Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down may be one of his less well-known novels, but for me it is his best. It combines all of the essential qualities of Hornby’s work: the dark comedy of About A Boy, the subtle humour of How To Be Good, and the characteristic literary style seen in his first novel, High Fidelity. I was left thinking about this book a long time after I had finished the last page, so much so that it even inspired one of my undergraduate creative writing pieces (but maybe don’t tell that to my tutors). Continue reading Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Review: Beneath the Waves

As the mornings grow colder, the nights longer, and it feels like there are perpetual grey skies threatening months of rain, sometimes all you can do is put on your most threadbare pyjamas and snuggle up with a good book. However, with deadlines looming and online University being weirdly more stressful than the real thing, considering I’m attending in said pyjamas, what I really need is a slither of a good story. A short story, so to speak. Sculpting a believable and captivating world in a handful of pages is a difficult thing to get right, but fellow Exeter student Daisy Ella does just that in her first self-published story, Beneath the Waves. Continue reading Review: Beneath the Waves

Books to Pre-Order in Lockdown

For many of us, reading has become a source of hope, providing a space for both refuge and clarity to help us navigate our present climate. As well as having new texts to look forward to, pre-ordering books also offers an opportunity to support authors and publishers alike during the uncertainty of lockdown. Dynamic, ambitious and uplifting, these are some of the most exciting and important titles to look out for in 2020! Continue reading Books to Pre-Order in Lockdown

My Culture Comforts: Normal People by Sally Rooney

It’s hardly surprising, as a third year English student, that my main comfort at home is our family bookcase. My current favourite, which I’ve been rereading over the past week is Sally Rooney’s Normal People, published in August of 2018. Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends is also worth a read! Normal People is centred around the lives of two teenagers – Marianne and Connell, very much in love, whose ‘will they/won’t they’ conundrum becomes the tie which echoes throughout the novel, and is something that readers can’t help but become emotionally attached to. What’s more, the novel’s main themes of love and loss, endurance through hardship, personal growth and self-discovery are so prevalent, especially in our current climate. Watch out for the television adaptation of the novel which is said to be coming out soon! Continue reading My Culture Comforts: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Reading Corner: Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls (audiobook)

Having tried audiobooks in the past, I have never actually been able to finish one – always getting bored or losing concentration for too long so the storyline no longer makes any sense. Something about listening to a thirteen-hour audio seems more daunting and time consuming that just simply reading the book. Now, however, since time is not an issue, and distractions from the outside world are near-impossible, I decided it was a perfect time to give them another try. Using yet another fake email (I know, I’m a cheapskate), I signed up for my third free audible trial, browsing the listings for a book that I both wanted to read and did not yet have a physical copy of. I’m a huge David Nicholls fan, having read all four of his other novels, and his latest release Sweet Sorrow has been on my to-read list since it came out last summer. Continue reading Reading Corner: Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls (audiobook)

Reading Corner: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

My sister and I gave The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse to our mum for Christmas – a wise present it turns out, seeing as I’ve now read it more times than she has. Looking at it again this past week has been a comforting escape. The book is formed from a collection of beautifully expressive ink illustrations with handwritten words, stitched together by a gently anchoring narrative. We follow four friends: an inquisitive boy who asks questions about the world and ponders his relationships with the others; a mole full of reassuring words, whose thoughts are also largely occupied by cake (which makes for some of my favourite moments); a fox who is reserved and quiet because of their past, yet loved by the others no matter what; and a wise horse who reveals an ability to fly. The story’s subtle linearity stitches the order of the pages together, but you don’t need to read it cover to cover. Each page is an isolated piece of art and storytelling in its own right, so dip in and dip out; you’ll never be lost in the story. Continue reading Reading Corner: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Review: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

“The river lapped and the boat rose and fell, and a far-off little voice called without cease for its parents from the depths of the goblin world.”

Setterfield’s tale begins at The Swan, a pub at Radcot, the hub of storytelling on the Thames. The regular drinkers are disturbed by the sudden entrance of an enormous man, bleeding and injured from the mouth, cradling a puppet in his arms. After the man collapses dramatically and the puppet is retrieved from his arms, the locals discover to their horror that he had been holding the drowned body of a little girl. Mysteriously, the girl soon revives, yet seems incapable of speaking. The novel then follows the story of three different characters, all laying a claim to this girl. One is a farmer searching for the missing child of his son, a grandchild whom he only recently discovered existed. Another is a landowner whose wife is sinking into madness after the disappearance of their daughter. The last, a confused middle-aged woman haunted by disturbing nightmares of her drowned younger sister from decades before, is convinced that her sibling has returned. Continue reading Review: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Review: Find Me by André Aciman

Find Me is not your normal sequel. It does not carry on a single narrative thread, started in Call Me By Your Name, instead it ties together multiple threads from the same fabric that Call Me By Your Name is a part of. (I am assuming here that you have read Call Me By Your Name, or at least seen the film, for without this you will not understand Find Me, nor this review of it.) For the first hundred pages, Elio is scarcely mentioned, Oliver not at all; yet without a doubt, Find Me is heavily predicated on the events of Call Me By Your Name. As such, one waiting to know what happened in the immediate aftermath of the previous book will be sorely disappointed, however if they give the novel the time it needs, they will come to understand the importance of time, and what has happened as time progressed for Elio, Oliver, and Elio’s father Samuel. Continue reading Review: Find Me by André Aciman