February Reading Wrapup

February was another slow month of reading, but one where I read the sequel to one of my favourite books from 2021, as well as two translated murder mysteries, one Polish and the other Japanese.

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

The sequel to Legendborn (reviewed here), definitely felt like a middle book as Bree tries to learn how to use her unique powers as the Scion of King Arthur, a medium and the root magic of her ancestors, and prepares to lead the descendents of the Knights of the Round Table into battle with demons attempting to break into the human world. Bree finds herself hunted by enemies inside and out of the Order, and Bloodmarked is full of twists, revelations and betrayals. I’m not generally a fan of Chosen One stories, but I really love Bree for her bravery, loyalty and insights into race, privilege and grief. I found Bloodmarked had some pacing issues but had me hooked to the end, and I’m really looking forward to reading the concluding part of the Legendborn Trilogy.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

This is such a strange novel and hard to describe but it was absolutely gripping, creepy and atmospheric. Written as a stream of consciousness from an eccentric woman in her 60s who lives in a remote Polish village investigating the mysterious deaths of local hunters and poachers whom the narrator believes were killed by animals taking vengeance. I thoroughly enjoyed this macabre murder mystery that kept me guessing until the end about who, how and why, remiscent of Roal Dahl’s short stories and Agatha Christie.

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

My second murder mystery of the month, this time was a Japanese translation. The Honjin Murders follows investigation of the murder of a bride and groom on their wedding night in a locked room. Full of clues, suspects and misdirection, this was a clever and gripping mystery that reads like a Japanese take on Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie with a quirky Detective.

January Reading Wrapup

I’m off to a slow start with my reading this year as broken sleep and back-to-back illnesses sapped my energy and attention, so only managed to read 3 books last month, but thoroughly enjoyed them all from two very different parenting books and the eagerly awaited sequel to the brilliant Ninth House that was definitely worth the wait.

How Toddlers Thrive by Tovah Klein

This book focuses on children between the ages of 2-5 years old and really changed my understanding of what motivates toddlers and how they think, feel and perceive the world, which in turn changed how I respond to my own toddler’s behaviour. As is often the case, there are some suggestions for parenting that we’re already doing but it contradicted some of the others ways my husband and I parent our daughters. It also turns some ideas on their head by suggesting that our job as parents is not to make our children happy but to help them learn how to cope with uncomfortable emotions like anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness and fear in order to develop emotional regulation, resilience and flexibility. Klein stresses the importance of realistic expectations for children in this age range, as well as the importance of routines, consistency and learning through play. How Toddlers Thrive is a really interesting and useful book and definitely one I’ll be referring to again over the next few years while we navigate the early years with our girls.

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

My most anticipated book of 2023 and I started reading this as soon as it dropped through the letterbox. Reading Hell Bent was like meeting up with old friends, I loved exploring the Yale campus with Alex, Dawes and Detective Turner as they tried to find a way to rescue their friend and mentor, Darlington from Hell. Alex finds herself surrounded by new and old enemies, and as morally ambivalent as ever she’s more haunted by the lives she couldn’t save than the ones she has taken. Although I didn’t find the twists quite as clever or unpredictable as those in Ninth House, Hell Bent is still a gripping, atmospheric read that adds new layers and details to the original, especially about Alex’s powers to communicate with the dead and the history of Yale’s secret societies, and the ending sets the scene for the next part of the series. This has become one of my favourite series and I really can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

This is the type of parenting book I usually avoid preferring those based on child development to those that are anecdotal and personal, but I borrowed the ebook late one night while feeding the baby and it made me laugh out loud so many times. Sarah Turner takes an unflinching look at the realities of parenting from breastfeeding and sleep deprivation to mum guilt and so many other aspects of life with young children. The Unmumsy Mum is such an easy to read, relatable, humourous, poignant handhold of a book for anyone that loves their kids but doesn’t love every moment of parenting.

I also had a DNF, The Ballad of Never After, the sequel to Once Upon A Broken Heart, I enjoyed the first book but the sequel just didn’t hold my attention and I gave up at page 134.

Have a lovely week. X

2022 in Books

A very belated happy new year! I decided to combine my end of year reading review with my December wrapup as I only managed to read 2 books last month between Christmas and late nights up with the baby, though just managed to reach my goal of 52 books.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

The story follows lonely witch Mika Moon who takes on a job as a tutor for three witch children being raised in secret. This is a slow burn grumpy-sunshine romance between the children’s guardian Jamie and Mika, but it was the found family storyline that really drew me in and kept me hooked. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is such a cosy, comforting and heartwarming story about magic, romance, family, home and belonging.

Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year by Beth Kempton

This was an impulse purchase but appealed because it’s about creating a personal and meaningful Christmas. Kempton suggests that there are five main themes of Christmas: faith, magic, connection, abundance and personal traditions, and each of these themes will have more or less significance to us. It was lovely reminiscing about Christmas from childhood to present but also reading about how other cultures and countries around the world celebrate, thinking about ways to simplify how I celebrate Christmas so that it encapsulate all my favourite parts and eschews all the aspects I find stressful or meaningless, and for a relatively short book it covers a lot of different facets of Christmas from budgeting to coping with grief and loneliness around the festive season.

2022 was an interesting year for reading: I read 52 books, 19 of which were borrowed from the library, as one of my reading resolutions was to read at least one book from the library every month, and as it happened all the books I read in March and August were borrowed from the library.

The majority of the books I read were fiction with a mix of contemporary fiction, fantasy, mysteries from Agatha Christie to Richard Osman, and ten children’s stories from ghost stories like Bridge of Souls, Gallant and The Haunting of Aveline Jones to environmental stories like Julia and the Shark, October, October and The Summer We Turned Green.

I didn’t find as many new favourites as the year before though my absolute favourites were the gripping small town drama Beartown by Fredrik Backman and the urban fantasy Jade City by Fonda Lee, which I enjoyed so much I binge read the whole trilogy in February. I also loved the King of Scars duology, and the final books in the Scholomance and Inheritance Games trilogies.

I also read 16 non-fiction books most of which were on environmental themes or parenting, easily the most non-fiction I’ve read in a year since graduating from university, and something I definitely hope to continue in 2023.

My reading goals for 2023 will be similar to last year, though I’m already off to a slow start and I’m feeling less confident about reaching my target of 52 books by the end of the year. I’ll continue to use and support the library service, and I’d also like to make a dent in my TBR which is currently 45 books long.

What are your reading resolutions for 2023? X

November Reading Wrapup

Dark and stormy November nights are perfect for snuggling up under a blanket with a book but I struggled to commit to anything at the start of the month while waiting for our second child’s arrival, and then once she was here I stuck to shorter books that were easy to dip in to during late nights up with a newborn and the sleepy days that followed…

She and Her Cat – Makoto Shinkai

This quirky little story follows four loosely connected and socially isolated individuals who all adopt cats from abandoned kittens to feral strays, and the narrative switches between the human and feline perspectives. In each of the stories the cats inspire and motivate their humans to change their life in some way. She and Her Cat is an easy to read, heartwarming novella.

Gallant – V.E. Schwab

A strange and haunting children’s story about life and death, and the people caught in between. Gallant follows the voiceless orphan, Olivia, raised in an school orphanage until one day she receives a letter from an unknown uncle inviting her home where Olivia starts to learn the secrets and mysteries of the Prior family and their home, Gallant. This is a tense, mysterious and macabre story but one that gripped me.

The Haunting of Aveline Jones – Phil Hickes

As a child I loved Goosebumps and the Point Horror series, and over the last few years I’ve really enjoyed finding a few new creepy children’s stories. The Haunting of Aveline Jones follows the title character who is staying with her aunt in Malmouth, Cornwall when she finds a book of ghost stories and discovers clues to the mysterious disappearance of a local child 30 years before. Set during a dark and stormy Halloween with some very creepy local folklore and traditions, this was a really atmospheric and thrilling children’s ghost story that really drew me in and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Greenglass House – Kate Milford

This is such a strange children’s story, yet one that is thoroughly captivating and charming. The story is set in Greenglass House, an old hotel frequented by smugglers most of the year, when five unexpected guests arrive during the festive break. Milo, the adopted son of the hotel owners, becomes involved in a mystery surrounding the five guests and the hotel, and learns so much about his home and identity over the story. This was such a lovely, gentle adventure and mystery, so easy to dip in and out often while up in the wee hours of the night with a newborn or in snatches during her daytime naps.

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik

My most eagerly anticipated book of 2022 was the third and final part of Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy. Set immediately after the events of The Last Graduate (reviewed here) , El is safely back in Wales with her mum having escaped the Scholomance graduation but still reeling from Orion’s choice at the end of the previous book. The Golden Enclaves really picks up when El is invited to help save wizarding Enclaves around the world and eventually finds herself caught in between New York and Beijing – the two most powerful Enclaves in the world – as they prepare to go to war with each other.

