Books to Help You Through Brexit

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Now I know we are all sick to death of Brexit so I wondered what could help us all to weather the inevitable shitshow *ahem* adjustment period that is nearly upon us… and as always, the answer is BOOKS! No, not any of the plethora of highly biased texts that either drone on about MAKING BRITAIN GREAT AGAIN or EVERYONE IS GOING TO HELL IN A HANDCART but some lovely novels that will distract, amuse or come in handy.

So, whatever happens: keep calm, brew some tea and check out my book recommendations!

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Read something to take your mind off it…

If you feel like you see more of Laura Kuenssberg in her lovely pink coat than you do of your immediate family then it’s probably time to turn off the TV and lose yourself in a great book. I recently read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton and it was sooooo addictive I couldn’t put it down. It’s so intricately layered that it should distract you from whatever excruciatingly dull bit of legislative change has been painfully negotiated with the EU. There’s also any number of thrillers out there that would also serve to provide a bit of distraction from the political chaos – my favourites include The Woman in the Window by A.J.Finn and Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.

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Read something funny

If the merest suggestion of the Question Time music raises your blood pressure several millimetres of mercury (no, I didn’t know that was the unit of measurement either) then why not turn that frown upside down with some comedic books instead. I will never stop recommending The Tent, The Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy which is properly laugh-out-loud hilarious or Bad Science by Ben Goldacre which is similarly spit-out-your-tea amusing. Or, if you’re a pervert, there’s always good old Belinda Blinked by Rocky Flinstone – the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno (where Rocky’s son reads out his Dad’s erotic literature to his friends) is incredible and the books are so-bad-they’re-good comedy gold.

Read something boring

If you’re lying down at night with the sound of John Bercow shouting “ORDERRRRR” ringing in your ears and all the sheep you’re trying to count are bleating “will of the peeeeeple” then try reading something boring to get you off to the land of nod. There’s tons of books out there that seem to have been published sans storyline – I personally found Atonement by Ian McEwen extremely dull; ditto The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.

Who Moved My Cheese?

Read something inspiring

Whatever happens with Brexit, change is a-coming and with any change, inevitably, comes opportunity. There are lots of books that can help you to deal with tumultuous situations but a classic (and one I’ve read several times) is Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.

(answer:

a) no-one, because all of the ferry ports are jammed or don’t actually have any ferries/ a usable dock/ terms and conditions that haven’t been stolen from a local takeaway

b) Bloody *choose one* David Cameron/ Theresa May/ Jean-Claude Juncker/ Boris Johnson/ Jeremy Corbyn/ Anna Soubry/ Nigel Farrage/ whoever wrote £350 million on the side of a bus etc.

c) Young people who don’t know what they’re talking about/ old people who don’t know what they’re talking about

d) It hasn’t moved it’s been BANNED by VEGANS

e) IMMIGRANTS

Take your pick depending on how left-wing/right-wing/prejudiced/racist you might be.)

How To Stop Brexit - And Make Britain Great Again

Read (or not) something practical

I hesitate to recommend books that I haven’t yet read, but The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is literally everywhere right now, looks like an amazing read and judging by the sheer size of the thing could also come in handy as a weapon, should things take a turn for the worse in your local Wetherspoons.

Also, I see Nick Clegg has published a long-awaited book called (I’m not kidding) “How to Stop Brexit and Make Britain Great Again” which looks like it could have a variety of uses – TV prop, cat litter tray liner, kindling… obviously I’m joking, I haven’t read it but I thought it was a bit rich coming from a man who couldn’t even deliver his key election pledge!

 

So, what will you be reading over the next few weeks? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

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Genre: Fantasy

Similar to: Well, it’s a retelling, so…

Could be enjoyed by: Greek myth nerds (there seems to be a lot of you out there)

Publication date: 10th April 2018

 

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #15 Read a book of mythology or folklore

These are my uneducated thoughts on Greek Myths:

The Minotaur (big scary sheep thing that lives in a maze)… Poseidon (was he in the Little Mermaid? God of the sea, held a big fork)… Morpheus (know him from Neil Gaiman’s  Sandman)… the muses (Salma Hayek in Dogma). Ummmm…

So, I’m probably not the ideal target audience for a Greek myth retelling.

