Birthday Book Haul 2

This year, my birthday was a departure from the norm in that all the books I received were either poetry collections or plays. This is partly because some of them are on my reading list for university but partly also because I want to broaden my reading horizons, as I tend to lean towards novels at the expense of other areas of literature.

A View from the Bridge

I have never read anything by Arthur Miller before and this seems like a good place to begin!

Again, I have never read anything by Samuel Beckett so I am hoping these two volumes will prove a good introduction. An added bonus is their extremely digestible length!

Emily Bronte Poetry

I enjoyed Wuthering Heightsand the excellent TV drama ‘To Walk Invisible’ made me curious to read the rest of Emily Brontë’s work. The cover art on this edition is very pretty, if slightly mysterious.


Bookishly Roundup 2

A summary of my second 3-month subscription to Bookishly:

Month 4

Month 4








‘Akenfield’ by Ronald Blythe, Alice in Wonderland birthday cards and bookmark. Also some Lapsang Souchong Butterfly tea, of which there is no longer any evidence!

Month 5

Month 5

‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus, blank travel notebook, Alice in Wonderland bookmark. Also some (again sadly vanished) Mint Chocolate Rooibos tea, which I must say is a particularly delicious variety.

Month 6

Month 6

‘This Side of Paradise’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Duchess Earl Grey tea, Shakespeare cards, floral bookmark.

Again I have been delighted with everything I’ve received from Bookishly, although I do resent being sent several tantalisingly beautiful cards which I will eventually have to give away when my friends have birthdays…

Bookishly Roundup

In a previous post, I mentioned that for my birthday I got a 3-month subscription to Bookishly’s ‘Tea and Book Club’. This means that every month I received a parcel containing a surprise vintage paperback, a bookmark, some pretty stationery and some tea. Now that the subscription has finished, I thought I would share my winnings with you:

Month 1


‘Queer Street Vol 1’ by Edward Shanks, Lemon Ceylon Ginger tea, music note tree lined notebook and bookmark.

Month 2


‘Lifemanship’ by Stephen Potter, space lovehearts blank notebook and bookmark (NB: there was also some almond-flavoured ‘Winter Star’ tea but this was so delicious that I’ve already drunk it all).

Month 3


‘Out of the Silent Planet’ by C.S. Lewis, mocha chai tea, chevron bookmark, set of birthday/thank you cards.

In summary, I would highly recommend ‘Bookishly’ – it has encouraged me to pick up books I wouldn’t normally read and drink varieties of tea I would usually stare at in bewilderment! In fact, I have enjoyed the lovely old-fashioned thrill of receiving a parcel in the post each month so much that I have signed up for another 3-month subscription, so expect another roundup shortly…

Best Bookshops in Cromer

To celebrate my 18th birthday, I went to Cromer for the weekend with my two best friends. I love Cromer because it has barely changed since the Victorian era: the same cobbled backstreets, extravagant pier and pastel-painted fisherman’s cottages are visible in all the old photographs. I must admit it wasn’t exactly a normal choice for a newly-turned-eighteen-year-old; some of the wild things we did included nosing around in the church, attending an art exhibition, walking along the coastal path and, of course, ferreting through old bookshops. Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favourite haunts with you:

  1. Much Binding

This shop is crammed from floor to ceiling with old books, which give off that lovely, musty vintage smell. The books are double and sometimes triple stacked, so there are always new treasures to find, such as a beautiful first edition of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’. My friend picked up one book with a plain dark blue cover and ‘Smegley’s Practical Hydropathy’ engraved on the spine, only to open it and discover that the words ‘Victorian Secret Diary’ were scrawled on the inside front cover in pencil and that all the pages were blank! We agreed that it was an ingenious idea. Perhaps the crowning glory of our visit to ‘Much Binding’, however, was the chest of drawers full of old photographs. We spent a good half hour examining photos of Edwardian seaside holidays and family wedding portraits of stern-faced Victorians. I felt that I couldn’t leave without at least one souvenir (‘Alice’, alas, was £35), so I chose this picture:

Marjorie and cat.png

On the back is written ‘Marjorie with Cailo + cat.’ I’m not sure why I went for this photo in particular; I just liked the animals and I thought Marjorie had a nice, interesting face. The blurriness in the background adds an intriguing element of mystery, too.

