New Additions!

Hello! Sorry there haven’t been many posts around here recently, but I’ve been busy with a few new additions to my household. The most exciting purchase is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy. She’s called Holly (because she was born on Christmas Day) and she is a giant bundle of energy. She has such a gentle nature and is so intelligent. I’m looking forward to seeing her develop.

I have also hatched some chicks, so I’ll have chickens around here too.

I will get back to reviewing books soon…after just one more cuddle with my baby animals!!!!


Books in Brief: Unravelling Oliver, When the Floods Came and Meatspace

Source: Library

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Five words from the blurb: attacks, wife, secrets, stories, past

Unravelling Oliver is a fast-paced whydunit revolving around Oliver, a man who attacked his wife so severally she ended up in a coma. Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different person who knew Oliver, so the reader can slowly piece together the facts about his life.

I was initially detached from the story, struggling to remember who everyone was. I kept putting the book down and leaving it for several weeks, only picking it up again because I had to finish it for my book club. For more information about book click on vandareadingrooms. At the half-way point everything changed. I worked out how the numerous plot threads interconnected and this created a strong narrative drive. I read the last half of the book in a single day – picking it up whenever I had a free minute. It turned out to be incredibly well-plotted. The ending was especially satisfying and I recommend this to anyone looking for a an intelligent thriller.


 Source: Free review copy received from publisher

When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall

Five words from the blurb: survivors, lonely, hope, future, children 

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall is one of my favourite books, so I’m always keen to read her latest publication. Unfortunately, I think this is her weakest so far. The writing quality was excellent, as usual, but it was lacking the passion of her previous work. There were a few interesting insights into what might happen if our world was ravaged by a deadly virus, but the flooding aspects weren’t convincing. The plot also had several large holes and failed to grip me. Disappointing.

 Source: Personal Copy

Five words from the blurb: Twitter, online, persona, friends, real

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla

Meatspace is the first book I’ve read that really gets to the heart of Twitter. This amusing book is about Kitab, a young man who spends his entire time perfecting his online persona. His obsession comes at the expense of his real life, from which he becomes increasingly isolated.

This book makes a lot of great observations about society’s increasing reliance on the Internet. The jokes were occasionally too “blokey” for me and I found myself cringing at some of the scenes I’m sure were meant to be funny. But, overall I found it sadly relevant to some aspects of my life. Recommended to anyone who spends too much time on social media.





Recent Summary and Plans for March

I’ve had a stressful few months, but things are beginning to fall into place and I’m starting to read again. We’ve found a beautiful old house in Worcestershire and now have to wait patiently until we find a buyer for our current property – when I’m sure everything will become manic again! 

I’ve not had enough reviews to do a monthly summary for a while, so this collection goes back a few months. Hopefully it will remind you how amazing Home is Burning by Dan Marshall is. It hasn’t received the attention it deserves, but if you like powerful, emotional books that aren’t afraid to be brutally honest then you need to get hold of a copy!

Home is Burning 

Home is Burning by Dan Marshall 

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck 

Death and Mr Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis 

Counting Sheep by Philip Walling 

News From Nowhere by William Morris 

Neurotribes by Steve Silberman 

The Getting of Wisdom by Henry (Ethel) Handel Richardson 

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge 

The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts stars21

Plans for March

I’m not going to make ambitious plans, but I hope to catch up with my reviewing by giving brief thoughts on these books:

Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla

Black Milk by Elif Shafak

When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall

I then hope to read most of these, some of which I’ve already started: 

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov

War of the Worlds by HG Wells (because the 150th anniversary of his birth is coming up and I really should read it before I leave Surrey)

The Best Thing That Can Happen To A Croissant by Pablo Tusset

I hope that you’ve had a lovely February!


The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl wrote many of my favourite children’s books and I’m pleased that my sons love them just as much as I do. Dahl was born in 1916 and many events are planned to celebrate this centenary year.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the press preview of the new “Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl” exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London. 

The exhibition is aimed at children aged between 7 and 12, so I brought my two boys (8 and 10) along to experience it. 

The exhibition is set up in the same way as an immersive theatre, with each room transformed into another world. They’ve done everything from creating a miniature forest (Danny the Champion of the World), to a room with everything stuck to the ceiling (The Twits). 

