Tuesday, 3 February 2015

January Wrap Up

I started 2015 (and this blog) by making a commitment towards more reading and reading time in an attempt to reduce the ever-growing Shelf of Unread Books in my spare room. So less Facebook, less YouTube, less Xbox, more reading. But we all know how New Years Resolutions work out - what seems like a grand idea on January 1st can very easily have become a chore by January 30th. So I am pleased to report that not only have I increased my reading time through January but that I have thoroughly enjoyed it! I've read some cracking books this month and wanted to share the bookish love by telling you all a bit about them:

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
I kicked off 2015 by finishing this fantastic debut fantasy novel set in an inter-dimensional library, which was released this month. I've already dedicated a blog post to a review so, instead of repeating myself, I suggest you mosey on over to my previous post here

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
I loved this book when I first read it at 15. I loved the bustling world of zeppelins, scholars and gyptians that make up young heroine Lyra's alternative Oxford. And Lyra herself was everything I wanted to be - feisty and brave and clever but kind-hearted too. Plus she has a talking armored bear for a bodyguard and which girl doesn't want that?!? However, I struggled to get into the follow up novel 'The Subtle Knife' and as a consequence never finished Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy (which concludes with 'The Amber Spyglass') despite having all three books languishing on my shelves. This changed over Christmas when I saw a video by the wonderful Booktuber Jen Campbell (who has also written the very amusing 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops', 'More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' and the official Books Are My Bag book 'The Bookshop Book' - all highly recommended if you love your books) in which she enthusiastically talked up the remaining two books. Jen's video (you can watch it herereminded me how much I loved this first book as a teenager and this inspired me to give the trilogy another go. I started by re-reading 'Northern Lights' (I still love it) and fully intend to move onto 'The Subtle Knife' this month in an attempt to finally crack it.


Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
This cropped up time and again on some of my favourite podcasts and blogposts so I duly jumped on the bandwagon and bought a copy. I flew through it - it's so engrossing. Set in an America ravaged by an deadly flu strain, the novel follows the members of a wandering Shakespeare company called 'The Travelling Symphony' as they tour the post-apocalyptic landscape,bringing music and Shakespeare to the townships formed since the collapse. This is interspersed with flashbacks detailing life before and during the flu crisis and charting the unexpected links between the six narrators, all of whom are connected in someway to Shakespearean actor Arthur Leander, who dies of a heart attack on stage at the very outset of the crisis. All of the usual post-apocalyptic tropes are present and correct (cannibals, doomsday cults, plucky survivors) but, despite this, 'Station Eleven' avoids the cliches and instead offers a meditative and though-provoking look at art and it's ability to sustain us, even in the darkest of times. Even if you're not usually a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I'd urge you to give this one a go.


The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Poor Angela Carter. Everyone kept telling me how good her fiction - especially her short fiction - was and I kept avoiding it for fear of being dragged kicking and screaming back to heady university days when her name was mentioned only in the context of heavy feminist readings of her work. But what a treat I was missing out on! Yes, the stories in this collection - all of them subverted takes on classical fairy tales - can (and probably should) be read within a feminist context and yes, the collection raise interesting questions about the role of girls and women within traditional storytelling. Just as important as that however is the fact that they are lively, playful re-tellings with excellent pacing and a keen eye for detail. My favourite stories - her wistful, sensuous take on Beauty and the Beast 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' and the riotously re-imagined  'Puss in Boots' - are wry and insightful examples of storytelling at it's best. As with all collections, I enjoyed some stories more than others but I'm so glad I finally read this one and would recommend it to short story lovers and fairy tale fans alike!


So that was my January reading wrap up. If you've read any of the above books, or if you'e been inspired to read them as a result of this post, I'd love to know what you thought about them so please pop a comment down below. And are there any others you think I should add to my TBR pile as a result of my enjoyment of these?

As for February, I've got a bundle of books I'm really hoping to get through this month including finishing off Michael Faber's 'The Book of Strange New Things', finally reading Ernest Cline's 'Ready Player One' (been on my TBR forever) and delving into the much-hyped January release 'The Girl On The Train'. AND I want to carry on with Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy and finally get 'The Subtle Knife' read. As it's going to be a busy month, I'd better go get reading! Until next time folks...

Happy Reading! 



  1. Hi Amy,
    Great blog! I've literally just finished Station Eleven, it was so good!! Want to read it all over again whilst thinking about the questions for discussion at the back this time.

    Also, I would definitely recommend continuing with the His Dark Materials books, they are fantastic, and personally meant a lot to me. One of the passages was a reading at my sister's wedding and then later at her funeral, so for me they are forever, and very powerfully linked with my own feelings and ideas of love and loss. I'd probably read them again even though it would make me feel sad.

    The other books you've read sound interesting too though so I'll have to give them a look once I've finished Donna Tartt's The Little Friend (next on my to be read list).

    Good luck with the reading resolution and keep us updated!

    Lettie xx

    1. Thanks Lettie! I raced through Station Eleven so fast that I've had to go back to a couple of sections and re-read. It's a book that invites repeated readings I think - and definitely one that keeps you thinking long after you finish the last page. I read it on Kindle so I didn't get the discussion questions - I'd be interested to see what they are.

      I'll definitely carry on with His Dark Materials - I really enjoyed re-reading Northern Lights and everyone keeps telling me the rest of the series just keeps getting better. I've made it a priority to finally read the rest of the trilogy this year!

      I love Donna Tartt - her writing is just so precise and detailed. The Secret History is one of my favourite books ever. It's been a while since I read The Little Friend but I did enjoy it - although not quite as much as The Secret History. I've got The Goldfinch on my TBR but I'm waiting until I have a few days off to really settle in and relish it! Have fun with The Little Friend and let me know what you think when you finish it!

      Amy x