Posted in award lists

The journey has begun 

​The journey has begun 

My first Booker prize read. 

The journey has begun 

My first Booker prize read. 

Autumn 
Ali Smith 

I must admit that this is not my first attempt at reading this book. I attempted to read it when it first came out, but Dnf’d it. However, that was during a really bad reading slump. So, I thought, since it was on the list, I’d give it another go. 

I managed to read it this time.  I found that it dealt with some really topical issues, such as: Brexit and  its aftermath, Jo Coxes murder, immigration, and the hassle of doing anything in this country if you don’t carry five sources of i.d. around with you at all times. The inclusion of these topics made the work feel prescient and timely. But, the shear mass of ideas; together with its non-linear form and shortness,  made it feel very busy and overwhelming. At times, I felt lost, and disengaged, from the story and characters.  Not a bad read, but not a satisfying one either. I can see why it’s on the list and I fear that it will be on the short list. However, I will feel really disappointed if it wins.

Posted in arc

Capsule review 3

Laurie Penny

Bitch Doctrine

Bloomsbury

July 13th 2017

Please be aware that the publisher has given me this book in exchange for an honest review.  This book collects, edited versions of, Laura Penny’s online writing. Essay after essay brilliantly dissecting the patriarchy.

Posted in arc

Capsule review 2

A short life of Pushkin

Robert Chandler

Pushkin Press

Please be aware that the publisher has given me this book in exchange for an honest review

An informative book about an interesting writer, exploring: his life and the how his life effected his work. I recommend this book to anyone wishing to gain an understanding of the life of this very important writer.

Posted in arc

Capsule review

Kathleen Knowles

Taking sides

Bold Strokes books

Pub date 18th July 2017

Please be aware that this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A workaholic, lonely, seemingly self assured, townie must go to small town America to help organise a campaign. On doing so, they meet a shy, unsure woman. Things go the way that they always go in such books. On the surface, this seems like a standard, well written romance. Until you realise that all the main characters are women and LGBT issues are at the heart of this book.

The campaign is ran by a LGBT campaigning organisation and the book gives interesting insight into running of such campaigns.

This book would be useful for those wishing for a light summer read that still inhabits a diversity reading space.

Posted in Uncategorized

Man Booker 2017 Long List 

The 2017 longlist: 

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Ireland) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Ireland) (Canongate)
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (UK) (4th Estate)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (India) (Hamish Hamilton)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan) (Bloomsbury Circus)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (US) fleet 

I have read Solar Bones and Lincoln in the Bardo. It will be interesting to re-read and review these brilliant books. I have copies of underground railroad and Exit West on on TBR shelf. So, this would be a great time to read them. I have been meaning to read Autumn and swing time for some time. So, this will be a great excuse to read them.  The other books on the List sound interesting. So, despite my intention not to read the list, it looks like I’m going for a Booker read again. How about you are you going to read the List this year? Is it a good list? Or do you think there are too many well known names.

Posted in arc, Diversity

LGBT+ book review

TRANS/gressive

Riki Wilchins

Riverdale Avenue Books

Publication date 1st June 2017

 

The Truth About Goodbye

Russell Ricard

Wise Ink Creative Publications

Publication Date 1st April 2016

 

 

Please note that both books were given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

TRANS/gressive is a history.   TRANS/gressive is a retelling.   It is a history of a movement.  It is a history of people growing into political consciousness.   It is a history of an individual’s journey through that movement; their role within it, their view of it, and their doubts about a movement that they had helped to build.

 

This book outlines the changes within the Trans community. How trans individuals went from; shame to anger, from anger to empowerment, and from empowerment to the roots of victory. It is the story of how these individuals took on the entrenched views of the feminist movement and the violence of the wider community.  It is a story of how the politicised trans community; lobbied, protested, set up camps, held vigils, and found community. It is the story of how they began to win victories.   It is the story of division and struggle.  It is the story of the disagreements that emerged in victory.  This book is a good introduction to a newly emerging movement.     It is a good place to start if you want to gain an understanding of how a marginalised group; grew into political awareness, found solidarity, began to fight political campaigns, began to win victories, and changed our world.  It is written in a very accessible manner.   It is a must read for all who wish to understand; the birth of a movement that is shaping our world and how individuals become politicised.

 

The Truth About Goodbye (Russel Riccard) maybe seen as a child of the wider LGBT+ campaign.  On the surface, this book looks like your average romantic novel.   It is written in the clear almost filmic, dialogue driven, manner of such works. The story line follows a traditional form.  An individual loses their partner, must come to terms with their loss, and eventually move onto another relationship.  But, the similarity ends there.   The central character is a male grieving another male.  The book asks, how a person can truly grieve in a society that sanctions, neither; the persons relationship or the individual’s grief.   In addition, it is an interesting portrait of a man coming to terms with the aging process and the social limitations that come with that process. This book is for you if you are in the market for a,  diversity driven, summer beach read.

 

 

Posted in arc, Uncategorized

Austin

 

Lucy Worsley Jane Austen at Home Hodder and Soughton Published 02 June 2017 (Given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Paula Byrne The Genius of Jane Austen Harper Collins Published (given to me by the publisher in exchange an honest review)

 

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen.   So, expect Jane Austen to be at the forefront of cultural attention.  But, when is she not?  You see her face on many tee-towels, mugs, etc, etc.  Her books are continually turned into; films, theatre productions and TV shows.   Her face appears on a bank note.  But, how much do we really know about Jane Austen? In this new crop of books, concerning different aspects of Austen life, Worsley and Byrne attempt to cast a new light on the life of this well-known author.

 

Lucy Worsley, traces Jane Austen’s life through the houses she lived in and her domestic life. Worsley takes on a trip around the various locations that make up Austen’s world, examining her life through every day documents, such as; diaries, recipes, budgets, and personal letters.  She goes from Steventon,  where Jane was born and lived for the first years if her life, to Chawton, and Winchester, where Austen spent her final years.  Worsley looks at the struggles that Jane faced simply to survive, and prosper, on a limited budget.

 

Lucy Worsley mentions that the Austen’s often preformed plays.  She points out that Jane Austen herself wrote theatrical works.    Paula Byrne expounds upon this theme.  Byrne contextualises Austen’s work with an analysis of the theatrical tradition that existed during Austen’s life and analyses the productions that the Austen’s, and their circle, performed.  Byrne argues that the theatre played a large role in Jane Austen’s; life, education, and literary works. Before, examining how Austen’s work has inspired Hollywood, exploring the adaptions that have been made of Austen’s novels.

These two books are both interesting reads.   If you want an overview of Austen’s domestic life then the Worsley is the one you should pick up. If you require an exploration of the work, and the works that inspired them, then the Byrne is for you.  It would be great to read these books together.  It would be great to read these two books in conjunction with Austen’s own works.   Both books would make great reading for your Austen summer.