REVIEW: Ordinary Hazards, Anna Bruno #BLOGTOUR

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Emma has settled into her hometown bar for the evening. It was in this very room that she met Lucas a few years back, on a blind date. Nine months ago, in unimaginable circumstances, they divorced.

As Emma listens to the locals’ banter, key facts about her life story begin to emerge and the past comes bearing down on her like a freight train.

A powerhouse in the business world, why has she ended up here, now a regular in the last bar on the edge of a small town? What is she running away from? And what is she willing to give up in order to recapture the love she has lost?

As Emma teeters on the edge of oblivion, becoming more booze-soaked by the hour, her night begins to spin out of control with shocking results.

The Booker Prize 2020 - Longlist (& Plan of Action!)

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The Booker Prize 2020 - Longlist graphic

I must admit that, even as someone who spends most of their waking moments speaking/thinking about books, I hadn't even considered that a Booker longlist would be anywhere on the upcoming book calendar. Like, I knew that, at some indefinite point this year, they'd announce the Booker list but, for a few months at least, it has been some far-off future concept only. It may be the Coronavirus, it may be the fact that the so-named global pandemic has postponed the announcing of the winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction, but honestly, when the Booker longlist popped-up, I had to pinch myself to make me believe it. 
Although, like many, I suppose that skin-pinching wasn't all too rare in the book community. Primarily because of the content of the list and the fact that Maggie O'Farrell and Brit Bennett were not on it. Honestly, it is like the Colson Whitehead situation all over again...

REVIEW: Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld #BLOGTOUR

Thursday, 2 July 2020

REVIEW: Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld #BLOGTOUR graphic

Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm No. The rest, as they say, isn’t history. How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?
With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men.

2020 Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

Saturday, 20 June 2020

2020 Mid Year Book Freakout Tag graphic

I was going to do the whole, "wow has it been six months already?!" thing, but nobody in 2020 has the time, energy or patience for that level of bullshit.

REVIEW: What Doesn't Kill You: Fifteen Stories of Survival, Elitsa Dermendzhiyska #BLOGTOUR

Monday, 8 June 2020

REVIEW: What Doesn't Kill You: Fifteen Stories of Survival, Elitsa Dermendzhiyska BLOG TOUR graphic

An explorer spends a decade preparing for an expedition to the South Pole; what happens when you live for a goal, but once it’s been accomplished, you discover it’s not enough? A successful broadcast journalist ends up broke, drunk and sleeping rough; what makes alcohol so hard to resist despite its ruinous consequences? A teenage girl tries to disappear by starving herself; what is this force that compels so many women to reduce their size so drastically?
In this essay collection, writers share the struggles that have shaped their lives – loss, depression, addiction, anxiety, trauma, identity and others. But as they take you on a journey to the darkest recesses of their mind, the authors grapple with challenges that haunt us all. 

REVIEW: The Furies, Katie Lowe

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

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Violet is returning home, back to the sleepy coastal town which holds so many memories. In 1998, after a tragic accident claimed the lives of her father and sister, she joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls’ school with an unpleasant history of 17th century witch trials. There she is drawn to Robin, Grace, Alex and their charismatic teacher, Annabel; she is invited to join them in their advanced study group. There they learn about art, literature and the grisly history of the school. Though Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, she warns them off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology. However, the more the girls learn, the more they start to believe that magic is real, and that together they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society is found on campus nine months after the she disappeared, fingers are pointed at those closest to her. Leading Violet to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

REVIEW: Fabulous, Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Monday, 25 May 2020

Fabulous, Lucy Hughes-Hallett review banner graphic

Each of these startlingly original stories is set in modern Britain. Their characters include a people-trafficking gang-master and a prostitute, a migrant worker and a cocksure estate agent, an elderly musician doubly befuddled by dementia and the death of his wife, a pest-controller suspected of paedophilia and a librarian so well-behaved that her parents wonder anxiously whether she’ll ever find love. They’re ordinary people, preoccupied, as we all are now, by the deficiencies of the health service, by criminal gangs and homelessness, by the pitfalls of dating in the age of #metoo.  All of their stories, though, are inspired by ones drawn from Graeco-Roman myth, from the Bible or from folk-lore.

