5Ws Wednesday

Since I only tend to do a WWW Wednesday post every other week, I thought I’d use today to get some more Ws out there – this time the ‘5 Ws Book Tag’ which I pinched from Amy over at Golden Books Girl!

1 – WHO? Who is an author you’d love to have a one on one with?

There are so many for so many different reasons (Kiran Millwood-Hargrave, Katherine Rundell, Shaun Tan, Zana Fraillon, Helen Oyeyemi, Frann Preston-Gannon, Morag Hood, Rob Biddulph…) but honestly, I think I’d be so shy that I’d just stand there and be fidgety and awkward not knowing what to say or saying something stupid, so maybe it’s best that I don’t have a one on one with anyone!

2 – WHAT? What genre or style do you most gravitate to?

Hmm, this is a tricky one. With picture books I like anything quirky and fun – nothing smushy and sentimental or moralistic please! With MG, I definitely read more fantasy than anything else, but really anything with great world-building and that little bit of magic (whether real or just in the feel of it!). With this and YA I’m less keen on the contemporary/funny/everyday life stuff, but it means when I read one in that style I do like I usually rave about it! With YA and adult I do still like some fantasy, but nothing TOO fantasy-y, I prefer historical fiction, magical realism or contemporary stuff with social issues as a theme.

3 – WHERE? Where do you prefer to read?

This definitely used to be bed – well, it still is, but I can’t read in bed anymore as Peapod sleeps next to us and I’d wake him with a light on, so now I read on the sofa in the evening or stood up in the kitchen when he naps in the sling during the day (I daren’t sit down!)

4 – WHEN? What time of the day do you prefer to read?

Definitely evening before bed – I think it just feels cosier. But really, I find it so hard to squeeze any reading in now that I prefer to read whenever I have two minutes to do so!

5 – WHY? Why is your favourite book your favourite book?

My absolute favourite book is Shaun Tan’s ‘The Red Tree’. It puts into pictures (and words!) a feeling I could never articulate but know so well. It’s both an explanation and a comfort.

BONUS! How do you go about selecting what you’ll read next?

I look at what I’ve been sent to review and which are out/out soon/have been out for ages because I’m way behind (always), use this to narrow it down then pick one I fancy from those. Usually I try to mix it up a bit, so if I’ve just read a YA or 2, I’ll switch to MG or adult, or if I’ve read a fair bit of fantasy, I might read something more historical or contemporary.

Do we share any of these answers or reading habits? What would your 5 Ws be?

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#ReadABookDay

I am reliably informed (thanks Twitter) that today is #ReadABookDay. I’m choosing to ignore the fact that really that’s every day and using it as a good way to play catch up on the blog, especially since I missed yesterday’s WWWWednesday…

So, the blog has been somewhat neglected over the past few weeks, thanks to our new arrival!

20180822_064946.jpgQuite the bookworm already!

He is GORGEOUS and wonderful and amazing and other superlatives, but he is also a full-time milk-guzzler, wee-machine and sleep-is-for-the-weak-stayer-upper. Which means our hands are pretty full and the blog is having to take a back seat. I’m attempting to catch up a bit, but it’s a one-handed, grab-10-minutes-where-I-can-and-hope-he’s-not-sick-on-the-laptop sort of affair, so posts will continue to be sporadic!

20180906_153720Our current set-up!

So, while I attempt to get some reviews posted and generally catch up, here’s a quick look at what we’re reading on #ReadABookDay…

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It’s taken the first few weeks, but I have finally just about mastered reading-while-feeding! Keeping me company at the moment during the never-ending feeds is the fantastic The Trouble With Perfect by Helena Duggan. It’s the sequel to last year’s equally fantastic A Place Called Perfect (think Gaiman meets Dahl meets Stepford Wives meets Tim Burton and throw in a good bit of mystery – if you haven’t read it, you really should!) So far, it’s just as good as the first…full review to follow!

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I was very excited to find some #bookpost waiting for me when I got home from my breastfeeding group this morning too…

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I have been SOOOOOOOO excited about this and was lucky enough to win a copy! Pretty certain kids would love it too, but I just read it with my mum who came to visit us this afternoon and we were both absolutely cracking up so it’s definitely recommended for those in their 30s/60s ! Every bit as good as the rest of the series, if not even better because it has a platypus in and it’s pink. Again, a full review will follow, but it was SO worth the wait!

