‘Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain’ by Violet Fenn – BLOG TOUR

Hi guys!

(Just want to start by saying the blog post could contain topics not suitable for anyone under the age of 18, so if you are a minor please don’t read!!)

I don’t know about you but I just love learning about history. Specifically the topics that aren’t taught in schools! My favourite topics to read about are women’s fashion history, LGBT history and anything that proves the people of the past weren’t as prudish as we might think! So when I got the chance to part of this book tour it was perfect!

Pen and Sword Blog Tour Promo Image

I have read a lot of Pen and Sword books in the past, but never a book by Violet Fenn so I was super excited to get started!

I already have a little bit of knowledge on some of the areas discussed in this book, for example Jack the Ripper, the treatment of gay men, prostitutes and photographic pornography. But it was still fascinating to read about these topics from another perspective and some in more depth.

Naturally, as an LGBT woman the chapter I found most interesting was the one on homosexuality titled ‘A Walk on the Wilde side’ (I enjoyed the play on words a lot here!). It breaks my heart to read about how the people in the book were treated, and how easily men could’ve been arrested for what was referred to as ‘gross indecency’, especially as this would make it a lot easier for them to be convicted as hard evidence was less of a necessity.

I also found the chapter that talked about sex toys to be very interesting. A lot of theories were debunked due to being unrealistic; like the fact that victorians invented the mechanical vibrator to cure hysterical perimeter when the patriarchal society meant that interest in female anatomy was minimal and most examinations were done with the patient fully clothed therefore it isn’t likely that “a doctor would instruct a female patient to lie on the couch and display her most intimate regions to him while he brought her to orgasm”.

The chapter titled ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ talked about sex and sexuality in art and literature. My favourite thing was the talk about Bram Stoker and Dracula and all the sexual subtext. Because let’s be honest, there’s not much more that’s sexier than a vampire! Fenn also talked about how it’s possible that Bram Stoker himself was a homosexual, based of of certain pieces of evidence including a letter with a LOT of homerotic subtext and vexing very close to Oscar Wilde. Although this isn’t very strong evidence, and Stoker later goes on to make a strong stand against homosexuality so who knows!

My only gripe with this book is that Fenn says we shouldn’t judge Victorians by modern standards and I don’t agree with that, especially with some of the more sensitive topics. One of the best things about history is that we can look back, make judgements and learn to do better!

In conclusion, you can tell this book was written by someone with a genuine passion for history, and who actually enjoys researching and writing about these topics. It is one of the few history books I have found where the writing is very accessible, and although taken seriously is still written in a chatty and easy to read way!

I give this book 3.5/5 stars!

(keep scrolling is you are interested in reading and would like to know what possible triggers to be wary of!)

See you soon!

Elizabeth

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If anyone is planning on reading this book I just want to give a warning that there are a lot of sensitive topics discussed in this book that can be quite hard to handle. A full list of these possible triggers will be listed below!

[rape, child murder, child prostitution, postpartum depression and psychosis, sexual abuse, child harm, suicide, death, violence]

Pine Review

Hi guys!

I am SO excited to talk about this book. I originally heard about it thanks to Darkroom Tours on instagram and just had to get a copy for myself!

If I’m being honest the cover was defiantly the thing that pulled me in first, but then I saw it was set in the Scottish Highlands and is about disappearances and has a spooky seriously spooky vibe!! It just sounded amazing!!!

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. 

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. 

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

This book starts of a little bit slow, but I think it just helps to set the tone of the small Highland town. How everyone knows everyone else, nothing ever happens and that it’s nearly completely cut off from the rest of the world. You meet quite a lot of people in the first chapter which was a bit overwhelming at first but again, it just made you feel those small town vibes because you pretty much meet everyone very quickly.

Pretty quickly you begin to feel the claustrophobic nature of the town, mainly through Niall as he seems to be constantly not in the mood to chat with anyone or go anywhere. The way the story is written makes you suspicious of nearly everyone to meet and you start to not trust people the same time as Lauren.

Even though Lauren is a child, and a lot of her mannerisms definitely show how young she is, that doesn’t make it feel at all childish or young. Lauren has a lot of independence, and I would say has had to grow up quite quickly in some ways so although she does not behave how an adult would she does deal with things logically and realistically most of the time.

