The Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2018

Ooh I love the Women’s Prize. Last years winner, The Power by Naomi Alderman, was one of my favourite books of last year. (My review is here ­čÖé ).

So who has made it onto the 2018 longlist?


H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

So pleased to see I’ve already read, and loved, one of them: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (my review). One I have sat waiting to be read – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. It sounds right up my street and I’ll have to bump it up the tbr pile.

Of course when I saw this list the other day, I immediately went and requested as  many as possible from NetGalley. So now I also have Sight by Jessie Greengrass, The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal, and Elmet by Fiona Mozley to read too.

I’ll hopefully get through a few of these before the shortlist is announced on 23rd April!



All the Beautiful Girls – Elizabeth J. Church

I ended up quite enjoying this book about a girl with a horrendous childhood making her way in the world of 1960s Las Vegas show girls. Although I nearly ditched it when I had to read so much about the horrendous childhood. Just not the sort of thing I like reading at all.


I realise for the story to do its thing, we needed to have Lily come from a place of horror. Her parents and sister die in a car crash when she is eight years old. She is sent to live with her stern aunt, and paedophile, rapist uncle. He abuses her until she starts her period at twelve years old. It’s so horrible. I was just at the point of giving it one more page, and if there was any more rape descriptions I was giving up. Thank you menstruation!

Lily is a dancer, but of course what she ends up doing is being a showgirl. She’s beautiful, you see! Now here’s where I really quite enjoyed the book. Glamour, booze, gifts, growing up.

I also haven’t yet mentioned one of my favourite aspects of the book, Lily’s friendship with the man who crashed into her family’s car, killing them: the Aviator. It’s a weird, sweet, strange relationship.

If you can stomach the section where her horrible childhood is set up, then want a lovely growing up girls adventure in 1960s showgirl Las Vegas, then this might just be for you!

2018 Reading Goals

Well look what I found languishing in my drafts folder! My reading goals that I thought about and typed up and never posted. So here goes! and because it’s actually already March, I already know I’m not doing so well on some of these. But here they are as written at the very start of the year:

My 2018 goals can be summed up by:

Read what I want. Read diversely.

To expand on this a little bit:

  • Don’t try to plan too far ahead and embrace reading what I feel like reading. So no restrictive reading lists. They don’t work for me. This means I need to be careful with requesting NetGalley books. I try to make sure there’s a good amount of time between dates the books are published, and I must make sure I really want to read it. It’s also helpful to have quite a long time between requesting┬á book and the date it’s published so I don’t feel pressured to read it when I don’t really feel like it.


  • Read diversely. By this I mean read men and women,. Read books written by LGBTQ+ authors, and books with LGBTQ+ characters. Read books by BAME authors. Read books written by authors from different parts of the world. Read more translations. Read more genres. I’m hoping the PopSugar challenge lists will help with some of these goals.


  • Read at least 75 books. I read 65 this year. I think I can do better.


  • Read books I already own and try not to buy more (though inevitably I will, I will just try and minimise it). Here are the scary stats:
    • unread books on my shelves today( I know this will be too low because a load of my books are still hidden away waiting to go on my shelves after decorating. They are mostly reference books, but there’s bound to be some fiction hidden in there) : 201
    • unread kindle books: 178
    • unlistened to audio books: 11
    • total TBR: 390
  • yes that is an obscene amount of books.


  • Read at least one book that’s over 1000 pages. 2666 by Roberto Bolano has been on my bookshelves unread for about ten years. Maybe this year is its year.


  • Read some authors I have wanted to read for ages, but haven’t got round to. This could be so many! Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Virginia Woolf, any Bronte.. and so many more.


  • Read the Iliad. This is primarily to start helping me with answering quiz questions in an online quiz league I’m in. ­čśÇ


  • Not strictly a book reading goal, but a related one. I’ve signed up to do a short introductory course in creative writing. I’ve never done anything like this since secondary school – I’ve been all maths and physics in my education after school!


That’s all I can think of right now. Think I can manage all of these in 2018!


Books Bought and Read – February 2018

Still managing to not go too mental with buying books, and managing to read more. Phew!

Books Bought

Not for me, but I bought Inferior by Angela Saini and Hope In The Dark by Rebecca Solnit as gifts for a friend because I love these books with all my heart. ­čÖé



A Woman’s Work – Harriet Harman. 99p kindle deals strike again.

I also picked up a copy of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver for a pound in a second hand book sale!



Books Read

Click  each title for a link to the review

On Tyranny: 20 Lessons From the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

The Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch

Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi



Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi

Set in US-occupied, war torn Baghdad, bombings are a daily event, and bodies are commonplace. This is the setting for a Frankenstein inspired take on life in Baghdad. I really enjoyed reading Frankenstein in Baghdad, and would encourage you to read it too! It’s not a retelling of Mary Shelley’s┬áFrankenstein, it’s about life in US occupied Baghdad for the ordinary citizens.


Hadi, a junk collector pieces together a full body from pieces of bodies he has found in the street. This corpse gets reanimated by the soul of a car park attendant, killed in a car bomb attack.

The monster wants to get revenge on all the people who wronged the people he is made up from. He spends a lot of time exacting revenge and contemplating his motivations and methods.

But the monster isn’t really the main thing that goes on in Frankenstein in Baghdad. The real story, is about a community that tries to go about it’s day to day business, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.



