Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

IMG_9129[1]Last summer (or maybe even the year before that) Emma Cline’s novel The Girls was a massive hit on BookTube. Everyone seemed to be talking about it or hauling it on their channels, and the general consensus was a rapid need to read it. I could understand why; a lot of people are still massively fascinated by the Charles Manson murders of the 1960’s and this book is essentially a fictionalised account of that time. The Manson family was a commune and a cult, with Charles their leader influencing the other members into an unconventional lifestyle which resulted in brutal violence. From the outside in it is not only horrifically disturbing but also fascinating to consider just how this might have happened. As soon as I realised the book was focused upon this I knew I had to read it . . . even if it did take me a little while to pick it up!

Obviously this is very much a work of fiction, with different names and probably a much different plot line added to make the story work from a fictional point of view. There’s a lot the author wouldn’t know, thereby creating the need for any added elements or differences in her book compared to reality. Essentially however the main crux of the novel centres upon the events surrounding the Manson family. The book follows Evie Boyd, a fourteen year old girl with a somewhat fractured family life who is desperate to be noticed. She’s empty; eager to fill the summer days which stretch endlessly ahead with no clue how to go about her life. That is, until she sees the girls, each of them somewhat shabby looking, yet their power and influence irresistible. Unable to stop herself, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch they call home. It’s here she meets Russell, a much older man who seems to represent an entirely different, much freer way of life. But some things can’t be forgotten, and the events of that fateful summer will stay with Evie for the rest of her life.

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Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

IMG_9049[1]After a short little hiatus in which I was manically making preparations for my engagement party, I’m finally back with another book review today! This time it’s the turn of Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, which is the latest shortlisted Women’s Prize for Fiction book I’ve picked up. I have to be honest when I say that this was one of the books I probably knew the least about, and in all honesty I had no clear ideas of what directions this book would take. On the other hand, the snippets I had heard about the plot, involving ghosts and prisons, had me truly intrigued and hopeful.

Sing, Unburied, Sing follows our main protagonist Jojo. Jojo is a thirteen year old boy living in a poor, somewhat broken family, in rural Mississippi. His relationship with his parents is complicated, made all the more difficult because of their dependence on drugs.  With neither of them truly able to offer Jojo the support he needs he forms the tightest of bonds with both his grandfather and his grandmother, becoming a parent in turn to his toddler sister. When his mother bundles Jojo and his younger sister into the back of the car with her drug addicted friend, Jojo is understandably reluctant, especially for the reason why; they are going to pick up their father, Michael, who has just been released from prison. What follows through this journey is a rich tale of familial bonds, as each character struggles to face both the past and the present.

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Review: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

IMG_9003[1]Today’s post marks the halfway point in my goal to read all of the books shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. I’ve already read and reviewed The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, which I loved, and When I Hit You, which I wasn’t so much a fan of. As you can see from these two reviews, my reading so far has reached quite opposite ends of the spectrum. This meant that I was quite unsure when I picked the next book up what could lie in wait for me. I has heard such great things about When I Hit You that I was concerned another book which has achieved similar praise might also be a disappointment.

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Pieminister, Cardiff

IMG_8935[1]Everyone loves a good pie, right? I’m pretty sure that there’s some sort of prerequisite that in order to be deemed a true Brit you have to declare your love of hearty pies at some point in your life. And if, as I suspect, you do love a good pie (with the obligatory side of mash and gravy), then surely a food venue with the rather pun filled name of ‘Pieminister’ is going to appeal to your appetite? It certainly appeals to mine at any rate, and when Pieminister very kindly asked me if I would like to come in and have a pie as well as sample their new soft scoop ice creams, I was more than eager to comply.


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Review: Sherlock Holmes Short Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (Penguin English Library)

IMG_8990[1]I can still remember the first time I read something featuring Sherlock Holmes. It was The Hound of the Baskervilles; a small hardback copy which had actually come free with one of the newspapers courtesy of my dad. At this time I was still fairly young and the majority of Arthur Conan Doyle’s words might have gone over my head. Even so, the increasing mystery of a deadly dog was enough to excite my canine loving self into devouring the book in a flash. Since then I’ve shared the similar literary passion of many other book lovers by being completely immersed in the world of Holmes and Watson. The books offer me a sense of nostalgia, a place of comfort in which I can retreat into the world of crimes and logic amidst the Victorian backdrop I enjoy so much.

Although I love Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing and his iconic detective, I was painfully aware that I still hadn’t actually read many of the vast short stories available to us. Of course the short stories formed an essential part of the contextual fandom first surrounding Holmes. Appearing in magazines, these short stories were always a condensed but thrilling study of a case which Holmes has undertaken. Like the novels they left the audience craving more, and came with the added benefit of being easier and quicker for the author to write. Even if he did eventually tire of his detective and try to kill him off, these stories are written with great care and skill and it’s amazing to be able to return time and time again to some of our favourite characters.

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Top Ten Tips If You Can’t Afford a Holiday Abroad

IMG_6367Let’s be honest – most of us crave a holiday at some point. Whether you’re after a siesta on the beach with a questionably named cocktail in hand, or a thrill seeking excursion across mountainous terrain; whatever your particular craving, we all deserve to get away at some point. Of course, saying this is all well and good, but what happens when your holiday of choice means a trip abroad which you really can’t afford? I’m currently facing the dilemma of furiously saving for both a house and a wedding; a double financial nightmare. As many of you will know, it’s bloody hard, and sometimes you just don’t feel that you can justify the added expense of a holiday.

Despite changing attitudes, we still live in a materialistic society which often views travel as a luxury item, even when the opposite couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s no wonder that the thought of spending valuable potential savings on something which you might not class as a necessity can become an extremely guilt ridden thought. But what can you do if you still crave that insatiable holiday feeling? What happens if you can’t get the thought of travel out of your mind? I might not be able to miraculously increase your bank balance, but I have compiled a list of ten different options which I hope might ease your travel ache in some way or another. If you crave a holiday abroad but can’t afford it right now, then please read on!

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