Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in London

 

studious saturdays

Some of you who have read my previous post Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Bath would know that I spent part of my time during my last visit to the UK discovering bookshops by taking (or maybe even dragging!) my family and friends with me. Today’s edition includes three beautiful bookshops in different parts of London and I would like to share my thoughts on them with you.

Daunt Books

Right at the heart of Marylebone is a treasured bookshop perfect for lovers of travel and adventure. Daunt Books is an inspiration to anyone planning their next trip, or even those who work in the area and want to get away during their lunch break.

DSC01529.JPG

This bookshop is split in several floors. Upon entering we can find the latest hardbacks and paperbacks in contemporary fiction. I though that this bookshop is like any other and does not have anything special until I walked a little further into the travel section.

CYMERA_20181124_103237.jpg

From here Daunt Books splits into three main areas – the downstairs focuses on Asia, Australia and Africa, the upstairs has a wide range of books for UK travel and the main level is filled with European books. I especially liked how each section is divided first by country and then in alphabetical order so it does not take too long to find the book you are looking for.

DSC01533.JPG

The interior is beautifully decorated in an Edwardian style building with oak balconies and gorgeous green walls. Overall, this visit was a huge success and I managed to satisfy both my love of travel and books all in one afternoon.

Persephone Books

Our next visit was a short ride away on the London Underground and a half hour later we found ourselves at Persephone Books, a unique and extraordinary bookshop close to Russell Square station.

CYMERA_20181124_103215.jpg

This is not only a bookshop but also a publisher of forgotten female authors. I was intrigued to discover that all covers are the same classic gray so here there was no option of judging the book based on its cover. Instead, the short descriptions beneath each shelf were enough to encourage us to skim through books that most peaked our interest.

CYMERA_20181124_103128.jpg

There is a huge variety in books, from memoirs to short stories, and the clean gray  covers coupled with the colourful bookmarks that come with each book are just the perfect present for a loved one.

CYMERA_20181124_103155.jpg

The shop was dimly lit (which also explains the grainy photos, apologies for the low quality!) and classical music was softly playing in the background which made for the perfect book shopping experience. I supported their cause by buying a card for a friend who I was going to see later that day but I would also like to go back and buy one of these wonderful books. I encourage you to stop by this bookshop if you are ever in the area as you won’t be disappointed.

Goldsboro Books

Our final stop was a bookshop tucked away on a side street close to Leicester Square which specialises in signed first editions, perfect for collectors. We decided to walk from Persephone Books to here which in hindsight was perhaps not the best idea; it looked close on the map but the walk was nearly 45 minutes long and by the time we arrived it was already dark. Nevertheless, we were immediately transported to one of the most beautiful and rare bookshops upon entering.

CYMERA_20181124_103004.jpg

The store is divided into several areas by genre and publication date. The staff were busy at work sorting some of the latest books that had arrived as we walked around in awe of all the first editions out on display. Some of the most remarkable signed editions include The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (or J. K. Rowling) and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (I know what you are thinking… the original first edition signed by Harper Lee?!). My favourite section however was the stack of Bridge of Clay books in one corner of the room.

DSC01541.JPG

It was evident from the hundreds of copies that they had very recently arrived to the store. Each was numbered from 1 to 500, signed by the author and published in collaboration with Goldsboro Books. I was very tempted to buy a copy but managed to stop myself in the end. I now regret it because I really want to read this book and a signed edition would make the experience even more special. However, I know that it won’t be too long until I visit this bookshop again when I’m next back in London because I loved it so much so I can’t say for definite that I won’t grab a copy next time I pass by.

Our day was over but we had a lovely afternoon in London and discovered three wonderful bookshops. Thank you to my mum for joining me in this adventure! I also hope to continue the “exploring bookshops in…” series in Madrid and any other city I find myself in the future. Stay tuned for more editions in this series soon!

Question time

Have you been to any of these bookshops? If not would you like to go? If you have been, what did you think of them?

 

Book review: Internal Lockdown by Ernie Quatrani

Book Cover

Title: Internal Lockdown

Author: Ernie Quatrani

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Publication date: 30th October 2018

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

Over a morning, you can tend to your garden, paint a room, watch the morning news repeat its talking points. Over a morning, you can do the laundry or visit the doctor for a check-up; you can run errands…Over a morning, you can stop a school in its track, or lockdown an AP English class. Over a morning, you can get revenge.
Green Hill is a small, ordinary Pennsylvania town where nothing ever happens until the morning its normalcy is crushed by a shocking act of violence. One morning the school is interrupted by the frantic announcement calling for a lockdown. AP English teacher, Mike Zarlapski, swings into action, following the lockdown procedures. Although his students help pile as many desks in front of the classroom door as possible, their panic is not allayed as they communicate with what is now the outside world first-in responders, police entering the building, and the shooters who remain at large via cellphone.

