Book Review – The Paper and Hearts Society

When I was at school I didn’t know anyone who loved books as much as me.  In fact, I can’t remember seeing many people reading for pleasure at all, although I’m sure they must have done so.  I felt that I was very different.

Once when we went on a sixth form college open day we passed two girls who were discussing the various merits of the Brontës.  My friends thought they were weird – I thought them wonderful (I can’t remember which Brontë those girls preferred but for me Anne is easily the best Brontë sister).

All of which means that when I read the blurb of Lucy Powrie’s debut book The Paper & Hearts Society I knew I had to read it and I could not have been more delighted when Hachette sent me a reading copy.

Publisher’s Blurb

A brand new series from Booktuber Lucy Powrie – about what happens when you give up on trying to fit in in and let your weird out!  It’s time to join The Paper & Hearts Society …

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in.  She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books.  What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back.  Maybe it’s the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed’s fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself …

Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

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As soon as Tabby found the flier for the book club I was hooked.  They sounded like just my kind of people and I really wanted to join.  I was whisked away on the story and I loved it.

Lucy has managed to create a diverse range of characters without being heavy handed about it.  She treats people’s differences in a very matter of fact way without making a big deal out of them.  I have read books where it seems as if the diversity is included just for the sake of it.  That was absolutely not the case here – this is primarily a book about people who love books.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I could see a lot of myself in Tabby and I would recommend it to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or who just loves books.  Books are a key part of The Paper & Hearts Society and it is glorious.

Book Details

The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

ISBN: 9781444949230

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

RRP: £7.99

Book Club Musings

Sometimes it is the books you least expect which cause the best discussions.

This week my book club met to discuss Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path – her account of walking the South West Coast Path with her husband Moth after they not only lost both their home and livelihood but Moth was also diagnosed with a terminal illness.  I read a great many glowing reviews when it first came out and everyone I have ever spoken to has absolutely loved it.  That was the first reason I thought we wouldn’t have a great discussion – when all of us love a book we have very little to say.

The second reason was that the only other time we have read a non-fiction book we really struggled to talk about it.  We couldn’t dissect the plot because it was true and it was one of those books about which nobody had any very strong feelings.  We all enjoyed it but nobody loved it or hated it.  It turns out that as a group we need strong feelings to get a decent discussion!

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As I said though, books can surprise you.  I have to admit that I didn’t love The Salt Path but I didn’t dislike it either.  However, the book group as a whole had a lot of strong opinions.  There was a really good turn out and what ended up being an excellent discussion.  People had a lot to say!

It was one of the best meetings we have ever had and was exactly why I wanted to join in the first place.  There is nothing like talking about books with other people who love them as much as you do.

The Delights of Readalongs

Over the past couple of years I have taken part in several readalongs. I never really knew they were a thing until I discovered Bookstagram but there seem to be so many of them to choose from! For anyone who doesn’t know – a readalong is when a group of people read the same book with discussions every so often about set chapters.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South and Mary Barton are two of my very favourite books so when I discovered that Shelbi over at The Nobby Life was running a series of Elizabeth Gaskell readalongs I jumped at the chance to join in. Shelbi hosted some excellent discussions and of course I loved the books.

Sadly, I still haven’t finished the last book we discussed. The Sylvia’s Lovers readalong came at a time when I had a lot going on and was also in the middle of quite a reading slump. Sylvia was doing nothing to pull me out of it and the stress of knowing I had to read a certain number of chapters a week was not helpful so I ended up stopping altogether. It’s a shame because I really enjoyed the discussions but that’s the point – readalongs are for fun! Hopefully I’ll pick the book up again soon.

Currently I am taking part in a bookstagram readalong of Martin Chuzzlewit. I am rather behind – I sing in a church choir and had five services plus extra rehearsals over Holy Week so I was somewhat busy – but am hoping to catch up again this week. The main thing is that I am enjoying the book and for me that’s the important part. Of course, the discussions make it extra interesting and I really have been learning a lot from them. I would certainly recommend joining in to anyone who is interested!

Book Review – The Sixteen Trees of the Somme

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting is a book I’ve been thinking about reading for a while – mainly because I’d heard it is similar in feel to All the Light we Cannot See which I loved.

