Sunday Post #14

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

I have really struggled with my blog for the last couple of weeks, so I am very sorry for the lack of consistency over here. It’s been a very stressful and frankly disappointing time for me, and my mood has been much affected by it. Oh well, Christmas is near so let’s rejoice!

Wednesday was my birthday and it might sound silly but it felt so lovely to hear from all my friends and family, and spend some quality time with my boyfriend. I feel energised and stronger thanks to everyone’s thoughts and well-wishes. One of my special treats was an afternoon tea at Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals, and it was quite amazing! Their afternoon tea is actually a tipsy tea, so your teapot is filled with a deliciously indulgent cocktail. I posted a picture below, I would highly recommend for a special celebration – the cocktails and food were scrumptious. Restaurants have re-opened in London, so my boyfriend took me there and I had the best afternoon – although I definitely can’t drink anymore as I was waaayyy tipsier than I’d like to admit). It was also very nice to dress up, something I hadn’t done in months!

I’ve read and finished

Currently Reading

These are the books I bought in November. They’re mostly secondhand but I couldn’t resist Foyles’ Black Friday sale of 25% off on selected paperbacks!

Already read and loved!

Elton John – Step Into Christmas (definitely stepped into the festive period with Elton this week!)

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

Books to Gift This Christmas

There are two things I love doing in my free time: reading and browsing websites to find beautiful things. It’s a little bit of a problem, really. I spend hours looking at books, clothes and various random things that I find beautiful, but I actually never buy them (well, sometimes but very rarely!). I just like looking at them. For that reason, I love gift guides because they gather all these pretty items in one place for me to admire. I thought I would try my hand at those this year, although I know that there are so many gift guides out there already. Hopefully, you will find my personal touch a nice addition!

This week, I will focus on actual books that would make a great present (for a loved one or yourself), and in a next article I will talk about bookish gifts in general.

Penguin Clothbound Classics

These books look so beautiful on a shelf! There’s currently a deal on the Penguin website where you can get 3 for £33, instead of £45. This allows you to get a nice little selection to spoil your favourite reader of classics.

Barnes and Nobles Leatherbound Classics

These are truly beautiful editions of your favourite classics – and not so classics! My personal favourites include Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. You can also just google ‘barnes and nobles leatherbound classics’ + the title of the book you’re looking for and it’s very likely that you’ll find the title you’re looking for!

Literary Gift Sets from the Literary Emporium

The Bell Jar Gift Set (I need this t-shrt in my life!)

These gift boxes are so exquisite, it will make any bookworm happy. Three to four presents in one, and the utter joy of wearing your favourite book on your chest – nothing can compare. I especially like the Hamlet one.

Juniper Books

For a higher budget, Juniper Books is a great alternative. They offer unique and gorgeous cover designs of well-loved hardback titles. You can get the books with it, or just the dust jackets. Special mention to the Nancy Drew set, Banned Books collection, and the Christmas Classics set.

Literary Box Subscription

Books can be such a personal thing, right? You know that a person close to you loves books, but choosing the right title can be a daunting thing – even if you too are a bookworm. This is when book subscriptions come into play and allow you to offer books without the pressure of choosing a specific title. There are so many out there but I personally prefer the more surprising ones with a general theme and goodies as well, everyone loves a little treat with a book. A perfect example of this is the gorgeous Books That Matter, pictured above. For secondhand lovers, this subscription is everything they could desire – including tea and stationery. Finally Reposed is a great option for a reader who needs to take a little bit of time for themselves (thinking of subscribing to this one myself!).

A Vintage or Antique Copy of Their Favourite Book

A gorgeous edition of Wuthering Heights from the 1940s that a friend got me for my birthday a few years ago – how stunning is that cover!

This one requires a little bit of research, but it’s so gratifying to find a gorgeous book for a gorgeous friend or relative. You can also adapt your budget very easily, and the most beautiful editions are not necessarily the most expensive. My favourite places to hunt for used books (online) are Oxfam, AbeBooks (which is owned by Amazon, but has a very good research tool) and PsychoBabel (their physical store is called Skoob Books and is located in Bloomsbury – would highly recommend paying them a visit if/when you can). It’s always worth having a look on eBay as well, there are some great bargains on there! This is where I found most of beautiful Stephen King paperbacks, for instance.

I hope you find this little guide useful – if not for Christmas, for a nice little treat to yourself! Anything in particular you’d love to find under the Christmas tree this year?

Monday Post #13

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

I think this will be a good week: I found a pound coin outside my front door yesterday, and I think that this is a nice sign. Every little thing, right? Last week was really stressful at work, and not for the good reasons. I did have a lovely weekend though! We made homemade burgers, and I baked some pecan chocolate chip cookies that we ate while watching Parasite – a film definitely worth the hype.

