‘The Black Prince’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Black Prince which was kindly sent to me by Anne Cater/Random Things Tours (thank you!)

 

Before I tell you what I thought of the book, check out the synopsis!

 

What the book is about…

‘I’m working on a novel intended to express the feel of England in Edward III’s time… The fourteenth century of my novel will be mainly evoked in terms of smell and visceral feelings, and it will carry an undertone of general disgust rather than hey-nonny nostalgia’ – Anthony Burgess, Paris Review, 1973

The Black Prince is a brutal historical tale of chivalry, religious belief, obsession, siege and bloody warfare.

From disorientating depictions of medieval battles to court intrigues and betrayals, the
campaigns of Edward, the Black Prince, are brought to vivid life by an author in complete control of the novel as a way of making us look at history with fresh eyes, all while staying true to the linguistic pyrotechnics and narrative verve of Burgess’s best work.

 

What I thought of it…

Anthony Burgess said that he wanted to create a visceral reading experience. I would say that he and Adam Roberts absolutely succeeded. There was definitely no sugar-coating in this book! I do have to say that the battle scenes felt like a little much at times. I understand that wars are gruesome and I am by no means squeamish but some of the graphic detail here was too much even for me. So yes, very visceral. However, if you like your historical fiction on the gory side, this is definitely a book for you!

Despite all the blood and guts, there was actually some really lovely writing in parts. I haven’t read A Clockwork Orange but I’m aware that Anthony Burgess had a very distinctive writing style and I would say that Adam Roberts definitely stayed true to it in this extension of Burgess’ original script, while also adding his own stamp.

The style is a little difficult to get used to at first, feeling quite disjointed with its many sections. I can only surmise that this is due to the amalgamation of the two different authorial styles? However, I did quickly come to enjoy it and found it fascinating to see a period in history through the multiple perspectives used. The inclusion of newspaper headlines, songs and prophecy-style sections made for a nice framing technique; it was interesting to see things through the eyes of royals, soldiers and common people alike.

This book provided a great way to learn more about a period in history of which my prior knowledge was non-existent. I would actually enjoy reading about other historical events in this style; the book felt almost like non-fiction but nowhere near as dry. The Black Prince is a very informative read (if a little too cerebral for me at times) and I’m sure it will satisfy those interested in royal history.

the black prince.jpg

 

Thank you again to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book! Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour 🙂

Black Prince Blog Tour poster

Advertisements

‘Her Hidden Life’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my dears! Thank you for bearing with me – I am now back from my trip home for the week and playing catch-up! So you can all expect a lot of likes from me as I get through your recent posts 😉

I have to say a huge thank you to Avon Books for sending me a copy of Her Hidden Life to review; the premise totally grabbed me and I couldn’t live without getting a copy of the book!

 

What the book is about…

It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be. But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…

Assigned to the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Fuhrer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle. 

As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike anything either of them have ever known…

 

What I thought of it…

As I already said, I was fascinated by the premise of this book. I have read a number of books set in WWII but I had never heard of the ‘tasters’ – women who sampled Hitler’s food to check for poisons. I absolutely had to read this book based on that idea!

Magda had a captivating narrative voice and I was truly invested in her story. I felt a connection with her and found her easy to root for. I didn’t feel much towards the other characters, except for the obvious hatred towards Hitler. Considering a large element of this book was the romance, I was mostly indifferent to Karl.

Her Hidden Life definitely felt like a book of two halves. The first half is quite light and romantic; it’s not insta-love exactly but the romance did feel very quick. I would have liked it to develop a little slower. However, with the turn things take in the second half of the novel, I can understand why things needed to move at the pace they did. The story definitely becomes darker and, at times, quite bleak. There were some scenes that were particularly harrowing.

Overall, I found this an intriguing book from start to finish and definitely recommend it to fans of historical fiction who are looking for something a little different. I rated this one 4/5 stars.

 

her hidden life.jpg

Has anyone ever heard of ‘tasters’? Do you enjoy reading WWII fiction? Let me know your favourites in the comments! x

 

 

‘The Ringmaster’s Wife’ spoiler-free review!

Hi beautiful people! Today, I’m reviewing The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron, which was my book club’s pick for September!

 

What the book is about…

Rosamund Easling is no stranger to opulence. As the daughter of an earl, she’s grown up with every comfort money can buy. But when hard times befall the family’s Yorkshire estate in the aftermath of the Great War, Rosamund’s father sells her beloved horse, setting the stage for a series of events that would extend beyond even her wildest dreams.

