“In an alternative timeline where Michael's name wasn't mentioned, she would have been among the first to retweet The List.”
This book really keeps you“In an alternative timeline where Michael's name wasn't mentioned, she would have been among the first to retweet The List.”
This book really keeps you guessing.
When Ola discovers her fiancée’s name on an anonymously tweeted ‘Abuser List’, she only has 4 weeks to decide whether or not to go through with her [quite extravagant] wedding.
It’s already an interesting plot, but what makes it even more interesting is the fact that the couple is social-media famous, meaning every decision they make has a big impact on an [easily influenced] audience, they’re also deemed “black couple goals”, meaning they feel like they have a high standard to keep up, and on-top of that, Ola is also a journalist at a well-known feminist magazine where it’s public knowledge that her morals stand firmly on “believing women”.
She is in a very difficult situation, who does she trust more? The man she loves or a complete stranger.
I really enjoyed the depth in which this story makes you think. It covers a lot of important topics, how easily lives can be ruined by lies or secrets, how influential social media can be, and also how difficult it is to be yourself when in the public eye. It also covers male suicide and homophobia specifically within the black community.
I’ve deducted stars because we only really get to know the couple for one short chapter before the drama unfolds. I found myself not really caring if the couple made it through their relationship or not, which is a very important part of the book. I often found myself skimming content to get to the more substantial events. But I absolutely loved the ending!
If it was a third shorter it would have 5 stars!
“After everything social media had put them through, how it revealed the swiftness with which admirers can become enemies, where did he stand on it now?”
Thank you NetGalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review. The List will be available to all from July 20th 2023. ...more
Officially the most annoying book I’ve ever read. I hope BookTok makes a full recovery from the collective aneurism they’ve clearly had.
This is 11 houOfficially the most annoying book I’ve ever read. I hope BookTok makes a full recovery from the collective aneurism they’ve clearly had.
This is 11 hours of Feyre (Fey-Ughhhhhh) complaining about living with the most generous, gorgeous, powerful high lords / shape-shifting wolfy boys. After unknowingly murdering (and eating) one of the wolfy boys in the woods, she’s ‘punished’ by being ‘exiled’ from her ungrateful, obnoxious, useless and - even worse - *poor* family, and taken back to the high lord’s court.
Is she to repent and be punished for her murderous crime? Erm, no. She now has 3 banquets a day, friendly servants bathing and dressing her every morning, and her very own wing of the palace where she doesn’t have to work a day in her life. There is no catch, no payment, no rules, yet all she wants to do for more than half the book is go back to her dickhead family.
If you want her to *do* something specific at any point, simply warn her how stupid and deadly it is and she’ll do it every time. Eye roll. She is the rudest person on the planet and never stops complaining. I would have exclusively fed her ungrateful-ass Lego.
“I was definitely walking a dangerous line, but I didn’t care. Even if he’d offered me sanctuary, I didn’t have to fall at his feet.”
“I feel like my entire body is an open wound and I'm standing next to someone that may or may not pour salt all over mGripping, emotional, satisfying.
“I feel like my entire body is an open wound and I'm standing next to someone that may or may not pour salt all over me.”
Emma finds herself in an unfathomably difficult position when her missing husband (presumed dead) of almost 4 years calls her to announce he’s returning home. Alongside the shock this revelation brings, Emma also has to face complex feelings of guilt - during her relentless battle with grief, Emma fell in love again, with a wonderfully supportive man called Sam. She now faces a decision I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy: Emma must choose which man to be with, the one she thought she couldn’t live without, or the one that showed her otherwise.
For a TJR novel, this one felt simply structured, but complex in emotion. Her other books often span decades, jumping back and forth in the timeline, but this one is surprisingly simple, packed full of tough decisions and even tougher relationships instead.
If you’ve seen the movie Castaway, this very much felt like hearing the wife’s side of the story, and it was incredibly gripping and satisfying. Even if you can’t possibly relate to Emma’s situation, there are some very relatable feelings and emotions, especially if you’ve ever had to overcome grief, or been in love with multiple people at once.
It brought me to tears numerous times and I was very happy with the ending. I highly recommend it.
“I had predicated my life on the idea that I wanted to see everywhere extraordinary, but I'd come to realize that extraordinary is everywhere.”...more
I had such high expectations for this second novel. Open Water (Nelson’s first) was my absolute favourite book of 2021, but this one kind of felt likeI had such high expectations for this second novel. Open Water (Nelson’s first) was my absolute favourite book of 2021, but this one kind of felt like a rerun of the same book, with a less absorbing plot. It was still a wonderful read, but maybe I was a little underwhelmed because it didn’t feel like a new experience, like it did with the first one.
