I love fantasy, but since I finished the current installments of the A Song of Ice and Fire series I haven't been able to find anything that really engulfed me and drew me into the world in the way good fantasy should. Not for lack of trying, I'd tried several authors, including one of Hobb's earlier books, but just never found anything that clicked. I was lamenting this issue to Luke and he suggested not starting at the beginning with Robin Hobb, but with the Liveship Traders. I also know that Mercedes ADORES this trilogy so it's come highly recommended. The only thing that was putting me off was the sheer size of the damn things.

Ship of Magic is a grimace worthy 880 pages long. I'm not the fastest and I'm easily distracted. This took me most of April, with me reading two books and three graphic novels at various intervals. I found that that stopped me burning out and giving up, but it also means that I felt like by the time I finished it on a blurry eyed morning before work, I had been reading the book for about ten years.

However, this was time well spent. Ship of Magic is a masterful piece of fantasy, written by someone who truly understands the genre, and has the skill to create a story that is at once a classic, traditional fantasy novel, yet subverts the genre in all the right places. She plays with gender and the tropes that go with it, her world is at once the epitome of a fantasy land yet something fresh and original.

Ship of Magic follows the Vestrits, a family of Traders who sail aboard a 'liveship', a ship that will come to life when members of three successive generations of a family die aboard her deck. The story starts as the ship Vivacia is readied for her ageing captain, and the third in a row, to come aboard and pass away on her decks so she can be brought to life. The story follows various members of the Vestrits as well as several characters connected with the ship. There are also a number of seemingly unrelated strands of narration, that begin to weave together throughout the novel.

Hobb's real standout are her characters. When I read, I have trouble forgetting that I'm reading a book, I can never treat the characters as people, instead reading them always as things that have been designed and crafted. I can appreciate a well written character, or get annoyed at one that follows stereotypes, but they are always 'creations' in my mind. This book completely obliterated that, Hobb's cast was just so real and complex and dynamic, each character incredibly just as well developed, self contradictory and impossible to truly understand as real people. I found myself abandoning any attempts to critically analyse her ability to build character and just flinging myself into a huge emotional investment. The last few pages, where we see certain characters in great distress saw me putting the book down for a few minutes at a time, because I couldn't bear to watch this character I'd spent so long with and come to really love, suffering in the way they were. Even more impressive are Hobb's villains. The assholes of the book are relatively apparent. It's not like Game of Thrones where people slide around on the scale of grey, we know, more or less, who our bad guys are. However we get a number of chapters from their points of view, and so while they infuriate us with the utterly prickish way they behave, with each character you also completely understand their motivations. It's hard to explain without giving spoilers away, but Hobb has created a number of 'bad' characters, that are still completely human and totally justified in their own minds. That is something I rarely see done properly in any story and Hobb just does it with such ease.

The story is sprawling and complex, but never in a way that feels gratuitous, or purely for reader frustration (which is something I often felt reading ASOIAF) it doesn't feel like the reader is being flung in a tornado of events, rather that, although we don't necessarily understand the full scale of the story yet, we are in completely safe hands and things will be revealed at the right time. The end of the story saw a lot of questions answered... and even more raised, and I cannot wait to start the next one. I think I'll give myself a few weeks break, just so I can read a few books without having a massive tome hanging over my head.

If you've read this, let me know what you think. If you haven't read it, for God's sake read it and if you've read the whole trilogy keep your spoilers away from me or endure a painful death.

Thank you for reading!

Review | Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb


Earlier today I saw that the amazing Bee from Vivatramp posted her TBR for the authorathon, and being the easily influenced little person that I am, decided to join the fun. The AuthorAThon runs from the 18th to the 23rd of April, midnight to midnight, and was created by Sam and Joana. I haven't tried a readathon in quite some time, and have quite a bit of time off this week so I thought, what better way to work through a little of my TBR? There are six categories, the goal is to pick a book to match each and to see how far you can get through them.  As I started yesterday, and there are some pretty chunky books on the cards I'm going to cheat a little and allow myself until the 26th to tackle my little pile. That's still a butt tonne of pages to get through in under a week, so I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't manage to finish everything. I'm just going to dig in and do my best and see what I can accomplish.

01. Read a Book by One of your Favourite Authors - About Grace by Anthony Doerr. 
 I've only read All the Light We Cannot See by Doerr, but it stole my heart completely earlier this year. I've been looking to read his debut novel About Grace from the moment I closed ATLWCS and I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to get on it.

02. Read a New-To You- Author - Nod by Adrian Barnes
This is a book of a slightly more optimistic length. An author I hadn't heard of before I picked this book up, intrigued by the cover, and utterly drawn by the description on the back. I've been so excited to read this book but have just been distracted by other reads, the length makes it perfect for a readathon however, so time to get on it!

03. Give an Author a Second Chance - Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

Yes I know, I know, this is a long ass book. But I'm already just over half way through and am absolutely loving it. I started to read the Assassin's Apprentice, the first of Robin Hobb's books but for whatever reason it just didn't happen. Luke is a huge Robin Hobb fan and when I explained that I hadn't quite clicked with her, he suggested I try the Liveship Traders trilogy instead. I started reading it maybe a week ago and am absolutely loving it so far.

04. Read a Debut Author - The Girls by Emma Cline
I was kindly sent this proof for review, the Girls will be released in June and has been creating quite a stir in the book community. I know very little about it, but what I do know involves a young girl being drawn into a cult in the intoxicating 1969 Californian summer. How can I pass that up?

05. Read a Book Written by More than One Author - Saga Volume 1 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Stapler 
I read this one yesterday and already have a review up. Saga is one of those graphic novels everyone's either read or is meaning to read. If you need to know whether I enjoyed it, I bought the second volume earlier today.

