Last Friday I went on a little excursion to Bath. Ostensibly this was to do a bit of Christmas shopping and look at pretty lights, with a quick stop off for a shoppers’ carol service in the Abbey. In reality I was mostly going so that I could visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights.
Mr B’s has been one of my favourite bookshops for years. It is always a joy to browse the shelves, hidden a little away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. When they were crowdfunding to expand into next door I knew that I had to contribute something. Apart from anything else, it meant that I got a tote bag, a bookmark (always things I want) and best of all my name actually on the ceiling in the shop! Of course I had to make a trip to see that.
The ceiling isn’t quite finished yet but I could still see my name under the film – and in a lovely font too. This room is the Imaginarium where you can go to be a writer in residence for the day. It looks like such a fun thing to do – I would be sorely tempted, although I’m not sure blog writing counts!
Of course, I had to also have a proper nosy around the shop and I spent a good deal of time there dithering over my purchases. In the end I bought a copy of Maddy Alone by Pamela Brown which looks right up my street. It had the added bonus of being in the new, wonderful children’s room which I loved. It even has flaps to lift on the wall!
As usual, I had a great time and I can’t wair to visit again and see the finished ceiling.
At first glance this does not seem to be a bookish post but it is about a beautiful building and we did buy books!
While I was in Dartmouth I went on a tour of the Britannia Royal Naval College and it was a wonderful experience. The historic part of the building is stunning – both inside and out – and the history behind it is fascinating.
Our tour covered the historic building and lasted two hours but I could easily have spent at least the whole day there exploring. There were lots of tempting little staircases which I wanted to run up – obviously, it is a working Naval college and that just isn’t possible!
The longest uninterrupted corridor in Europe!
I had such a good time and I would thoroughly recommend the tour to anyone in the Dartmouth area. Of course – as I promised – we couldn’t escape without books!
I have never been on an actual reading retreat but the idea sounds absolutely wonderful. Going away to spend time reading is like a dream.
However, last week I went away for the week and, although I did have some things I wanted to see while I was there, I planned to read as much as possible. We had a stunning view from our window so I spent a lot of time there with a book and I think I read in most of the coffee shops in the town!
All of that industry was very productive too – I managed to read seven books in six days. They were all children’s books but that’s still quite impressive for me. Even better, for the first time in my life I finished every single book I took with me – so I was more than justified in taking so many (and indeed in buying more!).
I had the best time and I didn’t really want to leave – now I’m back at work I have been reading the same book since Sunday and it’s just not the same!
Last week I got to go and see Lucy Worsley talking about Queen Victoria. I was lucky enough to get to see her Jane Austen talk last year and she was brilliant so I was very excited about seeing her again.
It was blowing an absolute gale on the way over but I had such a good time. Lucy Worsley is a great speaker and of course the subject matter is so interesting.
Naturally, I couldn’t leave without buying a book. I loved the Jane Austen at Home book which went with last year’s talk and so I really wanted all of the books on offer. In the end though I stuck with the book about Queen Victoria which actually related to the talk. I am so looking forward to reading it!
My book club’s choice for our last meeting was Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. It was not a book I would have necessarily chosen for myself but several of the other members were raving about it so I was certainly intrigued and looking forward to reading it.
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child.
Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.
Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
And who does the little girl belong to?
I found that I was somewhat ambivalent about this book. I did enjoy it and I think it is well written. I really liked the characters (especially Rita and Mr Daunt) and I was rooting for them to have a happy ending. The mixture of science and folklore was interesting too and I spent some time trying to figure out how fantastical the story was – the author’s note at the end explained a lot!
However, it wasn’t a book which made me really want to pick it up each time. I can’t really articulate why either – as I said, I did enjoy the story. I think I was letting it flow over me instead of being really invested in it.
The other members of my book club loved it though. So much so that I thought we were going to have a very short meeting indeed – we don’t tend to have a lot to say when everybody likes a book! Luckily though we did find tthings to talk about and it was a great meeting.
