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#50booksin2018 August & September

This year I set myself a challenge to read 50 books, and I though it would be a breeze and I’d read way more. But it hasn’t been. Keeping a diary of my reads has been great as I can see how my reading peaks and troughs over the year. Some months I’m a real book worm, others, life takes over or I simply don’t feel like it. This month is actually two combined as I’ve had a busy one. Anyway, here’s what I’ve read in August and September…

Valley of The Dolls
This was a Ladies Lit Squad read and it was unanimously well received – this never happens. I loved this fast-paced Hollywood tale, and while I laughed at some of the seriously dated references (a ‘sleeping cure’ for weight loss? Please.), the characters did resonate with me. This is a classic for a reason.

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
I was really looking forward to reading this tale of a historian staying in an old country pile with only a bohemian couple for company, but I found that the plot dragged along for the first 50%. It was very atmospheric though and I enjoyed the descriptions to the mansion they’re all staying in. The book really picks up towards the end and actually becomes quite chilling but it didn’t make up for the slow start. weirdly I’d still recommend it.

Ordinary People by Sally Rooney
This book is astounding. It’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, if not ever. I cried when it finished – not because it’s sad, but because it was so well written and insightful. And I would LOVE to write like Rooney, I mean, what a talent. Ordinary People is about a girl and a boy and their relationship, spanning from their teen years to their twenties. Plot-wise, not much happens, but nothing needs to. the way Rooney writes about those deep, dark internal feelings, miscommunications, thoughts left unsaid… it’s just stunning. Go and buy it right now.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians was just as good as the original, I read it just before I went to see the HILARIOUS film. Not much to say except this is a pacy, trashy romp through Singapore and China society. I wolfed this down in about 4 hours!

The House of Impossible Beauties
I read this on holiday and as a huge LGBTQ ally, lover of gay culture and the ballroom scene, I really enjoyed this. A tale of a Puerto Rican ‘House’ of queens. The language is really raw and works well to tell the tale of these young kids facing prejudice and violence every day. Not a classic but definitely interesting.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
After reading this, which literally took one evening, I immediately wanted to go round to my local hospital with a bag of croissants and administer a hug to each and every junior doctor. Everyone is raving about this book and for good reason. Go and read it, because we all use the NHS.

BOOKS READ SO FAR

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Under The Sun by Lottie Moggach
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Dietland by Sarai Walker
Postcards from The Edge by Carrie Fisher
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The F Word by Liza Palmer
Silence by Natasha Preston
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Trying by Emily Phillips
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Kismet by Luke Tredget
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Ponti by Sharlene Tao
In The Dark by Cara Hunter
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Fat Chance by Nick Spalding
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Riders by Jilly Cooper
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
The Cows by Dawn O’Porter
Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
The Child by Fiona Barton
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Circe by Madeline Miller
Fierce by Gin Phillips
Valley of The Dolls
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
Ordinary People by Sally Rooney
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
The House of Impossible Beauties
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

42/50

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Every Book Ladies lit Squad Have Read So Far!

Here is a list of every book my book club Ladies lit Squad have read so far! So if you want to read along with us you can get going. All books are written by women (of course).

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
Living The Dream by Lauren Berry
The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray Browne
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara
Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
Riders by Jilly Cooper
Circe by Madeline Miller
Valley of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

How to Murder Your Life

Cat Marnell is a polarising character, by that I don’t mean your either love her or you hate her. I mean she changes your own mind about her several times in one paragraph. To give this context, Cat, is a drug addict. Her memoir How to Murder Your Life was written, we presume, under the influence so it’s raw, erratic and sometimes hard to read (she’s a fan of a !!!!!!!!!!!). On the flipside it’s this honesty and vulnerability that makes her so likeable.
Cat takes us through her very privileged upbringing, boarding school and then to the hallowed halls of Conde Nast where she was a beauty editor at Lucky magazine. So far, so good – but her parents are distant, damaged phycologists who put her on Adderall as a kid (to which she soon becomes addicted), at boarding school she’s high, has a failed relationship and traumatic abortion, and her years in New York are a crack-fest of mishaps, loneliness and tragedy.

