Review: Silver Wings

Silver Wings by H.P. Munro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Silver WingsWhen in 1943, twenty-five-year-old Lily Rivera is widowed, she finally feels able to step out of the shadows of an unhappy marriage. Her love of flying leads her to join the Womens Airforce Service Pilots, determined to regain her passion and spread her wings, not suspecting that she would experience more than just flying.Helen Richmond, a Hollywood stunt pilot, has never experienced a love that lifted her as high as the aircraft she flew…until she meets Lily.

Both women join the W.A.S.P. program to serve their country and instead find that they are on a collision course towards each other, but can it last?

This is a great book. I love historical fiction and it is even better when it contains a sweet, lesbian romance.

The author has clearly done her research and it is well written, with likeable characters and believable scenarios. The way the WASPs (Womens Airforce Service Pilots) were treated during the war was quite shameful.

I would definitely read more of Ms. Munro’s work.

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Review: Spitfire Girl: My Life in the Sky

Spitfire Girl: My Life in the Sky by Jackie Moggridge My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spitfire Girl: My Life in the Sky We had returned to a different world. We had taken off in peace at nine-thirty and landed in war at noon.Jackie Moggridge was just nineteen when World War Two broke out. Determined to do her bit, she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary. Ferrying aircraft from factory to frontline was dangerous work, but there was also fun, friendship and even love in the air. At last the world was opening up to women… or at least it seemed to be. From her first flight at fifteen to smuggling Spitfires into Burma, Jackie describes the trials and tribulations, successes and frustrations of her life in the sky.

An amazing book by an inspirational woman. Jackie came to England from South Africa in 1939 to further her flying experience and decided to stay and ‘do her bit’ when war broke out. The book chronicles her early flying lessons in South Africa, her wartime service in the WAAF and then ATA and also a few flying adventures afterwards. It saddens me that as soon as the war ended and they were no longer needed, women were pushed back into the kitchen and mostly stayed there for quite a few decades. Thank goodness for pioneers, such as the female Ata pilots who refused to be pigeonholed. Although Jackie died in 2004, she was an amazingly courageous woman and her legacy lives on. British book challenge

Review: A Trail Through Time

A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Trail Through TimeSt Mary’s is back and is facing a battle to survive in this, the fourth instalment of the Chronicles.

Max and Leon are re-united and looking forward to a peaceful lifetime together. But, sadly, they don’t even make it to lunchtime.

The action races from 17th century London to Ancient Egypt and from Pompeii to 14th century Southwark as they’re pursued up and down the timeline, playing a perilous game of hide and seek until they’re finally forced to take refuge at St Mary’s – where new dangers await them.

As usual, there are plenty of moments of humour, but the final, desperate, Battle of St Mary’s is in grim earnest. Overwhelmed and outnumbered and with the building crashing down around them, how can St Mary’s possibly survive?

So, make sure the tea’s good and strong…

I love this series, although this one wasn’t quite as good as the first three. It s a hard book to review without giving away spoilers.

Max is a fabulous protagonist: a strong, intelligent, funny but flawed woman. In other words: real!

The book is extremely funny, but also sad in parts and poses interesting moral questions about how society would react to the discovery of time travel.

I’m not quite as keen on this time-line as the original one but I will still read the next book to see what happens.

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Review: Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma

Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma by David Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma
Alan Mathison Turing.
Mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker, a founder of computer science, and the father of Artificial Intelligence, Turing was one of the most original thinkers of the last century – and the man whose work helped create the computer-driven world we now inhabit.
But he was also an enigmatic figure, deeply reticent yet also strikingly naïve. Turing’s openness about his homosexuality at a time when it was an imprisonable offense ultimately led to his untimely lo death at the age of only forty-one.

A short but interesting and thought provoking book.

I was aware that Alan Turing was instrumental in helping the allies breaking the German enigma code during the war and that he was prosecuted for homosexual acts, said prosecution probably leading to his suicide.

