Tag Archives: Isabel Ashdown

Reading With Authors #7: Even The Dogs – Jon McGregor; With Isabel Ashdown

  

Hello Isabel, welcome to the penultimate ‘Reading with Authors’ blog. After being in the snowy Arctic last week I thought we might settle in South Manchester again, though I apologise as you have driven quite a way and we seem to be having thunderstorms…

Please, don’t apologise – I’ve had quite a hectic week, and the change of scene will do me good.  It’s a bit wet and murky out there – shall I leave my wellies by the door?

Oh yes please do if you don’t mind. The fires on so do pop through to the lounge, oh let me take your brolly, what can I get you to drink? What nibbles would you like?

I do love a real fire.  I hope you don’t mind, I’ve brought Charlie-dog with me.  He won’t be any bother; he’ll just curl up by the hearth and sigh every now and then.  For me?  I think a nice little tawny port would be rather good – perhaps a few pistachios to nibble on as we chat . . . And if it’s not too cheeky, I don’t suppose you could rustle up a sausage for Charlie?

Oh Charlie has made himself at home straight away, what a cutie, and rather appropriate given the title of the book… not the theme I hasten to add. We’ve had sausage, mash and beans for lunch, I happen two have to sausages spare. Are we settled? Right… lets get cracking onto the book, you chose our choice of ‘Even The Dogs’ by Jon McGregor, what made you want to read this, and put it forward for our little book group today?

Well, I was browsing in Waterstone’s one weekend,  going wild and splurging my annual royalty cheque on a small handful of other people’s books . . . when I picked up ‘Even the Dogs’.  The blurb on the back cover sounded compelling: a man’s body found in his ruined flat at Christmas.  It didn’t give away much more than that – and the reviews were good, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I was really glad you chose on of Jon McGregor’s books actually Isabel. I read ‘If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things’ and was left rather non plussed by it, this was pre-blogging, and yet I remember at the time I knew there was some beauty in its silence and its prose, I just didn’t think it was the right book for my reading life right then. Had you read McGregor before and did ‘Even The Dogs’ live up to what you were hoping? Did you like it?

I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read Jon McGregor’s books before.  Many of my friends had read ‘If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things’ and of course he is highly acclaimed, having been twice long-listed for the Man Booker.  So this was my first experience of reading his work, and I’m glad I did.

I don’t think I can say that I enjoyed ‘Even The Dogs’, but I definitely got a lot from it. I thought it was quite unlike any book on addiction that I have read before. There was no glamorization and the horror of it all wasn’t done for effect, in fact it seemed that Jon McGregor wanted to simply tell the stories of that kind of life, and not just through Robert who I suppose is the main protagonist of the book, as they are. Would you agree?

Like you, I read a fair old bit.  And afterwards I’m usually left with a particular sense of my experience: it was beautiful/ it was funny/ it was sad/ it touched me/ it was uplifting/ it stays in the memory/ (and very occasionally) it was awful . . .  ‘Even the Dogs’ straddled the ‘it touched me’/’it stays in the memory’ categories.  As much as I’m pleased to have read it, I would caution other readers – it’s not an easy book, and I mean that at an emotional level, because the prose really is beautifully spare and effortless.

It’s a rather melancholy book isn’t it?

It is.  But sometimes don’t we need that, to stay connected to those aspects of life that are more difficult to look at, to allow us the joy of the lighter moments?  Light and shade, if you like.

I did worry at the start, I have to admit. The fact we are given the opening line of ‘They break down the door at the end of December and carry the body away’ before a gap so it reads as a statement made me wonder if this was going to be a book that was slightly sensationalized, and would be of an experimental vein. Yet it’s a very simplistic book isn’t it?

In one sense it is.  It tells – in a kind of backwards and forwards narrative – the story of a man who has died alone in his flat.  However, with the over-layered voices of the people who knew him it becomes a complex, multi-stranded, and not always entirely reliable narrative.  In a way, it’s this unreliability of narration that grants it such honesty and draws the reader on through the often disturbing images McGregor paints.