As enviable as her life from the outside is, Cat is careful to let readers know the truth of it. On the surface she was a successful, rich woman with a glamorous job. But scratch the surface and she was conning shrinks into prescribing her drugs and slowly losing her mind.

Cat-Marnell-Lipstick

The author

The most interesting parts of the book are just how she continued to get away with such awful behavior and being strung out on drugs at work. In our book club, we briefly discussed whether her experience would have been the same as a WOC (we thought not). Her ‘best friend’ Marco is also a large part of the story, and without wanting to spoil it – he is the friend from HELL. A real Machiavellian character that makes you feel truly sorry for Marnell.

With cameos by Nev Shulman, Eva Chen and The Fat Jew, How to Murder Your Life is a glam and glossy look at Manhattan life. Cat’s drug addiction is a welcome antidote (a literary antidote, not that I’m saying it’s a good thing) to all the glitz.

I was definitely intrigued by Cat Marnell and did a lot of further reading, especially of her Vice column and New York Times interview. Although the subject matter is a little dark, Cat Marnell is funny, genuinely funny. And self-aware – she’s the first person to point out her privilege and her manipulation of people. What’s interesting is that she’s unapologetic about it.

Read about Ladies Lit Squad book club HERE

living the dream

Living The Dream by Lauren Berry

This was the book we read for our second Ladies Lit Squad book club and we were also lucky enough to have the author come and talk about the book. Living The Dream is a tongue in cheek title that will be a familiar refrain to those of us who headed to the bright lights of London for a career in fashion, media or, like the lead character in this novel, work in advertising. There’s a constant pressure in life, especially in London, to have it all. And this book is about not quite getting there. A great read for twenty-somethings who don’t have it all figured out yet.

Buy it HERE

the upstairs room

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

Ladies Lit Squad read this for our third meeting and this modern-day ghost tale really resonated with the group. It’s the tale of Richard, Eleanor and their two children and Zoe, their ‘mercurial’ 27-year-old lodger. The couple buy a bargain house in London Fields, only to find that it may very well be haunted. This isn’t really a ghost story – it’s more about the relationships between the characters, who are all multi-layered and well rounded. I read this in a day, it’s fast-paced and perfect for a cold Sunday indoors.

Buy it HERE

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Okay, warning, this book made me cry – no, weep. It is the saddest book in the history of all the world and just amazing. This isn’t actually a new book for me, I first read it a couple of years ago and knew that I’d have to revisit it. The book is a beast, it’s so long, but unsurprising when the writer lovingly chronicles almost the entire lives of the four main characters. Jude is the star of the book and you’ll keep reading to find out just what happened in his past. Read once and you’ll never forget this amazing book.

Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin

I was a little dubious at first when reading this. The subject matter is pretty dark, but the narrator is an eleven-year-old girl and most of the characters are primary school age – so it’s a little jarring. But I guess that’s the point and it’s really refreshing to read children portrayed in this way, rather than angel-faced innocents. After a friend dies, Thera takes it upon herself to find the killer with… unexpected results. I don’t want to spoil this book but after I finished reading I literally had the face of Kevin from Home Alone for about 30 minutes.

Riders by Jilly Cooper

This was set for my book club as recently we’ve been reading lots of heavy books about murder, rape, you name it. So a bit of Jilly was needed as a palate cleanser – and believe it or not, I’d never read any JC books before. At 900+ pages and with a cast of characters to rival any soap, Riders is a beast, but I enjoyed it so much. It’s hilarious, especially RCB’s off-colour quips. I even found the horsey stuff riveting and I will be reading sequel Rivals ASAP.