I would still recommend Once Upon a River to others – it is a good book, I just wasn’t in quite the right frame of mind to really love it. That was just me though and shouldn’t be held against the book. The weather, however, was perfect – absolutely pouring rain which really added to the atmosphere of the book!
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
This year I am starting my annual Christmas re-read of Little Women a bit early as I am doing so in the company of some lovely people on Instagram – the Kindred Spirit Network.
Social media is a bit of a tricky topic for me – if I spend too long scrolling – and on a bad day too long can be five minutes – I end up feeling very down and it really isn’t good for me. On the other hand, I need to use it if I want to promote my blog. It is difficult for me to find the right balance sometimes.
However, a huge positive side of social media – and Instagram in particular – is the connection I can so easily make with like minded people. I love having a book club with real people I can talk to in person but none of them really enjoy the same books as me. Yes, it makes me read a wider range of books and that is great – but sometimes I just want to read a cosy, comforting book which I love. It is even better if I can share that book with other people who love it just as much as I do.
I am therefore very much looking forward to a couple of months spent curled up with Little Women (and Good Wives – they are usually published separately in the UK). I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.
I have written before about how much I love audiobooks but I have realised recently that I have been listening to them more than ever. Before I discovered I could download audiobooks from the library onto my phone I had a limited supply of books – my choice isn’t limitless now but it is much wider. I am listening to books almost constantly – in the car, working in the stables – any time I can’t read an actual, physical book.
The increase is very obvious when I look at my reading log. Last year I listened to 13 audiobooks – so far this year I have heard 39, with two months still to go.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been working hard on a pair of crochet socks – I often have spells when I am very enthusiastic about crochet and don’t want to be doing anything else. Audiobooks are perfect for that as I can lose myself in the story whilst still having both of my hands free. The only downside is that I have been reading far fewer physical books and I do miss the act of sitting down with my book.
It has also meant that I can’t necessarily read the book I really want as I don’t have access to it in audio form. I am, however, reading a much wider range of books – I tend to just browse until something takes my fancy. I’m sure it’s very good for me!
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is a book which has been intriguing me ever since I first saw it. It has sat in the young adult section of the bookshop for months, looking at me and clearly needing me to read it. Eventually the right time came along and I treated myself to a copy.
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . . ?
This book was everything I had hoped it would be. I was completely gripped by the story and read it long into the night – well past my bedtime! I just had to know what happened next and I have to confess that the solution did take me by surprise.
I thought the book was very well written and I particularly appreciated the low levels of teenage angst. No longer being a teenager myself, I do often find myself infuriated by the behaviour of teenagers in books. That was most definitely not the case here and I have recommended this book to several ‘proper’ grown-ups who have also loved it.
I have also just heard about the sequel which is due out next year and I cannot wait!
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Publisher: Egmont Publishing
Like most of you (I imagine!) I am constantly on the look out for book shops. The lure of a book shop is almost irresistible and I love to find new ones to explore.
Some of my favourite finds though have been the mini book exchanges and charity book shops which seem to have been popping up in more and more places recently. Not only are they unexpected, they are often very beautiful as well.
How lovely is this?!
I have seen several in old phone boxes too which I love. The only trouble is that unless I know when I leave the house that I will find one I very rarely have a book with me which I can swap – only the one I am actually reading. Still, that just means another trip to find some books and that’s not really a hardship!
I quite often find that my reading slows down over the summer. There is just so much to do outside and I have been particularly busy this summer – see my alter ego Gadding About with Galahad if you want to know why!
Not that I haven’t been reading – I have made a reasonable dent in the TBR shelves I showed you in July (ten books read) as well as several extra ones I snuck in. It is just that I wasn’t reading as much as I would have liked.
However, the onset of autumn always makes me want to read. It’s partly all the back to school stuff in the shops and partly the long dark evenings when a blanket and a book by the fire seem like the most wonderful idea. Either way, I’m hoping to read a great many more books over the next few months!