The whole ‘we see’ everything initially rather annoyed me, I was thinking ‘why is it we?’ Yet it worked. In fact the ‘we’ thing does start to make you feel like you have lived through everything that Jon McGregor writes about in ‘Even The Dogs’ doesn’t it? I was wondering who ‘we’ were, I thought we were ghosts of the people of Roberts past? I began to feel as if I was one of the people that had been with Robert and all those around him, a very clever device, and almost made me empathize, though I don’t think that would be the case for everyone would it?

It jarred with me too, at first.  But once I’d read beyond the first fifteen pages, I had shifted into the rhythm of the book and I was with it.  The multiple voices felt to me like the presence of those people (both dead and alive) who’d known him, and at the same time I felt they were almost an echo of the cacophony of Robert’s life – the ceaseless chaotic voices/choices/errors/trauma of the world he inhabited.  I found the experience of reading the book quite stressful, because the tension and pain of that existence is so raw on the page.

I thought the way that we join Robert at the end of his life, when he is just a nameless dead body, and then are rewound through some parts of his life, fast forwarded into others was very affective. And indeed the way we go to moments of his life and are then suddenly following his body to the morgue or his funeral. It gave the book more of an impact I would say, would you?

This was the part of the book I found most difficult, at a personal level.  As I said earlier, the book jacket reveals very little about the story and the circumstances of the dead man’s life and death.  As ‘Even the Dogs’ unfolds we gradually witness Robert’s descent into a world of alcohol and drug addiction, and we start to piece together the events leading up to his final days.  My own father died at the age of 50, from alcohol-related disease and so Robert’s story was poignant, and painful, in a way I couldn’t have anticipated.  I think the harsh reality of the post-discovery scenes were astoundingly candid – and very real.

Do you need anymore of anything by the way?

No, thank you.  These pistachios really are good aren’t they – though I’m having trouble getting into the last few closed ones?  I don’t suppose you’ve got a hammer . . . ?

No, but I do have a chisel. The setting of the book is also hugely important. This kind of derelict and almost uninhabitable world adds to the atmosphere and yet these are all places we have seen, even if just in passing or on the peripheral. I thought it made the book more real, maybe that’s just me?

Let’s face it; we see these people daily, don’t we – the dispossessed, the strangers living at the edges of society?  We recognise them by the stooped posture, the anaesthetised gaze, the two-week stubble.  We’re afraid of them; afraid to make eye contact, afraid of their unpredictability.  But if we could look deep beyond the inebriated mist of their eyes, we might see another life, perhaps several other lives, once lived.  The stripped-back setting of the book brought these figures to the foreground, and forced us to look them in the eye – and that is the genius of the book.

It’s also a book of silence in some ways, this reminded me of ‘If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things’ actually, we miss lots of bits of Roberts life and so are left to fill in those spaces aren’t we?

The writing is so spare; you can almost hear the book breathe.  McGregor gives only tiny glimpses into Robert’s life – in fact what he does give us feels almost like a series of Polaroid photographs – but those images are enough to allow us to join up the dots and feel as if we have some idea about his history.

How would you sum up this book? Is it one you will be recommending to other people, if you haven’t already of course? 

‘Even the Dogs’ is a raw, desolate, powerful story told with compassion and great honesty.  In a way, I think it’s a book everyone should read, at some point in their lives.  But let’s be clear: it’s not a light beach read and it certainly won’t cheer or uplift you as a reader.  However, it is a book that will provoke the human senses and remain with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

What will you be reading after this? I think I might have to turn to ‘Villette’ as so many people have recommended it for Brussels; I also need to catch up with the Tess Gerritsen series I can’t get enough of. You?

I’m just reading a non-fiction book for a change – Russell Brand’s ‘My Booky Wook’.  It’s a great read, lots of belly laughs and poignant insights into the life of that crazy fool Brand.  After that I’ve got two superb looking debuts at the top of my teetering pile: ‘The Somnambulist’ by Essie Fox and ‘Girl Reading’ by Katie Ward.  Well, it’s been an absolute delight to spend an afternoon of booky chat with you Simon.  So kind of you to welcome us into your lovely home – let’s do it again sometime soon.  Oh and Charlie says thanks for the sausage.  Look, he’s smiling.

