2018 Reading Challenge, Book 23 – King’s Cage

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This is how reading a series works, you just hit one after another. This was also the book where I hit a bit of a lull. This book was slow. And it was slow in a way that I wasn’t expecting. It made sense that it was slow because the setting had changed, but yeah. It was a total shift in pace and as such it just threw me into a borderline slump. Also it’s big. So when something is moving kind of slowly, and it’s kind of massive it kind of feels overwhelming.

But it got there in the end.

It took like 250 pages which is about half the book which was a bit annoying, but it did get there. And then it kind of died off again until the last 100 pages or so before it kicked in again.

I also kind of accidentally read the blurb to War Storm and so I had inkling of a betrayal from Cal was coming and I had kind of bigged it up massively in my head and it turned out to not be that bad…I mean from Cal’s perspective it made perfect sense but I can see why Mare would be pissed about. And why it would be considered a betrayal. I didn’t 100% see it is as one and so was glad that it was a lot tamer than I what I preparing myself for.

The things I liked about this book.

New perspectives.

Obviously, Mare was stuck with Maven for a lot of the book away from the Scarlet Guard and it was nice to get those bursts of knowledge as to what is going on in their lives and how they were dealing with the issue at hand. I also liked that it came from Cameron because she was always kind of an outsider to this whole thing, she didn’t want to be there. And then seeing her progression from her own perspective and then from Mare’s was a really interesting aspect of this book.

Also, I loved, loved, loved seeing things from Evangeline’s perspective. It is so easy to hate her and just write her off as a villain or whatever but to see the situation and the circumstances within which she was raised added so much depth to her as a character that it turns out I actually kind of really wanted in my life. I also found her part in the rescue of Mare interesting just because of the tension that has always been there between them and will continue to be there in the final instalment of this series. That final chapter from her POV was just killer.

Like I said, this book was slow. But it was building to something, there was no denying that. All that time in the first half of the book in Mare’s head while she basically did nothing but watch Maven from the sidelines and have her mind fucked with. While it felt like a total slog to read at the time revealed a whole bunch of cards that I am so hyped to see get played out in War Storm. Maven continues to prove himself to be a super complicated antagonist which I am loving more and more. Especially because he was so present for so much of the book and then when Mare left he just basically disappeared.

The not knowing about what the hell he is planning and the fact that he effectively went ghost is actually kind of low key super stressful.

The final line of this book confirmed what I kind of already knew, this last book is gonna hurt.

I can’t wait.

3/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 22 – Glass Sword

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I think at this point it is pretty obvious that I am reading this whole series straight through. This series occupied my May in terms of reading. It also means that I am one step closer to finish another series this year, which feels like an achievement.

The next book in question is:

2018 Reading Challenge, Book 22, Glass Sword
2018 Reading Challenge, Book 22, Glass Sword

I’m just gonna come straight out and say it. How fucking dare Aveyard kill Shade. And so quick. I had to read the same paragraph about 10 times before I could truly process what was going down before me. It was my morning commute, I then spent the rest of day in semi denial that it had happened and the pain I felt when I went back later that day was real.

Then also, while we are on people who I did not expect to die. Elara. As I mentioned yesterday, I was hyped to see what part Elara was going to play in this. I did not expect that part to be her being dead. And she went so quick. And again, I had to read through the pages several times to check that I hadn’t missed anything. But no, one moment she as alive and the next she was a corpse. I was kind of disappointed about it to be honest, but also, it does make for an interesting plot point. The Shade one I am going to need some more convincing about.

Anyway, onto other things not that I have got that out of the way.

The character development. I loved it.

Don’t get me wrong, Mare is still kind of the MOST annoying character because she is so selfish and yet somehow still so unaware of it and sometimes just sitting with her is a headache because you just want her to stop being so stupid. But she also came into her own in a lot of ways throughout this book.

Her having a purpose meant that she actually had something to work towards and in doing so a lot of her character was revealed. Which I liked. It showed growth. That’s always good. This in turn also affected the other relationships that she had with characters in this book, it meant that everything in that way moved forward.

