Femmeuary Reads

I had such a great month of reading in February – I stuck to my pledge of only reading books by women, as part of Lauren and The Books’ Femmeuary (see this post if you have no idea what I’m on about). I managed to read five four star reads and one five star books – I’ve felt more motivated to read than I have in a long, long time. May this reading streak continue! 

How to be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax (Penguin) – 4/5  


This is a warm and witty look at mental health; accessible and informative it discusses twelve elements, from evolution to addiction. In tone and content, I found this quite similar to her previous books Sane New World and Mindfulness for the Frazzled, however I thought the structure of it was great and really enjoyed the discussions between the monk and the neuroscientist. At the end of each chapter, each topic is dissected, looking at how the mind works, mindfulness and more scientifically, the brain. If you’re looking for a light-hearted book at why we behave in certain ways, this one is for you.

The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Vintage) – 4/5


A book about courage, belonging, determination, love and family. I was nervous going into The Road Home, as last year The Gustav Sonata by Tremain was one of my favourite books and I hoped that this would live up to expectations. I’m pleased to say it did – I absolutely loved it. Rose Tremain creates characters that are intricate and three-dimensional, ones that you care about and also ones that at times you hate. There was only one plot point that jarred with me – no spoilers here, but on reflection I can see why Rose Tremain included it, however the point in question seemed so out of character for the book’s main man (Lev) that I thought I was a little unnecessary.

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand (Bloomsbury) – 4/5


Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. Her father, Maharajah Duleep Singh, was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, one of the greatest empires of the Indian subcontinent. My Mum got me this book for Christmas and I’d saved it to read to coincide with it being 100 years since (some) women got the vote and woman’s suffrage. At times this is quite dense, but never unenjoyable, to read – it is rich with description and character, so much so that you get a true flavour of what Sophia was like, her priorities and her lifestyle. I learnt so much from this book. Ultimately it is about a strong, independent and revolutionary female that I’d previously not heard of.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray (Aster) – 4/5


A fresh look at alcohol addiction and the joy sobriety can bring, as well as understanding why society has a negative view of staying sober. This was in no way condescending, or preachy, instead Catherine Gray provides information – and her story – and lets you make your own mind up. It tells the tale of her booze-fuelled twenties and how hitting rock bottom allowed her to start living her life again. It is a super quick, and enjoyable read, which definitely made me question my health and my alcohol consumption. 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Blackfriars) – 4/5


This novel opens with such a punchy first line – “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” after reading this, I was hooked and raced through this novel in two short sittings. Everything I Never Told You is about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio; it explores family dynamics, racial tension, and the pressures children can face from parents. Ultimately, it is about discovering who we, and our families, really are and why we behave the way we do. Ng’s writing is beautiful, filled with tension and tenderness – I’ve now got her second book, Little Fires Everywhere high-up on my TBR list.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore (Windmill Books) – 5/5


Where do I start? This was, without doubt, my standout novel for the month. It follows Ada Sibelius, an intelligent young girl who has been raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab. Set in multiple eras (1980s and 2009), early on in the novel Ada realises David is forgetting things – the book is her quest to discover her father’s past and piece together his life. It is emotional, quirky and intense – it won’t be for everything, but for me it was incredible. A full review will follow shortly, once I’ve managed to put how much I enjoyed it into words.


Anticipated Reads: March

Here are the books that I’m most looking forward to reading in March (all blurbs are below):


The F Word by Lily Pebbles (Hodder & Stoughton) 

If there’s one piece of invaluable advice for women and girls of all ages, it is that there is nothing more important than creating and maintaining strong, positive and happy friendships with other women.

If Lily Pebble’s 1998 diary is anything to go by, female friendships are incredibly complex and emotional but they’re the mini love stories that make us who we are. For many women, friends are our partners in crime through life; they are the ones who move us into new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses.

