adventures, books & creative lifestyle.

Book Haul feat. Celeste Ng

book haul featuring queer books book blog vivatramp

It has been a little while, huh?! Let's just skip the traditional blogger apology, where I fill you in on all of the things I've been up to outside of this blog, and get to the most important part...I have new books!

If you've read any of the following, or end up adding any of them to your 'to buy' list, drop me a line because I always need an excuse to chat about books.  

pages for her sylvia brownrigg promising young women book blog vivatramp

"I don't know why it never occurs to me to ask for more: to be taken to dinner, or to be given a promise, or at the very least, an explanation of why things aren't working out with his wife. I know exactly what Jolly would say: I know because I've written words to mistresses before. Hundreds of them."

On the day of her 26th birthday, Jane is recently single, adrift at her job, and intrigued by why Clem - her much older, married boss - is singing to her. Meanwhile her alter-ego, the online agony aunt Jolly Politely, has all the answers. She's provided thousands of strangers with insightful and occasionally cutting insights to contemporary life's most vexing questions. When she and Clem kiss at a party, Jane does not follow the advice she would give to her readers as Jolly: instead she plunges head-first into an affair. One that could jeopardise her friendships, her career and even her life.

Sometimes I'll see books all over my social timelines but, beyond marveling at their covers, I won't find the time to check out what they're about. I had seen Promising Young Women pretty much everywhere but, for whatever reason, I hadn't properly given it the time of day. I think I thought it was an anthology of essays and, let's face it, three years on from graduating I'm still not ready to read an essay. 

Fast forward a fair few weeks and I checked it out on Goodreads. I'm all for books on bisexuality and fraught relationships so this went straight into the basket. God bless birthday book tokens. 

PAGES FOR HER by sylvia brownrigg (2017)
Pages for Her is the story of two women, Flannery and Anne, each at a personal turning point, and the circumstances that lead to their reunion. Twenty years after their brief but passionate affair, chronicled in Brownrigg’s earlier novel Pages for You, Flannery has the chance once again to meet Anne, who opened young Flannery up to the possibility of love—then left her heartbroken.Having long ago put their love behind them, they live now on opposite coasts. Anne has been in a deep, childless partnership with a fellow scholar Jasper, who recently left her. Flannery, to her own surprise, married a charismatic artist named Charles, with whom she has a young daughter. Submerged by her husband’s demands and personality and her adjustment to motherhood, Flannery has lost sight of her self and her work. When the two women meet at a conference, they find that the passion and understanding between them has endured, though it has been hidden. In rediscovering each other, they are able to rediscover themselves.

You may remember that I wasn't totally head over heels for Pages for You, the first installment in Flannery and Anne's love story, but nevertheless I wanted to know where life had taken the two of them. I thus purchased Pages For Her with another of my birthday tokens. 

I'm hoping this offering has more of the delicious passages that I enjoyed so much in the first novel. I'm just hoping the power balance between the two of them now feels less icky?! If you've read it, let me know how it compares!

sweetbitter stephanie danler he said she said erin kelly book haul vivatramp book blog

sweetbitter by stephanie danler (2016)
Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job as a "backwaiter" at a celebrated downtown Manhattan restaurant. What follows is the story of her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. As her appetites awaken--for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging--Tess finds herself helplessly drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle. In Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler deftly conjures with heart-stopping accuracy the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the restaurant industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young in New York.

Book oracles Alice and Bethany, from What Page Are You On?, had been singing the Sweetbitter praises for quite a while so I finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase it using another of my gift cards. I had four lazing around in my purse, would you believe?! 

I'm all for books about young people coming of age and learning things, especially the hard way, and this offering promises to fit the bill. It would seem that I was on quite the tortured love story kick when I ordered these books, huh?! 

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share. But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his. The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person? 15 years later, Kit and Laura are living under assumed names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

Alice also happens to really love Erin Kelly so I decided to spend half of my Waterstones gift card on one of Kelly's latest novels. 

I don't know about you but there's something about summer that makes me want to opt for page turners where someone inevitably ends up in deep trouble or, more often than not, dead. Easy beach read, who?! 

I want to turn my attention to this book before the heatwave up and leaves so I better read it soon. 

vivatramp book blog

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia's.

A book that I'm currently reading for my Patreon-exclusive book club! 

