Hi everyone,


I thought a blog would be a great way to exchange book recommendations as I love reading and writing reviews. I've also started putting pen to paper, and have recently completed a creative writing course. Maybe you'll be reading one of my books down the line!?


If you want to share about what you're reading, or anything at all for that matter, let loose and go for it!

Reading progress update: I've read 59 out of 220 pages.

Public Library and Other Stories - Ali Smith

This is my first Ali Smith and I'm enjoying it so much. I loved the first story about a disabled woman stuck inside a train. I have problems walking myself (muscle weakness), so I really appreciated the fact Smith had a disabled character. I hardly ever read a novel or short story with one. Does anyone know of any? The next two weren't as good, but I enjoyed them and they've cemented my love of the author. I must confess, Broken Tune, that I skipped to the end to read And so on. After you said how good it was, I had to read it and yes, it was excellent.

Broken April by Ismail Kadare

Broken April - Ismail Kadaré

Broken April is an almost meditative look at a blood feud that is strictly adhered to by those in the Albanian mountains. While it’s about a seemingly inhuman way to settle disputes (bloodshed), it is told in an entirely human way.


Successive generations had been accustomed to the feuds from their cradles, and so, not being able to conceive of life without them, it never entered their minds to try to free themselves from their destined end.


There are two stories that intersect. One is about Gjorg, a young man who has just had to commit a killing, as set out by the terms of the Kanun (a guide to adhering to the code). After a 30 day period from the time of the killing, he himself will be murdered.


Whatever words of wisdom might be uttered by the famous interpreters, the last word concerning death-so says the Kanun-belongs to the avenger of blood.


His story runs alongside that of Bastian and Diana, a couple who have recently married and have decided (strangely) to honeymoon in the Albanian mountain region in order to learn more about this tradition, which dates back centuries. Bastian is a writer and very interested in Albanian culture, so he's the one who coordinated the trip. As they're travelling through the mountain region Diana and Gjorg cross paths. Although they don’t speak to one another, an inextricable bond is formed. They both think about each other often and in this way form a connection, if not in the literal sense.


A large focus was the principles that guide life, as set out by the Kanun and the rules surrounding the blood debts passed down through generations. This was all interesting, if not a little strange. It was the complexities of the characters instead, that was my main area of enjoyment. While I didn’t feel particularly invested in any of them, I did feel compassion and understanding for Gjorg’s plight. He was bound by the rules of the blood feud and had to commit a murder, even though his conscience dictated otherwise.


Broken April was very short and would have benefited from more exposition. It’s a very hard book to categorise because while I enjoyed some elements, others I didn’t. I liked the sparse style and glimpse into a very strange way of life. The ending, though, could have been more developed and the characters delved into further. I’m very interested to see what the other at my book group thought.

Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 354 pages.

Island - Aldous Huxley

He thought of his son, he thought of his wife- of Lakshmi slowly wasting to extinction, of Dugald like a bright fiery flame suddenly snuffed out. Thought of the incomprehensible sequence of changes and chances that made up a life, all the beauties and horrors and absurdities whose conjunctions create the uninterpretable and yet divinely significant pattern of human behaviour.

Reading progress update: I've read 125 out of 158 pages.

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life - Jon Kabat-Zinn

Here's how mindfulness changes karma. When you sit (in meditation) you are not allowing your impulses to translate into action. For the time being, at least, you are just watching them. Looking at them you quickly see that all impulses in the mind arise and pass away, that they have a life of their own, that they are not you but just thinking and that you do not have to be ruled by them. Not feeding or reacting to impulses you come to understand their nature as thoughts directly


So, who here meditates? It's a great way to look at the thoughts which arise related to addiction. It also gives you a new perspective on life and yourself. I highly recommend this book if you want to start. There's an app called Headspace which has many guided meditations and is really good. It even gives you tit-bits of wisdom during the day by way of mindful updates.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Broken April - Ismail Kadaré

Well, that was strange, but in a good way. I must say, though, I'm glad to be through with books I've had to read. Now I can start something that's all me and I can't wait.

Cheer Up Love by Susan Calman

Cheer Up Love: Adventures in depression with the Crab of Hate - Susan Calman

I just finished this, but I won't be leaving a full review of it because there isn't much to say apart from it was funny, searingly honest and very important. If you suffer from depression you could do a lot worse than read this book.


I was initially attracted by the title (cheer up, love), because I've had the annoying experience of people telling me to cheer up when I just wanted to be left alone. I'm talking on the street here. It's written by a Scottish comedian who suffers from depression herself, or the crab of hate as she calls it.


Each chapter is centred around a theme, be it therapy, sexuality etc. Susan tells us her own experience of each particular theme, woven around her wit and personal outlook on life..


It was a light book about a serious topic with some excellent advise on depression. 


Great, I got this review posted!


