Two important non-fiction books have come across my desk in the last few months and I felt it was a great opportunity to share my take on them together.
I’m non-binary (or genderqueer). I have never felt wholly woman or wholly man, and is something I’ve felt but not quite understood for my entire life. I’ve explored various transitioning options, but right now I’m happy with a binder on my dysphoric days and people not referring to me as a lady/girl/woman, though I’m fine with she pronouns. Important aside note: this varies with every single person, so be sure to ask them!
The last few years have been a very interesting time for trans rights. You may remember a few years ago Laverne Cox graced the front cover of Time magazine, with the phrase “The Transgender Tipping Point” alongside her. This was 2014; Cox was a trans woman playing a trans character on Orange is the New Black and Caitlin Jenner had just announced that she would be transitioning. This was a time of hope, of visibility.
In the last twelve months, it has felt like acceptable discrimination towards trans women in particular has escalated in the UK. It has felt, in watching from the sidelines, that much of the trans-exclusionary discourse has been allowed to continue as though it was a legitimate topic of discussion, as though debating someone’s personhood is okay. I’m not going to link to the fundraiser by disgraced former Labour Party members, but this article goes into a little detail of what’s been happening, for example, within a political party that is support to stand up for the oppressed. Meanwhile, the media has continued to pit trans exclusionary feminists against trans women on talk shows in some misguided and dangerous effort for the sake of balance. Paris Lees refers to the current wave of violence towards trans people as an epidemic.
One way you can support trans people is through buying work from trans creators, but also by reading about them, educating yourselves on their lives and the issues they face daily. For this, I would immediately direct your attention to two books: Trans Like Me by CN Lester and Trans Britain edited by Christine Burns.
Trans Like Me is a mixture of memoir and writing about the current climate around trans people. Lester, who is non-binary, has created an informative introduction to issues surrounding trans people without ever being patronising. While trans people may be familiar with much of the introductory topics Lester provides, I suspect that much of the information about current issues for trans people will be new to many cis people.
As a non-binary person, I found reading Lester’s struggles with presentation and their frustrations at the limitations of hormonal therapy — to be personal here, a major factor in not taking hormones for me was wanting to maintain my singing voice, the same as Lester.
It is an affirming, emotional book that made me cry multiple times.
Trans Britain is a very different but complementary book to Trans Like Me; a historical anthology, including essays from individual people telling their own story within the major eras of trans history in the UK. Burns sets the scene by dividing the book into three distinct sections, and introducing them to the climate of that era, providing a reader with an overview that places the following essays within a clear cultural context.
The chapter on non-binary people was an essential learning process for me, seeing how we fit into the historical trans movement. I’ve only really began to understand myself as non-binary, knowing that I’ve always been “other” than the binary gender options, and this chapter in particular made me feel so much more connected to myself.
This is a book of mini-memoirs, and the story of a history that is still unfolding.
These are both a great place to start. This thread I did for Trans Day of Remembrance has a number of recommendations from genres beyond non-fiction, so no matter what your reading style is there’s something for you to read. If young adult fiction is a favourite of yours, there are a number of trans main characters in the novels reference in this list.
Have you read either of these books? Do you have any recommendations? Tell me in the comments!
In one of their most recent episodes, Alice devised a series of questions about what sort of reader you are, and I decided I’d answer them too — thanks to Alice for sending them over to me! I answered them before Christmas and then appeared to promptly forget about posting this, but anyway, enjoy.
How many books have you read so far this year? How do you keep track?
It is currently the 22nd of December and I have read 258 books. This figure is massively inflated due to reading several 20 volume long romance manga earlier this year, but we’re still looking at around 170 full length novels, which I’m pretty pleased about. Quality matters most over quantity, of course, but I’ve managed to read some great things and avoid most stinkers.
One at a time or do you jump between books?
I currently have around 10 books on the go according to GoodReads, which is a lie really. There’s one memoir about Wales that’s been on there for over a year, and I gave up on American Gods mid-year because I felt so pressured to finish it before the Amazon show came out that it was sucking the joy from it.
