REVIEW: Beauty Bay Ethereal Bouncy Beam Multi Use Highlighter Palette

Sunday, 16 June 2019

When I got my hands on the Beauty Bay nine-pan matte eyeshadow palettes (my review for the orange-toned one can be found here), it was pretty much love at first sight. The colour pay-off was to die for, the staying-power was immense (except for on a rather unfortunate day that paired the wedding of one of my dearest friends with an attack of both out-of-the-blue pollen and a shower of confetti but let's be honest here, nothing could have handled that) and at the small price of just £6.50*, it went toe-to-toe against even the most expensive items in my make-up collection.
And I knew, right then, that I needed to pick up more from the Beauty Bay range.

REVIEW: Picture of Innocence, T J Stimson

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad. My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?
With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too. But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself… The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you. This is the story of every mother's worst fear. But it's not a story you know... and nothing is what it seems.

REVIEW: Boy in the Well, Douglas Lindsay

Monday, 10 June 2019

The body of a young boy is discovered at the bottom of a well that has been sealed for two hundred years. Yet the corpse is only days old... No one comes forward to identify #Boy9, and DI Ben Westphall's only suspects are the farmers on whose land the well sits. They certainly seem as though they have something to hide. But it might not be what he thinks. Soon, similarities from an old crime emerge and Westphall must look to the past to piece together the dark and twisted events taking place in the present.

Most Anticipated Book Releases - June 2019

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Admittedly, when it comes to June 2019, appealing new releases lean closer to slim pickings than other, earlier months in the year. But, fortunately, here at Reminders of the Changing Time, we have always been ones to prize quality over quantity.

Happy Pride Month: Books I Want to Read in June

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Do you know what? I woke up this morning with my heart full of love.
And, I know that sounds strange, but I really did. There is just something about Pride Month that really does make me feel proud; that makes me stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that, no matter how fucking horrible the world is right now, there is still love out there. 
There is still compassion, still happiness, still pride.
So, I just want you to know: no matter where you are, no matter who you love, no matter how alone you feel, I love you. I hold you in my heart and I think of you often because, without you, I would not be able to stand here and feel proud.

Review Round-Up - May

May Book Haul

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Whilst April's book haul was reasonable, May's is admittedly rather less so. But, with the final hand-in date of this year's essays taking place on the 28th, June will surely ensure an uninterrupted month of reading in which some of these books may even be looked at.

REVIEW: When All is Said, Anne Griffin

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Five toasts. Five people. One lifetime. "I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again." At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual – though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story. Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare. Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.

REVIEW: Look For Me, Lisa Gardner

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Detective DD Warren and Flora Dane are in a race against time to save a young girl's life - or bring her to justice. A family home has become a crime scene. Five people are involved: four of them have been savagely murdered; one - a sixteen-year-old girl - is missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case, as is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, "Look for me".

Try a Chapter: Mystery/Thrillers #3

Sunday, 19 May 2019

I always think that, with the Try a Chapter tag, it is almost as though I am miming actually leaving my house and going to a bookshop. It is as though I am sat on the floor, flicking through one and then another; drawn in by the pretty covers, but convinced by what is inside.
Because, if I had bought them in-person, as opposed to fluttering my eyelashes and somehow convincing a publisher to send me a digital copy of them, that is what I would have done to narrow down the choices and pick a winner.
After-all, nobody wants to waste all of their hard-earned pennies on a shit book.
And, I have found, when it comes to mysteries/thrillers/mystery-thrillers, it is pretty easy to tell from the first few pages when a book is just not up to scratch. Which is why, every time I get sent five or six of them on NetGalley, I toddle off to my room (I have just bought some yellow and grey dachshund bedding, so it is super cute and not at all mysterious and/or thrilling right now) and plan out this post, so that you all know which ones to lust after, and which ones to leave behind.

REVIEW: My Sister is Missing, Carissa Ann Lynch

Friday, 17 May 2019

A twenty-year-old local mystery that has never been solved. A bone-chilling VHS tape depicting a horrific crime. Neighbors with something to hide. And a sister who is missing. Emily has to find out the truth. But is her sister Madeline the victim… or the one to blame?

