As my last wrap-up was an overview of what I read in 2013, I didn’t get the chance to say a few words about what I read in the last week of December.
Now we’re firmly in January, I have another couple of books to share with you – SO – welcome to this bumper edition wrap-up post! Featuring all these lovely books:
Tinder, Sally Gardener
Breathe, Sarah Crossan
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
Spoiler-free reviews below!
Books read in 2013: 45
Another year over, another Goodreads Reading Challenge completed!
In fact, in 2013 I exceeded my reading goal of 40 books, which I’m rather proud of, as I also managed to graduate university and start a full-time job this year too! I don’t set aside a strict time everyday to read, but I do try to switch off all distractions (the internet…) and retreat somewhere quiet for a couple of hours a day to get some quality reading time. Of course, more often than not I can only snag 20 minutes reading in my lunch-break, 10 minutes in the bath and a few pages before bed, but it all adds up in the end. Having started work this year, I’ve learnt that nothing is more luxurious than a whole day spent engrossed in a book (how I took for granted my Uni years!) – and I’ve been doing a lot of that in the lull between Christmas and New Year.
For my reading challenge, I only count fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read recreationally and completed. I don’t include graphic novels, comics or collected trade editions in the final tot-up, though I did read some absolutley fantastic comics this year (The Gigantic Beard The Was Evil, Rachel Rising and Wandering Son, among many others).
I’ve noticed a fair few book bloggers sharing their favourite wintery and festive reads this week as we draw closer and closer to Christmas, however I seem to have unintentionally had a zombie themed week of reading instead. Oops!?
This is rather odd for me personally because I do often struggle to care about zombie fiction in general as I find the whole ‘last one on earth, running from cannibalistic zombies’ narrative more stressful than enjoyable. Happily, this week I read two books which have each taken a different perspective on human reanimation, click below for my reviews of both, and to find out about my new book acquisitions from this week – which were all FREE!
Enclave, Ann Aguirre (Square Fish)
Revival,Vol. 1: You’re Among Friends, Tim Seely and Mike Norton (Image Comics)
Time for a weekly wrap-up post! Here’s what I read this week, and what I bought despite being on a book buying ban. Oops!
Wandering Son: Volume One, Shimura Takako. (Fantagraphics Books)
MARA, Brian Wood and Ming Doyle. (Image Comics)
Delirium, Lauren Oliver (Hodder)
One manga, one graphic novel, and one fiction book; not bad going!
Adoring Christmas as I do, December is always my favourite month of the year. However, December 2013 might just be my favourite December thus far, as this month I got my first pay-packet from my first proper job in publishing!
So naturally, to celebrate, I spent those hard-earned wages of mine on… books!
And so without further ado, here’s my mammoth December payday book haul.
How stunning is this piece of shipwrecked ceramic from the V&A collection?
Fused spittoon, tea bowls and vase neck, Jingdezhen, China, about 1725 (source)
Unearthed in 1998 alongside 130,000 other ceramic pieces in the wreck of a international trade ship near Ca Mau, southernVietnam, this 18th century piece has a real organic beauty and a wonderful sense of narrative. Frilled with coral and fused with number of smaller pieces, the spittoon vessel looks as if it collapsed and grew all at once.
Indeed, the overgrown, almost post-melted-ice-caps-apocalypse feel is very The Drowned World. Can anyone else see this piece fitting in perfectly in the drowned homes and theatres of Ballard’s tropical, crystal water-logged world?
This piece also looks remarkably like a natural version of this beauty of waster ceramic, also from the V&A
Waster of 34 dishes fused together, Delft, Netherlands, about 1640-60 (source)
From the V&A’s blurb:
These dishes fused together when the saggar (protective box in which they were fired) collapsed. Attached to the plates are fragments of the pins that supported them in the saggar.
What’s that old adage about creation coming from destruction? Perhaps sometimes both man-made and natural disasters can produce some truly beautiful objects.
In my last book review here, I mentioned that I am a huge fan of choosing books on recommendation. PETITE MORT is another one of those books! This time, the recommendation came not from an awards short-list, but from an independent bookshop – one of my favourites – Gay’s The Word.
I don’t often get the chance to pop into GTW, I live (just) outside of London but study in the Midlands far away from the lure of my favourite London shops, but thanks to social media, I still find out about so many awesome new titles from my favourite booksellers while half the country away!
I really enjoyed this one, here’s just a quick review, cross-posted from my Goodreads account.
PETITE MORT | Beatrice Hitchman| 5* of 5
Adèle Roux is a 17-year-old aspiring silent film actress who runs away from her provincial town in the south of France to Paris, with dreams of taking up at Pathé and emulating the beguiling Terpsichore. Unfortunately for Adèle, such high aspirations aren’t as easy to achieve as she’d hoped, and instead of walking into a starring role she finds herself embarking on an affair with Terpsichore’s film inventor husband to advance her fledgling film career.
Installed as a concubine and personal assistant in Terpsichore’s home, Adèle begins to care less for her dreams of a film career and more for the beautiful, brittle Terpsichore, whose own history is seemingly pitted with mystery and secrets…
It’s so difficult to review a book with a big twist – I don’t want to ruin the mystery of the story and that really fantastic big reveal at the end! So briefly,
Petite Mort is a story delicately woven and unlike anything I’ve read previously. The characters are complex and intriguing to learn about. Indeed, Hitchman seems to know exactly when and exactly how much character history to introduce – in tantalising flashes – so that the story and the mystery unfolds without being either illogical or predictable.
It was also a joy to read a great novel with queer characters in a sensitive affair. The title does hint at this; the ‘petite mort’ being an euphemistic term for ‘orgasm’; the sexual exploits of the characters are critical to the book, and are handled wonderfully and in a way that isn’t sensationalist or smutty.
I would reccommend Petite Mort to fans of Margaret Atwood and Sara Gruen, and to anyone who enjoys fiction with a queer historical angle, or anyone who loves a good ‘whodunnit’.