My review:

Suspense and tragedy play a huge part of this book and I was very impressed with how the author developed both of these key themes to create an intriguing and thought-provoking story. We are immediately introduced to several key characters who would later endure a school shooting with many lives at stake. The plot delves right into action with a brief introduction of the main character, Mike Zarlapski, and sets the scene of what appears to be a normal morning at school. From here on, the action-filled plot unravels quickly as the characters are subject to the terrors of the shooting and law enforcement is called on the scene. I especially liked how the third person narrative was used as an asset to justify and analyse the decisions that each character took.

With reference to the characters, I must confess that I sometimes found it difficult to keep track of where each teacher and student was located in relation to the shooters and this could perhaps have been made easier with the use of an attached map of the school. I felt that there were too many characters which prevented the opportunity to fully connect with each one. However, I understand the author’s decision to proceed this way as situations like this always affect a wide range of the population and consequently this should be reflected in the story line.

Internal Lockdown is a difficult but compelling read and I encourage anyone interested in developing a better understanding of the implications and lives involved in school shootings to consider reading it. The final chapter, although bittersweet, offered the best possible conclusion to a series of tragic events affecting this community. I applaud the author for handling such a sensitive topic and hope to read more by him in the future.

Internal Lockdown is available to buy now!

Many thanks to Laura from Prodigy Gold Books for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Studious Saturday: Blogger Recognition Award

studious saturdays

Many thanks to Molly and Kaleena for nominating me with this award! If you have the chance then I encourage you to stop by their blogs as they are both a wonderful celebration of books and reading.

blogger-recognition-award1

THE RULES

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
  2. Write a post to show your award
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
  5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to
  6. Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them, and provide a link to the post you’ve created

HOW FACING THE STORY STARTED

I have loved reading ever since I was little and wanted to share my thoughts with others, exchange thoughts and opinions and discover new books to read through recommendations. However, I didn’t know much about the technical side of blogging such as choosing a hosted program and using HTML. Luckily my boyfriend helped out a lot with the technicalities (and even thought of the name!) and encouraged me to just start writing and see where it takes me. I wanted my blog to be a platform for my personal views on books I have read and would recommend to others as well as a create outlet for other musings, which is also how Studious Saturdays first began. In addition, I was also hoping to use writing and blogging as extra experience and an introduction to the Publishing industry in Spain as I was originally struggling to look for inspiration. My confidence and desire to write have grown tremendously since starting this blog back in June and I still hope to use it to pursue other opportunities in the creative industries.

MY ADVICE TO NEW BLOGGERS

1. Reach out to others in the blogging community. This is the best way to make friendships, ask for advice when needed and get inspiration. Getting started is the hardest but the community is open and friendly and there are many others who would be willing to help you set up. You will find your own voice as you start to write and you can decide to design your blog based on your personal preferences to make it a platform you are proud of and look forward to checking at the end of your day.
2. Don’t be afraid to take a break when needed. Blogging is hard work and it is especially difficult when life gets in the way and we get busy or stressed. It’s sometimes better to step away and take a much needed break instead of writing when you have no inspiration or no time. Scheduling helps a lot here, and if you’re someone like me, knowing that your post is ready to go live at an especially hectic time of your life is usually a huge relief. However, if you prefer to write when you feel like it, know that your blog and your followers will be here for you when you come back from your break and that your mental health is always more important.

NOMINATIONS

These are some of the brilliant bloggers whose posts I have loved recently and I would like to give this award to:

Krisha

Meggy

Amy

Nicole

Shruti

Jennifer

Katie and Dee

Kristina

India

N S Ford

Inge

Stephen

Sophia

Grace

Sarah

Thank you again to Kaleena and Molly for the award and thanks to everyone who has read this post. I look forward to reading how others got started and their advice to new bloggers. If you have already published a post of this award before please leave me a link, I would love to read it!

 

Book review: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Book Cover

Title: Then She Was Gone

Author: Lisa Jewell

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Publisher: Cornerstone Digital

Publication date: 27th July 2017

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.
NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.
Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.
What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

My review:

To give you an idea of just how gripping this book was, I read it in 2 sittings – the first on a flight and the second as soon as I arrived home. I was already aware of the hype surrounding Lisa Jewell and her books and felt compelled to read it after it was recommended to me by Stephen (many thanks for the recommendation!). As soon as I started it I felt compelled to find out what happened to Ellie and who was responsible for her disappearance. Storytelling is Lisa Jewell’s main strength and I was impressed with the varying changes of scene and narrators, especially as this also presented the perfect opportunity for the reader to understand each character’s motive and involvement in Ellie’s disappearance.

