13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

After reading one of the stories in this collection through the Season of Stories initiative, I decided that I would be interested to see how the whole collection held together. I was intrigued by the premise of a series of short stories that form one coherent narrative and wanted to see how Awad had achieved this in her writing. In ‘Full Body’, I had found Awad’s style to be engaging with a strong character voice; reading the whole collection I found this to be still true, and I enjoyed discovering the wider context of ‘Full Body’. However, I should say up front that although I enjoyed the writing and the world of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, I did find that some of the stories were more sexually explicit than I was comfortable with. Read more

Dared & Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

Dared & Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning by Julia Markus

I was quite surprised at myself when I bought two biographical, non-fiction books in quick succession earlier in the term. However, I was not at all surprised that one of those was a study of the marriage between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning; I will freely admit that I am more than a little bit in love with their love. It is not the great secrecy of their romance that attracts me, nor the dramatic removal to Italy, but the details you read in their letters of why they loved each other: discussions on the latest literature; comparisons of their experiences as writers; patience in hearing out personal trials. I have very much enjoyed spending the past couple of weeks being immersed in not just their courtship, but also their marriage in the years that followed. Read more

The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but even before I’d had The Miniaturist recommended to me it had been on my list of books to buy… simply because of its cover and blue pages. I always found myself being drawn to it first in bookshops before going on to discover another book I had been meaning to read for even longer. However, after a friend of mine with similar taste in books recommended Jessie Burton’s novel to me, I decided now would be the time to get hold of it. Sadly, my copy doesn’t have blue pages, but I eventually got over that disappointment and enjoyed immersing myself in this well-written, mysterious world. Read more

The Poets’ Daughters: Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge

The Poets’ Daughters: Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge by Katie Waldegrave

Living where I do, having an interest in literature means that you would have to go out of your way to not have at least some knowledge of the ‘Lake Poets’: primarily Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey. I’ll admit that my reading of the latter two has been somewhat lacking, but I did a module of study on Wordsworth and have visited Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount a couple of times. On my most recent visit to Dove Cottage, Katie Waldegrave’s biography of Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge jumped out at me (I wasn’t intending on leaving with another book when my TBR pile is already towering on my desk) and I was intrigued to find out more about the generation that followed these famous poets. Read more

Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems

Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems edited by Helen McNeil

Just before Christmas I had a lovely evening wrapped up warm, reading Victorian women’s poetry. In one anthology, I stumbled across a very small selection of poems by Emily Dickinson: I was pleasantly surprised to find that poems I used to find confusing and dry were now engaging my emotions and, in some cases, echoing my thoughts. It seemed the time had come for me to retry Dickinson’s poetry, so I quickly added a selected collection to my Christmas list. I’ve definitely been enjoying getting into Dickinson’s poetry again and I don’t quite know why it has taken me so long to fully engage with her poems. Read more

Americanah

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I had finished Americanah, I tweeted that it was one of the best books I’d read in a while. After reading Adichie’s short story from the Season of Stories, I had been eager to read her longer fiction and, from researching her novels, Americanah was the one that jumped out at me. If you have been following this blog for a while, you might be aware that I work with international students, and it was clear from the blurb that a significant part of the narrative would be exploring one character’s life moving from Nigeria to study in the US; I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the bit that attracted me. Adichie’s writing drew me in from the outset and I was entirely caught up with the characters throughout the narrative. Read more

Season of Stories: Wanle

Season of Stories: ‘Wanle’ by Kristiana Kahakauwila

This was one of the most interesting of the stories I received through the Season of Stories initiative. As someone from the UK, I have very little knowledge of Hawaii and so stepping into this world was fascinating for me. This was definitely one of the stories that had me eager to read the next installment, and I’m considering getting hold of the full collection of Kahakauwila’s short fiction from which this piece comes. Read more

Season of Stories: My Humans

Season of Stories: ‘My Humans’ by Lauren Holmes

I’ll admit that there are still a few Season of Stories installments from the Christmas period that are currently unread in my inbox, but of the stories I’ve read so far ‘My Humans’ has to be the weirdest. Written from the point of view of a dog, the narrative follows a human couple through mistrust, infidelity, and, eventually, the end of their relationship. There have been some stories in this initiative that have prompted me to buy the original collections they have been taken from; I have to say this was not one of them. It wasn’t the worst of the stories, but it wasn’t one I connected to. Read more

Season of Stories: Cell One

Season of Stories: ‘Cell One’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You may remember that before Christmas, I started to post some brief reviews of the stories I had received in my inbox through Penguin Random House’s Season of Stories initiative. That initiative is over for now, but I still wanted to finish writing my thoughts down about these pieces of short fiction. However, whilst the first three reviews I posted were in the order that I had received them, these next ones will not be: the reason for this is simply that the stories I had strong feelings one way or another about turned out to be the quickest reviews to write. I’m currently reading one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels, so her contribution to the initiative seems like a fitting place to start. Read more

Sherlock (BBC, 2010-2017)

Sherlock (BBC, 2010-2017), adapted by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss

This review originally started out as a review of just Series 4 of Sherlock, and it wasn’t going to be a particularly positive piece. However, as I was planning out what I wanted to say, I was reminded of why I loved Sherlock in the first couple of series and I felt the need to write something a little more balanced. ‘The Final Problem’ felt like an ending (and if the series continues further I don’t think I will watch) so I decided to do a review of the series as a whole, discussing both the positive and negative aspects of this adaptation. Read more