Hello! Yes, it’s been a long time, I’ve been working hard lately and just haven’t had the energy to write up posts, despite having tons of ideas in my head. Though it’s the first of the month and I just had to make sure my August Reads went up!
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
This book arrived after BooktubeAThon ended but before I left for Ireland, so I read after before I left and the rest when I returned. It follows on from the first book, which sees Marjane leave Iran and her parents to go to Austria to study. We see Marjane adapting to a new culture, growing up and developing who she is and all the struggles she goes through. I felt the book was a lot darker than the first one but I still enjoyed it, I love the illustrations and Marjane’s voice throughout the book. I think both books are well the read and I definitely recommend them.
How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
This book was on my 2014 Watchlist because I liked the sound of Moran doing a YA book. It tells the story of 14 year old Johanna who lives with her family in a housing estate in Wolverhampton. Her father is disabled, surviving on benefits and still dreaming of becoming a big time musician. The family are pretty poor and after Johanna says something about her family’s benefits to the wrong person, she spends the summer constantly worrying that they’ll be cut. Desperate to try make some money for her family, she enters a writing contest and wins. From there she decides to become a music journalist and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde in the hopes of snagging her dream job.
On the positive side of things, I like that Moran isn’t afraid to talk about taboo issues like masturbation, poverty and UTIs. And even though the whole story is VERY similar to Moran’s own teenage and young adult life, I didn’t quite mind that. I think it made things seem a little realer, coming from someone who really knew what those experiences were like. The only thing that didn’t click with me believing I was hearing Johanna/Dolly talk and not Moran. There were just certain times where the voice just seemed too much like Moran talking and not Johanna. I do think this might be best for teenagers who are working out what they want to be as it does make you realise that sometimes you have to try on lots of different things personality wise until you find what’s right for you and that’s ok.
Disiraeli Avenue by Caroline Smailes
I wrote about this more in depth here but this is a novella about the residents of Disraeli Avenue in Newcastle. Each chapter tells a different story about the resident and all chapters are written in different ways. Some in text speak, some in diary form, some like a chat. It’s a great quick read if you’re interested in how the lives of others living near each other overlap and how sometimes big secrets can be kept around those same people.
The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan
Kathleen Eaden was a cookery writer and the wife of George Eaden, who built up a supermarket empire. The Art of Baking was Kathleen’s biggest selling book and is used by generations of women. After her death, Eaden’s Supermarkets decides to hunt for the new Mrs. Eaden, a woman who will become the face of the supermarket and hold a baking contest. This brings together 5 very different people. Jenny, the older woman, struggling since her adult children have left home and becoming more distant from her husband; Claire, the single parent struggling to make ends meet, who put her dreams on hold after falling pregnant as a teenager; Vicki, who should be thrilled at being a stay at home mum to her young son but secretly doesn’t think it’s all it’s cracked up to be; Karen, 40 something year old obsessed with keeping hold of all she’s built up over the years, in fears of finding herself back where she began; and Mike, recently made a widower with 2 young children and trying to figure it all out. The chapters focus on the 4 women and the voice of Kathleen in the Sixties. All of them have their struggles and I honestly couldn’t chose who I wanted to win the competition. It would probably be very easy to dismiss this as chick lit but it’s definitely not. While some of the endings could have done with a bit more narration, I loved all the stories and I cried in certain parts of the book. If you like The Great British Bake Off then you’ll probably enjoy this!
The Antiques Magpie by Marc Allum
Another book I started during BookTubeAThon but didn’t get around to finishing until this month. After reading The Science Magpie, I bought this book and The Nature Magpie on Kindle when they were on offer. And then forgot about them. After reading The Kitchen Magpie, I decided to give this a go.
Now, I know nothing about antiques and while there are probably some facts in here that antique buffs would appreciate more than I did, I did still enjoy this book. I like learning about things I don’t know much about and the Magpie Series of books is perfect for that kind of thing. It’s full of short little stories and tales, sometimes even just a paragraph or two, and it’s great to dip in and out of. Once again, I also love the cover!
