#BookReview: Last Seen by @lucyclarkebooks + guest post about beach hutting! @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for Lucy Clarke’s brilliant new novel, Last Seen! I’m sharing my review with you later in this post but first a wonderful guest post, with some gorgeous photos, from Lucy herself!

 

LUCY CLARKE ON BEACH HUTTING

Lucy Clarke has grown up spending her summers in a beach hut. The stretch of beach where her family hut stands became the inspiration behind the setting in LAST SEEN. Here she shares some insights and photos about beach hut life.

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The setting for LAST SEEN was closely inspired by the summers I’ve spent in a beach hut. Our family have owned a hut since I was eight years old, and the friends I made during those first few summers are still – twenty-five years on – some of my closest friends. We grew up crashing through waves on body boards, or playing cards huddled in someone’s hut as the rain lashed down. I actually met my husband at the beach; his family owned the hut next door and I used to moon around on the shoreline watching him windsurf!

Now that many of us have children of our own, a new generation of little sandy-toed urchins are being introduced to the beach. Sharing a hut with our 2.5 year-old and a 9 month-old, has its own challenges (breakfast at 5am, anyone?), but their sheer excitement about a day spent at the beach is hard to beat.

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LAST SEEN is peppered with real details and observations from my own experiences of hut life – like crabbing from the jetty when I was a child, or digging a sand hole for my bump when I was pregnant. Although most of my beach hut memories are happy ones, like in any close-knit community there can also be conflicts and secrets and tragedies. In LAST SEEN I wanted to juxtapose the beautiful, remote setting of the sandbank with the darker threads that weave between Sarah and Isla’s friendship. (Thankfully though, all the events in the novel are entirely fictional!)

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I wrote much of the novel from our beach hut. It’s my very favourite place to write as I work so much better when I’m off-grid (I leave my laptop behind, turn off my phone, and write by hand). Sunny days are incredible, of course, but blustery, rainy ones hold a certain allure when the beach empties and the only sounds are rumbling waves or a whistling kettle.

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We spend much of our winters travelling, but come summer, there’s nowhere we’d rather be than in the beach hut. Like Sarah remarks in LAST SEEN, ‘What brings us back here, summer after summer, is that the beach hut unites our family . . . we step out of the rush of our normal lives and live outside-in, letting the rhythms of the weather and tides rule our days.’

 

 

About the Book

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing ever since I first read The Sea Sisters so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review her new novel, Last Seen for the blog tour! I have to say that Last Seen absolutely lived up to all of my expectations and I loved reading it!

Last Seen is predominantly a look at female friendship and how one decision can unwittingly set a relationship on a different course, one that you really don’t want to end up on. Sarah and Isla have been friends since they were younger, and Sarah has supported Isla through some of the hardest moments of her life. But then Isla decides to go travelling and what happens back home changes everything in a seemingly subtle way but as they appear to move on that one thing looms large throughout the book.

The reason I fell in love with The Sea Sisters was because of the way Lucy Clarke writes the relationship between women and Last Seen made me emotional for these two friends in the same way. Neither one of these women is perfect and neither is always likeable but they always felt like real people to me. I could see their flaws, and their issues and I liked them all the more for it. The detail is wonderful too – I smiled to myself when Sarah describes how someone from her past smelt of Dewberry shampoo. I must be a similar age to Sarah because I remember Dewberry so very well!

Sarah and Isla end up pregnant at the same time when they’re both still young and they look forward to bringing their boys up together. Sadly, things don’t work out like that when one summer, the year they turn ten, the boys go missing at sea and only one is found alive. This sets in motion a chain of revelations, guilt and jealousy that will affect these people forever.

This book so twisty, I genuinely couldn’t work out what was going to happen in the end. I had many suspicions as I was reading but all turned out to be wrong. It’s very rare for me to not be able to work out the ending of a thriller but this one got me and I loved it all the more for that. The end when it comes makes perfect sense and it sends you reeling but it’s so good!

