– children’s books

Like so many people, reading was a huge part of my childhood. I didn’t have any siblings, so much of my time was spent either with my neighbours or alone, with my head in a book! I devoured so many books, from the library or the bookshops in the next town over and I could never quite seem to get enough. So many of those books were formative for me, ones that have lingered on in my mind long after I last read them. A lot of them I still own, even if I don’t read them, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get rid of them.

How I loved Enid Blyton! I couldn’t tell you the first book of hers that I read – but I recall making my way through the Famous Five, and then the Secret Seven (the Five were my most beloved though, I mean come on they had a dog!). I longed for their adventures, and never has ginger beer sounded so terrific.. well I say I longed for their adventures, I think it was more the picnics to be honest. I spent many of my holidays at the East Coast as a child, racing along the sands, pretending with all my heart that it was Kirrin Island; they were such magnificent books, still rooted in reality but teeming with adventure.

One thing I do remember were the old Wordsworth classics – before they ended up with dodgy photoshopped covers, they used to have nice ones, usually with old paintings on them. At £2.50 each they were a steal, usually given to me by my grandma and grandad when I went to stay for the weekend. This was the way I read all of Anne and her adventures at Green Gables – for me the most fun was when she was a child – I eventually lost interest in them before she married Gilbert Blythe – but I did still love them. I expect though, you all know what’s really coming, which Wordsworth classic I still have, and shall never part with.. Yep. The Secret Garden. My copy is now old and yellowing, the cover hanging on with grim determination – but I will never part with it. There was something about the mysterious Misselthwaite Manor with all its unknown rooms, high up on the Yorkshire moors, and as I followed Mary Lennox I found myself utterly and completely enraptured. Finding Colin, the garden, making friends with Dickon – all of it was so wonderful to me – and still is. As I read, I saw that sallow faced little girl know what it was to be loved, and to love in return – to watch nature blossom and thrive.

Now this next is a little different – the historical fiction of Emma Carroll. Technically, I didn’t read her work when I was a child, but that didn’t make me love them any less. The very first one I read was Secrets of a Sun King at the grand old age of twenty-four and I could not put it down. My eleven year old, Egyptology nerd self was fair weeping with joy at such a glorious book. Set in the 1920’s with two amazing girl protagonists as they set off on the adventure of a lifetime to hunt down King Tut’s tomb and lift a curse, sliced through with snippets of the final days of Tutankhamun’s reign told through the eyes of a young girl. I absolutely adored it and only regret that I didn’t read it at the age of eleven, because you can bet that it would have been the only thing I’d have even looked at for months. As it is now, I’m happily making my way through the rest of her books. – keep an eye out soon for a more in-depth look at Emma’s most recent book When We Were Warriors.

My bedtime stories too were treasured moments that I tried to keep hold of for as long as possible. Snuggled down in bed listening to a Beatrix Potter story, or even a Brambly Hedge tale (anthropomorphic animals featured quite heavily apparently). I had favourites that I went back to again and again, mesmerised by the gold edged pages, drinking in the illustrations of neat little kittens in frocks or ducks in bonnets as they went about their daily rural lives. There was something so gentle about them – but they did have their moments of darkness too; something strangely horrifying about the glazed stare of Samuel Whiskers as he is made into a roly poly pudding at the hands of two rats….but we don’t talk about that.

There are also books that others loved that I have never read, or could never get along with. I tried and tried to adore I Captured The Castle – and with an opening line like that, how could I not? But, there was something about it that I never truly loved, the same with the rest of the Narnia books or even Charlotte’s Web. One day I might go back to them all and fall in love, but for now, these are the books that were the cornerstones of my childhood. There were so many others that I couldn’t fit in this post -the Deepwoods series by Paul Stewart with the magnificent illustrations of Chris Riddell, bought one hot summer day from the Whitby Bookshop or even Ballet Shoes but I’ll talk about those some other day.

recently read.

So a few things have changed with me recently – a key thing being that I’ve left my job in the bookshop for a position at the local council. I miss bookselling dearly, but of course, there’s always plenty of books at home to keep me occupied. In the downtime between jobs, I’ve had chance to really dig in to a few good reads. Keep going if you want to check out what I’ve read over the last month or so.

