'Red Clocks', by Leni Zumas.

2 min read.
'Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
'In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.
'Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro's best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or "mender," who brings all their fates together when she's arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.'

This is another book that I read as part of my dissertation prep.Red Clocks follows five different American women as they struggle with the harsh new fertility laws being enforced (sound familiar?). It’s not as extreme or as out-there as The Handmaid’s Tale, but this is where the beauty of the novel lies. The dystopia is not as violent as some of the others published, but rather creates a more plausible and distressing dystopia.

'Mythos', by Stephen Fry.

2 min read.

'The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.
'They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry's hands, the stories of the Titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.
'You'll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia's revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.
'Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry's Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age - in all their rich and deeply human relevance.'

Classical mythology is fascinating, with its many deities responsible for individual aspects of life. Whilst I’m particularly interested in mythology, I didn’t actually know that much about it. Cue Stephen Fry’s Mythos, a wonderful introduction to Greek mythology. Whilst this was a long read, it was definitely worth it in the end.

'The Words That Fly Between Us', by Sarah Carroll.

3 min read
‘Lucy’s father is a successful lawyer making a killing on the property market. She and her mother want for nothing. Nothing, that is, that can be bought.
But money cannot buy Lucy the words she needs. The words to stand up to her bully of a father. The words to inspire her mother to do something about the family life that is suffocating them both. The words to become the person she wants to be.
‘Then Lucy finds something else: An escape route...
‘Soon she discovers that every building on her row is connected, through the attic, to the next. As she explores the inner lives of those who live on her street, Lucy realises that she is not the only one to suffer in silence. She also sees ways she can help some, and ways to punish those that deserve it.
‘But as the mighty fall, Lucy is forced to realise that while she can affect the lives of others from the safety of the attic, she will need to climb down to face her own fears.’

Sometimes, all you need in your life is a middle-grade children’s novel. They’re less intense than adult novels, and typically have a bit less angst than YA. Despite this, the novels also often feature realistic problems that have consequences but presented in a more touching and accessible way. The main target market is children at the end of the day, regardless of who else may pick the book up. This is why I enjoyed The Words that Fly Between Us so much, for its handling of a relatively mature topic in an accessible and child-centric format.

'Vox', by Christina Dalcher.

3 min read.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.
Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.
Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.
For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…
[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

In case you weren’t aware, I’m writing my dissertation on feminist dystopias and the levels of violence within them (if I’m not absolutely sick of the topic by the time I’m done, I might make a blog post on it). As such, I’ve been researching into various dystopias to see which ones fit the research criteria, and have built up a little list that I’m slowly working through. Vox was one of these titles, and I have to say, I haven’t been this disappointed in a dystopia since I read the Divergent series.

There’s going to be spoilers ahead, so be warned!

My thoughts on J.K. Rowling and the Wizarding World

5 min read
I absolutely love the Harry Potter stories, don’t get me wrong. The books are what got me into reading in the first place, even before Jacqueline Wilson started taking over my pocket money. However, I can’t help finding her a bit problematic at the moment, what with the new franchise of the Fantastic Beasts series and her recent comments about the ‘intense sexual relationship’ between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. This is something that I want to explore this week, because I have quite a few opinions on it. Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a long ride…

'Bridget Jones's Diary', by Helen Fielding.

3 min read.

'Bridget Jones's Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.'

Have you met Ms. Jones?

Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of my favourite films, and one I’ll always turn to when I need cheering up. Yes, it’s definitely of its time (Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver is less of a sexy hunk and more on Mr TitspervertFitzherbert levels of creepy in the #MeToo era), but there’s an element of endearing charm to the bumbling Britishness of the characters. And that fight? Gold. Because of how much I love the movie, I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy the novel quite so much…!

'Eats, Shoots & Leaves', Lynn Truss

4 min read

'Now, we all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in e-mail, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species.

'In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.'

Punctuation is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of picking up a non-fiction book. A year ago, it probably wouldn’t have been mine either. However, since learning more about the editorial process and proof-reading, I’ve been encouraged to look into punctuation and syntax in a bit more depth. Plus, it would be quite nice to get Grammarly off my back about my comma usage…

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'Red Clocks', by Leni Zumas.

2 min read. ' Five women. One question. What is a woman for? 'In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again ill...