29 March 2017

Recent Book Post


I've recently received three book parcels from the lovely people of Penguin Viking Books! I thought I'd show you what I got.

The sun is shining, the sea is blue, the children have disappeared... is the tagline for Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy. This sounds like it will definitely be one to put in the beach bag this summer! All the Good Things by Clare Fisher is about prisoner Beth, encouraged by her counsellor to make a list of all the good things in her life.  And finally, Blood Sisters by Jane Corry. The proof gives nothing away other than these four lines: Three little girls. One good. One bad. One dead. Sounds like the perfect thriller!

Click on the links to take a closer look at these titles on Goodreads and while you're there, let's be friends!

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25 March 2017

Wishlist: Little People, Big Dreams




I spied one or two of the titles in the Little People, Big Dreams range in a bookshop this week, and the first thing I did when I got home was look up the full collection.  I thought some of you might like them too!  How cute are they?  Each little hardback is a short, illustrated biography of a different influential woman.  At the moment the collection consists of Marie Curie, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, Agatha Christie, and Maya Angelou, with the others pictured above due to be released in September this year.

As I'm all for anything celebrating strong women and a sucker for beautiful children's books, I'm hoping to collect the full set!
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13 March 2017

Silver Linings - February

Yay for me keeping this going for more than the first month, we're doing well!  February was kind of a mixed bag for me and I haven't been feeling the most positive BUT I've still managed to pick out some sparkly silver linings.

Finding Squirrel Nutkin.  For Christmas Paul got me the collector's book so I can hopefully find a full set of the Beatrix Potter coins.  I only had Peter Rabbit for ages, so I was pretty (irrationally) excited to find Mr Nutkin in my change at the restaurant.



Reuniting with my old work colleagues. Early on in February my friends from my last job had a work night out to say goodbye to a few people who are moving on and I went too! It was lovely to see them all, I miss being at work with people who really know me.

Book giving day. Instead of buying Valentine's gifts, in recent years Paul and I have adopted Book Giving Day as an alternative.  This year he bought me the illustrated Winnie the Pooh from the Folio Society and it is BEAUTIFUL...




Emily's hen do.  My best friend's hen do was this month in Manchester and it was a lovely day filled with fun and laughter, photo challenges, afternoon tea, cocktail making and yummy pizza.  It was so good to see some ladies I haven't seen for a while and catch up, plus it's the first hen do I've ever been on! #TeamBride





Homemade burgers.  Our friends Jonnie and Laura invited us round for tea and we haven't seem them for ages, so it was really nice to catch up.  Jonnie made these amazing burgers, as good if not better than eating out!  I'm not just saying that on the off chance that he's reading, honest.

Free books.  As well as book presents I also got some free books this month courtesy of the Radio Times, who around Christmas were running a promotion for three Sherlock Holmes compilations when you collected three tokens in consecutive issues. So old school but worth the effort for a nice surprise when they arrived - Penguin English Library editions too, my shelf is happy.

My favourite things this month:
Gilmore Girls
Woodwick Spiced Blackberry Candle
Lush Rosy Cheeks fresh face mask
 
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7 March 2017

The Handmaid's Tale


I finished reading The Handmaid's Tale at the beginning of February and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

Let's start with what it's about, in case you don't know.  The Handmaid's Tale is set in an America not too far into the future except it's not America any more. Following a military coup and collapse of the government, its now known as Gilead.  Nuclear catastrophe means that many women are unable to reproduce and so fertile women, like our main character Offred, are passed around wealthy families as 'handmaids' with the sole purpose of producing a child for them to raise. The penalty for refusal is death and the rights of all women, not just handmaids, are extremely restricted.

The story moves between the present day Gilead and 'the time before.'  The fact that Offred can remember her life before the new regime brings it so close to home.  Some of the most upsetting parts are the ways in which Offred's rights are taken away from her, and how it is portrayed as justifiable and the right thing to do.  There are so many specific parts of this book that will stay with me for a long time to come, but one in particular that I keep coming back to is when Offred goes home to her partner after having her bank card declined, one of the first actions the new regime takes in the stripping away of women's rights.  She tells him what happened and she realises that yes, he's understanding and agrees that it's wrong, but he's not outraged, or immediately willing to do anything about it. She suspects that he doesn't mind because it's not happening to him, or maybe he even quite likes it that way.  It's only a very small part of the book, a few sentences, but that passage was so powerful to me.
 
The best and worst thing about The Handmaid's Tale is how completely plausible many of the events seem.  The whole thing is absolutely horrifying but so believable.  Margaret Atwood has talked about how she deliberately didn't include anything that humans had not already done to each other in some way, and much of the book is scarily reminiscent of things you hear about in the news today.  A right wing government, blaming Islamic groups for terrorism, suspending human rights under the guise of protecting the people; women reduced to their reproductive status... Reading in the context of everything that is happening in the world today gave me the chills, and really made me think about the ways in which this kind of oppression can be allowed to happen - the gradual chipping away of rights, the role of the media as a distraction, and fear as a means of control.  At times it almost reads like a prophecy - some of the things happening in Gilead are not a million miles away from the treatment of women in society today, and that is terrifying.

This was my first Atwood but it won't be my last.  I can see why she is known as a master storyteller! I was completely absorbed into Offred's world.  The Handmaid's Tale is accessible but so thought-provoking, and definitely one of the best dystopias I have read.  I appreciated the epilogue written from the point of view of a future historian for providing me with some of the background to the rise of the regime - I had questions about this all the way through and epilogue gave that little bit more insight into some of the policies of the regime and the events leading up to the society we meet Offred in.  Offred herself is quite a passive narrator and you might expect her to have a bit more fight in her, but this isn't a story about overthrowing a regime - Offred is a reminder of just how easy it is to become accepting of injustice.
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