***ONGOING***
The Little House Series Read-Along is happening throughout 2016! Join us for some or all of the books - find details here

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Stuff I've Read in 2016: Non-Fiction

So it's somehow June already, although the weather round here seems unsure of that, but anyway I just had my 29th birthday, which means we are definitely halfway through the year and I thought I'd like to do some posts about the awesome stuff I've been reading this year. Obviously though there's way too much to talk about in one post so I thought I'd do several separate posts divided up by subject and just talk about 3-5 titles in each genre that I've read and enjoyed and think you should read!

Before we go into this, you may have noticed that my title links all link to Wordery. I've been using them pretty much exclusively for online new book purchases for over a year and I love and adore them. They are independent, offer FREE worldwide shipping and have a brilliant selection. Prices are good too. I've recently become a Wordery affiliate, which just means that if you decide you want to buy a book I mention in this or another post and you do so through the link in the post or the little banner I have in my left hand sidebar, I will get a small commission and my grocery bill will love you forever. 



Kicking it off is a genre that I'm constantly striving to read more of; non-fiction. I do read loads more of this than I used to a few years back and I entirely blame Nonfiction November for that because the recs I've got through that event are just insane!

I read The Year of Living Danishly by Karen Russell way back at the beginning of the year after I bought it for Heather in last years Nonfiction book swap during Nonfiction November. Karen Russell moves to Denmark when her husband is offered a job at Lego (!!) and becomes fascinated by how Denmark is supposedly the happiest country in the world. The book goes through all the different things that supposedly make them happy and Karen Russell explores the truth behind it all and how it works. I have a little bit of a thing for Scandinavia and that part of the world really, and I just really enjoyed this book.

Most of my non-fiction so far this year has been memoir, and the second title I really liked was also my first audiobook, Shonda Rimes' Year of Yes. Shonda Rimes is a fantastic narrator and I'd massively recommend the audiobook. The book basically does what the title says and documents a year in which she vowed to say yes to things that pushed her outside of her comfort zone and which she would usually have automatically said no to, but it's also hilarious and because she's the lady she is (creator of Grey's Anatomy and several other popular TV shows) she gets to do some amazing stuff over the course of the book. Very interesting and well worth a read (or listen).

I Will Find You by Joanna Connors I've already talked about here several times but I couldn't pass up the chance to mention it again since it really is an incredible book. I've literally never read anything like it. Joanna Connors was raped as a young married woman and after many years she decides to try to find out more about her rapist; what drove him to do it and what he was like. The book is incredible and just read it read it read it.

Final pick is kind of a cheat since I'm in the middle of it but I'm pretty confident it's going to be on my best of 2016 lists and you should absolutely pick it up if you're interested in feminism or even just being an understanding, accepting person. If you know any teenage girls you should get it for them and it is Girl Up by Laura Bates, who you may (should) know from her previous book Everyday Sexism and The Everyday Sexism Project. This is the book I wish I had when I was a teenager. It's so unashamed and hilarious and straight up about every single thing from vaginas to sexual orientation to mental health. Plus it has helpful pictures and stuff which I love. I've giggled out loud while reading it and I'm sure I will giggle more before I reach the end. I think Rhys feels I should issue a rant warning with my recommendation though which is if you're like me and like to rant about stuff you've read, this will probably make you do that. Constantly. At your unsuspecting (and totally feminist) husband, who may then feel slightly attacked...Basically, this is probably the book your mum should have given you when you hit puberty instead of that one written by some middle aged doctor guy who had no idea what a teenage girl was.

And in case you need some more titles, here are some from my shelf that I'm really excited to read:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (both on my 20 Books of Summer List)
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott (not a memoir! Hooray for me!)
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (OK, back to memoir)
Watching the English by Kate Fox (also not a memoir!)

What great non-fiction have you read recently?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Make Me Read It Readathon - You Choose What I Read!

-are getting married! (3)

I've been seeing the Make Me Read it Readathon around twitter for a little while, but earlier today Karla of Reads and Thoughts tweeted me to vote on her choices for the readathon and reading about it it seemed like an awesome way to pick stuff to read!

The event is hosted by Ely of Tea & Titles and Val of The Innocent Smiley and runs from July 9th to July 16th and the idea is that we post a list of titles we'd like to read and then you, our lovely friends and readers vote for what you think we should read!

I think two or three titles is realistic for me during a weeklong readathon, so to make it interesting I've included ten titles in my poll, all of which are part of my 20 Books of Summer reading list.