REVIEW: The Ultimate History of the '80s Teen Movie, James King

Thursday, 21 May 2020

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The Ultimate History of the ’80s Teen Movie goes behind the scenes of a genre where cult hits mingled with studio blockbusters, where giants like Spielberg and Coppola rubbed shoulders with baby-faced first-timers, and where future superstars Sean, Demi, and Tom all got their big break. Music, comedy, and politics all play a part in the surprisingly complex history of the ’80s teen movie. And while the films might have been aimed primarily at adolescents, the best tackle universal issues and remain relevant to all ages.

REVIEW: How We Disappeared, Jing-Jing Lee

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

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Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only three survivors, one of them a tiny child. In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced there still haunts her. And in the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he could never have foreseen.

REVIEW: Little Eyes, Samanta Schweblin

Friday, 15 May 2020

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They've infiltrated homes in Hong Kong, shops in Vancouver, the streets of Sierra Leone, town squares of Oaxaca, schools in Tel Aviv, bedrooms in Indiana. They're not pets, nor ghosts, nor robots. They're real people, but how can a person living in Berlin walk freely through the living room of someone in Sydney? How can someone in Bangkok have breakfast with your children in Buenos Aires, without you knowing? Especially when these people are completely anonymous, unknown, untraceable. Trusting strangers can lead to unexpected love, playful encounters and marvellous adventures, but what if it can also pave the way for unimaginable terror?

REVIEW: Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl, Jeannie Vanasco

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

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Fifteen years ago, Jeannie’s relationship with a close friend ended in rape. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, recurring nightmares of the event that plagued her as a girl have returned. To process her conflicted feelings of betrayal and take back control, she resolves to face her trauma head-on by interviewing her rapist. Through their transcribed conversations and discussions with her closest friends, Jeannie's memoir explores how the incident impacted both of their lives, while examining the culture and language surrounding sexual assault and rape.

REVIEW: The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa

Monday, 11 May 2020

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To the people on the island, a disappeared thing no longer has any meaning. It can be burned in the garden, thrown in the river or handed over to the Memory Police. Soon enough, the island forgets it ever existed. When a young novelist discovers that her editor is in danger of being taken away by the Memory Police, she desperately wants to save him. For some reason, he doesn’t forget, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to hide his memories. Who knows what will vanish next?

Lockdown Recommendations: Online Learning

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Recommendations: Online Learning

Times are tough right now - and I’m not just talking about the looming threat involved with living through a global pandemic. I haven’t been outside of my house’s perimeter in almost three months: haven’t been to the shops, seen my friends or even taken a walk around the block (you wouldn’t either if you had seen these streets). But, even though I know that’s the right decision for me and the people around me, I can’t stop the creeping encroachment of cabin fever.
For me, and I suspect many others, all of the empty hours spent at home has been a drain on energy levels that we never could’ve expected. And though, I am not out there on the frontlines, the toll that this pandemic has taken, is starting to rest its ugly head.
Which is why, as an alternative to staring at the news, the walls, or the doom and gloom of social media, I started trolling the internet for different ways to spend my time. And, I think I’ve found a solution.
Even before the pandemic, huge investment had been made in the production and provision of online learning and educational service (I mean, thanks to my illness, I even finished my degree in one). Which means that, whatever your budget, there’s more opportunities to expand your mind than ever before.
It starts with ambition, after-all, so free yours.

REVIEW: On the Road not Taken, Paul Dodgson #BLOGTOUR

Thursday, 7 May 2020

On the Road Not Taken, Paul Dodgson Blog Tour Review
On the Road Not Taken is a memoir about the transformational power of music. It begins with a boy growing up in a small town on the Kent coast in the 1970s, who learns to play the guitar and dreams of heading out on the open road with a head full of songs. But when the moment comes to make the choice he is not brave enough to try and do it for a living. Time passes but the desire to explain the world through music never goes away. And as the years go by it gets harder and harder to risk looking like a fool, of doing the very thing he would most like to do, of actually being himself. Eventually, thirty-five years later, when it feels like time is running out, he walks out onto a stage in front of 500 people and begins to sing again. What follows is an extraordinary period of self-discovery as he plays pubs, clubs, theatres and festivals, overcoming anxiety to experience the joy of performance. 

