Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Book Haul feat. Eric Carle

September was another bountiful month for bookish mail, with lots of books arriving on my doorstep. These hauls have been review copy heavy of late, I know, but I find book buying quite difficult when I'm recovering from surgery, as I prefer to buy my books from secondhand bookshops and charity shops rather than via online websites. I've also been consciously trying to read the books that I already own before buying new ones - what a novelty! Do let me know if you're interested in any of the following titles and do let me know if I should make any of them a priority. 

SNEAKY purchases

I desperately wanted to pre-order Saga ready for its release, so I borrowed Luke's login details and made a little purchase. I tried to save it for as long as possible following its arrival but after a few days I gave in and read it. My full review will be up next month but I seriously enjoyed it! I wasn't far off receiving free delivery so I thought I'd throw in another Waters' book to take me over the threshold. I now own three of Waters' novels (The Paying Guests, The Night Watch and The Little Stranger) and I have yet to read any of them. I'm thinking of starting with the latter, because I've heard nothing but incredible things about it but do let me know if I should read them in a different order. 

saga volume 5 vivatramp lifestyle book blog uk11
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out of work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husbands and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers. For with the arrival of Lillian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the 'clerk class', the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be. 


I received a package from Penguin to celebrate the UK release of their Penguin By Hand collection. Penguin By Hand is a collection 'compromising six of (their) most popular women's fiction titles of recent years, with new and beautiful craft-inspired jackets'. I think what I quite like about this collection is that they aren't necessarily titles that I would gravitate to were it not for the publisher bringing them to my attention with such beautiful new designs. It's nice to step out of my comfort zone every now and again and try new things. The only book I'm incredibly apprehensive about is The Help because, honestly, I don't really want to read about the black experience from a privileged white woman...But, we'll see. 

penguin by hand vivatramp book blog lifestyle blogs uk

the forty rules of love by elif shafak*
Ella Rubenstein is 40 years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent - and suddenly her life is transformed. Her first assignment is to read a novel about the ancient Sufi mystic, Rumi, who was transformed by the whirling dervish into a passionate poet and advocate of love. Slowly she realises that his 13th century life is starting to mirror her own, and in doing so it opens up exciting opportunities for her to embrace the dervish's timeless message for herself. 

vivatramp book blog lifestyle blogs

After following the advice from a manual called 'How to Meet and Marry Mr Right', Jane learns that in love there is neither pattern nor promise. The Girls' Guide To Hunting and Fishing is a deeply funnily collection of connected stories and a portrait of Jane, a woman maneuvering her way through love, sex and relationships. 

the help kathryn stockett

Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver...Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell. 

the postmistress sarah blake uk book blog

It is 1940, and bombs fall nightly on London. In the thick of the chaos is young American radio reporter Frankie Bard. She huddles close to terrified strangers in underground shelters, and later broadcasts stories about survivors in rubble-strewn streets. But for her listeners, the war is far from home. Listening to Frankie are Iris James, a Cape Cod postmistress, and Emma Fitch, a doctor's wife. One night in London the fates of all three women entwine when Frankie finds a letter - a letter she vows to deliver...

the jane austen book club karen joy fowler book blog vivatramp penguin by hand

Six people - five women and a man - meet once a month in California's Central Valley to discuss Jane Austen's novels. They are ordinary people, neither happy nor unhappy, but each of them is wounded in different ways, they are all mixed up about their lives and relationships. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable - under the guiding eye of Jane Austen a couple of them even fall in love...

penguin by hand book gift ideas uk

It should have been an ordinary birth, the start of a happy family. But the night Dr David Henry delivers his wife's twins is a night that will haunt five lives for ever. For though David's son is healthy, his daughter has Down's syndrome. In a shocking act of betrayal, he tells his wife their daughter died while secretly entrusting her care to a nurse. As grief quietly tears apart David's family, so a little girl must make her own way in the world as best she can...


