Femmuary Reading Plans

The amazing Lauren over at Lauren and the Books has created Femmuary, a celebration of all things women taking place during the month of February. The idea is to celebrate amazing women and their achievements by reading books, watching TV and listening to music that is by, about or empowering of women. I think it’s a fantastic idea and am really keen to use the month as an opportunity to finally get to some of the amazing women’s literature I have on The Shelf.

I kicked off the month with Misfit City: Volume One, a graphic novel that combines the mystery solving elements of Scooby Doo with cult classic The Goonies and that I read in one great gulp yesterday. With an all female cast, it’s a rip-roaring adventure about female friendship and pirate treasure. With colourful illustration and a pacy narrative – as well as some cracking female characters, this was a really great start to the month.

I’m also currently reading The Dry by Jane Harper. As one of the most successful crime novels of last year, I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to actually get around to reading it. Set in the midst of Australia’s worst drought in over a century, the novel sees policeman Aaron Falk reluctantly returning to his hometown of Kiewarra to investigate the brutal murder of the Hadler family. Harper’s second Falk novel, Force of Nature, is out during February (and already on hold at the library) so Femmuary seems like the perfect opportunity to read her acclaimed first book before that lands. I’m less than 50 pages in at the moment but it’s definitely got that page-turning quality.

For the remainder of the month I don’t exactly have a firm TBR in place but I do have some ideas around what I’d maybe like to read. It’s been a while since I read a classic of any description so I’d definitely like to get a classic novel by a woman in there somewhere. At the moment there are four stand-out choices from my shelves that I really do want to read: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West.

Sackville-West is a completely new author to me, as is Mary Shelley. I’ve read Jane Eyre (loved it) and Wuthering Heights (loathed it) but other than those The Brontë canon remains uncharted reading territory for me. I’m particularly keen to read some of Anne’s work next because I also have Samantha Ellis’ acclaimed biography of her, Take Courage, to read. Virginia Woolf is an author I read at university – I studied To The Lighthouse in the first year of my undergrad degree course and subsequently read her seminal essay A Room of One’s Own – however her other novels remain unexplored for me. As Mrs Dalloway is arguably the most well known, it seems like a good place to reacquaint myself with Woolf’s measured, reflective writing.

On a non-fiction front, I’ve had Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Home on the shelves for far too long now. A biography of one of our most celebrated female authors by one of our most celebrated female historians? Sounds like a Femmuary read if ever there was one!

It also wouldn’t be a celebration of female authors for me without a Margaret Atwood novel in there. Alias Grace has been unread on my shelf for far too long. As there’s now the Netflix adaptation on my ‘To Watch’ list as well, this really is a novel I want to get on and read.

Remaining with contemporary literature, there’s also a few more recent releases I’m keen to choose from this month. Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby, which explores the increasingly complex relationship between a working mother and her seemingly perfect live-in nanny, has been getting a lot of buzz since it was released in January, including a fascinating interview with the author in The Guardian’s Review this weekend. I’m also keen to dip into Carman Maria Machado’s much-praised short story collection Her Body & Other Parties which arrived from the library last week.

So those are my Femmuary reading plans. Short of a lottery win that will allow me to give up work and spend the next three weeks reading, there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance I’ll get to all of the above mentioned titles – and there’s a change I may change whim completely and read another female-centred book instead of one of those mentioned above – but this is a loose reading plan for the month and there’s plenty in there that I’m excited about. I’ll let you know how I get on at the end of the month.

If you’re planning to join in with Femmuary do let me know and drop me a link to your posts/videos in the comments below. You can check out Lauren’s channel throughout the month for lots of videos about Femmuary and can also follow the #femmuary on Twitter for links to other bloggers and BookTube people taking part.

Whatever you’re reading I hope you have a fantastic month and, until next time…

Happy Reading! x

Festive · Readathons

Christmas #CosyReadingNight TBR

The lovely Lauren over at Lauren and the Books is hosting another Cosy Reading Night on Wednesday (20 December) – just in time for Christmas! You can watch Lauren’s announcement video over on her channel here. As with her previous Cosy Reading Nights, it kicks off at 7pm UK time and runs until 10pm and the aim is simply to enjoy an evening snuggled up in your PJs with some favourite snacks and a good book or two by your side.

So what are my plans for the evening? Well, I’ll be catering for one as the long-suffering husband is out at his work Christmas meal that evening. I’m going to keep it simple for dinner with a mushroom risotto – a meal that I love to cook (as well as to eat). Plus it requires white wine to make which, conveniently, leaves a glass or two left over for sipping with my book! Snacks are also sorted – my current reading snack of choice is a Thornton’s Caramel Cheesecake Block, one of which I just so happen to have in an unopened ready for a special occasion. I’m generally not too nibbly of an evening but, because it’s Christmas, I might treat myself to some dry roasted peanuts to graze on as well. Plus tea, of course. There will always be tea.