Photo Credit: Vic Frankowski
Photo Credit: Vic Frankowski

But the rooms do more than simply reflect each book, they show how Dahl’s life influenced his literature. There is a classroom, displaying Dahl’s school reports and letters home; and one set up as the scene of Dahl’s plane crash in the Libyan desert.  I especially liked the way photos of the people who influenced Dahl’s characters were displayed. 

This isn’t a dry museum – children will learn things without even realising they’re doing so. I loved the sense of fun that was present throughout. Both my boys enjoyed their time in the exhibition and I recommend it to anyone who loves Dahl’s writing as much as I do.


Photo Credit: Vic Frankowski
Photo Credit: Vic Frankowski

‘The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl’ is part of the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre. Tickets cost £11 for adults, £9 for children.

They have a range of events for children (including talks with David Walliams, Michael Morpurgo and Cressida Cowell) between 10th – 21st February. For more details see the Imagine Children’s Festival Website. 


I’m moving to the countryside!

Image Credit: Chris Johnson
Image Credit: Chris Johnson

Sorry for the lack of posts recently – I’m busy planning a move to the countryside!

We’re hoping to move from a busy town in Surrey, to a quiet village in rural Worcestershire. It’s a massive change for us, so we’re spending lots of time researching the area. I’m afraid I haven’t read a single book this year, but will hopefully return with the occasional book review before too long. Wish me luck!


Farm Lane Book Awards 2015

2015 has been a fantastic year for books – especially if you like chunksters as much as I do! All my favourite reads this year have had a massive amount of pages – they may require a big investment of time, but they are worth it.

Here are a selection of my favourites, with award categories invented to ensure I mention all the books I that I enjoyed the most:

Book of the Year: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life

This book deserves all the hype it’s received. It is gripping throughout and packed with emotion. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this cast of characters.

Most Underrated Book: I Am Radar by Reif Larsen

I Am Radar

I Am Radar should have been showered with awards. It is one of the most intelligent books I’ve ever read and deserves much more attention than it’s received so far. Hopefully this will change when the paperback is released in March.

Best Memoir: Home is Burning by Dan Marshall

Home is Burning

Terminal illnesses have never been so funny! If you can cope with the coarse language, this book will give you an incredible insight into how one family coped with a terrible situation.

Most Atmospheric Book: Death and Mr Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis

Death and Mr Pickwick

If you enjoy reading about Dickensian England, this is for you! You can almost smell those dirty London streets.

Most Disappointing Release: The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

The Mountain Shadow

Shantaram is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Unfortunately the sequel isn’t in the same league and actually makes the original seem worse than it is. I recommend avoiding it!

Funniest scene: Pigs in Clover by Simon Dawson

 Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life

This book is packed with funny anecdotes, but the electric fence/testicle incident had me smiling for days!

Most original premise: Blackass by A Igoni Barrett


A black man wakes up to discover that every inch of his skin has turned white, with the exception of his bottom. This satire of race relations in Nigeria makes some very important points, but is also very funny. It deserves more attention that it has received so far.

Special Mention: All Involved by Ryan Gattis

All Involved

Parts of this book were very disturbing, but it does a fantastic job of explaining why people are drawn into violence. It’s one of the most important releases of the year.

Special Author Award: Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Haruki Murakami continues to produce excellent books. Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage is one of his more realistic stories, but retains the magic of his observational skills. Especially recommended to those who have lost contact with old friends.

Best New Children’s Character: Squirrel Boy

Squirrel Boy vs the Bogeyman

Fast paced and funny, Squirrel Boy is a fantastic creation. My boys (8 and 10) were captivated by him!

Books Published in Previous Years

It would be a shame to forget books released in previous years, so here are a few of the best from the back catalogue:

Best Audio Book: The Martian by Andy Weir (Audio Book)

The Martian

It combines comedy and science with real tension. One of the best audio books I’ve ever listened to.

Best Survival Story: Into That Forest by Louis Nowra

Into That Forest

This book about children being brought up by Tasmanian tigers is atmospheric and emotional. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about the natural world.

Most Inspiring Book: Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

Ghost Boy

This is one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read. If you ever feel that you can’t achieve your dreams, read this and you’ll see that nothing is impossible –  if you want it enough.

Weirdest Book: Strangers by Taichi Yamada 


I love the strangeness of Japanese fiction – you never know exactly what will happen next. This is one of the best example of its genre. Highly recommended!

Have you read any of these books?

Which were you favourite reads in 2015?