February was a great bookish month for me. 3 great events and 10 books read, including several 5 star reads (although one had no words and another has been in progress since July 2019).
I have decided to start including some stats on these wrap up posts to try and encourage me to keep my TBR in check!
Books Read – 10
Books acquired – 27 (8 bought, 1 library, 17 from publishers, 1 gifted)
Total TBR – 238
This state of affairs is quite plainly ridiculous so I’m hoping to reduce this number by next month!
Helen Fields & Isabel Ashdown at Waterstones Brighton
11 February 2020 – I am a huge fan of Helen Fields and her series of books featuring Ava and Luc, so was thrilled to see she was going to be at my local Waterstones. Helen and Isabel were great company, talking about everything from their books, to the writing process, to the challenges with publishing. It was great to meet Helen (she was lovely) and also to hear about Isabel’s book which I also bought!
Launch of Spotlight Books (Myriad Editions)
13th February 2020 – I was invited to the launch of the Spotlight Series of books in Brighton. Spotlight is a collaboration between Creative Future, New Writing South and Myriad to discover, guide and support writers who are under-represented owing to physical health, disability, identity or social circumstance. There are 6 books in the collection – 3 short stories and 3 collections of poetry. I bought Crumbs by Ana Tewson-Bozic and The Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara Gould, as they sounded brilliant. You can read more about the six books here
Dear Edward afternoon tea
18th February 2020 – I read and adored Dear Edward this month and I was thrilled to be invited to the Penguin offices in London for an afternoon tea with the author of Dear Edward, Ann Napolitano and some other bloggers. Ann answered questions about her writing process and the book and it was really interesting. It was also lovely to meet some new blogger friends!
For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancée, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.
There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.
How did I get it? Received a proof copy for a blog tour.
Joanne Haynes has a secret: that is not her real name.
And there’s more. Her flat’s not hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.
Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis.
In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.
But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….
How did I get it? Received a proof from HQ Stories
Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.
But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.
What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?
And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?
How did I get it? Received a paperback copy from Penguin UK
From cult graphic designer and long-time Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood comes a starkly beautiful graphic novel about the end of the world.
A wild seascape, a distant island, a full moon. Gradually the island grows nearer until we land on a primeval wilderness, rich in vegetation and huge, strange beasts. Time passes and things do not go well for the island. Civilization rises as towers of stone and metal and smoke, choking the undergrowth and the creatures who once moved through it. This is not a happy story and it will not have a happy ending.
Working in his distinctive, monochromatic lino-cut style, Stanley Donwood carves out a mesmerizing, stark parable on environmentalism and the history of humankind.
How did I get it? Received a hardback copy from Penguin UK
One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 187 passengers aboard: among them a Wall Street millionaire; a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.
Dear Edward recounts the stories of the passengers aboard that flight as it hurtles toward its fateful end, and depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he tries to make sense of the loss of his family, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and the meaning of his survival. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront one of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given?’
Meg and her daughter Grace are the most beloved family in Ashford, the lynchpin that holds the town together. So when Meg is found brutally murdered and her daughter missing, the community is rocked by the tragedy. Her daughter, Grace, has been sick for years and all Meg has ever done is look after her. Now Meg is dead, Grace is gone – and fears are growing for her life.
Who would kidnap a sick teenager? Who would murder a mother who sacrificed everything? As the community come to terms with what’s happened, an unlikely pair start searching for answers: Jon, the most hated journalist in Ashford and Cara, the young woman who found Meg’s body. But once they start digging into the past, they will soon realise there’s no going back.
How did I get it? Received a proof copy from Sphere
Fleeing from an Anti-Tractionist sect, the Green Storm, Tom and Hester are left drifting in the frozen Ice Wastes, slowly dying of cold after the Jenny Haniver’s engines have failed. They are saved at the last minute, finding Anchorage, a once-beautiful ice city that has fallen on hard times. Crippled by plague, there are barely fifty souls on Anchorage now, and the teenage margravine has made a desperate choice. They are heading for America, the Dead Continent…
How did I get it? From a charity shop
Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.
Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.
With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…
How did I get it? Received a finished copy from Avon for the blog tour
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
How did I get it? I bought a copy for my book club read
In this twisty tale from Moore (The Sherlockian), the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game, young juror Maya Seale is convinced that African American high school teacher Bobby Nock is innocent of killing the wealthy white female student with whom he appears to have been involved and persuades her fellow jurors likewise. Ten years later, a true-crime docuseries reassembles the jurors, and Maya, now a defense attorney, must prove her own innocence when one of them is found dead in Maya’s room.
How did I get it? I was sent a proof via a Twitter giveaway
Movies & TV
The life of a successful construction manager, Ivan Locke, takes a dramatic turn as he comes to know through a phone call that a woman with whom he had a one-night stand is in labour.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this but I thought it was amazing! The whole film is shot inside Locke’s car as he takes phone call after phone call. He speaks to the woman who has just gone into labour as he tries to reach her to be with her when the baby is born, he speaks to work colleagues and he speaks to his wife and his sons. Tom Hardy is a great actor and this was great.
Dr. John Dolittle lives in solitude behind the high walls of his lush manor in 19th-century England. His only companionship comes from an array of exotic animals that he speaks to on a daily basis. But when young Queen Victoria becomes gravely ill, the eccentric doctor and his furry friends embark on an epic adventure to a mythical island to find the cure.
I found this a little disappointing – it just wasn’t as good as it could of been. The special effects are very good and the animals are great but I have no idea why Robert Downy Junior decided to do a bad Welsh accent – it was awful and totally off-putting. A real shame, but my son did enjoy it and I guess it was aimed at him rather than me!
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
It’s the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendour of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
I loved this! I haven’t read the book so I didn’t really know the story but this was a fantastic film. The setting in Italy was just so atmospheric and beautiful and the two leads were amazing. I’m now desperate to read the book to see how it was translated onto the big screen and to compare the two!
A poor family, the Kims, con their way into becoming the servants of a rich family, the Parks. But their easy life gets complicated when their deception is threatened with exposure.
Having managed to watch 4 of the best nominees for the Best Picture Oscar, I was keen to see the actual winner. I didn’t know anything about this before we saw it in the cinema, and I really enjoyed it. Quite different to anything else I have seen, there were moments of humour as well as violence.
The Witcher (2019)
Set on a fictional, medieval-inspired landmass known as “the Continent”, The Witcher explores the legend of Geralt of Rivia and princess Ciri, who are linked by destiny to each other. It stars Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, and Freya Allan. The show initially follows the three main protagonists at different points of time, exploring formative events that shaped their characters, before eventually merging into a single timeline.
My oldest son was so excited about this, having played the game and read the books and binge watched the Netflix series when it came out, before watching it again my husband and me! I really enjoyed it but benefitted with his knowledge as I found the timeline a little confusing at times.
Work has settled down a lot this month – we have more staff now and I’m able to do my actual job much better now I’m not so busy, which is helping me feel much better!
My youngest son starred in his 2nd production in February – he definitely has the acting bug! This time he played King Wally in Puss in Boots, a panto put on by his school. It was a brilliant and funny show, he was great and again really enjoyed his experience!
After our University visits back in October last year, we are currently doing it all again with applicant days. We have been back to Chichester and it is currently quite high up as a possibility but we still have to see Surrey and Sussex again. My son is hoping to study psychology and his A-level mock results were good so fingers crossed!
During half term, I spent a lovely day in London with Kerrie (I Loved Reading This), her son and mine. We had the Dear Edward event to attend so we took the boys with us. We had a great time in the Sealife Centre on the South Bank, followed by a little bit of shopping and dinner out. It was a really lovely day – Kerrie has become such a good friend and it was great for the boys to meet.
Thanks for reading my ramblings – I’m aware I’ve gone on a bit! I hope you have a great February!