Though expected to marry for a title instead of love, Rosamund feels called to a different life – one of adventure outside the confines of a ladies’ parlor. She abandons all she’s known and follows in pursuit as her horse is shipped to the new owner – an American entertainer by the name of John Ringling. Once introduced to the Ringling Brothers’ circus and knowing she has much to learn, Rosamund agrees to a bareback riding apprenticeship in the shadow of the Ringlings’ winter home—Ca’D’Zan. It is at that mansion, in what would become the last days of the enigmatic Mable Ringling’s life, that Rosamund finds a deeper sense of purpose in the life she’s been given, and the awakening of faith in her heart.

With a supporting cast of characters as mysterious and dazzling as the Ringlings’ big-top world, Rosamund’s journey takes her from the tradition of the English countryside to the last days of America’s Roaring ‘20s—a journey that forever changes what one life might have been.

 

What I thought of it…

I love a circus book but I’ve not read many with a historical setting. This was a nice introduction to the genre. Kristy Cambron did a great job of creating a vivid picture, capturing all the opulence of 1920s America and the less beautiful behind-the-scenes work of the circus. This, combined with the storyline, made for a very dreamy and romantic read.

I really liked the cast of characters. Rosamund was a feisty heroine who was easy to root for and Colin made for a wonderful love interest. But my biggest love was Mable Ringling. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of her before reading this book but I would love to find out more about her as it seems as though she was a person of great merit.

I did have a couple of small gripes with the book. Mainly, I was slightly confused by the timeline as it jumped about quite a bit. I also was frustrated to see that horrific cliché “she let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding” – please can we stop using this line?!

Overall though, I really enjoyed this read. The ending took a surprising turn that I did not see coming but I really loved this journey through the circus world of the 1920s.

 

the ringmasters wife.jpg

What are some of your favourite circus books? x

‘The Book of M’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Before I start today, I just want to say a big thank you for 200 followers! I know this must seem like a tiny number to some of you but it means so much to me that there are 200 people interested in what I have to say; I appreciate every single one of you!

Today I’m reviewing The Book of M by Peng Shepherd, which was very kindly sent to me by the lovely people at Harper Collins.

 

What the book is about…

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

 

What I thought of it…

This was a stunning debut. The concept is so unique and had me completely engrossed from start to finish. The novel’s apocalyptic opening had me immediately gripped. The story definitely has a Station Eleven vibe (which is one of my very favourite books) but it’s also completely original.

The quality of writing is absolutely excellent, so much so that it’s hard to believe this is a debut. I was absolutely captivated and could not stop thinking about this book whenever I wasn’t reading it. There were some really strong descriptions of the post-apocalyptic world and I could visualise everything very clearly.

Shepherd has created a diverse cast of characters, all of whom felt well fleshed-out. I don’t always get on with multiple perspective books but it worked really well here. The way the storylines converged into the novel’s conclusion was fantastic and I did not see any of it coming. I do have a slight issue with the fate of the two gay characters; I like to think it was just an oversight and not the author’s intention but what happened to them made me a little uncomfortable.

Some elements of the book were a little confusing (I couldn’t really get my head around how people could force things to happen by forgetting about them? Like how can you force yourself to forget something?!) It went over my head a little bit.

But, on the whole, I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it! Despite it’s length, it doesn’t feel like a book that goes on forever. It really is an awesome and ambitious story; it felt very cinematic and I could definitely see this being made into a movie. It’s well worth a read if you’re a fan of post-apocalypse stories with a difference!

 

the book of m peng shepherd.jpg

Has anyone read this one? What is your favourite post-apocalyptic book? x

‘A Thousand Beginnings and Endings’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I was recently sent A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Harper360YA (thank you!) I’m so grateful I got the chance to read this #ownvoices collection of retellings of Asian myths and legends, and would love to see more stuff like this on the market.


What the book is about…

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.


What I thought of it…

This is such a fantastically valuable book. I’m so glad this has been put together. Like all anthologies, it has its highs and lows – the middle dipped quite spectacularly but the last few stories made up for it with their awesomeness. I did not really want to summarise what each story is about, I just wanted to talk about my thoughts on them but if anyone is interested in finding out more about each individual story, I would like to direct you all to Melanie’s fabulous review! For now, I will talk briefly about each story individually below 🙂

 

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi – 4 stars

The first story in the collection was beautiful and heartbreaking. This was my first experience of Chokshi’s writing and I found it sumptuous and gorgeous.

