Aurabel by Laura Dockrill | 1 Minute Reviews

Hold up! This is the sequel to Lorali and there are spoilers abound! Go read that review, buy the book, read it. If you’ve done that already, then sure continue below.

It seems pretty appropriate that I would read the second book in this series at a time when there was flooding. Yes, once again our house was threatened by flooding, and no I didn’t move the books before the rain started, and now our kitchen is full of our books.

And once again, rather than dealing with that mess, I sat down and read Aurabel.

And, guys, my heart is so full.

I absolutely loved Laura Dockrill’s first mermaid novel, Lorali, and I’m really pleased to say that I love Aurabel just as much.

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This is a slightly different novel in terms of tone. There is a levity that was brought by The Sea and the pirates that is missing, although comic relief is provided again by the forum posters of MAMAT. However, given the ending of Lorali, this feels completely appropriate.

Aurabel is a Mer from the poor side of the sea, from the Tip where she lives with her girlfriend Murray. After the closure of the petrified forest by King Zar, a number of monsters crept in making it unsafe for Mer to visit their haven. Bowing to public pressure, Zar consents to reopening the forest provided the monsters are cleared out, bringing in feisty Aurabel for the job. But all does not go as planned when cruel Sienna intervenes, using plucky Aurabel’s demise as the spark for a coup. But Aurabel is not dead; just plotting her revenge.

Meanwhile, on land Lorali and Flynn mourn the loss of Rory as Iris slowly slips into illness. Lorali’s sad peace is interrupted by warnings from the sea; can she go back?

And over in the whirl, King Zar seems to have salvaged a familiar face who goes by the name of Kai…

This is a an emotional follow up to Lorali and I’m so glad it exists, tying up all the loose ends left in the first book – even relatively secondary characters like Opal, Iris and Carmine get a resolution.

Once again, Dockrill’s poetic background bleeds through into her atmospheric, pacy prose, weaving stunning imagery and fantastical landscapes.

As with Lorali, I whipped through this book. I woke up at 5.30 this morning and thought, heck I may as well just sit and finish this book now. What a treat. I absolutely love the world of the Mer that Dockrill created, and while I hope for more I’d be happy for the duology to end here, with a completion that the first story begged. Bravo.

Get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to Hot Key Books for sharing both of these books with me. They’ll be getting an annual re-read.

 

 

Trans by Juliet Jacques | 1 Minute Reviews

If you’re looking for a great primer on what life is like as a trans woman, you can’t do wrong by choosing Trans by Juliet Jacques. However, as you’ll see, the book is more than its title’s subject matter.

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Trans is the culmination of Jacques’ series written for the Guardian, about her transition from living as a man to living her truth as a woman. Beginning with the aftermath of her sexual reassignment surgery, and swiftly jumping back to her teenage years, Jacques writes with a brutal honesty about the issues facing trans women intermixed with her own experience of understanding her gender, and who she is.

Jacques also touches on the difficulties of being openly trans – both in the media and in private, facing off against people on all ends of the political spectrum who deny her existence and restrict her safety.

Alongside this, Trans is also a great story of growing up in the UK and trying to carve out a piece of the world for yourself under austerity. She writes openly about the difficulties of working within the NHS and of being a writer, an artist, in such a difficult economic climate. Her fears and triumphs will resonate with many young people today.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

 

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell | 1 Minute Reviews

Help, I’ve still not recovered from reading this dark little book.

Ellie Mack disappears one day after going to the library, never to be found. Ten years later, her mother Laurel is struggling to find closure on Ellie’s disappearance, even though the police chalk it up to her being a runaway.

A chance meeting with a handsome man in a cafe leads to a whirlwind romance, where Laurel comes face to face with Ellie’s doppleganger in a nine year old girl called Poppy.

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Unsettlingly creepy and heart-wrenching, Then She Was Gone follows Laurel as she reopens her own investigation to try and find out what happened to Ellie. This is a real tour de force of writing, as Jewell leads us down a decade old path and into the mind of a number of crucial characters.

Jewell’s characters leap from the page with such a strength of voice that blew me away. There are some really quite shocking and gruesome moments in this book, which jumps around the timeline of Ellie disappearing. The mystery reveals itself piece by piece and Jewell leaves you questioning yourself at every turn.

If you love thrillers, you must pick up this book. You will not be disappointed by this strange book from bestseller Lisa Jewell.

Get it here!

What to read next:

Thank you to the team at Century and Penguin Random House for sharing this book with me.

Girl Out of Water by Nat Luurtsema | 1 Minute Reviews

I have this idea that certain books demand to be read in particular places, seasons, towns. I had this notion that I’d be able to read Girl Out of Water at the side of the pool somewhere. Instead I had to settle for the bath.

Girl Out of Water is Nat Luurtsema’s debut YA novel, and is so hilarious that I slipped in the bath laughing and dunked myself. Beware, you will snort-laugh in public.

