Thursday, 4 September 2014

What I Read in August

Hello book fans! Oof, that August went by a bit quick eh? It's been a funny old month for me split between extremely awesome things like a week at the Edinburgh Fringe, babysitting my boyfriend's nephews and discovering that the Ritzy in Brixton does a steak dinner for £13, and extremely rubbish things like a chest infection, a visit to A&E, and a woman shouting at me in the street for no discernible reason.

Oh and here's me feeding our newest calf Elsie, when I went back to my parents' farm for a few days. Isn't she the cutest?


On the books front, it's been a fantastic month and I've read some really varied things with only one minor stinker. Here goes...

Landline - Rainbow Rowell (Hardback) 8/10

Hey Holly June favourite, Rainbow Rowell, has taken a step back from writing YA to release this beautiful book about a woman who discovers that the phone from her teens is actually connecting her calls to the past. Stick with it, this ain't no sci-fi whackness but instead it was a really moving read that stirred up lots of those brilliant 'early days' feelings that we get about relationships.

I picked this up when I went to Rainbow's reading last month, and while it's not quite as brilliant as Fangirl,  main character Georgie is beautifully written, and full of realistic flaws; forgets to call people back, wears the same t-shirt days in a row etc.

I loved the way relationships were written in this book, particularly Georgie's relationship with her teenage sister and her step-dad who isn't much older than she is. Capturing blended family dynamics is something Rainbow Rowell excels at. And more than anything, this really made me just want to pick up the phone and have a proper old-school call.

Open City - Teju Cole (Kindle) 5/10

This was one of my book club choices for August, but sadly I couldn't make it in the end because of the aforementioned and HIDEOUS chest infection which thankfully I am finally over. However, I am assured everyone felt much the same as I did about this book.

In Open City, a young Nigerian doctor spends his free time walking the streets of Manhattan in a bid to unwind and process his feelings about his past, his relationships and his future. He meets people from different walks of life and explores the intricacies of race, displacement, loss and forgiveness.

While there was nothing wrong with it, I just didn't feel particularly absorbed by Open City, nor enamoured with the main character Julius. The writing was a bit dry and I looked forward to finishing it so I could move on to another book, not a good sign.

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman (Hardback) 8/10

This was my other book club's choice and SUCH a contrast from Open City. I absolutely adored this story, seamlessly translated from Swedish, about a grumpy old man called, you've guessed it, Ove.

Ove is a guy who likes things done a certain way. He gets up early every day to perform a neighbourhood inspection, hates the cat who is hanging around outside, and shouts at anyone who gets in the way.

But when a pregnant neighbour arrives, with her lanky husband and two small girls, Ove is forced into a number of situations that he is not best pleased with, that interrupt his plans, but that ultimately make him see the world a little differently.

This book is one of those lovely ones that has you laughing one minute and crying the next. It's so beautifully written that I am absolutely desperate to see it adapted into a film, and we had a good chat about who would play Ove. If you read it, come and chat to me about who you'd pick!

The Holford 9-Day Liver Detox: The Definitive Detox Diet That Delivers Results - Patrick Holford (Paperback) 8/10

If you know me IRL you'll know that diets and detoxes are SO NOT ME, but over the past six months I've been feeling a bit sluggish, unfit and unhealthy. I don't sleep well, I lack energy, and as I approach my 30's I fear that after years of eating cakes and biscuits my body is crying out for a break.

My super friend Dionne read this book and did the 9 day detox and said she felt noticeably better afterwards, more alert, clearer skin, better sleep etc. After filling in a questionnaire it made me realise that a lot of my health issues probably are down to food; questions like "Are you rarely wide awake within 15 minutes of rising?" (A: Never), "Do you get irritable if you go six hours without food?" (A: SIX HOURS? Unthinkable.) and "Do you suffer from a stuffy nose or sinus problems?" (A: Yep.)

This book was really helpful without being too overwhelming. I learnt a lot about the science of the liver, how it functions and how it processes what we eat and drink.  It's got a really simple and easy meal plan to follow for the nine days, and there are shopping lists so that you don't have to do too much planning. A huge help for someone like me who is often a bit too knackered to think of things to cook.

The detox itself cuts out dairy, wheat, caffeine, alcohol and bad fats. I haven't done it yet but am planning to do this mid-September so I'll be writing a blog post about that soon. Most importantly, I actually feel excited and prepared for it, which can only be down to the reassurance of this book.

The Leftovers - Tom Perrotta (Paperback) 9/10

I first heard about this book via the TV adaptation which has started on HBO in the US recently and has been adapted by Damon Lindelof of Lost fame (don't let that put you off).

The Leftovers is about the aftermath of a mysterious incident where a small percentage of the world's population disappear. Literally just disappear, from the spot where they stood, or sat, or slept. Rather than looking at the global impact, here we meet the Mayor of Mapleton, Kevin Garvey, whose son has joined a cult, whose daughter has started skipping school, and whose wife has moved into a house of silent worshippers who call themselves The Guilty Remnants, and are convinced the disappearing was The Rapture.

Three years on, the townspeople are still in disarray and this is a stunning look at how we cope with unexplained tragedies and find ways to move on. I really, really loved this book, and I've been thinking about it a lot since. I haven't seen the TV show yet but by all accounts it's one to watch!

What have you all been reading this month? Come and give me your recommendations on Twitter. And just a little reminder that if you buy any of these books using one of the links above, I'll get a small kickback from Amazon. Your local bookshop or library should also be able to help you out!

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