 

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong – 5 stars

This was so well-developed for a short story! It made me feel so much in so few pages. It was darkly fascinating and full of foody descriptions which is always the way to my heart 😉

 

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee – 3 stars

I didn’t really connect with this sci-fi story. The writing was ok but the whole thing felt a bit rushed. I did like it slightly more when I learned the folklore that it was based on, but it wasn’t my favourite.

 

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra – 2.5 stars

I wasn’t feeling this one at all. It had weird creepy vibes and I didn’t enjoy it. It was an interesting ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type of story but I found it quite strange.

 

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette de Bodard – 3.5 stars

I’m not gonna lie, I did struggle to differentiate between Tam and Cam! But I did love the magic in this one. It reminded me of some magical realism I read recently. Though I think I might have preferred the original ‘nasty’ version of the story!

 

The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers – 5 stars

This is my favourite story of the collection. It was so very touching. The folklore was incorporated seamlessly into the story and I never once felt confused because it was explained as it went along. I would gladly read more stories set in this world and I will certainly be looking for more of this author’s work.

 

The Smile by Aisha Saeed – 4 stars

This one was short but powerful, with a great feminist message.

 

Girls who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber – 3 stars

Another story that I struggled to connect with. The contrast between the old myths and the contemporary references felt jarring in this one and I just didn’t really ‘get’ it. It also felt very young in tone.

 

Nothing Into All by Renée Adhieh – 5 stars

I love anything to do with goblins so this was a delight. Adhieh really captured the fairytale feeling with her writing.

 

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia – 2 stars

This felt like information overload. It was all very weird. I think it was a bit too deep for me; I did appreciate it more once it was explained but I found it longwinded and harsh.

 

Code of Honour by Melissa de la Cruz – 2 stars

This one felt totally out of place in this collection. There was barely a link to any mythology and it was reminiscent of teenage paranormal romances of the 2000s.

 

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman – 5 stars

Joint favourite story! This was utterly heartbreaking but oh so beautifully written. I cried.

 

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar – 5 stars

Absolutely gorgeous writing and great feminist messages. This read like a real fairytale.

 

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon – 5 stars

Sumptuous! I’ll never look at a sunset the same way again. I love that the author gave voice to a character who has even less dialogue than an ox in the original legend! I also really enjoyed that the reader was addressed directly; I always think that adds to the magical fairytale feeling.

 

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa – 5 stars

This was surprisingly dark to end on but had some lovely descriptions. I loved it.

 

Out of a possible 75 stars (five stars for each of the 15 stories), I gave this collection 59 stars. I gave the book an overall rating of 4/5 stars.

 

a thousand beginnings and endings ownvoices asian mythology retellings.jpg

Has anyone else read this anthology? If anyone does want to know more about any story in particular, do get in touch 🙂

What are your thoughts on short story collections in general? Let me know your favourite in the comments! x

‘The Lion Tamer Who Lost’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. This is the first book I’ve read by Beech and I’m very impressed!

 

What the book is about…

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but are they for a reason? Ben’s father would disown him for his relationship with Andrew, so they must hide their love. Andrew is determined to make it work, but secrets from his past threaten to ruin everything.

Ben escapes to Zimbabwe to finally fulfil his lifelong ambition. But will he ever return to England? To Andrew? To the truth?

A dark and poignant drama, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a mesmerisingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart.

 

What I thought of it…

This was a wonderfully moving story. I went into this book knowing very little about it and I would suggest other readers do the same, because each new development really had an impact. As the story unfolded, I became more and more invested, and fell deeper in love with the characters and the setting.

The writing here is top quality, with evocative descriptions that reminded me of my time in Uganda (though I wasn’t on a lion reserve!) I found it to be a very immersive reading experience. The author conjured both the sounds and smells of Africa, and the more subdued gloom of the UK; I was completely transported.

Louise Beech deftly explores themes of love and family, creating a multi-layered plot full of nuance. There are honestly so many levels to this book. Again, I will say that it’s best to go in blind and let the story sweep you along. I don’t think I could do it justice with a summary anyway, it’s just so clever and compelling. I definitely did not expect the direction things took and this really added to the emotional impact the story had on me.

I’m really pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this one and definitely recommend it to readers who like their books full of heart.

 

the lion tamer who lost book review

 

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour for more thoughts on The Lion Tamer Who Lost! Huge thanks to Anne Cater/Orenda Books for providing me with an ARC!

