Thursday, 23 March 2017

Mini Reviews: The Bees, Dear Ijeawele & Shrill

I rated The Bees 3 stars and my two latest non-fiction reads, Dear Ijeawele and Shrill got 5 stars each.

The Bees, Laline Paull
352⎟Fourth Estate⎟1st January 2015
Audiobook read by: Orlagh Cassidy

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen.

But Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin. While mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is removed from sanitation duty and is allowed to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous.

But enemies are everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. And when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all her instinct to serve is overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce love that will lead to the unthinkable…

I’ve been curious about The Bees for a really long time, but it’s sat untouched on my shelf for years. I was on the way back from London one evening and downloaded the audiobook on a whim.

I honestly still can’t decide whether I actually liked it or not. The world building of the hive,the characterisation of Flora and the other bees, the ideas and the themes are all brilliant and it should have been something that blew me away, but there was something there that didn’t allow me to fully connect with the story. I still can’t put my finger on what it was. Maybe that I listened to the audiobook? I’m not sure.

But regardless of my own reaction to the story, I can see why it’s revered, I can see why it was shortlisted for the Bailey’s - it’s clever, inventive and loudly feminist. I’ll definitely picking up Paull’s second novel, just out of curiosity.

Dear Ijewele, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
80⎟Fourth Estate⎟8th March 2017

I have some suggestions for how to raise Chizalum. But remember that you might do all the things I suggest, and she will still turn out to be different from what you hoped, because sometimes life just does its thing. What matters is that you try.

In We Should All be Feminists, her eloquently argued and much admired essay of 2014, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie proposed that if we want a fairer world we need to raise our sons and daughters differently. Here, in this remarkable new book, Adichie replies by letter to a friend’s request for help on how to bring up her newborn baby girl as a feminist. With its fifteen pieces of practical advice it goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century.

I didn’t even know this existed until it flooded social media on International Women’s Day. I had to pick it up.

I grabbed the Kindle edition and devoured it in half an hour on the evening of International Women’s Day. I’ve read two other books by Adichie - We Should All Be Feminists and The Thing Around Your Neck - and I never fail to be impressed by the depth, the warmth, the intelligence of her writing. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t touched her novels yet - I know I’ll be blown away by them and I need to make sure I’m in the space to appreciate them fully.

This letter to Adichie’s friend on how to raise a feminist is funny and empowering and I couldn’t have picked a better read for that day. I was so immediately in love that I ordered myself the hardback after only reaching the end of the Introduction in the Kindle edition. Though not all of the topics that Adichie covers in Dear Ijeawele are relevant to me - motherhood, negative influence of the father’s friends etc - the ideas relate to everything. It doesn’t who are you or what your situation, Adichie’s feminism crosses boundaries. It;s clear, concise and obvious.    

Just like We Should All Be Feminists, Dear Ijeawele should be read by everybody. Essential reading.

Shrill, Lindy West
272⎟Quercus⎟9th March 2017
Audiobook read by: Lindy West

Guardian columnist Lindy West wasn't always loud. It's difficult to believe she was once a nerdy, overweight teen who wanted nothing more than to be invisible. Fortunately for women everywhere, along the road she found her voice - and how she found it! That cripplingly shy girl who refused to make a sound, somehow grew up to be one of the loudest, shrillest, most fearless feminazis on the internet, making a living standing up for what's right instead of what's cool.

In Shrill, Lindy recounts how she went from being the butt of people's jokes, to telling her own brand of jokes - ones that carry with them with a serious message and aren't at someone else's expense. She reveals the obstacles and stereotyping she's had to overcome to make herself heard, in a society that doesn't think women (especially fat women and feminists) are or can be funny.

She also tackles some of the most burning issues of popular culture today, taking a frank and provocative look at racism, oppression, fat-shaming, twitter-trolling and even rape culture, unpicking the bullshit and calling out unpalatable truths with conviction, intelligence and a large dose of her trademark black humour.

I’ve wanted to read Shrill ever since I first heard about it. A funny, feminist memoir - what more could you want?

Lindy West’s first book is now one of my favourite books of the year so far - I loved it. Lindy talks about her career in writing about feminism, politics and women online; being fat; love; loss; and everything else in between. The hate this women has received purely for being herself and doing her job is disgusting, but the way she’s pulled herself above it is inspirational. I’ve come away from Shrill not just with respect for Lindy West, but affection too.

