A Little Break…

A break from the norm with this post. I haven’t written a blog post in about two months, and I thought I would talk a little bit about why that is.

The long and short of it is, until yesterday I hadn’t managed to read a book all the way through. For some reason, I have been in a HUGE reading slump since August. If I’m honest with myself, I think it was down to this ridiculous, anxiety inducing year getting on top of me. Things really are just mad at the moment but frankly, its the same for everyone the world over.

My motivation is slowly returning to me, and I have begun a writing project of my own. I’m currently working hard on my first draft of my first manuscript and I’m feeling hopeful. Attempting to write my own novel has given me a new appreciation of the books I read. The amount of work and soul that goes into crafting a readable and enjoyable novel is staggering. It really is no mean feat to even complete a draft, let alone get it to publishing stage. All published authors, self or traditional, I take my hat off to you!

The book that has finally lifted me from my DNF slump was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It was a fantastically atmospheric read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope to incorporate some of her skill in setting mood into my own work. While this isn’t a particularly in depth review of the book, I definitely recommend it if you are looking for an excellent haunted house story. Also, don’t be put off if you (like me) watched the Netflix adaption first. They are completely different and I thoroughly enjoyed both.

This year has been the oddest of my life. We are witnessing societal change on a global scale, and not just due to the pandemic. People are finally beginning to call out systematic racism (although there is a hell of a long way to go here); people are finally becoming aware of our devastating impact on the natural world(again, a long way to go); a virus has changed the way we all life and travel, possibly forever. Historic events are coming at us left, right and centre and its time to start drawing inspiration from it, rather than feeling overwhelmed.

How is everyone else coping with 2020? Has anybody else hit a wall recently?

5 Excellent Book Series for Children Aged 8 to 12

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I cannot deny, I am a lover of middle grade fiction. I am a lover of fiction in general, but middle grade does hold a special place in my heart, even as an adult. These are books I cannot wait to share with my son when he is old enough.

So, what were (are) my all time favourite middle grade reads? I’ve put together a list of the books I loved as a child, and the ones I think will still be loved by all today.

1. Harry Potter

Harry Potter Box Set
Harry Potter box set

This goes without saying, really. I have mentioned Harry here before and (despite not agreeing with JK Rowling’s backward thinking) they remain some of my all time favourite books. I’ve read them so many times I could probably recite them from memory. The Harry Potter series is actually the best selling series of all time, and has been translated into 80 languages.

The books tell the story of Harry and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, as they navigate a magical world of mystery and danger. They spend the series trying to thwart a great evil and face many challenges along the way. The books are full of wonder and even after all this time, I’m never bored reading them.

2. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness

The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Box Set
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness box set

I’ll be honest, I read these books as an adult and I LOVED them. They follow a boy called Torak and his wolf, with whom he can communicate. Along the way we pick up a girl called Renn too, and we follow them on a journey though ancient northern Europe as they try to vanquish the evil that overshadows the land.

These books are rich in history and folklore. The author, Michelle Paver, extensively researches each novel by living with and talking to native tribes. She then incorporates their practices and traditions into her characters. I learnt loads from these books, even as an adult, so I think they would really capture the imagination of a child.

3. Alex Rider

Alex Rider Box Set
Alex Rider box set

These were some of my all time favourites growing up. In fact, ask 10 year old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and she’d tell you “a spy!”. I even went as far as to learn Morse code!

Written by Anthony Horowitz these books follow Alex, a reluctant recruit of MI6 as he jets off on undercover missions to fight bad guys. There are quite a lot of books in the series, the most recent one was published earlier this year (April 2020). The first novel, Stormbreaker, was actually adapted for film in 2006 but if I’m honest, it wasn’t that great. The book is much better.

4. The CHERUB Series

CHERUB Box Set
CHERUB Box Set

These books, written by Robert Muchamore, are actually more aimed at the YA audience, but I think they would be good for kids 11 and up. They have more mature themes and can get a bit dark in places. I loved them as a kid though.

