August Reading Roundup

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Year of the King – Anthony Sher

I purchased Year of the King off the back of a Shakespeare buzz after seeing an incredible couple of performances by Bell Shakespeare, one of which was Richard III, the subject of this book. Anthony Sher played the role to much acclaim in RSC’s Richard III in 1984, and recorded his journey from rumours that he would get to play the role, through rehearsals, previews and their opening night. Along the way he returns to his homeland of South Africa during apartheid, and tries to untangle how to play a role that has been dominated by the masters of Shakespeare. There are also a variety of his sketchers scattered throughout the book, which provide a fascinating insight into his research and attempts to uncover the character of Richard, particularly to someone who hasn’t progressed beyond stick figures.

For some reason Year of the King took a few stops and starts for me to finish, but it is an enjoyable read. Anthony can sometimes come off as a bit of an ass, and there were sections of his writing where I wanted to reach back in time and give him a good shake. Everything is written very much as if he, and only he, knows how the play should go- I imagine the rehearsals would have been a little bit tense. Still it’s fascinating to follow his journey, feeling the tension as the rumours of his playing the role start to spread, and the pressure of stepping up to such an iconic role. Definitely an interesting read for any acting or Shakespeare buffs!

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Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch

August’s bookclub book was so hot off the press that I had to order a physical copy – shock horror! Good thing it’s a wonderful fabric-bound hardcover, because they always have a place on my bookshelf.

I haven’t read anything else by Lidia Yuknavitch, so I entered into The Book of Joan completely blind. The blurb reads like a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic novel, two genres that I never have any difficulty indulging in- however I have to say that if I hadn’t had the luxury of ploughing through this in one session, I think I may have struggled. While it definitely does have a strong sci-fi/post-apocalypic backdrop, the writing was challenging for me, and at times I found it needlessly crass. Still, the world is fascinating. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but this is a book that I really feel would almost work better on the screen. Have you read The Book of Joan yet, or anything else by the author? I would love to know what you think!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns) – Mindy Kaling

Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham

Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick

Yes, this months roundup is a little ridiculous compared to the last couple. I was lucky enough to pop home to NZ for a long weekend and this is what happens under those circumstances- five books in 48 hours! I grouped these three books together mostly because I’m being lazy, but also because they are very similar. Mindy Kaling’s first book has been sitting on my shelf for a while, so I grabbed it for an easy plane read. If you’re familiar with her work, you’ll find Mindy’s writing easy to sink into -she’s just as affable and odd on the page as she is in any other medium. In fact, all three of these women write in a very comparable style- probably the reason I was able to binge all of them in the space of 24 hours. Like most celebrity autobiographies, they’re in a loosely chronological order, almost painfully casual (Lauren Graham’s feels like a ongoing email to a friend that she just sort of keeps picking up from time to time), and full of the inside goss and little feelgoods that prove that they’re just real people after all.

I’m not going to lie, at times I found smashing through these three books a little depressing (I’m looking at you, Miss Anna on-Broadway-at-16-and-can-eat-whatever-you-want-Kendrick) because it’s a life that seems borderline utterly unattainable if you’re not born in the cradle of LA showbiz. Still, they were perfect airplane fodder, and like a dodgy regency romance, I’ll probably find myself going to back to them eventually. Thanks ladies!

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The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir – Dee Williams

I’ve read The Big Tiny before, but trapped in a metal tube over the Tasman Sea seemed like the perfect time to read it again. There’s probably a certain sort of person (ie. me) that is attracted to everything to do with tiny houses, and Dee Williams has captured all the beautiful moments and trials that come with building and inhabiting a space the size of a carpark. Written as Williams comes to grips with a dire medical diagnosis, The Big Tiny is fearless, candid, and frequently hilarious. Even if you don’t fancy the idea of living in a space where your toilet is composting and elbow room is optional, it’s a wonderful option for a cozy afternoon read.


What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite, I’m always looking for recommendations!

You can check out some of my earlier Reading Roundups here:

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

August Reading Roundup

July Reading Roundup

And I’m baaaack!

