review

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. This is the first book I’ve ever read about racism, I was one of those people that didn’t think that racism was predominate in my country. Wales, U.K.  I’ve never been told otherwise until after recent events made me really look and want to educate myself. This book taught me a lot.

Synopsis from Netgalley:

Not being racist is not enough. We have to be antiracist.

In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option: until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem.

Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and story-teller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good. Along the way, Kendi punctures all the myths and taboos that so often cloud our understanding, from arguments about what race is and whether racial differences exist to the complications that arise when race intersects with ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.

In the process he demolishes the myth of the post-racial society and builds from the ground up a vital new understanding of racism – what it is, where it is hidden, how to identify it and what to do about it.

My Review

This book is a mix of biography, history and essays about being racist or anti-racist. It gives a very in depth and well researched look at racism and it really is eye opening. 

This books suggests the idea that you may be racist because of the racist ideas that are in our society but we don’t become racist and we can change through “persistent self awareness, constant self criticism and regular self examination.” People may not realise they’re racist because it’s how the world is, it’s the norm but they can change. “Racist ideas define society.”

Each chapter presents a different aspect of racism and how it can be divided by things like gender and class. The personal story is interesting and engaging, exploring how the writer himself considered himself racist and wants to be anti racist.

This book made me look at things differently. It helped me to understand “privilege”  privilege means that you are not judged by the colour of your skin.  Another thing that made me think was his explanation about black living spaces that they are not full of crime, racism has built up this image of fear in these communities and you see it on tv and films often. 

Although this book taught me a lot I did find it hard to follow at times, so many quotes and facts. It could be very wordy and the narrative went off on tangents. It’s about America and I don’t know enough about American history and past events to be able to understand some of this book. 

Sometimes the repetition  was off putting, just the repetition of a word or a certain sentence structure. I think that the author was trying to get his point across using repetition but I am of the opinion that less is more. I think that this book might not be accessible to everyone because the ideas are in a round about way. I think it would be a lot more influential if it was presented plainly.  However this is the author’s style and helps shows his enthusiasm and main messages do get across. 

I think the ideas are very important and it’s an educational book that is well worth taking the time to read if you’re looking for a book to learn more about racism. 

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Coming Soon…. Update on My Summer Reading Challenge, this book is included. 

 

 

challenge

20 Books Of Summer Update

Well, I’ve only read 2 out of 20 books so far. The Strawberry Thief took me to France and My Family And Other Animals took me to Corfu.

 

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

The Strawberry Thief

*Some Spoilers Ahead*

The Strawberry thief is the latest in the Chocolat books which I love. We go back to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, and this time Rosette has grown up, Anouk has gone to Paris and Vianne doesn’t seem like herself anymore. I enjoyed the story, although it didn’t seem to have the same sensory magic as the others. It was great to revisit the characters even if Vianne is disappointing. She ends up becoming like the people she hates the most and treats a fellow traveller/witch like she was once treated.  I was engrossed by the story, although there were quite a few different viewpoints this time around, you don’t get to see much of Anouk or Roux either. I also didn’t like how the story ended, how Rosette’s character changed. Debating whether or not to explain this but I think I’ve given enough spoilers. 

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

(Book one of the trilogy, my copy is this big thick book. I decided to read the one novel for the moment, regretted not having a separate copy as this thick book kept slipping out of my hands and it was awkward to hold the book and a cup of tea)

This was a reread, I read part of it when I was in school and then must’ve had a copy from the library to read years later. Since the tv series on ITV started I’ve been meaning to buy my own copy and read it again, the series finished and finally I bought one. It’s a memoir about the time in his childhood when Naturalist Gerald Durrell and his family left their home in England and moved to Corfu. 

It’s a fun and engrossing story, you never know what funny thing is going to happen next. It’s also very interesting to read about different animals and the people are such characters too. This time around I was a bit annoyed with Gerry stealing a birds egg and did think that he shouldn’t capture some Magpie chicks from their nest. But in the time all this was happening it was normal. Today we want to leave animals alone and not put them in cages. That aside it’s a lovely book. Gerald Durrell captures the magic of Corfu, his descriptive skills are beautiful. I felt that this book was the perfect choice for this moment, a bit of escapism and humour.

