Autumn Book Recommendation: The Little Stranger

My first (and possibly only) Autumn book recommendation this year is this brilliant novel by one of my faves, Sarah Waters. I first read it on my honeymoon over seven years ago and vividly remember being frozen in fear in the middle of the night, having just read another chapter.

The Little Stranger focuses on the inhabitants of once grandiose Hundreds Hall, the Ayres family. Hundreds Hall is now crumbling, a shadow of its former self – and war-damaged Roderick and his sister Caroline are trying hard to keep the family afloat, and keep the truth of their dire situation a secret from their mother.

When local Doctor Faraday finds himself involved with the family, all manner of weirdness starts to spill into his life. What the heck is going on? I’m currently having a re-read in time for the movie adaptation coming later this month and it’s stunning.

It’s not just the truly spooky set up that leaves you wanting more, it’s the way Waters crafts a sentence. Her characters are so well written you really feel you know them after only a few moments and that makes you care what happens to them. Hundreds Hall is a vivid landmark in the mind thanks to the way she describes it – and I can’t wait to see what they’ve done with the film and the casting.

I recommend this because it’s perfect for an Autumn eve, once the sun’s gone down and the dinner plates have been cleared away. I love to read in the bath and this accompanies that well.

I’ll crack open a new bottle of bubble bath and light a candle too, why not?

Book details:

The Little Stranger
Publisher: Virago (23 Aug. 2018)
ISBN-10: 0349011435
ISBN-13: 978-0349011431
Bought movie tie-in paperback (new)

What are you reading?

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Goodreads & Badreads

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I logged onto my Goodreads account today after a hiatus of what feels like months. As the page loaded on my laptop, my eyes flew to the part of the right hand bar labelled ‘2015 Reading Challenge’ and with dismay I read in smaller print, ‘14 books behind schedule‘.

How judgmental is that? In fairness, I asked Goodreads to help me with this challenge and the fact is, I am far behind the already amended 50 book goal for this year. I started 2015 with the idea of smashing 75 but then I realised even I, the ultimate homebody, have a life.

I don’t know how I ended up shipwrecked without a book for so long. Well, that’s not strictly accurate, I suppose. I did have a book on the go and it halted me in its tracks. Do you want to know who I’m blaming for my currently reader’s block? Sarah Waters.

I should preface this accusation with the fact she is one of my all time favourite writers. I’d never picked up a book of hers that didn’t tip me straight into whichever world she was illustrating at the time. The Little Stranger is without question one of the scariest, most gripping books I’ve ever held in my hands. In fact, they’ve all been exceptionally good… and then came The Paying Guests.

I just haven’t been able to get into it and I don’t understand. The lead up has been tedious. It’s certainly well written and everyone I know who’s read (and finished) it has told me the same thing: “Hang in there and then you won’t be able to put it down”. But when godammit?

I’ve tried so many times to pick it up, I’ve even tried listening to Juliet Stevenson read it to me on YouTube as I work and still it plods on. When will it get good?

It pains me not to finish a book, even one I’m not into, more so when people are telling me it’s brilliant. What if I miss out? What if it is the best book I’ve ever read after the first 500 (it feels like) pages? Argh.

So then I thought, maybe if I read something trashy it’ll reignite my reading fires, and make me want to reach for something great. So I bought Grey in Sainsbury’s for a few quid and it’s made the whole situation worse.

I’ve read the trilogy. I’ve seen the film. I’m not what you’d call a massive fan of either, though I don’t regret any of the time spent on it. I like to be up to date culturally but honestly, enough has got to be enough already, no? Who cares what Christian Grey thinks? Who cares how he justifies his actions to the reader? I’ll review it properly when I’ve finished but for now it’s just another book I’m not looking forward to reading at night.

I know I’ll come through this. I know the next story I read will change things and then I can get back into reviewing books and loving books that way I always have. And then maybe Goodreads can get the hell off my back for a while.

