April Round Up: First Month of Bookbound!

So April is over and it’s time for me to present my monthly round up!

Well the big news, in case you didn’t already know is …I started a Book Blog!

And the even bigger news is that I am loving it. It might be harder than I ever thought but the connections, and in some remarkable cases, reconnections, with wonderful book loving people are so invigorating and rewarding.

It’s a slow burn but the followers here on WordPress, on Twitter and Instagram are slowly growing. People aren’t laughing me out of town and everyday I have to pinch myself to check that this is actually a new addition to my life. A very welcome addition at that. Every time I get a new post like, comment or follow I am more than slightly bewildered but enormously grateful. So thank you for all interactions, past, present and future.

There is plenty for me to learn about the whole process of blogging. For instance I am fast becoming aware that just because I have discovered NetGalley, doesn’t mean I have to request everything in sight. I am continually reminding myself; “There are still only so many reading hours in a day, that I still work full-time, and I still have 4 teenagers etc etc., one of whom is on the brink of GCSE’S!”

Rest assured I am pacing myself, but it’s hard… really hard. There are so many lovely, scrummy books out there begging to be read.

Another thing I thought I knew but now I TRULY KNOW is that good quality, well researched and accurate blog posts aren’t bashed out in a matter of minutes. I am in silent awe of skilled and eloquent bloggers who can post fantastic reviews several times a week. I am definitely not one of those bloggers. I am currently aiming for a couple of good quality posts a week. Anymore is a welcome bonus.

My excitement levels have reached fever pitch over the last few days with my requests being graciously accepted for some very promising ARC’s. And perhaps most exciting of all is the fact I have been asked to participate in two lovely blog tours. More of that later…

I am one giddy little kipper at the moment! Can you tell?

So, what did I read in April?

So April was a pretty solid reading month. I was actually surprised to discover that I has read 15 books. The fact we had a school holiday would definitely have been a contributing factor to this! And there were no DNF’s!

My complete list for April is :

  • Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson
  • The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
  • The Complete Poems of Rupert Brooke
  • Letters from a Lost Generation : First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends – Ed. Alan Bishop & Mark Bostridge
  • Boy of My Heart – Marie Connor Leighton
  • Because You Died: Poetry and Prose of the First World War and After – Vera Brittain
  • The Familiars – Stacey Halls
  • Graceland – Bethan Roberts
  • The Cut Out Girl – Bart van Es
  • The Cutting Season – Attica Locke
  • My Sister the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Bottled Goods – Sophie van Llewyn
  • Lost Children Archive – Valeria Luiselli
  • Picking Up the Pieces – Jo Worgan
  • Signs for Lost Children – Sarah Moss

I have the pleasure of reading a varied selection of books this month and it contains many highlights.

For those of you who have read some of my previous posts, it will come as no surprise that one of my favourite reads has been My Sister the Serial Killer. Also high up on the list is Bottled Goods, quirky and intense, and the brooding Signs for Lost Children. And no month that contains a previously unread Kate Atkinson can be a bad reading month. Why did Human Croquet sit on my TBR pile for so long? Makes me twitchy about what else is sitting there undiscovered. So many books…

What’s next? Reading plans for May…

As May is already upon us, then it’s reading plans are in fact already actions.

As of lunchtime today my first read of May is A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara. There will be a review to follow, but first I will need to gather my thoughts. Not a book to be taken lightly in any sense, a review will need careful consideration. A truly incredible but heartbreaking novel.

Next up is my first blog tour read, (did I mention I was excited?) This Stolen Life – Jeevan Charika. Perfect bank holiday reading!

I am also privileged to have some Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) waiting for my undivided attention. Winking at me from my Kindle is the haunting cover of The Immortal Prudence Blackwood – Stephanie Grey. And I am feeling nostalgic for the Fens of my childhood whilst eagerly awaiting Naseby Horses – Dominic Brownlow.

Belonging to two Book Clubs means there is reading already set out for me in real life. First up is The House at the End of Hope Street – Meena van Praag, followed by A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman.

In addition I am hoping to get to my two remaining unread Women’s Prize short listed books, An American Marriage – Tayari Jones and Ordinary People – Diana Evans. With a fair wind, and another bank holiday, I might even get to the long listed Remembered – Yvonne Battle-Felton. Wish me luck!

Finally…

So that is a round up of my reading month. It is also a round up of my first blogging month. And I hope sincerely the first of many.

Thank you one and all for all the help, advice, support and encouragement. Onwards…

Yet another Women’s Prize Short List reaction! Don’t all cheer at once!

So it’s Monday night and I am blogging after a day at work, ending with a full staff meeting. What could possibly go wrong? Currently typing this whilst cooking meatballs, feeding dogs and trying not to forget that tomorrow is bin day! So, disclaimer; don’t expect Chaucer! I am going for coherent!

Why am I risking ruining any credibility I might have build up in the 2 weeks or so I have been blogging?? Because the WOMEN’S PRIZE SHORTLIST has been announced and if I can’t drag my weary carcass to a computer on that occasion I might as well give up this book blogging lark.