I found her interactions with Kilorn particularly fascinating because it’s the only consistent one that she carried over from her previous life. The way it interplays with her new Scarlet Guard life and the intentions that she always had regarding his life. I also kind of liked the tension between Kilorn and Cal.

Cal and Mare’s relationship development was also something that I quite enjoyed reading unfold. It kind of didn’t move anywhere but also went so far. It’s like a weirdly slow burn (I think the pun is intended there) because nothing seems to be safe in this world. Because Cal is still fundamentally Silver and Mare is still fundamentally Red and Cal was made to be King and so I even I don’t trust him.

Which is kind of stressful to be honest. When you don’t trust one of the main characters and he’s the love interest. I mean at least with Maven at this point as a reader you kind of know he’s a dick and you’re just finding new layers to that. Which by the way are revealing new depths with each page he’s on. I would be impressed, but honestly I kind of saw it coming. Once the twist happens and you know he’s evil the world is his playground and that is exciting.

Finding the newbloods, while at times felt kind of arduous, was overall interesting and added a great element to the plot. I found myself very interested when they found a new one to see what they do and how they could potentially be of use. And also their attitude to the whole situation (I’m looking at you Cameron). How they are going to come into play in the last 2 books is an aspect of the series that I am really looking forward to see that unfold further.

Overall, this was a great second book. It had it’s lulls but it was great for character development and it introduced some really interesting plot points for future books. I mean it was also a kicker punch to the gut and I a many never be okay about Shade. And also that ending was a real slap. That final line. I loved it.

4/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 21 – Cruel Crown

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I had to double check where this came in the canon before I even thought about reading it, but when I did and realised that it included a Glass Sword preview I knew for sure that it would be safe to read after only reading one book. And so I did.

2018 Reading Challenge, Book 21, Cruel Crown
2018 Reading Challenge, Book 21, Cruel Crown

Now there are 2 stories in this, one about Coriana, Cal’s mother, and one about Farley.

Queen Song was the first story. First of all despite only reading one book by Aveyard, I had gotten used to the first person narrative and so to read this on in 3rd was a little bit of a shock. Not in a bad way, I was just used to first.

This story covers a lot of time and when I realised where the starting point was I was worried that the pacing might feel slightly rushed, and on the one hand at times it did for the most part it didn’t.

For some bizarre reason it didn’t occur to me that Elara would have been present at the court and that she would have some things to say about the whole situation and maybe actually have something to do with everything, even though that was kind of a key point of Red Queen. I guess I just didn’t think she would have been present the whole time. Also I forgot that the Queenstrial would not have happened with Coraina even though it was mentioned, but that was only because I was still reeling from the end of the damn book and at who mind twisty the whole thing was. In hindsight that should have been my damn warning.

My hear broke a little bit when it was moving through Coriana and her several miscarriages and how she slowly started to doubt everything because Tiberias wasn’t there and she felt like Elara was doing this. I didn’t really think that it was possible that that would have something to do with Elara and yeah, I really stupidly did believe her when she played dumb.

Because I am real dumb and Aveyard is a brilliant writer. Reading Coriana’s descent into madness was awful. It all seemed to happen so quickly even though it was also quite a slow burn because it was happening through a lot of the story.

And that final paragraph. My god. The true power of Elara really hit me in the face all over again and made me kind of fearful for what Glass Sword will hold when she slowly makes her way back into the plot.

Moving onto Steel Sword. It kind of took me a while to really get into this one. It was back in first person narrative, which felt weirdly comforting, but then also something about it felt a little disjointed.

I think it had something to do with the telegrams that were interjected into the narrative, which while obviously important did feel a little jarring every single time they came up. It also took me a while to figure out what the timeline of it was. Obviously it was pre Red Queen, but I’m still not really sure what the timescale was. Certain plot points got a little confusing.

They all came together in the end and all the pieces did eventually fall into place, which made the last 20 or so pages really quite an exciting read. But it did take a hot minute for me to get to that point.