Saying that, I do often have several non-fiction books on the go — right now I’m reading an essay at a time from Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis, Trans Britain by Christine Burke and All the Weight of Our Dreams by the Autism Women’s Network. This means I can appreciate each section of the books separately but also think about their place in a wider context. Or at least, that’s my excuse for having so many going.
I often have one or two fiction books on the go, as well as a poetry collection and a series of manga. My bedside table is a mess, unless I’ve cleaned it recently… like today.
Do you push through to the end no matter what, or do you give up on books?
I never used to give up on books, but I realised that life is too short. I’m lucky that I’m rarely sent anything I don’t like but I’ve had to DNF (did not finish) a few books in 2017 that I thought I was going to enjoy but just could not get into for a number of reasons.
I think also that timing is so, so important with books — a book that you can’t get into today might be perfect for you in six months time.
Where and when do you tend to read?
Everywhere and anytime. At home I tend to read on the couch or in bed, usually after breakfast and a play with Nerys, then for a bit in the afternoon and then all evening. I always read in the bath. I read on the tube sometimes too, but I’m often distracted by podcasts or music from 2005-2007 (the golden era).
What’s your ideal reading session set up?
Bed, with the dog on my feet, and a big cup of tea next to me. Occasionally, I’ll treat myself to a Tomy Moly sheet mask to go with it. Low lighting, with my Lumie lamp, Totoro light that Lilith bought me for secret Santa and a candle on the go. Very therapeutic.
Do you reread books? What’s your most reread book?
For years I swore I wouldn’t, and then I realised that’s ridiculous. I rewatch movies with a passion — literally, I might finish a film and put it back on again because I liked it so much. This might go on for… some time. Oh autism, you massive lol.
My most re-read book is either Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, which I’ve definitely read at least four times, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
How do you mark your place?
I used to be a page turner but so many people were disgusted I was a little bit shamed out of it, though with proofs I’m not so precious and will still do this. I like a good bookmark but I’m forever losing them. Receipts and train tickets, or even any old bit of paper, end up replacing them.
In fact, this reminds me that years ago I found a strip of photographs from a booth of two people in an Ali Smith book and I tried really hard to find the owners using the power of social media, but no luck. The two of them look so happy and besotted with each other that I kept them, and sometimes I use that.
Do you use an e-reader?
I have done in the past. I’m very glad they exist, as when I was in the Philippines with an enormous ear abscess and couldn’t dive for a week all I had was my trusty kindle and my hammock. Thanks to that I was able to read all of The Hunger Games, Brideshead Revisited, Little Women and a couple of other books, narrowly avoiding complete madness (it looks beautiful but I was literally trapped in my research station on the rocks for over a week).
Now, I don’t. I realised quickly that my ability to retain information from reading on Kindle and other screens is very limited. I’ve always been a print-it-out kind of person, and that extends to books too. It’s a pity because I could be such a minimalist, but as it stands I have to stick to physical books.
How do you decide what to read next?
This depends on a few things. I have quite a big list of books that I have for review noted in my bullet journal, alongside important dates I should ideally publish reviews by and promote on social media. I was all prepped earlier this year to stay on track but then I went and started an independent press with some friends so I’m very behind.
So I have my review TBR, and my recently purchased TBR, and also a drawer full of books I’ve picked up in charity shops. Sometimes I just go with my heart, even if I have a lot of other things to read, because at the end of the day you might not love something as much as you could if you read it at the wrong time, or push it (see my point about American Gods above, which I will return to).
Where do you buy books?
All over the place. Waterstones, independent bookshops (though admittedly not as much as I should), and direct from small presses such as 404 Ink, Dead Ink and Unbound. I’ve had to emergency Amazon a few things this year before hosting last minute events. Needs must, I suppose, but I try not to actually buy books from there even if I do use their website to create the most complex wishlist system.
Which book shop sections do you like to browse?
Children’s is always my go to floor, followed by fiction. If there’s a queer reads or BAME writing section, I will always gravitate to there — luckily in Waterstones Piccadilly they are right next to each other, separated by the independent presses; basically my favourite corner.
I like to hate-browse gender studies sections, and very occasionally hide transphobic or whorephobic writers behind books by great people like Sara Ahmed or Melissa Gira Grant. I’m an ex bookseller so I know exactly how annoying this is, but I can’t stop myself.
