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

Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith Book Cover Image

Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith: Crime Fiction With Character

Rating: 3.5 stars

Category: Crime fiction

Synopsis: Victor Van Allen is proud of the ordered life he has created for himself. He runs a sought-after printing press, holds a respected position in the town, and is the father of a precocious little girl.

The only taint to this perfect facade is his wife, Melinda. Their relationship is tenuously held together by Vic sleeping in a separate room and pretending to ignore her involvements with other men. Yet a new arrival in the sleepy town of Little Wesley means Vic may not be able to look the other way for much longer… Continue reading Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith: Crime Fiction With Character

The Bystander Effect by Catherine Sanderson Book Cover Image

The Bystander Effect by Catherine Sanderson: Data-Driven Moral Bravery

Rating: 2.5 stars

Category: Non-fiction

Synopsis: Most of us have heard of the bystander effect. It can be a major limitation to moral action in a variety of situations, from life-threatening emergencies to sexist comments in the workplace. But what actually is the bystander effect? How does it occur? And why is challenging it so important for communities and social justice?

In her book The Bystander Effect, Catherine Sanderson uses decades of research to answer these questions, outlining the psychological basis of the bystander effect in a way that empowers us to step up, challenge harmful behaviour, and become active ‘moral rebels’ rather than passive bystanders. Continue reading The Bystander Effect by Catherine Sanderson: Data-Driven Moral Bravery

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

Talking Across the Divide by Justin Lee Book Cover Image

Talking Across the Divide by Justin Lee: Equip Yourself to Challenge Prejudice

Rating: 3 stars

Category: Non-fiction

Synopsis: We’re living in a time when it can feel like we’re on completely different planets from some of the people we encounter – from bigoted grandparents to politicians on the news. In Talking Across the Divide, Justin Lee provides practical advice on bridging this seemingly uncrossable chasm.

It’s time to have some difficult but meaningful conversations, and maybe even make the world a little better in the process. Continue reading Talking Across the Divide by Justin Lee: Equip Yourself to Challenge Prejudice

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood Book Cover Image

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood: Rich Yet Unsettling Portrayal of 1930s Berlin

Rating: 3.5 stars

Category: Short stories, literary fiction

Synopsis: Christopher Isherwood, an English tutor and novelist, is rootless. Yet it is this quality of rootlessness that allows him to seamlessly drift between the high and low of Berlin society, from decadent lakeside houses to cramped attic rooms shared by entire families.

Goodbye to Berlin is a semi-autobiographical collection of episodes that portray life in 1930s Berlin. Poverty, suffering and the rise of Nazism is beginning to give a threatening edge to all of the rich possibilities of the city. Continue reading Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood: Rich Yet Unsettling Portrayal of 1930s Berlin

The Prison Doctor by Amanda Brown Book Cover Image

The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown: Unflinching and Compassionate Insight into the Prison System

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Non-fiction, Memoir

Synopsis: After the frustrations and bureaucracy of working as a GP cause Dr Amanda Brown to impulsively walk out of her practice, she is looking for a change. Her compulsion to challenge herself and make a difference lands her where she never thought she’d end up – treating prisoners in some of Britain’s toughest criminal institutions.

The Prison Doctor is the story of the incredible people she meets, as well as a compassionate insight into the individual lives that are placed into the hands of the justice system – for better or worse. Continue reading The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown: Unflinching and Compassionate Insight into the Prison System

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood Book Cover Image

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: Searingly Plausible Dystopian

Rating: 5 stars

Category: Literary fiction, Dystopian

Synopsis: Lydia is one of the most feared Aunts in Gilead – but she’s about to go rogue with a secret manuscript.

Agnes and Daisy are both navigating the trials of coming-of-age – but with one raised inside and one outside Gilead, they might as well come from different planets.

These three unlikely women will be brought together to unite against the powerful Gileadean theocracy – challenging every single one of their assumptions about reality in the process. Continue reading The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: Searingly Plausible Dystopian

External link to The Scoop by Cat Walker Magazine Review: Vicariously Travel the World in Lockdown!

The Scoop by Cat Walker Magazine Review: Vicariously Travel the World in Lockdown!

The Scoop by Cat Walker is the first free review copy I’ve received since I started writing for the magazine – perks!!! I was so excited when I received it in the post and it turned out to be a fun, vivid, globe-trotting quarantine read. See below for the synopsis and a link to my book review for the City Girl Magazine… Continue reading The Scoop by Cat Walker Magazine Review: Vicariously Travel the World in Lockdown!