My Summer TBR

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So it’s taken me so long to write this post that I’ve actually read 3.5 books off this list already. All of them have been great too, which is not helping me narrow down what I want to take to YALC! Because yes, my summer TBR is my YALC TBR, which at last count potentially had 35 books on it. Yeah. Even I think I’m being optimistic there.

But not to fear! I was organised when I made my list and there are three categories on it. The first is books by faves that I know I’ll want signed (so Our Dark Duet, Traitor to the Throne and Blood for Blood for example) and they’re at the bottom of the TBR. If I get to them, great, but they’ll be in my suitcase anyway so no rush.

The second category is books I own but haven’t read yet. The idea of this list is to decide if I like them enough to keep them. If I’m keeping them, I’ll want to take them to be signed. This is the priority category – I don’t want to miss authors that I’ll end up regretting.

The third category is books I’d like to read but haven’t bought yet. I think we all have lists like that, don’t we? *g* I’ll pick them up in dribs and drabs over the next few weeks, but I probably won’t mind too much if I don’t manage them.

The List

Books I’m definitely taking

  • Our Dark Duet
  • Traitor to the Throne
  • The Other Half of Happiness
  • False Hearts
  • The Dark Days Pact
  • Blood for Blood

Books I own but haven’t read

  • Crongton Knights
  • The Weight of Water
  • Runemark
  • Songs About A Girl
  • The Pearl Thief
  • Frozen Charkotte
  • The Royal Tour
  • Troublemakers
  • Smoke
  • Another Place
  • The Call
  • The Girl In Between
  • Dear Charlie
  • The Summoner series
  • The Name of the Blade series
  • One Of Us Is Lying

Books I’m interested in

  • Indigo Donut
  • After the Fire
  • Needlework
  • Becoming Betty
  • Showstopper
  • And Then We Ran
  • Spellbook of the Lost and Found
  • If Birds Fly Back
  • Noah Can’t Even

So that’s my TBR for the next 6 weeks (ish). What’s yours like? Are you going to YALC this year? If so, do you know which authors you’d like to meet? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

I really enjoyed Eric Lindstrom’s first book, Not If I See You First, so I was eager to see what his second book was like, and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it just as much, if not more. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is full of interesting characters, a cute romance and what seemed like a good depiction of bipolar disorder (with the disclaimer that it is something I know very little about and certainly have no personal experience of).

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How can you have a future if you can’t accept your past?

Mel Hannigan doesn’t have it easy. Mourning the death of her firework of a brother, facing the loss of three friendships that used to mean everything to her and struggling to deal with a condition that even her closest friends don’t know about. To protect herself and everyone else, Mel tries to lock away her heart, to live quietly without pain – but also without hope.

Until the plight of an old friend, and meeting someone new, shows her that the risk is worth taking, that opening up to life – and who you really are – is what can make everything glorious… And that maybe Mel can discover a tragic kind of wonderful of her very own.

A beautiful, captivating story about living with mental illness, and loving – even with a broken heart.

Mel isn’t an easy character to like – she’s purposely closed herself off as much as she can after the death of her brother, to the extent that some of her friends don’t even know she had a brother. Her closest companions are probably the residents of the care home she works in (and incidentally, I loved Dr. Jordan, but I’d have liked to see more of Mrs Li), and her aunt, Hurricane Jean, who lives with Mel and her mum. She has friends, she just doesn’t really see them as friends. I found myself warming towards Mel as the story went on though. Her charts that she tracks her moods with were an interesting piece of character building, and actually, it’s entirely understandable that she behaves in the way she does, considering the things that have happened. There are sections of the story set in the past, so we see how Mel got to this point, and how much she adored her brother, and I think this really helps us to get to know her.

There were a few things I really liked about A Tragic Kind of Wonderful. The first was that it was very clear that not everyone with bipolar disorder will experience life in the same way, that Mel’s disorder needs to be treated differently to her aunt’s. The second is that love does not miraculously cure Mel, as it might do in other books. There is a point where it looks like David, the boy Mel likes rather a lot, might be about to solve all Mel’s problems, and it actually turns out that he’s made the most sensible decision possible in the situation (trying to explain this without spoilers is *really* difficult!). Mel’s family is fantastic – her mum and her aunt are always looking out for her, although I don’t feel we got to know her dad very well. I also liked how the writing made it obvious if Mel was late with her medication, because her thought process speeded up. The gradual reveal of the central mysteries worked well too, although I did feel like Zumi needed to get a grip of herself

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is a really enjoyable book. It’s not perfect, and it did feel like it was dragging a little at some points, but overall I would recommend it.

