Flash Reviews: ‘Moranifesto’, ‘Cities I’ve Never Lived In’, and ‘Rapture’

Time for some more mini reviews!


Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran **** 9780091949051
I think Caitlin Moran is excellent, and have very much enjoyed all of her other books. I was a little surprised, then, when I saw that Moranifesto had such harsh criticism from those I know who also like her, and/or her sense of humour. I read many comments about how the material was old, and not at all relevant to today. Yes, all of the newspaper articles have been previously published – surely that is the point? It would be almost impossible to publish a book like this where everything was current, and that book would then surely be out of date in six months, or a year’s time. Catch-22.

I do read books like this from time to time; David Mitchell’s Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse… is a very enjoyable case in point. I see no issue with reading ‘out of date’ articles, particularly when, like Moran’s, they are amusing, and still relevant to a lot of the things which are going on in the world at the moment. They offer new slants, and new perspectives, and therefore make ‘old news’ seem fresher.

There were a good few laugh-out-loud moments for me here, and reading Moranifesto has reestablished that Moran is incredibly talented at what she does. I wasn’t disappointed with this, and eagerly look forward to her next release.


9781555977313Cities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka *****
My parents very kindly found this for me in the wondrous Strand bookstore in New York, and I was so very excited to begin! This is Majka’s debut short story collection, and it is nothing short of brilliant. I was drawn in immediately. Nothing is predictable here, and elements surprise throughout. I adored the way in which each of the narrators and protagonists were so different; they each sprang to life incredibly quickly.

Cities I’ve Never Lived In is a collection about people; about displacement and disappointment. Its themes are large and well wrought – hurt, heartbreak, and loneliness prevail, but there is also a wonderful sense of hope at times too. The interconnectedness and the more mysterious touches were original, and Majka’s writing masterful. I can’t wait to get my hands on what she releases next.


Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy ***** 9780330433914
I purchased this as part of 2016’s Oxfam Scorching Summer Reads campaign. Duffy is one of my favourite poets, and this was a collection which I hadn’t yet had the pleasure to read. And a pleasure it is. Rapture is a series of interconnected poems about a single relationship, and the themes which Duffy encompasses are wide and surprising. A rich story weaves its way through.

As ever, her turns of phrase are beautiful, and I adored her use of nature imagery, and the way in which this was woven into the couple’s story. The poems here almost sing. They are wonderful and hopeful; sometimes bleak; always buoyant, and utterly mesmerising.

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Exciting New Releases

I feel that I am rather behind on new releases, since I am no longer actively receiving review books and the like.  I have also had very little time with which to browse book websites; gone are the University lull days that I could browse Powell’s catalogue for hours without thinking I had anything better to do!  That said, I am nonetheless very excited about five new releases which have come out since January, or are due to be released at some point in the near future.  These books have one common theme; I have very much enjoyed the author’s other work to date, and am therefore suitably excited to get my hands upon them.

1. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (02/08/2016) 9781472208606
‘Set in the Alaskan landscape that she brought to stunningly vivid life in The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey’s To the Bright Edge of the World is a breathtaking story of discovery and adventure set at the end of the nineteenth century. Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its rich natural resources to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.’

97800919490442. Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran (10/03/2016)
”I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac – and that’s just something I use to muck about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?’ When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. Turns out, it’s the same old problems and the same old ass-hats. Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do…This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools, and why the internet is like a drunken toddler. And whilst never afraid to address the big issues of the day – such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats – Caitlin also makes a passionate effort to understand our 21st century society and presents us with her ‘Moranifesto’ for making the world a better place. The polite revolution starts here! Please.’


3. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonsson (24/03/2016) 9781408837641
‘East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master. When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more free thinking – and attractive – than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing. But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape, and the colourful characters that populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.’

4. The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss (07/07/2016)
‘Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed. In this exceptionally courageous and unflinching novel of contemporary life Sarah Moss goes where most of us wouldn’t dare to look, and the result is riveting – unbearably sad, but also miraculously funny and ultimately hopeful. The Tidal Zone explores parental love, overwhelming fear, illness and recovery. It is about clever teenagers and the challenges of marriage. It is about the NHS, academia, sex and gender in the twenty-first century, the work-life juggle, and the politics of packing lunches and loading dishwashers. It confirms Sarah Moss as a unique voice in modern fiction and a writer of luminous intelligence.’

97819054905615. The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka (05/05/2016)
‘North London in the twenty-first century: a place where a son will swiftly adopt an old lady and take her home from hospital to impersonate his dear departed mother, rather than lose the council flat. A time of golden job opportunities, though you might have to dress up as a coffee bean or work as an intern at an undertaker or put up with champagne and posh French dinners while your boss hits on you. A place rich in language – whether it’s Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Swahili or buxom housing officers talking managementese. A place where husbands go absent without leave and councillors sacrifice cherry orchards at the altar of new builds. Marina Lewycka is back in this hilarious, farcical, tender novel of modern issues and manners.’


Which of these have you read?  Which would you like to read?  Which are the new releases which you are most intrigued by?

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