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal (Viking)

Mona is a young Irish girl in the big city, with the thrill of a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding house. On her first night out in 1970s Birmingham, she meets William, a charming Irish boy with an easy smile and an open face. They embark upon a passionate affair, a whirlwind marriage – before a sudden tragedy tears them apart.

Decades later, Mona pieces together the memories of the years that separate them. But can she ever learn to love again?

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi (W&N)

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her. Yet she hopes desperately they can mend their shattered relationship.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (Tinder Press)

It’s 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York’s Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they’re about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies the fortune-teller gave them that day. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them? Golden-boy Simon escapes to San Francisco, searching for love; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician; eldest son Daniel tries to control fate as an army doctor after 9/11; and bookish Varya looks to science for the answers she craves.

Bookworm A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan (Square Peg)

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Predictions: Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018

With just over a week to go until the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist is announced (8thMarch), I thought I’d put together a post on my predictions.

The literary prize, exclusively for women, was set up in 1992 and previously known as The Orange Prize for Fiction and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. It’s a prize that celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. Last year The Power by Naomi Alderman won the prize.

This year, the longlist will consist of up to 20 titles – so I think I’ll wait until the shortlist is announced before I start doing my own armchair judging. Any woman writing in English – whatever her nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter – is eligible. Novels must be published in the United Kingdom between 1 April in the year the Prize calls for entries, and 31 March the following year, when the Prize is announced.

So, which novels do I think deserve a place on this year’s longlist? (n.b. I haven’t read all of these, but have heard exceptional reviews for all of them/ they’re high-up on my TBR pile!)


This year, the judges will be: Katy Brand, Catherine Mayer, Imogen Stubbs, Anita Anand and Sarah Sands. The longlist will be announced on March 8th –  are there any books that you think I’ve missed here? Any that you’d love to see on the list?


The wonderful Lauren, over from the Booktube channel Lauren and The Books, is hosting Femmeuary. In short, Lauren has coined February ‘Femmeuary’ to celebrate women – during the month she’s encouraging us to read, watch and consume any content that makes us proud, empowered and delighted to be a woman. If you’re still a little confused, you can see her announcement video here (she does a much better job of explaining the concept than I have…).

So, it goes without saying that during Femmeuary I’ll be reading books by, and about, strong, independent women (throw your hands up at me!). Just a few on my TBR are:

How to be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax

rubywaxA three-way encounter between a Monk, a neuroscientist and Ruby Wax sounds like the set up for a joke. Instead it’s produced one of the most fascinating, intriguing and informative books about minds and bodies and brains and mindfulness I’ve ever encountered. A triangulation on what it means to be human. 

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand


In 1876 Sophia Duleep Singh was born into royalty. Her father, Maharajah Duleep Singh, was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, a realm that stretched from the lush Kashmir Valley to the craggy foothills of the Khyber Pass and included the mighty cities of Lahore and Peshawar. Sophia transcended her heritage to devote herself to battling injustice and inequality, a far cry from the life to which she was born.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Grey


Ever sworn off alcohol for a month and found yourself drinking by the 7th? Think there’s ‘no point’ in just one drink? Welcome! There are millions of us. 64% of Brits want to drink less. Catherine Gray was stuck in a hellish whirligig of Drink, Make horrible decisions, Hangover, Repeat. She had her fair share of ‘drunk tank’ jail cells and topless-in-a-hot-tub misadventures. But this book goes beyond the binges and blackouts to deep-dive into uncharted territory: What happens after you quit drinking? This gripping, heart-breaking and witty book takes us down the rabbit-hole of an alternative reality. A life with zero hangovers, through sober weddings, sex, Christmases and breakups.

Will you be taking part in Femmeuary? If so, I’d love to hear what you’ll be reading.

January Reads: Overcoming my reading slump

At the start of the year I vowed to get over my reading slump and back into my books. I know I’ve said it a lot, but the last part of the year felt really lacklustre with my reading – there was lots I wanted to read, but nothing that I could really muster the attention span for. BUT, I’m pleased to report that I AM BACK ON IT.