I liked getting to know a bit more about Farley and the dynamics that she had with characters that we had already seen and ones that we hadn’t, and finding out a bit more about how wide the reach of the Guard was, it turns out that knowledge slowly plants seeds that come to bloom in Glass Sword and so that was interesting. Especially because it seems like something about the dynamics of it all might come to head at some point…

Altogether I enjoyed these stories. I felt like they added an extra layer to the main narrative, especially in the case of Farley and to a degree Elara. I am glad that I read them because I feel like the information I learned from them will come in useful with these upcoming books

3/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 20 – Red Queen

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If it wasn’t obvious from the title (and the fact that I’ve already mentioned it), I am now embarking on this series. What with the final book now being out in the world it felt like a good time to start and make May the month of this series.

2018 Reading Challenge, Book 20, Red Queen
2018 Reading Challenge, Book 20, Red Queen

The first thing this book taught me was that I am not actually on the brink of a reading slump like I had feared but I had hit a string (of two) of books that I couldn’t quite get on board with and so felt like a long hard slog to get through. Also for about 100 pages it gave me Rebel vibes. Just a bad ass heroine who doesn’t know she has powers who then falls in with a couple of princes and then we’re off. The similarities are there. I then forgot about them once shit got real with this plot (also I’m not mad at the similarities, I loved Rebel).

There were parts of this book that were hella predictable, like Cal being royalty. And the kinda love triangle that is also somehow a square. I mean they are like YA staples sometimes and so even though I knew they were coming I was not mad at them. Especially the love geometric shape and the way that it was handled. It was handled well, at no point did I feel like it was super annoying and at no point did I really hate and wonder why it was there. All the actions made sense and overall I liked it. The foundations for something that could be truly complicated were laid and I am interested to see where it may lead.

Let’s talk about Mare shall we, given that it’s her story?

There were times when I liked her and times when I thought that she was incredibly naive and a little bit stupid. However, having said that as it was written in a first person narrative, there was a lot of instances where the reader was finding out things as Mare was, which meant that in some ways the reader was kind of naive to things. I mean the reader both is and isn’t.

I didn’t think she should trust anybody really and yet she kept on doing that, but for some strange bizarre reason I did not see Maven coming. I mean it actually makes perfect sense when you think about it rationally. But in the moment of the narrative it really caught me off guard. I actually had to pause to process what was happening on the pages in front of me.

It all made perfect sense but it was such a twist that I did not see coming. And then it just got crazier. The last 100 pages (I think, I really was not paying any attention to this while it was happening) were just insane. They just took what I thought I knew and then threw it out the window and it felt like I had to start all over again. Which I wasn’t even mad about. I love it so much when a book surprises me. But back to Mare because this is who I was talking about, while I found it frustrating at times that she seemed to always be one step behind everything and was kind of a naive I did also have to continually appreciate that this was not her world. She had no reason to be even remotely good at dealing with this world. She was thrown into it due to a chance encounter and I guess in circumstances like that you are gonna make some bad choices.

Maven is proving to make out to be a delicious villain though, which I am greatly appreciating. Cal is also proving to be a great counterpoint to Maven and also in relation to Mare. Where he is currently positioned come the end of the book is something that I hella intrigued by because you can just tell that it is going to be a continued point of contention. Come the end of this book I am also curious to see what Mare grows into.

They both finish this book kind of stripped of everything they know and in a new domain that is new to both of them, but also with a mission. The ending of this book made me so excited for the rest of the series.

I really liked Aveyard’s style of writing. It read really well and it had a goo quality to it. There was the odd stumbling block with it for sure, but for the most part I really enjoyed it. It took me on a journey with it and managed to conceal vital information in plain sight that I completely missed until it was actually revealed to me.

I really enjoyed this book. It made me feel like I had my reading mojo back and it was a great book. I would definitely recommend it to people, if they were up for the commitment, which I clearly am as I am deep into book 2 as I write this already…

4/5 stars

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Summer Reading List

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I went from like 0 to 100 real quick. I typically just break my reading lists down into 6-8 week chunks, but for some reason I’ve decided to go from here in May all the way through to August, which is over a quarter of the year.

