Tag Archives: Marieke Hardy

To The Letter… Penpals of Prose Redux?

Firstly, I should say Happy Australia Day to all those lovely Australian readers of this blog, hope you are all having/have had/will have (the time difference confuses me) a wonderful day. There is an Australian twist in today’s post so there is a link, if an ever so slightly tenuous one, to what I am going to blather on about today. You see I want to talk about letter writing, an art form I forget how much I love until every so often something jolts me back to reminding me just how marvellous it is and then reprimands me with a feeling of regret that I don’t do it often enough.

Most of the post I receive at home consists of two things; bills or books. Oh and occasionally letters from the NHS reminding me that I have varying appointments. Whilst I love the books that arrive the other stuff I could happily do without, why they call it ‘correspondence’ I don’t know as none of the bills you get are going to become great endless reams of written outcries telling Sally of Customer Care about your life, she just wants your cash, she isn’t interested in your broken heart or how much you laughed seeing that man fall over the other day. *Sigh*.

I hadn’t thought of pen pals and letter writing for a while until I read Marieke Hardy’s ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead’ which I told you all about yesterday. She runs events in Australia all to do with letter writing and in her book says about the letter that ‘they exist in a tangible, rich way that their cheap instant-gratification-grasping distant cousin emails can only dream of’ which is so true. I am rubbish with lengthy emails to friends and the like, it doesn’t compare to the letters I sent in my teens to friends of about 8 sides of A4, me pouring my heart out, probably about something inane and ridiculous. The utter joy of getting an inane and ridiculous 10 sided response was wonderful if only I could have bottled that feeling. Instead I am going to quote more Marieke, she explains it better than I can.

‘I love getting letters. Doesn’t everybody? Saying you like receiving personal letters in the post is like stating that you rather enjoy breathing, or having ears on either side of your head: it’s taken as a given, and not to be used as a quirky character trait to lure in members of the opposite sex on dating sites. Even seeing the spidery, in-my-day-we-sent-letters-via-donkey-and-wolfpack handwriting of an elderly relative can send a cheap frission when indulging in a dressing-gowned visit to the front gate.’

It suddenly seemed obvious who I should try and become pen pals with… Marieke Hardy of course. With our wicked sense of humour, ok she has no knowledge of me or mine (but that’s so beside the point), love of books and the written letter it would be ideal. So I tweeted her. Now, before I tell you what I tweeted I should admit I have tried to attract the wily Miss Hardy’s attention on twitter before, mainly fawning which admittedly isn’t very cool and sort of screams ‘fan’ or ‘pllllllleeeeeease acknowledge me’ (though some might see this post in the same vein, not the case, this is all about letters thank you), and nada. No response. So I had to think on my feet and not just retweet or quote or be inane in a pointless way, I had to attract her attention. So I used two things I have picked up from seeing her on the box and reading… a love of books and a love of beards, again me and Marieke have that in common, and it worked…

Now ‘certainly’ may seem like a fob off, and initially I thought so too (my middle names aren’t ‘grumpy cynic’ for nothing), but when a DM with an address arrived (noted it’s a P.O. Box address in case I should fly all the way to Australia and simply pop by for a cuppa, stranger things have happened) I had that joyous moment of feeling slightly like I wanted to be sick everywhere and needing to phone everyone I know and tell them news that possibly might leave them non plussed. Instead I just grinned.

This was several weeks ago, I am still drafting the first letter. Why? Well because first impressions are always important (I am seeing the letter writing as a clean state not the twitter/blog fawning, moving swiftly on) and in my head, though neither of us owns a book shop, this could become the noughties version of ’84 Charing Cross Road’ one day. A friend taking the proverbial asked me if I had bought a ‘special pen for the prose of perfection… a quill maybe?’ my response post swearing was ‘no, nothing is finer than your simple black Bic’ and its true I write my nicest handwriting with said pen.