This book is beautiful and twisty and utterly engrossing! I couldn’t put it down – I literally read it in one sitting. I highly recommend that you grab a copy of Last Seen for your summer reading, you definitely won’t regret it!

I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Novelist, traveller, and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels.

Lucy graduated from university with a first class degree in English Literature, but it wasn’t until she was on a six month road trip across the US and Canada, that she decided she’d love to be a novelist.

Many twists and turns later, Lucy’s debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was published (HarperCollins, 2013). It was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice, and has been published in over ten countries.

Since then she has released three more novels, A Single Breath (HarperCollins, 2014), The Blue (HarperCollins, 2015), and most recently Last Seen (HarperCollins, 2017).

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer, and together with their young children they spend their winters travelling, and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

(Bio taken from Lucy Clarke’s website)

 

You can follow the rest of the Last Seen blog tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: Making Space by @SarahTierney @sandstonepress #MakingSpace

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About the Book

Why do we hold onto things we don’t need? And let go of the things we do? Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of Making Space to review because it sounded like exactly my type of book. Regular readers of my blog will know I love books, both fiction and non-fiction, about dealing with clutter so you can imagine how excited I was about reading this novel!

Making Space is about Miriam and Erik. Miriam is in her late twenties, single and still flat-sharing with her friend from uni. Erik is in his forties and struggles to deal with all the stuff he’s collected to use in his art. His daughter wants to move in with him so he urgently needs to at least clear out a bedroom for her. Miriam is sent to help re-organise Erik’s papers as part of her new office job, and the relationship that builds between these characters is fascinating to read. Both have issues that on the surface seem not at all alike but as we get to know more about these two people it becomes apparent that they have more in common than we see at first.

Erik sees himself as a collector, which is interesting because seeing his house through Miriam’s eyes we know very quickly that he is a hoarder, that he cannot bear to let things go. Once I knew this about him I was intrigued – I wanted to know if he genuinely felt he was collecting things or if he knew he had a problem but just didn’t want to face up to it. It made me feel claustrophobic as Miriam explores Erik’s home for the first time – all those books, magazines and cuttings stacked up everywhere with barely any room to walk through. It also made me remember how I have been in the past. I grew up with a family member who collected newspapers and books – it was confined to one room and as a child it felt like a treasure trove but as an adult it was stifling. My own ‘collecting tendencies’ have been a bit much in the past but as I always spread my books through the house, and so it never seemed so bad.

‘The answer wasn’t rational, I knew that. He collected because he had to. It was a compulsion not a choice.’

Miriam seems to be the polar opposite of Erik – she is renting a tiny flat with a friend and has ended up with the smallest room and yet her friend still manages to make her feel like she’s a guest in her own home. Miriam decides on a whim to pack up nearly all of her belongings and take them to the charity shop with barely a backwards glance. Her reason was that she felt like it.

‘I didn’t want what they stood for anymore […]. I was just sick of it. I was sick of myself’.

There is a real poignancy running throughout this novel and I loved that. I soon came to feel that Erik’s hoarding was likely a reaction to what his childhood had been like, and that made me understand him more. Later we find out that it’s more complex than that and that just adds to the depth of his character. Then there are moments when Miriam has so few clothes left that she’s having to put the washing machine on most days, and when her flatmate comments about the electric bill Miriam laughingly retorts to her that ‘You have a boyfriend. I have my washing’ before realising how tragic that sounds. Miriam is lonely, she is trying to get by in life unable to find the thing that will make her happy. Miriam and Erik are each protecting themselves by either having too much stuff around them, or too little – it feels like comfort and safety but in reality it’s dragging you down when you’re either imprisoned by your belongings or untethered by your lack of things. They both need to find some middle ground.

