Steel Magnolias

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Having read Sally Field’s autobiography earlier this year, I thought it was time to revisit the movie from which I know her best. It was a delightfully nostalgic movie. Set in the American South, in the 1980s, it is full of fabulous actors (Dolly Parton!), and is funny, sweet, heartbreaking, and whimsical.

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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Amy BintiBinti is the first of her people to be offered a place at Oomza Uni, and she decides to go against their wishes. As she travels to the uni on a faraway planet, she is faced with a life and death situation with a violent, alien race. This is a tiny, award winning, sci-fi, afrofuturistic, coming of age novella, about a girl who leaves her traditional life in Africa to explore her own potential. I’m off to reserve the rest of the series.

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Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

The OutlanderTracey Outlanders series by Diana Gabaldon is the story of a 20th-century British nurse Claire Randall who time travels to 18th-century Scotland where she falls in love and finds adventure with a gallant young scots warrior named James Fraser.

Sounds simple enough (a bit like ’50 Shades of Grey’ and simplistic drivel I hear you saying!)  but the books are anything but! Yes! – I am an unashamed “Outlander” tragic, having read all eight novels in this historical multi genre series and eagerly awaiting the ninth book currently in the pipeline. I have watched all four seasons of the TV series (not anywhere as good as the books), and I follow the odd social media fandom page!

In the words of the author herself, “these novels are big, fat Historical Fiction… and include… history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honour, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul…”

What appeals to me about these books is the fact that they encompass numerous genres including Romance, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction and Time Travel Fiction. Diana Gabaldon’s writing is richly detailed and beautiful. I flew through these hefty, lengthy books and loved them!

Now want to visit Scotland and explore the fascinating historical sites and countryside. If I am lucky, I might run into a certain good-looking Scottish highlander although I, uh, only watch and read Outlander for the history, mind you!

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Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe

amy-paradise-lodge.jpgNina Stibbe’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, are a lot of fun. Paradise Lodge is an old people’s home in an English village in the 1970s. Fifteen year old Lizzie Vogel starts to work there as she avoids school, and wants cash to buy nicer coffee and shampoo. It’s a wonderfully life-affirming story, full of lovable, eccentric characters, coming of age revelations, and deep connection and community.

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To say nothing of the dog by Connie Willis

Amy to say nothing of the dogTo Say Nothing of the Dog is a companion novel to Doomsday Book, and oh, what a romp! Ned Henry is a temporal historian in 2057, and after too many jumps back to 1940, in search of a hideous artifact, he is exhausted and sent back to Victorian England to rest and recover. Rest and recovery are the very last things he finds, but what follows is an hilarious adventure and homage to Three Men in a Boat. This is very hard to explain; all you need to know is that it is clever, fun, funny, romantic, and full of endearing characters, human and animal. Just delightful.

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How not to be a boy by Robert Webb

amy-how-not-to-be-a-boy.jpgRobert Webb is a funny fellow, just my age, and there was plenty to relate to in his memoir. Though definitely out to make you laugh, there is a lot of serious stuff here; an abusive father, the loss of his mother, mental health struggles, and the overarching theme of toxic masculinity. I enjoy listening to memoirs read by the author, and Webb does a very good job narrating his own story, which is sad, cringeworthy, funny, hopeful, and thought-provoking.

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Fire and thorns by Rae Carson

cynthia-fire-and-thorns.jpgElisa has been gifted the Godstone, which means she has been chosen for an act of heroism. But she does not fell like a hero. So begins this fantasy adventure. Love, kidnapping, war, death, religion are all in the mix as Elisa puts the puzzle pieces together. A satisfying read.Elisa has been gifted the Godstone, which means she has been chosen for an act of heroism. But she does not feel like a hero. So begins this fantasy adventure. Love, kidnapping, war, death, religion are all in the mix as Elisa puts the puzzle pieces together. A satisfying read.

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