They continue with the Spy theme, and follow a boy called James and his sister Lauren as they embark on a variety of missions to bring down bad guys and stop terrorist plots. They are full of action and danger and are impossible to put down.

5. Young Bond

Young Bond Box Set
Young Bond Box Set

You may be noticing a theme here, but my inner child always wanted to be a spy! These books are in much the same vein as the two above in that they are about a reluctant kid spy. However, these tell the story of a young James Bond, fighting bad guys long before he became the infamous martini drinking spy we all know and love.

I only ever read the books written by Charlie Higson, so I cant speak for the more recent ones written by Steve Cole. I loved the Charlie Higson ones though, I have to say. Again, these books do contain more mature themes, but more often than not middle grade and young adult fiction tackles these issues in a tactful and age appropriate way.

I loved all of these series growing up, and I can’t wait to share them with my own son. If you enjoyed these series growing up, or if you can think of any more, let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

What can I say except, wow. I loved this book. It follows many different stories and characters, over nearly a century. The blurb states; ‘this is Britain as you have never read it.’ Which is certainly true for me. Each chapter gives a new perspective and follows a character who’s life is intertwined with those before and after. It’s almost impossible to write a concise synopsis for such a complex book, so do yourself a favour and just read it, you won’t regret it.

Tea Pairing

In terms of tea, I would pair this book with a rooibos. It is rich and full bodied, just like the book. It has a smooth vanilla flavour which compliments the smooth flowing prose. Much like many of the characters in the book, it has its origins in Africa, and is grown and produced in the Western Cape of South Africa.

My Thoughts

There are so many things I want to say about this book. It is a work of art, from the writing style up. I’ll admit, it did take me a while to get used to the lack of punctuation and capital letters, but once my inner grammar police were over it I realised the real beauty of it. Evaristo has dubbed the writing style ‘fusion fiction’, which is an apt title I’d say. It reads like poetry, or perhaps spoken word. I found it distracting and frustrating at first, but soon lost myself in the flow. It’s a clever writing style, I think, because it forces you to pay attention to what you are reading. It requires you to put in a little more effort than you usually would, and right now, isn’t that something we should all be doing?

Aside from the writing style, the pure genius of Girl, Woman, Other is in the story telling. All twelve lives are subtly intertwined and it is fascinating to follow them and see them cross paths. Evaristo switches seamlessly between characters and keeps up her wonderful flowing narrative throughout. There was never a dull moment, never a jarring leap in time, despite the story spanning roughly a century.

I found each character to be relatable even if I didn’t always like or agree with them. They were real in a way you don’t often see, three dimensional and tangible. This book offered me insight into lives and experiences I may never otherwise encounter. I am a British woman, so I find it exciting and insightful to read about the lives of these characters. It offers me a look at my country from a completely new perspective, and I am so grateful for that.

I do not have a bad word to say about this book. I think it is one of those that will become a timeless classic and should be on everyone’s TBR pile.

You can pick up a copy here.

7 Reasons To Pick Up A Book Right Now

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Whether you are new to reading, or just in a bit of a slump, I’ve come up with a few reasons why you should pick up that next book. I’ve just come out of a reading slump myself, I was feeling a bit uninspired and not sure what to read next, so I’ve decided to compile a list of the best reasons to pick up a book in the first place.

You might learn something new

Even if, like me, you predominantly read fiction, there is always something to learn. Authors have to get their ideas from somewhere and will often research the intricate details of their plot to make the story as real as possible. A good example of this is Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver (and the rest of the books in the series). Paver travels the world, spends months studying wolves and traditional survival skills to write her books, and it shows. Despite these being aimed at a middle grade audience, I learnt an awful lot about wolf communication from them. There is always something to learn from a book.

