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 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

Posted in throwback Thursdays

Throw back Thursday; To Turn the World Keisha N. Blain and Tiffany M. Gill Source Netgalley (in the hope of an honest review)

Black Studies, and activism, have always had an interest in studying and participating in; Pan-Africanism, Black internationalism, and the connections that exist between various sections of the international Black Diaspora. However, as Keisha N. Blain and Tiffany M. Gill inform us, the focus of these studies centred on the activities of men. To Turn the World seeks to rectify this omission, highlighting the role of women in the struggle for an international Black identity.

To Turn The World is an anthology of essays concerning the role of women within the Black internationalist community. The various authors explore the lives of a varied sample of these women. It takes a look at the lives: of the wives/widows of Black activists, such as; Eslanda Robeson, and lesser known women who were simply acting as tourist activists. The Authors focus on women occupying the roles of; tourist, journalist, unofficial diplomats, or activists. The book spans the globe; from the USA to Europe and from Australia to Haiti.

These essays give a glimpse of the activities of a hidden group of activists, adding to an ever growing cannon of works that seek to explore the role of women within history. It is an enjoyable, and informative work.

Posted in throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday; bumper edition

©freestock

I’ve still got a backlog of arcs needing review. So, this week I am reviewing three books

When most people think of James Baldwin they tend to think of the earlier work, written during the Civil Rights era. They tend to forget that Baldwin was alive and working during the Eighties. ‘James Baldwin in the 80’s’, by Joseph Vogel, seeks to rectify this omission. This work looks at: the films which Baldwin wrote at this time; the books that make up his later oeuvre; and his attitudes towards the issues of the day, such as; AIDS, gay rights and race relations. It argues that Baldwin disregarded the dominant dichotomy between high and low culture, exploring the films which Baldwin made during the early Eighties. In addition, Vogel explores Baldwin’s individuality, emphasizing his dual identity, being both; African American and gay. The author argues that these aspects of Baldwin’s life, and work, make him a perfect inspiration for our post post modern, intersectional, age.

Strip by Catlyn Ladd outlines the author’s experiences of being a stripper. It looks at her reasons for her choice of occupation and the positive benefits she gained from her choice, saying that it made her more positive about her body and sexuality. In addition, it looks at the abuses faced by the author and her colleagues. She compares her experiences with the narratives of her colleagues, before contrasting them with the myths surrounding, both; sex work, and the people who work in that sector.

Anyone who reads books will be interested in those works that got away. Anyone who loves the writing of a dead author has always dreamt of finding that lost manuscript. ‘in search of lost book’, Giorgio Van Straten, looks at those manuscripts, that primary sources tell us once existed, but have been either lost or destroyed. It is a highly informative, and enjoyable read.

Posted in wrap up

THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN A WEEKLY WRAP UP

At the start of the year, I promised myself that I would start to post weekly wrap ups on this site. I never got around to it. So, I thought that I would start doing them this week. Normally, these posts will give me a chance to tell you; how my weeks gone, what I am reading, what I plan to read next, and about those books that do not warrant a full review. However, when I looked at the backlog of arcs awaiting review, I decided to review them here and start the year again with a clean slate. I liked all these books. However, I don’t have much to say about them. (As usual with arcs, these books have been given to me by the publisher in the hope of an honest review).

Accessible America A History of Disability and Design by Bess Williamson is an interesting look at the issue of accessibility as it relates to the built environment. It focuses on; the physical barriers that disabled people encounter every day, the political movements that sought to demolish these barriers; and the law that emerged as a result of their struggle. It is an informative, well written, introduction to the subject.

Proud by various authors is an anthology of YA writers celebrating their queer identity. It is a valuable contribution to the queer LGBT+ canon. But, with hindsight, I don’t remember much about this work, nothing stands out. It’s worth a look, especially if you are a YA reader. But, it didn’t blow me away.

Many people on the autistic spectrum identify themselves as queer. Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism Voices from Across the Spectrum by Eva A. Mendes; Meredith R. Maroney looks at the experiences of these individuals. It tells the experience of both; the person with autism, and the people in their lives. It is an important look at an often hidden section of both; the queer and disabled communities.

The PDA Paradox by Harry Thompson is the final book in this set. This book is the memoir of Harry Thompson and his experiences of living with a rare form of Autism. He tells us of how this form of Autism affects his life. This is a very honest account of a life. I highly recommend this book.