The reason for this? I could not think of a title for this one and then another one at a later date and so I bunged them all into one. I don’t even know how my logic is going to work for this one. I average at a book a week and so there are 18 weeks I am playing with here. So I’m gonna take 18 and then tack on an extra 7 and make it 25 for no actual reason to be perfectly honest. Like I said logic has gone all the way out of the window.

I don’t know how this going to make the overall goal seem less daunting given how many books I’m going for here, but hey. We’re doing this. So let’s do this.

Also, I feel like I should mention that although these are all listed apparently I am prone to doing shit on a whim and could just throw in a book that I didn’t even list in the original post. Also, I only read 6 books on my last one of these so those are being rolled over to some other time, that is apparently not during this period of time…

1-5) The Red Queen Series – Victoria Aveyard

There are 5 books in this series, I’m gonna try and read it straight through, but that might not happen and there might be a couple of books thrown in the mix, depending on how I mesh with the series. I do know that when I was moving through Rebel earlier in the year, it felt great to read them all straight through, but it did feel kind of exhausting only being in that world for like a month. It’s the same reason I couldn’t read The Mortal Instruments straight through as 6 books and had to break it into two trilogies. So currently I plan to go straight through, but yeah, that might not happen. They will however all be read.

6) Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

I just wanna read this book. I wanna watch the film and I’m doing this thing where my brain won’t let me do that without having read the book first. Why I don’t know, it’s just a thing that my brain does to me sometimes.

7) the witch doesn’t burn herself in this one – amanda lovelace

I enjoyed her first collection, I’m excited to see what her second will bring.

8) The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafron

This book was given to me by someone at work and although they haven’t asked me about what I thought of it again yet (because they have done a couple of times already now) I don’t trust that they won’t ask again and so I wanna be able to finally be like ‘oh I thought this…’

9-10) The Conquerer’s Saga – Kiersten White

I dropped Now I Rise earlier this year so that I could finish the series straight through and well the final book is due out during this period of time and so the time has now come.

11) The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

This won an award in Waterstones, and I’m hoping that I will mesh with it a bit better than I did Ink and Stars which won the same award and left me feeling confused.

12) Everless – Sara Holland

The concept of this book remains the most fascinating to me and so I need to get it in my life. My edition of this book is due to be with me during this time so I can just slot it in when I get it in my clutches.

13)  The Belles – Dohnielle Clayton

This is another book that is just mocking me on my bedroom floor looking all pretty and shit and so I am going to read it. Again, this is a book that intrigues me.

14) Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Look, let’s just get this over with shall we. Maybe not the correct attitude to take when trying to read a book, but the one I have nonetheless. Something about me and this book do not mesh well. Or at least we haven’t in the past.

15) Seriously…I’m Kidding – Ellen Degeneres

There has been no non-fiction on this list thus far which is a total contrast to the last one and so I am here to remedy that with this.

16) Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

I don’t really know how I feel about reading this book anymore, but nevertheless it feels like something that I am feeling compelled to read. So I’m gonna do in prep for the second season of the show coming out.

17) Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

And here is another autobiography from someone who’s first one I very much enjoyed. I just enjoy Mindy Kaling.

18) The Defining Decade – Meg Jay

I’m reaching the middle point of being in my 20’s in every sense during the summer (like I’m going to reach being halfway through being 25 come July) so it feels like a fitting book to read for the time.

19) Lost Boy – Christina Henry

I remain optimistic about this book despite how I felt with the last book of hers that I read. And I’m interested as to how the story is going to be flipped and made super dark.

20) The Crucible – Arthur Miller

I’m gonna go in with this. I may regret it, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

21-23) Roxane Gay

I’m gonna treat this like a trilogy of sorts and read all 3 books that I have by Gay slated to read this year in one go. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. But they will all be read.

