Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Do you remember a time in your childhood when you went to someone else’s house and you realised that their family life was completely different to yours? I have a few such memories. One took place when I visited a friend for the day, and her mother sent us to the shops for bread for lunch. My friend immediately informed me that we would spend the money on things other than bread – we went to the toy shop and bought scratch’n’sniff stickers, and the milk bar for ice creams. On our return, her mother rolled her eyes, as if no bread was expected. My mum would have cracked it (and sent me back out for bread). Seems small in the retelling but the audacity of the stickers and ice cream left an impression.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming-of-age novel about fourteen-year-old Mary Jane, who has a summer job babysitting for a local family, the Cones. Mary Jane’s own family is straight-laced – her mother is a homemaker; her father has a portrait of Nixon on the wall, and reads the newspaper during dinner each night; and family outings are to church, where Mary Jane sings in the choir.

In my own house, each day was a perfectly contained lineup of hours where nothing unusual or unsettling was ever said. Continue reading

The Top 57 from the Best Books of 2021 List of Lists

Presenting the 2021 Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2021-Book-Lists-Before-December-31 top 57 books.

(This is my annual community service to book-bloggers – a list of the books that appear most frequently on the 45 lists that I listed on Best Books of 2021 – A List of Lists – enjoy!). Continue reading

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If I had the energy to rewind to all of the blog posts from December 2020 titled ‘Most anticipated books of 2021’, I suspect that Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid would feature heavily. Because even if Daisy Jones & The Six wasn’t your usual genre, there was something appealing about it – the nostalgia, the music alive on the page, the glamour and grunge of the industry.

Reid has used the same ingredients for her latest novel, Malibu Rising, but unfortunately the result lacks the magic of Daisy. I’m not sure why because the ‘ingredients’ are solid – professional surfers, Malibu beach, set in the eighties – but these scene-setters were diluted with too many superfluous characters, and a house party that is described in laborious detail (a stark contrast to the first half of the book which covers decades of the family’s history). Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (except that it’s Winter)

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. As Cathy states, it’s the most relaxed reading challenge you’ll participate in (swap books out, change your target, do whatever). Continue reading

I’m waiting for… 2021 edition

Proving that I don’t actually care about my never-really-shrinking-TBR-list is this list of new releases that are on my radar for 2021. Continue reading

The Top 50 from the Best Books of 2019 List of Lists

This is my annual community service to book-bloggers – a list of the books that appear most frequently on the 56 lists that I listed on Best Books of 2019 – A List of Lists. Continue reading

Nonfiction November – Book Pairings

It’s Nonfiction November, this week hosted by Sarah’s Bookshelves. The task? Pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title.

I have so much fun with this topic (past post, and here), and other bloggers’ book-pairings have resulted in a lot of books being added to my TBR sack.

When relationships get messy, the band does not get back together – Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA by Carl Magnus Palm and Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – do they live up to the hype?

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. This week, all three books have been hyped (and reviewed favourably by some of my favourite bloggers) but do I want to read them? Continue reading