It isn’t just Marieke I am writing to though, as it seemed my friend Dom has also had letters on the brain. This is Dom of the ‘we both love Nancy Mitford and refer to each other as characters in her novels’ fame. We haven’t seen each other in over a year, we would meet in London once or twice a week, speak on the phone everyday etc, and suddenly letter writing to each other seemed so much more personal than an hour on the phone twice a week. No one can listen in for a start, so that’s another one. Multiple pen pals isn’t cheating is it? Ha!

You may remember that a while back, in fact almost two years ago, I started a little project called Penpals of Prose. I wanted to join people who loved book and the written word and create a way of them being able to contact like minded folk from all around the world. It was a much bigger, and so took much longer to organise plan and administrate, project than I thought it would be as so many people wanted to take part. What I forgot to do, amongst all this setting up lovely friends to write gorgeous letters to each other, was actually participate myself. I have no pen pals of prose, not one, and now the email account I made for it has gone defunct (I checked this morning, and have emailed to reactive it), silly me.

I am wondering… should I start that all over again and write myself too? Or should I simply see if any of you out there would like to start writing to me wherever in the world you are? I will write back by the way, this isn’t just a plea for you to fill my letter box with endless lovely letters you never hear back from. My email address is on the about page if you want to make contact. In the meantime, as its Australia day, I think it’s time I put pen to paper and finish this letter to Ms Hardy in my best black Bic handwriting.

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You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead – Marieke Hardy

Sometimes you read a book and you just can’t stop talking about it. So an apology from me firstly to all who have seen me in the last few weeks and who have come to dread the sentence in our conversation that goes ‘oh my god have I told you about another thing Marieke Hardy wrote about in her memoirs’. I have not shut up about this book. I am also now worried that should Ms Hardy ever stumble upon this webpage she may regret a recent twitter exchange and think I am a stalker, I am not, but more on that tomorrow. I don’t really do celebrity/well known personality memoirs very often but as soon as I learnt that Marieke Hardy had an autobiography/collection of memoir essays ‘You’ll Be Sorry When Im Dead’ out in Australia I had to have it, I had almost bought it online when Allen and Unwin, hearing of my Hardy obsession enthusiasm kindly shipped one over to me.

Before I can talk/rave about the book any further, I should mention how I happened upon its author. I randomly heard tell of an Australian TV book show when I was moaning about how rubbish (they have got better) our UK ones were, a Savidge reader sent me a link to The First Tuesday Book Club and I was hooked. I loved format (one host, two regular guests each month and two fresh faces who discuss one modern book and one classic, the banter, the works I was sold. The star for me was Marieke, a fabulously edgy, ballsy, no nonsense regular guest who wasn’t afraid to call a book a ‘cock forest’ if required. I felt I had found a kindred spirit, be it one who wasn’t aware I existed, but that’s a small thing. She had a passion and enthusiasm about books and reading that had me sold along with a wicked sense of humour. So, what better than her very own book, written by her own hand, to find out more about her? (Note, in a non stalky ‘I just think we would be best pals discussing books and laughing like drains’ way.)

Allen & Unwin, trade paperback, 2011, non fiction, 294 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ is one of those books which manages to make you laugh out loud, feel ever so uncomfortable at its honesty, possibly makes you want to cry and then makes you laugh all over again. When someone writes their memoirs it isn’t necessarily that the full truth doesn’t come out, just that the author tends to look at things in a rose tinted way, highlighting their best bits – not so in the case of Marieke.

From the very first memory piece/essay ‘You Can Lead a Horticulture’ we are greeted with Marieke’s no nonsense ‘this is how it is’ attitude, which I like so much and am probably much more like myself in real life than I am on this here blog (maybe this should change), as she discusses her desire as a young girl to become a prostitute because it embodied ‘musical theatre, combined with those illicit first throws of nocturnal explorations beneath an embroidered doona’, and then goes on to tell of a relationship she was involved in where prostitutes became a fairly regular addition (I laughed at her worries of a prostitute assessing her based on how she kept her house). From here we have tales of her friends battle with cancer in ‘Forevz’ which is funny, touching and tear inducing, a hilarious look at the world of swingers, her own obsession and almost stalking of Bob Ellis (who she also named her female dog after), her relationship with her parents, on being a mother but not being a mother (I loved ‘Born This Way’ a tale of accidental step parentage so, so, so much) and her rock and roll slightly hedonistic days.

