Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 12 August 2020

Oh man, the heat this past week has been too much! I am melting! It has been close to 35 degrees C for almost a week now, which is pretty much unheard of in my part of the world. Result is that I have read a decent amount, because it’s too hot to move much.

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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?

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What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Feathers by Thor Hanson. He is a biologist that writes such interesting books! I have read Buzz by him before, which I loved, and this one looks at, well, feathers. I love the angle at which he approaches his books. We get to learn about the subject with him and because of his background he explains it all very well. I love this author.

I just started the third and final book in the Blackthorn & Grim series, Den of Wolves, by Juliet Marillier. I am expecting to have a good time with that one.

And finally, I am listening to Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination by Jack Hamilton. I am reading that one for a music themed book club of sorts that I like to keep up with. Such an interesting choice after finishing my previous listen. Bascially this looks at the rock genre and how it went from its black pioneers to be an almost exclusively white genre. An especially interesting book to me, as I am someone who listens to a lot of (indie) rock music over other types of genres.

What have I recently finished?

I can’t have expected my August reading month to have a slow start, but I have done well so far.

I finished Beach Read by Emily Henry, which was just ok for me. I really had an issue with some of the ways the male love interest Gus treated our leading lady January and it was longer than it should have been. I did not find it very memorable, but I did enjoy it. 4/7 stars.

Of last week’s choices I read Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. This is a fictionalised account of Egyptian queen Nefertiti’s rise to pharaoh from the viewpoint of her sister. I really enjoyed this one quite a bit. It had been a while since I read a book set in Ancient Egypt and I want more!

I finished listening to How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi, which I took a lot away from. I loved the passion that he displayed for this important subject in the audio narration.  However, I did find myself zoning out a bit towards the final third of the book, which was a shame. Overall though, this was such a valuable listen. 5/7 stars.

Finally, I finished reading A Scot To Remember by Angeline Fortin on my Kindle yesterday. This one was kind of as surprise. I picked it up randomly a few weeks ago because I felt like I needed some historical romance in my life. Turned out it was a time travel romance, but the romance was not too heavy handed and I actually really enjoyed this one (despite the awful cover). It was set in the 1910s and was really well done.  I will be reading on in this series at some point soon.

What do I think I will be reading next?

I have a few books still on my Summer TBR, so I will choose something from that. It may be Hamnet (Maggie O’Farrell) or Good Omens (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman). I am also looking to read Broadwater by Jac Shreeves-Lee, which as far as I can tell is a collection of multicultural short stories. It sounds really interesting.

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What are you reading? Planning to read? Please link your WWW down below. Have a great reading week! 🙂

 

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 · 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

 

Books · Poetry · Reviews

(Poetry) Book Thoughts: Lines by Leon (Leon Stevens)

Stevens, Leon - Lines by Leon

★★★★★★☆

Title: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose and Pictures
Author: Leon Stevens
Genre: Poetry   Pages: 90
First published: 2019
Edition: E-book, kindly sent by the author

Lines by Leon is a selection of poems, prose, and short stories that address the subjects of loss, struggle, and reflection. Inside these thoughtful contemplations are original observations about ego, behavior, human relations, places, and the environment. 

🤍

I loved this poetry collection. It is only short and quite light-hearted, even if it deals with some deeper subjects. To be honest, I found it a breath of fresh air and it was a joy to read.

I liked the cadence of the poems a lot. The author is a musician and songwriter as well and I think some of that is reflected in the poems, which sometimes feel like pieces of lyrics in the best possible way. It was easy for me to connect to them and to visualize what the poet was talking about. A lot of them made me smile, mostly in recognition!

There are some illustrations scattered throughout that add a nice touch. At the end of a book the addition of a graphic novel element and some fragments of short stories should feel out of place, but somehow do not.

I will give you a short poem from this collection that made me smile:

Ego
Sorry, I don’t have room for your ego
Maybe, if you got rid of most of it
You might fit
Into my life
– but probably not

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and I will be buying myself a physical copy. I will keep an eye out for anything else Leon Stevens publishes in the future.

Highly recommended!

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Mo’ Meta Blues (Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson)

Thomson, Ahmir - Mo' Meta Blues

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Author: Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson & Ben Greenman
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Autobiography / Music
First published: 2013
Edition: Kindle e-book

In this series of punch-drunk-on-culture essays, Ahmir Thompson, better known as The Roots’drummer Questlove, expounds on his vast and opinionated knowledge of music-from the greats, the lates, the fakes, the headliners, and the almost-were’s-as well as important themes in black art and culture. These essays will be filtered through the eyes of one of our most recognizable cultural chameleons in Thompson’s passionate, stream of consciousness style. Through these stories, he will reveal some of his own formative experiences, such as growing up in 70’s Philly with 50’s doo-wop singers as parents and finding his way through music, as well as random musings about his run-ins with celebrities and playing with some of his idols.

This was a pick for a book club I try and keep up with that reads books to do with music in one way or another. This was not a book on my radar at all, but I am glad I took the time and effort to read it, because I did enjoy it quite a bit.

Let’s be clear here, I only know Questlove and The Roots via the Jimmy Fallon route. Hip hop has never really been a genre I have explored very much (though there are plenty of songs I like). Thus I had never really come across The Roots before that. Yet, I decided to pick up this book as it simply sounded interesting and after all, I love music and I tend to like non-fiction books centred around the subject.

I actually really enjoy Questlove’s story telling. His annecdote about Prince on light-up ice skates alone was worth reading this for!  Questlove talks about all the artists that influenced him, his contemporaries, the deaths of prominent people in his life, but also about being black and about prejudice, both from white and black communities.

I have to say that the way the book was put together did not always make sense to me. It wasn’t quite written as a series of essays, but it was not quite a run-of-the-mill memoir either. I could not help feeling like they were not quite sure in what shape to pour it.  Some bits are interview style, some bits are based around records that influenced Questlove’s music and other parts are just straight-up memoir. The occasional interspersing chapters by Ben Greenman writing note-style to himself were fun, but were they necessary? I am not sure. None of that actually bothered me too much, but it just made it feel a little messy here and there. You could call it playful instead, I guess.

I actually thought it was very interesting to read about a group I did not actually know very much about, as I was told a story that was completely fresh and new to me. I have been listening to The Roots whilst I have been reading this book and I have to say,  I found I really like their vibe!

So, I am grateful that this book club decided to read this book. Otherwise, I would have never picked this up and I would never have listened to The Roots’ music.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 17 June 2020

 

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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 currently reading Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. Despite the fact that I haven’t been much in a reading mood the last couple of days, I am really enjoying how weird and whimsical it is.

McLemore, Anna-Marie - Wild Beauty       Springsteen, Bruce - Born To Run

I am also still listening to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born To Run. I have about 4 hours to go and I expect to finish it this week. I still enjoy listening to him tell his story. I even listened to some of his music this week, something I never consciously did. I definitely appreciate him a whole lot more.

What did I recently finish reading?

I finished Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West, which felt like an important powerful book. It was heart-breaking, but there was a strength in the characters that shone through.

Littlemore, Clare - Drift       West, Catherine Adel - Saving Ruby King

I also read Drift, the third book in the self-published dystopian Flow series by Clare Littlemore. I enjoyed that one and it formed a nice contrast with the previous book I read.

Cheek, Kater - Witch's JewelWhat do I think I will be reading next?

I am not entirely sure. I have a book I would like to read for review this month, which is  Witch’s Jewel by Kater Cheek. It depends whether I am in the mood for that one. I may read something else first. I have no idea what yet! Maybe something else from my 20 Books of Summer list.

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