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

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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.