Posted in book review

Just Another Mountain by Sarah Jane Douglas

Just Another Mountain is definitely one of those you will hold to your heart after you’ve read it, and feel a myriad of emotions.

With stories from childhood to adulthood all joined by the love of nature and walking, I haven’t felt as much about a book, than i did when I read this, in years. It felt an honour to read what Sarah had shared, like a friend passing you her diary.

Her mum’s cancer battle, and then hers, had my grieving alongside her. Recently a good friend passed away to cancer and I haven’t spoken to many about how I’m feeling. Sarah’s recap of watching her mum fight the disease, and what she herself went through, was so true to my own experiences that I felt comforted.

There is a deep honesty to this book that I appreciate. The vulnerability is so beautifully human that I respect it greatly, but despite the heavy topics and life experiences there isn’t a loss of humour or lightness. The fun and sweet moments are still prominently there and I enjoyed every moment of getting to know Sarah and her life.

Reading this has helped me feel more connected, and every scenic moment is described so beautifully without embellishment that I had to get outdoors myself and be reminded just how freeing it is.

Thank you for sharing your life with me, Sarah, I am truly grateful.

Favourite lines:

“Turning up at a friend’s house, she was promptly given a pair of socks and shoes. I wished I could have known her then.”

“She was more than just a mum. She was my very best friend, the person I knew I could always turn to.”

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emoji response: 💖😪😅❣💔🌳🏞

Posted in book review

Each Little Universe by Chris Durston

There is no way I can write an “about this book” section, as there aren’t the words to sum up what this is about. There are two inventors, cats, a bread heater that catches fire and using role-playing games to pull off a real heist. 

Oh and there’s a star (one from the sky) who is a person. Like Stardust, but less white gowns and angelical and more gen z art student who is freaking adorable.

Whatever you do, do not read the blurb just so you can experience first hand the crazy magic coating the pages of this book. Chris has written something so spectacular that there isn’t a single sentence that could be classed as basic or simple. It’s as if Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett sat down and played a “who could be the most strange” word game and wrote it all down: and I mean this in the best way. I was snorting with laughter by page 2.

These characters are not just random, they are kind, weird to the point of it being the norm (you’ll get used to it), wordy (I had to Google some of the words used) and creative (whiteboard blankets just made playing noughts and crosses whilst having a sleepover easier). If anyone wants campaign ideas for DnD or other role-playing games then this will definitely provide you with a few. The creative detail is absolutely on point and I’d like a tour around Chris’ mind just to see what other golden ideas he’s got in there.

Unsurprisingly I kept expecting a dragon to just crash through the ceiling without anyone reacting.

The best part? The pure nostalgia. Reading about this awesome friendship group and how they act reminded me of holing up in hotel rooms at conventions and talking till 3am, or the time I had a sleepover in an attic and woke up with two of my friends stuck to me. These characters remind you to breathe, love and live and remember the true meaning of friendship. The fact there are nonbinary and LGBTQAI characters and absolutely no toxic masculinity just makes me feel all the warm fuzzies of a VERY happy reader.

Your can order the book here:

Meanwhile I’m gonna go procrastinate on how to laminate a blanket. 

Final thoughts

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Emoji response: 😂💖❣🥺🙈🤯⭐😳

Favourite lines: “I’m not sure whether that was incredibly insightful or the most meaningless thing you’ve ever said.”

“Weird how time passes and then you just call it something else.”

Proposed drinking game for readalongs:

A drink every time

-Derrida gets punched in the arm

-Derrida uses a word more than 6 letters long

-Someone says something grammatically incorrect 

-One of the group is freakin adorable

Posted in book review

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide -the book that makes you want to adopt a dragon

My favourite time period in novels is the Regency/Bronte era, with their customs and manners and ways of being…and then go and throw some dragons into the mix and I am HOOKED.

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide (to the care and feeding of British Dragons) holds all the nostalgia of my childhood favourites (The Secret Garden, Pride and Prejudice, Narnia) and all the thrills and hilarity of a genius piece of work. To start with, Mildred is an absolute delight of a character, reminding me of the sensible Mary Bennet but with the wit and sarcasm of Mary Lennox. I loved reading about a character who was a) as much of a fan of cake and sugary treats as I was and b) a really unique heroine who had me snorting with laughter many times.

Favourite lines:

 “Are you labouring under the belief you’ve just hatched out a demon on your drawing room floor?”

“Her body behaving in the most traitorous manner to a mind determined to huddle beneath the covers and not come out until such things as bread and chocolate and afternoons were on offer.” (MAJOR MOOD)

When Mildred and Mr Wiggan come into possession of the dragon, its absolutely hysterical how Mr Wiggan has a breakdown and then proceeds to treat the dragon as his smol son. Known fondly as Fitz (Agents of Shield fans will be pleased) the dragon now has a doting father and grandmother (you cannot tell me Mrs Babbington doesn’t make Fitz his favourite meal).

