A year of books…

1 01 2014

Well hello there 2014!

Last year I tried to keep a record of every book I read, and rather annoyingly the total comes to 99! A fair few were audiobooks or eBooks – I do a lot of travelling by train for work, and they’re handier when packing light.

The list is in vague order of time (but not always) and at the end I’ve picked my favourite previously-unread book from a few sort-of-genres. I don’t do reviews, so don’t expect much blurb…

Oh, and by the way – the little ‘r’ means it’s a re-read.

Right, here we go…

The Impossible Dead – Ian Rankin
Standing in Another Man’s Grave – Ian Rankin
Doors Open – Ian Rankin
Blood Hunt – Ian Rankin
Witch Hunt – Ian Rankin
Bleeding Hearts – Ian Rankin
Beggars Banquet – Ian Rankin
The Shining – Stephen King r
Consider Phlebas – Iain M Banks r
The Bridge – Iain Banks r
Espedaire Street – Iain Banks r
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks r
Disolution – CJ Sansom
Close to the Bone – Stuart MacBride
Dark Fire – CJ Sansom
Sleepyhead – Mark Billingham r
Scaredy Cat – Mark Billingham r
Lazybones – Mark Billingham r
The Burning Girl – Mark Billingham r
Lifeless – Mark Billingham r
Buried – Mark Billingham r
Death Message – Mark Billingham r
Bloodline – Mark Billingham r
From The Dead – Mark Billingham r
Good As Dead – Mark Billingham r
The Dying Hours – Mark Billingham
Report For Murder – Val McDermid
Soverign – CJ Sansom
Common Murder – Val McDermid
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
A Good Hanging & Other Stories – Ian Rankin
Harvest – Jim Crace
A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch r
Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch r
Whispers Under Ground – Ben Aaronovitch r
Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch
We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo
American Gods – Neil Gaiman r
Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman r
Watching You – Michael Robotham
The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
Police – Jo Nesbo
The Bat – Jo Nesbo
Laidlaw – William McIlvanney
Doctor Sleep – Stephen King
The Ocean at The End of The Lane – Neil Gaiman
Fortunately The Milk… – Neil Gaiman
Dixie O’Day: In The Fast Lane – Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy
Paddington Races Ahead – Michael Bond
Gangsta Granny – David Walliams
In the Night Kitchen – Maurice Sendak
The Incredible Book Eating Boy – Oliver Jeffers
Penguin – Polly Dunbar
Love Splat – Rob Scotton
The Life of Charlotte Bronte – Elizabeth Gaskell
Captain’s Purr – Madelaune Flloyd
Wuthering Heights (graphic novel) – Siku/Adam Strickson
Stuck – Oliver Jeffers
The Works – Pam Ayres
You Made Me Late Again – Pam Ayres
The Quarry – Iain Banks
The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes – Neil Gaiman
The Falcons Malteser – Anthony Horowitz
Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder – Jo Nesbo
NOS4R2 – Joe Hill
Chu’s Day – Neil Gaiman
The Heart & the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers r
The Complete Verse & Other Nonsense – Edward Lear
More About Boy – Roald Dahl
The Green Ship – Quentin Blake
Iceland’s Bell – Halldor Laxness r
In One Person – John Irving
The Water Method Man – John Irving r
What Would You Do with a Wobble Dee Woo? – Colin West
The Coming of the Kings and Other Plays – Ted Hughes r
Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam – Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton
Oliver & The Seawigs – Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre
Noah Barleywater Runs Away – John Boyne
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party – Alexander McCall Smith
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection – Alexander McCall Smith
Fergus Crane – Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
More Than This – Patrick Ness
A Boy & a Bear in a Boat – Dave Shelton
Yeti and the Bird – Nadia Shireen
Saints of the Shadow Bible – Ian Rankin
Crazy Hair – Neil Gaiman r
The Long Earth – Terry Pratchett r
The Way Back Home – Oliver Jeffers
The Storm Whale – Benji Davies
Cockroaches – Jo Nesbo
The Wire in the Blood – Val McDermid
The Last Temptation – Val McDermid
There Are Cats In This Book – Viviane Schwarz
Beneath The Bleeding – Val McDermid
How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth – Michelle Robinson
The Torment of Others – Val McDermid
The Great Paper Caper – Oliver Jeffers
There’s a Shark in the Bath – Sarah McIntyre

And here are my favourite new reads…

Crime Fiction
Standing in Another Man’s Grave – Ian Rankin
Mr Rankin at his twisty-turny best, and a massive relief!

