Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Mix Tape (Jane Sanderson)

Sanderson, Jane - Mix Tape

★★★★★★★

Title: Mix Tape
Author: Jane Sanderson
Genre: Fiction/Romance Pages: 408
First published: 2020
Edition: Kindle e-book

Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape. But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; after all, she’d been the one to run. Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past. For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind. And so begins a new mix tape.

Let me start by stating that this is one of my favourite books I have read this year. I adored it.

Although it is billed as a romance book and the cover suggests a light read, I feel that this is slightly misleading. This books deals with a lot of trauma, such as alcoholism, rape and suicide. If you go in expecting a fun light read, this is not that, and in my opinion all the better for it.

The novel follows two people during two time lines – one in 1979 and the other in 2012/13. In the later timeline both are in their late forties, have other partners and adult children and yet they find their way back to each other, reconnecting through music that they send to each other via Twitter. I loved having older protagonists that still felt young at heart. I guess I recognised much of myself in them!

It does deal with adultery, which is not a subject I am particularly fond of, but somehow it works here and it did not bother me too much.

I loved the main characters, as well as the quirky cast of side characters. There were some really endearing dynamics.

I loved the big role the music aspect played in this narrative. Music is very evocative for me personally, so for me this novel made a lot of sense and I felt wave after wave of nostalgia whilst reading it.

I adored this so much. This was perfect for me.

7 out of 7 stars

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 13 May 2020

It’s a cloudy day. My daughter has gone back to school for the first time in two months. It feels odd. I miss her! I have enjoyed all this time together. She goes to school two days a week now with homeschooling the rest of the week.

We will see!

***

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 still listening to Wilding by Isabella Tree. It’s incredibly interesting and challenges a lot of theories on conservation and what nature means, whilst documenting what happened when they let their estate go wild. Amazing read/listen.

I am slowly making my way through Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York: 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman. I am enjoying the experience of reading this, but I have not reached for it all that often in the last week. I will try and prioritize it a bit more, because the little I have read was really well done.

Finally, I am reading Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson. which is billed as a romance book, but 50% in I am pleasantly surprised that this appears much more than that. We follow two time lines, one in 1979 (my birth year!) and one in 2012/2013. We follow two people in their late forties reconnecting from afar through music. It’s full of nostalgia. Halfway through, I do wonder where it’s going from here. So far, I really connect with it.

Thomas, Angie - The The Come UpWhat did I recently finish reading?

I only finished one book since last week, but it was a good one! This was On The Come Up by Angie Thomas. It was six out of seven stars for me. I really enjoyed that one!

What will I be reading next?

I may continue reading books with a musical theme. This Savage Song by V E Schwab is an option or maybe Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel, which is the first book in The Vinyl Detective series. It depends on my mood, as always!

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: On The Come Up (Angie Thomas)

Thomas, Angie - The The Come Up

★★★★★★☆

Title: On The Come Up
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Fiction/YA/contemporary  Pages: 435
First published: 2019
Edition: Paperback, published by Walker Books

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

Having absolutely loved The Hate U Give, I must admit I was pretty apprehensive to read this one. What if it did not live up to expectations?

I am glad to say I really enjoyed On The Come Up as well. Did it capture my heart the way The Hate U Give did? Maybe not quite, but it was the same straightforward writing that is so easy to read, combined with a story and characters that feel utterly real and believable.

It brings to life the struggle people have to deal with, simply because of the colour of their skin and the prejudices that make life a hell of a lot more difficult than it needs to be, limiting the life choices available. This novel deals with that issue so well, at the same time creating strong female characters in both Bri and maybe especially her mother Jay.

Bri’s encounters with the rap business were well handled and eye openining. I imagine the real business could be very much like this, though I know very little about that! I enjoyed the lyric parts, though I did wish I could hear them instead of reading them (audio book?). That there are pitfalls on the road to success should not be surprising.

Another highlight of this novel were Bri’s family’s dynamics. I loved how much they all cared about each other and how supportive they were, even if their choices were not always the best ones. The love and support of your family can mean so much. Also,  the friendship triangle of Bri, Sonny and Malik was just perfect.

On a side note, I really appreciated how this dovetailed into The Hate U Give, with little references here and there.

I did not love this quite as much, but I still loved it a ton.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 6 May 2020

The sun is shining and I am about to go and do some gardening!

***

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 reading On The Come Up by Angie Thomas. I am only just over 50 pages in, but enjoying it! I really like the writing style. I hope I will love it as much as I did The Hate U Give, which was one of my favourite books I read last year.

I also started the audio book of Wilding by Isabella Tree yesterday. It’s a non-fiction book about rewilding a country estate. I love books about nature and I am already loving this one! It’s narrated by the author – always a bonus!

Finally, I have just started Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman. This is a chunker of a book that tells the story of bands like The Strokes, Vampire Weekend and Interpol and cultural shift at the beginning of this century in New York. It’s an oral history kind of book with a lot of first hand experiences and views.  I love a lot of bands from this era (definitely not all), but I don’t know a lot about it and this books looks right up my street. I am planning to take my sweet time with this book.

What did I recently finish reading?

