City of Bronze, City of Silver Review

I know it has been a month since my last post so thank you for your patience- applying to university is stressful and quite energy consuming. I might do a little life update soon, but for now I want to review a book that I was kindly sent in exchange for an honest review. The ebook has been on my device for a while but I finally decided to read it and I was NOT disappointed- I finished it within a few days.

431 BC. Greece is torn apart by war. The city states split into leagues: one headed by the militarized Sparta, the other by the sophisticated Athens.

Alethea, a young Spartan woman, leaves her home to accompany her brother on the military campaign. Taken prisoner by the enemy and enslaved in an Athenian household, Alethea’s heart is set on revenge. However, her feelings are complicated as she is drawn to her abductor’s amiable cousin, Eucleides.

Meanwhile, Efigenia, a child bride and Alethea’s new mistress, struggles to navigate in a world dictated by men. The rigid norms she lives by are consuming her little by little. Can the arrival of the Spartan help her break loose from her chains?

City of Bronze, City of Silver is a tale of bloodshed and vengeance, oppression and love, set against the backdrop of an ancient civilization steeped in myth.

Goodreads

City of Bronze, City of Silver by Saga Hillbom predominantly follows Alethea, with Efigenia and and Eucleides as secondary perspectives. The plot starts off quite slowly, switching between Athens and Sparta while setting the scene. As a classics student, the scene setting was half of the fun because this book is clearly thoroughly researched, and seeing concepts and events I have learnt about come to life in great detail was incredible. A few of my favourite details included are the symposiums, the Eleusinian mysteries, the rhetoric in the Athenian assembly and the Dionysia- if you want to find out what those are you’ll have to read it!

My favourite thing about City of Bronze, City of silver was the way Hillbom gently introduces the reader to two cultures very different from our own, yet also distinct from one another. The customs and values of these societies are alien to the modern reader but at no point do you feel distanced from the characters as their worlds are described through their eyes, with the complicated and human emotions attached to that. I grew attached to the characters quickly: I was furious at the way Efigenia was treated and how she believed it was her fault, agonised with Alethea as she was torn between her duty and her passion and very fond of optimistic Eucleides.

Alethea licked her lips, lacking response. How you rush to complete devotion. A dangerous quality.

City of Bronze, City of Silver by Saga Hillbom

I loved the role reversal between Alethea and Eucleides; everyone has seen a good girl try to ‘fix’ a bad boy, but a defiant Spartan woman and a hopeful Athenian man? Amazing. What a combination. It takes a little while for Alethea to be enslaved and get to Athens, but once she does the plot picks up and doesn’t set down until the epilogue, full of plot twists and what is pretty much a mini tour of Ancient Greek hotspots. Yes, the plot seems a little wandering at times, but who doesn’t want to wander through a world rich with interweaved descriptions and little details that pull the entire tapestry together?

Summer was budding, fresh in its cradle. The fig trees had begun to bear fruit, although the figs would not be ripe for almost another month. Now they were small and hard under the lush green leaves. Behind them, Mount Taygetus dominated the skyline. Streams trickled from the rocky mountainside, pouring out in the Eurotas.

City of Bronze, City of Silver by Saga Hillbom

My one gripe would be the inconsistent punctuation, with full stops missing or capital letters where there shouldn’t have been, however I received an early copy so this was quite possibly fixed before publication. Overall I enjoyed City of Bronze, City of Silver, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested (even slightly) in the Ancient Greece, or who just enjoys a good historical fiction.

3 World Mental Health Day Reading Recommendations

When I saw that it was World Mental Health Day on the 10th October, I immediately wanted to write a post recommending a couple of books that I have found useful or relatable in their coverage of mental health. I even wrote a little list of books on my phone, which I fully intended to turn into a post immediately. It has been a rather long immediately of 3 days, but we got here eventually so let’s get into it!