Expand your vocabulary


There is no question that reading introduces you to new words. There have been may times in my reading that I have had to stop and look up a word I haven’t read before. Sometimes you can infer meaning from context , but I am the sort of person who likes to know for sure what something means, before I adopt it into everyday use

Reading influences your Intelligence

First things first, I am not a scientist and my evidence of this is purely anecdotal. However a quick google search takes me to this article on Bookriot which explains the link between intelligence and reading far more eloquently than I can here. In my experience though, it helps with empathy, problem solving and even memory. We use books to teach children about the world around them, so it must have some impact on brain connectivity and function. While reading may not make your IQ score higher, it certainly wont make it lower.

You can learn about other cultures

This one is particularly relevant today, as we all try to better ourselves and understand the plight of our fellow humans. I personally love to read about other cultures, sub-cultures, ethnicities, genders, orientations and identities. The world is a rich and colourful place, why limit yourself only to what you know? In reading about the people who differ to you, you can begin to understand them better. You gain a profound look at the world through someone else’s eyes when you read. It truly is a gift and only serves to expand your mind.

You can learn about yourself

While we are busy learning about other people, it might help us learn about ourselves too. Aside from all the self help books that are available, reading in general can really help you to understand why you are the way you are. When you connect with a character, its because you see a little bit of yourself in them. Relating to what motivates a character can help you understand what motivates you.

You can mind read!

As I touched on above, a book is really a look into the mind of its author. When you read, you are reading in their voice and tone. You can learn an awful lot about someone from their writing and it is a privilege to be allowed that deep into someones mind. to quote George RR Martin, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Escapism

This is my favourite reason for picking up a book. You can escape into another universe completely different from your own. It’s so relaxing to put your life and problems on hold for a while and escape into a captivating book. You can be transported to mystical lands on the back of a dragon, or fall in love, or go to a school of magic, or save a kingdom from a tyrant, anything is possible, and all from the comfort of your sofa! If you are sick of the humdrum, then pick up a book. You’ll feel refreshed and ready for life when you emerge from behind the cover.

What makes you pick up a book? Leave a comment and let me know!

June Wrap Up

June has been a bit of an up and down month with regard to reading for me. I managed to get through four books this month, one more than last month but nowhere near my teenage records! I fell into a bit of a slump towards the end of the month and struggled to pull myself out of it. Fortunately, I enjoyed all the books I read this month. I’ll list them below in order of my most to least loved.

The Binding by Bridget Collins
I loved this book! It was such an engaging read, and completely unexpected. It turned out to be a completely different story to what I thought I was getting, and I’m so happy about it! I would definitely recommend it. If you want to know more, check out my full review here.

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
This was a lovely book to read. The imagery and message about friendship was beautiful. It is aimed at a younger audience than my usual reads, but I really enjoyed it regardless. Check out the full review here.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
This was a darkly funny and heartbreaking memoir of an NHS doctor. Its non-fiction, which I wouldn’t usually go for but I found it so engaging and enjoyable to read. Its actually prompted me to try and read at least one non-fiction book per month! You can find my full review here.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
This book was a difficult read given the subject matter. It is a story of love and grief told by a murdered school girl watching her family deal with her loss from heaven. I found it to be moving and profound despite theological differences between myself and the book. See my full review here.

Tea Pairings

As for tea, I have really been enjoying Orange and Lotus Flower by Twinings. It’s a lovely summery flavour perfect for this time of year. The orange comes through first, with the delicate floral flavour of the lotus flower following. I would pair this tea with The Girl of Ink and Stars. The delicate floral undertones and citrus overtones suit the tropical island setting of the book.

I’ve also enjoyed English Rose by Whittard of Chelsea. Its another floral tea and you really can taste the rose. This one is a black tea which I think works well with the rose flavour and gives the tea a deep reddish colour. I paired this one with The Binding because I think the rose flavour and deep colour suit the tone and themes of the book.

I enjoyed Jasmine green tea (also by Twinings) with The Lovely Bones. As you may have noticed, I am a fan of floral teas. I think the delicate floral notes of this tea compliment the delicate nature of the story.

