Winding Up the Week #28

An end of week recap

Winding Up the Week #11I failed to wind up the week last Saturday, for which I apologise. Unfortunately, I was bobbing about on the North Sea with no Internet access. I will, however, attempt to make amends.

This is 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 look ahead to forthcoming features, see what’s on the night-stand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.


I read and reviewed Disbanded Kingdom, a newly released debut novel from Polis Loizou, which is a modern coming-of-age story set against the emotive backdrop of the UK’s split from the EU and its threatened rupture with Scotland. >> Discover my thoughts >>

I also reviewed Nancy Campbell’s The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate, a vivid and perceptive book, which will probably appeal to readers of Robert Macfarlane, Roger Deakin and Olivia Laing. >> Read my remarks >>

Look out for my review of The Beekeeper of Sinjar by the celebrated Iraqi-Assyrian poet and journalist, Dunya Mikhail, which tells the harrowing stories of women who have managed to escape the clutches of ISIS.

Next up is The Silence of the Girls from one of my favourite novelists, Pat Barker. It is due to be published by Hamish Hamilton on 30th August.

Coming soon is Adrienne Celt’s recently released Invitation to a Bonfire, an historical novel set in 1930s America and inspired by the infamous Nabokov marriage.


* Reading Wales *

Since my last Reading Wales update several book bloggers have posted content that may well be of interest to those thinking of taking part in Dewithon 2019, which is, of course, scheduled to take place throughout March:

WELSH GIRLAli Hope at HEAVENALI reviewed Peter Ho Davies’s thought-provoking World War II novel set in North Wales. In her post, The Welsh Girl – Peter Ho Davis (2007), she describes this Booker longlisted title as “very good” but “quiet” and “undramatic”. She believes its most successful aspect is “Davis’ emotionally astute rendering of nationalism.”

In a recent post at The Rivendale Review, entitled On my Bookshelf – Miscellany One – Dylan Thomas, Michael Graeme ruminates on a 1963 paperback he discovered in a charity shop and purchased for only 50 pence. Miscellany One: Poems, Stories, Broadcasts contains the script for Return Journey in addition to four short stories and poems including the well-known Do not go gentle into that good night. Graeme describes the collection as “enchanting” with “a powerful voice that must be listened to, in the best bardic tradition.”

A guest article by Elena Schmitz for Literary Field Kaleidoscope gives us an insight into this year’s London Book Fair from a Welsh perspective. In Wales at London Bookfair 2018 we learn that for “the first time, Wales had its own stand, rather than just individual Welsh writers and publishers attending.”

In Sylvia D’s All Things Betray Thee (1949) by Gwyn Thomas, posted on Sheffield Hallam University’s Reading 1900-1950 blog, she describes Welsh Marxist, Gwyn Thomas as “one of Wales’s great literary figures.” She found his 1949 historical novel “full of despair, frustration and anger” but with “a certain hope for the future.”

Finally, Rachel Carney from Created to Read enthusiastically anticipates the Cardiff Book Festival – happening from 7th – 9th September. In From Book Blogger to Published Writer: Looking Forward to Cardiff Book Festival 2018, she announces her masterclass, An Introduction to Blogging, in addition to many other exciting events at Jurys Inn, Park Place, Cardiff.

* Lit Crit Blogflash *

I’m going to share with you six of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it was difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:

Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark – Jacqui found Murial Spark’s 1981 Booker short-listed novel “the most playful” of her works. Discover why she had “a lot of fun” reading this book at JacquiWine’s Journal.

book review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – Rachel, a book distributor from Vermont, says this recently published fantasy title “exceeded” her expectations. She explains why she can’t wait for its sequel at pace, amore, libri.

84 Charing Cross Road: A charming story of book love and friendship – Ova Incekaraoglu writes of the stage-version of one of my favourite books, 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, at Excuse My Reading.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl – Faye Cheeseman of Literasaurus introduces us to John Quinn’s now out of print 1985 collection of RTÉ radio interviews conducted with female writers whose childhoods had been spent in Ireland.