The further you get into this book the more the title begins to gain meaning. Miriam is making space in her room but actually it’s more about her trying to find herself and her place in the world. Clearing out all of her belongings leads her to things that she might otherwise have not done but it also makes her feel cast adrift and a bit lost for a while. Erik needs to make space in his home for his daughter but his problem is more to do with him needing space in his head. Miriam’s need to get back a postcard that her father had sent her when she was little, and what she does with it towards the end of the book was so moving to me. Her realisation about her need for space, but also her need to let people into her life makes for a really fascinating read. As space is made, or in some cases un-made, by each of these characters, the more they become able to allow people and opportunities into their lives.

This is such a beautiful novel about how we can’t help but bring the pain of our past into the present. It’s about finding your place in the world in whatever way you can. It’s about learning to be okay with who you are. It’s about letting go of the endings and making space for new beginnings.

When I was offered this book I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t realise just how moving the book would be, and how much it would come to hold a place in my heart. I loved every minute that I spent reading Making Space and it’s one of my favourite books of this year so far.

I highly recommend making space on your bookcase for Making Space. It’s out now and the ebook is currently on offer this week for just £1, which is an absolute bargain for such a wonderful novel.

I was sent a copy of this book by Sandstone Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Sarah Tierney is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University, and her short story, ‘Five Miles Out’, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.

(Author bio and photo taken from: SandstonePress.com)

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour at the following blogs:

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3 Quotes Challenge & Bookish Memories | The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This is my third and final day doing the 3 Quotes Challenge, I was nominated for this challenge by A House of Books blog. As with yesterday’s post, I’m also using this as a chance to continue my Bookish Memories series that I started when I first began blogging.

 

Today’s quote comes from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

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“These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections-sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent-that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life.”

I bought this book in hardback soon after it was first published and I loved it. I know that since then it became a bestseller and seems to be something of a marmite book. I’ve read it quite a few times since that first time and I still love it. It’s my comfort book, I always seek this book out when I’m upset and it really does give me such solace.

The above quote is one I marked in the book when I first read it and it’s still a quote I like to remind myself of from time to time. The Lovely Bones is told from the perspective of a murdered teenage girl, so we get to follow her journey as she tries to come to terms with her own death and with how life goes on for the people she left behind. The quote I chose is something she said in the book and I just think it’s a great reminder that we all bring people together in our lives, everyone we know is connected by us even if the connections between them is only us. It’s a reminder that when a loved one dies we still have a link to them via all the people they knew, even if we didn’t know the people well, or even at all.

I found comfort from this book after my mum died, and also really saw the depth in the quote. A close friend of my mum’s from when she was a teenager still writes to me quite regularly and shares little snippets of memories about my mum. It is so lovely to have this connection to mum’s friend that I never had before and I know my mum would be really happy about it if she could have known about it.

I know The Lovely Bones as a novel isn’t perfect but the reason I love it so much is because of how it makes me feel, for the paragraphs that jump out at me and give me comfort and solace.

About the Book

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

In heaven, Susie Salmon can have whatever she wishes for – except what she most wants, which is to be back with the people she loved on earth. In the wake of her murder, Susie watches as her happy suburban family is torn apart by grief; as her friends grow up, fall in love, and do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But as Susie will come to realize, even in death, life is not quite out of reach . . .

A luminous, astonishing novel about life and death, memory and forgetting, and finding light in the darkest places, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones became an instant classic when it was first published in 2002. There are now over ten million copies in print.


 

Please feel free to join in with the 3 Quotes Challenge if you’d like to, and if you link it back to this post or share you link in the comments, I’ll be sure to share it. Please note the challenge is just to share one quote every day for three days, the rest of this post was just how I chose to expand on the tag.

3 Quotes Challenge & a Bookish Memory | Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is my second day of the 3 Quotes Challenge, I was nominated for this challenge by A House of Books blog. As with yesterday’s post, I’m also using this as a chance to continue my Bookish Memories series that I started when I first began blogging.