Do you judge a book by its cover?
Yes, of course. While a bad cover won’t prevent me from reading a book — I’m looking at you, Europa editions of Elena Ferrante — but a good cover will encourage me. I am a magpie, especially for beautiful clothbound editions in that scratchy material.
Do you own multiple editions of the same book?
I try not to. I might rebuy a copy, especially if I’ve been sent a proof and fallen in love with the book; I want to support the authors however I can after all, and proof copies are not made to last and provide the author with exactly zilch. Once I have a new copy, proof goes in the recycling bin or older edition goes to charity shop/someone who wants it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a tweet by Roxanne Gay. One of her books (I believe it is Nasty Women) has been recovered for a special edition and someone said they were going to rebuy it, and she asked instead that they spend their money on a debut author. Whenever I consider rebuying a book now, I try and consider this more.
Saying all this, if a series changes cover half way through, I will end up rebuying because non-matching covers makes me feel a little physically sick (again, thanks autism).
Do you lend your books to other people, and if so are you particular about their condition on return?
I literally lend my books to three people, and even then I can feel nervous about it. It’s not because of condition; I am terrible at losing track of who has my books and I get really, really upset if they go missing (which has happened many times). I only lend books if I’m not bothered about their condition upon return, because its hard to expect other people live up to your anal standards.
I never borrow books from people because I instantly forget they belong to someone else, and are immediately incorporated into my bookshelf. Admittedly, I worry that people who borrow books from me might be as irresponsible as I.
I would much prefer to buy someone a copy of a book rather than lend them my copy, and tend to keep an eye out in charity shops for books that people have asked to borrow so I can get them their own copy.
Do you write in your books?
Very, very rarely do I make a note, or scribble in a book of my own. I like dedications very much, especially when a friend has gifted you it. It makes a copy so much more special, and it always hurts my heart a little to find books in charity shops with dedications inside them.
That’s it! All my weird behaviours. What about you guys? Do you have any strange book habits? Tell me in the comments.
I love a well-curated anthology. There is nothing better than diving into a book that feels like a lucky dip of voices, many of whom you’ve never read before. I also love the flexibility you get with an anthology; only got 10 minutes, no problem! You can read a few poems, maybe even a whole short story or an essay in that time. They are the perfect commuter companion and excellent options for busy times like Christmas, when you want to grab some quiet time before you’re called away again.
I leapt at the chance to create a series of anthologies at our micropublisher 3 of Cups Press. Our first, On Anxiety, launches in January and you can preorder it still through our website shop. There are more coming in later 2018 too – keep a particular eye out for February book fans!
But until then, here are some of my favourites to keep you going!
Also, a quick note, in writing this, I realised this quickly became a love letter for all the independent presses that I know and love, who you should throw some of your book money at in the coming year. These guys do fantastic work and I want them to stick around!
Okay, let’s go.
A Change is Gonna Come is the wonderful young adult anthology that features only BAME authors, created by the team at Stripes publishing. The book features twelve authors, contributing ten short fiction pieces and two poems. Change represents the future of publishing – voices that have been historically untapped, stories yet to be told. It is an absolutely divine book of exceptionally high quality, and not one of the stories felt like a duffer. I’ve actually read the anthology twice – once back in August when I was in the middle of Kickstarter hell, and just this last month so that I could refresh my mind. In particular, Aisha Bushby’s piece made me sob on my dog and Tanya Byrne’s Hackney Moon is just the most wonderful queer love story that I have ever read. I want more from all these authors immediately. Stripes and Little Tiger Press also produced the wonderful collection I’ll Be Home For Christmas last year, and in my opinion are a publisher to watch.
Sliding over to non fiction, my first recommendation is The Good Immigrant is an award winning collection of essays from BAME people living in Britain, collated and edited by the wonderful Nikesh Shukla. This is an extremely timely collection about what it means to be an immigrant or a person of colour in the UK today. The collection includes 21 voices in essays covering their wide ranging experiences and perspectives. It is so difficult to say anything about The Good Immigrant that hasn’t already been said by many, many people. Believe the hype; this book is fantastic and essential reading for anyone living in the UK. From Nikesh Shukla and his wonderful agent Julia Kingsford, we now have The Good Journal, a quarterly literary magazine featuring BAME authors and artists, and The Good Literary Agency, launching in 2018.