HOWEVER

If you’re like me, don’t be put off from reading Circe. Sure, it would have added to my reading experience if I’d been familiar with some of the characters who popped up in the book (I occasionally had trouble keeping track of who was who – Telemachus and Telegonus, come on…) but it’s a great book nevertheless.

Circe is a kind of neglected middle child (despite being first-born), standing in the shadows of her cleverer, more beautiful siblings. After a few hundred years of largely avoiding her family, being ignored and low-key bullied in her father Helios’ halls, she engages in a spot of rule breaking, gets herself banished to a remote island and starts working on finding her own power. After several mortal lifetimes worth of quietly observing the Gods, Circe realises that it is their vanity, their deceptions and their dismissal of her as nothing more than an irritating child that she can use to her advantage. She explores the land that will hold her captive and uses her infinite exile to enhance her burgeoning skills in witchcraft, finding her power in the lowly domestic setting to which she has been relegated. Along the way, Circe encounters a range of other Gods and powerful mortals, plays them at their own games and forges a life for herself, despite their incessant power plays.

I loved seeing Circe coming into her own. At first, she’s a clueless child, quietly trying to fit in with the other Gods and desperate to find her place within the family. Very slowly, she begins to wake up to her family’s scheming ways and starts to question their behaviour. But it’s her discovery of witchcraft that really sees Circe finally obtain some power. As a gardening nerd I was familiar with many of the plants that she used in her potions and was pleased to see the level of research that Madeline Miller had put into discovering their natural properties.

I was really pleased to see a female protagonist who wasn’t perfect – despite being a Goddess Circe was seen by the Gods as ugly, with a high thin voice and very little power. I loved seeing her find her strength in areas other than her looks and forging ahead with her own plans. However, I did find that the middle of the book rambled a bit. I felt like there was a very loose narrative arc and honestly, in some places I got a bit bored. But then the storyline picked back up and I was a happy little reader again.

Overall, I really enjoyed Circe. I loved the beautifully written prose, the flawed main character and the cleverly interwoven myths. I just wish she had found something more interesting to do than have a casual love affair for 100 pages!

Four “THAT’S why it’s called Hermes!” out of five.

Epic, meticulously researched fantasy. Highly recommended!

 

Mid Month Mini-Reviews – March

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Hello bookworms!

Due to the success of my last post, I’m going to keep going with a few more mini-reviews. Look, I even made a graphic! I had no idea how fun these things were to write so I think they might become a monthly feature. Woo hoo! No more trying to drag out interesting comments about dull 2.5 star books.

Today, I’m focusing on clearing out some of my NetGalley backlog, Marie Kondo style. That “older than three months” tab does not spark joy.

 

Golden State by Ben H. Winters

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I quite liked this book – it was proper old-fashioned science fiction along the lines of Philip K. Dick and reminded me very much of Minority Report. The story centered around Lazlo Ratesic, a citizen of the Golden State and member of the Speculative Service whose job it was to enforce the Objectively So: the criminal offense of lying. The upholding of the truth requires Lazlo’s special sixth sense combined with the constant surveillance of all Golden State citizens but absolute power corrupts absolutely and when he stumbles across previously unknown truths, his reality unravels.

I really enjoyed the Big Brother overtones within the novel and it was interesting to read from the point of view of the enforcers, not the average dissenting citizen. The world building was great, very cohesive for such a bold idea and held together well. I enjoyed the questions that the book raised around morality – is it possible to be completely honest all of the time? Is freedom always such a good thing or should we appreciate the use of CCTV etc. as a protectionist measure? However, as the book went on it became a bit absurd, then a lot absurd, then descended into an ending that came so far out of left field that it could have belonged to another novel entirely. Still, I enjoyed the majority of the book very much so I gave it:

Three and a half “is honesty always the best policy?” out of five.

 

Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett

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I have to say that I really, really tried with this book but unfortunately I had to DNF it at 60% (see, I told you I gave it a good go). It’s well written but, frankly, dull. Cass is  a singer-songwriter re-launching her career after years of shying away from the public and the book flips between her life now and her back story. I initially enjoyed reading about Cass’ early life and relationship with her family but as the book progressed I felt like the action was sorely missing. Cass has a horrible relationship with her jealous boyfriend (another member of the band) but this point is so laboured and the endless chapters about yet another gig, yet another argument, yet another London flat were so repetitive and dull that I lost interest.