Mental health is a very important topic to me. I have struggled with depression and an eating disorder, and I know how isolating it can feel when everyone else seems to be coping with the world fine and your brain is on fire. Please, please, please reach out to someone. Anyone. You don’t have to do this alone and you do not deserve to feel bad, whatever your thoughts tell you. Friends and family are a great option for a more casual chat, and if your bouts of bad mental health are frequent then it may be a good idea to talk to a doctor. If the idea of talking to someone in person makes you want to curl up into a ball and roll into a volcano, then there are organisations you can text, call or message online depending on what you’re most comfortable doing. I’ll leave some links at the bottom of the post for you to check out if you feel you need them.

Everyone’s experience of mental health is unique so the books that speak to me might not speak to you in the same way, but I hope these might give you some reading ideas, or help spark a discussion with people you know about mental health. Also, while I will not be discussing sensitive topics in this post, some of these books will contain them so make sure to check content warnings if you are worried that they may affect you.

1. It’s Okay to Feel Blue

It’s Okay to Feel Blue is a collection of writings about mental health by over 70 people. It really does have something for everyone, and I highly recommend it if you want something that you can dip in and out of easily. For my full review, click here.

2. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive is an incredible book filled with Haig’s experiences of mental health. It is a mixture of conversations and personal anecdotes and lists, each one only a couple of pages each, so it is very easy to read. I think both people who have struggled with their mental health and those who haven’t should read this book, because it has some really great ways of describing how it feels to have depression. Also by Matt Haig is Notes on a Nervous Planet, another excellent nonfiction which also covers mental health but in a more general way, again in a fragmented format.

3. Anything by Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne is a writer or teen fiction and recently(ish) released her first adult novel. Her books frequently cover topics such as mental health, being yourself, relationships, and feminism. She is one of the authors that I will automatically read without even looking at the blurb- her writing is so emotional and honest. I will recommend them to pretty much anyone who wants to read some incredible contemporary fiction.

I decided to keep this short and sweet because I think long lists can definitely be overwhelming sometimes! Obviously there are lots of books that cover mental health, these are just a couple of my favourites.

List of UK mental health helplines here and another one here .

List of US mental health helplines here and here .

Please don’t suffer in silence, and look after yourself. Everyone has mental health, so even if you don’t have any particular problems with it you should still look after it like you would with physical health. Take a moment to breathe and check in with yourself- how are you feeling right now?

If you ever want someone to chat to, I’m happy to listen. Just message me on one of the links below or use my email on the links page. I hope you’re all having a good week ❤

Death by Shakespeare Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello bookbees! It’s been a while, I know. Life has been very crazy for me recently (as I’m sure it has for lots of people) and I have got dreadfully behind on both reading and reviewing books. I might do a separate life update post, just because I don’t want to overwhelm this review with details of my life. It is the book we’re here for after all!

Death by Shakespeare by Kathryn Harkup is a nonfiction book about exactly what it says in the title. Shakespeare, for anyone who has managed to avoid any reference to him while in the world of literature, was a poet and writer in Elizabethan England. He wrote a lot of sonnets and plays, which people think are quite good generally. Death by Shakespeare goes through the different methods of death Shakespeare’s characters experience and how they would have worked and been received in Shakespeare’s time. Goodreads describes it as:

In Death By Shakespeare, Kathryn Harkup, best-selling author of A is for Arsenic and expert on the more gruesome side of science, turns her expertise to Shakespeare and the creative methods he used to kill off his characters. Is death by snakebite really as serene as Cleopatra made it seem? How did Juliet appear dead for 72 hours only to be revived in perfect health? Can you really kill someone by pouring poison in their ear? How long would it take before Lady Macbeth died from lack of sleep? Readers will find out exactly how all the iconic death scenes that have thrilled audiences for centuries would play out in real life.

For the full blurb, click here (opens in new tab).

The book is structured so that each method of death had its own chapter, and within that chapter Harkup would give the historical context around that method of death, how it would work in real life and onstage, as well as going into some detail about a famous character or two who died in that way in Shakespeare’s plays. The book does not assume much knowledge about Shakespeare or his plays, so even if you’ve never actually read any of it, this is a fascinating book about death and theatre in Shakespeare’s time.