I also received a few bits of miscellaneous book mail this month....

seven brief lessons of physics carlo rovelli penguin books

seven brief lessons on physics by carlo rovelli* 
These 7 short lessons guide us, with simplicity and clarity, through the scientific revolution that shook physics in the 20th century and still continues to shake us today. In this beautiful and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, Carlo Rovelli explains Einstein's theory of general relativity, quantum mechanics, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, elementary particles, gravity and the nature of the mind. In under eighty pages, readers will understand the most transformative scientific discoveries of the twentieth century and what they mean to us. 

I always found Science a really difficult subject at school. I struggled to retain the information and even when I did I didn't fully understand anything. Now that I'm older and more willing to learn about things that I find difficult, I'm really looking forward to reading this book. It has got a tough job ahead of it if it is going to teach me the basics of physics though...

vivatramp book haul everything everything nicola yoon book blog

everything everything by nicola yoon* 
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I'm allergic to the world. I don't leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then, one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black - black t-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can't predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It's almost certainly going to be a disaster. 

YA romances are far from my usual read, granted, but I think it's important to read protagonists that have illnesses, etc, and I rarely do. I'll be honest, the synopsis makes me worry because Olly sounds like he is cut and paste YA fodder but a few of my friends on Goodreads have given it a good rating so we'll see. 

brooklyn colm toibin book review book haul uk vivatramp

brooklyn by colm tóibín* 
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighbourhood 'just like Ireland' -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

Steph at Penguin read this book during her summer holiday and she thought I'd also enjoy it so she sent it my way.  I've heard a lot of people in the online bookish community discuss Colm Tóibín so I'm looking forward to reading this before its adaptation gets released in cinemas. I'm not usually one for romances but I do enjoy stories that cross continents so this should be interesting

the nonsense show eric carle

Yes, there's something strange, something funny and even downright preposterous on every page of this book. But it's not a mistake -- it's nonsense! And it's also surrealism. Nonsense lies at the heart of many beloved nursery rhymes. Children readily accept odd statements like 'the cow jumped over the moon' and 'the dish ran away with the spoon'. This fanciful bending of reality is also basic to surrealism. In this book, nonsense and surrealism combine to spark creativity and imagination. What's true? What's impossible? What's absolutely absurd? From Eric Carle, creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, comes a book to make children laugh and think, preparing them for a lifetime of loving both words and art. 

Eric Carle is back with another colourful children's book and, luckily enough, I'm going to be doing a little post to celebrate this new release next month so keep your eyes peeled for that!

the birds and other stories daphne du maurier vivatramp

A classic of alienation and horror, The Birds was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man's sense of dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of Mote Veritá promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject's life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three's a crowd...

Virago got in touch to let me know about the new du Maurier hardback editions of The Birds and Don't Look Now that are being released at the beginning of October and whilst they were in my inbox they asked if I would like one of the paperback versions to add to my collection.  Du Maurier is the perfect autumn / winter read so I've added this collection to my tentative TBR list for the rest of the year, alongside Rebecca. 

If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book hauls instead.


*These books were sent to me by the publishers for honest reviews. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Photo an Hour: A Quiet Sunday

On Sunday 27th September 2015, unbeknownst to you, I decided to share my day with you. Here's a little photo diary of what I got up to -- this time you can expect Sunday laziness, animals and some sunshine. 

vivatramp photo an hour lifestyle blogs uk

I woke up around half 9 which, for me, is pretty early for a Sunday.  It wasn't exactly a carpe-frigging-diem sort of wake up, it was more of a gaze-out-the-window-and-attempt-to-move-a-few-limbs-in-tandem sort of wake up, but it was nice and Sunday appropriate. The cottage has low windows, meaning  you can lie in bed and watch the world go by.


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Banned Books Week TBR

vivatramp banned books week lifestyle book blog

Banned Books Week is an event that explores censorship in relation to literature and this year it runs from 27th September - 3rd October. Throughout the week, you're encouraged to read books that have been banned or challenged for their content. If you're stuck for ideas, a quick Google search will help you find an abundance of books to choose from. Seriously, it would seem parents try and protect their children from reading about frigging anything! 

This year's theme is YA fiction that has been challenged or banned but since I don't tend to read all that much of it I've decided to create my own TBR from unread banned books on my shelf. These books aren't exactly underhyped, so you've most definitely heard of them before, but they're books that I really want to get round to so suck it

vivatramp 1984 george orwell lifestyle book blog

1984 by george orwell 
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skillfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true piece of freedom is betrayal. 

