All The Birds Singing

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British Books Challenge 2015 – The Round Up

Published January 3, 2016 by bibliobeth

BBC pointed shaded

2015 was my third year of participating in the British Books Challenge and I’m absolutely loving finding new British authors and discovering old ones too. Here’s what I read in 2015, please click on the title to see my review:

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Devil In The Marshalsea – Antonia Hodgson

Under A Mackerel Sky – Rick Stein

A Terribly Strange Bed – Wilkie Collins

Silver Bay – Jojo Moyes

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

Five Children and It – E. Nesbit

Elizabeth Is Missing – Emma Healey

Magpies – Lucy Wood

Honeymoon In Paris – Jojo Moyes

The Good Children – Roopa Farooki

Ironheart – Allan Boroughs

The Five Orange Pips – Arthur Conan Doyle

The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons

She Murdered Mortal He – Sarah Hall

Dangerous Boys – Abigail Haas

The Raven’s Head – Karen Maitland

The Long Shadow – Mark Mills

Miss Carter’s War – Sheila Hancock

Keeping Watch Over The Sheep – Jon McGregor

The Archduchess – Daphne du Maurier

The Oversoul – Graham Joyce

Plague Land – S.D. Sykes

A Colder War – Charles Cumming

Flour Babies – Anne Fine

The Summer We All Ran Away – Cassandra Parkin

Cellists – Kazuo Ishiguro

Mrs Hemingway – Naomi Wood

Us – David Nicholls

Gretel And The Dark – Eliza Granville

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

Frozen Charlotte – Alex Bell

Bloodsport – Tom Cain

The Lemon Grove – Helen Walsh

Kew Gardens – Virginia Woolf

Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams

No Other Darkness (Marnie Rome #2) – Sarah Hilary

The Giant’s Boneyard – Lucy Wood

Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin

A Want Of Kindness – Joanne Limburg

Gangsta Granny – David Walliams

Half Bad – Sally Green

The Man With The Twisted Lip – Arthur Conan Doyle

I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh

The NightLong River – Sarah Hall

Knife Edge – Malorie Blackman

This Book Is Gay – James Dawson

She Is Not Invisible – Marcus Sedgwick

The Beloved – Alison Rattle

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Airshow – Jon McGregor

The Menace – Daphne du Maurier

A Song For Issy Bradley – Carys Bray

Candia – Graham Joyce

Night Music – JoJo Moyes

Extremes: Life, Death And The Limits Of The Human Body – Kevin Fong

Gingerbread – Robert Dinsdale

The Mistletoe Bride – Kate Mosse

The Taxidermist’s Daughter – Kate Mosse

More Than This – Patrick Ness

Watership Down – Richard Adams

The Rat In The Attic – Brian McGilloway

All The Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld

The Last Wild – Piers Torday

The Dark Wild – Piers Torday

The Wild Beyond – Piers Torday

How To Fly With Broken Wings – Jane Elson

Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian

The Bees – Laline Paull

The Ice Twins – S.K. Tremayne

Beachcombing – Lucy Wood

House Of Windows – Alexia Casale

A Man And Two Women – Doris Lessing

The Ask And The Answer – Patrick Ness

The Class That Went Wild – Ruth Thomas

Life After You – Lucie Brownlee

A Wicked Old Woman – Ravinder Randhawa

The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle – Arthur Conan Doyle

Vuotjärvi – Sarah Hall

The Well – Catherine Chanter

So by my calculations that makes it 81 books read! Highlights for this year include my continuing love for Patrick Ness, the amazing House of Windows by Alexia Casale which absolutely floored me, the beauty that is Goodnight Mister Tom (why did I wait so long to read that?!) and All The Birds Singing by Evie Wyld which was just gorgeous. Looking forward to reading some more great British books in 2016.

All The Birds Singing – Evie Wyld

Published October 6, 2015 by bibliobeth

17283744What’s it all about?:

Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.

It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.