 Mildred herself is more wary at the start, and I think she just wants someone to tell her that yes, Fitz is actually just a cross between a chicken and a bat, rather than accept he is a dragon. However as soon as there is a hint of Fitz been found out, the love she has for him is so clear and she’s a brilliant and protective dragon mum (Khaleesi, move over). That been said I do appreciate the scenes with Mildred where Fitz will make his presence known and she reaches for the cake to eat her feelings. We’ve all been there.

Of course, every fairytale needs a villain, and Mr Hawthorn is definitely an interesting character to say the least. He’s a good story teller, I’ll give him that, but so as not to spoil anything I’ll just say I’m glad for Mildred’s instincts (and my opinion of Belinda is so low, I past Hades on the way down.)

All in all I’m utterly delighted to have read this book, it is funny, creative and ingenious at times with an adorable romance weaved in, and a lot of originality. The pace is good and it’s definitely one I’d want to re-read.

Thank you so much to Quenby for the advanced reading copy! This was given in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Favourite character: Fitz of course.

Emoji response: 😍👀😂🐉😲💘

Would I recommend?: I would be very offended if you didn’t buy this book. 

Posted in book review

The Left Hand Book Sellers of London

About the book:

A girl’s quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of fantasy, Garth Nix.

The Left Handed Book Sellers of London by Garth Nix is delightfully crazy, confusing in the best way, packed with energy and as if Narnia, Supernatural and Sherlock Holmes had a love child.

The main character, Susan, is so hugely relatable due to the simple fact she has no clue what is going on, just like myself as a reader who was turning the pages, baffled but hugely entertained.
The concepts are so out there, they couldn’t be anything other than fascinating. Book Sellers who are also some kind of secret society who carry weapons. Book Sellers who have ghosts (sort of ghosts?) Of their grandmother in their basement. There is magic in places where magic hasn’t even been used and some great bits of humour including the fact that this isn’t some rich society but a group of booksellers who are every bit as broke as each other.

Also, can we all just appreciate the Jaffa Cake addiction? I definitely appreciate that, so much.

One thing that got me squealing with happiness was the absolute obliteration of gender binary and how inclusive this book is. I mean, Merlin being soft and femme and wearing a dress and his sister wearing the suit. Susan appreciating Merlin in both female and male form. Merlin asking Susan which bathroom she wanted to use instead of assuming.

Reading this book was like stepping through a door. I would walk to work whilst listening to the audio book and have to check behind me just to see if there were any goblin children waiting to dance me away to the May Fair. The writing is so believable I could see and sense everything and I don’t think I’ll be able to look at fog the same way again! It is a brilliant way of bringing all the old myths, legends and beliefs to life but putting them just behind the curtain to create a world where the supernatural and magical is right there, but ordinary people might never know about it.

I have to say, if this doesn’t end up being a movie or TV show then I will be absolutely devastated. I definitely want to see this phenomenal work on the big screen.

Though there is magic, there is also terror. The type of terror you are both scared and excited by. Goblin dances that whisk you away before you can blink, huge hounds that bare their teeth, statues that walk (still not over the weeping angels from Doctor Who) …it is both dark and brilliant and I am definitely a Garth Nix fan.

Emoji reaction: 😆😶😵😳💀🙈❣👀🐺🌹

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Would I recommend?: GO BUY IT NOW.

Posted in book review

A Kind of Spark

 A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll is a book I have wanted to read for a long time, however was waiting for the right moment, for when I would truly need a book to remind me of who I am.

After the second lockdown I became really ill with depression and anxiety and realised I was giving all my time and space away to everyone else. I stopped reading and writing and I lost my passion for all the things I truly love. It’s taken some time, but I made myself read A Kind of Spark and it helped, just like I knew it would.

A Kind of Spark is about Addie, an autistic girl who is dealing with an abelist teacher and bullies at school. Addie has an older sister who is also autistic and this part of the story stole my heart away, because having an older sibling who truly understands you and can teach you about your autism is a dream and it was just so nice to see it on paper. I remember imagining autistic imaginary friends as a child, people who would tell me that who I was, was okay and that different was good. I, like Keedie, didn’t have anyone to explain autism to me as it really is and I had to experience the stereotypes and stigmas instead.

“And I’m so tired.”

She sighs. “I know, kid. I am, too.”

A Kind of Spark is so REAL. Yes, it is about acceptance and empowerment and being true to yourself, but it also exposes the truth about how we, as autistic people, have to sacrifice so much to fit into this neurotypical led world. Addie and Keedie’s conversations helped me see how much I’ve let other people run the show and how I haven’t spoken up for myself, as if a part of me believed that this was their space and that there wasn’t room for me. I think, internally, I’m still seeing myself as the person who doesn’t fit with everyone else -just like Keedie and her decision to not tell people at University that she is autistic.