Lost, Stolen or Shredded by Rick Gekoski
I’ve wanted to read this book by Gekoski for a long time, the end of last year, after hearing him talk about it on a Guardian Books Podcast. Each chapter centres around something in the art world that has, you guessed it, been lost, stolen or destroyed. It starts off with the theft of the Mona Lisa, which tied in nicely with the Stuff You Should Know podcast on The Louvre. There’s a chapter on the lost poem from a 9 year old James Joyce called Et Tu, Healy, in which no copy has surfaced so far and is lost to time, one of Graham Sutherland’s infamous portrait of Winston Churchill, the burning of Byron’s memoirs and forger and murder Mark Hoffman. He brings up questions like should material be destroyed, if requested, after death and should countries keep works of art they have stolen or should they be returned to their country of origin. I think I preferred the first half of the book, each chapter was a lot more specific, whereas towards the end the chapters felt more general or vague, like the cradle of civilisation (art from Iraq) and the ransacking of Africa over the years. I did like the questions Gekoski posed and liked how he didn’t seem to come down on either side, as they are not black and white issues. I do think it’s a good read, especially if you’re an art lover.
Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
Yes, another Satrapi book! This one is pretty short though, I read it in under an hour. It tells the story of Iranian women gathering for tea in the afternoon and all the stories they have to tell, mainly about love, marriage and sex. I felt like I was there in the room with them and could imagine them drinking tea, gossiping and giving advice. There’s a great quote from Satrapi’s grandmother that says ‘To speak behind others’ back is the ventilator of the heart’. I’d suggest reading Persepolis first and if you enjoy that, then you’ll probably like this too. And if you think you know what embroideries means, think again!
Because I Said So! The Truth Behind Myths, Tales, and Warnings that Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids by Ken Jennings
You’ve probably heard a bunch of these before like ‘if you cross your eyes they’ll stay like that’ or ‘If you swallow gum, it can stick to your guts’. In this book, Jennings goes through some of these myths and sayings and proves them right or wrong, often using news items, journals and reports to back up points. It’s another book you can dip in and out of and while I did find it interesting at parts, towards the end it started to lose my interesting, though maybe that’s because I knew the answer to a lot of the questions. An ideal book for reading in small chunks as a palette cleanser before diving into your next book.
The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn
I chose to read this book because Sharon over at Behind Green Eyes recommended it to me and I trust Sharon’s judgement! I got this book on NetGalley so I’m going to write a post soon for it but to give you a brief description. Danny has always lived in the shadow of his twin brother Sam and despite being really close, they are opposites. On top of this, Danny is also gay and is sometimes teased. On their 17th birthday, Sam dies in a car crash and Danny must get to grips with his life without Sam. He moves school and almost straight away has to deal with being bullied for his sexuality. He does however also make a new friend, Cher, and falls for a cute boy, Rusty. It’s no secret I like YA but this is the first time I’ve read a YA novel that has a gay main character. It’s refreshing to have a different point of view, I feel like it made the story different from typical YA but at the same time it doesn’t stick out or distract either, it’s also just another typical YA novel about romance and coming of age. Does that make sense? I hope so! Parts of it reminded me of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. A very sweet novel.
And that’s it for August! I’m surprised I managed to read so much really, considering I’ve been so busy with work, but I did start 4 of these books in July! Plus Disraeli Avenue and Embroideries are so quick to read and I did finish The Before Now and After Then in less than a day, including work! But hopefully seeing that I’ve managed to read quite a bit will keep me on track for the coming months.
Number of books read- 9
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 4:5
Number of eBooks- 4 (Disraeli Avenue, The Antiques Magpie, The Before The and After Now, Because I Said So!)
Number of books borrowed from library- 1 (Persepolis 2, How to Build a Girl, The Art of Baking Blind, Lost, Stolen or Shredded, Embroideries)
Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 1 (Read more books from genres I don’t usually read)