Summer Break

Dear all,

Books & Reviews will go on a summer break starting today. I’ll use this time – the first real summer break I have in 3 years – to relax, and enjoy my time with my family, but also to develop new content. I will be back soon with new ideas, new books, and lots of crimes. I hope you all have a wonderful August too, and I can’t wait to see what you’ve all read during these weeks.

Love,

Elena xx

Summer 2017

After 3 months, 4 cities, more than 5 different bedrooms, and lots of trains, buses, and airplanes I’m finally home and ready to enjoy it. Even though I still have some PhD work to do, I plan on taking some time off next month – still to be negotiated with my supervisors – to enjoy my family, cook, go for walks, spend my days at the beach, and read, read, read. As I have received lots of review copies when I was away, I already have a pile of TBR summer books. I do not think any of the books that I have chosen will be in any ‘Summer 2017 Books’ list online, but I think it’s about time to do some backlist reading:

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty – After the success of Big Little Lies and Reese Witherspoon’s HBO adaptation I can’t wait to read Moriarty latest book. I was reminded of this novel during my visit to England, as the paperback edition is already out.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware – I got an unexpected review copy of Ware’s latest novel while I was away, and it made me really happy as I have only read great things online, all by people whose taste I trust. I also enjoyed Ware’s previous novels, In a Dark, Dark Wood, and The Woman in Cabin 10.

Final Girls by Riley Sager – According to Master of Evil (and proud Human to Molly, aka The Thing of Evil) Stephen King, Final Girls is going to be one of the books of 2017. I love a good crime/mystery focused on young women, and I must admit I’m a sucker for pink covers and editions.

The Mitfords. Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley – I bought this book for a feminist book club I joined last fall, but then they decided to move the reading to Spring when it would be impossible for me to join them. However, the book has been on my radar ever since, and I have kept it at the top of my TBR pile waiting for the perfect moment to enjoy some high-quality non-fiction.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – I saw this book at Waterstones in Bath and I knew I had to read it. It usually comes recommended to anyone who enjoyed Emma Cline’s The Girls, and Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers, so it sounds like a winner for me!

Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui – I first heard about this book during my MA, when one of my lecturers brought an excerpt in which the Chinese young female protagonist reflects on her relationship with a German, married man, and compares her feelings to those of Sylvia Plath’s. As you can imagine, I was sold then. I recently found the book at a local second-hand bookshop (in Spanish) and I had to buy it.

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund – This was the book everyone was talking about during my last visit to England last year. It was described as very dark, and twisted. I did not know if it was up my alley, but as I got sent a paperback review copy, I thought it’d be perfect to carry around and enjoy some death, blood, and darkness while travelling this summer.

What about you? Are you looking forward to reading any books this summer?

Captivating Criminality Conference 2017

This year I helped organise the Captivating Criminality 4 conference at Bath Spa University (even though my tasks were little!) and I had the honour of inviting fellow blogger and reader MarinaSofia over. These are her thoughts about it:

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Thanks to fellow blogger and online friend Elena (whom some of you may know as @ms_adler on Twitter), I heard about the Captivating Criminality Network at Bath Spa University (in collaboration with Gdansk University in Poland. When I heard about the 2017 conference taking place on 29th June to 1st July, I was determined to attend for at least half a day. So I drove to the chi-chi Wiltshire village of Corsham on Saturday 1st July and entered the dreamy grounds of Corsham Court, where the conference was taking place. At first, I was expecting Darcy to emerge from the local pond…

Then I was intrigued by the plaintive calls from the true masters of the gardens…

But once I found my way inside The Barn, I attended some fantastic talks. I won’t give an in-depth account, but it is so refreshing to see academia engaging seriously (but not pretentiously)…

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Change Starts One Book at a Time: A Love Letter to the British Public Libraries

The first thing that I did when I finally settled down in the UK was joining a public library. As I was only in the country for a few months, I didn’t bring any books with me, and I thought: What kind of life can one live without books? Not one worth living for me. So, I walked into the public library, asked a very lovely young woman – who would later become my friend – if I could join, and she gladly gave me my card. It must be said here that I didn’t get a regular card though. As I was a visitor, I could only borrow 3 books at the same time, which is actually the number of books I can borrow from my public library in Spain, so it didn’t bother me.

And then the hectic borrow started. I finally had access to an unbelievable amount of books, some of them recently released. In English. By women authors. There was even a crime section! I couldn’t believe it. I think that during the first weeks I just borrowed books to take a look at them. For the simple pleasure of having them in my nightstand, knowing that I could read them at any time. The massive borrowing became unproductive at one point. I read Ali Smith’s How to be Both and then I decided to borrow 3 more of her books. But did I really want to read more Ali Smith when I could read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff? Or Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman, which I had wanted to read since review copies started showing up on my Twitter feed? So, I made the decision to pace myself and just enjoy the book I was borrowing at the time. And just one at a time, please! OK, maybe two if they were different genres.