REVIEW: Social Creature, Tara Isabella Burton

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Louise is struggling to survive in New York; juggling a series of poorly paid jobs, renting a shabby flat, being catcalled by her creepy neighbour, she dreams of being a writer. And then one day she meets Lavinia. Lavinia who has everything – looks, money, clothes, friends, an amazing apartment… Lavinia invites Louise into her charmed circle, takes her to the best underground speakeasies, the opera, shares her clothes, her drugs, her Uber account. Louise knows that this can’t last for ever, but just how far is she prepared to go to have this life? Or rather, to have Lavinia’s life?

REVIEW: Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

Monday, 13 May 2019

Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - Lost on the left, Found on the right - and the two never seem to balance. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, Jackson attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected...

REVIEW: Little Darlings, Melanie Golding

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things. A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies. Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life. Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some of our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking—and rechecking—your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Best Dressed of the 2019 Met Gala

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

When I think of camp, my mind instantly goes to extremes; to crossing boundaries.
Think you’ve pushed hard enough? Push harder. Think you’ve gone big enough? Go bigger. Think you’ve gone loud enough? Go louder.
The truly mind-bogglingly amazing Susan Sontag, defined camp, as something that “sees everything in quotation marks”; “something of a private code, a badge of identity”. And, what is truest expression of our identity?
Something that makes everyone else stop and stare as you walk down the street.
Camp acknowledges—and delights in—flamboyance. It rejects our collective understanding of high art and revels in garishness. Camp embraces our most tawdry impulses.
This ethos is why I have been even more excited about the Met Gala than usual. Because, the reason why it remains my favourite night of the year after Halloween, is that it is, after-all, a costume gala; one that should thrive under the banner of extreme-before-all-else. After-all, was it not one of favourite and most campiest of historical heroes that once passed on the most important of all life-mottos: “everything in moderation, including moderation”?
If you are not going into this event with that on your mind, well, then you probably shouldn’t be there.
Lady Gaga

Books I Want to Read in May

Sunday, 5 May 2019

I have crunched the numbers and it turns out that, judging by my rate from over the last two years or so, I am averaging around 12 books a month. I know, I know - it's a mentally exhausting life, one which admittedly involves a lot of sitting on my arse, but someone has to do it.
Get a proper life, I hear you call, one that involves actually leaving your house. Well yeah, you might have a point there...
But, it turns out that by making my idiosyncrasies all the more evident, instead of working to change them, I thought that I should magnify them and therefore, put them to some use. But, seeing as though I am historically resistant to any sense of schedule, official or otherwise (I mean, just look at my blog schedule. What a mess), starting off this series by scheduling all 12 of those books would certainly devolve into certain chaos.
So, instead, this list contains just 6 and over the next few months, we shall see how this semi-structured schedule works for me.

Most Anticipated Book Releases - May 2019

Friday, 3 May 2019

May, not January, always feels like a new beginning to me.
It's the warmth in the air, the sun in the sky, the later nights and earlier mornings.
... Or it would be, if I was living anywhere else in the Northern hemisphere than rainy old England.
And so I thought that May, as the month of new beginnings, would be a perfect time to usher back a returning favourite, both to Reminders of the Changing Time's viewers and to myself personally: the most anticipated new book releases post!
And May, is sure to be a corker.

Review Round-Up - April

Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist 2019: Thoughts

Which Game of Thrones Character Am I?

Thursday, 25 April 2019

After debating over the last few weeks as to whether or not I would be actually tuning in this season, the Twitter hype-train over the last few weeks, has tossed me right back into the fervour of the Game of Thrones television series obsession.
I am a book purist, if you had not already noticed (this website is a book blog, after-all), so the chopping and changing, and the slightly convoluted decisions of a George R.R. Martin-free season always sets my teeth on edge. But, so far, so good.
Although, this conclusion might be wholly influenced by the fact that you can now get Hodor doorstops in Primark.

April Book Haul

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Well, well, well. It has been a while, hasn't it?
It turns out that I buy too many books. I know; a shock to absolutely nobody.
Which means that, creating a blog post that hauls them all (especially when you leave everything to very last second like I do), took far too much time and/or effort. But now that a month has come around where I haven't bought 40+ books, I thought now would be the perfect time to restart an old series and make a concerted effort to bring hauls back to Reminders of the Changing Time.
Although, how long it will last is anyone's guess.