This post is so late that I was going to skip the July roundup completely, but I couldn’t bear to have one month missing from the archives, so here it is!

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Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare)

The Hag Seed! Margaret Atwood is the gal of the hour in my circle, thanks to the release of the fantastically disturbing Handmaid’s Tale on SBS over here. Atwood was commissioned to write The Hag Seed by Penguin Randomhouse as part of a series retelling classic Shakespeare, and joins other literary names such as Gillian Flynn and Howard Jacobson in the endeavor.

Inspired by The Tempest, The Hag Seed follows Felix, an outed artistic director of a Canadian theatre festival, on his mission for revenge. I have to confess that it took me about three tries to get going with this book, but once I got through the first chapter, I flew through to the end. I was concerned that a complete lack of knowledge of The Tempest would make The Hag Seed a struggle for me, but while a few nuances might have gone over my head, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on any of the story. In an odd choice, a synopsis of the play is included at the end of the novel where you almost stumble across it by accident. All being said however, I think The Hag Seed is worth a read if it sounds up you’re alley- I know that I’m going to be digging up the rewrite of Merchant of Venice when I get the chance.

…And I’m sad to say that that is it. One book! In a whole month! Who’s even writing this blog? Never fear, the first week of August has already seen a flurry of reading, so next month’s roundup will be a lot more…well rounded

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What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite, I’m always looking for recommendations!

You can check out some of my earlier Reading Roundups here:

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

July Reading Roundup

June Reading Roundup

Can the year stop whizzing by, please? I refuse to believe that it’s time for my June reading roundup already!

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American Gods:A Novel

I did it, I really really did it!

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I used to eat books like this for breakfast, but I must be getting soft in my old age because I was down to the wire with this beast. I’m going to blame some of my struggle on splitting my attention by re-listening to some of The Expanse again (see below), but this still got very close to embarrassing. Imagine if it was a two-month WIP!

Anyway, on with the book. American Gods is obviously in the air a lot at the moment, thanks to the recently aired TV series. While it’s been on my TBR for a while, the series was actually what prompted me to pick it up, so that I could get it out of the way before my first viewing. Apparently the copy I read is actually an extended version, featuring some content that was cut for the original edition. While this is a hefty book, I didn’t feel like it waffled on too long, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to tell you what they thought belonged on the chopping room floor without researching it further.

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Dress [with] Sense: The Practical Guide to a Conscious Closet

I was given this book for a review that has yet to be published, so I’ll come back to update what I thought of Dress [with] Sense once that’s gone live. In the meantime, let me say that it’s a great beginner into to a more conscious way of living, but the surface-level approach will probably become frustrating to anyone who has already started moving towards a conscious closet.

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Saga Volume 7

Saga! Has anyone else been following this story? I used to read some of my brothers comic books as a kid when he went through a (brief) stage, but I was quickly turned off by the seemingly random bolding of text that never made sense in my head. I’ve been slowly introduced to the world of graphic novels, and Saga is the first one contemporary enough that I have to wait for every new volume to release! I honestly don’t know how dedicated GN readers do it- I’ve found that I’ve had to go back and reread the last few volumes every time to remind myself what’s been happening. I’ve also been scolded for reading them too quickly- I wonder if other avid novel readers have this problem? Regardless, I would heartily recommend Saga if you were looking to give this genre a go. It’s a bit adult in places but the artwork is glorious and you can’t help but invest in the characters and their stories.

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How could you not love this little guy?

 

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse Book 1)
Caliban’s War (The Expanse Book 2)

Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse Book 3)

These bad boys have been my distraction this month! With Audible credits mounting, I decided to stockpile the rest of the published audiobooks in this series- with my memory, that also necessitated a brush-up on what had happened previously (see my troubles with episodic graphic novels above). Read by Jefferson Mays (who is truly excellent), they stand up well to a repeat listen. Starting as quite an intimate story with a small cast of players, each novel expands the universe further without ever feeling like the story is being milked for more than it’s worth. As with Saga, these are characters that you can’t help but get involved with. If you’re a fan of the TV series Firefly, I highly recommend giving The Expanse a go! I’m almost reluctant to watch the new Netflix series now, because listening to this series is almost like getting to spend more time with my favourite crew in the ‘verse.