Original and captivating from the very beginning, this book is very different to most recent thrillers because there are many hints of the kidnapper from the start and it becomes more apparent as the events unfold that our suspicions were right. Nevertheless, the author used this technique to her advantage and created a unique story, both character and plot driven, which ultimately delivers in nearly all respects. There was never a chapter where the character’s emotions were not fully analysed and despite identifying the culprit from early on, I felt compelled to carry on reading until the end.

My only complaint about this book, and also the reason to downgrade to a 4-star rating, revolves around the slightly far-fetched events involving Ellie’s disappearance. (I don’t want to give too much away here but if you have read the book you would probably know which part I am referring to.) Despite this shortcoming, I was still able to warm to the characters and appreciate the plot, thick with suspense as Laurel’s story line developed in ways I didn’t anticipate. The epilogue was bittersweet and perhaps the most near-perfect scenario in such delicate and somber circumstances. I greatly enjoyed this mystery and have already made plans to read some of Lisa Jewell’s other books.

Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Bath

studious saturdays

During my holiday in the UK last week I visited family in London and friends in Bath, which I also decided was the perfect opportunity to explore a few bookshops in both cities along the way. This week I will summarise my thoughts on two lovely but very different bookshops in the beautiful city of Bath.

Mr B’s Emporium

DSC01512.JPG

Hidden on a side street in Bath’s city center, Mr B’s emporium is a wonderful celebration of books of all genres. I was immediately drawn to the general fiction area upon entering and spent some time looking through the new releases. I already had my eye on several acclaimed novels but the staff were also kind enough to ask if I needed any help in choosing a book, which I really liked.

I was also excited to learn that Mr B’s Emporium would be one of the stops on Markus Zusak’s book tour of Bridge of Clay, although unfortunately several days after my visit when I would no longer be in Bath!

DSC01513.JPGDSC01516.JPGDSC01515.JPG

The ground floor has several fun features including a heart shaped collage of other readers’ favourite books and a guestbook gallery full of recommendations. I loved reading other’s recommendations and was touched to find that I also share the same  tastes as other book lovers who had previously stopped at this shop.

DSC01517.JPGDSC01518.JPGDSC01519.JPG

The top floor is beautifully decorated with a reading nook at the very end and many fascinating non-fiction books as well as an area with books written in different languages. I loved the comfortable armchairs and tray of tea and coffee on the side for readers to help themselves after choosing a book to read. I could have spent the whole afternoon here! Later on I also discovered that the owners hold their book signings, talks and other events on this floor and I can already imagine how cozy this must be, especially on a cold winter’s day.

I really liked the personalised service that this bookseller offers and enjoyed the beautifully decorated and unique interior. If you have a stopover at Bath in the future I fully recommend visiting this bookstore!

Topping & Company Booksellers

DSC01522.JPG

Bright and bold on one of the main streets in Bath, Topping & Company is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a specific book. They hold book signings almost every day and have a wide variety of literature, from poetry to non-fiction. My favourite aspect was the signed first editions, which are highlighted on almost all book covers upon entering.

DSC01525.JPGDSC01524.JPG

I had a great time looking through the various genres and found several books that I had not previously heard of that are now added to my TBR list. The classical music in the background was the perfect touch to a relaxing afternoon. I recommend visiting to anyone looking for a specific signed first edition as a gift to a loved one, as well as those hoping to meet their favourite author, as this bookseller hosts several book signings each week (full list of events available on their website).

Thank you to my friends for their company during our visit to these two bookshops, especially to Ioli for recommending them!

Book review: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Book Cover

Title: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Author: Stuart Turton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Publication date: 18th September 2018

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Summary:

Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

My review:

This is one of those books – the one that you need to finish before you go to sleep, the one that you will think about weeks after finishing and most likely the one that you would end up recommending to all your friends. I am still in awe of the beautifully portrayed scenery, the multi-layered characters and the cleverly crafted plot Stuart Turton has built. He has a gift for storytelling and the rare ability to draw the reader into an engaging and intense mystery right from the first word. I knew how important it would be to stay focused on every bit of information but still I often found myself flipping back several pages just to memorise the little details. Each peculiarity and character trait is of utmost significance and it is astounding how smoothly these pieces of the puzzle fit as the plot unravels. However, despite paying close attention to these details, I never stopped guessing who killed Evelyn Hardcastle until the very end. It is almost impossible to figure out the ending but on reflection, all the snippets of information were relevant to the murder and crucial to understanding the plot.