Did you know The Good Immigrant was published through Unbound, an independent publishing crowdfunding platform. They produce the most magical books and you must go check them out. I particularly recommend you check out Cut From the Same Cloth and A Country to Call Home, which are both still in the funding process. Check them out!
It would be remiss of me to discuss anthologies without looking at Nasty Women, another stunning and award winning anthology released this year. What does it mean to be a woman in the 21st century? What does it mean to stand up against misogyny, racism and classism alongside sexism? Independent Scottish Publishers 404 Ink seek to answer this question in this excellent collection of essays and interviews from a number of brilliant women. Originally released as a Kickstarter that was 369% funded, the Nasty Women collection is now widely available, as is their first edition of the 404 Ink Literary Magazine, Error. The collection covers a wide range of topics – the feminist leanings of foraging, accountability in the punk scene, classism within the arts, the difficulty of living multiple racial identities, the struggle of loving Courtney Love. I feel that this collection would stand up well in a feminist starter pack of sorts, as we continue to gather around the rallying moniker of Nasty Women. Buy a copy for the young and old women in your life; there is something for everyone here, and while you’re at it, check out the other books and magazines produced by 404 Ink.
For both Nasty Women and The Good Immigrant, every single essay made me pause for thought and I enjoyed reading a single article then setting the book aside, allowing them to settle in my mind. While this meant it took me longer to read these books, it allowed me the extra time to connect to the voices and their experiences.
I’d like to add a quick recommendation for How Much the Heart Can Hold as well, a fiction anthology developed by Sceptre around the seven types of love, which they added a further story to by Phoebe Roy (also featured in Change) when the paperback was published. I enjoyed this immensely earlier this year, and have been in the process of seeking out works from the authors featured in the book. A great one to dip in and out of too.
In the meantime, I have a lot on my shelves that I’ve been dipping in and out of recently and so haven’t had time to review properly, but I wanted to mention them now:
Know Your Place edited by Nathan Connolly and published by Dead Ink Books. this book is essays about being working class, in the style of The Good Immigrant.
I’ve not really been in the YA scene very long. I started my job as a bookseller on Halloween in 2015, where I dressed up as a witch and read spooky stories to little ones. I already had a bit of a love affair with children’s literature going on, but admittedly much of that was a love for the books I read as a child.
I officially stopped being a teenager back in 2006, but I hadn’t really been reading very much at all for the previous four years ago due to a combination of exams, working numerous part time jobs and discovering boys.
And so, there are many young adult authors that have risen to prominence in the almost 15 (oh god) years since I stopped reading YA as an actual teenager. Stuff published in the last two years? Sure, I know it, probably own it, have likely read it, definitely have sold a few copies of it.
In my determination to read all the back catalogue of UKYA that I have shamefully missed out on, I figured I’d start with some of my absolute favourite people in the whole world. And so, we begin with literal angel human Non Pratt.
For those of you who may not know her, Non is a former children’s editor who then turned her hand to writing her own young adult fiction. She was the author who raised money for charity by shaving her head in front of an audience at the Young Adult Literature Con this year, which startled Benedict Cumberbatch who happened to walk in on us all chanting “SHAVE SHAVE”, which sounded a lot like that scene from Game of Thrones. More recently, she got two of the cutest kittens in the world and you should follow her on Twitter (and read her books).
I read Non’s books out of publication order, and have listed them in the same way.
Unboxed (2016) is Non’s first book for dyslexic friendly publisher Barrington Stoke, and follows a group of friends who come together to retrieve a time capsule they had hidden on their school premises. However, in the years that have passed since its creation, their group has gone from five to four. As they open the box, they find a new addition from Millie, commanding the four to read aloud all their letters from all those years ago, and to share their deepest, darkest fears with each other. This may be the smallest of her books, but boy does this pack a huge punch to the heart. This is a book filled with the memory of friendships that were, changed by time and situation; the nostalgia of returning to places so imbued with specific moments in time.