I was therefore extremely pleased that my book club chose to discuss it at our meeting last night – I could add it to my teetering TBR pile without feeling at all guilty!

Publisher’s Blurb

Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery – he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.

But he knows that the fate of his grandfather’s brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death – a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.
Edvard’s desperate quest to unlock the family’s tragic secrets takes him on a long journey – from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France – to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is about the love of wood and finding your own self, a beautifully intricate and moving tale that spans an entire century.

I put off reading it until the last minute – as I’ve mentioned before, I like to read cosy wintry favourites over Christmas – mainly children’s books.

I loved this book – and for once so did most of the book club. I thought it was beautifully written and the author’s love of wood and well crafted objects really showed through – his descriptions were wonderful.

Besides that, the mystery element was intriguing and kept me guessing. I found myself riding my pony and occupying my mind with setting out the facts I knew and trying to fill in the gaps. This is a book which will stay with me for a long time and I will definitely be reading the next one.

Book Details

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

ISBN: 9780857056061

Publisher: Maclehose Press

RRP: £8.99

Christmas Book Club

My book club doesn’t have a proper meeting in December as the book shop is just too busy to cope. Instead, we had a trip to the pub for a bookish chat.

It was lovely to spend an evening with a group of book lovers without having the pressure of focusing on one book in particular. We did nominally have a book to read but only two people had actually done so – it was much more of a social evening than a proper book club meeting.

We had a great time talking about our books of the year, our all time favourite books and the books on our Christmas lists. We had a brief excursion into politics but in the main we kept strictly to books and it was wonderful. I would highly recommend it!

Rivers of London

For years my friend has been telling me how much she loves Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series.  Every time she mentioned it I would nod and say I must try it (she did make it sound brilliant) but my TBR is huge and somehow it never made it to the top.

Then a couple of months ago my book club chose to read the first book.  I was finally able to say I had taken the advice and read it – and also that I now understood all the fuss because I enjoyed it so much.  Having taken at least five years to start the series, I have read the first three books over the past two months and I will shortly be starting the fourth.

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This is actually the second book in the series

The series is a great mix of detective story and magic with a few ghosts and myths thrown in.  I have been loving reading them.

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It just shows that you should always listen to your friends  – they do know you after all!

Struggling

This has been a bit of a slow week for me reading wise.  I have plenty of books which I really want to read but the books I have actually been reading have not been holding my interest.

First I had After the Party by Cressida Connolly.  This was my book club’s choice for November and for some reason I was not looking forward to it.  I kept putting off starting it and eventually began it about two days before the meeting.  Once I did get started I raced through it – I thought it was well written and the words flowed easily off the page.  I did however seem to be constantly waiting for a momentous event that never materialised.  I think it was just not the right time for me to read it – most of my book club loved it and we had a great discussion about it.

I have also been reading Sylvia’s Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell.  This one is for an Instagram readalong hosted by Shelbi over at The Nobby Life.  I was really looking forward to it as I normally love Gaskell’s books but again, I am finding it a bit slow going and I still feel as if I’m waiting for something to happen.

I don’t dislike it though – it just hasn’t fully captured my imagination yet.  I’m only halfway through so there is plenty of time!

As I said, it’s not really the fault of the books.  I have had a busy few weeks and what I really need now is a light, fast-paced, easy read.  It’s important I think not to push oneself too much to read things one doesn’t enjoy just for the sake of a discussion.  Reading is meant to be fun after all.

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In Praise and Celebration of Book Clubs

For many years I wanted to join a book club.  The idea of meeting a lot of like minded people to talk about books was wonderful but I was hampered by two things.  Firstly, there weren’t any near me and secondly I was hesitant about committing myself to reading books I didn’t like.  Not that I expected to hate them all – I just knew there would be some I didn’t.

However, when there was an opportunity to set one up at work I jumped at the chance.  I am so glad I did!  Yes, there have been books I really did not like but there have been others that I loved – even some that I would not have picked up if left to myself.

I have also genuinely enjoyed the discussions and it is great to be able to have them with a group of people who love books just as much as me.  Besides, I’ve learnt that if I really hate a book I don’t have to finish it.  That makes an interesting discussion too.

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Side note: this is neither a book I hated, nor one I didn’t want to read. I suggested the group read it for our meeting next week and I am gripped by it. Hopefully they have been enjoying it too!