Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Guest List (Lucy Foley)

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Guest List
Author: Lucy Foley
Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Mystery
First published: 2019
Edition: Kindle e-book

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

💀💔

This was a very easy read, which was just what I needed.

I liked the way the book is written from the points of view of various people attending a wedding on a remote Irish island and how it is mainly written a day in the past with brief glimpses of the Wedding Day itself. I definitely enjoyed the writing and the characters.

The murder mystery and the reveals were a little iffy for my liking. Too many coincidences. It was all just a little bit too convenient.

Having said that though, I sped through the book and I would recommend it as a quick fun read. There’s nothing too gruesome, but it does have a bit of a ominous atmosphere, which I enjoyed.

Did what it needed to do.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Broadwater (Jac Shreeves-Lee)

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Broadwater
Author: Jac Shreeves-Lee
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
First published: to be published 3 September 2020 by Fairlight Books
Edition:  e-ARC, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

Welcome to Broadwater Farm, one of the most well-known housing estates in Britain. A place where post-war dreams of concrete utopia ended in riots, violence and sub-standard housing.

In this collection, Tottenham-born Jac Shreeves-Lee gives voice to the people of Broadwater Farm. With evocative language and raw storytelling, she compassionately portrays their shared sense of community. A community with a rich cultural heritage, comprising over forty nationalities, generations old.

I like this type of short story collection, where the stories are loosely connected. The main character of one story may be a side character in another, showing you a fleeting glimpse of an outside perspective.

I think the author did a good job of showing a diverse range of people living in or connected to Broadwater in some way. Some stories touched me in some way and others didn’t, as is often the case with short stories. A few of them were a bit too bleak for my tastes. There was a lot of sadness and longing for a better life. However, there were also some stories I really enjoyed, especially the closing story. That one leaves the collection on an interesting note, which I appreciated.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection and it provided me with a slice of life of a random bunch of fictional people inthe Tottenham area. It sometimes left me wanting a bit more, but I guess that is what short stories do!

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Just Around Midnight (Jack Hamilton)

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination
Author:  Jack Hamilton – Narrator: Ron Butler
Genre: Non-Fiction / Culture / Music
First published: 2016
Edition: Audio Book

By the time Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, the idea of a black man playing lead guitar in a rock band seemed exotic. Yet a mere ten years earlier, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley had stood among the most influential rock and roll performers. Why did rock and roll become “white”?

I am not sure what I expected from this book and I am not sure what I got from it was as enlightening as I had hoped, but it was interesting for sure. This book was particularly interesting to me as I do tend to listen to a lot of rock music.

I thought the subject was endlessly fascinating. The fact that rock and roll was made popular by mostly black artists such as Chuck Berry, but is now an almost entirely white affair is a peculiar shift.

As far as books on culture and music go, this one leans towards the academic side. In fact, at times it reads like a long research paper. It basically looks at the rock and roll music of the 1960s and juxtaposes black and white artists active at the same time. For example it looks at Bob Dylan in relation to Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin to Dusty Springfield and Janis Joplin.

The author talks a lot about authenticity and how authenticity for white artists is different from what it means for black artists. The author claims that for a white artist authenticity is writing your own songs and being original as an individual. For a black artist authenticity means being true to your roots, so to their race and not an individual. I thought this was such an interesting point, because it does ring true to this day.

However, I felt like the book told me a lot without actually making real inroads into what it was trying to say. I felt just taking the 60s was not quite enough to really make the point properly. I understand that during time this shift was most prominent, but there is so much to say on this subject and I felt the author may have made a better point if he had included a longer time period. I also felt like the author could have expanded on race in relation to gender much more and I was disappointed that the book did not go into that more.

So, in short, I did enjoy this book. It made some interesting points and I learned a lot about black and white musical culture at that time, but I felt so much was left unexplored that I simply wanted it do more. I definitely want to read more on this subject, as I feel there is so much left to talk about, but I am happy to have read this book.

I would encourage you to read this book if it sounds interesting to you. It is definitely worth reading, but it is not the definitive book on the subject.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Scot To Remember (Angeline Fortin)

Fortin, Angeline - Something About A Highlander 1 A Scot To Remember

★★★★★★☆

Title: A Scot To Remember (Something About A Highlander #1)
Author: Angeline Fortin
Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction/Romance/Time Travel
First published: 2019
Edition: Kindle e-book

A life of love lost and heartbreak has cursed the women in Bronte Hughes’s family for generations. When she discovers a device that allows her to slip through time, Bronte decides the key to obtaining true love for herself lies in mending the tragedies of the past and restoring a legacy of love fate has robbed from her family…beginning with saving her great-great grandfather from setting sail on the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic.

♥♥♥

Clearly, you really can’t (always) judge a book by its cover.