Remix (2015) is Pratt’s sophomore novel, a perfect summer read that follows two best friends as they attend their first music festival. I really like this summery novel – Kaz and Ruby both exploring growing up, relationships with boys and their own identities as people. It’s definitely a book that suits being read in the summer, lying on a patch of grass and reminiscing about your lost youth at muddy festivals (or that’s just me).
Pratt’s first novel, Trouble (2014), is probably my personal favourite of her works. Hannah is such a passionate, witty and brilliant character who finds herself pregnant. When new boy Aaron arrives at school, Hannah finds herself drawn to him, only for him to offer to pretend to be the father of her unborn child. I found Hannah’s voice incredibly refreshing; a young working class person determined to be true to herself and her child. Rarely have I seen a character who felt so true to my own teen years – awkward drinks swigged while lurking cold parks.
While Trouble is my favourite by a smidgen, I strongly think that Truth or Dare is Pratt’s best book to date. Told in split perspective, Truth or Dare follows Claire and Sef as they start a Youtube channel charity project in order to raise money for the private health care Sef’s brother so desperately needs after an accident leaves him with pronounced neurological damage. The book is split into two halves; the book starts with Claire’s narrative before you physically flip the book over to Sef’s storyline (shortly after which I sent Non a bunch of tweets with expletives in them). It is a brilliant story that also highlights a lot of problems with health care for disabled people, how the standard of it is so often hinged on how unwell you are and what borough you live in.
Wonderful Non has two very exciting books coming out next year: first of all Second Best Friend, her second outing for Barrington Stoke, followed by Floored from My Kinda Books in July, a book about several people stuck in a lift, authored by seven of UKYA’s brightest and best.
Have you read any of Non’s books? Which are you going to pick up next?
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.
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!
Autumn is drawing in and I don’t know about you, but the idea of standing around a park to catch that elusive Pikachu is becoming less appealing by the day. Autumn is by far my favourite season – not least because it heralds the most important point of the year, my birthday. Crunchy leaves and cardigans and tights and bright cold days. Those are days I wait for all year. And my birthday. Don’t underestimate how much I like my birthday. Tim has been woken up by me daily giving him the days-to-my-birthday tally.
Anyway, back to books.
Many people find they read more once the rare British sun finally says tally ho and retreats back into the ether for another 10 months or so, and luckily there’s a great selection of books you could be reading right now to take your mind off that.
I’m hoping to keep this going monthly, with The Brand New, In Case You Missed It and Because I Said So recommendations remaining consistent. Keep me honest guys.
There’s quite a strong YA leaning to this edition, that for some reason I presume won’t always be the case. Hahahha no. YA forever. I will convert everyone to avid YA readers, I will I will.
So, onto the books.
The Brand New
Arguably one of my favourite non-fictions this year just (quite rightly) won the Wainwright Prize and has just landed in paperback. The Outrun originally hit our shelves in February this year, and after hearing much buzz particularly from the #seatwitter crowd, I decided it was worth a hardback spend – spoiler, it was… is. The Outrun is part rediscovery-of-self memoir, part salute to nature and author Amy Liptrot’s Orcadian upbringing, completely engrossing. Amy words are raw, beautiful and harsh in turns. Named after a section of wild near her family farm, the book follows Amy through dipsomania in London where she chases wild highs and life’s edges, to her return to the islands of the very North, discovering new and old ways of life for herself. If Nature-memoir is your thing, then this is very much your thing.
I have quite literally just put down my copy of the most difficult to put down books for me so far this year. It is still sitting at my feet, warm from my clutching hands, flung down while I (lovingly but) furiously tweeted the author Laure Eve to say that a year was too long to wait for a sequel. The spiritual twin to The Craft has emerged – let all the former 90s witch babies rejoice and dig out black lipstick! The Graces follows River in her quest to be part of the circle of the Grace family – Fenrin, Summer, Thalia. Laure Eve cunningly gives away only minor details as you read, unfurling the plot, the magic and the deception. I only stopped reading to sleep and work, and have been glued to it since I started it 24 hours ago. What a stonker. Read it with some Nag Champa burning and The Craft soundtrack playing. I’d argue it’s probably my favourite YA release of the year.
