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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Book Blogger Hop : January


6th - 12th -Where's your favorite place to read? (submitted by Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog)

My favourite place to read would probably be any comfy chair with a nearby hot drink. Where I actually end up reading could be anywhere from on public transport (I can finish a novel in one journey) to my bed (also a place of finishing books, often late at night).

13th - 19th -  Is everyday a reading day for you? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

Nope. I read a lot. I review a lot. I schedule a lot but then when I come to a dry season I don't read at all and just let the scheduled posts do their thing!

20th - 26th - What was the one time you thought the movie was better than the book? (submitted by Tomi @ A Bookworm's Guide To Life)

I have never come across this thought.

27th - Feb. 2nd - How many books have you started, but just couldn't finish?(submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

Lord knows.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Feminist Books Reviewed : In Support of the 2017 Women'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

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...

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Frostblood - Elly Blake

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Frostblood is good. It's very typical of the YA genre but still enjoyable. A moment that stayed with me through it was the fight between Ruby and the Captain who murdered her mother. It's quite a fast read, the pacing is excellent. The love interest I had an idea about very early on so the revelation of his identity wasn't quite as surprising as I think many other people found it. Frostblood is actually very strangely named considering our protagonist is a fire blood but there you go. I'm struggling to find more to say about it, simply because it fits so well into the genre and there was nothing I found that struck me. Ruby is a bit of an antihero which I liked but I don't think I'll be reading any more of the series. Good but not captivating.

Mort - Terry Pratchett

Mort is a creative, witty novel by Terry Pratchett. For all Mr Pratchett's acclaim and my own working knowledge of his Discworld series, I'd never read any of his books until now.

I loved it!

Mort is this wonderfully well meaning lad with little to no prospects until death snatches him up to be his apprentice! The characterisations are brilliant, with very little cross over between personalities.

Death is a very sweet fellow which I found completely unexpected. He cares for his charges and loves cats dearly which makes his easy to love.

It really captured me with the way Mort became more like Death as Death became more alive and it always had me on the edge of my seat wondering what kind of climax this could bring about.

The ending was likewise unexpected and, without wanting to give anything away, brilliantly achieved! I'd recommend Pratchett to anyone in need of a witty fantasy novel. I have heard that Mort is where Pratchett starts to really become great and from what I've read I definitely believe it! I look forward to another adventure on the disc soon!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Me Before You - JoJo Moyes

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Incredibly sad, had me tearing up. It's really good and very sweet in the way that the characters interact with each other and the romance was very believable. I liked how wacky the Lou was and how this was not over done. (Bumblebee tights!) I look forward to seeing the movie :)

Only thing that could have made it more enjoyable for me personally was more messages with Richie. I really liked them and kind of wanted to know more about Lou's other quad friend. I guess I'll just have to read After You and see if they resurface.


That is all.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

January 2017 Monthly Motif Challenge - Pantomime Laura Lam

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Pantomime by Laura Lam is a unique read. I love the mythology of the world, and the way the Keli, who were much like Micah, were considered the complete ones and the ones revered as Gods. Micah however was seen as disgusting and something to be fixed. An eerily similar representation of what I suspect our society might treat her as. This has definitely diversified my reading (the intention of this months reading theme) and made me consider what life is like for a person who ticks both the boxes. An interesting read, with an amazing MC who must navigate the hard work of the circus, the feelings they have for the other characters and their respective genders as well as running away from a family that would change what they are. I love that Micah doesn't want to change to tick either box and accepts that they were always supposed to be the way they are.

February's theme:
Undercover Thriller - Read a book involving spies, detectives, private investigators, or a character in disguise.

I'm going to be reading Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.

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My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - we do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly valuable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.

Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden ... and there's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.