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Two Books on Hygge

The Book of Hygge - Louisa Thomsen Brits

I've been aware of the flurry of interest in this concept but was put off by the accompanying flood of 'buy this' marketing that went along with it. Out of curiosity I added this book to my library queue and found it an enjoyable read. The concept is interesting and I liked how it took the whole book to show just how difficult the concept it is to untangle. It's not prescriptive and it doesn't come with a shopping list but it does encourage the valuing of those little moments of peace, of community or of comfort as little shields hidden in everyday life. Brits also talks about the nature of the country and it's people from whom this concept grew and endures. It's not tips about how to hyggling more but sharing the value that can be found in it. 

The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking


In contrast to the above book on the same topic, this is more of a tips and shopping-list kind of book. That is not necessarily a bad thin…

Signal To Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Shifting between 1988 and 2009 'Signal to Noise' follows Meche and her friendships with Sebastian and Daniela. As teenagers living in Mexico City, they are friends bonded in their unpopularity but by 2009 they are estranged. Meche is called home after the death of her father and finds herself dealing with the consequences of the trio's falling out all the years ago. Back when they had music, longing and magic.

Meche is an interesting, prickly character, both as a teenager and an adult. She is the one who can't connect with others easily and finds her strength and magic through music. Sebastian is dealing with his own issues within his family, particularly his domineering brother. Daniela seeks diversion through her dreams of romance, much to Meche's disdain. The relationships in the book feel wonderfully messy, rough at the seams and real in an aching way. Meche has issues with her parents, school isn't what she wants to be doing and although certain of herself…

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Disclaimer: I read this book as an advance copy from Netgalley. My thanks go to them, Random House UK, Ebury Press and to the author, Riley Sager, for this opportunity. The opinions stated in the review are my own. 

This is one of the best thrillers I've read! The book has wonderfully complex characters as well as a compulsive reading plot. The author takes the movie trope of a Final Girl, the lone survivor of a terrible event, and makes her the focus of this book. Quincy is already dealing with the aftermath of a massacre that killed her friends some years ago when a new threat is found at her door. The book starts slowly, giving the reader time to allow musing on the different ways of handling trauma and grief. The pressure builds to revelations that pull you down a rabbit hole of theories and red herrings. The protagonist was very interesting to watch as she works to unwind the memories she hasn't been able to access since that  terrible day and tries to handle to the situat…

Room Empty by Sarah Mussi

This was a hard read but a worthwhile one. It should be noted as a trigger warning that the book contains anorexia, drug abuse, child abuse and suicide. 
Room Empty is about Dani, a foster kid living at a rehab centre and being treated for anorexia. She meets Fletcher and, at his urging, they become recovery buddies. Dani isn't sure she wants to be rescued but Fletcher is determined to help her. They form a relationship outside of the bonds of 'buddies' and it has an intensity that both helps and hinders them. 
It'd be wrong to say that I liked this book, it was too brutal for that I think. What it did do was make me care deeply about both of these characters. Dani was rather unlikable but this is largely because she judges everyone, including herself, very harshly. She finds comfort in the manifestation of her illness, her alien, her thinness, who loves her only when she follows the rules. Fletcher challenges her constantly, to open up, to solve her illness like it was …

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

To start this review I have an announcement, Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl is one of my go-to comfort reads. When I feel massively overwhelmed by things I love running to hang out with Cath as she travails her first year of University. 
Describing 'Carry On' in this context is a bit of a twisty tale: in 'Fangirl' Cather is a fan of a series of books about Simon Snow, particularly championing the shipping of Simon with his nemesis, Baz. The Snow series is set in an English boarding school of magic and there are vampires and a mysterious threat that is leaching the world of magic. The idea of the book obviously has some basis on a certain other magic boarding school series but Watford School of Magicks isn't Hogwarts. The twisty bit is that 'Carry On' isn't a Gemma T. Leslie (Rowell's fiction author of the Snow Series) novel, it isn't Cath's fanfic. It's Rainbow Rowell's fanfic of a world she created which makes it quite the fascinating…

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

There are some books that you sit down to read with great anticipation, be it for the author or the subject but the very best ones are the ones that come as a recommendation from a reader-friend. The book pressed into your hands with a look that says 'you need to read this'. This is one such book.

Although this is the second book in the series I was assured that I could read this one and then scoot back to the first one, which I absolutely will be doing. The plot follows a boy, Will Stanton, on his eleventh birthday. The world opens up and changes and he faces an ancient challenge, a clash of good and evil.

The language was lovely, the settings were vivid and the characters interesting. I look forward to returning to the world Susan Cooper created with the other books in the series.

This is a book aimed at older children or young adults.

Stuffocation by James Wallman

Brief background: A few months ago I started changing my approach to stuff. As in I have accumulated a lot of things up until this point in my life and have not let go of many of them. This is something I am now working to change. I picked this book up as I am curious about this issue.

Wallman talks raises some interesting points during this book but throughout the process of reading it I felt uneasy in a way that comes with a side of greasy salesman. Wallman starts by looking at the issue of what he calls 'stuffocation', the acquiring to stuff when in search of happiness and ending up just with things. There is some interesting research done and the points are valid and important.It also provided an interesting history of consumerism and how change can be tracked.

Wallman then looks at three solutions to this problem that people have embrace. Minimalism, Simple Living and Medium Chill are each examined and dismissed for what he terms experientialism. It looks quite shallowly at…

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Disclaimer: I read this book as an advance copy from Netgalley. My thanks go to them, to Penguin Random House UK and to the author for this opportunity. The opinions stated in the review are my own.


