April 2018

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I started this month with a cheeky Easter holiday which always means lots of reading.  It’s also funny how much reading you do when you don’t have anything to Netflix binge! There were some great reads for me this month, so here’s what I thought of them all.

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K. Rowling)
  • The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
  • The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner*
  • Nasty Women by 404 Ink
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Everyone should read this book, and by everyone, I mean white people. Yes, it is America-centric but the themes reflect the long-standing impact on racism across the world. Obviously, this was not the intention of the author, but as I was reading it I was quite ashamed of my race’s actions. I see myself as an ally to people of colour in their fight against racism, but reading this book made me painfully aware of the impact of underlying (and very obvious) racism has on young people of colour. It helped me to get closer to appreciating what people of colour go through, even in a society that, from the top layer, looks like it’s come a long way in terms of race equality.

Starr and her family felt homely when I was reading this. Most importantly, it showed me that so many different people experience different lives from my own. If you love young adult, and you want to broaden your mind, this is for you. Fantastic piece of fiction, social commentary and entertainment. Well done, Angie Thomas.


Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K. Rowling)

“Madam Pince, our librarian, tells me that it is ‘pawed about, dribbled on, and generally maltreated’ nearly everyday – a high compliment for any book.” 

⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s hard to go a month without dipping back into the wizarding world of Harry Potter. This time I went for a small book I’d never actually read before. I decided to get this one on Audible because it was newly released and read by Andrew Lincoln and I needed company one day walking home from work.

Look, I only gave it three stars because it wasn’t exactly written to wow. It’s a nice read, enjoyable enough, but there’s no depth to it and it didn’t match up to some of the other short Harry Potter books I’ve read. As always, J.K. Rowling’s witty style livened up the pages with colour, and it was a nice accompaniment to my walk home, but I wouldn’t have been missing out if I’d not read it.


The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

“On the outside, grief was expressed in judders, faltering and unsure, but inside it felt as constant as breathing.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have to make it clear from the outset that this is the second time I’ve read this, and it’s my favourite new fiction book. I love the world that Kirsty Logan has weaved together to create this beautiful and enchanting story about a circus boat, a girl and her bear, and an outsider looking for forgiveness.

Despite my five star rating, it’s not perfect. I found some of the scenes hard to picture in my mind how she must have, but I just went with what I came up with. But this didn’t matter to me, if anything it made it more magical because it felt more personal and I felt a part of the story.

Sometimes, fiction books are great, but they don’t truly envoke the skill of storytelling. The Gracekeepers is the exact opposite. This is storytelling at it’s best, and if you like a complex set of characters set in a fantasy (but familiar) world, then hop off to the bookshop and pick up a copy of this.


The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner*

“The trouble with San Francisco was that I could never have a future in that city, only a past.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was so torn about my rating for this one. Shall we meet in the middle and say 3.5 stars?

What I loved about this book, was it’s deep analysis and criticism of mass incarceration, particular with reference to the USA but the themes are familiar here in the UK too. This was one of those books that perfectly fills the role of fiction as a commentary on society and is definitely worth a read.

However, the book is written with chapters focussing on a certain character at the time, and one particular character I just didn’t understand the point of having there. Which meant that every time (not often but still) the chapter focussed on him, I either put the book down because I wasn’t interested or tried to rush through it to the next chapter.

All-in-all though, if you enjoy the kind of fiction that challenges the world and makes you seriously think about the issues we face in society, then you will definitely enjoy this. It was well written, and I’m without-a-doubt glad that I picked it up.


Nasty Women by 404 Ink

“There are so many rules that come with being a girl that you forget sometimes that these rules are fictitious patriarchal bullshit.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t really know how to feel about this. I read it in audiobook form and it took me ages to finish. On the one hand, it was handy to be able to just dip into each different chapter/essay for 10-20 mins and then pick it back up two weeks later, but it struggled with the flow.

Although, undoubtedly, this is an eye-opening read. What I loved most about it, and why it’s received four stars from me, is it’s commitment to diversity of voices. Feminism is not feminism without intersectionality, and I really learned a lot about other women’s experiences. This book definitely deserves a place on the to-read shelf of any woman committed to gender equality.


Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“If she thinks me drinking coffee is big news, it’s going to be quite a fucking morning.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

YES. YES. YES. YES. We should all know by now that I love a good young adult. They’re easy and quick to read and full of real characters and real emotion, and this one was SPOT ON.

I knew I wanted to see this film, but it’s practically a cardinal sin to watch an adapted film before reading the book first. So I knuckled down and oh, my, am I glad I did. I think my favourite thing about this book, was Simon’s family. I loved them, they were so real and loving and awesome. Often in YA you get parents who are controlling or annoying in because it’s not cool to be friends with your parents when you’re a teen, so this was such a breath of fresh air.

But let’s not forget the most important thing about this book. It told a story about real teenagers and one particular boy’s understanding of sexuality. And at the end of the day, this was a love story. It was so true to teen feelings and I almost felt transported back to my days in high school fawning over my most recent crush. Becky Albertalli really is talented with this genre. Not a book to be missed.


