Tag Archives: books

Sunday Surfing 29/10/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

How is it November already? October only just started!

Around the web this week

We Need to Adopt this Word for People Who Buy More Books Than They Can Read

Books Women Think Men Should Read

Quiz: Which of These Books Were Published First?

November in National Novel Writing Month 

How Much Should We Be Reading?

I feel flipboard is not tweeting everything I tweet…I’m sure I had more articles than this.

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

Q&A With Bluestocking Books on ‘Curiosity Killed the Bookworm’ think this is going on my list for next time I’m in London

 

And on the blog this week…

Top 10 Books With Ghosts and Ghouls and Scary Things

Rapid Fire Book Tag

The Kids read ‘Nemo’s Friends’

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Filed under general, Memes, Sunday Surfing

Children’s Hour: Nemo’s Friends


Children’s Hour is a  feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

Nemo’s Friends  is one of those let’s make sure parents don’t feel guilty for buying Disney books by making it educational books.

The story is pretty much none-existent. It basically lists Nemo’s friends and gives a fact about that friend, like ‘is a blue fish’ or ‘is a small fish’. The kid’s like it because it’s Nemo, and possibly because they can feel the achievement of knowing which fish is the blue fish etc.

One thing I do like about it is that there will be more sea creatures on the page than the one mentioned so the kids do have to use their knowledge to find out which fish is the fish being talked about.

In terms of story enjoyment, and adult enjoyment it’s pretty low. Even so this is the book other that ‘I Want My Potty’ that the kids seem to want to possess, so it obviously holds some charm. For me it is a way of getting them engaged in knowing things like colour and size, so whilst I don’t find it enjoyable to read, it is at least useful.

Buy it:

Board Book (new and used from £0.01)

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Filed under Children's, Fiction review

Rapid Fire Book Tag


I was tagged for the Rapid Fire Book Tag by Amy @ Tomes with Tea, I highly recommend giving her blog a look

1. eBook or physical books?
Physical books are just about the whole experience. The feel of a book in your hands, the smell, the snuggle-ability. I tend to read ebooks when travelling, because of bag space, but I miss the ‘real’ books at the time

2. Paperback or hardback?
Paperback. I get annoyed by dust covers on hardbacks, and the weight can be annoying, I only tend to buy them if I can’t wait for the paperback.

3. Online or in-store book shopping?
In-store, that’s why I tend to not buy things from my wishlist, because I go into a shop to browse and come out with books I’ve never seen before. I love just looking at all the books, reading the blurbs, looking at the covers and feeling the books. I have to be strict though so I don’t buy everything I see!

4. Trilogies or series?
I tend to read more stand-alone books. I’m not sure I can answer this one actually because it really depends on the books and what is going to happen.

5. Heroes or villains?
Villains tend to be more interesting to read about. That’s why Chamber and Half-blood Prince are my favourite Potter books, the Voldy back story.

6. A book you want everyone to read?
‘Yes Means Yes’ which is about rape culture and consent. I just think it’s really important. I have a review here and several other related posts

7. Recommend an underrated book?
It’s been a while since I’ve pimped these but Scott Stabile’s ‘Brooklyn Bites’ series. They’re short stories which are built around food, the descriptions especially are really amazing. Reviews here, here, and here

8. The last book you finished?

‘War’ by Roald Dahl. My first adult Dahl

9. The last book you bought?

I think when I bought ‘Autumn’ for book club, and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ just because.

Oh no, I bought ‘The Book of Dust’ after that…does that mean I buy too many books because I forgot about a trip to the book shop?

10. Weirdest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?
Err…another book?

11. Used books: yes or no?
I tend to buy new, but I’m happy enough with used books so long as they aren’t a complete mess.

12. Three favourite genres?
Contemporary. Historical. Feminist.

13. Borrow or buy?
I really should borrow more, but part of the joy of books is the beauty of a full bookcase

14. Characters or plot?
Plot I guess, although some characters can ruin a plot. I don’t mind unlikeable character so long as they aren’t annoying (Bella Swan for example is just the most annoying and unlikeable character…but then I’m not a Twilight fan)

15. Long or short books?
Depends. Sometimes short books are too short, but if done well they can be beautiful, whereas sometimes a long book can be a bit of a mission. I guess it’s the quality of the story and writing which really matters.

16. Long or short chapters?
Again probably depends on the book, but in general short because it makes it easier to stop if you need to,

17. Name the first 3 books you think of.

His Dark Materials. Harry Potter. Life After Life

18. Books that made you laugh or cry?
Laugh – Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. How To Be a Woman. Texts From Jane Eyre
Cry – Harry Potter- especially Deathly Hallows. The Time Traveller’s Wife. The Book Thief. Still Alice.

19. Our world or fictional worlds?
Fictional. It’s a real escape, and if one is too much you can just go to another. Plus there’s enough rubbish in this world that escapism is sometimes necessary.

20. Audiobooks; yes or no?

No, I find I can’t concentrate on them, although I was considering listening whilst doing house work.

21. Do you ever judge a book by it’s cover?
Yes and no. You can usually broadly tell what type of book a book is from the cover, so I do that far, but it’s the blurb which really makes me decide

22. Book to movie or TV adaptations?
Probably TV because less tends to be cut, but I don’t really have a preference.

23. Movie/TV show you preferred to its book?
Lord of the Rings. I’ve never managed to finish the book, but I love the films.

24. Series or standalone’s?
I tend to read stand alones, but some of my favourite books are series. Harry Potter. His Dark Materials. The Thursday Next books. I suppose like Amy I think it depends on the book.

I tag Holly @ Nut Free Nerd and Feminism in Cold Storage if they fancy it, and anyone else who would like to do it

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books with Ghosts and Ghouls and Scary Things


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ from  The Broke and the Bookish. I wasn’t sure I would manage the Halloween Freebie but I had a look through the books I’ve read and I have enough for a post, just maybe not 10.

As always, in no particular order. Links are to reviews, pictures are affiliate links to amazon.

The Historian- Elizabeth Kostova

I read this modern day Dracula story when I was at uni. At the time a lived in a house where my room had lots of fitted cupboards, I used to wake-up after having funny dreams and check all the cupboards before I could go back to sleep. Despite (or maybe because of) this it remains a favourite of mine.

After Dark- Haruki Murakami

Probably any of Murakami’s books could fit here (except maybe Norwegian Wood which is sort of…normal). I chose ‘After Dark’ because of the storyline with the girl who gets transported to a sort of parallel universe inside the TV, it’s a bit hard to explain which is why I skipped reviewing it, but it’s pretty classic Murakami style which I love

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2)- J.K Rowling

I could probably have put any of the Potter books too, but I chose Chamber because of the voice in the walls, it’s just spooky. (Half-Blood Prince was a close second with the inferi)

 

Clovenhoof- Heide Goody and Iain Grant

What would happen if the devil was sent to Earth to live as a human? This humorous book answers this question


The Radleys- Matt Haig

A family of recovering vampires are trying to fit in in a normal neighbourhood. Can it work?

 

The Glass Guardian- Linda Gillard

Is the old house haunted? And is it possible to fall in love with a ghost?

 


Bellman and Black- Diane Setterfield

I read Bellman and Black before Setterfield’s much loved ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ and I remember it better. It concerns Mr Bellman and his strange and mysterious business partner ‘Black’

 

Cauldstane- Linda Gillard

A more classic ghost story than ‘The Glass Guardian’. I somehow missed reviewing this one

 

 

Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger

When two teenage twins move into the flat left to them in their aunt’s will they find she hasn’t quite managed to leave yet

 

 

The Lucifer Effect- Philip Zimbardo

This one is scary because it’s true. It chronicles Zimbardo’s famous ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ where students were randomly assigned roles as ‘prisoners’ or ‘guards’

 

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Filed under general, Memes, Top 10 Tuesday

Sunday Surfing 29/10/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

I was ill last week so this is two weeks worth of links

Around the web this week

If you haven’t already read ‘The Book of Dust’ Read an excerpt here

Or you can take the ‘Lyra’s Oxford’ Walking Tour

Do You Read Like Other Readers?

See the heat sensitive copy of ‘Fahrenheit 451’

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

Sign-ups for ‘The Broke and the Bookish”s Secret Sant are Up

Eclectic Tales’ review of ‘Father’s Day’

 

And on the blog this week…

I reviewed ‘War’

And ‘The Power’

The Kids read ‘What Shall We Do With the Boo-hoo Baby?’

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War- Roald Dahl


Synopsis

War is a set of short stories for adults written about war. Based on Dahl’s own experiences in the RAF and of wartime in general.

Review

I’ve ever read any of Dahl’s adult stories before, it’s one of these things that I always thought I’d do at some point and never got around to. I loved his stories as a child, so I was both excited and a bit apprehensive about reading the adult stories. I chose this particular collection because of my love of war stories.

The first, and longest, story was ‘Going Solo’ and it was an account of Dahl’s own experiences in the RAF. Now I read his book ‘Going Solo’ when I was a child, which I only vaguely remember. I’m sure that this version (the one in ‘War’) is more adult, it doesn’t read like a children’s book anyway, but as both are autobiographies I imagine that a lot of the stories are of the same incidents.

Going Solo was the story in the collection which I enjoyed the most. The others though really held something which said that Dahl knew war, and the aftermath. What I liked was how things like loosing a child, or shellshock, or even just generally recovering from the experience of war were talked about but not explicitly. Most of the other short stories felt like they were a story which showed how these things felt, without actually saying how they felt- a sort of metaphor if you will.

The other stories did tend towards the weird, which I think is part of why I didn’t like them so much in the moment. They weren’t weird in an entertaining way, just strange.

I’m not sure if my experience means I will read more of Dahl’s adult stories or not. When I bought this one I also considered Madness and Innocence so I still may read them.

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£6.55)

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Filed under Biography, Contempory, Fiction review, Historical, History, Memoir, non-fiction review, Short story

The Power- Naomi Alderman


Synopsis

It starts with teenage girls and gradually spreads and grows until ‘the power’ reaches all women. The power means that women can send arcs of electricity with their hands. Soon the world is turned on it’s head and women are in charge.

 

Review

‘The Power’ was a pick for my book group a few (3? 4?) months ago and it was a hit with all of us (The first 2 links in my other reviews section are from fellow group members). It’s a feminist book group so this did seem like a pretty perfect choice for us, but it had been on my radar before we picked it.

I was ready to write this review when I finished it but I wanted to go to the book group first so I left it, and my vigor to write this review wore off a bit- I think next time I will write but not publish until after.