Today my quote comes from another favourite book of mine – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

 

Fahrenheit 451 © 2016 Paul Carlyle

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

Many years ago I was a member of Bookcrossing and as part of a UK email group people used to lend each other books. One day I saw a book being talked about called Fahrenheit 451 and initially it didn’t interest me as it’s classed as sci-fi and it’s not one of my most favourite genres. A fellow bookcrosser persuaded me to give it a go when she explained it’s about a dystopian society where books are banned! I’m so glad I gave it a go as after one reading I knew it was going to become a real favourite of mine.

The Government of the day has banned books, and fire fighters exist to burn any books that are found – hence the title as paper burns at 451 degrees fahrenheit. Montag is a firefighter who one day cannot resist the lure of books and he ends up in serious trouble. He goes on the run and ends up in a place where books are being saved, perhaps not in their current form but still saved nonetheless.

Even though this book was originally published in 1953, it relates so well to the modern world. The thought that big brother is always watching and monitoring us through TVs or computers, the fear that ebooks will kill print books when really it’s the words in the books that matter not the medium in which they’re read. I would encourage all book lovers to grab a copy of this book and read it as soon as possible!

The quote I picked stands out to me in this book because it’s so beautiful and true. It’s a quote I often think about because it’s both a comfort when you’ve lost loved ones but also a reminder that if you do anything with a passion then you are making a difference. There are many other wonderful quotes that I could have picked from the book but this one is my favourite.

I bought a battered second-hand copy of Fahrenheit 451 soon after I sent the borrowed copy back to its owner. I’ve read it so many times that it was falling to pieces and being held together with tape! For my birthday a few years ago my husband bought me this beautiful clothbound hardback copy which I love! I think I would go as far as to say it’s my favourite edition of all of my books.

I have to give credit to my husband for taking the fab photo of my copy of the books used in this post, I love the way ha got the effect of flame around the book – it’s so fitting to that the novel is about. Please note that no flames were actually used and the book is safe! 🙂

Please feel free to join in with the 3 Quotes Challenge. The challenge is just to post one quote every day for three days – the rest of this post is just what I chose to add.

3 Quotes Challenge & a Bookish Memory | After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

To take part in the 3 Quotes Challenge all you have to do is thank the person who nominated you and link back to their post. Post a quote on your blog every day for three days. Nominate three other bloggers each day.

I was nominated to join in with this a really long time ago by the lovely ahouseofbooks and I just never got around to doing it. I keep seeing the tag around and really want to join in so thought I’d do it now.


I want to link my 3 Quotes Challenge to a series I started called Bookish Memories that I started when I first began my blog but have neglected for ages.

My first quote is from After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

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“What are you supposed to do with all the love you have for somebody if that person is no longer there? What happens to all that leftover love? Do you suppress it? Do you ignore it? Are you supposed to give it to someone else?” 

I lost my best friend in 2000 and I was heartbroken. I had gone through bereavement before but it was nothing like how this felt. We were only a few months apart in age and the idea of someone my own age and so full of life dying at the age of 20 was beyond my comprehension. I couldn’t focus on anything, I couldn’t read and I was in a really bad place.

One day I was flicking through a magazine my mum had given me and I saw a tiny review for a book called After You’d Gone. I’d never heard of the novel or the author but in the review was the above quote and it just made me want this book like I’d never wanted to get hold of a book before! I just felt that this book would help me, the quote just got to me so much because those were the questions I needed answers to.

I immediately rang my local book shop to ask if they had it in stock but they told me it wasn’t released for another few days. So, I pre-ordered a copy and on release day I waited outside the shop for it to open. The very second I got the book I started reading – I literally walked to the bus stop while reading, I carried on reading on the bus journey home (even though reading on moving vehicles makes me feel very sick). I finished the book in three hours and in that time I cried and cried but by the end I felt soothed. Even though the loss in After You’d Gone is a different loss to the one I was going through, the emotions and reactions were so similar and I connected with this book so strongly.

I started reading After You’d Gone again that night but this time around I read it slowly, I savoured it and I had a pack of post-it notes next to me so I could mark all my favourite paragraphs (there were a lot!). It’s honestly not overstating to say that After You’d Gone saved me.