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WIP

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Hag-Seed- Margaret Atwood

I have the best bookclub ever. Five friends with hugely different reading tastes, we all take turns choosing books and the results are never anything less than interesting. This one was offered up by one of the lovely ladies behind Page to Plate, and is part of a series of rewritten Shakespeare classics commissioned by Vintage’s Hogarth Shakespeare.

“The world’s favourite playwright. Today’s best-loved novelists. Timeless stories retold.”

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Apparently a retelling of The Tempest transposed to a Canadian Theatre Festival, I have high hopes for The Hag Seed, but I’m reserving judgement. Have you read any of the books in this series? What do you think of the idea?


What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite, I’m always looking for recommendations!

You can check out some of my earlier Reading Roundups here:

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

June Reading Roundup

May Reading Roundup!

What was that, you want another reading roundup?

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Calm down, ovaries

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The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure – William Goldman

Am I the only person who didn’t realise that this masterpiece of writing existed? I’ve watched the movie a bunch of times, but for some reason it never occurred to me that it might have been based on a novel. And what a novel! I relish odd writing, and Goldman certainly is the master of that.  The story unfolds in between his little asides and explanations, and while whole chunks might seem familiar to an avid fan of the movie, it brings an enjoyment all of its own. This is a book I opted to buy a physical copy of (instead of my normal Kindle file), and I’m so glad I did! When the hormones finally overflow one day and I end up spawning (aka child-raising), I’m pretty sure this book will make it onto the family shelf.

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The Little Book of Hygge – Meik Wiking

So a few weeks ago I went through a bit of a blargh patch and found myself searching for a relief from the ever-inclement stress that my lifestyle threatens. This book is the result. Looking at the cover art, I expected some light, fluffy coffee-table book filled with lush artwork and beautiful photography. At least the ‘Light’ part was accurate. The Little Book of Hygge feels like something that was commissioned to capitalise on the raging trend for everything Scandinavian- I suspect I’m not far off. There aren’t many of the lush photos that I was expecting – this book is more a guide to ‘living with more Hygge’, whatever that is (don’t worry, Wiking will tell you).

Despite all my sass, I do find an odd sort of comfort in this book when I pick it up to scan a few pages. Perhaps it’s the thought of people finding comfort and warmth in grey winter days (Melbourne has just taken a turn for the wet), or the descriptions of the myriad ways to bring coziness back into your life. I’m not calling myself a complete Hygge convert, but there is a chance that on my next morning off I’ll slip on my wooliest pair of socks and watch the rain fall outside my window for a while. How very Hygge.

Katheryn the Wanton Queen – Maureen Peters

I have a secret weakness for basically anything about the wives of Henry VIII, so when this book dropped into my inbox as a free offering from BookBub, I snapped it up and devoured it before the end of the day (like I said, I have a weakness). I have a soft spot for Kitty Howard, and Katheryn, The Wanton Queen tells her story from the perspective of a loyal companion, unfortunately without adding much to the table. Still, it’s a light, easy read. I didn’t even realise how old it was until I googled for the cover art- check out that original 60s artwork! (shame the updated version didn’t even try for historical accuracy on their cover. Still, how do I get the job of posing for these pictures?)

WIP

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American Gods – Neil Gaiman

This one’s a beast- let’s see if I can have it finished for next month’s roundup!


What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite, I’m always looking for recommendations!

You can check out some of my earlier Reading Roundups here:

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

May Reading Roundup!

April Reading Roundup!

Such a busy month, so few books read!

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The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World – Shelley Emling

First, a moment to snigger that the author of a biography of a fossil hunter is called Shelley…/moment

I had never heard of Mary Anning before being assigned this biography in bookclub, and to be honest, that’s crazy. The amount that she contributed to the scientific field without acknowledgement or financial restitution is absolutely staggering. You may not recognise her name, but you’re probably more than familiar with the men her work assisted. Does Darwin ring a bell?