Some lovely book chatter, nibbles and a smiling dog, what more could you want on a Sunday. I guess we should hand over to anyone else who is popping by, right lets make some more room on the sofa’s…

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Filed under Isabel Ashdown, Jon McGregor, Reading With Authors 2011

Reading With Authors 2011

Back in February (I am surprised it was this long ago) I mentioned the fact that after having loved doing the Not The TV Book Group I fancied doing it again, sadly the other hosts weren’t sure what they could commit to this year, so I was mulling the idea of doing something similar and different over the ‘early summer months’. Well its not the early part of summer, but summer it still is, and finally (and possibly a little last minute – but you guys are great at rallying round) I can reveal my plans for ‘Reading With Authors’ which is going to be taking place during the Sundays of August and September 2011., and something which I am hoping you will be able to join in the whole lot of or on and off…

Why has it taken so long? Well, there’s been all of the Bookmarked (only 8 days to go… eek) and Green Carnation Prize madness whirling in the background and also the authors taking part are busy bee’s and so choosing titles together and dates that they are free has been a tricky process, but now it is done and here are the books we would love you to read along with us and when…

(thanks to Gav Reads for the image)

  • Sunday 7th of August 2011: The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis with Belinda Bauer
  • Sunday 14th of August 2011: Pigeon English by Steven Kelman with Naomi Wood
  • Sunday 21st of August 2011: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann with Paul Magrs
  • Sunday 28th of August 2011: Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively with Natasha Solomons
  • Sunday 4th of September: Ruby’s Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni with Beatrice Colin
  • Sunday 18th of September 2011: Even The Dogs by Jon McGregor with Isabel Ashdown

There are two more authors and their choices of books to announce in the next week, but I wanted to get the information out there sooner rather than later as the first one, with the lovely crime writing Belinda Bauer, is only a week a way! If you are thinking ‘only a week, that’s no time’ well I had that slight panic too. However Walter Tevis’ novel ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ is only 186 pages and it’s stunning! I have a feeling that, as with ‘Flowers For Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes, this is a sci-fi book that is about to make me rather emotional and cry quite a lot. Who knew?

The idea behind all this is that it brings books, authors and readers together in a new way. The weekly author and I will have discussed the book, that will go up on the blog, and then we hope those of you who have read it too (pretty please) will come by comment and myself and the author will add comments creating a great discussion.

I am hoping that all the other books are going to be as good as the first promises to be. Some of them, as you can see from the list, are quite recent, some might have been chosen for the Man Booker (Naomi and myself chose ‘Pigeon English’ a while ago, neither of us having read it at the time, and were patting ourselves on the backs on Tuesday) some are cult classics and some are ones that have gone under the radar. All of them are books that the author and I were eager to read… do we all like our choices? You will have to wait and see! What do you think of the list so far?

I do hope you will be joining in!

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May’s Incomings…

If you don’t like blog posts about lots of books arriving look away now… However if like me you love them you are in luck. So without further ado here are the books that have arrived throughout the month of May at Savidge Reads HQ. First up are the paperbacks which have come from the lovely people at Oxford University Press, Quercus, Vintage, Atlantic, Pan MacMillan, Serpents Tail, Peirene Press, Capuchin Classics, Beautiful Books, Faber, Gallic, Penguin and Myriad Editions…

  • Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell (unsolicited proof, this one came at a very fortuitous time as they are discussing this on The Archers for their village book group, love the new cover OUP have done)
  • The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths (the first of a crime series which has been getting lots of buzz, I like to start at the beginning)
  • The Upright Piano Player – David Abbot (I have been wanting to read this since I saw it on the World Book Night debut novelists Culture Show special)
  • Loaded – Christos Tsiolkas (unsolicited proof, another book I whooped at, have wanted to read this for year since I saw the film, pre-The Slap fame – a book I realised I read twice last year for The Green Carnation Prize and never blogged bout, and it’s been reissued)
  • Tell-All – Chuck Palahnuick (unsolicited proof, another book I read last year as a Green Carnation submission, maybe I should dig out all my thoughts on those, what do you think?)
  • Mr Peanut – Adam Ross (unsolicited proof, another book I was sent in Hardback, this a reminder I still haven’t read it and heard lots of good things about it)
  • On Black Sisters Street – Chika Unigwe (I begged for this one after seeing a wonderful review of it here)
  • The Wolf/Taurus – Joseph Smith (unsolicited proof)
  • Silence – Jan Costin Wagner (unsolicited proof, and another scandi-crime)
  • Kamchatka – Marcelo Figueras (unsolicited proof)
  • Kraken – China Mieville (I saw him talk at the beginning of May in Manchester thanks to his publishers who then sent me this after my loving ‘Embassytown’)
  • Union Atlantic – Adam Haslett (unsolicited proof, another book read for The Green Carnation last year and never discussed)
  • Wish You Were Here – Travis Elborough (unsolicited proof)
  • Tomorrow Pamplona – Jan van Mersbergen (I love the Peirene Books, so am sure their fifth will be brilliant)
  • The Undiscovered Country – Julian Mitchell (TGCP2011 submission)
  • Role Models – John Waters (TGCP2011 submission)
  • The Observations – Jane Harris (will be discussing Gillespie and I tomorrow, this is one of my favourite books ever and am really excited as I have been asked to write the reading guides for book groups and libraries for both Jane’s books, eek – a re-read is coming)
  • Hector and the Secrets of Love – Francois Lelord (I was one of the very few people who loathed the first Hector book, lets see how this one does it came with the below book which I am desperate to read)
  • Monsieur Montespan – Jean Teule (really excited about this as I loved ‘The Suicide Shop’ and this is Teule’s 17th Century French romp)
  • In the Country of Men – Hisham Matar (loved ‘Anatomy of a Disappearance’ so have high hopes for this one)
  • Hurry Up and Wait – Isabel Ashdown (unsolicited proof, I have her debut ‘Glasshopper’ very high on the TBR so am hoping this is a new author to love)

Next up are the trade paperbacks and hardbacks from the publishers Persephone, Quercus, Pam MacMillan, Vintage, Picador, Bloomsbury, Doubleday, Penguin and Atlantic…

  • Mrs Buncles Book – D.E. Stevenson (this was actually the present Claire had sent me for my birthday but the sequel arrived and Persephone kindly sent this one and let me keep the other, a present that kept on giving)
  • Monsieur Linh and his Child – Philippe Claudel (we read ‘Brodeck’s Report’ for the first Not The TV Book Club and so I am very excited about this)
  • Phantoms on the Bookshelves – Jaques Bonnet (a book about books and bookshelves, too exciting)
  • The Ritual – Adam Nevill (unsolicited proof, I just recently read ‘Apartment 16’ which I will be discussing in the far distant future as its my next book group choice in like five turns, I changed my mind but everyone had bought it, oops)
  • The Winter of the Lions – Jan Costin Wagner (unsolicited proof)
  • Mr Fox – Helen Oyeyemi (unsolicited proof, but a very exciting one as I am really keen to read Oyeyemi’s work)
  • The Sickness  – Alberto Barrera Tyszka (a book I have heard a lot about, was drawn in by the cover, and want to read)
  • The Dubious Salvation of Jack V. – Jacques Strauss (I begged for this one after reading this review)
  • State of Wonder – Ann Patchett (unsolicited proof, though I have a feeling Patchett could become a new favourite author)
  • Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson (any book that has Sophie Hannah, Val McDermid and Tess Gerritsen singing its praises has to be a book for me, this is also a submission for TGCP2011)
  • Do No Harm – Carol Topolski (another beg after seeing this review by Kim who loved it, I got ‘Monster Love’ from the library too)
  • Last Man in Tower – Aravind Adiga (unsolicited proof, very excited about this as I liked ‘The White Tiger’ a lot, must read his short story collection too)   