I feel like there’s a good story within the novel but to stretch it out over 400 pages was too much for me. When my Kindle estimated that it would still take over three hours for me to finish I made the decision that life was too short and gave up on it.

Two “MY GOD WHEN WILL IT END” out of five.

 

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

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This book is a collection of personal essays focusing on a number of taboo subjects – the alcohol addiction of Emilie Pine’s father, her own problems with fertility, the loss of children, of miscarriage, of regret and death and guilt. Whilst the book is brutally honest, it’s just… a lot. That doesn’t make it bad exactly but it does make it a difficult read. Everything is laid bare in quite a matter-of-fact way and whilst I was glad that Pine never wallowed in self-pity it was the lack of personal reflection that left me feeling a little cold. I struggled to get a handle on who she was and her lack of empathy for others or consideration of the wider issues that impacted upon her life meant that in turn I struggled to empathise with her.

Whilst I wouldn’t say that this book was enjoyable, it was a powerful read containing beautifully written prose. I appreciated the honesty of the author in tackling such difficult subjects but I struggled to connect emotionally.

Three “check your privilege” out of five

 

So, have you read any of these books? Is 60% a ridiculously long way into a book before DNFing it? Let me know in the comments!

 

Sorting Out the Shelves #4

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Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of sorting out the shelves! Today, I’m looking at my “popular” books from the 90’s/00’s

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(I imagine this is how I would look if I won some kind of popularity contest)

So, lets begin by looking at some of the most popular books of all time and then move on to some pop psychology/sociology…

It’s time for Own or Re-Home!

Own

Harry Potter. Need I say more?

You might recognise these covers…

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I have a complete set of the paperback versions of the HP books, some of which are first editions (but worth precisely zilch because the print run will have been so huge). This took supreme effort from me – when the final book was released I waited a whole year to read the paperback so that I didn’t mess up my bookshelves with a random hardback. They take pride of place in the middle of my bookshelves along with some other HP paraphernalia (like my picture of me on a broomstick flying over Hogwarts). I love these books so much that I’ll never part with them.

Re-home

A selection of pop psychology/sociology/anthropology mostly written by TV media types…

It was just a phase…

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I still love books that teach me about other cultures (including my own) or people, especially if they’re written in a humorous way. There seemed to be loads of them out in the mid 2000’s  – I bought most of these for my train journey to and from work from WHSmiths on New Street Station. However, as interesting as they were I don’t treasure them or feel like I’ll ever return to reading them again (I can still pretty much remember what they said) so off to the library used bookshop they go!

Do you have a selection of similar books from a specific period in your life? Do you have any bookish phases that you’ve been through? What do your Harry Potter books look like? Let me know in the comments!

 

The A-Z of Me Part Two

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So, we previously looked at The A-Z of Me Part One – lets take a look at what the rest of the alphabet says about me!

 

N is for National Trust

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I’m a member of The National Trust and a passionate supporter of British heritage. I love visiting historic houses, especially if they have nice gardens. We try to visit somewhere once a month to really get the most of our membership.

O is for Organic Fruit and Veg

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I grow my own vegetables organically – the picture above is last year’s strawberry patch (every flower will turn into a fruit). I grow everything from soft fruit to root vegetables and I always try something new – 2019 is the year I try cucamelons!

P is for Police Force

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I used to work for British Transport Police in their HR team. I learnt so much and met some fantastic people. It also gave me a real appreciation of the police force, especially with regards their commitment to equality and diversity.

Q is for Quidditch

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I am a self-professed Harry potter nerd – here’s a photo of me flying on a broomstick on the HP Warner Bros Studio Tour. I love everything about the books and will forever be Team Slytherin.

R is for Reading, obviously

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I have always been a bookworm and love reading, talking about books, blogging about books, buying books, smelling books… above are some of my Virago Modern Classic Designer Collection which are my all time faves – fabulous stories and just so, so pretty!

