Albania treats its women badly it seems

Antigona and Me Book Cover Antigona and Me
Kate Clanchy
Biography & Autobiography
Pan Macmillan

Antigona and Me is a memoir of the five years the poet Kate Clanchy spent living closely with Antigona, a Kosovan refugee. Antigona becomes her project, her protegee, her cleaner, her nanny, and slowly, through hours of conversation and negotiations of difference, her friend. Through the story of the women's growing understanding is woven the dramatic tale of Antigona's great escape – from Milosevic, from her forced, violent marriage, and from the most traditional pastoral society in Europe – and the growing toll of her losses, as she and her rebellious teenage daughters negotiate London. Antigona's wit and vertiginous perspectives on contemporary life illuminate and transform the way the writer thinks, bringing many hard truths uncomfortably close to home.


I really wanted to love this book – and I did initially, but then I got bored.

The story of he Albanian treatment of women and the Kanun of Lek is horrifying, and the blood feuds that continue for years is well known across those areas – and in Sardinia and other remote areas too. I thought at first that Antigona was a great character and inspiration, but as the story develops she became less so, and I got bored of all the discussion about the Kanun and the relatives and the way women should behave and…

It certainly was very tragic and the life these women led in Albania was horrific but how many times can you say it and not de-sensitise your reader?

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Robyn always makes me laugh

Three's a Charm
Magic and Mayhem Book Six
Robyn Peterman
paranormal, humour, satire, romantic comedy
Robyn Peterman
(5 Feb. 2018)

What’s a witch to do when her magic is on the fritz and there’s a huge pile of laundry to be done? Easy. Flood the entire house. Everyone wants a bubbly indoor freakin’ swimming pool… right?

Just when everything is right in my life, something has to go wrong—times three. Number one: an unknown evil force wants to steal my power. Now, instead of protecting and healing the whacked out inhabitants of Assjacket, my power has wonked out on me and I’ve blasted ginormous holes all over town. Not to mention Roger the Rabbit is now sporting a pentagon of penii thanks to me and is keen on contacting the Guinness Book of World Records.


Armed with questionable voodoo skills and seriously frayed nerves, I’m Two: gonna do what any partially-sane, potty-mouthed, witch would do… I’m calling in the semi-evil, butt-ugly Bermangoggleshitz to train me. The warlock’s penchant for push-ups makes me hate him with the fire of a thousand suns, but if I can’t control my dark magic, it will control me.

Way unacceptable.

With Sassy and Cookie Witch by my side, I’ll Three: get a handle on my dark voodoo—or doodoo as I’ve renamed it—so Assjacket won’t end up as one massive crater. And I need all the help I can get. An evil like we’ve never seen is gunning for us—specifically me.

Wildly unacceptable.

We’ll be the Three Amigos. The Three Musketeers. The Three Stooges. Whatever. As the saying goes…three’s a crowd, three’s company, three’s a party.

Nope. Three’s a charm. And I’m gonna turn it on for all I’m worth.


Oh my Robyn, I am now seriously beginning to wonder just what you and your hubbie get up to when the kids are away…! I’m sure you’ll claim you just read it somewhere but I’m not so certain!

A really good funny, potty mouthed story, and the twins are adorable.

This book was really on form and I giggled my way through it.

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How well do you see?

A different female detective. One not racked – completely – with angst. Thankfully.

And she comes from an ethnic background and is local to her policing area.

This story is set in an area of London I know quite well. I know of the cultural inheritances and the issues that came as new cultures came in and the local and new clashed – from the time of the Huguenots and before! See the Roman Road… Immigration to the UK has often come through the Docks and this affects the architecture as well as the culture.

I did think that the problem of distinguishing between forced and arranged marriages was portrayed well and the tip-toeing around not to tread on toes that is so common that it actually lets illegal activities occur rather than disturb certain elements of the community. As there is often a wall of silence and united front before outsiders this doesn’t help discover the truth.

I thought the author dealt quite well with the issues of inequality as I have seen this area transform – patchily – from nearly slums to desirable residences.

Overall a solid first book in this  new series.

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When your heart needs mending

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae Book Cover The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Stephanie Butland
literary fiction, contemporary
Zaffre; 1 edition
(19 April 2018)

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.
Have her friends left her behind?
And she's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart. 

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . 

A book that contrives to be both a serious and empathetic story about Ailsa and her life-defining illness, but at the same time is an uplifting and humorous tale of her struggles as both a blue and a pink heart.

Ailsa has a rare heart defect that could have killed her at birth but through surgical intervention she makes it through her life and even takes a degree, but in her mid-twenties it begins to fail. during the latter part of this period she begins a blog about her life and struggles as someone with a life-defining illness.

The excerpts in the book of her blueheart blog are wonderful and show just how difficult it can be to live when every day could be your last.

It also tells us clearly how difficult it is to have a successful romance under these circumstances and how believing in this romance has issues.

I liked the introduction of the tango as an illustration of this belief in Ailsa’s life and future development.

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Find your way out?

A Map of the Dark Book Cover A Map of the Dark
The Searchers #1
Karen Ellis
crime, detectives, mystery, thrillers, female sleuths
Mulholland Books
11 Jan. 2018)

A girl missing
A woman, searching
A killer, planning...

FBI Agent Elsa Myers finds missing people.
She knows how it feels to be lost...

Though her father lies dying in a hospital north of New York City, Elsa cannot refuse a call for help. A teenage girl has gone missing from Forest Hills, Queens, and during the critical first hours of the case, a series of false leads hides the fact that she did not go willingly.

With each passing hour, as the hunt for Ruby deepens into a search for a man who may have been killing for years, the case starts to get underneath Elsa's skin. Everything she has buried - her fraught relationship with her sister and niece, her self-destructive past, her mother's death - threatens to resurface, with devastating consequences.

In order to save the missing girl, she may have to lose herself...and return to the darkness she's been hiding from for years.

Whilst I did quite enjoy this book especially the characters of some of the teenagers – the girl with creative mind and tattoos of her little creatures that kept her sane and operative under very dire circumstances. However, I found the other teenagers a bit wooden.

What irritated me though, is the current fad for this genre of having the female detectives to be very angst driven and this story takes this to the extreme. Whilst use of the angst is made in the story I am sure this was not the only way it could be written. This downgrades this book to a 4 star.

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