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

Books · Reviews

(Graphic) Book Thoughts: Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh)

Brosh, Allie - Hyperbole and a Half

★★★★★★☆

Title: Hyperbole and a Half
Author: Allie Brosh
Genre: Graphic Novel / Graphic Memoir / Humour
First published: 2013
Edition: Paperback, published by Square Peg in 2013

Hyperbole and a Half is a blog by twenty-something American Allie Brosh. Her debut-book –half new stories, half favourites from the blog- chronicles her ‘leaning experiences’ and character flaws. It includes stories about her rambunctious childhood, owning a mentally challenged dog and a moving comic account of her struggles with depression.  

When your recognise yourself in a book, it is always kind of surprising, baffling and worrying at the same time. That was definitely the case for me with this humorous look at some of Allie Brosh’s version of her some of the stuff that has happened to her.

For example I am a champion procrastinator, so the story on that hit pretty close to home! Also, as a dog owner, I definitely recognised some of the doggy themed comics. Dogs are incredibly stupid sometimes…

The art style is nothing amazing, but I love the bright colours and its simplicity works. The stories made me smile a lot (and shake my head in worrying solidarity just as much).

If you like funny self depreciating stories, you will enjoy this. I definitely did!

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reading Challenges

The Reading Rush TBR

This is probably my favourite readathon and one of the few I participate in. Check out the website for more information.

There are 7 prompts. I will choose a couple of books for each challenge, so I can sort of decide to double up or not:

1. Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birthstone.
Choice 1: The Dinner (Herman Koch) – I have this one in its original language, Dutch (Het Diner). It appears to be a very polarizing book, but I have been meaning to get to it for ages. It’s on both my 2020 TBR and my 20 Books of Summer TBR
Choice 2: Flames (Robbie Arnott) – I have heard such good things about this book. I keep meaning to read more Australian fiction.

2. Read a book with a title that starts with ‘The’.
Choice 1: The Dinner (Herman Koch) – see challenge 1
Choice 2: The Lost Flowers of Alice Heart (Holly Ringland) – More Australian fiction. I have had this book on my shelf for a couple of years, but have not gotten around to reading it yet,.

3. Read a book that inspired a movie that you have already seen.
Choice 1: About A Boy (Nick Hornby) – Enjoyed the movie and I am curious what the book is like.
Choice 2: The Black Stallion Returns (Walter Farley) – Used to love this movie and this middle grade series as a child and have been meaning to re-read for ages. Maybe I could even watch the movie again!

4. Read the first book you touch.

Will do this to decide what book to read first.

5. Read a book completely outside your house.
Choice 1: Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh) – a graphic novel seems perfect for this kind of challenge! I have heard good things about this one.
NO SECOND CHOICE

6. Read a book in a genre you’ve always wanted to read more of.
Choice 1: Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh) – I always mean to read more graphic novels.
Choice 2: The Black Stallion Returns (Walter Farley) – This is a middle grade book in a series I used to love as a child and I would like to re-read it. I hardly ever read middle grade these days.

7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent from where you live.
Choice 1: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (Holly Ringland) – see challenge 2
Choice 2: Flames (Robbie Arnott) – see challenge 1

*

Now, normally I would be ambitious and choose a different book for each prompt, but I want to keep things low pressure for myself, so I will probably end up doubling up some of the challenges. I have 6 books on my list! Very unlikely that I will get to that number though. I would be very happy with 4.

The most likely books I will read are The Dinner (for birthstone and ‘the’), About A Boy (movie), Hyperbole and a Half (for outside and genre) and finally The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (continent). I expect the easiest read to be Hyperbole and a Half and the most intimidating read is The Dinner.

Fingers crossed 😉

Are you participating? What does your TBR pile look like? Please link your TBR below.

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams)

Carty-Williams, Candice - Queenie

★★★★★★☆

Title: Queenie
Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary
First published: 2019
Edition: Hardback, published in 2019 by Trapeze

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

♥♦♥

I had high expectations going into this novel. I had heard so many good things about it. That always leaves me a bit nervous, but I did not need to be. This book was very good indeed!

What can I say about our main character Queenie? She makes you laugh, she breaks your heart and yet all the way through I rooted for her. She is a very flawed character, with low self-esteem, who makes very bad decisions. She is a frustrating character for sure and you will want to yell at her, but hold your judgement. We get to know her, little by little, throughout the book, and through knowing her past we come to understand her and the reasons why she is the way she is.  She may well be one of my favourite fictional characters. Maybe, because in one or another I think everyone can identify with Queenie, or has been able to identify with her in the past. 

The book deals with mental health issues, racism (both blatant, casual and subtle), cultural issues and sexual and emotional assault. These are heavy subjects and I could feel the weight through them throughout the book without being brought down. That is a rare book that can balance those scales.

The light in this book comes through Queenie’s friendships. They are so precious.

I would highly recommend this novel. I loved it and I think you will too.

6 out of 7 stars

#20booksofsummer

Books · Reading Challenges

Off The Grid Readathon (17-19 July) TBR

The Off The Grid Readathon runs from 17-19 July and is hosted by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm and Justine at IShouldReadThat!

Basically the challenge is simple – stay off social media and read some effin’ books! They also encourage you to read a book by a black author. I decided to join this readathon last minute, because, well, why not?

My TBR consists of my current read and one that is on my Summer TBR.

My current read is The One by John Marrs and the other book I really hope to read over the weekend is Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, as I have been hearing such good things about that book.

That is it. I am trying to keep things simple here! I feel there is a possibility that I will manage these over the weekend. I am about a third into The One right now (so I am cheating a little!) and I am loving it so far.

I will try and do a reading diary over the weekend! I will also post my TBR for The Reading Rush tomorrow, which starts on Monday. Yay for back-to-back readathons – here’s fingers crossed that I don’t get burn-out! 😉

Are you participating in any readathons? If so, which one and what are you reading?

L x