Book reviews are back 🙂 I spent a long hot summer reading through some great books and getting rather sunburnt. Here are a select few I particularly enjoyed!*
The Anarchist’s Club, by Alex Reeve**
-I found Leo Stanhope’s 2nd adventure just as addictive as the first. Leo is one of my favourite literary characters – with struggles and flaws in equal measure.
-I got lost in the setting and ended up reading this book in one sitting. I am a big fan of Alex Reeve’s descriptions of Victorian life, making Leo’s world all the more real. Trying to keep a low profile, Leo is still living above the pharmacy and working as a hospital porter. This all changes when a woman’s body is found in a grave at a club – and Leo recognises her as a customer at the pharmacy. Not only this, Leo’s name and address are found on a note discovered with the body. Denying all knowledge of the woman, Leo is thrown into dangerous territory whilst attempting to uncover the mystery.
-I was pleased to see the rich cast of supporting characters back in The Anarchist’s Club (especially Rosie) along with the addition of a few new ones! We find out more about Leo’s struggle with his past – as a trans man in Victorian London, this novel threw a spotlight on Leo’s battle with his family, as well as the danger of being ‘discovered’. The House on Half Moon Street seemed to focus on the story of the crime, rather than Leo’s gender – in contrast, his experience was very much in the foreground in The Anarchist’s Club. We are reminded how dangerous it was to be transgender in the Victorian era and the issues and attitudes that Leo has to endure. I found Reeve’s depiction of the disparity between rich and poor to be especially interesting – how those with power chose to wield it, and the impact this had on workers and individuals without that power.
I’m looking forward to following Leo on his further adventures!
The Art of Taxidermy, by Sharon Kernot**
-This book is absolutely wonderful. I was intrigued to read a verse novel, as it wasn’t a style I’d read before – and I’m so glad I did. I was just transported away into this world. I loved this book.
-The theme of grief is heavy, as we explore the reactions to death of not only main character Lottie, but her father and other family members. Developing an intense interest in taxidermy as a way to capture a spark of life, Lottie collects dead birds and attempts to preserve them. Her father recognises her talent and begins to nurture her passion – whilst Lottie is dealing with revulsion from her aunt.
-As the story progresses, we are shown the ways in which Lottie’s family were treated as immigrants to Australia in World War 2. I found myself thinking about their story for a long while afterwards – and I’m definitely going to pick up a physical copy of this beautiful book.
The House of Islam, by Ed Husain**
-I found myself very curious about the intricacies of Islam – as an unreligious person I wanted to learn more about it and the differences between Muslim beliefs. This book was so in depth – laying out everything I needed to know, as well as diving into topics that are relevant in the world today.
-Ed Husain doesn’t shy away from talking about extremism, relationships between differing schools of Islam, and how other religions are viewed from the viewpoint of Islam. I learnt so much – The House of Islam contained a lot of information, explained clearly, bravely and authoritatively.
-I particularly like that Husain gives us a first-person perspective coming from the experience of being an Islamic activist in Britain. For someone like me, with no experience of religion, it is fascinating to read such an in depth history of Islam – from it’s inception to the major religion it is today. I’d really recommend taking the time to read this book – although I found it very detailed, the amount I learnt was well worth it.
*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through clicking on one of the links to Wordery, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why Wordery? I chose to become a Wordery affiliate because: they support charities that help to improve literacy; they are a small team of book lovers; they pay UK taxes; they’re not Amazon. You can find out more about Wordery here.
**I am a member of NetGalley, where I received this review copy for free in exchange for an honest review.