24) The Sun and Her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

And just like that, I’ve run out of poetry collections to read for the year (not strictly true, I have one on pre-order, but that’s not due until the last quarter of the year)

25) Runaways – Rainbow Rowell

And so we come to the last book on this long ass list. It’s a comic book. It’s Rainbow Rowell, I can’t see what’s not to like there.

And there it is. A somewhat lengthy breakdown of my reading list for this year and what shall be getting me through the summer months.

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Bonus Book Review – Saving the World

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And I interrupt the scheduled programming with a little book review for you. The book is the following:

Bonus Book Review - Saving the World
Bonus Book Review – Saving the World

As you all know I am kind of on a non-fiction thing this year and as such am reading a whole bunch of books that have never really been on my radar before. It also means that I am constantly challenging my own thoughts and ideas and trying to learn and understand things better as I get more information.

This book did just that on some levels.

First of all it’s primary focus is on feminism in Italy and the importance that the equality of the sexes would have, across the board, but the main focus is on what it would mean for Italy. I quite liked getting a fresh perspective on it as usually the work that I read that centres on feminism and equality tends to be in either the UK or the US, but obviously it would differ from country to country.

This book is stacked full of information and statistics, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it can take seeing everything really laid down in front of you and are kind of forced to confront it for you to really see the true nature of the problem. I found this particularly enlightening in that respect, even though sometimes it felt like a bit much when you were just reading stat after stat and they were sometimes just being presented without their relevance being made known. An example of when it made sense and it really enriched the argument was when Diana was going through the ways in which women still face oppression in regards to their bodies, there were some included that I did know about and there were some that were completely unknown to me and they were awful to learn about.

I also enjoyed the way it was written. The writing style was great. Like I mentioned, it was informative and it flowed really easily meaning that it was quite an easy read, which I always like.

Unfortunately though, for the most part, this book and I just didn’t fully mesh. I think for the most part it was to do with the perspective that I was looking at it from. I didn’t really feel like this book connected with me in a lot of ways. There were elements that did connect with me, but they were few and far between for me. It didn’t feel all that inclusive of the struggles that were faced by people of colour on a more nuanced level then just the doom and gloom of it.

It didn’t really feel like it was very open to the nuance of certain issues. It felt very black and white, with very little grey. And this whole topic is just full of grey areas. It is full of issues that you have to constantly re-evaluate things as you learn more information. And there were elements of this book that did do that for me, getting a better understanding of a wider variety of issues happening in other countries, did really make me take stock of my own privilege. Again. Because I am always very aware of the fact that I am very lucky to be born in London and all the advantages that gives me, it’s hard not to be.

But I found the whole section about ‘Women in England’ a little bit frustrating. It was somehow specific about London but for the most part didn’t talk about anyone that wasn’t white, which felt a bit odd. And I know that for the most part the only stories that are more well known are the stories that are told about white women, if they are told at all, but I guess if you’re gonna talk about the importance of women then it feels like there should be more inclusion of people of colour that made an importance. And there was some, but the balance just felt a bit off. And I think that was one of the reasons that it didn’t quite click with me.

I liked where this book was coming from, and it did inspire me in some ways. It made me more aware of some things that I had not really thought about. It reminded me check my privilege and remember how fortunate I am in this battle. But then there were parts of it that felt too black and white, too idealistic, too cut and dry and that made it harder to connect with. It was a mixed bag of feelings. However, I do feel like it’s a book that should be read if you’re looking to expand your literature based on feminism, it gives a different perspective from outside the UK/US bubble and those are important to get in every now and then.

3/5 stars

This review was written as part of a blog tour for Paola Diana’s book. If you wanna check out the other blogs written about the book over the next few days then have a look at the below and go and give them some love!

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Bonus Book Review – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

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Let’s just all accept that these book reviews are going to be coming at you thick and fast because that is just the way that I am going to do this. I’m trying to keep on top of them which is slightly hard given that I stopped blogging but kept reading.