Circe by Madeline Miller

This was the book for my Ladies Lit Squad book club and was definitely up there as one of our fave reads. Circe is sort of a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey but from a female perspective, that of the goddess Circe. You’ll know if you studied classics that female voices and perspectives are all to often overlooked, so this book was so refreshing. In the Odyssey Circe is ridiculed but Madeline Miller chips away at the surface of a woman who has known great tragedy, a horrible family and suffered being cast out alone – and still managed to become powerful, independent and make a life for herself. The novel spans centuries (Circe is immortal after all) and I loved the guest appearances from Greek gods and legends. A must read.

Cinque Terre Travel Guide

Planning a Trip to Cinque Terre?

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Italy has too many beauty spots to choose from, but if you like quaint villages and stunning sea views then the Cinque Terre is a must visit place. Read on for tips on visiting Italy’s Cinque Terre.

Which village should I stay in?

I can only speak from my experience, but having spoken to other people while I was there, I’m pretty confident I made the right decision when I chose to use Monterosso as my base. Monterosso is probably the most happening of the five villages and has the biggest beach – which is stunning! It’s also super easy to get around, it’s so small you can get everywhere on foot.

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How do I get there?

I flew to Pisa for a wedding in Tuscany, then got the train from Pisa. My flights cost £65 form London and then the trains were only about £30 return for a first class ticket. I urge you to get the trains in Italy – if you’re British the cleanliness, punctuality and cost will be a highlight of your trip. Seriously, how the f**k are trains in the UK soooo expensive?

What are the other villages like?

Kind of samey to be honest. But worth visiting. You can get a hop-on-hop-off ferry which is around £30 for the day (but well worth the cost) which allows you to visit ant village you want. plus the view from the boat is amazing and it’s just fun zipping around on the ocean.

We stopped at Portovenere which is a bit more glam than Monterosso and great for souvenir shopping. There are some really cool cafes and restaurants there.

We also got off the boat at Manorola as I saw people cliff jumping there and wanted to get in on the action. this was definitely a highlight of the trip. There’s a kind of natural swimming pool there, surrounded by rocks and it just looks so cool. Like something out of Game of Thrones. And yes, I did jump off a cliff, and yes I did almost crap my pants. But it was exhilarating.

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What should I eat?

The pasta in Cinque Terre didn’t blow my mind, I’ll be honest with you, but boy oh boy they know how to make a pizza. The wine on offer is quite limited, they have the regional wine which is quite dry so if you’re not into that then just drink more to forget about the taste. I also loved the Lambrusco there – that is a drink made by the Gods. Flipping delicious. Obviously you must try all the gelato flavours you can too. If you’re vegan then I suggest not visiting as I ate my own bodyweight in cured meats each day. The Italians apparently eat cake for breakfast too, so be prepared for some holiday weight gain.

Any final tips?

If you’re looking for a party, you won’t find it on the Cinque Terre. It’s a very relaxed sleepy place, which was great for me as I wanted to relax, read and rejuvenate. It’s not the cheapest place, but, then again, there’s only so long you’d want to stay here as it really is tiny. Seriously though, this place is so stunning that you just need to visit.

#50booksin2018 July

A little late but better than never. I started a new job this month, so I’ve been busy busy busy. Still found time to squeeze in a few books though, so here they are…

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

I love DOP, as far as I’m concerned she’s a British institution (although I believe she now lives in LA with her superstar husband Chris O’Dowd) so, surprisingly, this is the first book of hers I’ve read. The Cows is the story of a woman who gets caught masturbating on public transport, admittedly far-fetched, but it’s more a comment on the shaming that comes after. I really liked the characters in this and found them all well-rounded, interesting women. A great beach read.