The story is told in 4 main voices, but contains more major characters than that. There is a female senator who is very supportive of the girls early on, there is the daughter of a gang boss, there is a girl who transforms herself into a religious leader, and a journalist- the only male voice who we hear from directly.

At first it seemed that everything would be perfect. Women have been marginalised for millennia so why would they treat men the same when they find they have the power? Part of what I liked was that things weren’t perfect. It said that women are just people too, and people do bad things, and people abuse power, and people get carried away. It asked the question of whether a world ruled by women would really be better than one ruled by men? The power didn’t really rebalance the problem, it overbalanced it in the other direction.

In other books, in books where women weren’t on top some of these women would be praised as being powerful women, but in a world where they have the natural advantage they sometimes use that power for bad. As the story went on things got darker, and at times it was hard to see right from wrong, because things need to change- but is there such a thing as too much change?

In terms of readability it was a pretty easy read, and the writing style did remind me a bit of YA, not that that’s a bad thing. In fact ‘The Power’ could probably be a YA book if some bits were less graphic.

The other half was a bit sceptical of this book in general, he didn’t really get why they needed a power to balance things, and that says it all really- that we try and balance things but still it’s hard to be a woman.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£12.75)

Other Reviews:

Murder Underground Broke the Camel’s Back

Heavenali

Sam Still Reading

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Word By Word

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Children’s Hour: What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby?


Children’s Hour is a  feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

I’ve read What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby?  to the toddlers a few times now, and it’s pretty popular. It’s a fairly simple story, the baby is crying and car, duck, dog and cow are trying to make it stop, with little success.

It’s a repetitive story. Each animal makes a suggestion of what to do, and they do it, whilst making their noises, but still the baby goes ‘Boo-Hoo-Hoo’. The kids like the noises, especially when I ‘cry’ boo-hoo-hoo, but I’m surprised that they’re not yet joining in with the repetitive bits. We also managed to stay quiet after reading so we didn’t wake the baby (if only we could manage this when some of the other toddlers are sleeping!).

In general I would say that after 2 it would probably be to basic, but it could work for younger children.

The edition we have is dual language Romanian and English, but you can get it in just English and in other dual languages

Buy it:

Paperback (new and used from £0.01)

Board Book (new and used from £0.01)

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Sunday Surfing 15/10/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

I was very lazy last week and posted nothing, so this is 2 weeks worth of links

Around the web this week

18 Book Characters Who Accurately Represent Mental Illness

Nicholas Flamel will be in the Next ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Film

Podcasts For Book Lovers

Beautiful British Libraries

Books That Helped People Through Hard Times

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

Heavenali’s Review of ‘Strong Poison’

The ‘House Cup Reading Challenge’ Starts Today

 

And on the blog this week…

Great Kindle Deals for October

The Kids read ‘Mr Big’

I Signed up for ‘The House Cup Reading Challenge’ 

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Children’s Hour: Mr Big


Children’s Hour is a  feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

When I picked up Mr Big  I was a little unsure as to the length for the toddlers, but we needed something new and interesting, so I offered this and another new book (which will probably be next week’s Children’s Hour), and they picked this one.

Ed Vere is also the author of Banana which was very popular with the pre-schoolers, but very reader dependant. ‘Mr Big’ tells its own story. The story is about Mr Big who is so big that everyone is scared of him, and all he wants is some friends. Mr Big buys a piano, and the beautiful music he plays lets everyone see his soft side.

It’s a beautiful story about not judging by what you see, about emotions, about the importance of friends, and the beauty of music. You could probably write an adult book on the same themes if you padded it out a bit.

Anyway, yes the kids did miles better with it than I thought they would. They actually listened (or at least most of them) and the only way really they didn’t sit nicely was because they wanted to leap up and see the pictures and point at things- which you can’t really say is a bad thing.

Ed Vere’s pictures are bright, and beautiful, and engaging, they really helped the kids to see Mr Big as a person and to want to know about him (him being a monkey probably helped too)

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Filed under Children's, Fiction review

Deals of the Moment- October 2017


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. Whenever there are deals of interest I post on here. Links are associate links but money goes back into the blog.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.



The Elements of Eloquence and The Horologican- Mark Forsyth

I’m always one to champion Mark Forsyth’s books about language

‘The Elements of Eloquence’ is a bit different from ‘The Horologican’ or ‘The Etymologicon’ because it’s about using words rather than the meanings of words. It’s probably more

Buy ‘The Element’s of Eloquence’ for £3.49 

Buy ‘The Horologican’ for £3.09


Why Have Kids?- Jessica Valenti

I’m mainly interested in this one because Valenti was a major contributor of ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a book I think everyone should read.

This one isn’t feminist as such but about the challenges of being a parent, and the cultural expectations around it. It sounds like an interesting read, but if it was more expensive I probably wouldn’t go for it, as is, maybe it being 99p makes it worth a try.

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


The Road- Cormac McCarthy

Well, it’s a classic isn’t it?

The story of a man and a boy traveling through ravaged America

You can buy it….here (only £1.19)


The Help- Kathryn Stockett

I really enjoyed this book about black people who work as ‘help’ for white families and their rights.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)

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Sunday Surfing 1/10/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

Authors Responses to Their Books Being Banned Harper Lee is so savage!

J.K Rowling Isn’t Going to Give Fans Something They’ve Been Asking for This has to be ‘The Scottish Book’, right?

Banned Children’s Books to Read

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

‘Tomes With Tea’ is Doing a Number of Blogger Spotlights Whilst She’s Away

‘Book Chatter’ Talks About Books With Autistic Characters

 

And on the blog this week…

I Reviewed ‘Choose to Rise: The Victory Within’

The Kids read ‘I Want My Potty’

 

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Children’s Hour: I Want my Potty


Children’s Hour is a  feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

We have got quite a few toddlers potty training recently so it was time to get out I Want My Potty.  It’s a book which has been popular with plenty of toddlers over the years I’ve been working at the nursery, but this particular group seem to be obsessed.

The story follows The Little Princess as she learns to use the potty, and how she grows from disliking it to finding it fun. She does some silly things with the potty, which I know some readers wouldn’t find helpful, but our kids find it funny, and you still talk about whether that’s what we do with a potty which gets a conversation going.

In one scene The Little Princess decides to wear the potty on her head! Two of our toddlers did this with our play potties and came to show me laughing and saying they were the princess! (I wish I could show you a picture, it was so cute!)

They have also taken just to carrying this particular book around. Not necessarily to read, more to possess (oh little budding bibliophiles!)

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.94)

Hardback (£4.99)

Kindle (£4.49)

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Filed under Children's, Fiction review

Choose to Rise: The Victory Within- M. N. Mekaelian


Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis. 

One day Vartan Hagopain, a well respected professor approaching retirement, collapses whilst teaching a class and is shouting of a woman his grandchildren have never heard of. This brings his brother Armen to share a story which he had been keeping a secret since he was a teenager.

It’s the story of their life during and just before the Armenian Genocide.

Review

I mainly agreed to read this book because I knew nothing about the Armenian Genocide, a part of history which I think has largely been forgotten due to it coinciding, but not being a part of, the first world war. I tend to find stories are a good way to learn about history because they make it more real than a handful of facts.

When it came to the actual events of the Armenian Genocide itself I think this book did do quite well. It was almost brutal in the amount of detail which was given, and those who are sensitive to gore may dislike it- but that’s how it should be. I liked how Mekaelian showed both the horrible side of the genocide but also how the Armenians and sometimes others living in the Ottoman empire showed compassion and generosity even when it caused them to be at risk.

Having said this I found the first 75% of the novel difficult. I felt not much was really happening, and some things were pretty unbelievable. I almost gave up a few times.

The beginning was quite exciting, but in reflection it was pointless. There were other ways to be able to tell the story, and it made me think that it might have just been included so that the free 10% given by kindle would encourage people to buy it. Whilst this part of the story was referred to occasionally throughout the novel those parts weren’t needed either.

After the rather exciting start the tempo really slowed down are Armen started his story. The story is very much Vartan’s story to start with, but it is told by Armen. I often got frustrated at how much Armen seemed to know about Vartan’s life even when he wasn’t present. I can’t imagine that even the closest of brothers would reveal such deep thoughts and feelings to each other, and some of the smaller events probably wouldn’t be shared either. It made the writing seem a bit clunky to me, and I think that if Mekaelian wanted to get both the brothers side of things and stories then he would have been better telling the story in a different way than completely in Armen’s voice.

I also found Vartan’s relationship with Nadia to be rather superficial and unbelievable. I couldn’t see where the love was coming from. Maybe that is because it was told in Armen’s voice, but it wasn’t detailed enough to be a love story.

There was also a sort of philosophical element which seemed like it was jammed in to give meaning to the events. And, whilst something like that would have an effect on someone’s outlook on life I don’t think it needed to be a solution for Armen searching for something.

All the different elements did make me wonder if the author really knew what he wanted to write about. Did he want to write a story about the Armenian Genocide? Did he want a coming of age novel? Did he want a story of everyday life for Armenians? Did he want a love story? It just seemed a bit like he’d crammed lots of ideas together.

In terms of learning about the Armenian Genocide it probably made it worth reading for me, however there are probably better ways to learn about it, and maybe even other novels?

2.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£6.19)

Paperback (£16.38)

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical

Sunday Surfing 24/9/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

How Winnie the Pooh Swallowed Two Lives

This post about Loving Books reads almost like a love letter

Read Extracts from all the Books on the Booker Short List

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

Lit and Life’s Review of ‘The Martian’ made me remember why I added it to my wishlist

 

And on the blog this week…

Film of the Book: The Circle

The Kids read ‘My Mum’

 

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Children’s Hour: My Mum


Children’s Hour is a  feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

When I was in pre-school earlier today one of the children came to show me My Mum, I have seen it before, but never discussed it on here. She first wanted to show me all the pictures and told me the story in her own words, then she asked me to read it.

The story is pretty simple. With each picture there is a description of what the child’s Mum is like “My Mum is as soft as a kitten, and as tough as a rhino” with the pictures showing Mum like that. The pictures are obviously the Mum because they wear the same pattern as her. Each section ends with a variant of “She’s really nice, my Mum” which gradually makes Mum sound even better.

The combination of pictures and the repetitive formula make it an easy story for the kids to read to themselves, but isn’t so repetitive that it’s boring. The pictures are beautiful and well thought out.

