The London Bookshop Crawl

I enlisted the help of a friend better up on the streets of London than myself and we set out to explore London’s bookshops.

Some go in for rummaging in charity shops, crawling about to trawl through racks of clothes. Others go in for a pub crawl with their mates and then crawl home too. But me, being prematurely 70 years old, I opt for bookshops, so when I saw NinjaBookbox’s London Bookshop Crawl, I was very excited.

As I mentioned earlier this month, I was too late in booking tickets to get a place on one of the guided tours. Instead, I enlisted the help of a friend better up on the streets of London than myself and we set out to explore London’s bookshops. After a bit of a fumble on timing and a cup of coffee in a nearby café, we began our crawl in the lovely Belgravia Books. In which, I picked up London Stories: a collection of short stories unsurprisingly set in London.

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Good job Barb!

From here we headed toward Sloane Square to discover what rapidly became one of my favourite bookshops in all of London, The BookHaus. A cozy little shop set back off the busy street, TheBookHaus offers a relaxed atmosphere and a bargain box filled with books selling for £3 for paperbacks-£5 for hardbacks. The BookHaus is also part of the publishing house of the same name which is housed in the offices above the shop. I was lucky enough to speak to two of the editors, Emma and Silvana (pictured in the featured image), at great length about everything from literature and upcoming publications to how picturesque the shop is. Time incredibly well spent in my opinion. Continue reading “The London Bookshop Crawl”

What’s London Reading 15/02/17

I bumped into Natalie (totally by accident) in the Pret that was London’s newest for a hot minute last week. Check out what she’s reading!

Featured Reader: Natalie, from Floral Republic, took some time out of her busy schedule to meet up in Pret A Manger in Waterloo.
Currently Reading: The Stylist by Rosie Nixon
Favourite Thing About the Book So Far: One reason I’d say I’ve enjoyed the book is that I can relate to the main character. It’s about a girl in her 20s living in London and dreaming to make the big time but realistically is doing the coffee rounds, constantly being bossed around and slouching around London in her fake Ugg boots because she can’t afford designer clothing. It’s a little Devil Wears Prada-esque and is an easy read!


It’s so hard to find an easy read that’s also super engaging like this one! Do you have a go-to author for easy-reads?

As with last time, if you would like to take part in this ‘What’s London Reading’ feature here on TheCrackedSpineBlog and are free for a quick photo and chat please use the contact page of the blog, or you can message our Instagram or Facebook pages.

Review: A Man Called Ove

Please just let Ove succeed in the next chapter, I prayed every night as I cracked the spine of my Kindle.

a-man-called-ove-9781476738024_hrTitle: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Available: Now (Amazon, BookDepository)
Moz Rating: 3/5


Ove wants to kill himself. That’s pretty apparent from the first page, what was less apparent was how much I would also want Ove to kill himself by halfway through.

Continue reading “Review: A Man Called Ove”

The 2017 Reading Challenge And Why I’m Not Partaking

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that one of the phrases I say most often is “I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for that.” So for 2017, my challenge isn’t to read a mountain of books I barely notice and maybe yours shouldn’t be either.

Happy New Year CrackedSpiners!

January is finally here, and it’s a new year new you! This year you’re going to get back to the gym, eat healthy, and finally complete a Goodreads Reading Challenge of 50 books. It’s going to be you best year yet… But it’s not really is it? Chances are we’ll stick to the gym for a few weeks, eat a cereal bar and pretend it wasn’t a Coco Pops cereal bar, and then spend the rest of the year staring at the Goodreads Challenge as it let’s you know how you’re not meeting your target.

Now, I’ve done the Goodreads Challenge in the past, don’t get me wrong. I love the feeling of clocking up those public announcements of who’s on track and working hard to meet their goal. That’s the problem though, I’m working hard to meet the goal. I’m not reading for pleasure but to beat the others. It became a drudgery of books to read and how to offset those sluggish months where even finishing one and cracking a new spine seemed a huge task.

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that one of the phrases I say most often is “I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for that.” So for 2017, my challenge isn’t to read a mountain of books I barely notice while I devour them. Instead I’m opting for “By the end of 2017 I will have read and enjoyed at least one part of the books I find time for” maybe such a goal will be more helpful to anyone struggling to get back into reading than a mammoth target!