32861730And as for the books? I’m currently reading Another Little Christmas Murder by Lorna Nicholl Morgan, a reissue of a 1947 crime novel which takes place in the suitably festive-sounding manor house of Wintery Wold. At three chapters in I’ve been pleased to find all the festive golden age tropes present and correct: a snowbound manor house in a desolate location, a collection of mismatched guests with secrets to hide and, of course, a murderer in their midst. I’m not expecting the book to reinvent the wheel but, for what it is, I’m enjoying it and it has ‘cosy winter reading’ written all over it – perfect for Cosy Reading Night.

Hydra final jacket imageI’ve also received an exciting piece of book post today – an advance copy of Hydra by Matt Wesolowski, kindly sent by Orenda Books in advance of the blog tour I’m taking part in in January. I absolutely loved Matt’s first thriller, Six Stories, which I read earlier this year, so I’m itching to get started on Hydra straight away. Told in a Serial like format, the novel follows six episodes of a podcast looking into the Macleod Massacre, the horrific murder of her family that was apparently carried out by 21-year-old Arla Macleod. The book’s been calling to me since it arrived in the post this morning so I imagine I will be reading that too at some point during the evening!

I’m really looking forward to having a night snuggled up on the sofa amidst all the preparing for Christmas craziness going on at the moment. If you’re joining in with #cosyreadingnight, come say hi over on Twitter throughout the evening and let me know what you’re reading. All being well, I’ll be posting a short wrap up of the evening before Christmas. Keep an eye on Lauren’s channel for her Cosy Reading Night videos and, if you’re taking part, have a great night! x



Autumn Readathon TBR

As you may have already realised from recent posts, I love Autumn. As the nights draw in, the thought of curling up next to the fire in a cosy jumper with a good book and a large mug of tea is a welcome solace after a long day at work. So when Mercedes over at Mercy’s Bookish Musings announced she was going to run an Autumn Readathon, my immediate reaction was ‘where do I sign’?!

The readathon runs from 22 – 28 October and is fairly chilled by way of challenges to allow for readers of all speeds and intentions (which I love – not all of us have the ability to read 7 books in a week!) with 4 prompts and 2 optional prompts to attempt. You can watch Mercedes’ announcement video here as well as her TBR and recommendations here but I thought it might be fun to do a post about my own TBR and reading goals for the week as well.

Prompt One: Read a Gothic/Spooky Book

I started on Laura Purcell’s ‘The Silent Companions‘ during Lauren’s Autumn Cosy Reading Night on Friday and, fortunately for me, it doubles up nicely for this prompt. Set in a crumbling country mansion, this gothic ghost story that promises unsettling psychological horror in the vein of Susan Hill, Shirley Jackson and Henry James. I’m less than 50 pages in at the moment but I’m already loving the setting and the brooding sense of malice and unease that has been infused into the most innocuous of interactions and settings.

Prompt Two: Read an Autumnal Non-Fiction Book

Mercedes has classed this as nature writing or autumnal travel-writing but I’ve just gone with something a bit gothic again because I’m currently reading ‘Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England‘ by Sarah Wise which is a fascinating insight into the history of insanity in the nineteenth-century. Looking at both the rise of the ‘mad-doctor’ profession and public fears about sane individuals being locked away in private asylums, Sarah Wise examines twelve real-life cases that could have come straight from the pages of Wilkie Collins or Dickens.

Prompt Three: Read a Novel Set in a Cold Location
Prompt Four: Read a Historical Fiction Novel

Eowyn Ivey’s ‘To The Bright Edge of the World‘ gets to do double duty for this one. I already mentioned in my 5 Star TBR Predictions post that I wanted to get to this novel soon and, with it being both set in a cold location (Alaska) and in the past (1885), it fits the bill perfectly for this prompt. At over 400 pages, it’s unlikely I’ll finish this during the readathon week but, if I can get started, I’ll be happy.

Bonus Prompt Five: Read a Short Story Collection

I recently collected ‘Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories‘ from the library and am intending to dip in and out of it through the week. Featuring spooky stories inspired by English Heritage sites across the UK, the collection features stories by some of my favourite writers including Sarah Perry and Mark Haddon. It’ll also be ideal reading for the run up to All Hallows Eve.

Bonus Prompt Six: Read an Adult Novel with a Young Female Protagonist

I get that you could argue that Phillip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials‘ could reasonably classed as Young Adult but I’m counting ‘The Amber Spyglass’, which I want to finally get around to reading so that I can start the recently released ‘The Book of Dust’, as my choice for this one. Again, I’m not sure I’ll get around to finishing this during the week but I am keen to get it started if I can.

So that is my Autumn Readathon TBR. Are any of you participating in the readathon? If so, what are you reading for it? Have you read any of my choices and what did you think? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter. You can also follow Mercedes at @mercysmusings and join in with the readathon chat using the hashtag #autumnreadathon. So here’s to a successful readathon week and, until next time…

Happy Reading! x