It’s all about Ruth Galloway

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Or, rather, my week is.

My February in fact has been very much focussed on Dr. Ruth Galloway; insecure, studious, knowledgeable, wonderful Ruth. And gruff DCI Harry Nelson, out of place and missing Blackpool. Not to forget Cathbad! Oh my favourite Druid! Yes, guys. One of the main characters is a druid.

On March 1st in the Compass Theatre in Ickenham, I will have the great pleasure of interviewing the wonderful Elly Griffiths about her books, particularly her amazing Ruth Galloway series – modern and ancient crimes blended with in depth archaeological knowledge and fascinating histories.

Roman burial sites! Salt marsh henges! WW2 mysteries! Murdered curators that have something to do with recently unearthed medieval archbishops! And those are only the first four books…

This series has sucked me in completely, with Griffith’s fantastic character work and mysteries set in a backdrop of sparse Norfolk landscapes. I didn’t know I liked crime fiction beyond my Christmas-time Agatha Christie hit, but this series has changed that. I have yet to guess the bad guys in any of her books so far, which I feel is the mark of a really gripping thriller.

We will of course be talking about her non-Ruth Galloway books as well! Maybe.

I’d love to see you there to hear all about Elly Griffiths and see me completely fangirl at her on stage. Join us!

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave | 1 Minute Reviews

Note: In America this book is known as The Cartographer’s Daughter.

The Girl of Ink and Stars is a great adventure and a future classic.

Isabella is a budding cartographer whose skills are required when one girl is murdered and another runs away, lost in the island’s Forgotten Territories. But who killed the girl, why are the animals fleeing to the sea, and what is that churning feeling in her stomach?

Were the stories her Da told her just stories, or could the myths of Arintara be real?

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Dressing as a boy, Isa escapes her home and goes to rescue her missing friend, while determined to solve the mysteries of the island of Joya.

Isa is a great heroine, brave and a little reckless, and in Joya, Hargrave has created a fascinating world. This is a lyrical, wonderful story of friendship. A book to read and to pass on to all the women you know.

In the British edition, the pages are decorated with cartography symbols. It really is one of the most beautiful children’s books.

This is a powerful debut children’s novel from poet Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and has been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by an Author of Colour and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. I personally believe it should win both.

Suitable for children aged 9 and up. This is a great novel for adventurous girls that shows they can be the main character not just the sidekick.

Interested? Get it here.

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Moonstone by Sjón | 1 Minute Reviews

This beautiful little book arrived in my postbox earlier this week and I couldn’t take my eyes off it, and so decided to sit down and enjoy it in one sitting.

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Máni Stein Karlsson, a sex worker who sees male clients, spends his days in Reykavik avidly watching the best of cinema and admiring the beautiful leather-clad motorbike-riding Sola G-, clutching at her lost bright red scarf.

The year is 1918 and Spanish Flu strikes the town, and so everything begins to change. The cinemas fall abandoned, the streets become emptied as disaster strikes and people die, leading Máni to work as an assistant to the few overworked doctors treating the influenza epidemic.

This is a beautiful novel that captures Iceland in the wake of a volcano eruption and complete devastation of a community. It has a gentle melancholy that reminds me ever so of Stoner by John Williams or A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler.

While Máni is a fictional character, it is clear that this novel is from a personal place. At the climax, it is revealed to be linked to Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson’s (whose pen name is Sjón, meaning sight) own life.

A short novel at around 140 pages, this book really touched me and I look forward to reading more works by Sjón.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you ever so much to Sceptre for sending me a copy of Moonstone.

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff | 1 Minute Reviews

This book absolutely took my breath away. I’ve been thinking about how to sum it up, how to find the right words. I probably cannot do it justice here, but know that you really should read this.

 

Maresi lives in the Red Abbey, where she was sent after the Hunger Winter. The Red Abbey is a sacred place, isolated on its own island Menos, inhabited only by women. Here, the girls can learn, read, reach their full potentials under the tutelage of the Sisters of the Abbey.

One day, a girl arrives covered in dirt and scars on a ship – Jai. Fleeing persecution from her abusive family, Jai lives in fear that the men of her family will not let her escape from them. Not truly.

And that’s when they arrive on a boat.

Maresi is an absolutely stunning book on the patriarchal ownership and subjugation of women, a story of honour killings and brutality. Maria Turtschaninoff’s writing is stunning and this feels like one of the most sophisticated YA novels I’ve read. A spiritual descendent of The Handmaid’s Tale, Maresi is the first book in the promising Red Abbey Chronicles.