2. Bookworms of Cromer

Another lovely second-hand bookshop, this one is more orderly and has a more up-to-date selection of books than ‘Much Binding’. It’s in a little house near the seafront, and as you browse through its various rooms you never quite lose the feeling that you’re in the living room of a very enthusiastic reader.

3. Jarrold

I realise that this shop is not unique to Cromer but it deserves a mention because in my opinion it contains everything you could ever wish to find in one shop: fridge magnets with life mottos on them, seaside-themed ornaments, jam, soap, toy animals, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies, stationery and of course a spectacular selection of books!

2016: My year in reading

Best classic book: ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen

Best non-fiction book: ‘Notes From A Small Island’ by Bill Bryson

Best historical novel: ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory

Best thriller: ‘Into the Blue’ by Robert Goddard

Best mystery: ‘Good Girls Don’t Die’ by Isabelle Grey

Best contemporary novel: ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan

Best modern classic: ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath

Best setting: 1930s Spain (As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning)

Bring on the new year!

Birthday Book Haul

For my birthday I was delighted to receive quite a few books…


I loved David Nicholls’ ‘Us’ and was keen to sample some more of his work. I am a fan of ‘University Challenge’ so this seemed like the logical next step!

the-boy-who-could-see-demonsI came across this book while surfing through book trailers on YouTube (a guilty pleasure of mine) and it sounded unlike anything I’ve ever read before: a boy believes a demon is speaking to him and his psychologist, unable to convince him otherwise, begins to wonder whether he really is communicating with the paranormal.


Tana French was recommended to me by an author at a writing workshop. I attended a girls’ school so the idea of a murder mystery set in one promises to be unsettling but fascinating.


I loved Isabelle Grey’s ‘Good Girls Don’t Die’ so I am looking forward to reading the latest novel featuring DI Grace Fisher.


One of my favourite presents was undoubtedly a subscription to ‘Bookishly’: every month through the post I will receive some tea, pretty stationery and a surprise vintage book. This month’s book was ‘Queer Street’. There is no blurb and I can’t find much information about it on the internet, but I quite like the idea of turning to the first page with no idea of what to expect!


This is a very amusing book in the vein of Mather and Macartney-Snape’s ‘Social Stereotypes’ – fun to dip into and very attractively illustrated.


This notebook, aside from being extremely aesthetically pleasing, also has space to list books I have read, books I want to read and my favourite bookshops, which no doubt will come in useful.

I look forward to reading and reviewing these – please comment and tell me your thoughts if you’ve read any!

Bookshelf Tour

I think that looking at someone’s bookshelves can tell you a lot about their personality so I hope you enjoy this small insight into mine!

Second hand crime

I have a bit of a weakness for both crime and second hand books, so this is where my guilty pleasures usually end up.

Highlights: PD James is one of my favourite authors and I strongly recommend her if you’re looking for either crime or literary fiction. ‘Good Girls Don’t Die’ is one of the best crime novels I’ve read this year – read my review to find out more.

Agatha Christie

I went through a phase a few years ago where I was slightly obsessed with Agatha Christie. I really like these editions of the books as they are very compact and look lovely on the shelf together, but sadly as my collection has grown they remain hidden behind the books pictured above.

Highlights: ‘Death on the Nile’ is a deserved classic and ‘The ABC Murders’ is very compelling too, with an intriguing concept. I was a little bit disappointed by ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ because the author uses the same trick as she did in ‘Endless Night’, which I read first.


