The Supreme Lie

I was lucky enough to request and be approved to read this on netgalley in exchange for an honest (but late – sorry!) review. All views and opinions are my own.

The Supreme Lie by Geraldine McCaughrean, cover art by Leo Nickolls, interior art by Keith Robinson, published by Usborne

I had high hopes for this after loving Geraldine McCaughrean’s Where the World Ends and, while WTWE is still my favourite, this certainly lived up to expectations; I loved the darkness of WTWE but for those who may have found it a little too dark, this provides a little more light relief and hope to balance out its heavier themes and events.

When a catastrophic flood hits Afalia and the Suprema (their Head of State) secretly flees, her maid Gloria is forced to step in and pretend to be her in order to cover it up.

With rising water levels, impossible choices deceitful politicians and an unhappy public, Gloria and Timor (the Suprema’s husband) must make some difficult and dangerous decisions which sees thousands of lives (their own included) at risk.

I loved the characters in this – they were without doubt its strongest feature for me. Gloria herself was a brilliant, believable main character who you couldn’t fail to empathise with and warm to. Her naivety and optimism were her strengths and a perfect tonic to the lies and treachery all around her.

The rest of the cast were fantastic too (I especially liked Timor) and the twists and doubts surrounding their actions, motives and intentions were very clever, with some truly despicable, though all too believable and familiar, villains.

Running alongside Gloria’s narrative is that of Clem, or more accurately Clem’s dog Heinz. Clem lives outside the capital; cut off and flooded out his family flee but are separated from his beloved dog Heinz, who we follow on his journey through the floodwater to reunite with his boy.

This was a really effective way of highlighting the damage and devastation caused by the freak rain and flooding, to both communities and to the natural world, which was so hard to read without a worrying air of ‘that could be us’ hanging over it.

Likewise, it served also to show the way those outside the capital were pretty much abandoned to their fates and left to look out for themselves (and each other). I won’t say much more here for risk of spoilers but the Rosies and were wonderful to read!

This was also a great way to provide that aforementioned light to balance out the dark. The use of both Clem’s dog, Heinz and Gloria’s dog, Daisy, was a great way to inject some hope, comfort and loyalty into a book otherwise filled with despair, discomfort and deception.

And their relationships with the children in the story was a heart-warming thing. Dog lovers everywhere will feel this in their hearts.

The use of newspaper reports throughout raised the very topical issue of ‘fake news’ and cleverly highlighted the way political agendas, and politicians themselves, can manipulate and manufacture what the public see and hear for their own gains or plans.

I loved the twist in the newspaper tale and the daily anagrams, and Keith Robinson has done a fantastic job of illustrating these articles, which feel real and perfectly in keeping with the rest of the book. They are a brilliant addition to the story.

Dark and darkly funny too, this is a sharp and witty social and political commentary that I thoroughly enjoyed – “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” has never felt so true or so timely.

The Fountains of Silence

I was so thrilled to be offered a free copy of this to review. All views and opinions are my own.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Let me preface this review with a warning – this was one of those books I utterly loved, so apologies in advance for fangirling, waxing lyrical and/or going off on personal tangents. I will try to rein it in.

But if it really is a case of TLDR, ultimately my message here is this – you must read this book. Historical, heartbreaking and hopeful it is a story of love, loss and loyalty; of secrets, of strength and of silence.

For those of you prepared to wade in with me, I hope I can do some justice to this fantastic book…

I read Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea in 2017, when it won the Carnegie medal, and it blew me away. So when I was offered the chance to read her most recent book (also on the Carnegie longlist this year) and take part in this blog tour for it, I absolutely jumped at the chance.

Fountains of Silence is set in Madrid,1957. The Spanish Civil War is over, but Franco’s dictatorship most certainly is not.

After twenty years almost entirely cut off from other nations, Spain is just beginning to reopen its doors to outsiders, notably Americans with money. The Hilton Castellana opens, formerly a palace and now the place to be for travelling businessmen, politicians, musicians and stars.

But just beyond the parties, cocktails, glamour and wealth lies a Spain devastated by the fascist regime.
Poverty reigns. Women are powerless – no passports, no property, no bank accounts, no say. Republican ‘reds’, or more likely their left-behind children, live in silence, desperation and fear.