I’m beginning to realise that my usual reading speed means that I read about one book a week, sometimes more and sometimes less but my average tends to be one a week. If I have lots of free time its often more, but if I’m busy then its naturally less. After leaving my job, I took a holiday to Budapest with my boyfriend and took a few books with me, not really expecting to have chance to read them. Well, dear reader I finished them both and I was pleasantly surprised by this. As a child I read voraciously and incredibly quickly (see: the little nerd who bought Order of the Phoenix as soon as it came out – I made my dad take me to the nearest ASDA at 9am – and then finished it in one afternoon) but I often feel that as an adult, I’ve slowed down. Not the case! I finished Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky on the flight to Budapest and V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows on the way back to the UK. So, that’s one book in roughly two-ish hours, which isnt bad going!

First, to Big Sky. I looooove Kate Atkinson and her Jackson Brodie series holds a special spot in my heart, mostly because they’re all set in and around West Yorkshire so that is naturally my jam. Hence, I was so, so excited when Big Sky was announced and immediately had a signed copy on order. I picked it up from work on my last day and decided to save it for my flight. I have to say however, there was something about it that I didn’t totally love and I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly what it was. I loved the setting, picking out places that I have been on holiday and ones that carry much loved memories; I was surprised that Atkinson chose to tackle the subject of human trafficking and institutional sexual abuse – but it felt timely. I think this one probably needs a reread from me so I can more coherently marshal my thoughts.

On to A Gathering of Shadows and one that I can certainly say I absolutely loved, to the point of immediately declaring that I absolutely had to have the next book in the series as soon as I finished this one. I love a good, richly drawn fantasy world and the ADSoM series is just up my street. At turns it reminds me of Gaiman’s Neverwhere but in a wider sense with a different sort of magic. As the second in a trilogy, there were moments of filler that felt as though they were there to draw the work out, but I loved the chance to get to know more about Red London and the magical tournament was especially wonderful to read. Getting to know more about Rhys and Kell – two brothers who are so tightly bound together was a joy and I’m excited (and a little nervous) to read the final book!

Lately I’ve picked up a few bits and bobs, but not quite finished them – I snagged a couple of lovely hardback copies of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s works and they’re currently languishing on my bookshelves, shiny and begging to be read, but I’ve not quite found the right moment. Perhaps in this heatwave with a martini in hand. I’ve also found myself with a few more non-fiction reads – She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen which tells the story of British women in India from 1600-1900 and A Woman of No Importance which looks at the amazing Virginia Hall a lady dubbed ‘World War Two’s most dangerous spy’ which I am totally down for!

I’ve been absolutely addicted to Netflix’s Queer Eye lately – it’s such a terrific, lovely show and the fab five are so encouraging and optimistic that they’ve really found a spot in my heart. I picked up a copy of Tan France’s memoir Naturally Tan and tore through it in a day or so. It has a very chatty tone and rather than being a linear narrative, each chapter focuses on a certain item of clothing – which then features in a story that Tan has about his life, and growing up in Doncaster. As a side-note for this, I used my £10 of Waterstones points towards a copy of Jonathan Van Ness’s autobiography Over the Top, because I have very little self control when it comes to book buying, but more importantly, JVN is a complete gem and I’m very much looking forward to reading some of his work.

So! This is where I am with my reading at present. My TBR grows ever longer – I’ve got some gorgeous proof copies I was lucky enough to be sent before I left Waterstones (Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, anyone??) and lots of things that I’ve neglected for too long and really want to take the time to enjoy! I’m heading to London next week too and if you’ve got any recommendations for an indie bookshop or several that I definitely need to check out – drop them in the comments below!

current non-fiction reads

Between my more structured posts about favourites, and what I’m looking forward to reading in the future, I thought I’d try and make a note of what I’m flicking through at the moment too, which should hopefully help me start posting a bit more regularly without feeling the need to write paragraph upon paragraph; which is no bad thing but it does take time!

I’ve been dipping into plenty of non-fiction lately – I used to read lots of academic things, especially when I was at uni, but I’m certainly out of the habit now and looking to get back into it. If there’s anything you think I absolutely must pick up right away, drop a comment at the end of this post or get in touch with me on twitter. I’m always looking to increase my knowledge!

Like lots of people, I managed to catch Chernobyl on Sky these last few weeks and oh my goodness! I have never felt so tense, so utterly terrified – despite the fact that I knew what the outcome was – a definite testament to something that was so clearly a labour of love for all the cast and crew. It also made me want to know more, naturally about what happened so I picked up Chernobyl by Serhii Plokhy and although I’ve only read a few chapters, I can already tell this will satisfy my need to know more, while still remaining accessible and not too complicated. The human face of history has always remained my interest and especially with something as far reaching as Chernobyl, the voices of the people of the Ukraine are incredibly important.