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

A part memoir part comment on race in Britain by journalist and broadcaster Afua Hirsch, who is mixed English and Ghanaian. I enjoyed this because it turns racial stereotypes on their head. Afua is middle class and went to Cambridge, yet people assume she’s working class – such is the extent that race and social class are inextricably linked in the UK. It’s a personal look at the subject but well-researched.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Another Jon Ronson book, this time about the test that all hospitals, prisons and therapists use to tell if someone is a psychopath. As usual his writing strikes the balance between personal and factual and it’s properly interesting. You’ll definitely be wondering if someone in your office is one… and if you’re wondering if you’re a psycho, well, you’re not.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I think this was a 99p Amazon Kindle number but I loved it – I absolutely whizzed though this. It’s a police/journo drama that’s fast-paced and thrilling. The mystery at the heart of it concerns the unearthed remains of a baby and who the baby belongs to. I must admit I, er, solved the mystery quite early on but it’s a great read. If you like Martina Cole you’ll love this.

The Widow Fiona Barton

Based on the previous book, I downloaded The Widow by the same author. This book wasn’t quite as gripping, but I loved the protagonist and her icy exterior.

Circe by Madeline Miller

This was the book for my Ladies Lit Squad book club and was definitely up there as one of our fave reads. Circe is sort of a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey but from a female perspective, that of the goddess Circe. You’ll know if you studied classics that female voices and perspectives are all to often overlooked, so this book was so refreshing. In the Odyssey Circe is ridiculed but Madeline Miller chips away at the surface of a woman who has known great tragedy, a horrible family and suffered being cast out alone – and still managed to become powerful, independent and make a life for herself. The novel spans centuries (Circe is immortal after all) and I loved the guest appearances from Greek gods and legends. A must read.

BOOKS READ SO FAR

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Under The Sun by Lottie Moggach
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Dietland by Sarai Walker
Postcards from The Edge by Carrie Fisher
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The F Word by Liza Palmer
Silence by Natasha Preston
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Trying by Emily Phillips
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Kismet by Luke Tredget
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Ponti by Sharlene Tao
In The Dark by Cara Hunter
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Fat Chance by Nick Spalding
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Riders by Jilly Cooper
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
The Cows by Dawn O’Porter
Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
The Child by Fiona Barton
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Circe by Madeline Miller

36/50

On being constantly ‘busy’…

Recently I’ve had a big think about taking on too much, I think we’re all guilty of it these days. Especially as women. There’s pressure to be ‘busy’. It’s a badge of honour… how effed up is that?

We have to do well at work and get that money honey, have an Insta-worthy social life, home, wardrobe and face, travel, have a ‘side hustle’, somehow have the body of a Love Island contestant, date horrible men and through it all manage to pay our bills, see friends and family and put a wash on.

I don’t know whether men feel this pressure but I certainly know women do, one of them being me. I used to be militant about having one day a week where I didn’t get dressed, go out or do anything that could be deemed productive. I’d eat croissants in bed, binge watch bad TV, pick my spots and just relax. I needed this day, I have a hectic life, like most city-dwellers. But somehow I got guilted out of it…

When I’d decline plans, people would always want to know what I was doing that prevented me from doing whatever it is they wanted me to. ‘Nothing’ was never an adequate response.

So now I am out of the house from dusk ’til dawn. I’ve just started a new job with a commute out of London, I run a book club and host events, I try to keep up with this blog, I’m training to be a PT and work out 4-5 times per week… sometimes at 6am. Plus I’m dating, socialising, and holidaying.

I say this not to humblebrag about how busy I am, as I’m betting you’ve taken on just as much. I say this as a punctuation mark… I need to stop.

I am by no means on the edge of burnout or a breakdown, I’m a little tired, sure. No, I just feel like chilling on the obligations. So this Saturday I will be doing sweet FA (okay maybe a morning yoga class), and then I will get my hair in a topknot and just potter about. And I will not feel bad for doing it! I suggest you all do the same.

#50booksin2018 June

June was a holiday month so I thought there’d be lots of reading but my holiday was a girls holiday so we were too busy having lots of hijinks for me to read too much. Plus, I had to read Riders for my book club and it’s a beast at over 900 pages, so that counts as two books. I’m definitely on track to read 50 books but I thought I’d be further along by now! Oh well, I guess life gets in the way – Anyway here’s June’s reads.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

I’m such a big fan of Jon Ronson, I discovered him after listening to his fascinating Podcast ‘The Butterfly Effect‘ about the tech sector takeover of the porn industry. This book deals with an equally interesting topic – public shaming. Specifically in the modern, internet era. He talks to people whose lives have been turned upside down with just one ill-advised tweet or photo – and his writing style is so engaging and personal you’ll whizz through this.

