happy world book day!

Whoa! Second post of the day, who am I?

I love World Book Day. It brings out a childish excitement and tempts me into wanting to buy new books. To actually go into a bookstore and see what takes my fancy rather than scouring the bargain section of my local charity shop.

I’ve ordered two of this year’s World Book Day books: Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo and Nought Forever.

I haven’t read anything by Rick Riordan or Malorie Blackman in a long while, so I’m very excited to pick up these books. They’re both short so it should be a nice way to return to some of my childhood favourites!

Has anyone else picked up a World Book Day book?

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the word is murder : a review

the word is murder : a review

Hello, I’m back. It’s been almost a week, which perhaps isn’t too long, but it’s been a terribly long one thanks to a decline in my mental health. I’ve got a lot of reviews to catch up on and I’m very excited to see if anyone else has any thoughts on these books.

Now, on to the text at hand!

I was a little apprehensive about reading another Horowitz novel so soon after the disappointment of Magpie Murders. However, I can happily state that it’s a definite improvement. I wouldn’t say that it’s Horowitz at his best though; it’s no Alex Rider novel.  

The novel has an interesting opening – between the first and second chapters we move from the traditional third-person narrative of a thriller to a first-person perspective in the second. The thrill lies in Horowitz himself being the narrator. Here’s where we first delve into Horowitz the character versus Horowitz the author. It felt like a throwback to my days at University writing about Dante the pilgrim versus Dante the author.

The novel had little chance of seeming original given that I was raised on Castle. That’s not a bad thing though. There was some warmth and nostalgia there, and Horowitz is far less self-centred in comparison to Richard Castle. Although Castle’s dramas are much more exciting and the team he works with are much more personable.

It was quite obvious from the beginning of the novel that the female audience member knew Hawthorne in some capacity and was there to be the tool to enabling the novel. Throughout the novel, Horowitz felt a need to wrap up every detail and that’s not always for the best. It can lead to laziness.

I’m not sure why homophobia needed to be wound into the book. It certainly didn’t contribute to Hawthorne’s character except to make him more dislikeable. I also found a disdain for Horowitz forming as he had characters continue to associate a homophobe with being gay. Horowitz might have called Hawthorne out, but it felt like an act of service aimed to tell LGBT readers ‘look, I’m an ally!’ rather than as a genuine expression of support. As a device, it was useless.

There were also a few issues with the timeline. The novel is set after the publication of The House of Silk and the murder happened 9 years and 11 months ago, setting the date in 2001. However, Damian and others mention that the incident happened in his second year at RADA and that he graduated in 1999. It makes no sense.

The ending of the novel might as well have been lifted from Castle though. It felt tired. The author beats the detective to the perp and would surely die had the perp not taken an immeasurable amount of time to explain the lengths that they’ve gone to secure revenge. This lengthy scene provides just enough time for the knight in shining armour, the much less charming Hawthorne (versus Kate Beckett) to arrive and save the author’s ass.

Come on, Anthony. You can do so much better.

Overall though, it was readable and I mostly enjoyed it. I hope that the next book is an improvement as this is something that Horowitz could easily grow into.

I’m still a little puzzled as to why there was a mix of capital and lower-case letters making up ‘THe WOrD is murDer’. If anyone can explain that, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Tonight I’m attending a talk with Horowitz for Jewish Book Week at King’s Place. He’s going to be discussing the follow up to this novel – The Sentence is Death – so look out for both a review of the talk and the novel later this week!

If any of you are attending let me know as I’m going on my own.

a trip to the library (one small haul)

a trip to the library (one small haul)

A few days after booking a ticket for a talk with Anthony Horowitz on his latest novel I realised that actually reading the book might be useful. As I tend to buy my books via charity shops I thought it better to pursue an alternate route.

I’m quite lucky to live in Kingston; there’s six libraries in walking distance from my house. Usually, I would rely on the online portal to tell me where to go, but this week it’s down for maintenance. So, I was going to have to hope that luck was on my side.