REVIEW: The Retreat, Mark Edwards

Friday, 19 April 2019

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets. Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive. Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events. When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect… What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

REVIEW: Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him, Tracy Borman

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Henry VIII is well known for his tumultuous relationships with women, and he is often defined by his many marriages. But what do we see if we take a different look? When we see Henry through the men in his life, a new perspective on this famous king emerges... Henry's relationships with the men who surrounded him reveal much about his beliefs, behaviour and character. They show him to be capable of fierce, but seldom abiding loyalty; of raising men only to destroy them later. He loved to be attended and entertained by boisterous young men who shared his passion for sport, but at other times he was more diverted by men of intellect, culture and wit. Often trusting and easily led by his male attendants and advisers during the early years of his reign, he matured into a profoundly suspicious and paranoid king whose favour could be suddenly withdrawn, as many of his later servants found to their cost. His cruelty and ruthlessness would become ever more apparent as his reign progressed, but the tenderness that he displayed towards those he trusted proves that he was never the one-dimensional monster that he is often portrayed as.

REVIEW: The Lady in the Cellar, Sinclair McKay

Monday, 15 April 2019

Number 4 Euston Square was a respectable boarding house, well-kept and hospitable, like many others in Victorian London. But beneath this very ordinary veneer, there was a murderous darkness at the heart of this particular house. On 8th May 1879, the corpse of former resident, Matilda Hacker, was uncovered by chance in the coal cellar. The investigation that followed this macabre discovery stripped bare the shadow-side of Victorian domesticity, throwing the lives of everyone within into an extraordinary and destructive maelstrom. For someone in Number 4 Euston Square must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. Someone in that house had killed her. How could the murderer prove so amazingly elusive?

REVIEW: Mudbound, Hillary Jordan

Thursday, 11 April 2019

This captivating story set in the Mississippi Delta features city-bred Laura McAllan, a woman struggling to adjust to life on her husband’s isolated farm, her brother-in-law, Jamie, newly home from the Second World War, and Ronsel Jackson, son of the black sharecroppers who work the McAllan land and himself a war hero. When the two men refuse to live by Mississippi’s strict racial mores, tragedy ensues. 

REVIEW: #FashionVictim, Amina Akhtar

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Fashion editor Anya St. Clair is on the verge of greatness. Her wardrobe is to die for. Her social media is killer. And her career path is littered with the bodies of anyone who got in her way. She’s worked hard to get where she is, but she doesn’t have everything. Not like Sarah Taft. Anya’s obsession sits one desk away. Beautiful, stylish, and rich, she was born to be a fashion world icon. From her beach-wave blonde hair to her on-trend nail art, she’s a walking editorial spread. And Anya wants to be her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend. But when Sarah becomes her top competition for a promotion, Anya’s plan to win her friendship goes into overdrive. In order to beat Sarah…she’ll have to become her. Friendly competition may turn fatal, but as they say in fashion: One day you’re in, and the next day you’re dead.

REVIEW: City of Light, Rupert Christiansen

Friday, 5 April 2019

In 1853, French emperor Louis Napoleon inaugurated a vast and ambitious program of public works in Paris, directed by Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine. Haussmann transformed the old medieval city of squalid slums and disease-ridden alleyways into a "City of Light" characterized by wide boulevards, apartment blocks, parks, squares and public monuments, new rail stations and department stores, and a new system of public sanitation. City of Light charts this fifteen-year project of urban renewal which--despite the interruptions of war, revolution, corruption, and bankruptcy--set a template for nineteenth and early twentieth-century urban planning and created the enduring landscape of modern Paris now so famous around the globe.