Books I Want to Read in May

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

I think, as the world moves into its next month of lockdown, it is time to hone in our reading choices and only pick up books that bring us some level as joy. Which is why, alongside these books, my friend and I are starting a book club: a the-world-is-shit-so-why-shouldnt-our-reading-be shrine to vampire romances and 2012 dystopian societies. It is sure to be a hoot, although one with no literary merit in the slightest so I have decided to pad out the rest of the month with some supposed heavy hitters. I mean, Maggie O'Farrell? Tayari Jones? Evie Wyld? 
If these books don't impress me, I don't know what will.

REVIEW: Aphrodite Made Me Do It, Trista Mateer

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

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Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite will make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

Book Addiction Tag

Saturday, 25 April 2020

I hope this post find you all well and not completely bored out of your minds and that, this time more so than normal, you have found some killer books to help while away the hours.

Lockdown: A Day in the Life

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Lockdown: A Day in the Life of a Book Reviewer/Blogger Graphic

Are you as nosey as I am? Or, have you ever wanted to know how a book blogger and reviewer spends their COVID-19 lockdown days? Or, are you simply looking for confirmation that everyone else is as bored/lost/aimless as you are? Then keep on reading.

REVIEW: The Butchers, Ruth Gilligan #BLOGTOUR

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

A photograph is hung on a gallery wall for the very first time since it was taken two decades before. It shows a slaughter house in rural Ireland, a painting of the Virgin Mary on the wall, a meat hook suspended from the ceiling - and, from its sharp point, the lifeless body of a man hanging by his feet. The story of who he is and how he got there casts back into Irish folklore, of widows cursing the land and of the men who slaughter its cattle by hand. But modern Ireland is distrustful of ancient traditions, and as the BSE crisis in England presents get-rich opportunities in Ireland, few care about The Butchers, the eight men who roam the country, slaughtering the cows of those who still have faith in the old ways. Few care, that is, except for Fionn, the husband of a dying woman who still believes; their son Davey, who has fallen in love with the youngest of the Butchers; Gra, the lonely wife of one of the eight; and her 12-year-old daughter, Una, a girl who will grow up to carry a knife like her father, and who will be the one finally to avenge the man in the photograph.

REVIEW: 18 Tiny Deaths, Bruce Goldfarb #BLOGTOUR

Friday, 3 April 2020

The story of the Gilded Age Chicago heiress who revolutionized forensic death investigation. As the mother of forensic science, Frances Glessner Lee is the reason why homicide detectives are a thing. She is responsible for the popularity of forensic science in television shows and pop culture. Long overlooked in the history books, this extremely detailed and thoroughly researched biography will at long last tell the story of the life and contributions of this pioneering woman.

REVIEW: The Philosopher's Daughters, Alison Booth #BLOGTOUR

Monday, 30 March 2020

London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters' lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life's work or devote herself to painting.
When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the Northern Territory outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life.
Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand seeking revenge.

REVIEW: A Theatre for Dreamers, Polly Samson #BLOGTOUR

Thursday, 26 March 2020

1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen. 
Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels. 

Lockdown Recommendations: Movie Musicals

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Lockdown Recommendations: Movie Musicals Graphic

I assume that, by now, most of you are starting to catch a slight case of cabin fever. As someone who is chronically-ill, I am well aware that staying in the house all of the time is difficult - even without the stresses of a global pandemic and the government forcing you to do so. 
So, in this time of great uncertainty, I urge you to follow my lead and turn to things that never fail to make you smile: movie musicals. This list is compiled of six ├╝ber-amazing, non-animated (because, of course, that will be a separate list) movies with not a depressing theme in sight (sorry, Moulin Rouge, etc).
Well, apart from Danny being a dick but that's par for the course.

