Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Sleeper - Emily Barr (Review)

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Emily Barr's latest book, The Sleeper to review, so even though I have a thirty-book high pile at home, this book got fast-tracked to the top of the pile for immediate consumption.

From the back of the book, "Everyone thinks she has a happy life in Cornwall, married to the devoted Sam, but in fact she is desperately bored. When she is offered a new job that involves commuting to London by sleeper train, she meets Guy and starts an illicit affair. But then Lara vanishes from the night train without a trace. Only her friend Iris disbelieves the official version of events, and sets out to find her. For Iris, it is the start of a voyage that will take her further than she's ever travelled and on to a trail of old crimes and dark secrets. For Lara, it is the end of a journey that started a long time ago. A journey she must finish, before it destroys her..."

It's so hard to write about a book without giving away to much of the plot. The main characters are Lara, the one who disappears, and Iris, an acquaintance who tasks herself with finding Lara. Lara is a bored woman who lives with her sweet but dull husband, drowning in debt after failed IVF attempts. Iris is someone she barely knows and wants to get to know better but seems to always push other people away. When Lara disappears, it transpires that both women have pretty big secrets that they want to keep but that are inevitably all going to come out.

I really rated this book, like all of Emily's so far. I love Emily Barr. She is like, my favourite. Her books are great psychological thrillers, always containing a slightly messed up character who you can totally relate to, with so many twists and turns in the plot it's impossible to see what's coming next. I've now read all but two of her books, but they are firmly on my to-read list, because they are just so easy to read yet not at all chick-litty.

Emily was a journalist, but hankering for other things, she asked her boss if she could go backpacking and write a column on her travels. When they surprisingly said yes, she went off, and ended up with an idea for her first book, Backpack. Now she has written 12, and they're all brilliant. Nearly all of Emily's books have at least a portion that is set somewhere else, like Italy, France, Spain, Cuba and a few recently have been set partly in Cornwall, it's no surprise to find out that's where she lives. The Sleeper has an overseas section too, although you'll have to wait and see where.

The Sleeper is on sale from 4th July, RRP £7.99 but available from Foyles at £6.07. I recommend it highly. A great read for your commute, or if you're off on your travels, your sunlounger (I am jealous).

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Too many books, too little time...

I am in love with books. I can't stop buying them, collecting them, hoarding them. I reckon if I stopped working tomorrow due some unimaginable windfall, I'd still not be able to get through all the books I want to read/pore over in my lifetime. 

Fictionwise, I don't really buy books, I swap them. ReadItSwapIt is a great site, where you can list all of your books, then swap them with other users. They can request from your list and you see if there's anything they have that you want, and vice verse. Then you post them to each other, which means effectively new books for around £2.20 a piece. Brilliant! I've got a little obsessed with the site, I've had to ban myself from trawling it, although I do have certain books on my wishlist, so if they come up I get an email notification and I can pop onto the site and request them. Here's my list of books available for swapping. My current pile of books to read looks like this:
It's quite daunting, and yet I keep going to Foyles and making mental lists of the ones I want next. I can't stop myself. I also have so many beautiful craft, travel and recipe books, and combined with the fiance who collects comics, we have built up quite a collection. They are all stored, double stacked along with DVDs and games in our IKEA storage unit - you'll see that the left hand side is pretty much his side!

We currently flat-share, and will be for another year and a halfish until he finishes uni then we get married and set up a home again - when we lived in Sheffield we were living together as a couple for 5 years in much larger properties than London rents will allow, so it's been really hard to go back to living with other people, especially when that other person is really minimalist and doesn't understand why we like having so much stuff! When she moves in with her boyfriend is May, another friend is moving in who loves books as much as I do, so I am looking forward to not feeling guilty about owning stuff.

When we are settled and married, and of course rich, I look forward to having our books proudly displayed like this:
Design Milk

The latest in my collection, on my mind and on my wishlist are in the travel category.I am going to Paris this week for my birthday, which I am really looking forward to, I've not been to Paris as an adult so I can't wait.  I am also going to Melbourne in May! I am going with my mum and we booked it last week, we're going for 2 weeks to see my sister who is living there for a year. I am so excited to be going to the Actual Other Side of the World and to see my little sister for the first time since July last year!

Yesterday I trawled every charity shop between Archway and Covent Garden for travel books for these destination. I finally had some luck in the British Heart Foundation shop where I got this Lonely Planet guide to Melbourne for just £1, it's the 2002 edition, but the geography remains the same, and my sister can fill us in on the latest places to eat and shop. On the Paris front I admitted defeat in the charity shops and bought a mini guide by Lonely Planet from Foyles. I also have pictured above some books I got last Christmas, Markets of Paris, and Paris Made By Hand. I probably won't take these two with me as they'll weigh me down but I'm going to pore over them until our trip.

