Review: 52 Times Britain was a Bellend by James Felton

52 Times Britain was a Bellend: The History You Didn’t Get Taught At School52 Times Britain was a Bellend: The History You Didn’t Get Taught At School by James Felton
My rating:
[Audiobook, Narrated by Mathew Baynton]

This book may be short, but it very effectively highlights just some of the many (many, many) times throughout history when Britain and the British were, indeed, complete and utter fecking bellends. It’s told with pointed dark humour, and Mathew Baynton (of Horrible Histories, etc) is the perfect narrator for the tone of the book.

I thought it was pretty accessible as a history book – quite the opposite of dry and dull. The only caveat is that there’s a LOT of swearing, so if you’re not into that, and the title didn’t already give you a clue, best steer clear. Not one for the younger kids either, of course, despite the Horrible Histories link!

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Review: Sophie’s Halloo by Patricia Wynn

Sophie's HallooSophie’s Halloo by Patricia Wynn
My rating:

This is a rather lovely braincandy comfort read. There’s very little conflict, and what there is is pretty easily resolved. Even the characters that caused that conflict are well-meaning. Sophie and Tony are charming, and sweet together. All in all it’s an enjoyable, gentle and light-hearted romance.

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Review: The Paper Princess by Marion Chesney

The Paper PrincessThe Paper Princess by Marion Chesney
My rating:

A fun, light read laced with some gentle satire – society believes Felicity’s masquerade because no-one wants to risk looking stupid by admitting they’ve never heard of ‘Brasnia’ or its royal family. Several characters – the stepfather, the butler, the stuck-up fiancée – deliberately lean towards caricature, and Miss Chubb(inski) is clearly living her best am-dram life. The hero is aware of Felicity’s secrets pretty much the whole time, so there’s barely any conflict caused by that.

All in all, it’s cheerful braincandy, and well worth a read if you’re looking for a light-hearted Regency romance.

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Review: Walking Home by Clare Balding

Walking Home: My Family and Other RamblesWalking Home: My Family and Other Rambles by Clare Balding
My rating:

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, and having Clare Balding narrating herself was great. It’s a warm, engaging and charming memoir which intersperses anecdotes from her broadcasting career and personal life with the story of the slightly chaotic attempt at a family walk along the Wayfarer’s Walk near the family home.

The stories about the Ramblings radio programme are lovely, as are the anecdotes from her coverage of the Olympics, with lots of behind-the-scenes commentary. It made me grin to hear about Chad’s Dad! I remember watching that during the 2012 Olympics, and it was fun to be reminded of that, and hear Clare’s perspective.

Unusually for me, I think I might actually listen to this again. I was in a bit of a hurry to finish it before my library loan expired, so I didn’t skip back to re-listen to any bits that I was distracted from. I enjoyed this enough that I’d be happy hear it all again without getting bored.

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Review: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Trading in DangerTrading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon
(Vatta’s War #1)
My rating:

I loved this book when I first read it, and I still do now. I can’t remember now if it was the first of Elizabeth Moon’s sci-fi books I read, but I’m pretty sure it was one that made me keen to read the rest of her work.

I really like Ky – she doesn’t let anything outwardly phase her, but she admits it’s a learned tactic rather than a personality trait. She has plenty of self-doubts and frustrations – not surprising considering the shock of being booted from her military academy in chapter one. But she’s very determined to prove herself, and she’s shown to be good in a crisis. I think she grows through the book, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she goes next.

The supporting cast has some interesting characters who seem to have plenty of potential to develop more. The plot kept me interested through the whole thing, and the ending tied up the immediate story nicely with the reveal of the Chekhov’s Gun device that was dropped in early on. There are a lot of story threads left dangling, so it’s very clearly the first of a series. It definitely makes me keen to read on. (I maaaay have opened up the next sequel already – it picks up directly from the ending of this book.)