The Ocean at The End of The Lane – Neil Gaiman
Blew my socks off. Made me cry. And laugh. And frequently made me put it down, stare into space for a few minutes contemplating the Wonderful Words I’d just read, pick it up again and re-read the same Wonderful Words over and over again in awe before carrying on.

The Quarry – Iain Banks
I don’t really need to say anything about this.

Young Fantasy (Well that’s what I’d class it as!)
Fortunately The Milk… – Neil Gaiman
Laughed my pants off! Loudly, snortily, and in a public place. Hilarious from start to finish, beautifully complemented by Chris Riddell’s perfect illustrations, and made even better by hearing it in Mr Gaiman’s voice in my head after listening to him read a bit of it in Ely Cathedral earlier in the year.

Picture Book
There Are Cats In This Book – Viviane Schwarz
I LOVE THIS! It has flappy bits! And cats! And balls of wool to throw at cats! It’s BRILLIANT!

And now to crack on with my 2014 list…


Happy Children’s Book Week!

11 10 2013

Hello hello hello!

It was Children’s Book Week this week, and I’ve been posting recommendations of some of my favourites on Facebook. So I’d intended to do a blog post about the books I’d chosen to plug, but then I got distracted by a tweet from @QuercusKids asking what children’s book you’d take to a desert island…

Which got me thinking.

And I decided, “Peter Pan”.

Specifically, an old, battered edition of “Peter Pan & Wendy”, retold for little people by May Byron, with illustrations by Mabel Lucie Attwell.

And then the start of a rhyme popped into my head.

And here’s the finished thing…

Reading is such awful fun…

Once upon a tiny time
Books became good friends of mine;
I think the friendship first began
When daddy read me Peter Pan.

Every night he’d read some more,
Then place the book upon the floor;
And when he’d gone I’d take a peek
And try to make the letters speak.

Then (with a little help from mum,
Which was the most tremendous fun)
I learnt to read all by myself
And soon I’d read the whole bookshelf.

Encouraged by my mum and dad
(Who saw this was no passing fad)
I read whenever I was able
(But not when eating at the table).

I read and read, and read some more,
Read on the sofa, on the floor,
Reading curled up, snug in bed,
Reading standing on my head.

Books from libraries, old and new,
Books for Christmas, birthdays too
Bought with tokens from the shop,
I read them all, I couldn’t stop!

And now I’m all grown up (I’m told)
But not yet really, really old,
It’s still my very favourite thing
To grab a book and dive right in.

So calling readers, big and small –
Buy more books, and read them all!
Or join your local library
Then you can read more books for free!

Join a book club – start your own!
Or just read by yourself at home.
Read in bed, read on the train
Read in sunshine, read in rain!

In the bath, or by the sea,
Read on a bus, or up a tree!
And if your bag is full, don’t moan –
Download an eBook to your phone!

So really what I’m trying to say
(I tend to get carried away)
Is reading is such awful fun,
It should be done by everyone!

Rose’s BookCross – The Second…

11 08 2013


I’ve just liberated the second book in my bookcrossing experiment! I wonder if anyone will pick it up? And I wonder if anyone will let me know if they have? Will they read it? Will they like it? Will they keep it, or pass it on? Or will it just get swept up with the rubbish by the cleaners? I hope not…

The second book I’m releasing into the wild is… *drum roll…*


Ta daaaaah! George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake. King of writers, and master of illustration! Who remembers Quentin Blake on Jackanory in the 1970s? I loved it when he was on – it fascinated me to see him creating characters in front of our very eyes! If you fancy a trip down memory lane, watch this!

I set it free on the 1330 East Coast London King’s Cross to Edinburgh train, somewhere between Doncaster and Newcastle.

Goodbye book, I hope you get read and enjoyed…!