I thought I knew a decent amount about Shakespeare. Like most other British students, I have studied several Shakespeare plays over the years and that tends to involve making a poster or something about his life at some point. It turns out, there is much to Shakespeare’s life I did not know, and it was fascinating to learn these details and how they affected his writing. This includes how his son-in-law was a doctor so he might have got medical knowledge from him, and Shakespeare’s rivals at the time of his writing. Who knew most plays in Shakespeare’s times were only done once unless they were very popular, so playwrights had to constantly be writing new plays! The sheer volume astounds me.

I learnt a lot about the human body and its medical conditions/diseases in this book. If you don’t like blood, or stabbings, or poison and other unpleasant ends, I don’t think this is the book for you. However, if you are interested in Elizabethan England, Shakespeare, historical theatre, or death, I highly recommend this book. It is in depth without being overly wordy, and it’s certainly an interesting conversation starter. A great example of a fun and interesting nonfiction book in a rather random, niche subject.

I hope you’re all doing well in these chaotic times and have found some books to take solace in as lockdown rules go up and down like a yoyo! I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading or your thoughts on Shakespeare, so use the links below to let me know.

Reading Rush 2020 TBR

Last night, I impulsively decided to sign myself up for The Reading Rush 2020. For those who don’t know, it’s a week-long readathon where you try to attempt to read 7 books in 7 days. For more information or if you want to sign up, click here. Now I’m not sure if I’m actually going to be able to complete it because I have been reading incredibly slowly recently, only 1-2 books a week. However I’m going to give it a go and trying to only use books I already own. Without further ado, I will introduce the seven book categories and what I will be reading for them. Probably.

There is also an instagram challenge, but I only have so much organisation and taking pictures of myself as a character is a bit of a stretch. If you do take part, I’d love to see your pictures so feel free to tag me @beebliophil3.

1. Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birth stone.

This is the first book I looked for was this one, and I immediately saw The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller. My dad got it for me a week or two ago and it is a nonfiction book about seven ancient cities. I am a big classics geek, so reading about ancient history has me super excited to begin this book.

2. Read a book that starts with the word “The”.

This was a little harder, but not much. I only had to open a couple of books, and I’ll be honest I haven’t decided which book to read yet. I guess I’ll see what I feel like? The two books I’m thinking of are Damsel by Elana K. Arnold or Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi. I have Damsel in the form of an ARC, and it’s a fairytale type story where a princess wakes up and is expected to marry a prince. Unravel Me is the second in a series, about a girl whose touch is lethal.

3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.

This was a hard one and I didn’t have a physical book for this, so I went to my online library and found a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I watched the movie over a year ago and I can’t actually remember what happened so I figured now was the perfect time to read it without the ending being spoiled.

4. Read the first book you touch.

The first book I touched yesterday morning was The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I had forgotten about the challenge and I read the first 2 pages of this book on Sunday 19th, so when I picked up a book to read over breakfast, this book became part of my challenge. It’s abut a boy who becomes emperor when his father and older brothers are all killed in a crash.

5. Read a book completely outside of your house.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko was a random choice, something I’ve been really looking forward to reading. It only arrived a couple of days ago so I haven’t read any of this book and I will be reading it outside in the garden most likely. It is about a girl raised by a mysterious lady to eventually go and assassinate the crown prince. The cover is beautiful and the premise is awesome so I’m excited, even if I have to leave my house every time I want to read a bit.

6. Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of.

I had trouble finding a book for this, mainly because I read fantasy and only occasional books from other genres. I haven’t decided which book I’m going to go for, but it’s between No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (contemporary) and one of my nonfiction books about Ancient Greece. Again, with this one I’m just going to see how I feel in the moment. No Big Deal is about a fat girl finding her footing and body positivity. The books about Ancient Greece are about various elements of Ancient Greece.

7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

If I was buying a book for this I would have chosen somewhere a bit more exciting, but unfortunately I don’t, so I am reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern which I believe is set in America. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to finally reading this because I adored The Night Circus, but it has definitely got me thinking that I should read more books based in different continents. Also, I read loads of fantasy so technically they’re all on a different continent, just not a real one. I didn’t know if that counted so I played it safe.

Those are the 7 books I will be attempting to read this week. In an attempt to stop myself getting distracted by other books, I have set them up in a pile on my desk so I cannot ignore them! If you’ve read any of these books or you’re taking part in the reading rush I’d love to hear from you, so use one of the social links or comment below. I hope you’re all well and have a great week (and finish all your books if you’re participating!)

Friday Favourites

Hello bookbees! I’ve decided to try something new this Friday and so as well as my favourite book, I’m also going to include my other favourites from this week! I haven’t been the most productive this week, but in my defence it’s the first week of the summer holidays. I keep forgetting which day it is which is both funny and alarming. The picture for this post isn’t book-related, but it is taken by me and I thought it was quite pretty 🙂

Favourite book: Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist

Yes, technically this is the only book I’ve read this week but I’d like to point out it is really awesome. He writes quite traditional fantasy which has its pros and cons, the pros being it’s great fun with cool world-building and pretty interesting plot, the cons being some traditional gender roles and a disappointing lack of LGBTQ+ characters. It was an eARC from Edelweiss, and the app doesn’t work on my phone so I am reading this book on my laptop. A bit of a strange experience, but here I am and it’s not that bad.

Favourite movie: The Old Guard on Netflix

I started watching this movie because I was a little bored and quite like action/adventure movies with a hint of sci-fi. I kept watching this movie because it’s awesome. Now, I’m not an expert on movies but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I think it had a good plot, characters I absolutely fell in love with (especially Charlize Theron, my current celebrity crush) and a cool concept, with a plot point that’s stuck in my mind since.

Favourite TV show: Scorpion

At my brother’s recommendation, I started a new series called Scorpion. I have been watching it non-stop since I started it, and although it’s not exactly realistic I love the characters and the drama. The series is roughly based off the life of a real guy called Walter O’Brien, and it’s about a group of geniuses who work for homeland security in the USA. There’s a great balance between character relationships and high-adrenaline scenarios.

Favourite food: Crunchy Nut Cornflakes

I am a big fan of cereal. Cereal is good, whether you’re eating it first thing in the morning or last thing at night and the other day my Dad bought a big box of crunchy nut cornflakes, which we haven’t had for a while. It’s delicious and sweet and crunchy and tastes great with a sprinkle of sultanas (I adore sultanas for some reason at the moment.)

Favourite animal: Wombat

It was a hard decision between wombats and muntjac deer, but in the end the cuteness of wombats won out. Especially baby wombats, have you seen a baby wombat?! The reason wombats are on my mind because I am currently growing out a buzzcut, and my hair is now too long to look like a buzz-cut but too short to look like any sane haircut. Then I realised- I look like a wombat, my hair is even the perfect colour! The reason muntjac deer are on my mind because I’ve seen several round my local area, including one with a baby deer!

So those are my favourite things from this week! I might do this again since I had a lot of fun doing it, but I’d love to hear what you think of it. Feel free to let me know in the comments or using one of my social media linked down below. I hope you’ve all had a great week and achieved whatever you wanted to.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam (and all the others) Review

Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam by Derek Landy Review. Also a vague review of the second series overall, which assumes you have knowledge of the first series as well. If you don’t, this is going to be quite confusing. For example, Skulduggery is a skeleton and this is a world with magic. If you haven’t read the first series, they are excellent and I highly recommend you go and read them then come back!

I LOVE the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I read the first series and was completely obsessed with them, seeing Valkyrie grow up and realise her destiny with Skulduggery Pleasant always by her side with an army of suits and sassy comebacks. The books had a colourful cast of characters who you couldn’t help but like, hate, or both! They were always so easy to read and slip into, full of plot twists and unexpected events that never felt forced while still paying attention to the normal like Valkyrie was neglecting due to her wild adventures and how she tried to balance them. If you haven’t read them, do it. You don’t need to be a kid or a teenager to enjoy the ride.

When I saw Derek Landy was bringing back the Skulduggery Pleasant series I was excited, especially since they would continue to follow Valkyrie and Skulduggery as well as introducing some new characters. Bedlam is the third book in the resurrection of the series, and for me the best thing is Valkyrie. Yes, she is still a badass main character who travels around solving (and causing) problems with Skulduggery, but she has grown. She is in her early twenties and behaves accordingly, and Landy includes Valkyrie trying to cope with the massive trauma of the events of the previous series and the effect it has had on her adult life. Her dynamic with Skulduggery has evolved with the series and I’m so glad, because it shows the reality of relationships changing as you get older. SPOILER ALERT FOR BEDLAM ALTHOUGH IT IS FOUND OUT IN THE FIRST CHAPTER: Valkyrie has a girlfriend! It made me very, very happy. And leads to a funny scene with Fletcher.

Because this series is introducing new plots, where Valkyrie is not the main recipient of the prophecies, there are more characters and plot lines to follow. It can feel a little chaotic at times, flicking between perspectives. One of the main ones is Omen Darkly, the younger brother of the chosen one. I like Omen, he is quite obviously meant to be the useless younger brother but he’s great and quite relatable at times. Both Fletcher and Tanith make appearances in Bedlam, characters I am thrilled to see again because nostalgia. Derek Landy continues to write 3-dimensional villains and characters who aren’t good or bad, just living their life and I like the lack of distinction, the blurring of the line which separates good from evil.

The world we are plunged into is a world familiar but changed, since as with Valkyrie, Landy shows the aftereffects of the previous wars and the way this would be reflected in the world. For me, this made the book really interesting as it deepened my understanding of the world while continuing to throw in delightful details. With his characteristic humour, Landy kept me grinning throughout the whole book while getting me emotionally invested in a plot with far too much happening at once, although there are a few moments of normality amongst the chaos which provide a welcome break.

In conclusion: Valkyrie is hot, Omen is hilarious and Skulduggery is Skulduggery. Not much more I could ask for really, and I will definitely be reading the next one. Since the first series both Valkyrie and I have realised we like girls, a lovely parallel which randomly occurred to me while I was writing this. If you’ve got this far and haven’t read the series yet, do it. A well-built world with plenty happening and buckets of fun. Some books you read and a month later have forgotten what happened. I can still remember loads of the first Skulduggery Pleasant series and I read them years ago. Just go for it.

I hope you’re all well, and enjoying your summer! I’m now on my summer holidays, although I have quite a bit of revision to do for my exams in September. It’s strange because holidays don’t feel that different to school anymore; it’s all at home. Anyone else experiencing this, or does your life have more distinct lines between work and home? Let me know.

June 2020 Roundup

Here we are again, another monthly roundup! I have literally just written the May 2020 Roundup, so it feels a little strange to be writing June’s directly after. However, I’m on a blog post writing roll and have a scheduled post for the first time in a couple of months so I’m just going for it. I didn’t have many choices for favourites in June, mainly because I haven’t read much. I’ve only read 9 books, although in my defence I did a lot of writing so I could get my current project finished before the July camp NaNoWriMo began.

Book 1: Islander by Patrick Barkham

Genre: nonfiction, travel writing

What I liked: the islands chosen, the unique mixture of personal experience on the islands and history/ culture of the islands, the nature and setting descriptions

What I didn’t like: I would have loved a sequel, or more islands included because I absolutely loved the style of writing

Who I would recommend it to: Anyone interested in learning more about the islands of Britain, or anyone who just likes hearing about cool, isolated places

Book 2: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Genre: vampires, fantasy, contemporary

What I liked: the humour, all the characters especially the bisexual, badass main character, the setting of Oxford

What I didn’t like: that there’s no sequel yet. I devoured this book in one sitting and I was 100% primed for another one.

Who I would recommend it to: fans of urban fantasy, vampires and awesome, humorous writing

Book 3: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Genre: sci-fi

What I liked: Really cool, fresh concept and the world-building was good. I liked the main character and the plot twists. Also: amazing ending.

What I didn’t like: I would have enjoyed more emotional depth to the story. I felt like I was missing a connection.

Who I would recommend it to: science fiction fans, people looking to try something new

Book 4: The Peace of Wild Things and Other Poems by Wendell Berry

Genre: poetry

What I liked: there are not enough words to describe how much I adored this poetry collection. Its writing is so evocative and peaceful, I just want to move to the countryside and live in a cottage and tend to my orchard

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

Who I would recommend it to: poetry-lovers, people who don’t like poetry, anyone who asks me for a poetry recommendation, people who love nature and want to reconnect with it

Book 5: The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

Genre: middle grade, fantasy

What I liked: the magic, the seemingly unconnected plot strands which pulled together, the richly developed characters

What I didn’t like: I don’t really have any complaints. This is not a book written for adults but I really enjoyed it.

Who I would recommend it to: People who want a good book which is a bit easier to read, kids, people who want a book to read with their family

I might not have read many books this month, but I am happy to say I have definitely read quality books. I loved every single book on this list, and I took the time to really engage with each book so maybe reading 9 books in a month isn’t so bad. There’s also the fact I keep starting books and not finishing them, which means despite reading my total books doesn’t actually go up because I don’t finish them before starting something new! Do you stick to one book at a time or have bookmarks here, there and everywhere? I’d love to hear, so comment down below or click on one of the links to check out my social media!

A Booktiful Love Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A Booktiful Love is a collection of poems by Tolu’ A. Akinyemi. It is described as ‘a collection of poems that deal with the entirety of human experience in its various forms.’ I received an ebook in return for an honest review, so rest assured that all the opinions expressed here are my own.

What really struck me about this book was the writer’s biography at the end- he is VERY qualified! He is: a business analyst, financial crime consultant, a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, a personal development and career coach, a writer with 10 years experience, a mentor at several schools, a trained economist, has a Masters’ Degree, and has featured in several poetry festivals. Like… wow!

A Booktiful Love is split into several different sections with a wide variety of topics, quite random at times. For example, it starts with a poem about loo-roll scarcity, which made it very clear that this poem had been written since the start of lockdown! The poems are definitely accessible with simple and direct language.

I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about this collection of poems. The poem has some nice ideas, quite typical at times, some more interesting poems towards the end of the collection. The language can be vivid, the simplicity and directness effective for some topics. I found the more personal poems more engaging, for example when the author talked about his mother and his view on politics. Occasionally there was some rhyming, and I do love some rhyming.

The title poem, in my opinion, was not anything extraordinary although I do like the title. I do prefer more figurative and elaborate language in poetry, but that’s just personal preference and I do like that the poems say what they mean and are direct. The only poems I actively dislike where a few consecutive ones in the middle with were all named ‘Beauty and …”. They were clearly about a woman he loves, but they made me uncomfortable, particularly lines like ‘she is my prize’.

In conclusion this is an accessible collection of poems with a with a wide range of subjects and a simple, direct style, so if that is how you like your poetry or you are just getting into poetry I suggest you give it a go!

I can’t believe it’s July already! Half the year is gone which is absolutely crazy, and I’m coming to the end of my penultimate year at school. It doesn’t feel like that much time has passed because of all the time we’ve spent under lockdown, like we’re living in an alternate universe or something. Going back to school in September is definitely going to be very strange. What does the end of June mean to you? Let me know in the comments or on one of my social platforms linked below!

May 2020 Roundup

‘Bee, why am I reading a May Roundup in July?’ I hear you ask. Well, funny story that’s not actually that funny. I consistently forgot about this post all the way through June and my perfectionism hates the idea of missing a month, so we’re about to take a look at the top 5 books I read in May. Don’t worry though- you’ll get my June favourites next week (hopefully)! Without further ado let’s get into the post, since it’s already a month late.

Book 1: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Genre: young adult, crime, contemporary, mystery, thriller

What I liked: I absolutely loved this book, and when I write my full-length review it will be GLOWING. Holly Jackson does an incredible job of building suspense, creating vivid and loveable characters and dropping tiny clues throughout leading to the final revelation.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t another one yet

I’d recommend it to: fans of true crime, fans of young adult books, people who like a really good, suspenseful crime investigation

Book 2: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

Genre: I don’t really know how to describe it. Contemporary fiction, but not like I’ve ever read before.

What I liked: This story doesn’t really have any conflict. At all. It is a celebration of the everyday, with gentle, elegant writing and human characters you grow an affection for.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t really anything I disliked, although I can see how some people who like lots of action might find it a bit boring

I’d recommend it to: anyone who wants to look at the ordinary world with new eyes, anyone looking for a book that’s easy to read and a little different.

Book 3: Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Genre: poetry

What I liked: Everything. I adore Emily Dickinson’s poetry, I think it’s stunning. For a longer review, check out one I wrote earlier

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I would have loved to know her.

I’d recommend it to: fans of poetry. Anyone who can appreciate brilliant writing.

Book 4: The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson

Genre: poetry

What I liked: the long poems, a series of different topics all flowing into one another seamlessly. The vivid language, frequent and precise use of metaphors and similes and personification. Gibson isn’t afraid to talk about big topics such as politics, the patriarchy and gender norms. My favourite poem was ‘I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out’.

What I didn’t like: Poetry books are too short. I need more poems!

I’d recommend it to: fans of poetry that addresses a wide variety of topics including gender, sexuality, politics, the patriarchy, capitalism and much more.

Book 5: Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter

Genre: fantasy, fiction, science fiction

What I liked: I loved the political element of this novel, and the way Saulter takes a look at issues such as race, class and religion in a futuristic society, while examining moral issues and creating a cast of fascinating characters and an intriguing world.

What I didn’t like: I found this book a little hard to connect with at times, but overall I really enjoyed reading it. The start is maybe a bit slow?

I’d recommend it to: fans of fantasy and futuristic society, those interested in genetic modifications and the social implications of the issue.

So, that brings us to the end of my top 5 books of May! I definitely had to take a look at the notes I made while reading these books, because they’re not as fresh in my mind as they should have been if I had written this a month ago. I’ve just found lockdown, even several months in, has completely thrown my sense of routine and organisation. My room is a mess! Has lockdown made you more or less organised? Let me know down below in the comments or on one of my social platforms- I love hearing from you. 🙂

Sunshine and Whiskey by Lauren White Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Sunshine and Whiskey is a collection of poems by Lauren White. I was very kindly gifted an ebook of this book in return for an honest review, so all opinions expressed here are my own. As you might already know from previous posts, I have been reading a lot of poetry recently so I have lots of poetry books to review!

A bit about the author: Lauren White grew up in Maryland, and she is an engineer. She earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park and her M.S. in Systems Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School. In her free time she likes trying new whiskies, writing poetry and Star Trek.

I have mixed opinions about Sunshine and Whiskey, which is split into several sections such as Summer, Lauren and Broken. That is not to say any of the poetry is bad; in fact most of the poems were simple and well-written. I really enjoyed the rhyming White used in her poems and the mood she evoked in some of the poems was wonderful, with little details that really immersed me in the scene. There were some cliche lines, but these were accompanied by some cool original imagery.

The poems were predominantly long and free form, made up of short lines. They often had really obscure words as titles which I loved, because I am obsessed with finding out new words so I really enjoyed looking up what these meant. I was less a fan of the random pop culture references such as X-men, as I tend to prefer timeless poetry, but the self confidence shown in some of the poems was very inspiring.

As for the subjects of the poems, there was a variety. My favourites were the ones White wrote about herself, so it was rather disappointing that the majority of the collection were about relationships. The poems about heartbreak just seemed to go on forever and became a bit repetitive, definitely for more mature readers because lots of them focused on someone leaving her and her lying in bed remembering them having sex and touching. None of the poems were graphic in that sense, but it just got boring when every poem was slightly different ways of describing the same thing.

In conclusion I would recommend this collection if you are interested in reading lots of poems about love, heartbreak and missing someone. The ones White writes about herself and any other topic are more engaging, however they are sadly dwarfed by the sheer volume of poems focused on unnamed partner(s).

I hope you’re all well and staying safe! I know my reviewing has been patchy recently, but I am trying to get back into the rhythm of posting regularly and I have recently got back into fiction books again which is adds a bit of variety to my reading schedule. I say schedule, I mean randomly picking up books when I walk past them and reading a few pages. Does you have a set time you read in, or do you just read randomly like me? Let me know down below using one of my platforms or comment down below 🙂