I really connected with lots of the things that she wrote about and I found that she articulated things I’ve felt but never found the words for myself, especially around body image and fat shaming. I came out of this book with hope that I could learn to appreciate and accept my body just as Lindy did.

Shrill made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cheer and it made me rage. I loved it, and I especially recommend the audiobooks - Lindy’s narration is wonderful.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Are audiobooks the best way to read a memoir?

I think so.

I’d honestly not really thought much about memoirs until I started listening to audiobooks back in 2015. I didn’t think they were for me. I figured they’d take me ages to get through. Maybe they’d even be a little boring. Man, I was wrong.

One of my favourite things to listen to on audiobook now is a memoir. And I’ve listened to some corkers.

Memoirs are often read by their author and those are often the best audiobooks period. The inflections, the emotion, the humour, the realness - you just can’t imitate that that as effectively for real life as you can for fiction in my opinion.

These are a few of the best memoirs I’ve listened to on audiobook:

Shrill, Lindy West
This is a very recent favourite - I finished it last week. I adored it and listened to the whole thing in only two or three days. Lindy talks about her career in writing about feminism, politics and women online; being fat; love; loss; and everything else in between. It’s now one of my favourite books of the year - I laughed, I cried, I raged and I cheered. What more can you ask for?

Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham
I love Gilmore Girls with my whole heart who I wanted to read this as soon as it was announced. I couldn’t even wait for the physical copy to be released, I HAD to read it immediately so I grabbed the audiobook and I’m so glad I did. LIstening to this book is like listening to Lorelai tell you about her alternate life. Brilliant.

Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes is a TV legend. With Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice, How to Get Away with Murder and more under her belt, she knows her stuff. Shonda is wise, funny, warm and switched-on - I fell even more in love with her as I listened to this audiobook. It’s inspiring, empowering and essential reading for fans on Shonda’s shows.

And a few on my to listen list:

Just Kids, Patti Smith
I’m listening to this as I type this and I’m only a few minutes in, but it’s beautifully written and beautifully read. I’m looking forward to learning more about Patti Smith, her adventures and her New York.

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar, Chris Packham
This wasn’t something that first appealed to me when it came out, but the glowing reviews has got me convinced it’s something I need to try. It sounds sweet and sad and magical as Chris Packham explores his childhood adventures with all of the animals that came along with him.

Where Am I Now?, Mara Wilson
Like most people my age, Mara Wilson’s Matilda is a part of my childhood. I’ve seen it so many times I can recite whole passages along with the movie and Mara will always be that girl to me, but I really want to know who she is as an adult, too. Being a child star must have had a profound effect on her growing up and I’m curious.

Please recommend me your favourite audiobooks!


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Mini Reviews: The Girl in 6E, Dawn Study & Dramarama

I rated The Girl in 6E 3 stars, Dawn Study got 4.5 stars and Dramarama 3.5 stars. Thanks to HQ Stories and NetGalley for the review copy of Dawn Study.

The Girl in 6E, AR Torre
352⎟Orion⎟12th February 2015

Deanna Madden, aka Jessica Reilly, hasn't touched another person in three years.

She hasn't left her apartment.
She makes money from performing to webcams on a sex site, where her clients pay $6.99 a minute for her time.
She's doing alright. The dollars are piling up in the bank. She's the number 3 model on
And she hasn't killed anyone for years.

But when Deanna sees on the news that a little girl called Annie has gone missing, the story rattles her carefully ordered world. It's uncomfortably similar to the dark fantasy of one of her most disturbing online clients. She's convinced he's responsible for the girl's abduction - but no one will listen to her.

So, after three years, Deanna finally leaves the apartment.

And this is what happens...

I plucked this off of my Kindle in the midst of a horrible reading slump and it snapped me right out of it.

Booktuber Raleen from padfootandprongs07 called this ‘erotic suspense’ and I think she totally nailed that. It was super sexy from the outset, and unnerving too. As well as following Jessica/Deanna, we also slip into a few other perspectives leading up to and including Annie’s kidnap. It’s creepy, unsettling and there was one perspective in particular that I found so uncomfortable to read that I had to skim it to get the jist of what was happening, but I wanted no details.