As I mentioned yesterday I kind of threw my intended reading list for the past couple of months out of the window and as such there are lot of books making an appearance where they weren’t supposed to be. But this does mean that I am getting ever closer to reaching my reading goal of 70 books this year. I’m creeping ever closer to half way. This marks book 19.

Bonus Book Review - Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Bonus Book Review – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

This book came onto my radar in a really roundabout way because it was the January book for Emma Watson’s book club. And then I instantly knew that I needed to read it, I honestly don’t know how it completely passed me by last year, but it did and I decided that I could not let it pass me by much longer

So I got it on an order and then waited rather impatiently for it to arrive. It then made the trip to Amsterdam with it and well, it was a nice and gentle read for my week away from London…

Within the first few pages it had already opened my eyes to so many things that I hadn’t even really thought about on a deeper level. For example black British history. I know Britain wasn’t  innocent in the whole treatment of black people. There was a slave trade here. I’m not totally ignorant to that. Also I went to Liverpool for uni. I spent 3 years there. I knew that it was port for slaves. I liked going down to the docks because it was kind of calming being that close to the water. It never really fully clicked with me the impact that that very dock would have had on my very existence.

There was a lot of that feeling as I moved the first chapter alone. The further I moved through the book the more it seemed to be putting into words the things that I feel but just could never find the words to properly express it.

I felt that way the moment that she started talking about a study that was carried out against mixed raced children. If you’re new here, I am one of those. It’s a clusterfuck of conflicting feelings. And it also feels like you’re under some kind of microscope that you did not ask to be under. It means that there is part of you that feels somehow like you are straddling two worlds that you didn’t ask to straddle. I got this just from a talk about a study that was done about by a bunch of white people about the misgivings of being a mixed race child.

It taught me a lot about the history of black people that I honestly never even really thought about all that much. Like, why have I never thought about what the Commonwealth would have meant for the soldiers (and women) that fought in both world wars. Of course there would have been people from the Caribbean and India involved and of course they would have been displaced once the wars were over and everyone returned to home. It raises a really interesting question as to what the phrase ‘go back to where you come from?’ actually means. If Britain quite happily ruled so much of the world then what does that mean to the claims of being British? When you really think about the Commonwealth then it throws a whole new load of questions into the mix. I’ve honestly never thought about it and this book has made me want to search for this history to get a better understanding of it all.

This book also put it into really perspective just how much race and class are linked with one another. How gentrification is a largely a negative thing for the communities that end up getting funding because it slowly prices them out of their community. How yes white people can suffer from the impact of these things, but for the most part it affects people of colour.

I mentioned when I was talking about Laura Bates’ books that it didn’t ignore the fact that sexism is usually partnered with some other kind of ‘ism’ if you are also part of a minority group. This book tackles that idea as a POC. It gives you a more solid understanding of the intersectionality. It shows how there is still this warped idea about the two interact with each other and how there is still somehow the belief that the two cannot exist with one another.

There is so much about this book that really resonated with me and it really made me think about things in a new way in some ways. It also did a really good job of finally putting into words what I was thinking about the complicated thing that is being both a woman and being a person of colour, especially when you’re also mixed. Seriously, the sections that focused on mixed raced children really struck a nerve with me. Similarly to that episode of Black-ish where Rainbow struggles with it as a sense of identity.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone. It opens up a whole can of worms from discussion, but there is a thing about it that fascinates me. When Brexit happened a couple of shitty people said some kind of shitty things to me in the street finally feeling like they could openly talk about it for some reason and I happened to mention it at work and then someone else commented about how they didn’t think that kind of thing happened anymore. They’re white and my main reaction in my head was just to be like ‘of course you didn’t because you wouldn’t say it, but you are the exception not the rule’, which sounds a bit doom and gloom and is not what I responded with because I was not in the mood to get into that kind of a conversation on a Monday morning and this book goes a lot of the way to explaining that that feeling never went anywhere. It’s just a lot more subtle in the day to day then people who it doesn’t affect wants to believe. This book is eye opening in that respect. It has encouraged me to do a bit more research into black British history.

4/5 stars

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