I started my search with Kingston but the only Horowitz novel they had was Trigger Mortis. Disappointing, but next on my list was Surbiton – my favourite library of the six.

Surbiton’s library is always a hub of activity and I love the way it’s sectioned off so that children have their own space to explore literature and learn without adults moaning that they’re in the way. However, it’s not so isolated that they’re in a separate library as they are in Kingston.

It has an open set up and there’s always a ton of recommendations around. I was also surprised to see forms for the Adult Reading Challenge. Usually challenges are just for the children over the summer.

Level One requires that you read 12 books before you can move on to the next round. The booklet offers 36 different categories and I really liked some of the options. I might even join in! I’ll leave the list at the end of the post if you’d like to join in online or utilise them as part of your own challenge.

Moving swiftly on, here’s what I picked up!

The Sentence is Death, Anthony Horowitz

Finally! I hope that this is as good as the first. I’d like to see more women involved in the story, rather than just being murdered or a suspect that we encounter for a scene or two. I hope that before Thursday I can read it, and have a review of both this and The Word is Murder ready to go.

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Forest Therapy, Sarah Ivens

I got this from the Shelf-Help section near the entrance. I was drawn in by the light green of the cover peeking out behind another book. I’m not really one to believe that going outside will cure me of depression. However, it seems more a guide to utilising the natural world to make yourself feel better when you can, also I’m a sucker for anything that mentions DIY.

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How Are You Going to Save Yourself?, JM Holmes

This stood out being the only book on a shelf. A review on the cover from Entertainment Weekly suggests it to be a ‘searing study of masculinity’. I was immediately on board and didn’t even check the summary. I think I’m going to leave it that way and allow it to be a surprise. I am intrigued though; this is a debut novel, and I’m typically at least five years behind on new releases.

  • A book set in the past
  • A book with a red cover
  • A book which is a graphic novel
  • A book featuring a road trip
  • A book by an author you’ve never heard of before
  • The first book of a series
  • A book in translation
  • A book adapted into a move in 2019
  • A book under 150 pages
  • A book from a genre you hate
  • A book that has won an award
  • A book that has a colour in the title
  • A book whose title is a phrase (at least 5 words)
  • A book set in London
  • A book with food pictured on the cover
  • A non fiction essay
  • A book recommended by your librarian
  • A book set in a town or country where you or your ancestors come from
  • A novel based on a true story
  • A book you have chosen because you liked the cover
  • A book you have chosen because you hated the cover
  • A book with a scientist character
  • A children’s book
  • A book by an author with the name and surname starting with the same letter
  • A book published 100 years ago, or by an author born in 1919
  • A book with magic
  • A novel printed in 2019
  • A Kingston University Big Read book
  • The 2019 Cityread book
  • A book featuring an immigrant or refugee
  • A book that was being read by a stranger on public transport
  • A book of poetry
  • An audiobook or an ebook
  • A book with a female main character
  • A book turned into a TV shpw
  • A book you have already read

I’d love to know if you’ve picked up anything at the library recently, or if you’re participating in a local reading challenge!

wrap it up

wrap it up

Look at me making low quality graphics, it’s almost like I’m fully invested in this blog now. For real though, I need this weekend and a chance to be creative!

This month I’ve read 11 books if I’m not mistaken, and I’m in the midst of three. I’ve also DNF’d one.

Young Stalin I’ve been reading on and off for two or three years now. It’s good but I just find myself picking up other books every couple of chapters. 

Foundation, I already discussed. We’re now at the end of February and I still have no desire to return to it. I don’t want to DNF it because I’d like to see what else he has to say for himself and it’d also mean his second book was a wasted purchase.

I started Stoner by John Williams today, and I’m around 100 pages in already. I love the simple prose, however I cannot get on board with Stoner. I’ve definitely got a few bones to pick with him.

Goals for the next month

I want to focus on decreasing my TBR. Let’s hope that my trains run as scheduled so that I don’t have to stop at Oval or Raynes Park and take a peek at their book swap shelves!

