November Wrap-Up

Hi everyone,

Happy December! We’re finally on the way to Christmas! I’ve had a pretty successful reading month this month. So here’s what I read complete with some short and sweet reviews.

The Gunpowder Plot by Alan Haynes

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I was desperate to read this book around the same time as Bonfire Night in the UK – which I managed to do!

I’ve always loved Bonfire Night and the story of Guy Fawkes, but my knowledge of the events stems from a rhyme I used to sing as a child, and the BBC adaptation called Gunpowder.

It was really interesting to learn more about the plot, how it developed, and why people thought it was necessary.

Although the book was necessary, I do think this book was a bit too long. It focused on areas that I wouldn’t necessarily expect a book following the Gunpowder Plot to focus on, and it was written in a way that wasn’t too engaging or fun; it was very lengthy, full of long and difficult words.

I would definitely be interested in reading more books on the Gunpowder Plot if anyone has any recommendations?

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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Wuthering Heights is possibly one of my favourite books to read in the months of October/November.

And once again it gets a 5-star review from me!

I know a lot of people find fault in Wuthering Heights and just can’t get into it. For me, Wuthering Heights is the perfect read for autumn. It’s a complex and atmospheric novel set in the Yorkshire Moors. The story follows the intertwining lives of Heathcliff and Catherine, and all the passion, heartbreak and walks on the wild moors that ensue.

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One-Dimensional Woman by Nina Power

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I found this book very interesting and it provided a new take for me on feminism. I’ve read quite a few books on feminism as that was my dissertation’s main theme, but Nina Power was able to offer a feminist perspective on a consumerism, work, sex and politics mix.

The book takes its name from Herbert Marcuse’s 1964 “One-Dimensional Man” which showed how supposedly happy and liberated individuals were hiding under the “illusory freedoms of capitalism”.

Power’s analysis is to-the-point, easy to understand for everyone and thought-provoking.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Another re-read for me this month… But I wanted to read The Handmaid’s Tale before I went on to read the much-anticipated The Testaments.

Reading it again really made me realise what a masterpiece it is. If I could give it a rating higher than 5-stars, I really would. It’s thought-provoking, sharp and witty, terrifyingly real and reflective on society.

I know a lot of you will have already read this book, but just as a quick summary it follows the life of a group of Handmaid’s, primarily Offred, who are forced to provide children for higher-ranking Commanders in Gilead.

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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

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This is a creepy and mysterious book that held my attention throughout its entirety. If you’re looking for a historical ghost story, then I would definitely recommend this.

The Silent Companions follows newly-widowed Elsie who is sent to see out her pregnancy in her late-husband’s crumbling estate. Whilst there she discovers the mysterious circumstances surrounding her husband’s death, the hostility of the local villagers, and what lies behind a locked door of the house…

I’d never read anything by Laura Purcell but was immediately impressed by her writing style and ability to make the scene come alive and for me to feel that creepiness even while I was sitting safe in my room.

I know Laura Purcell has a few more books that I’d definitely be interested in reading. Have you read any of her works?

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

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Arguably the most highly-anticipated book of the year…

And because of that, for me it was the biggest let-down. I was trying to avoid reading reviews and spoilers of this book, so I have no idea if this is a popular or unpopular opinion of mine…

I’m not going to focus too much on the plot or let slip any spoilers in this short and snappy review, but The Testaments follows on from the TV adaptation. It helps if you’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale as you’ll understand more of the background of Gilead, however if you haven’t caught up on the TV show you might not know what is going on…

My main criticism of this novel is that although it is dynamic, it is illogical. I really got the feeling as I was reading it that it was made because Margaret Atwood got so many requests to write a next chapter in Gilead’s history, not because she actually wanted to do it. The Testaments doesn’t offer any new insight into Gilead for me and I would have been perfectly happy without it.

That being said, Margaret Atwood is a phenomenal writer and, as a stand-alone book, this would be incredible, shocking and fast-paced. As a continuation, it didn’t make sense to me. But that might also be because I absolute loved The Handmaid’s Tale and think it’s perfect.

I definitely feel like I should be giving it a 4-star review despite my thoughts, mainly just because of all the hype surrounding it…

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Talking with Psychopaths and Savages: Beyond Evil by Christopher Berry-Dee

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I’ve massively been into true crime for the past few months and wanted to read some books focusing on this. This book was something I kept coming across in the library and I finally decided to pick it up. I know it’s part of a series of books centering on similar stories by the same guy.

The first thing that shocked me about this book was how many grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes there were in the first few pages. And it only got worse throughout the book… I did wonder if this book had even been edited, though Christopher does thank his editor in the acknowledgements…

These mistakes did kind of throw off the enjoyment of the book for me a little. Though it was informative, shocking and gruesome, I did find it to be slightly condescending in the way that Christopher wrote. Every other sentence of the book was referring to a previous book of his to the point where it just got a bit repetitive and took away from the story we were supposed to be following.

I’d still be interested in trying some more of his works, so if you have any recommendations then please let me know!

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Overall, I had a great reading month. What did you read this month?

Thanks for reading!

Love, Zoe xx


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