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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?

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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

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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?

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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

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

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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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Children’s Hour: Jack and the Beanstalk


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.
A few months ago we got a forest school put into our nursery. The kids loved it, and still do, and we found it really sparked the imagination of some of the children. One of the children suggested that the posts for the hammocks (which we put up as an when) could be candles for a giant’s birthday cake, so that started us off on a whole topic about the giant who had visited our forest school. Of course we needed to find out more about giants so we read Jack and the Beanstalk.

I think there is a reason why some stories stay around for a long time, and the kids certainly enjoyed this one. They used what they had learnt from the book to facilitate their play, from hiding, to cutting down the big tree so that he would fall.

The edition which we have is a lift-the-flap book (it’s the same as the one shown and linked below) which is always something which helps to engage the kids because they love lifting the flaps. They asked to read it quite a few times after it had first been introduced, and a lot of them could tell parts of the story off by heart. We even had one parent coe in and tell us that their son had been talking about Jack and the Beanstalk at home- which is really lovely to hear.

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Paperback with CD (£7.99)

Kindle (£2.69)

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Small Great Things- Jodi Picoult


Synopsis

When the baby of .a white supremacist dies fingers point to black nurse Ruth who had been banned from caring for the child.

Review

I was excited about reading ‘Small Great Things’ as I generally really enjoy what Picoult writes, but I was also a little unsure. For a white author to write in the voice of a black woman could be problematic, I was concerned about stereotypes, or just that generally the character wouldn’t be right. Thinking about it more I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about it, after all part of Picoult’s writing is about people who aren’t herself. She can never be a black woman, but then she can never be a male lawyer with epilepsy either, or a child who speaks to God (or at least she can’t be that and a teenage witch, school shooter, abused teenager, abused child, suicide victim) so why shouldn’t she be able to imagine the voice of a black woman?

Whether she wrote an actual realistic representation of a black woman, I can’t say, but I didn’t think that it was stereotypical, and I did think that an interesting view was put on racism which seemed rather empathic. Whether she was actually a believable character is a bit of a moot point, because Picoult definitely did a good job of highlighting, sometimes unnoticed, elements of prejudice and racism.

What I was more surprised about was how Picoult managed to make the voice of the white supremacist a voice which couple be understood and sympathised with- beyond simply as the voice of a man who had lost his child. It wasn’t so much that you could understand why he was racist as you could see how someone could fall into that life.

There was one part of the story which I did find hard to believe, and I don’t think it was really needed. Maybe Picoult just wanted a twist at the end. I won’t say what it was because of spoilers.

I found when I started writing this review that ‘Small Great Things’ is being made into a film– lets hope a better job is made of it as there was on ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’

4//5

Buy it:

Paperback (£2.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£4.99)

Other Reviews:

Annette’s Book Stop

So Many Books, So Little Time

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

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

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Beelzebelle- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Beelzebelle is the fifth book in the Clovenhoof series

Synopsis

Only Jeremy Clovenhoof could accidentally acquire a baby, but he’s ready to be a Dad- in his own way.

Meanwhile Michael has discovered a new church, Ben has found a new hobby in taxidermy, and there is a wild beast roaming around Sutton Coldfield.

Review

I’m glad to see the series back with Clovenhoof, not that I didn’t like the others, I just missed that group.

Clovenhoof approaches parenthood like no other, including hiring a monkey assistant  and joining a mother’s group in a quest for milk for the baby. Of course things don’t quite go to plan, especially as he’s not really the baby’s father!

A lot of the more action-y part of the story is focussed around Michael who finds a new church which rewards its members for ‘good deads’, a bit like a supermarket loyalty card. and also, accidently creates a beast in the lab where he works.

As with most of the clovenhoof novels most of the action is towards the end, but there is an amusing journey to get there.

4/5 

Buy it

Kindle (£3.50)

Paperback (£8.99)

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Deals of the Moment- April 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 Girl is a Half-formed Thing- Eimear McBride

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing has been on my radar since in won the women’s prize. One of those on the wishlist but never bought ones. It is about a girl and her relationship with her brother who had a brain tumour as a child.

You can buy it…here (only £2.29)


Freedom- Jonathan Frazan

I’ve never read any Frazan, there’s a reason he’s popular right? Otherwise nobody would read him because of his tendency to be a bit of a…idiot.

This is one of those expansive novels and I can’t quite work out the plot except that it’s about a family.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)



The Lady in the Van- Alan Bennett

About the lady who lived in a van by Alan Bennett’s house. Completely on this list because Alan Bennett.

You can buy it….here (only £1.29)


Grief is the Thing With Feathers- Max Porter

I’ve picked up this one several times in the bookshop, but somehow never actually bought it. It’s about 2 boys, and their father, and a crow, and their lives after their mother/wife dies.

Buy it…here (only £2.59)


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What I’m Reading Now


Hi, I’m back! Considering all the reading I’m going to be having the time to do, and that I’ve done already I thought I would do a sort of last, now and next post.

I’ve also linked this post up with ‘It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?’

I have just finished…

‘Small Great Things’- Jodi Picoult

I got a surprisingly good deal on the hardback of this, it was actually cheaper than the paperback. It’s the usual Jodi Picoult moral dilemma story. This time a black nurse is accused of being the cause of the death of the child of a white supremacist. I thought the voice of the white supremacist was surprisingly easy to emphasise with, but it’s difficult to judge how well her voice of a black woman came across. Full review to        follow

I am currently reading…

Do No Harm- Henry Marsh

Because I am insane I decided to start reading this memoir of a neurosurgeon about a week before I went into hospital. Whilst there I put it on a break (although I was still reading it the day before my surgery). I am finding it really interesting, and readable, and I’m almost done with it now. I got a good deal on this one too.

All the Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doeer

This one has been on my TBR pile since Christmas. I only started it today so I have no real opinion yet but I’ve heard great things, and it’s a novel set during wartime which I tend to enjoy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone- J.K. Rowling

I brought this one into the hospital mainly as a comfort read, and actually didn’t read much of it in the end (I have been tending to watch The Gilmore Girls as a comfort thing instead which takes even less concentration). I may still read it but it’s looking pretty unlikely. (link is to another edition)

Up next…

Nasty Women- Various

I got this series of essays about being a woman in the 21st century from netgalley. Once I’m done with ‘Do no Harm’ it’s going to be the next read on my kindle

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Filed under general, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Memes, what are you reading?

Deals of the Moment- March 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.