So get going and vote away! I'll compile a list according to what gets the most votes and post it before the start of the readathon.



If you're doing the readathon I'd love it if you left your links in the comments so I can vote on your titles to!

Monday, 20 June 2016

#IBW2016 Book Tag!


You guys know how I feel about indies by now, right? I love them and I always miss Independent Booksellers Week because it's right around my birthday but this year that worked in my favour because Laura and I arranged to meet up and go book shopping in London on Saturday which was the first day of it this year, so I actually got to participate!

I've also seen loads of people doing the book tag for IBW and I always want to do book tags and never do sooooo... here we go! I'm going to do the tag and then in a few days I'll also post about our little bookshop crawl and my haul from that!

The tag was created by Will at Vintage Books and because I do not (yet) vlog, I got the questions from Jim of YaYeahYeah.

What book(s) are currently in your bag? 
I haven't unpacked my bag from the bookshop crawl yet so technically all the books, but the ones I'm actually reading are Negroland by Margo Jefferson, an autobiography about what it's was like to grow up as part of upper class black society in 20th century America, and Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pilcher which I know very little about except that lots of people loved it. I'm two pages in and it seems good so far!

What's the last great book you read? 
I had to check my spreadsheet for this and am kiiiind of cheating but only because I literally just finished Bitch Planet Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro and haven't quite figured out how I feel about it yet. I'm pretty sure I loved it but I'm still working it out in my head so it didn't feel fair to put it, after which the answer has to be I Will Find You by Joanna Connors, which I reviewed here and which was just so powerful and such an incredible reminder of what it means to be human.

What book have you gifted the most?
Hands down The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I've given this book to pretty much everyone I know and if you haven't read it and I haven't given you a copy let me know, because I will. The circus itself is the most beautiful place I have ever encountered, fictional or real, and the story is beautiful and magical and haunting and just my heart.

What's your favourite independent bookshop?
This is a three way tie: one representative from Kent and two from London. Firstly my absolutely favourite local indie is Oxford Street Books in Whitstable. It's a second hand bookshop and an absolute treasure trove. The guy who owns it is lovely and doesn't mind my kids running around the shop like the crazy people they are. He knows his stock inside out and the vast majority of the paperbacks are 95p. He also has a fantastic and reasonably priced selection of Folio editions and has been known to give the kids a free book when I'm buying loads. Pretty much my spiritual home, I adore it.

Heading towards London it's a tie between ever - awesome Foyles, which I love for its eclecticness (a word, definitely) and Persephone which is fantastic because the covers are all the same and they don't have blurbs and you really have nothing at all to go on besides how you feel about the excerpt in the front cover or how pretty the endpapers are, or just that the book is in a corner which feels particularly appealing to you that day... I got myself a copy of their catalogue when we were there on Saturday and I've been going through starring the stuff I want...

What's been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller (or a fellow Booktuber/book blogger?)
She is technically a bookseller as well as a blogger and friend, but my most recent favourite in this capacity would have to be The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers which was recommended to me (read: shoved into my hand) by Katie on the London Bookshop Crawl.

I do read stuff on other people's recommendation all the time though. At a glance through my book spreadsheet, recently this has included: Bitch Planet, I Will Find You, The Raven Cycle, Radio Silence and Saga. Some good stuff there!

What's your favourite indie bookshop memory?

I think I cite this one a lot, but as a kid we visited the now-defunct-but-replaced-with-an-ever-so-slightly-less-awesome-but-still-great-bookshop The Lion and the Unicorn in Richmond at the beginning of every summer holiday and were allowed to choose two brand new books each. I want to stress that as the eldest of seven kids in a family with a not huge income new books were a rare and glorious treat until I earned my own money, so I literally looked forward to this trip for the entire school year. We spent a good hour or two picking things up and putting them back and generally admiring the possibilities and I remember that shop as a magical, never to be forgotten cave of wonders.

What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?

I honestly don't even know how to answer this question. Bookshops are my happy place, my safe space, my realm of discovery and exploration. They're where I go to find out about new things, to rediscover old friends, and make new ones. In recent years particularly they've become a physical space in which to form friendships with real-world people - the books providing a buffer against the extreme social awkwardness and anxiety which overcome me whenever I have to talk to people I don't know. Bookshops are possibility. They're pretty much the best thing.

What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you?

Unless you have about a week to sit here and listen to me talking I don't think we have time for this!