Less rambling, more book chat. Lets start with…

What would my list have been…

Time to come clean now, I only got around to reading 7 from the 16 longlisted books. In my usual way I got distracted by other lovely shiny books. Also, in my defence, and this is genuinely an important point, literary prize lists are just the tip of the iceberg. So many backlisted, new, undiscovered authors out there, you have to mix up it a little.

Anyway, I digress. I did warn you blogging on a Monday night would be a bit of a risk.

So, having read only 7 books, my preferred short list that I posted on Twitter (@bookbound2019 blog) and Instagram (@bookbound2019) only had 5 books.

And they were…

  • The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
  • My Sister the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Circe – Madeline Miller
  • Ghost Wall – Sarah Moss
  • Bottled Goods – Sophie van Llewyn

The actual Short List was…

Thoughts on what’s there…

  • American Marriage – Tayari Jones – Having not read this one I obviously can’t add too much, beyond saying it is on my TBR list. It has also gained a lot of praise from other book bloggers and vloggers, whose opinions I respect and often reflect my own. Excited to get to this one . (If I ever finish A Little Life!)
  • Ordinary People – Diana Evans – Again another ‘no read’, pretty hopeless so far. But again lots of love for this so watch this space!!!
  • Milkman – Anna Burns – One I have read. Finally I hear you cry! (If you have even got this far!!) This was of course the Man Booker Prize Winner last year. I mentioned in my early blog about the Prize that I found this a difficult read. I read it when I was really busy and I found it hard to connect with the style. So it wasn’t on my personal short list. But it is no surprise that a ManBooker Winner and such an innovative novel would make the short list. I actually think this one was a given.
  • Circe – Madeline Miller I am thrilled that this one is here. This bold and empowering retelling of the myth of Circe is as beautiful and tantalising as it’s gorgeous cover. If you haven’t read this one please do. It is so refreshing and gives new depth and perspective to a classic tale.
  • The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker In all honesty I didn’t think that two re-imaginings of Ancient Greek literature would make it to the short list but, on this occasion, I am absolutely delighted to be wrong. In a similar vein to Circe this book takes a well known story and gives it new and very real credence by using the female perspective. Gritty and honest in true Pat Barker fashion, this absolutely deserves it place on the short list.
  • My Sister the Serial killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite Of those on the list this is definitely my stand out. Having reviewed it just days ago, there seems little point in waxing lyrical about it again here. All I will say is that Braithwaite is a master wordsmith who uses her tools sparingly but with a precise and dark beauty. This is the one from the list that has stuck with me, and it is the one that I am recommending to any poor fool who will talk to me about all things books.

Thoughts about those that didn’t make it…

In terms of those that didn’t make the list I think I am most disappointed about Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I really love this author’s work and for a novella Ghost Wall was so multi layered. I am still thinking about it months later. Bonus points for being set in my go to happy place, wild and beautiful Nothumberland.

Bottled Goods – Sophie van Llewyn was a recent read for me. Pretty sure this is my first taste of Flash Fiction and it really packed a punch. Another little book filled to the brim with life and so much to discuss. The setting of Romania behind the Iron Curtain and everything that entails was absolutely fascinating. I don’t think this is the last time this author will be around a list such as this.

Finally I must say something about Normal People – Sally Rooney. Just about everywhere I go people are raving about this book and there is so much admiration for her work in general. I am going to out myself here and say I breathed a small sign of relief when this wasn’t on the short list. Rightly or wrongly I always try and read at least the short list and…

…I didn’t like Conversations with Friends, her first novel. I am well aware that I am in a small and, probably, shrinking minority, however there it is. I can quite see what people admire about her skill as a writer but I found the characters so intensely irritating that I couldn’t move beyond that. I don’t mind an annoying character but this felt overloaded with self absorbed people living vacuous lives. More than that I didn’t like the way I felt when I was reading the book. For someone who likes to think that I am pretty easy going, I felt old and judgemental and staid.

Having said all of this I am quite a nosy article and hate to think I am missing out so who knows. Feel free to convince me…

So what’s next? My new Women’s Prize reading plans.

Well in reality they aren’t all that different to the ones I published last month. I have read three from the list in my earlier blog post

  • My Sister the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Lost Children Archive – Valeria Luisella (More of that in a later blog post)
  • Bottled Goods – Sophie van Llewyn

I will definitely be reading Remembered – Yvonne Battle-Felton. Heard so much good stuff about this and it’s themes have been really prevalent in lots of my reading over the past couple of years. May have just ordered this online today…possibly…maybe.

And of course I will be reading the remaining two novels on the Short List – Ordinary People and An American Marriage. No doubt I will be blogging about them in due course.

So, from a sunny Cumbrian Monday evening, I hope you have made at least something of my barely coherent ramblings. Off to throw ‘beans-on-toast’ down my neck and start up Mum’s taxi!

Always want to hear your thoughts, so please comment below or get in touch via Twitter or Instagram.

Happy Short List Day!