It is the honesty which I loved about this book so much, and it’s an honesty we don’t see often enough and could be something which caused people not to like this book. In fact Marieke says so herself in the tale of her friends breast cancer as she opens with ‘this is a cancer story that has some jokes in it, so if you think that perhaps that’s in poor taste its probably best you put this book down’ and some people will do just that, but they would be missing out. We do laugh at the worst times, we need this laughter yet some people don’t want to talk about it.

It isn’t just this honesty of situation and others that she looks at, it’s herself. In several of these pieces, almost of admission and letting everything out, she asks people to respond from their side and it’s not always flattering either in the depiction Hardy makes of herself or in the honesty of some of the replies she gets back. Could any of us write something admitting what a rubbish partner or friend we were, send it to the other person involved ask their thoughts and then publish them? I am not sure we could.

Some people will simply not get this sort of book, they will think that its graphic nature (in parts, not in all) and upfront attitude is done for effect, maybe even book sales. They will probably now think I am some kind of voyeur for enjoying it so much. I would disagree, I think some people do those very things but I don’t get the feeling Marieke Hardy is one of them. It’s an honest portrayal, sometimes as I mentioned uncomfortably so, of someone’s life so far with the highs and the lows, the good and the bad, the pretty sides and the ugly ones too. It’s really made me think about life and that jazz amongst the laughter, ‘eek’ moments, and occasionally teary ones too. But more on that thinking tomorrow… In the interim do try and get this book (even if it means buying the e-book version as, so far, it’s not out in the UK, in fact I think it might only be available in Australia) because it’s one that should be read.

It’s early to be talking of books of the year, but I have very little doubt that this will be one of mine. I loved it.

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Filed under Books of 2012, Marieke Hardy, Non Fiction, Review

Books By The Bedside #1

So not so long ago I asked you all if you liked the idea of me doing a regular feature on the blog where I share a picture of my bedside table and the books frequenting it. This was a slightly mean ask as frankly I was thinking of doing it anyway, but it was nice to get your thoughts on it as it is with all things. Anyway without further ado and further waffle here is what is on my bedside table and the reasons why…

First up is a very recent addition, yesterday in fact, in the form of Lucy Wood’s debut short story collections ‘Diving Belles’ which I have been really eager to read. The tales were inspired by the flotsam and jetsam of a Cornish beach and theses magical tales of straying husbands, creaking houses, whispering magpies and trees that grant wishes sound wonderful, I do love an adult fairytale after all, I meant to try one yesterday and suddenly two hours had gone and I was ¾ of the way through. I will be telling you all about this very soon. I had meant to start on Angela Carter’s ‘Burning Your Boats; Collected Stories’ this week after it arrived in the post (this seemed odd as I was in a bookshop with a nice chap last week who bought the book, it then arrived here the next day, spooky) and I love her fairytale like short stories. It is a rather massive collection so expect this to become a regular offender in these posts, speaking of which…

Two old offenders follow as I have been reading Marieke Hardy’s essay collection ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ and Chris Womersley’s novel ‘Bereft’ for so long that I am worried by the time I write of them you will be bored to death. I think I need to focus on ‘Bereft’ more now, as whilst initially languishing over it was working I am beginning to feel it actually might not be doing this book any favours (and it has been lugged about so much by me over weeks it is looking a real state) oops. In fact it looks rather like the battered 1971 Fontana edition of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mystery ‘The Moving Finger’ which I am going to read as a cleanser soon I think.

As for the rest of this loot, well really these are all the books that I am pondering over. I have been unbelievably excited that Hammer Horror and Random House have gone into partnership for some ghost stories new and old. While I await Jeanette Winterson’s fictional account of the Pendle Witches (sounds amazing) I have just received Helen Dunmore’s ghost story ‘The Greatcoat’ all starting on a cold night in Yorkshire and a hand knocking on a window. Oh goody. In fact Andrew Miller’s ‘Pure’ links into this as its said to be a gothic tale of cemeteries, grisly possibly but fascinating I am sure. It’s been the talk of the town with the Costa Book Awards and reminded me I really wanted to read it.