S is for Silverstone

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We go to Silverstone every year to watch the British Grand Prix (that’s Formula One car racing to the uninitiated). Obviously we support Lewis Hamilton but I also have a soft spot for Kimi Raikonnen and I think Max Verstappen is going to be a future champion – he’s so exciting to watch!

T is for Tortoises

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Awwww! These are my pet torts Tabitha (the big one) and Voldetort (the baby). Contrary to what you see in the photo, they have a lifelong feud and will attack each other if we let them get too close. We keep them in separate pens where they silently plot their revenge from afar.

U is for Unemployable

Since giving up on my career in HR I’ve done bits and bobs but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m basically unemployable by big companies. Self-employment is definitely the way forwards for me.

V is for Vintage

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I love anything vintage and will happily dress up in 1940’s/50’s clothing. This is me and my best friend Juliet on our way to a burlesque night a few years ago. I also love vintage interiors and would much rather buy old furniture/ornaments than new stuff.

W is for West Midlands

I live in the West Midlands in Coventry, which is the City of Culture 2021. I am genuinely excited to see what Cov can pull out of the bag after years of under-funding and decline (the Special’s song Ghost Town was written about us for a reason!)

X is for X-Ray

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This is me in my roller derby gear, a few months before I broke two bones in my leg and snapped my ankle bone off on either side of my foot. I’d love to say I did this performing an apex jump but in reality I just slipped. So now my leg has two metal plates, a big bolt through my ankle and a load of pins holding it all together.

Y is for Yoga

Since stopping roller derby I took up the safer option of yoga and absolutely love it! Just 20 minutes in the morning is enough to really make a difference and although I do it in fits and starts it never takes long to get back into it.

Z is for ZZZZZZ’s

Oh my gosh I love sleep! Nine hours if I can get it but I struggle to function on anything less than eight. Once asleep I’m dead to the world and can nod off anywhere – including once when I was in the middle of an assessment centre!

So, that’s the A-Z of me! Can any of you relate? Would you like to write one of these posts too? Let me know in the comments!

 

The A-Z of Me Part One

Hello Bookworms!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I saw this great little post on Dave@espressococo‘s blog and thought that it would be really fun to try! I love a good getting to know you post, so let’s see what the letters A to M say about me!

A is for Antiques

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I love antiques and I’ve been collecting them for a few years now. In particular, I like objects from the arts and crafts movement, like this copper jardiniere.

B is for Blogging

Well, obviously! I’ve been blogging for three years now and my little corner of the internet remains small but perfectly formed (well, as perfect as I can make it anyway).

C is for Comedy

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I love seeing comedy live – I usually go to a few gigs per year. Favourite comedians include Sara Pascoe, Jon Richradson, Hannah Gadsby and Rachel Parris – I saw Jon last year for the third time and I’m hoping to see the others soon.

D is for DIY

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I love DIY and I’m currently refurbishing a house with my partner. I’ve learnt loads of new skills and so far I’m still enjoying the process, even though it’s gone on for a lot longer than expected.

E is for Eating

Who doesn’t love eating? I really enjoy cooking my own food and have been known to whip up some tasty treats, such a lemon meringue pie from scratch (including the lemon curd) and I always do a big Sunday roast for me and the non-hubs.

F is for Feminism

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I’m a feminist and proud! I listen to lots of feminist podcasts, like The Guilty Feminist, Standard Issue and even good old Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 (which is way more radical than you’d think!) I became interested in the movement after reading Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Girl, which is an incredible book that everyone should read.

G is for Gardening

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If there’s one thing that gives me almost as much pleasure as reading it’s gardening. It all started when I met my boyfriend (who is a plant scientist) and he basically roped me into helping him sort his garden out after having the kitchen extended. I got completely hooked, to the point where I now grow most of my own veg on my own allotment. It’s hard work but so, so enjoyable.

H is for Human Resources

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I have an MA in Human Resource Management, as well as a degree in Business and membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development. Despite all this, I gave up my career because…well… I hated it! If you have a HR team in your workplace, please be nice to them. It can be a pretty thankless job dealing with people’s problems day in and day out.

I is for Injury

My leg is mostly made of metal having broken it in four separate places. Some of the pins in my ankle stick out a bit and you can feel the plates in my leg (weirdly it’s made my leg thinner, so now my calves are different sizes). I also have a pretty cool scar!