Currently Reading

Queen – Radio Ga Ga

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

Book Review: The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

The Lying Life of Adults is the much awaited latest book written by Elena Ferrante – the first one after the last volume of Neapolitan quartet. It tackles similar issues to her previous works, for instance class, beauty, adolescence, studying, etc. This is not a plot-driven novel and Ferrante focuses more on the evolution of the heroine, Giovanna, as she goes through turbulent changes in her teenage years.

When the novel starts, Giovanna is an adult who is looking back at her 12-year-old self hearing her dad referring to her as ugly, and comparing her to his estranged sister who he thinks is as nasty as her looks might suggest. This comment leads Giovanna to become interested in this aunt, Vittoria, whom she is supposed to look like. Raised in a middle-class neighbourhood of Naples, she goes to meet her aunt down in the working-class area of the city and meets people who are completely different from her wealthy, quiet, and educated friends. It’s tricky to sum up this novel because it’s not so much about what the characters do but rather how they interact and evolve.

It took me a while to write this review because if I’m honest, I have been clueless about this book. It’s haunted me for a while after reading it, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I think I felt very frustrated only having access to Giovanna’s growth on such a short period of time. I really hope that there will be a sequel to this book, because I feel like Ferrante is the best at creating character development over the course of a few books – she needs space to say all the things that she has to say.

Even though Giovanna is recalling what happened during her teenage years, she still conveys the feelings of adolescence vividly. Everything is changing around her – her body, the way people look at her, her family… and all her emotions are heightened, especially anger. That makes her sometimes really annoying, but that’s what you get when following a teenage heroine. It is such a strange time of life and I think Ferrante is excellent at portraying this. She’s especially good at depicting the changing body of a girl and how it impacts everything, and also the fear of looking like an older relative because she feels so ugly and awkward. There is also this new way that men have to look at you, and it creates more discomfort but also an ambivalence between hating this new body and using it to gain a certain power over men. Being a teenage girl is to feel a constant angst towards your body and to wish you were anyone but yourself. It might not be the same for everyone, but it certainly was for me and I think this ambivalence of the changing body is beautifully portrayed in The Lying Life of Adults.

And of course, adolescence is the time of first love interests. I won’t go into too much detail, just because I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s pleasure in discovering this story, but love in this book is very reminiscent of the Neapolitan series. There is a clear distinction between the interest Giovanna receives from most boys and men, who are all like animals in the sense that they only expect sex from her. On the other hand, there is the educated young man who transcended his class through studies; he is more spiritual, and pushes Giovanna to better herself on an intellectual level. This figure resembles Nino in Ferrante’s previous series, but we also know later that Nino was in fact not much better than other men in that regard. In this novel, Giovanna falls in love with the idea of this man, his goodness and his kindness – almost like a religious idol. I thought that this was very relevant with the theme of adolescence because we all have this one person that we are obsessed with when we grow up to the point of adoration (whether an actual person or a celebrity).

I would love to be able to read Italian and read Elena Ferrante’s words as she thought them. Ann Goldstein does an amazing job at translating these beautiful novels, but I also know that you always lose something in translation. I remember when I first read Jane Eyre in French and then read it in English – it was like a completely different work and the writing flowed much more beautifully in English. It would be interesting to know what someone who read both the Italian and English versions thinks of The Lying Life of Adults (but that’s also because I’m a bit of language nerd).

If you’re already a Ferrante fan, you can just go ahead and read The Lying Life of Adults; you will find everything you love about about this author’s books. If you’ve never read Ferrante before, it might be a good place to start because it’s rather short and involves a little bit less commitment than My Brilliant Friend and its three following instalments. It’s a fantastic book that will get you hooked on Giovanna’s thoughts, but please be aware that you too will cry for a sequel at the end of your reading. PLEASE, give us another book – I beg!

Have you read this book already? What did you think of it? And as usual, happy reading!

Organising my bookshelves (and a mini bookshelf tour!)

As I mentioned in my last Stacking the Shelves, I bought a lot of new books in October, which means that I quickly ran out of space on my shelves. As I needed to tidy all my books, I thought I would document the process! As you will see, I really don’t have much space for all my books (or at least, I wish I had a lot more) so I have to be clever. My boyfriend (he’s a big reader as well) and I share a big bookshelf and a few shelves that we have on one wall , we also have a couple more wall shelves but I leavethem to him as they’re his ‘writing books’. I figured it made more sense for him to have all the books useful for his writing at the same place, rather than scattered around the place in my very personal organisation! Anyway, here’s what we had to deal with:

Look at my cute Halloween glow-in-the-dark skeletons!