So there you have it, April’s reads all tied up! I was quite sad when I came to the end of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda because when you read such a fantastic book, I always think that my next one will never live up to it. But I’m sure that won’t be the case, and tune back in next month for lots more excellent reads. In the meantime keep up to date with where I’m escaping to on Goodreads and Instagram.

Happy reading. 💕📚


*Please note that this was a review copy given to me free-of-charge by the publisher.

March 2018

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Happy Spring! Ish… I’m a winter girl 90% of the time but I do confess I’m looking forward to being able to go outside with just a cardigan on! The best part is that each season has its own special impact on reading and spring brings with it Easter free time and spring days of outdoor reading. But until the weather improves, I’ll be snuggled up under a blanket with my current read. These are the books I read in March:

  • Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
  • Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
  • Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

“but in that empty, measureless space our sense of time also suffers, and we daze in the disorienting shapelessness.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had to read this as part of my course and to be honest, my reading list for this module hasn’t thrilled me so this is the only one I’ve completely finished! I did enjoy it, but I’m not a huge fan of books where the plot is a little feeble.

The story is about a writer who travels to Venice because he’s suffering writer block and the plot revolves around his experience while staying at the hotel alongside other guests. It’s fair to say that some of this book is uncomfortable because he clearly has *inappropriate* feelings towards a young boy. However, that being said, a lot of books have questionable characters in and you can still enjoy them.

Look, it’s not exactly a contemporary page turner but it’s a decent modernist piece. If that’s your kind of thing then I’m sure it’ll please you.


Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

“It suggested that doing the right thing was a lot more complicated than she’d thought it was”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Love, love, love this book. I’m not a historical fiction fan but the themes of this young adult novel made me forgo my usual thinking and jump right in. Not only was this a brilliant story based on the suffrage movement, but I also appreciated the LGBT characters and the issues of social class in relationships.

It’s kind of surprising that more fiction books aren’t written about the suffrage movement, especially younger fiction. It’s a great way to get kids interested in women’s history. The only thing I would say is that there was a far bigger focus on WWI than I expected before starting the book. That’s not necessarily a negative, it was still a great book, but the suffrage movement was only the main focus of the first half of the book.

Simply, this was a fun and easy read and I’d recommend it highly!


Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

“She knew—it was her job as a teacher of history to know—how many horrors are legitimated in public daylight, against the will of most of the people.” 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was so excited about this book that I pre-ordered it! Set in present-day future (ish) Oregon just after abortion is criminalised nationally, along with IVF and adoption for anyone other than couples.

What is scary, is that this isn’t really a dystopia because it’s legitimately a possibility. Leni Zumas wrote creatively and really tested what it means to be a woman in the western world. What I loved was how she wove a story which emphasised the importance of bodily autonomy on women’s general freedom and choice.

The chapters focussing on the mender were a little bizarre at times but I understand that reflected the character. If you’re interested in feminist literature, political fiction or dystopia then this book is spot on. Read it!


Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

“The point is—as far as the Society is concerned—if you are not honest, and determined, and brave, then it doesn’t matter how talented you are.” 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

PSA: READ THIS BOOK. Some are comparing it to Harry Potter, and I’m not sure I would do that because to be honest, that’s impossible to live up to, but I will say that this series will be a huge success.

Morrigan Crow, a cursed child, manages to evade death and get a space in the trials for a coveted school. She’s a highly likable character and I really rooted for her. Each character has their unique features making them super readable. This is one of those books that suffered from being pigeon-holed into an age group – it’s a brilliant read for kids, teens and adults alike and all should read it.

Magic, giant talking cats and traveling via umbrella – what’s not to love?


What a month! I got lucky with some excellent reads this month, so April has a lot to live up to. See you next month, and as always keep up to date with where I’m escaping to on my Goodreads profileTwitterInstagram and Facebook Page.

Happy reading. 💕📚

February 2018

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In February, I welcomed in my 25th year of being! Now I’m 24 and officially in my mid-twenties, I couldn’t be happier looking ahead and seeing wonderful books in my future! I’ve really found my *love* and it’s so much fun sharing it with you. So here are my February book reviews:

  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
  • Artemis by Andy Weir

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus 

“I know what it’s like to tell yourself a lie so often that it becomes the truth.” 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. I do like the occasional ‘who-dun-it’ style book, but I tend to find them a little disappointing because the culprit never seems to be enough after a whole book a speculating. I didn’t feel like this with One of Us Is Lying. Plus, we all know by now that I have a real soft spot for Young Adult!

The characters were pigeon-holed into their cliques at the beginning and the drama of the novel shows the reader that there is always more to a person than any label that has been placed upon them. I think the book also serves as a timely reminder that you never know what’s going on in a person’s life, so don’t always jump to conclusions.


Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

“There were no reasons so mighty that they could override the desire to be in accord with the tides and the passage of seasons and the rhythms underlying everything around me.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Who hasn’t heard of this by now? Well before I knew it was being turned into a film by Netflix, I saw the trilogy featured on a table in the sci-fi section of a bookshop and they coloured me intrigued. I plunged into the first one and didn’t regret it.