And from these two worlds come our main characters, Daniel – son of a wealthy Texan oil tycoon, and Ana – a maid at the Hilton whose family feel the effects of the civil war and Franco’s regime daily.

However, rather than focusing solely on their narratives, Ruta skilfully uses multiple perspectives to bring together the stories of those around Ana and Daniel too, thereby delivering a much broader, deeper and more complex view of the experiences and difficulties faced by the many different people caught up in Franco’s regime.

I loved the characters in this (even poor misunderstood Nick, who I really didn’t like much at first but really warmed to and who became one of my favourites by the end!) I rooted for them so deeply.

Their stories are so cleverly and effectively woven together, and I loved how it was predominantly through their interactions and encounters that we really saw the stark contrast between life for Daniel and for Ana and her family.

Daniel’s misjudged trip to Ana’s home in Vallecas, for example is one of my standout moments in the book. It has stuck with me so intensely since reading and I continue to think about it for so many reasons; because of Daniel’s doing the unthinkable and turning up there with his gifts of expensive wine and chocolates, but primarily for the portrait it painted of Vallecas itself and the people who lived there.

It felt so real; I felt like I was there, seeing it firsthand. Indeed, this is true of the book as a whole, and one of my favourite things about it was the use of Daniel’s photography to tell the story. I’ve always loved photography as an art form and I’m a sucker for a photo exhibition, so this worked so well for me.

(On a personal level, it also took me back to my days in Madrid, when, almost crippled with social anxiety and rarely leaving my flat if it meant going alone, I would spend nearly an entire day psyching myself up to go out to an exhibition. It was always photography that would get me there.)

Some of the shots he takes are so powerful – the nun, the Crows, his father… – and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Robert Capa, who is indeed referenced in the book. The images felt so vividly painted, and when Ana adds captions to them this only adds to their impact (and even more so the way in which she does this and the events that follow). I could see them, taped up on that hotel wall as clearly as if I’d walked round them in exhibition.

The setting and Ruta’s ability to take us there, is second to none. I was absolutely transported.

I was lucky enough to listen to Ruta talk about her writing, and she talks of trying to visit the places she’s writing about, to get a feel for them, and this really comes across.

I lived in Madrid for three years and, despite being set many decades earlier, this really took me back there – the shutters going down for siesta, the streets and the places and their feel, the food, the lives, the culture… Immersive, evocative and, for me personally, very nostalgic too.

As well as the places themselves, Ruta also talked about the many artefacts she used to help recreate that time and place, and the sheer joy she conveyed as she talked about the items and artefacts she’d found in her research for this was nothing short of infectious.

“… because I have the items…I can touch them and feel them, hopefully I can describe them in a way to readers that is more of a sensory experience…you want to immerse the reader…”

Ruta Sepetys

And immersive it is. It’s not always an easy read, as it confronts the suffering of the Spanish people then – the barbaric homes for orphaned republican children, the oppression, the empty coffins and stolen babies, the sheer imbalance of power, the censorship, the fear and the secrets – but it does feel incredibly authentic.

And the complex and believable characters and the way we see Spain through their eyes had a lot to do with that. From loyal and obedient Puri as she begins to question what she’s bought into for so long, to hardened Fuga furious at the secret he uncovers and the suffering around him, to Ana’s feelings of fear and being caged, limited, trapped.

When I heard Ruta speak, she talked of the people she’d met during her research, both incidentally and as part of her interviews, and I think this comes across so strongly in the book.

In the main characters, yes, but equally in the absolutely stellar supporting cast and in those we pass just briefly – the girl with no shoes or the old lady in Vallecas, Lorenza, the crowd at the amateur bull fight (and indeed in Fuga himself), Paco Lobo and Buttons (two of my favourite characters, despite being ‘bit parts’ – I loved hearing on the zoom call where Buttons had come from, and I would love to see Paco Lobo heading up a book of his own!)

It’s safe to say this isn’t an easy book at times, there is great hardship, great sadness and great suffering here. But there is also great community, great hope and great resilience.

Full of grit and courage, this is a powerful and moving story, helping to bring to light some of the very real stories which for so long were shrouded in silence. I can’t recommend it enough.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour too!