It’s been a while since I’ve read this, so of course I can’t remember all the details of the story. So I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen with Ky and the crew, with the rest of the family (including eccentric Aunt Grace), and with MMAC and the ISC – the events of TiD are bound to have an effect on Ky’s relationships with those organisations. Oh, and of course, will there be appearances from characters who’ve only been mentioned? Ky deserves the chance to clobber Hal at the very least!

In short, if you like space opera sci-fi with strong, likeable (but not “perfect”) female leads, I can definitely recommend this. I’m pretty sure I’ll be re-reading again in the future.

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Review: Those Endearing Young Charms by Marion Chesney

Those Endearing Young CharmsThose Endearing Young Charms by Marion Chesney
My rating:

He’s an arse who can’t admit when he’s in the wrong; She’s a sheltered teenager with her head in the clouds. Together, they jump to ridiculous conclusions! And eventually, learn to have an actual conversation.

Essentially, this is a series of epic misunderstandings, people being idiots, and not communicating. To be fair, they start off on a bad footing, and continue being arsey / ditzy from there. I found it an amusing, quick read though. Not as good as other books by the same author, but fun to roll my eyes at the idiots nevertheless.

Also, I choose to believe that Peter the Feline Overlord will continue to be in charge, no matter what the Earl thinks.

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Review: My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh

My Fake Rake (Union of the Rakes, #1)My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh
(Union of Rakes #1)
My rating:

Oh, those oblivious nerds-in-love. Their dorkiness made me grin, I enjoyed their chemistry, and I even liked their obstinate insistence on sticking to the plan and thus making themselves miserable. It seemed in character.

I think what I liked most about this book was the equal weight it seemed to put on the various friendships, alongside the romance. It was that more than anything that would make me pick up another one of this series.

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“Jane looped her arm through Grace’s. “Come. Let us seek out two things that never fall short of our expectations.”
“Books and cakes?”

– My Fake Rake, Ch 10

Review: WTF? by Robert Peston

WTF: What have we done? Why did it happen? How do we take back control?WTF: What have we done? Why did it happen? How do we take back control? by Robert Peston
My rating:

A really interesting listen, and I think reading (/listening to) it now in Feb 2020 with knowledge of what’s happened since the book concluded – changes in party leaderships, for eg – makes it more so. It’s a great analysis of all the WTF-ery that’s been going on in British and international politics and economics recently, and I enjoyed the bits of behind-the-scenes commentary.

I did have some trouble engaging with the Peston-narrated letter to his father in the first chapter, to start with. I think it took me a while to tune-in to his rapid seeming narration style, which was pretty much as he reports on broadcast media. It didn’t bother me on the final chapter though, and the narration for the bulk of the book is great.

All in all, I found it thought-provoking and informative. Worth a read!

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Review: Lady Sparrow by Barbara Metzger

Lady SparrowLady Sparrow by Barbara Metzger
My rating:

This was a fun read. It has plenty of those little tongue-in-cheek moments and wry asides that I like about Barbara Metzger’s books. It’s not all fluffy braincandy, but even the more serious subjects are kept fairly light. Not so much that it glosses over them, though.
Will probably read again one day.

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Review: An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair

An Accidental GoddessAn Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair
My rating:

I thought I’d gone off the SFR genre lately, but when I finally went through and got all my old palm-reader books from Fictionwise converted so that I can read them on my current e-reader, I opened this one to check it all looked ok, and was hooked all over again. I’m pretty sure this was also the first book of the genre I’d read back in 2005 and, yep, I still really like it.

The romance does feel very sudden, or rather becomes serious very very fast, but I love the characters and all the little details about the station and culture, and the adventure part of the plot feels equally as important to me.
I found Gillie’s reasons for hiding her full identity were valid, and it made sense that she’d got a bit tangled up in her omissions as the plot went on – she hadn’t intended to stay on the station, but then things snowballed and it all got a bit awkward. She was rather stuck between a rock and a hard place with the choice between fibbing and undermining a major part of the Khalaran culture.

If there had been more in this universe, I’d want to see more of Simon, especially now he’s got himself a corporeal form. Note to self: look for fanfic. All in all, well worth the re-read!

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