It’s a strange one because I normally hate it when all my questions aren’t answered but this wasn’t the case here. The story worked and felt neat. It’s always refreshing to have a book full of women just being people, rather than being defined by their gender so that was a real plus. I do plan to read the other two in the trilogy at some point, but I didn’t feel the need to drive straight into the second one – take that as a good or bad thing depending on your reading style.

Nicely written novella and perfect for a sci-fi lover or someone who likes an odd dip into the genre.


Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

“You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was so confusing for me! I really couldn’t decide how I felt about it. Look, from one side it was great. I love a book that can explain the ingrained patriarchy in our society, and there were moments of brilliance to it. It’s formed of two speeches made by Mary Beard so it’s not long, but I can imagine they were good lectures.

However, here’s the stick: it wreaked of white middle-class feminism. I can’t speak on behalf of other races but as a working-class woman who was one of the first in my family to go to University, it felt a bit elitist. I know she’s a professor and that’s what these lectures were all about, but the book doesn’t contribute to the intersectional feminist movement as I thought it might. Ultimately, for me, the message was fogged by this. There are better examples of feminist literature that don’t fall into these traps.


Artemis by Andy Weir

“How dare you call me lazy? I’d come up with a scathing retort but, meh, I’m just not motivated.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was really torn between 3 or 4 stars but went for the lower because of a couple of reasons.

Firstly, this is a really enjoyable book. I did like it. As with The Martian, the mix of science, humour and painfully relatable human experience worked very well and if you enjoyed Weir’s first novel, you’re likely to get along well with this one.

But it wasn’t perfect or as good as The Martian. My main problem was that every so often, the main character, Jazz, just didn’t seem believable. Maybe this was because she was written by a man, but her quips and jokes sometimes seemed forced and kinda cringe. It was a shame that because of this, the story had a tinge of ‘hmm’ to it.


Thanks again for reading! I’m hoping eventually to catch up properly with my book reviews but as always, life can sometimes get in the way! Until next month, keep up to date with where I’m escaping to on my Goodreads profileTwitterInstagram and Facebook Page.

Happy reading. 💕📚

January 2018

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Welcome to 2018! My reading target for the year is 50 books so I really set the bar high! There are so many different books I want to read, that if I have any hope of doing so then I need to crack on. Here’s my first set of reviews for 2018:

  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Autumn by Ali Smith
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Radleys by Matt Haig
  • Not in Your Genes by Oliver James

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Short, sweet and to the point. I loved We Should All Be Feminists and I loved this one too. This is especially important I think, because I always wonder how I can raise a boy or a girl without allowing our culture’s ingrained sexism and misogyny to influence them. But the most important thing is that they know they aren’t judged and they can do anything that they want to do – it’s about choice.

I haven’t read any of Chimamanda’s fiction work – would anyone recommend it? If her feminist manifestos are anything to go by, then they must be brilliant.


Autumn by Ali Smith

“I’m tired of the news. I’m tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren’t, and deals so simplistically with what’s truly appalling.

⭐️

Controversial rating and opinion on this best seller. What on Earth was this book? I didn’t get it at all. Nothing even happened…

It was sold as a ‘Brexit book’ when Brexit was only mentioned a handful of times. Who knows, maybe I’m missing something but I thought it was pretty poor and I had to force myself to finish it. I was really disappointed considering all the rave reviews but I genuinely can’t see what everyone loved about it.

Also, it was the only book that I’ve actually fallen asleep while reading. Sorry Ali Smith fans, but this wasn’t worth the time.


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A great example of a classic novel which has been on my to-read shelf for ages and when I finally got around to reading it, I questioned why on earth it took me so long.

It’s not a huge book, so in parts, I wish I knew more, but only because I enjoyed it so much that I was thirsty for the story. I loved particularly the emphasis that it’s not about the physical books, it’s about the knowledge and the ideas being passed down to inform future generations.

Any book lover should give Fahrenheit 451 a go. It spoke to my inner bibliophile.


The Radleys by Matt Haig

“To read, to seek, to know.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is not the kind of fiction book that wows critics or gets lots of praise for its prose, but it’s definitely up there in terms of enjoyable easy reading. This is actually the first fiction book by Matt Haig that I’ve read after loving Reasons to Stay Alive and I’m will definitely be reading more.

The story was engaging and I finished it in no time. For that reason, I couldn’t give it less than 4 stars. It’s no classic, but it’s a very good escape from the real world. If that’s not what fiction is about, then what is?


Not in Your Genes by Oliver James

“Because the maltreatment was like the air or light in a room, something they were so used to that they took it for granted, it is hard for them to see.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I could say quite a lot about this book, but I’ll keep is short for my own sanity’s sake. I related to a huge about of this book, and I’ve always been a nurture over nature person so it was like reading a manifesto for my experiences and beliefs. Even if you didn’t experience much maltreatment as a child, it’s a great read.

I was never really interested in science as a kid, but as an adult, I’m thrilled by popular science books. If that’s also your thing, then I’d definitely recommend this.


A great start to a year full of reading! Until next month, keep up to date with where I’m escaping to on my Goodreads profileTwitterInstagram and Facebook Page.

Happy reading. 💕📚