbound campaign for a book about the mental health benefits of birdwatching (and being in nature in general). Unbound works like the old subscription model, or crowdfunding, where you pay in advance to help a book get published, and there are various levels (I chose to receive one hardback book of “Bird Therapy” and have my name in the list of supporters, which pleased me mightily when I spotted myself, but you could also have a special edition or various birdwatching treats for more of a pledge). A quote from the publisher’s page:

In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.

You can buy it on Amazon from next month and I will try to review it very soon. I found Unbound easy to work with: one book I was supporting failed and I had a refund I could apply easily to anything else.

Bird Therapy and Futurekind books

“Futurekind” by Robert Phillips, kindly sent to me by Thames & Hudson and out next week, is a wonderful, beautifully illustrated book about community-led design projects. I’ll let the blurb do the talking:

Structured into eight areas of application, from healthcare to education, this book showcases over sixty projects – not the kind you see in glossy magazines or online, but the ones that have made a genuine difference to communities and lives around the world. Rather than being client-driven, as commercial design often is, each project here is the result of designers who reach out, communities who get involved and the technologies that helping people to realize ideas together. From a playground-powered water pump in South Africa to a DIY budget cellphone, each of these groundbreaking projects is presented through fascinating and life-affirming stories, diagrams that reveal the mechanisms and motivations behind each design approach, and photography that celebrates the humanity of the endeavour.

It looks absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

I’m currently reading “The Sea, The Sea” by Iris Murdoch, for what must be the fifth time at least, and I’m still drawn in, excited, by that first page. What are you reading that’s exciting you?

State of the TBR May 2019 (plus book confessions!)

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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear – we appear to have reached Peak TBR. Two full shelves plus stacks and the Pile is not even pictured. This has not been helped by my only managing to read six books in April – two of them were substantial non-fiction works.

One reason for the absolute fullness of the shelves is that when I was in London to visit my best friend and to support friends in the London Marathon, I happened into a North London Oxfam Books and found these two lovelies:

Who doesn’t like a book on ancient and not-so-ancient Britain? and I’ll be running past at least the White Horse of Uffington (which I’m scared of, not really taken away by reading the book based on the TV series that made me scared of it) when I do my ultra marathon in July. So Paul Newman’s “Lost Gods of Albion: The Chalk Hill-Figures of Britain” weighed down my rucksack all day on Sunday. And then a Persephone book I don’t have for only a fiver? Nicholas Mosley’s “Julian Grenfell” is now mine, and it’s not as battered as it appears in the photo.

I’ve also won on NetGalley “Brave, Not Perfect” by Reshma Saujani (about encouraging women and girls to be one but not just strive for the other), Joe Berridge’s “Perfect City” (totally Cari’s fault, that one: a book about urban planning and how the world’s cities are coping or not coping) and “Don’t Touch my Hair” by Emma Dabiri which is a cultural history of black hairstyling culture as a key in to black oppression and liberation.

Now, I did start both of these on my journey down to London and have nearly finished Simon Armitage’s “Gig” which is a loose collection of pieces and poems about being on the road and doing various ‘gigs’ either with musicians or as a jobbing poet. Mark Doyle’s “The Way Home” is about doing without technology – I’ve not unfortunately taken to the author very much but it is interesting in it’s way so I’m pressing on. That’s from NetGalley, hence the odd cover image on PC screen/real book pairing.

I have also finished “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado Perez and that’s the sixth book for April if anyone’s counting. I’m reviewing that one for Shiny New Books, so I’ll link to my review when it’s written and published there. I’ve just heard I’ve got a possible three more coming from a publisher for Shiny reviews so I’d better get my reading skates on!

My next read after I’ve finished these two (or probably one of them) will be Iris Murdoch’s “The Sea, The Sea” for my Iris Murdoch Readalong project. You can see the cover images and read the blurbs on my introductory post from yesterday if you like. I really can’t wait to read this, one of my favourites of hers, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read it more than the two or three times I’ve read all of the others. I’ll be reading the one on the end but I do like the three covers I have so thought I’d share them all with you.

I’ll also be reading either one of my new NetGalley books or one of the ones that are sadly languishing on the Kindle.

Here are the start and finish of my TBR and I have a horrible feeling the start is almost the same as last month, while the finish has changed dramatically.

The start …

… the finish

The ones at the start will be read in order but I will probably leave “Julian Grenfell” for All August / All Virago (and Persephone) and skip to “Hidden Figures” and “The House on Willow Street” as I want to lend those to a friend. “Albion” will need to be read before mid-July. I am hopeful of more reading time this month as I have my marathon at the end of the month, so there’s some serious resting, tapering and travelling / recovering to be done during May!

How is your TBR? Have you read any of these?

Book review – May Mackie – “Cobwebs and Cream Teas” plus comp winners and lovely incomings #amreading #BookConfessions

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Sometimes you need a palate-cleanser of an easy book amidst a sequence of more challenging ones, and dotted through my TBR you can find just those. This was an easy win, as it was one of my most recent acquisitions, spotted on my wishlist by Gill and appearing for my birthday. Only a short review as it’s a little book, but then I will share the new books that have come in this last week or so. Oops!

First an update on my Anja Snellman “Continents” competition. I put the names in alphabetical order and without them knowing that, asked the publisher to give me three random numbers (yes, they are giving away THREE print copies). Well done to Jillybeans, Kaggsy and Tredynas Days. The generous publisher has also offered e-copies to all participants, so you will have had an email from me with details of how to claim your prize by now.