Another one I’ve picked up has been Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials that defined Modern Britain. I heard about this one months and months ago and I had it in the back of my mind to pick up once it came in. I love crime and I’ll even confess to a bit of a penchant for true crime (mindhunter anyone?) so this is right up my alley. I’ve only skimmed a bit of it so far, but it gives a good overview in the first few chapters of what the whole book aims to explore, and it does what it says on the tin really – Grant has chosen ten cases from British history that he considers to have defined the workings of the Old Bailey, from Lord Haw-Haw to Peter Sutcliffe. I’m excited to start this one properly for sure!

Last but by no means least is the behemoth that I’ve been reading on and off now for almost a month – Dominic Sandbrook’s Seasons in the Sun: The Battle For Britain, 1974-1979. Its a period of history I knew very little about before I started this book, gleaning bits and pieces here and there from novels and the six times I’ve seen Billy Elliot – but it really has been invaluable. It covers everything from politics to culture and even just everyday life in between. Sandbrook makes it all equally fascinating and its easy to dip in and out of, without feeling like you have to read the whole 700+ pages in one fell swoop.

And so, to finish – despite this post being entirely about my non-fiction current reads, I’m reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff before I go to bed of an evening and its a struggle to tear myself away from it to actually go to sleep. I’ve not read a fantasy novel this good in such a long time – darkly hilarious with a unique narrator, giving rise to a richly and intricately drawn world, I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Coming up soon, a post about my favourite crime novels!

– favourite series

This week, I thought I’d talk about some of the series that I’ve read over the years, ones which I’ve enjoyed. I’ve noticed that as an adult, I struggle to maintain enough interest in a series to read it all the way through, and this comes from someone who read all thirteen of A Series of Unfortunate Events. My reading habits have definitely changed – I read a lot less, a by product of having a lot less time to myself. Though I work with books, it doesn’t leave an awful lot of time for actually reading them when one works full time, and has a house to keep. Rather than having the luxury of a whole day or two’s uninterrupted reading a week, I find myself either at work, cooking dinner, cleaning the house or with other plans entirely. I read on lunch breaks and in the evenings, usually just before bed.

However, the joy of discovering a new series is not one lost to me. I adore finding a novel that I love and then finding that the world is so much larger and richer than originally anticipated. Being able to revisit a whole world again and again, finding new things each time is such a joy and one of the things I like the most about reading. But enough of me rattling on – onwards to a natter about my favourite series.

If you know me at all, in any capacity, you’ll know that I absolutely adore Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy (yes, I know – La Belle Sauvage, but for now, I want to talk about the original three novels). I came to them during my early teens, not long after the film came out – something I saw on a rewards trip from school and not knowing of the source material, actually rather liked the film. I was bought the books by my parents one Christmas, each of them bearing the same front cover from the films – albeit with a slightly different colour-way. I happily opened the first one that Christmas evening and fell wholly and entirely in love. Show me a child that read His Dark Materials and I’ll show you a child who dreamed of having their very own daemon. I longed to visit Oxford, Svalbard, I was as enraptured as Lyra with Mrs. Coulter and even Lord Asriel. I came to believe wholeheartedly in Lyra’s world of daemons and dust – so wholeheartedly that when little Tony Makarios has his daemon torn from him and is found by Lyra, clutching miserably at a piece of dried fish as a placeholder, it felt as though someone had reached inside me and twisted at my heart. I could wax lyrical about this series for hours on end – how I read it as a child and appreciated it for the wonderful, enthralling story it told, and then read it again and again as an adult and I’ve always found something new amongst its pages. I’ve begun my own collection of different editions of Northern Lights, the book that sparked my love affair with Pullman and his world, always popping into charity shops to snag a new edition if there’s one around. My first copy is now dog-eared and the cover clinging on by a thread, but I shall never get rid of it – it was my first doorway into Lyra’s world and I never want to lose that key. I loved The Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass for different reasons (perhaps another, future post) but I’ve rattled on enough for now about HDM!