Backward Rambles – Author, Lizzie Ross writes a lively critique of Eric Kraft’s 1995 novel, Little Follies: The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences and Observations of Peter Leroy (So Far).

Ben Goldacre “Bad Pharma”- book review – Over at litcritpop, Ada Coghen shares her thoughts on Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, which she describes as “often heartbreaking”.

* Irresistible Items *

Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds, but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:


The Man Booker Prize: The Man Booker Prize 2018 Longlist announced – The eagerly awaited longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize has finally been announced.

POPULA: What Was Old Becomes New – Elizabeth Freeman is a used-book buyer. She reveals some of the things you may find behind her desk.

BookRiot: Is Virginia Woolf’s THE WAVES a Beach Read? – Katherine Willoughby clears her mind and lets The Waves wash over her.

ASYMPTOTE: The Trouble with Prizes and Translation – “Prizes may be good for publishing,” writes Maria Snyder, “but are they good for all authors and translators?”

ChinaDaily: China’s largest self-service bookstore opens in Shenzhen – The Shenzhen Bookmall is China’s largest self-service book store, covering seven floors and 115,000 square feet.

The Paris Review: How Finland Rebranded Itself as a Literary Country – Kalle Oskari Mattila tells the uplifting tale of Finland’s queer female literary success stories.

The Walrus: The Future of Biography – Charlotte Gray believes social media is giving fresh life to an esteemed literary genre that combines history, psychology and gossip.

The New York Times: The Book That Terrified Neil Gaiman. And Carmen Maria Machado. And Dan Simmons. – Thirteen authors were asked to recommend the most frightening books they’ve ever read.

Melville House: Amazon is selling Nazi books for kids and not doing much to remove them – Stephanie DeLuca looks at a recently released study into Amazon’s third-part sellers and creators platforms.

The Millions: A Mad Woman on Fire: On Sylvia Plath and Female Rage – Megan Abbott on the unsettling and exciting ferocity of Sylvia Plath.

Literary Hub: The New Vanguard of Climate Fiction – An introductory reading list to climate fiction (also known as ‘cli-fi’) by Siobhan Adcock.

The New York Times: Anne Olivier Bell, Editor of Virginia Woolf Diaries, Dies at 102 – The editor of Virginia Woolf’s diaries and a rare surviving link to the Bloomsbury Group passed away on 18th July at her home in the English village of Firle.

Atlas Obscura: The Best Notes Atlas Obscura Readers Found in Used Books – Eric Grundhauser collects the best marginalia found by Atlas Obscura readers.

The Guardian: Trinidadian Creole tale wins 2018 Commonwealth short story prizeKevin Jared Hosein talks to Alison Flood about writing in Creole and his pride in winning the Commonwealth prize.

Signature: Why the Gender Relations in Middlemarch Are Relevant Today – Lorraine Berry analyses the gender relations in George Eliot’s Middlemarch and explains why they are relevant today.

Gothamist: The Complicated Fight Over Walt Whitman’s Sole Surviving NYC Home – 99 Ryerson Street, the Brooklyn address where Walt Whitman finished writing Leaves of Grass, is unprotected as a landmark.



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

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

NB In this feature, ‘winding up’ refers to the act of concluding something and should not be confused with the British expression: ‘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.

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31 replies

  1. As for your unnecessary apology, I’m sure all your readers simply enjoy your posts whenever they appear. And of course this one is no exception- fancy noting that The Waves is being blogged about as a beach read- that’s breaking down some stereotypes! The only beach read joke I know would be something about an encounter with granular prose…I hope the book you review on Nabokov mentions butterflies a lot, I should imagine being married to a man with a butterfly obsession would be tiresome.