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

Hardback (£5.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

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Filed under Children's, Fiction review

Sunday Surfing 17/9/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

The Strangest Requests made of Booksellers and Librarians

Apparently Roald Dahl Intended for Charlie of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to be black

The Bronte’s Game is Becoming a Children’s Novel

Every Book J.K Rowling Has Ever Recommended

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

So You Want to Read Ian McEwan?

 

And on the blog this week…

Top 10 Tuesday was all about the Best Books Read in the History of the Blog

The Kid read ‘Mr Bear says Can I Have a Hug?’

 

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Filed under general, Memes, Sunday Surfing

Children’s Hour: Mr Bear Says ‘Can I Have a Hug?’


Children’s Hour is a  feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

Mr Bear Says ‘Can I Have a Hug?’ (or Owl as one of our children calls it) is just right for our current group of toddlers, quite a few of whom don’t have the focus for a longer picture book. I managed to read this and another in the same series before I felt they wouldn’t focus for any longer. In this one Mr Bear is looking for someone to hug, but nobody i quite right. The spider is too small, the owl’s feathers make him sneeze, but baby bear is just right.

It reminds me a little bit of the That’s not my… books, but with more variety of descriptive words. The kids loved it when we acted out hugging the different animals, which made this one more popular than the other.

Buy it:

New (from £706.99)

Used (from £0.01)

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books Read in the Lifetime of this Blog


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ from  The Broke and the Bookish is back today, this is a freebie week looking back, so I’ve decided to do the best books read in the lifetime of this blog

These books were top of my review of the year lists for the years I read them.

As always, in no particular order.

Living Dolls- Natasha Walters

This was my top non-fiction book which I read in 2011. It is still one of my most recommended books and it got me into feminist reading.

About how society breeds girls.

 

The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts- Louis de Bernieres

After years of searching I found a book by de Berniere’s which met up to (and suppassed) Captain Correlli’s.

This story about a fictional latin American country going through civil war is one of my favourite ever and was my best fiction read of 2011
Pop Co.- Scarlett Thomas

This was my favourite fiction read of 2010.

About code breaking, advertising, mystery, and a little political

 

Handle With Care- Jodi Picoult

This 2009 read is still my favourite Picoult as it has a theme which I really connect with. About a girl with brittle bones and how her mother is suing the midwife who missed the signs in scans



Life After Life- Kate Atkinson

This story of reliving lives is still a favourite of mine since being my favourite read in 2013


How to Be a Woman- Caitlin Moran

This is the funny, feminist book by Caitlin Moran which made me want to be her friend. I read it back in 2012

Brooklyn Bites Series- Scott Stabile

Oh it’s been so long since I’ve got to rave about Brooklyn Bites. These beautiful short stories are so perfectly descriptive of food that you can almost taste it.

Texts From Jane Eyre- Mallory Ortberg

This funny little book suggests how texts from famous literary characters would be like

Yes Means Yes- Various

An important and interesting feminist book which I read earlier this year and wrote lots of posts about.

 

How to Be a Heroine- Samantha Ellis

In this great book Ellis looks back at previously loved books with a new perspective

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Sunday Surfing 10/9/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

This Bookshop Travels the World Selling Books

Favourite Books of Famous Authors

The most Popular Reviews on Goodreads

The Most Common and Strangest Books Which have Been Left at B&Bs

Authorised Prequel for ‘Dracula’ Based on Stoker’s Notes to be Published

‘House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet’ is Being Made into a Film I hope it does the book justice, read my review of the book here

The Story Behind the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ Illustrations

Can You Find Wally in 360º?

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

It’s Almost Ninja Bookswap Time 

And on the blog this week…

Top 10 Tuesday was all about Books I Abandoned

I Looked at This Month’s Kindle Deals

I Reviewed ‘The Circle’

There’s Still a Few Hours Left to win ‘Yes Means Yes’ enter at the bottom of the review

 

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The Circle- Dave Eggers


Synopsis

‘The Circle’ is the biggest internet company in the world, with technological arms which reach into many areas of life. Mae Holland is one of the lucky ones who gets a job at The Circle, and her life is going to completely change

 

Review

Note: For purposes of this review ‘The Circle’ refers to the book and The Circle refers to the company which is the topic of the book.

When ‘The Circle’ was first released there were a lot of people on my blogroll reading it, and many raving about it. At the time I sort of liked the concept but my experience of the only other Dave Eggers book I’ve read (‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’) sort of put me off. When I finally picked it up it was because it was on kindle daily deal. I kind of wish I hadn’t judged the book by its author because I actually really liked ‘The Circle’.

The book has been described as being a dystopian novel, which is probably accurate, although what makes it really scary and sort of uncomfortable is how close it is to life now, and how at first it doesn’t seem like anything is really that bad, in fact most of the things The Circle are doing seem almost good. It’s only when it’s too late that you realise those things which seemed good are actually not so great, and it makes you question where the line is. At what point did the things The Circle was doing become bad? Or were they always bad?

The Circle is a sort of blend of google and facebook. There’s a social element which is similar to facebook, but then they are all over the place through their ‘true you’ program which means you only ever need to remember one login for everything, banking, shopping, social media. This sounds sort of good, right, convenient? Then they’re into social justice, documenting things for accountability, like demonstrations, you can see where violence might start, and it’s a public place, anyone could see it anyway. It’s not that different from videos being posted on youtube to show what governments are doing. That’s good, right? We want governments to be accountable.

‘The Circle’ has kept popping back into my head since I read it. Part of it was that it got me thinking about fine lines and privacy, and accountability. Part of it is that real life kept making me think of it. Not long after I’d read it I saw that facebook had started a feature where you can see how many people have reacted to your recent posts. Like wow look how popular you are Like! I don’t care about that for my personal account (maybe a little for the blog facebook), at the time I might want to talk to my friends about what I’d posted, or I might appreciate someone’s reaction to it, but I don’t really care about how many people it is. I’m not a big facebook poster anyway.

I would say that ‘The Circle’ does make you think and I would recommend it. Quite a few people dislike it because they find Mae hard to sympathise with, she’s not really a likeable character, so if you have to like your main character then I would maybe leave this one, but her being that way is part of what makes the book what it is.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£3.85) -Part of the ‘Buy 3 for £10‘ promotion

Other Reviews:

Leeswammes Blog

Book Journey

Nylon Admiral

Did I miss your review? Post a link in comments and I’ll add it here

There’s still time! If you haven’t entered my giveaway of ‘Yes Means Yes’ why not?!

 

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books I’ve Given Up On


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ from  The Broke and the Bookish is back today, this week is about books we’ve given up on.

I have a special rule after I almost gave up on Harry Potter the first time, I have to read at least 50 pages before I allow myself to give up, and often I do end up deciding it may not be the right time.

I’ve tried to pick books/authors which are well known, maybe you can convince me to try again?!

As always, in no particular order.

A Suitable Boy- Vikram Seth

I tried to read this very popular book when I was at uni. I persevered for a long time, and still have it on my shelves in the hope I will one day be able to find out what it is that made so many love it. I found it slow, and pretty hard going. I finally gave up on in when I spent a whole train journey picking it up only to shortly decide staring out a window was better entertainment.
The Hunchback of Notredame- Victor Hugo

I tried to read this one for The Rory List. Getting to 50 pages was difficult. It was rambling and mainly seemed to be complaining about Parisian architecture. I finally started getting interested in the story just before 50 pages, then Hugo went off on another waffling ramble and I threw the book across the room. It’s half the reason that Les Mis is still on my kindle unstarted.

Birds Without Wings- Louis de Bernieres

I have a strange relationship with Louis de Bernieres books. I found the first chapter of ‘Captain Correlli’s Mandolin’ really difficult but loved the rest of the book, I didn’t really like  ‘The Partisan’s Daughter’ until I’d finished it, ‘The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts‘ is one of my favourite books of all time, but the sequel I recently put to the side. ‘Birds Without Wings’ I technically put to the side, it’s still on my shelves, but I doubt I’m going to finish it as it’s not been touched since uni.

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights- Salman Rushdie

I was really excited when I got accepted to read ‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’ on netgalley after I’d loved ‘Midnight’s Children’, and I really persevered with it. There were some elements that I liked but it just didn’t click and I found I was picking it up less and less.

Vanity Fair- William Makepeace Thackery

Another classic picked up from ‘The Rory List’. I do often find classics a struggle. With this one I didnt even manage my 50 page rule with this one because I had in my bag when a water bottle leaked, and I decided I was kind of glad so didn’t try and save it. I swear I usually look after my books better!

J- Howard Jacobson

I must admit I requested this one from netgalley because The Finkler Question had recently won The Booker. I’d never read any Jacobson before, and this one just didn’t click with me

Suite Française-Irène Némirovsky

This one sounds like it would be right up my alley. A book set in wartime, by a person who had actually lived it. Loads of people seem to have loved it, so it isn’t completely abandoned yet but it’s been sitting on my shelves waiting for me to pick it back up for years. When I did first try to read it I found it just a bit too long for the story to get started


The Colour Of Magic- Terry Pratchett

I really loved Pratchett’s Johnny books, and I’ve tried a few of his discworld novels over time but only ‘Mort’ really clicked with me. I tried Colour of Magic most recently so that’s why I picked it for this list.

 

The Loney- Andrew Mitchell Hurley

This is so recently abandoned that it’s still sitting by my bed. I probably will pick it back up as mainly I stopped reading it because whenever I look at it I get this song (below) stuck in my head (yes even though it’s Loney not lonely). Yeah it was getting annoying so I made sure I put down the book facedown and then just sort of didn’t pick it up again…yet.

Oh no! Now it’s in my head again!

 

Have you seen my giveaway of the awesome book ‘Yes Means Yes’? Click here to enter.

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Deals of the Moment- September 2017


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. Whenever there are deals of interest I post on here. Links are associate links but money goes back into the blog.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.


A Tiny Bit Marvellous and According to Yes- Dawn French

I’ve clubbed these together because my reason for being interested in them is pretty much the same, that I’ve been meaning to read some of Dawn French’s fiction since uni (a decade…).

‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’ is about an imperfect family, and what happens when the mother decides to do something a little bit crazy
‘According to Yes’ sounds a little bit like the opposite. A family who are careful about sticking to rules and conventions gets turned over by someone who doesn’t know the rules


You can buy it them each for £1.99 see the links in the description
.


Your Life in My Hands- Rachel Clarke

‘Your Life in my Hands’ is a doctor memoir of the type which seem to be all over the place recently. That’s not a problem because I really enjoy reading them. This one is from the perspective of a junior doctor in the UK. It might be quite interesting to compare with ‘The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly

You can buy it…here (only £2.89)


Quiet- Susan Cain 

I read this book back when everyone was reading it, but apparently didn’t review it. I think because I didn’t have much to say (haa haa). Lots of people found it inspirational, and I find it interesting and worth the read.