I’ve treasured my copy of this book for all these years since and it’s one of very few books that I re-read every couple of years. It’s my go-to book when I need to be consoled and comforted.

I’ve pre-ordered every single Maggie O’Farrell book since then, I never need to read the synopsis because I trust her – I know that her writing will never let me down and it never, ever has. Just last week I read her latest book, and it’s a masterpiece (my review is here if you’d like to read it. I love all of her books – particularly The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and her new one, This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell started off her career as a novellist with an incredible book and then somehow has got better with every book that follows but I will always say that After You’d Gone is my favourite book by her because of my strong emotional attachment to it.

About the Book

The groundbreaking debut novel from Maggie O’Farrell, After You’d Goneis a stunning, best-selling story of wrenching love and grief.

A distraught young woman boards a train at King’s Cross to return to her family in Scotland. Six hours later, she catches sight of something so terrible in a mirror at Waverley Station that she gets on the next train back to London.

After You’d Gone follows Alice’s mental journey through her own past, after a traffic accident has left her in a coma. A love story that is also a story of absence, and of how our choices can reverberate through the generations, it slowly draws us closer to a dark secret at a family’s heart.

 


Do you have a strong emotional attachment to a book? Please tell me your story in the comments, I’d love to hear.


 

I nominate any who’d like to take part in this challenge. Please note that the challenge it just to share a favourite quote every day for three days, everything else in this post was just what I chose to add.

 

 

The A-Z of Books tag

I spotted the A-Z Book Tag on Pretty Purple Polka Dots blog this week and loved reading it so much that I simply had to join in and answer the questions myself!

 

Author You’ve Read the Most Books From

I’m not sure, there are quite a few prolific authors whose books I always read. I reckon it would probably be Enid Blyton as I adored her books when I was a child! Of all the authors I love as an adult it would probably be Sue Grafton or Peter Robinson as I love their series books and have read almost all of them.

Best Sequel Ever

I can’t think of a sequel that I would say is the best sequel ever but I adored The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce, which was a companion novel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which I also loved).

Currently Reading

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

Sockpuppet by Matthew Blakstad

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

 

Drink of Choice While Reading

It’d have to be either a cup of coffee or a bottle of water.

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E-Reader or Physical Book

I read both but due to my disability it is easier for me to read on my Kindle as it’s difficult for me to turn pages of a print book. So my answer is e-reader.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School

It’d have to be Ron Weasley!

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Glad You Gave this Book a Chance

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan. It wasn’t a book I’d heard of at the time but I was offered a chance to review it and I’m so very glad that I agreed because it is now one of my all-time favourite books. I’ve made it my mission to shout about this book every chance I get because it’s brilliant, I’ve recommended it to so many people and have bought copies to give as gifts.

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Hidden Gem Book

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin. I’ve got to know Carol a little on social media so when it was announced that her novel was due to be published I immediately put myself forward to review it. I did it to support Carol because at the time I knew very little about this book. I don’t know that I would have discovered this book so soon had I not been a book blogger so this is another book that I’m championing every chance I get. It’s beautiful and magical and I want everyone to read it!

Rather Too Fondof Books-6

Important Moment in Your Reading Life

This is a tough one. I’m torn between sharing a childhood memory of reading or going with something more recent! I think actually starting this book blog last summer was a very important moment for me. I’ve wanted to do this for years and never had the confidence but then I found myself bed bound recovering from major surgery and I needed a project… and my book blog was born! My body recovered from the effects of surgery but the damage that had already been done beforehand is something I’m learning to live with but my blog has kept me sane through the really tough days. I’m housebound when my husband is at work as I can’t physically do anything independently anymore and blogging has given me a new lease of life. I don’t have time to dwell on what might have been because I’m too focused on writing about all the amazing books I’m lucky enough to read.

Just Finished

Tapestry by Elle Turner – a short story collection and I highly recommend it. I also just finished reading Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Hyde and it was brilliant!

