Review: Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan


Goodreads summary:

It starts like any other day for Jess – get up, draw on eyeliner, cover up tattoos and head to school. But soon it’s clear this is no ordinary day, because Jess’s best friend, Eden, isn’t at school . . . she’s gone missing.

Jess knows she must do everything in her power to find Eden before the unthinkable happens.

So Jess decides to retrace the summer she and Eden have just spent together. But looking back means digging up all their buried secrets, and she starts to question everything she thought Eden’s summer had been about …

A tense and thrilling journey through friendship, loss, betrayal and self discovery. Continue reading

Words for the Week


Hello again, folks! Welcome to another episode of Words for the Week, which happens every Sunday. I have so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I’m putting together a small selection of these lovely words once a week, in the hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. And for a little more interest, I’m going through the alphabet! So this week’s words begin with ‘E’. 

Elephantry (noun): Troops mounted on elephants. 

David Crystal notes that “other animals to have served in wars include troop-carrying camels, messenger dogs and mine-clearing giant rats”. When you know what it means, it’s an obvious word. But I’m just completely delighted that it exists at all. 

Exsibilate (verb): To hiss off the stage; to reject with a hissing sound. 

I like this word for two reasons. One, it’s evocative in its onomatopoeia. And two, it’s a welcome development on the word ‘sibilance’ which, while lovely in its own right, is a little too commonly invoked in discussions of good words. This is ‘sibilance’ for a purpose, with direction, and I really like that.

Ernful (adjective or adverb): Kent, Sussex. Sad, lamentable, sorrowful. A clear link to ‘yearn’, which had an adjective form ‘yernful’ in the nineteenth century. 

I think what this word does which is really special is something that works beyond the definition of the words used in the definition. It captures not only sadness that a thing should be, but also a wish that things were better. That sense of the word ‘yearning’ is still in there for me, and it goes further than ‘sorrowful’, for example, in stretching out towards that alternate life in which this sad thing is not the case.

Endolphins (noun): Poetic. Swimmers’ slang for the natural opiates (‘endorphins’) released by the body on contact with cold water. Credited to Roger Deakin. 

Firstly, let me take the opportunity to say that if you have any interest in nature writing, you should pick up some Roger Deakin. And I really love this word. Fun, a little bit childish, with that connection to water, it functions perfectly for the swimmer-specific experience of endorphins. 

Epibreren (noun): Dutch. Unspecified activities which give the appearance of being busy and important in the workplace.

I am guilty of this. I think we are all guilty of this. And look at that, guys. The Dutch language is calling you out. I am surprised that there isn’t a word for this in English – it’s beyond the simple avoidance of procrastination, because you’re trying to prove not just to yourself but to your colleagues that you are, in fact, doing what you should be, when nothing could be further from the truth.

This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; The Greeks Had A Word For It by Andrew Taylor; Landmarks by Robert McFarlane; The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal.

Harry Potter Re-Read, Part 4


Welcome back, folks! As indicated in the title, this is the fourth part of this series – click here to read part 1, part 2 and part 3.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into my re-read of book six – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is a somewhat lengthy one. As warned at the very beginning of this, I have opinions.

I know that a lot of people’s problems (mine included) with Dumbledore stem from the fact that he left a child with an abusive family, and continued to return him to them every year even after they proved themselves to be unsuitable guardians. But at least there’s an acknowledgement of that in the book, and one that’s notable absent in the films. Dumbledore knows he made a mistake. And though he didn’t have the wit, or courage, or imagination, to let Professor McGonagall adopt Harry, for me, this page makes some small degree of amends for that.

Doesn’t make him any less of a manipulative bastard. He screwed Lupin over for a start – but that’s another conversation entirely.


I’ll come back to the “that job’s jinxed” thing later. What I want to point out here is that Harry wished for a staff-related death. He’s going to regret that later.

I am absolutely here for Professor McGonagall bashing the heck out of Neville’s nan to boost up his fragile self-esteem. More than that, I absolutely here for Professor McGonagall standing up for her students no matter what. Please can we all strive to be a little more like Professor McGonagall.

Yeah, Hermione, how dare you memorise the entire hecking textbook. Piss off my hero, you miserable man-child.

Ahem. Moving on.

How did this beautifully sass-tastic moment not make it into the film? We were robbed, quite frankly.

Ginny has so much more of a personality in the books, and it physically pains me what was done to her in the name of film adaptation. She was a formidable witch, a talented Quidditch player, a popular and able student. Not Harry’s new surrogate mother-figure. And she absolutely fought against Ron trying to control her, and his hypocracy in doing so. Ginny is my hero – book!Ginny is my hero. Film!Ginny could literally turn into a lamp who ties shoelaces, and no-one would notice.

Thing Number Five Billion on the list of things that should have made it into the films. I think Harry really values Luna’s honesty – he is lied to by so many people, and manipulated by almost every adult around him, that I think Luna’s complete openness is something entirely new for him, and though he’s embarrassed by it sometimes, he feels stabilised by it as well.

I confess to also really loving Luna.

Now this is interesting. The idea of the job of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher being cursed is a running joke throughout the series, but here, as part of a throw-away remark, the curse is very suddenly something to be taken seriously. More than that, if it’s real, it’s an intricate piece of magic – every DADA teacher leaves for different reasons, so the curse doesn’t demand that they all die, just that they all leave.

It’s also a good answer for why Dumbledore never gave Snape the job. If the curse is real, then Dumbledore would have lost his pet Death Eater.

You can’t not see the innuendo here, surely. This is not that long after the line that goes something like “Harry no longer cared about Quidditch. He was becoming rapidly obsessed with Draco Malfoy.” So, you know, take that how you will.

