Books mentioned and mini-reviews:
Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt (review copy from NetGalley)
When I saw this on NetGalley I thought it would be right up my street. I am a huge fan of lifelong learning, I am always trying to learn something new and have a huge range of hobbies, and I wasn’t disappointed. The author is obviously a very privileged, well-off man because he can afford to hire people to teach him, but there’s also a lot of useful information that can apply to you even if you have a smaller budget, like me! He meets and interviews various experts on specific skills as well as learning in general, providing nformation about how adults learn in contrast to how children and infants learn. One of the most useful things I learned was that learning multiple things at once is actually easier than learning one thing – I would have assumed it was the other way around!
Jem and the Holograms Vol 1: Showtime, written by Kelly Thompson, art by Sophie Campbell
I’m too young to have seen Jem the first time round, but I watched it as a student and was super excited to read the comics, and I really enjoyed them. Jem and the Holograms is about a group of sisters who form a band, but run into a big problem when lead sister, Jerrica, is afraid of performing in front of anyone else. Then they discover their father created an AI that can project holograms, and Jerrica makes her debut hidden behind the image of Jem. This creates a world of new problems for them, as Jem/Jerrica juggles two identities and the sisters try to keep Synergy, the AI, a secret. I really liked that the comic delved a bit more into these issues, while also keeping up the fun and drama of their rivalry with bad-girl band, The Misfits. I especially like the first book, because Sophie Campbell’s character designs are adorable and I really missed them in the rest of the series!
A Perfect Paris Christmas by Mandy Baggot
My second Mandy Baggot, and now I want to read all her back catalogue! A Perfect Paris Christmas is about a woman who goes to Paris in December to meet the mother of her kidney donor, and while she’s there, meets and starts to fall for her donor’s best friend, who is struggling to adjust to life without her. The characters are realistic, with full lives outside the romance, but that doesn’t detract from the magic as they fall in love. Everything gets exactly the right amount of time and space. I dream of being able to write so perfectly!
Rescue Me by Sarra Manning
This is a funny, lovely romance about a man and a woman who co-adopt (‘co-pawrent’) a dog. As they both fall more and more love with Blossom, a shy little Staffy who needs patience and care, they start to develop feelings for each other, but are those feelings compatible? I wanted to read it again as soon as I finished, the emotional journey the characters go on is just so compelling.
Strong Female Protagonist Book One by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag
This a collected edition of a webcomic about an ex-superhero who finds that you can’t ever really be an ex-superhero, especially when you’re the strongest person on earth and completely indestructible, and are aware of an intriguing conspiracy. It’s enormous fun, but also really thoughtful, dealing with lots of ethical issues that the existence of superheroes brings up.
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
How to be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe
This is a memoir about the author’s experience growing up as an undiagnosed autistic person, that I found both enjoyable and challenging to read as it was so relatable. I had a similar experience at school but far, far milder, so I had this very strong sensation of ‘there but for the grace of god go I’ while I was reading it. It ends on a hopeful note – they did eventually get the right diagnosis, and had the courage to enter an art competition, that they won and that landed them the book deal for How to be Autistic – but it’s definitely one that will make you think and maybe even make you angry that Charlotte had to go through so much.
Dangerous Remedy (Battalion of the Dead #1) by Kat Dunn and the sequel, Monstrous Design
(I had previously received a proof copy of Dangerous Remedy from the publisher, though I read and reviewed the Illumicrate edition that I paid for. I read Monstrous Design via NetGalley)
A group of teenagers, during the French Revolution, rescue condemned prisoners from the guillotine, for money and for revenge against the revolutionaries who killed their leader Camille’s parents. When a mission leads them to rescue a girl with mysterious powers, they find themselves having to play both sides in a bid to set her free. There’s politics, mistrust, romantic drama, a dysfunctional found family and loads more fun stuff.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (review copy from publisher)
Some of the best bits of contemporary and sci-fi genres have been combined in this novel to make a fascinating story that also queries the nature of celebrity, community, and hope. April May is on her way home from work one night when she sees a giant robot, and, assuming it’s a work of art, she calls her friend who makes YouTube videos and gets him to come over. Wwhen she wakes up the next morning she discovers she’s gone viral because these robots have popped up in places all over the world, and sets out to investigate the mysterious origins of the robots, whilst also trying to turn herself into a kind of celebrity, setting out to become a sort of spokesperson for the robots.
Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer
28 year old spinster Abigail’s comfortable life is disrupted when her niece, a wealthy heiress, is courted by Stacy Calverleigh, a fortune-hunter. Abigail sets out to split them up, and after an entertaining case of mistaken identity, tries to enlist his uncle to aid her efforts. But Miles Calverleigh, just returned from doing some colonial stuff in India, has no interest in his nephew, or in helping Abigail…or at least he doesn’t at first! The dialogue is delightful and I loved seeing the romance progress, it’s my favourite Heyer so far. Content warning – there’s one occurence of a racist term towards the end of the book in an irritatingly offhand way by a minor character (why, Georgette?! You came so close this time) and of course you have to brush over whatever it was Miles was doing in India in order to see him as a good person.