Oh, Mary…

Mary Higgins Clark died. I remain unsettled and yet I have known for days. It is strange, perhaps, the toll the death of a celebrity takes on those who consider themselves fans. In death they remain as present in our lives as they always were. Their works remain. And through their works we can actually pretend, if we like, that they still walk the mortal realm.

And yet there is sadness still.

I feel like a silly person.

But I did love you, Mary. If not most for the opportunity to share the love I have for you with my own mother. Whose name is, incidentally, also Mary.

I remember falling in love with mystery because of Peter Nelson. I was a Molly Fox girl. I had to know what happened. For some reason Nancy Drew didn’t excite me quite as much. My 12 year old self could not understand how my mother could be so disinterested in mysteries laid out in these written-for-kids mystery novels.

And then she handed me Where Are the Children. It was too sophisticated for me as a 12 year old, but I didn’t care. I still needed to know what happened. 25+ years later I still have that same feeling every time I dive into the first chapter of a Mary Higgins Clark novel.

What the hell happened?

So thank you for that, Mary. Thank you for being faithful to your career all these years. Thank you for the consistent air of curious mystery. Thank you for the heroines who are by no means mice, but fierce warriors who love to eat sandwiches (seriously: they all eat carbs it’s wonderful!)

Rest easy, Beautiful Soul. You will always be alive and well in our bookshelves…

 

Books About Books

I spent January in six different libraries. Seven, actually, if you count my own. Eight if you count my shop and personal library as two separate libraries. The point is: I feel engulfed by books. It’s blissful!

I have, however, decided that themed reading is a little weird and I’m not sure if I should continue with it or not. The books about books were all awesome but they have sort of blurred into each other a little. Unless I think about them properly then I can draw the lines.

Should I be theming my reading?

The thing is: there is a certain joy to perusing my personal shelves and finding links that tie various books together. There are still five books left in my pile of Books About Books. I might have been a little ambitious in my attempts there… But I got joy out of just looking at that pile, nevermind reading it.

And I’m reading! Last year I read a grand total of five books! How ridiculous! So caught up in running a shop and moving towns. Noah starting school. That pesky little nervous breakdown. All that time I spent convincing myself that two nervous breakdowns in the space of two years isn’t so bad.

We’re reading. Reading keeps the happy. Themes keep the structure. Structure keeps the sanity.

And we’re reading.

Goodbye, January!

I always tend to forget that in the wake of my excitement at the start of a new year, January looms. Large and grotesque usually. With sticky reminders that we are fragile and bloody hopeless sometimes. And at the end of each January I remember that January must always be treated with humour. January is the metaphorical first pancake of the year. The trial month. If you don’t think of it that way you might just expire out of a morbid sort of self preservation.

January sucks.  Thank God it’s finally February!

The Booksih Life of Nina Hill – A Book Review

Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Author: Abbi Waxman

My Rating: 4

Is it weird to say this is the most Older-Millennial book I have ever read? I legit think this woman MUST be my exact age. The references. The way of speaking. All of it. It’s so… Familiar! And a bit unsettling…

Of course this isn’t my usual sort of book. Like all folk in books about books I like to pretend that I have sophisticated taste. Donna Tartt. John Irving. Margaret Atwood. These are my people!! Actually no. These are the people who are so far out of my league that I barely feel worth to peruse the words they have spent their lives writing.

What was I saying? Oh yes. This isn’t my usual sort of book. Fluffy and flirty books? Surely those are for other people. Not less serious readers. Just less uptight people? Hmmm… Maybe I can be less uptight too…?

Probably not. But the book was fun to read regardless. So there’s that! Silly and flirty and happy. Sometimes we just need that, right?

Right.

The Bookish Life of Nina HillThe Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the cheesiest most older-millennial books I have ever read. I feel like the author MUST surely be exactly my age! Surely?! I loved it 🥰

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Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – *review*

Title: Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan

My Rating: 4

I didn’t love this book at first, I must admit. For one, I think I’m very much in a space of craving feminine energy (which is no fault of the author, of course) and for another it was a little slow to start for me. I did, however, enjoy it as a whole and I can appreciate that it was well written.

Robin Sloan has a very Lex Grossman feel, but slightly more casual, and wholly less magical. Think Codex but with books and a bit less angst.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, #1)Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me way too long to read this book! Back to life etc. Its pretty entertaining. Reminded me of Codex a bit 😊

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The Collected Works of AJ Fikry – *a review*

Title: The Collected Works of AJ Fikry (aka The Storied Life of AJ Fikry)

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

My Rating: 5

I didn’t get up at a reasonable hour this morning. I woke up. But I didn’t get up. Because man, this book is so beautiful. I am trying to “read for a little while” in the mornings. Mostly I read short stories because then I get up after I’m done with one. But I couldn’t resist picking this book up this morning. And then I couldn’t resist finishing it.

