Don’t Hold My Head Down – Let’s talk about sex (and by sex I mean women’s sexual pleasure)

As soon as I started reading Lucy-Anne Holmes’s book I knew I wanted to talk about it. I finished it, and I was dying to talk about it. But it took me a while to find the right words. I felt so overwhelmingly impassioned that all I could think to do was climb the nearest rooftop and shout, “THANK YOU LUCY!!!” at the top of my lungs.

She didn’t hear me.

So here I am, organising all those wild, wonderful, giddy thoughts into something actually digestible. Because still all I want to do is talk about this book. Well if it’s so good then, what is the bloody thing about? Well, I’ll tell you. Don’t Hold My Head Down is a memoir about sex. ‘The Sex Book’ as the author herself called it, or rather, the sex book she always wanted to read but had never found. So she wrote it for herself. In her own words: “Basically it’s one valiant idiots journey into self-love and empowerment through sex. Bridget Jones meets Erin Brockovich and Elizabeth Gilbert – wearing a strap on, at a sex party.”

**SPOILER FREE POST**

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Circe – Do we really want strong female characters?

Circe by Madeline Miller is a fantasy novel, and tells the story of the titular character Circe, a goddess of Greek mythology. We travel from the early days of Titans and Olympians through to the time of The Odyssey, all viewed through Circe’s eyes, telling how she became the witch of Aeaea. The book itself moves slowly, as does Circe’s life as an immortal, and is a well told character story that serves as a fitting tribute to the myths.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

What I enjoyed most about reading Circe was the main character herself, and the way she was presented to us. She was so human, even as a daughter of the mighty Helios, god of the sun. We were invited to see her loves and her losses, her hopes and desires, and importantly her mistakes and regrets. She is immortal, but imperfect, and is more real for it. And she was the lead of her own story – a strong female character! Huzzah!

Which led me into thinking, is that really what we value here? That Circe is a strong female character? And I think the answer is no. That’s not really what we want.

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The Rook – Dear you, the book you are reading should be this one

“Dear You, the body you are wearing used to be mine.”

Now if that opening line isn’t going to capture your attention, I don’t know what will. But that’s how this book opens, and it’s one of those rare and magical times that an opening line does everything it’s supposed to do at its best. You’ve got an enticing idea, and character, it gives you some sense of what to expect in the coming 400 pages, and it perfectly tees up the tone for the rest of the book. So if you’re turned off by that line, you can close the book on this post right now.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

But I should probably say a few words on what Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook is actually about. Ahem. Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) wakes up in a park in central London surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves. With no memory of who she is, she has only the letters her previous self left behind to piece together the plot that led to the gloved corpses in the park, and her own identity. Which she quickly learns is as a leading member of a secret government organisation tasked with protecting Great Britain against supernatural forces. So a piece of cake really.

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Call Me By Your Name – Poetry dressed as a novel

With the release of the film starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet a few months ago, which was met with critical acclaim, it seems everyone has swarmed around this book ever since. And what better way to break my 2 month hiatus than to get myself a piece of this book. (Thanks to MrsNightRead for lending me her much loved, highlighted and labelled copy.)

**SPOILER FREE POST**

A basic synopsis then. Elio is seventeen, and lives on the Italian Riviera with his family, where they host a summer guest for a few weeks every year. This year, it’s twenty-four year old American, Oliver. And in just six weeks, the pair share an all-encompassing summer romance of such intensity and magnitude, that the ripples are felt even two decades later.

So, what did I think of it? That actually isn’t the easiest question to answer. From the positive ravings that seem to be everywhere in its wake, I actually thought I’d love Call Me By Your Name more than I did.

I should explain.

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Ready Player One – Geek-fest thriller and blockbuster in the making

This book has been on my To Be Read list for a good couple of years now, and with Spielberg’s film adaptation just around the corner, it seemed like now was as good a time as any to pick it up. And it barely took me any time at all from opening the first page to logging off at the last.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

30 years in the future, most of humanity spends all the time they can spare logged into the OASIS, a global virtual reality universe, to escape the harsh reality of their slowly dying planet. And when James Halliday, the mastermind behind the OASIS passes away, he leaves his fortune to the person who can solve the hidden riddles and puzzles he left scattered throughout the OASIS.

After years of searching, by millions of people, Halliday’s Easter Egg remains no closer to being found. That is, until Wade Watts discovers the first key in the puzzle, and the contest kicks off in earnest as thousands of players compete to be the first to find Halliday’s Egg, and the stakes are raised to new and dangerous levels.

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Northern Lights – Not gathering dust on my shelves

With The Book of Dust announced (fairly) recently for release in October, I was reminded of the trilogy I never finished, and was driven back to its pages to rediscover what I missed the last time. Northern Lights was read to me when I was younger – why it was only book one and not the rest of His Dark Materials, I do not know – but I decided it was high time that I revisited the tale, and go the whole hog this time. Now you may have seen the film adaptation The Golden Compass, but whatever your opinions of that, stick with me here, because the book has plenty more to offer.

Before starting Northern Lights, I remembered most of the main beats of the story from being familiar with the film version. As a 10-year-old, I had no quarrel with The Golden Compass. Now though, revisiting Pullman’s world as it was originally intended, it’s much easier to see the glaring holes left by the filmmakers.

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The Black Magician Trilogy – A slow burner, but a delight

Trudi Canavan’s fantasy trilogy has been sat on my bookshelves for longer than I care to admit (I’m talking years here). After snatching them up at a secondhand bookshop for an absolute bargain, they always seemed to be at the bottom of my reading list. So a few weeks ago I finally picked them up to read, and it baffles me that it took me so long.

We are brought into the trilogy with the first volume The Magicians’ Guild, which tells the story of our heroine Sonea, a slum girl who is discovered to have unprecedented magical abilities. She treads a fine line between the Thieves (who essentially run the slums) and the Guild, who are tracking her down every step of the way. All magicians must be admitted to the Guild for training, and though Sonea doesn’t know it, for safety. But when the Magicians’ Guild are a bunch of jumped up posh-kids, who have never done anything for the people of slums except drive them out during the annual Purge, joining their ranks doesn’t exactly seem like the most appealing option. While the Guild frantically search for her, Sonea’s fate rests on her powers: how quickly they will develop, how strong they will get, and how long before she loses control.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

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