Last week, Freight Books read…

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi HwangThe Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, by Sun-mi Hwang (Oneworld), translated by Chi-Young Kim. This is a very tender story, which for some reason struck a similar harmony in my head as my memories of a favourite childhood book, Amos and Boris.  Maybe it is the illustrations that are reminiscent (they are by the artist Nomoco, are really sweet, and the cover is a masterpiece) but I think it is more than that. It is the opening up of a world, of looking about you and realising that horizons are not impassable (I know that a horizon can’t be reached, I’m just trying to wax lyrical for a bit) and there is so much to experience, so much to see. Continue reading

Last week, Freight Books read…

survivorSurvivor, by Chuck Palahniuk (Vintage). It might be because of the recent cover feature (see yesterday’s post) but I’m utterly in love with this book cover. I have a small collection of Palahniuk (pronounced Paul-annick, not pal-an-yook, as I’ve been saying for years) novels and the covers all fascinate me – this one delights me with its daring use of bright orange, and a hint of a scream inside the illustrated dial of a telephone. It looks brilliant! I’ll maybe do a wee post on his book covers in a couple of weeks to show you what I mean. Continue reading

Under the Covers

We’re excited to reveal another new feature on the blog! Under the Covers is a spotlight on our favourite cover(s) of the week.

old magic

This week, I’ve decided to delve into my young adulthood to pick on a book cover that started me on reading in the first place.

The book is Old Magic, by Marianne Curley, and it was originally published by Bloomsbury in 2001.

This cover is from the UK and Australia 2nd edition and is probably my most adored childhood book.

*I really struggled to find out who designed this book cover, and I don’t have the book with me as I’m writing this post (silly). I’ll update this post with the designer when I find out who he/she is.

The first thing that struck me about this cover, and something that I still find wonderful and unique today, is the use of colour, both in the image and the text. The dark rusted blue of the stormy sky contrasts beautifully with the burnt orange of the title, subtly illuminating it without the need to bump up the typesize so it takes up half of the cover. I also like the use of all lower case in the title – it is unassuming and altogether prettier to look at. Continue reading

The Bookseller’s Dozen #1

We’re proud to introduce a new monthly feature of Scottish independent bookshops.

Looking Glass Books is a new bookshop in Edinburgh, which opened in May 2012. The shop is bright and airy, with floor to ceiling windows all the way down one side of the shop, and at both ends. Perfectly furnished to sit with friends for a coffee and a chat (their coffee is delicious) or to curl up and have a read of what you are browsing – their sofas are delightfully comfortable. The owner, Gillian Robertson, has stocked the bookshop with a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, and a superb children’s section, all of which has the effect of feeling carefully curated. One added feature which we love for obvious reasons is a Featured Publisher case, which pays great attention to Scotland’s plethora of indy publishers.

A photo of Looking Glass Books

Bookshop: Looking Glass Books

Owner: Gillian Robertson

Location: Edinburgh

Open Since: May 2013

How did you get into bookselling?

I got into bookselling by opening a bookshop! My professional life before was in law – human rights law in healthcare and medical ethics. I have an LLB [Bachelor of Laws] and an LLM [Master of Laws] but credit a lifetime of being a voracious reader as my preparation for bookselling. I used to hide in cupboards to read as a child & lived in the library – it was books and reading that opened the world to me and led me to travel; I spent 13 years traveling and living in the Middle East, Far East and Australia. Continue reading

Last week, Freight Books read…

The Detour by Gerbrand BakkerThe Detour, by Gerbrand Bakker (trans. David Colmer), Vintage. That is quite a cover, isn’t it? Beautiful colours, and all those not-quite-identical geese, with the thin detail of a telephone wire in the background. What I especially like is that all the geese have their heads up, except for one in the centre, second row from front. Its neck is beautifully curved, its eye is closed, as it preens the base of its neck. A wonderful accident of photography, but one that is completely necessary (just like the Dude’s rug) at tying the whole together. But enough of the cover, eh? What about the pages nesting (ha) within? Continue reading