3.5/5

ARC received from the publisher, Harper Collins Children’s Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start

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Tuesday again! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and this week’s theme is series I’ve been meaning to start, but haven’t. I must admit, I’m wracking my brains on this one, mostly because I do keep starting series, I just don’t finish them! Let’s see how it goes.

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas.

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2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

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3. The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

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4. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

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5. The Winner’s Curse Series by Marie Rutkoski

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6. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

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7. The Graceling Realm Series by Kristin Cashore

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8. The Star-Touched Queen Series by Roshani Chokshi

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9. The Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik

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10. The Broken Earth Series by N K Jemisin

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I know, I know. There are series on this list that I really should have read by now. Have you read any of these? What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

I Dare You Book Tag

So a ridiculous amount of time ago, Alice over at Reading, Writing, Blogging tagged me for the I Dare You Book Tag.

The rules are:

  • You must be honest
  • You can’t not answer a question
  • You have to tag at least four people

So here we go!

  1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?
    On my bookshelf there sits a copy of The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton, which was one of the first books I ever owned, so I would guess it’s that!
  2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?
    Current read: Truth or Dare by Non Pratt and The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole
    Last read: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom
    Next read: Hopefully All Good Things by Emma Newman
  3. What book(s) did everyone like and you hated?
    Oh, lots! Most recently, Heartless by Marissa Meyer, which I gave up on because I was so bored. Or Stealing Snow by Danielle Page (same). Or The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon, which went as far as being nominated for the Costa. I did manage to finish that one, but only because it was short and a book club book.
  4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
    Pride and Prejudice. I do really want to – I love all the adaptations of it, but I’ve tried to read it and never get past the first few chapters. That’s probably not going to change.
  5. Which book are you saving for “retirement”?
    I suppose I kind of have a plan to read all those classics (see above!) I’ve avoided!
  6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
    I’m a terrible, terrible person and will almost always read the end while I’m still near the beginning. I tried to stop after I realised spoiling Half Blood Prince for myself had been a bad idea, but I can’t help myself! The exception is when I’m reading on kindle, but only because it’s so much more difficult to flip to the back of the book.
  7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
    I love reading the acknowledgements! Some of them have actually made me cry too.
  8. Which book character would you switch places with?
    Most of the books I read take place in worlds with horrible things happening, so I’m not sure I’d want to switch with any of the characters, but maybe Rosemary from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, because everyone in that book is so lovely to her!
  9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?
    I read Lost in a Good Book, the second Thursday Next book, while sat in an airport on my way to New Zealand, and I remember being so desperate for the next one when I’d finished – which was at home – I trawled the airport bookshops for it. Sense prevailed and I waited til I got home (FOUR weeks later!) before finally getting to read it, so that whole series reminds me of that trip!
  10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
    Most of the books I’ve obtained at YALC have been acquired in an interesting way! I had to tell the Scholastic stand an embarrassing secret to get a copy of  Super Awkward by Beth Garrod, for example, or I chased people dressed as doctors around so they could stamp my hand for a copy of Contagion by Teri Terry. That’s just two examples from last year!
  11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
    My books are mine. MINE I tell you! So no. But I buy books for most people I know – I found a first edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil in a bookfair once going relatively cheap (because it was slightly damaged) so I bought that for my brother who is a huge LOTR fan.
  12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
    Dreamweaver by Jonathan Wylie used to come with me every time I went abroad as my ‘plane’ book – it was a book I loved, but didn’t need to concentrate on too much, and it didn’t matter if I didn’t finish it so it was perfect to take away with me. So that, probably.
  13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?
    I don’t think I’ve ever revisited any books from school, because I really did hate them all so very much. I love some of the plays we did but then I liked them at the time too, so I don’t think I have an answer to this. I will say though, that while I am very much of the thought that plays were written to be seen, not studied, having studied Macbeth and The Crucible at GCSE, I have a different appreciation for them than the plays I didn’t study.
  14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
    The only things I’ve found in books have been other people’s bookmarks or shopping lists.
  15. Used or brand new?
    I prefer brand new (so shiny!), but I’ll happily trawl charity and secondhand shops and pick up books for cheap. Also, I have a pretty extensive collection of Chalet School books, almost all of which were secondhand.
  16. Have you ever read a Dan Brown?
    Yup. I read the first three Robert Langdon books. I enjoyed the first two, while acknowledging they weren’t very well written (imo) but the third I hated and it put me off reading any more.
  17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
    Not a movie, but I much prefer the TV versions of The Crow Road and Neverwhere to the books (although I have not yet read the author’s preferred text edition of Neverwhere, and my opinion might change!).
  18. A book that NEVER should have been published.
    I honestly don’t know. I have thoughts about this that are far too serious to be in a fun book tag.
  19. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question?
    I don’t think so. I spend a lot of time hungry so hard to separate that from the reading! *g*
  20. Who is the person whose book advice you will always take?

