Christmas Book Haul

I got five books for Christmas, mainly ones I’ll need to read for university next term:

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A comprehensive but quirky collection of verse which I hope will give me a good overview of twentieth century poetry.

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A strange, haunting and darkly comic account of the deluded and disillusioned people who drifted around Hollywood in the 1930s – expect a review soon!

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This is the wacky story of a woman who investigates the conflict between two mail distribution companies. I’ve certainly never read anything like this before so will be interested to see what it’s like.

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A collection of short stories set in turn-of-the-century Dublin, with several common themes running throughout. Heavily allusive and intricately written, they merit several re-reads.

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I really enjoyed A View from the Bridge so I will be interested to see how this play, centring around ageing salesman Willy Loman, compares.

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The story of two boys who develop a relationship over the course of one memorable summer in the Italian countryside. I suppose this book doesn’t technically count as my friend lent it to me, but I have heard great things about both the novel and the film so am very much looking forward to reading it!

On a slightly different note, I have decided that in 2018 I will be posting once a fortnight rather than once a week. Hopefully this will enable me to be more consistent with my posts and ensure that their content is always of the highest quality!


2017: My year in reading

Best Victorian novel: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Best modernist novel: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Best murder mystery: In the Woods by Tana French

Best sci-fi novel: Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Best contemporary novel: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Best non-fiction book: Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991 by Orlando Figes

Best poetry collection: Selected Poems by Christina Rossetti

And finally… I’d just like to say how much I appreciate the support of everyone who has visited ‘The Roguish Apostrophe’ this year. I’ve had more views than ever before from more countries than I’ve ever been to. It’s pretty crazy for someone from an uninteresting town in England to have people from Estonia, Myanmar, Colombia, Algeria and many more places reading her ramblings. So thank you and happy new year everybody!

(Very small) Book Haul

Recently my friend and I took our yearly trip to the big Waterstones and Hatchards stores in London. Unfortunately, as we are both preparing to become poor students, we weren’t anywhere near as extravagant as normal. However, I still came away with some good purchases, bought almost entirely using book tokens (hooray):

Both of these volumes of poetry are on my reading list for university. They weren’t cheap, but I think they’re a good investment as they each contain hundreds of poems, providing a rich and comprehensive introduction to these great Irish poets.

Mussolini's Island

I was lucky enough to read this novel in its unfinished form several years ago when I was doing work experience with a literary agent. It tells the story of a group of gay men imprisoned on a remote Italian island during Mussolini’s regime. I was impressed with the powerful storyline and unusual subject matter even then, so I can’t wait to see how it’s turned out now!

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:

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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.