While the first two books were set almost entirely in the Scholomance, this one really opens up the wizarding world, giving readers deeper insight into the politics and practicalities of the Enclaves.

The Golden Enclaves answers most of the questions I had from the previous books as it’s full of revelations about El and Orion, the Wizard eating Mawmouths, how the Scholomance and wizarding Enclaves were created, and El finally starts to fulfil the prophecy that her great grandmother made that El would bring death and destruction to every enclave in the world – though not in any way I could’ve predicted.

The whole trilogy very much questions what people are willing to sacrifice and justify for their own comfort and safety, there’s no central villain as such but lots of people using their power and influence to make life better for themselves and their children at the expense of others, and El is such an unlikely hero because she’s such a misanthrope and cynic who shows consistently that doing the right thing is a choice to be made over and over again even if nobody ever knows or thanks you for it.

Without giving anything away, The Golden Enclaves had a happier ending than I expected, but still a bittersweet conclusion as El has to give up her dream in order to fulfil her purpose, which is totally in keeping with her character development as someone who refuses to sacrifice others to save herself and someone who weighs the cost of every choice and action. Ultimately, this is a dark and poignant but amusing and surprisingly heartwarming YA fantasy story about family, friendship, love, sacrifice, purpose and the choices that define us.

Have a lovely week. X

October Reading Wrapup

Sharing my October reads a little late but it was another good month for reading with a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown

I’ve been a fan of Brene Brown for a while but found this a bit different from her previous books, though it still covers similar themes such as shame, vulnerability, authenticity and courage, but reads like a dictionary of emotions and how to navigate them. Atlas of the Heart is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read, packed full of Brene Brown’s humour, wisdom and personal anecdotes.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

I read and loved Beartown back in January (reviewed here), but have been psyching myself up to read the second part of the trilogy as they are such gripping but tense and emotional stories of small town life that often remind me why I was so eager to escape to a city. Barely recovered from the events of Beartown, the little town suffers another scandal around their ice hockey team that leads to another tragedy. While the first book took aim at rape culture and how far the local community would go to protect their star player, the second focuses on homophobia in sports and is just as absorbing. I’m no sports fan, but I was completely drawn in to this story of marriage and families, friendships and rivalries, team and community.

Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman

My husband recommended Martin Seligman to me, and this was one of those books that overlaps different spheres of my life from work to parenting and personal development too, though this definitely falls into psychology rather than self-help. The focus of the book is about the link between learned helplessness, pessimism and depression, and Seligman argues that if these are learned behaviours, then optimism can be learned too. Seligman also makes a strong argument for developing an optimistic mindset given that research suggests it leads to living longer, healthier and happier lives. This book has some profound research on how we talk about events, setbacks and disappointments with kids for parents and teachers. Some of the research may seem a bit dated (a lot is from the 70s) but still relevant, and the book is obviously written from an American perspective with whole chapters on sports psychology, military recruitment and predicting presidential elections that aren’t necessarily relevant to other cultures or nationalities. The final third of the book focuses on developing thought-challenging techniques to combat pessimism, and understanding the link between thoughts, feelings and behaviour, that will probably be familiar to anyone that practices or has had CBT.

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik

My most eagerly anticipated book of 2022 was the conclusion to the Scholomance Trilogy, and I’m still trying to put all my thoughts and feelings into words about it so will give this one a full length post. Despite a slow start The Golden Enclaves is full of revelations and kept me hooked until the last page trying to work out how it would resolve itself as El finds herself saving the Enclaves she was prophesied to destroy and caught between two of the most powerful Enclaves as they prepare for war against each other. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy and The Golden Enclaves provides a very satisfying conclusion.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

My husband bought this when it first came out but gave up on it halfway through, I picked it up recently and was gripped from the start. I enjoy a cosy crime murder mystery and found this one that has four aging, amateur sleuths trying to solve a local murder kept me guessing to the very end as it’s full of clues that didn’t quite fit together with plenty of misdirection and red herrings, and the ending was clever but a bit abrupt. I loved the mischievous and determined main characters who remind us that life doesn’t end in retirement, from the relatable and lovable Joyce to the rogue-ish ex trade union leader Ron, the still sharp as a scalpel psychiatrist Ibrahim, and mysterious ex-intelligence Elizabeth who is nothing short of a force of nature. The Thursday Murder Club was an unexpected delight, and I’ve asked Santa to put the second book in my Christmas stocking.