Last week, Freight Books read…

how_i_live_now_1How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff (Penguin Books). When I first picked up this book and started reading, I sort of sighed a little bit to myself – a fifteen year old, female protagonist who narrates the story in her own rebellious, teenage vernacular. I know I’m only twenty-four, but I feel a little bit alienated by young female characters like that in books. A part of me tries to relate, but another part of me reels against them in an ‘I wasn’t like that when I was that age’ kind of way. This apprehension is also in part to do with the book I just gave up on halfway through a couple of days ago – a book narrated by a thirteen year old girl who speaks and acts like a 30 year old woman is just annoying. I won’t name and shame it here, but it made me a little bit cynical on picking up How I Live Now. In my experience, youthful female characters are often difficult to believe in, particularly if you used to be one of them yourself.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about this character, and this book. The dialogue, at first tricky to get used to, is beautiful and revealing – it is almost a stream of consciousness, that dips in and out of dialogue with the other characters. It lends a savage honesty and emotion to the main character, Daisy (whose real name is actually Elizabeth), without being typically angsty.

The book begins with Daisy arriving in England to live with her cousins, for reasons that I won’t get into now as they’re pretty integral to why Daisy is the way she is. A romantic bond begins to form between Daisy and Edmond, who she is convinced can read her mind. The magical atmosphere at the country house is stunningly evoked, with luscious descriptions of the gardens and vegetable patches, as well as an abundance of life, with dogs, sheep and goats milling around everywhere. It basically seems like exactly the kind of place you’d want to be when a war breaks out – which it does. When the children are ejected from their safe haven by burly army men, their relationships and strength are tested, and you find yourself clinging onto Daisy’s words for protection from the horrors that begin to unfold.

I’ll admit, a pattern is beginning to emerge now, but I promise I don’t only read books that have film adaptations! I actually haven’t seen this film, but when it came out suddenly people started raving about how amazing the book is, so now I’m jumping on the bandwagon!

The book is staggering, beautiful and thoughtful. Read it.

On the warm stone walls, climbing roses were just coming into bloom and great twisted branches of honeysuckle and clematis wrestled each other as they tumbled up and over the top of the wall. Against another wall were white apple blossoms on branches cut into sharp crucifixes and forced to lie flat against the stone. Below, the huge frilled lips of giant tulips in shades of white and cream nodded in their beds. They were almost finished now, spread open too far, splayed, exposing obscene black centers. I’ve never had my own garden but I suddenly recognized something in the tangle of this one that wasn’t beauty. Passion, maybe. And something else. Rage.

(You can read a bit about what the author thought of the film adaptation here.)

Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2004
Branford Boase Award 2005
Michael L. Printz Award 2005
Der Luchs des Jahres Book Prize 2005
Julia Ward Howe Prize (Boston Authors Club) 2005

Last week, Freight Books read…

The Luminaries by Eleanor CattonThe Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, published by Granta. This book is a whopper and no mistake. At 832 pages it is certainly in the awkward to read in bed category, but would probably keep you afloat if you happened to be shipwrecked off the coast of New Zealand in the 19th century. This doesn’t happen in the book, despite it being set in New Zealand in the 19th century and concerned in large part with boats and the sea, but has proved a useful bridging sentence to the content. However, I’m not interested in this bridge, because I haven’t finished talking about the length of this book. It is important. The bridge can wait. Continue reading

A year lost to Mervyn Peake

In what is unintentionally becoming a bit of a series about authors with unreasonable amounts of great reading material, Robbie Guillory herein attempts to get you reading the works of Mervyn Peake.

Mervyn PeakeMervyn Peake was a bit of an artistic polymath; an author, poet and illustrator. It was Peake who introduced me to the Fantastic. Before I’d read Pratchett or Jacques I was given the first of the Gormenghast Trilogy, Titus Groan.

Titus Groan by Mervyn PeakeThough I was far too young to really understand what is, on occasion, prose as dusty and cobweb-ridden as the castle it inhabits and, despite probably not finishing it, I was hooked with the idea of this other world, with it’s endless spires and forgotten rooms, the popping joints of Flay and fetid breath of Swelter. Continue reading

Last week, Freight Books read…


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. This has quickly become one of my favourite science fiction novels of all time. It is another book that has been made into a film, but one which I believe is far more striking and poetic on the page than on the screen. The title of the book introduces the idea of consciousness and humanity, and seems to ask not only what androids dream about, but whether or not they dream at all. The narrative deals very consciously with the question of what makes a human being ‘human’, and offers its own theories and perceptions on the principles of empathy and emotion. Continue reading