I have to say, I did not see the ending coming and I had so many theories throughout the book but I was so wrong. And I’m glad! I devoured the last couple of chapters of the book SO fast because I simply had to know what happened next! I also really liked how it ended (no spoilers) and it felt really natural and true to how things probably are dealt with in real life.

I am so glad I picked up this book, and I recommend it to anyone that loves and kind of spooky books!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

See you next time!

Elizabeth

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Beyond the Moon Review

Hi guys!

This review is long overdue as I read this book back in 2019, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write blog posts for some reason! But if anything can bring me back, it’s this book!

Blurb:

In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless. 

A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.

Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…

Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide – and become one desperate struggle to be together.

This book is perfection. There aren’t really any other words to describe it. It has stuck with me long after finishing it because I just can’t stop thinking about it! It’s written in such a smooth and descriptive way that I could see everything so vividly in my head. From the hospital rooms to the trenches it felt like I was right there with the characters every step of the way.

The characters are all amazing, I love how real they all are even despite the fact that Louisa is in two different time periods. She seems to adjust so well every time she goes back in time. Another thing I emoji yes was how although she struggled in both times, she always had friends around her which I think was a really nice touch. She made friends quite easily, it didn’t matter whether she was an inpatient at a psychiatric hospital or a nurse near the front line.

I am a huge fan of the books/show Outlander and this book definitely has similar vibes. It also reminds me a little bit of the WW1 section of Downton Abbey, but I think that mostly just a time period similarity! This book does have a lot of themes within it, aside from the love story but that made me love it more. The characters where focused on more than just love and that definitely made them more likeable and real.

I am definitely planning on re-reading this book sometime in the future because I simply adored it. It has also been rereleased with a new cover so I might even buy a second copy to build up a little collection!

A definite 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

See you soon!

Elizabeth

(@daintybeth)

Queen of Nothing Review👑

Uhhhhhh

Hi guys,

I’m not entirely sure how to write a proper composed review for this book, but I promise I’m going to try my best!

Before I start let me just say that there WILL be minor spoilers in the review! Do NOT read if you haven’t read the book! Or do, if you are that reckless!

I also want to be real soppy for a second and say how much these books mean to me! I bought The Cruel Prince on a whim because it was in the sale for £5 and the cover was pretty. And then I read it. I don’t think I’ve ever been SO changed by a book series before! Jude is officially my book girlfriend, I love her and I would do anything for her. Thank you Holly Black for creating such a magical and enticing world for so many people to get lost in. I will be forever grateful.

Ok now that’s done, I guess it’s time to actually talk about the book!

After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watching reality television, and doing odd jobs, including squaring up to a cannibalistic faerie.

When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking a favour, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal. When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.

I’m in awe. Honestly I don’t know where to start. I love love LOVE the way Holly Black incorporates the faerie word into the mortal world. The introduction and explanation of how far folk survive and live in the human world is so COOL and I’m almost hoping we get a book all about a certain group of people trying to live on the mortal world!

I adore all the new characters, on both sides! I love the new enemies, the old enemies, the new allies and the old allies. There isn’t a character in the book I don’t adore with my whole heart. But what kind of a review would this be if I didn’t mention Cardan at least once?

Cardan. Where do I start? I love that disaster boy, that chaos king. I’m (still) obsessed with his whole character design. Specifically that tail. I’m in love with his tail. I’ve seen some people say that they don’t like how Cardan ‘softened’ in this book but?? Did we read the same book? Personally I haven’t seen Cardan stronger, braver or smarter than in this book. My boy was on the top of his game, he killed it the whole way through and I’m compel they obsessed with him.

JUDE. My wife. I love her. I know some people are sick of seeing her horn hairstyle but I’m so pleased that it was bright back, it was such a lovely homage to the first book and kind of helps to show how much has changed. She is the strongest woman I know and I will stand by Jude no matter what. I relate to her in a lot of ways, so seeing her overcome so much, and doing so well for herself despite how scared she is all the time is so reassuring.

This is the first book series to elicit an actually physical reaction from me. When a certain thing happened near the end of the book I wept so hard it actually gave me a headache. I have shed so many tears of sadness and joy over this series and I couldn’t be happier with the ending. And no doubt I will probably not be able to wait and start rereading the books again by February, so I don’t have to wait long to cry all over again!