So… yes, it was pretty messy. It was all the more upsetting that I had last organised my shelves in September! I had attempted a rainbow shelf (separating paperbacks from hardbacks), and I had freed a couple of the wall shelves to put some books on, but the bottom one ended up receiving my cameras and lenses, books awaiting for their rightful place, and various bits and bobs. Besides, it was a tragic set-up as there is a gap between the end of the shelves and the wall which meant that books kept falling off. I had also an extra pile of books on our coffee table that needed to be put away –

The only way to get started was to get everything out of the way, putting all paperbacks and hardbacks together, and also differentiating collections and purpose (for instance, I like my Penguin Classics to be together, and my Victorian non-fiction to be apart from the rest).

Paperbacks (in the background, on the shelf, are my Harry Potter books because they’re quite fragile so I prefer to have them in a safe place)
Hardbacks/Oxford and Penguin Classics/Penguin Modern Classics/French books/Victorian books/Antiques/Special series

I didn’t remove many books from the bottom shelf of my bookcase because they’re all big and heavy books that can’t fit anywhere else, so I saved some time and effort by leaving them where they were.

I started by putting all my antique books on the higher wall shelf, as well as all my Jane Austen Vintage classics. The shelf below is for my Penguin English Library books, my Brontës Vintage classics, and my Harry Potter books. Below that, we have my Persephone books, My Brilliant Friend book series, our Penguin Modern Classics, some Penguin orange spines and my Victorian non-fiction books. Finally, I’ve put together my Penguin and Oxford classics, and my French novels on the bottom shelf.

For the bookcase, I went for rainbow shelves again – separating paperbacks and hardbacks. I have to say, I’m not convinced I like this set up, I think I prefer a more traditional order or sorting out books by size. I feel like it looks a bit chaotic at the moment! There are also some books underneath the bookcase because I ran out of space… To be fair, these are my boyfriend’s economics and maths textbooks so they can absolutely stay hidden there, haha!

I also realised that most of the books I have I’ve either read or presented to you in a haul, so I don’t think I will be taking part in Shelf-Control for the time being. I have many more books in France but if I’m honest, I don’t know exactly what’s there… so yeah, taking a break from this meme which I really liked but I don’t think I’ve got interesting content for it.

Anyway, here are my two favourite bits: My Harry Potter and English Library section, and my vintage Stephen King paperbacks collection – with a delicious Peach-scented candle on top!

I don’t know if this was very interesting, but I hope this might have inspired you to try a new way of organising your shelves, I think it’s a great lockdown activity!

Monday Post #12

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

I took a few days off work last week and it was the best thing to do! Holidays during lockdown are little strange, but it was a nice occasion to do some reading and practice taking pictures with my new film camera. I got a Praktica Super TL from eBay, which is an old German camera and I as quite scared it wouldn’t work as it was quite cheap. But it does work very well! It will just take a little getting used to, but that’s part of the fun. Here are a couple of pictures I took last week of my neighburhood:

Over the weekend, I took part in a reading challenge organised by a French Facebook group – I wanted to read most of Les Miserables by Sunday night. Obviously, that didn’t happen (I read a little under 300 pages in total… out of 1254) but I’m thoroughly enjoying reading Victor Hugo’s words. It’s also quite nice to read in French as it’s something I hadn’t done for months. I’m at a point where I’m comfortable speaking English than French – my native language!

Currently Reading

This week I’ve read and finished

L’Impératrice – Erreur 404 (Staying in the French theme this week 🇫🇷 )

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

Book Review: Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys

Elwood is a boy who’s raised by his grandmother and likes to listen on repeat to Dr King’s speeches. He works rather hard at school because he deeply believes that he can contribute to changing things for Black people in the US. He lives in Florida in the 1960s, and the Jim Crow laws are in full swing which fuels Elwood’s will to be part of the change. He’s championed by one of his teacher who’s an activist, too, and thanks to him, the boy manages to secure a place in the local college to learn English. However, after an unfortunate turn of events Elwood is sent to the Nickel Academy – a sort of education centre for young offenders. The school is segregated and the children are beaten by the staff to points of extreme violence. Everyone dreams of escaping but no one has ever managed to do so. Sometimes, when a boy is especially ‘tough’, he’s taken to a shed in the school yard called the White House, never to be seen again. Faced with this cruel system where education doesn’t matter because black boys don’t matter, Elwood remember King’s speech and fight to see the end of this oppression.

This novel is easy to read in the sense that Whitehead writes with an ease that is engrossing and makes you dive deep into Elwood’s world. But everything said is also so heavy and difficult because as you read about Elwood’s struggles, you can’t help but wonder if this is really set in the 1960s or right now. The Nickel Academy counts both white and black inmates, but you never really hear about the white boys because they’re held far apart from their black counterparts. It’s in the black school that there isn’t any education, it’s also there that the White House is and that boys disappear. I really don’t want to spoil this novel, but if you know a thing or two about American history then I’m pretty sure you can guess what’s really going on in that school. Whitehead was inspired by a true story to write this novel, so it’s all the more poignant.