REVIEW: The Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

What if you could tell the truth about who you are, without risking losing the one you love? This is a book about love affairs and why we choose to have them; a book for anyone who has ever loved and wondered what it is all about. This is a book about the things we hide from other people. Love affairs, grief, domestic strife and the mess at the bottom of your handbag. Part memoir, part imagined history, in The Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe combines her own experience of childhood bereavement, a past lover, the reality about motherhood and marriage, with undiscovered stories about Tolstoy and trains, handbags and honeymoons to muse on the messiness of everyday life. An extended train journey frames the action – and the author turns not to self-help manuals but to the fictions that have shaped our emotional and romantic landscape. Readers will find themselves propelled into Anna Karenina’s world of steam, commuting down the Northern Line, and checking out a New York El-train with Anthony Trollope’s forgotten muse, Kate Field. As scenes in her own life collide with the stories of real and imaginary heroines, The Lost Properties of Love asks how we might find new ways of thinking about love and intimacy in the twenty-first century.

REVIEW: Nobody's Wife, Laura Pearson #BLOGTOUR

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world. When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love. Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

REVIEW: Help Me, Marianne Power

Friday, 22 March 2019

Marianne Power was a self-help junkie. For years she lined her bookshelves with dog-eared copies of definitive guide after definitive guide on how to live your best life. Yet one day she woke up to find that the life she dreamed of and the life she was living were not miles but continents apart. So she set out to make a change. Or, actually, to make every change. Marianne decided to finally find out if her elusive perfect life—the one without debt, anxiety, hangovers or Netflix marathons, the one where she healthily bounced around town with perfect teeth to meet the cashmere-sweater-wearing man of her dreams—lay in the pages of those books. So for a year she vowed to test a book a month, following its advice to the letter, taking the surest road she knew to a perfect Marianne. As her year-long plan turned into a demented roller coaster where everything she knew was turned upside down, she found herself confronted with a different question: Self-help can change your life, but is it for the better?

REVIEW: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, Kim Fu #BLOGTOUR

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

A group of young girls descend on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets, and camp songs by the fire. Filled with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore traces these five girls—Nita, Kayla, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan—through and beyond this fateful trip. We see them through successes and failures, loving relationships and heartbreaks; we see what it means to find, and define, oneself, and the ways in which the same experience is refracted through different people. In diamond-sharp prose, Kim Fu gives us a portrait of friendship and of the families we build for ourselves—and the pasts we can't escape.

REVIEW: Vanishing Girls, Lisa Regan

Monday, 18 March 2019

She was close enough to see that the girl had written a word on the wall in bright, warm red blood. Not a word, actually. A name... 
Everyone in the small American town of Denton is searching for Isabelle Coleman, a missing seventeen-year-old girl. All they’ve found so far is her phone and another girl they didn’t even know was missing. Mute and completely unresponsive to the world around her, it’s clear this mysterious girl has been damaged beyond repair. All Detective Josie Quinn can get from her is a name: Ramona. Currently suspended from the force for misconduct, Josie takes matters into her own hands as the name leads her to evidence linking the two girls. She knows the race is on to find Isabelle alive, and she fears there may be others… The trail leads Josie to another victim, a girl who escaped but whose case was labelled a hoax by authorities. To catch this monster, Josie must confront her own nightmares and follow her instinct to the darkest of places. But can she make it out alive?

Women's Prize for Fiction 2019 Longlist: Round-Up

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Whilst I leave you to read my thoughts (so far! This post will be updated every time I finish each of the books that still remain outstanding on the longlist), I am going to need a lie down. Since the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist was announced, these sixteen amazing women have guided me through a plethora of hard-hitting, emotional topics and honestly, my heart needs a break. It needs to sit in a dark room somewhere, put a face-mask on and watch something mindless like Masterchef to recover.

REVIEW: Exit West, Mohsin Hamid

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing - to fall in love - in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it. Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind - when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world... An extraordinary story of desire and hope, travelling from the Middle East to London and beyond, this is a love story that considers what makes ordinary people flee their homes and how the world might change if borders were broken down.

REVIEW: Margaret Tudor, Melanie Clegg

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

When the thirteen year old Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, married King James IV of Scotland in a magnificent proxy ceremony held at Richmond Palace in January 1503, no one could have guessed that this pretty, redheaded princess would go on to have a marital career as dramatic and chequered as that of her younger brother Henry VIII. Left widowed at the age of just twenty three after her husband was killed by her brother's army at the battle of Flodden, Margaret was made Regent for her young son and was temporarily the most powerful woman in Scotland - until she fell in love with the wrong man, lost everything and was forced to flee the country. In a life that foreshadowed that of her tragic, fascinating granddaughter Mary Queen of Scots, Margaret hurtled from one disaster to the next and ended her life abandoned by virtually everyone: a victim both of her own poor life choices and of the simmering hostility between her son, James V and her brother, Henry VIII.