This Is Going To Hurt could only be accompanied by a strong cup of English Breakfast, with a dash of milk. I needed the strength of this tea to bolster me though the sometimes quite graphic medical descriptions and the heartbreaking parts of the book.

I’m hoping to read a few more books in July. I’m out of my reading slump and ready to dive back into another world! Watch this space for more book and tea recommendations and reading inspiration.

Book Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have been thinking of this book all day, having finished it this morning, and wondering how I will go about reviewing it. The issues tackled in the book are delicate and complex and I am not yet sure how I feel about what I have read. What is clear to me is that this book is indeed noteworthy. It deals with a subject most of us go out of our way not to think about, and forces the reader to confront some of their most primal and basic fears.

The book was first published in 2002 by Little, Brown and Company in the USA, and Picador in the UK. It is 323 pages long making it a nice, digestible length. My edition also contained an Afterword from Alice Sebold, which served to give more context to the story in direct relation to the author and her experiences.

As I have mentioned, the book deals with some dark and uncomfortable topics. It is written in the first person, from the perspective of a young girl, Susie, who is murdered at the age of 14. She observes her family, friends and community, dealing with her loss and growing up, from her heaven. It is a story of love, loss, grief and acceptance.

“We both listened together to the rain pour down and smelled the earth rising to greet us.

‘You look invincible,’ my mother said one night.

I loved these times, when we seemed to feel the same thing. I turned to her, wrapped in my thin gown and said:

‘I am.'”

Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones (page 206/207)

As I sit here cradling a hot cup of tea, I am struggling to define how this book made me feel. It did not effect me in the way I thought it would. I expected it to be a tear-jerker for me. By all accounts it has had that effect on many people. I thought I would have my heart broken by this book, but I did not. I found it a profound and moving read, but this was more because of the honest and raw characters rather than the death of a child. It has left me questioning the unthinkable. How would I react if this happened to me? What would I do? Even the hypothetical thought of something like this happening to my child fills me with emotions too strong to describe, to powerful to examine closely when I don’t need to.

I think part of the reason I felt a little distant while I was reading the book, however, is that my theories on life after death differ greatly to those Sebold describes. I personally do not believe in a Heaven as such, and so I did find it a little difficult to connect with this aspect of the book. While religion is not an open theme in the novel, it is obvious that her depiction of heaven is drawn from the christian viewpoint. As I do not identify with this, I found it a little harder to connect with the book. Theological differences aside though, I did approve of how her heaven worked, and how each heaven was personal to each individual.

To stray briefly from the theological and philosophical elements of the book, I enjoyed the writing style. I was easy to read and ever so slightly poetic. She manages to convey the tone of a young teenager without the text sounding immature or simplistic. Despite the story playing out over many years, it doesn’t feel as though you miss anything. This is quite a skill, given the book is only just over 300 pages long.

The portrayal of grief is what makes this book both moving and profound. Sebold does not sugar coat anything. Each of her characters reacts to Susie’s death in their own way, and it changes each person gradually, and shapes who they become. It is the raw honesty of this book that, I think, makes it special. It is difficult to discuss this element of the book without revealing spoilers, but I imagine each person who reads it will be affected differently by it based of their own life experience.

“You don’t notice the dead leaving when they really choose to leave you. you’re not meant to.”

Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones (Page 319)

Frankly, I’m amazed I made it 26 years into my life without reading this book. Perhaps that is down to it not being my usual genre, but, if there is one thing I have learnt since I have started reviewing my reads, its that I should not limit myself. Good books are to be found in all genres. This book is fast become one of those you should read, if you call yourself a reader. It has sold over 10 million copies and seems to divide opinion amongst those who have taken it up. I have certainly come across a host of scathing and glowing reviews since picking it up. I would argue that any book that prompts that sort of passionate response is worth a read.

If you would like a copy, you can pick one up here.

eBook vs Print, Which is Better?