It’s about how we need introverts and the power of an introvert.

You can buy it….here (only £1.99)


 

Don’t want to buy a book this month? How about winning one? You can still enter my giveaway for ‘Yes Means Yes’

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Sunday Surfing 3/9/17


bird surf
Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

How Book Lovers are Helping (and can help) Victims of Harvey 

A book of Fairytales Based on Notes From Mark Twain Are Being Published 

Stephen King has a Special ‘guilt table’ for Books He Needs to Comment on this is like the list of reviews to write waiting on my goodreads list…but to the extreme!

Usborne has Apologised for a Puberty Book Which Says Girls Grow Breasts ‘to make the girl look grown-up and attractive’   I just wonder why it’s taken 4 years for anyone to notice?

WW2 Fiction Released This Year we know I love books based during wartime, can anyone recommend any of these?

Terry Pratchett’s Unfinished Novels have Been Steamrolled I agree with Pratchett’s wishes here, it always makes me a bit uncomfortable when novels are finished and released posthumously

Early Mobile Libraries this sounds awesome, almost wish it still existed in the same form

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

Nut Free Nerd’s review of ‘The Road’ made me want to read a book I’ve known a little about for a long time.

Literary Lindsey’s Review of ‘My Glory Was I Had Such Friends’ made me already start to feel the emotions I thought the book would rise in me (Lindsey seems to be becoming a bit of a fixture in this section!)

Bookishly Boisterous’ Reflections on Being a Nerd which will resonate with many in the bookish community, and which I tried to comment on only for blogger to completely eat my comment 😦

I’ve started following new to me blogs Feminism in Cold Storage and Book Chatter

And on the blog this week…

‘Children’s Hour’ is back and we read ‘Sometimes I Feel Sunny’

I reviewed ‘Yes Means Yes’  and I’m giving away a copy at the end of the review

Top Ten Lesser Known War Novels

 

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Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape- Various


Synopsis

‘Yes Means Yes’ is a book with a series of essays written by different feminists, looking at various issues around women’s sexual empowerment and rape and showing a variety of different approaches and thoughts to do with these issues.

Review

If you’ve been following my blog since I was reading ‘Yes Means Yes’ you’ll know that I was really into it and that it really got me thinking. So much so that I wrote several posts where I looked with more depth at some of the articles which emoted me the most (Here, here, here, here, here and here). I would say that most of the articles I did agree with at least to a point (unless they were more stories, which you can’t exactly disagree with anyway), but the ones I wrote about are the ones which most got me thinking or made me really feel something for the writer.

Because the articles are all written by different people, some men, some women, people who are transgender, people who are gay, people who are straight, and people from different communities and cultural backgrounds, you get a good variety of different views. The articles don’t always completely agree, but they all agree that something needs to change. They all agree that there is a rape culture which blames the victim, and which is supported in ways which aren’t always obvious.

I think this book is important to read, and I would recommend everyone to read it- not just girls or feminists- but everyone. Emotionally it’s not always an easy read, and some of the articles are easier to read in terms of writing style, but I do think they should still all be read.

I didn’t write a post about the last article, but it is a nice place to end the book. Where all else is scary and unsure the last article advocates having fun, which is a happy note to finish on

Please go buy it, borrow it, read it now, enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post

5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£13.16)

Because I think this book is so important I’m giving away one copy to a lucky reader, all you need to do is comment on this blog post to be in with a chance. You can gain extra votes through my social media channels. See the rafflecopter below for details and good luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Top 10 Tuesday: Lesser Known War Books


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ from  The Broke and the Bookish is back today, this week is about lesser known genre books

I’m not really a genre reader, but I do read a lot of books set during war time so I decided to do Top 10 Lesser Known War Books.

As always, in no particular order and links are to my own reviews

Pegasus Falling- William E. Thomas

‘Pegasus Falling’ is an indie story written with Thomas’ own memories of fighting in WW2 as part of a parachute regiment, and including elements of stories about prisoners of war and those who spent time in concentration camps. ‘Pegasus Falling’ is the first in a series which continues with ‘It Never Was You’

The Shouting Wind- Linda Newberry

‘The Shouting Wind’ is a story of a woman who joins the WAAF during WW2. It was one of my favourite books as a teenager.

A Little Love Song- Michelle Magorian

Michelle Mogorian is better known as the author of ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ (another good war novel) but ‘A Little Love Song’ is more grown-up. It is about a teenager who moves to the country during WW2 and falls in love. It’s probably more of a love story than a war story but some of the issues in it are to do with the war

The Almond Tree- Michelle Cohen Corasanti

‘The Almond Tree’ is an indie novel and is honestly one of the best war novels I’ve read. It takes part in occupied Israel and concerns the Israel-Palestine conflict. It follows a boy living in the area whose Father is arrested and has to become the man of the house overnight


Kommandant’s Girl- Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is quite well known in some circles, and Kommandant’s Girl is probably her most famous, but I don’t think I’ve seen it reviewed on any other blogs. I was umming and ahhing over whether to include it. I decided to because it is marketed more as a romance book than a war book (which I disagree with). It’s about a woman in the resistance who has a mission which involves creating a relationship with a German Kommandant.


Remembrance- Theresa Breslin

Remembrance is about a woman who becomes a nurse during WW1


Goodbye Marianne- Irene N. Watts

‘Goodbye Marianne’ is the story of a Jew growing up in Nazi Germany and how she escapes on the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport is reason for the title, but it’s not the part of the book I remember the most

I didn’t quite make it to 10 this time (so many war books are well known!) but you can see more of my war book recommendations here

I’m always looking for new war books, any to recommend?

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SuMonday Surfing 28/8/17


bird surf

SuMonday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

This weekend I was ill and staying at my Dad’s (I’m still ill but back home) so I decided rather than taking my computer with me I would just postpone a day.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

Looks Like this Book Bought its Way on to the ‘New York Times’ Bestseller List

Books in Happy Meals Are Back (if you’re in the US)

The Estate that Inspired ‘The Great Gatsby’ is up for Sale (read my review of Gatsby)

The Most Reviewed Books on Amazon I’ve read a fair few of these, which have you read?

10 Literary Blogs to Read I was hoping more of these would be blogs which are just blogs rather than blogs of bigger companies, but they’re still worth having a look at

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

A Mass Subscription Unboxing on ‘Curiosity Killed The Bookworm’ I’ve been vaguely thinking about getting a subscription box, this is good to see what sort of things a few boxes provide

Literary Lindsey’s Review of ‘Word For Word’ made me want to read it despite it not being exactly what I thought it would be

I’ve been looking at booktube a bit recently. It seems a bit YA based for my tastes but ‘Tomes with Tea‘ recommended this vlogger ‘Mercy’s Bookish Musings’ who seems to have fairly similar taste to me. The first video of hers I watched is at the bottom of the post

And on the blog this week…

Top 10  Important Books for Teenagers

I Asked What You Would Like to See a Review of

 

 

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Top 10 Tuesday: Important Books for Teens


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ from  The Broke and the Bookish is back today, this week is a ‘back to school’ freebit

When I went to my most recent bookclub meet-up one of the women there said she wanted to give the book we were reading (The Power) to the first teenage girl she saw, so I decided to do Top 10 Important Books For Teens, these books are books which would teach a lesson, but hopefully in a fun way. They are not all designed for teenagers, but I think they would generally be appropriate. I also tried to pick books which would appeal to a wide range of teenagers not just ones with certain issues

As always, in no particular order

How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran

This one for teenage girls (most of them probably are as I was one once). It’s a bit like How to be a Woman but in fiction form. So a good feminist novel which teaches things you might not learn in school. I would probably like to introduce girls to How to be a Woman too, but this is probably more accessible.

Eleanor & Park- Rainbow Rowell

It’s a fairly decent representation of a relationship, not perfect and about accepting people for who they are, and thinking of others before yourself

The Storyteller- Jodi Picoult

A good one to learn about the holocaust, but also about forgiveness and remorse, and how it still has an impact on people today.

Look Who’s Back- Timur Vermes

A comic story, but with a serious message about how history can repeat itself, probably best read after learning about Hitler

 

Animal- Sara Pascoe

Teaches about feminism and sex ed in a way that school won’t and contains some really important information. As soon as I read this I wanted to share it with every teenage girl


Furiously Happy- Jenny Lawson

A somewhat comic look at depression which is good for showing that mental health is important and should be talked about


The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Summers of the Sisterhood)- Ann Brashares

The first one on my list that I read as a teenager. About the importance of friends, and growing up. When I read it there was only one book in the series but I did read the second (and I think the third too). The first is probably the best but there is a lot of important emotional stuff in the second.

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret- Judy Blume

I think Judy Blume’s teenage books are pretty much essential reading for teenage girls. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret is probably the best place to start. The issues are fairly ordinary issues for most teenage girls and deal with becoming a woman.


Anything by Paula Danziger

Like Judy Blume Paula Danziger writes about typical teenage issues. If amazon is anything to go by not many of her books are still being published which is sad, they were one of my teenage staples. The photo is one of the few I could find new from amazon, and it’s aimed at boys(!)

Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging- Louise Rennison

Another typical teenager book, but one which is set in the UK. Not always the most serious of topics but it is good in terms of talking about independence and dating

Special mentions: The Girl’s Series- Jacqueline Wilson, Speak- Laurie Halse Anderson, Noughts and Crosses- Malorie Blackman

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Sunday Surfing 20/8/17


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

Waterstones and Richard Osman are Looking For Nominations of ‘The Best Book Ever’

Is The Booker Prize bad for authors?

New Merriam-Webster Feature Allows You to Find Out Words Which Were First Coined in a Particular Year. In My birth year some interesting ones were GIF, emoticon and techno which I thought would be later than 1987

Are Fears of Triggering Causing More Books to be Banned?

A Novelist Who Wanted to Write a Book About a Novelist Who Committed Murder has Been Arrested for Murder and it seems she did it.

This Woman Gives Away Books From Her Shelves to Visitors. It seems like a nice idea, but I don’t think I could part with my books so easily

 

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

Literary Lindsey Wonders About the Importance of Understanding What You Read

Top 10 Tuesday is Back on ‘The Broke and the Bookish I joined in (link below) but had trouble commenting on blogger blogs, ay other wordpress users had this issue this week?