I know, pals. I know. Will I ever read 1984? I meant to read this for the #bookbuddyathon but I didn't get round to it so hopefully this week will finally inspire me to pick it up. 1984 was banned in various places across the world for social and political reasons, with some criticizing it for being anti-communist, and others criticizing it for being pro-communist. Censorship is confusing.

vivatramp beloved toni morrison banned books censorship

beloved by toni morrison 
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. 

Beloved is another novel that I was meant to read a while ago, for the Bout of Books 14.0 readathonbut, again, I didn't get round to it. Beloved is a text that is usually assigned to students at some point in their education and, as such, it frequently comes under fire for its sexual and violent content. I personally believe that it's important for teenagers to read about a variety of experiences either as a way to identify themselves within literature, or as a way to experience a world so very far removed from their own. 

vivatramp one flew over the cuckoos nest ken kesey lifestyle book blog uk

one flew over the cuckoos nest by ken kesey (1962)
Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy - the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. 

I bought this copy from a charity shop having never watched the film adaptation so I don't really know what to expect.  I do, however, 'enjoy' reading stories about mental health. This book was banned for supposedly glorifying criminality and well as promoting 'secular humanism'. So, there's that! 

My last few TBRs haven't been particularly successful because I just haven't been making enough time to read throughout the week, but I'm really hoping to get back into the groove with these titles. What banned books have you read? 


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Photo an Hour feat. Appleyard London

On the 18th September 2015, unbeknownst to you, I decided to share my day with you. Here's a little photo diary of what I got up to -- expect cake, celebrations, family and more cake. 

vivatramp lifestyle blog uk chickens photo an hour

7am - morning!  
I started my day by saying a sleepy good morning to the new additions to the family. We now have 6 chickens: Amy, Liz, Rachel, Jill, Winnie and Mae. They're all named after loved ones that have passed away...and Amy Winehouse. I also said good morning to the pups but there's no way to photograph Jessie using me as a climbing frame and Woody barging through everything in his path to get a decent kiss on the head. It's only now, of course, through the haze of editing, that I realise that this photograph is, in fact, blurry. Great.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

#UnderHypedReads Readathon TBR

underhypedreads readathon tbr pile uk book blog vivatramp

If you've been reading Vivatramp for a while now, you may remember that I posted about 20 #UnderhypedReads On My Shelf a while back that celebrated the reads that I owned but hadn't heard much about. Well, the underhyped movement is still very much alive and Charlotte's latest #UnderHypedReads readathon runs from Monday 21st September to Sunday 27th September. This is a very chilled out readathon, without any hefty challenges, with the idea being to read books that you haven't heard much about in the bookish community that also, ideally, have less than 5,000 ratings on Goodreads. I scoured my bookshelves and put together a little TBR pile for the week! If you're taking part, let me know what you're going to read. 

alice walker meridian book blog

meridian by alice walker (3,435)
Set in the American South in the 1960's, Meridian followers Meridian Hill, a courageous young women who dedicates herself heart and soul to her civil rights work, touching the lives of those around her even as her own health begins to deteriorate. Hers is a lonely battle, but it is one that she will not abandon, whatever the costs. 

I bought this for £1 from a secondhand book shop back in February, as featured in my secondhand book haul at the time, and it sounds like just the sort of read that I am really enjoying right now - personal sagas full of women being strong and beautiful and everything that real women are essentially. The Color Purple is one of my favourite books, and Walker's most popular, so it should be interesting to read this, her second novel, and see whether it deserves the same amount of praise. It's Alice Walker so it probably will! 

wise children angela carter book blog uk vivatramp

wise children by angela carter (3,997)
A richly comic tale of the tangled fortunes of two theatricial families, the Hazards and the Chances, Angela Carter's witty and bawdy novel is populated with as many sets of twins, and mistaken identities as any Shakespeare comedy, and celebrates the magic of over a century of showbusiness. 

