Posted in arc, Book review, books

A good time to be a girl?

A Good Time to be a Girl

Helena Morrisey

Harper Collins 4th Estate

Publication date 8th February 2018

Source Netgalley

Looking over thirty-five years in business, Morrison informs the reader that she has seen a great deal of progress. More and more, women are achieving success in the business and civic arenas. She argues, however, that women still have a long way to go in their quest for equality. There are still too few women taking their seat either around the boardroom table or in the political chamber.

Moreover, she argues that women still face a dilemma when entering public life, a dilemma that pits her public life as a worker against her private life of wife and mother. She argues that many campaigns around gender equality are based on a belief that women, who wish to succeed in the public arena, should ape the lives of their male ycounterparts, disengaging themselves from the responsibilities of the private arena and devoting themselves entirely to the public, civic, sphere. This means that women may be either: excluded from high positions in public life, left feeling lonely without the comforts that a private life may bring, or exhausted by the need to juggle two full-time roles.

In addition, she argues, equality campaigns are often seen as women’s responsibility, a side issue that can be left on the margins a business discourse, one that men, who still hold most of the levers of power, can ignore. Therefore, issues of equality and the goals of achieving gender parity are often left at the bottom of organisations to be done list. Therefore the problem remains unresolved.

Moreover, she argues that we are travelling through turbulent times. Times that see: a Trump presidency, Brexit, the rise of neo-nazism, the backlash against women’s rights, and a growth in hate crimes.

However, far from being a negative time, this could be a time of opportunity. People are beginning to fight for what they are losing. In doing so, they are beginning to rethink the very nature of politics and business, asking; why are women left with the caring responsibilities, why can’t public and private responsibilities be shared so that men and women can play a role in both arenas, why are equality issues always marginalised and left in the hands of women?

This book looks at measures that Morrison has put in place, both in her private and public life, to begin to challenge the inequalities to be found within the business world. She argues that the key is including men, both in the fight to bring women into the public arena and the private world that women leave behind.

These are not new ideas. Feminists have been advocating for this for a long time. But, it is good to see them articulated, so clearly, by a woman who lives these dilemmas every day and is actively fighting for gender parity. It is a must read.

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Discussion/review of queering sexual violence



Queering Sexual Violence

Published  by Riverdale books

Publication  date   22nd April

Source;  Publisher Via Netgalley

Edited Jennifer Patterson

Queering sexual violence is a collection of essays,  written by members of the LGBT+ (queer) community,  that seek to challenge current ideas of;  sexual identity,  sex, sexual violence, and the current structure of society.  Each essay, in its own unique way, speaks of the ways that certain individuals are excluded from both; the mechanisms in place to help survivors of sexual abuse, and the theoretical framework that support these organisations. They speak, poignantly, of; their experiences of violence, the effects of that violence on their lives, their attempts to seek help, the battles to have their pain acknowledged, and the ways that they have found their own unique path to healing.


The writers challenge the way in which we see certain issues and the ways that these issues interact; uncoupling some concepts while highlighting the connection between others.    Those who survived sexual abuse firmly state that, while their experiences have shaped their life and sexual choices, they choice of sexuality cannot be wholly explained by their childhood experience of violence.  Other writers seek to force the readers to see connections between violence to the individual body and the violence that we inflict on, both; the wider society and the planet that we all share.


This work is a valuable addition to both; the activism and theory surrounding sexual violence, queering, and extending their scope to include more stories and more ways of seeing the world.  Moreover, while being an academic work, the general reader would have no difficulty understanding, and being moved by this work.



Posted in arc

Capsule review 3

Laurie Penny

Bitch Doctrine


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 arc, Diversity

LGBT+ book review


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.



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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.