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own, and I have since bought a finished copy too.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley

I loved The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley’s first novel, and Bedlam Stacks, which was her second – a standalone that nevertheless ‘overlaps’ somewhat with Filigree Street in a rather pleasing way – so I was incredibly excited about a sequel to Watchmaker, but would it deliver?

In short, yes! If you enjoyed Watchmaker you must read this (and if you haven’t read Watchmaker stop now and go and read that first!)

We return to Thaniel, Mori and Six a few years after we left them, this time as they embark on a journey to Japan; Thaniel for work and health reasons and Mori to finish something he started decades earlier…

I loved seeing Mori’s home and the way the Japanese setting affected our characters. As with Natasha’s previous books, her love and knowledge of the country, its history and culture are clear and give us an immersive sense of time and place.

I must admit that after the somewhat softly spoken, almost genteel feel of Watchmaker I found the harsher, cruder tone a bit surprising and hard to get into at first, but I soon did and it soon felt much more appropriate for the story too. I also found the author’s note on the language and her choice of and use of it very interesting.

Likewise, I struggled to see Thaniel as a big man, a boxer as that’s not at all how I’d imagined him in Watchmaker, but I soon grew into this ‘new’ Thaniel and it worked very well.

Mori might just be one of my favourite ever fictional characters and here he is as enigmatic and magnetic as ever. I thought the way that despite thinking I trusted him absolutely and feeling such warmth towards him, we’re still led to doubt and second guess him, and by extension our own judgement. It’s so cleverly written.

There’s some new characters too who are brought to life just as well, evoking a host of different reactions and feelings between them. From the power-hungry Kuroda to the ruthless Tanaka to the complex, strong and determined Takiko Pepperharrow.

I will struggle to say much about anything without either giving away huge spoilers or just sounding confusing, but it is brilliantly sprawling and intricately woven, as one would expect if you’re already familiar with Mori.

Seemingly unconnected, insignificant or minor events come together to create a puzzle which only reveals itself once all its pieces are in place.

Bringing together folklore, superstition and an air of the supernatural in a rich, historical tale of power, love and destiny, this is an outstanding sequel and joins The Watchmaker of Filigree Street as one of my favourite books.

Gingerbread

I requested and received an advance copy of this free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

Ever since I read ‘Boy, Snow, Bird’ a few years ago I’ve been a huge fan of Helen Oyeyemi’s books, so when I saw this was coming out I was VERY excited!

And when this beautiful book arrived in the post (the cover is by Neil Lang and I think it’s stunning) I was itching to get going with it!

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories…Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.

As many of you will know, I’m not the quickest reader at the best of times and even slower since trying to fit it in around Peapod, so despite my enthusiasm and best efforts it took me an age to finish! But it was worth the long journey…

…and a journey it was – from modern day life through fairytale farms in non-existent countries, through ‘looking-glass’ cities with dark, gingerbread underbellies, and back to the familiar, albeit slightly warped!

This book is impossible to pin down and almost as hard to describe.

It’s a family saga but not like any you’ve ever read before, with an extremely eclectic cast.

It’s sort of magical realism but it’s a very matter of fact magic, if indeed it’s magic at all.

It’s a sharply observed commentary on society, politics, prejudice, feminism, class and more…But one that’s hidden in talking dolls, changelings in wells and not-haunted houses.

It’s like Margaret Astwood collided with Haruki Murakami in a fairytale world.

Deftly written with a lyrical beauty that’s laced through with a sharp wit, this book demonstrates a detailed knowledge, and love of, fairytales and their tropes as well as a shrewd understanding of people – of cliques, of types, of behaviours and, especially, of women and families.

I can’t lie, it’s not an easy read. There’s often a complaint that books don’t flow; if anything this flows so freely that it takes a bit of concentration to try and follow its weird and winding ways.

That said, I was snatching a page or two here and there where I could – I think if I could have read it in larger chunks, I would have followed much easier.

So if I have one piece of advice in regards to this book it is – Read It. But read it when you have time to really read it – lose yourself in it, allow yourself to luxuriate in it, indulge.

WWW Wednesday 3/4/19

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday’:

What are you currently reading?

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

I mentioned last week how I’d chosen to read the e-book of this (from the library) on my phone so I can read in bed without waking Peapod!

It’s been a perfect choice for these overnight reading and feeding sessions. It’s fairly short (I should finish it in the next couple of nights, if not overnight tonight) and an easy read that maybe won’t be in any of my ‘Top….’ lists but is nevertheless very, very enjoyable.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling, read by Stephen Fry.