The TV Book Club has inspired me to push ‘Girl Reading’ by Katie Ward onto the bedside table. I started this then decided it was so good I might never finish ‘Bereft’ and so it’s on hold and it may have to stay on hold a while as we may have Essie Fox joining us on The Readers and so I must read ‘The Somnambulist’ asap, hence its appearance.

Finally to books that I have been recommended and am keeping at the top of my reading periphery, as it were. I already fancied reading Rachel Joyce’s debut novel ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ when I fell across a very advanced review, then its inclusion in the ‘Waterstones 11’ made it shoot up my TBR pile. Several recommendations for Kevin Brockmeier’s ‘The Illumination’ have come from The Readers listeners who have voted for it in the International Readers Book Award’s so when that arrived early this week (it’s out in paperback in February) I instantly popped it here, as I did ‘All Is Song’ by Samantha Harvey which William of Just Williams Luck reviewed and sold to me straight away. I may not comment on blogs as much as I should but I am very much reading them.

So that’s the state of my bedside table, and my reading brain too I guess. What are you reading and have got lined up to read? What is just tickling your fancy (I love that expression) right now books wise?

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When Did I Become A Multi-Reader (and the Reading Conundrum)?

Once upon a time if someone told me they read more than one book at once I would always be astonished, if I am totally honest a slight wince or sneer might even have been seen to pass like a shadow across my face, they could do it. I could never understand how anyone could keep up with that many books, until now that is…

You see since the start of 2012 I have not completed many novels (not that reading is ever a race but I do have a general reading pace) yet I have read a whole host of short stories and essays.

For example at present I have four books on the go at the moment, though only one of them is a novel, and they are as shown…

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Both Dan Rhodes ‘Dont Tell Me The Truth About Love’ and Sarah Hall’s ‘The Beautiful Indifference’ are collections of short stories. I was just reading Sarah’s on and off but then I started reading ‘Bereft’ by Chris Womersley, the only novel in the mix, and something about the settings was a little too similar and yet I wanted some short fiction for random short reading moments on the train (only ten mins to town and ten back) etc and so I picked up Dan Rhodes on a whim as I haven’t read anything by him for ages and I really like his books. Sarah will be being restarted once ‘Bereft’ is finished, yet that may be some time as I am enjoying it so much I am savouring it and waiting for the mystery at its heart to unfold slowly. Savouring is also the reason why Marieke Hardy and her memoir essays ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ are still only midway through completion. I love them so much I am only reading one or two a week.

Actually with the last two it feels like an odd reading conundrum, should I just go for it or simply take as long as I like? As its a year of whimsical reading I am going for the latter, unless suddenly something takes hold. It may make reviews thin on the ground for a while but it’s really enjoyable reading at the moment. Who would have thought I would find multi- reading so enjoyable?

Who else out there multi reads and who definitely doesn’t? Do you ever find yourself at the point of wanting to greedily devour a book in one sitting and spreading out the joy over weeks? Which books have left you in such a reading conundrum?

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Books on the Bedside & the Great British Book Off…

This morning I woke up, stretched, wiped the sleep out of my eyes and as I looked to my left was greeted by a bedside table covered with books. It suddenly gave me some inspiration for a new random feature for the blog, but as (if you are like me) you are a fan of a bit of book porn I took a picture of the mass of fictional worlds I am in or have ahead of me, apologies it’s a little grainy it was early…

I was looking at them and realised in a weird way this almost like a snapshot of the inner workings of my bookish mind. You have three books I am reading (yes I have taken up multi reading, more on this unusual turn of events soon) currently; ‘Bereft’ by Chris Womersley, ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ by Marieke Hardy and ‘The Beautiful Indifference’ by Sarah Hall – these naturally need to be close to hand as I am a dreadful sleeper at the mo and so they are the perfect company in the middle of the night.

