April & May 2021 wrap-up

Hello hello! Sorry all, I’ve slightly neglected the blog lately as I haven’t felt like I have read too much! I always seem to be caught up or distracted with something else, so audiobooks have been my go-to. As you can see, most of what I have been reading lately has been audiobooks!

Thank goodness for Borrowbox and the magic of local libraries!

April

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (audio – netgalley)

This book was absolutely brilliant. It was captivating, enraging and inspiring – the narrator really brought Daunis to life and added more depth to this complex story. I gave it 5 stars as I was so drawn into the story – the mix of thriller, crime and community flowed seamlessly through Boulley’s story. It touched on some really important topics, including drug use, violence towards women within indigenous communities and the residential schools that indigenous children were forced to attend. It relays pain and suffering, but also hope and resilience. I would highly recommend it, especially the audiobook.

Five Hundred Miles from You by Jenny Colgan (ad – pr/tandem readalong)

I read this with several others as part of a readalong organised by Tandem Collective – they sent a copy of the book and some delicious reading snacks for the occasion. You can find more thoughts on my instagram, as I followed various reading prompts. However, more generally – I loved this book and gave it a solid 4 stars! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who needs to escape busy life and retreat to nature. It follows nurses Lissa and Cormack as they swap lives for a period of time – one goes to the heart of busy London and the other to a quiet highland town. They both face their struggles and use the change in pace to decide what they actually want from life. Kirrenfief is stereotypically Scottish and some parts of the story made me cringe a little, but overall I thought it was wholesome and gave a nice change of pace. It does touch on some important issues and these reoccur throughout the story – particularly trauma, PTSD, inner city drug and gang violence and organ donation. Although I am not a nurse, I thought it painted a realistic picture of the stresses related to the job – they are truly wonderful people who do an amazing job!

All the Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter (audio – netgalley)

This story was a unique tale of everyday magic, secret bargains and family history. Although it didn’t feel too much like a ‘gothic fairytale’ about witches and mer, I liked the ways that small magics and ‘common’ mythical creatures were just part of life, albeit a bit unusual. I liked Miren a lot, she takes everything in her stride and I enjoyed the single POV throughout the storyline – it follows her reasoning and growth. There were a few twists and turns and I really didn’t know what to expect of the story when I started, but I enjoyed it overall and gave it 3 stars.

Black and British: A short, essential history by David Olusoga (audio)

This was an incredibly short but interesting read that I think everyone should pick up – it is really accessible and clear, so is an excellent resource for adults and children. It really highlighted the inherent bias and racism within the schooling system as it showed how much wasn’t included in our history curriculum, or how much was overlooked. It made for a great starting point for further reading.

May

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B Alston (audio)

I was a little worried to start this one, as I have seen it a lot online and was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about – it is absolutely worth the 5 star rating! It was a fun, exciting and engaging story with important, real-life undertones. Who doesn’t love a world of magic with a touch of the supernatural? It really draws you into the world, but it also covers racism and prejudice and how Amari tries to battle these. It was well written and I loved the characters, especially Amari – quite often the ‘chosen one’ trope has an obnoxious and annoying main character, but Amari was sweet, resilient and ready to take on the world for her brother. The plot is full of twists and turns that keep you engaged and interested throughout the story.

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by David Attenborough (audio)

Such a powerful, inspiring and moving read. It was an interesting reflection on his life and work, and the changes he has experienced during that time. It conveys a genuine passion and urgency for passing the message in to others and a hope for the future if we collectively take action. It was all narrated my Attenborough and his captivating story-telling voice!

A Taste of Home by Heidi Swain (ebook via Netgalley)

As with all of Heidi’s novels, this book drew me into the very heart of the story. I really enjoyed this one and gave it a 5 star rating because it was such a captivating and enjoyable read. It was so beautifully written and emerges you right into the delightful wee village of Wynbridge, you instantly feel at home at the farm, the cafe and in the kitchen! I loved reading about familiar characters from other books and discovering new ones, particularly Fliss, Elliot and Bec – it’s brilliant how many of Heidi’s novels intersect but can be enjoyed as standalones. It was such a fun and light-hearted read, with a nice touch of romance, family bonds and delicious food! But it also dealt with grief, the nature of loss and how people overcome this with the help of family and friends.

Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine

This book has been sat on my shelves for years, I am so glad I finally picked it up as it was so interesting. It follows three women throughout time – Ulla, Ellen and Libby, who all seem to be interwoven together. Women of the Dunes is set on the north-west coast of Scotland and is really kicked off by an archaeology project – a planned dig to find some material evidence to support a popular local legend. As someone who studied History and Archaeology at Uni, this just called to me instantly! The story uncovers family drama and murder spanning centuries and has a foreboding sense of ‘will history repeat itself?’. I enjoyed the multiple POVs as it was nice to see the land through various eyes, and see how the stories are linked. It is so engaging and I would really recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, has an interest in archaeology or legends or in Scotland. I gave it a solid 4 stars and am keen to read more from Sarah Maine.

Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma (audio)

I really had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to start this read as I haven’t seen the Gentleman Jack series, but I thought it sounded like an interesting social history read. I’m so glad I went with it as it was incredibly interesting to learn about Anne Lister and follow her life through her own words – the diary entries were so interesting and give valuable insights into life at the time, especially her secret crypt hand entries. Anne is an incredibly interesting woman – she is confident in herself and her abilities, she is headstrong and was miles ahead of her time. She had reconciled her strong Christian faith with her sexuality and had a lot of support for her lesbian relationships from her family. A very interesting read!

The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett (audio)

I honestly picked this because it was a quick read (less than an hour and a half) and I was intrigued. It was all a bit weird and felt like an old-timey radio sitcom/show. I haven’t seen the film or play, so I wasn’t too sure what I was getting myself into and it took a wee while to follow what was happening. I found it entertaining, witty and amusing. I particularly enjoyed Maggie Smith, she really sold the crabby and eccentric character of Miss Shepherd and I liked following her life.


Alright, that’s my full update for the past couple of months! I’ve just picked up Wendy, Darling by A.C. Wise, which was kindly gifted to me by Titan Books – I can’t wait to read it, but as you can see… I haven’t had a great track record with physical reads lately! Anyway, what have you been reading and what are your recent favourites?

Much love,

Alison x


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