Besides the exquisite storytelling and intricate plot, I must highlight my favourite aspect of this book: the superb characters which all develop and merge into one host. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult this must have been to accomplish yet the execution is brilliant and exudes ambition and courage. Aiden Bishop visits each of the eight hosts in order to solve the murder and not only does Aiden’s character come to life, every occupant he seizes control of is also presented with unique quirks and virtues. A doctor, an artist, a gambler, Stuart Turton explored all possible character profiles with apparent ease. Identity, patience and vindication are the key themes portrayed throughout the book as Aiden wakes up in a different body each time. He struggles to remember who he is and what his mission comprises of and it is here where the author’s marvellous writing really shines as he poses the ever important questions concerning such as finding out who we really are and if we can trust our emotions and gut feeling to lead us to the right path.

Immensely bold and intelligent, Stuart Turton’s first novel does not disappoint and addresses all the right questions in an attempt to lure the reader into a 20s style murder mystery. The multiple timelines and beautiful setting form only one small part of the brilliance that this novel manifests – the rest is split between the elaborate details and labyrinth of a story line. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is by far the best book I have read this year and perhaps even one of the best ever. It deserves all the hype and I will definitely be recommending it to everyone around me.

 

Studious Saturday: meeting Jodi Picoult

studious saturdays

Welcome to another Studious Saturday post! I have been on holiday this past week which meant that I was able to dedicate a lot of time to reading. In addition, I was very lucky to get tickets to the last stop on the Jodi Picoult UK Book Tour which included a pre-signed copy of her latest book A Spark of Light, as well as a Q&A session and photos with her to follow. Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors and I had been looking forward to this event for a long time. I really enjoyed the Q&A session in particular, where she shared some insightful details of her life as an author which I would like to share with you today.

The session started with a brief explanation of how and why this book was written and a short reading of the first chapter (which is also the ending of the book because the story is written in reverse). She revealed the backstory to A Spark of Light – the contrasting views of terminating a pregnancy that a woman may experience throughout her lifetime, justifying that one’s view on abortion may change when reaching 15, 30 and 50 years of age. Coupled with the current political controversies surrounding the topic in USA, she felt that now was the right time to write this book.

I was particularly impressed with the research that she carried out prior to writing the book. She interviewed 151 women who had terminated a pregnancy to find out their motives and analyse their experiences which she would later on use to develop her characters. Most astonishingly of all, no more than 10 of those 151 women agreed to be involved in the book with all of them choosing to be written in using a pseudonym. Jodi discussed the stigma surrounding  in the topic with eloquence and impartiality, something which I highly valued.

CYMERA_20181103_094403.jpg

Without going into too much detail of the Q&A session, I wanted to provide a quick summary of some of the most interesting and valuable subjects she discussed:

  • When writing a book, she usually begins by drafting several pages of a summary with a brief outline, although she already has the twists planned out. The outline of A Spark of Light was 48 pages, mostly due to the reverse timeline.
  • She discarded the first person narrative in A Spark of Light, which she used in most of her previous books, because there are 10 characters and she wanted to portray each story without confusing the reader.
  • She has one unpublished romance novel written under a pseudonym of a mixture of her children’s names. The editor’s feedback was that it was too well written for the genre.
  • Her favourite author is Alice Hoffman and some recently published books that she has read and recommends include Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak and Vox by Christina Dalcher.
  • Jodi usually writes about topics concerning society and there is an evident trend when looking back on her novels; she started by writing books where human emotions were explored, then proceeded to analyse relationships upon getting married, and finally decided to delve into controversial topics such as gun control and medical rights after her children were born.
  • She explained that once an author sells rights for a movie adaptation, they are no longer involved in the production of the film. She was deeply upset at the ending of the movie adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper and had previously warned the producers that the film would not perform well if they stray far from the original ending of the novel. She hopes that Small Great Things is a bigger success as soon as a screenwriter has been chosen, especially as there are talks that Julia Roberts and Viola Davis have been cast as the main characters.
  • Her next book will pose the question “Who would you be if you weren’t who you are today?” and hinted that elements of Ancient Egypt may also be included.

CYMERA_20181103_094531.jpg

The most exciting part of the event was meeting Jodi at the end and having my photo taken with her. As I read chapter after chapter of A Spark of Light, I realise that I also look back more on the points she discussed and start to analyse them in greater detail. It is another though-provoking and moving book and I am greatly enjoying it so far (review to follow shortly!).

This was her last event in the UK but for any fans based in Canada, her final stop will be Toronto on Monday and I highly recommend going!


Photo