The rest of the books are those on my periphery reading vision. I won’t explain all the reasons for all iof them now in fear of boring you (the Agatha Christie, Truman Capote and Dan Rhodes have all just been pulled out mount BR as I have been graving some friendly fiction faces, Elizabeth Jolley as an Australian Literature Month possible read) but I will give you a slight over view to explain what I mean. Sophie Hannah’s ‘Kind of Cruel’ proof has just arrived so it’s time to finally read ‘Lasting Damage’ as I like to read in order.  The same with the proof of Matt Haig’s new YA novel ‘To Be A Cat’ which one of the events guys at Waterstones sent me after I discussed YA the other day, so I pulled out ‘The Radleys’ –which I wish I had the hardcover of, so much darker. ‘Disputed Land’ by Tim Pears was on hand for a mention on this weeks recording of the Readers which has been postponed and Elizabeth Haynes and ‘Into The Darkest Corner’ has been lingering since the last recording of the Readers when we discussed the TV Book Club vs. Richard and Judy.

This might not interest you at all but I thought I would test the waters because it could become a future feature instead of my incoming book posts which I have decided to dump. I thought it might give people a small book porn fix whilst also showing you all the books new, old and in-between on my reading horizon, a bit like being even more in my reading head. What do you think?

Also I want to do something with the title ‘The Great British Book Off’ before someone else pinches it (this could already have happened 0f course) as this also popped into my head this morning, but I am stuck on what it could be. Might need more mulling though, what do you say?

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Back to Blogging Basics…

I am going to start off today by saying from the off that this post contains absolutely no navel gazing. I have been mulling over Savidge Reads but only in a positive way as you will see. As you may have seen I did my ‘Reading Resolutions’ earlier this week and as it is a New Year (despite being almost a week through it, how does this happen) I thought maybe now was the time to apply all the thoughts I have had about blogging in the past few months, mainly since I did the podcast with Kim and Gavin actually, and make some small but significant changes so here is what I have decided…

More Personality

I actually put a lot of the forthcoming changes in both my reading and blogging down to the joy that recording and making The Readers with Gavin is. It’s made me aware I am a reader first blogger second something I think I had forgotten a little. One of the nice things that has happened is that people have, well from the emails I have had, really enjoyed the fact my personality has come to the fore a bit more. I think I write on here rather like I talk (lots of comma’s because I waffle in real life) yet I think since I have become aware more people read this blog, both just readers in general and people in the bookish bod industry, I have been a little more serious, maybe even a little more wary. It could of course just be last year was a more serious year. Yet oddly on twitter I am being much more myself. Why that is (and why I feel I can tweet my Mr Men pyjamas – as they have a literary twist – but cant blog about them) I don’t know but that’s going to change.

Reviews in General

Another random blogging tick I have noticed is that I like all my reviews to be around the same length. Why it is I do this, again I have no idea. It also doesn’t work, not in the fact that shorter books should only have shorter reviews and longer books longer reviews, this can sometimes be quite the opposite (as I have learnt already in 2012 with three short reads which I have oodles to say about) some larger books leave me with little to mull, some a lot and so that is how my reviews will be. I will include quotes in some, I won’t in some. Basically every review will be different and match the book it’s about, this may even mean writing a letter to the author in review format, you’ll see what I mean in a week or two, or simply a paragraph or two and a quote. As long as it encapsulates my reading reaction and experience who cares? Subconscious formulas must stop.

Constructive Criticism and ‘Unreviews’

I am not going to say that I am going to be ‘harsher’ in 2012 but I am not going to wade through books I don’t enjoy in the hope they might get better. Nor am I going to hide flaws in books I love if there are a few, it’s not personal it will be done in a positive way and with Savidge Reads bearing very much in mind they haven’t written a book themselves but have read quite a lot of them (why am I talking about myself in third person, have I finally gone round the bend?) I will also be writing ‘unreviews’, stolen from Gavin, about the books I haven’t finished and why, not to be mean but because this is a readers diary at the end of the day and I don’t think if you haven’t read every word on every page you can call a review really

Bye-Bye Incoming Book Posts?