I was adamant e-readers were a creation of evil for the longest time. Why on Earth would I want a computer to read off when I can have a beautiful book with its weight and aroma and magic? Where is the soul? Where is the beauty? Nothing beats the feeling of a new book in your hands waiting to be read. I’m sure we can all agree that books are wonderful. I have amassed hundreds of them over the years and my collection is always increasing.

Enter, the e-reader. It was a cold and snowy February day when I received my 16th birthday present from my parents. I think they had grown tired of tripping over the piles of books all over the house. I was presented with a Kindle. Despite my prior concerns about the soullessness of ereader, I was secretly thrilled with this gift. Thanks to the magic of the internet I now had my own portable bookshop and library! It was the perfect gift for a bookish introvert such as myself. That particular kindle lasted me about 8 years, and I was devastated when it finally expired. So much so, that my husband quickly bought me a new one to shut up my lamenting.

Reasons to love e-readers:
  • You can buy almost any book you like instantly and store it on the device for instant access anywhere in the world (as long as you have battery!)
  • You can purchase books while you are out and about if you are ever stuck for something to read. No more nicking newspapers out of bins or re-reading the back of a shampoo bottle over and over again!
  • The new ones are back lit so you can read at night with minimal disruption to your snoring partner.
  • You can ditch your book-suitcase for holiday and just slip the e-reader into your hand luggage. This was a HUGE bonus for me personally.
  • You can highlight meaningful passages and quotes without defacing the book, and save them for future reference. I am one of those people who simply CANNOT write in a book, so saving quotes on an e-reader is much easier.

I think it is clear I am a convert when it comes to e-readers, but there are some cons in my opinion too.

Cons of e-Readers:
  • As handy as they are, it just isn’t the same reading experience as a good old fashioned book. They don’t have the smell, or the weight, or dare I say it, the magic.
  • Its nearly impossible to lend out an e-book. You can’t just give it to your friend to read, or even pass it on to a charity shop to be loved again. The ability of books to become gifts and heirlooms is part of the magic I think.
  • I personally miss the tangibility of physical books on my shelf when it comes to my Kindle. I often forget what I’ve got on there because its just not as visible. I will usually end up buying a print copy in addition to the e-book if I really loved it.
  • You don’t need to charge a book.
  • You don’t get the full experience of being drawn in by the cover of a book.

On the whole, I do love my e-reader. It’s convenient and portable and I always have it with me if I am travelling or going on holiday. Its perfect at the moment for if I need a book fast, and don’t want to wait for the post or venture out into the post-apocalyptic wasteland to the bookshop. I’d recommend any avid reader invest in one.

That being said, nothing beats the beauty of settling down to lose yourself in a book. The way they smell and feel in your hands. The sound the pages make as you turn them. The thought of sharing it with the people you love once you are finished, so they can enjoy it too. The pride you feel adding it to your book shelf once you are finished, knowing you lived the life contained within, and gained a unique glimpse into the mind of another.

Book Review: This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

This post may contain some affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item through the link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me cover the costs of running my blog.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a bit of a wild card for me. I’m not usually drawn to non fiction books but I had heard good things about this and I was not disappointed. The book was published in 2017 by Picador. It is a collection of diary entries made by Adam Kay during his time as a junior doctor in the NHS. He worked for the NHS for six years as a junior doctor, working his way up the ranks in the gynaecology and obstetrics department before finally giving up his career due to the pressures he faced.

I would pair this book with a very strong cup of English breakfast tea. The strong but bright flavour matches perfect with the light but intense tone of the book. There are some heavy themes discussed during the book, so a good strong cup of English breakfast will steel the reader for some eye opening truths and intimate discussions of a medical nature.

Much like most of the population of the UK, I am extremely proud of our National Health Service. They have always been there for me, through childhood illnesses to the birth of my son. I can visit the doctor and not have to worry about bankrupting myself, and that is a freedom we should never take for granted. We must protect our NHS with everything we have because free healthcare, along with free education, should be a basic human right. It was partly my experience of the NHS, particularly my recent pregnancy, which prompted me to pursue this book. I know what it is like to be a patient, so now I wanted to know what it is like to be a doctor.

