The Gift

Author: Alison Croggon
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Quote: “For almost as long as she could remember, Maerad had been imprisoned behind walls,”
Setting: Fantasy World–Middle Age
Premise: Maerad is a slave, wasting away to a dismal future of long, heavy days and a premature death. At 16 years old she’s all but given up hope until one day she finds a man in the cow shed. A man no one else can see.

If you loved Lord of the Rings, then this is the book for you. This five-book series (four books in the main story and one prequel) dives into a diverse world of magic, music, elementals, and epic plot lines. Maerad enters this world from her isolated slavery, bringing us on her journey of wonder and discovery, whilst Cadvan is our mentor and expert, powerful and unshakable.

This plot is a true quest plot line, with Maerad and Cadvan travelling to all four corners of Annar, following a ‘chosen one’ story arc as they struggle to overcome and defeat the ominous ‘dark’. The epic follows a truly satisfying story arc for all the main characters, their external conflicts and the external plots expertly intertwined to get you fully invested in the character’s plight. I also want to note how genuinely diverse the cast is, following basic geographical evolutionary laws to give a colourful collection of characters and cultures which feel thoroughly authentic.

There are lots of themes running through these books, but the main one to pull out is the Maerad’s theme of self-discovery, and that even when lost in all encompassing darkness there is always a reason to keep fighting.

This is another of my childhood books, discovered in the then ‘teen’ section of Waterstones (before YA was a legitimate genre) and devoured in three days. To me this series is my fiction home, whenever I need to escape, whenever I go somewhere new and out of my comfort zone, it’s this book that I escape too.

You’ve heard enough about how much I like this book, but is this book you’re hunting for?
1. Are you in the mood for an epic journey?
2. Would you want to get lost in a fantasy world filled with wonder and awe?
3. Do you need a new Aragorn figure in your life?

If you answered yes, yES, YES! Then this might well be your next favourite read!


Good Omens

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Cheryl Strayed had hit rock bottom, and then had managed to find a crevice in that rocky bed to sink herself even further into the despair of grief and regret. With nowhere to go and no one to help she made the single most impulsive decision of her life – she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Alone.

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Invisible Women

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

How many times have you, either as a woman yourself or as someone talking to a person with double X chromosomes, heard phrases like ‘Oh I can’t do DIY, I’m not strong enough, or ‘I want to go for a run but it’s going to be dark soon’. The world we live in was designed by men, for men and as a result, is inherently biased against women. From power tools which are designed by default for the average male handspan to medication that was only ever tested on XY chromosome mice, and to urban planning which throws obstacles into the working woman’s life, this book exposes why ‘I’m sorry I’m just really bad at xyz’ should actually be ‘I’m sorry but this thing was not designed for someone like me.’

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