Grief is the Thing with Feathers

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

I had been curious to read Grief is the Thing with Feathers for a while and so, whilst I know I am behind the times when it comes to this book, I decided to use a recent evening babysitting to read this short and intriguing novel about grief. I definitely found it a moving depiction of grief, although I suspect that I would have a deeper understanding of Porter’s novel if I was familiar with Ted Hughes’ Crow. I actually have read very little of Hughes’ work but I think that this has definitely encouraged me to investigate him more. Read more

Spring

Spring by Ali Smith

It’s been a little while since I read the Autumn and Winter instalments of Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet so I was pleased to be given the third instalment, Spring, for Christmas. It is, perhaps, the wrong time of year to be reading a book so influenced by its seasonal setting, but the real draw of Smith’s quartet of novels is not the way that the narratives fit so well with the seasons in which they are set, but the overall commentary they give to contemporary events, bring recent politics to life. Reflecting on the previous two novels, I find that I remember little of the overall plot of Winter, but I have a feeling that Spring will remain with me for a long time. Read more

Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I had nearly bought Exit West several times, based on the cover art alone, before my Mum lent it to me earlier this year. After finishing Shirley which, although I enjoyed it, was hard-going in places, I decided on reading Mohsin Hamid’s short but engaging novel next. I knew only that there was a portrayal of the refugee experience in the novel when I picked it up; I had not in anyway registered the slight magical realism hinted at in the blurb or on the cover I had so admired. In fact, up until Nadia and Saeed were preparing to go through the door, I still believed that the doors were metaphorical, a code for a secret way out of the city. Once I had sorted that confusion out, I was able to fully enjoy and engage with this unique and fascinating novel. Read more

Melmoth

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Back in 2017, one of my favourite reads of the year was Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, a beautifully written historical novel with an underlying element of the mythic. I have been looking forward, therefore, to reading Melmoth, Sarah Perry’s latest novel which came out last year and has been sat on one of my ‘to-read piles’ since Christmas. In contrast to The Essex Serpent, Melmoth has a much broader scope despite being shorter, not tied to one historical moment but spanning a number of different moments throughout European history. Whilst I found Melmoth to be a profound and affecting novel, it was also one which left me feeling deeply unsettled, much like the characters within the narrative itself. Read more

Bridge of Clay

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Back in 2016 I did a tag which included the question: ‘What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?’. It didn’t take me long to decide on an answer as it still remains true that every time I recommend Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief to someone, I tell them how jealous I am that they get to read it for the first time. So, naturally, I was very excited to see that Zusak was releasing Bridge of Clay, his first novel since The Book Thief. After being given it for Christmas, it has taken me a little while to get round to reading it but once I did I could not put it down. Bridge of Clay is so entirely different to The Book Thief in tone and characters that it would be pointless to compare them, but Zusak’s unique writing voice and engaging world building shine through both novels. Read more

The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

Over the past year or so, I have seen a number of people recommending The Tiger’s Wife and so I have been on the lookout for it in the second-hand bookshops recently. I was excited to stumble across a copy a few weeks ago and, though it took a couple of weeks to reach that point in my ‘to read’ pile, once I started it I read this engaging novel straight through in a day. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Téa Obreht’s novel so I found myself surprised at how the pieces all fit together, but it was one that I enjoyed and I can understand why it was recommended. Read more

The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man

The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

In a few weeks, it will be three years since I started this blog. My first book review went up on 11th November 2015 on Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, the light-hearted novel with a surprisingly high death toll I had read immediately after finishing my Masters dissertation. Although I had read another Jonas Jonasson’s novel since then (The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden), I was not at all aware that Jonasson had written a sequel to The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared until I was given a copy by my housemate for my birthday. Read more

You Bring the Distant Near

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

I have a tendency to race through Young Adult novels very quickly, and You Bring the Distant Near was no exception; despite the fact that it had sat on my to-read pile for several months before I picked it up, I am writing this review the day after I started reading it. I was glad that I decided to read this novel at the end of a busy term as something lighter and completely absorbing was definitely what was needed. I really enjoyed this family-focused narrative and the engaging characters that make up the three generations of the Das family. Read more

The Girl in the Tower

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden 

It was roughly this time last year that I read the first instalment in Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale. I mentioned in my review that it was one of my favourite reads of the year and it made my top five fiction reads in my 2017 round-up. I had been looking forward to reading The Girl in the Tower since its release earlier this year, but hadn’t been able to get it until a few weeks ago. However, I was not expecting just how invested I would become in this instalment of the Petrovich family’s journey, racing through The Girl in the Tower because I couldn’t put it down. The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favourite reads last year, but The Girl in the Tower has definitely pushed the Winternight Trilogy into one of my favourite book series in general.   Read more

First Fox

First Fox by Leanne Radojkovich 

It was my birthday recently, and one of the presents I was excited to receive from a good friend of mine was First Fox from independent publisher The Emma Press. My friend knows me well, and I could see from the blurb that this short story collection would be right up my street: a series of short stories depicting real life with the atmosphere of fairy tales. It did not take me long to read through this short collection and I very much enjoyed spending the weekend after my birthday doing so.   Read more