A Series of Unfortunate Events was one of those series where I saw the books again and again in Borders and never picked them up. Something about the covers put me off – they didn’t seem like something I’d enjoy. However, whenever me and my parents went to York of a weekend, we had a tradition where both my mum and dad would pick out a book from Borders for me to read and choose between. My dad always went for Carnegie medal winners, or great big books about dragons – the sort of thing I’d love now, but not so much then – sorry dad! Mum seemed to err more towards things like The Princess Diaries and my eleven year old self responded better to those. However, one time, dad handed me a copy of The Bad Beginning and it might perhaps be cliche to say, but from then on, I was hooked. Something about the writing – the dark humour and the fascinating words that Snicket managed to explain to his readers without ever being condescending. For a very long time, I was desperate to work ‘ersatz’ into a conversation – its an ongoing goal if I’m honest, and I’m yet to succeed! I loved the epigraphs that spoke of a mysterious Beatrice and the sheer folly of Olaf against the ingenuity of the Baudelaire children, the frustration of needing to know right now what V.F.D. stood for and perhaps especially, the glorious mystery of it all. I don’t think I’ve read a series since with so many books, with such a tangled and ultimately ingenious plot. All thirteen hardback volumes sit proudly on my shelves – they’re not ones that I reread, but they’ll always have a place in my heart, reminiscent of the year that I went back to Borders again and again, week after week, just to pick up the next book in the series and then, and then the interminable wait between the Penultimate Peril and The End – and oh, what an ending!

Up next, Narnia! I have such an odd relationship with the Narnia series. I really enjoyed The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – couldn’t get enough of it! I even went to see the play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I daydreamed of being like Susan and imagined what it would be like to rule a kingdom and y’know, meeting a talking lion.. that would have been pretty cool. Anyway! I enjoyed the first one, so naturally, it was assumed that my enjoyment would linger on to the remaining books in the series. I read the second novel, The Horse and His Boy and to be honest, I don’t remember an awful lot about it – it probably says a great deal that, when double checking the wikipedia page for the running order of the books, very few of them I actually remember. I definitely remember owning the box-set of all the books, but I donated them to charity some time ago, and I don’t own a copy of any of them now. I’d be very much interested to reread them again and see if my apathy still extends to the rest of the series, or if twelve year old me didn’t know a good thing when she read it!

So. That was the quickest of quick glimpses at three series that have played a part in my life. I hope you enjoyed!

I’m currently reading quite a bit of non-fiction for a change – I’m on Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain 1974-1979 by Dominic Sandbrook at the moment. It’s a very long one, but it brings the 1970s into sharp relief and covers lots of ground, from culture to politics!

currently reading –

In my last post, I talked about a few of the titles that have been lingering on my TBR for a while, so this week I thought I’d better talk about a few of the things I’ve actually read and finished lately! I’m one of those terrible people who reads about fifty things at once and finish absolutely none of them – I frustrate myself by doing this, let alone other people! I’m always that person who’s like “oh yeah I started that one..” and then for no reason whatsoever, I just never pick the book up again. I’ve frustrated myself endlessly by putting down The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book, and reminds me at turns of Lanny, but for some reason, I put it down one day and am yet pick it back up again. However, this is not a post about my reading regrets, but instead about things that I’ve either finished lately, or ones I’m currently reading.

To begin with, I finished Things in Jars and absolutely adored it! I’m hoping desperately that it will be turned into a series, as it left me with so many questions and I’d love to see more of Bridie Devine solving crimes in 1800s London. She really is one of those characters who sticks with you, so if you like crime novels, and kickass heroines, grab yourself a copy, STAT!

I don’t read a lot of picture books, oddly enough, but there are some gorgeous ones out there now – ones that I would surely have devoured as a child – and as an adult I’m always slightly jealous of those who get to discover them for the first time. Throwing all expectations out of the window however, I received a copy of the gorgeous Everest by Joe Todd-Stanton from the fab people at Bloomsbury Kids. I finished it last night, and it really is so, so cute! It tells the story of the life of intrepid explorer Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a respected Tibetan Sherpa as they fight to reach the ‘roof of the world’ – Everest. Published in time to celebrate the centenary of Hillary’s birth, it follows both he and Tenzing on their ascent of Everest, but also looks at their lives before and after and what their legacies are today. It really is fantastic, and a great introduction for children (and adults!) on the lives of these two amazing explorers.

I’m also part way through Cape May by Chip Cheek and it really is wonderful. At times it’s so evocative of F. Scott Fitzgerald and those halcyon summers he describes so vividly that I occasionally feel I’ve stumbled upon another Fitzgerald novel. I’ve read this one during our unseasonal Easter heatwave and that truly seemed to add something to the experience. One gets the sense that there is so much unsaid lurking below the surface in this novel, a grenade about to explode. I’ve not finished this one yet, but I’m not far off!