Interested? Buy it here in hardback or paperback. I’m a bit in love with both covers.

What to read next:

Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon | 1 Minute Reviews

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Steampunk pirate ships.

I’m sure many of you, as I did when I first head that portion of premise, just sat up and went excuse me?

Let me introduce you to one of my new favourite series: The Tellus Saga by Lucy Saxon – whose birthday it is today! Happy birthday Lucy! The Tellus Saga, which will feature six books with each following a character from a different country (see the map below), begins with Take Back the Skies, a rip roaring adventure of taking down corrupt governments in Anglya.

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Catherine is lucky; born and raised as a Government child in Anglya, she has never wanted for anything and lives in the lap of luxury. As her mother’s mysterious illness deepens and her father’s threat of an arranged marriage, Catherine takes her life into her own hands and stows away on a skyship, as Cat the boy who escaped a Governmental Collection.

Once discovered and allowed to stay onboard provided she proves her worth, Catherine realises that the truths she was fed are nothing more than propaganda to keep the people oppressed. Determined to use her insider knowledge from a life as a privileged Government child, Cat and the crew of the Stormdancer decide to take down the Government of Anglya.

Take Back the Skies is a truly exciting steampunk dystopian adventure, set in a world that I’m excited to explore throughout the six novels.

Interested? Get it here. The second book, The Almost King, is already out and the third book, The City Bleeds Gold, is due out in March. Perfect time to launch into a new series!

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The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury | 1 Minute Reviews

This review is a rare thing because it also is partly a review of a re-read, and I have only re-read two other books before – To Kill a Mockingbird (about eight times) and Six of Crows (cannot keep away from that banter).

Twylla is the Sin Eater’s Daughter, or she was once, before she gave it all up for a life of glamour and royalty as Daunen Embodied, the reborn daughter of the Gods. But fleeing one life of duty has led her to be trapped in another, and she finds herself the weapon of the kingdom of Lormere, the executioner. A girl with poison in her skin that can kill just by a single touch.

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These covers are so good it is frankly rude

The Sin Eater’s Daughter finds Twylla shortly after she has executed her only friend for treason, lost and alone. Twylla is naive, and knows only the world of Sin Eating or Daunen. She cannot read. She has no one. When her new guard Lief arrives from the country of Tregellan, Lormere’s longstanding rival, Twylla starts to question the world she knows.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter is a mesmerising high fantasy novel on battling duty and choice, as naive Twylla tries to keep her head afloat in a kingdom ruled over by the cruel Queen Helewys. Melinda’s writing is suffused with nature, flowers, passion and fury. It also has ripped out my heart more times than the Sleeping Prince (in-jokes for the Salisbury nerds).

The first time I read this book, I knew I loved it. Re-reading it has shown me so much more beneath the surface, as I read in anticipation for finishing the trilogy, with The Sleeping Prince to follow and The Scarecrow Queen closing the series this March.

You should definitely read this. Get it here, and then have the other two to hand so that you can finish it in one delicious feast.

What to read next:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli | 1 Minute Reviews

Simon is in love with someone he has never met… Or at least, he’s pretty sure they’ve never met.

After finding Blue’s coming out post on his school’s tumblr specifically for secrets, secretly gay Simon Spier and mysterious Blue begin a romance over emails.

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But when Simon logs on at school, their romance is spotted by awkward yet confrontational Martin. Threatening to out him to the whole school, Martin blackmails Simon into setting him up with his best friend Abby.

Despite the scary start, this is actually really lovely book about first loves, coming out, and friendships changing as we grow. Simon is a wonderful little dork and you will guaranteed spend the whole book being like HE IS BLUE NO THAT GUY IS BLUE OH GOD I HOPE IT ISN’T THAT GUY which is super fun.

Simon also grapples coming out to his closest friends, while also balancing jealousies and strains building between them all.

And of course, there’s a lot of musical theatre in it.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is laugh out loud, swoony and altogether a heap of fun. It’s definitely a must-read novel for days when you need cheering up.

Also truth? I really wanted to post a load of tumblr fan art here but it totally spoils who Blue is so you’ll have to wait. Don’t go looking either! Enjoy the mystery!

You should go buy it here. And get some oreos to eat while you read.

A follow up book from Leah’s POV has been announced, as has a movie adaptation called Love, Simon. Becky’s second book, also set in the same universe, is called The Upside of Unrequited.

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