Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson)

Bryson, Bill - A Walk In The Woods

★★★★★☆☆

Title: A Walk in the Woods
Author: Bill Bryson Audio narrator: William Roberts
Genre: Non-Fiction / Travel
First published: 1997
Edition: Audio book + paperback, published by Black Swan in 2015

In the company of his friend Stephen Katz, Bill Bryson set off to hike the Appalachian Trail, the longest continuous footpath in the world. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and – perhaps most alarming of all – people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.

🐻🐻🐻

I felt like I needed a fun sort of listen and this definitely scratched that itch.

Bill Bryson’s story of trying to hike the Appalachian trail with his friend Katz was a fun time. In true Bill Bryson style I learned all sorts of useless information about the trail and the areas and towns they travelled through.

This was not as wonderfully ridiculous and interesting as some of his other books, but it was still a joy to listen to. The narrator did a really good job as well.

if you do not like Bill Bryson’s observational sense of humour this will not be for you. He rarely speaks about other people in a positive way. I don’t mind that. It’s very tongue in cheek and it did amuse me. The things that annoy him are the same things that would annoy me. There is a fair bit of fat shaming, which at times made me frown, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.

This is definitely not one of his best books, but it was still very enjoyable.

5 out of 7 stars

Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Flatshare (Beth O’Leary) #20booksofsummer

O'Leary, Beth - The Flatshare

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth o’Leary
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
First published: 2019
Edition: Kindle e-book, published by Quercus

Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly-imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

🥰

Yes, I absolutely get what the fuss is about. This was a very good romance book indeed.

Not only are both main characters absolutely adorable, but their voices are distinctive and the writing of their POV chapters suit their personalities so well.

Although the romance was cute, the thing brought it just that notch above other books in this genre I have read in recent times were the subplots. The emotional abusive ex (unfortunately been there…), Leon’s brother in prison, even the search for the illusive Johnny White. They really elevated the story beyond a simple romance story.

The storyline was definitely a little too convenient times, sometimes a tad implausible, but it did not stop me from really warming to this story and these characters.

If you are thinking about reading this book and you haven’t yet, just do it, it’s fun and it will lift your spirits!

6 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Dear Martin (Nic Stone)

Stone, Nic - Dear Martin

★★★★★★☆

Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: Fiction/YA/Contemporary
First published: 2017
Edition: Kindle e-book

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

I read this novel in one day, very rare for me! I just needed to continue reading. It felt important and all too relevant.

This novel deals with topics that unfortunately are all too current; racial profiling, police brutality, injustice and white privilege. It does so with elegance and conviction. The main character Justyce is easy to like. He tries so hard and yet he is always confronted by the fact that no matter what he does, he is black and therefore people, white and black,  will be prejudiced.

I really enjoyed the way this was written. Some as letters that Justyce right to Rev. Martin Luther King diary style, some as scenes from a play and some as a normal novel, in present tense. It really worked well. I loved the friendships in this book and the slowly developing relationship. I was also impressed by the way race and racism was handled with a careful hand that (unfortunately) most likely spoke from experience.

I would whole-heartedly recommend giving this book to your teen sons/daughters, cousins, pupils to read to get a better understanding of what it is like to be a black teen in a white man’s world.

I only wish it was longer and I will definitely look into other books by this author.

6 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: English Animals (Laura Kaye)

IMG_20200619_143656_1

★★★★★☆☆

Title: English Animals
Author: Laura Kaye
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary/LGBT  Pages: 357
First published: 2017
Edition: Paperback, published in 2017 by Abacus

When Mirka gets a job in a country house in rural England, she has no idea of the struggle she faces to make sense of a very English couple, and a way of life that is entirely alien to her. Richard and Sophie are chaotic, drunken, frequently outrageous but also warm, generous and kind to Mirka, despite their argumentative and turbulent marriage. Mirka is swiftly commandeered by Richard for his latest money-making enterprise, taxidermy, and soon surpasses him in skill. After a traumatic break two years ago with her family in Slovakia, Mirka finds to her surprise that she is happy at Fairmont Hall. But when she tells Sophie that she is gay, everything she values is put in danger and she must learn the hard way what she really believes in.

I am little bit disappointed in this book. I had high expectations, I guess.