I used to like looking at bloggers incoming haul of books yet I have really gone off these of late. I did one for most of the months last year until I thought ‘why?’ There is a fine line between sharing and showing off and while I hope I was in the first category I wouldn’t want to be perceived to be in the other. If a book turns up that makes me so full of glee I could pop I will simply pop a small post up with a picture of it and leave it at that. In fact it will be something like this…

I know I have mentioned this book before on its own as I was excited but I have heard Marieke Hardy likes men with beards who like books and should she fall upon this page I hope she will smile (and not think ‘oh no not that beardy weirdy stalker again’) or something, moving on…

Posts in General

I am not even contemplating saying I will or won’t blog less than I do now, I have done this before and will probably do it again at some other point – though maybe internally not externally. I probably will spend less time blogging this year, but I don’t mean that the content will be half arsed more that I might simply put a small post with a question in now and again, a simple picture post, etc. If I have nothing to say I won’t spend an hour or two possibly rather desperately scribbling down ideas of things I could waffle on about, I will let the blog be and go and read a book instead. Lovely!

I think that’s it. Job done, ooh that feels better! I am very excited about this blogging year.

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Australian Literature Month

I said yesterday in my ‘Reading Resolution’ post that I wouldn’t be starting or hosting any reading challenges in 2012, however that doesn’t mean that I can’t join in with some does it? Already there is one particular challenge of sorts that has attracted me, in fact it attracted me the moment it was announced, and that is the Australian Literature Month that Kim of Reading Matters is hosting throughout January, naturally of course this leads me to wanting some of your book recommendations etc. I also thought some of you might be tempted.

What really attracts me to Kim’s Australian Literature Month (apart from the fact that I love a lot of things Australian) is that there are no limits or levels to the books that I can or can’t read. The aim is simply “post about Australian literature on your own blog or simply engage in the conversation on this blog. If you don’t have a blog, don’t worry” and that is me sold as by chance, and all based on whim, I have about six or seven books on the periphery which are from Oz (do Australians find their country being called Oz rude, I do hope not and if they do I apologize) and three in particular that I am very keen to read sooner rather than later should the mood take…

  

Tim Winton’s ‘Cloudstreet’ is a novel that Kim actually gave me last year, so that seems like a sign, and is deemed as one of the modern Australian classics. I enjoyed his last novel ‘Breath’ which is the first and only of his books I have read so far and managed to make me interested in surfing which I really wasn’t expecting.  Anyway, ‘Cloudstreet’ has also had ‘The Slap’ treatment and the TV series is coming to the UK this month, be it on Sky One, and so I might read and watch, or just read – we will see.I have to admit I have been dipping into Marieke Hardy’s collection of memoir essays ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ since Christmas but I think I will be finished by the end of the weekend (I am trying to drag the utter joy that this is out for as long as possible) and though its not Australian fiction she loved her Australian Literature as she proves on ‘The First Tuesday Book Club’ most months, so that’s a given read. ‘Bereft’ by Chris Womersley is an unsolicited proof that Quercus have sent and appealed first because of the cover image, before the cover hooking me again when I noticed Evie Wyld had a given it a great quote too (and we know the success I had with the last recommendation I heard Evie making) and has been hovering on the bedside table urging me to open it since.

So those are the books I might dip into first but I wondered if there were any others I should really be looking out for? I would love your suggestions (as it’s a mutual relationship this reading recommendation malarkey on this blog I will have you know) please, and do let me know if you are planning on joining in with this too and what you might read.

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Books of 2012… Should I Be Reading Them Now?