Left Neglected- Lisa Genova

Left Neglected is about a woman who essentially looses the left side of her body, her mind just can’t connect to it. With Genova’s medical knowledge and sensitivity it’s a great read.

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


Inside the O’Briens- Lisa Genova

Inside the O’Briens was one of my favourite reads last year. This one is about a man with Huntington’s and his family

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)



The Dust That Falls from Dreams- Louis de Bernieres

I’ve bought this one mainly because it’s by Louis de Bernieres and it’s set during war time, about 3 sisters and the boys who lived next door.

You can buy it….here (only £1.99)


Do No Harm- Henry Marsh

I bought this after having it on my wishlist after reading Ellie’s review. It’s the biography of a neurosurgeon and I’m reading it now, so far it’s interesting, although I’m not sure it’s the wisest thing to read on the week I’m due to go to hospital for an operation myself!

Buy it…here (only £0.99)


 

 

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Our Endless Numbered Days- Claire Fuller


Synopsis (written by me!)

When Peggy is young she goes on a trip with her father to a cut off area of the woods, her father tells her that the world has ended, and everyone she knew is dead. They are the only survivors and must keep themselves alive living off the land.  The story is told looking back after Peggy has found the world again, and discovered that her father was lying.

Review

It took me a very long time to get into this book, I as reading it for months. I was in the middle of a slump, which probably was a part of it, but the story was slower than I had expected, and a lot of the time not much was really happening. Towards the end it picked up a lot, and I read the last, maybe third, quite quickly. I’m not sure that last section actually brought up the story enough for me to recommend it, but it probably just about made it worthwhile for me as someone who had already started it.

As I’m writing this review more bits of the book are coming back to me from what was quite hazy. There were some good plot points throughout, although not enough to make me eager to read. They were nice little touches though, and they might be enough for others.

Looking at other reviews it seems to be a very much ‘marmite’ book, so I suppose it might be worth giving a try, although it seems that if you don’t like it close to the

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other Reviews

Me, My Shelf and I

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Word By Word

 

 

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Hellzapoppin’- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Synopsis (from amazon)

Life at St Cadfan’s is never dull. There’s the cellar full of unexplained corpses. There’s the struggle to find food when the island is placed under quarantine. And there’s that peculiar staircase in the cellar… Being a demon in Hell has its own problems. There’s the increasingly impossible torture quotas to meet. There’s the entire horde of Hell waiting for you to slip up and make a mistake. And there’s that weird staircase in the service tunnels… Brother Stephen of St Cadfan’s and Rutpsud of the Sixth Circle, natural enemies and the most unnatural of friends, join forces to solve a murder mystery, save a rare species from extinction and stop Hell itself exploding. The fourth novel in the Clovenhoof series, Hellzapoppin’ is an astonishing comedy featuring suicidal sea birds, deadly plagues, exploding barbecues, dancing rats, magical wardrobes, King Arthur’s American descendants, mole-hunting monks, demonic possession and way too much seaweed beer.

Review

Hellzapoppin’ is the fourth book in the Clovenhoof series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. We have seen the characters in previous books in the series, but they were minor characters, and the events in the previous books they appeared in don’t really have an effect on the events in this one (I would recommend reading the others anyway).

This one did take a little more getting into than the first couple (probably about the same as Godsquad though), and it had less of an action focus.

I did like seeing the image of what Hell might be like though- again a little bit of a poke at bureaucracy that we first saw in Clovenhoof. I also likes the friendship between Ratspud and Stephen. It seems like an unlikely friendship- a monk and a demon, but actually they ended up bringing out the best in each other.

I also liked some of the odd inventions in hell, and the inclusion of Escher and C.S Lewis. If you know the work of Escher you can probably imagine how hellish a piece of architecture based on his work could be. C.S Lewis is known for being a Christian and his Christian writings so it’s interesting to see him here, ‘on loan’ from Heaven.

escheromhoogomlaag

I enjoyed the comedy of the events at the monastery, even the dark humour which isn’t always to my taste.

Part of the reason I picked up Hellzapoppin’ was because of my loss of reading mojo, which I thought this might get through, and I was right.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£7.99)

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Deals of the Moment- February 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 Thorn Birds- Colleen McClough

I read ‘The Thorn Birds’ quite recently, I haven’t reviewed it yet but I did enjoy it. It’s about a family who move to Australia and the following generations of that family.

You can buy it…here (only £2.39)




Love Anthony- Lisa Genova

The usual grip of Genova’s compassion and realism. Love Anthony is about two women. One coming to terms with life after her autistic child has died, and another dealing with separation from her partner and how they help each other in unexpected ways

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


Bad Science- Ben Goldacre

I’ve been interested in Bad Science for a while. It’s about all the less that scientific science things which we are exposed too. Things like ‘detox’ diets, and studies sponsored by companies which will benefit from certain results.

You can buy it….here (only £1.99)



The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

I’m pretty sure most people know the general premise of ‘The Hunger Games’ by now, and it’s well worth a read. It focuses around one contestant in ‘The Hunger Games’ a game held every year where children are chosed to fight to the death.

Buy it…here (only £2.69



The Secret Scripture- Sebastian Barry

Ever since I read ‘The Secret Scripture’ I’ve been hoping for a Barry novel which I loved as much. It’s the story of Roseanne, a woman who has spent most of her adult life in a mental institution in Ireland, how she got there, and her life in there.

Buy it…here (only £3.09)


The Good Immigrant- Various

The good immigrant is a series of stories from immigrants to the UK about the nature of being an immigrant. I’m really interested in this one

Buy it…here (only £2.99)


The Storyteller- Jodi Picoult

I always love a Picoult novel and ‘The Storyteller’ is no different. The story of a hidden Nazi war criminal who confesses his sins to a Jew, and her battle with what to do with the information

Buy it…here (only £0.99)

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Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole- Allan Ropper and David Brian Burrell


Synopsis (from amazon)

What is it like to try to heal the body when the mind is under attack? In this gripping and illuminating book, Dr Allan Ropper reveals the extraordinary stories behind some of the life-altering afflictions that he and his staff are confronted with at the Neurology Unit of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Like Alice in Wonderland, Dr Ropper inhabits a place where absurdities abound: a sportsman who starts spouting gibberish; an undergraduate who suddenly becomes psychotic; a mother who has to decide whether a life locked inside her own head is worth living. How does one begin to treat such cases, to counsel people whose lives may be changed forever? Dr Ropper answers these questions by taking the reader into a world where lives and minds hang in the balance.