And on the blog this week…

Top 10 Non-fiction Books

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Top 10 Tuesday: Non-Fiction


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

I realised a bit late that ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ from  The Broke and the Bookish is back today, but it’s a freebie week so easy enough to join in with

As it’s a freebie week I’ve decided to do Top 10 Non-fiction books. I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately so I’ve got plenty to choose from.

As always, in no particular order

The Etymologicon- Mark Forsyth

I mention Forsyth’s interesting and entertaining books about language frequently (and they have even featured on two previous Top 10 Tuesday posts). The Etymologicon is my favourite, but The Horologicon, and The Elements of Eloquence are also fantastic

Yes Means Yes- Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti

A series of essays about women’s sexuality, rape and feminism. Very thought provoking and because the essayists have different views it’s interesting to see how different people view feminism. I haven’t fully reviewed this one yet but I have written a series of posts about various essays. Not one for the faint hearted, but I think it’s an important book

How to Be a Woman- Caitlin Moran

Part autobiography, part feminist anthem. Caitlin Moran’s first book is one I recommend frequently, and one which left me wishing I could be her friend. A more accessible form of feminism than the more serious feminist tomes. I genuinely think this should be read by every teenage girl (I also think this of Animal, but I didn’t like that as much)

Do No Harm- Henry Marsh

An interesting personal look at neurosurgery and the NHS by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. I found this to be a real page turner (or maybe button presser as I read it on kindle), and easy to understand as someone who knows relatively little about neurology (maybe a little more than others from my psychology degree). I even managed to read it when in hospital for surgery.



The Lucifer Effect- Phillip Zimbardo

This is a book that I think is really important, but it isn’t the easiest read- emotionally or in terms of readability. It’s Zimbardo’s own account of his famous prison experiment on authority. An experiment which had to be cancelled because it was going too far

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree- Nick Hornby

When I read Nick Hornby’s book about books I added so many books to my wishlist. It is a collection of his columns from The Believer, and is featured on The Rory List.

Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure- Dave Gorman

Dave Gorman’s second book is a part travel part comedy book. His journey starts with one googlewhack; a phrase which elicits only one response when searched on google. He contacts the owner of the site and visits them to ask them to find another googlewhack who he also visits and so on. It’s mainly funny but also interesting to see which websites he sees and where he goes.

How to be a Heroine- Samantha Ellis

In ‘How to Be a Heroine’ Ellis revisits books which have shaped her. Will she still have to same opinions or will something have changed? A perfect blend of bookishness and feminism.

 Living Dolls- Natasha Walter

Living Dolls is the book which introduced me to feminist non-fiction. It looks at how society is creating a new type of sexism which teaches girls that they have to be ‘girly’ and boys that they have to be ‘tough’.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened- Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson talks about her life and depression with humour and honesty. A fun read with more meaning than it may originally seem.

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Sunday Surfing 13/8/17


I bet you thought I had forgotten this feature! Well it’s back, and a little changed.bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging, and from other blogs. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

The Boom of Female Stories

Love Stories Reimagined as Stephen King Books

A Different Way to Look at Mrs. Bennet. I find it hard not to imagine the BBC’s Mrs. Bennet, but actually this article really has her on the nose

Quentin Blake and Lauren Child in Conversation

The Ten Most Addicting Books I’ve somehow managed to read only 1 of these, which was good, but not addictive (also is addicting a word? Surely it should be addictive? WordPress doesn’t give it a red squiggle though)

!NEW! On other Blogs this Week

Heavenali reviewed ‘The Power’ (my own review is up and coming)

Greenish Bookshelf reviewed a long time favourite ‘The Book Thief’ (my review is here)

Read at Midnight’s Reading Quest looks like such good fun but I don’t think I have enough books that can be used for it.

And on the blog this week…

I reviewed ‘Animal’

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Filed under general, Memes, Sunday Surfing

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body- Sara Pascoe


Synopsis

Animal is Sara Pascoe’s autobiography where she talks about her experiences as a woman, and about evolutionary psychology.

Review

I read this book for my book group intending to join in online (then forgot on the actual day, opps!), it probably wouldn’t have been something I would have picked up without it being a bookclub book just because I don’t really know much about Sara Pascoe, at least not beyond her being a comedian (or ‘funny woman’), but I knew it was quite a popular book so I was happy enough to read it.

At first I must admit I found Pascoe a little annoying. She seemed to labour over a lot of points, and kept repeating herself. The other half said whenever he looked over my shoulder she seemed to be SHOUTING- and she did seem to quite frequently. She also had these little script-type sections with a teacher and pupil and I didn’t really like those parts, they just seemed like a long way to get to a point which would have been understandable without the play (and often she explained them without the play too which was just a little frustrating).

However once I could see past the waffle I did find some of the things she talked about rather interesting- especially when she talked about evolutionary psychology- and the way she talked about more serious or intellectual subjects did make it more entertaining and easily acceptable.

I also thought she was brave when she talked about some of the things which had happened to her or she had done. Some of them can’t have been easy to talk about, and some things which could have made others judge her.

I do think it would make quite a good sex ed book too, especially for girls, because it’s truthful and it does go into more sticky subjects which tend to be missed in school sex ed. It would be nice if it was recommended reading in schools for that reason, but the way some people are about talking about sex there would probably be someone who stopped that when they saw how frank Pascoe is.

It probably is worth battling through the waffle, as you get through things are a bit more coherent, and less annoying. I’m not sure I’d say I finished it liking Pascoe, but I certainly respected what she was trying to do.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.55)

Paperback (£5.84)

3 Comments

Filed under Biography, Comedy, Feminism, non-fiction review, psychology (non-fiction)

Deals of the Moment- August 2017


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. Whenever there are deals of interest I post on here. Links are associate links but money goes back into the blog.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- Rebecca Skloot

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this one, but didn’t really know much about it. It’s about a woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge (for medical science) and what happened 20 years later when her family found out.

You can buy it…here (only £1.19)


Fangirl- Rainbow Rowell

My favourite Rainbow Rowell so far. Reminds me of days in the depth of Harry Potter fandom. About a fanfiction writer starting university.

You can buy it…here (only £1.19)


Water for Elephants- Sara Gruen

About an almost-vet caring for animals in a circus during the depression. A really good book. The film is decent too, but makes more of the love story

You can buy it….here (only £0.99)


The Etymologicon- Mark Forsyth

I’ve raved lots about Forsyth’s (aka Inky Fool) books about words. Easy to read and very interesting. The Etymologicon is the best, and I recommend to everyone.

Buy it…here (only £3.09)


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Yes Means Yes: When is a Virgin a Virgin?


This post contains discussion of sex which may not be suitable for some readers

Recently I have been reading ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a collection of essays which talk about female sexuality and consent and how stereotypical visions of female sexuality contribute to a rape culture. It’s a powerful book. I had planned to get to the end and then talk about it overall as I would do with a book normally, but recently some of the articles have really been getting in my head and I feel like it might be better to write down some thoughts specifically on those articles. I probably won’t do this for every article but it seems like a better way to look at it, and I will do a sort of summery post when I’m completely done.

This is my sixth of these review/thought posts for Yes Means Yes, (and probably the last bar an overall roundup) you can read the rest here:

Touch and Consent / Killing Misogyny / The First Time / Sex Education / Nice Guys Finish Last

The Process-Orientated Virgin

-Hanne Blank

When Blank met her first process-orientated virgin she was rather taken-aback. This woman had being having sex for over a year before she considered her virginity lost, because that was the first time she had an orgasm.

I’ve heard before of people claiming multiple types of virginity, hetrosexual virginty, gay/lesbian virginity, anal virginity, but never about people claiming that virginity could carry on after some sort of sexual intercourse had occurred (although many may say it has to be penis in vagina sex for virginity to be lost).

But the more I think about it the more I like the idea. It’s sort of freeing. It says sex should be enjoyed, so until I enjoy sex, it’s not really sex. And hey, how many people actually really enjoy their first time? They don’t really know what they’re doing. Their nervous. There can be blood and generally unsexy things going on. For many it can be too quick, or painful (not all but a not painful time tends to be seen as a good first time, as discussed previously in the book).

I like the idea that you can think that your first time is when you experienced good sex. When you feel like you have lost all your virgin ideas and naivety, and that’s just for those who choose when to have sex. Think of how liberating it could be for rape survivors to really loose their virginity when they choose.

Plus it gets rid of that whole thing of what loss of virginity is, because it’s decided by the virgin.

What do you think? Can virginity be redefined like this? Should it just be first time sex? Of hetrosexual type or of prefered type?

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Filed under essays, Feminism, non-fiction review

Armada- Ernest Cline


Synopsis

Zack Lightman is a video game addict. He spends hours playing Armada and is one of the top players in the world. Then one day he sees a spaceship outside the window, and the really strange thing? It’s a spaceship he recognises from Armada, is he going crazy, or is it something else?

Review

I read Armada as part of Dewey’s Readathon and it was a pretty perfect choice for a readathon. It was easy to read and engaging, I got to geek out, and I didn’t have to think about it too hard. It took a little time to really get going but once it did I was really hooked and it took me less than a day to read the whole thing.

I had bought Armada as a present for my partner after he loved Ready Player One, and I read it because I loved ‘Ready Player One’ too. The boyfriend described it as reading like a book written on the way to getting to ‘Ready Player One’, very similar in lots of ways, but not quite there yet. I get that completely. It wasn’t quite up to the awesomeness that was ‘Ready Player One’, but it had a lot of the same sort of geeky references which were one of the good things about ‘Ready Player One’.

Armada’s storyline is probably a bit more relatable than ‘Ready Player One’, but it makes it less of a fantasy and less escapist too. It also means that you don’t have quite as strong a feeling towards the characters. And it makes it more predictable, I guessed at least some of the plot beforehand and although I still enjoyed it but I like it when plots keep me guessing.

If you’ve not read any Ernest Cline I would go for ‘Ready Player One’ first, but ‘Armada’ may fill some of the void which was left (or may be a big disappointment if you believe some other reviewers, views are very mixed)

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.19)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other reviews:

Annette’s Book Spot

Leeswammes’ Blog

Silly Little Mischief

Words for Worms

Book Journey

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Yes Means Yes: Nice Guys Finish Last


Recently I have been reading ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a collection of essays which talk about female sexuality and consent and how stereotypical visions of female sexuality contribute to a rape culture. It’s a powerful book. I had planned to get to the end and then talk about it overall as I would do with a book normally, but recently some of the articles have really been getting in my head and I feel like it might be better to write down some thoughts specifically on those articles. I probably won’t do this for every article but it seems like a better way to look at it, and I will do a sort of summery post when I’m completely done.