Ahhh! My post keeps disappearing! This is so infuriating. I’m having to write this in a word document then copy and paste it into a post. What I’m trying to post about (if the site will let me), is that everything has gone wonky since the supposed ‘fix’ last Tuesday. Ever since Booklikes worked on things I’ve been experiencing problems and they keep getting worse. Apart from my tabs, which are functional again. I took a few days away in the hope that I’d come back and things were better, but it’s the opposite. I can’t get the comment tab at the bottom of posts to open and when I do, if I type a comment it’s deleted when I’m part of the way through. My dashboard isn’t working either. I have to constantly refresh to see new posts, rather than hit the button for new ones, as per before. Is anyone else having these problems? I just wanted to let you all know and apologise for not being around much lately. I don’t think I’ll be around much for a while if this continues.

Reading progress update: I've read 60%.

Broken April - Ismail Kadaré

Finally getting back to this after being away and I can't wait to see how the two stories intersect. This has been a great read about a blood code observed by a region of people in Albania. I love my new book club, they pick great books, such as this one.


Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you all know that I've gone on an impromptu trip (to England), so that's why I have't been around for a couple of days. I'll be back by the end of the week, though, so just you wait! You'll be stuck with me for the whole weekend! On another note, I'm having loads of issues with booklikes. I thought the update they did on Tuesday would improve it, but unfortunately not yet. I can't like posts and it's nearly impossible to comment. Anyone else? Talk to you all more soon.

Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

Broken April - Ismail Kadaré

"We are entering the shadow-land", he said, as if talking to himself, "the place where the laws of death prevail over the laws of life."

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa, Edith Grossman

The Feast of the Goat was the last book picked by my RL book club and I’m so grateful that they chose it, otherwise I mightn’t have read this fantastic book about the Trujillo era.


The book starts off by introducing us to Urania Cabal who has just returned to the Dominican Republic at the age of forty-nine after a self-imposed exile since she was a teenager. She fled to America when she was young in order to escape the brutal regime spearheaded by Trujillo, one that’d been in place for thirty-years before she left.


When she arrives in the Dominican Republic she goes to visit her father, a dying man who used to work closely with Trujillo during his rule. Urania hasn’t spoken to him since the day she left her homeland, some thirty-odd years previously. The reader doesn’t know why she harbours such resentment towards her father, other than the fact he worked for a ruthless dictator. I could feel that the hatred she had for him went deeper than that, though, and it did. We don’t find out what exactly it is until the latter part of the book, but I can assure you, it’s worth the wait.


Urania’s story runs parallel with that of those who worked for and were close to Trujillo, including her father and the group that plans to assassinate the dictator. In this way, her story is in the present, while running concurrently with the events of 1961. The co-conspirators stories and their relationship to Trujillo is also weaved throughout these chapters.


This is quite a complex narrative with many players, but it’s so rewarding that it bore no influence on how much I enjoyed the book. I did get frustrated several times during the first quarter, but this was soon forgotten once the power of the narrative took over. It’s definitely worth sticking with, so if you read it and find it hard in the beginning, do keep going.


To begin with the novel has one chapter dedicated to Urania, then two to those connected to Trujillo in 1961. As the novel progresses Urania’s chapters become more infrequent. The heart of the story lay in the events of the past, so this was appreciated.


There were several chapters in the last third of the book that concerned torture and were tough to read, so do bear that in mind if you pick this up.


Considering there were so many characters you would thing that Vargas would find it hard to flesh each of them out, but this wasn’t the case. Each character, including Trujillo, had vulnerabilities and was never depicted as anything less than abundantly human.


The story, based on true events, was so exquisitely told, that reading it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to date with a book. It had everything, but at its core it was bursting with humanity.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

Broken April - Ismail Kadaré

He wondered in which corner, which box, which pocket, which embroidered waistcoat, the bride's parents had put the "trousseau bullet" with which, according to the Code, the bridegroom had the right to kill the bride if she should try to leave him.





Reading progress update: I've read 9%.

Broken April - Ismail Kadaré

This was the next book picked by my RL book club. It's set in Albania and follows a young man who, in a quest for revenge, has just killed his brother's murderer. The simplistic writing style is exactly what I like and is coupled with a dark, menacing quality.

Reading progress update: I've listened 270 out of 320 minutes.

Cheer Up Love: Adventures in depression with the Crab of Hate - Susan Calman

This book is a kind of autobiography/self-help guide to dealing with depression, or the crab-of-hate as Susan calls it. It's written and narrated by Susan Calman, a Scottish comedienne, who I've recently started to like. She tells her story in a conversational style, covering all sorts of topics like fashion, therapy, social media etc and how she navigates these in consideration of her depression. As she's a comedienne it'd be a bit strange if it wasn't funny, which of course it is. She's funny and brutally honest about her experiences and I'm laughing while at the same time shaking my head furiously because I can identify with so much. If you're looking for a book which gives an honest account of depression, this wouldn't be a bad place to start.

Reading progress update: I've read 111 out of 368 pages.

Lost for Words - Stephanie Butland

I'm enjoying this so much. I wish I could just sit here and read it, but bloody life!

Currently reading

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Progress: 10%
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Progress: 100%
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
Progress: 215/215pages
Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith
Progress: 155/220pages
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Progress: 158/158pages
Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand
Progress: 14%
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Progress: 67%