I’m still really enjoying the Harry Potter audiobooks and this is one of my favourite books in the series. Mostly because it makes me so angry (Dolores Umbridge especially, but Cornelius Fudge and Percy Weasley, I am also looking at you!) but also because of The Order itself which is filled with some of the best people. (How under-rated is Lupin in the series?!)

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

I feel so lucky to have been sent a proof of this, I have been looking forward to it for ages having read her books and, though I’m only a chapter in, it is well and truly living up to expectations! Magical!

I’ve got the proof version, but the real cover (designed by Carrie May and Jenny Richards) was revealed on twitter last week and it’s stunning. I’m a big fan of a map in a book and this has that feel on the cover.

As an Abi Elphinstone aside, I found out this week that she has a picture book coming out in late October too! How flipping exciting!

What have you just finished reading?

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi.

I don’t even know where to begin trying to talk about this book! It was fantastic, in both senses of the word. I’ll be reviewing it (as best I can!) this week or next, in the meantime I’ll leave you with the knowledge that it was excellent but with the advisory note to redd it in big chunks if you csn – it’s much easier to follow than if you’re only managing little snippets at a time!

What are you planning on reading next?

I’ll definitely be continuing with Harry Potter on audio. I’ll be starting Half Blood Prince this week.

I’m going to read the next Apprentice Witch book – A Witch Alone – as an overnight ebook too!

It’ll be a while before I finish Rumblestar, so I don’t know what physical book will be next. I have an absolute stack to get through! Scavengers by Darren Simpson and the final installment in Alice Broadway’s Ink Trilogy, Scar, are both hig on the list though.

Having finished Gingerbread, I’d also really like to find time (hahaha, I know!) to read some of the adult fiction titles sat patiently waiting on my shelf too, but I have no idea yet how I’ll manage this!

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

WWW Wednesday 20/2/19

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday’:

What are you currently reading?

Monsters by Sharon Dogar.

I’m still chipping away at Monsters. I have mixed feelings on this one but I definitely want to see it through to the end.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling, read by Stephen Fry.

I’m nearing the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on audiobooks too…which is disastrous as Prisoner of Azkaban isn’t available for another 2 weeks…! As you can tell. I’m still really enjoying these!

What have you just finished reading?

Flights of Fancy – Children’s Laureates

I thought this was a lovely book – perfect for aspiring writers, illustrators, creatives everywhere. I’ll post a full review this week.

Little Bird Flies by Karen McCombie

Amy at Golden Books Girl recommended this and I’m so pleased she did as I might not have picked it up otherwise and I loved it. With a remote, rural, historical setting it felt do well rooted and it was such a joy to read – I really liked the writing style. I’ll be reviewing it soon.

What are you planning on reading next?

I’ll definitely be listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as soon as its available. In the meantime I might give something else a go but I’m not sure what yet…

I’m just about to start The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis too which I have high hopes for.

Have you read any of the books here?

What are you reading at the moment?

Mini Monday – a YA double bill

I requested and received advance copies of both books free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

This month I’ve read two YA books, both by authors whose debuts I read and loved last year, so I was very lucky and very excited to get early copies of both of these.

Both of these books not only take on some serious and relevant issues, but also give a voice to what have traditionally been (and continue to be, although it may be improving) under-represented members of society: a British-Pakistani teen and a young black American girl.

Up first:

Kick the Moon by Muhammad Khan. Illustrated by Amrit Bird. Cover design by Rachel Vale.

I thought Khan’s debut I Am Thunder last year was brilliant – well-written, ground-breaking in the way it looked at radicalisation and with huge contemporary YA appeal – so I was eagerly anticipating this one too.

Fifteen-year-old Ilyas is under pressure from everyone: GCSE’s are looming, his dad wants him to join the family business while he dreams of designing comic books, and he’s becoming increasingly unsure of the direction his group of mates is taking.

Serving detention one day, Ilyas finds a kindred spirit in Kelly, but when Kelly is caught up in his gang’s toxic bet, Ilyas must decide where his loyalties lie.