What makes Nelson stand out as an author is his unique and poetic way of writing. Every paragraph feels like it could be spoken-word. You can almost hear him speaking when you read. Each page is full of eye-widening metaphors (“I walk ahead, towards the shoreline, and the sand makes souvenirs of my motion.”) and expertly-placed repetition that makes his words feel like a familiar friend.
The story follows Stephen, a young man growing up in London who is about to finish school and start university: a pivotal point in his life when it comes to choosing a future that will make his African parents proud. He has to navigate a lot of changes over 3 years, being away from his best friend for the first time, living in a new city, becoming an uncle, travelling to Ghana to learn more about his family history and, most importantly, trying to mend broken family bonds.
There is so much beautiful writing in this book, particularly in the way Nelson describes the food and music Stephen loves. Music is definitely the biggest theme throughout, showing us how it can seal memories, fill us with nostalgia, and build bonds with people we love the most. I actually searched Spotify for an accompanying playlist but it doesn’t exist yet - hopefully soon!
I’ll continue to recommend Open Water to new readers, rather than this one.
“This is the reason I have always turned to sound; how a croon can signal heartbreak or a yell can speak to our elation, or a groan might speak our grief. Music, rhythm, undeniable. Sound helps us get closer to what we feel.”
Thank you to NetGalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review. Small Worlds will be available to read from May 11th, 2023....more
This book was lovely. It plays with your relationship preconceptions, keeps you turning pages and is a satisfying balance of predictable and surprisinThis book was lovely. It plays with your relationship preconceptions, keeps you turning pages and is a satisfying balance of predictable and surprising.
I actually picked up someone else’s copy whilst I was on holiday, then had to buy it at the train station so I could finish it ASAP.
You read through the stories of 3 women: Jane, Miranda and Siobhan, who are all dating the same mysterious man. You find yourself rooting for all of them as each back story unfolds, finding clues together as to why Carter can’t seem to commit or tell the truth to these women.
There are so many separate threads running through the story, that when they start to tie up it is incredibly satisfying. My brain had to do *just enough* work for it not to feel like hard work.
If you enjoyed The Flatshare, this one might be even better.
“He had one of those smiles that made you feel like the only person in the world.”...more
Not for the weak stomached or heavily empathetic reader.
Although events were described with metaphors so vivid I often felt like I was hallucinating Not for the weak stomached or heavily empathetic reader.
Although events were described with metaphors so vivid I often felt like I was hallucinating (in an impressive way), the subjects of these short stories are very harrowing.
Prepare for a combination of hit-and-run accidents, bath-tub abortions, drunken sea sickness, bitter estranged-parent relationships, childhood bullies, a brief paedophilic encounter and a blood chilling account of domestic violence.
I‘ve been left with the feeling that I’ve been guided into a deep, dark woodland and left to find my own way out.
Sinister, harrowing, unsettling, but so intensely descriptive that you can’t stop reading.
I’m not sure it’s possible to enjoy this book.
‘The story morphed a little over the years, but kept the same approximate shape, like the course of a flood-prone river.’
‘They screamed and ran around the schoolyard while you tried to catch up, like pigtailed spiders skittering away from your light.’...more
Have you ever been involuntarily involved in a town-sized orgy of plot cliches? Do you want me to describe it to you?
A runaway bride (1) with an evil Have you ever been involuntarily involved in a town-sized orgy of plot cliches? Do you want me to describe it to you?
A runaway bride (1) with an evil twin (2) ditches her abusive alcoholic ex-fiancée (3) at the alter, and heads towards a small town (4) full of nice people (5), lots of drama (6) and a ridiculously handsome, big-dicked, lottery-winning [seriously!] bachelor (7). Her gay best friend (8) warns this bachelor not to break his best friend’s fragile heart (9) especially while she’s raising her evil twin’s kid for her (10), trying to get by on the two perfect jobs that fell into her lap (11), living rent free in a cottage that just so happens to be next door to previously-mentioned handsome bachelor (12), and helping the local police force to find where her missing sister has disappeared to (13).
The plot is so predictable that I felt like *I* could have won the lottery in that town too. You’d see each number coming a mile away. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a predictable, heart-warming plot gives you that soul-soothing feeling of comfort and familiarity, right? But the writing in this was so upsetting that any comfort level was instantly torn away as soon as I reached an intimacy scene. Let me just leave these snippets here:
“I heard the distinct crinkle of the wrapper from either a Pop-Tart or a condom. It appeared to be the latter because the we crest of his erection was prodding at my very core.”
