Book Stack

Book Awards: Love Them or Loathe Them? Join the Debate!

For our December meeting, my book club had the theme ‘Best of 2020’ and voted on an award-winning book to read. We ended up choosing Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams which won the British Book Award – I loved it and you can read my review here!

However, the time I spent trawling through different book award shortlists to put our poll together got me thinking – do book awards really matter? Continue reading Book Awards: Love Them or Loathe Them? Join the Debate!

My Top 10 Books of 2020!

Well, 2020 has been a year I think most of us would rather forget! I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well. In the midst of the chaos, we’ve all come to appreciate books even more, with their reassuring constancy and the opportunity they provide to escape reality for a bit. 

So without further ado, in no particular order (because I am extremely indecisive!) here are the top 10 books that helped me survive 2020… Continue reading My Top 10 Books of 2020!

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe: Classic Breaking Eighteenth-Century Moulds

Rating: 3 stars
Category: Classics
Synopsis:

“I am giving an account of what was, not of what ought or ought not to be.”

If she’s to get on in the world, Moll Flanders must rely only on her own wit, toughness and experience. And, as one misfortune after another is thrown her way, that’s precisely what she intends to do… Continue reading Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe: Classic Breaking Eighteenth-Century Moulds

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The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer: Achingly Poignant Mental Illness Portrayal

Rating: 4.5 stars

Category: Literary fiction

Synopsis: The Shock of the Fall begins with nine-year-old Matthew experiencing a tragedy which he cannot tell us about. It’s just too painful. For the rest of the story, we follow him through the years of childhood, adolescence and into his first grimy flat and minimum-wage job.

All the while, Matthew’s grasp of reality fragments as he struggles to come to terms with what happened that fateful night on the coast. Continue reading The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer: Achingly Poignant Mental Illness Portrayal

The Last Man by Mary Shelley Book Cover Image

The Last Man by Mary Shelley: Bleakly Imaginative Dystopian

Rating: 2.5 stars

Category: Classics, Dystopian

Synopsis: In an England of the future, Lionel Verney is a poor shepherd boy when he is befriended by Adrian, Earl of Windsor and Raymond, a favoured candidate for the Lord Protectorship – the pinnacle of political achievement.

Lionel is soon moving in the same circles as the most powerful, wealthy and intellectual men in the world. Yet this Romantic paradise of virtue and conversation is under threat when a plague begins to decimate the world’s population, and Lionel is helpless to protect all that he has come to treasure of life’s riches. Continue reading The Last Man by Mary Shelley: Bleakly Imaginative Dystopian

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes Book Cover Image

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: Rich and Ambitious Retelling

Rating: 4.5 stars

Category: Literary fiction, retellings

Synopsis: “Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung … I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows. I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold.”

The names of the Trojan war heroes echo down the centuries – Achilles, Odysseus, Agamemnon – while the women drawn into its devastation remain a footnote in all these songs and stories.

In A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes attempts to imagine, not one, but many voices for these women. From the most powerful goddess to the lowliest priest girl that serves her, each is irrevocably changed by the men’s war, each has a story. And that story deserves to be told. Continue reading A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: Rich and Ambitious Retelling

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Book Cover Image

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Psychologically Driven Classic

Rating: 3 stars

Category: Classics, Historical Fiction

Synopsis: Hester Prynne’s husband is missing, presumed dead. Most believe he drowned on the voyage from Amsterdam to join her in New England. Yet getting pregnant out of wedlock is still enough to earn Hester a lifelong punishment – wearing the scarlet letter ‘A’ embroidered on her clothing so her shame can never be forgotten.

Cast to the margins of her Puritan village community, Hester lives in solitude and tries to raise her daughter Pearl away from prying eyes. When a newcomer to the village brings old secrets, she is forced to choose between a life of piety and redemption, or following her perilously taboo passions. Continue reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Psychologically Driven Classic

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker Book Cover Image

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker: Devastating Feminist Retelling of the Trojan War

Rating: 5 stars

Category: Literary fiction, retellings

Synopsis: “Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles… How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him ‘the butcher'”

The bards sing of Achilles, hero of the Trojan war, but never the slave who shared his bed, Briseis. Taken from her fallen city, Lyrnessus, she is brought to the Greek camp besieging Troy and given as a prize to Achilles. No woman is better placed to strip bare the true inglorious agonies of war, both on and off the battlefield. Continue reading The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker: Devastating Feminist Retelling of the Trojan War