Addie’s experience with her teacher was heart-breaking but refreshing to read as I don’t believe teachers are pulled up enough for their abelism. In years 4 and 6 I had teachers just like Mrs Murphy who criticised and bullied me at every point -to the point of my year six teacher telling me no one would ever like or trust me and even put her hands on me when I was stimming. For years these teachers have gotten away with this behaviour and A Kind of Spark shows just HOW they can go on so long without getting caught. It’s a very damaging experience and I hope this book teaches people how much autistic children suffer in the hands of the wrong teachers.

“Other people’s minds are small. Your mind is enormous. You don’t want to be like other people.”

I think I had stopped reading because books are my special interest and all I ever want to talk about, but many treat me as if my voice had no worth. I would be seen as the small and inconsequential person in the background, coddled as if I was a child and not an adult or not invited to conversations where I would be able to give such fundamental lived experience. On social media it was rare people would ask me about being autistic (apart my dear friends Simon, Gau and Pau who have been such wonderful advocates) and I would spend every Autistic Acceptance Month waiting for neurotypicals and other friends to want to talk about autism and life as an autistic person with me, only it hardly happened. I felt so alone and in the background and it has taken a while to realise that in truth, I didn’t want them to see me as an autistic person, I just wanted their time and attention to feel accepted.

Addie’s story is a very personal one and speaks volumes about my own journey and struggles when navigating this world. Addie is the child version of me who was let down badly, and Keedie is the me today who is trying her best whilst educating others, but still faces abelism and injustice. 

A Kind of Spark was the message I needed to realise only I need to believe in how much I’m worth and use my voice for good, no matter who is listening. I don’t have a Keedie to hold hands with, but in sharing this book around I hope other autistic people find comfort in the fact that they aren’t alone. 

“My autism isn’t always my superpower. But on the days when I’m seeing electricity in things, seeing the details that others might not, I like it a lot.”

Thank you Elle, for reminding me I don’t need to be anything other than who I am.

Rating: 5 trillion stars.

Posted in book review

Gloria by Katherine Shaw

My review of Gloria

Thank you so much to Katherine for this Arc of Gloria in return for a review. 

One thing I didn’t do when reading this book was read the blurb or any descriptions as I wanted to be surprised, but I found that if you do that (and please, try it, it’s more fun that way) is the book gives you one impression and then eventually hits you with the truth on what it is really about.

My first impressions were that this could be set in the 1950s for how Gloria and Greg’s relationship is. Gloria is a housewife and sees her painting as nothing more than a hobby. Greg is of course the “successful” husband who earns all the money. I knew something was wrong with him right at the start but expected him to just be cheating or something basic…but then when the twist comes it’s so Black Mirror-esq that I had to check I was still on the same book!

Gloria’s character does confuse me a little. I was trying to understand how someone who had travelled alone through Europe and lived so fully could be turned into a meek little doormat.

Once I knew about her childhood it made more sense, however the references to her creative and adventurous life before gave me a snapshot to someone I wasn’t seen in the person Gloria was in the whole of the book. I expected more of an Eat Pray Love type of character but understand that her years with Greg could have changed her completely. 

I couldn’t get a true picture of Iris and Gloria’s relationship, or the history with Elias as the story focused mostly on Greg and Gloria, however Greg was a very good villain and without spoiling it too much, got the ending he deserved.

Total rating: ⭐⭐⭐ and 1/2 stars

Fave character: Samuel 

Emoji response: 😮😯😶😫🔫😱🤯

Would I recommend?: yes, I think crime and drama lovers would like this very much.

Posted in book review

Pages & Co by Anna James

Anna James has done it again! Such a wonderful, well written book which filled me with joy.

Book title: Pages & Co. Tilly and The Lost Fairy Tales

Author: Anna James 
Publisher: @harpercollinsuk 

About the book: Tilly Pages is a bookwanderer: she can travel inside books, and even talk to the characters she meets there. But, when fairy tales start leaking book magic and causing havoc, Tilly’s powers are put to the test…

Words to describe this book: exciting, enchanting, nostalgic, magical, wonderous. 

My favourite part: meeting Rapunzel! I laughed so hard at her reaction to the princes outside the tower.

My feelings in emojis: 🥰💞🧚‍♀️🎠🗼📚🎄

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Posted in book review

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

My review of Grown Ups

Genre: adult fiction, contemporary 

Author: @marian_keyes 

This book was quickly read and passed around the office for others to read, it was that brilliant! I could not put it down and have never been more focused on a story.

I had wanted something relatable and true to life, and Grown Ups definitely delivered. It is refreshingly accurate on adult life, especially with Cara who suffers from an eating disorder and who I related to the most.

The characters bounce off the page with life, especially the children who are so well rounded and detailed it felt as if I was holding their sticky little hands and hearing their squeals. Every character felt so alive and perfect.

Grown Ups is such a joy to read, even with the sad bits. It has quickly become my most favourite read of 2021.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emojis to describe my feelings about the book: 😍🥰🤣😪🌈💞😶🥳