I’d also really like to get a little more involved in the book blogger community. At the moment, my time’s pretty limited on weekdays but I’d like to read at least a couple of blog posts a day. 

Get some graphics sorted! It’s about time. If anyone has any feedback on these let me know, they took less than a minute each and I want to know if it shows. I should also probably make sure the capitals in my titles are consistent. I love a smooth lower case title – I blame twitter.

In the coming months I’d also like to invest in a new kindle. Mine has served me well, I think I’ve had it for almost a decade. Now though, it’s showing its age and can’t connect to the internet, do adding a new book is a nightmare unless I get it from Project Gutenberg. Even then it involves both my laptop and kindle and at least fifteen minutes. It’s time better spent.

If anyone can recommend me a kindle/reading device I’d love to know which one you have and what you think of it! 


is everyone hanging out without me? (and other concerns) : a review

I was quite excited to read this short autobiography, despite not being that familiar with Mindy Kaling. I was at least a decade behind everyone else in watching The Office (which I need to finish before my Prime runs out), and I haven’t watched anything else that she’s been in except for Ocean’s 8.

I figured it’d be a fun little read, and for the most part it’s light and to the point. However, elements of the text were distressing.

Let’s remind ourselves of the publication date: 2013. In 2013, Mindy Kaling thought that it would be acceptable to be transphobic and openly use slurs against us. It was disappointing to say the least, and I really regretted giving the book my attention. From that point, I only kept on reading to see how much worse it could get.

Did she believe that this would be brushed off and would be inconsequential? It was a cheap shot. I wonder if she has apologised or even acknowledged it; from the research I’ve conducted I cannot find anything to indicate that she has. If anything, it further emphasises the lack of intersectionality in her feminism.

I did, however, come across an apology from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was not an apology at all for her transphobia. It instead further cemented her view that trans women are other. It’s exhausting and disheartening to find these damaging opinions at every turn.

Kaling’s book also included a ton of references to Woody Allen. It was an uncomfortable to read him being praised, and I’m unsure how the praise was acceptable when this was written.

All I gleaned from this is that Mindy is kind of a vapid person, but I’m not even sure how much I can trust that judgement. I can’t decide what tone this book was written in, is this all a joke to her? Am I reading it in the voice of Kelly Kapoor, am I guilty of aligning the two and allowing Mindy Kaling to become extension of the character.

the first dnf of the year

Holly Peterson, The Manny (London: Harper Collins, 2007)

Holly Peterson’s The Manny has become the first book I’ve officially given up on in 2019.

I found it at Raynes Park’s book exchange a few days ago. The sticker on the front that read ‘From the people who brought you THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA’ caught my attention. I loved the majority of Lauren Weisberger’s books (Revenge Wears Prada sucked, let’s be honest). So, I thought I might be onto a winner.

I was wrong. Oh so wrong.

The prose is abysmal. I managed twenty pages before I chucked it. The romance/chick lit genre gets a lot of stick for being trashy, and it’s novels like The Manny that continue to contribute to this perception.

Shall we take a quick peek at some of the offenders thus far?

  • ‘I crinkled the crow’s-feet around my eyes.’ [11]
  • ‘This made him what one might call angry.’ [13]
  • ‘Fucking Mr Ho, obsequious fucking midget, comes here from Hong Kong’. [14]
  • ‘He clenched his hands like two big suction cups on my bottom and pulled me into him.’ [18]

Classist, racist and misogynistic comments were being thrown left, right and centre. It was ridiculous. I wondered if this was a poorly written satire of the New York Social Elite and their families, but that seems above Peterson’s head. Instead, some research led to this article from which I can only surmise that Peterson is as vapid as the character of Jamie, and will willingly engage in non-PC content to rack up views.

If you’re seeking a lighthearted or whimsical tale this isn’t it.

Some Dreary Reads

Some Dreary Reads

Departing from the weekly catch up, here’s a general overview on what I’ve read over the past few weeks. I’m determined to get back on track with this blog now I’ve returned from Belgium.