Very briefly, without elongated reasoning:

Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte Sometimes, The Chalet School, The Treasure Seekers, Ballet Shoes, Apple Bough, The Growing Summer, Harry Potter, The Silver Sword, Treasures of the Snow, The Babysitters Club Series, Neverwhere, The Night Circus, To Kill a Mockingbird, Our Tragic UniverseAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle, Wild and everything by Rainbow Rowell.  

What book do you recommend readers gift for Fathers Day?
OK so because I'm doing this late Fathers Day is already done but in case you're late, any of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. He's stood me and my dad in good stead for a lot of years now.

What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?
I have no real TBR at the moment - the things I most want to read I'm already reading! I do very much want to get to Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor soon though.

If you haven't done this tag and want to then I tag you to do it! Particularly want to know answers from Katie, Laura, Hanna, Ellie, Charlotte and all my Ninja Book Swap friends!

All titles go to Wordery and are affiliate so I'll receive a small commision. They're independent though, so totally in the spirit of this post! Plus they have free worldwide postage and are generally excellent.

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Best Books for Summer

It's patchily warm here on the coast of the UK, but June 1st has passed and stuff in the garden is growing and various sporting tournaments are imminently upon us, and therefore it is summer. Last week I listed the books I plan to read this summer, but then I thought of you, my dear blog readers, and wondered, what if you were stuck for summer reading ideas? And so I thought I would post a helpful list of some of my favourite summery books.

These aren't necessarily books set during the summer (although some are), or ones which feature on 'books to put in your beach bag' type lists (although again, some are), but just books which are for whatever reason linked with summer in my head. If we were playing word association with books and you said 'summer' I would reply with some or all of these titles. And with that slightly weird and clunky analogy, we're off!


Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Excellent because it's actually set at the beach. The story of a fairly dysfunctional family's summer at their beach house and the way that all of their personal tragedies intertwine and relate to each other. Heavy subjects make for light reading, and this book is compulsive and gorgeous. 

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

This book just screams summer to me. All those days spent running around the countryside having adventures! Roberta, Phyllis (who 'meant extremely well' - my favourite description of a character in literature, ever), and Peter move to the countryside with their mother after an unspeakable thing happens and their father has to go away suddenly. There, they live by a railway and become 'the railway children', timing their days around the various trains that they wave to and ask to 'take their love to father'. Watch the original movie version with Bernard Cribbins as Perks and Jenny Agutter as Bobby (Daddy! My Daddy!). The Treasure Seekers fits the same brief. 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

This is probably the summeriest book I own, full of sunlight and food and mystery and romance. At its heart it's a love story, all about two sisters finding their roots and learning to be a family. All of Sarah Addison Allen's books are great but this one is the most remeniscent of summer. 

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

What's better in summer than dreaming (and reading!) about all the bookshops you could potentially visit? This excellent book details more than a hundred books worldwide. Plan a visit! 

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

The Chocolat trilogy are some of my favourite books of all time. This one introduces Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk when they move to a small town in rural France to open a chocolaterie opposite a church during Lent. The local Catholic priest immediately decides Vianne is pretty much the devil and various people in the town take it upon themselves to try and drive her out. Thankfully she also has a staunch and unforgettable cast of characters on her side, and the magic of her creations, as well as the magic of Vianne herself is a gorgeous and immersive way to spend the summer. 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

This is pretty much the quintessential summer book from what I remember about it, which I will admit is not a huge amount besides that is's a super sweet love story, Lola is awesome, and I really liked how Anna and Etienne, the couple from the first book in the 'series' were intertwined into the story. I'm re-reading it this summer. 

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien

Starts in summer and I always used to re-read it starting on the first day of the school summer holidays. Six weeks of entire freedom seemed like the time for question to Mordor to save the world, really. Also nothing is more summery than Rivendell, and having six meals a day, Hobbit style!

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald in general always seems very summer to me, probably because I never studied his books, and he was one of the few classic authors I discovered on my own and really loved as a teen. Also his rich, nothing much to do all day characters give off that relaxed summer vibe. Gatsby gets enough recognition, but I prefer this. It starts at the beach, and is really about Scott and Zelda themselves...

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

If you've been around these parts for a while then you'll know all about my undying love for this book. Summer is a season of discovery and possibility and what better but a book about setting out on a long and difficult journey of discovery? 

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Probably one of my favourite road trip books, this actually gave me butterflies. Amy and her mum are moving across the country, and Amy has been left behind to bring the car. Since the accident her dad died in she is too nervous to get behind the wheel though, so help is enlisted in the form of Roger, the son of a family friend. Each chapter has a playlist, which is what you want from a summer book, really. Re-reading this one too! 