I was talking about a set of delightful books that have recently arrived yesterday and I am going to do the same again today. These books coincide with the fact that I have decided that now The Green Carnation Shortlist has been announced, and I know my final thoughts on the final books, and as Bookmarked Salon is now having a hiatus before it possibly comes back (and if it does it will be rather different) next year, it is time for me to scrap all planned reading and simply indulge myself for the last month and a half of the year. It actually freaks me out quite a lot that 2012 is not far away at all and there were so many books I ‘meant to’ read this year and still haven’t as yet.  In fact it is next year that links all of the books below I want to discuss as they aren’t out until 2012, in the UK anyway, but I want to read them now…

The first of these three treats I don’t think is out in anywhere else, and by that I mean in any other countries outside the UK, as yet and won’t be out here in the UK until early January and that is ‘The Man Who Rained’ by Ali Shaw and is the his highly anticipated (and not just by me) follow up to ‘The Girl With The Glass Feet’ which I absolutely loved and which caused a great discussion on the blog a while back. This one sounds like another wonderful adult fairytale and one I don’t think I can wait to get started on.

The next up is already out in Australia and hasn’t a definite date in the UK as yet, but I am hoping that the world cottons onto the wonders of Marieke Hardy and her collections of essays and memories ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead’ which the publishers Allen and Unwin very, very kindly popped in the post. I have become a fan of Marieke, bordering on a slight ‘non weird’ obsession, since I started catching up with one of my favourite book shows The First Tuesday Book Club and since then with her blog and the like. This should be a great collection and once I will have to try very hard not to read in one sitting, I want to savour them… if I can.

Finally is a book I discussed on a post a while back, a post I was apparently slated for by an author on a certain social media site, bizarre. I was a huge fan of Hillary Jordan’s debut novel ‘Mudbound’ and was exited to hear that she was releasing a new ‘dystopian novel’ as her second novel ‘When She Awoke’. I was then mortified that whilst it came out in America a little while back, it wasn’t coming out her until late spring 2012 at the earliest. Well guess what, the very lovely Michael Kindness of the brilliant podcast Books on the Nightstand sent me a copy all the way from the US of A…

If that wasn’t enough he only went and got it signed for me by Hillary on one of the author tours he went on with her. I am beyond thrilled at what was just a lovely, lovely gesture.

Now I just have to decide if I hold fire on reading them, or simply dive in and treat myself? What do you think? Which books are you the most excited about reading at the moment? Are there any books coming out in 2012 that you already have on your radar?

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Daphne Du Maurier on The First Tuesday Book Club…

It seems, if unintentionally, that Polly and I chose the perfect month to do our ‘Discovering Daphne’ season as now, after The Guardian Reading Group have started reading ‘Don’t Look Now and Other Stories’, the wonderful First Tuesday Book Club have now covered ‘Rebecca’ in their latest show which aired last week.

I had no idea before I started watching it this weekend, between babysitting two three year olds, that this was one of this months choices, I was thrilled, though I was also nervous about whether (one of my current book loving icons) Marieke Hardy would love it or not. I waited with baited breath… Well, she didn’t let me down when she came out with this, which I think is a wonderful description.  ‘I think the book is perfect… it’s just a big juicy over ripe plum… its bursting out of its flesh and dribbling down your chin as you read and what a great sticky glorious mess to end up in when you finished it.’ Oh Marieke, you are a legend!

The discussion of it being ‘woman’s literature’ came up as Kate Morton, who had chosen the novel, said it was and that was positive yet Thomas Keneally said what slightly annoyed him, though he thought it was brilliantly written for ‘a mass market novel’, it had a ‘breathiness’ which makes it nothing more than a ‘romance’. It then turns to a discussion of whether it is a sexless or sexy book? You should watch it to see the discussion and you can here.  Let me know your thoughts.

We will be talking about ‘Rebecca’, which I think (just like Marieke) is a perfect book, in three weeks time you can see the schedule for all the Daphne reads we are doing here. Please do discover Daphne, you won’t be disappointed.

Oh and my review of ‘Mary Anne’ is coming… honest.

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Do I Want To Read… The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan?

I personally don’t read that much werewolf based fiction, even though I love a good werewolf film, so it’s interesting that I have had Glen Duncan’s ‘The Last Werewolf’ on my periphery for quite some time. I can’t say I am a big read of supernatural fiction, though I have dabbled in the Twilight series (which some people would say I shouldn’t admit to but stuff it) and have various thoughts on those, I do like a good chilling ghost story though. Yet I have read a few reviews – like this one – and heard various podcasts and the like that make me think I might rather like this read. Weirdly there was one absolute slating of the book that made me want to read it more, and that was from the fabulous Marieke Hardy.