Kind of Books You Won’t Read

I won’t read horror as I don’t like to be scared!

Longest Book You’ve Read

I’m not sure… I think maybe either Ulysses by James Joyce or The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Major Book Hangover

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene. I read this book a couple of years ago but I can still remember the story so vividly. I can also remember how long it took me to move on from it and be able to get engrossed in another book afterwards, it had such a lasting impact on me.

Number of Bookcases You Own

I own two bookcases and three huge bookshelves.

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One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times

 

After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell – I read it twice on the day it was released and I usually go back to it every couple of years.

Preferred Place to Read

In my comfy recliner armchair in my living room. I have a reading lamp behind me and opposite me in the room is my bookcase with all of my favourite books on it, and to the side of me is my TBR book case. Perfect!

Quote that Inspires You/Gives You all the Feels from a Book You’ve Read

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
― Alan Bennett, The History Boys

Reading Regret

I used to buy books faster than I could read them because I had a genuine fear of running out of books to read. I’ve now reached that tipping point age where I now know that I’m never going to have enough time to read all the books and that makes me feel quite melancholy and regretful at times.

Series You Started and Need to Finish

Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. I absolutely love this series but I know that the end is near because it’s getting ever closer to Z. I’ve deliberately slowed down reading these books because I’m dreading the point where there will be no more new novels!

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

The Story of You by Julie Myerson

Unapologetic Fangirl For

Maggie O’Farrell – I always look forward to her books so much!

Very Excited for this Release more than All Others

I would have said This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell but I was very lucky to be sent a  review copy so have already read it. I’m still very excited for my hardback copy that I have on pre-order to arrive though! If I have to pick a book that’s not released yet I’d probably say To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey as I adored The Snow Child.

Worst Bookish Habit

This is a terrible confession but I do have a good explanation for it… I’ve become a spine breaker! Up until the last year I had honestly never broken a spine on a book EVER but now it’s a case of needs must. It’s very hard to read a print book when one hand is paralysed – I need to be able to hold a book open and turn the page one-handed and often this leads to accidental spine breaking. Sometimes a book is too hard to hold and I have to break the spine on purpose… eeeek! It took me a while to come to terms with this but as time goes on I feel less guilty about it because at the the end of the day books are for reading!

X Marks the Sport: Start on the Top Left of Your Shelf and Pick the 27th Book

I went along my favourites book case and the 27th book was… Where the Heart is by Billie Letts. The order of my books is unique to me – I know where every single book I own is in my house but I don’t alphabetise them or even keep the same genres together.

Your Latest Purchase

As If I Were a River by Amanda Saint and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

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Zzzzz-Snatcher Book (Last Book that Kept You up Way too late) 

This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell – I just didn’t want to put it down!

Reading Habits Book Tag

Reading Habits Book Tag copy

I recently spotted this Reading Habits Book Tag on BookBoodle‘s blog and immediately felt compelled to ask if I could join in!

Here are my reading habits…

Reading Chair pic 2

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Not as such, I just read wherever I happen to be at the time. Having said that, we have also just re-organised the spare room so as you can see in the photo I have a very comfy recliner chair with a tall reading lamp behind and a window to the side, so it’s the perfect place to read. But I mostly read on my Kindle Voyage now (which is front lit) so I don’t necessarily need to be by a lamp anymore. I do like reading in bed before I go to sleep, I’ve done that ever since I was a small child and I can’t see that ever changing. The Kindle Voyage is perfect for reading in bed.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Random bits of paper! I love bookmarks and I have some gorgeous ones but usually they’re never to hand when I need a bookmark so I just grab any scrap of paper to hand! Often when I’ve finished reading a book I forget to remove the paper that I’ve used as a bookmark so whenever I have a clear out of books I always have to make sure there’s no scraps of paper left in. This can often be a wonderful trip down memory lane though as I discover old postcards, even a letter occasionally, that I’ve used as a bookmark.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop at the end of a chapter/a certain amount of pages? 