The Lion Tamer Blog Tour Poster Final.jpg

‘Autoboyography’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies 🙂 Today, I’m reviewing Autoboyography by writing duo Christina Lauren. I’d always heard great things about this book – and my own opinion is not going to be any different! This is a new favourite of mine.

 

What the book is about…

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

 

What I thought of it…

Oh my heart, this book. This was the most adorable thing I have ever read; I had so many feelings upon finishing this story.

Right from the outset, I knew I was going to love Autoboyography. It opens with some amazing banter that felt very realistic, and introduces one of the best friendships in any book I’ve ever read. Tanner and Autumn have the most special relationship and it was truly heart-warming to read about.

Tanner is a fantastic protagonist; he is completely adorable and so freaking awkward, I love him. I ship him and Sebastian more than I’ve ever shipped anyone in my life. Their blossoming romance is so sweet and heartfelt. And I have to say, this book has one of the hottest first kiss scenes EVER.

It’s not all cute fluff though. This book handles the very serious matter of religion and sexuality in a tactful and respectful way. Sebastian’s struggle felt so real. It broke my heart to think of all the kids and young people out there who feel they have to hide who they are because they don’t have a strong support system around them; I genuinely want to hand this book out to every scared teenager and have them treat it as a life manual because its message is truly wonderful.

In saying that, I’m so glad that the authors gave Tanner an awesome supportive family. It made my heart so full to read. But, at the same time, that only increased the pain of seeing Sebastian UNsupported. I was emoting everywhere. There was a lot of sadness but also so much joy and hope. I was laughing with tears in my eyes.

I really do urge everyone to read this book. As well as being a beautifully-written story, it has such a positive and uplifting message. I truly believe this book could help so many people. I will forever adore it.

 

autboyography book review

Have you read this one? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts! x

‘Heart of Thorns’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today, I’m reviewing Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton which was very kindly sent to me by Harper360YA!

 

What the book is about…

In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

 

What I thought of it…

This was quite a mixed bag of a book. It opened with a bang and I initially liked the writing style but I soon realised that it was much like most other YA fantasies these days. The world seemed cool but wasn’t very strongly developed – and any world building there was consisted of clumsy info dumps.

I could maybe have overlooked the lack of world building if I had fallen in love with the characters but they all seemed pretty bland to me. I didn’t really feel anything for Mia or Quin, and I’ve honestly already forgotten most of the others that were introduced. There was a nice bit of diversity in terms of character sexualities; I would have liked this to be explored more instead of the typical tropes we’ve seen a million times before.

The book was very slow in pacing, with lots of setup, so it took me a long time to become invested. It felt like things were only just getting going and the book was over. Again, I might not have minded so much if I’d been having heart eyes for the world the author was creating but I just don’t feel it was anything special or memorable. Even by the end of the book, when the action as ramping up, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat needing to know what was going to happen.

I feel like I’ve been really negative so far and I feel terrible for it! This was a debut after all so maybe I’m judging it too harshly. It definitely wasn’t all bad. There was some really nice feminist ideology at the heart of the story and I really appreciated it. There was also some genuinely great writing in there; many turns of phrase were quite lovely (eg. “the moon put on a white veil and walked the sable sky” – I mean, that’s gorgeous!) I also loved the foody bits and Mia’s interest in anatomy. I just feel like all the good stuff got a bit lost in a very generic-feeling book. Maybe the continuation of the series will allow the author to develop these good points and lose some of the elements that were disappointing here – but I’m not hugely likely to read the sequel.

 

heart of thorns .jpg

Has anyone else read this one? Did you connect with it more than I did? And does anyone else feel guilty posting negative book reviews?!

Middle grade mini reviews: Boy Underwater, The House with Chicken Legs, Pax, and The Thing About Jellyfish

Hello my lovelies! I’ve read a few middle grade books recently; books like this always feel like a comforting hug while still tackling important themes in a non-patronising way. I thought I’d put together a mini review post to let you know some of my thoughts!

 

Boy Underwater by Adam Baron

This book is about a young boy who has never been allowed to go swimming and has his first ever swimming lesson at school – but something goes wrong. This sets off a bit of a chain reaction and dramatic things are subsequently revealed!

This was a fantastic middle grade read. Adam Baron has created a great narrative voice that felt very realistic and had me giggling right from the outset. It really did read like a 9-year-old boy.

The book was super fast-paced with some crazy chapter endings that had me racing through the pages for answers. I ended up reading it in one sitting.