Thanks to the British Public Libraries I discovered that like many of you, I am a fan of Ali Smith’s work too. How to be Both was a profound reading, and it still haunts me weeks later. I also got the enjoy the latest in the Marnie Rome series, a personal favourite of mine, by Sarah Hilary. This one was extra special, as Sarah is a friend of Books & Reviews now, and the copy that I borrowed was a chunky and clearly very solicited hardback copy. I also discovered that I will always go for the hardback copy, until I realise that carrying my laptop, its charger, the phone, the mess of personal items that I usually need, my lunch, and a hardback copy was not the better ideas. I learned to find the beauty in battered paperbacks too.

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Bristol Public Library

But my British Public Library was not just a place to visit a few times a week. It also became my office. Thanks to hot-desking and the thousands of sockets available, I was able to spend my days reading and writing in a building that I now consider my second home. Public libraries in Spain are places were silent must be kept, and where eating and drinking is not compatible with reading and writing. Imagine my surprise when I found out not only that I could eat a few feet away from my laptop – we can discuss the benefits of getting some fresh air another day – but that there was also a cosy café where I could buy a hot cup of tea (milk and sugar, please).

As if it wasn’t enough, the Public Library that I visited also had a reading club that met weekly where we were provided with a short story and a poem that we read out loud and commented. The young woman who made my library card suggested I joined the group when I said I had just arrived to the city, I didn’t know anyone, and I needed some friends books to keep me company. There I met women all ages, some with very interesting backgrounds, and all of them with a love and a passion for reading that could rival my own. They made me feel at home by asking me questions about my favourite books, and they welcomed my sometimes inevitable gender and feminist criticism about the works we were reading.

I hope to see the women in my book club one last time before I leave, and I hope to spend as much time as I can at the Public Library. As I write this I only have one book with me, but I’m thinking whether I should borrow more in an effort to make the most of these last days(*) that also happen to be filled with friends and celebrations. But if I don’t, and if I only have time to finish reading my current book, this is my love letter to the British Public Libraries. This is also my plea to all you who live in the UK to visit your local public library today. Keep these wonderful havens open so that people of all races, genders, sexualities, nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, and religions can visit them. Because change starts one book at a time.

(*) Barely two minutes after writing this post I borrowed 2 more books from the library that I won’ t probably finish reading in time to return them before I leave.

 

 

Interview with Paula Hawkins for Crime Fiction Association

As many of you now know I am also a freelancer writer and an organiser for the Captivating Criminality 4 conference, an annual event organised by the Crime Fiction Association. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to interview writer Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) yet again for the Association’s blog and we discussed women, crime, and her latest novel Into the Water. To read the interview, click here.

News: Crime Fiction Conference and #PhDLife

As I said last week, big crime fiction news were to be released soon. So, here they are! I am very happy (and proud!) to be part of the Captivating Criminality Organising Team for our  2017 conference Crime Fiction: Detection, Public and Private, Past and Present. This event is part of an interantional effort by the Crime Fiction Association – led by Dr. Fiona Peters from Bath Spa University –  to fully incooporate crime fiction studies as valid and serious research in the Humanities. If you want to learn more, please click here to visit our website. You can also find us on Twitter @CrimeFic, and on Facebook Fb.me/crimefic.

Meanwhile, you can check the programme for our 2017 conference to see how people from all over the world are joining efforts to research crime fiction (*):

http://www.captivatingcriminalitynetwork.net/programme.html

(*) Please note that the programme is still under construction and may be subject to changes

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Big Little News

I am sure you may have noticed that I have been blogging on and off for the past weeks. There is no other reason that… I’m finally moving to the UK! As many of you know I live in Spain, but this blog is a testament of my love for British art and culture. As part of my PhD I have been offered to develop part of thesis in my favourite country in the world. And I’m in awe.

So that is the reason why I have not had much time for reading and writing. A trip like this takes some planning (type A personality anyone?), and one of those plans is to buy some books at Waterstones and second-hand bookshops. Sadly I’m not allowed to join a public library, although I will visit my city’s largest one and beg them to please please please give me some kind of card. Meanwhile, I will post as much as I can, but please bear me with me as I settle down and find the time and space to read and write. And if you have any bookish recommendations please leave them on the comments below. I was planning on not buying any books, but who am I kidding?