The book itself is hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud at multiple points while I was reading. The text is witty and darkly humorous, and quite grim in places. Doctors seem to deal with an awful lot of bodily fluid, I shuddered at some of the horrors Kay describes during his time as a doctor. He keeps the tone of the book light for the most part, but there is a clear undercurrent of anger. It is obvious that Kay went into the NHS with all the right intentions. He wanted to help people and was excited at the prospect of working for the NHS. However as the book goes on, it becomes evident the toll working as a doctor takes on your personal life. Not only are you responsible for people’s lives at work, you are expected to work so hard there is no time left for yourself.

This book was a huge eye opener for me. I think most non-medics are guilty of not really seeing doctors as the people they are, myself included. To be fair, its much easier to get your bits out in front of someone if you just think of them as some sort of medical android, but this thought does doctors an injustice. It shocked me just how tough the working conditions are in hospitals. Shifts are too long and the pay is too low, and yet these people still show up to work and try to help you as best they can. The book does not disparage the NHS however, its more a cry for help to protect and improve what we have.

Behind the humour and the heartbreak, the overall message of the book is clear. Protect the NHS at all costs, and don’t forget that doctors are people with feelings too. Ask them how they are every now and again.

You can get a copy of the book here.

Book Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

This post may contain some affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item through the link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me cover the costs of running my blog.

The Binding by Bridget Collins, best enjoyed with a hot cup of English rose tea.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Published in 2019 by Borough Press this gothic fantasy novel is 438 pages in length. It follows the story of Emmett Farmer who is sent to become a book binders apprentice when he can no longer work on his fathers farm due to illness. Books in this world are not mere stories, but captured memories entombed in beautifully handcrafted books. Emmett is learning the trade, helping people to forget their secrets and keep them hidden in a vault below his masters workshop, when one day he happens upon a book with his name on it.

I adored this book. It is beautifully written and a sheer joy to read. The language is descriptive and rich with imagery and emotion. I found myself lost in this book and unable to put it down for even a second. This past weekend all I have done is wander around my house with my nose in this book bumping into things. It took me a few pages to get into the flow of the story, but once I was absorbed I couldn’t draw myself back out. I had to know what happened. I found myself heavily invested in the characters and the outcome of their journey.

“Well, knowledge is always a kind of magic, I suppose.”

Bridget Collins – The Binding (Page 89)

The book is set in a world similar to that of 19th century Britain. Emmett is a hand on his fathers farm but it is clear right at the start of the book that his illness has prevented him from fulfilling his duties. After a discussion with is family, he is sent to the book binder to learn the trade. There he meets his new master and begins his tutelage.

The characters are wonderfully written. They are deep, three dimensional people governed by their own motives and secrets. I found Emmett to be deeply relatable and enjoyed watching him grow into himself throughout the novel. His journey of self discovery is something I think we can all relate to in some way.

If you intend to read this book (and I highly recommend that you do), I suggest you do not read any further in this review. Below I will talk in more detail about how the book affected me, but there will be spoilers and I think it will ruin your experience of the book if you know them before you read it. I truly loved this book and I hope anyone planning to read it finds as much joy in it as I did.

Grab a copy here before you read on!

SPOILERS BELOW

This was not the story I was expecting from the synopsis. I am a huge lover of fantasy and magic, and it was that which tempted me to pick up this novel. I was pleasantly surprised then, when about half way through I discovered it was a romance! I was expecting a tale of hardship in learning the magical binding craft, when really that is an aside in a story that is predominantly a tale of forbidden love and self discovery.