I was also aware of the ‘Turing Test’ as a measure of a machine’s capacity to ‘think’. I had not put two and two together to realise it was the same man.

The book contained many interesting facts of which I was not previously aware but being so short, did not explore them in the detail that I would have liked.

For example, I knew the Victorian, Charles Babbage was one of the first to conceptualise the computer, but not that he was interested in code breaking, although logically that does follow.

I certainly did not know that Turing, and other mathematicians, were fascinated by Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Why?

It seems highly ironic to me that a man obsessed with whether machines could think was pushed to suicide by the blind, unthinking prejudice of humans who mostly, it seems to me, spend very little time thinking.

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Review: The Hystery App

The Hystery App by V.T. Davy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘That’s not female liberation; we’re not really doing as we please but as the CEOs and marketing men of mega-corporations please; women are being boxed into yet another stereotype that pleases or teases men in exchange for our advancement. It’s prostitution on a global scale. It is as if the feminism that you and I know never happened.’ 

When the biophysicist Dr Brogan Miller and her partner, the women’s historian Dr Honor Smith, stumble upon a cosmic phenomenon that enables them to film the everyday lives of women from the past, they believe it will bring about a revolution in the way that women’s history is taught and studied. 

On the release of the Hystery app, their initial euphoria is not dampened as astonishing uploads from all over the world pour in showing women from all centuries at home, at work and at play. But, as the uploads take a more sinister turn, they realise that, in their excitement, they overlooked society’s appetite for new technology that bends each innovation to satisfy its basest cravings. It is only when tragedy strikes the couple and the extraordinary Erin James enters Brogan’s life that she finds the courage to put right what she has let loose on the world. 

In the second of V T Davy’s ‘state of the lesbian nation’ novels, he blends science fiction, lesbian romance and women’s history to ask whether the rights that women espouse today are those that were fought for by the pioneers of feminism or whether they have become distorted beyond recognition.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book and would rate it as 4.5 stars. It was great to have a story with lesbian characters that wasn’t just a romance. There was romance but it was secondary to the science fiction and feminism issues.

The book is set in contemporary England where Dr Brogan Miller’s private satellite is orbiting a cosmic string which has allowed it to transmit images from the past to connected webcams and mobile phones. Obviously all science fiction requires some suspension of disbelief and I was able to do that quite happily but if I thought too hard about it the viewing of history, and especially the fact that only deceased women could be seen, was rather spurious really. However, it made for an interesting premise in which to explore the way women are treated in our patriarchal society.

I liked all of the characters, although some of Brogan’s behaviour annoyed me. Erin, in particular, was great. A strong woman shaped by her tragic past. How she used the app was incredibly brave. I’m not sure I could have done it, had I been in her shoes.

A couple of negative factors: firstly, the tragedy that strikes was dealt with rather abruptly I though. Secondly, the sex scenes had a bit too much ‘she did this and she did that’. Hard to avoid with two women, I know, but a bit more use of their names would have helped.

Although the book explores complex issues and raises interesting questions, it is no dry, academic treatise. It is an exciting tale that I found hard to put down. Society’s reactions to the app seemed realistic and I was glad Honor and Brogan made the decisions they did.

I would definitely read more of Davy’s books.

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Review: Mountain Rescue: The Ascent

Mountain Rescue: The Ascent
Mountain Rescue: The Ascent by Sky Croft

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to give this book 3.5 stars really.
I really liked the scenes in the mountains and the characters were interesting but I found Saber’s coming out and leaving home rather unbelievable, especially the neighbour’s actions and then her selling her car. It’s hard to say more without spoilers.
I enjoyed it overall but I’m not sure if I will bother with the sequel.

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British Books Challenge 2015

I’m signing up to the British Books Challenge 2015

Great British Books Challenge 2015I will be reading and reviewing at least 12 British books this year. You can see the list of those I’ve reviewed on the British Books Challenge page.