This shelf is a bit random – I don’t really know how to describe it! There is a mixture of YA and adult books and it has a few more non-fiction books than the other shelves.

Highlights: ‘Clara’s War’ is the fascinating memoir of a Holocaust survivor. It is comprised of entries from Clara’s diary and details she has written in retrospect, which make an interesting combination. ‘Quiet’ is a must-read for any introverts.


This shelf is mainly YA with a few adult books. A lot of these novels are set in foreign countries and different time periods.

Highlights: Obviously I love the works of Helen Grant (see interview). ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ is a very intelligent and gripping mystery from the perspective of a woman with dementia.


Originally this was the place where I put all my classic books but I appear to be running out of space so I might have to relocate some of them. There’s a nice progression from right to left as I got more confident and ambitious in my reading material.

Highlights: There are quite a few books to choose from here but if I had to a pick a top three, it would be ‘The God of Small Things’, ‘The Woodlanders’ and ‘Cider With Rosie.’ I also enjoy anything by Jane Austen or John Steinbeck.


This shelf contains mostly children’s books, several of which are fantasies. Although this is no longer one of my favourite genres, I really enjoyed it as a child. The shelf also contains my aborted attempt at collecting all the books in the ‘Roman Mysteries’ series.

Highlights: When I was younger I loved the ‘Molly Moon’ series and ‘Eragon’ – the latter particularly should be worth a re-visit. ‘The 10pm Question’ is also a very underrated book about a boy who is a bit of a worrier.


This is a very small shelf near my desk, consisting of books which I only dip into now and again and don’t need to read in chronological order: poetry, humour and German books when I feel like being intellectual!

Highlights ‘How Not to Write a Novel’ has some great examples of bad writing which made me laugh out loud. Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The World’s Wife’ is an excellent collection of poems and very readable.

Book Haul

As I had a few vouchers to spend, I spent an excellent day visiting the Piccadilly Waterstones as well as Hatchards, the oldest bookshop in London, so I thought I would share my takings with you:

The Red House

I really enjoyed ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ and this book seems intriguing, promising humour, tension and family secrets.

The Gravedigger's Daughter

I was trying to decide between several of Joyce Carol Oates’ books as she is an author whose work I have never read but have wanted to try for some time. Eventually I settled on this one: it sounds dark and mysterious and I was drawn in by the unusual notion of gravedigging as a profession.

The Echo Maker

This is a novel about the consequences of an accident for a victim who suffers a traumatic brain injury. Fickle, I know, but the typeface and cover are gorgeous too!

Kind Of Cruel

Sophie Hannah is another author whose work I have wanted to sample for a while and the psychological thriller is a genre which really interests me at the moment.

Literary Theory

I feel like my knowledge of literary theory at the moment is very patchy so I thought this book seemed comprehensive enough to fill in a few gaps.

Collected Poems

At £25, this book is quite pricey but it contains most of Duffy’s work and considering that each volume alone is usually £9.99, ‘Collected Poems’ seems like a bargain!

Puffin Notebook

Technically this is not a proper book, but it is very fat, has narrow lines and there are puffins on the front cover so I think it represents everything that is good and noble about notebooks.

I look forward to reading these and hopefully posting a book review or two. Please comment if you’ve read any and tell me what you think!

2015: My year in reading

Best classic book: The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

Best non-fiction book: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

Best historical novel: Regeneration by Pat Barker

Best fantasy book: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Best mystery: Devices and Desires by P.D. James

Best YA book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Best contemporary novel: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Best TV adaptation of a book: Bleak House + And Then There Were None (I can’t choose between them)

Top 3 protagonists: Jacob Portman (Miss Peregrine), Douglas Petersen (Us), Veerle de Keyser (Urban Legends)

Best setting: Kerala, India (The God of Small Things)

Most interesting historical period: The Tudor era (Wolf Hall)

Worst book: Fever by Dee Shulman

I can’t wait to see what next year will bring!