It started of pretty  strong. I liked Slovak main character Mirka a lot and the situation she found herself in was so eccentric and kind of amusing. I was sure I was going to love this book. And then, somehow, I did not quite love it as much, even if I still liked it well enough.

I did love the setting, but I wanted a bit more of a feel for it. In the beginning there was so much description, but then that sort of petered out, which was a shame. It set up the differences between the characters so well and then did not quite follow up on the fact that Mirka was changing over time. The change felt kind of too sudden and unexplained.

I guess I did not really like the way the relationships (romantic and otherwise) progressed in this book. It made me want to give everyone involved a big slap, and not in a good way.

Having said all that, I did like the writing overall and I did actually like the book. I simply did not love it.

If you hate taxidermy, then do stay far away from this book. It is not something I am at all interested in, but I kind of liked it as a plot device in this book.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Drift (Clare Littlemore)

Littlemore, Clare - Drift

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Drift (Flow #3)
Author: Clare Littlemore
Genre: Fiction / YA / Dystopian  Pages: 347
First published: 2019
Edition: Paperback, self-published

Quin believed that a life away from The Beck would make her happy, but as disputes surface and rebellion is threatened, Quin quickly realises that their new home isn’t the sanctuary she had imagined. And when one of her fellow citizens is willing to go to desperate measures to save those he loves, he puts the entire community in danger.

This is the third book in the Flow series. I wish this series was more widely read, because it is well-written and a bit different without being ‘out there’.

It is hard to talk about this book without spoiling the two previous books, so I will keep it pretty brief and will not touch on the plot apart from the above exerpt from the synopsis.

I love the author’s writing style. It is easy to read, uncomplicated, but still intelligent, which I really appreciate. As far as this particular book goes, it feels a little on the slow side, but I still really enjoyed it.

The struggles of our main character Quin were interesting in this book. I enjoyed getting to know the new characters and the new setting with her. I particularly like Quin as a main character as she feels very normal. She could be anyone, but at the same time she is brave and caring. Yes, I like her.

Where the book lacks a bit is description. I have to admit I do like a bit of flowery writing and this book has none of that. For example, we are never told even what the characters look like – at least not in this book. It does not bother me particularly, but it was something I noticed and it made it feel a little clinical in places.

I will definitely be reading the next book. If you like a bit of dystopian YA every now and then, please do check out this series, because it really is pretty good!

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Saving Ruby King (Catherine Adel West)

West, Catherine Adel - Saving Ruby King

★★★★★★☆

Title: Saving Ruby King
Author: Catherine Adel West
Genre: Fiction / Hard-Hitting Contemporary
First published: to be published 16 June 2020 by Park Row
Edition: NetGalley e-ARC, kindly provided by the publisher

When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it means she’ll be living alone with her violent father. The only person who understands the gravity of her situation is Ruby’s best friend, Layla. Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what are his true motives? And what is the price for turning a blind eye?

There could not have been a more urgent time to read this novel. It touched on so many of the issues that have been highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement and the tragic death of George Floyd, another black man killed by those that are supposed to uphold the law.

This novel is set on the South Side of Chicago and centres around two families that are tightly connected. Both families harbour secrets, but one knows love, the other only pain.

This was not an easy read. It was not supposed to be. It was a hard-hitting, often painful read that made my heart shrink with sorrow for the people at the core of the story. The book touches on domestic abuse, incest, racism and suicide, but so worth every bit of heartache I felt whilst reading it.

This book does what so few books do. It looks at events from a number of perspectives. It does not excuse domestic violence, but it does show how hard it is to break a cycle of abuse. You also do not often get the point of view from an inanimate object, in this case a church building. I thought this tool was well-utilized to tell this particular story. It brings a whole new meaning to ‘if walls could talk’.

Overall, I was impressed with this novel. It felt very human and very necessary. The characters felt very real, as did their stories. Highly recommended.

6 out of 7 stars

Since this novel feels so relevant to this, please check out blacklivesmatter.com and see what you can do to help. If you’re in Europe, check out the European Network Against Racism

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Selection (Kiera Cass)

Cass, Kiera - The Selection

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: Fiction / YA / Fantasy / Dystopian Pages: 339
First published: 2012
Edition: Kindle e-book

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

*

I think I needed this kind of read right now. Something light and not too deep, but still well written and well thought out.