This is my fifth of these review/thought posts for Yes Means Yes, you can read the rest here:

Touch and Consent / Killing Misogyny / The First Time / Sex Education

Why Nice Guys Finish Last

-Julia Serano

‘Why Nice Guys Finish Last’ is probably the article which will be the most controversial amongst feminists, simply because it suggests that women (or more accurately girls) have an active part to play in destroying rape culture. This is somewhat at odds with the idea that girls shouldn’t act in a certain way to avoid rape, however I can certainly understand her argument.

Serano is transgender so she has the advantage of having seen the issue from a male and a female perspective. She has experienced some of the sexist issues which many women experience, but spent her years at school and college as a man.

Serano’s argument is based around the idea of men as predators and women as prey, she says that because women often act like prey that influences men to act as predators.

Serano particularly focussed on how ‘bad’ guys seemed to attract more women than nice guys (actually nice guys, not the type who act nice until they hear no). She says that this influences nice guys to act like bad guys to attract women, and eventually for them to morph into bad guys, because women ‘like it’.

The whole women ‘like it’ argument comes out a little similar to the ‘she was asking for it’ idea, and that’s more what puts me off this than the actual argument. I’m also unsure that the whole women acting like prey thing is completely true. I know plenty of people who date nice guys, and I can’t think of anyone who says they prefer bad guys (although in a general way I have heard the ‘bad guys are hot’ idea), plus I don’t think many people would stick with a bad guy, they might date them but if they are really bad guys then that’s not something which they would commit to. Even if bad guys get more girls I wouldn’t be surprised if nice guys end up in more committed relationships (although those who are interested just in sex are probably going to be the ones who go for it).

What do you think? Do women act like prey? Does that impact on how they are treated by men? Do nice guys really finish last?

3 Comments

Filed under essays, Feminism, non-fiction review

Gather the Daughters- Jennie Melamed


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis

A remote community lives on an island, the only place that is safe after a disaster left the rest of the world as a wastelands. Only the wanderers have seen the wastelands, where they go to forage for supplies, and occasionally save survivors.

There are rules to the island. The men lead, it is the women’s job to keep house and birth children, which they start to do on their first ‘Summer of Fruition’.

But one year a girl, who is soon to become a woman, sees something which starts the girls questioning what they had always been told, and that things had to be the way they are.

Review

I really raced through this book, it reads like a pretty standard dystopian YA novel, but it has some really dark subject matters which are hinted at; rape, domestic violence, paedophillia, murder, anorexia, and persecution. The community follows the laws laid down by the ancestors in ‘Our book’, and in this sense and the way that the community was quite basic and old-fashioned made me think of the Amish (although I wouldn’t expect the Amish to have a community who raped their daughters as a ‘normal’ thing).

Looking back it does seem that that Melamed wanted to add as many issues as she possibly could, but at the time of reading I found that I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next, so I guess that was actually a good thing.

At the beginning I found it a little difficult to define the characters from each other, but as I got to know them better I found them easier to distinguish. I ended up really liking Janey, she was strong, I would call her a role model but I’m not sure she is really a good one, whilst her actions have fairly sound reasoning behind them they aren’t always the best choices, and I can see some parents not wanting their kids to read the books because of it.

Other reviews I’ve read have described ‘Gather the Daughters’ as too depressing. Whilst I don’t think it is too depressing I also would say that if you like to read light and easy books it won’t be for you. Overall though I would recommend it.

4/5

‘Gather the Daughters’ is released on 25/7/17 in hardback and kindle editions and on 5/4/18 in paperback

Pre-order now:

Hardcover (£14.88)

Kindle (£8.49)

Paperback (£8.99)

Other Reviews:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Did I miss your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

Visit the Official ‘Gather The Daughters’ webpage

2 Comments

Filed under Dystopian, Fiction review, YA

Deals of the Moment- July 2017


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. Whenever there are deals of interest I post on here. Links are associate links but money goes back into the blog.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.


Room- Emma Donoghue

Sad but beautiful book about a mother who is being held captive with her (and her captor’s) son.

You can buy it…here (only £1.39)


Alone in Berlin- Hans Fallada

Alone in Berlin has been on my wishlist so long that I couldn’t even remember what it was about, but I do remember that it was a review I read on BCF in my pre-blogging days that made me add it. So maybe I should buy it.

It’s about a house of families living in Berlin during WW2, and how one family starts a campaign of defiance against the Nazis

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I haven’t read anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, probably something I should rectify. Plus this one is on The Rory List

You can buy it….here (only £1.99)


Eleanor & Park- Rainbow Rowell

I’m not a big fan of YA, but I do like Rainbow Rowell, I think it’s because she writes about ‘real’ characters, people like me. Eleanor & Park is a love story with a difference, two teenagers, not particularly popular or stereotypically attractive, but real.

Buy it…here (only £0.99)


Number 11- Jonathan Coe

I really enjoy reading Jonathon Coe. This one is about the connections between the public and private worlds

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

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Yes Means Yes: Sex Education


Warning: This post contains discussion of sexual subjects

Recently I have been reading ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a collection of essays which talk about female sexuality and consent and how stereotypical visions of female sexuality contribute to a rape culture. It’s a powerful book. I had planned to get to the end and then talk about it overall as I would do with a book normally, but recently some of the articles have really been getting in my head and I feel like it might be better to write down some thoughts specifically on those articles. I probably won’t do this for every article but it seems like a better way to look at it, and I will do a sort of summery post when I’m completely done.

This is my fourth of these review/thought posts for Yes Means Yes, you can read the first here,the second here and the third here

Real Sex Education

-Cara Kulwicki

In her article Kulwicki talks of what she thinks is an ideal sex education. She says that yes it should include those things a classic sex ed should include; information about STI/Ds, information about safe sex, birth control and pregnancy; but it should also include topics like consent and what makes a healthy sexual relationship- that is consent and pleasure for both parties. She says it should include different types of sexual intercourse than just standard hetrosexual penis in vagina type sex. It should include gay sex, oral sex, masturbation.

Initially this idea sounds a bit like encouraging sex, but actually when you read more you realise that it doesn’t encourage sex as such but physically and emotionally healthy sex lives. It says you shouldn’t be ashamed of exploring your sexuality and of seeking sexual pleasure. Sex is a way of giving and receiving pleasure as well as a way of connecting with someone else, and as a way of creating life.

It also encourages openly talking about sex, which makes it easier for those participating to talk about what they like and don’t, and makes it easier for questions to be asked. It means people shouldn’t feel ashamed about buying condoms, or asking about sexual health concerns, which will promote better physical sexual health.

Shame of sex only breeds the sort of culture where a raped woman can be blamed for her rape, whilst a boy can be forgiven because his sexual urges got the better of him. Where it is understood that everyone should be enjoying what is happening then the idea that a girl who gives no consent is ‘asking for it’ shows that there is no healthy sexual relationship there. It won’t stop rape, but hopefully changing the culture around sex can make it be less excusable.

Reading this chapter made me think about my own sex ed. at school. I went to an all girl’s catholic school (almost 20 years ago) so my experience of sex ed. is probably particularly bad for the time but I do remember it being more or less non existent. I remember learning the very basics of mechanics in science, which was more conception than sex itself, I remember seeing a diagram of intercourse in the science text book- but I don’t actually remember it being mentioned (almost as if sperm just magically appears in your vagina!).

I also remember a talk about contraception. It was given by an unmarried female RE teacher who had taught my Mum when she (Mum) was a teenager. Let’s just say as a group of teenagers we couldn’t imagine that she had any sexual experience (of course now I know that presumption may well be untrue but it meant that the likelihood of us going to her with questions was next to nothing). In the talk she basically listed the different types of contraception, what they did and didn’t do, and told us that ‘The Catholic way’ was the best (i.e. don’t have sex until you’re married then have lots of babies). I can’t imagine Kulwicki’s ‘Real’ sex education ever going down well in schools like mine, but I do think that it may actually be more important there because the girl’s knowledge came from unreliable sources like magazines, and other teenagers, maybe we got the information, but we didn’t get the emotional education, and if parent’s were ‘ultracatholic’ then they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking their parents either.

What do you think should sex ed be changed this much? Does it encourage sex? If it does is that a bad thing? How does this type of sex ed line up with your own experiences?

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Filed under essays, Feminism, non-fiction review

The Accidental Woman- Jonathan Coe


Synopsis

Maria is a woman who is drifting through life. Things happen to her, but she has little drive in what happens. We follow her life for fifteen years, starting just before she starts university.

 

Review

I found The Accidental Woman a little awkward. It’s Coe’s first novel and bares little resemblance to his others. The style of writing is different, and although it is interesting in its difference it also feels a bit like it was used to spread out a story where nothing much really happens.

Coe himself is the narrator, he tells Maria’s story as an author, referring to himself as such. At times this is somewhat amusing because he suggests that he might know how the reader is feeling, but then proceeds not to follow the thought pattern of the reader. In this way he ends up going off on tangents, saying he will tell us about something, then taking a chapter to talk about something else. It is this that makes it seem like a device to spread out the story, but it also makes the reader feel a little like Maria- powerless.

Maria was unlikeable. She seemed so unconnected to her own life, things happened to her and she just let them happen. She would want things but never go for them. She liked to think of herself as somewhat of a loner, but she had friends who she didn’t make any effort with, or any effort to keep, even when she liked them (which was rare).

At a few points it did seem like there was going to be more of a plot, but those points were never explored (which I suppose is Maria’s way), and that was frustrating as a reader.

If you’ve read other novels by Coe you may like to explore the differences in his style by reading ‘The Accidental Woman’, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as your first Coe- maybe ‘The Rotter’s Club’ instead

2.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£8.99)

Kindle (£2.99)

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Yes Means Yes: The First Time


Warning: This post contains discussion of sexual subjects

Recently I have been reading ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a collection of essays which talk about female sexuality and consent and how stereotypical visions of female sexuality contribute to a rape culture. It’s a powerful book. I had planned to get to the end and then talk about it overall as I would do with a book normally, but recently some of the articles have really been getting in my head and I feel like it might be better to write down some thoughts specifically on those articles. I probably won’t do this for every article but it seems like a better way to look at it, and I will do a sort of summery post when I’m completely done.

This is my third of these review/though posts for Yes Means Yes, you can read the first here and the second here

An Immodest Proposal

-Heather Corinna

In ‘An Immodest Proposal’ Corinna tells the story of a stereotypical loss of virginity. Two teenagers, a boy and a girl. They have been dating for some time and are becoming gradually more sexually involved. The boy has made it be known that he would like to have sex, but has not been pushy. The girl decides that she is ready and when an appropriate time comes they lose their virginities together. There is some bleeding for her but it is not painful, he orgasms, she doesn’t.

