I have no idea why I haven’t picked up this gorgeous little book sooner. It’s the story of a young dad with two boys who loses their wife and mother in a freak accident. As they struggle to digest the loss, enter Crow, a giant black eyed, yes, crow, who stirs up everything, who pecks and shits and who refuses to leave or to be ignored, just like grief itself. Crow, a potent symbol in Ted Hughes’s poems (the dad is a Hughes scholar), is here to stay – ‘I won’t leave until you don’t need me any more’ – but as time moves on, straight-talking Crow becomes less of a nuisance, more of a therapist, helping them overcome their loss. Rarely have I seen grief been described more lyrically.
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I confess to approaching this book with trepidation. Bereavement will happen to all of us, some more tragically than others, but it is still the kind of bad news that most people would rather not read about. In the event, I was wrong to worry. Renowned grief psychotherapist Julia Samuel has 25 years of experience and you can tell. It’s almost as if you can feel her presence in this book. She’s compassionate, interested and non-judgemental and writes about death and mourning with a comforting yet pragmatic voice. Read full Review
The Booker Prize long-list 2019 of 13 books was published yesterday and the question is, as always, where to start, if at all…We’ve reviewed a few of them and thought we’d share our views. The big unknown – although entirely unsurprising – entry is The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s much-anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, out in September. The Booker judges, bound by strict non-disclosure agreements, can’t say a word about what happens in the book, so we’ll have to take their word for it.
Max Porter’s books are wonderfully strange things. They are novels, but occasionally seem to wander into the realm of poetry. The language is sparse, distilled down to the very essence of what he wants to communicate. The sentences twist and turn; literally, in this case. The first few pages of his new book were incomprehensible to me, but somehow Porter lures you in and doesn’t let you go. Lanny by Max Porter is set in a quintessential English village, where Lanny, an exceptionally creative, talented boy, his banker dad and author mum have just moved. But becoming part of this closed community is not a smooth ride. I’m not sure I liked Lanny as much as Porter’s first book, Grief is the Thing With Feathers, which I loved, but still think it’s a worthwhile read.
What an exciting year in books we have ahead of us! Literary treats are virtually queueing up to be read. Highlights for us include Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Colson Whitehead’s new novel The Nickel Boys and Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me. But most of all, we look forward to be surprised by a debut novel from an author we’ve never heard of before.
As much as I love Christmas, I’m not so sure about the shopping part of it. My heart sinks when I look at the number of Christmas presents I need to buy over the next few weeks. I do enjoy buying books for people though, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as finding the perfect book for someone you love. We’ve been trawling the bookshops and the newspapers to find the most interesting or beautiful (or both) books out there, and hopefully help you find the perfect book for someone. Here’s what we found.
Michele, Meg, Jane and Julie
As many of will know, we here at Bookstoker are big consumers of audiobooks and we know that many of our followers are as well. There’s nothing like a good audiobook for killing time stuck in traffic, while out walking or doing housework. And with Amazon’s great invention Whispersync for Voice, you can switch seamlessly between reading on your Kindle and listening on Audible. Your Kindle or Audible will automatically pick up where you left off. Genius!
From old classics to popular new publications we’ve enjoyed these audiobooks for being brilliant books, perfectly narrated.
Our top 10 this year are…
‘The monster is the real hero of the novel. Discuss.’ One of the many thorny essay questions set to this perennial school syllabus favourite. Written at the dawn of science fiction, crackling with horror, and strikingly ‘fettered to grief,’ 2018 marks 200 years since Frankenstein’s publication, an ideal moment to review this illuminating young students edition. Read full Review
Well, here’s something utterly different. A book with a cacophony of 166 different voices portraying the Bardo (a temporary state in between death and re-birth in the Buddhist faith) of President Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie. It’s an unusually structured and challenging book, and a moving portrayal of death and grief (and you’ll never walk through a cemetery at night in quite the same way).
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is an understated masterpiece. It takes a look at an aspect of our children’s lives we sometimes overlook, their capacity to deal with heartache. Michael Rosen’s son Eddie, was only 18 when he died. The author’s grief and loss is woven into this exploration of one of our less discussed emotions.