Before the new year rung in, I organised my books (helped of course by a new bookshelf…) and dug out a few new releases I wanted to read during January.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfield (W&N) – 3/5


This was an easy, and enjoyable, crime read – it follows Naomi Cottle who finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. A little predictable in places, but it was a nice, easy book to start the year on.

The Confession by Jo Spain (Quercus) – 4/5


This is an explosive psychological thriller; a real cat and mouse read that leaves you flitting between perspectives, characters and storylines. I was addicted from the first page – my full review, for the blog tour, can be read here.

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit (Orion) – 3/5


The premise of this book is better than the actual storyline – how far would you go for your family, to ensure their safety? It is definitely more of a slow-burning literary thriller, than a fast-paced fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thriller. It left me wanting more and in truth, just a little disappointed.

After You by JoJo Moyes (Penguin) – 3/5


I took this on holiday with me as I wanted a light-hearted, easy read. Having read Me Before You in one sitting about five years ago, I thought it was about time I got round to reading After You. This was a great holiday read, and I enjoyed it, but it definitely didn’t pack as much of a punch as the first in the series.

The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes (Black Swan) – 3/5


It took me a little while to get into this historical novel, but nonetheless it was a quirky, enjoyable read with a pithy, curious woman at its heart. This is a dark, gory tale about The Coroner of Dublin’s daughter and her inquisitive mind. It had a good amount of twists and turns to keep me interested, but it lacked a bit of oomph – I didn’t feel particularly invested in the characters.

Blogmas: My Reading Habits Tag

I saw this tag over on Rachel Ann Writes’ Blog and thought I’d give it a go too…

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Nowhere specific, just as long as it’s somewhere warm and comfortable – usually the sofa, or propped up in bed with my bedside lamp on. In winter I love reading by the fire with cosy socks and a cup of tea.

Bookmark or a random piece of trash?

Ideally always a bookmark, never a dog-eared page. If I don’t have a bookmark to hand I’ll use a ticket or a receipt from my purse, but then will change it over when I get home.

Can you stop reading anytime you want or do you have to stop at a certain page, chapter, part, etc.?

As long as it’s at the end of a page, I can stop – I’ve got no qualms about finishing in the middle of a chapter or halfway through a section. Usually I’ll stop because I’m tired, or have to start doing something else, which means I end up putting my book down straight away.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Yep, I particularly enjoy reading with a mug of coffee – I’m not so good with juggling snacking and reading though. I think my brain can only handle one or two things at once.

Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?

Not really, which is odd because I can happily read when commuting or on a train/plane etc. with background noise around me. I can read with classical music in the background (or any music with no lyrics), but definitely not TV – I would get too distracted and lose my place.

One book at a time or several at once?

Ideally one book at a time, the only time I veer from this is if I’m reading one fiction and one non-fiction. My brain can’t handle multiple fiction books at one time, particularly if they’re the same genre too (e.g. crime – the stories just get muddled in my brain…)

Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere, always! Without fail, I always have a book in my handbag and an audiobook downloaded on Audible on my phone. I get nervous when I don’t have a book with me – particularly if I’m travelling somewhere or know that I’ll be waiting somewhere. Every spare five minutes can be valuable reading time.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Always in my head, I find reading out loud a bit creepy… it reminds me of teenage poetry recitals.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Nope, unless it’s a non-fiction book with separate stand-alone chapters on specific things, I don’t understand why you’d want to do this. The author has written it in the way in which it is intended to be read – skipping ahead just ruins the storytelling IMO.

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I try and keep the spine looking new, but sometimes you just can’t read a book without breaking the spine (you know, the type of book which is bound super tight and you can’t quite read all the way to the far edge!). I look my books to look nice, but also well-loved and read, on my bookshelves, so either way is fine.

Do you write in books?

No, unless it is a special present and I’m writing the recipient a message. I never make notes or annotate my books – I’d rather write thoughts down on post it notes.

If you’d like to take part in this book tag, consider yourselves tagged!