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding

This book is about a couple wanting lose weight, so they enter a realty-show where they can win £50k. I will admit I’m obsessed by weight loss and body image (so weird, I know) so I thought this would be an easy beach read. However, it was so bad I couldn’t finish it. There were too many homophobic references and slurs for me to enjoy it. Oh well, sometimes you get a dud.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

This was the perfect book to read on the beach in Italy (as that’s where it’s set. Aciman writes so evocatively, you can almost smell the apricots on the breeze and the salt of the sea. Recently the book was made into a film, so you’ll know the plot is about a young bisexual teen’s burgeoning sexuality – it’s a gay Lolita but way less problematic. This really is a gorgeous book and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Riders by Jilly Cooper

This was set for my book club as recently we’ve been reading lots of heavy books about murder, rape, you name it. So a bit of Jilly was needed as a palate cleanser – and believe it or not, I’d never read any JC books before. At 900+ pages and with a cast of characters to rival any soap, Riders is a beast, but I enjoyed it so much. It’s hilarious, especially RCB’s off-colour quips. I even found the horsey stuff riveting and I will be reading sequel Rivals ASAP.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

I was really looking forward to this book, but it was totally different from what I expected. I thought it would be more… mystical. The story goes: four young siblings, one hot day in 60s New York, visit a medium who tells them the exact date of each of their deaths. The book then splits onto four parts, one for each sibling, in order of their death. I enjoyed Simon’s tale the most as it’s set in San Francisco around the time of Harvey Milk and the AIDs crisis. The premise is that is you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? Or by being told a date would you inadvertently make it happen? Towards the end it all gets a bit heavy=handed but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

I was kindly sent this book and I think I finished it in two evenings. It’s fab. It’s pitched as The Secret History (great book) meets Patricia Highsmith, I would add a good dollop of Gossip Girl in there and Bret Easton Ellis. The book follows Louise who’s struggling to survive in New York; juggling three crap jobs, renting a shabby flat and watching her dream of being a writer wither. And then she meets socialite and it girl Lavinia. Lavinia invites Louise into circle, sharing drugs, clothes and men. Just how far will Louise go to keep hold of her new life?

BOOKS READ SO FAR

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Under The Sun by Lottie Moggach
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Dietland by Sarai Walker
Postcards from The Edge by Carrie Fisher
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The F Word by Liza Palmer
Silence by Natasha Preston
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Trying by Emily Phillips
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Kismet by Luke Tredget
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Ponti by Sharlene Tao
In The Dark by Cara Hunter
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Fat Chance by Nick Spalding
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Riders by Jilly Cooper
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

29/50

#50booksin2018 May

It’s the 5th month of my self-imposed #50booksin2018 challenge and it’s been a great month for reading. I’m a very lucky girl as I run a book club so lots of publishers send me books to review. This month I was inundated with some fab titles – I haven’t got through them all yet but the ones I did read were fantastic. Next month I’ll be on holiday so I’ve loaded up the Kindle and plan to read A LOT, until then, here are the books I read in May.

Kismet by Luke Tredget

I can’t believe this book was written by a man, the central character XXX is so relatable to me, the author really has the female psyche nailed. Kismet is a modern day anti-love story where most people find their mate via omnipotent dating app Kismet which assigns each person a compatibility score. XXXX is a journalist on the edge while looking for love. While this book is not a rollercoaster in terms of plot, the characters are incredibly well drawn and you’ll be hooked from the start.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