Review

Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole was one of my five star reads last year, but my lack of blogging means I haven’t actually reviewed it yet.

In fact I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction drive over the last year. In so far as I’ve been reading this year proportionally I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction.

It’s a little bit like ‘The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly’ combined with ‘House’. Lots of real life medical symptoms which seem to have obscure reasons behind them. That tends to be a lot of physical symptoms which have neurological causes, or neurological or psychological symptoms which actually have a physical cause. It’s part of what I always found interesting about House, so it’s even more interesting to see it in real life.

In other ways it’s a lot like some of Oliver Saks work. However I found it easier to read than the things that Saks had written (and I’ve read).

I also liked that you got to see a bit of the hospital itself and also the authors own learning curve. It added a little something. I guess you could say it’s a human element which you don’t get from standard case studies.

5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£6.64)

Paperback (£6.99)

Hardback (£17.99)

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Filed under Fiction review, health, non-fiction review, psychology (non-fiction)

Year in Review 2016


2016 hasn’t been the best year when it comes to reading, and when it comes to blogging things have been even worse.

I’ve read 27 books, considering that at one point I was averaging two a week this is a big dip, and quite a few of those were short books.

Slowly things are getting back on track, and I’m hoping to read more, and blog more in 2017.

I rated three books as 5 stars in 2016. I’ve only reviewed one so far;

Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline which is really a book you have to read. I put it off because I wasn’t sure if it was my thing, and how I regretted it.

The other two are; a none fiction book about brain disorders, Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole by Allan Ropper and Brian David Burrell, which is really interesting.

And Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova, a story about a man diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, and his children who may also have the disease in their futures.

I’m not going to talk about my disappointing reads this year, mainly because I think that my lack of concentration may have made me less tolerant of harder books.

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Filed under Fiction review, general, Musings, non-fiction review

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books Santa Should Leave Under my Tree


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday again so The Broke and the Bookish are hosting Top Ten Tuesday.

This week it’s 10 Books Santa (or Father Christmas if I’m being English) should leave under my tree. My wishlist is over 180 items long, most of them are book, because every time I see a book I want to read I add it to my list, but then when I’m shopping I see other books I want, so I only tend to get books from my list as presents. Some things have been on there a long time, the oldest item was added in 2006, the oldest book in 2009. So my problem isn’t pickig 10 things but narrowing it down to 10!

As always in o particular order

1) Where My Heart Used to Beat- Sebastian Faulks

I have been a bit disappointed by the last few Sebastian Faulks novels, but I also have loved past novels, so I shall keep going, this one sounds like it will be a good ‘un.

A man looking back on his life which includes some of the biggest events of the 20th century

 

 

2) Yes Means Yes- Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti

Maybe not really a present book, but one I am really interested in all the same.

It’s about approaches to women’s sexuality and rape. How approach to a woman’s sexuality leads to the type of victim blaming which is often seen in rape cases, and how things need to change.

 

3) Moranifesto- Caitlin Moran

What can I say, I love Caitlin Moran. Another collection of her columns, and a few unique to the book pieces.


 

 

4) The Lake House- Kate Morton

Another favourite author. I’ve loved everything my Kate Morton. With all the usual intrigue, a missing person, an abandoned house, and an old woman with secrets The Lake House promises to be no different.



5) Career of Evil- Robert Galbraith

 I have somehow yet to get my hands on this third Cormoran Strike book.

 

 

6) Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami

 

It’s been too long since I read any Murakami (I read Sputnik Sweetheart a few months ago) and I really like the sound of this one. Tsukuru had four best friends in school, but one day they decide they don’t want to be his friends anymore. Since then Tsukuru has been adrift.

7) Migraine- Oliver Saks

 A psychology one, always high on my non-fiction lists. This one is about migraine, and manly interests me because I get the

8) The Closed Circle- Jonathan Coe

I mainly want this one because it’s a sequel to The Rotter’s Club. This time about the characters who were teenagers in The Rotter’s Club now living in the Britain of ‘New Labour’

9) A Recipe for Bees- Gail Anderson-Dargatz

I read A Cure for Death By Lightening a few years ago and really loved it. This book, by the same author is about a normal woman with gifts she can’t quite cope with. I very much doubt this will be under the tree, it doesn’t appear to be in print anymore

10) A new Kindle.

 

I haven’t even asked for this because I don’t know what kindle I want. I just know my current one is getting tired and I could really do with a new one before it completely conks out on me.

 

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Filed under general, Memes, Top 10 Tuesday

Some Small Reviews, and Serial Reader


breakfast-serial-iconRecently I’ve been reading some books on an app called Serial Reader. Serial Reader is a free app, which I found out about on thingy thing. It has a number of  books on it (mainly classics) which are sent to the app in small bite sized chunks (of about 10 minutes worth of reading time) with one chunk being sent per day.

It’s really designed for people who don’t have time to read (who I don’t understand) but I find it’s good for when I’m waiting for a little time and don’t want to get involved in a whole book.

So far I’ve only been reading the shorter pieces, which I feel is more ideal, but you can read longer things, it just takes longer.

There is a Serial Reader premium, which allows you to read ahead and highlight, among other things.

So far I’ve read two books, and started two others, so I thought I’d review these. I also started Sun Tzu’s Art of War which I doubt I’ll finish but is on the Rory List

The Monkey’s Paw– W.W. Jacobs

Most people know the barebones of The Monkey’s Paw, at least anyone who has watched a few of The Simpson’s Halloween episodes. The  basic premise is that there is a monkey’s paw which gives the owner three wishes. However it is somewhat of a curse because of the way the stories came true.

It was pretty spooky, but had a little too much superfluous information which made the beginning drag, and the actual wishing bit was more brief than I expected. A quite entertaining little read.

If you would rather read it on your kindle it’s only 49p

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button– F Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the story of a man who ages backwards, he is born as an old man, and dies as a baby.

My own knowledge of the story comes mainly from the film, the film lasts over two hours, so I knew they really must have stretched the plot to make a short story into such a long film. I think I expected a bit more similarity though.

It was an enjoyable read, and I think it did well as a short story (which I often find are lacking in something). I didn’t really feel much for Benjamin, but I think what was more interesting was how others reacted to him.

You can read this one on kindle for free (as part of Tales of the Jazz Age)

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What the world needs now is Hygge? | Chrisbookarama


Finding comfort with hygge reading.