Slowly but surely I’m also finishing off Erebus by Michael Palin. I was lucky enough to meet him last weekend (a total gent!) where he talked about the book and his inspiration for it. It’s another top adventure yarn, but with a good chunk of mystery throughout as we are guided through the journeys of two sister ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Erebus and her crew were lost during the fateful last voyage of Captain Sir John Franklin wherein he had hoped to finally map the last un-navigated section of the Northwest Passage. Palin uses the historical evidence available to him in an attempt to piece together exactly what happened to the ships and their crew. Though this is a true story, and is therefore a history book, it’s engaging, interesting and never feels dull.

I’ve picked up a couple of other bits and bobs this week. My favourite has to be a copy of Darwin: An Exceptional Voyage that I picked up on bank holiday Monday. Having enjoyed Everest so much, I found myself drawn to the kids books in Travelling Man (of all places) and I had a flick through. I picked up the Darwin book and immediately started cooing over the lovely illustrations, whereupon my boyfriend advised that I just buy it – and because I have no self control, regardless of a reading list a mile long, I did. I’ve not started it yet, but its pretty high up on my reading list – it might be one that I save for bedtimes. I also picked up another graphic novel, Batman: White Knight and I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the upcoming non-fiction book about Harper Lee – Furious Hours. I’m endlessly intrigued by true crime and this covers something I’d never heard about before, so keep an eye out for my review of that one too!

to read –

For my second post, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my TBR stack. It’s a pile that grows ever bigger with each passing day, for a variety of reasons. Working in a bookshop is like being a child in a sweetshop – there are always more books to read and be excited by.. and then purchase. I’m also lucky enough to get to know about books before they’re published, and occasionally, I’m sent things to review (partly why I began this blog so that I might better marshal my thoughts – I will fully admit that I am occasionally terrible at remembering to review things in detail).

I always manage to stumble across a bookshop wherever I go. I’ve travelled to Amsterdam and Brussels and somehow managed to pinpoint their branches of Waterstones without even trying! I love a secondhand bookshop too, and I always find myself drawn to them, lured by that gorgeous smell of old pages. The best sorts of days out will often consist of more than one bookshop, even if it is just to browse. London is one of my most beloved cities, not least for its plethora of places where one can immerse oneself in a book – from Foyles at Charing Cross, to Persephone Books and the London Review, there’s always somewhere new and delightful waiting to be discovered.

My most recent acquisitions are two novels from Colin Dexter’s Morse series, bought from a wonderful shop in Scarborough for a paltry £2.50 each – a total steal. Now, I didn’t come to Morse as many did with John Thaw, but instead with Shaun Evans as Endeavour. I absolutely loved his portrayal of the character and simply had to know more about him. After the mild disappointment in realising that there were no tie in novels for the series that I had watched, I was lifted once more by the knowledge that there were many instead which focused on Morse as an older, more grizzled detective. The two I bought this past weekend are the smaller, older editions with black covers and I find that I prefer them to the glitzy golden spines of the newer editions (of which I have one, where the gold is already beginning to peel off..). I’m very much excited to read more of Endeavour’s adventures.

Also lurking near the top of my list is Where the Crawdads Sing, a book very kindly sent to me by the publishers. My colleague Louisa read this one and absolutely raved about it, so its pretty high up on my list. I received this one at the same time as two others that I’d been hoping for, Lanny by Max Porter and The Road to Grantchester by James Runcie. I’ve read Lanny and absolutely loved it – it’s a gorgeous book, about nature and change, and what it is to be different. Much like my beloved Secret Garden, nature takes the fore in Porter’s second novel, but he retains that same sense of wonder and mystery that so imbibed his first book. The Grantchester novels too, are ones that I like to dip into every now and again. They fulfil my need for crime fiction whilst simultaneously being rather cosy – but not too cosy!

I’ve also got a couple of other books waiting patiently on my bedside table; V.E. Schwab’s The Near Witch and Bridgid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely have happily filled the SF/YA fantasy hole in my bookshelf, along with Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice. Now, this last I tried reading a few weeks ago, just before bed and I think it wasn’t quite the right time for me to begin it because it did not grip me at all. I’m not sure if my expectations are entirely too high for this one, I’ve heard so many good things about it and I was expecting to adore it from the very first chapter. I didn’t connect with it immediately so I might leave this one for a while before I try again.