Have a lovely week. X

September Reading Wrapup

September was a good month for reading with a real mix of genres, and a couple of eagerly anticipated new releases.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

In the concluding part of the King of Scars (reviewed here) duology (and apparently the final book to be set in the Grishaverse for a while) an old enemy has returned, armies from neighbouring countries are massing at Ravka’s borders, and Nikolai’s legitimacy as King is under scrutiny. I loved the slow burn romance between Zoya and Nikolai, easily two of my favourite characters from the Grishaverse, and how they both had to confront their personal demons (both literal and figurative), and Nina’s mission as a spy behind enemy lines was tense and thrilling too. Rule of Wolves didn’t have quite as many clever twists as I’ve come to expect from Leigh Bardugo, but still an enjoyable read and satisfying conclusion that leaves scope to return to the world and reunite with the main characters from Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows in the future.

The Joyful Environmentalist by Isabel Losada

This was a bit different from most of the other books about environmentalism that I’ve read recently as Isabel Losada sets out to prove that environmentalism doesn’t have to be about guilt, anger and grief, and shares all the joyful experiences that becoming an environmentalist has brought her from playing in Extinction Rebellion’s samba band and a cosy night in with her flatmates during an unexpected powercut to planting trees in the Scottish Highlands with Trees for Life and listening to nightingales and other songbirds while camping at the Knepp Estate. The book also covers various ways that individuals can reduce their impact on the environment but really focuses on the benefits of creating a greener world from a greater sense of community and connection to less litter and pollution.

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The final part of The Inheritance Games trilogy (reviews for The Inheritance Games and The Hawthorne Legacy) has been one of my most anticipated new releases this year, and it was worth the wait as I binge read it in a couple of days. The Final Gambit finally reveals why billionaire Tobias Hawthorne disinherited his entire family and chose Avery, a random girl he’d only met once in passing to be his heir instead, it also reveals a new enemy seeking to outwit Avery and destroy Tobias Hawthorne’s legacy and fortune. The weakest part of this story is the love triangle between Avery and two of the Hawthorne brothers, which I felt had been resolved in the previous book, nevertheless, The Final Gambit is a gripping YA mystery, and I loved how Avery grows as a character over the series and how she chooses to use her wealth when she finally comes of age and inherits the Hawthorne fortune.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

I don’t read much science fiction but I make an exception for Becky Chambers, and yet I find her books so hard to describe because they’re character driven stories that focus on identity, relationships, culture and humanity. Record of a Spaceborn Few is the third book set in The Wayfarers Quartet and is set around the same time as the first book, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (reviewed here), though this follows a different set of characters all living and working on one of the human homesteaders, the vehicles that humans built to escape Earth and make a new life in the Galaxy. The undergraduate Anthropology student in me found the practical elements of maintaining the homesteaders and the rituals people developed on board to preserve their history and culture fascinating.I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this one, but Record of a Spaceborn Few is probably my favourite book in the series so far, it’s a poignant exploration of life, death, community and humanity.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

I picked up this from the library because I’d read so many glowing reviews about it but it ended up falling into that awkward category of books that I liked but didn’t love. Nevermoor follows a little girl called Morrigan Crow who was born on the festival of Eventide, believed to be cursed and bringing all manner of misfortune to the people around her and destined to die on her 12th birthday until she’s saved at the last moment by a strange benefactor who whisks her off to the magical city of Nevermoor and enters her into a competition with other children hoping to join the Wondrous Society, an elite group of people with strange and magical abilities. Nevermoor is an enjoyable children’s story about friendship, belonging, bravery and destiny.

Have a lovely week. X

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik

We’re into the season of dark, stormy nights now that are perfect for stories about witches, wizards and things that go bump in the night, and decided it’s a good time to share my review of the second part of The Scholomance trilogy as the final part is due out at the end of this month.

While the first part, A Deadly Education (reviewed here), covered just a couple of weeks at the end of term, The Last Graduate, covers El’s final year as she, her friends and allies, and her not-quite boyfriend Orion, prepare for the graduation battle they need to survive in order to return to the outside world.

As scathing and bad tempered as she is, El finds herself in demand as she’s sort-of-dating the school hero, Orion Lake, and is a monstrously powerful sorceress in her own right, but one of the main recurring themes of The Scholomance trilogy is who and what are the students (and by extension the Enclaves in the outside world) willing to sacrifice for safety but apparently her hippie-healer mum and heroic-to-a-fault, Orion, have rubbed off on misanthropic El who balks at sacrificing others to save herself again and again, even when it puts her in peril and at odds with the rest of the magical community.