I love it when a book surprises you and this one certainly did that. I kind of went in blind, as I had not even read the synopsis, expecting it to be a simple historical romance, judging by the title and cover. Hence my surprise when it opened in the present day! Turned out it was so much more than a simple historical romance and I kind of ended up loving it. The

I immediately liked the characters and the contrasts the author painted between present day and a century earlier. Brontë was a pretty uncomplicated character and I kind of loved her for that. Tris was kind of the perfect love interest. His early twentieth century sensibilities and sense of propriety were not taken too far and he felt very believeable.

This is the first book in a series, but reading the afterword by the author, I think it would have been good to read earlier series by this author first as they tie into this one. It would have given me some background on some of the side characters. To be honest, this book works pretty well as a standalone.

The romance itself was not too heavy handed and the actual steamy scenes did not come until later in the book and were spaced out enough not to take away from the story and the plot.

I really enjoyed the writing. My only complaint is that it was a bit dragged out in places. There were times I wished the story moved a long a bit quicker, especially when we were stuck in some of Brontë’s inner dialogue. At the same time I missed a bit of description here and there of the setting itself. None of that stopped me from enjoying the story.

I will definitely read more by this author. I have the second book in this particular series on my Kindle, and I think I will read it sooner rather than later.

I do really dislike the cover though. It really does not suit this novel. Just saying… I think a new cover is much needed!

6 out of 7 stars

 

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Beach Read (Emily Henry)

Henry, Emily - Beach Read

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit
First published: 2020
Edition: Kindle e-book (Penguin)

January is a hopeless romantic who likes narrating her life as if she’s the heroine in a blockbuster movie.
Augustus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
January and Augustus are not going to get on.
But they actually have more in common than you’d think:
They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.

💞📔❤

I so wished I loved this as much as everyone else seems to. I really liked the sound of this, but for me the story fell a bit flat in places.

I liked our female lead January well enough, but male lead Gus left me completely cold. His actions too often baffled or annoyed me right up to the end. I just did not get him at all.

There are things I definitely liked, like the fact that both leads came with baggage and there was more to this story than simply the romance. The tension between our two leads was really well written in places, and I do love a bit of good tension!

Some of the side characters were really fun, but I felt they were a bit underutilized The overall writing was fine. I just felt that some things took too long to be wrapped up and then they were wrapped up in the blink of an eye.

So, yes, I have mixed feelings about this one. In the end it just left me a bit ‘meh’ and I doubt this is a romance that I will remember.

If you like the sound of this one, please do read it, because a lot of people absolutely love it. It just was not for me.

4 out of 7 stars

 

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 5 August 2020

As predicted, these past seven days have been much slower readingwise, but I am enjoying my reading and that is what counts!

***

WWW Wednesdays’ home is at Sam’s blog Taking On A World of Words. Check it out!

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?

***

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Beach Read by Emily Henry (just like everyone else it seems!). I am almost halfway. It’s ok. I am not completely loving it, but I think it depends on where it goes from here. I am not really that into either of the main characters.

Henry, Emily - Beach Read   Kendi, Ibram X - How To Be An Antiracist

I am listening to How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. I am so impressed with this book. I love how Kendi is taking his own experience and perspective and how he is the applying that to the world at large. I love how much passion is in his narration for the audio book. I am finding I am hanging on his every word in a way that I maybe would not have done if I had read the physical version. A very important book for sure and one I just know I will come out of wiser. I am about halfway into this one as well.

What did I recently finish reading?

I only finished two books since last week:

Rushdie, Salman - East,West    Marillier, Juliet - Tower of Thorns

Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier (Blackthorn & Grim, book 2): I adored this and I am reading the final book this month I hope! 6*/7

East,West by Salman Rushdie: This is a short story collection that was just ok for me. 4*/7

What do I think I will read next?

I want to read Nefertiti by Michelle Moran next. I have not read a book set in ancient Egypt for years and years and it used to be one of my favourite subjects. I am really looking forward to this one.


I also want to finish another fantasy series if I can. I am not sure whether I will go with the final book in the Blackthorn & Grim series (Den of Wolves) or Darkdawn (Nevernight trilogy by Jay Kristoff). I definitely feel in a fantasy mood.

If I can finish a few of my fantasy series this August, I will. I am keen to start some new ones!

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: East,West (Salman Rushdie)

Rushdie, Salman - East,West

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: East,West
Author: Salman Rushdie
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
First published: 1994
Edition: Paperback, published by Vintage in 1996

‘Nine stories that reveal the oceanic distances and the unexpected intimacies between East and West.’ 

I found this short story collection in a charity shop a while ago. I had never read anything by Salman Rushdie and thought it would be a good way to see what he was all about. I think I am glad I read this, but it left me rather cold in the end.

The collection in split into three section: East, West and East,West. I quite enjoyed the stories in the East and East,West sections, but the stories in West really did nothing at all for me. My favourite section was the East, West, probably because clashes of culture are such a fascinating subject. My favourite stories in the collection overall were the first one, Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies, ad the final one, The Courter.

