Saturday, 18 March 2017

BOOK SALE SPRING CLEAN!

Hi All,

This Spring I've been reminded that when I go to University in a few months I'll have to move all my books, and with that horror in mind I have decided to have a clean out. Hopefully I can put the money towards accommodation or course costs in September. Some of these books I found it really hard to part with, and some you may recognize from my reviews.

The book sale is here, hosted by a good friend of mine.

I'd be grateful for your support!

Pen

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Widow - Fiona Barton

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This book was a pretty great read. I was invested in every part of the story, from DI Bob Sparkes catching the child-napper, to Kate Waters writing her interview. I especially wanted to know exactly what happened to little Bella. (spoiler) It was a bit disappointing to know she dies but at the same time I was shocked to know that Jean, the Widow herself, knew that the child was dead.
I'd definitely recommend this books to lovers of thrillers and to anyone who enjoyed After the Crash or similar. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I read the entire thing in just three days.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Crystal Run - Sheila O'Flanagan


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This is the first book from Sheila O'Flanagan that I have ever read and I certainly wasn't disappointed. It's a brilliant read that I found very thought provoking in the way the story was expressed. Kaia's attitude towards her duty is very mature but also very... pitiable? That is probably not the right word but its the only one I could think of to express her willingness to sacrifice her life for her people. I love the romance between her and Joe, especially the contrast between Joe's instinct for running away from danger and Kaia's determination to run into it. I can't wait for it to be released in May and I can't wait for the second book either! It is well worth a read.

Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

February 2017 Monthly Motif Challenge : Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch

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My February Mothly Motif Choice! A very interesting spiral of a book. It starts with Nicolas Wallpenny, a ghost in the cemetery nearby who witnesses a beheading and tells our protagonist, Peter Grant, all about it. Then a series of mysteriously magical murders occurs and constable Grant must lure out the killer and train to be a wizard (INSERT HARRY POTTER REFERENCE) at the same time.


The writing style is something I really enjoyed. I loved how tongue-in-cheek some of the humor was throughout. The only thing that nags at me was Lesley's fate, and the fact that I don't believe our main character will still have the same fantasies about her afterwards. It also took me a while to learn to love Beverly Brook. If only because she came off as very adolescent in some ways but I've read enough teen fiction for it not to bother me too much. Molly was one of my favorite characters, but I find it hard to point a finger as to why.


This book was recommended to me by one of my work-mates and good friends at the book shop. And while I usually, as an inside joke, make a point of hating everything he recommends me, I can't help but love this book. The climax has everything a good theatre goer loves and the madness all the way through keeps you guessing and guessing.



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Feminist Books Reviewed : In Support of the 2017 Woman's March on Washington

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A Vindication of the Right of Women was one of the very first writings about feminist philosophy. At the time Mary Wollstonecraft would have never have heard the term "feminism" before, yet she summarizes really eloquently the underlying theories of equality between the sexes, and how that women should be classed equally to men. It's very classic, which I'm not personally a fan of, but that's just a reflection on the era it was written. There are many instances where the word 'hitherto' was used that threw me but I got used to the style enough to have properly absorbed the message by the end. A good book and one any feminist should know. 

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We should all be feminists is a much more modern, though equally if not more concise than the rights of woman. It's based of a Ted talk given by the Adichie in which she details her own experiences and writes authoritatively on an issue that should be widely discussed, the cultural and societal norm for men to be more well respected than women. For her driver to thank her male companion for a tip she gave. How a waiter greeted her male companion but not her, and how her lovely, well educated male friend believed that gender prejudice was an issue of the past and not the present. Written passionately and containing an important message for readers, its well worth a read.

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Girl up is both a witty feminist book, and an all around growing up guide for teens. It addresses a wide range of issues and uses examples from Bates' feminist website where women share the struggles they've been through. She's all inclusive, and mentions topics outside normal mention when we talk about feminism such as mental health. Bates also has anatomy lessons of the female genitalia that may have missed some people completely by. I didn't know a few things about my anatomy that, thanks to reading this book, now I do. That frankly has me tongue tied. Featuring dancing vaginas, colour by numbers genitalia and a no nonsense attitude to feminism, both me and Emma Watson (who wrote a short intro) would recommend this book.



