Q1. LAYING IN BED … the book you could or have read in a single day
I hand-on-heart swear that I tried my hardest to come up with another book for this question, but if you’ve read my review of this book – or if you’ve ever asked me for a book recommendation – then this won’t come as any surprise to you. The Little Paris Bookshop is my holy grail. I’ve read it countless times; I’ve read it aloud to my Mum when she was too unwell to read it herself; I’ve urged everyone I know to read it. It’s a great big, heart-felt, hug of a book. I could think of no better way to pass a whole day than re-reading The Little Paris Bookshop. I’d do it all over again the next day … and the next … and the next. It’s books like this that are responsible for TBR shelves burgeoning out of control.
Q2. SNACKING … pick a book that’s a guilty pleasure read
This book quite literally ‘made eyes’ at me across the Waterstones shop floor. And like all great, enduring affairs, I can recall the day quite clearly; I must have picked it up to read the back cover before returning it to the shelf at least half a dozen times before finally giving in. The reason for my hesitancy was that I was absolutely falling into the trap of judging the book by its cover – I swear those eyes followed me (judgementally) each time I wondered off – and that’s something I’d always prided myself on never succumbing too. Well, that’s one personal standard that fell by the wayside that day, because I now judge books by their covers with unashamed and gleeful abandon. It was also the first time I bravely stepped out of my chick-lit comfort zone and into the world of steampunk. Glass Books is the first in a series of three (followed by The Dark Volume, and then by The Chemickal [not a typo!] Marriage) and I’ve loved every one of them. At some point, when I get my blogging act together, there will be a review of the three of them appearing here in The Book’s Whiskers.
Q3. NETFLIX … the book series you want to start
I’ll be honest – this series of books was nowhere on my radar until a lovely new couple moved in across the road a couple of months ago. Thanks to the dreaded #coronavirus #lockdown, our chances to get together have been somewhat stymied … but thanks to the miracles of messenger we found out that we’re both book lovers … and so started a digital book swap. That’s the in-a-nutshell version of how the No1 Ladies Detective Agency series was my no-brainer nomination for this book category. I’m trying not to dwell on the fact there are twenty books in the series (*small heart flutter*) … my TBR shelf fills up faster than my gin glass empties.
Q4. DEEP CLEAN … the book that’s been on your TBR for ages
This book has been on my shelf for at least three years. I bought it (and several others like it by different authors) in the wake of my new-found obsession with all things Russian (see Q6 below for slightly rambling explanation). Of the books I bought at that time, this one had the best reviews by a long way, and one of my unconscious mantras is ‘save the best till last’. And so I did. And now it’s built itself up to such a high pedestal that I don’t want to feel let down if it doesn’t live up to my expectations. Clearly a book cannot build itself up so egotistically, but hopefully fellow book lovers will have some kind of understanding of this bizarre phenomenon I’m trying to explain.
Q5. ANIMAL CROSSING … a book you recently bought because of the hype
I don’t know if I’m alone here, but I get a lot of reader-guilt with hyped books – the feeling that I reeeallly should buy a copy too, because fellow book lovers are absolutely raving about it, but there’s something about the dust-cover blurb that just doesn’t chime as perfectly for me as it perhaps should. The Doll Factory, however, is one that did. Perhaps it was the ‘gothic’, ‘historical’, ‘mystery’, and ‘thriller’ categories ascribed to it by GoodReads and Waterstones, but it totally resonated with me so I snaffled my copy last month. I get the feeling it could be a contender for my new guilty pleasure read – watch out Dhalquist, this could be a contender for your crown.
Q6. PRODUCTIVITY … the book you learnt from, or that had a big impact on you
I’ve lost count of the number of times my sister said, “You should read The Bronze Horseman”, or “You’d love The Bronze Horseman”, or “The Bronze Horseman is the best book ever” … or variations on this theme. Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t listen to her sooner because she was pretty damn close to being right. Not only is this a fabulously epic love story, it’s also a cold, sharp, shock of a story about strength in the face of unbelievable adversity. And it’s this very book that sparked my huge and ongoing obsession with Russia; the culture, the history, the people, the politics, the revolution, Stalin, the Romanovs, other fiction books based in Russia … I literally devour everything I can lay my hands/eyes on. Thinking about it, this is probably the first fiction book that ignited my interest in non-fiction too, as I’ve built up quite a collection of Russian history, culture, and political books since I closed the cover of Bronze Horseman. So, thank you Suzy … should’ve listened to you sooner.
Q7. FACETIME … a book you were gifted
I absolutely fell in love with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and could regularly be found stalking the Amazon and Waterstones ‘aisles’ for a hint that she might be publishing another. My stalking continued for eight years until, all of a sudden, The Starless Sea arrived. It was gifted to me at Christmas … by my cat, Grace. What can I say, that cat knows her stuff, and clearly has a deeper working of knowledge of the Waterstones website that I first thought. She even gift wrapped it 😻. But have I read it yet? No (shocker). Why not? Because Night Circus was so utterly and absolutely perfect, a small part of me worries that she just can’t pull it off again. I mean, is any writer that bloody good? On the other hand, I am itching to get reading it … so I’ve come up with a plan: I will await a period of absolutely glorious, warm, sunny weather and then I’ll sit out in my garden, under the dappled shade of our lovely old apple tree and take my time over it. This is a book I don’t want to rush-read, and it’s one that I think will deserve to be read in the nicest possible surroundings. P.S. there will be a chilly glass of G&T by my side throughout … like I said, it deserves the very best setting.
Q8. SELF CARE … what is the one thing you’ve done recently to look after yourself?
If I were to introduce you to my lovely, extreeemely long-suffering, hairdresser, you’d be in no doubt that pampering/beauty don’t feature highly on my list of priorities (hence why I’m completing this book tag in writing rather than by vlog 🙈) . My idea of self-care lies in fresh air, food, and the power of cat-therapy – so when I’m not reading, I get my kicks from cooking, gardening, and exploring the countryside in my trusted wellies or walking boots. But yesterday I decided to give Yoga a go. I’ve been meaning to try it for forever, and yesterday was Day1. I can’t see myself doing that headstand thing anytime soon, and I’m ‘left-right blind’ (spookily accurate term, coined by my friend’s hubby who also has a ‘left’ hand and an ‘other left’ hand) which led to a few giggle-breaks, but it’s something I have every intention of persevering with.
BONUS … name an upcoming release that you’re looking forward to
Due to be released in January 2021, Daughters of the Night is a book I cannot wait to get my hands on. I’ll let the back-cover blurb do all the talking this time…
From the brothels and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham, as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget.
London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.
But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know.
If you’ve enjoyed my selection please let me know in the comments below. Are you using your time at home to read more books, started writing something of your own, embarked on a new hobby?