I stop wherever I am at the time, I never feel that I need to read to a certain point before stopping. Although if a book is particularly gripping I will do the whole “I’ll just read one more chapter…” thing and before I know it it’s 4am!

Kindle Voyage

Hands-free reading on my Kindle!

Do you eat or drink while reading?

I do if I’m reading on my kindle as it’s easy to prop that up while I’m eating, it’s not so easy with a print book. After my spinal surgery a few months ago I found a device that attached to my kindle and made it hands-free, this was brilliant as it meant I could still read while lying down without causing harm to my neck. I still use that sometimes but usually I just keep my Kindle in its case which allows me to prop it up.

Multitasking: music or TV whilst reading?

It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I have to read with complete silence around me otherwise I get distracted but at other times I can actually watch TV and read at the same time while managing to follow both plots. I don’t tend to put music on while I read but if my husband is in the same room and wants music on it doesn’t affect my reading at all.

One book at a time or several at once?

I usually have four or five books on the go at once. I used to just read one at a time but then when I went to Uni a few years ago to do an English Lit degree I often had to read four novels a week, plus wider reading, so I quickly had to learn to hold multiple stories in my head at once. Since then I’ve always preferred to have lots of books on the go. I try to keep them to different genres so that I don’t get storylines confused. I think I read more books over the course of a year since I stopped reading one at once; I’m sure it’s because if one book isn’t quite holding my attention because I’m not in the right mindset then I can just pick up a different one that I’m already in to and carry on where I left off.

Read at home or everywhere?

I read anywhere and everywhere. I’m that person you see reading in the long queue at the Post Office! I hate to waste time when I could be reading. I think one of the things that helped convert me to Kindle was the fact that with the app on my phone it meant I always have a book with me and because it syncs with my Kindle my book is always in the right place. Before I got a Kindle I’d so often forget to pick my book up and then would get to, for example, a doctor’s appointment only for the doctor to run half an hour late and I’d be kicking myself for the time wasted when I could have been reading! I also read during the ad breaks while we’re watching live TV. Having said all of this, there is nothing quite like curling up with a book at home and knowing you have the whole afternoon ahead of you to just read.

Read aloud or silently in your head?

I read silently in my head.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

I never read ahead, why would I want to risk spoilers?!

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

Ooh this is a tough question! I never, ever, ever used to break spines on books. For me, a book had to be treated well and kept in pristine condition – I’ve never turned a corner over on a page; if I was taking a book out with me I’d wrap it up in a separate bag before putting into my handbag to try and prevent the corners getting scuffed. I was obsessive about my books being kept like new. These days I mainly read on my Kindle as I have a disability which affects my dexterity but I do still read print books sometimes. I have to break spines now because I don’t have the strength to hold a book open otherwise and I have to admit that I’ve discovered that there is something really satisfying about quite literally cracking open a brand new book! (Eeeeeek! I can’t believe I just admitted to this!!)

Do you write in books?

The only time I’ve ever written in books is when I’ve bought a book for studying, I’d never write in any other book. If I want to note a favourite passage I use post-it notes or take a photo on my phone.


I’m not tagging anyone but if you’d like to join in please feel free to answer the questions on your blog and share your links in the comments below (or link back to my blog so I can read your answers). If you don’t have a blog feel free to chat to me about your reading habits in the comments. 🙂 

The TBR Book Tag

TBR BOOK TAG copy

I recently saw the TBR Book Tag on CleopatraLovesBooks and thought it looked like fun so I’ve decided to have a go at answering the questions myself. I don’t know who originally started this tag but if anyone knows please tell me and I’ll amend this post to credit them.

I’m a bit nervous of joining in with this tag because I know how big my TBR but it’ll give you an insight into just how much of a bookaholic I really am! I know people define their TBR differently but for me, a TBR book is one I already own and doesn’t include wishlist books.

goodreads logo

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I started my Goodreads account many years ago and from the day I signed up I’ve always added every book that comes into my possession onto there. I make sure to keep it up to date as it’s great to have an accurate record of all the books I own and all the books I’ve read.