Finally are four books that I have bought/swapped in the last month…

  • The Memories of Six Reigns – Princess Marie Louise (this book is really hard to get hold of but I found it early in the month in a pub that sold books for charity for 50p, it’s a book Neil Bartlett recommended to me,and you, last summer, I might have whooped when I saw this, ok I did)
  • The Ice Princess/The Preacher – Camilla Lackberg (I managed to swap these at the Book Exchange early in the month, I have heard a lot of praise for this author and the fact she is one of the female scandi-crime writers intrigues me)
  • The Hypnotist – Lars Kelper (I bought this with some birthday vouchers from Gran, its yet more scandi-crime but with a difference having been written by a couple and being a thriller meets horror, interesting, and a book I have been more and more desperate to read)

That’s the lot, and it is a lot I have noted, that have come in this month. I think its time for a clear out of the book boxes and mount TBR again isn’t it? Eek! That always fills me with dread. Anyways because I love getting books, and I know you do too I have teamed up with Headline to give away some books to all of you, you’ll have to pop here to find out how. It’s a good book though, one of my favourites of the month just passed.

So which of these would you like to hear more about and see me reading, on a whim of course, and which books or authors have you read and what did you think?

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April’s Incomings…

Where oh where do the months seem to be going? Can you believe that a third of the year has already been and gone? Well it has! So being the last day of April its time to share with you all the latest incomings that have arrived at Savidge Reads temporary HQ in the last month, however they might have gotten through the door.

First up are the gifts that I have bought myself, or indeed exchanged at the lovely local café, and my reasons why. I think you will find I have been rather reserved this month…

  • Deja Dead & Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs – I have seen reviews all over the shop about Kathy Reichs and have been meaning to read her forever, especially as I have been told she is on a par with Val McDermid and Tess Gerritsen. A review of another of Reichs books by Harriet Devine made me pick these up at the book exchange.
  • Nocturnes by John Connolly – I loved, loved, loved ‘The Book of Lost Things’ (pre-blogging) and rather liked ‘The Gates’ so this selection of short stories is sure to be right up my street.
  • Fresh Flesh by Stella Duffy – I have recently read the second, review pending, of the Saz Martin crime series by Stella Duffy and they are rather hard to get hold of so this one was snapped up the moment I saw it.

Up next are gifts that have been kindly sent/lent by people that I know. I realised I forgot to include some of the books I had for my birthday from people in my March Incomings which is rather shoddy of me, so…

  • Bedside Stories (a birthday pressie), and two treats of a World Book Night edition of Erich Maria Remarque’s ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and ‘Cloudstreet’ by Tim Winton all from the lovely Kimbofo when she came to stay.
  • ‘Bel Canto’ by Ann Patchett from Lou of I Hug My Books as she loved it and thinks I will, we do have quite similar taste.
  • ‘Miss Buncle Married’ by D.E. Stevenson, a get well/birthday pressie from the Persephone purveyor herself Claire of Paperback Reader.
  • After seeing her review of ‘Love in Idleness’ by Charlotte Mendelson and letting Harriet know I loved the author she kindly offered me her copy of the only Mendelson I don’t have.
  • ‘The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot’ by Angus Wilson was a lovely old edition for my birthday from Paul Magrs. I haven’t heard of the author, but from the title I am guessing it might just be perfect for my love of books about women of a certain age.