New year, same blogger,

-Moz

P.S to the lucky searcher who found this blog with the “small t!ts” Google Search, we apologise for the confusion.

Header Image via Goodreads.

What the Dickens is ‘A Christmas Carol’?

A treasured tale is reimagined in one of London’s most authentic literary museums this Christmas Eve with thanks to Equapoise Theatre and the Dickens Museum.

1843, it’s snowy in London. The ruts from the cart wheels have made a muddy slush of the fresh white snowfall. Charles Dickens has just published the tale of hope and morals that is A Christmas Carol, a book so well received by the general public that Dickens was not only credited (incorrectly so) with the introduction of Christmas as we know it, but also (more correctly) with the improved working conditions in the workhouses. To this day, we still tell and re-tell the story whether it be in the Muppets, Jim Carey’s dubious adaption, or indeed you could go and see it in the run up to Christmas this year in the Charles Dickens Museum where Equapoise Theatre have again taken up the mantle of performing it for your seasonal sprinkle of Dickens.

It wasn’t your typical Dickensian December day when I set out to the Charles Dickens Museum where I was lucky enough to nab an EXCLUSIVE interview with the directors of the company and the show, Laura Donnelly and Eleri Jones, rather it was warm enough for me to unbutton my jacket and take my hat off altogether. Tiny Tim would have been jealous. Both Laura and Eleri were in high spirits on a break from rehearsing and we sat down with a cup of coffee in the boardroom and got right to it.


Moz: This is your second year in the Charles Dickens House isn’t it? I’m just wondering how was it that Equapoise came to be involved last year?

Eleri: My old lecturer from Drama Centre was in touch with the education manager of the museum and she got in touch with him and said did you know anybody, any sort of young theatre companies or anybody who’s looking for an opportunity to work over Christmas. As he had just been to see our debut production in the September and this was sort of October time we were fresh in his mind, so he recommended us to her. And we just set up a meeting and went from there. And they’ve asked us back this year which was very nice as well.

Moz: That’s really excellent to be called back, but do you feel, with this being such a treasured Christmas story that there’s a pressure from the museum, or the people coming to see it that they want to see a particular Christmas Carol?

Laura: I think, the museum have always been great about it they know how many interpretations there are out there and they’re happy for us to go ahead and do what we want to do with it. I think last year it wasn’t so much that there was pressure from the audience, I think we put a pressure on ourselves because it was our first time working with something so treasured. We wanted to give everyone what they were expecting from it but with a new experience. Coming into it this year we’re happy to shock people a little more. [Here Laura looks to Eleri who, without missing a beat, takes up right where Laura left off].

Eleri: Yeah I think when you’re working with an original text there’s a faithfulness to it that you have to keep, and that comes from your own love of the work and your personal investment in the story “When did you first read it; when did you hear it!” and all that stuff as well. I totally agree with what we’ve been saying, it’s striking that balance between giving people what they expect on some level and familiar characters, things that they can relate to and recognise because it’s that nostalgia that’s in the text as well. But also giving them something new, trying to have a fresh look at it, trying to bring it into relevance in 2016.

Laura: Yes, approaching the story with a relevance to something different and framing it with the themes of our modern poverty and our modern relationship with Christmas.

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The remarkably witty Emily Cratchit was brought to life by Madison Clare’s quick tongue and charming delivery.

Continue reading “What the Dickens is ‘A Christmas Carol’?”

Moz’s Top 5 Gifts for the Bookworm in Your Life

When you’re out of ideas and it comes down to books or candles, always go for books for Christmas!

With all the pinching, punching, first-of-the-monthing yesterday I didn’t get a chance to write this post, but at last here we are. It can be insanely hard to choose a book to give to the person you only just realised you need a gift for after all the booklover in your life. Who knows what they’ve read? Heaven knows you probably stopped listening to the storylines of what they read way back in January. Fear not panic-buyer, I’m here to help.

For the Feminist/Teenage Boy
asking2bfor2bit

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.

I’ve mentioned this one before on the blog when I read it back in September. Although it’s not exactly a Christmassy read it’s absolutely one of the funniest, most thought-provoking, and challenging (in terms of worldview as opposed to heavy literature) books I’ve picked up this year. Set in small town Ireland, the story delves into the Social Media-driven lives of Irish teenagers and, of course, all that the title implies. Feminist for obvious reasons but also a must read for a teenage boy coming of age in this curious time when no means yes and sex is the new handshake.