An argument with myself about the stuff in my head…

3 08 2013

I’ve been having a right barney with myself about the difference between being influenced and being inspired.

influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something…

Someone asked me recently on Twitter who influenced my writing. I replied with a list of my favourite authors, then later thought, ‘No, wait…’

I’ve been mulling over this off and on for a few days now. Just because I like a certain author, does that mean they’ve influenced me? Have they in some way had an effect on the way I write? Shaped my thought process when I’m writing? Do I write because I’ve read them?

My answer – I think, now, after all that mulling – is:


At least, I don’t think so.

They may have inspired me to write, or to want to write, but I don’t think they’ve influenced how I write. Or why I write. And hang on, does the who even need to be a writer?

How about this…

inspire: to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative…

Now that makes more sense.

I write because there’s stuff in my head that needs to come out. There’s always been stuff in my head, and I’ve always written it down to get it out, even when I was a little wee thing and was only beginning to master the black art of Putting Letters Together To Make Words. I just hadn’t always thought that the stuff was worth sharing with anyone. How it comes out – how it ends up sounding when it’s read – is my voice. Is my voice a copy of a favourite author? Or an amalgamation of lots of favourite authors?

I don’t think so. I hope not.

I suppose you could say that my writing is as much influenced by, say, John Irving, as it is by the two old ladies gossiping at the bus stop. Or the conversation between a child and his father on a train. Or the way a cat jumps in through a window. Or how the rain falls. Or because of that story on the news. Or the song I heard on the radio. Or the weird dream I had the other night. Or remembering what it felt like to run through the stubble in a newly harvested field on a hot day as a child. Or the zillion things I might not have consciously noticed I was noticing, but they slipped cheekily in to my subconcious anyway…

I’m reminded of a conversation between two authors at The Lowdham Book Festival recently about how long it takes to get into reading a novel – how long it takes before you decide it’s any good, and whether you’ll carry on reading it or give up. About 50 pages seemed to be the general opinion.

I can’t give up. Even if a book or story is really bad, I have to finish it. I can’t tell you why – though maybe it’s a need to know what happens next, no matter how badly written it is, or how poor the story line or plot is. I don’t see it as a waste of time to read something you’re not enjoying. Actually, I’ve just had a thought – maybe that has something to do with being force fed those classics at school; being fed little chunks, skipping about from chapter to chapter in the wrong order, analysing the characters and dissecting the plot before we even knew the story… and hating the process and hating the books and hating the authors and hating the teacher for making me hate the books, because I loved books and loved reading. I remember once getting told off by an English Literature teacher because I read a new book we were given from cover to cover before we started studying it. WHY?! Years later I read those same hated school books and plays for pleasure – and discovered their greatness. Perhaps that has something to do with why I now have to finish reading everything I pick up… just in case there’s some greatness I might miss if I don’t finish it?

Which brings me back to the word influence. (Or does it? How?! Oh well, I’m going back to it anyway.) Other writers may have influenced my behaviour sometimes by making me want to drop everything and get on with my writing. But it doesn’t have to be a good writer, a writer I admire and whose work I love, that influences my behaviour in that way. It could be that I’ve just read something I thought was crap, or that I didn’t fully understand. Or on the other hand, it could be something that I thought was truly wonderful, that blew my mind, knocked me sideways with its brilliance and left me glowing and breathless. Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ just did that to me – but it didn’t make me think ‘Ooooh, I want to write just like Neil!’ or ‘I’ll never be that good a writer so I might as well give up.’ It made me happy to read it. It made me feel good. It made me feel like a child again – and that feeling is I think perhaps key to some writers. The feeling that you’ve never quite grown up properly; the feeling that in your head you’re still running around going ‘Wow!’ and ‘Why?’ at everything – from the mundane to the bizarre, the joyous to the saddest or most painful. You see a leaf blow across the pavement, and you want to chase it. You wonder where it came from, how long it’s been travelling. Did it leave its home by choice, or was it blown away by the worst ever storm ever? Or is it just popping out to visit friends? Maybe it’s going on an adventure? If it could speak, what would it sound like? Does it have friends? Are they leaves too? Maybe its best friend is a conker?