06. Read a Book by an Author from A Different Continent from You - The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(That'd be Africa by the way) I feel like a short story collection is a good form for a readathon. Little glimpses of story like penny sweets in a bag to just be enjoyed one at a time. And Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie can always been relied on for powerful, engaging storytelling.

So that's my little stack for the Authorathon. As I said I'm not really aiming to finish all of them, but I'd like to push myself to get through as big a page count as I can. Here's hoping!

Let me know if you're doing the readathon and definitely link my to your TBR if you've posted about it.

Thank you for reading!

#AuthorAThon 2016 TBR


The amount of soil that ended up on my bed due to these photos was not worth the end result...

I had heard great things about Saga but wasn't really sure what to expect. I knew it followed two people from warring planets who fall in love and have a baby.... and that's essentially what it is so far. I really enjoyed the tone of the story, it was very irreverent and aware of just how weird it was. I love it when graphic novels take advantage of the freedom of the form and go really wild. Somehow graphic novels ave the luxury of being incredibly over the top, or bizarre in ways that other mediums can't and Saga definitely capitalises on this.

 We see some of the most bizarre life forms anyone could imagine, and watch as they have explicit sex, get into bloody fights, swear, argue and generally dick about during an intergalactic war. The story revolves mostly around the two new parents trying to find a way off the war torn planet with their newborn baby, but we also meet those hunting them. A robot prince with a pregnant wife, a woman who looked like Meryl Streep had ten seconds to dress as a unicorn, a strange but awesome topless dreadlocked spider assassin lady and 'The Will' a bounty hunter with a giant lie detector sphinx cat, who looks to be being set up as the 'not all bad' bad guy. It really does seem like they had a brainstorm where anything goes and then couldn't bear to lose any of the ideas. I won't pretend it's not weird as balls but Saga does seem to be carrying it off so far!

As graphic novels are so damn short there isn't a whole lot more to say. The story is incredibly silly, a tonne of fun and the art is absolutely excellent. I'll be purchasing the next few volumes soon and will do a catch up review once I have more story to talk about.

In the mean time let me know if you've read any of Saga and what you thought!

Thank you for reading,



Review | Saga Volume #1


Hibo Wadere's memoir is utterly devastating, but should be compulsory reading around the globe. I read this in less than 48 hours, unable to really focus on anything else. I had no idea the brutality of the practice, and more shocking was how prevalent it is, even here in the UK.

We follow Hibo from a six year old awoken in the early hours of the morning, led into a tent at the bottom of her garden by her mother, held down by her aunts and mutilated in a painful, undignified and barbaric manner. It does not make easy reading, Wardere spares no details of her ordeal, however the descriptions of the pain and fear she felt are incredibly powerful, and truly bring home how hideous the practice is. 

Her story describes growing up, living with FGM; the shame, the pain, the constant infections, and the now destroyed relationship with her mother who she saw as the reason for her troubles, until she grew up and decided to start a new life in England, where she could protect her own future daughters from the fate she suffered. She begins her new life, falls in love, settles into the English culture, and has some minor surgery to relieve some of the difficulties of her mutilation. However she comes to realise that her new sanctuary isn't as safe as she had first thought and slowly faces the reality that FGM is a prevalent problem in many communities in the UK, and that there were girls at the school in which she worked who could be in danger.

Hibo could have buried her head in the sand, ignored the issue and continued to live peacefully. Instead she decided this was her chance to take a stand. She used her position as a classroom assistant to bring attention to the teachers, many of whom knew little to nothing about the practice. A few even thought it was a harmless, even joyful, coming of age ritual. Wardere used her own testimony to educate the staff, and she found herself being invited to speak at other schools, explaining the reality of FGM and it's consequences, and teaching them to spot the warning signs of vulnerable girls. Hibo's message has since spread and she is nationally recognised as one of the leaders in the movement against FGM today.

Her story is harrowing all the way through, however it is ultimately one of triumph. She has survived one of the most disgraceful abuses still considered acceptable in parts of the world and used her experience to save other women. She talks with grace and conviction and her testimony is engaging. She highlights the importance of the role men must play in ending FGM, by taking a stand and saying that preserving a woman's supposed purity is no justification for removing sections of a child's genitals and stitching them up, leaving them with a hole the size of a hole-punch puncture through which they must urinate and bleed. All so that their husband can be assured that his wife is untouched on their wedding night... before getting to break her in... leading to several days in hospital.... But y'know we don't need feminism anymore. She also does a beautiful job of talking delicately about the women who allow the practice to continue, and get their daughters cut. Rather than vilifying them, she looks instead at the culture that fears female sexuality, and brainwashes them into prioritizing purity over all else, because it will ensure a good marriage, and therefore a good secure future for their daughters, who have no other opportunity to create a good life for themselves.

I would urge anyone to read this book, it has truly opened my eyes to something that I have allowed myself to ignore for too long. Maybe I don't have any power to stop this happening as an individual, but part of eradicating this is creating the conversation, ensuring that we as a society are informed and united against this practice. Only by creating an open dialogue about a problem that is so taboo can we begin to develop legal policies protecting children, and perhaps engage with supporters of FGM and present a united front against their way of thinking. Steps have already been taken in the right direction but there is a long way to go. It's not simply a matter of implementing laws or catching the cutters, it's a case of changing a cultural mindset that has gone mostly unchallenged for generations. It's a long uphill struggle but Hibo Wardere's passion and power make me feel like perhaps it can be done.

All of this aside, go read the fucking book. Deal with the discomfort and come out a more educated person, with a deeper knowledge of something that is often treated as a shameful secret. You will not regret it.

Here are a few other resources for anybody interested in finding out more. 

Thank you for reading 


Review | Cut by Hibo Wardere



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