While I didn’t feel this broke the mould in the same way I Am Thunder did, it nevertheless tackles some difficult and important subjects – racism, revenge porn, gangs, bullying and peer-pressure not to mention culture, family and friendship – and it does so with sensitivity, awareness and realism.

Similarly, when I first started reading the book, it felt like there were a lot of stereotypes at play. However, as I read on, they felt necessary, believable and, perhaps most importantly, familiar.

There’s a lot in this book teens will recognise and all of it feels well-described, with voices that sound natural and real, not forced or too ‘adult’. There is a lot of slang used in the dialogue and this feels carefully considered, well-researched and integral to the characters and the story which just would not have the same effect without the characters speaking as they really would.

Immensely relatable, my heart went out to Ilyas as he struggled with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, but it also cheered as he found the courage to stand up for what he believed in and grew in confidence.

This is a book which really understands how hard it can be to find yourself trapped in a bad situation and how it can be even harder to get out of it again. The increasing desperation came across powerfully and will be so familiar to so many. It shows how confusing and difficult teenage years can be as you try to find your way, your goals, your ‘people’ and of course yourself.

A story of hope, change and self-belief: I really enjoyed this and it deserves to be a big hit with contemporary YA fans.

And next…

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. Cover design by Tim Marrs.

Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it – she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

The Hate U Give was one of my favourite books of last year – powerful, hard-hitting and brutally honest, it was truly something else.

On The Come Up returns to ‘The Garden’ (Garden Heights) where THUG was set and – while it isn’t a sequel and reads perfectly well as a stand-alone book – there is much overlap, with events from THUG seeing their consequences reaching into On The Come Up.

As with ‘Kick the Moon’, this didn’t feel quite so ground-breaking as THUG, but still tackles some very important issues – racism, poverty, class, misrepresentation, drugs and gang affiliation – in a compassionate but unsentimental way which very much holds a mirror up to certain aspects of society and the media.

Angie Thomas is an incredible writer – her characters feel real and complex, their relationships and lives the same. Bri’s mum in particular struck a chord with me, while the changing dynamics of Bri and her best friends’ relationships will no doubt hit home for many readers.

Bri herself is incredibly likeable – and if you’ve read THUG and liked Starr, you’ll love Bri just as much if not more: fiercely determined, stretching her wings and aiming for the sky, she is a character with big dreams, plenty of hope and just as much fire…which, whether rightly or wrongly, can lead to trouble.

It was near impossible for me to like this as much as I did THUG, but it was still brilliant and readers from all backgrounds will find both things they relate to and other things which open their eyes or make them pause for thought. It is a book brimming with friendship, love, hip hop and hope!

New Year’s Resolutions Book Tag

I often read tags like this and think they’d be fun to do but never do them, so they’ll be sporadic but as and when I can I’ll be throwing them into the mix!

Today’s is taken from Golden Books Girl, Amy – you can see her answers here!


1. An Author You’d Like To Read That You’ve Never Read

So many! There are a lot of authors/books I feel I should have read but haven’t – this is a big reason I’m going to try and read more classics this year! From a recent conversation though, I’ll say MG Leonard.

2. A New Book You’d Like To Read

There’s lots of books out this year I’m excited for – the new Five Realms (Podkin) book by Kieran Larwood, the second Wild Folk book by Sylvia Linsteadt for starters. New Jess Butterworth and Abi Elphinstone…

But the book I’m most excited about is Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen! (You can read my thoughts on the first two books in the trilogy here).

3. A Classic You’d Like To Read

One of my reading goals this year is to read more classics, both adult and children’s (I’m looking forward to the children’s more!).

I have the new Lauren Child illustrated Mary Poppins so I think I’ll start with that. I also have Patrick Ness’ ‘And The Ocean Was Our Sky’ which is a new take on Moby Dick, so I’d quite like to read the two together.

4. A Book You’d Like To Re-Read

I’ve been meaning to re-read the Harry Potter books for AGES! So those! I’d like to re-read Discworld (and read those I’ve not read) too – I can’t see that happening this year, but who knows!

5. A Book You’ve Had For Ages and Want To Read

So many! The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden or Alice by Christina Henry maybe. Or, I haven’t had it for ages but Marcus Zusak’s Bridge of Clay has been on the shelf for longer than I’d have liked.

6. A Big Book You’d Like To Read

Hmm. I’m not sure about this one. Can I say Bridge of Clay twice?! Or I have Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Labyrinth of the Spirits waiting too.

