Winding Up the Week #1


Paula’s end of week recap

This is the first of a weekly post in which I summarize books read, reviewed and currently on my TBR shelf. In addition to a variety of literary titbits, I will look ahead to forthcoming features, see what’s on the night-stand and keep readers abreast of various reading challenges.

If there is something you would particularly like to see on Winding Up the Week, or you have any suggestions, questions or comments for Book Jotter, please drop me a line. I would be delighted to hear from you.


This week I reviewed the novel Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, giving it 4 stars on Goodreads. It is due for publication on 1st March. > Read my thoughts >

I am in the process of writing a critique of Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, a debut short story collection released last month by Graywolf Press – so watch out for that appearing soon.

Next up will be The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara, a novel inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza from the seminal documentary Paris is Burning, set in New York during the early 1970s. It is due for release on 1st February.

On my beside-table is George Orwell: A Life in Letters, edited by Peter Hobley Davison, which I tend to dip-into shortly before nodding off. I will post a review at some point, but at my current reading rate of about ten pages per night, it may not be for a while.


This year I am going to fulfil a life-long ambition when I spend several days at the internationally renowned Hay Festival, which takes place in its Welsh home (affectionately known as “the town of books”) from Thursday 24th May to Sunday 3rd June 2018.

My accommodation was booked several months ago when by some miracle I discovered an available pitch at a lovely glamping site a mere five-minute walk from the festival hub. Prior to this, I had all but given up hope of finding anywhere to stay within a thirty-mile radius of the town – mainly because those attending invariably reserve their rooms in advance from one year (possibly decade) to the next. And who can blame them? Henceforward, I intend to brand my name on this patch of grass!

Last week I became an official Friend of Hay Festival, opting for the double membership so that my partner could also take advantage of benefits like priority booking, discounts, exclusive offers etc. This achieved, I promptly booked Early Bird tickets to hear Margaret Atwood discuss The Handmaid’s Tale with Peter Florence in the Tata Tent. As anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with me will know, I am a huge Atwood fan, so I hardly need mention the smug expression on my face.

Anyhow, when the event starts, please look out for Hay Happenings, my frequent reports from the festival site.


If you would like to use my Winding Up the Week meme, and/or make use the photo at the top of this page, all I ask is that you give me credit with a link back to Book Jotter.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I wish you all a week bountiful in books and rich in reading.

NB In this feature, ‘winding up’ refers to an act of concluding something and should not be confused with the popular British ‘wind-up’: an age-old pastime of ‘winding-up’ friends and family by teasing or playing pranks on them. If you would like to know more about this expression, there’s an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.

Hosted by Paula @ Book Jotter.

Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime Tag

How many have you read?

3d_books_stacked_picture_166357This is a first!

Brittany, a fellow book critic over at Perfectly Tolerable, has picked me, along with several others, to take part in her book tag.

The 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list, which was compiled by the Amazon Book editors after much debate, was apparently influenced by two objectives: a) that the selection should cover “all stages of life” (hence the inclusion of children’s titles) and b) that it “didn’t feel like homework”.

It is certainly different from other lists of this type in that there are very few ‘heavy’ classics or challenging tomes included. Looking through the titles, I can see immediately that I read several of them many years ago, others more recently. A number of them are currently sitting on my overburdened book shelves (or creaking Kindle) waiting to be read (I have marked these TBR) and, rather embarrassingly, one or two are completely unknown to me (Moneyball and Daring Greatly, for instance). Although, the fact that the list is aimed at US readers may be the reason.

Totting up, I see that my score is a rather disgraceful 19, with a further 12 on standby. This must be remedied during 2018.