I could go on and on but I won't. Hopefully there will be something for everyone on this list! What are your favourite summery books?

*Titles link to Wordery.com. All links are affiliate meaning I will earn a small commission should you buy anything! Thanks!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Currently: Mini Breaks, Book Swaps & Ridiculous Weather

I haven't done a Currently weekly wrap up post for a really long time, but there's quite a lot going on at the moment and I thought it would be nice to get my head round everything and tell all of you about it all at the same time,s o here goes!

Reading Most importantly, of course! I'm in the middle of several things. I signed up for 20 Books of Summer this week and I predictably then kicked June off by reading two books that weren't on that list! I started and finished Remix by Non Pratt in one day. It's a pretty enjoyable YA about two girls and a music festival and was a fun, quick read. I'm also reading The Road to Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead which has been hovering around my wishlist for a while and then picked up last weekend on a trip to Bath. It's all about (shocker) George Eliot and Middlemarch and is really interesting so far. I'm also reading and loving The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer which is a little bit Secret History-esque kind of story about a group of people who became friends as teenagers and then what happens to them as their lives go on.


Blogging Loads actually! Besides my list for 20 Books of Summer I also posted about the Middlemarch readalong I'm hosting later this month, and a list of my Top Ten Persephone Titles as inpsiration for people thinking about signing up for the Persephone Book Swap!



Loving We spent last weekend on a last minute mini break in Wiltshire. We stayed in a hotel by the canal in Devizes and over three days we did a little recon trip to Bath ahead of the bookshop crawl, visited Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Caen Hill Locks, a system of 29 locks going down a massive hill. Super beautiful countryside and it was just really nice to have a few days away from everything to actually spend time together - ordinarily what with work and taking care of the boys Rhys and I get one day together a week, if that so having a few days with nothing to do but explore and eat out and sleep was awesome.

Me and Rhys, taken by Ben (age 3) all on his own!
Anticipating I'm super excited about both of the Summer Mini Ninja Book Swaps. We're running one specifically for Persephone Books and one for normal wishlists. You just send one book and say hi and it's going to be really fun! I love Persephone's titles and am really excited to find out what my person will pick from my shortlist. We're also seeing Book of Mormon in a couple of weeks as my sister bought me tickets for my birthday and I am so excited! Oh, plus I get to go book shopping in London with Laura that weekend too, which is always great.

Exercising I'm back into the running this week and training hard(ish) for Race for Life. It's been really difficult to stay motivated, but I'm finding listening to audiobook memoirs is really helping - I just started Felicia Day's You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) and it's hilarious and really helps distract me from the pain and inability to breathe. Laura and I are running it together in July and would super appreciate any motivation in the form of sponsorship you can give me. It's for Cancer Research, and any amount no matter how small will help.

So I'm sure I've missed some stuff, but that was mostly my week! How was yours? Are you doing Ninja Swap?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

My Top Ten Persephone Titles

Hi guys, it's another Saturday but I haven't got a feature ready for Make Mine an Indie. As some of you may know, though, sign up is currently open for two mini book swaps, one of which is just buying each other books from your standard wishlist, but the other of which, for the first time ever, is publisher specific.


During the London Bookshop Crawl in February we visited Persephone Books and although it wasn't my first visit, it did massively inspire me to use this summer swap as a chance for people to develop their collections of Persephone's beautiful books (or to be introduced to them for the first time!). In case you don't know, Persephone specialise in publishing out of print or forgotten writers, mainly women, mainly from the between the wars period. All of their books are published with beautiful grey covers and gorgeous endpapers featuring designs from the year that the book was originally published.

For the Persephone specific swap participants must make a shortlist of four titles they'd most like to be gifted, and everyone so far has agreed that it's pretty difficult to narrow it down to four! In aid of this, here's my list of ten, some of which I've read and loved, some of which I own but haven't read yet, and some that I am lusting after! I hope you find it helpful, and wherever you are you can sign up for the book swap (either or both!) here.

1. They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple
I bought this after great recommendation from Lydia at Persephone Books during the Bookshop Crawl and I was not disappointed. See my review here for my thoughts on this beautiful, slightly sad novel about three sisters and the very different trajectories their lives take.

2. Saplings by Noel Streatfeild
This was the first Persephone I ever read (although not the first I owned) during my year of reading Noel Streatfeild. It's great but a very weird read if you're familiar with Streatfield's other work, because she goes merrily along in her usual, child friendly style, and then suddenly starts talking about sex. It's a little disconcerting.

