On Sexism and Susan Pevensie

One of my favourite bloggers, Jillian, drew my attention to the Classic Remarks meme over at Pages Unbound. Essentially, this meme strikes me as “essay questions for people who really miss English lessons”. I am definitely one of those. Jillian’s blog is not always up, so I can’t link to her interesting answers at the moment, but I leafed through the questions with fascination. I will probably answer some of them gradually over the course of the next few months, but for one, I have an answer pretty much ready to go (and have done for years–I’m so glad someone finally asked me).

Susan Pevensie’s fate in CS Lewis’ The Last Battle has been criticised for being sexist. Do you think it’s sexist, or is Lewis trying to say or do something else?

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In Response to Amber Rudd

All the political news at the moment is awful and depressing. At least, that’s what it feels like. I’m particularly upset by all the anti-immigration rhetoric making headlines in the UK, the US, Germany, Austria, Australia… you get the picture. I’m not linking to it, or to anything political that I reference below, because that is not what this post is about. I want to write something positive. Honestly, I realise that I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I’m going to do so anyway. Continue reading

Enthusing about the Ninja Book Box


Today, I am very excited. I’m coming to you as part of the Ninja Book Box blog tour, and I have been given free reign just to talk about why I’m looking forward to its release so much. However, before I do, I should probably let its creator Bex explain what the box is:

Ninja Book Box is a new quarterly box shipping worldwide from the UK and featuring books published by independent publishers. We aim to introduce excellent books (both backlist and new releases) particularly those which our team & the publishers we work with feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve, and help you find favourites in genres you wouldn’t necessarily pick up for yourselves. Supporting primarily UK based small businesses, each box will contain a book (often signed by the author & with additional material) plus at least two gift items and lots of other fun extras and will take its theme from the book. We want to support excellence and promote exploration and discovery in all aspects of the box. Subscribers will also gain access to lots of additional community perks. For more information sign up to our newsletter, or check out our website for details of how to get the first box!  

 I love subscription boxes of any and all types. Receiving recommendations of things people think I will like—books, films, TV, snacks, recipes—is one of my favourite pastimes, and when you subscribe to a box, you’re getting advice and input from someone who’s put a lot of thought into the process. I’ve actually been looking for a UK-based book box for a while, but I’m not particularly interested in YA. Since that’s the primary focus of so many things associated with the bookish community, I was coming up blank—until now. One of the things that really appeals to me is that the Ninja Book Box is genreless (or, rather, not tied to any particular genre). I want to read books from all genres, and I’m so excited about that aspect.

Another reason I’m looking forward to my first box is because of who is running the project. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bex, she runs the Ninja Book Swap in February and October every year. She also organised the London Bookshop Crawl back in February, which has been one of my bookish highlights so far this year (even though I never got round to publishing my recap of the event). Because it is Bex organising this, I know it will be professional, thoughtful, and well-managed. If you have a look at her blog, you can see how widely she reads, so there really will be something for everyone over the months.

Lastly, I am eager to learn more about independent publishers. Honestly, I know very little about publishing, and have never bothered to look in detail at who puts out the books I love. My first introduction to the concept of independent publishers was the visit we made to Persephone Books during the bookshop crawl. I was hugely impressed by the clear passion Persephone has for rediscovering forgotten voices, and by the love that everyone we met seemed to have for their work. I picked up The Expendable Man by Dorothy B Hughes based on a recommendation by Lydia (I think), and it is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I never would have heard of it without that trip to Persephone, which suggests there are many more books for me to discover!

A quick note—the Kickstarter for the project is over (it raised 300% of the original goal, which is pretty impressive), and the first box is sold out. It is still possible to sign up for a mini box, which will contain the book, one bookish gift, and access to any online content. Alternatively, if you still want to get your hands on the first full box, theme “Slightly Surreal”, you can enter the giveaway linked below. (There should be a widget, but try as I might I cannot get it to display–the link will take you to the giveaway). Even if you’ve backed the Kickstarter, you can still enter—if you win, you can either get a second box for someone else, or you can wait and redeem the February box for free.

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Bloggiesta (Autumn 2016)

It’s Bloggiesta time! The challenge is running from 15th-18th September, and I have a short to-do list.

-Update my About page
-Finish three half-written posts and schedule them
-Go through old Classics Club memes and write responses to a couple that interest me
-Do one of the mini-challenges

I’m aiming to publish two posts a month from now until the end of the year. That might not sound like very much, but I’m very busy with my PhD and it’s still twice what I’ve been doing recently. Building up a stack of posts during Bloggiesta sounds like a good way to start.

Is anybody else participating?

Healthcare in Fiction

I recently became irked with The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughn. Although I mostly enjoyed the book, it definitely has its issues, including a hospital scene drawn directly from Holby City reruns. It is a little unfair of me to single out one book for this, though. As a registered paediatric nurse, one of my most common frustrations is when authors get healthcare wrong. There are so many nurses in the UK, and we love talking about nursing. Seriously, get any group of nurses together and we will be talking about catheters, the Bristol Stool Chart, and leg ulcers within thirty seconds (we are fun at parties). In light of this, there is no excuse for the stereotyped and factually inaccurate descriptions of hospital scenes that abound in book after book.

I’ve talked about this on the blog before in relation to specific books (ahem, Me Before You springs to mind), but I thought that sharing one nurse’s perspective on three common healthcare tropes in fiction might be an interesting read. Please note that this post contains generic discussion of hospital/healthcare procedures, including (successful and failed) resuscitation. It’s also not intended to be representative of everyone who works in healthcare! It’s just a few thoughts I have on the subject. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer 2016

Cathy at 746 books runs a challenge every year to read 20 books from 1st June to 5th September. This year, mostly because I like writing lists, I’ve decided to join in. I mean, I’m cheating a little bit, because I’ll be reading a couple for my book club already and I’ve included those. Even so, here is my fairly ambitious TBR (links are to the relevant Goodreads page): Continue reading

Podcast mini-reviews

Although I haven’t had as much time for reading lately as I would have liked, I have been enjoying other forms of content. In particular, I’ve been listening to podcasts as an incentive to get a bit more exercise. It took me a while to figure out what sort of things I wanted to hear, but I’ve settled on a handful that I now listen to regularly. Thought I’d share. Continue reading