Book Reviews · Life · Reading

Quarantine Reads #1: Historical Non-Fic, Middle Grade Mystery AND THE CUTEST FICTIONAL DOG!

Hello everyone! I’m sure by now you’ve heard of COVID-19 and are more likely than not changing your everyday life to try and stem the tide of the virus and keep as many people healthy as is possible.

I for one am currently in isolation. My fiancé came down with symptoms of corona and as such we are following medical advice; he’s isolating for a week, I’m doing it for two. As a committed introvert who loves cancelling plans and staying indoors, I’m surprisingly already finding it difficult. The inability to pop to the shops, or go for a walk, coupled with the anxiety of constant breaking news and daily press briefings, makes me restless and nervous.

BUT, in times of stress there are always books. As I’m not feeling my best, I decided to take a couple of days to read and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons incessantly. Here are my first quarantine reads:

36849105-2Patricia Fara unearths the forgotten suffragists of World War I who bravely changed women’s roles in the war and paved the way for today’s female scientists.

Many extraordinary female scientists, doctors, and engineers tasted independence and responsibility for the first time during the First World War. How did this happen? Patricia Fara reveals how suffragists including Virginia Woolf’s sister, Ray Strachey, had already aligned themselves with scientific and technological progress, and that during the dark years of war they mobilized women to enter conventionally male domains such as science and medicine. Fara tells the stories of women including mental health pioneer Isabel Emslie, chemist Martha Whiteley, a co-inventor of tear gas, and botanist Helen Gwynne Vaughan. Women were carrying out vital research in many aspects of science, but could it last?

Though suffragist Millicent Fawcett declared triumphantly that “the war revolutionized the industrial position of women. It found them serfs, and left them free,” the truth was very different. Although women had helped the country to victory and won the vote for those over thirty, they had lost the battle for equality. Men returning from the Front reclaimed their jobs, and conventional hierarchies were re-established.

Fara examines how the bravery of these pioneers, temporarily allowed into a closed world before the door slammed shut again, paved the way for today’s women scientists.

Yes yes, you may recognise this book from my February TBR post. I got to it…just a month late. This was a fascinating and vividly told historical journey into the interconnections between women, suffrage and science. As my PhD is focusing on a similar topic (suffrage and the legal profession), I found this infinitely interesting. It took me a little while to get into the book, mainly because this is an under-researched topic area and as such the Patricia had a wide breadth of information to cover. Because of this, it sometimes read as a bit dense. HOWEVER, once I’d got into the structure of A LAB OF ONE’S OWN, I devoured it. I find popular history books like this SO inspiring–bringing a less well known aspect of our history to light is such an important calling, and Patricia’s offering was spectacular. I’m definitely going to have to pick up her backlist.

49029628._SY475_Adventures on Trains is a major mystery series from the prize-winning M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman. First stop, The Highland Falcon Thief, a breat hless train journey full of deceptions, puzzles and clues to solve.

Harrison Beck is reluctantly joining his travel-writer Uncle Nat for the last journey of the royal train, The Highland Falcon. But as the train makes its way to Scotland, a priceless brooch goes missing, and things are suddenly a lot more interesting. As suspicions and accusations run high among the passengers, Harrison begins to investigate and uncovers a few surprises along the way. Can he solve the mystery of the jewel thief and catch the culprit before they reach the end of the line?

Hear whispers in the dining car, find notes in the library, and unknown passengers among the luggage as you help Harrison to solve the mystery aboard one of the world’s grandest trains. Fast-paced and packed with illustrations and clues, Adventures on Trains is a stop you won’t want to miss!

As a devoted fan of Maya’s BEETLE BOY series, I knew I had to read her latest offering as soon as possible. I adore mysteries, and this one had everything I needed: it was tightly plotted, well researched and TOOK PLACE ON A TRAIN!! The research and innate train knowledge that had gone into the writing of this book was clear to see–and from reading the acknowledgments I am confident in attributing a lot of this knowledge to Sam Sedgman, Maya’s talented co-writer and a really exciting talent in KidLit. Despite this, the train facts didn’t dominate the narrative, but were woven in in a really subtle way. I also really enjoyed the illustrations, and the fact that Hal, our protagonist, was also an artist–a skill that comes into use in his subsequent mystery solving. This was a fabulous mystery middle grade, and I am really excited to read the sequel when it’s released!

43850600._SY475_Cosmo’s family is falling apart.
And it’s up to Cosmo to keep them together.
He knows exactly what to do.
There’s only one problem.

Cosmo is a Golden Retriever.

Incredibly funny, and filled with warmth and heart, this is Charlotte’s Web meets Little Miss Sunshine – the story of one dog’s attempt to save his family, become a star, and eat a lot of bacon.

I have a serious soft spot for stories from the perspective of animals. When they’re done right, they hit me right in the heart. And I, COSMO was done so right. Carlie Sorosiak captured the essence of dogs perfectly–from the love of bacon, farts always being blamed on the pooch, and most importantly…a dogs undying love for his boy. I was almost at tears on multiple occasions throughout this book–it is heartwarming to a tee. The blending of a dogs love for his family alongside themes of separation and divorce was brilliantly handled. I think what really effected me though, about this book, was Cosmo’s similarity to my lovely Stanley. I lost Stan last Summer, and I miss him terribly. It was so lovely to be able to capture his essence again, albeit in a fictional way. AREN’T BOOKS THE BEST?

So those are the books I’ve read so far whilst stuck indoors and unable to socialise with anyone except my fiancé (WHO WON’T CURRENTLY STOP TALKING TO ME, LET ME WRITE MY BLOG IN PEACE!). They’ll definitely be more, I’m stuck for another 11 days, and I have a pile of books at my feet. So watch out for Quarantine Reads #2, stay safe, and wash your hands!

One thought on “Quarantine Reads #1: Historical Non-Fic, Middle Grade Mystery AND THE CUTEST FICTIONAL DOG!

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