Source: What the world needs now is Hygge? | Chrisbookarama

I saw this post earlier today on Chrisbookarama (but for some reason wouldn’t comment, so I hope she doesn’t mind me borrowing her idea).

The post was about comfort reading, which I think a lot of us are in need of right now.

My ultimate comfort read is Harry Potter. There’s an escapism in those books, that whole new world that Rowling has created, I think theirs also the element that I grew up with those books so it sort of takes me back to happy times reading them for the first time. I have many happy memories related to Harry Potter.

If buzzfeed is to be believed I’m not the only one who finds comfort (and even strength) in Potter.

There are other books to escape into, although not a chick-lit fan generally, I do find that chick-lit is pretty easy to sort of ‘dive’ into, and in that sense it’s comforting because I find I don’t need the same concentration to get into a story.

The other thing is ‘issue’ type books (especially Jodi Picoult, not exactly comforting as such, more they wrap you up in someone else’s world and someone else’s problems, somehow your problems don’t seem so bad themselves.

What are some stories you like to escape into?

 

 

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Delusions of Gender- Cordelia Fine


Synopsis (from amazon)

This is a vehement attack on the latest pseudo-scientific claims about the differences between the sexes – with the scientific evidence to back it up. Sex discrimination is supposedly a distant memory. Yet popular books, magazines and even scientific articles increasingly defend inequalities by citing immutable biological differences between the male and female brain. Why are there so few women in science and engineering, so few men in the laundry room? Well, they say, it’s our brains. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology, “Delusions of Gender” rebuts these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, help perpetuate the status quo. Cordelia Fine reveals the mind’s remarkable plasticity, shows the substantial influence of culture on identity, and, ultimately, exposes just how much of what we consider ‘hardwired’ is actually malleable. This startling, original and witty book shows the surprising extent to which boys and girls, men and women are made – and not born.

Review

This book has been on my kindle since 2014 (according amazon anyway), which makes me wonder how long some of my ‘real’ books have been on the shelves unread.

I kind of wish I had read it sooner, but I’ve been on a bit of a roll when it comes to non-fiction recently, so maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind before.

It was a while ago so more exact details are lost to me, but there are certain things which still stand out, and in a way doesn’t that make for a better review? I was helped a little to remember by reading Ruth’s review (which I recommend).

Delusions of Gender did take a little getting into, in terms of a ‘sciencey’ book it was easy to read, and it was interesting, but not necessarily immediately engaging.

I did find some of the arguments a bit repetitive, which makes sense when you’re talking about different but similar studies, but not so much when you are talking about the same one. It is difficult though if you are referring to something said earlier to know how much to say to make sure the person you are writing to knows what you are referring to.

The main thing I got out of it really is about how much difference small things might be able to make, especially when a child is still trying to work out their identity. Would not gendering a child change this? I’m not so sure, at some point the child themselves would want to know what they are, and I’m sure they could work it out.

In a way those little things seem hopeless, because they’re the type of things that you don’t even think about, so how can you hope to have a gender neutral environment.

4/5

Buy:

Kindle (£4.68)

Paperback (£8.99)

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Filed under Feminism, Fiction review, non-fiction review, psychology (non-fiction)

Juliet, Naked- Nick Hornby


Synopsis (from amazon)

Annie lives in a dull town on England’s bleak east coast and is in a relationship with Duncan which mirrors the place; Tucker was once a brilliant songwriter and performer, who’s gone into seclusion in rural America – or at least that’s what his fans think. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker’s work, to the point of derangement, and when Annie dares to go public on her dislike of his latest album, there are quite unexpected, life-changing consequences for all three.

Review

Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book this quickly, took me just over a day. I’m not convinced it’s all down to the book, I was phoneless at the time (ok that’s not quite true, I had the boyfriend’s old iphone which is so out of date that apps just aren’t compatible with it) so there were less distractions.

Part of it was the book though. Hornby is very readable, and the story was engaging. It had a bit of a High Fidelity feel about it, although I wouldn’t say it’s up to the same level.

Part of what I liked but also sort of disliked was that the characters were rather unlikeable. I suppose that makes them more real, which is good, but it did mean I didn’t feel that much of a connection with them.

The ending sort of fizzled out too which was disappointing but maybe true to life.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£8.99)

Kindle (£3.99)

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Love Anthony- Lisa Genova


Synopsis (from amazon)

Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a ‘normal’ life was shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn’t speak, hated to be touched, almost never made eye contact. Then, just as Olivia was learning that happiness and autism could coexist after all, Anthony was gone.

Now she’s alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman, Beth, brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way. In a piercing story about motherhood, autism and love, two unforgettable women discover the small but exuberant voice that leads them both to the answers they need.

Review

I’m becoming quite a fan of Lisa Genova, and I enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. It still had the sort of knowledge I would expect of Genova, she obviously had more than a layman’s knowledge of autism, but that didn’t really feel like the centre of the story.

The story was more about the two women, and, although that story was somewhat involving, it didn’t have that extra kick that I expect from a Genova novel.

I felt like I was reading the novel waiting for the two stories, the stories of the two women, to intertwine. Part of that was I think because of the synopsis I read (which was the one above) which made it seem like there would be more of a relationship between the two women. The relationship was pretty intense, but it was also a while in coming.

I did enjoy it it just wasn’t a typical Genova.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.99)

Paperback (£7.99)

Currently part of amazon’s 3 of £10 promotion

Other reviews:

So Many Books, So Little Time

Reading With Tea

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Psychology (fiction)

Deals of the Moment- September 2016


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.


Going Solo- Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s second autobiography, chronicalling his adult life, mainly his time in the RAF during WW2. As a child I prefered the first; Boy, but now I think I’d prefer this one, it’s been a long time, maybe I should re-read.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Inside the O’Brians- Lisa Genova

I enjoy Lisa Genova, so I’ll almost certainly buy this one. It’s about a cop diagnosed with Huntington’s, and the impact the inheritable disease has on him and his family.

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


Where’d You Go, Bernadette?- Maria Semple

I’ve heard really good things about this book, but I’ve never read it, so I’m considering it. It’s about an amazing woman who goes missing, and her teenage daughter’s search for her.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Horologican- Mark Forsyth

The Horologicon, a book all about language, is one of my favourite books. Interesting, funny, entertaining, and easy to read. I recommend it to everyone.