I studied Carter's The Bloody Chamber, arguably her most famous work, going on 7 or 8 years ago now and I haven't read anything by her since. Carter loves to be deliciously dark, so I'm expecting to see some of that wickedness to flow through this novel that the wonderful Gemma sent me a couple of years ago now. 

beneath the bonfire nickolas butler uk book blog
beneath the bonfire by nickolas butler* (227)
The ten stories in this dazzling, suprising collection evoke a landscape that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has traveled the back roads and blue highways of America, and they completely capture the memorable characters who call it home. 

I was sent this collection of short stories to review by the publisher a month or so ago and I have to say I know next to nothing about the author. Having researched him a little, it would seem that he wrote a novel that won quite a few awards and he is a childhood friend of Justin of Bon Iver fame. Oh, the powers of the search engine. I really enjoy collections that tell stories about landscapes just as much as they tell stories about people so I'm hoping this will be a three star and up collection. 

Will you be taking part in the #UnderHypedReads readathon? What would you read if you were going to? 


 *This book was sent to me for review purposes by the publisher

Friday, 18 September 2015

Book Reviews feat. Richard Wright

August was the month of the readathon for me, pals. I took part in both the Booktubeathon and the Bout of Books 14.0 and, as such, I ended up reading a lot more than I usually would during the month. They were my first and second readathons respectively and I have to say I think I've caught the readathon bug. I really enjoyed the community aspect of working towards a collective goal and I'm not too embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that it gave me at the end of each week having read so many different things. I would recommend participating in one in the future if you are at all curious! 

I actually also managed to complete my 2015 Goodreads Challenge of reading 30 books during this year having set it at a lower number than last year's 52 books because I knew I was going to spend at least six months of this year finishing off my degree. Whilst there's still a few months left of 2015, I'm not going to reset the counter. I'm just going to continue reading and see where it takes me. If you've read any of the following books, as ever, do let me know what you thought of them and also feel free to let me know what you've been reading of late. 

femme fatale guy de maupassant book review blog


FINISHED: 03/08/15 | ISBN: 0141398337 PAGES: 58
A selection of Maupassant's brilliant, glittering stories set in the Parisian beau monde and Normandy countryside.

I featured a few of these Penguin little black classics in my July book haul after being sent them by Penguin, so I thought I'd pick one out for my first readathon of the month as they're the ideal length for a heavy reading week. These editions are a super cheap way of finding new-to-you authors, so I'd highly recommend them. 

This collection was an interesting introduction to a writer that is supposedly referred to as the 'father of the modern short story'. The stories, whilst of their time, had a dark humour to them that I found particularly enjoyable and I was all for the Romantic descriptions of filtered moonlight. Yes sir. 


the old man and the sea ernest hemingway book review blog vivatramp


FINISHED: 04/08/15 | ISBN: 0099908409 PAGES: 99
Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, Hemingway's magnificent fable is the tale of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish. 

Dear God, this was painfully dull! 

I can't help but think that I would've appreciated this more if I liked fishing...or whiney old white men and their complexes?! Yes, the ennui of daily struggles is probably the point but that doesn't really make for an interesting novella. 

Hemingway's writing style works much better on a smaller scale, that's for sure. I'm glad that I didn't pay for this and instead got it second hand from a friend. 

Head for his short stories and give this bore a miss! 


elizabeth smart by grand central station i sat down and wept book review vivatramp


FINISHED: 04/08/15 | ISBN: 0586090398 | PAGES: 112
 In lushly evocative language, Smart recounts her love affair with the poet George Baker with an operatic grandeur that takes in the tragedy of her passion; the suffering of Barker's wife and the children that the lovers conceived. 

Read this aloud, clearly, when time is on your side, and you'll reap the rewards. This novella deserves to be read but not if you aren't willing to put in a bit more effort. 