I’m going to keep these short and sweet as I’ve managed to pop my knee out and give myself a slight concussion in the space of an hour.

Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz

Read up to the end of Atticus Pund’s section and then skip on down to the end for a great little whodunnit. Read Susan’s mess of a tale if you want to waste your time and loathe a fictional being.

The Stand, Stephen King

I began writing a complete review of this, but I realised that I’m not sure I care enough to do so. I slogged through this novel reading it in fits and starts. It took me 9 months to get through the extended edition and sure I’m glad I got through it, I just wish I knew why everyone considered it one of his best.

The last tome of his I wrangled with was The Tommyknockers and I should’ve learned my lesson there and then.

Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories, Ian Fleming

Inconsistent in quality but a nice way to pass a few hours if you can overcome the misogyny, racism, etc. The stories are more subdued than the novels and I enjoyed the pacing.

If the Fleming estate wishes to continue recruiting authors to expand the canon I’d like to see more short stories.

My Goodness: A Cynic’s Short-Lived Search for Sainthood, Joe Queenan

This got tiresome. I’m not sure what I was expecting.

It wasn’t for me, that’s for sure.

Rising Sun, Michael Crichton

Certainly no Jurassic Park. Crichton was intent on providing his opinion on the relationship between America and Japan again and again and again. It was another dreary read to add to this small collection.

The outcome was predictable from the off and I probably would’ve thrown this out if it wasn’t the only book I’ve had available to me.

The Sluts, Dennis Cooper and
The 13th Apostle, Richard and Rachael Heller

I already reviewed these books in my ‘Two Books I Regret Reading Post‘.

Here’s to hoping this next week holds better books! Saying that though, I picked up a terrible looking book called ‘The Manny’ from Raynes Park’s book exchange yesterday. I’m pretty sure it’s about to be swiftly returned.

QL Book Drop [2] and the National Gallery

QL Book Drop [2] and the National Gallery

I’m writing this post as I wander around the National Gallery – shout out to their wi-fi letting me download the WordPress app!

Right now I’m trying to kill time whilst I wait for Matt to arrive. We’re gonna grab dinner before we hop on the coach to Belgium for a belated anniversary trip. I’m beyond stoked for this weekend though; I’m gonna stay in a Monastery !!

Returning to the Gallery, I’m heading for the Caneletto’s. These are my favourite paintings here, and whenever I can visit them I do. Although I somehow always manage to get lost on my way!

There’s something particularly endearing about Venice, and these paintings are a departure from my usual favourites. I love anything from the Impressionist movement and could easily spend hours taking in every detail. I remember being overwhelmed and crying in Musée d’Orsay.

I might head on over to Monet in a moment to make the most of this quick trip as Matt’s almost here. They’re only down the hall so it’d be wrong not to really.

I cannot believe my luck. There’s two new loans, what a treat! The first is a Matisse and the second a painting of Madame Matisse by André Derian.

On to the real subject of this post though….

Today’s QL Book Drop is My Goodness by Joe Queenan. It was a strange little book.

I’ve not been dropping books as frequently as I’d like; there’s a whole box full under my stairs now. I think next week I’m going to do my best to deposit at least one a day.

Has anyone else got any favourite works at the National Gallery?

Two Books I Regret Reading

I’m a little behind on my ‘Week in Books‘ round up so I thought I’d provide a little insight into the first two books of the year that I feel like were unfortunate choices.

TW: rape, abuse, paedophilia.

The Sluts, Dennis Cooper

What the fuck.

This was a novel where to described it as depraved is to do it an injustice. I can’t believe it was sat on my shelf for over a year. I really do need to start doing more than judging a book by its cover when I’m in a rush.

It was well written, and executed brilliantly, I’ll give it that. I was enthralled and read it in its entirety across my commute and lunch break. However, the contents of the novel is disturbing to say the least. Set on a gay escort internet review site we follow the Brad saga and the text cycles through the vile side of BDSM which isn’t BDSM at all but a blackened version where sadistic abuse, paedophilia, and snuff is normalised and encouraged. The characters who are more like players that partake in the chat share their sick fantasies egging each other on and further.