It did have the potential to be a five-star read but I feel like it didn’t move me as much as it could have? Like, the sad parts could have been sadder?! Maybe the fact that I read it so quickly had something to do with it. But this is an ambitious middle grade read that tackles a heavy subject very well and I would certainly recommend it for fans of Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Boy in the Nighttime!

boy underwater

 

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

This book is an interesting take on the Baba Yaga mythology. In this book, Baba Yaga guides the spirits of the dead into the afterlife. Her granddaughter Marinka is set to take over the role eventually but all she wants is to live a normal life.

For a middle grade book, this one was surprisingly twisty! It definitely managed to surprise me a few times. I did find it quite repetitive in parts, with Marinka’s constant emphasis on her desire for a normal life making her a little bit annoying; but, overall, this was an enjoyable story and an interesting reimagining of the folklore.

the house with chicken legs.jpg

 

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

This was a sweet middle grade about a boy and his pet fox who are forcefully separated due to the start of the war, and their subsequent attempts to find each other again. The book tackled some heavy themes but, sadly, I thought that it lacked the emotional punch I was looking for. The fast pace meant I found it hard to connect with the story or characters – though I did enjoy the relationship between Peter and Vola.

The ending was definitely more abrupt than I expected and, as such, didn’t move me like I had thought it would. I can totally see why other readers were disappointed. Maybe it will have the desired effect on younger readers but it didn’t work for me.

It was a nice read overall, nothing amazing.

pax mini review.jpg

 

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

This was an intriguing and poignant middle grade read. The basic premise is that a girl’s best friend tragically drowns – but the girl refuses to accept this as her friend was a very strong swimmer. She becomes convinced that her friend must have been stung by a deadly jellyfish and sets out to prove it.

Despite the slightly strange premise, I did find myself quite invested in this story; it was very fast-paced and compelling. I felt quite emotional at times reading about how cruel kids can be and I really sympathised with the protagonist, Suzy; I desperately wanted her to succeed. Saying that, I felt like the book’s resolution was perfect and exactly what it needed to be.

I loved Suzy’s family; this book was a great example of how parents can be divorced but still work together through a shared love of their child. Suzy’s brother and his boyfriend were both lovely and I wish we could have seen more from them – though the scenes they did have were wonderful.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one!

 
the thing about jellyfish.jpg

 

So there you go, a mixed bag of middle grade reviews – but more success than not! Does anyone else read middle grade?

‘The Forgotten Guide to Happiness’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins which was a surprise gift from Avon Books! Sadly, I was disappointed by this one.

 

What the book is about…

Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself.

Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world.

When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don’t realise they need to be saved?

An irresistible story of love, memory and the power of friendship that readers of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido will adore.

 

What I thought of it…

I finished this book about a week ago and the more I’ve thought about it, the more annoyed I’ve felt. There are so many things about this book that really frustrated me.

The story did tick along quite nicely at the start, although I can’t say I really warmed to the protagonist. I found her quite selfish and unlikeable. I questioned her every decision and really couldn’t understand her motivations for certain things. The side characters also felt like paper-thin stereotypes and honestly added nothing to the story.

However, things got really annoying around 100 pages from the end when a particular event occurred (that I obviously won’t mention because spoilers). All I will say is that it had me absolutely infuriated! I couldn’t believe what I was reading; I wanted to give Lana a shake. Really, I don’t know what the author was thinking at this point; what kind of message was she trying to promote? The whole thing felt like one pointless cliché after another and, if this hadn’t been a gift from a publisher, I might well have DNF’d this book. I had to force myself to get to the end.

I did like Nancy’s character, the older writer in declining mental health. However, part of me feels like she wasn’t utilised as much as she could have been? She was a little lost at times in all of Lana’s crap and I feel like she deserved more! It was also constantly rammed down the reader’s throat that Nancy was this big feminist icon but then we were never actually shown any evidence of this.

The ‘how to be a hero’ theme was a nice idea –  I feel like maybe that should have been the title of the book instead? I don’t really know why it was called The Forgotten Guide to Happiness. Maybe I missed the point but this title felt totally incongruous to the actual story. Particularly with the annoying events I’ve alluded to!

I feel like this one won’t stay with me – and if it does, it will be with feelings of frustration rather than positivity! I feel terrible giving a book a negative review, particularly when it was a gift, but this one just wasn’t for me.

 

the forgotten guide to happiness .jpg

Have you ever read a book where the protagonist completely irritated you?!