#FaeFriday – Favourite Books by Women Authors!

Hey Bibliofriends!

I know it’s Saturday but better late than never right for Fae Friday?!

Fae Friday is a weekly blog prompt hosted by the wonderful Kristy at Caffeinated Fae. It seems like the perfect way to spread a little more magic across the blogosphere every week.

Here are the rules:

  • Link back to this page on Caffeinated Fae.
  • If the prompt idea is from another blog, link to that blog as well.
  • Use #FaeFriday when posting to social media so we can all find each other! 
  • Participate when you can & have fun with the prompt!

March 5th prompt:

Happy Women’s History Month! Since it’s the first #FaeFriday in March we’re going to start off with the prompt:

What are some of your favorite books written by women?  

I recently listened to the first ever episode of the podcast Breaking the Glass Slipper where they discussed how women authors were overlooked when it came down to compiling ‘top rated’ book lists for SFF and horror genres. That episode took place several years ago and although there are still gender and equality arguments out there in the publishing world today, just looking at my shelves and my anticipated reads and seeing them filled with women authors puts a smile on my face as it seems that we are inching closer to some sort of equilibrium.

When I got to thinking about my list for this prompt, I wanted to try and move away from some of the authors I continuously profess my love for (Sarah J Maas/V.E. Schwab/Leigh Bardugo etc…) and think about some of other women authors on my shelves whose books have left a special mark on my bookish heart.

  1. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter – I first discovered Angela Carter when I was writing my dissertation at university and her book The Bloody Chamber was just so intoxicating that she fast became one of my go-to authors. That level of gruesome darkness was spellbinding and it reignited my love for fairytales and fantasy all over again.
  2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Book of Fours by Nancy Holder – I am a MaHOOsive Buffy fan and I loved the narrative Nancy wove with the slayers and the elements in this story. It was really different to the other types of Buffy books I had read.
  3. To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo – the language and vocabulary in this book was just – wow! I devoured every single word and sentence of the story and world that Christo built. It’s one of the only standalone books I’ve read that I wished were part of a series and I really need to know more and Elian’s and Lira’s kingdoms.

What are your favourite books by women authors
As always leave me your links below or drop me a comment to chat!

Enjoy your weekend Bibliofriends!

T xx

#FaeFriday – History Books by Black Authors!

Happy Friday Bibliofriends,

It’s finally the weekend which can only mean one thing… (well lots of things really 😏) but one of my favourites is Fae Friday!

Fae Friday is a weekly blog prompt hosted by the wonderful Kristy at Caffeinated Fae. It seems like the perfect way to spread a little more magic across the blogosphere every week.

Here are the rules:

  • Link back to this page on Caffeinated Fae.
  • If the prompt idea is from another blog, link to that blog as well.
  • Use #FaeFriday when posting to social media so we can all find each other! 
  • Participate when you can & have fun with the prompt!

February 26th prompt:

It’s the last Friday in February (Black History month in the US), and this week’s prompt is: 

What are some of your favourite history books written by Black authors? 

Despite half of my degree being History based, over the years I’ve gravitated away from reading non-fiction / history books preferring to get myself lost in the pages of fictional worlds instead. I genuinely couldn’t tell you of many up and coming history writers today other than the ‘big names’ or those I studied whilst doing my degree, let alone any history writers who are Black (shameful, I know!). That being said, the prompt this week gave me the perfect opportunity to start learning, go book hunting and add some titles written by Black historians to my TBR! Some of these are more like memoirs rather than what I’d call a History book, but who better to learn from than the people themselves?

  1. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – This is one of those classic must-reads that I have never got around to reading so this would definitely be on the list!
  2. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur – the story of the real Black Panther has fascinated me for some time so I’d absolutely like to read this one!
  3. Voices of the Windrush Generation by David Matthews – such an iconic generation of people and the impact immigration had on them, it deserves to be read.

I do have a little bonus curveball that I came across whilst browsing and I can’t include it in my list above as it is written by a white person however it does discuss Black history from one of my all-time favourite Historical periods and it’s called: Black Tudors: The Untold Story by Miranda Kaufmann.


I can’t wait to discover more so please feel free to leave me your recommendations!

What are your favourite history books by black authors? Have you read any of these on my TBR yet?
As always leave me your links below or drop me a comment to chat!

Enjoy your weekend Bibliofriends!

T xx

Biblioshelf Musings – The Carpet Cipher

Hey Biblioshelf Friends!

Ever since I started reading more books in Lockdown and getting involved with BookTwitter, that little need to start requesting books on Netgalley resurfaced again! Being approved for a more popular arc still seems like a distant dream, however after scrolling through the Read Now section I came across The Carpet Cipher by Jane Thornley which sang out to my inner historical-mystery soul. Big thanks to Netgalley and the publishers BooksGoSocial / Riverflow Press for my free e-book in exchange for an honest review.


Book: The Carpet Cipher by Jane Thornley
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publication Date: 12th March 2020
Publisher: BooksGoSocial / Riverflow Press
Pages: 258 (from paperback edition)
Rating: 📚📚

Synopsis

Can a painting hold a secret safe in plain sight across seven centuries? The murder of the last member of an old Venetian family peels back the rug on a shocking truth that draws art historian and textile expert Phoebe McCabe into the fray. 

What she sees in the missing Renaissance symbology will shake the foundations of religious and cultural assumptions across two continents and point the way to a priceless hoard. It’s a secret potent enough to pitch rival factions against Phoebe and her team while destroying history as collateral damage along the way.

By the time Phoebe tracks down the truth to its final destination, she’ll need to face her greatest enemy armed with nothing but wry wit, an indomitable spirit, and what’s left of a broken heart. But nothing will stop this warrior of the ancient lost and found.