Now I want to write a little story about a leaf and a conker. Did I influence or inspire myself? Where did those thoughts come from?! Who put them in my head? Was it you? Does that story already exist? Am I just remembering something I read?

My conclusion is that a writer is influenced by a big tangled messy conglomoration in their head of everything they have seen, heard, read, felt, and experienced since the day they popped out into the world. Even the bad stuff. And that sometimes things happen that trigger weird reactions in that big tangled messy ball, which starts fizzing and popping – sparks fly, strange bits link up which hadn’t linked up before, bells and buzzers go off, sparkly coloured lights flash, a honky thing honks… And that’s inspiration.

ps – This is what I think today. But tomorrow… Ah, well. Tomorrow is an entirely different story…

Rose’s BookCross – The First…

16 06 2013


Well, I’ve just liberated the first book in my bookcrossing experiment! I wonder if anyone will pick it up? And I wonder if anyone will let me know if they have? Will they read it? Will they like it? Will they keep it, or pass it on? Or will it just get swept up with the rubbish by the cleaners? I hope not…

The first book I’m releasing into the wild is… *drum roll…*


Transition by Iain Banks. I couldn’t really choose any other author at the moment, could I? It’s a cracking read, and I also really enjoyed the audiobook version (even if it was abridged) when it was released as a series of free podcasts on iTunes a few years ago.

I’ve made a laminated bookmark with some blurb on too, which is tucked inside…


I set it free on the 1730 East Coast London King’s Cross to Edinburgh train, somewhere between Grantham and Newcastle… The train was busier than I’d expected (no free tables or seats to leave it on!) so I thought I’d ask the chap behind the counter in the buffet car if I could leave it there. He was very lovely, seemed to like the idea, and asked what book it was in case he fancied reading it himself!

Goodbye book, I hope you get read and enjoyed…

Edinburgh ramblings…

9 04 2013

I’m in Edinburgh again, hurrah!

On my last two visits here (both one-night stopovers for work) I headed straight for The Oxford Bar, so I’ve kind of got my bearings in the Rose Street area; this time I wanted to use my free afternoon to pay a visit to Looking Glass Books in Quartermile too, a rather cool looking bookshop-come-cafe I came across on Twitter. My trusty phone told me it was about half an hour’s walk from the hotel, so I plotted myself a route and off I went.

Now then. When I’m let loose on my own there are couple of problems that sometimes crop up.

Firstly, I tend to get a bit, er, directionally challenged. Maybe ‘a bit’ is a slight understatement. Often I’ll got into a shop and when I come out I have absolutely no idea which direction I’d been walking in, so I’ll frequently head off jauntily, only to have to turn round and go back the other way. Whilst trying to make it look as if I meant to do that all along. An interesting shop window to look into always comes in rather handy in these situations.

Secondly, if I’m looking at a map that I can’t turn round (I mean the sort on phones that turn as you turn them – static paper ones are easy!) I get a bit confused if I should be turning left or right, unless the map is orientated in the direction I’m going. And I get a bit embarrassed waving my phone around in a figure of eight when it tells me too, so tend not to bother with the direction-pointy-thing. Again, interesting shop windows come in handy…

Consequently I headed off boldly down High Street, then had to pause to look at some interesting kilts before going back the other way. Further on I stopped to admire Parliament Square before doubling back on myself again.

And then… I found somewhere I knew!

A few years back, I came to Edinburgh with my other half and some friends to see Leonard Cohen perform at the castle. We stayed for a couple of nights, and rented a flat rather than stay in a hotel – all the better for some gentle post-concert partying! The flat was in a tall, skinny, modern, woody building on Old Fishmarket Close just off High Street, and I remembered it being on a very steep hill – but luckily today I was at the top end, and needed to be at the bottom, so off I scooted downwards. I’m pleased to report the tall, skinny, modern, woody building is still there.

Needless to say there were a couple more directionally challenging moments before I found Quartermile, but find it I did…

Looking Glass Books has definitely been added to my Best Boltholes to Visit in Edinburgh When I Have a Work Stopover Here list. Smiley welcoming staff, drinks and nibbles, and books galore. Old favourites and obscure, unheard of titles, displayed beautifully and many with delightful hand-written mini-reviews wrapped around their covers – I love that!