We meet various people in the neighbourhood. We learn who their local friends and enemies are. We learn about their histories, their triumphs and their tragedies. We find out about family members and friends who have already abandoned Baghdad, and wrestle themselves with if and when to take refuge somewhere else. I’m not going to delve into all the individual stories here, because I don’t want to reveal any plot spoilers, but one of the characters is an old woman desperately hoping for the return of her son, missing for many years. Her story really touched me the most.

Frankenstein in Baghdad won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and Saadawi lives and works in Baghdad. I don’t read many books in translation, and want to read more. This insight into the daily life of Iraqi civilians living in, what for most of us are, unimaginable conditions. It’s grim in parts (obviously!), it’s darkly funny, and it’s satirical. A great read!

P.S. I was given this copy of the ebook in return for an honest review. Thanks NetGalley!


The Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch

A post-apocalyptic, feminist sci-fi adventure. Sounds awesome! and it is ­čÖé

Earth is dead after a series of environmental disasters, and seemingly endless wars. The Earth population is barely clinging to life and humanity is just about surviving on a system of space stations, populated by Earths elite, goverened by the Trumplike Jean de Man. The station robs Earth of its very last resources.


The space station population have developed porcelain skin, they get elaborate skin grafts that make them look like eighteenth century French nobility, with billowing skin that trails upwards and behind them from all limbs, oh and everyone’s reproductive systems have shrivelled up and become useless. Also, everyone has to die when they reach fifty years old, so as not to be a drain on resources.

That’s what happens when geocatastrophe is amplified by radiation. Put simply, we devolved. Our sexualities mutated and devolved faster than you can say fuck.

On the stations is Christine. She is unsatisfied with how life on the station has turned out, and is strongly drawn to the story of Joan, the girl warrior who lead the opposition to Jean de Man, who seemed to have a link with the Earth itself. She was executed by burning as one last destroying of the opposition before the space stations were populated, martyring her. But is she really dead? and can she offer any hope for the future of humanity?

I want her story back. The one that was taken from her and replaced with heretic. Eco-terrorist, Murderous maiden who made the Earth scream.

The Book of Joan is a really enjoyable sci-fi adventure. It is delightfully sweary and gets into quite a lot of gender politics – especially considering gender has become irrelevant in the current society.

Men are among the loneliest creatures. They lose their mothers and cannot carry children, and have nothing to comfort themselves with but their vestigial cockular appendages. This is perhaps the reason they move ever warward when they are not moving fuckward. Now that the penis is defunct, a curling-up little insect, well, who can blame them for their behaviour?

Joan is a great character. She’s savage and animalisitic, yet she’s a teenager (for part of the story anyway!). Her connection to the Earth is mysterious and clearly (if it isn’t obvious enough already!) she is a Joan of Arc character.


I think feminist sci-fi might be my favourite sub-genre. I must read some more of it!


P.s I was provided with a free copy of The Book of Joan in exchange for an honest review. Thanks NetGalley!

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

I was very excited to be reading Little Fires Everywhere after absolutely falling in love with Ng’s first novel: Everything I Never Told You.┬áHappily, Little Fires is also a great read. I didn’t love it quite as much as Everything (though this would have been difficult – I loved the first one so, so much).


Little Fires Everywhere is about the meeting of two very different families in a nice suburban, American town. There are the Richardsons. A family who play by all the rules of society and are rewarded for it. Then there are the Warrens, a mother and daughter who defy convention.

Mia Warren is an artist who moves her and her daughter, Pearl, to a new town every six months or so. They take what they can fit in their car and leave the rest.

Pearl befriends the Richardson children. She is drawn to their nice, stable, family life. Whereas the misfit Richardson daughter, Izzy, is drawn to artist Mia and her unconventional approach.

There’s a fairly huge cast of characters and, brilliantly, they are all fleshed out and completely believable. I always come away from a Celeste Ng novel feeling all the feelings. I feel like I was 100% with the emotions of the characters and like I completely understand their motivation and the reasons for their decisions. I love this about her books.

I also love that Little Fires Everywhere isn’t solely focussed on the teenage characters. As events progress we learn a lot about the history of both mothers, and understand how this influences decisions they make. We learn about the circumstances of Pearl’s birth, and the kind actions of a fairly grumpy neighbour nearly broke me! That’s probably due to the very clear memories I have of just how difficult those early baby days were.

The first night back in the rented room, Pearl had cried and cried until Mia herself had begun to cry… Then there was a soft knock at the door, and stern Mrs. Delaney appeared and held out her arms. “Give her here,” she said, with such authority that Mia handed the soft bundle over without thinking. “Now you lie down and get some rest,” Mrs. Delaney said, shutting the door behind her, and in the abrupt silence Mia flopped down on the bed and fell instantly asleep.

God bless stern Mrs. Delaney!

I haven’t really mentioned the plot at all, and I won’t give away any spoilers, but it’s probably important to note that the book starts with the Richardson house burning to the ground, and their daughter Izzy missing and the chief suspect.

There’s a situation with an abandoned baby which forms the main part of the plot and both families are intricately linked with the scandal.

Little Fires Everywhere is a great book. ­čÖé


P.s. I was provided with a free copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks NetGalley!