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And now I get to pick my next book. After reading My Family And Other Animals I want to read something completely different, a fictional story. Where shall I go next?

Uncategorized

20 Books Of Summer

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So because I don’t blog much these days I was wondering whether to do this but I enjoyed it so much last year. I have so many books  and so many I keep adding to my list.

I need to thank Shayney for posting about this on her blog here and reminding me about this reading challenge.

About the challenge

This challenge is run every year by Cathy at 746 books you just pick how many books you want to read 10, 15 or 20 from now until September. It’s completely flexible too. Last year I managed to read 14/20. I was mainly trying to get through my tbr last year, but I’ve bought so many books since lockdown began that I’m not really bothered about my tbr too much. I’m aiming for 20 and I’ve already started reading (and will soon finish) my first choice.

Currently Reading

The Strawberry Thief: The new novel from the bestselling author of Chocolat (Chocolat 4)

My choices so far

The books I’m definitely going to read are:

Love After Love I bought about a week or so ago after signing up to a Hay Festival session that the author Ingrid Persaud was doing. I read a sample of the book on Amazon and I was just hooked, so I bought it from an indie bookseller straight away (sorry Amazon).

Gallowglass has been on my tbr for a while, it’s a trilogy I’m finally finishing (I never seem to get through trilogies) .

My Family And Other Animals I read this book in school and loved it, every since the tv series started years ago I’ve been meaning to reread it, so I finally bought the trilogy (not sure if there’s more books) this year. I almost forgot about the next Poldark book,

The Stranger From The Sea, I’ve been reading one book a year, usually in the summer, to coincide with the events of the tv series. It’s finished now but I still have the book series to finish.

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I love reading books set in Wales, I bought The South Westerlies a story collection, last year. The other three books are on my tbr, The Maginogion I’ve had for years, don’t think I ever finished it, but I love folklore.

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And these are must reads: the next Witcher book, The Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield out this year, indie author/publisher. I read the second book The Magpie Tree last year for my 20 Books Of Summer Reading Challenge so it’s worked out well that I’ve got this one now.

Stim, an Autistic anthology is a crowdfunded book I backed, wanting to learn more about Autism, where better than from those who are on the spectrum?

I have a few books on my Kindle and I’ve picked this one as a definite to read:

Once Upon a River: The dazzling Sunday Times Bestseller Kindle EditionI’ve read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and got this on offer recently.

A book I need to buy:

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty (author) (9781908213792)

I missed the Hay Festival session but I’ve heard a few of the extracts on Radio 4 and I need to read this book. I love reading books about people travelling and nature books (I read The Salt Path last year, was tempted to reread it loved it so much, sequel out in September I recommend it!).

I’ve picked 13 books I’m definitely going to read, I should really add the ones I’ve got on my Netgalley which would take it up to 16.

Hmmm I could easily add another pile to this list. Finding 20 books is not a problem, will I manage to read 20 books by September? And will I stick to this list?

Are you doing the challenge? Comment below, links appreciated 🙂

Happy Reading 🙂

review

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

This is a belated review, sometimes you just can’t find the words and need to be in the right headspace to really do a book justice in a review. So I’ve tried. 

Wild Spinning Girls

“If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.

And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it. Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left..

It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.” – from GoodReads

My Review 

“I’m a bit Welsh myself as it happens.”

Ida inherits a house and goes to Wales, after losing her job and her parents, intending to take a look and get it ready to be sold. I am always looking for books set in Wales and this is another such book by Carol Lovekin.

It’s not just the place it’s set in that attracts my interest but the atmosphere of the book. Reminiscent of folklore with superstition and magic, nothing I write can really do justice, this book seems to mirror that mystical image of Wales/Welsh folklore. I don’t know if that was intended, or whether the magic and superstition is just part of describing the magic of the characters’ worlds.

This same atmosphere was prevalent in GhostBird and I just can’t get enough of it. The house with it’s haunting feeling, the wildness of the land it sits on, the poetical writing style…Everything just ties together to create this wonderful place and story. 

The plot of the novel is intriguing and I felt bad for Ida, I thought that the characters were brilliant personalities (Roni’s a fun character), all different.

“What was it with all the tea?” 

