Thursday, 30 June 2016

May Reviews

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
TorBooks 1/8/06
Kindle. Bookclub

We made a bit of an error with this book. The bookclub voted in this one without checking the size! 1000 pages took us a while to get through, luckily I bought it on Kindle, which saved me the back ache of carrying it around.
It definitely took a little while to get into this one, once Jonathan Strange appeared things became more interesting and there was rarely a moment I didn't want to turn the page and know what was going to happen. I enjoyed the writing style which very much put me into the setting of the book and my favourite characters are Childermas and Vinculus. Luckily rumour has it that a new book by Clarke is a prequel for Childermas and Vinculus which sounds awesome to me.
It was too long really, but I enjoyed it.
On the other hand, a consistent complaint that people have with first novels is that the idea is not fully formed and feels rushed. This was certainly not the case here, the 1000 pages allows the writing to stretch and the story to spool out just how the author wants it to.
I'd also recommend watching the TV series as it was very true to the book and would save you alot of time. It was certainly written with a live action version in mind, lots of descriptions of what the magic would look like, and the series covered it well.
I felt that Clarke definitely manipulated us effectively with the introduction of each character. Infact I would say the developing characterisation of each and every person on the page was brilliant. It's so different from any ideas that you might have about magical books already. It's a tremendous work of her imagination. Bravo.

Thursday, 23 June 2016


Here we are in July, half way through the year. I think this is a good time to look at my reading goals as they stand for this year and see how close I am to getting to achieving those goals. Here are my resolutions that I made this year:

1. Beat my last record of 35 books in 12 months. (May-May)
May to May I have not beaten this record this year I've managed to read 21. But hoping to ramp up the numbers in the second half of the year and focus on some smaller books.

2. Read for at least an hour every day.
I think I pretty accurately have been doing this, I have been reading on my commute everyday. I would like to have more discipline for reading at home, especially on the weekends. Make time for reading

3. Read all of the unread books on my shelves.
Certainly not going well on this front, there are so many books that I want to read! I vow. The next book I read will be from my book shelves.

4. Give away those books I'll never read again. Keepsakes get a box in the loft.
I think I will need to spend a weekend at my dads for this.

5. Join a library.
I DID join a library. but need to join a local library now. Well that's heartbreaking.

Overall, I am doing okay I think, and it's been useful to revisit those goals I made this year and get a new injection of motivation.

Let's not talk about my goal to lose 5 kilos, let's just not.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Work Away Blogs from Forest Gardens

The little shack in the mountains is coming along. When we first moved in really was little more than a wooden hut in a hole. It's becoming a well oiled machine every time I come a new system is in place that works brilliantly to keep it ticking over.

In the spring and autumn, Forest Gardens is advertised on the Work Away website, which invites a sharing culture of volunteers to exchange their skills and time for room and board. In this way each person that comes through the gate lends a hand with a project, and leaves an improving impression on this tiny square of the world. 

The people you meet are often embarking on impressive journeys, nomads across land under their own steam, bikes, motorbikes and even a VW camper. As a break from racking up the miles, they stop by for a visit and trade the tent for a mattress for as long as they need. 

Many of the travelers keep blogs for their family and friends to follow as they move around. It's nice to see their progress as they move on from us here. There's a visitor's book to fill out before they leave, and this is a collection of all of the people who have a left a blog for us to follow:

Cycle Touring. Adventure. Rain. Sun.

Jersey to Asia on a bike! This is the full playlist that starts once he gets to Kurtkoy.

The Incredibly Long Journey
A travelling couple, for now, back home.

Following Tarmac
On the bikes around the world!

Red and Green Adventures
The Great Danes

It all started with a box of Turkish Delight
Morgan's another cyclist!

Go to the Facebook page to see what you're missing at Forest Gardens.

Are you following any travel blogs? or writing one? Share them with me!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Commute

It can be hard to stay calm on the tube. Squashed against a pole, tetris-ing your feet around everyone else's and being jabbed in the back by a structural handbag is a recipe for general rage in the morning.

If you're able to sit down, everything changes, using that regular stretch of time to do your make up is a great time saver. I see people highlighting their scripts, writing in their journals and, of course, reading.

I tend to be happier if I have managed to be absorbed in my book for those few minutes. When I'm not reading I am hyper aware of that girl's hair, the guy's personal hygene (Good god stop yawning in my face coffee breath!) and no way are you getting the seat at Finsbury park, buddy. But when I'm reading, even if I'm stood up, I just don't care. I'm reading, my nose is fully in my book.

One of the great things about my kindle is that I can read with one hand and still thumb the button to turn the page, which means even if I'm propped up against someone elses suitcase I can still read. I will admit that sitting down to indulge in reading is the ideal.

But if I really can't read, my commute is the perfect place to go shopping. What better review than watching someone's face as they read a book. That cover that catches your eye, isn't that the book you saw someone else reading the other day? More than once, the tube has helped formed my amazon wish list. It's one of my biggest arguments against having a kindle is that you don't know what the person is reading... Still the lightweight merits are attractive.

Even the short trips it's worth it to shut yourself off in a book. People think headphones close you off from the world but its nothing to the sensory deprivation of reading, at least if you're reading a good book. I see people reclaiming their commutes all the time, I am going to make a serious effort to have my book in my hand on the platform and all the way home. I need the headspace right now and there are 26 minutes of pure uninterrupted reading available to me twice a day.

What are you reading on the tube?

Thursday, 2 June 2016

My Year of Reading

As is tradition, every year in May I tot up how many books I've read and more importantly how many I've read since the start of this blog page. It makes it a bit weird to count from May to May, but its a tiny piece of nostalgia that I like to do.

May - Pride and Prejudice, Trigger Warning
June - The Architect's Apprentice, Birds Without Wings
August - Chickenhawk, The Moor's Account
September - The Life I Left Behind, Burnt Paper Sky, The Chimes
October - Orlando, Vathek
November - The Bone Clocks
December - Sense and Sensibility, The Mistress Contract, The Poet's Wives

January - Sea of Poppies,
Feburary - Lila, Emma
March - Shantaram
April - The Help, Americanah

My recommendation out of my Year of Reading May 2015- April 2016 has got to be Birds Without Wings

Full Reading Record:
May - American Psycho, The Bone Season, Gone Girl

June  - Popular: A Memoir, The Land Where Lemons Grow, Throne of Glass, Macbeth, Don't Tell The Boss
July - Dead Ends, What Was Promised, How to be a Woman, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Eat My Heart Out, Patient
August  -We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Behind The Beautiful Forevers, The Shock of The Fall
September - After Me Comes The Flood
October  - Heir of Fire, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein
November - Her
December - Three Men In A Boat, There Will Be Lies

January - The Minaturist, How To Win Friends And Influence People
February - An Echo In The Bone, Maggot Moon, The Secret Garden

March - Written In My Own Heart's Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, Rasputin's Daughter
April - The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year

May - Pride and Prejudice, Trigger Warning
June - The Architect's Apprentice, Birds Without Wings
August - Chickenhawk, The Moor's Account
September - The Life I Left Behind, Burnt Paper Sky, The Chimes
October - Orlando, Vathek
November - The Bone Clocks
December - Sense and Sensibility, The Mistress Contract, The Poet's Wives

January - Sea of Poppies, Umbrella
Feburary - Lila, Emma
March - Shantaram
April - The Help, Americanah
May - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell