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!

10 Books to Read to Educate Yourself on Racism

If you’ve been on the internet at all this week, you will have heard about George Floyd’s death. If you’re not up to date on the news, here’s a BBC article about what actually happened. It has sparked many conversations about racism, and part of that is how to be an ally. As a white person, I have realised that I need to educate myself further on how to combat racism and be actively anti racist. In order to do this, I have created a list of books I want to read to educate myself. Other things you can do include signing petition, donating money and simply speaking out.

  1. Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde- Over and over again, in the essays, speeches and poems collected in Your Silence Will Not Protect You, Lorde emphasises how important it is to speak up. To give witness: “What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
  2. They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery – A deeply reported book that brings alive the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it
  3. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward- In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away. 
  4. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge- Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.
  5. Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis – In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
  6. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi- In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
  7. Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt – From one of the world’s leading experts on unconscious racial bias, a personal examination of one of the central controversies and culturally powerful issues of our time, and its influence on contemporary race relations and criminal justice.
  8. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo – The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
  9. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.
  10. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide

This list is by no means a comprehensive list, more a starting point to launch off of. For more books to read, check out this list by the New York Times, this Anti-Racist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi and this list from Vogue. I hope this was helpful or useful, and feel free to reach out to me below with suggestions, feedback or simply to say hello!

April 2020 Round-Up

Hello and welcome to my April 2020 round-up! I honestly cannot believe it’s the end of April already and we are all stuck inside watching the weather through our windows. This is not how I thought 2020 was going to go, but I’m trying to make the best of the situation. I’ve been writing daily for Camp NaNoWriMo and making pom-poms like there’s no tomorrow. There is something incredibly therapeutic about winding wool round and round and round, especially while watching one of my favourite movies like Burlesque. Back to the books, I’m struggling to read as much as I did before, but I try to read a little each day, even if it is only a couple of pages. I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed, so thanks for bearing with me while my blog posts are very sporadic. I will try to get some book reviews up soon!

Top 3 novels I read in April

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What I liked about it: the unique format, the drama, the way she writes about music

What I did not like about it: Nothing that I can think of.

My favourite character: Camila. What an amazing woman.

Position in series: 1/1

Genre: Historical fiction, music

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

What I liked about it: sassy misfit crew, aliens, lots of sarcasm, the action and excitement

What I did not like about it: my heart exploding

My favourite character: Tyler or Zila. I didn’t realise how awesome I think Tyler is until I actually considered it.

Position in series: 1/3

Genre: young adult, science fiction, fantasy

Dust by Hugh Howey

What I liked about it: an incredible conclusion to the Wool trilogy, the worldbuilding, the unravelling of the plot

What I did not like about it: DEATHS.

My favourite character: Jules. I would die for that woman. Amazing.

Position in series: 3/3

Genre: science fiction, post-apocalyptic

Poetry of the month: Wild Embers by Nikita Gill

What I liked about it: emotional and empowering

What I did not like about it: that it wasn’t longer!

My favourite poem: For Her

Genre: poetry, feminism

Special mention: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Why: this book means more to me than I can put into words. It has saved lives and reminds you that at no point are you alone. You can get through than this. There is more to life than your mental illness.

Genre: nonfiction, mental health

And that, folks, is my April in books. For a full list of everything I read in April, check out my goodreads which I try my best to keep up to date! I hope you’re all well, even if you’re feeling unmotivated like I am. Wishing you and your families all the best, and if you ever want to talk you can reach me through my contact page here, Instagram here or twitter here.

The Middle Ages Unlocked Review

The Middle Ages Unlocked by Gillian Polack and Katrin Kania

I have a habit of picking up very solid historical information books about the middle ages and reading them from cover to cover. It is a slightly questionable technique, especially since some of them are VERY information dense, but I have great fun doing it. As you can see in the image above I used a lot of sticky notes.

The Middle Ages Unlocked was awesome, really informative and jam packed with every type of information you could possibly need about medieval England 1050-1300. The time period you choose for a medieval nonfiction book is very important because there are huge changes that happened over what is quite a large period. This was the first one I’ve read where it considered both Jewish and Christian communities as well as slavery in the middle ages, two things I have never seen much info about. There is even information about measuring things! In conclusion, The Middle Ages Unlocked was very readable, sorted into handy sections and filled with information. If you want information on this time period, this is the book for you.

I’m not sure what else I can say about this without it getting repetitive, so instead I’m going to throw some facts at you from different sections that you can surprise your family with (if you so wish.)

Rich and Poor, High and Low

Rich and well-born people were supposed to be happy and look happy, regardless of their state, as happiness was considered attractive.

The Middle Ages Unlocked

From Cradle to Grave

Pain was often considered an essential part of Christian death because it was thought to be the deserved punishment for sins.

The Middle Ages Unlocked

Death and Taxes You Cannot Avoid

Outlawry meant that the person was considered outside the law and thus had no legal protection from others.

The Middle Ages Unlocked

Crossroads of the Mind

The vast majority of magic practices were considered part of daily life or religious belief and were not regarded as sorcerous.

The Middle Ages Unlocked

Babies were ideally bathed one to three times a day.

The Middle Ages Unlocked

Written and Spoken Words

Dragons were generally considered to be oversized snakes, with wings, a tail, feet and sharp talons.

The Middle Ages Unlocked

February 2020 Round-Up

So here we are again. The end of a month, where I round up my favourite books of the month/ scream into the void hoping it will choose the books for me. Since it is a leap year so February has an extra day, and also because I can do whatever I like on my blog, I am going to give my favourite book from this month, followed by a few more which were awesome

THE WINNER – QUEEN OF NOTHING BY HOLLY BLACK

Let me have everything I ever wanted, everything I ever dreamed, and eternal misery along with it. Let me live on with an ice shard through my heart.

Holly Black, Queen of Nothing

What I liked about it: everything. Jude. Cardan. Faeries. Humour and beauty. Plot twists galore. AN epic conclusion to this trilogy.

What I didn’t like about it: it’s the end of the series 😥

My favourite character: Jude all the wayyyyyyyy. She’s so badass and powerful and unashamed of wanting power.

Position in series: 3/3

Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance

THE OTHERS THAT I LOVED

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

What I liked about it: murder. It is set near where I live. Andie just straight up ignoring everyone who tells her what to do. The tension. The mixture of formats including transcripts and case notes.

What I didn’t like about it: I did not know there’s meant to be a sequel released this year. Also, the sequel hasn’t been released yet, which is very upsetting.

My favourite character: Andie. She just does what she wants but in a nice way.

Position in series: 1/3?

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

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

What I liked about it: the emotions. The contrast of past and present. More emotions. The slow unravelling of the story.

What I didn’t like about it: I have mentioned three authors on this page so far and they’re all called Holly. This is beyond confusing.

My favourite character: Amelie, my poor sweetheart.

Position in series: 1/1

Genres: contemporary, young adult, romance-ish

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue and Other Lies

What I liked about it: honest, diverse, emotional, easy to read because it’s made up of lots of short pieces.

What I didn’t like about it: Sometimes I got a bit confused because occasionally a sentence would be in massive letters to emphasise it. But that’s probably just me.

Genres: nonfiction, mental health

Pride, collected by Juno Dawson

What I liked about it: A range of genres, easy to read and lots of adorable LGBTQ+ relationships

What I didn’t like about it:  It wasn’t long enough

My favourite character: Can’t remember her name but the girl with the phoenix

Position in series: N/A

Genres: LGBTQ+, short stories, anthology, poetry

And so that concludes my February roundup! February has seemed a very, very long time, and I don’t think it’s just because of the extra day. With three family birthdays, a hospital appointment, college, half term, two new piercings, a couple of cinema trips, a museum trip, a talk from Mary Beard and 17 books read, I’m definitely ready for some rest and relaxation in March. Preferably with more reading time. I hope you’ve all had a good February, and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue Review

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue, edited by Scarlett Curtis

It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue and other lies is a vast collection of writings from various celebrities and activists on mental health. It includes personal anecdotes, poetry, song lyrics and even an illustration. With such a diverse array of minds with a variety of experiences with their mental health, there really is something for everyone.

I think anyone who reads this would take away something different from it depending on who you are, how your mental health is and what you need right now. I will attempt to explain what I thought were the best bits, but I highly recommend reading this for yourself.

This book did cause me to have a minor existential crisis, when I realised I have no idea what I want with my life. That being said, the collection is overall hopeful and quite inspiring, with statistics used sparingly and only when very relevant. It wasn’t a bad existential crisis, it just really made me consider areas of my own life. I found reading other people publicly sharing their experiences quite liberating, as they addressed the shame and stigma around sharing your own mental health problems. The contributions were funny at times, heart-breaking in others, just filled with so much honesty and vulnerability.

The book addresses mental health in conjunction with cancer, being a woman, race and class among other things. It is not simply personal experiences, but also how to be an LGBTQ+ ally and what you can do or say to help when a friend or family member is struggling with their mental health. This is not just a book for those with mental health problems, because everyone has mental health and as a whole society could do with talking about it more.

So read this book. Talk to someone. Cut out toxic things in your life. Make a change, one baby step at a time. Ask your friend if they’re truly okay. Things can, and do get better.

If you want to find out more or need some support, I’ll link a few websites below that are for general mental health but if you are looking for something specific a quick google will often bring one up, especially if you don’t live in the US or UK. If you have any questions or just want to talk, feel free to contact me 🙂

UK

Childline , Shout , Mind , Time to Change , Young Minds , SANE

US

National Alliance for Mental Illness , To Write Love On Her Arms , The Trevor Project , Mental Health America

Scorn Review

Scorn compiled by Matthew Parris

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you all have a great day, and I would like to point out that reviewing a book of insults has nothing to do with today being Valentine’s Day. Lots of love to you and your books!

Scorn gave me a great evening of reading, as well as lots of insults to harass my family with. It describes itself as the ‘wittiest and wickedest insults in human history’, and it certainly includes some brilliant insults. They are arranged in several sections, including religion, class, places, morality, politics and ancient curses. Some of the insults were funnier than others, and it’s definitely important to read this book lightly and not take any of it too seriously. I didn’t find the political ones as funny as the others, but that is just personal preference- there really is something for everyone except younger readers who should under no circumstances read this.

There isn’t much else to say since it is just quote after quote, so I’m just going to list a few of my favourites here. Please do not take offense, the insults shown are supposed to be humorous and not to be taken seriously.

Never doubt the courage of the French. They are the ones who discovered snails are edible.

Doug Larson

Unmitigated noodles.

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany on the English

If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.

General Philip Sheridan

Roast beef in human form.

Horace Walpole on the inhabitants of Norfolk

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it is important.

Eugene J. McCarthy

Watching the eurozone countries trying to resolve their debt crisis has been like watching 17 people in oven gloves manipulating a Rubik’s cube.

John Lichfield

He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.

Winston Churchill on Stanley Baldwin

When they circumcised Herbert Samuel they threw away the wrong bit.

David Lloyd George. Attrib.

A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

Brass bands are all very well in their place – outdoors and several miles away.

Sir Thomas Beecham. Attrib.

A man with a fork in a world of soup.

Noel Gallagher on Liam Gallagher

Sex Power Money review

Sex Power Money by Sara Pascoe

This is an awesome nonfiction book. I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

There was more biology than I thought there was going to be, but thankfully it was much more clearly explained and interesting than biology at school. Pascoe dives into sex and power from an evolutionary standpoint, considering how people behave in regards to sex, power and money, and why how we have evolved to behave like that.
Pascoe considers several topics within the broader headings of sex, power and money such as porn and sex work. The links she draws out between sex, money and power are absolutely fascinating and very insightful, making me consider the topics from a new perspective. Pascoe backs up her points with statistics that are weaved in very naturally, as well as including anecdotes and personal stories from people who have been largely affected by these topics in some way.
This book does not go the direction you are expecting it to, but it is thoughtful, well-researched and most of all funny. The humour is well placed, never offensive and makes what can be quite heavy subjects more readable. Pascoe also includes a reading list at the end for those interested in further exploring the topics, and does not pretend that she is the expert on everything about sex, power and money even though after reading the book you might mistake her for one
I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those with an interest in sex, power and money and how the three things are intertwined.