Between mysterious pasts and the dark undergrowth of the suburbs, I had my eye on this bestseller so I was pleasantly surprised when it won our bi-monthly vote. If you're into fast-paced plot-heavy reads, this isn't for you. If you're all about intricate character development and a meandering plot, you may want to pick this up. 

my absolute darling by gabriel tallent (2017)
Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well. 

Another book that I'm currently reading.

This is another book that was much-hyped on my social timelines but I was holding out for the paperback release because hardbacks feel like too much work. After a year long wait, I tucked into it pretty much as soon as it arrived. Turtle sounded like such an interesting narrator and, so far, she's meeting expectations. 

I'm only around half way so I can't really comment on it too much but I'm thoroughly enjoying the writing style so far. If you're done with summer and you're looking for a book where characters pad through marshy woodland and blow up rotting caravans, you've found it. Enjoy!

tin man sarah winman book haul bloggers in the uk vivatramp

This is almost a love story. Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more. But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between? This is almost a love story. But it's not as simple as that.

Another love triangle of sorts, sue me!

I feel like this novel might make me do a big snotty cry and, not gonna lie, I quite enjoy weeping over tales of bittersweet first love. My copy of Call Me By Your Name can attest to that. Ooooh boy! 

All of my pals on Goodreads seem to have held Tin Man in high regard so I hope that stands when I finally turn my attention to it.

Italy, 1930s. It's the height of summer and sixteen-year-old Ginia is desperate for adventure. So begins a fateful friendship with Amelia, a stylish and sophisticated artist's model who envelops her in a dazzling new world of bohemian artists and intoxicating freedom. Under the spell of her new friends, Ginia soon falls in love with Guido, an enigmatic young painter. It's the start of a desperate love affair, charged with false hope and overwhelming passion - destined to last no longer than the course of a summer.

The Beautiful Summer was sent to me by Penguin and its part of their European Writers series that looks to promote forgotten works of literature. This novella seems to follow the theme of tortured love affairs, following Ginia and Guido as they navigate a summer romance. 

I think I'll settle down with this in the garden of a lazy sunny evening with a glass of rum nearby just because.

penguin modern essentials blog post vivatramp book blog

Longing for love, obsessed with weddings and let's not even mention the mysteries of sex, Linda and her sisters and cousin Fanny are on the hunt for the ideal lover. But finding the perfect match is much harder than any of the sisters had ever dreamed. Linda is first courted by a Tory MP and then becomes embroiled with a handsome but humourless communist, before she risks everything on a chance at real, head-over-heels love in war-torn Paris.

Penguin have added a selection of books to their much-loved Essentials collection. Knowing my love of the series, they asked me to pick a few out to review at a later date. 

I've been meaning to read some Nancy Mitford for a fair few years, and that cover pushed me over the edge, so The Pursuit of Love was my first pick. I used to love a good modern classic but I haven't really read any for quite a while now so this'll be an excellent re-introduction. 

David Strorm's father doesn't approve of Angus Morton's unusually large horses, calling them blasphemies against nature. Little does he realize that his own son, his niece Rosalind and their friends, have their own secret aberration which would label them as mutants. But as David and Rosalind grow older it becomes more difficult to conceal their differences from the village elders. Soon they face a choice: wait for eventual discovery or flee to the terrifying and mutable Badlands... 

I read, and quite liked, another of Wyndham's slices of sci-fi going back a few years so I thought I'd try out another. 

Whilst it's not my favourite genre, I do like to dip into the weird realms of sci-fi every now and again and Wyndham is probably a good author to make a beeline for if you're looking to creep yourself out of an evening. 

Could the sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerville have been caused by the gigantic ghostly hound that is said to have haunted his family for generations? Arch-rationalist Sherlock Holmes characteristically dismisses the theory as nonsense. And immersed in another case, he sends Watson to Devon to protect the Baskerville heir and observe the suspects close at hand. Rationalism is pitted against the supernatural, good against evil, as Sherlock Holmes seeks to defeat a foe almost his equal.

I've yet to read a novel by Conan Doyle so I thought I'd take a chance on one of his most renowned Sherlock novels. 

This will, again, probably be something that I'll save for later in the year when I'm done with reading about tortured relationships and bad people. It could be a good autumnal read, no?!

book bloggers in the uk vivatramp blog

The moment that Emily's friend Evan Gordonstone - a successful middle-aged financier - meets Caroline Beresford - a glamorous former horsewoman, and now housewife, hostess, and landlady - there is a 'PING!' At least, that's how Evan describes it to Emily when he persuades her to record his story: the story of falling into unrequited love, which is as old as Western literature itself. Thus begins a hypnotic series of conversations set against the beguiling backdrop of West London's bars, fuelled in intensity by endless G&Ts and Q&As. From the depths of mid-winter to July's hot swelter, Emily's narration of Evan's passion for Caroline will take him to the brink of his own destruction.