My best friend has never steered me wrong (well, maybe once or twice) in the 25 years I’ve known her. One of the reasons we became friends is because we liked the same books!

I have no idea who hasn’t done this yet, so apologies if I tag you when you’ve already done it!

Amy @ Golden Books Girl

Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books

Louise @ Book Murmuration

Lyndsey @ Lyndsey’s Book Blog

Top Ten Tuesday: My Dad’s Ten Favourite Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week’s theme is a Fathers’ Day freebie. I thought about all the different types of dad-related lists I could do, but settled on my dad’s favourite books. This afternoon I really confused my dad by asking him to tell me his ten favourite books. He doesn’t know about this blog, and I didn’t fancy explaining it all, so I left him in his confusion! But onto the list.

1. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

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2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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4. Coming Up for Air by George Orwell

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5. The Shining by Stephen King

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6. Exodus by Leon Uris

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7. Trinity by Leon Uris

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8. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

catch 22

9. The King’s Deception by Steve Berrykings deception

10. The Blackhouse by Peter May

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As you can see, my dad and I do not share much taste in books! What do you think of my list? Have you read any of them? Let me know in the comments!

 

Discussion: Tackling The TBR Pile

So my blog turned a year old last week. I know – I was surprised too, but I suppose that’s because I’ve only really been posting regularly since December. (As an aside, I’m planning some sort of giveaway to celebrate, but I’m still thinking about what to do exactly!) When I saw the little notification telling me about my blogaversary, I obviously had to go and check, and sure enough, my blog was created on the 6th June 2016. Hurrah for a year of blogging!

But doing that made me remember that the subtitle of this blog is ‘Tackling the TBR Pile’, and that I was supposed to use this to make me read and review the books I already had. I…have not done that. At all. In fact, the TBR pile is at least twice as large now as it was last year.20170330_220107.jpg

(This is a tiny fraction of the pile, and is from March. I have acquired at least 70 books since then!)

I just get sucked in by the pretty new books. Sometimes it’s because it’s an author I love, so I’m obviously going to buy their book, or an author I’ve never read before but heard a lot about. Sometimes it’s the shiny cover and sometimes it’s just because it’s cheap (I love trawling charity and secondhand shops). I just can’t resist buying new books. I think it might be getting to the point of being a problem. *g*

So my question for you is this: how do you manage your TBR? Is yours as out of control as mine is? Can you help me control mine? (PLEASE.) Let me know in the comments!

Unboxing: Illumicrate May 2017

 

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It’s hard to believe it’s been three months since my last Illumicrate unboxing, but it has been. I swear this year is going by too fast! I did plan to try another UK based subscription box, but I like Illumicrate too much to stop it and I can’t afford to buy more than one, at least until I stop my Marvel Collector Corps Funko box (which I love, and I’m pretty certain I’m going to finish at least this year out). So Illumicrate it is. I also really like that Illumicrate is only quarterly – it makes it much more affordable for me.

Here’s the other thing I really like about Illumicrate, and why they have my business for the forseeable future – as you can see from the picture above, the carrier did not treat my box very gently at all, and the consequence of this was that one of the items was broken. I mentioned it on twitter, but I didn’t really have any intention of taking it any further because I knew most of the items are exclusive to the box and therefore made in limited quantities. Daphne at Illumicrate saw my tweet though, and immediately offered to replace the item, which arrived a day later. The customer service was fantastic, and I can’t recommend Illumicrate enough.

But anyway, on to the contents!

