March/April Summary and Plans for May

I got my reading mojo back recently and have read a lot in the last few weeks. This is mainly because we still haven’t sold our house, so we’re in a boring limbo which involves lots of cleaning and sitting around whilst people wander around our house. Hopefully someone will buy it soon so that we can move onto the next stage of our lives.

Books of the Month

There were two stand-out books this month:

I highly recommend reading both of them!

Books reviewed in March/April

It’s All In Your Head by Suzanne O’Sullivan 

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler  

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot 

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave  

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent 

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins 

Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld, Illustrated by Joe Sumner 

The Villa Rouge by Maggie Ross 

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla 

Shtum by Jem Lester 

His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay 

Stork Mountain by Mirislav Penkov 

Black Milk by Elif Shafak 

The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Croissant by Pablo Tusset 

When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall 

Plans For May

I’m hoping that I’ll continue to read regularly and plan to read/review most of the following books soon:

Walkabout by James Vance Marshall

Long Night of White Chickens by Francisco Goldman

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan

The War Of The Worlds by HG Wells

Christ’s Entry into Brussels by Dimitri Verhulst

Marching Powder by Rusty Young

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

I’ll also pick up a few random books from my shelves. Hopefully I’ll discover a gem or two. Have a wonderful May!



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?

Other Uncategorized

September/October Summary and Plans for November

The summer was so busy that I didn’t read much, but things have been a lot quieter since my boys returned to school. This means I’m back to my usual level of reading and am getting through the stacks again. I’ve read a nice selection of books, but my favourite read, by a long margin, was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I think it will be difficult to find a better book this year. In fact I don’t think I’ve read another book with such an intensity of emotion. I highly recommend you give it a try!

Book of the Month:

A Little Life

Books Reviewed in September/October:

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara 

The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler 

The Utopia Experiment by Dylan Evans 

Educating Ruby by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas 

Every Boy Should Have a Man by Preston L Allen 

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh 

Soil by Jamie Kornegay 

Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks 

The First Bad Man by Miranda July 

Kauthar by Meike Ziervogel 

The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas 

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 

Plans for November

I’ve recently finished the following books and hope to review them soon:

News from Nowhere by William Morris

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld

Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla

The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

I then plan to read most of these:

Death and Mr Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

Black Milk by Elif Shafak

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

The Postman by David Brin

I hope you have a wonderful November!


July/August Summary and Plans for September

I’ve had a very busy summer, spending time with friends and family. I’ve managed to keep up the reading, but haven’t been able to keep this blog up to date. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that now things are getting back to normal.

Over the summer I read two outstanding books: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Both go on to my list of all-time favourites and I hope that you love them as much as I did.

Books of the Summer:

Shantaram A Little Life

Books Reviewed in July/August:

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts 

All Involved by Ryan Gattis 

The Bridge Over the Drina by Ivo Andric 

Blackass by A Igoni Barrett 

Familiar Wars by Julietta Harvey 

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen 

The Loney Andrew Michael Hurley 

Under the Skin by Michel Faber 

Plans for September

I’m a bit behind with reviews. I hope to catch up in the next few weeks, but here are a few words to give you an idea of my thoughts on the books I’ve finished recently:

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh Gripping, but flawed

Swallow This by Joanna Blythman Scary!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara A masterpiece

Educating Ruby by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas Insightful

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand Lacking emotion

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson Too long

The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas Too fragmentented

Cafe Europa by Slavenka Drakulic Fascinating, but dated

I haven’t thought about what I’m going to read next as I’m too busy unpacking! I need to have a good look at all the books I have here and try to prioritise them. I’ll update my sidebar as I work through the outstanding reviews.

I hope you all had a great summer and I look forward to catching up with you soon.


May Summary and Plans for June

Book of the Month: Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Golden Boy

This book about the difficulties of facing puberty as an intersex teenager was eye-opening and emotional. Recommended to anyone looking for a gripping page-turner. 

Books Reviewed in May:

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin 

Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami 

Brilliance by Anthony McCarten 

Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco 

School Blues by Daniel Pennac 

Euphoria by Lily King 

In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás González 

Demons by Wayne Macauley 

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall 

Plans for June

I’m continuing to read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It is outstanding and I’m sure it will become one of my all-time favourites. 

I have recently finished Quicksand by Steve ToltzAn Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield and  Mary Poppins by PL Travers and hope to review them soon. 

I also plan to try most of these books in the near future:

The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inou

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Under The Skin by Michel Faber

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad

This House is Not for Sale by EC Osondu

I hope that you have a wonderful June!


April Summary and Plans for May

I haven’t read much in the last month as I’m going through a non-fiction phase and these books don’t have the narrative drive required to persuade me to read for long periods of time. Instead I’ve just been dipping into them for the odd chapter here or there, learning lots but not reading for the entire evening. I’m going to try to read a more varied selection of books next month, so hopefully I’ll be back to my usual reading levels.

My stand-out read in April was The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanigahara. If you like to delve into the minds of the more unsavoury members of our society then this is for you – it is guaranteed to make you feel slightly uncomfortable!

Book of the Month

The People in the Trees

Books Reviewed in April:

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanigahara 

My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel 

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder 

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell 

Plans for May

I’m lucky enough to have been invited to the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Award Ceremony, so I plan to read as many of the shortlist as possible before the winner is announced on 27th May.

The shortlist is:

I also hope to read/review most of these (many of which I’ve already started/nearly finished):

Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco

Demons by Wayne Macauley

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

School Blues by Daiel Pennac

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Euphoria by Lily King

I hope that you have a fantastic May!