You can buy it…here (only £2.79)

 

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Ready Player One- Ernest Cline


Synopsis (from amazon)

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

Review

I’d been hearing great things about Ready Player One, reviews that almost made me want to read it, but I didn’t really think it sounded like my type of book, so I didn’t seek it out.

Then I was trying to think of a present for my partner. I’d had a fair amount of success with books which sounded good but a little too fantasy or sci-fi for me, so Ready Player One came to mind.

My partner really enjoyed it, so, when my TBR pile wasn’t looking especially appealing, I decided to borrow it.

Oh how I wish I’d read it sooner. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sci-fi- which is the main thing that puts me off, but this book definitely fell on the love side of things.

It had everything, action, romance, intrigue. The geek in me loved it. A lot of people say that they liked the nostalgia element, but most of the things based o the past were from the 80s, I was born i 87 so a bit early for me, and I was’t a console player anyway which a lot was based o. Maybe if I was I would have enjoyed it eve more, but as it was I loved it.

5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.84)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other reviews:

Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Book Journey

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Silly Little Mischief

Ink and Page

Girl Vs Bookshelf

Leeswammes’ Blog

Words For Worms

Nylon Admiral

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

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Filed under Contempory, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction review

Oddjobs- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


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

Synopsis (from amazon)

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but someone still needs to do the paperwork.
Incomprehensible horrors from beyond are going to devour our world but that’s no excuse to get all emotional about it. Morag Murray works for the secret government organisation responsible for making sure the apocalypse goes as smoothly and as quietly as possible.
In her first week on the job, Morag has to hunt down a man-eating starfish, solve a supernatural murder and, if she’s got time, prevent her own inevitable death.

Review

I’ve been really enjoying the Clovenhoof books by Goody and Grant (I’m reading Hellzapoppin’ at the moment) so when they sent me an offer to read the first book from their new series I jumped at the chance.

Oddjobs has the same humourous tone that the Clovenhoof books do but I think it has a bit more of an edge to it.  It’s a little bit political, about work in general and probably a lot about more about government work (I’ve only ever really worked in that sector so I’m not sure how true it would be of other sectors).  Basically about red tape and silly ideas.

It has more action throughout that the Clovenhoof books too, which makes it readable in a different way.

Clovenhoof is probably a bit more easy going, but I think overall this might be a more interesting series, I’ll be looking forward to the next one.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.50)

Paperback (£6.99)

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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Humour

Deals of the Moment- August 2016 (Part 3)


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.

I have 28 tabs of deals open this month so I’m breaking this post into three parts; this part (part 3) is books I’m interested in. Part 1 was books I’ve already read, and, part two was books I own/can borrow but haven’t read yet,

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


A Year of Marvellous Ways- Sarah Winman

I’m mainly interested in this because I enjoyed ‘When God Was a Rabbit‘ (it was one of my first ARCs too).  It’s about an old woman and a solider.

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- Hunter S. Thompson

I partly want to read this because it’s a modern day classic, and partly because it’s on the Rory List. It’s about drugs and the collapse of the American Dream.

You can buy it,,,here (only £1.99)


Emma- Alexander McCall Smith

I enjoyed the original Jane Austen Emma, and I like Alexander McCall Smith’s writing so I would be interested to see his take on the classic

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)



All the Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doerr

I’ve heard really good things about this World War novel, and I love world war novels, I’m not sure how I haven’t acquired this one yet.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

 


Orange is the New Black- Piper Kerman

I guess just because I am addicted to the show but raced through the latest series. About a woman in a woman’s prison. Probably the one on this list I’m ;east likely to buy.

Buy it…here (only £1.99) Buy the others in the series, Charlotte Grey, and Birdsong, for £4.99 each.


 

 

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Deals of the Moment- August 2016 (Part 2)


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.

I have 28 tabs of deals open this month so I’m breaking this post into three parts; this part (part 2) is books I own/can borrow but haven’t read yet, part 1, yesterday, was books I’ve read, and part 3 will be books I’m interested in. My computer is going to the macshop tomorrow (l0ts of little problems) so I will try and get part 3 out on Friday but we will see how it goes.

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


On Beauty- Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is one of those writers I’ve always wanted to read, but sometimes never got around to. On Beauty, a story about love and feuding families is on my Mum’s shelf.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd

I bought this one when I saw how cheap it was. It’s on the Rory List and I’ve heard good things about it.

You can buy it,,,here (only £0.99)


Americanah- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Another author I’ve always meant to read (I have read We Should All Be Feminists, but that doesn’t really count). My sister has Americanah so I may be able to borrow it at some point. It’s about two refugees from Nigeria who were in love but ended up in different parts of the world.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


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Deals of the Moment- August 2016 (Part 1)


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.

I have 28 tabs of deals open this month so I’m breaking this post into three parts; this part (part 1) is books I’ve already read, part two (hopefully tomorrow) will be books I own/can borrow but haven’t read yet, and part 3 will be books I’m interested in. My computer is going to the macshop tomorrow (l0ts of little problems) so I will try and get part 3 out on Friday but we will see how it goes.

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


Still Alice- Lisa Genova

I really enjoyed this rather sad novel told by a narrator who has early onset dementia. It’s very touching, and language wise an easy read but also rather emotionally difficult

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

To be honest I didn’t love this classic about book burning, but there were some points which made it worth a read.

You can buy it,,,here (only £1.99)


The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion

I loved this funny, quirky, sweet book about a clever man who thinks he has found a clever way to find love. It was so much more than I expected

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Mockingbird- Kathryn Erkstien

A beautiful book about a girl with Asperger’s whose brother is killed. The normal grief of that situation added to her autism.

Buy it…here (only £1.39)

 


Girl at the Lion D’or- Sebastian Faulks

This book is actually the first in the trilogy which ends with, what is probably Faulks’ most well known novel, Birdsong. It’s probably my least favourite of the trio but it’s a nice little book about a girl who starts working at a slightly seedy hotel. I read the series in the wrong order and it does stand well as a novel on its own.

Buy it…here (only £1.99) Buy the others in the series, Charlotte Grey, and Birdsong, for £4.99 each.


 

The Secret Scripture- Sebastian Barry

Since reading The Secret Scripture I have read a lot of other Sebastian Barry novels, and none are as good as this one, I loved this one. About a woman who has spent most of her life in a mental institution

Buy it…here (£1.09)


Clovenhoof series- Heide Good and Iain M. Grant

Funny, political-ish books about satan being expelled from Heaven and being sent to live in Birmingham. I love these books, I’ve read 1-3 (and the short) and ordered number 4 when I saw it on offer, number 5 is out too, but that’s not on offer.