As for ‘Peapod’ and I – we’ve had a play with his black and white cloth book ‘Faces’ and he also very much enjoyed Oi Duck-Billed Platypus!

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What have you read on #ReadABookDay?

Holiday Reading: East of Eden

A brief note: this is NOT a brief post! It began as one, but soon became half a post on this year’s holiday reads and half a review of one of them: East is Eden. Dip in and out as you like!

Before I go on holiday, I like to make sure I have plenty of books: I can manage somehow if I forget/run out/lose toiletries, clothes and the like, but books?! I’m not taking any chances.

I also find holidays a great opportunity to read more ‘grown up’ books. Working in the children’s section, I get to read a lot of kid’s books and I love that – I love reading them, talking about them, recommending them, sharing them – some of the books I anticipate the release of most are children’s books (see this post on Square if you don’t believe me). But I do like to read adult fiction too, and often find that it’s these books that are forever being put to the bottom of my TBR pile in favour of new children’s releases, so on holiday I make a point of reading them.

Which always throws up the inevitable: which books to take?!

This year, I’d been saving my ARC of The Map of Salt and Stars (thank you Orion books, full review will follow!) and I’d bought The Bear and The Nightingale as that was one I’d had my eye on for a while. An ARC of Whistle in the Dark had arrived not long ago for me, so I took that as an easy-ish plane read for the start of holidays (review here) and Alice came up on a #banterwithbooksellers twitter chat and, as another book I’d often umm-ed and ah-ed over, but still never actually picked up, that went on the list too. I picked up The Refugees on impulse (maybe it’s because I’m not as keen on short stories, maybe not, but I just didn’t get into it.) After that I got a bit stuck.

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My manager and I started on one of those “have you read this?”…”but you must have read this?!”…”you haven’t read this?!” conversations around some of the classics/must-read type books. From this I picked up The Road (another book, like Alice, that I’ve deliberated over reading for years but never actually read) despite being warned not to take it as a holiday read since it’s so bleak (I compromised and put it to the bottom of the pile!), Jonathan Strange (which didn’t actually make it on holiday with me: it was just TOO big!) and finally, East of Eden.

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I was warned not to come back to work if I didn’t like it, so highly regarded was this book, so it was quite a relief to find I enjoyed it! It did take me a chapter or two to get into, though I suspect more from my moving from one style of writing to a very different one than because of the book itself (does anyone else find this? I often get it when I switch from MG/YA to adult for example) but once I was into it, I was completely immersed.

It’s an epic, a saga, a multi-generational family drama: all descriptions which make me think of a soap opera in book form. Luckily, that’s not the case. It is first and foremost, a retelling of the story of Cain and Abel; I wasn’t sure at first how I’d feel about this, but the way it was done won me over. I loved Steinbeck’s writing for so many reasons.

Firstly, the characters: there are many. And to write so many characters, crossing so comprehensive a time period, whilst retaining their distinct personalities, as well as highlighting their inevitable similarities that feed into the Biblical ‘re-telling’ of the book is no mean feat. As with any family, there will be characters you identify with, those you’d like to have a drink with and, of course, those you want to shake some sense into or avoid altogether. I think part of what I enjoyed so much about this as the warmth each of them was written with and how real they felt – none perfect, all flawed, all individuals. Personally, I loved Samuel Hamilton, Lee and Caleb and, while she’s not likeable by any stretch of the imagination, I defy anyone to think Cathy’s not a fantastic character!

The picture Steinbeck draws of the Salinas Valley area is rich and detailed and the homes there, as with their owners are distinct and feel well-suited to their various inhabitants but what I liked best about it was how I could feel it changing throughout the years over the course of the book.

Then there is the writing itself – at times sharp and to the point and at others more philosophical; at times full of warmth and humour and love and at others despairing and bleak and cold. There were many passages, sentences, phrases and thoughts that I could have noted down to repeat here, but I won’t, because I suspect that as with the characters, everyone reading this will come away with their own favourites.

It took up most of my holiday (I came back having only read 3.5 of the 7 books I took!) but it was a perfect read for long, sunny spells of reading and I really benefited from being able to spend long stretches reading it and getting drawn into it rather than stopping and starting like I have to when I need to fit reading in around ‘real life’.

It has also made me determined to keep up reading a classic/must-read every now and then amongst all the lovely new books I get sent/pick up. Which would be your must-read recommendation? Which classics do you love/hate/want to read?