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Determined to be an Olympic swimmer, Lou’s poor times means her dreams of aquatic stardom are quashed, whereas her best friend Hannah finds herself pressing forward to the training camp. Without anything else to call her own, Lou is convinced by three popular boys to act as their coach for synchronised swimming routines for Britain’s Hidden Talent, a Saturday night televised talent show.

Going up against her old swimming team, can Lou’s boys prove they aren’t just a bit useless and steal the show? Well, I can tell you there are some incidents involving a statue stuck to a car, an aquarium and a possible local mafia.

I whizzed through this novel cackling and snorting. I’ve just discovered (thanks to snooping) that the currently unnamed sequel has been finished and will hopefully be released to the world next Summer, which I’m absolutely desperate for.

This is a sparkling UK YA for fans of Holly Bourne, Louise Rennison and Holly Smale. Dive in!

Buy it here.

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to Walker YA for sharing this copy with me.

The Great Soul of Siberia by Sooyong Park | 1 Minute Reviews

As a child, I used to watch a lot of nature documentaries, particularly one called The Realm of the Russian Bear, which also featured beautiful Siberian tigers. I was obsessed with their grace and beauty, and their power.

The Great Soul of Siberia filled me with the glee I felt as a child, seeing those striped elegant creatures glide through the snow.

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Sooyung Park has been studying and following tigers in the Ussuri region of Russia for over 20 years. Not only is this book an ode to the great cats he built his life around, but it is a biography of the region, its people and their culture.

His prose is gentle, respectful, elegant, and had me in tears a number of times, wishing with him that these beautiful animals can survive a seemingly impending extinction. There are some real heart-in-the-mouth moments when you realise how flimsy Park’s hides are, especially when the tigers start to notice.

Honestly, this is a beautiful piece of nature writing that encompasses Russian politics and the art of film making.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to Harper Collins & William Collins for sharing this copy with me.

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot | 1 Minute Reviews

I am truly overwhelmed by The Outrun. I read it in hardback last year, and I still think of it. I pick the stunning book off my shelf and flick through, submerging myself in Liptrot’s prose and observations.

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Part rediscovery-of-self memoir, part salute to nature and her Orcadian upbringing, completely engrossing.

The Outrun follows Amy through London and alcoholism, chasing wild highs and life’s edges, to her return to the islands of the North, to discover new ways of life for herself. Here she re-discovers the thrills and love of nature, both on her family’s land (including the outrun which the book is named for) and the other islands around her.

Liptrot writes with raw words, often beautiful and harsh in turns.  Honestly this book is wonderful, blunt and honest, delicate and hopeful.

Last year, The Outrun scooped up the Wainwright Prize for non fiction and was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize. It’s recognition is completely founded. If you haven’t read this book yet, make it a priority. It is unforgettable.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 by Naoki Higashida | 1 Minute Reviews

Back when I was still wandering the waters of am I autistic, I read Naoki Higashida’s first book The Reason I Jump. I was on a train from the bookshop in the Chilterns back to my regular bookshop to meet my colleagues for work drinks, and I whizzed through it. I arrived flapping and buzzing with information, which they kindly took on board even though I was definitely oversharing in that autism specific interest kind of way.

When the publicity bods at Hodder told me last year that another of Naoki’s books had been translated into English, that rush came back to me.

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Naoki Higashida, an autistic Japanese man, once again delivers in creating a wonderful book of short essays, poetry and short fiction. This edition was originally published in Japan in 2015, deemed as the most illuminating of Higashida’s books by author David Mitchell. Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 also includes a number of essays that were originally printed in the Japanese edition of The Big Issue, which he quite regularly writes for.

Higashida’s short essays are insightful, illuminating and beautiful; he has a way with words that captivates me. As a mostly non verbal autistic man, he writes about the ways people treat similarly disabled people – talking as though they aren’t there, habitually removing their dignity or choices for the sake of ease, the frustration of being unable to communicate the nuances of your needs. His writing is essential reading for anyone interested in disability rights, as well as for anyone wanting to know more about autistic people.

Living in a way different to everyone else requires a degree of courage.

His poetry is rooted in dreams; simplistic, poignant and beautiful. His writing is lyrical, careful. His observations on human behaviour are astute.

GRATITUDE

The point

of gratitude

lies in first

feeling gratitude

that one owes

gratitude.

As an autistic person, I can say that autistic and neurotypical people will find a lot to love here.

This is a book that can be both devoured in one go and read a short essay at a time. It is a book that settles in your mind, flickering thoughts that linger.

I’m very hopeful that more of Higashida’s books will be translated by David Mitchell and KA Yoshida over the years, as his writing floors me every time.

Buy it from Book Depository!

What to read next:

Want to read more books about or by autistic people? Check out the Essential Autistic Reading List.

Thank you ever so much to Sceptre Books and the team at Hodder for sharing this important book with me.