So onto the books from the lovely publishers and lets start off with the paperbacks, a big thanks to Vintage, Virago, Picador, Myriad Editions, OUP, Hodder and Headline for these books…

  • Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton
  • What The Day Owes The Night by Yasmina Khadra
  • The Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner
  • In-Flight Entertainment by Helen Simpson
  • The Death of Lomond Friel by Sue Peebles
  • Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
  • The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
  • The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
  • Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
  • Hurry Up and Wait by Isabel Ashdown
  • Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder by Catriona McPherson
  • Touch The Stars by Jessica Ruston

And thanks to Headline, Macmillan, Atalantic, Serpents Tail, Harvill Secker, Picador, Portobello and Simon & Schuster for this joyful collection of an audiobook, trade paperbacks, proofs and hardbacks…

  • When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
  • Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz
  • Embassytown by China Mieville
  • The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes
  • The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale
  • Walking on Dry Land by Denis Kehoe
  • The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphries
  • The Winter of the Lions by Jan Costin Wagner
  • The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya
  • The Proof of Love by Catherine Hall
  • The Rest is Silence by Carla Guelfenbein
  • Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith

Phew, quite a loot. Without showing any preferential treatment I have to say that the new Tom Rob Smith is really, really exciting me. Which of the books and authors have you tried and tested? Any you would recommend or would like to see me get too sooner rather than later?

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January’s Incomings…

I haven’t done a post on the latest incomings at Savidge Reads for quite a while. In part because my new temporary HQ didn’t seem to get any post for a while, and then it got deluged which was lovely, and also because I have had too much to natter about instead. I then thought ‘ooh hang on maybe I should do something different in 2011’ and so at the end of each month I will pop a picture of just what comes to Savidge Reads be it bought, a gift, an unsolicited proof or a request etc. I know there is a divide of opinion on these posts and I fall into the ‘love them camp’ as I really like seeing what everyone else gets so am assuming a few of you feel the same. I also like getting your feedback on what you have read that’s in the mix and how you felt about it, or what you might want me to read in the future should my whim take me.

So here are the paperbacks…

 
Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker – I have to admit that I asked for this one from the lovely Alice at Bloomsbury after it came up in conversation loads over Christmas and New Year with several new bookish northern friends saying I simply had to read it. I have and thoughts coming soon.

Even The Dogs by Jon McGregor – another treat from Bloomsbury as one of my bags of books got lost in the move, seriously I can barely talk about it hence why I haven’t on here, and I had arranged a mini rogue book group between myself and the author Isabel Ashdown on it but couldn’t find my copy so will also be discussing this soon.

The Birth Machine by Elizabeth Baines – I got an email from Elizabeth seeing if I wanted to give her book a whirl and after seeing “Out of print for some years, “The Birth Machine” is now reissued in a revised version (which first appeared in 1996). Still very relevant today to modern Obstetrics and Medicine, “The Birth Machine” is however more than that: it is also a gripping story of buried secrets and a long-ago murder, and of present-day betrayals” I thought ‘yes I do’.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – This turned up as quite the surprise from OUP and I am delighted as I loved her novel ‘The Shuttle’ but have never gotten around to this children’s classic of hers.

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe – I read this classic romp a few years ago but OUP are reissuing it so I might give it another whirl, or it can replace my rather battered old copy on my shelves for a re-read in the future.

Down Among The Dead Men by Michelle Williams – I have a strange fascination, though not too morbid a one, with death and since reading the wonderful ‘Stiff’ by Mary Roach I have wanted to read a few more along these lines and Michelle’s year as a morgue technician will make an interesting non fiction read. I saw it on amazon and had to send an email to the lovely Constable and Robinson who publish my favourite ‘Agatha Raisins’.

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas – This was a surprise parcel, I know nothing of it except the fact it’s got a lovely cover.

When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman – Really excited about this one as a few people I know have already read this debut novel (which is getting a lot of press already as a Waterstones 11 choice) and I have heard some great things. The font though is shocking so I might struggle which worries me a little.

Living Souls by Dmitry Bykov – I really want to read more translated fiction from all over the globe in 2011, a mini whim challenge if you will, and this Russian translated book published by Alma Books looks set to be right up my street. “Living Souls follows the lives of four couples struggling to escape the chaos and stupidity of the war around them: a teenage girl who adopts a homeless man, a poet turned general separated from his lover, a provincial governor in love with one of the natives, and a legendary military commander who is sleeping with the enemy.”  