He hadn’t marched on the Florida Theatre in defense of his rights or those of the black race of which he was a part; he had marched for everyone’s rights, even those who shouted him down. My struggle is your struggle, your burden is my burden.

I wrote this review before the results of the American election and I felt truly scared – afraid that still so many black children wouldbe deprived of education and a life because they’re growing up in a system that refuses to give them space to exist. Now we all know the outcome of the election, and we can breathe. But we still need to be aware of everything that’s going on around us and never forget that Black Lives Matter. This is a book that deals with it because so many black boys’ lives were neglected and still are to this day.

In the end, there isn’t so much to say about this book other than: READ IT. It’s one of the best things I’ve read this year and the ending left me speechless. I’ve read it a little while ago and it’s still vivid in my mind… I can’t wait to read the rest of Colson Whitehead’s works, I fell in love with his writing!

October Wrap Up

I’ve read a total of five books in October, all rather spooky! I loved reading thrilling novels, I thought it helped a lot with my mood strangely.

Why did I not read this before?! Well, I think I know why – people kept repeating that if I loved Jane Eyre, I should read Rebecca. So I think I was afraid to be disappointed and also, I might have felt slightly rebellious. But of course, everyone was right and it’s a perfect novel that I absolutely loved. I haven’t watched the latest adaptation yet, although I did watch the Hitchcock’s one and thought it was rather tame compared to the book.

I had already read Dracula a few years ago but I really didn’t like it at all. I gave it another chance and I liked it a lot more this time around. I think it’s a great book if you don’t know too much about vampires, but if you do… well, you kind of know this novel already because it’s so iconic and such a foundation of modern pop culture. It might be great to discover the origin of one of the most famous monsters in our culture, but I did find it boring at times because there was no element of surprise. It’s still a great action-packed horror book, though!

I have reviewed this book here, but in short I really liked it and would absolutely recommend it!

I am still conflicted about this book because I’m not sure how I felt about it. It was a great horror story, but I think I preferred the first half of the novel where you’re not sure whatever is going on. I also really enjoyed the hints the author throws about life on the reservation, and the overall quality of life of Native Americans. I will look up what Jones has written else, because I liked his voice.

That waas a great way to end up the month! I’ve always liked the film with Dniel Radcliffe, but had never read the book it was based on. I really liked it, it was very atmospheric and scary in a very entertaining way (as in, you can go to sleep after!).

Have you read anything spooky and/or amazing last month? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Post #11

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog

You can find the original post here.

On Thursday, England went back into lockdown which should last until the 2nd of December (my birthday, actually!). Of course, it’s not a surprise and everywhere in Europe is pretty much the same. I only really hope we’ll all be able to spend Christmas with our families, this year!

Of course, the news of Joe Biden’s election was a nice way to brighten the weekend – I know it might not be great taste to talk politics on a book blog, but I am so relieved by the results of the US election I had to share it on here.

In reading news, I’ve found it quite difficult to read lately (especilly audiobooks after a rejection from an audiopublisher a couple of weeks ago). I find it hard to focus and I feel as if no book can satisfy me at the minute, so we’ll see how that works in the next few weeks. Hopefully I find a nice book to read to get me back on track!

Currently Reading

MAX – Blueberry Eyes (feat. Suga): this song makes me so happy!

Have a great week, and happy reading! x

Stacking the Shelves #4

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s reviews and you can find the original post here, for more details and guidelines.

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I have bought so many books this month… I only realised that when I was putting up the list for this article and I am honestly shocked with myself. October has been a strange month for many of us I’m sure, and I have to say that when I don’t feel great I buy books. So that might explain why. I have bought a couple of titles from Amazon, but most of my new books are second-hand and/or comes from actual bookshops. I will link every book I bought to where I got it so that you too can support booksellers during this very difficult time, and instead of Amazon, I’d like to direct you to bookshop.org or hive.co.uk where you can get new books and support independents at the same time.

Bought this one from Foyles
From Foyles as well
I bought this one on Depop! But you can also find it on eBay
I bought this book at Libreria, which is a stunning bookshop in East London!
This one comes from The Open Book in Richmond, a small indie with a (very) wide variety of titles – highly recommend!
This one was bought in Waterstones
You can get this book here
You can get this one over here
I bought this one directly from the publisher’s website, Influx Press
I pre-ordered this book from Waterstones
I bought this one on the Oxfam website

I got some more old paperback editions of Stephen King’s novels (all found on eBay with a good amount of patience). I love them so much! Besides, the cat on the Pet Sematary cover looks exactly like my mum’s cat – my sister did this little edit of the cover and it makes me laugh so hard:

Hope you enjoy my cat’s beautiful smile! Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? I would also love to know how you will support bookshop these next couple of months.