Other than the sexy and the impending kidnap, it was actually really interesting to learn about all the different people that Jessica/Deanna comes in contact with while camming and how she’s managed to not leave her apartment in 3 years. But it was the race to save Annie that made up most of the novel. And I couldn’t read it fast enough.

A good, fun read to snap you out of a funk. Not for the faint of heart though!

Dawn Study, Maria V Snyder
478⎟HQ Stories⎟9th February 2017

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond, and a family, that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.

Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person's resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall, and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.

With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

I adore this series and my love for Yelena, Valek, Ari, Janco and the gang is endless. I really wasn’t ready for this series to end (again).

I took Dawn Study so slowly at first that I almost felt like something was missing from this last instalment. And then I starting bingeing it, just like I have every other one of Maria V Snyder’s books, and I fell back under it’s spell.

It’s impossible to talk about the plot of this book without ruining the rest of the series, but I loved the way the threads were all drawn together, the reunions between beloved characters, the new connections formed and the way that everything turned out. It was a perfect finale, and one that I think definitely leaves it open to go back to this world.

Dawn Study was a totally perfect ending and I loved it. Though I’m still not sure these characters are completely finished with. Well, I hope not anyway.

Dramarama, E Lockhart
320⎟Hot Key Books⎟9th February 2017

Two teen theatre-fanatics. One dream. And SUMMER DRAMA CAMP.

All-round theatre-enthusiast, Sarah - better known by her showbiz name, Sayde - is a girl with ambitions too big for the small and conventional town she lives in. Her life doesn't have the razzle-dazzle she craves. For once she wants to feel special, noticed and be the centre of attention.

This summer Sadye has her talents set on Wildewood's prestigious theatre summer camp. And with her best friend Demi - a flamboyant falsetto, who is equally thrilled to be leaving their small town of Brenton - they will both experience a season of hormones, hissy fits, jazz hands, song and dance, true love and unitards! But despite all the glitz and glam, there comes rivalry and competition, and Sadye will have to prove her talents more than she has ever had to before.

Summer at Wildewood will not only determine Sadye's future - but will also test her friendships.

I’m a huge E Lockhart fan and I’ve been loving Hot Key Books re-issuing her older books, particularly ones like Dramarama which didn’t make it to the UK originally.

Dramarama was just as fun, quick and easy to read as her other novels, but it definitely wasn’t my favourite. I loved the glimpse into the ultra-competitive, harsh and hormone-fuelled world of drama school and E Lockhart’s pitch-perfect exploration of friendship, love, fitting it and finding yourself, but I just didn’t connect with Sadye in the way I had hoped to.

I’m so pleased there’s another E Lockhart book coming this year. Genuine Fraud, get in my eyes.


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Slowing Down

I’ve been a bit absent from the blog world really. My reading has slowed right down and the time and energy I used to have to dedicate to writing reviews has all but disappeared - spending all day writing for another website for my job has started to translate into my blog suffering.

But I AM reading, it’s just nowhere near at the same pace as I have since, well, forever actually. So when I have read a few books, I’ll be blogging about them, but I think that from now on I’ll be grouping them together in mini reviews and I'm planning on getting out at least one blog post a week.

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
This is one that I’ve been working my way through since the beginning of the year. I’m really enjoying it and it's surprisingly easy to read, I’m just struggling to pick it up during the week when I don’t feel like I have the time and level of clear-headedness I think that it deserves.

Dawn Study, Maria V Snyder
I love this series, this world and these characters so I’m taking the final instalment of the Study series nice and slowly. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Valek, Yelena, Ari, Janco and the rest of the gang, but I’m also desperate to find out what happens.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, JK Rowling
Comfort reading at its finest! When I was really struggling to get my reading in, I picked back up with my Potter re-reads on audiobook and I’m loving it. I had forgotten how whiny Harry starts to get in this book and just how quick to anger he is!

The Bees, Laline Paull
This is another audiobook read for me and one I’m only a couple of hours into. I’d been considering it for a few days and then took the plunge on a late train ride home from London after a long work together day when I had too much of a headache to read physically. It’s definitely different!

