The Kingdoms was in a close fight for my book of the year in 2021. It had stiff opposition – Dangerous Women, and The Rose Code, which you’ll find under their respective letters. But let me tell you more about what I’m doing for the A to Z Challenge …

The plan for the month is to feature daily a book I’ve reviewed in the past (or review it that day), and also highlight others: not all are included each day.

  • review/featured
  • spacetime challenge (I host this reading challenge – you can join here)
  • middle grade (childrens) choice
  • series (love a good series – there’s a challenge for finishing those, too)
  • ‘notable’ reads
  • ‘outstanding’ books
  • my books!

Featured Book: The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

The Kingdoms

A spiral staircase, the sea… where are we? The Kingdoms features a lighthouse at its heart. The Kingdoms turns out to be a ship. Various people are involved, some of whom have memory problems. Some of them feel they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone is stranded without a memory of who he is. With good fortune, he makes his way in life and settles down. It’s a sort of Victorian era, or is it the Peninsular Wars… or some other time.

This is what I remember about the Kingdoms. It is mysterious, enthralling, suspenseful, always with a hint of danger. But exactly who is the antagonist, or even the protagonist? It is certainly gripping. I think I want to read it again. How to fit in rereads when I have a list as long as I do?

It leaves you questioning what you believe to be true, of yourself, your friends and your loved ones. And that can be very frightening.

One of the most enjoyable mystifying and baffling mind-bending books I’ve read. 

From my review (May 21)

Spacetime Challenge

King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court by Kim Iverson Headlee is a fascinating time travel adventure. As you can see from this cover, Morgana has a modern take on life. Baseball features strongly – but a future baseball. Or maybe it was the future of baseball when Kim wrote it, if developments in soccer are anything to go by. It’s good fun, and there are lots more in the series.

Middle Grade choice

Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone was a story I got on a promotion many years ago and took ages to read and review. I was so blown away by this tale of an ordinary cat and its underworld life that I added the series (6 in all) to my TBR, but only made good on their purchase last year. I’m looking forward to the next one!

Series choice: K’Barthan by M T McGuire

Few Are Chosen, The Wrong Stuff, One Man, No Plan, and Looking for Trouble are the genius author M T McGuire’s wondrous fantasy involving K’Barth. This is an alternative timeline type of world, where the moderate, ale-loving society, who have a healthy disregard for their gods, is over-run by the neofascist society next door. And that is led by one of the loveliest villains you would ever want to read (think Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham spliced with Lindsay Buroker’s Sicarius i.e, deadly and hot).

MT set out to write a trilogy and ended up with a trilogy of four, which in terms of the madness of the series, is perfect. Unfortunately she got trolled by people who objected to such nonsense, and also to any possible ‘if you like Discworld you’ll like this’. Which is weird, because they would. It just upset some people to whom TP is god. He probably is (note tense), and would probably have approved of K’Barth if MT had thought to ask him. (Maybe she did).

There are now some short stories involving the characters out, so once you finish the series, there is more to come. Enjoy!

PS I want a snurf. It’s the flying car…

Outstanding books: a serious one

Kill the black one first - a memoir

‘Kill the Black One First’ is a quote heard by a police officer when he was waiting in line to defend something from the rioters in front of him.

This memoir by Michael Fuller is notable, because he is ‘the black one’. He didn’t realise he was any different from anyone else until he went to primary school, since the children’s home in which he was brought up treated everyone the same. In today’s terms, Mr Fuller had a severely disadvantaged childhood. But, he made the most of his opportunities, which included joining the police cadets at school, because they would support him through university. It all made sense.

The Metropolitan Police Force (London, UK) was very little different then from the recent reports of how it is now. Corrupt. Misogynistic and racist. Even twenty years later it seems nothing has changed. The structure means that it is really difficult for the Chief Constable (a CEO role, appointed with Government approval) to have any real effect on the attitudes in the units around the area – ‘on the ground’. The first black Chief Constable, Michael, tells his story. The first woman Chief, recently ousted, will hopefully tell hers.

This memoir is well worth reading, and I recommend you do.

That’s all for today, so come back tomorrow for more. I’m hoping to meet more people who like the same kinds of book, so feel free to recommend something you’ve read beginning with the letter of the day!

The Kingdoms | #A2ZChallenge23

4 thoughts on “The Kingdoms | #A2ZChallenge23

  • 13 April, 2023 at 1:48 pm

    I’m adding the Michael Fuller book to my list of books to consider for the book club I’m in. We mostly read books about race in America, but it’s sometimes helpful to read books set in other places. For one thing, we seem to have the attitude that the Brits do it better. This book appears to say otherwise.

    • 13 April, 2023 at 2:44 pm

      I think we do it differently, but as we’re a smaller place, it’s difficult to say whether it’s better. Some places it’s fine, some it’s more tense.

  • 13 April, 2023 at 6:05 pm

    ‘The Kingdoms’ sounds intriguing. I think I’ll put it on my list of books to read.

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