    • Thank you so much, John. I hate to tell you but I was an official butterfly recorder for the Great Orme Country Park many years ago. I don’t think I ever became obsessive, though – and I certainly didn’t net them and pin them on boards as Nabokov did! 😂

  2. Thanks for the mention Paula, the Beekeeper of Sinjar does indeed sound harrowing and I am also looking forward to hearing what you make of that Pat Barker. I will have to acquire a copy soon.

  3. Thanks for including me in your Blogflash list, Paula.
    I was excited to see that this year’s Man Booker long list includes a graphic novel. I hope it makes the short list.
    And finally, re the endangered Walt Whitman house in Brooklyn and its “integrity” — the third floor front extension added to Paul Revere’s home in Boston was removed in the early 1900s by the organization formed to protect and renovate the building. So it’s possible to return that Brooklyn row house to its original structure and then turn it into a Whitman Museum.

  4. Thanks so much for the mention Paula. I’ve loved reading these posts since finding your blog – they always end up in really satisfying deep-dive reading! So it’s an extra honour to be included.

  5. I hope you were not bobbing about in the sea without the benefit of a boat or even a dinghy????

  6. I read above that you were a butterfly recorder, Paula. I love that! Wonderful post, as always, and I cannot wait for your review of Invitation to a Bonfire. It was a captivating read for me.

    • Thanks so much, Jennifer.

      I expect you have some amazing butterflies in your garden. We sometimes see Hummingbird Hawk Moths in the UK, and they look for all the world like miniscule hummingbirds, right down to rapid wing beats and a proboscis that resembles a beak. Stunning little creatures but sadly the nearest we will ever get to the real thing.

      It was you who alerted me to Invitation to a Bonfire with your excellent review! 😊

      • Oh, I am humbled that I added to your TBR. I hope you find it a worthy read, Paula! Guess what? The rare Hummingbird Hawk Moths are somehow known to be plentiful in my neighborhood (I have no idea how?), and we had a “spotter” here trying to photograph them! He even had his car decorated with Hawk Moths! I first saw one at this house about seven years ago…I really thought it was a hummer!

      • Amazing, aren’t they? 😊

      • They are, and if you all sadly cannot have hummingbirds, at least you have these fascinating little creatures. 😊

  7. Many thanks for the mention, Paula – that’s very kind of you!

  8. Thanks so much for including me too. This is a fabulous summary of blogosphere last week!!!

  9. Thanks very much for the shout out!

  10. A wonderful collection as always. It must take ages to curate, and so many people appreciate it!

  11. Wow! You had a great few weeks, Paula! I’m so glad to see you had some wonderful reads and found some super interesting articles. I don’t spend a lot of time surfing the internet casually, so I love seeing these link lists. It helps me stimulate my brain a bit more. 🙂

    How was the North Sea?!

    • Thank you, Jackie. Glad you find my links useful. Actually the North Sea was surprisingly calm. I love being on, in or under the sea, so I do quite enjoy a few waves, but my partner suffers from sea sickness, so it was all for the best!

      • Ah, yes. I probably suffer from sea sickness, as I get fairly bad car sickness. But having never been on the sea I couldn’t tell you! XD I’m glad the sea was calm and calming. It sounds like a great vacation!

  12. Wonderful post – thank you! I am adding ‘The Library of Ice’ to my tbr heap; it appeals to me greatly. I am also pleased to see that someone else appreciates ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl’ which is a book I read a number of years ago and return to now and again. I have also real all five volumes of Virginia Woolf’s Diaries, edited by Anne Olivier Bell who died recently. The editing is excellent and the diaries are an engrossing read.

    • Thank you, Clare. I’m really fascinated by Virginia Woolf and her motivations as a writer, so I tend also to read quite a few of her bios, letter collections, diaries etc. Yes, Faye’s post about John Quinn’s book really jumped out at me – I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for a copy of ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl.

  13. Please excuse the typo – ‘read’ not real!

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