And next up on my TBR are:

Dramarama, E Lockhart
I love E Lockhart and this is one of her books that’s a little older but wasn’t published in the UK. Hot Key Books’ re-issues of her books make me so happy - I’m super excited to dive into this one while waiting on her upcoming release, Genuine Fraud.

Dead of Night, Michael Grant
We only got two YA World Book Day titles this year: David Almond’s Island and a Soldier Girls novella from Michael Grant. I’m a bit rusty on the details of book one so I’m going to give this a quick read and hope it’ll jog my memory enough to dive into Silver Stars soon.

Tender is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald
I’m still aiming for a classic a month in 2017 and I think it’s time to read another Fitzgerald - I’ve only read The Great Gatsby and that was back in 2012/2013. As I’ve started collecting the gorgeous Penguin F Scott Fitzgerald Hardbacks I guess I need to start reading them!

I’d love to know what you guys are reading and what’s coming up next!


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

My Endless Netflix Queue

2017 hasn't been a particularly strong reading year for me so far. 

It's just coming up to the end of February at the moment and I've read the same number of books in two months that I'd usually have read in one. I'm being picky, resistant, and worryingly resistant at times. Work has been busy and intense with long days and very little free time and it's wreaked havoc on ability to pay attention to a book. But I still need a daily dose of stories. 

Enter Netflix. 

So as the reviews become a little sparse on here, I thought I'd give you a peek into what I've watched recently, what I'm in the middle of and what's on my endless watchlist. 

Watched and LOVED

Santa Clarita Diet

I binged this whole series in a day while working. Whoops. It's gross and funny and I actually wasn't sure if I liked it until about half-way through, but I definitely enjoyed it. 


The lovely Stacey over at Pretty Books was raving about this last year and I immediately jumped on the bandwagon. LOVE. It's clever, witty, funny and just completely brilliant. Also totally different to what you'd expect from a zombie show, so if you're not a fan, give it a go anyway. 

The Shannara Chronicles

I actually started watching this on TV but forgot about it while waiting between airing dates (I am SO impatient now...) and then rediscovered while browsing Netflix. I started it all over again and got sucked in straight away. I binged the whole 10 episodes in a day while working. I may have a problem. 

Currently Watching


I am OB-SESSED. It's like the best mash-up of Pretty Little Liars, Veronica Mars and Gossip Girl and it's glorious. Mystery, drama, romance and wit - what more could you ask for in a teen drama? Oh, bingeability maybe? It's got that in spades. I watched the first episode before there was a second and nearly cried because there wasn't any more!

Brooklyn Nine Nine

I have so much love for the Nine Nine. I like to save it up until I have a chunk of episodes and then binge them when I need something to cheer me up.

The 100

I was completely obsessed by this last year, watching seasons 1 and 2 TWICE in the lead up to season 3 hitting UK screens, and then I just didn't witch season 3? Yeah, I have no idea either. But the US side of my Twitter feed are starting to talk about season 4 and it's got be back in game. Time to get caught up before we get season 4 in the UK. 

True Blood

I am so late to the game with this. I mean, I did watch the first two seasons when they originally aired, but like lots of TV shows airing around this time, I lost track while I was at university. And then I spotted the first season for super cheap on Amazon Prime and I figured why not. Now I'm properly obsessed. Genuinely considering paying £20 for season 5 on Prime level obsessed...

I'm also still watching Pretty Little Liars - I am so ready for the final half of the season and for it all to be over. Same with The Vampire Diaries! I'm only watching it for Caroline and Damon at this point. And Supernatural? I am so behind I can't even.

Endless To-Be-Watched List

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I waited to watch this because my sister also wanted to watch it but was never in the mood. And I waited. And I waited. Now she's decided she doesn't care and I'm way behind the curve. I've only heard amazing things though so I can't wait. 

The OA

I'm not even really sure what The OA is about, I just know that people I trust are in love with it and I want in. I also just trust Netflix to deliver amazing shows. Gimme. 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I've heard how clever and fun this is, and though I wasn't convinced at first, I really want to watch it now. I feel like this could be a really great end-of-day wind down show to binge watch during a busy week. 

Sense 8

So. Behind. I swear I'm the only person left with Netflix who hasn't watched this. One day, one day. 

And that barely even scratches the surface. Good grief...

Have you watched anything good lately? Tell me all about it!