Women's Prize for Fiction 2019 - Longlist (& Plan of Action!)

Sunday, 10 March 2019

So of the sixteen books that popped up on the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction longest that was announced this time last week, I correctly predicted three of them... Although (and I know that is rather convenient to saying it after the announcement) it would be four if I had bothered to look up the word-count and known that Sarah Moss' Ghost Wall would be long enough to qualify.
It makes no difference though, I still sucked. I mean, not as bad as did at the predicting the Oscars (although I still stand by my own choices and think that it was the Academy, in all of its insular white male glory, made the wrong ones), but still pretty damn awful.
But, carrying on from last year (although flashing back to the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction, it becomes apparent that I only managed four corrections predictions then and that therefore it seems so that, in the past twelve months, I have made absolutely no improvement - which is clearly a shock to no one), I thought that I would once again post my initial thoughts to the longlist and - standing apart from last year - actually make a concerted effort to post my thoughts about them.
Are you ready? Then, let's get started.
If you missed the announcement on 4th March, the books that I (and many, many others like me) will be reading are:

5 Female Authors I Want to Read More From

Friday, 8 March 2019

"this is an overdue love letter to each & every woman who walked these fields before me & made the path soft enough for me to walk through to get to the side they could never reach. for that, i owe you so much - but i owe some things to myself, too" (Amanda Lovelace)

Happy International Women's Day! Whether you're spending the day living or loving, hoping or wishing, crying or laughing, know that I think that there's something inside of you that the world is waiting to see.
Women are amazing - whether they inspire us or scare us, whether they changed the world or just kicked arse every day by existing in it; and I hope that, by putting aside just one day a year to appreciate and revel in all their majesty, the world will become a lighter, brighter, more richer place because of it.
And, to honour my two favourite, consecutive days of the year (International Women's Day and World Book Day, or Literary Halloween as I think the latter should hence be known), I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on the wonder and magic just five, of the so many, women have brought to my life and to urge myself to seek out more moments to spend with them.

REVIEW: I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha!: What Fake Buddha Quotes Can Teach Us About Buddhism, Bodhipaksa

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Quotes from the Buddha are everywhere: on Facebook, Instagram, coffee mugs, posters. There's only one problem: the Buddha didn't actually say most of them. This humorous and informative book takes these fake Buddha quotes as a launching point for a discussion on what the Buddha really did say, and is a great entry point for those interested in learning more about Buddhism--what it is, and what it isn't. Bodhipaksa, a well-known Buddhist teacher and the founder of, takes a look at some of the quotes that are erroneously attributed to the Buddha, explains the ways in which these disagree (or sometimes agree) with Buddhist teachings, and offers some genuine examples of the Buddha's words.

REVIEW: Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield

Monday, 4 March 2019

A body always tells a story—but this child’s was a blank page. Rita reached for the lantern on its hook. She trained its light on the child’s face. ‘Who are you?’ she murmured, but the face said as little as the rest of her. It was impossible to tell whether, in life, these blunt and unfinished features had borne the imprint of prettiness, timid watchfulness, or sly mischief. If there had once been curiosity or placidity or impatience here, life had not had time to etch it into permanence. Only a very short time ago—two hours or not much more—the body and soul of this little girl had still been securely attached. At this thought, and despite all her training, all her experience, Rita found herself suddenly in the grip of a storm of feeling. All the old rage at God—for not being kind, for not being fair, and finally for just not being—swept her up all over again and she felt tears of anger on her face. She took the child’s hand in hers—the perfect hand with its five perfect fingers and their perfect fingernails—and the words fell out of her that she had not known were there: ‘It should not be so! It should not be so!’ And that is when it happened.