This searing, poetic portrayal of a poor family in the American south is heart-wrenching. It’s told from two perspectives, 13 year old JoJo, a boy wise beyond his years, and his mother Leonie, who won’t win any prizes for mum of the year. The story follows them, Leonie’s friend and baby Kayla as they take a cross-country trip to pick up JoJo’s white father from jail. Race and lass are themes throughout this book and you will be rooting for this dysfunctional family throughout – even though you know they can’t escape their past.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

This book, besides having a beautiful cover, is just f*cking fantastic. It follows Lucy, a depressed PHD student, who has recently been dumped by her unavailable older boyfriend, as she house and dog sits for her sister in venice beach. In-between sexual encounters on dating apps and group therapy sessions, Lucy falls in love with a merman. Of course. The sex scenes in this (both fish and human) are properly… graphic, and some are very sexy, while others are cringy but relatable. I read this at the Lido and laughed out loud so many times, it may very well be a contender for my book of the year.

Ponti by Sharlene Tao

I don’t know wether this is YA fiction, or maybe I just automatically think that whenever the protagonist is a teenage girl. Ponti is told from the perspective of three female characters: Szu, Circe and Szu’s glamourous mother Amisa. The story flits between three time periods and is really about the complicated relationships woman have – be that familial or with friends. It’s not plot-driven, but there is an interesting story arc and the characters are well drawn. I did like this… I just can’t put my finger on why.

In The Dark by Cara Hunter

I love a good crime novel, they’re so easy to read – which may say something about my psyche (I just race through them for light relief). This is actually book two of a series of three and I haven’t read the other two, but I don’t think that matters. The plot goes as follows: a young woman and her child are found locked in the basement of an old man who apparently has no idea what they’re doing there or how they came to be there. Add in an old unsolved murder and a cast of shady characters and this book genuinely had me guessing until the end.

BOOKS READ SO FAR

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Under The Sun by Lottie Moggach
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
Dietland by Sarai Walker
Postcards from The Edge by Carrie Fisher
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The F Word by Liza Palmer
Silence by Natasha Preston
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Trying by Emily Phillips
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Kismet by Luke Tredget
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Ponti by Sharlene Tao
In The Dark by Cara Hunter

23/50

#50booksin2018 March & April

Full disclosure, I’ve done hardly any reading recently! Life gets in the way of even the most avid reader. In fact all the books I have read I’ve done so in a couple of days, rather than reading every day. In June I go on holiday to Italy though, so I already have the Kindle loaded and know I’ll make up for lost time. Here’s what I read in March and April…

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Red Clocks tells the story of a not too far-fetched America where abortion is once again illegal, as is IVF and single parent families. It follows five women with different issues around motherhood, pregnancy and abortion. I was really looking forward to reading this as I’m, you know, hashtag woke and all for women’s reproductive rights. However, I found the book really, really hard to get into at first. The plot is actually very interesting but I don’t feel I got to know any of the characters in any depth – it was like I was floating above them, rather than walking with them. Towards the end I enjoyed this more but the writing style was hard to get on with. I think this will be worth another read now that I’m prepared for the strange, staccato prose though.

Trying by Emily Phillips

This book hit very close to home although I am in no way, shape or form trying for a baby or having a baby anytime soon. But, as we get older, I’m sure motherhood occupies at least a tiny corner of very woman’s mind, right? Trying follows Olivia and her husband Felix as they try (and fail) to conceive, they’ve moved to the suburbs of London to prepare and as their attempts at conceiving unravel, as does their marriage. I think the reason this resonated so much is that the characters’ lives are so close to my own – living in London, good jobs but poor. And what could be a ‘woe is me’ tale is actually super funny and uplifting. Plus, the hardback cover is gorgeous.