I am pretty sure I have pushed you in the direction of Australia’s ‘First Tuesday Book Club’ before. It’s the perfect book show and one I am shocked we haven’t the likes of in the UK as I think it would be a great success (and I know someone who would love to host it, cough). Each month they read two books in a panel of five (three of whom, Jennifer Byrne, Marieke Hardy and Jason Steger, are always on it) and discuss them. Invariably the books are one modern and one classic, this month the modern one was ‘The Last Werewolf’. Well Marieke went crazy on it calling it ‘a very silly book’, and excuse my French, a ‘cock forest’,  where else would you get a brilliant review like that? If you want to see it then go here and skip to 3.33 minutes for the fun to begin its hilarious. You can also sign up to get the series as a vodcast every month.

I have also heard on ‘Books on the Nightstand’; one of my other favourite podcasts, that this is a ‘literary werewolf novel’ could this be a surprise contender for the Man Booker 2011, how bizarre and brilliant would that be? So have any of you read ‘The Last Werewolf’ and what did you think? Isn’t it funny how a bad review, when done honestly and well, can make you want to read something even more?

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Simon’s Bookish Bits #18

It’s quite nice that Saturday pops around so quickly until I suddenly realise I have made no notes (I am big on notes as my addiction to stationery and Paperchase as seen on my bank statement would prove) for what the heck I am going to talk about today. But fear not I have a few bits and bobs and actually with a favourite link, podcast of the week and a rather special worldwide competition it seems my Bookish Bits seem to have gone back to their roots at long last hee, hee.

First up a huge thanks for all the comments and emails regarding the new look, it seems you all really rather like it so that’s good. Over the next week or so more pages and places will be added but I will keep you updated with them as they arrive. At the moment I am looking at re-doing ‘The Readers Table’ as it hasn’t been done for ages, in fact ‘My Mighty TBR’ could do with a bit of a sorting too.

On to other blogs though and my fav post of the week and one I keep popping back to is by Simon of Stuck-in-a-Book who has done a wonderful post where he is asking people to tell him about the weirdest profession any character/s have in books, do pop over and have a gander.

I think I’ve completely forgotten, until now, to tell you that the video podcasts of ‘The First Tuesday Book Club’ are back and see the delightful Jennifer Byrne and co discussing books. The latest edition sees them discussing Ian McEwan’s ‘Solar’ and guests Sarah Waters in the discussion. I am becoming even more a fan of Marieke Hardy especially as she described the novel as ‘loosey goosey structurally’ I think she might become on of my bookish idols. You can see it all here.

Now before I go off to the park with a bag of books (its delightful weather here again today) I have a competition for you. As you will hopefully all have seen, and if you haven’t pop and have a look, the lovely Evie Wyld did a Savidge Grills on Thursday which funnily enough was the day of her wonderful debut novel coming out in paperback. Vintage have kindly offered three copies of ‘After The Fire, A Still Small Voice’ to giveaway worldwide all you have to do is answer Evie’s creative quandary about a legendary mythical Australian creature…

When I was 19 I asked my Australian grandmother what she thought the Bunyip looked like. Her answer was ‘sort of roundish with legs’. Any improvements on this description would be most welcome!?!

So we would like you to come up with a creative made up description of a Bunyip in a single sentence (you can be as bonkers as you like) ‘I saw a Bunyip and it looked like…’and the winning three get a copy of the book AND not only that (as Evie and I were plotting away we thought as its quite hard you should get something else too) but you the three winners will also get their Bunyip drawn by the lovely Joseph Sumner who is working with Evie on a graphic novel. How ace is that? I am tempted to enter it myself. You have until Thursday so get cracking! Have lovely weekends!

Oh and FYI my Bookish Bits will be on Friday next week!!!

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