I was in two minds as to whether to say yes to this review copy but, after much deliberation, I decided that it might be quite a refreshing read. 

I haven't seen anyone talk about this book, as of yet, so I'm not too sure what to expect but I'm more than happy to go into books without any prior context or expectation. 

When Matthew underwent surgery to remove a life-threatening cyst in the middle of his brain, he was left with extreme fatigue, a difficulty forming new memories and with a tendency to confabulate - to 'remember', with absolute conviction, events that have not occurred. In Tell Me the Planets, Ben Platts-Mills tells stories about his work with survivors of brain injury, offering a rare glimpse into the world as seen through their eyes: charismatic Danny, whose criminal past has left him paralysed down one side, but who now helps others worse off than himself; Sid, whose memory for the present lasts only moments; and Liah, who is caught in a battle with the care system threatening to make her homeless. But above all this is the story of the extraordinary friendship between Ben and Matthew, following their attempts to discover what has happened to Matthew's brain and how he might begin to rebuild his life. It is a journey that takes them to the frontiers of science and to the limits of human resilience: when they discover that the cyst is growing again, Matthew is left with an impossible decision to make.

Whenever I read non-fiction, I always tell myself that I should read more of it.  With this in mind, when an email about this book landed in my inbox I decided to accept a review copy. 

I'm definitely going to lend this to my pal Sophieanne at some point cause it sounds right up her street. Girl loves her brain talk. 

childrens book reviews uk book bloggers vivatramp 100 dogs michael whaite

100 dogs by michael whaite* (2018)
Small dog, tall dog, playing with a ball dog, big dog, dig dog burying a bone . . .Can there really be 100 dogs doing 100 doggy things packed into the pages of this picture book? Yep, we've counted and we're pawsitive! Follow the bouncy rhyme as it weaves its way through an array of hilarious hounds (from petted pugs to silly sausage dogs) and find out . . .This silly celebration of dogs is bursting with funny details to spot and crazy, characterful dogs to fall in love with - a bark-aloud book to return time and again.

Have you ever seen a book cover as joyous as this?! 

I love me a good picture book and this one already wins points for being a celebration of good boys. You can bet your ass I'm going to settle down with Poppy and read this to her before bed. I used to read Beatrix Potter to Charles so I kinda wanna keep up the tradition of confusing the hell out of my animals.

working womans handbook book blog vivatramp

Want to have an exciting, custom-built career? The Working Woman's Handbook can help you create it. It's the ultimate guide to job satisfaction, filled with practical advice on developing and driving a working life you love. Bursting with actionable tips, this book outlines an agenda for making and managing money, setting goals, and establishing success-oriented routines, with worksheets, exercises, and fool-proof -how-to- sections to help chart your course. From the lowdown on launching your own venture to a bullet-point checklist for an essential self-care regime, it will teach you to manage any dilemmas that crop up, and take the stress out of setting a budget. This no-nonsense manual comes packed with author Phoebe Lovatt's personal insights from her own career as a successful freelance journalist, moderator, and founder of The WW Club, the leading digital resource and global community for working women worldwide. It also includes words of wisdom from various creatives and industry leaders, such as Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth, WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid, The Gentlewoman's Editor-in-Chief Penny Martin, and rising fashion designer Sandy Liang.
Whether a first-time freelancer, budding businesswoman, or dedicated professional looking to enhance your prospects, The Working Woman's Handbook is a go-to career and lifestyle guide for ambitious young women everywhere. 

Speaking of Sophieanne, she gave me this book for my birthday last month! The perfect gift seeing as I'm now 6 months in to self-employment. What a whirlwind. 

I've had a quick flip through and this guide looks ridiculously informative and well-designed. I think I'm going to tackle one section at a time so I can absorb all of the advice properly. 

Aaaaand those are all of the books I've added to my collection in the last few months thanks to gift cards, my own pocket, book tokens, review copies and my pals. I definitely don't need any new books for quite a while! 

If you aren't quite done here, you can catch up with my latest book blog posts? Don't forget, you're very welcome to join my Patreon-exclusive book club. We're open to anyone and for under £8 a month you get access to looooooooads of content.

*Books marked with an asterisk were sent to me by the publisher for consideration.



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