I settled down with a coffee, bought to my table by a smiley welcoming lass, and read through the first draft of a manuscript for one of my children’s books I’d plonked onto my iPad yesterday (the first of The Shed stories). It’s gone through a lot of changes since that first draft, but on reading the latest version last week I decided to go back to the beginning again to see how it had looked before all that tweaking. I found a few things that I’d changed or taken out in later drafts that I actually rather liked, realised a tiny bit I’d removed would give a much more logical ‘lead’ into a bit I’d added later, made a few notes, cringed on more than one occasion, and thoroughly enjoyed the coffee.

As I was reading, I was reminded of a recent tweet from Mr Ian Rankin about the bit of novel-writing he likes least – trying alternatives for all the he said’s and she said’s. I got the impression that he tends to use the ‘s‘ word in first drafts, then tweaks them in later drafts – and I was rather impressed with that. I tend to get bogged down looking for alternatives for the ‘s‘ word, and after reading his tweet I have resolved not to stress over it in first drafts ever again in order to keep the flow of ideas going. Cheers for that Mr R!

The dregs of my lovely latte coincided with the end of the manuscript, so I then went for a wander through the books shelves. I didn’t buy anything (which I felt rather guilty about) but I added quite a few titles and authors to my ‘to read‘ list, so next time I’m there I’ll definitely be making a purchase or two. Hopefully by then they’ll have their new book bags printed too!

Looking Glass Books has such a lovely, cosy, ready-writey atmosphere, quite a surprise considering its modern surroundings; I’d highly recommend it for any ready-writey folk visiting Edinburgh. The children’s section is excellent – a really interesting blend of classics, modern favourites and unusual unexplored titles. Well, for me anyway!

Oh yes – and they also serve cake… 🙂

On leaving, I plotted a little route to the Oxford Bar, which took me round the back of the castle, and past an interesting antiquey-curioey-booky shop called Cabaret on the corner of Lady Lawson Street and West Port. The tiny first floor is filled to bursting with curios, jewellery, bits and bobs and lovely glassware, and down The Stairs they have a good collection of old books. The Stairs deserve initial capitals as they’re extremely steep, very narrow, very wooden, and rather spiral. I have tiny feet and they only just fitted on the treads! A very interesting little place which I’m sure I’ll be popping into again on future visits.

A pause by St John’s church on the corner of Lothian Road and Princes Street to marvel at a lovely monument in the churchyard in the form of a huge Celtic cross (me and my Celtic crosses!) and to get growled at by a rather worse-for-wear old fella. I think in his mind he sounded perfectly coherent, but somewhere between his mind and his mouth things had got a bit confused. He was also having a bit of a gravity issue, canting at about 75 degrees. I christened him The St John’s Growler. Might have to use that somewhere…

Then suddenly I was at the top of Rose Street (Me Street!), and a bit further down there was Young Street, and the lovely Oxford Bar. Which is where I am now, writing this, sitting in the back room by the log fire. It’s a rare find these days – a Proper Pub, with none of your fancy pub-come-restaurant pretensions. Just a wee bar, and a wee back room with a few tables and a fire, well kept ale, friendly locals (and not-so-locals) and cheery bar staff – even the notorious Harry, though I’ve only had the pleasure of him being behind the bar on my first visit back in February. You remember, that time I ended up meeting that writer bloke… watzisname… Ian something? I was so overwhelmed I named a dragon after him

And now it’s later, and I’m taking advantage of the hotel’s free wifi to post this before turning in. Despite having to get up at 4am this morning, I’ve had a rather lovely day!

Booky booky book book…

8 02 2013

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I visited the British Library today – for the first time ever.

I’d heard on the Twittervine about their exhibition of Crime Fiction, and as I had a work stop-over in London, I was hoping to try and get up early enough (after a very late – or early…) finish to check it out before heading home. By the time I finally got to bed last night at stupid-o’-clock I’d written the idea off – just too pooped!

