A Trip to Edinburgh

Just got back from a flying visit to one of my FAV cities; Edinburgh, Scotland.

…And this time it was extra special because they have these huge, glorious Christmas markets right in the heart of the city!! If I wasn’t feeling festive before I sure am now.

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It’s SUCH a gorgeous place, full of character and so stooped in history you can virtually TASTE the past, I just know that fellow lit. lovers will relish getting lost down those cobbled streets… If you ever get the opportunity I recommend.. no I ORDER you to go and have a fantastic time exploring ‘Auld Reekie’ for yourself.

The End of the World Running Club

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‘When the world ends and you find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the country, every second counts. No one knows this more than Edgar Hill. 550 miles away from his family, he must push himself to the very limit to get back to them, or risk losing them forever…His best option is to run. But what if your best isn’t good enough?’

Ok, firstly this took me a longg time to read- like over a month which is REALLY unusual for me which says something I think…yes, I’ve been busy but also I just wasn’t gripped. I would read a chapter before bed and feel quite happy to put it down and not pick it up for a few days.

The premise is pretty simple- a catastrophic asteroid strike signals the end of the world as we know it and after missing some rescue helicopters, Ed (an overweight, alcoholic man-child) and a couple of others have to somehow get all the way down post-apocalyptic Britain to Cornwall, where they hope there will be salvation in the form of boats to take them ‘somewhere else’.

The plot was entertaining but not really anything hugely special I didn’t think… it felt quite formulaic and kind of like a children’s story (or maybe even a video game), where the main characters are on journey from A to B and they meet and interact with random characters for a brief amount of time and then move on. Its hard to explain but it just felt a bit like 5 pages of them running and Ed moaning..3 pages dedicated to random encounter/ near death experience…5 pages of running… and so on and so on which all got a bit predictable and unsatisfying pretty early on in the book. Plus some of these encounters, for me, were the most interesting and intriguing incidences in the whole book so when they just got a couple of pages (if that) dedicated to them and then the story just moved on with no explanation or conclusion because Ed had left that area it was kind of frustrating.

As I’ve alluded to, I also just didn’t like the protagonist/narrator Edgar- he’s selfish, whiny, consumed with self pity, bad dad, worse husband..I could go on. I don’t know if the reader is supposed to feel sorry for him? Or the author intended him to be highly dislikable or what, but even by the end I still didn’t care what happened to him/ secretly hoped his family would get away because they’d be better off without him. Unfortunately none of the other main characters were particularly memorable, I did quite like Harvey but there just wasn’t enough development of his character to really engage with him. It seemed like this was a book all about Ed to the point that all the other characters were just sort of puppets there to advance the plot and bumped off or left behind here and there once they’d played their role.

I don’t know, overall I felt like this book kept NEARLY being exciting, or moving, or just SOMETHING but never quite getting there. That said, it’s a pretty  pacey, entertaining enough read so I wouldn’t actively tell someone NOT to read it….I just won’t be recommending it either if that makes sense! Anyone else read it? What are your thoughts?

*sorry*

*sorry*

Hi my followers ! (If you’re still there) I’m so sorry for my lack of posts in recent weeks.. I have been super busy moving into a new house and returning to med school. We’re currently starting neuro stuff and laaaaawd it is hard, the brain is absolutely amazing (like, it’s blowing my mind…which is weird in itself because I’m using my mind to think about my mind, you feel me ??!) so i’m really enjoying it but it’s SO complex that honestly any spare minute I have is dedicated to revising (or going for cocktails, cos you’ve got to have some joy in your life right?)

However, yesterday I did pick up ‘The End of the World Running Club’ and I’m currently sitting in bed just about to start it, so hopefully I’ll have a post up soon! Also very much looking forward to the release of the movie adaptation of ‘Girl on a Train’this week, loved the book and am interested to see how it will translate into movie form (although anyone else think Emily Blunt is waaaaaay too gorgeous to play Rachel?!)
Anyway, apologies again for the lack of posts and thanks a mil for bearing with! X

Things for a Book Lover to do in London

Things for a Book Lover to do in London

London has been the home and inspiration of countless writers and their characters throughout history, so unsurprisingly there’s a heap of great things for book lovers to do in The Big Smoke. I’ve listed a few personal favs below…

Shakespeare’s Globe

On the banks of the Thames, open air and entirely made of wood this historically accurate recreation of the Elizabethan playhouse (which burnt down) is the best place to enjoy Shakespeare. The atmosphere is magical (especially at night I find) and you can almost see Tudor Londoner’s enjoying the theatre alongside you.  