I am not usually the romance type. I often find it all a bit contrived and sickly, but this book has prompted me to reconsider my stance. Perhaps I am denying myself an enjoyable reading experience. I certainly enjoyed every second of this love story. It was believable and captivating. It was forbidden and heartbreaking. I was fully invested in it and felt everything the characters were feeling. This is mostly down to the fantastic writing. The way Collins describes her world thought the eyes of her infatuated characters is beautiful. Colours are brighter and the world a more vibrant place when they are together, and their love for each other is conveyed beautifully throughout, even before they realise it.

“We stare at each other. The sun flares behind him, spilling red through a gap between the tenements. It glitters in his hair. His temple and jaw and the tip of one ear glow scarlet. Unexpectedly, as sudden as the flood if sunlight, he smiles at me. It changed his face completely. I cant remember anyone looking at me like that, ever. It makes the sunset redder, the scent of soot and paraffin sharper, the cold ache in my fingers more intense. The wind sings in a chimney somewhere above us. A crumple of paper whispers and swoops across the cobbles. The horn of a distant factory blares.”

Bridget Collins – The Binding (Page 363)

I love Collins ability to convey emotion in her prose without outwardly stating how everyone is feeling all the time. She uses description and imagery to demonstrate the passion and feeling in a situation, leaving it up to the reader to interpret it how they will. It is this technique that gives the writing its extra edge and really allows the reader to fully immerse themselves in the novel.

The book has rocketed to one of my all time favourites and I cant wait to read it again. It is one of those books that is so well written, there will still be new things to discover the second time round.

You can grab a copy here.

Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This post may contain some affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item through the link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me cover the costs of running my blog.

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a beautifully written story of a young girl, Isabella, and her best friend, Lupe. When Lupe goes missing, Isabella does everything she can to be part of the search party. She is in possession of an ancient map and uses this and her knowledge of the stars to navigate the forgotten territories of her island home. The land is dangerous and shrouded in myth. Isabella must find Lupe before these myths become more than just stories.

The book was first published in 2016 by Chicken House. The story is told in 228 pages, making it a relatively short read, but the setting, characters and plot are developed beautifully. The cover alone was enough to entice me into this book, and I was not disappointed. On the inside cover is a map of the island and each page is bordered with small illustrations, which only adds to the beauty and magic conjured up by the story.

The story is simply written, and aimed at older children and young adults. This does not detract from the expert writing style and difficult issues tackled however, and it can certainly be enjoyed by people of all ages. Overall it is a story of friendship and love, both for ones home, and the people who make it a home. Isabella just wants to protect the land she comes from, and the people she loves, something I think we can all relate to.

Isabella is a deep and well developed character. She is relatable and reminded me how I felt as a child. Everything down to the choices she makes, and the way she acts makes her seem real. I think it is remarkable that in such a short book, the author is able to conjure up such tangible characters and settings. When I was reading, I felt as if I could almost smell the sea air and taste the dust from the roads.

“India is a place where colour is doubly bright. Pinks that could scald your eyes, blues you could drown in.”

Kiran Millwood Hargrave – The Girl of Ink and Stars (Page 107)

Personally, I cannot name a single thing I didn’t love about this book. Everything from the beautifully written prose, to the underlying messages about the value of friendship and not making assumptions about people, was expertly done. The story was captivating and fast paced, but without feeling that there were any holes in the plot, or parts missing.

This book reminded me something I think all adults could do with thinking about. Children are their own people, capable of making their own choices separate to those of their parents. They are resilient and feel things deeply. Although the adults in their lives may make poor choices and let them down, it does not mean they will make those same mistakes. I think it can be easy to forget what it was like to be a child, and so reading books like this as an adult (and a parent) is important. They reconnect you with your inner child.

“We are all of us products of our surroundings. Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk even in the way we grow.”

Kiran Millwood Hargrave – The Girl of Ink and Stars ( page 109)

I read this entire book in one morning, and I would recommend it to anybody who just loves a magical story. I think a particular strong point for me is that it is a story of friendship, not romance. It is two young girls who love each other and just want to look after one another.

You can pick up a copy here.