Amazon Link

For the One Who “Saw THAT Coming”
16299With this year being the centenary of the Queen of Murder, I want to say ANYTHING by Agatha Christie, but I’ll not leave the library of tomes to you with so little guidance. Without a doubt, And Then There Were None is one of my favourite murder mysteries. Equal parts chilling, darkly funny, and utterly gripping, Christie managed to create a plot no one could have predicted. Even if they have seen one of the multitude of adaptions of this (especially if it was the most recent BBC adaption starring Aiden Turner), it’s bound to please.

Amazon Link

For the Guy Who Only Reads Classics but Needs to Branch Out
51rimwr5pulI’ve raved about Barry to every Tom, Dick, and Ali since I first picked up A Long Long Way last year as part of my bookclub and every time I recommend it, or any of Barry’s other works, I am met at first with scepticism and then, once they’ve finished, that satisfactory feeling that comes when someone tells you they loved what you recommended. Of course, I can’t take credit for this recommendation as it (as usual) came from J, my significant otter, and you know, the Costa Book of the Year Award which Barry won in 2008 for The Secret Scripture. So, if you’re worried that your bookworm in need of branching out has already dipped into the titles mentioned, you could also opt for his new book, Days Without End, which was only just released in October by Faber and Faber. I’ve not read it but given that Barry’s prose reads like poetry, this is bound to be a treat.

Amazon Link

For the One Who Loves a Good Pleasure Read
we-are-all-completely-beside-ourselves-karen-jay-fowlerNot everyone wants to read a book that feels more like a job than the 8 hours they get paid for every day. We at TheCrackedSpine know this most of all, both of us having rather hectic schedules. I have a tip for this too, because sometimes light reads are trite reads, and no one needs that for Christmas, not after the year we collectively have had in 2016. In 2015, that halcyon bygone era, I happened upon a recommendation for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler and just picked it up as a distraction from the commute to and from work. A fascinating story of a somewhat dysfunctional family of two psychologists, I was hooked and the book only distracted me from the bus fumes for 3 days.

Amazon Link

For the Hopeless Romantic
635957916185414958-824906754_modern_romance-640x480Another commute read for me, perhaps more a cynic than romantic, Aziz Ansari’s (of Parks and Rec as well as Master of None) interesting investigation into the online dating world thoroughly entertained. I will put my hand up and say I listened to this one because Aziz himself is reading it. The comic timing of the book would surely not be lost in print but Ansari really made this book come to life in his voiceover. If you have a Tinder-holic or amatuer angler on Plenty of Fish in your house, pick this up as a stocking filler.

Amazon Link

So there you have it ladies and gents, Moz’s top 5 gift recommendations for the last minute stocking fillers. I hope your Christmas shopping is quick and easy, preferably online, and certainly not happening on the 26th.

TL;DR: It’s a list, the easiest of online media to digest, scroll up and look at the pictures.

-Moz

The Sellout

Beatty isn’t writing to give us a belly laugh, but instead to call out our prejudices however ‘well-intended’ they may be.

Title: The Sellout
Author: Paul Beatty
Pages: 306
Rating: 4/5


In the Man Booker Winner of this year, Beatty tackled one of the largest issues in the US of A over the last five (hundred) years and undoubtedly many, many years to come, race relations.

Page after page of this biting satire is jam packed with that word white people just can’t say yet still find oddly titillating (probably because we know that word is no longer for us), and shrewd jarring comments on today’s society both black and white. That is not to say though, that it’s inaccessible or heavy. It’s hilarious, in the sick way that the rest of 2016 has been.

Beginning in a courtroom, like all stories of landmark race relations novels, the story focuses on Mr. Me (an African-American urban farmer who grows not just the juiciest watermelons but some of the sweetest ghetto philosophy) as he battles the law with sidebars from his history and evidence floating through the protagonist’s mind. One of my favourite axioms came in this early supreme court scene when Me served us a slice of his sweet sweet philosophy on Abe Lincoln: ” Would he read the paper and see that the Union he saved was now a dysfunctional plutocracy, that the people he freed were now slaves to rhythm, rap, and predatory lending, and that today his skill set would be better suited to the basketball court than the White House?”. Running with this notion, Beatty uses Me to explore the racism of modern day USA which comes down to the African Americans from all sides, including their own.

Continue reading “The Sellout”