I have so much to say about so many things, but I will literally end up writing a whole novel. I’m planning costumes, tattoos, art and lifestyle choices because of these books. Holly Black has truly changed my life with this series, and there aren’t enough stars in the sky to give this book a high enough rating.

But I will sum it up as being about a 10/5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m still not over this series and will be re-reading it all at least once a year for the rest of my life.

Do you love this series as much as I do?

Until next time!

Elizabeth

Rituals and Myths in Nursing Review

Hi guys!

Let me start of by saying I am not a nurse, and I don’t plan on being a nurse so this review is solely the opinion of an outsider getting a small peek into the world of nursing!

Anyway! Thank you to Pen and Sword books for sending me this book! I have always been quite interested in nursing, I’ve just never had the confidence or motivation to commit to it as a career choice, so I was super excited to be able to take on a little part of the profession in the form of this book!

Nursing is a complex profession steeped in tradition and history. Tried and tested ways of working have been the mainstay of how and why nurses do what they do. Completing tasks in a certain way because “Sister says so” describes the custom and practice of nursing, passed on through the generations that existed for most of the 20th Century and can still hold sway today.

Science and evidence-based practice have weakened the hold on tradition but ritual is still part of the fabric of nursing. Packed with amusing and sometimes poignant reminiscences this book paints a picture of nursing from the first registration of SRN No 1, Ethel Gordon Fenwick in 1919, to the present day.

Each chapter follows a theme, explores the historical background and brings it to life with stories told by nurses from different eras. We have tales of alcohol prescribed to dilate blood vessels or simply for the feel good factor. Enemas were less fun, given for almost all bowel conditions; ‘High, hot and a helluva lot!’ was the phrase for remembering this ritual.

Written with humour and a light touch, readers don’t need a nursing background to enjoy these stories, but those who trained as nurses will identify with many of the amusing and often eccentric traditions retold by generations of nurses.

I love this book so much! The author has such a way with words that I never felt like I didn’t know what was going on. Every chapter was a wonderful mix of humorous stories, life saving moments and examples of the strict rules of nursing! It is such a realistic insight into nursing, written from obviously a slightly biased view point because the author is a nurse, but she covers both the positives and the negatives to give a very honest, well rounded perspective on what it was like.

It was lovely to read a non-fiction book with a bit of personality too! I loved the chatty writing style, how it almost felt you were sitting down and chatting with the author! It definitely made me feel welcome in reading the book, and that I wasn’t putting my nose in an area it doesn’t belong!

This book is definitely very ‘user friendly’ in that I feel it is accessible to anyone that has an interest in nursing. Whether that’s because they are a nurse, what to be a nurse, have family history in nursing or horsefly even just that they have watched Call the Midwife and want some more factual information on the profession in the era!

I couldn’t recommend this book enough, it is probably my favourite Pen and Sword book yet! Thank you again to Pen and Sword for sending this to me!

I can’t give this any lower the 6/5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ to be honest! I just adored it!

See you next time,

Elizabeth

17 Church Row Review

Hi guys!

I’m so sorry for not posting here for so long, but I’m back now! And I have another amazing book to review for you!

This book was sent to me via the platform ‘Readers First’! Which if you don’t know what this is, it’s essentially a website where you read previews of books, write a review of that and then potentially win the book! You earn points too, soo when you get 2000 points (which is actually pretty easy!), you get to request a book and not just hope you won!! It’s great!!

Anyway, the book I will be reviewing today is ’17 Church Row’ by James Carol!

Three years ago, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes suffered a devastating loss when their four-year-old daughter Grace was tragically killed in a road accident. Ethan, a radio personality, escapes into work, leaving Nikki to care for their remaining child, Bella, who hasn’t spoken since that day.

Seeking a fresh start, the family moves into a revolutionary new house designed by renowned architect, Catriona Fisher. The house features a state-of-the-art security system, along with every amenity you could dream of.

For the Rhodes’ this is a chance to finally pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in a place where they feel totally safe.

But what if 17 Church Row isn’t the safe haven that they think it is?

POSSIBLY MINOR SPOILERS

Wow! This book had me gripped from the first page! I don’t usually read books like this, any horrors or thrillers on my tbr are usually either historical, about ghosts or both! So this was a totally new experience to me. Not only was it set in the 21st century, it was set in the time we are actually living! The technology was there, the things we see about in the news, even ‘Alexa’ was mentioned! You defiantly wouldn’t get all that in a book set in the 1800s!