I also have a little obsession with the Wallpaper Travel Guides by Phaidon. I love that they come in different colours and can't stop buying them whenever I see them, even if I have no plans to go to that country any time soon! Gaps I have in my collection for places I have actually been to are Tallinn (I don't think they have one yet), Beijing and Shanghai, and now Melbourne, if I don't acquire it in the next couple of months! Here's my collection so far.

We also spent a large amount of time yesterday in the enormous Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road, where they have a stunning selection of books. I found this beauty: 36 Hours: USA & Canada, West Coast, produced by The New York Times which is a now firm feature on my wishlist as we are hoping to do a road trip for our honeymoon next Summer.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Les Miserables and other epic tales...

I went to the cinema yesterday to see Les Miserables. It was AMAZING. I saw the stage show a couple of years ago with my family for my mum's 60th birthday, and at the time I didn't know much about it, so found it fairly tricky to follow the story. The film was incredible. Lengthy, but incredible. I went with a good friend who is a lover of musicals, she wept all the way through, and I shed a good few tears too, it's an epic and beautiful story. Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks were stunning, Eddie Redmayne delicious, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter hilarious, and Hugh Jackman fantastic. A real tear-jerker.

 Loved every second and have been listening to the songs since, as well as looking at everything Les Mis I can find online. This Clothbound Classics edition of the book has gone straight on my wishlist. I've been listening to Elaine Paige on Sunday this afternoon and looking up cheap theatre tickets online. I've even found this tumblr, with musical inspired outfits!

Whilst obsessing about the film, I came across the news that The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet is being made into a movie. This is a book I got for Christmas the year before last and still haven't got round to reading. Why? It's completely gorgeous and feels like a special treat, which I haven't got round to allowing myself to enjoy yet. But this snowy Sunday feels like the right time to start.

Now Elaine's finished, I am off to start my fiction feast and listen to more showtunes....Bugsy Malone, Annie and Chicago perhaps....

Monday, 14 January 2013

Information is Beautiful

On a Christmas shopping trip in Stanfords I spotted this book and gasped with delight, and my boyfriend, being incredibly perceptive, bought it for me for Christmas. I love infographics, what's not to love about data presented in a visually appealing way? Or as David McCandless says in the intro, "miscellaneous facts and ideas, interconntected visually. A visual miscellaneum. A series of experiments in making information approachabe and beautiful."

Information is Beautiful is an incredible website, where the images printed in the book are hosted, and is funded by the sale of posters, prints and books. This is one of my favourites so far, taken from the site (click on the caption link to view it large-scale  on it's own site). The book I am devouring slowly. It's too special to gobble up in one go. 
I have a Pinterest board for infographics here, though it doesn't look like I've updated it for a while.

Going beyond getting me this incredible book, my boyfriend then went one better. He made me my very own infographic-inspired print, which made for a very emotional Boxing Day when we swapped gifts! He designed the whole thing then had it printed A2 size and framed, very thoughtful and touching. This image of it barely does it justice, it's stunning.

I hope to use the top section, with the places we've been, for our wedding invitations. I am imagining the same reproduced in whatever colour scheme we go for, with an extra place marked, for the venue we decide on (hopefully in a few weeks time when we've done some more visiting).

Sunday, 9 December 2012


My sewing machine is broken. It is probably easily fixed but I don't know enough about them to achieve the desired effect. I'm disappointed as I dragged all my fabric out today so I could make some progress with the mini-quilts I started early a year ago. I've got two small ones I started, a cushion cover, fabric for one more all cut, and fabric for another ready to cut. And one of my many resolutions is to get them finished and use up the scraps on the way. The first quilt I made is in the middle, in green , brown and pink, I put it there to remind myself what a finished job could look like!

I bought this beautiful book by the incredibly creative Jane Brocket a few months back, but since moving I haven't managed to do anything creative but the ideas in there are truly inspiring and after grabbing it for another look today, I really want to get cracking.

So, my resolutions, the definitive list:

1. Treat my body like a temple - eat better, exercise more, look after myself
2. Find my style and stick to it, buy good quality clothes
3. Get the sewing machine fixed and USE IT to finish all these projects so I can start exciting new ones!
4. Read more - my mountain of books to read is teetering and there's even more on my wishlist. I've had to put a stop on my book swapping until I finally get through the stack I have.
5. Watch all those classic films that I really should have seen already (I love movies, but people are always utterly shocked when I tell them I haven't seen some absolute classic).
6. Take more photographs
7. Cook new things
8. Get that wedding venue and date sorted, hopefully by the end of February so we can actually start planning the fun stuff. 
9. DO MORE! Say yes to things, trips, events, social occasions. Live!
10. Save money. I'm pretty good at this anyway, I'm a cheapskate. I'm currently saving for a trip to Australia to see my baby sister in Spring 2013. After that, I need to start saving for the future, so that I might get to be homeowner one day. So the challenge will be achieving all of the above, without spending too much money.
11. Blog about all of the above!