J is for Jaguar

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We have an old Jaguar car that we take out a few times a year to shows and events (or just to show off if we’re going to a wedding lol). I don’t really get it but the non-hubs loves it and our house is full of his Jaguar tat memorabilia.

K is for Knitting

I love making things and knitting is one of those hobbies that I intermittently try my hand at. I’m still at beginner level but I’ve made so pretty nice things, including a lace knit scarf and an old-fashioned tea cozy for a friend. My long term goal is to knit an advent calendar – I’m thinking 25 individual mini-stockings that I can string up like bunting and fill with chocolates/sweets/tiny presents.

L is for Library

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I’m a library volunteer for one of my local libraries (since the council completely cut all funding) which is really, really fun. I recently mentioned online that I’m on the lookout for donations of books (used or new) to help replenish out stock, or possibly be sold in our used giftshop and people have been so kind – it’s really restored my faith in humanity!

M is for Music

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I love music, especially weird indie-pop, 80’s and 90’s stuff, rock, metal, death metal… and Kate Bush. I collect vinyl records too and I’m always mooching about in charity shops and record fairs.

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So, that’s the first part of the A-Z of me! Do we have any hobbies or interests in common? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for part two – coming soon!

 

Review – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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Genre: Complicated Murder Mystery

Similar to: A gothic version of “Clue”

Could be enjoyed by: Anyone who really wants something to sink their teeth into

Publication date: 8th February 2018

 

Picture the scene…

Publisher (P): Ok, tell me about this idea that you have for a book

Stuart Turton (ST): Well, it’s a Victorian murder mystery. It’s set in a crumbling gothic mansion where there’s a party taking place and the reader knows that one of the guests is the killer.

P: Pretty standard stuff.

ST: Weeeeellll… not really. I added a twist.

P: What kind of twist?

ST: The same day gets lived out over and over again, so that the reader gets to see the murder from different angles.

P: How?

ST: Well, for each day that passes, the protagonist wakes up in a different body.

P: Riiiiggghht…

ST: So they collect information from each of their host bodies.

P: Ok. That sounds a bit complicated, but as long as it’s a linear progression…

ST: It’s not a linear progression.

P: But you said…

ST: Each time one of the hosts goes to sleep, or gets knocked out, or killed, the protagonist jumps to a different host. So the timeline kind of moves back and forth.

P: But no-one knows about the hosts, so doing things out of sequence…

ST: No, there’s other characters who are stuck in the same time loop.

P: And presumably they have different host bodies too?

ST: No, I wouldn’t want to make it complicated.

P: Hmmm.

ST: Of course, the hosts know about the hosts so they can give each other information. Oh, and did I mention the plague doctor? And the footman? He’s trying to murder the protagonist by hunting him down. And when I said this was a murder mystery… there’s more than one murder. A lot more. And when I said the same day gets lived out, the hosts do have the ability to alter the timeline for future hosts.

Are you still with me?

P:…

ST…

P: You’d have to a genius to write something that complicated.

ST: BEHOLD MY GENIUS!!!

P: Ok, well as long as you don’t give it a confusing title…

So yes, anyway…

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (not to be confused with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo which is an entirely different book, or The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle which is the same book but with a different title for US audiences) is complicated. As someone who regularly reads multiple books at once, even I had to dedicate myself solely to the novel, reading it in big chunks over a period of a few days (otherwise I kept forgetting who everyone was). Its genius is it’s intricacy though, pulling you into a web of lies, betrayal and secrets that reveal themselves slowly – sometimes even frustratingly slowly – to finally build a picture of the truth.

I loved how the book was written – the sheer scope of the thing, the numerous characters, the plotline that took so many twists and turns I had virtual whiplash. I loved the gothic sensibilities, the utterly unreliable cast of characters and the sense of tension that started on the first page and built momentum as the book progressed. I was utterly engrossed…for about 80% of the novel.