You know when the narrator sounds right in your head. When the rhythm and the words and the story all just blend together so beautifully that you read each word slowly because you need to consume it like fine wine or chocolate, savouring every exquisite part of it…

It’s such a simple story. Unpretentious. Unassuming. Simple. And beautiful.

And for some reason full of references to my favourite writers! Aimee Bender. Kate Atkinson. John Irving. And reference to the short stories of Roald Dahl as well which I love.

I adored this book. It is exactly the sort of book I aspire to write.

The Bookshop That Floated Away – *review*

Title: The Bookshop That Floated Away

Author: Sarah Henshaw

My Rating: 3

I should state outright that I tend to not love memoirs. I so seldom get anywhere with anything that isn’t purely fiction. This is much to the frustration of anyone who has ever handed me a biography or a self-help book to read. I try, guys, I do. Usually I fail.

I managed this one though. I supposed being able to relate in some ways makes a difference. This is a sweet read, if nothing else. Though it took me almost finishing the book before I realised that while the whole vibe of it felt very familiar, it wasn’t because it reminded me of myself at all. It reminded me of a long lost friend. Realising that made the feelings make a little more sense…

Anyway. This one fitted nicely into my bookshop/library theme for the month. As I read these I’m actually writing a story set in a library as well. This particular book didn’t inspire my writing much but it did leave me with a feeling of oh yes it’s totally ok to live your life on your own terms. 

I do so love wandering travellers… They are infinitely braver than I…

Reading on Saturdays

I’ve just put a batch of monkey bread in the slow cooker. I don’t know if it’s going to work but I wanted to try it because there was a packet of bread dough in the fridge and the husband is leaving soon and what else would I do with it anyway.

The only other thing I’ve done today is read.

I’ve been talking about reading too much lately, haven’t I? How boringly unsalacious. Not much to gossip home about…

The thing is: I do not miss my youth at all. Not even a little. But there is one tiny aspect of it that I do miss from the days before I created a whole other person and then went on to add another three to my daily life.

Reading on Saturdays.

This is something I used to do so leisurely during my teens and also during my first (childless) marriage. Saturdays were a glorious safe day where I often didn’t have to get out of bed and I could just finish whichever novel I happened to be reading that week. Saturdasy were for finishing. How beautiful.

Then twelve or fifteen years went by and most weeks I hadn’t started a novel that could be read to completion on Saturdays and so reading became a vacations and special occasions kind of thing and here we are. Loving books more than ever and feeling hopelessly un-well-read.

So today I made monkey bread. And I didn’t make my bed. And I almost didn’t even get dressed (which I sort of regret because yay pjs but I do also need to “expect” bookshop visitors from time to time even though it barely happens) and the only other thing I did was finish the novel I was reading.

And honestly I think I might pick up another one now.

Because despite this nagging you have work to do feeling I also have rest to do and damnit I’m going to have to start getting that right at some point!

The Library of Unrequited Love – A Book Review

Book: The Library of Unrequited Love

Author: Sophie Divry

My Rating: 4

I don’t know why I love this book so much, only that I do. In my life I imagine I will read it another ten times or more. The last time I read this book (in February of last year) an idea for my own soliloquy started to sprout. This time I actually started to write it. A big deal considering I have barely written anything for quite a while now.

The writer who does not write is not a writer.

This book is just one long ramble, which is something I’m sure a lot of folk would probably hate. I am intrigued buy it though. The ability to tell a story from one very limited perspective and still have the pictures form as they should. It’s fascinating. My need to duplicate the style is overwhelming at this point.

How did she do that?

Can I do it?

So far the answer is “no” but maybe with a bit more practice I’ll get it right…

Read More, Write More

I started writing again today which has already reminded me why I gave up for a  while. No, not because I have writer’s block. I seldom struggle with that.

I have writer’s aggression. And it is so bad.

Would it be overkill to make a sign for my door that says Leave Me The F*ck Alone?

That’s what I have wanted to scream no less than seven times this morning.

The door is closed. Leave me alone. Leave me alone. Leave me alone.

This very real and acidic aggression is why I have barely written in years. And yet, to read more and to write more are my only real resolutions for 2020. They are the two that count the most. More than house stuff and work stuff and whatever other stuff.

Read more, write more.

One makes me happier. The other makes me unhappier. Go figure.

I just have to figure out how to do the writing part without simultaneously putting myself in a position that causes me to fantasise about committing murder.

It’s funny. The reading more is going ok. I’ve taken to reading a bit in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoons and sometimes after my husband goes to bed. My attention span is terrible and I struggle to maintain focus but I’m trying to get back into the habit.

With writing though?

I get lost so easily. I am in no way my own distraction when it comes to writing. The only problem is the venom inspired by anyone or anything that does distract me.

The door is closed. Leave me alone.