Culture, human nature, identity and belonging have big parts to play in a lot of these stories. Although the writing itself was really good, there were too few stories that I got sucked into that I cannot say I actually liked this collection as much as I had hoped. The stories simply did not give enough.

Having said that, I would like to give a full novel by the author a try, because he is clearly a very good writer.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Tower of Thorns (Juliet Marillier)

200729

★★★★★★☆

Title: Tower of Thorns (Blackthorn & Grim #2)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
First published: 2015
Edition: Massmarket Paperback, published by ROC in 2016

A noblewoman asks for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a creature who threatens the safety and sanity of all who live nearby from an old tower on her land–one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

I am so glad I finally continued with this series. This second instalment of Blackthorn and Grim’s story was such a joy to read. I loved the story, which is so filled with fairytale magic and gaelic folklore that it was such a wonderful escape.

I love the setting in medieval Ireland, but what really warmed my heart was the characters. Both Blackthorn and Grim are so well fleshed out and since we get both their points of views we see their relationship and bond develop. Grim must be one of my favourite characters I have read in a fantasy book for a long time.

There was so much mystery in this that I found it hard to stop reading – I simply needed to know what the heck was going on! The third point of view is from Geiléis, the woman who asks Blackthorn to lift a curse that has befallen her homeland. This third point of view works really well in this book. Through her, some of the mystery slowly gets unfolded in a most tantalizing way.

This was such a delightful read that I can’t wait to read the third book, Den of Wolves, very soon!

6 out of 7 stars

#20booksofsummer

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: It Only Happens in the Movies (Holly Bourne)

Bourne, Holly - It Only Happens in the Movies

★★★★★★☆

Title: It Only Happens in the Movies
Author: Holly Bourne
Genre: Fiction / YA / Contemporary / RomCom
First published: 2017
Edition: Kindle e-book

Bad boys turned good, kisses in the rain, climbing through bedroom windows… It only happens in the movies. When Audrey meets Harry, it’s the start of a truly cinematic romance – or is it? Audrey knows that Harry is every movie cliché rolled into one. But she still chooses to let him into her heart…

This is without doubt one of my favourite YA contemporary romance/romcom kind of books that I have read.

I loved main character Audrey so much. The first half of the book was absolute perfection to me. Audrey clearly struggled between her responsibilties to her parents and her simply wanting to be a teenager. On top of that she was still heart-broken over an ex that was clearly a bit of a piece of work.

I thought the way this book dealt with losing your virginity and sex realistically and very well. Too many of these books are way too romaticized and that is exactly what this book is criticizing, mostly by looking at movies, but at the same time the same applies to too many romance books, YA and adult both.

Throughout the book also deals with the divorce of Audrey’s parents and the repercussions of that on the mental health of her mother and on Audrey’s own ideas of love.

The book lost me a bit in the third quarter, but thankfully it finished strongly. I really enjoyed this book and I do feel that this is the kind of book that teenage girls should be reading. The heroine is realistically strong, but flawed as well. The male lead is even more flawed, but you kind of like him anyway, just like Audrey does.

The ending gives a strong message that hopefully would empower teenage girls reading this book.

Also, bonus points for mentioning ‘Before Sunrise’ which is one of my favourite movies of all time.

This was so close to 7 stars if not for that 3rd quarter.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: About A Boy (Nick Hornby)

Hornby Nick - About A Boy

★★★★★☆☆

Title: About A Boy
Author: Nick Hornby
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
First published: 1998
Edition: Hardback, published by Victor Gollancz i 1998

At thirty-six, Will is as hip as a teenager. He’s single, child-free, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He’s also found a great way to score with women: attend single parents’ groups full of available (and grateful) mothers, all hoping to meet a Nice Guy.

Which is how Will meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old on the planet. Marcus is a bit strange: he listens to Joni Mitchell and Mozart, looks after his mum and has never owned a pair of trainers. But Marcus latches on to Will – and won’t let go. Can Will teach Marcus how to grow up cool? And can Marcus help Will just to grow up?

*

I am not sure what I expected from this book. I have read a couple of Nick Hornby books before and did not quite love them. This is my favourite one by him I have read so far.

There is something very basic about this story and that is exactly what makes it so good to me. It is just a story about people and relationships, especially friendships, and how making genuine connections with people changes and strengthens you. I liked how the connections were forged. They were not forced, but evolved naturally.

I really enjoyed seeing the changes in both Marcus and Will throughout the book. Whether the portrayal of Fiona’s depression is realistic I am not sure. I kind of feel it is a bit strange that none of her friends really mentions seeking professional help as an option. I feel like Fiona’s mental health problems should have been explored more. Now it simply felt as a plot device. Maybe it was.

That issue aside, I enjoyed this book. It was not too heavy (which admittedy  it may have been if the above had happened), and I had fun with the characters.

I have seen the movie before, but I think I prefer the book, though the casting was spot on! I never knew the part Kurt Cobain plays in the book.

5 out of 7 stars