This book grabbed me simply the illusion on the cover to The Breakfast Club. 'A Jock, A Criminal, A Brain, A Princess.' It does, however, ramp things up with a murder. The premise is five students find themselves wrongfully in detention; one of them does not survive it and suspicion rapidly descends on the remaining four. An issue which is not helped by the fact that the boy who died was the school gossip and each characters has something to hide.

Cooper, Nate, Bronwyn and Addy find their lives change in the aftermath of that day. They are questioned by police, hounded by the media and gossipped about by their peers. They also find themselves looking with suspicion at each other and at the same time bound together by their experience.

McManus does a wonderful job of bringing these cha…

The Best Minds of My Generation A Literary History of the Beats by Allen Ginsberg

Disclaimer: I read this book as an advance copy from Netgalley. My thanks go to them, Grove Press, to the author, and the editor Bill Morgan, for this opportunity. The opinions stated in the review are my own.
When I was in University I had a fantastic teacher who lit a fire under our class (or at least me) and set us off to read as much of it we could. It spoke to me as a teenager, particularly as one who yearned to travel. I still love reading so much of the work that came from these writers, particularly Ginsberg, Corso and Snyder. What has come to my interest more recently is the work that came after the wild phase that lives more in legend, after the time that was kicked off during the Columbia University days. 
This book is a fascinating look at back taken from Ginsberg's lectures at the Naropa Institute and at Brooklyn College, around twenty years after the publication of 'Howl'. He speaks about the works, not particularly focusing on them in terms of adventures, but …

Come On In, America: The United States In World War I by Linda Barrett Osborne

Disclaimer: I read this book as an advance copy from Netgalley. My thanks go to them, ABRAMS Kids and to the author, Linda Barrett Osborne, for this opportunity. The opinions stated in the review are my own. This is a very interesting look at the events surrounding the United States involvement with World War I. I studied some US history several years ago, both at school and at University, and was fascinated by how the different US political approach to conflict contrasted to that of the European history that I also studied.  This book focuses on the build up to and the fighting of World War I from a US perspective and gives an interesting and detailed account of this time in American history. The information is presented with clarity and insight that make it a illuminating read. The text is augmented by photographs which portray both military and civilian life as well as propaganda posters. The text never veers into stuffy fact recounting but gives a human look at the political decisi…

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Disclaimer: I read this book as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks go to them, to Hodder & Stoughton and to the author for this opportunity. The opinions stated in this review are my own.
"Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die".

There is a creeping dread woven into this book. The fate of the Roanoke girls is something that is there in the background at first but then the secret is given voice quite early in the book. The insidiousness of the full truth, however, takes the whole of the text to unfold. Lane Roanoke grew up far away from the house of her grandparents, taken off to New York by her mother. At sixteen, following her mother's suicide, she found herself back there for a summer. This intertwines with Lane returning many years later, alarmed by the disappearance of her cousin, Allegra.

The subject matter Engel writes about is uncomfortable reading and this book, at times, walks the l…

Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

Disclaimer: I read this book as an advance copy from Netgalley. My thanks go to them, to Abrams Books and the to author, Sarah Nicole Lemon, for this opportunity. The opinions stated in the review are my own.


This is one of the more intriguing YA books I have read in a long time. Initially I selected it for the cover image but found the writing style, characters and plot worked together brilliantly. The writing style is somewhat jarring at first but when  I became more attuned to it as I read and it has a great rhythm and vividness. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions throughout the book of the mountainous landscapes and of the town resting in the wilderness. A lovely reminder that a place can seem so peaceful and yet be so noisy and fierce. The setting connected the dual components of the location to this story of order and chaos, delicate relationships and blunt brutality.

The book centres on the two female characters, Tourmaline and Virginia. Tourmaline is the daughter of the pre…

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

This book has been on my to-read list since I first heard about it. I was drawn in by curiosity about the people who create the shows we watch and that having an entire evening of TV being dedicated to shows lead by one show-runner is a major deal. The Shonda-land shows are filled with tough, powerful, outspoken women and yet Rhimes impresses on readers that a few years ago this was not reflected in her own life. In the Year of Yes, Rhimes speaks openly about how a simple comment from her sister made her take on a project of saying yes to many things, first and foremost being the things that scared her. As a writer she calls her process as one similar to that of her childhood adventures playing in the store cupboard of her mother's kitchen, sitting in the dark and coming up with characters and stories, finding strength there. She talks about how she wrote the strong characters of her TV shows, particularly Cristina Yang, as a form of wish fulfilment. Rhimes classifies herself as an…

Surf Mama by Wilma Johnson

Starting off honestly, I want to learn how to surf. I am not 100% sure why or where this idea has come from. However, it is here and it is not going away. This, as a landlocked city dweller, poses something of a problem for me. As a result I have started reading books and watching films that are about surfing. If you have any recommendations please do add them in the comments!
 The most recent member of this category is Wilma Johnson's book detailing her journey to surfing and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Johnson was an artist living in Ireland doing the 'earth mother' thing with three children and being made a, what she terms, surf widow when her surfer husband would disappear off to chase the good waves. When, after ten years, they make the move to the south of France and the marriage dissolves she finds her way to make good on her earlier determination to learn to surf herself. What follows is a lovely telling of her adventures. The book was funny and told a charming st…

Fresh Start

I have been using my social media accounts attached to this blog more than I have been updating here and when I looked back at the content had very little connection to my interests now. So I have cleared the posts out, with the exception of my old book challenge, and shall start afresh!

So with that in mind....a brief introduction:
Reading is my comfort and my joy and I will usually have 2-6 books on the go at any one time. My reading habits hop around somewhat in terms of subject matter, at the moment my current obsessions are American History and magical realism fiction. Last year I tried to cut down my book buying habit and ended up with a bit of a library habit! This year, all ten days of it, I've been reading with a focus on mindfulness and growing out of your comfort zone.