Popular Books I Hate

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Popular Books I Hate Graphic

These were the worst of times, these were the worst of times.
How are we all? Panicking, screaming, crying, all of the above?
To be honest, I have ticked all of those boxes at some points over the last week and, five days in and no end in sight, things are probably not going to change anytime soon. But, I thought one positive at least could come out of all of this (well, two actually, because I am writing my dissertation on the sociological implications of contagion): getting my old blog schedule back on track.
It might seem pretty trivial right now but, for the time being anyway, I think focussing on the small things is the way to go.
Manageable chunks and all that, right?
So, here we go with my first (and potentially most controversial) blog post of the pandemic.

REVIEW: Coming Up For Air, Sarah Leipciger #BLOGTOUR

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a heartbroken young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toymaker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada, where a journalist battling a terrible disease, drowning in her own lungs, risks everything for one last chance to live.

Women's Prize for Fiction 2020 - Longlist (& Plan of Action!)

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Happy International Women's Day everyone! I know this is coming to you a little late - I had a foray into London (be on the lookout for the return of my once-in-a-blue-moon travel posts!) and, as more days passed, I thought it only apt to wait and schedule this post today instead of any other. So, let's get to backseat-judging...

REVIEW: Beast, Matt Wesolowski #BLOGTOUR

Friday, 21 February 2020

In the wake of the 'Beast from the East' cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as 'The Vampire Tower', where she was later found frozen to death. Three young men, part of an alleged 'cult', were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a 'prank gone wrong'. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton's death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible. Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire'…

REVIEW: A Curious History of Sex, Kate Lister #BLOGTOUR

Thursday, 13 February 2020

The act of sex has not changed since people first worked out what went where, but the ways in which society dictates how sex is culturally understood and performed have varied significantly through the ages. Humans are the only creatures that stigmatise particular sexual practices, and sex remains a deeply divisive issue around the world. Attitudes will change and grow – hopefully for the better – but sex will never be free of stigma or shame unless we acknowledge where it has come from. Drawing upon extensive research from Dr Kate Lister’s Whores of Yore website and written with her distinctive humour and wit, A Curious History of Sex covers topics ranging from twentieth-century testicle thefts to Victorian doctors massaging the pelvises of their female patients, from smutty bread innuendos dating back to AD 79, to the new and controversial sex doll brothels. It is peppered with surprising and informative historical slang and illustrated by eye-opening, toe-curling and hilarious images. In this fascinating book, Lister deftly debunks myths and stereotypes and gives unusual sexual practices an historical framework, as she provides valuable context for issues facing people today, including gender, sexual shame, beauty and language.

REVIEW: The Foundling, Stacey Halls #BLOGTOUR

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London's Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst - that Clara has died in care - the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed - by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl - and why. Less than a mile from Bess' lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend - an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital - persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

REVIEW: Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

All Lina ever wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn't touch her? All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town? All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women? Consequences are handed out to some but not to others. 

Current Beauty Wishlist

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Like many people, my Beauty Bay wishlist is getting a little out of control. Hyped-up beauty releases, old cult favourites, things that I do not really understand but that come in pretty packaging: they are all there. Sitting and waiting and pleading with me to buy them.
It is a daily struggle to not scroll through it and put more than a few items into my shopping basket and so, to combat that urge, I thought I would share those items with you. Because, compiling a blog post is a great way of sublimation, right? 

REVIEW: Wilder Girls, Rory Powers

Friday, 10 January 2020

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put in quarantine. The Tox turned the students strange and savage, the teachers died off one by one. Cut off from the mainland, the girls don’t dare wander past the school’s fence where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure as the Tox takes; their bodies becoming sick and foreign, things bursting out of them, bits missing. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie in the wilderness past the fence. As she digs deeper, she learns disturbing truths about her school and what else is living on Raxter Island. And that the cure might not be a cure at all . . .

#2019RoundUp: Best Books

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

And the award goes to...