The Scholomance itself is the antithesis of Hogwarts and other boarding schools in fiction as thousands of students are trapped inside with no way of communicating with the outside world, there are no teachers, no holidays (except Graduation and Induction day), the food is scarce and usually past it’s expiration date by years, oh, and the school itself and half the other students are trying to kill you. Yet, despite the loneliness, homesickness and constant risk of death, this is a story about love from familial and friendship to first romances and shared humanity at it’s core.

I really enjoyed the foreshadowing between the first and second parts of the trilogy and there are some interesting hints about what might be happening outside the Scholomance, a strong sense that El and Orion are destined to be star-crossed lovers, and about how the prophecy that El will be responsible for the destruction of every enclave if she survives to adulthood might come to pass. The Last Graduate is a bit less amusing than A Deadly Education, the atmosphere is tense as it builds to a heartpounding cliffhanger that makes the third and final part my most eagerly anticipated book of the year.

Have a lovely week. X

August Reading Wrapup

All the books I read in August were borrowed from the library, and all were on environmental themes from how to reduce the amount of pollution (especially plastic) we produce and consume less to nature and conservation.

How to Save the World for Free by Natalie Fee

This is a short but practical guide on what individuals can do to reduce their harmful impact on the planet, which starts off by describing a fairly bleak picture of our current situation with polluted oceans and rivers, air and soil, rapidly rising temperatures, melting glaciers and mass extinctions. However, after setting the scene, Natalie Fee provides a really inspiring, informative and thought-provoking book that provides a much needed antidote to the doom and gloom news about the environment, reminding readers that as consumers, campaigners and voters we have the power to influence politics and corporations, but she also recognises the importance of collaboration and signsposts to other campaigns and grass roots movements to get involved with. I’m no environmental angel and I really appreciated that there’s no guilt-tripping or shaming here, and no expectation that the reader needs to adopt every single suggestion to make a difference. I was pleased that I’m already doing some of the things she suggests, but there are plenty of other suggestions that I hadn’t considered, and I found this a quick, practical read that left me feeling motivated and inspired.

The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac

This is quite a different book from others that I’ve read on climate change and environmentalism, and if I’m honest I found it a bit disappointing as it focuses on the mindset of stubborn optimism that will be required if we want to prevent the worst case scenario and create a greener world. The writers argue that we need to overcome our sense of helplessness, but I found this book a bit vague and idealistic as most of the practical suggestions such as flying and driving less, eating less meat and diary, switching to renewable energy tariffs and planting trees are already well known, and this still overestimates the individual’s carbon footprint when we also need governments, businesses and fossil fuel companies to reduce their emissions and move away from fossil fuels to greener technology and solutions.

A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button

A Life Less Throwaway is another practical guide about reducing our consumption by learning to resist manipulative marketing ploys but also learning to take care of items we already own instead of accepting planned obsolescence, upgrades and seasonal trends as the norm and campaigning for more durable products. I really enjoyed the first half of the book that covers the history of advertising, when and why disposable products became normalised, and it’s a surprisingly fun read with lots of exercises to help the reader identify their own style and values to develop a bit of immunity to advertising. The second half fell into more familiar territory covering minimalism, decluttering, make do and mend, as well as a few recommendations for products made with durability in mind. A Life Less Throwaway is another informative and practical guide on how to tackle over-consumption and reduce waste that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

A gripping children’s story and the second book that’s been shortlisted for the Wainwright’s Children’s Prize that I’ve read this year (the other was October, October reviewed here) about a young girl called Julia who moves from her home in Cornwall to a lighthouse in Shetland with her scientist parents for a summer. While Julia’s dad attempts to automate the lighthouse, Julia’s quirky mum becomes increasingly obsessed with finding a Greenland shark that could provide a cure for Alzheimers and dementia, and Julia is left to entertain herself. Julia and the Shark is such a poignant story about a child navigating new friendships and bullying, nature and conservation, mental health and learning that her parents are neither perfect nor infallible.

The Summer We Turned Green by William Sutcliffe

After some of the heavier books I’d read this month, The Summer We Turned Green turned out to be a comparitively light hearted, amusing and hopeful read about a seemingly ordinary British family that find themselves on the frontlines of a climate protest when the opposite side of their street is marked for demolition to expand an airport. I really loved the family dynamics at the heart of this story, but also the optimistic message about NIMBYs and climate protesters overcoming their prejudices, uniting towards a shared purpose and creating a little community together.