Buy one, two, three, four (only £0.99 each)


The Elements of Eloquence- Mark Forsyth

I love Mark Forsyth, his books about language are interesting and funny, I recommend them to everyone.

Buy it…here (only £1.19)


The Pact- Jodi Picoult

I love Jodi Picoult, I’ve read all her books. This one is about a boy and a girl who apparently had a suicide pact, or did the boy call the girl?

Buy it…here (£1.99)


Look Who’s Back- Timur Vermes

Hitler wakes up in the modern day. Everything is wrong, he must find his power again. Satirical, funny, a bit on the edge.

Buy it...here (only £0.99)


Middlesex- Jeffrey Eugenides

This is one of my favourite books. A sort of coming of age novel, kind of hard to describe, but there’s a family secret involved and I can’t tell you because that will spoil the story. Just read it

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


 

The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filler

An incident happened, it effected the whole of one man’s life

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


Eleanor and Park- Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl, she’s not fitting in great, but then she meets Park. A nice little love story.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Beach- Alex Garland

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book about a secret island, and the things that happened there.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


How to Build A Girl- Caitlin Moran

Yay Caitlin Moran. How to Build a Girl is a little too autobiographical to feel like novel, but I still loved it.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- Jonathon Safron Foer


Synopsis (from amazon)

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies.

When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.

Review

After loving Everything is Illuminated I had high hopes for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, maybe that’s why I was a little unimpressed. It took me a while to really get going, and it really didn’t have the emotion that I expected. I expected Oscar’s Dad’s death to be a major theme but it was more of a trigger point for the rest of the story.

There was a certain amount of emotion, but I’m pretty sure Oscar was autistic, or at least he didn’t show emotion in the ways most people would. It just didn’t hit me like I expected.

Reading on a kindle didn’t help either, there are pictures in the book, which were in the kindle version, but they were never very well displayed, whether that is just a kindle thing I’m not 100% sure, but I think it probably was.

In the end I did sort of enjoy it, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£8.99)

Other reviews:

Knitting and Sundries

The Perpetual Page Turner

Lit and Life

 

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, YA

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps- Michael Faber


Synopsis (from amazon)

Note: I don’t like this synopsis, but it’s the best of a bad bunch and I can’t write a better one myself, so…yeah

Siân, troubled by dark dreams and seeking distraction, joins an archaeological dig at Whitby. The abbey’s one hundred and ninety-nine steps link the twenty-first century with the ruins of the past and Siân is swept into a mystery involving a long-hidden murder, a fragile manuscript in a bottle and a cast of most peculiar characters. Equal parts historical thriller, romance and ghost story, this is an ingenious literary page-turner and is completely unforgettable.

Review

This is more a novella than a novel, which suits my reading habits right now.

The synopsis makes it sound more exciting that it really is, it’s more interesting than exciting. The story carried on nicely though, and was quite beautifully written, it’s no Crimson Petal and the White but it fills the gap well enough.

There’s not really that much of a story to it. The letter offers some intrigue, but it isn’t really used to the best it could be, and the romance was a bit everyday.

I did enjoy it enough though to be disappointed when my kindle copy ended at around 60%, and I felt a bit ripped off, I must admit the customer service at canongate were very good when I complained on twitter though.

Both editions listed below also contain the novella ‘The Courage Consort’

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.53)

Paperback (£8.99)

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Literary

Top 10 Tuesday: Books to Sink Into


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday again so The Broke and the Bookish are hosting Top Ten Tuesday.

This week it’s freebie week so I’ve decided to do Ten Books to Sink Into. That is books which swallow you up. Books you can’t put down. Books you read above other things (which for me would be netflix, Hearthstone, and getting off the bus at the right stop!) .Books where you have to read ‘just one more chapter’. Books you don’t want to end.

They might not be literary greats. They are rarely growers (although a grower may become a book to sink into, it’s not a complete book to sink into). They may not even be books you remember, but they are books that at the time really hooked you

The Shell Collector- Hugh Howey

I finished this one yesterday, and considering how my reading has been of late I read it really quickly. It’s an easy read but involving. It is about a journalist who is writing an expose on a family of oil tycoons who she blames for wreaking the world.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)- Mindy Kaling

I had to watch the American version of the office after reading Mindy’s first autobiography just so I wouldn’t loose her. Why isn’t The Mindy Project back yet?

Fangirl- Rainbow Rowell

I have a history of reading Rainbow Rowell on the bus and then sitting at the bus stop because I have to finish the last little bit (it happened with Landline too). This one about a fanfiction writer and her twin starting university is my favourite though

The Rosie Project- Graeme Simison

This funny and quirky book really drew me in. It’s about a man, Don who is trying to find the perfect women, although going about it in maybe too much of a scientific manner. I’ve recently read the sequel, The Rosie Effect which I enjoyed but didn’t quite have the same hook

Charlotte Street- Danny Wallace

I remember little real content of this book, other than that it was a sort-of romance and involved a lost camera. I do remember that it left me buzzing though, and that I devoured it

Handle With Care- Jodi Picoult

I pretty much devour any Picoult, but this is my favourite. About a mother suing her midwife who missed a birth defect in her daughter.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin- Louis de Bernieres

Although as a whole I preferred The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts to de Bernieres more well known novel, Captain Corelli’s was more compelling to read (if you ignore the first chapter). It tells the story of an Italian army captain billeted to a Greek island during WW2 and how he falls in love with a woman who should be his enemy.

Harry Potter Series- J.K. Rowling

Well if you’ve been a visitor for a while you probably know how much of a Potter nut I am

Shades of Grey- Jasper Fforde

There is meant to be a sequel to this fantastic dystopian book book coming out, but will Fforde ever finish it (George R,R Martin fans may think they have it bad but I’ve been waiting  almost a decade for the next Shades of Grey book)

Texts From Jane Eyre- Mallory Ortberg

This funny little book of texts literary characters and authors might write is great for flicking through and quickly digestible.

 

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Deals of the Moment- April 2016


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 Double Comfort Safari Club- Alexander McCall Smith

I really enjoy the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, but I haven’t got as far as this one yet

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Lost and Found- Tom Winter

A nice little book about a woman writing letters to nobody, and the postman who finds them

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


 

Round Ireland With a Fridge- Tony Hawks

Tony Hawks is one of those comedic writers, like Dave Gorman, of the type that was very popular a few years ago, part comedian part travel writer, This one is about him hitchhiking around Ireland with a fridge.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Wool- Hugh Howey

The start of Hugh Howey’s much praised trilogy, and the best of the three in my opinion, set in a future where there survives just one silo of people.

