Friday, 27 December 2013

November & December reads

1. Paper Towns was my fourth John Green read of 2013.  It's the tale of high school senior Quentin (Q) and his obsession with solving the mystery of his childhood friend Margo's disappearance. As with most Green novels, it deals with life in suburban America and how it feeds adolescent alientation, and if that all sounds a bit wanky, it really isn't. Q and his two best friends are winning and engaging characters, and their quest becomes tense and engrossing.

2. If it's Christmas, one must re-read A Christmas Carol!

3. Comfort & Joy was another seasonal re-read. India Knight's novel shows us three Christmasses in the life of Clara - the protagonist of her debut novel, My Life On A Plate and this year's Mutton. It is, like it's title, a comforting read and an utter joy.

4. & 5. Let It Snow and Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares are pure festive escapism. The former is a collection of three linked, long-short stories (around 100 pages per story, each by a different writer) set during a Christmas snowstorm in a small town in North Carolina. Cheesy YA romance, yes, but lovely to read while curled up by the fire while Monday's storm raged outside. The latter is a book I've read over and over again, but love each time. Set over the Christmas period in New York, Dash and Lily communicate via a book of dares, getting to know one another through the notes they leave and edging closer to meeting and falling... in love?

6. I'd heard of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce novels, which are a pastiche of the Golden Age of crime books by writers such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, but never read one before. I Am Half Sick Of Shadows was set at Christmas, hence the appeal, and I absolutely loved Flavia, the 11 year-old, poison-obsessed heroine. I'll definitely be on the look out for others in the series.

7. Although this post makes it look like I read a lot over two months, in reality most of November was spent reading A Storm Of Swords: Blood & Gold, while I then raced through book after book in December (especially once school finished).  The second part of the third Game of Thrones book, it was an amazing read and well worth devoting all that time to. 

8. I was also slowly working my way through Reclaiming The F Word, a very readable treatise on the new feminist movement.  Published three years ago, the authors rightly predicted the enormous impact the then-burgeoning internet campaigns would have on feminism.

9. Girl On The Net was a cheap 99p download, based on the blog of the same name.  I'm enjoying it so far (although warning: it's utter filth!).

10. At the time of writing, I'm still reading this and number 11.  After a somewhat slow start, I've once again been entirely sucked into the world of Westeros.  What on earth will I do with my time when I finally get to the end of the series?

11. Although I've not quite finished Longbourn, it is definitely in the running for my book of 2013.  This beautiful novel is based on Pride & Prejudice, but written from the servants' perspective.  So, although Elizabeth Bennett, Darcy and the rest appear, they are merely background characters, while taking centre stage is Sarah, the Bennett's maid, whose world is turned upside down with the arrival of a new footman at Longbourn.  Wonderfully written, with the kind of prose you can luxuriate in.  I cannot recommend it enough.


  1. I found a Feast for Crows hard going after Storm of Swords, possibly Westeros overdose. Once I'd had a wee break, got it knocked off and onto A Dance with Dragons - much better......

    1. I've raced through A Feast For Crows, but I think that's because I've been on holiday and so been able to sit and read for long periods.

  2. Really must get on and read the rest of George RR Martin's books. I feel I have to devote so much time to them, and there are so many other books I want to read. But I know once I start I'll get hooked...

    Longbourn is on my 'to read' list, will definitely get round to it soon, I've heard lots of good things about it :)

    1. Longbourn is SO good, you must read it and let me know what you think!

  3. I only discovered the existence of Longbourn yesterday - as a Pride and Prejudice devotee I'm sad that it took so long! It has jumped to the top of my to-read list!

    Coming to the end of the published ASOIAF books is hard, and withdrawal is tough, but you'll get through it :)