Children of the Anthropocene by Bella Lack

In Children of the Anthropocene, youth activist Bella Lack attempts to give a voice to young people’s experience of pollution and climate change across the world. It is at times uncomfortable to read about the plastic pollution poisoning oceans, rivers, landscapes, birds, fish and animals, but this manages to strike a balance by highlighting young people across the world all participating in different forms of activism and conservation from cleaning beaches and planting trees to challenging governments in courts. I found this so inspiring and thought-provoking and really informative as it covers such a wide range of topics from reducing consumption, slow travel, how educating women can reduce climate change, rewilding, ecocide and ecological blindness, and intersectional environmentalism. I loved the manifesto with practical tips at the end of each chapter and really appreciated how broad Lack’s definition of activism is.

Have a lovely week. X

July Reading Wrapup

July was a slightly slower month for reading, but a good one with lots of thoughtful books.

The Whole Brain Child by Dr Daniel J. Siegal and Dr Tina Payne Bryson

I’ve read a few parenting books this year, and I tend to prefer those that are underpinned by a solid understanding of child development. The Whole Brain Child is written by a psychologist and a neuroscientist, and seeks to help parents understand what different parts of a child’s brain do and how to integrate them to work together. I struggled to understand parts of this at times and may need to reread it to get a better grip on some of the concepts, and I also felt this was aimed at children older than my own daughter but there’s really helpful cribsheets at the back that describe how to apply each strategy for different age ranges.

How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price

I attempted to read How to Break Up With Your Phone in 2020, but given how dependent we were on technology to keep in contact with family and friends during long periods of lockdown, it just didn’t seem like the right time. Picked it up again recently as I still want to reduce the amount of time I spend staring at a screen, and this really helped me to achieve my goal. The first half of the book focuses on explaining how and why smart phones, the internet and social media are so addictive, and how they are rewiring our brains, as well as making us more distracted, stressed, depressed and tired. The second half of the book gives practical advice and a 30 day detox plan on how to break our phone habits and create a healthier relationship with our phones. One of the aspects I really liked about this is that Price recognises how useful phones can be helping us with a variety of tasks from banking and navigation to camera and keeping in contact with others, so she doesn’t advocate getting rid of our smart phones altogether, just creating boundaries around their use to help us save time, improve our relationships and end the constant state of distraction many of us are stuck in. I haven’t followed the plan exactly but it’s full of useful advice from buying an alarm clock and changing where you charge your phone to installing an app blocker, and understanding why (curiosity, boredom and loneliness, etc)
we reach for our phones in the first place.

Evil Under The Sun by Agatha Christie

Set on a secluded island off the coast of Devon, Hercule Poirot is on holiday when he finds himself investigating the murder of the seductive actress Arlena Stuart. There’s no shortage of suspects with motives and plenty of red herrings along the way. I loved this story until the reveal in the last couple of chapters, but felt a bit cheated as it’s a clever mystery and solving it relies on a key peice of information that isn’t uncovered until near the end, but Evil Under the Sun is still a thoroughly gripping whodunit.

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

A comprehensive book about how climate change and capitalism are intertwined. Split into three parts, the first part considers how we ended up in our current situation, from the invention of the steam engine and the Industrial Revolution through to neoliberalism, deregulation and free market economy, covering climate change denial largely funded by the fossil fuel industry, and how NAFTA and WTO undermined investment and trade in green technology, while the Kyoto Protocol and climate summits have balked at regulating or holding the biggest polluters to account over the years.
The second part considers all the ways we’ve tried to avoid reducing carbon emissions and Klein debunks carbon offsetting, pining our hopes on philanthropic billionaires who are often heavily invested in polluting industries (like Richard Branson and Bill Gates), and some of the scientific community’s frankly terrifying proposals about how to geo-engineer the climate to reduce global warming (seriously, look up sun dimming).
One of the most compelling arguments is that the same individuals and industries that are exploiting natural resources in their relentless quest for growth and profit, are also exploiting employees and customers as well as polluting the water, air and soil, and this really ties together how climate change and social justice are connected.
The final section offers more hope recounting how protests have erupted all over the world against the Keystone XL pipeline, Arctic drilling and fracking, often leading to legal challenges, moratoriums and bans. This Changes Everything is a little dated (published in 2014 when Obama was still president and before Brexit here in the UK) but it’s still informative, terrifying, inspiring and a great place to start if you’re interested in climate change or conservation.

Have a lovely week. X