Immediately I felt for the characters after having lost one of their daughters in a tragic accident, and having to watch how much their other daughter was struggling with it. Losing a child must be one of the hardest things to have to go through, and to then move and feel like your house is attacking you? I can only assume how that would mess with your head!

The way it was written made the book super fast pace pretty much from the get go, with lots of short chapters, sometimes switching to different or even unknown perspectives! Knowing what was happening outside the house, made everything creepier in my opinion. Trying to figure out how everything was connected, and who everyone might be was quite exciting! I had a couple of theories regarding one of the perspectives and I can say I was wrong!

The general idea behind the story is not particularly new; ‘technology fights back’ etc., BUT I have never seen it done quite like this, and quite this well! I don’t personally own an Alexa, but if I did I certainly wouldn’t trust her anymore! Technology isn’t a new thing in our lives, but it’s becoming more and more prominent. To the point where we don’t really need to do much if we own an Alexa, because she will take care of so much for us! Now, I’m not one of those people that thinks technology is bad, or that people are getting lazy. But please just make sure that your are prepared for glitches to happen because I can imagine how horrible it would be if all the Alexa’s in the world malfunctioned in severe ways! Or at least be nice to your Alexa so she might spare you in the robot uprising😂

This book just kept getting more and more intense, right up until the final page. I couldn’t recommend it enough, and thank you to readers first and Zaffre books for sending it to me! A definite 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

See you soon!

Elizabeth

LINKS

https://www.readersfirst.co.uk

https://www.amazon.co.uk/17-Church-Row-should-place/dp/1785768409/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=9781785768408&qid=1570624662&sr=8-1

https://www.instagram.com/daintybeth/

The Girl the Sea Gave Back Review

Hi Guys!!

Today I am reviewing ‘The a Girl the Sea Gave Back’ by Adrienne Young, sent to me by Titan Books!

I haven’t read many books like this, most of the books are either super fantasy, victorian or contemporary! So when I got the email asking if I wanted to review a book about Vikings I was SO down! But it was definitely the blurb that pulled me right in!

“For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. 

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.”

I simply adored this book. It had me gripped from the first chapter and I loved all the characters. There were quite a few little twists in this book, and a few little subplots amongst the main clan feud plot. One thing I didn’t know about before reading this books was about the split perspective, and I feel like this actually helped to keep how the reader feels about both clans reasonably neutral.

The first perspective was Tova. Tova is the main character in the books and is the ‘Truthtongue’ of the Svell tribe. She was found washed ashore, and the taken in by a member of the Svell people so that they can use her gift to help them win battles and predicts the future of their people. I really felt connected to Tova’s story and I enjoyed being able see what she was thinking and feeling about all the different things that were unfolding before her.

The second perspective was of a boy from the opposing clan. I don’t want to say too much about him as I don’t want to write any spoilers but I really enjoyed seeing the story unfold from his perspective too. It was so interesting to see a battle happen from both sides of the battlefield. It definitely humanised everyone as both sides had friend and family they were worried about, and so it almost made it so there wasn’t really a ‘bad’ side, just two sides fighting because they didn’t seem to have any other choice.

I loved the ending of this book, it felt like such a natural and satisfying end to everything, and although I kind of saw it coming, it definitely didn’t happen exactly the way that I expected and I still loved to read it. Tova is a character that I love, her personality is so likeable and I’m obsessed with the idea of her being covered in tattoos too!

This book is Adrienne Young’s second novel, and it was truly amazing! It was written so well I felt like I was there most of the time, I could almost see and hear what was going on, and thanks to the candle I had lit it actually smelt like I was in the mountains!

I haven’t read her first book, but I definitely will now because this books was just amazing! I will also definitely be reading as many viking books as possible, I have definitely discovered a new genre to dive in to!

I rate this book 4.5/5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

Have you read this book?

See you next time!

Elizabeth

Edwardian Ladies Hat Fashions: Where Did You Get That Hat? (Pen and Sword)

Hi guys!

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I love Edwardian fashion! It is by far my favourite era, I love everything about it! From the elegant skirts, to the corsets and bustles I’m just obsessed! But one area I have never really focused on is hats! I was always in the mindset that a good straw hat would be good enough, and maybe it is! But what I didn’t fully realise was how intense the Edwardian hat culture was!

