Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

IMG_9908[1]In one of my last posts you would have seen me raving about Becky Chamber’s debut novel The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet. I actually really love sci-fi but it’s a genre I never seen to pick up as much some as others, so delving into this series has been great for making me remember just how much I enjoy it. This actually worked so well in fact, that I wasted no time in delving straight into Becky Chamber’s second book.

Whilst A Closed and Common Orbit is a sequel of sorts, it doesn’t follow the same central characters that we meet upon the Wayfarer in the first book. Having said that, it does follow two main characters that we were aware of in the first book, shifting the focus here to follow these much more intensely. The novel actually picks up pretty soon after the final events of the first book, with the AI Lovelace having entered her kit and agreed to go off with the engineer Pepper as she acclimatises to her new situation. Lovelace’s exists threatens everything, her new life strictly against the Galaxy laws. If she were discovered it would mean the end, but Pepper is determined to stop this from happening. Pepper understands what it’s like to go against the rules, being born into a slave class created by a rogue society. She will stop at nothing to give Lovelace the start in life she deserves.

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Review: The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

IMG_9907[1]Fantasy and science-fiction are two different genres that we see grouped together quite a lot in the literary world. It’s easy to see why, as they share many similar elements and ideas despite their differences. Anyone who reads my blog or follows my Instagram page will know by now that I’m a massive fantasy lover, but what you may not see is that I’m also a huge fan of science-fiction. For some reason I always seem to end up reading a lot more fantasy, but this is something I want to try and improve on. With that goal in mind I was really excited to start The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

This is Becky’s first novel, and I remember seeing it get a lot of praise on BookTube a few years ago. The novel opens with the character Rosemary Harper joining the crew of a ship that looks like it’s seen better days. She isn’t expecting much, but it’s a chance for her to escape her past whilst roaming the galaxy as part of the crew. What she doesn’t realise is that whilst the Wayfarer indeed looks somewhat chaotic, life on board can be just the same. With an array of species and personalities working together it’s a miracle that peace can exist. That is, until the crew are offered the chance to work the job of a lifetime; the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distance planet. If they can navigate the long trip through war-torn space, as well as pull off the high risk job, they’ll have hit the big time, but nothing is easy in a world still at war with each other.

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Review: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

IMG_9820[1]I love literary prizes, The Man Booker and The Women’s prize for Fiction being particular favourites of mine. Even so, there are still a fair few winners of these prizes which I’ve yet to get around to reading. I try not to put pressure on myself to read certain things but it does always irk me somewhat that these books have been chosen out of many other fabulous books for their quality, and I still haven’t read them! I find quite often each year that if I’m trying to read the entire longlist I often run out of steam, which means that by the time the winner is announced I’m normally ready for a literary prize break!

On the plus side it does mean that sometimes I’m left with great prize winning books on my shelf to look forward to still. Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was one such book I was eager to read. Winning the Man Booker Prize in 2016, The Sellout wasn’t initially one of the books I was most drawn to from the entire longlist, and it seemed to split people’s opinions quite a lot. It follows our male protagonist who was born and raised in Dickens, an ‘agrarian ghetto’ on the outskirts of LA. Out narrator was brought up by a father whose studies in psychology and racism led to an extremely unconventional childhood. When his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he sets out to reclaim his hometown of Dickens, for Dickens has been wiped off the maps to save LA the embarrassment of such a place. What follows is the narrators attempts to put Dickens back on the map, with the rather crazy outcome of reinstating slavery and segregation.

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Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

IMG_9661[1]Sometimes I just get a real craving for a certain kind of read. Last week I was after the cosy familiarity of a great classic piece of literature. This week I was craving some really good quality YA fiction. I do really enjoy YA but sometimes I feel that I’ve outgrown it a bit and I don’t pick it up as much. Having said that the YA market is booming at the moment and there are some really great reads to be had, so I still enjoying dipping into the genre as much as I can.

I recently went and bought myself a copy of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This came out last year and was a massive hit across the different bookish communities, providing a really relevant exploration of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.  It’s had such an impact that the film adaptation is actually coming out soon so I knew I had to get to it before then.

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Review: Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

IMG_9646[1]As soon as the weather gets colder I begin to crave everything that is comfy and cosy. Thick woolly jumpers, warm stodgy food, and of course, a truly cosy read. For me personally a cosy read is usually something dark and Gothic (a bit strange I know), or a classic novel that I can get completely lost in. As it’s not quite cold enough yet I wasn’t completely in the mood for a darker read, but I was most definitely eager to tick another classic off my TBR. With the recent TV adaptation of Vanity Fair my choice seemed fairly easy!

Vanity Fair is of course written by the famous William Makepeace Thackeray, and in all honesty it is an absolute beast of a book! I read the Penguin English Library edition which came in at just under 900 pages, so this is definitely not one for the faint hearted!

Set against the backdrop of nineteenth century Europe and the Napoleonic War, Vanity Fair focuses primarily on the character of two school friends as they make their way into society. Firstly we have Amelia Sedley, a friendly if somewhat naive young woman with all of the advantages which her father’s wealth can bring. The novel then contrasts with the figure of Becky Sharp, a cunning and ambitious woman with no wealthy relatives to aid her progression in society. Across the novel we follow both of these women and the friends they make as they work their way through society, with everything from love, betrayal scandal and social climbing to contest with.

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Review: Dogs of Courage by Clare Campbell

IMG_9624[1]I’ve read and reviewed a fair few dog related books in my time, with the non-fiction genre which focuses quite specifically upon service and military dogs being a particular favourite of mine. I’m dog obsessed, and although its often an emotional reading experience I still love delving into real tales of dog heroics and the sheer amazing talents and heart that dogs have. They’re such faithful and courageous creatures, and I feel that books such as this really go a long way to highlighting their importance in our lives.

My mum actually bought me one such book for Christmas last year, and fancying something a bit different to the usual fiction I’ve been reading, I decided to pick this one up. Written by Clare Campbell, Dogs of Courage: When Britain’s Pets Went to War 1939-45, does exactly what the title suggests. Throughout this book we learn not only what different dogs did in the war, but how they actually become involved in it in the first place, documenting the vast difficulties and obstacles they had to overcome along the way. This is not just a book describing the heroics of dogs picked up along the way of the war, but the untold story of the multitude of family pets which were sent to do their bit for the war effort too.

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