Posted in arc, arc review, Diversity

Throwback Thuraday

Both of these books were given to me by the publisher in the hope of an honest review.I have chosen to review, Black, Listed Black British Culture Explored, by Jeffrey Boakye, Little, Brown Book Group UK, Dialogue Books and Taking Up Space the Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change, by Chelsea Kwakye, Ore Ogunbiyi, Random House UK, Cornerstone together.  Since, their themes gel together really well. 


Russell Group Universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, are elitist institutions whose studentship mainly comprise; rich, white, heterosexual, Cis, men. Taking up space is written by a group of Black women who have bucked that trend by attending these Elite Universities. It takes the form of letters written to; Black girls who wish to follow in the footsteps of the authors, and those individuals who wish to help them accomplish that goal.   The letters take the reader through every step of the process; applying to the university, arriving at the university, Fresher’s week, leaving university, and finding a job.  It gives advice on; how to tackle Fresher’s week, finding your tribe, socialising, balancing work and personal time, issues around mental health, and dealing with institutions that are imbued with hidden and not so hidden Racism.  It clearly outlines the barriers faced by this group of students.  It’s a condemnation of these institutions and an inspiration for those students wishing to survive and thrive in institutions that are hostile to their very existence.  This book was aimed at Black women.  However, many of the issues raised in the text resonated with my experience of being; a working class, queer, state educated woman who attended a Russell group University. It is a thought-provoking work.  That inspires and reproves in equal measure.

Blacklisted is another book on Race.  But, while Taking up Space explores practical experiences of racism, Blacklisted looks at the language we use to describe and explain issues of Race.  It explores the words we use to describe ‘Black’ people.  It looks at words, such as; Black Ethnic Minority, Black Minority ethnic, ‘other’, and African American, exploring the various ways that society creates and reinforces racial hierarchies.  Each word is given its own essay.  Each essay weaves together personal narrative and cultural criticism to form a picture of the word and its place in both; cultural discourse and lived experience. It is a very worthwhile read. I highly recommend both books. What are you reading? Talk to me in the comments.

Posted in arc, arc review

Throw Back Thursday

I received these books from the publisher in the hope of an honest review. This post will be an update on what I have been reading.     I DNF’d We are the Weather Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer, Penguin Books (UK) and Deeplight  by Frances Harding, Pan Macmillan, Macmillan Children’s Books.    Neither of these books managed to keep my attention. Deeplight is a fantasy novel.  It is set In a world in which the Gods have destroyed themselves. The novel follows the attempts of a group of humans to survive in this new world. The novel was interesting.  However, I couldn’t connect with either; the setting or the characters.  So, I lost interest and couldn’t gain the motivation to keep reading.

We are Weather seeks to argue that we have become disconnected to the issue of climate change.  The author argues that we need to be given clear guidelines concerning, both; what we can do as individuals, and what we can do as a collective. However, ironically, the opening arguments of We are Weather felt disjointed and muddled, making the reader disconnected from the text and its important arguments. In addition, there’s a lot of stuff about the author here.   We hear endlessly about how guilty HE feels about global warming and how great he is at being vegetarian.  It would have been nice to hear about those people already suffering the effects of climate change.  Therefore, I soon became disconnected to the text and stopped reading.

The Nuremberg Trials: Volume I, Bringing the Leaders of Nazi Germany to Justice by Terry Burrows.  Following the Second World war, prominent Nazi officers were put on trial for war crimes. This book follows; the lead up to the trials, the decisions made, and the characters who made those decisions. The text makes a detailed analysis of the primary documents surrounding these trials. It is an interesting read. However, its detailed nature may prove off putting to some readers.

I hope that you enjoyed this post. What are you currently reading?

Posted in advance copy, arc review, netgalley

Throwback Thursday

We are back in the realm of semi-forgotten arcs. (Please be aware that I received these books from the publisher in the hope of an honest review I will begin with the book that I didn’t finish. Messengers Who We Listen    To, Who We Don’t, And Why by Stephen Martin; Joseph Marks.  The title tells you what it is about. It’s about those people who get listened to and those who don’t, looking at the characteristics of both groups of individuals. There’s nothing ground-breaking about this book. If you’ve lived in the world, then you know many of these arguments.

Semicolon How a misunderstood punctuation mark can improve your writing, enrich your reading and even change your life by Cecelia Watson. I scan read this book.  The title makes you think that it’s about semicolons.  But, it’s more than that. It’s a history of grammar and a historic explanation of how people have understood grammar.  It outlines how the grammar rules, we have today, were born. The author continues to argue that the current rules of grammar are too rigid and confusing, concluding that these rules need to be redrawn and relaxed. The book is highly detailed and extremely interesting. However, the amount of detail stopped me from being fully engrossed in the book.