Women's Prize for Fiction 2019 - Longlist Predictions

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Holy fuck, I love women.
And, nothing reminds me of that more than the Women's Prize for Fiction, the one literary prize that is packed to the brim with some of the most astounding, amazing, bloody brilliant books written by women in the past twelve months. And there have been so many that, this year, I am having more trouble eliminating people, than choosing who to include in my prediction list.
It's nearly International Women's Day, okay? It makes me all emotional and gooey and honestly, I just want to drink cocktails and give them all an award for being so damn awesome. But unfortunately, even though they should, prizes don't actually work like that, so I been forced myself to cut down my you-and-you-and-you-ing, to just a small selection.
Is there any worse torture?
Nothing at all qualifies me to do this and, after the failure to predict last year's, I assume that nearly everyone knows that. But that doesn't mean that I am not going to have a Porn Star Martini and give it a shot. Both metaphorically and in the sense of an actual shot.
It is, after-all, my favourite literary prize and I am in the mood to celebrate it.

REVIEW: Tirzah and the Prince of Crows, Deborah Kay Davies

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Brought up by a staunchly religious family, Tirzah has always lived quite a sheltered life in the Welsh Valleys. As she reaches her teenage years, she begins to question her upbringing and her values, moving for the first time beyond the narrow confines of the world she knows. She begins a relationship with Osian, a local boy, but the guilt of their secret relationship weighs on them both heavily and they are soon forced to go their separate ways. Tirzah turns to the forest for comfort, where she finds another lost soul, a boy named Brân. As they try and find their way in the world, things take an unexpected turn and Tirzah finds herself experiencing things she could never have imagined.

Oscar Winner Predictions

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Despite the shitshow that has surrounded this year's Oscars, I haven't been able to stop myself from falling for the annual buzz and speculation that surrounds the ceremony. I like films, I like the glamour that comes with celebrating them and, although the industry continues to be fraught with issues, I do not believe that should not be brought down onto the individuals working in it.
I mean, unless they are the ones causing them.
But that is entirely different blog post.
In this one, I am continuing the tradition that I started (and loved!) last year, by throwing my uncultured, low-brow hat in the ring to try and guess the winners. It's like Academy Award Bingo and, like in everything else, I want to win.

Best Picture
  • Black Panther
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Bohemian Rhapsody 
  • The Favourite 
  • Green Book 
  • Roma 
  • A Star Is Born 
  • Vice 

I admit that my general dislike of Olivia Colman (I don't know why I don't like her either) taints my potential adoration for The Favourite, but that does not stop me picking it as the cream of this crop. Its portrayal of queer female desire and love is filled with great nuance and honesty in a way that hasn't hit mainstream film since... who even knows when. And it winning the Academy Award is sure to signal a tide of films that feature female/female romances that have other purposes than just to titillate its male viewers.

REVIEW: Toxic, Nicci Cloke

Friday, 22 February 2019

Hope has never been happier. She's on her way to Crete, after a group of her friends have made her an honorary 'lad' and let her tag along on their boys' holiday. There's a slight complication in that one of those boys, Logan, is Hope's ex-boyfriend, but they're still friends and Hope's pretty confident it won't be too awkward. The next couple of days are exactly what Hope was hoping for - lazy days in the sun, and long, drunken conversations. She can't help but notice that Logan's flirting with her. Logan and Hope end up alone and Hope is horrified when, after she leans in to kiss him, Logan completely rejects her. Embarrassed and annoyed, Hope is on a mission to get drunk, and with the alcohol flowing, and the sun going down, Hope's starts having a great time. The next thing Hope knows, she's being woken up on the beach by two strangers. It's 9 o'clock the next morning and she can't remember anything about the previous night . . . what on earth happened?

REVIEW: An Anonymous Girl, Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive, and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr Shields may know what she’s thinking . . . and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what is real in her life, and what is one of Dr Shields’s manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

REVIEW: Vegan Reset, Kim-Julie Hansen

Monday, 18 February 2019

No matter what diet you practice, a reset is a way to jump-start or refocus healthy habits and get your body to a state of optimum health. Here, blogger and Instagrammer Kim-Julie Hansen of Best of Vegan and Brussels Vegan offers a practical and easy-to-follow program, laid out day by day with meal plans, prep, shopping lists, recipes, and personal tips and inspiration. If you want to become a vegan and don’t know where to start, this is the ultimate guide. But it’s also invaluable for anyone (vegan or not) looking to kick-start healthier habits, whether to lose weight, become fitter, or simply cultivate a more balanced lifestyle. Kim-Julie introduces you to the benefits of a reset; guides you through the 28-day meal plan; and finishes with additional recipes to carry you beyond the reset—all brought to life with her gorgeous photography throughout. With its emphasis on satisfying plant-based foods and its achievable 28-day plan, this program is a great way to meet your goals of health and well-being.