Seriously, even if you’re not the biggest Shakespeare fan, I highly recommend seeing a play here should you get the chance.

The Tower of London

Founded over 1000 years ago and, at one time or other, home to vanishing Princes, The Crown Jewels, Guy Fawkes, a polar bear, as well as being the execution spot of three English Queens, the Tower of London is absolutely stooped in interesting history and a great shout for anyone into medieval/Tudor era fiction (Philippa Gregory anyone?)

Platform 9 & 3/4 @ Kings Cross

Indulge your inner Potter-head and visit the gateway to the magical world (inconveniently positioned at an extremely large and very busy train station). I wouldn’t personally recommend going out of your way to visit Kings Cross BUT if you happen to be there anyway its definitely fun to visit the famous platform, you can even have a picture taken ‘half way through’ the barrier.

221B Baker Street

The famous address of the famous detective and his loyal assistant (Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson if you didn’t know), affords you the chance to ‘step back in time’ to Victorian London and see the flat from the stories brought to life. Plus the Baker Street Tube stop is pretty fun, with silhouettes of Mr Holmes scattered over the walls.

Anyone else done something literary they’ve loved in London? Let me know!

Ps My giveaway is still open! Find details here. 🙂

Word of the Week

Somniferous- [Som-nif’er-rus]

Tending to induce sleep; soporific.

Literary Example:

“But let’s not have any more of this somniferous conversation. Jerome, put them right to bed.” Esmé Squalor, The Ersatz Elevator – A Series of Unfortunate Events

Review: Everything I Never Told You

 

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“Lydia is dead. But they don t know this yet” . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a ChineseAmerican family living in 1970s small-town Ohio.

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee’their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother s bright blue eyes and her father s black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfil the dreams they were unable to pursue, in Marilyn s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. 

When Lydia s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighbourhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it s the youngest of the family Hannah who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

I initially picked this expecting a kind ‘who dunnit’ style story centred on solving the circumstances of Lydia’s death, which is sort of is… but also really isn’t.

The story moves back and forth in time with the death of Lydia as a kind of central point, delving into the lives of the Lee family before and after this tragedy, subtly revealing how each character  has been shaped by their own past into the person they are at the time of Lydia’s death and then how they deal with the loss of a beloved daughter and sister.

It is a novel without a great deal of action per se; of mealtimes and trips to the swimming pool, moments and interactions of apparent unimportance but that, the reader comes to realise, have complex and far reaching effects on the character’s long after the moment is over.

The character’s, by the way, are extremely well crafted. I was sufficiently captivated to read the book in one sitting and felt totally immersed in the Lee household, it was strange when I finished to be suddenly removed and remember that these people didn’t exist after all.

That’s not to say I liked them all, in fact the father, James, I positively disliked, he was such a horrible dad, particularly to Nath!! Arghh even writing about it makes me cross. Hannah, the youngest sibling, on the other hand was a delightful little pixie-like child who despite being neglected and ignored by essentially all the other characters spread a little warmth in an otherwise bleak story. I felt and hurt for her the most and honestly wanted to just rescue her and give her a hug haha.

A story full of miscommunications and unrealised dreams, Everything I Never Told You left me with a sense of lingering sadness, and frustration that someone didn’t just say what they were thinking once in a while,  which may have potentially averted so much tragedy. It is captivating and will stay with you long after you shut the book, I highly recommend.

A trip to the Bookshop

A trip to the Bookshop

Oh, today has been such a good day! My little sister got into her first choice university to study medicine, my boyfriend got offered a graduate job, I went for afternoon tea AND I paid a visit to my favourite book-shop (pictured above). Does it get much better?!

So anyway, I thought I’d share what I treated myself to today..

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

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The Dig – Cynan Jones

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(I’m particularly looking forward to reading this as when I went to pay the lady serving me started absolutely raving about how great it is!)

Wolf Winter- Celia Ekback

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So yes, thats my little book haul! I’m looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea this evening and getting started. Have you read any of these? And what books have you purchased recently?

The South of France Reading List

The South of France Reading List

So I’ve just returned to England from a glorious fortnight in Cannes (cry) and thought I’d share with you some thoughts on the books I got stuck into (or not) whilst I was over there..

Girl on a Train- Paula Hawkins

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

So admittedly I’m pretty late to the party with this book, but I’m glad I finally made it! haha. I found this to be a great read, and once finished I immediately pushed it under the nose of various family members who also all loved it.