This book, Edwardian Ladies Hat Fashions is not only one of the most interesting fashion books I have ever read, but definitely one of the most beautiful! This pictures are simply stunning, and all the Women are so beautiful!

It was interesting yet horrific to read about the massive negative effect that the fashion industry had on the bird population. It even led to the RSPB being formed!

One of my favourite parts was when the author talked about hat pins, and how a lot of women use them for self defence! Although it’s sad that it was (and still is, let’s be honest) necessary, it was so fun! And there was even a little songs/poem that I will include a picture of below!

This is a book that I will definitely keep referring back to in my adventures through Edwardian fashion, and when I start to put together my own accurate costumes this will basically become my bible!

I can’t keep the magic of this book to myself, so I have decided to include a few of my favourite ladies and their amazing hats! If you want to see more, then you will have to buy the book! Which I couldn’t recommend highly enough!!

There was also a section full of street photography, showing women going about their day to day life instead of posing for postcard photos! I will put a couple of my favourites of these in too!

I definitely rate this book 5/5⭐️, I would rate it 6/5⭐️ if I could! I adore this book, and will definitely treasure it for a very long time! I do believe it may have kickstarted a need to collect some of these beautiful postcards for myself too!

See you next time!

Elizabeth

Struggle and Suffrage in Torbay (Pen and Sword)

Hi guys!

Today I am going to be talking about ‘Struggle and Suffrage in Torbay’ by Melanie Crump!

One of my favourite topics of history is the Suffragettes. I love to read about them and and just absorb as much information as I can about these amazing women! But, as I’m sure you are all aware, it can sometimes be quite difficult to relate to history as it just feels so far away!

However! I’ve been to Torbay many times, and I’m planning on moving there, so reading about all these places I recognise was just amazing! It even mentioned the college that I plan to go to, and how it used to be a place where they trained women for the Land Army!! Isn’t that just the coolest thing?

I think my favourite bits were learning about Agatha Christie (she’s incredible!!!) and I really liked the Seaside Holiday resort created for working women!! It was amazing how it changed and grew and became this really cool refuge for women that needed a break from work, and it stayed open until 1970s! I’m also overjoyed to learn that Winnaretta, the daughter of the man who created the ‘Singer’ sewing machines was a lesbian and was married twice, both out of convenience and once to a gay man, all the while having afraid with various women most of who were married! She is my new icon!

This book was so easy to read, it was so well written and I found that I couldn’t read it fast enough! I literally read half the book in one sitting, and then the other half in another!

I can’t wait to read more books about Suffragettes published by Pen and Sword! I certainly need to become basically a professional before I go to Bothwell in a year or two and play a girl who was a Suffragette!

Do you have a favourite part of history? What is it?

See you next time!

Elizabeth

Interpreting the Ripper Letters (Pen and Sword)

Hi guys!

Today I am going to be talking about this incredible book; Interpreting the Ripper Letters by M.J. Trow!

I have been fascinated by Jack the Ripper ever since I was about 16 years old! I have read so many books, watched shows and films and even visited a couple of the locations in London!! This books is definitely up there among the best ones I have read!

I don’t know whether it’s because I am super interested in the subject, but this book was just so easy to read! I read most of it in one day! The first chapter is all about the murders, intruding you into the mystery, so it’s a great book for people who haven’t read anything else before!

This book also talks about evidence and points that I haven’t read about anywhere else. It also dismisses evidence with proof that it wasn’t from Jack the Ripper, with evidence I have never seen explained away before!

I loved the photos and excerpts in the middle section of this book. It showed some of the letters supposedly sent by Jack the Ripper, doodles that were in some of the letters and photos of some of the suspects and police that worked on the case! It helps me a lot to see things connected to what I’m reading about when reading historical books. It helps to make it more real, and forces me to remember that this was actually a horrific time for Whitechapel, and one of the worst serial killers!

This book has definitely reignited my fascination with Jack the Ripper, an Im definitely going to go back and reread some of my other books and compare some of the new things I know!

I couldn’t recommend this book enough! Whether you are interested in serial killers as a whole, Jack the Ripper specifically or just want a more accurate portrayal of victorian police work, this book is AMAZING!

I definitely rate this book 5/5⭐️

See you next time!

Elizabeth