You can buy it…here  (only £1.99)

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The Seed Collectors- Scarlett Thomas


Synopsis (from goodreads)

Aunt Oleander is dead. In the Garden of England her extended family gather to remember her, to tell stories and to rekindle old memories. To each of her nearest and dearest Oleander has left a precious seed pod. But along with it comes a family secret that could open the hardest of hearts but also break the closest ties…

Review

I adored Pop Co. and loved The End of Mr Y, but the Scarlett Thomas books which I’ve read since have been a bit disappointing, not not good, just not as good. So I approached The Seed Collectors with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.

I think with The Seed Collectors Thomas is getting back to the writer I love, the writer who I was excited to see new books by. I think the gap between this book and her last was bigger, and maybe that shows.

It’s still not as good as Pop Co. It took more time to fall into- more like The End of Mr Y- but I ended up loving it all the same.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected, I expected it to mainly be a book about the seeds, but it wasn’t really about the seeds much at all. I suppose you could say it was a story about a family, but that makes it sound boring. This isn’t some ‘normal’ family, everything is screwed up. Plus some of the people are vile, ok all of the people are pretty awful (so if you like to love your characters, this probably isn’t the one for you).

To be completely honest it’s not really very plot driven, but I really enjoyed it all the same and found myself reading it in the same sort of incessant way that I would normally only read a plot driven book in.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.22)

Paperback (£6.74)

Hardback £13.48)

Other reviews:

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link in comments

 

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Deals of the Moment- December


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. In this post I talk about the interesting deals which I might buy or which I’ve already read.

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.


Bad Pharma- Ben Goldacre

I’ve heard lots of good things about Ben Goldacre, in this book he talks about the problems with medication trials.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Dirt- Mötley Crüe

When I read this autobiography of Mötley Crüe  I enjoyed it so much more than I had expected. It’s not for everyone, it sometimes goes out of it’s way to offend or disgust you, but I really enjoyed it

You can buy it…here (only £1.49)


When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit- Judith Kerr

I mentioned this autobiography in my Top 10 Books Set During Wartime post. A very good account of a family fleeing the Nazis

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)

 


Stardust- Neil Gaiman

A boy goes over a wall in search of a shooting star, but finds more than he expected. Loved this one.

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


The Gun Seller- Hugh Laurie

This has been on my wishlist for so long that I’d forgotten what it was even about. Still sounds really good though, it’s about an assassin with on conscience.

. You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


 

 

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A Tale For The Time Being- Ruth Ozeki


Synopsis (from amazon)

Ruth discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore of her beach home. Within it lies a diary that expresses the hopes and dreams of a young girl. She suspects it might have arrived on a drift of debris from the 2011 tsunami. With every turn of the page, she is sucked deeper into an enchanting mystery.

In a small cafe in Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao Yasutani is navigating the challenges thrown up by modern life. In the face of cyberbullying, the mysteries of a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and great-grandmother, and the joy and heartbreak of family, Nao is trying to find her own place – and voice – through a diary she hopes will find a reader and friend who finally understands her.

Review

‘A Tale for the Time Being’ marks the beginning of what I am calling my return to ‘normal’ reading, ok still not completely normal for me- I’m reading one book at a time rather than two. I’d had a few single books which have held my attention since my return to blogging, but now I’ve had a bit of a run, and I hope it’s not just due to the books I have chosen. (You can read a bit about my lack of reading here). Is it ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ which made me be able to come back to my old reading levels? I’m not sure, but I do know that I enjoyed it, I do know that I wanted to read it above other activities which require less concentration (and which I had been holding my interest more than reading), and II do know that since reading it I have read a number of other books which have held my attention (which I intend to review in due course).

So, yes, I really did enjoy ‘A Tale For the Time Being’, but actually I don’t know if I have anything significant to say about it.

It did take me a little time to get into, but once I did get into it I didn’t want to stop. I especially wanted to know what had happened to Nao, and Ruth’s story helped fuel that as she got so absorbed in Nao’s story.

I liked Nao’s voice. It made subjects which were sometimes very emotional easy to read, and her story really did sounds like she was telling it to a friend who she was slowly getting to know.

I certainly recommend it. Although if you can go for a paper copy rather than an ebook, I read the ebook and all the footnotes were at the end of the book, which doesn’t really work when you can’t flick through it!

4.5/5

Buy it:
Paperback (£8.99)
Kindle (£5.29)

Hardback (£16.59)

Other reviews:

The Relentless Reader

Words for Worms (contains spoilers)

Fay Simone

As the Crowe Flies (and Reads)

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

 

 

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Furiously Happy- Jenny Lawson



Synopsis (from amazon)

In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

As Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.’ It’s a philosophy that has – quite literally – saved her life.

Review

I loved Let’s Pretend This Never Happened so I was excited when I heard Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) had a new book coming out.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened was hilarious, so I was expecting the same from Jenny’s new book. It was very funny, but it had more of a serious side than her first book had. I still liked it, but it wasn’t as easy a read.

This one featured a lot about Jenny’s mental illness. That made it less light, although a lot lighter than you would expect of a book which has a high content about mental illness. She had a philosophy of always being Furiously Happy when her illness would allow her. A way to show that she could have a good, happy, time, a way to say that that illness is not her.

Jenny says she wrote this book with people who have the same problems as her in mind. So I wasn’t exactly the target market, but I still found the book pretty uplifting, and I definitely enjoyed Jenny’s sense of humour.

If you loved the first one you can’t go wrong with this, but I think you may be better off starting with the first.

4/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£12.08)

Kindle (£7.49)

Paperback: pre-order (£8.99)

Other reviews:

Alison McCarthy 

Words For Worms

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

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Top 10 Books Set in War Time


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday again so The Broke and the Bookish are hosting Top Ten Tuesday.

This week it’s Top 10 Books set for… my old post on books set in wartime has been one of the most popular in the lifetime of my blog, so I’ve decided to update it. Some of the books are the same, some have changed.