It is what would often be described as a ‘good’ first time for her. She didn’t feel forced or unprepared, he was nice to her and waited for her to be ready.

Initially you think what is the issue here? Then Corinna reveals that this story- a perfectly believable- and for many associatable- story is about the boy. He wants sex, she is merely ready. For her the experience is not unpleasant, but she gets no real pleasure from it. So is it really fair to call it a good first time? Should she not hope for more? The whole way the language is used to describe a first time makes it seem very passive. Maybe she does want sex, maybe she does want it to feel good, but she has been always told that for a girl’s first time to be good she only has to be willing. When you really think about it that isn’t fair. A boy is expected to want sex, she is expected to wait for love, or at least someone special.

On the other hand a first time should maybe not be expected to be actually good. The participants are inexperienced, they might not even fully know what they themselves like, let alone what their partner wants. They know the mechanics, but maybe not specifics. As they do more and see more what they like, and get to find what makes the other person feel good, as they become more confident, thing should (hopefully) get better. The girl may feel she can get more involved, and be a participant, rather than just someone who had something happening to them.

In an ideal world everytime should be good, but it’s a bit far to actually expect every time to be good. I think women should be able to feel that they can seek pleasure (even the first time), and that they can initiate sex, but for them to expect it, maybe not.

What do you think of this? Are women at a disadvantage when it comes to sexual pleasure from the onset?

 

 

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Filed under essays, Feminism, non-fiction review

Yes Means Yes: Killing Misogyny


Trigger Warning: Rape and (sexual and physical) violence

Recently I have been reading ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a collection of essays which talk about female sexuality and consent and how stereotypical visions of female sexuality contribute to a rape culture. It’s a powerful book. I had planned to get to the end and then talk about it overall as I would do with a book normally, but recently some of the articles have really been getting in my head and I feel like it might be better to write down some thoughts specifically on those articles. I probably won’t do this for every article but it seems like a better way to look at it, and I will do a sort of summery post when I’m completely done.

This is my second of these review/though posts for Yes Means Yes, you can read the first here

Killing Misogyny: A Personal Story of Love, Violence, and Strategies for Survival

-Cristina Meztli Tzintzún

Cristina grew up in a family which seemed stuck in a loop of misogyny. Her father cheated repeatedly on her mother, he was violent, on their first date he raped her, not even the first time she had been raped. Her aunt faced a similar fate, beaten by her father for being raped and later forced to marry her rapist.

Cristina vowed to break the chain, she would never let a man treat her as her family members had been treated. She started reading feminist literature, and became a self-proclaimed feminist. In her late teens she even wrote and had published an article about how she planned to break the chain of misogyny.

Then she met Alan. Alan seemed like the perfect man from first glance. He was a male feminist, and would get into discussions about feminism with Cristina. When their relationship became sexual he agreed to get tested for STIs before they had sex for the first time.

But things were not as they seemed. Cristina developed herpes from oral sex. Initially she refused to see Alan, but she believed that he would be the only one to give her attention knowing that she had an STI and she returned to him.

Over the next few years Alan and Cristina had an on again off again relationship. He would cheat on her, or give her and STI and she would leave him, but she couldn’t resist him and kept returning. She even went to a group for women like her, but they didn’t know about feminism and she didn’t feel a connection to them. Alan knew about feminism and she believed that he wanted to change, despite all the evidence to the contrary she thought she could be the one to change him.

Cristina has left Alan now, for good. She helps support women who are in the situation she was in. She says that she needed to experience that misogyny for herself to be able to understand it, to understand those who are trapped by it, and to do her best to defeat it.

That she has turned her life around is a hopeful message. It says you can change your life. You can get yourself out that hole. You might fall, but you can get up again. Or at least that is how it should be.

Somehow I find that hope hard to see. She kept returning, how can she be sure that this is it? Even her mother was disappointed with Cristina for leaving Alan, but she is stuck in the same life herself. I get that she doesn’t want that life for her daughter, but I find it hard to see why she stays. I know there probably is not one simple reason, but it seems to diminish the hope from Cristina’s own escape.

I have said before that I feel I’m privileged when it comes to my experiences as a woman, so maybe this is why I can’t see the hope in this story, because I have never experienced anything close to it (and I am thankful for that)?

 

What do you think? Am I missing the hope in this story? Does it have more power than I realise for the right people?

 

Feel free to comment anonymously on this post. It will go into a moderating queue but am unlikely not to approve it

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Filed under essays, Feminism, non-fiction review

Yes Means Yes: Touch and Consent


Recently I have been reading ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a collection of essays which talk about female sexuality and consent and how stereotypical visions of female sexuality contribute to a rape culture. It’s a powerful book. I had planned to get to the end and then talk about it overall as I would do with a book normally, but recently some of the articles have really been getting in my head and I feel like it might be better to write down some thoughts specifically on those articles. I probably won’t do this for every article but it seems like a better way to look at it, and I will do a sort of summery post when I’m completely done.

Reclaiming Touch: Rape Culture, Explicit Verbal Consent, and Body Sovereignty.

-Hazel/Cedar Troost

Reclaiming Touch is the first article which really got into my head because it made me look at consent in a whole different light, but I’m still debating with myself over it. In the essay Hazel/Cedar Troost talks about the idea of a sort of expanded consent. The idea is that you should seek consent, and be asked for consent for any type of physical contact, be it a simple hug or something that already requires consent.

Initially I did think that the idea was a bit extreme, that was my sort of gut reaction. I couldn’t really imagine the idea of asking my friends if I could hug them, or my partner if I could hold his hand, because it’s just something that we do. I’m a quite physically affectionate person, I probably wouldn’t just go ahead and hug someone I’d never hugged before without asking, but I guess I would presume consent from having done it before.

It came to a point though where I realised that actually some of that sort of talk is used to justify rape where someone has had sex with the rapist before. In those situations we talk of saying yes once as being consent for that one time, we shouldn’t presume that another time the person may not want it.

It could be the same for any sort of physical contact, just because I have hugged my friend in the past it doesn’t mean that they want a hug now, plus there are times when different types of physical contact might not be appropriate.

Another point Troost made is that seeking consent for small things made seeking consent for bigger things easier. It sets a sort of precedent which means that you wouldn’t even think twice to ask about big things, because you ask for everything else. To me this means that teaching people to ask for consent for everything would mean that they grow to respect other boundaries and makes ‘grey’ rape less likely.

Troost also says that this type of consent actually improves a person’s sex life. I don’t know, it somehow to me makes it seem that things would be less spontaneous, and when you know someone well you can probably read the signs that they aren’t into it (or they would tell you). However I can see it being liberating knowing exactly what each other wants, and knowing that you are both getting enjoyment from the situation. It makes sure you are both on the same level.

 

 

What do you think? Is it extreme to seek consent for everything, or does it create a good habit?

7 Comments

Filed under essays, Feminism, non-fiction review

Do No Harm- Henry Marsh


Synopsis

Henry Marsh is a renowned brain surgeon working in the NHS in the UK. In ‘Do No Harm’ he gives an account of his life as a brain surgeon. He speaks of how the NHS has changed over the years, his victories and his failures, and the effects these things have had on his life.

 

Review

I found out about ‘Do No Harm’ first through Ellie’s blog, and I added it to my wishlist instantly, since that time I heard lots of great things about it, but it was only when it came up on the kindle monthly deals that I actually bought it, in some ways I’m glad I waited, in others I wish I’d gotten to it sooner.

I actually ended up reading it when I was in hospital for my own operation (because apparently I’m insane) I think that I could read about operations at the time without getting freaked out shows just how interested I was. Having said that I wouldn’t say it’s a good book for the faint hearted, there are some rather graphic descriptions of operations- although personally I felt Marsh’s sense of control and anxiety more than I felt squeamish.

You did get a sense of Marsh caring about his patients, he spoke about how he had caused the death, or lack of life, in some patients and how you had to lock that knowledge away because otherwise you would just give up, but that didn’t stop you from feeling guilty. When you do operations which do have such a high level of risk then there are bound to be times that it doesn’t go to plan, and Marsh has probably saved more lives than he has ended, he has a strange mix of guilt for these cases and the stereotypical surgeon arrogance. It made me start to think of that arrogance as a sort of defense mechanism- like a surgeon needs that arrogance otherwise they will always be terrified of what failure will cause, they have to believe things will go right to be able to take that risk.

Another interesting thing was how Marsh talked about how the NHS has changed, and, as he sees it, has become less effective. He wrote of how things were held back by too much paperwork, and bureaucracy, and computers that didn’t work. At one point he is trying to get some x-ray results, but he doesn’t seem to be able to see them on his computer so he goes to the x-ray department, who only seem to be able to see them with one person’s log in. The computers are meant to make things easier but Marsh says if they had the old x-ray films he could have just picked it up and looked in a few seconds instead of trying for a long time to see them on the computer.

This is particularly poignant now because the NHS has been getting lots of cuts, and sold off to private companies, both things which makes it harder for frontline staff to do their jobs. We are very lucky in this country. Our NHS is (generally) free. Anyone can access healthcare. Without the NHS some of Marsh’s patients wouldn’t have been able to afford their operations. It seems crazy that people think the NHS should be scrapped. No it’s not perfect, but the thought of it going away terrifies me, and that seems to be what our current government is working towards. We have a nursing shortage but for some reason the government decided that they would stop the nursing bursary, and we have lots of foreign nurses which we may no longer have with Brexit, and lots of nurses are leaving because their pay has been frozen, they’re having to do more hours, and the paperwork side of things has increased so much that they feel they can’t give time to patients.

Okay end of political rant.

I really found this book interesting and Marsh’s style of writing made it easy to read as well rather than clinical and dry. Now I just have to decide whether to buy a similar book about heart surgery next or Marsh’s second memoir…any recommendations?

4.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.99)

Paperback (£6.29)

Other Reviews:

Ellie @ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

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All the things the Witches of Harry Potter Taught Us (Part 3)


See part one here (all about Hermione) and part two here (Luna and Ginny)

molly_weasley_sketch_by_crazyukulele-d73s1rl

Image by Jodi Jones

Molly

I doubt there is a Potter fan out there who doesn’t love the moment when Molly shouts “Not my daughter you bitch!” before defeating Bellatrix, in some ways it’s a surprise because we never really saw Molly using non-household spells, we know she’s good at those, but it doesn’t make us expect her to be a powerful witch, but on the other hand we know how much she cares about her family, of course she’s going to do everything she can to protect Ginny, and we know she’s fierce, even Arthur seems a bit afraid of her! It’s easy to underestimate her, but we really shouldn’t.

lily__s_sacrifice_by_julvett

Image by julvett

Lily

Lily shares a lot with Molly when you think about it, her strength is her love for others, she even sacrifices herself for Harry. That’s pretty much the bravest thing she could have done. From what we have been told about her we also know she is a very powerful witch.