You see, whilst it would be completely honest to say that I got lost in the book, I literally mean that I got lost. The book is so complex, the storyline so fragmented and the characters so unreliable that any sense of playing detective as a reader was utterly pointless. To me, the whole point of a mystery book is to try to work out what’s going on before you’re told by picking up on the clues and red herrings scattered throughout the text. There was none of that here. Even if I wrote the ending here now it wouldn’t make the blindest bit of difference because not in a million years would you get anywhere close to being able to work it out.

I think that part of the problem was the idea of inhabiting different hosts (all male, all seemingly middle class/upper working class) with little knowledge or memories of who the host actually was. That meant that the protagonist was endlessly jumping between bodies who all seemed pretty similar, but who all had predefined parts to play. You had no idea of what each host knew, where their loyalties lay or even what their relationships were with other characters. Add to that the few breadcrumbs of plot that jumped out as clues/things to remember and it was all just a bit too much. So by the time I was nearing the ending, I realised that I didn’t have any theories as to what might happen and I was passively watching the action.

Ending notwithstanding, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an incredible, absorbing book. I loved how engrossed I became in it, how inventive and original the storyline was and joyously, unashamedly complicated it became. I would have loved a few more clues, a viable chance at guessing the ending and an easier way of telling the characters apart but I still give it:

Four and a half “not a single non-alcoholic drink throughout”s out of five..

Inventive, original and complex – make sure you keep a notebook handy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calendar Girls March: Favourite Book With a Strong Female Lead

Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of the Calendar Girls!

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Calendar Girls was a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books and Flavia the Bibliophile and will now be hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favourite book from the theme and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post.

So without further ado, this month’s theme is…

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…and my top pick is…

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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Skyward is the story of Spensa who lives on the planet Detritus, which, as the name suggests, is a junk planet abandoned by it’s previous inhabitants. She was born there to a family who were crew members on a fleet of spacecraft that crash landed on the planet following a battle with their enemies, the Krell aliens. The survivors created a subterranean world for themselves but faced aeriel attacks from the Krell. They began building spaceships to fight back and as the daughter of a previously disgraced pilot, all that Spensa wants is to sign up to fight. Those in charge, however, have other ideas.

Unusually for a sci-fi novel (especially one written by a man) the book is pretty female centric and I loved that the female representation was just…there. There was no political point, no-one in the story told Spensa she couldn’t be a pilot because she was a girl – indeed, the head of the defensive federation is a woman and the pilots seemed to be a 50/50 mix of men and women. The book could do easily have gone down the Handmaid’s Tale route, forcing women to keep popping out babies in order to ensure the survival of a small population against a vast number of enemies but Sanderson clearly chose to make Spensa his rebellious MC for reasons other than her gender. I personally found this a refreshing change (and I say that as a feminist – I just think that trope has been done too many times).

I also really, really loved the fact that there was no bloody romance taking up space in the life of a girl who simply wanted to kill space aliens and avenge the death of her father. It was soooo great not to have to deal with cringey teenage attempts at flirting, although I suspect there might be some of that coming in the next instalment *sigh*.

Overall, I loved Skyward from the first sentence to the last. Some parts should have been boring (protracted battle flights filled with technical detail, endless comments about mushrooms) yet somehow Sanderson absolutely nailed it.

Have you read Skyward? Do you enjoy books with strong female leads? Let me know in the comments! 

 

TL;DR February Review

Hello Bookworms!

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Welcome to spring! Considering I started last month’s review with the word snow, this month has been positively balmy. The bulbs are flowering, the tortoises are wandering around eating everything in sight and we haven’t had the heating on in weeks. I even saw my neighbour going out in shorts and a t-shirt!

February was my birthday month so I went out a fair bit – I even went out out to a nightclub! I felt very old and had a two-day hangover so I’m not doing that again. I also had a few nice meals out and used my National Trust membership to go to Upton House and Gardens where we had fun looking at the renaissance artwork collection, especially as there were some hilarious kids asking brilliant questions like “what’s God?” and “is that a cat?” (It was the 12 apostles) 😂😂😂

Due to my birthday/valentines/hangovers we haven’t done too much to the house – I can’t reach a corner of the ceiling even on ladders so my progress has been somewhat thwarted. Once the non-hubs pulls his finger out and finishes it off for me we’ll be back on track.