I say that with it beating out As I Descended by a hair, a very fine hair at that. Because really, how can you beat lesbian Macbeth. You read that right. Robin Talley switches up the setting to a boarding school in Virginia, where Maria dreams of attaining the Kingsley Prize in order to attend a college of her choice. Replace witches with ghosts and a murderous history, and you have Macbeth via Heathers and The Craft. It opens with a ouija board. I cannot honestly explain how intense, brilliant and exciting it is. If you love Macbeth and YA, you have been waiting for this. If you’ve never read Macbeth, let this be your intro – Robin successfully needles into the desires of Macbeth (Maria) and Lady Macbeth (Lily) so well that it would be a great intro. While you are at it, definitely also pick up Robin’s book Lies We Tell Ourselves – desegregation of schools and cross-racial lesbian romance.
I’ve name checked The Craft twice already in this article, haven’t I?
Okay, okay back to books.
Winding our way back to nature, Melissa Harrison has brought out another seasonal anthology of writing – Autumn. The anthologies combine prose and poetry from authors across Britain to celebrate the Great British Autumn. While I’ve not read this one yet, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed dipping in and out of the previous editions of Spring and Summer, and thoroughly expect my favourite season to receive excellent treatment. Melissa is also author of the brilliant At Hawthorn Time, nominated for the Bailey’s Prize and reviewed on my blog earlier this year, here.
In case you missed it
I’m about 50 pages off the end of The Essex Serpent, and I’m not sure I can explain how wonderful this book is. The mystery of the Essex serpent brings opposites Cora Seabourne and William Ransome together in friendship and adventure – she a keen amateur naturalist, he the local vicar. This truly is a great Victorian novel of science and religion, and of enduring friendships. It is beautifully written, seamlessly executed. Definitely one for fans of Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree, due to shared settings, themes and stubborn characters. It’s taken me quite a while to get through The Essex Serpent, namely because on the morning of Brexit, I was so infuriated by the news that I left my copy on the Piccadilly line as it terminated at Rayner’s Lane. No amount of desperate tweeting from myself and lovely Sarah Perry could return my copy to me – though I must truly thank Penguin and Sceptre Books for being so kind to send me a handful of Fingers in the Sparkle Jar bookmarks, as I’d lost my only one in that book.
Yes, so in the end I treated myself on payday to a brand spanking new copy of the book in glorious hardback. Time for you to get on it – its worth the extra pennies I promise.
Because I said so
This is the part where I’m going to mention something that is neither that new or relevant in terms of September but that I haven’t mentioned before. I’m starting it off with the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (start here). My colleague Kate, who is an avid bookstagrammer, has long recommended me the works of Maas and I figured I’d get around to it eventually. And then, with one week before Empire of Storms landed, I got one of my signature ridiculous ideas and decided to try and read the series before the new one landed. Yes, completely silly. I did manage to read the first three though, which I consider a significant achievement of seven days. For complete transparency, I’m going to admit that I really disliked the first 70 odd pages of Throne of Glass – the focus remains on Celaena as being very beautiful don’t forget guys and setting up her love triangle. It was a little teeth achingly veering into Twilight territory for me and I found Celaena was being built up to be a Mary Sue. Thankfully I didn’t give up, because what people have told me about the books getting successively better really is true. It’s not due to revisionist writing either; Maas grows as a writer and reveals more of who Celaeana is and how her world functions. The writing is quippy, the violence gory, the love triangle contained to the first book, and Celaena herself grows on you, the grumpy little shit that she is.
Also here’s some fantastic fan art of her that keeps floating about on tumblr.
So there you have it, we are wrapped up. Go buy some books from your local friendly bookstore.
You can find me wittering a lot on Twitter, taking bad photos and writing mini reviews on Instagram, updating every time I finish a page on GoodReads.
I was sent review copies of The Graces (thank you to Naomi Colehurst & Faber Children’s), As I Descended (thank you to Olivia at Harper Collins), my original copy of The Essex Serpent (thank you to Serpent’s Tail). Receiving these copies in no way influences my reviews.