(Loved this quote, it’s so accurate, a lot of Welsh people drink a lot of tea)

The book is never dull, the story always moving on at an addictive pace. I liked Heather (the girl who Ida can’t get rid of) and I found the relationship between her and Ida interesting. At times I wanted to scream at her which I guess it how most people feel about teenagers. I was eager for them to find a solution to their problems but like in reality problems take time to solve sometimes. I enjoyed the story and Ida’s journey to solve her problems, the way it ended was perfect. 

Sometimes when you’re reviewing a book, it’s hard to really explain what makes it special. I hope I’ve managed to. What always stands out about Carol Lovekin’s books is the beautiful sense of place that stays with you, the realistic characters and that poetic style that is just so hard to describe and do justice to. 

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If you’d like to know more about Carol Lovekin’s books you can find out more here and also discover more books by Welsh authors from indie publisher Honno. 

My next post will be about this years Summer Reading Challenge.

Happy Reading 🙂 Hwyl am nawr. 

 

review

Am Ddiwrnod! Gan Margaret Johnson

Am Ddiwrnod! is one book in a series called Cyfres Amdani that’s been written especially for Welsh learners, if you’d like more information about this series click the link here

This book has been written for anyone who is doing entry level (Mynediad) it’s written specifically to reflect what’s been taught at that level.

This is my first review for a book in Welsh, if you’d like to see more please comment so I know to continue with this idea. (I’m writing in English though).

Am Ddiwrnod: Nofel i Ddysgwyr Lefel Mynediad

This book is about 32 pages long. There are a few pictures and there’s some information about the characters and where the story is set at the beginning. There are definitions of some words at the bottom of the page. It’s a very short story and I finished it rather quickly.

I enjoyed the story, it had drama and humour and kept my interest. I’d definitely recommend it, I found it fairly easy to follow. I looked up the odd word that I wasn’t sure of and did refer to the definitions at the bottom of the page. I found it really helpful that some of the words were repeated, you might forget the meaning of a word if you only see it once or twice but the repetition helped me to remember the word.

This is the first time I’ve read a book from this Cyfres Amdani series, and so far I am happy with it. It’s very short which is great because I could read in one sitting. I’m not learning Welsh in a classroom so I’m unsure what my level is, probably close to intermediate (Say Something In Welsh level 3?).

I’d definitely recommend this book if you want to start reading books in cymraeg, it’s a good start, learn a few new words and build your confidence.

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I’ve tried reading a few other books which I didn’t finish due to finding them difficult and being frustrated at having to look up every other word. So I am so happy to finally finish something in cymraeg!

If you found this review useful and would like me to review more books yn gymraeg (or any other Welsh language related posts) please drop me a line in the comments so I know to keep reviewing books in Welsh.

Don’t be shy, say shw mae 🙂

Pob lwc a dal ati!

 

review

Confessions by Helen Laycock

I asked on Twitter recently for some funny books to cheer me up during lockdown and author Helen Laycock replied with two short story collections, I bought them both. This book is available to buy onAmazon 

Let’s face it. Things go wrong. And we’re not always proud of what we do. Between these covers is a veritable confession box of revelations. Some might well be fictional. Others possibly… maybe… probably have a nugget of truth in them. But for legal reasons, let’s just call them stories, shall we? Wink, wink.

 

Review

I love reading short stories, they’re something you can fit in when you don’t have the time to read something longer, (or an excuse to start a new book when you have many of the go). This collection features stories that could be true, at the end of each story there’s a little rating of how true they are. They are fun, perfect stories that will definitely lighten your mood. 

I couldn’t pick a favourite really but not being a cat fan I enjoyed the story ‘Letting The Cat  Out Of The Bag’ and the story about making a courgette pie when you don’t have the right ingredients, A Recipe For Disaster.‘ There’s a story about a lady who grows a tail as part of an experiment, ‘Lab Work Needed.’ And one about a lady desperate to go to the toilet during a dinner party, ‘That Sinking Feeling’.

 They are so funny! If you need a pick me up get this book. I enjoyed all of the stories and I was quite sad to get to the end of the book. But it’s OK I have another collection by Helen Laycock to read. 

