Review: Victorians Undone by Kathryn Hughes

DNVX0212[1]I’ve been on a bit of classics hype over the last few weeks, rediscovering some authors I’d previously had a bit of a rockier relationship with, and realising that I do actually enjoy some of their works. If you’ve seen either my Ethan Frome post or my Silas Mariner post then you’ll know what I’m talking about, but if you haven’ t, let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised! Delving back into, not only classics, but also the Victorian period (which is my favourite!) was completely refreshing, and having finished both of the above books I was craving something a bit more focused on the historical aspect. That’s where Kathryn Hughes’s Victorians Undone came into play.

Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, is actually a non-fiction book, something I’m trying to make more of an effort to read. The premise is fairly straightforward and has an interesting concept; through five different Victorian body parts Kathryn attempts to not only look at what their owners lives were like, but also what it was like to be them, as well as calling into play the society they lived among. I was pretty instantly sold on the entire idea and loved the thought of discovering the Victorian in a slightly different way, so it was a fairly easy decision to pick this as my next read. Continue reading

Best Books of 2018!

img_0266[1]So I’m not getting this post up quite as soon as I would have liked, but it’s still one that I was determined to do.  I love seeing or hearing what people’s best books of the year were, often discovering many new reads that immediately make their way to my TBR. Knowing that they’ve stood the test of time against many other books always reassures me that there must be something worth discovering inside their pages. Plus its always very refreshing and exciting at the start of a new year to reflect back upon the reading year as a whole.

With all of the above in mind, I’m really excited today to be able to share my top ten books that I read in 2018! Narrowing it down is always hard, but I’m confident that the books I’ve selected are all worthy contenders that I not only thoroughly enjoyed reading, but have also stayed firmly in my mind months after finishing them! I also want to stress that these are placed in the order that I originally read them in, as having to further rank these ten was just too difficult of a task!

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Review: Witches; James I and the English Witch Hunts by Tracy Borman

IMG_0218[1]It’s no secret that my favourite period of history is the Victorian one, closely followed by that of the Tudors. I’ve read quite a lot already surrounding these times, in both fictional and non-fiction books. Even so, I still like to read as widely as possible, and as an all round history buff I’m always eager to learn more about our history in general. One of the periods that I’ve come to learn much more about lately, and to find equally as fascinating, is that of the Jacobean period. King James VI was already the ruling monarch of Scotland, but this man also became King James I of England after inheriting the throne from Queen Elizabeth I (the last of the Tudor monarchy).

King James’s reign was an extremely eventful one, mostly because of the legacy of religious uncertainty initially started by Henry VIII when deciding to break from Rome and the Catholic faith. We’re all heard of Guy Fawkes, and hopefully we understand the meaning behind the Gunpowder plot and its aims. Yet as fascinating as this infamous event is, there is another event which King James has also become synonymous with; witch hunting. I find the idea of the persecution of normal people under the charge of witchcraft equally fascinating and disturbing, so when I saw that Tracy Borman had previously written a non-fiction book about this I was incredibly excited.

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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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Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

IMG_9560[1]Medical non-fiction books, often written by doctors and nurses, have seen a big rise in popularity as of late, with good reason. They offer a fascinating insight into a world which many of us try to stay pretty clear from, giving us both the passion and the heartbreak which walks hand in hand in a medical environment. Whilst there are many of these non-fiction books available right now, I think it’s fair to say that last year saw the release of a book which most definitely threw this genre into the spotlight. I’m of course talking about When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

At the young age of 36 Paul Kalanithi was on the brink of completing the long and arduous decade of training as a neurosurgeon.  It is with this goal finally in sight that Paul’s life was changed forever, taking him from the role of neurosurgeon into the realms of patient struggling to battle inoperable lung cancer. The book takes us through the journey which Paul fought, following him from his early days as a medical student up until his transformation into both patient and father.

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Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

IMG_8906[1]Over the past year or so I’ve been trying to make every possible effort to read much more non-fiction. I think I’ll always be a fiction kind of girl, but there’ s just so much fascinating and brilliant non-fiction out there that I am desperate to read. I actually think that I’ve been doing quite well on that front lately, but finding myself having read a lot of fiction books recently, I decided to switch things up and pick up something more factual.

That’s where Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematorium came into play. I’ve had this book sat on my shelves ever since I saw Sophie Carlon sign its praises on BookTube. It seemed like a truly unique and slightly ominous little read which tackles the many taboos surrounding death. Our author is no stranger to death, having worked her way through the profession from burning bodies in crematoriums to having her own alternative funeral home. Across the span of this novel we follow Caitlin as she explores the many different topics surrounding death and the entire process. She looks at death rituals in our own cultures as well as others, forging the way to a more understanding acceptance of death through her own past events and experiences.

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