Also among my TBR is Wakenhyrst, the graphic novel of The Handmaid’s Tale and a very intriguing proof called Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance that I picked up when I popped into work today – and was kindly sent my way by PanMac. This one is billed as perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant, the breakout novel of 2018, so I’m very interested in this one. I don’t tend to read a lot of ‘feel good’ fiction (not sure what that says about me..) so it should be a nice departure from crime/general fiction. There’s also a few history books that have been loitering for too long on my list, but I’m mostly excited for The Longest Day, published by Carlton Books – a vivid description of D-Day published to coincide with its 75th anniversary, this one contains many evocative photographs and images that all enhance the telling of the story of the crucial 24 hours, from both sides.

If I listed everything on my TBR, I’d be here until next year (!) but there’s a quick list here below to give you a glimpse of how varied, or alternately how out of control my collection is!

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  • Unnatural Causes – Richard Shepherd
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • Blood and Sugar – Laura Shepherd-Robinson
  • Walt Disney: The Biography – Neal Gabler
  • Monty Python at Work – Michael Palin
  • Rival Queens – Kate Williams
  • The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Steve Brusatte

Of course, my list of things I’d like to read and don’t yet actually own is a whole different kettle of fish, and perhaps something I’ll look at in a future post.

meet the blogger –

So. There are plenty of book blogs around, and this is just another one to add to the burgeoning collection. This one is a way for me to collect what I read throughout the year. I will readily admit that I have tried to do this before (much like writing a diary) and began with the best of intentions, only to abandon it not long after beginning it. However, much of my job is about books, and reviewing them. I’m ok-ish at reviewing things on social media, but I’m hoping this will encourage me to write a little more than just a few sentences about the things I read.

The name for this blog comes from one of my All Time Favourite books, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I read it for the first time a very long time ago, in a thin Wordsworth classics edition (you know the ones, they’re about £2.50 each – they’re black now with slightly odd cover art but they used to have cool covers) and from then on, its been one I always come back to. The descriptions of the Yorkshire moors and the large, draughty Misselthwaite Manor seemed to light something inside of me – I read eagerly onwards as Colin was discovered and then the garden, watched it thrive under the hands of Dickon and Mary and be rediscovered by Mr. Craven. Something about the redemption of Mary and the way in which Mr. Craven found himself at peace at the end of the book – I loved all the different facets of each of the characters. From Mary’s selfishness at the beginning of the novel, Dickon and Martha’s no nonsense, so clearly Yorkshire attitude.

Starting as I mean to go on – I’ve got a few things on the go at the moment, they’re all pretty different as I like to try and read as widely as I can.

I shall begin with the one I have at my elbow at the moment Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield. The record of a housewife in the 1920s, I was expecting it to be something of a dry classic, but instead I found an unbridled amusement within its pages – originally published in the 1930s, there is still something so fresh and modern about our narrator – she is eminently relatable (“Feel that life is wholly unendurable, and decide to buy a new hat” – replace hat with book, and you’ve got me to a tee). It reminds me somewhat of The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford. There is that similar sort of dry humour. I’m not too far into this one, but its one that is nice to dip in and out of as its a diary and not a novel of continuous prose.

Alongside this, I’m also flicking through Monty Python Speaks! – a look at the creation of Monty Python and their flying circus among other things. They’re one of my favourite comedy troupes and this is a fab look at their most famous creations, but it also looks at the way they worked together and its cool to get a behind the scenes glimpse of what went in to the sketches and films that so many of us know so well.

The one book I’ve decided to focus on this month however, is Things in Jars by Jess Kidd. I’m not too far through it yet, but I absolutely adore it! It has all the things I love in a good book – a historical setting, a mystery, and lots of kickass characters (and some funny ones too). The book follows Bridie Devine a most excellent lady detective in 1800s London. She must solve the kidnapping of Christabel, a child most unlike any other, with some help from a few supernatural pals. Along the way, she meets fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and even more crooked showmen. It’s an absolutely top adventure of a book, and Bridie is fabulous. The prose in this novel is gorgeous, so many sentences have made me pause and reread, better to appreciate them. There are hints sprinkled through the novel that there is something in her past that she is trying to escape, but we never quite find out what that is. I’m certainly hoping for a sequel!

I’m hoping too that I manage to keep atop this blog – so here’s to my next post in the not too distant future!