Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson

The acorns and conkers decorating the cover of this book led me to believe it would be a perfect read to kick-off  the autumn. Human Croquet certainly had that fairy-tale quality that I crave when the weather turns, but I did feel that something was missing.

I’d hoped that Human Croquet would live up to the brilliance of Kate Atkinson’s more recent novel, Life After Life. Unfortunately I didn’t get off to a good start. In fact, it took about 90 pages to get into the book, even though I could see it had lots of promise. There was just about enough to intrigue me and keep me turning the pages, but it’s hard to ignore such a slow start. Continue reading

Further Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

The Tales of the City series makes for perfect summer reading, and my copy of the third installment got a lot of sun this year!

Further Tales takes us back to beloved 28 Barbary Lane and its inhabitants. Some time has passed since More Tales of the City, and there have been changes. The characters are moving on in their lives or careers. Most notably, Mary Ann, now a local shopping channel celebrity, is on a mission to become an investigative reporter. Loveable Michael is once again on the lookout for love and Brian is no longer flitting from girl to girl, but has ideas of settling down.

Of course, Barbary Lane would not be complete without the wonderful Mrs Madrigal who is ever the guardian angel looking out for her ‘children’. She has some brilliant scenes in this book, I only wish she could have featured a bit more! Continue reading

Armchair Books – Edinburgh

During last month’s trip to Scotland, my boyfriend and I had a few spare hours to explore Edinburgh. We had a lot to cram in and I hadn’t imagined there would be time to check out any bookshops. So I was delighted when we stumbled upon what must be the best bookshop in Edinburgh (although please let me know if there’s a better one and I’ll put it on my list for next time).

Continue reading

Nod: A Novel – Adrian Barnes

I’m one of those people that really appreciates a full eight hours of sleep. When I have a bad night, everyone suffers the next day. I become grumpy and impatient – I’m sure it’s no fun to be around me! So imagine if the whole world suddenly became insomniac. How quickly would society break down? The answer is very quickly.

Welcome to Nod, a world where only one in every thousand can sleep.

A depressing choice for a holiday read this might be, but I found myself oddly drawn to the plight of the narrator. Paul, a sleeper and a writer, records his experiences in this new world of chaos, while trying to survive long enough to outlive the zombie-like awakened. Continue reading

The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan

‘We‘re so young. We’re so youngWe’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.’ 

Marina Keegan was an a ambitious graduate, ready for life’s challenges and full of hope for the future. Just a few days after publishing her final piece in the Yale Daily News, she tragically died in a car accident. This book is a collection of her work put together posthumously by friends and family, and includes her final essay The Opposite of Loneliness.

The writing is emotive and will awaken long-forgotten aspirations in readers of any age. With strong messages such as ‘…we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…’, Marina makes you want to get up and achieve something. Continue reading

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple

I was very pleased to spot Where’d You Go, Bernadette on the bookshelf of my B&B in Edinburgh. I snapped it up and jumped right into it on my flight home. It’s a perfect aeroplane book – so easy to get into and with a simple, but catchy storyline.

It also contains some wonderful characters. Bernadette being my favourite, with her big sunglasses, silk scarves and eccentric personality. She doesn’t fit in with her neighbours in Seattle and  the other mothers of Galer Street school resent her. This leads to some very comical arguments between Bernadette and an especially unlikable Audrey Griffin. Continue reading

My Favourite Character from Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina took up about six weeks of my life and left me with a huge book hangover. Months later, I still find myself thinking about the novel, but it’s been difficult to put my thoughts into a coherent review.

There are many things I’d like to discuss about Anna Karenina – the characterisation, the writing, the themes explored. So I’ve decided to do something a little different and write a number of shorter posts about the book. Today I’ll start with a few thoughts about my favourite character and, in my mind, the real protagonist of the novel.

Levin made quite an impression on me, with his constant contemplation of life, religion, love and death. Continue reading