I also have some excellent bookish news – I’m going to be a library volunteer! I have mixed feelings about the role – obviously I’m not a librarian and it’s a shame that the local residents are going to receive a reduced service due to our lack of expertise (it’ll be entirely volunteer run) but I’m excited about the opportunity and it’ll keep the place going which I guess is the most important thing.

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I’m still doing well with the 2019 Read Harder Challenge but I’ve fallen behind a bit with my Chapter-a-Day Read-Along – oops. I’ll have to try extra hard in March to get back on track.

This month, I took part in the February Calendar Girls meme where I chose Lullaby by Leila Slimani as my favourite book by a black author. I continued Sorting Out the Shelves, I took part in the Unpopular Opinions Tag and I also did a Valentine’s day post recommending books that feature different types of love.

I posted six reviews (and also some mini reviews!) this month:

The Martian by Andy Weir: Just fantastic, I loved everything about this brilliantly entertaining book – except for the gardening advice! 🌟Five out of five🌟

Lullaby by Leila Slimani: A brilliantly twisted, disturbing novel that kept me engrossed from the first page to the last. Great stuff! Four out of five.

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen: Unexpectedly great, I really enjoyed this super fun, quirky book. A great easy read. Four out of five. 

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens and Siobhan Dowd: This was such a lovely middle grade read, really fun and with great autism representation. Four out of five.

The Never Dawn by R. E. Palmer: Intriguing and engrossing but I had a few issues with pacing and I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Three and a half out of five. 

The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan: Again, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novella but I was pleasantly surprised by the great writing. If you’re a romance fan I’d definitely check this one out! Three out of five.

So that’s February wrapped up! Do you feel like spring is here? Did you have a good Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments!

 

Review: The Never Dawn by R. E. Palmer

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Genre: Dystopian sci-fi, YA

Similar to: The Hunger Games mixed with 1984

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of creepy dystopian fiction with a YA feel

Publication date: 5th August 2016

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #9 Read a book published prior to 1st January 2019 with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads.

*Disclaimer: I was approached by the author who gave me a free e-copy of his novel in exchange for an honest review*

Noah lives on the Arc – but not that one. This Noah is stuck in some kind of Orwellian nightmare, where the Arc is actually some kind of vast underground bunker which houses both the factory where he works and his sleeping quarters. Noah has to spend his days in servitude to the omnipresent Mother, toiling away at his menial job in preperation for the promised New Dawn – the day that his people can walk free again upon the Earth. However, Noah begins to notice certain…inconsistencies with Mother’s doctrine. When he meets Rebekah, Noah learns that there’s more going on than he could have ever dreamed possible and together, they attempt to discover the full truth.

The Never Dawn is a very atmospheric book. The world of the Arc is depicted in minute detail and the daily tasks that the workers have to carry out are written about extremely thoroughly. The writing evokes the sheer level of drudgery that Noah and his friends have to go through every day – however, that’s at the expense of the pacing of the storyline. Some parts of the book are quite laborious to get through and I did get a bit bored in the earlier stages of the text.

There are obvious religious themes at play within the novel and I felt that this added to the creepiness and sense of unease that builds as the story goes along. There are quite a lot of odd things left unsaid for the reader to pick up on – the changing reports about the situation on the surface, the lack of adults, the degree of control that Mother had over the worker’s daily lives. As an innocent character, Noah was utterly naive to his surroundings which felt completely authentic and also gave me as a reader the ability to start to form my own opinions about what was really going on.

As the book went on, the tension built beautifully and I had some genuine heart-in-mouth moments where certain rules were being broken. I was utterly on Noah’s side and despite the book being set in a tiny microcosm I liked the way that this added to the sense of claustrophobia.

The ending was something that I struggled with, however. I really couldn’t visualise the situation that the character’s found themselves in – for once the descriptions of the scenery were somewhat lacking. It’s a shame because up until that point I’d been enjoying myself but I couldn’t quite immerse myself in the final scenes.

Despite this, I liked The Never Dawn and would be interested to see what happens in the next instalment.

Three and a half “Who built the Arc… NOAH, NOAH”s out of five.

Intriguing and exciting but with a few issues around pacing and world building.

 


Thank you once again to the author for giving me a free copy of The Never Dawn.