Smart writes prose poetry that goes beyond anything else I've read in the genre. The language used is poetic, of course, evocative, sure, but it is also incredibly fragile and introspective, taking time to explore love more complexly. I found the reading experience particularly enjoyable with this one as I read it aloud to myself in an empty house. When read aloud you hear the anxious rush of love and subsequent melancholic torment roll off your tongue and hit the four walls, and for me that added to the severity of the tale. There was something quite liberating in reading about a woman who was unashamedly driven and nourished by her own happiness and desires, as that's not usually something that I encounter enough least not without some layer of guilt or judgement accompanying it. By Grand Central made me feel powerful for being able to love myself and others so intensely. That level of self-reflection is what sets a good text apart from others, in my opinion.

It won't be for everyone, that's for sure, but I thought it was beautiful and well worth the £1 I paid for it. 


black boy richard wright book blog uk
vivatramp lifestyle book blog uk black boy richard wright

FINISHED: 06/08/15 | ISBN: 0099285061 PAGES: 272
Wright's unforgettable and eloquent autobiography of growing up in the Jim Crow South offers an unsurpassed portrait of the struggles against the ingrained racism and poverty faced by African Americans. 

I am so annoyed at myself that I let this sit on my shelf unread for years and years, having bought it for a class at university. This autobiography was fascinating. Wright wrote with such honesty and feeling and, to me, the text was driven by a very human longing to know more, to feel more, to experience more. I was particularly interested in the way he related to blackness, as well as his relationship with literature, and it steadily became one of those reads that I struggled to put down to tend to 'real life' things. 

I cried and cried at this book. I'll be honest. There was a passage on pg99 in my Vintage edition, that you can read above, about strength and endurance that moved me beyond words. Whilst it is obviously very personal to Wright, it felt like he was speaking my truth. I was seeing myself upon a page, for the very first time, and I felt overwhelmed. This book is incredibly special - not only does it encourage its readers to educate themselves and engage with the struggles of others, it also encourages them to create safe spaces for their own truths and their own struggles. 

An autobiography that is still as important as it was on the day it was published. You should read this. 

wide sargasso sea jean rhys book review vivatramp


FINISHED: 08/08/15 | ISBN: 0393308804 PAGES: 171
A sensual and protected young woman, Antoinette Cosway grows up in the lush natural world of the Caribbean. She is sold into marriage to the coldhearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors' sins of slaveholding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his bleak English home. 

I really enjoyed Jane Eyre when I read it for university a couple of years ago so I thought I'd read Rhys' take on the character of Bertha, having heard so much about it over the years. 

Rhys tried to tackle some huge ideas here, including racism, colonialism, mental illness and power, and I just felt like all of these ideas were trying and failing to take precedence, causing a lot of unnecessary noise or, at times, too little of an impact. It hasn't put me off Rhys, as I know lots of people really enjoyed her other novels, but it has left me feeling a little bemused to say the least.  

I'll leave you with a note from my review notebook: 'Rochester still a right twat'.  

the loved one evelyn waugh book review vivatramp


FINISHED: 09/08/15 | ISBN: 014008233 PAGES: 127
Set against a background of embalming-rooms and crematoria and the unforgettable Whispering Glades Memorial Park, The Loved One is as ludicrous as Decline and Fall, as incisively shocking as Vile Bodies and - underneath the laughs - as moving as death itself. 

This was a funny read with many loathsome, yet weirdly interesting, characters set in the fantastic Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Whilst I couldn't particularly get on board with the characters at times, I really enjoyed reading about Joy Boy's work in the morgue and I would recommend it to fans of Waugh's witty writing style.

This was a nice way to while away an afternoon - even if I did feel very sorry for Aimee and the bad rap she gets with men. I've now got to turn my attention to both a Handful of Dust and Brideshead Revisited, which both sit unread on my shelves. 


swamp thing graphic novel review vivatramp uk book blog


FINISHED: 09/08/15 | ISBN: 1401234623 PAGES: 168
Following the events of 'Brightest Day', Alec Holland has his life back...but the 'Green' has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it'll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it! 

I was meant to be finishing off the Booktubeathon with Daphne du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek but I wasn't feeling it so I picked this up off of Luke's comic shelf and sunk my teeth into it for half an hour or so. I wasn't expecting much, if I'm honest. Simply because I had never read anything on The Swamp Thing before, and it's a really terrible name for a superhero lets be honest! However, I have to say I did quite enjoy the reading experience! It was actually the first superhero comic I've ever read!