 

review

Leave Nothing But Footprints by Patsy Collins

 

Leave Nothing But Footprints by [Patsy Collins]

Synopsis from Amazon

“Jessica Borlase always gets what she wants. From cocktails in the exact shade of her manicure, holiday on Capri with friends, to a spacious apartment, her father’s money makes it possible. She enjoys the luxurious lifestyle and is grateful for his support, but frustrated to always be treated as Daddy’s pampered little girl. She tries to break free, by leaving Borlase Enterprises and studying photography.

Now what Jess wants is the utterly gorgeous Eliot Beatty; a world famous photographer who often uses his talents to benefit conservation projects. Her father attempts to bribe Eliot into taking Jess on an assignment in order to teach her the skills she’ll need to develop a career. Although annoyed at the interference, she’s delighted to discover this means two weeks with Eliot in the beautiful countryside of South Wales and close confines of a campervan. Trouble is, the man can’t be bought.

Jess eventually manages to persuade Eliot to take her. She believes she can earn his respect and that she’s ready for the hard work, long hours and living conditions far short of those she’s used to. She’s wrong on all counts. Can Jess learn to cope with the realities of the trip, and is Eliot really worth the effort?”

Review

I thought this book would be the perfect read at the moment, something sweet set in beautiful countryside. Although I don’t have much in common with Jess I did like her and enjoyed her story.  She wants to do something with her life, specifically she wants to be a photographer. And she’s prepared to put in the hard work and not take handouts from her rich father and his contacts. Although he tries to help her, she really wants to do it on her own. She thinks people are jealous and they don’t understand why she isn’t happy with her life. But she wants to be independent and she tries in this story. I do feel like we learn some wise advice in this story: too not be too hasty to judge people based on your own opinions, Jess does and she realises that she is in the wrong. 

The story is riveting. And just like the other book I read by Patsy Collins you feel like you’re learning something, in this novel it’s photography and the environment. I’ve learnt a bit more about the importance of the environment e.g. I would never have thought to pick up someone else’s litter.

I really enjoyed this story my own qualm is that I wished there was more. I finished it too quickly, I turned the page and was surprised that it was the end. It’s a lovely story well worth a read and a perfect feel-good, summer, escapism story. I would happily read another story with these characters, Patsy has a way of making you care about them and making you want to read more. 🙂

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You can get this book on Kindle (including part of Kindle unlimited) or buy the paperback from Amazon here. I’ve also reviewed these two books by Patsy on my blog, also good reads, a novel:Paint Me A Picture and a short story collection.  

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It’s important now more than ever to support our independent authors and booksellers. You can find a list of shops that are still open for orders on the website here. I’ve also bought from Hive.co.uk which send a commission to a bookshop of your choice.

For recommendations check out twitter. Take a look at my previous posts for a review of a good horror (if you’re in the mood) Haverscroft by S.A.Harris and also Ghost Bird by Carol Lovekin.

I’ve just bought Wild Spinning Sisters by Carol Lovekin and two collections by another indie author Helen Laycock, always a pleasure to read her fun books. 

review

Haverscroft by S.A. Harris

Hello. It’s been a while, right? What happened at the end of last year? I stopped recording books I read and pretty much lost my blogging groove. I started learning Welsh.

If anyone knows how to get the balance of meeting goals and relaxing please let me know

I have a confession to make, I read this book for Halloween and loved it, but I didn’t make notes and when I tried to review it later I was stuck. But it’s come to my attention that the last review on GoodReads was a bad one so I’d like to end the year on a high note. And feel less guilty for not reviewing this book when I said I would. Sorry…

Review: Haverscroft by S.A.Harris

Haverscroft

“Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage. Little does she realise, Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage?

Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.” – from GoodReads

My thoughts

This book was so good that I didn’t even remember to make notes as I was reading, I was so absorbed. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

I loved Haverscroft, what drew me to this book was the gothic horror, and I enjoyed the descriptions of the house was. The tension and atmosphere throughout draws you in and the enigma about what happened at the house, what secrets are haunting the place?

Kate Keeling is a character I came to love and to feel sympathy for, she’s just trying to recover from a breakdown and start anew again but the problems she faces do not help. All the characters are a delight to read about.

The gothic tension in this novel is perfect and continues throughout the book. If you love gothic horror novels this is for you. Such a good book I wish I could find words to express how much I loved it.