I just finished reading a manga today, which was The Promised Neverland, Vol 1 by Kaiu Shiray (story) and Posuka Demizu (art). I really enjoyed that one and will be continuing the series for sure. There is also an anime and I would like to watch that at some point.

I also finished Face It, the autobiography of Blondie’s Debbie Harry on audio, which was interesting, but is not one that will stick in my mind.

Finally I read Sweet Thing by Renée Carlino. This was a romance novel. It was ok, but the main female character was simply annoying, especially since the male lead was very likable for a change.

What do I think I will be reading next?

I will probably continue one of my series. Maybe Tower of Thorns (Blackthorn & Grim #2) by Juliet Marillier, or Drift (Flow #3) by Clare Littlemore. Both are long overdue.

Books · Reviews

Manga Thoughts: The Promised Neverland, Vol 1 (Kaiu Shirai/Posuka Demizu)

Shirai, Kaiu - The Promised Neverland 1

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Promised Neverland, Vol 1
Author: Kaiu Shirai (story) / Posuka Demizu (art)
Genre: Manga   Pages: 189
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, published by Viz Media in 2017

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.

This is only my second manga, but I am already much more used to the art style and method of story telling. This one had me gripped from the start.

The story itself made me feel anxious in the best possible. I soon came to feel for our main characters and I cared about what happened to them and their ‘siblings’ The story became dark pretty quickly and the rest of this volume is centered around trying to find a way out.

This was a strong start to a series and I will definitely be ordering the second volume. I really enjoyed the art style and the panels were clear and well thought out.

Apparently there is also an anime of this series, so I would like to check that out if I can!

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Face It (Debbie Harry)

Harry, Debbie - Face It

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Face It
Author/narrator: Debbie Harry
Genre: Non-Fiction/Autobiography/Memoir
First published: 2019
Edition: Audio book

Musician, actor, activist, and the iconic face of New York City cool, Debbie Harry is the frontwoman of Blondie, a band that forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time. As a muse, she collaborated with some of the boldest artists of the past four decades. The scope of Debbie Harry’s impact on our culture has been matched only by her reticence to reveal her rich inner life—until now.

*

Debbie Harry of Blondie is someone I consider an icon and when I heard she had an autobiography out I was keen to read it and the audio book narrated by herself seemed the perfect choice.

As a book it does not flow incredibly well and the way she tells her story feels strangely dispassionate, but I guess Harry is not a natural writer and I should not hold her to the same standard as someone who is an author by profession. It does make it feel more authentic to be fair. I don’t know whether she used a ghostwriter, but it certainly does not feel like she did. I do respect that.

Neither is she a natural audio book narrator. Her delivery is quite stilted and sometimes lacks dynamics, but I still prefer it than if it had been narrated by someone else.

So, overall I am conflicted on this one. There are really interesting bits to her story, but in parts it struggled to keep my attention. It could have done with a bit more sprucing up, I guess. The way she tells her story feels slightly repetitive, even if she is talking about different events. It’s hard to explain.

Is this the best memoir I have ever read or listened to? No. Did I enjoy the ride? Yes, I guess I did. It paints an interesting picture of a particular time in New York City and I appreciate her frank way of talking. I just wished it was a bit more dynamic in its delivery, both in the writing itself and the audio book narration.

4 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Sweet Thing (Renée Carlino)

Carlino, Renee - Sweet Thing

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Sweet Thing
Author: Renée Carlino
Genre: Fiction/Romance
First published: 2013
Edition: Kindle e-book

Mia Kelly thinks she has it all figured out. She’s an Ivy League graduate, a classically trained pianist, and the beloved daughter of a sensible mother and offbeat father. Yet Mia has been stalling since graduation, torn between putting her business degree to use and exploring music, her true love.

When her father unexpectedly dies, she decides to pick up the threads of his life while she figures out her own. Uprooting herself from Ann Arbor to New York City, Mia takes over her father’s cafe, a treasured neighborhood institution that plays host to undiscovered musicians and artists. She’s denied herself the thrilling and unpredictable life of a musician, but a chance encounter with Will, a sweet, gorgeous, and charming guitarist, offers her a glimpse of what could be. When Will becomes her friend and then her roommate, she does everything in her power to suppress her passions—for him, for music—but her father’s legacy slowly opens her heart to the possibility of something more.

*

This romance book kind of worked for me, but there were things that irked me a great deal as well. I liked the idea of a musical element in this love story, as music is a big part of my own life.

I was a bit conflicted on Mia, the main character. She was really relatable in some ways and a complete idiot in others. I could appreciate that she had some emotional issues she needed to work through, but I am not sure that was enough of an excuse to be a complete asshat a lot of the time (on of her words!)

I did like Will, the love interest. He was definitely likeable, though the repetitive way he was described sometimes got a bit much. I think the editor simply could have done a better job here.

The musical element worked well enough for me. It was a little cringe-worthy in a few places, but  to be fair I pessimistically expected that to be far worse (as is usual).

I did like this novel overall, but it just could have been a much tighter story in my opinion.

I would like to read more from this author.

4 out of 7 stars