Wednesday Wonderings

Library Card Cartoon

You heard it here first – books are making a comeback. Personally I’m not fussy when it comes to reading. Whether it’s my Kindle, a paperback or even (in desperate times) on my smartphone I’m happy as long as I can read. There is something to be said for a physical book though, especially a second hand one. I’m a sucker for floppy pages and worn spines – it feels like the book has been enjoyed and I think thats a good thing. There are others that prefer to keep their books pristine and beautiful, and that’s ok too!

Here in Swindon we have an abundance of libraries, from the very small to the very grand tea-and-toast-serving multicoloured mothership in the centre of town. The beauty of a library is that you can try genres and authors you wouldn’t normally pick up, with no real commitment. If you don’t like it, you can take it back without worrying that you’ve spent a whole £7.99 that could have been spent on wine. I tend to go armed with my ‘To Be Read’ list from Goodreads, then competely ignore it for a pretty cover.

I would encourage everyone, whether you’re a casual reader or a serial book devourer, to join your local library. They often have great kids clubs (perfect for 5 minutes peace perusing the YA shelves) and many also provide tea and cake for a lot less than the local coffee shop. All this and free books? Sounds like a winner to me…



Wednesday Wonderings.

The English Language is a tricky thing. You don’t realise how much until you are trying to explain to a seven year old learning his spellings why words that look the same sound different, but words that looks different sound the same!

I found this poem that displays it perfectly.


Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité

Book Review/Buddy Read – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

 There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?


This book was a bit stop/start for me. Some chapters flew by and others moved at a snail’s pace. I think it is important to say from the start that I really enjoyed reading this, especially as a buddy read. There were lots of mysteries to uncover and it was a lot of fun trying to figure out what they were with Laura as we read.

This book is beautifully written and Jessie Burton is a magician with words! Even when we had things figured out she would switch things up and leave me convinced we were wrong. It almost felt like slight of hand. She had me looking right while things were happening over on the left. While I was reading I did find it a bit confusing, and found myself reading the same paragraph a few times, just to make sure I was aware of what was going on. You do see through the smoke and mirrors by the end though, and it’s really quite clever.

I really liked the characters on the whole. They all had their flaws (by the time periods standards) and unfortunately for them they were exploited by those trying to gain from them.

I was slightly disappointed by one of the threads of the storyline. It really felt unfinished and I find that frustrating. I would be really interested to hear what you thought about it. If you’ve read it let us know!



First of all, how gorgeous is this book? I have the hardback version, and from the sleeve to the blue edges to the pages it’s absolutely beautiful.

The story almost reads like poetry; each sentence is a tiny little masterpiece and it all comes together in an emotive and, at times, very creepy tale. The time period and landscape was unfamiliar to me (my knowledge of Dutch history is rather lacking), but the writing is so descriptive I was right there with Nella and Marin in the freezing cold house in Amsterdam.

As Kiera said, the plot twists and turns, and there were more than a couple of *gasp* moments. You’re never quite sure where the story is going to take you, and it keeps you gripped until the last couple of chapters, where it all feels a tiny bit rushed. There are a number of individual character story lines running through the book, and most are tied up quite neatly – no unnecessary cliffhangers here people – but there is one (that arguably might be the most significant) which seems to come to a dead end. Unless we both missed an important plot twist somewhere.

Reading a book with Kiera has been really interesting. We chatted about it every 100 pages or so, and drew some similar and some very different conclusions. I think a Buddy Read is a great idea – it’s amazing how two people can read the same book and pick up on different things.

I’d totally recommend this book, it covers a host of genres – historical fiction, crime and even a hint of the supernatural, so there is something for everyone. Considering this is Jessie Burton’s debut, I think it could quite easily become a modern classic.


Reading Goals – 2015

Author – Laura

Reading Challenge image

Amazingly, despite being a member of our fabulous Book Club for over 2 years, I’ve never set myself a reading goal.

2015 is the Year of the Book, at least for us here at The Bookspa, so I am going to have a go at the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge. There are 52 items on the list; the equivalent to one a week (and that is maths, people) which should be quite achievable. There are a million other challenges available, but this particular list really appealed to me because it’s going to encourage me to diversify. Although my Goodreads list is pretty varied I will always go back to my beloved Historical Fiction and Fantasy if I’m feeling lazy or unimaginative, which happens more often than it should.

If you want to join in, or if you’re just looking for a bit of inspiration to kickstart your own 2015 reading list, you can download a copy of the challenge here – DOWNLOAD

2014 was a pretty amazing year in my reading life. I discovered The Night Circus, fell in love with Karou and Akiva and became slightly obsessed with The Black Dagger Brotherhood. I also joined our local library, which led me to gems like Shiver, Carnival of Souls and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Our Book Club has outdone itself as well, with some really diverse choices across many different genres. Thanks girls!

I’ve just started The Luminaries by Eleonor Catton, and at 848 pages it’s a bit of a tome, but I will definitely be able to tick off the first item on the challenge!

If you’ve set a 2015 goal of your own we’d love to hear all about it!

Laura x