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

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Most Important Lessons from White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

I recently finished listening to the audiobook of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. A traditional, analytical review felt as though it would somehow detract from the invaluable messages that are at the core of DiAngelo’s work. With that in mind, I am instead going to list the 5 most important lessons that I took away from reading White Fragility. Continue reading Most Important Lessons from White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

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

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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

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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

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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