All the Birds, Singing tells the life of an outsider. With extreme artistry and empathy, it reveals an existence of diurnal beauty, incremental horrors, stubborn hope and tentative redemption. The result is a novel of indelible emotional force.

What did I think?:

I had already heard a lot about All The Birds, Singing before I picked it up in a bookshop, attracted by the gorgeous cover as well as all of the positive reviews I had read. The author, Evie Wyld received much critical acclaim with her debut novel After The Fire, A Still Small Voice which won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize in 2009 and this, her second novel, won the Encore Award in 2013, the prestigious Miles Franklin award in 2014 as well as being long-listed and short-listed for many other awards. To say I was excited about reading it is an understatement and I certainly wasn’t let down. Take one of the opening sentences for instance:

“Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapours rising from her like a steamed pudding.”

Delightful? Maybe not. Intriguing? Most definitely. Read on? For sure! Our main character is the reclusive Jake Whyte whom when we meet her has re-located from her native Australia to a remote island just off the main coast of England to try her hand at sheep farming and more importantly, escape a troubled past. The author sets her story out in such an interesting way – the first chapter is Jake in the present time where she is dealing with a strange dilemma. Someone or something is killing off her sheep in a brutal manner and after confirming that the local teenagers are not to blame, she begins to worry that a different and perhaps dangerous creature is to blame.

Then we have the second chapter which focuses on Jake’s life in Australia and details one of the reasons that she had to leave and is so closed-off and anti-social today. From this moment onwards her story is told in alternate chapters, her present life in England working forwards in time and the chapters in Australia are told in reverse. i.e. most recent then going backwards in time. Sounds a bit complicated and it confused me at first but when I had both stories or both “lives,” sorted in my head I thought it was a very unique way to tell a story and I’m already looking forward to re-reading it to pick up on things I may have missed.

The reader soon finds out that Jake has had an incredible, troubling and at times, heart-breaking past which explain her personality and general character at the present time. There are so many mysteries to solve as a reader that inspired me to read on – what on earth happened to Jake in Australia? Why is she so reclusive and what happened to her back to leave it so horrifically scarred? Her life up until her re-location has been challenging and always mysterious and even as the book ended I wasn’t sure that I had all the answers especially with the ending being as ambiguous as it is. However, I have enjoyed reading some of the comments and theories by other readers on GoodReads and I do believe that a lot of things are left up to the reader and their imagination to decide although the author does leave us a few tidbits or clues along the way.

This was such an excellent read and deserves all the praise and awards that come its way. I loved unravelling the whole mystery of Jake’s life and despite a slightly frustrating ending it was a beautiful piece of writing that confirms Evie Wyld as a talented and promising author for the future. The prose is lyrical and irresistible and the author does not shy away from gritty, frightening and bold statements and situations. There is one particular instance I am thinking about that involves one of my worst fears, spiders, that will remain etched in my memory forever because of this book and still gives me the shivers just to think about months down the line! I’ll certainly be reading her debut novel and will watch out for anything else she does on the strength of All The Birds, Singing.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


February 2015 – “Real Book” Month

Published February 1, 2015 by bibliobeth


There’s nothing like the smell, feel and look of a real book to a bibliophile like myself. And now that February has rolled around, it’s time for another “Real Book” month where I will attempt to reduce the number of books crawling into every inch of my home. Hmm, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in my real books since the last time I had a real book month in August. Guess you just can’t stop a book addict!

More Than This – Patrick Ness

Night Film – Marisha Pessl

All The Birds Singing – Evie Wyld

Fifty Shades Of Feminism – Lisa Appignanesi

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

The People In The Trees – Hanya Yanagihara

The Bees – Laline Paull

The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness and Recovery – Sam Kean

The Ask And The Answer (Chaos Walking #2) – Patrick Ness

I am so excited by this list I can hardly type. Some of them have been on my TBR for a long time, like Fifty Shades of Feminism, Night Film and Miss Peregrine’s Home, others are from new favourite authors that I just HAD to include like More Than This and The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness and others are books I have acquired fairly recently and simply can’t wait to read. What do you think of my list, fellow book-lovers?