Kindle Voyage

Is your TBR mostly print or ebooks?

These days it’s mainly ebooks. I used to own literally thousands of books (it was over six thousand at one point). Around five years ago my husband bought me my first Kindle. I had always been against ebooks, I was a purist and I was always going to keep my print books but the lure of having any book I wanted instantly began to appeal to me, and then when we went away not having to take a massive suitcase on a three day trip just so I could take some books with me was liberating. These days my disability means it’s much easier for me to hold a Kindle. I can read print books but it’s harder for me to do because my hands no longer work properly so having a kindle means I can still read. This year my husband surprised me with the new Kindle Voyage for my birthday and it’s brilliant, the front-lit screen means it’s perfect for reading during the night when I can’t sleep too.


How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Before I was a blogger it was as case of whichever book caught my eye as I scrolled through my kindle. Since I started receiving ARCs I keep these separately from my other books and I always prioritise review books. I read them in order of publication date but if I receive them after the publication date then I read them in the order that I received them, or to a date agreed with the publisher or author. I always have 4 or 5 books on the go at once, all different genres, so I try to have a book I’ve bought in the mix too.


the posionwood bible

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

I’ve had The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver on my TBR for about a decade.  Every time I have a clear out of my books I spot this one on my bookcase and I always keep it because I really want to read it… and yet it’s still a TBR! Maybe one day…


the marble collector

A book you recently added to your TBR?

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern. She is one of my favourite authors so I couldn’t resist buying this on publication day on Thursday!


Fahrenheit 451 clothbound  tess clothboundA book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

I’ve never bought a book strictly because of it’s cover. Having said that, now that I mainly read on Kindle, I find myself drawn to beautiful editions or special editions of books that I’ve read as an ebook and I do buy those for my bookcases. So it’s not strictly TBR books but it is still buying books for their beautiful covers. Fahrenheit 451 is my favourite book so I treasure my beautiful clothbound hardback edition that my husband bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago, it really is stunning. I also have some of the Penguin clothbound classics, my favourite of those is Tess of the D’Urbervilles as it’s another of my favourite books and this edition is gorgeous.


A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

Ooh, that’s a tough question! I think in my last big clear out a year ago I got rid of all the books I knew I’d never read. Actually, having said that, I did keep just a few of my mum’s books after she died, purely because they were precious to her. They’re not really my taste though and I probably won’t ever read them, that’s not to say that I don’t treasure them.


The Widow my pic Look At Me my pic

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited to read?

There are so many books I could mention but I think it has to be either The Widow by Fiona Barton, or Look at Me by Sarah Duguid.


the night circus

A book on your TBR that everyone has read except you?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I love the sound of this book and I really do intend to read it one day but I’ve just yet to get around to it. It does seem to be a book that always pops up on lists and it’s one people still talk about so much and I really do feel like I must be in the minority of readers to not have read it yet.


the accident season

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

A lot of people have told me to read The Accident Season recently and I love the sound of it, I just haven’t got around to reading it yet. It’s definitely one that I must try and bump up my TBR mountain soon though.


The Winter Wedding my pic

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements, I received a copy in the post this week and I cannot wait to start reading it! I’ve loved all of Abby’s previous books and her Christmas novel Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is one of my favourite ever Christmas books; I try to read it every Christmas as it never fails to get me in the festive spirit! So I’m hoping this new one will become another favourite!


How many books are in your goodreads TBR shelf?

I divide my TBR into three sections:

audio TBR

audiobooks TBR (31)

print TBR copy print books TBR (91)

ebook TBR

ebooks TBR (4400),

So added together my TBR has 4522 books on it. I used to have a real fear of running out of books to read, I’m now at the stage of thinking I’m never going to be able to read all of the books that I want to!