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We got two books again this month – Truth or Dare by Non Pratt, which was signed, and an ARC of The Waking Land by Callie Bates. I had a feeling we were going to get Truth or Dare from the clues we’d been given, but I was still made up because I love Non. (I’m reading it at the moment and it’s great!) I’d seen The Waking Land on twitter but didn’t really know what it was about. Having read the synopsis and letter that came with it, I’m really looking forward to reading it now!

 

The first item in the box is a candle from Flickerink called Mermaid Lagoon, inspired by Peter Pan and Neverland. I’m not a big candle person to be honest, but I really like the way this one smells and I’m looking forward to lighting it in the near future!

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So I think these were my favourite items this month, especially the print. Book *and* Beauty and the Beast themed – what’s not to love?! These items are by T J Lubrano and I’m going to have to check out more of their work I think.

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I love this corner bookmark from Penguin Co, mostly because it involves a map (have I mentioned I love a good map? *g*). There seem to have been a lot of different designs made, but I’m really pleased with the one I got. I also love the keyring from Nutmeg and Arlo.

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Extras this month were a Windfall poster, a The Gender Games badge and a set of postcards from Taste of Blue Light. I have no idea what this book is, but the cards are gorgeous, so I guess I’ll have to do a bit of investigating!

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So that was May’s Illumicrate. (The item that broke was a mug with artwork by Merwild, based on the ACOTAR series, but I haven’t taken a picture of the replacement and it didn’t seem fair to post the broken one.) I was really pleased with this box – everything in it spoke to my interests and I’m already looking forward to August’s!

Do you get any subscription boxes? What do you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

Six for Sunday: Book Covers I Love

Six for Sunday is a new meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is six types of books cover you love, so here goes.

1. Covers with maps. I love a good map and I am statistically 50% more likely to pick your book up if it has a map on the cover. Just so you know.

2. Colourful covers. I love the way the Wells and Wong series looks on my bookshelves, and that is completely down to the lovely bright colours that stand out. More of this please.

3. Covers by Karl J Mountford. Mountford has to be one of my favourite illustrators working on book covers at the moment. He has a real knack for getting them just right for the content. Just look at the difference between The Uncommoners and The Sinclair Mysteries, but both are perfect for the books. Give him ALL the work.

4. Foiled covers. So shiny. Do I need to say more?

5. Limited edition covers. I don’t have enough room on my bookshelves to buy more than one copy of a book (mostly. I have made exceptions.), but oh how I wish I did. I loved Hodder and Stoughton’s idea of 5 different covers for Caraval and getting to choose your favourite.

6. COVERS THAT MATCH. Sorry for shouting. But one of my pet peeves is covers changing partway through a series. Why do publishers hate me? Sometimes they get it right though, and I love a book series that has a theme throughout its covers. The Skyscraper Throne books had a brilliant silhouette of the London skyline along the bottom, that changed very slightly to match each book’s storyline. Brilliant!

What do you think of my favourite types of cover? What would yours be? Let me know in the comments!

May Wrap-Up

You may have noticed that I’ve had something of a nightmare couple of months blogging-wise. I have very much lacked the energy or motivation to sit here and write all the posts I had wanted to, which is why there’s been a distinct lack of wrap-ups for March and April. It’s a shame, because I went to some smashing events in April, but c’est la vie. Onwards!

May Reading

In May I read 17 books. 17! How on earth did I manage that?! Not only that, I even reviewed some of them!

  • Throne of the Crescent Moon
  • Release
  • Accidental Superstar
  • Cloak and Dagger
  • Dramarama
  • One Italian Summer
  • Windfall
  • Spellslinger
  • Girlhood
  • How To Stop Time (I LOVED this book. Hopefully review to come!)
  • The Fallen Children
  • Shattered Minds
  • Countless
  • Letters to the Lost
  • The Serpent King
  • The Child Eater
  • When Dimple Met Rishi

I finally got back on track with my goodreads challenge this month (as you might expect when reading 17 books!). I also did quite well on my mini resolution to clear some of my library books – 6 of that list were from the library. However, I completely failed on clearing my Netgalley shelf, although I only requested one new book. I have to do better on that in June (although see below for why I probably won’t!).

Book Haul!