5-Star Predictions, or Books I Want to Read in 2019

Saturday, 16 February 2019

For me, 2018 was a bloody shocking year for reading.
I mean, sure, I read a lot. A shit ton, in fact. But, the quality of the books and the amount of enjoyment I gained from them, hit new lows on the spreadsheets that I obsessively compile about my reading life. 
In my goal of reading widely, I stumbled upon book after book that successively knocked my confidence as to whether reading is something that I actually enjoy doing.
I do like it, right? I'm not just kidding myself?
Sometimes, like in this moment right now, I doubt it. That is because, out of the 161 books I read in 2018, I rated 72 - 72! - of them, either 1 or 2 stars. Which means that, added with my other ratings and jumbled around a bit, I rounded out the year with an average rating of 2.8 out of 5.
Which is just terrible.
Has anyone known a year of reading so bad? Right now, I doubt it.
On the back of that, alongside wanting to throw all of those books on a bonfire and dance around its smouldering funeral pyre, I am making a concerted effort in 2019 to stop this year from morphing into the disaster of the last one. Therefore, I have compiled this list of twenty-or-so literary darlings which, if the near-unanimously positive opinions are to be trusted, means that I should end up with a far more successful year.
... Or, a more disappointing one.
Time has still yet to tell, but I suppose we'll find out in December.

REVIEW: Black Diamond Fall, Joseph Olshan

Friday, 25 January 2019

Luc Flanders has just finished playing a game of pond hockey with his college roommates when he realizes he has lost something precious and goes back to the ice to find it. He never returns, and the police department in Middlebury, Vermont are divided in their assessment of what may have happened to him. Some feel that Flanders left on his own accord and is deliberately out of touch. Others, including detectives Nick Jenkins and Helen Kennedy, suspect that harm may have come to him. As the search for Luc Flanders widens and intensifies, suspicions about several different people, including his Middlebury College roommates and ex-girlfriend arise. Unfortunately, Sam Solomon an older man with whom Luc has been having a secret relationship, cannot prove his whereabouts during the hours when the younger man may have disappeared and Solomon, too, comes under suspicion. 

REVIEW: The Incurable Romantic, Frank Tallis

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

In The Incurable Romantic, Frank Tallis recounts the extraordinary stories of patients who are, quite literally, madly in love: a woman becomes utterly convinced that her dentist is secretly infatuated with her and drives him to leave the country; a man destroys his massive fortune through trysts with over three thousand prostitutes--because his ego requires that they fall in love with him; a beautiful woman's pathological jealousy destroys the men who love her. Along the way, we learn a great deal about the history of psychiatry and the role of neuroscience in addressing disordered love. Elegantly written and infused with deep sympathy, The Incurable Romantic shows how all of us can become a bit crazy in love.

REVIEW: Love is Blind, William Boyd

Monday, 21 January 2019

When Brodie is offered a job in Paris, he seizes the chance to flee Edinburgh and his tyrannical clergyman father, and begin a wildly different new chapter in his life. In Paris, a fateful encounter with a famous pianist irrevocably changes his future - and sparks an obsessive love affair with a beautiful Russian soprano, Lika Blum. Moving from Paris to St Petersburg to Edinburgh and back again, Brodie's love for Lika and its dangerous consequences pursue him around Europe and beyond, during an era of overwhelming change as the nineteenth century becomes the twentieth.

REVIEW: All Rights Reserved, Gregory Scott Katsoulis

Thursday, 17 January 2019

In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent. Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks, for every nod, for every scream and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford. But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Rather than read her speech—rather than say anything at all—she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again, sparking a movement that threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.