It made me want to vomit, and I only managed to complete it by skimming over the darker scenes. I wish I hadn’t. I could’ve lived without the vile imagery.

The 13th Apostle, Richard and Rachael Heller

If you know me then you’d be aware that historical thrillers are my literary tipple. They’re generally safe reads, but sometimes they’re absolute trash.

This was hot garbage.

Why did the authors need to open the majority of the chapters by telling us that a few minutes had passed? Readers don’t need to be explicitly told the time.

My largest criticism is on the misogynistic presentation of Sabbie as incapable of love and a product of her past. This led to her being offered to readers as nothing more than an object to be conquered. She is defined by being raped, and this tragedy is then later used to create an opportunity for Gil to care for her for a moment before he has sex with her. He can’t have sex with her until he knows the details. The entire scene was nonsensical as prior to this Gil had called her a ‘bitch’ multiple times and only considered the ways in which he wanted to use her body to satisfy his own desires.

Gil was a worthless character. I’m sick to the back teeth of reading about know it all men who just have information come to them because they aren’t blinded by ‘logic’. Grow up and admit you don’t know how to write a novel.

I had to laugh at the Q&A section at the end of the novel where the authors state that they’ve been working on the novel for a decade and a half. If they’d said they’d put two weeks worth of work in I might have believed them. The historical inaccuracies grated on me. FYI, Weymouth isn’t even close to being one of the first monasteries in Europe.

I’m not sure why we rushed through to the ending, the tale was wrapped up in the last 25 pages and made no sense. Also, can someone explain to me why they had to include scenes of antisemitism in the present day scenes?

Are there any books you regret reading?

A Small Haul

A Small Haul

I love buying second hand!

Ever since childhood I’ve revelled in the chance to scour charity shop shelves in search of my new favourite book. Yesterday, having nothing better to do, I took the bus to Tolworth expecting to find maybe one or two books to bring home. Little did I know, I would come home with 23.

The Puppet Masters - Robert Heinlein
Sentenced to Prism - Alan Dean Foster
The Galaxy Primes - E.E. 'Doc' Smith
Transit - Edmund Cooper
The Black Hole - Alan Dean Foster
A Second Chance at Eden - Peter F. Hamilton
The 13th Apostle - Richard and Rachael Heller
Twelve Days on the Somme - Sidney Rogerson
Still Missing - Beth Gutcheon
Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
Sula - Toni Morrison
The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? - Mindy Kaling
Misadventures in the English Language - Caroline Taggart
The House of the Dead -Dostoyevsky
Through English Poetry - Sappho
Who's Who in Early Medieval England - Christopher Tyerman
The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol 1., 7th Ed.
The Crusades 1095-1197 - Jonathan Phillips
Enclosure Acts - Richard Burt and John Michael Archer
The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Antonia Fraser
Omnibus - Patricia Highsmith
Life in a Medieval Abbey - Tony McAleavy

I absolutely spoiled myself – and the best part is I got 16 of these for just 10 pence each.

The highlights are definitely the Medieval texts, and the Norton Anthology of English Literature. I already own the eighth edition, but it’s been battered after being used for the past three years. It’ll be nice to visit some of the texts I haven’t studied and not have to worry about pages falling out or losing my notes.

I was shocked to see the Patricia Highsmith Omnibus for just 10p, I would’ve thought it’d have been snapped up in an instant! It was originally only 50p anyway! I loved The Price of Salt (aka Carol) and I enjoyed the film version of The Talented Mr. Ripley so I can’t wait to get started.

I’m also pretty stoked on the Robert Heinlein novel, as I read Star Beast last year. Whilst I didn’t particularly rate it, it did seem to have potential and we all know that sci-fi of that era is pretty hit and miss.

Have you read any of the books above? If so, I’d love to hear what you think!