I really liked Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett.  Simone has recently left her old school after being forced to come out as HIV Positive. When we meet her, she is comfortable at her knew school. She has made friends and is directing a high school production of Rent. She has even met a cute boy and is considering a sexual relationship.  Then she begins to get letters and messages threatening to disclose her HIV status.  This book has a diverse group of characters. It explores issues that confront teens who are living with a HIV status. In addition, it shows a teenager coming of age in a complex world: confronting prejudice and finding allies. It is an engaging and fun read that deals with serious issues in a fun way.

Posted in Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday

The year 1999 felt like a good year. I was happily ensconced at University.  I had made a great group of friends.  The Labour Party was in power.  They were making some great changes.   The Scottish Parliament was born.  Everything felt new and fresh.  I can’t believe twenty years have passed since that happy year.  But, here we are and the Scottish Parliament is celebrating its twentieth anniversary.   To celebrate,  the Parliament has released two books; – The Scottish Parliament in its Own Words An Oral History by Thomas A.W. Stewart Luath Press and The Scottish Parliament At Twenty by Jim Johnston and James Mitchell Luath Press.  The first is a series of essays.  These essays, penned by various individuals, speak of the; past, present and future of the Parliament.  They discuss issues,  such as; how the Scottish Parliament differs from its London counterpart,  It’s relationship with the UK Parliament, its attempts to increase local participation,  its relationship with local councils, the inclusion/exclusion of marginalized groups, the way that the Parliament is funded, and the way that the institution utilizes its budget. The second book explores the memories of people involved in its history.  I really enjoyed these two books

The other two books were less impressive.  I DNF’d the one and scanned read the second.   I DNF’d  We Need New Stories Challenging the Toxic Myths Behind Our Age of Discontent by Nesrine Malik, Orion Publishing Group,  W&N… It argues that the stories we tell are toxic and that we need to create new ones.  I don’t know why I couldn’t finish this book.  I may have been in the wrong mood for this work. 

David Bowie was a reader and he was asked to share a list of his favorite books.  This is an annotated version of this list. It looks at the books on the list as individual items, before exploring the role they played within Bowie’s life and art.  If you dip in and out, reading a section, and then putting the book down, then you will enjoy this book. But, it gets boring if you try and read straight through.

These books didn’t warrant a full review.  But, I wanted to tell you what I have read.  I hope you found this to be a worthwhile read. What are you reading?


Posted in arc, arc review

Forgotten Arc Thursday

Forgotten Arc Thursday

AIl books provided by netgalley in the hope of an honest review. seem to have gotten back on a semi regular posting schedule. So, I am reinstating Throwback Thursday. However, I have given it the new name of Forgotten Arc Thursday, which makes more sense. Firstly, Modern Sudanese Poetry an Anthology Translated and edited by Adil Babikir.  This book was an interesting read and had some fairly good poems.  However, it wasn’t very memorable.  I don’t have much to say about this work.  I can say the same for Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith.  I loved Just kids  and M Train , Therefore, I was really excited when I saw that Patti Smith had another book available. The first two books were inspirational to me.  They showed me the creative life, inspiring me to be more imaginative in my life and work.   This book is very different to the other books.  The first two books have a conventional structure. They follow a life journey.  However, while this is still a memoire, this is less linear.  It takes the form of a stream of consciousness narrative, combining real life with dreamscape.  I liked this book and found it intellectually intriguing.  However, it did not have the same emotional punch of the first two books. 

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World and The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World explore the cultural narratives  of this route and the nations that have; thrived, died, and recreated themselves alongside it.  As a rule, history is a story that centres on Europe and its off shoots.  These books change that focus, expanding the cultural story to embrace other countries, including; Russia, China, and the Middle East.  They show how these countries have always been at the centre of history and will be the centre of any, future, global order. 

These books were all good.  However, I didn’t have much to say about them.  Therefore, I put them here. I Hope you find something that you want to read.  Leave a comment down below if anything is calling to you.  What are you reading? ֣1��

Posted in arc, arc review

Notes to self Emily Pine

Notes to self

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist’s arm-chair and confuse his ‘Rinse the mouth—rinse the mouth’ with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us—when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

Virginia Woolf 1930 On Being ill  Hogarth house

“What if my body could tell the story? What would it say? I think it would talk about blood. Its mesmerising flow and its ebb. About ending and renewing. I think it would talk about the touch of my fingers and my hands and another’s lips. The feel of skin on skin. Wet and slow. Soft and hard. The shock of cold, the pleasure of warmth. I think it would talk about the delight of orgasm and the delight of laughter and the delight of sating hunger. About tasting sharp and spicy, soothing and creamy. I think it would talk about looking out and pulling in. I think it would talk about perfume and stink. About clean and dirty. I think it would talk about illness and recovery, about fortitude …. I think it would talk about loss and grief. About standing solo and holding together. About longevity and transformation. About satisfaction. About happiness. About joy. I think it would sound strong. I think it would sound loud. I think it would sound proud.” P. 130