I was kind of surprised  how much I enjoyed this one, especially the first half of the book. I loved main character America. Here we have a strong female character who is sassy, but not overly so. She is kind and has integrity, but still makes mistakes and loses her cool every now and then.

I liked the competition element in this. It never went too far and ridiculous as it was, it was fun to read! This definitely is a book not to take too seriously.

I thought the second half of the book lost a bit of the vivaciousness of the first half, but it remained an easy read throughout.

The writing is pretty strong and it is what made this rather straightforward tale come alive. I will definitely read the others in the series.

Is it a must-read? No, definitely not, but it is the kind of book to keep in mind when you need something easy and fun that is still well carfted. Perfect to escape reality with.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: How To Stop Time (Matt Haig)

Haig, Matt - How To Stop Time

★★★★★★★

Title: How To Stop Time
Author: Matt Haig
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Historical
First published: 2017
Edition: Hardback, published in 2017 by Canongate Books

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

*

I loved this book an incredible amount. I have read The Humans by the same author before and one of his children’s books and loved both of those,  but this was a completely different kettle of fish. I adored every page.

This is kind of a quiet sort of book, a little quirky and very human. This is a combination that gets me every time. I loved being immersed in all these different time periods and actually believing it. I could understand the emotions that main character was going through and I loved that he was never too old to learn.

The peculiar thing is that I wrote a draft for a novel many years ago that had a very similar theme as this one, so it felt a bit like déjà vu all the way through. Maybe that was why I connected with this book on a deeper level. My own story will never see the light of day, but I simply love the concept of a group of people experiencing the passing of time in a different way from the majority.

I loved the writing and the way the story was told. It never got overly emotional or too ridiculous. This is a story that could so easily be overdone, but this wasn’t.

From start to finish, this novel has my heart.

7 out of 7 stars

 

 

 

 

Books · Reviews

(Comic) Book Thoughts: Heavy Vinyl – Riot on the Radio (Usdin/Vakueva/Flores/Nalty)

Usdin, Vakueva, Flores, Nalty - Heavy Vinyl #1 Riot on the Radio

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Riot on the Radio (Heavy Vinyl #1)
Author: Carly Usdin (story)
Artwork: Nina Vakueva / Nina Vankueva / Rebecca Nalty
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel   Pages: 112
First published: 2018
Edition: Paperback, published by Boom! Box in 2018

New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie. But when the staff’s favorite singer mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl… her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

*

I bought this comic on a whim, but I am glad I did. It was so much fun!

IMG_20200529_100251It’s definitely a girl power kind of comic with badass queer girls and cute relationships. It is aimed at teens and it is simply so much fun. Oh, and you can never go wrong with recordshop based fun in my eyes!

I love the artwork, it’s cute and colourful. The story is light and fun, but it does give a big fat wink to what I sometimes feel is going on in the music industry.

In the beginning I felt the plot was moving a bit jerky. It was a bit stop/start, but towards the middle it seemed to find its groove and I really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend this if you like fun lighthearted comics with queer badass teenage girls leading the way. I will be picking up the second volume at some point for sure.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts; This Savage Song ( V E Schwab)

Schwab, V E - Monster of Verity 1 This Savage Song

★★★★★☆☆

Title: This Savage Song
Author: V E Schwab
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Dystopian
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, published by Titan in 2016

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets monsters roam free and makes the inhabitants pay for his protection. August just wants to be human, as good-hearted as his own father – but his curse is to be what the humans fear. 

*

I enjoyed this one. It took me a while to read it, but that was not the book’s fauly.

I was engaged from the beginning and I liked both Kate and August, the main characters,  well enough. I really liked the way this world was set up and the mechanics of it. The concept certainly felt pretty original and different. However, I felt it could have been a bit more fleshed out.

I think that is how I felt about this book as a whole. I really enjoyed it, but despite it’s distinctive world, it simply felt a bit predictable and at times I felt like it was simply going through the motions a little bit. I am not quite sure why I feel that way, as I enjoyed what I was reading, but nothing felt surprising or particularly sticks out now I have finished it.

Overall, I really did like the writing itself. I will definitely be reading the second book in this duology and I am sure I will try another on of this author’s series in the future.

5 out of 7 stars