Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Box Club: August - Fearless Females

Nothing to Disclose


I received my August "Fearless Females" box from Book Box Club earlier in the month, but held off a little in case I'd spoil it for anyone.

The theme was perfect - I love anything to do with strong women, so I was really looking forward to this box.

The August book was Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls:

1914. The world stands on the edge of change. But women still have no vote. 
Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Life is set out for her: dances, tea parties, and marriage. But Evelyn wants freedom and choice, even if it means paying the highest price alongside her fellow Suffragettes. 

And then there's May, who campaigns tirelessly for women's votes and fair pay with the other anti-violence suffragists. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women can find their place. 

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they could ever imagine. As the Great War looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice? 

The hardback copy came with a signed bookplate, Votes for Women badge and a promotional postcard.

Also included were a massive fridge magnet with a quote from Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (designed by Book Box Club). That came with the little paper with my name on it - Libby and Kate always go out of their way to make sure that at least one item in the box has a personalised touch, which I really appreciate. The Fight Like a Girl coaster and sticker are by Munky Make, and the feminist necklace is by Compton Four.

I'd love to see more magnets included, I use magnets a lot and I'm a big fan of all things Sarah J. Maas at the moment, so I was really delighted with that.

Finally, we had a Girl Boss notebook by Nikki Strange Design, a Hermione candle by Meraki Candles that smells delicious - I can smell a kind of posh version of the purple Chewits, but it's plum, rose and patchouli. Really gorgeous. Also included were some promotional badges from Alex, Approximately by Jean Bennett and the usual Book Box Club scroll that contains information about this month's author and the upcoming club meeting.

I'm so glad I changed over from Owlcrate - this box is well worth the money (I pay just under €33 a month depending on exchange rate) and the contents are always useful as well as pretty. Another great box!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Blog Tour: The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

ARC clearly defined in accordance with review policy here. 


I received an e-mail a few weeks ago asking if I'd like to take part in the tour for this book, and when I heard that it had been compared to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Rosie Project, I agreed.


Twenty-seven year old Elvira Carr lives at home with her elderly mother. Elvira is on the autism spectrum, and lives a quiet life dictated by rules, guidelines and routine set by her mother. When her mother is taken ill suddenly, Elvira is determined not to be taken "Away" - and prove to "NormalTypicals" that she is capable of looking after herself. She devises a set of somewhat imperfect rules in order to help her deal with new people and new situations, realising along the way that sometimes, rules need to be broken. 


I enjoyed this a lot - I was a little wary of reading another book with an "atypical" young woman as its main character after all the hype surrounding Eleanor Oliphant (which I did like) - but this is a very different book. Elvira needs rules, guidelines, and routine - but has never realised before now that she can be the one who makes them. There are a few different elements to the story - there's a mystery in there too, and I felt that stopped the book from becoming too repetitive. There were some parts that I found hard to read - events that happened with a work colleague, and the way a neighbour's husband spoke about Elvira were unpleasant. Overall, I'd recommend this if you liked any of the other books mentioned - it's a very realistic portrayal of a likeable young woman trying to navigate life while struggling with change and understanding sarcasm, figures of speech, etc. The author has experience of working with people with Asperger's, and this really shines through - nothing about Elvira seems faked, or exaggerated to further the plot (even her obsession with biscuits). 

I'd recommend this if you like sweet, contemporary reads about people discovering their own strengths. 


The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr is published in hardback and Kindle today, 24th August. 

Thanks to Don at Pan Macmillan for asking me to take part! You can check out the other blogs on the tour here, and see what others have to say about Elvira. (The first blog on the list, Linda's Book Bag, has an extract if you want to see what the writing style is like). 

Any thoughts? Does this seem like something you'd read? Ask me any questions about the book in the comments!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Books I Read in July (ft. Booktube-a-thon Results)

Not sponsored/paid | ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


I usually get my round-up posts up during the first week of the month, but I was away with the family for a week so didn't get a chance to update anything - I won't lie, it was GLORIOUS. But, back to reality - and my July reads.

I read 18 books in July.


The two choices for July were To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell and One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley.

To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell
This is a non-fiction account of the author's discovery and interest in Transhumanism. He meets many eccentric people on his journey to find out more about the movement - those involved believe that bodies will eventually be redundant, that our brains will be fed into machines and we will be able to live forever. It's a really interesting book, and the people he meets along the way are fascinating.


Including the book above, I also borrowed these from the library in July:


The Book of Chocolate by HP Newquist
I love those How Things are Made programmes so this caught my eye on the Borrowbox app - it's full of information about how chocolate became so popular and mainstream, plus it has stories about some of the major manufacturers and some random facts to file away for a pub quiz (the percentage of chocolate in white chocolate - 0%). I found it really interesting!

The Cows by Dawn O'Porter
I had never read anything by Dawn before (apart from her column) so I was excited to start this - it's the story of three women linked by different events. It's incredibly strange in parts and quite unsettling when you really look at the motivation of one of the women - but covers important subjects (child-free by choice, abortion, hereditary illness, male dominated workplace, going viral, sexuality) and I found it enjoyable.