I also want to mention Narcissa here, although not exactly a hero just as Molly and Lily she puts her family first. She took a risk with making the unbreakable vow with Snape, and lying to Voldemort about Harry’s death. Her decisions weren’t the best, but I sort of see her as how Lily might have been if she had followed Voldemort to protect Harry instead (which I know wouldn’t have worked, but if it could have she may have been quite similar).

 

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All the things the Witches of Harry Potter Taught Us (Part 2)


Hermione fans see part one here

luna_with_gryffindor_lion_by_feliciacano-d55yjto

Image by Felicia Cano

 

Luna

If you were to ask me who my favourite Harry Potter character is I would probably tell you that it’s Luna. Luna is ‘different’ but she doesn’t seem fazed that people think she is ‘loony’, she stays true to who she is which is a really difficult thing to do when you don’t really fit it, especially when you’re a teenager. I also love how Luna is so able to believe in things, maybe they don’t exist, but rather than believing what she can see Luna also believes that you can’t prove that things don’t exist just because you can’t see them. It’s where Luna and Hermione can really clash, but in a way they are both clever for the way they see things, Luna wants to explore and discover, whereas Hermione is about knowing things which are already known, Luna might not be able to reel off parts of Hogwarts; A History, but she could tell you how to know when a wrackspurt is about.

Luna is also very loyal, even though the trio haven’t exactly been the best of friends to her she still helps fight, firstly at the Ministry of Magic, and the mural in her room, whilst a little disconcerting shows how much her friends mean to her. Plus she’s kind and caring to others, helping Mr Ollivander when they are both locked up in Malfoy Manor, and helping those students who were having trouble once the deatheaters ruled the school.

Ginny

Initially I didn’t really like Ginny, she just seemed a bit flat as a character, I suppose at least part of that is because we see things through Harry’s eyes, and Ginny was fan girl type obsessed. In that sense she’s probably initially the closest we get to a stereotypical teenager, and also with how she comes out later. I also didn’t really like the Harry/Ginny thing, I think it was just too perfect, although by that point I did like Ginny herself.

As we learn more about Ginny I came to like her more. Despite being the youngest of 7, and with all her older brothers she managed to make herself known. From breaking into the broom closest to practice flying, to her bat boogey hex, size is no measure of power.

We also see her caring side with Luna, and with Harry.

One thing I really haven’t like is a tendency for fans to ‘slut shame’ Ginny for basically being a normal teenager. So she dated more than any of the trio but they are probably the exception, I imagine that there are plenty of others in Hogwarts who dated just as much (or even more) than Ginny did, we just never heard about it (I bet Bill was popular in his day!).

 

I think this post is long enough now. I’ll continue later in the week.

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All the Things the Witches in Harry Potter Taught Us (Part 1)


It has been 20 years (20 years!) since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone first made it’s quiet little entrance onto our shelves, who would have thought that kid’s book I pulled out my stocking on Christmas day 20 years (20 years!) ago would turn into what it has today. Books, and films, and spin-offs and theme parks. My first home online, with the old DSL connection, on the very basic Bloomsbury message board where you had to type in your username everytime, was because of Harry. I have spoken often before about how much these books have been so important to me, and I don’t want to just be rehashing old ground (I’ll leave some links at the bottom though). but I do need to do something.

So I was thinking, and I thought about those beautiful new house editions which came out yesterday, and I was thinking about how they are a thing to possess and treasure, rather than just a book to read, but it’s not really the books as an object that are the things you treasure. You treasure the memories, and the stories, and the characters.

Then I started thinking about how J.K has been criticised for her books being too white, too middle-class. Maybe it’s not representative of the whole world, maybe it doesn’t have to be because guess what? There are some amazing characters in there. And, at a time when J.K was being told not to put her first name on books because it would put boys off, she wrote some really amazing, strong women. Harry Potter isn’t a feminist novel, but maybe it should be. Let’s see we have to of course start with…

hermione_-_jim_kay_1_

Copyright Jim Kay

Hermione

The ‘Greatest Witch of Her Age’. Hermione I think is so many of us, she was certainly the character I would have said I had most in common with, at least early on. She’s smart, and bookish, and ‘good’, and she doesn’t have many friends. She’s not beautiful, she has big teeth and bushy hair (let’s put to the side the idea that she’s black, imagine her how you always imagine her). I even thought that I looked like Hermione. We can all see why she’s bookish, we are all the readers escaping into another world, and think about it Hermione was actually escaping into another world, she was muggleborn, she’d probably read The Hobbit, and The Secret Garden, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, things like that don’t happen to ‘normal’ people. She must have been so excited.

So with this bond of hers of course Hogwarts was exciting, and of course she wanted to do well, so of course she spent days reading the textbooks and anything else she could lay her hands on, it was a dream. I even imagine that it was disappointing to find how much was the same as a muggle school. No wonder she was upset that ‘nobody liked her’ it stopped the place from being an amazing fairytale she had ended up in. The  Harry and Ron brought that fairytale back (maybe more than she would really have expected!).

She was the clever one, Harry may have thought with his heart, but he really needed Hermione to be his head. And she ended up not being such a goody-two-shoes after all.  In first year she set a teacher on fire. In second year she brewed an advanced potion which required taking a book from the restricted section of the library, stealing potions from the Snape’s  personal supplies, and hiding it in a bathroom. And that was just the first two years!

I guess what I’m saying is that she had a sense of being good, and right. She appreciated the rules, but she was willing to break them for the right reasons, and her friends were top of that list of reasons.

She taught us that it’s ok to be clever, and strong, and to stand-up for people (and house elves). She showed us that women can get high up  politics without having to be ‘bitches’ (even if she did have a slight bossy streak).

We are all Hermione, and that’s awesome.

(ok so I got here and realised I’d basically written a mini essay on Hermione….so stay tuned for part two)

Other places where I rave about Harry Potter:

How to Know You’re Still a Potterhead

If You Could Only Remember 1 Book

Chamber of Secrets Forum- In Memoriam

Looking back, teenage reading

Harry Potter Week

Me and Harry

Me and Books

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The Lake House- Kate Morton


Synopsis

Whilst on enforced holiday police officer Sadie Sparrow stumbles across an abandoned house that holds a secret. 70 years ago a young child went missing and was never found. Sadie decides to revisit the case and see if she can solve it.

Reveiw

I really enjoy Kate Morton’s books, I like the combinations of mystery, history and relationships. The Lake House is a little bit different, it has more of a ‘standard’ mystery story about it, mainly because it involves an unsolved crime and the actual police where her others are generally more about the people who are involved in the mystery. It still definitely had her personal element, looking at the way the past had affected people now. From how Sadie’s own past had an effect on her to how the child’s own family had been affected by his disappearance.

There were a lot of theories banded about, at first I thought that maybe ‘The Lake House’ was an earlier book by Morton which had been republished because I always felt I was one step ahead of Sadie. Thinking about it a bit more closely though I think that made me be more closely entangled with what Sadie was thinking, and I had more information than Sadie as the book would shift between times, and included sections where you saw into the minds of different people involved.  This gave not just a good look into the mystery, but also a look at the lives and minds of those involved.

There were a couple of things I disliked I thought that (highlight for spoiler) Constance’s killing of Mr LLewellyn just didn’t seem like it was really needed for the story and I found that (highlight for spoiler)Bertie actually being Theo was just a bit too convenient, it fact it slightly spoiled the end of the book for me, maybe I just like a few loose ends.  It didn’t quite hold my attention as well as other Morton books either.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.74)

Paperback (£5.59)

Hardback (£14.99)

Other reviews:

The Book Musings

Silver’s Reviews

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Nasty Women- 404 Inc.


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis

‘Nasty Women’ is a series of essays written by nasty women, that is women who apart from being marginalised because of being women are also marginalised for other reasons e.g. being gay. being of non-white descent. The essays talk of life for women in the world today.

Review

I’ve really been into feminist books recently (apart from this I have recently read Moranifesto and Animal, and I’ve started Yes Means Yes), so when I saw this on netgalley it instantly caught my eye.

Nasty Women is inspired by Donald Trump’s comment about Hillary Clinton being a “Nasty woman” and the following twitter trend, because of that I sort of presumed that the book would be written by American women. I was wrong, it doesn’t matter to me, just a comment. 404 Inc. are based in Scotland so, understandably, a lot of the writers were British, and many of those Scottish. In a way I maybe prefered this being British myself because that made a lot of the essays easier for me to relate too.

Having said that I do think I’m a privileged woman. My everyday sexism stories are few and far between, I’m straight, I’m white, I’m educated. Some of the people in these essays aren’t as lucky as I am, and those essays were eye opening. I don’t want to go into too much detail, there were elements I recognised and connected to, and those I didn’t so much but which I could understand.

As far as readability goes it was quite variable. Most of the essays were easy to read, I’d say the conversational types, it doesn’t mean the ones I had to concentrate on more weren’t good, just harder going.

The fact that Donald Trump won though really makes me angry. Partly as a woman, mainly as a human being.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£8.99)

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Readathon Closing Survey


Well, here we are, I finished! That was good fun, could have kept going though.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 10/11 somewhere between 11pm and midnight I started . getting a bit blurry eyed so took a break to look at twitter and the challenges, then had supper whilst reading and got some sleep. I guess my waking up hour was tough too, I spent about half an hour hitting snooze, that was 8:30am…not sure which hour
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?

Armada when really well for me, I spent most of yesterday evening and some of this morning on that one. I did have in my head to read bits of Moranifesto in between because I could just read one essay to break things up, but I ended up not doing that.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

Not really. I wouldn’t mind it being longer, but I suppose people who read the whole 24hrs wouldn’t agree with me there!
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

I liked the challenges, especially some of the more creative ones.
5. How many books did you read?

2 and a bit.
6. What were the names of the books you read?

Career of Evil- Robert Galbriath

Armada- Ernest Cline

and I started Cauldestone- Linda Gillard
7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Probably Armada
8. Which did you enjoy least?

errr…I guess Cauldstone because I didn’t finish
9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I really want to, but it depends, this time I had an excuse to do nothing.

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