There are few partnerships in English literature that can hold a candle to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and few regency-based authors who write with the meticulous assurance and perfect tone of Patrick O’Brien. It’s a recipe for perfect historical fiction.
When this was named as the choice for our January book club meeting, I had never heard of it. However, when I looked it up online and saw that it was historical fiction with a basis in genuine historical events, and also had scores of 5-Star reviews, I had high hopes for it. Continue reading “Book Review: The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson”
Happy New Year, everyone! After a couple of slightly lax months, it’s back to the book reviews.
My first read of 2019 was the fifth of Naomi Novik’s wonderful Temeraire series. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, they feature an alternate history in which sentient dragons are teamed up with human captains to form the Aerial Corps, a branch of the armed services which exists alongside the army and navy.
It’s been a looong two year wait to finally see the continuation of Newt Scamander’s adventures in the wizarding world. I remember my husband and I coming home from the midnight opening in 2016 absolutely full of excitement and adoration for this new part of the franchise and complaining “I can’t believe we have to wait two whole years to find out what happens next!”
Last night we went to the midnight opening of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (yeah, we’re die-hard geeks; who needs to go to the cinema during civilised hours?!) and all I can say is: it is most assuredly worth the wait. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it yet though – this review will be completely spoiler free.
The Song of Achilles is the 40th book I’ve read this year, and so hits my Goodreads challenge for 2018 – hurrah! It’s not a book I was previously aware of, though it won the Orange Prize in 2012 and has a massive following online. The cover merely caught my eye in Waterstones in September and I picked it up with a few other purchases.
I’m so glad I did. I’ve had a great reading year, discovering a few new gems and this has undoubtedly been one of them. I’m unsure if you technically can spoil a story that’s been out there for millennia but if you’re totally unfamiliar with the legend of Achilles and still want to read the book, you may want to stop reading this review now.
What a read. Seriously, what a read! Written by double-Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety is a titanic, mammoth of a novel. It’s not so much a book that you read as much as live through.
The story focuses on the lives of Maximilien Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins and George-Jacques Danton; three of the primary architects of the French Revolution. Set over 900 pages, Mantel takes the reader on a journey to discover how three misfit boys grew to be some of the most powerful men in eighteenth century France and then fell from grace. The tale closes as Danton and Demoulins, overthrown by their former friends, are taken to the guillotine.
Empire of Ivory is book four of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series and was my weekend choice of reading for a train journey to Edinburgh and back.
You know those people who seem to accomplish an inordinate amount of tasks in the space of a week? How on earth do they do it?
I’m well aware that social media is a constructed reality – I preach that to my students often enough – but I keep finding myself bemused and not a little awestruck by the people who seem to manage to work full days, exercise, prep food for the week ahead, read endless books, listen to podcasts etc etc…all the while I’m staring at my day wondering how on earth I can possibly squeeze more out of it. As my 30th birthday approaches, it feels like such a milestone and I keep wondering ‘have I done enough?’, ‘have I accomplished enough?’, ‘am I really getting enough out of my day?’.
The below review is spoiler free.
Apologies for the total lack of posting these last couple of months. August was an absolute write-off for me reading wise – I had so much heavy health-related stuff going on that my concentration was utterly non-existent. While off work for two weeks I’d planned to read four-to-six books; I managed the grand total of zilch. I hadn’t the ability to focus on anything more complex than fanfiction.
Halfway through September found me still struggling with the health stuff and also way monstrously behind with my reading for my book club. I needed to read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield in a week and then read my own selection for the club The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes-Gowar by the end of the following week. After all – I couldn’t turn up to book club not having read the book I chose myself!
This is one of the most brilliantly clever books I’ve read in ages. Imagine if you mixed the DNA of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with the plot of Inception and then added the suspense and menace of the very best Doctor Who episodes…the result would be something close to The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Don’t worry, this review is spoiler free.