Books That Came Out This Month · Books We Should Be Talking About · Reviews

“When All is Said” by Anne Griffin

Maurice Hannigan always had trouble with words, but his own hands brought him quite a few numbers. An accomplished Irish farmer of dulcet tones, he saw many seasons come and pass. At the age of 84, having lost his wife two years to the day, he finds himself at the Rainsford House Hotel – where he has met many beginnings, middles and ends. Five drinks are ordered.

Five toasts. Five people. One lifetime.

As the evening progresses we are introduced to the cornerstones of his existence: Tony, his older brother; Molly, his daughter; Noreen, his sister-in-law; Kevin, his son; and Sadie, his wife. It is as if we are watching colour being added to what already was an extraordinarily detailed sketch, at each sip a new shade revealed. The texture is rich, full to the point of having the reader blending with it – you will feel your way through every word, but with a softness that is comforting instead of overwhelming.

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Books That Came Out This Month · Books We Should Be Talking About · LGBTQA+ · Reviews

“This Child of Ours” by Sadie Pearse [BLOG TOUR: review + Q&A]

That’s where you start; looking through a window at a family that feels just about right, that seems just about perfect. There’s a small voice though, a small voice that grows louder and bolder, making it impossible to ignore.

Riley is a seven-year-old child who is becoming. Riley is a self-aware seven-year-old child who feels out of place. Something is obviously not right, but could it be just a phase? This Child of Ours by Sadie Pearse takes a brave leap of faith into the world of Riley, Sally and Theo, a family trying to make sense of their world.

One of my favourite things about this novel is that it doesn’t take sides; it listens without judgment, navigating the endless universe of opinions with a sort of elegance that becomes a safe haven instead of a ground zero leading to overwhelming exposure. It’s not an easy novel to read though; it asks you to acknowledge the cracks on the foundation upon which we have comfortably laid our whole existence without much thought.

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Quotes · Reviews

“Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World” by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell

There is no doubt in my mind that Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World is the book equivalent of a rainbow. Not only is it visually beautiful, something we can thank the talented Chris Riddell for, but also marvellously hopeful, and that is all on the incomparable Neil Gaiman.

It felt like an energy transfusion. Though the New Year is as a rule associated with the opening of new doors, sometimes the draft that grows between them makes it impossible to do anything other than fall on one’s face. 

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Chapters · Quotes

Dear friends,

If only I could blame the dog for the lack of blog posts! Unfortunately I am not allowed to have pets in the household (somehow I ended up writing poets instead of pets – queue existential crisis).

What in fact took place is just as outrageous though. I somehow managed to lock myself out of the blog and then proceeded to do the same with the email account associated to it. To give you an idea of how things are going at the moment, I also seem to have forgotten the password that gives me access to all accounts at work.

With a bit of optimism still in me, and an extra key just in case, I might just make it to Edinburgh in one piece. First escape of the year, mid-January, of course it had to be to Scotland.

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Books About Books · Reviews

“Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew J. Sullivan

I started reading Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan with Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore in mind. Let’s just say that I was in for a surprise.

Lydia Smith, a bookseller at Bright Ideas, has a traumatizing past she would like to forget. Joey Molina, one of the lost and lonely souls that meanders through the bookstore on a daily basis, is living a traumatizing present. He kills himself, she finds him, it all unravels.

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Books That Came Out This Month · LGBTQA+ · Reviews

“She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy” by Jill Soloway

I am always late to the party – metaphorically speaking, I mean. I am usually early for everything else because I do not know how to negotiate a late entrance. I feel like at some point in these last few years I fell into a deep sleep from which I remember… well, nothing.

Finding my way back into the real world has been difficult. I keep being reminded that I have missed lifetimes of content and there are stimuli all around, surrounding me, enfolding me, suffocating me. I end up catching glimpses, not having enough mental space to go through wholeness. Then I found Transparent.

It did not demand attention. Instead, it offered itself to me in the most unreserved of ways. I felt like I was gaining time instead of wasting it, gaining life. It had, it has, a soul, and that is why I just finished reading She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy.

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Dear friends*,

How are you? What is new?

I come back to you with a revelation: settling down in London is not something one does (or at least it’s not something someone like me does). It has been almost two years now and I have yet to feel like I have landed. Even though I have bought and put together furniture, it’s still… fleeting. Perhaps a rug will help, I have been thinking of purchasing one ever since I moved to the place I am currently at (third move is, or has been, the charm).

London is one of the most anxious cities I have ever lived in. I am always catching my breath, running left and right for no particular reason. The city has so much to offer that I have many times caught myself negotiating guilt over not having left the house for twenty four hours.

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.”

Sylvia Plath says it all. There is something highly addictive about all this offer, about all this freedom to be whoever you are, whoever you want to be at any given time. It can be overwhelming, but that’s when Matt Haig comes to the rescue – I think his latest “Notes on a Nervous Planet” retaught me how to breathe. And speaking of books…

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“Jessica Jones: Alias [Vol.4]” by Brian Bendis & Michael Gaydos

I only realised I had no clue about how exactly Jessica had obtained her powers the moment I opened this last volume. It was a first step down a memory lane that grew into quite an experience. Again, they managed to create an emotional balance that had its peaks without ever being too much of anything. There was time, and space, for the whole spectrum to play out.

That said, I must confess I shuddered when Killgrave was first mentioned. I believe he was disturbingly well portrayed throughout the TV series, having left quite a dent behind, and was certainly not expecting his written version to feel even creepier. It was one of those surprises that I could have lived without, but that I am now embracing.

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“Nothing” by Janne Teller

Pierre Anthon announced, on his first day as a seventh-grader, that there was no meaning to life. After professing his truth, he abandoned the classroom and found refuge on a plum tree. As his classmates walked by on their way to school, Pierre Anthon reminded them of the lack of meaning in their stride, setting them on a frenzy to prove him wrong.

“I’m sitting here in nothing. And better to be sitting in nothing than in something that isn’t anything.”

Nothing by Janne Teller had me immediately thinking of Lord of the Flies by William Golding. The mood seems quite similar, but I believe Nothing takes a step further into the abyss. To be quite honest, I am still trying to figure out what exactly that entails.

I should start by mentioning the writing style as it’s probably the most tangible thing about this book. There is something incredibly peculiar about it. It feels raw, like over-scrubbed skin, making every single ghost of an emotion grow into something immeasurable. There are also the overpowering silences. Having read the whole book out loud, it is impossible to label them chance or even coincidence. I believe this book was skillfully designed to create a sort of emotional echo that feels claustrophobic at times.

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