My To Read pile is almost as tall as me but if you have any recommendations, they’re always welcome! Bring them on.

My Favourite Books

07bfe61dd392b74053edf7f34bf4ab4fI promised a post about my favourite books not long ago, though I didn’t realise then how hard it would actually be to compile my list.

I’ve gone for the traditional Top Ten format but I could honestly go on for hours about all the important books, the life saver books and the milestone books I’ve read in my life time.

I did think it was important to be honest about my most beloved texts, and include books that have mapped my life and love of the printed word, rather than be all pretentious. It would be ridiculous to say that I only ever read Sylvia Plath for instance, when we all know I’d rather have my nose in a Jilly Cooper.

*NOTE: Whilst reading back this post, it was peppered with “I loved it”, “It broke my heart”, “It’s soooo beoootiful!”, etc. I sounded like a giddy teenager. Let’s just agree that if a book is on this list, I loved it and it moved me in some way, K?* 

So without much further ado, in no particular order:

~

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The Millenium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest) by Stieg Larsson
When I think about these books it makes me want to pick them up and read them all over again. They are ace. Reading them, one after the other, is like immersing yourself in an amazing action movie that never lets up.

I’ve mentioned my love for Lisbeth Salander before and can honestly say that nobody has ever come close to her (for me) as a literary character (though I’m willing to wait for someone to come and match her). She is everything: strong, complex, spikey; kick ass.

The entire story is full of twists and terrible acts, is exhilarating, well paced, intriguing and bloody thrilling. I adore Mikael Blomkvist too, investigative journalist and main character. As he accepts a mysterious freelance assignment in the wake of a libel case he’s just lost, Mikael finds himself deeply embroiled in a dark family history. It’s a case that will grip you from the get go.

Also, if you’re ever stuck for something to do of an evening, Wiki the late Steig Larrson because his real life was fascinating and not so far removed from the trilogy that made his name. I am gutted that I will never read another book written by him, or meet (his) Salander again.

Continue reading “My Favourite Books”

Reading List

Yesterday, while spending an obscene amount of time shopping for stationery with my friend L, she asked me to help her find some good reads. She’d be the first to admit she’s not a book-worm so I promised her I would write a list of my favourite all time books and get it to her so she can start building a collection.

(I’m not saying my opinion is the be all, it’s a guide rather than a compulsory reading assignment). What can I say? My friend trusts me.

I thought I would turn that list into a blog post soon. In the meantime, here’s a look at my most pressing To Read list. I’ve been a little off the boil literature wise since December but am getting back in the game now.

Can’t wait to get my mitts on the following:

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Hello babies

In no particular order:

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
A birthday gift from my Sister-in-law, this has been on my Amazon wish list for a long time. Maddie said she read the back and knew it was for me, even before she realised it was on there. I cannot wait to dig in.

Bone Jack by Sara Crowe
I absolutely loved Crowe’s Campari for Breakfast (reviewed here) and couldn’t put it down. So I have nothing but high hopes for this. The former book was reminiscent of early Sue Townsend and that can only ever be a really good thing. I think Sara Crowe is one to watch.

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
Another second visit, this one has been on my radar ever since I read The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield can really spin a yarn spiked with all sorts of surprises. Perfect for cold Winter’s nights and tea. Lots of tea.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
I have a love/hate relationship with Flynn. I mean Gone Girl was hard to put down until it pissed me off so much I had to get as far away from it as possible. Dark Places was good though and I’ve heard word on the street that this is a corker too. Some people believe that GG is the worst of Gillian’s trilogy so that bodes well.

IMG_20150118_115726Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Hello, it’s Amy’s first book full of personal stories. What could be better?

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Ms Waters is in my top three Favourite Authors and I think this might be why I haven’t yet thrown
myself head first into this story. She’s never let me down before and I have no reason to believe she will start now, but I’m still going to take my time.

Reviews of each to follow.

What are you reading right now? I’d love to know!