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Earlier this year I took part in Blogger Book Swap organised by Beth Tinkerbell. You were partnered up with another blogger and set to the task of discovering each other’s likes and dislikes. Then with a budget of £10 put together a few books new or old for the other person to enjoy.

My book swap partner was Rebecca from http://sullen-hearts.blogspot.com. We sent some emails back and forth to find out our book tastes.

I said I liked Fantasy, Horror and the occasional crime with chick lit as my guilty pleasure. In terms of non-fiction I like collecting books on etiquette and style from different decades but I can’t cope with biographies of people who have had traumatic lives. I also like thrillers, mysteries and adventure.

Rebecca’s escapism of choice is crime but wasn’t keen on fantasy or Sci-fi. I learnt that Rebecca is a writer with a passion for Young Adult fiction. She likes dystopians like the Hunger Games but also likes gritty real life teenage lives.  For non-fiction she liked real life stories on feminism, religious cults and LGBT. She also liked ‘Literary Fiction’ which is a term I had heard before but not really understood properly. I had to look it up!

With my brief of Rebecca’s likes and dislikes I set out to put the Book Swap parcel together. There were a few books that I already owned that I thought would suit her and with a buy two for £7 deal I managed to get together six books to send her way.

Books-Given

Starting with the brand spanking new ones, the ‘Book Swap’ package included:

The Fault in our Starts by John Green

There was a chance that Rebecca may have read this as there is a lot of positive talk about this book at the moment. I’ve not read it myself but it as it comes highly recommended and has a young adult emphasis I thought it would be a good bet.

The Cutting Room by Jilliane Hoffman

I picked this one just because I thought the plot sounded interesting and I was trying to avoid books she may have read before. It looks like there might be a bit of ‘Silence of the Lambs’ vibe going on here and will hopefully fill the crime escapism category.

Poppet by Mo Hayder

I picked this one whilst possessed under the sinister gaze of the rabbit/doll thing on the front cover. It told me that I must buy it or terrible things would happen!

OK, the truth is the blurb on the back was scary and I thought this might be a good cross-over book of our interests; my love of horror, Rebecca’s love for crime, combined into a book of pure insane evil. Lovely!

And now the ones from my own shelves:

The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble

I bought ‘The Red Queen’ years ago and there are some scenes of the Korean Queen’s life that really stuck with me. I thought she might like it as it is the story of two women’s lives in different cultures and times but facing similar feminist challenges and struggles.

The American Boy by Andrew Taylor

This book kept me occupied for an entire holiday break one year. It’s lengthy and I forced myself to read it slowly because I didn’t want it to end. It’s very atmospheric and is the kind of story that leaves you disorientated when you put it down because you could have sworn you were in a Country Manor House in 1819 in the middle of winter instead of in your sunny back garden in 2005. I am not sure if a case could be made that this is ‘literary fiction’ but I think it is along that vein.

The Republic of Trees by Sam Taylor

When Rebecca said in that she liked ‘The Hunger Games’ and young adult and dystopian societies, this mini-dystopia story sprang to mind straight away. When I read it as a teenager it really disturbed me in a ‘Lord of the Flies’ type of way. On one hand it is a captivating book, on the other hand it creeped me out so much I was a little bit glad to be sending it away!

I was pretty happy with my choice of books for Rebecca, I think they were mixed enough that there was a good chance that there would be at least a couple that she will really enjoy.

Then Rebecca’s parcel arrived for me and it felt like Christmas. Before I tell you what books she put in I have to tell you that she sent me a packet of German liquorish as an apology for taking a long time to send it, even though we were both as bad as getting this organised. (We started in January and it too us months to send the parcels because we turned out to be equally forgetful!) Anyway I was really touched by that. Anyone who gives food tends to be a good person in my experience.

But on to the books! Here is what Rebecca sent me along with her reasons for each choice.

Books-received

 

Comfort and Joy by India Knight

This is pure chick lit! It’s set at Christmas so save it til then!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This got a lot of hype last year. It’s an odd book. I don’t regret reading it but I’m not sure I liked it?! She’s a great storyteller and you’ll leave it wondering.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

This is a classic! I love Rebecca and this, such great novels. It’s so dark and gothic. The new TV Version with Jessica Findlay Brown in was really good, watch it if you can!

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

I love Helen Dunmore. She’s a really good author. I like ‘A Spell of Winter’ and although I haven’t read this I hope it’s good!

The Secrets we Left Behind by Susan Elliot-Wright

This was written by a woman who did the same MA I’m doing. Her first novel ‘The Things we Never said’ was her MA submission. Its excellent so I have high hopes this is too! (I bought myself a copy too)

Watching the English by Kate Fox

I bought this as I thought it would fir with your interests in ‘Style and Etiquette’ books. It is fascinating and will make you question your word choices! Do you say couch or sofa? Loo or toilet? What does it mean about your class/identity? It’s really interesting!

Isn’t that a great selection! I am just finishing off the last book in the set now and some reviews will follow shortly.  I can tell you now that I have absolutely loved some of these especially Jamaica Inn, that one just consumed me!

Anyway if this sounds like the kind of thing you would like to do keep your eye on Beth’s blog because she has just launched a summer book swap and it may be that she does more of them in the future. Plus her blog is awesome anyway!

Also if you want to know more about the delightful Rebecca you can see her blog here!

Right I have to go, I still have half of Gone Girl left to read and I just have to find out what happened to Amy!

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