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 · 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

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Memory of Light (Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson)

Jordan, Robert - A Wheel of Time 14 A Memory of Light (w Brandon Sanderson)

★★★★★★☆

Title: A Memory of Light (The Wheel of Time #14)
Author:  Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fiction/Epic fantasy
First published: 2013
Edition: Massmarket Paperback, published by Orbit in 2014

All humanity is in peril – and the outcome will be decided in Shayol Ghul itself. The Wheel is turning, and the Age is coming to its end. The Last Battle will determine the fate of the world …

As far as conclusions to series go, this is the most epic of epic closers. I felt that the first time I read it and I feel exactly the same way this time around.

It took me quite long to read, but that had more to do with my attention span (bad) than the book itself. Because although this is an amazing book, it takes some reading, especially the begining. This is probably because the writing still goes into unnecessary detail, but man, it is grand. In this book The Last Battle is fought and the scale and course of that battle is so well described you could practically draw it out. There are so many blazes of glory and epic fails, that once The Last Battle rages, it is hard to stop.

We get to spend time with all of our favourite characters and none are safe. They all fight for what they are worth. Will they all survive this final battle?

Just as a side note, there is a chapter called ‘The Last Battle’, which is over 200 pages long!

This series is worth it for this last book alone. The journey is hard, just like it is for our characters, but the pay-off is everything.

I will write up an overall review for the whole 14-book series at the beginning of May, because it deserves it.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: The Return of the Native (Thomas Hardy)

Hardy, Thomas - The Return of the Native

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Return of the Native
Author: Thomas Hardy
Audio book narrator: Alan Rickman
Genre: Fiction/Classic
First published: 1878
Edition: Audible audio book & paperback, published in 1974 by Macmillan

Tempestuous Eustacia Vye passes her days dreaming of passionate love and the escape it may bring from the small community of Egdon Heath. Hearing that Clym Yeobright is to return from Paris, she sets her heart on marrying him, believing that through him she can leave rural life and find fulfilment elsewhere. But she is to be disappointed, for Clym has dreams of his own, and they have little in common with Eustacia’s. 

This is one of those classics I had tried to read the paperback of several times and never got very far. When I noticed there was an audio book narrated by the inimitable Alan Rickman, I knew that was the one for me.

As to this narrative, it is not really for me. I did not like any of the characters. I just felt if any of these characters had stopped to think just for a minute, their world would have made a much better place. Instead, we have a bunch of characters feeling sorry for themselves in a beautifully described landscape. So yes, the descriptions of the heathland were masterful and the portrayal of Eustacia’s depression and Clym’s guilt very human, but the story itself did little for me.

This is not a happy tale. It is filled with sadness, depression and bad choices and although I am glad I finally read it, this is not the kind of book I would return to. I would like to try something else by Thomas Hardy in the future though, because in places his writing was absolutely beautiful.

A note on Alan Rickman’s narration: overall I really liked it and it helped me get through to the book, but he made every woman in the book sound like a whimpering soul. However, if not for his narration I would have given up on this book again before the halfway point.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Final Girls (Riley Sager)

Sager, Riley - Final Girls

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
First published: 2017
Edition: Kindle e-book

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet. That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. 

I am not sure what I expected going into this. I guess I expected to be thrilled and to be drawn into the story. It was a bit frustrating that this did not quite happen for me.

Although there was nothing wrong per se with the writing at all. In fact, it was easy to read and felt considered enough, which made it all the more disappointed that the plot did not quite work for me.

For a start, I did not really feel much emotion towards any of the characers, which made me care less about the story unfolding. And once the story started unfolding there were so many unnecessary suspicions and twists that I started getting a bit bored.

All in all, although it was a decent enough read, I guess this just did not quite work for me. I would read another book by this author though.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Blood of Flowers (Anita Amirrezvani)

Amirrezvani, Anita - The Blood of Flowers

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Blood of Flowers
Author: Anita Amirrezvani
Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction
First published: 2007
Edition: Paperback, published in 2008 by Headline Review

In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.

This is one of those books I always meant to re-read. I read it about ten years ago when I took it out at the library and loved it and when I found it in a used book shop a couple of years ago I immediately took it to the till.

I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. The author manages to paint the image of  17th century Iran incredibly well. I loved that this book was centred around carpet knotting. The story is not overly dramatic and well paced. I really liked the unnamed main character. I loved her spirit and her growth and rooted for her throughout the book.

I really appreciated the ending, which is not your usual happy-ever-after, but instead gives our heroine the power to find her own if she so chooses. Although the book is romantic in many ways, it is the setting rather than actual romance that make it so.

If you enjoy a beautifully written historical fiction book with a fabulous setting, you may enjoy this one.

6 out of 7 stars