Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 21 October 2020

My reading is still very slow, so bear with me!

***

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 am I currently reading?

I am about 45 pages into Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I am enjoying it, but I am finding it hard to keep my mind on it for some reason. On audio I am listening to Lenny Kravitz’ autobiography Let Love Rule for a book club. I am really enjoying that one a lot. He narrates it himself and he is a joy to listen to. So far I would highly recommend. He is a very interesting guy!

What did I recently finish reading?

In the last week I have finished The Templars by Dan Jones, which was an audio book. That one was a proper history lesson, but I feel I learned a lot about a group of people, who we now think of as almost legendary. I also finished China Rich Girlfriend, the second book in the Crazy Rich Asians series by Kevin Kwan. That one was just meh for me. Though I didn’t hate it, it really wasn’t very good. It mood me back in a bit of a reading funk I think.

What do I think I will be reading next?

I received my signed copy of I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke in the post and I am tempted for that one to be next audio book, depending on what book turns out to be the next read for my book club. I also really want to read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig!

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: China Rich Girlfriend (Kevin Kwan)

★★★☆☆☆☆

Title: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary   Pages: 480
First published: 2015
Edition: Kindle e-book

Rachel still mourns the fact that her birth father, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband.

*

I quite enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians, so I was quite looking forward to reading this one,but it left me a bit disappointed.

This second book seemed to lack the sense of fun that the first book had and to be honest I found it a bit of a plod to finish. Overall the writing was not bad, but the story just did not grab me. The largest part of the cast I simply did not care about and the ones I did had only smaller parts.

There is only so much description of riches and gossip I can take. It was fun in the first book, but this one notched it up a gear and it was a gear too far for me. There was a lot of fluff in this book, and really not that much substance.

I have no idea why this book needed to be this long. The story was rather flimsy and it was simply a little ridiculous. Although I have some attachment to some of the characters, I am unlikely to read more of this author. I just lost interest.

3 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: The Templars (Dan Jones)

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Templars
Author/Narrator: Dan Jones
Genre: Non-Fiction / History
First published: 2017
Edition: Audio book

A faltering war in the middle east. A band of elite warriors determined to fight to the death to protect Christianity’s holiest sites. A global financial network unaccountable to any government. A sinister plot founded on a web of lies.

*

History and religion are subjects that I have always had an interest in, so this book seemed right up my street. The Templars are one of those legendary organisations that everybody has heard of, but how much did I actually know?

This is a pretty straightforward history of The Templars and basically does what it says on the tin. This is not a bad thing at all, but it did not make for the most exciting of books. The author basically tells the story of the Templars in chronological order, from the start until the tragic end. It was a fascinating subject to me and I came out of this book having a firmer grasp on what the Templars were all about and what happened in during and after the Crusades.

You do need to have a solid interest in history to enjoy this book, but if you do, I would recommend this on audio especially. The author does a great job narrating it. It could have been a really dry narrative, but it was dynamic enough to keep me interested.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) – L C Rosen

★★★★★★☆

Title: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)
Author: L C Rosen
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/YA
First published: 2019
Edition: Paperback, published by Penguin in 2018

After Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.

This was a fun read and a very different type of YA than I am used to.

First of all, I don’t think I have ever read a YA book that talks so openly about sex, especially gay sex. It is pretty explicit about it. I think it addresses a lot of questions that teens may have when they are starting to explore their worlds, whether gay or straight. If only for that, this book is worth reading.

But this book is not just that. The main character, Jack, is very well written and I enjoyed spending time with him a lot. He was just so unapologetically himself that you just had to love him. This changes when he becomes the victim of a stalker, an becomes the subject of notes that become gradually more threatening and demanding. It shows that even the most confident person can be brought down by a bullying campaign. The book does a great job dealing with bullying and slut shaming.

The revelations at the end were a little but lukewarm, but it did not take that much away from the book in itself in my opinion. I throughly enjoyed it. It does talk about teenagers having sex, so if that bothers you, this book is not for you. In the end, teenagers do have sex and it is a good that this is addressed and normalized in this novel. It also shows that this is different for everyone. The fictional column letters will no doubt be helpful for many teens out there.

Highly recommended.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 7 October 2020

Again it has been a few weeks since I did one of these. My reading has started to pick up, which is good!

***

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 am I currently reading?

I am almost 2/3rds into L C Rosen’s Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts). I am enjoying it so far. It’s very matter-a-fact about gay teenage sex without being icky about it. I appreciate that for sure. So far, I like the characters and the story.

I have also resumed listening to the audio book of The Templars by Dan Jones. Brushing up on some history! It’s an interesting subject and he tells it well, so I am enjoying it.

What did I recently finish reading?

I have finally started readig at a decent clip again, so yay! I finished my audio book, which was Just Kids, written and narrated by Patti Smith. That one really took me by surprise. I loved it so much! I immediately bought myself a physical copy and a couple more of Patti’s books. I love her writing.

I also finished The Guest List by Lucy Foley. I felt like a thriller/murder mystery would be a good kind of book to get into the swing of reading and it was. It was a fun read, even if the story was a bit too convenient sometimes.

What will I read next?

I am leaving this one blank. I am mood reading at the moment and probably will be for a while. I will be mainly concentrating on books I bought this year, both physical and e-books.