Links lead to reviews, pictures lead to amazon. In no particular order.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr, book, book cover

1) When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit- Judith Kerr is a semi-autobiographical book which features a Jewish family fleeing from Nazi Germany. It’s one of the first World War novels I can remember reading, although I read a lot around the same time (most notably Carrie’s War, Goodbye Marriane, Goodnight Mister Tom, The Peppermint Pig), and it’s the first of a series of three books.

 

Regeneration, Pat Barker, book, book cover

 

2) Regeneration- Pat Baker Pat Baker has written a fair few war novels (I’ve reviewed Double Vision on the blog, which is more modern) but the Regeneration trilogy is by far her best (of what I’ve read, anyway). It is set in a hospital where shell-shock victims are treated, with the aim of sending them back to the trenches

 

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks, book, book cover
3) Birdsong- Sebastian Faulks this love and war story was a favourite of mine for a long time.

 

 

 

The shouting wind, linda newbery, book, book cover
4) The Shouting Wind- Linda Newbery, a favourite of mine as a teenager. All about a girl working for the RAF (as a sort of air controller) during WW2 who falls in love with one of the pilots. It’s the first of a series which follows three generations of a family, but it’s the best.

 

5) A God in Ruins- Kate Atkinson follows the life of Teddy, a significant part of which includes him being in the RAF. Very emotive.

 

 

 

Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet, Jamie Ford, book, book cover
6) Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet- Jamie Ford tells the story of a Chinese boy, with a Japanese best friend who lives in America during the time of Pearl Harbour. It’s a side of the war which is more rarely covered. When I wrote the original version of this post I said that this was one of the best books set during wartime which I’d read recently, it still remains a firm favourite

 

Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay, book, book cover

7) Sarah’s Key- Tatiana de Rosnay As with The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Sarah’s Key is based on a less covered side of the war. This time in occupied Paris, and with rounding up of Jews there. It is heart wrenching. Since writing the original version of this post I think I’ve come to appreciate Sarah’s key more, certainly parts of it stick rather significantly in my memory.

 

 

Remembrance, Teresa Breslin, book, book cover
8) Remembrance- Teresa Breslin another book I read as a teenager, and it remains one of the best war novels I’ve read. Follows five young people through WW1, the most memorable scenes for me were with the young woman who became a nurse.

 

 


9) The Book Thief- Markus Zusak sad bit also beautiful story of a girl living in Germany during WW2. The story is narrated by death and includes a hidden Jewish man amongst other things. The film is well worth watching too

the almond tree, book, book cover

10) The Almond Tree- Michelle Cohen Corasanti the only one on my list which is not set during the world wars. This one is about the Israel/Palestine conflict, and it’s my recommendation of the moment.

Special mentions:Pegasus Falling: indie book about a paratrooper who ends up in a concentration camp, and his life afterwards.

Gone With the Wind: not strictly a war book, although it does feature the war of independence.

– Captain Correli’s Mandolin: More of a love story set during the war really.

The Kommandant’s Girl: about a Jewish woman in Poland during Nazi occupation who is hidden in plain sight and become the girlfriend of a Nzi Kommandant to help the resistance.

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Deals of the Moment- April 2016


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.


Missing Rose- Linda Newberry

I loved Linda Newberry as a teenager, in fact her book The Shouting Wind still holds a place in my heart (and remains one of the best war novels I’ve ever read), but I’ve only ever read one of her books written for adults. So Missing Rose, which is about a girl whose sister goes missing, sounds interesting to me

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Shakespeare- Bill Bryson

Still, somehow, the only Bryson I’ve ever read. Interesting and entertaining, definitely recommend if you are interested in Shakespeare. I read it during my short burst living in Stratford.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Not much this month, but some of the deals from last month are still on, so worth a check on those too.

 

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The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly- Matt McCarthy


Synopsis (from amazon)

In medical school, Matt McCarthy dreamed of being a different kind of doctor the sort of mythical, unflappable physician who could reach unreachable patients. But when a new admission to the critical care unit almost died his first night on call, he found himself scrambling. Visions of mastery quickly gave way to hopes of simply surviving hospital life, where confidence was hard to come by and no amount of med school training could dispel the terror of facing actual patients.

Review

McCarthy’s autobiography is an interesting and eye opening look into the American healthcare system. It would be interesting to see how it differs from a doctor’s experience in the NHS.

I must admit that I expected to see lots about patients who couldn’t afford the healthcare that they need, the idea of no NHS is not one I like, and I never really understood people who are against ‘Obamacare’ in the US. There was a little bit of that, but in was only really a very small part of the book, and I wouldn’t even say it was particularly hard hitting. At one point McCarthy was interning in the medical centre, which seemed pretty much like a drop in centre would be here in the UK, except that the same patients would keep returning. I say like a drop in centre because the treatment seemed rushed, and fairly basic, for example medication over other possible solutions which a specialist might recommend. Plus it seemed like it was mainly run by interns, which suggested a lack of continuity of care. McCarthy found that it was difficult to get to grips with the patient notes because there was a rush and lots of notes to read. He found reading just the latest notes wasn’t enough, but reading further took too much time. Part of this I think was to do with his approach, but it seems that with this patients would end up falling through the gaps.

There was also a section where he went to se and treat the homeless. This bit was too brief I felt, but he only did it for one night. There was certainly enough to give me admiration for people who do it. I think this bit would be pretty much the same in the UK, I imagine homeless people easily don’t see GPs, or go to appointments at hospitals, just because they are hard to keep contact with, and I’m not even sure if you can register with a doctor if you don’t have an address.

Anyway I am going on somewhat of a tangent. I really enjoyed this book. There were plenty of ups and downs and at times you thought that maybe Matt wasn’t cut out for it. After all being a doctor is one of those jobs where a mistake can really cost someone, even to the point of death. But everyone has to start somewhere and it was a real eye opener on how hard things are for doctors, especially those still training.

The hours were absolutely ridiculous. I mean you’d think that you want someone that important to be as sharp as possible when they were working, but the long days meant that was practically impossible. It certainly gave me more sympathy for the junior doctors over here (and I already supported them).

Despite the subject having the potential to be either over emotional or too dry I thought McCarthy did a really good job. There was emotion when it mattered, but it a way you had to be like a doctor and not get too bogged down in the emotions- and the way McCarthy wrote helped with that. He actually made it quite an easy read, and entertaining, which I hadn’t expected. I had expected it to be interesting, and it was, but I did expect it to be so entertaining. I thoroughly recommend

5/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£22.50)

Paperback– preorder (£11.23)

Kindle (£21.38)

Other Reviews:

Sam Still Reading

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

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