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

It is now my turn to tag the following five bloggers (but please don’t feel obliged to take part if you would rather not):

1) Books Are My Favourite And Best, 2) Books Coffee And Repeat, 3) Curiouser and Curiouser, 4) Excuse My Reading and 5) Vishy’s Blog. Plus anyone else who fancies taking part.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Include a link back to Amazon’s official 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime page.
  2. Tag Perfectly Tolerable, the creator of this meme (to whom I say a big thank-you).
  3. Tag the person who nominated you – that would be me, Book Jotter.
  4. Copy the list of books and indicate which titles you have read.
  5. Tally up your total.
  6. Comment on the post you were tagged in and share your total count.
  7. Tag five new people and comment on one of their posts to let them know.


Why not take part yourself? I would love to know how many of these books you have read. Please post below and let me know.

2017 Reading Year in Review

What a wonderfully diverse and gratifying reading year 2017 turned out to be!The Outrun

There seemed to be an unintended theme running through my book choices, namely the two World Wars from a British perspective, ranging from Pat Barker’s superb Noonday (the last volume in her most recent trilogy) and Gerard Woodward’s black-humoured Nourishment, to the late Helen Dunmore’s Zennor in Darkness and the extraordinary Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

I tackled several classics and universally treasured works, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Arthur Conan-Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Robert Graves’ Good-bye to All That (back, yet again, to the First World War) and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five (the bombing of Dresden from a US point of view, would you believe).

My favourite new releases were the bookish mystery novel Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan, and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – a story of the Holocaust based on true events (although not strictly due for publication until January 2018).

I opted at the start of the year to read 40 books in Goodreads’ 2017 Reading Challenge – having managed a rather paltry 32 in 2016 – and surpassed the former by 35, which was quite an achievement for one whose perusal engine is snail-powered.

Here is a brief breakdown of noteworthy reads in 2017:


My overall non-fiction pick of the year has to be The Outrun by the brilliant new author, Amy Liptrot. In fiction it is Cat’s Eye by my favourite living literary hero, Margaret Atwood.


Bizarre Books – Russell Ash (not that funny) ⭐️


Autobiography/Memoir: The Outrun – Amy Liptrot ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Biography: Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words: The Authorised Biography – Boel Westin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Children’s Book: Hortense and the Shadow – Natalia O’Hara ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Historical Fiction: Burial Rites – Hannah Kent ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

History: If This Is a Woman: Inside Ravensbruck – Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women – Sarah Helm ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

LGBT: The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Literary Fiction: Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Pleasant Surprise: Quarantine – Jim Crace ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Romance: Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Science Fiction: The Power – Naomi Alderman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Short Story: The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Translation: The Vegetarian – Han Kang ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Paula has
completed her goal of reading
40 books in


May I take this opportunity to wish all my friends and followers a very happy New Year!

Festive Fun: Let’s Go to The Book Hop

Do the Book Blogger Hop: 15th-21st December 2017bloghop

It’s very nearly Chrimbo, so I thought I would amuse myself by taking part in the Book Blogger Hop – run by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. Every week, ‘the hop’ starts on a Friday and ends on a Thursday, when participants can access a fresh prompt highlighting a single book-related question. The hop’s objective is to “give bloggers the opportunity to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to [their] own blog”.

This week’s question was submitted by Maria @ A Night’s Dream of Books.

The Question: Which book(s) would you like Santa to bring you this year?

My Answer: Whenever I’m asked what I would like for my birthday or for Christmas, I invariably produce a lengthy list of books itemizing the titles I would dearly love to possess and display on my shelves (as opposed to my Kindle). In the mad frenzy leading up to Christmas, my family and friends are usually grateful to be relieved of the: “Oh God! What shall I give her this year?” worry – plus I’m not left sitting amongst umpteen pairs penguin socks (everyone knows I have a soft spot for penguins), sundry tins of biscuits and a crateload of bubble bath.

I have a wildly varied taste in books and loathe to be asked: “And what is your favourite genre?” With that in mind, I proffer a meagre selection from my ‘most wanted’ list:

Christmas Bibliowants 2017

I will stop before the list becomes unwieldy. There are various journals, pens, organizers and notebooks I would also like to find in my Christmas stocking – but regrettably they don’t belong here.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very bookish Christmas and shelf-packed New Year!