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

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Just Kids (Patti Smith)

★★★★★★★

Title: Just Kids
Author/narrator: Patti Smith
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography / Memoir / Autobiography / Culture
First published: 2010
Edition: audio book

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation. Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

*

This was a memoir I read for a book club I like to join in with when I can. I knew about Patti Smith of course, but I had not really any idea what kind of life she had led.

This memoir focuses on Patti’s relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It runs up to their meeting in New York and then takes us along the ups and downs of their quite extraordinary relationship, which lasted until his death in 1989. We meet a host of famous faces along the way, but it never distracts from the core of the story that Patti is telling us.

Patti’s writing is so beautiful I quickly found myself engrossed in her life. Her descriptions of small details she notices in the world around her are exquisite and the way she relates and refers to other people I found very touching. I really enjoyed listening to the audio book for this and hear her tell this very personal story in her own voice.

In essence, this is a book that focuses on a relationship between two people who share a beautiful connection. I found it really inspiring and moving. It really feels like an heartfelt tribute to a man who meant the world to her.

I think this memoir has my heart. I have ordered myself a physical copy to treasure and a couple more of Patti’s books, because I have a feeling she may well become on of my favourite authors.

7 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Deeplight (Frances Hardinge)

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Deeplight
Author: Frances Hardinge
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy
First published: 2019
Edition: Paperback, published by Macmillan

On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell. But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it.

🦑🐬🦀

This was a strange one for me. I liked it, but I never quite felt like it was grabbing me.

I found the main character Hark really easy to connect with, as was his unequal friendship with Jelt. I found myself rooting for him throughout. I also really enjoyed the imagery of the submarines and the Gods and the story did pull me in, just about. However, overall the story just left me a little cold. Even after a lot of consideration I am not sure what bit did not quite work for me. The writing was good, the story was good, there was just something missing. Maybe it was simply the subject matter, but it had something mythical about it, which I would normally like and the fact that it was a bit weird is not an issue for me.

Now, normally it would take me a few days to read a book like this, but it took me two weeks to read this book. That was not necessarily the book’s fault, but it simply did not compell me to keep reading.

I did like the author’s writing style and I would like to read more from her in the future. I just wished I had loved this a bit more.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: How Music Works (David Byrne)

★★★★★★☆

Title: How Music Works
Author: David Byrne
Genre: Non-Fiction/Culture/Biography/Music
First published: 2012
Edition: Paperback, published by CanonGate in 2013

Best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the iconic band Talking Heads, David Byrne has received Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the insightful How Music Works, Byrne offers his unique perspective on music – including how music is shaped by time, how recording technologies transform the listening experience, the evolution of the industry, and much more.

🎵🎵🎵🎸🎵🎵🎵🎷🎵🎵🎵🎹🎵🎵🎵

Wow, where to start with this book. This was such an expansive wave of information that I am not quite sure how to talk about it. Music for me is so important. It keeps me sane every day and listening to the right record at the right time can have a huge influence on my mental health.

David Byrne is best known for Talking Heads, but this book shows how much love he has for the simple subject of music. I say simple, but there is nothing simple about this book. Although he talks about some of his own experiences in the music business, from simply writing songs to selling music to the consumer, the book very much tries to look at music in general and how it came to be what it is today. What even is music?

Sometimes the book lacked a bit of focus and went off meandering, but I think I actually quite enjoyed that. It talked about music in ways I had not thought of before.However, it does also has some very focused chapters, like the one on contracts and ways of recording and distributing your music, which was very interesting (and honest!).

This is not a book you can read quickly. It takes a while for it to sink in, but I think it made me really think about what he was trying to say. It was interesting looking at my own relationship with music whilst reading this book. Music does not move everyone in the same way, which has always seemed fascinating to me. A song that makes me cry, may do nothing at all for someone else. And music that I don’t rate at all, could mean the world to someone else.

If you are interested in music, this will be a fascinating and enlightening read. If you are just ‘meh’ about music, this won’t be for you (but I also won’t understand you!).

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Mythos (Stephen Fry)

★★★★★★☆

Title: Mythos
Author/narrator: Stephen Fry
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Mythology/Retelling/Short Stories
First published: 2017
Edition: Audio book

In Stephen Fry’s vivid retelling we gaze in wonder as wise Athena is born from the cracking open of the great head of Zeus and follow doomed Persephone into the dark and lonely realm of the Underworld. We shiver when Pandora opens her jar of evil torments and watch with joy as the legendary love affair between Eros and Psyche unfolds.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Not only does Fry has a style of narrating stories that makes me happy, the way he tells these familiar Greek myths is very familiar and comforting.

Fry manages to wrestle these myths into bite size chunks without compromising on their essence. Of course he weaves in some of his wit and dry observations, but he does so without compromising on the stories. In fact, his modern observation serve to highlight how relevant these myths still are.

As an audio book this worked very well. I enjoyed having these myths told to me rather than reading them. I did read along at times and the pictures in the physical book were an extra bonus.

If you are interested in Greek myths, but do not know them that well, this is a great place to start. If you already very familiar with these myths, I am not sure this book will add anything major to your understanding of them.

For me personally , it was a very good listen and it got me interested in reading about some of the myths in more detail.

6 out of 7 stars