Life of a Refugee Part 2

A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea - Melissa Fleming
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Unlike the other books about the refugee crisis I reviewed (here) in part 1, this book identifies and documents the trigger point that set the war in Syria in motion. It's a horrifying overreaction to children painting graffiti on a school wall, which reads "you're next doctor". In Daraa these were dangerous words which had 15 children rounded up, arrested and tortured for months on end.




Doaa Al Zamel, the refugee whose story Fleming retells in agonizing detail, is so deeply and perfectly rendered, that I'd recommend every person who has ever complained about refugees should read. She is human and brave and I think this is something an increasing percentage of the developed world are forgetting.




There are countless articles and re-telling's about her voyage, with her fiancée, a former member of the Free Syrian Army, across the sea to Europe, but these are just snippets of the big picture. While the terrible shipwreck, that saw 500 real people turn to 11, was a defining moment. I think her humble beginnings, her fear of drowning, her fear of change and the way she witnessed her country, that once she had wanted to serve and protect as a policewoman, turn to a war zone should be further represented. I urge you to read this book. It is the book I have been most captured by so far.




It's not a book of facts or statistics. It is a book of life and death and a hope more powerful than the sea.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Life of a Refugee Part 1

In this post I want to talk about the refugee crisis and the stories of people running from war, extreme poverty and the madness accompanying the two.


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The first book I want to mention is The Journey by Francesca Sanna. This was interesting to me because children's books aren't usually about such serious topics and I feel it's important that children are educated in the right way. That being said, this book does remarkably well. Sanna writes clearly and with a great deal of emotion in what, in reality, only amounts to just a few lines. The book is about a Journey, told from the point of view of a child, who has only partial, yet insightful knowledge of what is going on. This child's mother is taking her family away from their country in the hopes of finding somewhere safe. The story is told softly. It is not horrific, nor terribly sad, unlike other war time novels for children (need I mention the boy in striped pyjamas? I was in a wreck for days after reading that) and really suits the younger audience. Beautiful artwork completes it and this picture book stand a little apart from the rest in my eyes.
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The Optician of Lampedusa is a heart wrenching novel. It starts at the very crux of the refugee crisis. The prologue is a mess of hands reaching out from the sea where hundreds upon hundreds of migrants are drowning just off the coast of the little Italian island of Lampedusa. From there the book backtracks a bit, to some of the little decisions of the Optician, our protagonist. Some of these little decisions, such as the decision to go on a boat trip rather than go to the local bar, were what saved 40 odd migrants who were dumped into the water when their less than seaworthy boat began to sink. The story is written from the point of view of the optician, and the author is a BBC radio 4 journalist who went to interview him and documents his true story, as well as the way he and his family and friends dealt with their greif at the aftermath of the event. Despite saving as many lives as their small recreational boat could take, the Optician is plagued by the idea that he has somehow been immoral and played God, perhaps subconsciously picking those he wanted to save. A really interesting book and one that stays with you for a long time after reading. It's got a real gut wrenching beginning but as you read further the tone becomes more and more uplifting.
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The New Odyssey is partly a documentation of the progression of the migrant crisis, and part the odyssey of one Hasham Al-Souki as he leaves his family to make the journey from Syria to Sweden, where he can apply as a refugee to bring his family over by legal means. It's a terrifying look at the scale of the problems in other countries, such as the how the war in Syria has resulted in racism against the Syrians in other countries, who now believe them to be jihadists. This makes them unable to settle in other, more peaceable countries in the middle east. There is also the astounding number of Syrians who have their papers and passports stolen so that other migrants can claim refugee status. And what about the Eritreans? Classed as "economic migrants" Kingsley makes the excellent point that they've only been branded as such because they are refugees from poverty and the cage of their society, unable to progress or travel legally. The fear and upheaval these people go through to get away from their situations is astounding and this is truly the book to read if you want to really understand the scale of what is happening and those all elusive reasons why. Patrick Kingsley wrote about the refugee crisis for the Guardian and has interviewed everyone for this book, from people smugglers to the smugglees themselves. Very informative and very good.

Part 2 coming soon...