Looking forward to more from this author.

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review

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

Although I’m Welsh I don’t seem to read many books set in Wales and published in Wales so lately I’ve been making note of them when I see them. I bought this online after reading the synopsis and I wasn’t disappointed.

My thoughts

There was so much to enjoy and love about this book. The secrets that Violet is keeping from her daughter Cadi make this novel deliciously dark. Add to that the ghosts and the fact that Lili is a witch makes this story riveting.

It’s a haunting and poetic story tangled with myth, memory and hints of magic. Simply put it’s beautiful. It’s not only set in Wales, with Welsh characters but there’s also snatches of the Welsh language. I loved how accurate the characters dialogue is, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which so accurately portrays Welsh people speaking (in English), I could recognise the way myself and others I know speak. It’s definitely a first for me!

This is book is perfect for those who love magic and amazing stories with wonderful depth. Ghostbird is all about the characters and caring about them makes you want to keep reading. You can see each person’s side of the story as you try to work out the mystery behind the secrets.  It’s a story which is achingly sad but held such words of wisdom within its pages:

“If you have to start living a new life half way through the one you thought you had, the only thing to do was look upon it as an adventure.” p.267

“A weed’s only a flower in the wrong place.” p 264 

It feels like an authentic story even with it’s supernatural elements. The beauty of the setting and the witch’s garden is lovely. I find myself running out of words to explain how good this book is. Mae’n Bendigedig!

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If you’re looking for a Halloween read I’d definitely recommend this book, it’s got enough darkness and ghostly moments, to enthral gothic fiction lovers but not too much to scary you silly. It’s perfect for everyone, a lovely story.

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

This is the first book I’ve read for this Halloween season, I’ve also finished We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson (tense) and now I’m reading Haverscroft by S.A.Harris and that’s definitely worth a read! More soon!

N.B. I really love Carol Lovekin’s dialogue it’s definitely a lesson for writers.

 

 

review

Some Sex and A Hill by Aran Jones

It’s not what you think! I read this book after seeing it on the Say Something In Welsh website/forum/newsletter. I borrowed it from Amazon Prime to feel less guilty about buying more books.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Aran Jones wrote the course for the popular online Welsh learning system SaySomethinginWelsh.com, and with his close friend Iestyn ap Dafydd he co-founded SaySomethingin.com Ltd.

Tens of thousands of Welsh learners have used SaySomethinginWelsh as part of their journey towards speaking Welsh.

This irreverent (and often downright impolite) book is the story of how Aran himself learnt Welsh.

It involves parties, bad jokes about sex, broken hearts, alcohol, tactical mistakes, moments of joy, tattoos and all the raw humiliation of embarrassing yourself in public – not just once, but over and over again. Some of the painful moments here will be immediately recognisable to all Welsh learners – others might strike them as unnecessary and self-inflicted.

If you’re looking for a calm and thoughtful analysis of different ways to learn Welsh, this is very much NOT the right book for you.

If, on the other hand, you want evidence that Aran has suffered as much as you have at the hands of the Welsh language, and possibly humiliated himself even more (drunken charades, anyone?) then you’re in exactly the right place.

My review

I read the sample of this book and I couldn’t stop reading!

It’s such a funny story about learning a language, the pain and the pleasure. I was laughing out loud to myself. One anecdote that stands out is when Aran was at the Eisteddfod and wanted to buy a jacket potato, he had to ask in Welsh and he was so nervous about it in case the person said something that he hadn’t learnt in his course. Then it turned out they were speaking in English!

This books shows the author’s love for the Welsh language and the aching sadness of a people who have lost their language through the ruling of the English monarchy who outlawed the speaking of the Welsh language as a way of claiming control over Cymru/Wales. If you don’t understand this you will after reading this book.

I read a book once about learning Welsh that put me off! It told me all the horror stories about Welsh speakers not wanting to speak Welsh with learners. I’ve discovered since that this was not completely right!

This book is honest and motivating, a great read for those who want to learn or are thinking of learning. It’s so funny!

I’m looking forward to reading the follow on book once it’s done.

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If your curious about Say Something In Welsh then take a look at  the website here.

This book is available to buy here from Amazon, ebook or phyiscal copy.