The narrator’s are unreliable and unlikeable (In Anna’s case HATEABLE.) The well-woven plot is pacy and full of twists and turns. And it’s creepy. Creepy in that its makes you think ‘who are the people who sit beside you day in, day out?’, ‘can you ever really truly know somebody?, ‘what goes on behind closed doors?’ and ‘who’s watching?’

I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews for this complaining that it’s ‘not Gone Girl’, which yes, it’s not Gone Girl.. it’s Girl on a Train but, please, don’t let that stop you picking it up!

Things We Have In Common- Tasha Kavanagh

The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field. You were looking down at your brown straggly dog, but then you looked up, your mouth going slack as your eyes clocked her. Alice Taylor. I was no different. I used to catch myself gazing at the back of her head in class, at her silky fair hair swaying between her shoulder blades.

If you’d glanced just once across the field you’d have seen me standing in the middle on my own, looking straight at you, and you’d have gone back through the trees to the path quick, tugging your dog after you. You’d have known you’d given yourself away, even if only to me.

But you didn’t. You only had eyes for Alice.

If I had to describe this book in one word I would choose ‘unsettling’. The narrator, 15 year old Yasmin is an overweight, obsessive, often delusional loner, at times pitiful and at others abhorrent. Everything we learn is through her eyes, which you realise pretty early on puts this story firmly in the world of the unreliable narrator.

I don’t want to say  much about the plot because I went into this knowing nothing about where it would take me, and I feel the story will ‘pack the most punch’ if read in this way. It’s gripping and oh so dark. I recommend.

In a Dark Dark Wood- Ruth Ware

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since the day Nora walked out of her old life and never looked back.

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen party arrives. A weekend in a remote cottage – the perfect opportunity for Nora to reconnect with her best friend, to put the past behind her.

But something goes wrong.

Very wrong.

And as secrets and lies unravel, out in the dark, dark wood the past will finally catch up with Nora

I read this book in literally one sitting- not because it was particularly compulsive reading but because my sister fell ill and I spent a day of the holiday sitting in the car park of Cannes hospital, so due that my reading experience of this book was a little strange!

I would say this is quite fun read, kind of like reading a crappy horror film, you know  the classic ‘a group of strangers in a glass house in the middle of the woods, with no contact to the outside world’…Yes a little cliche, but still quite fun. My main criticism was that no-one in this story really acted like an even semi-normal adult would (again like in a crappy horror movie right!?), it just seemed a bit high school and juvenile. I’d say it makes good holiday reading, but it’s not scary and the ‘mystery’ is pretty straightforward (you’ll have probably twigged half way through) so keep that in mind before you embark on this one.

No Time For  Goodbye- Linwood Barclay

On the morning she will never forget, suburban teenager Cynthia Archer awakes with a nasty hangover and a feeling she is going to have an even nastier confrontation with her mom and dad. But when she leaves her bedroom, she discovers the house is empty, with no sign of her parents or younger brother Todd. In the blink of an eye, without any explanation, her family has simply disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Cynthia is still haunted by unanswered questions. Were her family murdered? If so, why was she spared? And if they’re alive, why did they abandon her in such a cruel way? Now married with a daughter of her own, Cynthia fears that her new family will be taken from her just as her first one was. And so she agrees to take part in a TV documentary revisiting the case, in the hope that somebody somewhere will remember something – or even that her father, mother or brother might finally reach out to her . . .

Then a letter arrives which makes no sense and yet chills Cynthia to the core. And soon she begins to realise that stirring up the past could be the worst mistake she has ever made . .

I borrowed this from my sister’s boyfriend because I’d ran out of other books and I don’t really have a lot to say about it. I mean it’s perfectly readable, there’s enough mystery to keep you going but the character’s are a bit flat/kind of annoying and such I didn’t connect or care about what happened to them. Also, to be honest, the ‘big reveal’ at the end didn’t really convince me. However if you have nothing else around, it’ll do.

While my Eyes Were Closed- Linda Green

One, two, three . . . Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa’s family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn’t a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa’s little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?

This book was the major disappointment of the holiday. The plot was predictable, and most of the characters, particularly the mother of the missing child, were SOOoo irritating! I mean to the point I felt no sympathy for her and didn’t even care if she got her kid back or not (!!). Also the ending felt really rushed and not very convincing given the behaviour of certain characters during the whole rest of the book.

I only finished it because I’m loathed to leave books unfinished, but tbh don’t waste your time.