A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah – I bought the latest in one of my favourite crime series in a charity shop virtually brand new for a mere 50p so that simply had to be bought!

Now onto the hard backs…

 

A Kind Man by Susan Hill – You will all know by now how much I love Susan Hill so this new novella has been devoured and will be read in due course.

The Devil’s Garden by Edward Docx – I know nothing about this, I think the author has been shortlisted for the Man Booker before, other than its set deep in the Amazon which is slightly bittersweet for me at the moment as I didn’t get to go thanks to everything that’s gone on with health etc lately.

The Cry of the Go Away Bird by Andrea Eames – A tale of a young girl in 1990’s Zimbabwe as Mugabe takes presidency; I think this surprise treat will be a perfect read for me.

To The Devil A Diva by Paul Magrs – Paul gave me a spare copy of this, one of his earlier novels, when he was cleaning his desk on his last day of work. I am looking forward to reading this in the near future.

Scissors Paper Stone by Elizabeth Day – Another surprise book that I have heard little about and so can’t really report on!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Now this isn’t out until September but seems like its going to get a lot of coverage. I might have to get my Mum to read and review this one as she is a classicist and might give better thoughts than me.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman – This is another of the Waterstones 11 and one that I think could be one of the most exciting debuts of the year. This is a tale of immigration and knife crime told from the perspective of a young boy in a new inner city world.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – I think this book is going to explode everywhere, an adult tale of witches and wizards and a mystery at the Bodleian Library, I will either love or loathe this, I am hoping its love.

Some of these I have read already, some are up at the top of the TBR. Which ones have you read and which do you fancy or have heard great things about?

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Do I Want To Read…?

I told you that this might be a sporadic series and it has indeed been a while since I last asked you about some books that crossed my path that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read or not. I have read one of them and it will be on the blog this week, so thank you for all your thoughts on that one as it lead to a reading. This time its three books that I know nothing about and had in fact never heard of until a certain website recommended that I read them and now I am in two minds, though the covers are calling me…

  

  • Evelina: Or the History of A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World – Frances Burney
  • Memoirs of Emma Courtney – Mary Hays
  • Cecilia: or Memoirs of an Heiress – Frances Burney

There was another one about two victorian sisters which looked ace as well but I cannot find that title for the life of me which is most vexing as it would be perfect for my victoriana research, oh well. As for these three as I said I know nothing about them but they do intrigue me and I have said I want to read more fiction that isn’t contemporary so these seem like they could be a treat! I haven’t even heard of the authors and I feel like I should have. So those of you who know the classics do please let me know if these are any good as they have stirred an interest from Savidge Reads and I would love your insights.

For those of you who are more into your contemporary, I am pleasing both parties to day I hope, I finally opened the parcels that I mentioned on Saturday’s post that had been awaiting me at the sorting office for a few days. They contained these delights…

  • The House of Special Purpose – John Boyne
  • Baba Yaga Laid an Egg – Dubravka Ugresic
  • The Sea’s – Samantha Hunt
  • The Oxford Book of Death
  • Glasshopper – Isabel Ashdown
  • The Einstein Girl – Philip Sington
  • The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
  • Our Tragic Universe – Scarlett Thomas
  • The Lonely Polygamist – Brady Udall
  • Half Life – Roopa Farooki
  • A Preperation For Death – Greg Baxter
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet – David Mitchell
  • The Clay Dreaming – Ed Hillyer
  • The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Shadows in the Streets – Susan Hill
  • The Swimmer – Roma Tearne
  • The Great Perhaps – Joe Meno

Let me know if you have heard good things about any of the titles or authors, if you have read any, any you are already sick of hearing about and any you would really like to hear more about, that would be marvellous.

That’s all from me, after a marvellous discussion round at mine for the latest NTTVBG and ‘Skin Lane’ by Neil Bartlett (which I think is an amazing book) I am quite, quite tired and have rather a lot of virtual tidying up to do, I am quite sad it was my last hosting session though. Right, I am off, thoughts on the above books please!

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