Mary Mackie – “Cobwebs and Cream Teas”

(21 January 2019)

A slight volume, just the thing among heavier books, devoured and enjoyed quickly. Mary’s husband gets a job as houseman (general handyman and maintenance/cleaning coordinator, also deputising for the administrator) at a National Trust property, and they move into the flat that goes with it. We’re taken through a year in their lives, explaining the cleaning, preparing, displaying and closing routines with the addition of funny, stressful and occasionally sublime incidents. The author is a writer which allows her to get drawn into helping in the house but also means it’s well-written with some nice descriptive passages and the ability to set a scene. Chris is endlessly inventive, even inventing a new way to dust decorative plaster ceilings (only allowed once checked by the NT). Attractive drawings add to this edition.

Books in

When we were at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on Friday, Matthew noticed this on their display. A joint production of Birmingham University’s Cadbury Research Library and the BMAG, “The Birmingham Qur’an Manuscript” tells the story of the uncovering of a page of script from the Qur’an which PhD researcher Alba Fedeli matched with other leaves scattered in libraries across the world. There was something of a fuss about the dating of the page, whereas what was more interesting was the artefact as a palimpsest, with varied readings included and over-written. I have been lucky enough to work with Alba in my job, helping polish articles and documents (she speaks approximately 1 million languages) and so I had to snap it up. There are lovely reproductions of the actual pages, plus input from various people including a librarian and conservator I know! Really a pamphlet more than a book, but it had to be purchased!

My clever and practical friend Sian found these two books from my wishlist around birthday time and kept them in reserve in case the book she wanted to give me didn’t arrive. She had Matthew take them off my wishlist just in case, and now she’s read them herself, she’s passed them to me, anyway – hooray! (When I met her for a coffee, I gave her “Girls to the Front” which she’d given me for Christmas but I knew she’d enjoy.

Tim Parks’ “Where I’m Reading From” is according to the back “lively and provocative” – it’s pieces about what readers want from books and apparently how to look at literature in a new light. Kim Gordon’s memoir, “Girl in a Band” covers her time as a founding member of Sonic Youth and a lot more and has had a lot of positive talk.

Then I went to Shirley to meet my friend Linda for a coffee, I was a bit early and I popped into the charity shops. Sarah Vaughan’s “The Art of Baking Blind” is set in a baking competition – I enjoyed the Strictly novel I read years ago and this looks to be the Bake-Off equivalent. One of those light palate-cleansers I mentioned above; Linda’s already read and enjoyed it. Margot Lee Shetterley’s “Hidden Figures” was a good find – we watched the film about black woman “computers” at NASA in the first days of space flight at the weekend, talked about reading the book, and there it was! And Cathy Kelly’s “The House on Willow Street”, although from 2012, is one I haven’t spotted before: I like her reliably well-written stories of, usually, three or four women and their lives and issues. This one’s set by the sea instead of Dublin and looks fun.


Has anyone read any of these? I’m looking forward to getting to some of them reasonably soon, as I continue to read my TBR in my new way (oldest, newest, Kindle book). I’m currently reading “Invisible Women” for Shiny New Books and hope to have that reviewed for them soon, and will then start another NetGalley on the Kindle as I’m travelling to London to support the marathon this coming weekend.

Lovely incomings #bookconfessions #reviewcopies

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I’ve been lucky enough to receive these lovely books from the publishers to review – thank you to all. The three larger ones are to review for Shiny New Books: I feel privileged to review non-fiction for them. The smallest one came from the publisher for me to review, and to offer as a competition prize (once I’ve reviewed it, you’ll get details of the comp).  So, clockwise from top left …

Caroline Criado Perez – “Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in A World Designed for Men” – lots of people have been talking about this although I’ve not seen many reviews on people’s blogs. I’ve read quite a lot about this one and am itching to get into it.

Lara Prior-Palmer – “Rough Magic” – Yes, she’s Lucinda’s niece (this will make sense to horsey folk) and this is her story of riding the Mongol Derby in the hoofsteps of Genghis Khan, aged 19. It sounds so exciting but will be the last to be read as it’s out in June.

Elizabeth Emens – “The Art of Life Admin: How to Do Less, Do it Better, and Live More” – well, a book about life admin I need to find time to review (ha ha), and so far I’m at the descriptions of what life admin is, about to plunge into its gendered nature.

Anja Snellman – “Continents: A Love Story” – a Nordic bestseller that’s not a grim crime novel, tracing Oona and Alex’s love story across the continents. Look out for my review and giveaway!

I’ve also won these from NetGalley recently:

Paul Jarvis – “Company of One” – talks about the benefits of staying small rather than scaling up as a business – exactly what I’ve done, having had to make some conscious decisions after my work grew to fill my time, so it’ll be interesting to read about this now being a Thing.

Ayisha Malik – “This Green and Pleasant Land” – Bilal and his wife Mariam live a not-particularly-Muslim life in a sleepy English village, but what happens when “Bill’s” mum’s dying wish is for him to build a mosque there? When aunty comes to visit from Birmingham, chains of events are triggered. I’ve read this novel and will be reviewing it tomorrow and it’s charming and funny and has a lot to say about division and unity in England.

Mark Boyle – “The Way Home” – Apparently this chap has already written a book called “The Moneyless Man” and here he does without technology. Gulp.


Have you read any of these? Do any of them take your fancy? What’s new on your shelves – real or virtual?

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