Emily Pine 2019

Notes to self by Emily Pine foregrounds the embodied, every day, experiences of being an adult woman living in the 21st century.  Exploring, physicality, pain, grief and hope, these essays vividly bring the modern world to life. We are all made up of mind and body.  However, they are not two spheres.  They are two interconnected parts of one organism. Each part shaping, delineating, and limiting the other.  We are both; our mind and body. Their interconnections and interactions shape our very being.  Yet, as Virginia Woolf argues, the body, and its weaknesses, are often ignored in literature.  However modern female writers, such as Emily Pine, are writing about the body.  In this study Pine writes to, and about, the self; a self-description that acknowledges the body.  She writes of; the sick body, the caring body, the childless body, the mothering body, and the ageing body.   

The first essay, NOTES ON INTEMPERANCE, (p.3) looks at her relationship with her alcoholic father.  The story begins at her father’s sickbed. We see Pine’s experiences of caring for a sick father who is suffering from the effects of a life spent with ‘alcohol.  The essay then hovers between past and present, looking at how her father’s alcoholism affected our authors; childhood, adulthood, and her relationship with her troubled parent.  This essay moves seamlessly from: heartbreakingly moving, through the darkly funny, to a place of peace and hopefulness.  This essay, like the rest of the collection, is, at once, painfully honest and compellingly hopeful. In addition, these essays do not flinch on the physical detail. Such as the humiliation faced by her sick father when he does not receive the care he needs “By the time we find him, he has been lying in a small pool of his own shit for several hours.” (Pine 2019; p.3.]

The second essay FROM THE BABY YEARS (p. 39] explores the author’s attempts to have a child and to come to terms with her body’s inability to conceive.  The essay does not shy away from  a description of the physical ordeal suffered by Pine as she goes through the process of IVF and the ordeal of the physical, invasive exams undergone by a woman who is trying to have a child; “I pee on sticks and into sample cups. I pee on my own hand when the stream won’t obey. I open my legs wide for sex, for the doctor’s speculum. I hold my arm out for needles and blood pressure monitors and sometimes to grasp onto my partner as he sits next to me.”  (Pine 2019; p39]. She is honest about her feelings. Firstly, she is thoughtfully honest about her indecision regarding motherhood “together we talked, almost nostalgically, about our lives as people who loved quiet, and calm, and the space to read and write. On the page those may seem like little virtues, but that list represented for me, for us, a peaceful, happy, fulfilling life. A child would mean giving all that up for years. Would it be worth it?” (ibid 39-40).   Secondly, she is viscerally honest about her yearning for motherhood “I am fearful and hopeful and shameful. I worry that I am empty, or that I am full of the wrong things. I worry that I am disappearing, eroding, failing. I do not know what to do with all these feelings. I only want to be a mother. Why is that so easy for some people and so hard for others? Why is it so hard for me?” ibid

These essays foreground the embodied, every day, experiences of being an adult woman living in the 21st century.  Exploring illness, physicality, pain, grief and hope, these essays vividly bring the modern world to life.  Brutally honest, viscerally physical, and ultimately hopeful; these essays make for powerful reading. 

Posted in arc review, Uncategorized

Monster, She Wrote The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger; Melanie R. Anderson

Source Netgalley (in the hope of an honest review)

What do you think of when you think of horror? Well, sadly, most people think of film. Moreover, if you think of books and authors, then, I am guessing that, the names Stephen King and Clive Barker come to mind. I would imagine that you don’t think of women writers. In fact, a few people reading this post are saying; ‘women don’t write horror’. ‘Monster She Wrote’ seeks to proof that women have always written horror. In fact, women were at the very start of the horror movement. They were major names within the literary movement that gave birth to horror, i.e. the Gothic.

This book looks at the lives, and works, of female authors, placing them in context with their historical era. The authors explore the history of the horror movement and the role of women within that sphere. The book begins by examining horror’s gothic routes, exploring the work of writers, such as; Anne Radcliffe and Mary Shelley. It then moves onto the spiritualist writings of, relatively unknown writers, such as Alice Askew. The authors then take us through the pulps, exploring the work of writers, such as Charlotte Riddle and Elizabeth Gaskell. Then the work examines modern day horror queens, such as Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and Sarah Walters.

This book seeks to fill a very large hole within the history of horror, giving the work of women authors the attention it deserves. But, it does more than that; providing a useful introduction to the history of the field , introducing each of its waves, and contextualising these movements against their wider historical setting. It’s an interesting look at an interesting field of literature