An Accidental Pay-Day Book Haul…

One of my favourite things about going on holiday is that trip to the bookshop a couple of weeks beforehand, to pick up lots of new, shiny books to read on the aeroplane, while lounging by the pool, on car journeys and ferry journeys and bus journeys, in bed when it’s too hot to sleep… Okay, I basically read all the time on holiday.

And yesterday was that bookshop trip. A good half hour spent in the local Oxfam bookshop furnished me with plenty of new reading material!

So, you could say I’ve fallen off the July spending ban wagon rather spectacularly. Or, if you were feeling generous, you might point out that while I did get some books yesterday, my very kind mother swooped in with her card as I was at the till.

You might also point out that I misremembered when my holiday was (10 days time, hurrah!) and thought I could pick up some books for that in early August after the ban was over…

But still. In the spirit of not acquiring any more books to add to the crazy TBR pile, I’ve failed quite badly. Care to take a look?



Sorry for the low-light photo!

Not all of these are for my holiday – the Lindsey Davis is to add to my collection of Falco novels (only one to go now!), and the copy of Chocolat is to replace my current copy, which has ‘Free with Good Food magazine’ plastered across the back. I also probably won’t take Becoming Bindy MacKenzie on holiday, since no-one else will read it, but I loved Jaclyn Moriarty’s books when I was a teenager, and never read this one, so I had to grab it!

I’m also definitely not taking The Lore of the Land on holiday, just because I think it would take up all my weight allowance in my suitcase! This is a really gorgeous, luxurious book telling local legends from around Britain, and I can’t wait to get stuck into it and show you in more detail.

I also loved Sarra Manning as a teen, especially Guitar Girl, and I’m intrigued to try her adult fiction – even if it’s trashy, I like to read that sort of thing by the pool. I also picked up Peony in Love by Lisa See, a tragic romance novel set in 17th century China, and Nocturnes, a collection of short stories/novellas by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Think this little lot will last me a week?

Asha x

Sunday Book Nook #1 – Birthday Book Haul!

Hi all!

I’ve realised that I don’t blog nearly enough about reading and books. This is mostly because I find it really hard to read fiction during term time – I spend most of every day trapped in the library reading incredibly dry articles about long dead Romans, and only really have a social life in the evenings. I usually tumble into bed completely exhausted, and don’t get a chance to read for pleasure at all!

I’m going to try to make a little bit more of an effort to read, at least during the weekend, and so I have created a “Sunday Book Nook” weekly feature, which will hopefully force me to carve out a little book-related time in my week, even if it’s just a photo of the stack I’ve acquired that week.

So, without further ado: here are the books I was given for my birthday!

I feel like I should do a little disclaimer: I’m not trying to show off, and I am very very lucky that my friends and family are so generous!P1000137

A pretty awesome stack, hey? There’s a good mix of all my favourite geekeries in fiction and non-fiction forms! Continue reading

Making my life a little more fictional…

Have you ever read a book that struck you so hard it made an impact on you for the rest of your life?

Many, many wonderful heroines influenced me while I was growing up, and I really think that they shaped my personality just as much as did my non-fictional female role models. Matilda showed me that I wasn’t alone in my love of reading; Alanna the Lioness taught me that I could do anything, even in a man’s world; Princess Cimorene showed me it was okay to be outspoken and move outside the crowd; Anne Shirley shared my temper and taste for escapades, but opened my eyes to beauty and goodness and kindness. Elizabeth Bennet, Vianne Rocher, Helena Justina; all these women and more made such an impact on the woman I am today.

But no heroine has ever touched my heart as much as Cassandra Mortmain, the wonderful, utterly real protagonist of I Capture the Castle.

From the first sentence of the book I was smitten with her slightly self-conscious narration. I love the way she describes her surroundings and her family as if they were fictional, and that her frames of reference include so much literature. I love her imagination and her conflicted feelings and her believable teenage behaviour. What I love most about her, though, is that it was always impossible for me not to identify with her – she is like me, and I am like her, ‘consciously naive’ and striving to be grown up and full of romantic ideals learned from literature that don’t quite apply to real life.

What made me think of how much I love Cassandra is that I’ve been wearing my sample of Penhaligon’s Bluebell perfume.

“Can you smell bluebells?” “I can smell heaven.”

The first time Cassandra and Rose smell bluebell perfume, they are in a posh department store in London, utterly in awe of the elegance and shine of the rich and grown-up. It becomes symbolic of a world they do not belong to, and when Rose buys some for Cassandra when she comes into money, it is a defining moment, and one that I wish I could capture for myself. Having a bottle of bluebell scent (“Americans say ‘perfume’ instead of ‘scent’ – much more correct, really; I don’t know why ‘perfume’ should be considered affected in England.”) is for me the romantic ideal of having ‘made it’: having my life together and being grown-up. I long to have that beautiful blue bottle on my dressing table.

Perhaps it’s silly to attach so much meaning to the fictional, but I love the idea of tying my life a little more closely to Cassandra’s, sharing something of hers. Smelling bluebells on my wrists lets me romanticise my life a tiny bit – it lets me be a bit more fictional.

Asha x

How I learned to love YA books again…

kristin cashore

The short answer? Kristin Cashore.

I’d been getting slightly fed up with the recent wave of Young Adult ‘dystopian’ literature, which took very interesting premises, and used them to cover up basic, boring Twilight-esque romances (I’m looking at you, Divergent, Delirium and Uglies). While these were entertaining enough, they made me feel like I was far too old to be bothering with this sort of stuff. Maybe I am, but for what it’s worth, I don’t think that a book being labelled YA necessarily makes it a poor read; in fact, they can be incredible (here, I’m looking at you, Hunger Games, Poison Study, and especially Daughter of Smoke and Bone). It took reading Graceling in May 2012 to make me recognise that I should try again with YA, and finishing Fire last night made me want to talk about why I love these books so much. Continue reading