Recent Reads: the 42nd, 43rd and 44th of 2018.

Well, I’m still no closer to deciding on a casual reading schedule/To Do List type thing for 2019, but I have to say my latest reads have been quite varied, and have rocked. So maybe I’ll just keep it mixed up for the foreseeable future.  

So, here are some of my last 2018 reads… 

'Notes on a Nervous Planet', by Matt Haig. 

How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
How do we stay human in a technological world?
How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.

Notes on a Nervous Planet’ is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century. 

I’ve been following Matt and read quite a few of his books since discovering him a couple of years ago, as many of us did, after picking up ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. I was so excited when he announced this book was coming out, and it's proven to be a perfect 'pick-up-put-down / couple-of-chapters-at-a-time', y'know!? 

Yes, I could paste pages and pages of quotes from the book now, but tbh I think that may give away just how brilliant some of the passages are. So I'll just leave one of my favourite bits here: 

A Note from the Beach. 

I am the beach. 
I am created by waves and currents. 
I am made of eroded rocks. 
I exist next to the sea. 
I have been around for millions of years. 
I was around at the dawn of life itself. 
And I have to tell you something. 

I don't care about your body. 

I am a beach. 
I literally don't give a fuck. 
I am entirely indifferent to your body mass index. 
I am not impressed that your abdominal muscles are visible to the naked eye. 
I am oblivious. 

I'd recommend this book not just to those suffering with mental health issues, but also to any humans who want to change the world and save our precious planet. Next on my Matt Haig list is 'The Truth Pixie'. Have any of you read that one?!

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thought provoking af. This book is great not just for those who struggle with their mental health, but also those of us who want to change the world for the better. 

'Truly Devious', by Maureen Johnson. 

1936. Ellingham Academy in Vermont was designed for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. "A place" he said, "where learning is a game." 

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a rhyming riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the pseudonym Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. 

Present day. True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: to solve this cold case. First, she has to adjust to her demanding new school life, and housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy… 

Let me start this review by saying I got this book purely because it’s been the best part of a decade and I needed some Maureen magic back in my life (I LOVED reading the ‘Shades of London’ series while I was at uni) and I did no research really and so I had no idea THAT IT IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES!? Or at least a duology? THERE IS A SEQUEL, is what I’m getting at. Ughh, if I’d known that going in, I’d have been saved a lot of panic as I got closer and closer to the last page and hadn’t had any of my questions answered yet. 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was an absolute treat. A little slow to start, and I had trouble remembering and recognising the characters for a while (there were quite a few piled in early on) but once I was about halfway through, it picked up and my brain started to fizz with excitement. I cannot wait to read the next in this series (The Vanishing Stair, expected release January 2019).  

'How to be Famous', by Caitlin Moran. 

Johanna Morrigan (AKA Dolly Wilde) lives in London and writes for the coolest music magazine in the UK. But she’s miserable. Her true love John Kite is blowing up in 1994’s BritPop scene. Suddenly he exists on another plane of reality: that of the Famouses.

Johanna hatches a plan: she will write a monthly column analysing fame; its power, its dangers, and its amusing aspects. Johanna will re-write stories, and win John, through her writing. But as Johanna’s star rises, an unpleasant one-night stand she had with a certain stand-up comedian comes back to haunt her. How can a girl deal with public sexual shaming? Especially when her new friend, the up-and-coming feminist rock icon Suzanne Banks, is Jimmy Cricketing her?

I was 100% prepared to wait a little longer for the next instalment in Johanna Morrigan’s life and purchase a paperback, maybe in 2019. My precious Caitlin hardback collection is taking up half a shelf of my precious Billy, and I have some well-loved, retired copies of ‘How to be a Woman’ tucked away behind them… but then I came across this delightful signed edition in my beloved Piccadilly and well, she just had to come home with me. 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Really quite magnificent. 

I was a little cautious going in, because I know how much stuff is packed into Caitlin’s writing; every page is a treat, yes, but can often feel like wading through a thick river of words. Y’know!? Anyway, I needn’t have worried. I fell right into the story after just a couple of pages, and it felt so lovely to read Ms Moran’s brilliant style once again. It was so familiar, it felt like visiting an old friend.  

I also had Feels Galore about certain bits... 

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