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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden and the Borden Murders See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

The story of Lizzie Borden has a whiff of folklore about it, it feels hazy to me, apocryphal perhaps, something half known and uncertain like Washington and the cherry tree or the ride of Paul Revere. Shamefully, I had to Google both the latter two examples to double check they were the events I thought I was referring to. I choose them deliberately though - is it my Englishness that makes these events fuzzy to me? Do these stories live in the American psyche the way Magna Carta, Henry VIII and his six wives, and Jack the Ripper (to select three almost at random) live in mine? 
I remember a book we stocked when I was a very young bookseller at Waterstones in Watford that looked at the psychology of children who murder their parents. The copy on the back of the book talked of Lizzie Borden. I remember half wondering about the case, then shelving the book away and moving onto the next armful. But it stuck in my m…
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Super Special Summer Picnic Book Chase

My nieces and nephews and I have a monthly book club, called Book Chase (although it sometimes gains an extra 's' to become Book Chasse). The rules are simple: we all bring something we've read during the last month, talk about it to each other, and eat snacks. We live tweet each meeting with the hashtag BookChase. Sometimes, when we remember, we Storify all the tweets too. This month, we remembered!

[View the story "SUPER SPECIAL SUMMER PICNIC BOOK CHASE" on Storify]

Reading Resolutions

Happy New Year!
That's 2015 done and dusted, here's to 2016 and let's hope it's filled with love and laughter, friends and fun, books and cake. And really, that's about as far as my resolutions go but I do have a few projects in mind for the coming year and beyond.

This year there are two anniversaries I want to celebrate. The first is the two hundredth anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth on 21st April.
Jane Eyre is one of my most favourite stories of all and I've lost count of the number of times I've read it over the years. I'll be re-reading it yet again come April, but before then I plan to read the other three novels Charlotte wrote starting with Shirley this month. I'm quite keen to read the new Claire Harman biography of Charlotte Bronte too at some point.

The other anniversary is that of Shakespeare's death 400 years ago on 23rd April. I've finally admitted to myself that reading the same half dozen plays over and over isn'…

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone...  Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen. But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?
This book illustrates how special a thing it is to have people send you books out of the blue; it's a privilege and a pleasure. I wouldn't have known about this book, let alone read and loved it, if it hadn't landed in my letterbox. I'm …

The Complete Peter Pan by JM Barrie

We all know the story of Peter Pan, yes, because we've all seen the Disney film (most likely numerous times)? That's what I thought, anyway. Despite knowing how far adapted the films can become from their source material, I hadn't given much thought to Peter Pan the book being different from Peter Pan the film. Not until I saw a stage adaptation late last year, which was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I thought then (and most probably proclaimed on Twitter) that I simply MUST read Barrie's tale.

Fast forward a year and I still had not read the book, when lo!, I received an email about a new Alma Classics edition. Would I like to read it?, it said. Yes please, I said. This new edition includes Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, the play Peter Pan, and a whole bundle of extra material. It also has lovely illustrations by Joel Stewart.
The pictures are charming and help root the story as one for children... which isn't as clear cut as all th…

My bookish week

I'm easing myself back into the blog with a bit of a round up with lots of pictures of what I've been reading and acquiring this week. You know, before I go all hardcore and attempt an actual book review.

This week I have read comics and fiction and memoir. I've also had some lovely books come in the post. First, to the reading...

Here's the comics I read (I know, it's not as many as I bought). Limbo is a new story full of amnesiac P.I. supernatural weirdness creepy crime boss sultry singer in peril action. The kind of thing I like.

I also like Sarah Moss's writing. A lot. I've been reading Night Waking on the bus and train this week, but am not quite halfway in yet. It's really very good. Very very good. There are very strong statements about motherhood and gender politics woven into an intriguing story. In places I found myself thinking about Helen Walsh's Go To Sleep, another excellent book.
Daddy's Girls is taking me ages to read, because I d…

The personal one

I've been a sporadic book blogger at best in recent times. It's probably not a huge surprise to those that know me in real life. The last year or more has been one of upheaval and change and huge life decisions. My life at the end of 2015 is not the same as the one I had at the beginning of 2014. Work, study, home, relationship  - none of these things have stayed the same. In the spirit of over-sharing, and because I don't compartmentalise my life well and everything affects everything else, this post is about how I started in one place and ended up in another.

Back at the start of last year I was working on my PhD and missing bookselling beyond measure. My branch of Waterstones had closed the previous year and I took redundancy rather than try and find another part-time position that would fit in with my studying. After 17 years with the company I was ready to make the break, and I was in a situation that made it viable for me to stop working for a while. I hated it. I mi…