From the dark misty canals of Venice to the vivid souks of Marrakech, Phoebe and her friends are pitched against the desperate and the entitled. Who owns a treasure buried on foreign soil? Can the poor ever win against the rich? And most importantly, can love conquer religious persecution and even time itself?

If you love twisty, action-packed mysteries driven by engaging characters set in vividly drawn locales rich in historical detail, then you’ll love this first book in the Ancient Lost and Found series. Think Robert Langdon meets Lara Croft with a side of textiles.


Why Did I Want To Read This Book?

First tick: Anything set in Italy, especially with reference to the Renaissance immediately grabs my attention and makes me read the blurb.
Second tick: Symbology, secrets, mysteries, histories and my little nerdish senses get really tingly.
Third tick: “Think Robert Langdon meets Lara Croft with a side of textiles.” Are you kidding me? To me, this would be one of the greatest pairings since Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers sang Islands in the Stream! This is the bit that made me hit that ‘read now’ button! I was expecting BIG things from this pairing/strapline and reader… I was fooled.

Am I Missing Something…?

To start with, there’s the usual murder in the prologue. This I can cope with – it happens. Except here, we get told exactly what time and place the murder happens, then all of a sudden in chapter one, we are left wondering whether we are still in the same time and place of the aforementioned murder. Turns out…we weren’t – cue: head scratching.

We are also rapidly introduced to a whole bank of characters (including the protagonist Phoebe McCabe) and what feels like an entire spider web of backstories and events at how all of these people seem to know each other. For what is supposedly the first book in this new Agency of the Ancient Lost and Found Series, I feel like I’ve stumbled in halfway through. As it turns out, I actually did – cue: more head scratching.

Going back to do a quick Goodreads search and it turns out that Phoebe McCabe & Co. have been in 5-book series before which is why I felt like there was a bit of reliance on my prior knowledge of these characters’ escapades and a lot of info-dumping in the first few chapters. Whilst this awareness of the characters’ histories is not essential to the plot of The Carpet Cipher, the continuous references to past events from a different time/series made my reading experience feel a little disjointed, as if I couldn’t fully invest myself in all of the characters.

Phoebe McCabe & Co.

Phoebe herself, has a remarkable passion for textiles which bounces off the page. The references to carpets and clothing throughout the book is well-researched and clearly evident of the writer’s enthusiasm for this subject.

When I was still trying to work out what nationality Phoebe is (she works at a gallery in the UK), some of the vocabulary she used only sought to make me think she was American. Phrases like, “stuck in my craw”, “Crud, Phoebe, stop it.” and talk of ‘phyllo’ instead of filo didn’t marry up with what I would expect a British person to be saying, so is she British or is she American? Cue: even more head scratching.

She also has an over-reliance on calling the bad-guys ‘bastards’ which did grate on me towards the end. This very male-bashing attitude that radiates through her narration felt quite passive aggressive as if she has a chip on her shoulder and I found it difficult to warm to her as a character overall [from further text deduction, previous boyfriend from previous series ‘Noel’ definitely has something to do with this].

There are a whole host of other characters who feature in this story (Max, Evan, Serena, Noel, Nicolina, Seraphina, Zara, Agent Walker, Foxy, the ‘bastards’, June & Joe) but a special mention must go to Peaches. Her comedic quips and zesty attitude breathed some much-needed humour into the dialogue towards the end of the novel. I loved her Jamaicanese speech and all-around eccentricity. “Muscle Man’s coming here with Hottie on the roof?” was one of her defining moments.

The History Behind the Mystery

The plot behind this story is based around two real-life pieces of artwork; the main piece by Bartolo becoming a painting for the purposes of this story, rather than the fresco that it really is. Having looked into the real representations of these pieces of art, the author admits to taking artistic liberties with some of the elements and symbology within the pictures. The passionate historian in me was left slightly longing. Nevertheless, the conspiracy and mystery at the heart of The Carpet Cipher and the puzzle which needed to be unlocked was engaging enough to just about keep my attention span going to the end.

Notes Whilst Reading

Lastly, my e-book notes are crammed with 39(!) highlights containing grammatical/spelling errors, alongside my own utterances of questions, queries and all of the head-scratching moments that made me shout ‘huh?’ or ‘why would you do that?’ so often that I had to check whether there was a bald-patch forming on the back of my head. Here are some of my favourites:

  • “That alone was enough to induce conniptions.” – I had to use a dictionary for the word conniptions.
  • At 37% of the book it’s finally carpet time!
  • “I changed into my only non-jeans pants – leather,” – Why does everyone wear leather ‘pant-suits’ in this book?
  • “Let’s assume that everybody is innocent until proven guilty and discuss what we know together.” – Phoebe McCabe channels her inner Poirot.
  • “Seemed like a bad time to mention my mold allergy so I just coughed for effect.” – Are you kidding me, someone who works with mouldy old textiles is allergic to mould?!

And my personal favourite:

IMG_1603

Final Thoughts

Overall, it is abundantly clear through the writing that The Carpet Cipher is a work of fiction. References to real historical facts and attitudes are minimally skimmed across the surface of the text. If you’re looking for a thrill-ride full of the common tropes found in historical mystery/thrillers then this could very well be the book for you; however, if you’re looking for a narrative that is so deeply entrenched with historical accuracy that you could genuinely believe that the conspiracy is real, then perhaps this may not quite capture your imagination for long enough.


Are you a fan of historical mysteries and thrillers or a carpet addict à la Phoebe McCabe? Feel free to recommend me a conspiracy novel that is so damned good I’ll believe it’s real!  

T xx