But thanks to the crashy-bangy hotel cleaners I was awake a few hours after dropping off, and after a couple of hours of trying to snooze I finally gave up and decided to head home via the British Library. Just for an hour, to check out the Crime Fiction thing.

What a plonker.

I mean – an hour! Hahahahahahaha!

After a small moment of panic that I might not be let in with my bright orange hi-visibility rucksack and little wheely case, I was in.


I had a wander round the foyer to get my bearings and find the loos, and peeped into a dimly lit narrow room lined floor to ceiling with books, and with people sat at single desks, engrossed.

And I thought, ‘Bugger. I only have an hour.’

I’d quite like to buy one of those desks and live at it. The books! The books! Floor to hugely high ceiling!

After walking through the Crime Fiction exhibition on the way to the loos without realising (well, I was somewhat sleep deprived…), I realised, and did the whole A to Z thing. I must admit, it was a teeny bit disappointing – I think I was expecting something a bit bigger. But there were some interesting bits and bobs, and a few fascinating old volumes with excellent illustrations.

I was rather impressed with a Conan Boyle ‘draft’ of one of the Sherlock Holmes stories – not a single crossing out!

I’ve also added a few books to my “to read” list, including The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd (the edition on display had a really good retro-feel cover) and Recollections of a Detective Police Officer by William Russell, which may be a struggle to find as it was published in 1856. I also need to read the “Nordic Noir” Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö. I’ve read most works by Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo and Camilla Lackberg (and Stieg Larsson of course), and there’s something very appealing about the mood of Scandinavian crime fiction. I’d sort of run out of authors in this genre, so it’s good to discover I have ten new books to get through by a totally new authorical collaboration!

So, I did the Crime Fiction thing, and as I had some time to spare I headed for the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, temptingly marked Treasures of the British Library.

I honestly-ponestly could have spent all day in there. Or a few days. As it was, I had about half an hour, so just headed for things that caught my eye.

I think I probably should have been more impressed with the Shakespeare stuff, but was distracted by an original Edward Lear manuscript. It was the Nonsense Alphabet, and was aptly open at C:

C was a cat
Who ran after a rat;
But his courage did fail
When she seized on his tail.
Crafty old cat!

Just nearby was Jayne Austin’s writing desk, which I smiled at.

Homage was also paid to Beowolf and Oscar Wilde.

I also peeped in to see the Magna Carta – you could almost hear it bleat…

Then I turned round and – hang on, I’ll have to give you a bit of background information here.

I love Celtic knotwork.

I mean, really love it.

I used to spend a lot of time doing it – copying old examples, and creating new patterns. There’s something hugely satisfying about the detail and the… mathematics (?) of it. Over under over under over under over under…

Many years ago I spent weeks on a version of the cross on the Aberlemno II Stone. It was done in black and gold ink, and I found a local craftsman who cut a cross to the right shape and I mounted the drawing on it.

So, back to the point – I love Celtic knotwork. I still often think I’d like to zoom back a few hundred years and be a scribe, sitting in a drafty old scriptorium, writing and illuminating manuscripts by candlelight…

*pauses to dream…*

Right, back to reality.

I turned round, and there in front of me was a glass case with ‘Lindisfarne Gospels’ written above it.

I’d completely forgotten it was there. I was honestly so gobsmacked I nearly lost control of my little wheely suitcase.

As there was no-one else looking at it, I headed forward and peeped in the case.

I remember seeing The Book of Kells in Dublin many years ago, and was rather disappointed that the pages it was open at were pure text. I love the calligraphy, but I was hoping to see some illumination, so was rather disappointed.

But today in the British Library, the Lindisfarne Gospels were open at an absolute blinder of a page.

The detail!

The tinyness!

The perfection!

The colours!

I’m such a big silly that before I realised, I’d actually dripped a tear onto the glass case and for a moment expected all sorts of alarms to go off. But it was okay, nothing happened, and I managed to wipe it off with a handy glove.

And then I had to leave to catch my train.

As I walked up Euston Road to King’s Cross, I realised I had a faint smile on my face, and I couldn’t get rid of it. Despite being totally knackered, I felt absolutely on top of the world.

And that, my dears, is the power of books…