7. An Author You’ve Previously Read and Would Like To Read More Of

I’d like to read the rest of the Murder Most Unladylike Series by Robin Stevens, as well as the Emma Carroll books I’ve not yet read.

8. A Book You Got For Christmas and Would Like To Read

I didn’t get any 😭😭 No one wants to buy a bookseller books! I do have some book vouchers to spend though – I’ll be getting a hardback set of Harry Potter.

9. A Series You Want To Read From Start to Finish

Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows or Shadow and Bone. I read her fairytale collection ‘The Language of Thorns’ and loved it but haven’t read her novels yet.

10. A Series You Want To Finish That You’ve Already Started

The Ink trilogy by Alice Broadway.

11. Do You Set Reading Goals? If So, How Many Books Do You Want To Read in 2018?

Yes, although I don’t get too worked up about meeting them – it’s always nice to reach my target but I won’t binge or speed read to do it. Ultimately, I’d rather enjoy a book than rush through it. This year I’m hoping for at least 75. I’d like to reach 100 but we’ll see!

12. Any Other Reading Goals?

You can read my post on this year’s reading goals here.

Have you read or are you looking forward to reading any of the same books as me? What are you hoping to read this year?

Six for Sunday: Books I Wish I’d Had As a Teen

Six for Sunday is hosted by Steph at A Little But A Lot. She gives a prompt for a list of six books each Sunday – the list can be found here. This week it’s

Books You Wish You’d Had as a Teen

I’m really interested to see what others come up with for this. I’ve struggled with it; I honestly can’t think of any books I’ve read as an adult that I wish I’d read as a teen – maybe I’ve just forgotten when I have thought this or maybe it’s because it feels so long ago!

Either way, I’ve decided to pick 3 books I’ve read as an adult that I think teen me would have liked and 3 books I’ve not yet read that I think both teen and adult me would/will like.

I’d probably also squeeze in a music biography of some sort too, but I’m not sure which. Any recommendations?!

First, the three I’ve read:

Clean – Juno Dawson

The Bees – Lalline Paul

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

And for the 3 I haven’t:

Vox – Christina Dalcher

Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman

Alice – Christina Henry

Interestingly, there’s not many actual YA books on here. I wonder if that’s because it wasn’t a big thing when I was younger and I mostly read adult fiction? Or whether it’s because of children’s, YA and adult books that I read now, YA is still what I read least… I’m not sure!

Have you read any of my choices? What do you think?

Have you taken part in #SixforSunday too? Leave me a link to your list!

 

The Restless Girls

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When I was younger, Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of my favourite stories. Something about the midnight trips out, the worn out shoes, the boats to magical forests and dancing maybe.

As a huge fan of Jessie Burton’s adult novels ‘The Miniaturist’ and ‘The Muse’, I was very excited to hear she was writing a modern version of this.

Especially since I revisited it myself last year as part of some artwork, and was struck by how little autonomy the Princesses have.

Twelve Dancing Princesses

And it is this lack of autonomy, and the sexism that dominates traditional fairytale kingdoms, that is put right in The Restless Girls.

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There’s a real energy and spark to both the girls and the story – with some fantastically impossible events (a dance hosted by a lioness and a peacock with a wild animal band for starters) alongside some fantastically important ones – namely the girls being in charge of their own choices and futures, and being a force for change in those around them too.

Rather than just stumbling across the party in the woods, the girls use their skills, talents and knowledge to find it – each demonstrating their unique personality and strengths, from science to languages to sports.

There is an inspiring sense of determination and loyalty in the sisters and their relationship with each other is portrayed with warmth and understanding; youngest sister Agnes is described affectionately as “their little walking popcorn” which I loved!

It is little phrases and details like this which I really enjoyed in the book – adding depth at times (“The dark was simply the beginning of new things. The dark was necessary.”) and humour at others (the excuses they found for the holes in their shoes are brilliant and there’s a perfectly placed “It’s bloody freezing!” which made me smile too.)

Truly a fairytale for modern times, this keeps all the magic of the original, with midnight feasting and dancing in glittering forests, but throws in a large helping of adventure, independence and resourcefulness too.

Wonderfully detailed illustrations from Angela Barrett complete the package and make this a stunning book to give, gift and keep!