3. To Bed with Grand Music by Marganita Laski
I picked this out on my first ever trip to the bookshop with Katie back in 2015 based purely on the eye catching endpapers and was not disappointed. It's about Deborah, a discontented housewife, who moves to London while her husband is away during the war, leaving her child with the housekeeper in the country, and everything that happens after that.

4. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
You'll probably have heard of Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author of a little book called The Secret Garden (and also A Little Princess), but I'm excited to read another of her books, and one which was written for adults. I picked this up on the same trip as To Bed with Grand Music and it's compelling so far.

5. Miss Buncle's Book by D.E Stephenson
Another one I really want to read. Miss Buncle, an unmarried woman living in a small town, tries to supplement her income by writing a book about the town she lives in. It sounds really fun.

6. Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson
One of my favourite things about Persephone as a publisher is the diversity of their books, and this is a good example of that. This is the war diaries of Vere Hodgson, where she chronicles how her life changed during the Blitz and after. I'm really interested in second world war literature and this sounds fascinating to me.

7. William - An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton
This is the first book that Persephone published and at least four people have recommended it to me since the bookshop crawl. It's again a novel about war from the perspective of a normal couple and it sounds excellent.

8. The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay - Holding
This is a thriller, a genre I don't usually go for, but I found it in a charity shop a few years back and because it's Persephone I picked it up. It's about a woman whose husband is away fighting in the war, and who is implicated in the murder of her daughter's boyfriend. Sounds great!

9. It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty by Judith Viorst
Persephone also publish some of Viorst's other work, and this is poetry, just to continue showing the diversity of the books that they publish. Check out the link above for an example of her work!

10. Reuben Sachs by Amy Levy
A lot of people have put this on their wishlist for the swap so I was intrigued to find out about it. It was written partly as a reaction to George Eliot's Daniel Deronda and is about a couple in the Anglo-Jewish community in Bayswater who love each other, but her poverty would inhibit his political ambitions.

I hope I've done a good job of convincing those who didn't know of the wealth of subjects and genres covered by Persephone! If you've not signed up for the swap yet you really should, particularly if you're interested in reading more books by female authors. I've literally never heard anyone say a bad thing about a Persephone book, and I've never had a bad experience with one myself.

Once again, sign up for the Persephone swap or the Original Swap here until June 11th and check out the rest of Persephone's brilliant catalogue on their website.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Eliot-Along! - Read Middlemarch with Me during June and July!

Hi guys! So last year I abandoned my ill-fated Dickens in December readalongs after the catastrophe that was the attempt to read The Pickwick Papers (ugh that book!), but the success of our Little House Read-Along this year inspired me to try again with the classics. While in Bath a while ago I picked up a copy of Rebecca Mead's The Road to Middlemarch, which is basically about her experience reading and re-reading Middlemarch over many years and how it related to her life, and it inspired me to actually finally read this thing! It also ties in well with the Classics Club Year of Reading Women and I'm hoping to recruit a few of you to join me so we can motivate each other!


Middlemarch is divided into eight books, but I decided eight weeks was too long to spread it over, and two books a week would be too much reading, so instead I've divided it into six parts of 14 chapters (ish) per week. We're going to start on June 27th and run until the week ending August 7th and use #EliotAlong on twitter, as well as #readwomen and #ccwomenclassics if you want!

Please feel free to share the graphic around or make your own (making sure it links back to this post please!) and link up below with your blog post about the readalong or your tweet expressing your intention to participate! I'm using my Penguin Popular Classics edition, but hopefully the chapters will line up with other editions!

Here's the schedule:

June 27th - July 3rd - Chapter 1 - end of 14 (or all of Miss Brooke and the first two chapters of Old and Young)

July 4th - 10th - Chapter 15 - end of 28 (or the rest of Old and Young and six chapters of Waiting for Death)

July 11th - 17th - Chapter 29 -end of 42 (the rest of Waiting for Death and all of Three Love Problems)

July 18th - 24th - Chapter 43 - end of 56 (all of The Dead Hand and the first three chapters of The Widow and the Wife) 

July 25th - 31st - Chapter 57 - end of 70 (the rest of The Widow and the Wife and eight chapters of Two Temptations) 

August 1st - 7th - Chapter 71 - End

I hope that's clear to everyone! I'll be posting about that week's chapters on a Monday and possibly putting in some questions to help guide you. Please link up below to help motivate me!