I really enjoyed the graphic art style despite it being quite different to what I usually enjoy. The plot was full of tropes but it didn't bother me. It was intriguing enough to pull me through and feel interested in what the second volume may have to say. I can't review it within a wider context, simply because I know so little of its history, but from a stand alone point of view: the story moved at a great pace, had an excellent antagonist and was full of enjoyable horror. I liked it!  


perfume patrick suskind book bloggers uk vivatramp uk book blog

FINISHED: 20/08/15 | ISBN: 0241973619 PAGES: 272
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift - an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille's genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the 'ultimate perfume' - the scent of a beautiful young virgin. 

Viva veterans will remember that I reviewed The Pigeon by Suskind back in January 2014, and I gave it five stars. I had been waiting to read Perfume ever since so, naturally, I came to it with incredibly high expectations. It met them. It surpassed them. 

Perfume is disgusting, horrific and wrong, and yet Suskind writes it in such a way that makes it impossible to pass up. As horrified and uncomfortable as it made me feel, it was exhilarating and it reminded me just how skillful Suskind is as a writer. It's best to come at this novel with as little knowledge as possible, so pick it up when you can and let me know how you get on.

If you like macabre tales of obsession, this is a must read. It is now one of my favourite books. Read it. 


FINISHED: 21/08/15 | ISBN: 0141189576 PAGES: 121
Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom. 

In this calming read, Hesse explores ideas of sanctuary, the self, love and death. He uses simple language, allowing his characters to really guide the stories. Whilst some of his characters aren't particularly likeable (hello Siddhartha) I couldn't help but wish them well. There were parts of this tale that really resonated with me, particularly the passage on pg110 of my edition that talked about goal making and how in creating such rigid resolutions we were limiting our experiences. It gave me quite a bit to think about and that seemed to be the overall theme of this read. 

Whilst it is brief, this story offered a wealth of introspection for me as a reader. I enjoyed it and can imagine myself re-reading it somewhere down the line. 


hideous kinky esther freud book haul blog uk vivatramp


FINISHED: 22/08/15 | ISBN: 024197366x PAGES: 192
Two little girls are taken by their mother to Morocco on a 1960s pilgrimage of self-discovery. For Mum it is not just an escape from the grinding conventions of English life but a quest for personal fulfillment; her children, however, seek something more solid and stable amidst the shifting desert sands. 

This was a semi-autobiographical tale told from a child's perspective - a narrative voice that can be difficult to not only get right but to also sustain. Whilst I enjoyed the evocative descriptions of busy Moroccan streets and the family dynamic, I think I was hoping for something a little more plot heavy with this read, or at least something that felt like it was going to stick with me for a little longer. I wanted more insight into what it was like to be a child without a strong sense of home and I wanted to feel like I too was part of the trip. I did, admittedly, warm to it slightly towards the end but I wouldn't really call this an essential read. 

If I'm brutally honest, it was a bit forgettable. The cover is beautiful though...


burial rites hannah kent book review vivatramp lifestyle book blog uk

30. burial rites by hannah kent  

FINISHED: 26/08/15 | ISBN: 1447233174 PAGES: 355
Northern Iceland, 1829. A woman condemned to death for murdering her love. A family forced to take her in. A priest tasked with absolving her. But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date. Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes's story. 

Burial Rites was the talk of the town when it was first published but I waited around to find a cheap charity shop copy and, luckily for me, the gods granted my wish. If you're looking for a thriller with a big reveal, this isn't it. It is, however, full of wonderful character studies, rich history and poetic prose. It was infinitely readable - the sort of book that will keep you up into the early hours for 'just one more chapter'. It's a slow burner and that may be a deal breaker for some but I actually found that quite endearing, particularly when paired with its brooding melancholic tone. 

This was a seriously impressive debut novel by a young author, and you could tell as you were reading it that buckets of research went into telling this tale faithfully. I'm going to be keeping an eye out for whatever Kent writes next, that's for sure. 

Burial Rites was so immersive to the point where it felt incredibly filmic. Read it before it inevitably gets adapted. 


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 *These books were sent to me for review purposes 
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