Ron is an A* dickhead in this book, and it’s very difficult to blame all of it on hormones. The only good thing about his behaviour is that it gives Hermione and Ginny a hundred opportunities to verbally slap him down – and they take advantage of every single on.

“An admirably succinct and accurate summary” said the author about her own words. Smooth, Rowling. Very smooth.

Harry can also piss off right now. I mean, how dare Ginny have all these (two) boyfriends, when the Chosen One wants her? How dare she not marry the very first person she kisses? I’m such an unfan of all the misogyny directed at Ginny in this book, and I do wonder what I got out of it when I read it as a kid, because this wasn’t it.

IT’S RIGHT THERE!! He ran right past it! This is so frustrating on a re-read. If only he’d known…

If that “tarnished tiara” is what I think it is (spoilers for book 7) then goodness gracious this scene in the Room of Requirement is an exercise in re-read frustration. IT’S RIGHT THERE!!

I’m beginning to realise how big a theme internalised misogyny is in book 6. The Weasleys and Hermione treat Fleur really awfully throughout, and it’s only here, when there’s a direct question of the strength of her commitment, that Fleur directly stands up for herself. The only justification for her treatment is that she does things differently, and is a strong personality. I love this moment, but I hate that it was necessary.

And to end, a brief consideration of Harry’s treatment of Malfoy. It’s only now, when it’s far too late, that Harry experiences even a hint of sympathy for the difficulty of Draco’s position. Hated by much of the wizard in world because of his family, Sorted into the House that everyone despises, having your disgraces openly celebrated by your peers… I don’t want to try and excuse Draco’s behaviour, but I do want to ask one question: what chance did Draco Malfoy ever really have?

We’ve only got part 5 left for this folks, and I’ll see you next Thursday for that. Otherwise, hope you have a great week!

Review: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff


Goodreads summary:

Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Thirteen-year-old novice Maresi arrived at the Abbey four years ago, during the hunger winter, and now lives a happy life under the protection of the Mother. Maresi spends her days reading in the Knowledge House, caring for the younger novices, and contentedly waiting for the moment when she will be called to serve one of the Houses of the Abbey.

This idyllic existence is threatened by the arrival of Jai, a girl whose dark past has followed her into the Abbey’s sacred spaces. In order to protect her new sister and her own way of life, Maresi must emerge from the safety of her books and her childish world and become one who acts. Continue reading

Words for the Week


Hello again, folks! Welcome to another episode of Words for the Week, which happens every Sunday. I have so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I’m putting together a small selection of these lovely words once a week, in the hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. And for a little more interest, I’m going through the alphabet! So this week’s words begin with ‘D’. 

Defenestration (noun): The act of throwing someone or something out of a window.

I couldn’t do this week’s list without ‘defenestration’. It’s just the best word. It’s satisfying to say, and it describes something that you wouldn’t think there was a specific word for. It was one of our favourites at uni – not least because we made friends with the neighbour’s cat, who used to defenestrate herself all the time. 

Drachenfutter (noun): German. The apologetic gift brought to soothe a lover’s anger. 

This was such a pleasing word to discover, but I don’t have enough German to know how much sarcasm is embedded in the usage of this word. Is this the kind of gift that’s given in order to get back into someone’s good books without having to discuss what you did wrong? Or is this a genuine proof-of-remorse kind of a gift? Either way, it’s really pleasing that there’s a specific word for this specific kind of gift. 

Drindle (noun): East Anglia. Diminutive run of water, smaller than a currel.

For delightful, obscure water-related context, a ‘currel’ is a small stream, also an East Anglian dialect word. I’m not sure where the line is between a small stream and an even smaller stream, but I love that there’s apparently a set of words for the steadily increasing sizes of streams. Like, no sarcasm. I love it, and I want to know and memorise them all. 

Deglute (verb): To swallow.

‘Swallow’ has always felt like a bit of a let-down for me. It’s just not quite onomatopoeic enough for such a recognisable sound. And though ‘deglute’ does sound a little bit like what might happen if a bodybuilder spent too much time sitting on the sofa, it also captures that very precise sound of an audible swallow.

Doppet (verb): Gloucestershire. To play a musical instrument jerkily. 

This word is curiously similar to ‘stop it’ – and perhaps that’s where it came from. It feels particularly emphatic, and it’s certainly something I’m familiar with. There’s a kid two doors down who practises the drums in the shed at the weekend. To be fair, I cannot tell how good he is at the drums, but in the absence of any accompanying music, it does sound very doppet-y.

This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; The Greeks Had A Word For It by Andrew Taylor; Landmarks by Robert McFarlane; The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal.

Resources: LGBTQIA+ Affirming Christianity

You might have seen my post last year about growing up as a queer Christian. (It’s here.) Since I published that post, I’ve received so much positive support, both online and in real life. I was a little unsure that it was something I should be talking about in public, so I wanted to thank everyone who responded.

But I also don’t think it’s enough. It seems a week can’t go by without a Christian writing a piece on why they don’t feel God supports LGBTQIA+ people – or often, more crudely, gay sex.

While we’re here, why is it that there’s such an obsession in the Christian community with gay sex? Why is it that singular aspect that Christians often reduce the LGBTQIA+ community down to? It’s dismissive of the truth and love of gay relationships, and it erases the diverse experiences of so many queer Christians who feel not only excluded, but completely ignored.

ANYWAY. I am a digress. Continue reading

Words of the Week


Hello again, folks! This is my new Sunday thing – I’ve got so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I thought I’d give you a small selection of these lovely words once a week, in the hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. And for a little more interest, I’m going through the alphabet! So this week’s words begin with ‘C’.  Continue reading