The Midnight Court by Brian Merriman, translated by Ciaran Carson
I've borrowed this multiple times at this stage - it's a 1,000 line poem written in the 1700s about a man who falls asleep and enters a dream kingdom where men are punished at a fairy court for their reluctance to marry - it's a really lively, satirical poem, full of biting social commentary. This and Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti are my favourite poems (both are freely available to read online).



Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady
This is a light, sweet read based on Persuasion by Jane Austen. It's about a woman who has ended up being responsible for her entire family, losing the love of her life in the process. She gets a wonderful job opportunity only to discover that said love has the lead role. I read this one afternoon, it was an easy, cosy read.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
I had previously bought this on Kindle, but hadn't read it, and didn't realise it was the same book. It's an engaging thriller about a mother who wants the very best for her only son - is his new girlfriend good enough? I enjoyed this a lot and could see it getting a TV adaptation at some point. Both the mother and girlfriend were strong characters, and this was really well written.



All The Rage by Courtney Summers
I've had this on my Kindle for a very long time, and decided that the best way to start clearing the backlog was to start reading from the beginning of the list any time I'm stuck for a book. This isn't an easy read - it's about how a sexual assault has changed the life of a teenage girl. Many books focus on the "before" - this is the "after". It's powerful, but it's unsettling. 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
The blurb on this is a little misleading - it reads as if it's a story about a woman who meets and falls in love with a man, only for a former flame to return and throw a spanner in the works. There's an element of truth to that, but it's also a very real look at a very, very troubled relationship. I don't want to spoil it, but proceed with caution. "Enjoy" would be the wrong word here but it's right up there with my favourites of the year so far. Colleen is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors. 



Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
This was a wonderful non-fiction read. Lindy talks about fatphobia, online trolls, body acceptance, the diet industry, and feminism. I saw a lot of myself in here, and it's a book I'll go back to again. Highly recommended - this is everything I wanted the horrible Fat is a Feminist Issue to be (and more). 

The Dry by Jane Harper
Set in Australia, our main character Aaron Falk is a Detective who returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of a childhood friend, Luke Hadler, who has taken his own life after murdering his family. Luke's parents think he was framed, and want Aaron to investigate, but do the townsfolk really want Aaron back, considering they ran he and his father out of town many years before? Really enjoyed this. It goes back and forth between the present day case and an event that destroyed the town years before. 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
I really enjoyed both of this author's previous books (In a Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10) so I pre-ordered this. It took me an age to read - far longer than usual. It's about a woman who gets a text from a childhood friend asking for help - so she travels to her immediately, as do their other two friends. An event that took place when the girls were teenagers has come back to haunt them, and they might be exposed as the liars they are...  I didn't really enjoy this, I feel like it was drawn out and boring. But, other people seem to disagree so give it a go if you like back-and-forth mysteries. 


This year, Booktube-a-thon took place from July 24th - 30th and for the first time since I joined up in 2014, I managed to complete all seven challenges. You can see my post about planning my Booktube-a-thon reads here. I stuck to my TBR for the most part, only swapping out two books. 

Read about a character different to you: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 
The main characters are Indian-American teens who attend a summer camp aimed at those interested in app development and technology. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole pile of app development - instead, we had a ridiculous talent show and a whole heap of Insta-love. I didn't enjoy it, but I did enjoy the learning experience. 

Read a book in one day:  Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel
This was also the book that Ariel picked as the "group read" for Booktube-a-thon this year. It's a contemporary YA book about a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her sister. She uses index cards to journal her days - and then she loses one. I really, really liked this book - it was touching and sweet. 

Read a seventh book: Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
A cute YA novel about a teenage girl who goes to stay with her estranged Grandmother along with her mother who is recuperating from cancer. While there, the girl finds her Gran's old diary from when she was a teenager - and realises that perhaps, they're not so different. I adored the diary chapters, I'd recommend it for those alone. The present-day story was a bit bland, but otherwise it was a good read. 

Read a book outside: Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K Vaughn
It's very hard to not compare this graphic novel to Stranger Things - there are gangs of teenagers on bikes, in the 80's, and some kind of alien presence - I really loved this, and I've Vol.2 ready to go from the library. 

Read a hyped book: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I only started reading books by this author this year, and am a fan of her ACOTAR series. They're young adult fantasy novels, and this, her other series, has been mentioned so many times that I've lost count. I finally went for it - and immediately got sucked in to the world of Celaena, an assassin released from prison to participate in a test to become the King's Champion.

Read a book with a person on the cover: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
The second I finished the first book in the series, I wanted to drop everything and move on to book two - so I did, using it for this prompt. This one continues Celaena's story, and is full of action and adventure like the first one. It's a fun series to read and I'll happily see the series out. 

Read a book you bought for the cover: She is not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
I saw this in Charlie Byrne's last year and was drawn to the cover immediately - it's a neat little hardback with that amazing picture on the dust jacket. I had read another book by that author and found him quirky, so picked this up. It's about a blind girl who travels to the US with her younger brother to find their Dad, they think something really weird is going on and that their Dad is in danger. It was a strange book - I could have done without the "events" in America (the Dad's story was weird enough). Great premise, very clever, but let down by the poor plot. 

So - there we go, that was my July in books. I'm up to almost 100 books for the year now, and I think that'll start to wane a little as we come into crafting season - but for now I'll plough on and see you in September for the August round up (there are some absolute corkers on the way).