While I devoured the story of Anning’s life, The Fossil Hunter itself left something to be desired. Given that so little is known about Anning’s early life, Shelley resorts to a bucket-load of ‘Maybe she would have’, ‘perhaps she did’ that can get irritating as the book progresses. Nevertheless, it’s a great intro to a woman that definitely deserves more coverage. Time for her big Hollywood feature?

 

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A Life in Parts – Bryan Cranston

This book. This Book! I’ve heard it said the Christopher Lee reads The Lord of the Rings every year- I think that’s going to be my pattern for the next few years with A Life In Parts.

Like most people, I only knew Bryan Cranston as the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle,  and I was vaguely aware that he was doing some great work on Breaking Bad but it was a show that I had never gotten into. So prior to reading this book, it’s safe to say I wasn’t a gushing fan- I only picked it up in the first place because I read an excerpt online that piqued my interest. I’ve now read it twice and I think it’s a safe bet that I’m going to pick up again before the year is done (I have a high tolerance for repetition, I consider it a life skill).

I haven’t read many celebrity auto-biographies, but I feel like this one is probably different from most of them. There’s no salaciousness or navel gazing here- Cranston is clearly someone who has dedicated his life to his work, and he lays that rocky path out in the open with a brisk matter-of-factness. For me, the main appeal of this book is the insight Cranston gives into his thoughts on acting and his process, complete fodder for my soul. I would have thought that it would hold less appeal to readers in other fields, but the goodreads rating definitely proves me wrong there. If you see this book all lonely on a shelf, don’t hesitate to give it a loving home -it’s worth it.


What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite, I’m always looking for recommendations!

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

April Reading Roundup!

March Reading Roundup

It’s that time again!

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 The Bonobo’s Dream – Rose Mulready

Written by the recipient of the 2016 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize, The Bonobo’s Dream is a slim little volume that I’m reasonably sure will turn out to be the literary equivalent of coriander (either you’re obsessed with it, or you really can’t see why everyone else is).

Me? I’m a little obsessed with it. This book is bizarre, opulent, and makes no apologies for throwing the reader in the deep end. The language is rich and the sense of a fully constructed world is strong enough that not knowing it all in the beginnings is just one of the reasons to keep devouring this book. While it sits in the speculative fiction genre (a favourite of mine), at it’s heart, the story is about family and it’s fascinating to watch the behaviours as the situation slowly unravels. Seriously, treat yo’ self- give Bonobo’s Dream a go. And if you want to experience double luxury, grab a real print copy for a funky matte textured read.

 

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Abaddon’s Gate – James S. A. Corey

As promised last month, I finally finished this mammoth read (/listen, it was my audible fodder). As with the previous books in the Expanse series (currently also playing at a Netflix near you), Abaddon’s Gate is an epic, in all senses of the word.

Being the third book in the series, it’s reasonable to expect that the story would start to string out a bit, perhaps falling apart at the edges a little as the authors try to keep things going. Mindblowingly, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Abaddon’s Gate is every bit as justified and tightly written as it’s predecessors. New characters are introduced and actually carry most of the book, providing an interesting insight into what the rest of the galaxy think of James Holden and his ragtag crew (and if the sentence gave you Firefly vibes, you’re not far wrong).

The thing that appeals to me most about this series is the believability of it. There’s a distinct lack of teleportation or humanoid aliens- instead, space travel is strenuous, inter-stellar messaging takes forever, and people still just really hate other people. Also pleasantly delightful is how gender-neutral a lot of the characterisation is – that soldier is just as likely to be a woman as a man, and that nurse could definitely be a dude. It was interesting to find myself being caught out again & again by assuming the wrong gender of an introduced character, which is a point that actually leads nicely to….

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Stuff Mom Never Told You

Does this reading list look a bit thinly spread for a month of reading? You’re not wrong, and all blame rests with my new mico-obsession – SMNTY!

Hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin, Stuff Mom Never Told You is the audio podcast from HowStuffWorks that gets down to the business of being women from every imaginable angle. Fueled by boundless curiosity and rigorous research, Cristen and Caroline are girls-next-door gender experts who skillfully decode the biology, psychology and sociology of ladies and gents, from their evolutionary past to millennial present, to better understand all the Stuff Mom Never Told You.

There are years worth of episodes to catch up on, so I’ve been cherry picking the titles that appeal to me and burning through them during a lot of the times I would normally reach for a book. Not just for the lady-folk, I heartily recommend SMNTY to anyone looking to broaden their knowledge of everything from the impacts of fast fashion, to the female Kings of Ancient Egypt and about a bazillion things inbetween. Go forth and learn, my pretties!


What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite!

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

March Reading Roundup

February Reading Roundup

3rd March – Mulled Wine Day!

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The Natural Way of Things – Charlotte Wood

Winner of the 2016 Stella Prize, The Natural Way of Things was described to me as Lord of the Flies meets The Handmaid’s Tale. Since both of those books are obviously timeless classics (and the cover art of The Natural Way of Things  is luscious), I was an easy sell.

The blurb of this book is pretty straight forward:  ‘Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert…. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? ‘ . Despite not really deviating from this brief summary at all,  The Natural Way of Things is still a gripping read. Information is drip-fed as you watch the situation unravel and the Flies/Handmaid’s comparison isn’t far off . This book is definitely one that hung around in my head for a few days, and will probably get a read through again in the near future so I can absorb a little more. If there was a sequel available, I would have been hitting the kindle SO fast to get my hands on that bad boy. If you like this sort of genre, I definitely recommend giving it a go!

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Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki

I downloaded Rich Dad, Poor Dad to my kindle on a whim after smashing through The Barefoot Investor(which definitely deserves a read) and to be honest, I wasn’t too fussed with what I read. I had mixed expectations going in – Kiyosaki seems to be everywheeeerrreee, I wouldn’t even begin to guess how many books/spinoffs/courses/speaking tours he has. So his popularity is up there, but I was dubious about how the whole package gave off a ‘get rich quick’ vibe to me.

After finishing the book, I can’t say much has changed. With a catchy title and plenty of big talk, Rich Dad, Poor Dad certainly promises to be a game changer, but it offers very little meat in the way of actual guidance. It proffers advice along the lines of ‘go big or go home!’, ‘don’t be afraid to lose  money!’,  and not a lot of road rules on how to actually recognise a great investment when it comes along, or even where to go hunting. Big smack talk, small follow through; but all delivered with enough confidence that I’m concerned that someone eager to make their fortune and ‘escape the rat race’ could see some serious damage done to their financial future. It wasn’t until the last 10% or so (because Kindle allows me to be specific with these things – thanks kindle!) that Kiyosaki briefly outlined his actual advice, and then only in the form of spruiking future books. I am going to give him one more chance, and I’ll report back once I’ve followed up on the sequel specialising in investing but I’m also curious to know how you felt about this volume. Have you read Rich Dad, Poor Dad? What did you think of it?

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Abaddon’s Gate – James S. A. Corey

This one is my WIP. The third book in The Expanse series (currently launching in Netflix and actually written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck in partnership) is a mammoth effort, a sprawling series of books that can be accurately described as ‘epic’. With Corey (aka Abraham & Franck) contracted to write a minimum of nine novels in the cycle, you can bet that Netflix is hoping to have the next GOT on their hands – G. R. R. himself has given it the seal of approval, describing it as “really kick-ass space opera.”

The Expanse has been my Audible fodder for the past two months – with each book clocking in at over 20 hours, I initially selected it as great value for money but I am hooked. With each of the two previous books in the series, I couldn’t begin to imagine how the story could continue without turning into a rambling, unjustified mess but it just. keeps. unfolding. I’m halfway through Abaddon’s Gate, so it will probably end up in next months wrap-up. If you want to play catch-up, the first in the series is Leviathan Wakes. Treat yo’ self.


What have you been reading this month? Comment below to share your favourite!

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

February Reading Roundup