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

While the cynic in me tells me that this book is a blatant rip-off of the so-bad-it’s-good Blake Lively film Age of Adeline, the bibliophile in me says ‘this is a great book, stop being so cynical’. And How to Stop Time is good, and easy, which I think makes a book even better. I started reading this by the Lido in Hampstead on Saturday and had finished it by the end of the weekend (and would have read it faster were it not for a pesky bday party). The main character has a condition where he doesn’t age and so he’s lived a long time, the plot flits between present day and at various junctures throughout history. You won’t be able to put this down, buy it for your next holiday.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

I was kindly sent some copies of this for my book club but annoyingly it took me 4 months to get around to reading this – after the 5th amazing review from people who had read it, I set aside some time to finally get into Bluebird, Bluebird. And I’m so glad I did, this book played out so cleverly. What starts out as one story (the unexplained murders of a black man and white woman) explodes into a series of interconnected events set against the backdrop of rural Texas. The theme of race is woven through the tale, but it’s never heavy handed and you’ll be rushing to finish to find out what happened. I was impressed with the way so many loose ends were neatly tied up and I’ll definitely be searching out more Attica Locke novels.

More book recommendations

Check out my book club on Insta @ladieslitsquad

 

2018 Reading Challenge #50Booksin2018

I love a challenge. I also love reading. I think you can see where I’m going with this… I oh-so-cleverly combined these two passions of mine to create my 2018 Book Challenge. I’ve decided to read (and document) 50 books this year.

My best friend Ben did ask “why not 52?”, well, while there are 52 weeks in the year, I will most certainly have at least a couple of ‘lost weeks’ in 2018 where I’m either too hungover, ill or mentally inept to read. And to be honest, I probably won’t read a book a week. I’m a binger, I might go a month without reading, only to devour 10 books the next.

Another great reason to write down every book I read is that I often forget what I’ve read in any given year. Last year I read loads of books (the perks of starting a book club) but I can only remember a few off the top of my head.

I’m going to aim to review all 50 books I read this year, I’ve already done the first 10 HERE.
Right, wish me luck – and why not take the challenge too?

#50Booksin2018

#50booksin2018 February

One of my resolutions, or new year challenges for 2018 was to read 50 books. Here are the titles I read in January (it was a lot as I spent most of that month on a beach in Goa). This month has been super busy so I’ve only managed a bit of reading – BUT some absolutely excellent books. Here are the novels I enjoyed in February…

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

This is probably aimed at the YA audience, but it’s a laser-sharp look at life in a suburban high school. In a series of interconnected stories from the point of view of multiple characters, a picture of teenage life is drawn accurately and thoughtfully. We meet typical teenage stereotypes that are then torn apart when you scratch the surface. Each narrative feels like a thread that stops suddenly then gets picked up, which makes for an interesting reading experience.

BUY

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I loved this book. It definitely lives up to the hype and I finished this in one sitting. The titular Eleanor is a self-contained, anti-social girl – when an incident forces her life open and introduces her back into the world. Each character is thoughtfully written and some of Eleanor’s comments will have you laughing out loud. Her sad past and some parts of the book will have you in tears though. Just an excellent, excellent book.

BUY

Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin

I was a little dubious at first when reading this. The subject matter is pretty dark, but the narrator is an eleven-year-old girl and most of the characters are primary school age – so it’s a little jarring. But I guess that’s the point and it’s really refreshing to read children portrayed in this way, rather than angel-faced innocents. After a friend dies, Thera takes it upon herself to find the killer with… unexpected results. I don’t want to spoil this book but after I finished reading I literally had the face of Kevin from Home Alone for about 30 minutes.

BUY

I’ll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara

This book was written by the author of an unsolved crimes blog, quite well-known by all accounts, and she is a super (amateur) sleuth. The book delves into the case of the East Area Rapist who also, due to new DNA technology, was revealed to be the culprit of tens of other unsolved murders. McNamara leaves no stone unturned as she pieces together his many crimes and tries to find out just who this man is. I really enjoyed this book but it slowed towards the end. Rap, rape, rape, murder, murder, murder. The author sadly died before completion so the book was finished by friends – which might explain the change of pace.

BUY

That’s February, I’ve just started my first audio book… Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump Whitehouse by Michael Wolff, so that’s exciting. Plus, I have a GIANT stack of ‘to read’ for next month.

What are you reading – comment with suggestions.