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I acquired 29 books in May. That’s actually a reduction of about a third on April’s. I may have a problem. *g* Spontaneous was, very sadly, a DNF, and I haven’t read most of the pile yet, but the books I have read, I’ve mostly enjoyed. I was lucky enough to win a giveaway on twitter from the lovely Karen McManus (@writerkmc) for When Dimple Met Rishi and The Love Interest, which is why I have lovely hardback US copies, and I was overjoyed to see Truth or Dare in May’s Ilumicrate (unboxing to come soon!). M R Carey’s The Boy on the Bridge should be in that photo, as should Heidi Heilig’s The Ship Beyond Time, but I somehow managed to forget them. Oops.

Events

I went to two lovely book events in May, within a few days of each other. The first was the wonderful Mike Carey at Waterstones Liverpool 1, promoting The Boy on the Bridge. I love listening to Mike talk about his books, and I can’t wait to read The Boy on the Bridge. It’s just that it’s a large hardback, which means I can’t carry it with me! The second event was Patrick Ness at Manchester Library (organised by Waterstones Deansgate), to promote Release. As with Mike, Patrick Ness is a delight to listen to, and I think he has a real understanding of what teens need in their books. I loved Release when I read it – my review is linked up there.

In non-book related events (not normally something I talk about here, I know), May was the month of Liverpool’s annual arts and culture celebration, Light Night. I did my usual highly planned wander round events, and loved almost every minute.

If you’re local to Liverpool, I highly recommend you check out Light Night next year. It’s exhausting, but so much fun!

I also got to take my mum to London for her 70th birthday present. My part of the present was lunch at Claridges, and oh my goodness, it was amazing. I have no photos, but believe me when I say it was fantastic. The food was gorgeous. The main part of her present from my dad was going to the Chelsea Flower Show. It was ridiculously hot and stupidly busy, but it was definitely another worthwhile experience.

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Looking Ahead

So what I should really be doing this month is continuing to try and clear my Netgalley shelf and library books. What I will actually be doing is planning a reading list for YALC, because yes, that time is upon us once again. There are so many amazing authors going and I want to have read as much as I can from them. I am also taking part in my very first blog tour later this month, for the amazing sounding The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole, so that’s next on my TBR. Keep an eye on the blog for my review! I’m also looking forward to two bookshop events – Juno Dawson on the 16th June at Waterstones Liverpool 1 with The Gender Games, and Non Pratt, Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen at Waterstones Deansgate on the 22nd June.

So how was your May? Did you read any of the same books I did, or are you planning to read any of them in June? Do you have any events planned? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Descent of Man

It took me a very long time to read The Descent of Man, by Grayson Perry. I started it at the end of March and finished it at the beginning of June. That’s a ridiculously long time for me. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. It’s actually a very good book, but the combination of being non-fiction (which I don’t read a lot of) and on my kindle made it something of a struggle. I’m glad I got the chance to read it though, thanks to Netgalley and the publishers.

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Grayson Perry has been thinking about masculinity – what it is, how it operates, why little boys are thought to be made of slugs and snails – since he was a boy. Now, in this funny and necessary book, he turns round to look at men with a clear eye and ask, what sort of men would make the world a better place, for everyone?

What would happen if we rethought the old, macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different idea of what makes a man? Apart from giving up the coronary-inducing stress of always being ‘right’ and the vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships – and that’s happiness, right?

Grayson Perry admits he’s not immune from the stereotypes himself – as the psychoanalysts say, ‘if you spot it, you’ve got it’ – and his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, upgrading masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups.

I found The Descent of Man to be a thoughtful exploration of masculinity and feminism, but thought it lost its way a little towards the end. Perry certainly has some interesting ideas, and I loved the artwork poking fun at some of the more obvious problems with the way masculinity is often seen as the only way to be a proper man, but he doesn’t really take those ideas to their full conclusions. And while this is a criticism, I make it in the full knowledge that I would definitely not have been able to do any better!

The parts I really enjoyed were Perry’s anecdotes, whether from his own upbringing, forcing him to look at his own prejudices and points of view, or from people he met while filming the TV programme on similar themes. He’s an excellent writer, able to paint a vivid picture with a few words, and I definitely plan to read his other work.

This is quite a short review, mostly because it took me so long to read the book I’ve forgotten most of the thoughts I was having back at the beginning. I’d recommend it, with the disclaimer that it might not fully live up to your expectations.

3.5/5

ARC received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.