Why Pop Tarts? Prodding???
“I didn't realize I'd spasmed up into an ab curl until he put one of those big hands on my chest and pressed me back down to the mattress.”
Love when the sex is so good that I spasm into a ball.
“I wondered if Knox's cock was some sort of magical wand that cast orgasm spells…”
Sex so good he must have gone to Hogwarts.
“I almost went cross-eyed trying to keep my release in my balls where it churned.”
The only time churned has ever been attempted as a positive verb.
I just can’t help but laugh at the unsexy metaphors and crass descriptions. I’m not sure it was meant to be funny, but that effect has left me with a strange fondness for this book. It definitely made it more memorable! Here is a phrase about a woman being on her period that I will no doubt spread around myself in future:
“God. Why do I have to pee 147 times a day when I'm riding the cotton pony?”
I can’t believe a woman wrote this book.
Anyway, between the laughs and disappointment-fuelled eye rolls, I did find a couple of lovely quotes that kept rewarding me for my perseverance:
“I knew what my words did to her. And it was nothing compared to what the rest of me was capable of.”
“The dog's tail blurred into happiness.”
I wouldn’t recommend this hefty 550 page book to anyone unless they really want the most cliche experience possible. But I can guarantee, you won’t have any problem with a ‘release’ ‘churning in your balls’ while reading! ...more
Wow. Without a doubt, more books should be written from the perspective of a female psychopath.
I felt genuine anxiety at every turn, was 100% grippedWow. Without a doubt, more books should be written from the perspective of a female psychopath.
I felt genuine anxiety at every turn, was 100% gripped; fully invested, and undoubtedly rooting for the bad guy (girl).
Incredible book. Hilariously witty, with a plot as smart as the writing.
Some favourite quotes that highlight Grace’s narcissistic and blunt way of analysing the people around her:
“I retorted that his new silk scarf made him look like an old Italian count, and he had the good sense to look embarrassed.”
“A psychologist could spend hours with her before reluctantly concluding that maybe there's not always something hidden in the depths of the psyche. Some people inhabit shallower pools. Kelly spent most of her time in the paddling variety.”
“Jimmy is not a natural writer. His continued, and I think wilful, misuse of grammar has always made it hard for me to read his emails and texts.”
“I wait at reception while a girl with a tan which the sun would reject outright as being beyond its powers speaks on the phone in estuary English.”
You know those miserable friends you avoid at all costs? This book was like being forced to listen to one for 5 hours straight. Painful.
I had high hopYou know those miserable friends you avoid at all costs? This book was like being forced to listen to one for 5 hours straight. Painful.
I had high hopes for this Canadian writer and comedian, a writer for the show Schitt’s Creek which I LOVE!
Maggie is a 29 year old struggling to come to terms with a fresh divorce and for some reason has zero self restraint. She is endlessly cringey; constantly acting poorly and saying awful things to her friends. I’m surprised her friends didn’t fall out with her sooner.
I’m giving it 2 stars because I managed to finish it, but I expected something good to happen at some point. I’m sad to say I regret the investment.
‘Call it what you must, but you need to practise walking around and living life and being heartbroken at the same time. Not in an exciting way, where you're in the thrall of some new person, or buying something outrageous, or terrorising Jiro, but in the way where you still have to go to work when you have a toothache.’
Really Good Actually will be available to buy from the 17th January 2023. Thank you to NetGalley for the arc....more
“What is a game?” Marx said. “It’s tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s the possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption.”
Sadie and Sam “What is a game?” Marx said. “It’s tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s the possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption.”
Sadie and Sam are friends who meet in a hospital ward as children, and unexpectedly bond over a shared love of computer games. Their story isn’t a smooth or predictable one, and neither is their friendship. But that makes for very addictive reading.
I loved the ups and downs of this story - the way their eventful history is slowly unraveled and intertwined through the current timeline. It felt more impactful that way, when the past feels like a fresh memory. It also felt like the kind of success story (both professionally and personally) that only happens to people once in a lifetime. You feel lucky to be inside the minds and lives of these two fascinating, flawed, creative, and complex [fictional] humans as they design their own computer games.
I took away two important messages from this book. 1: that there are more rare and beautiful kinds of love than romantic love, and 2: that fictional lives are infinitely more inviting than real ones. And, in my opinion, both of those messages have never been written about in such a deeply resonating and emotional way.
Read it. There’s good reason it was voted best book of 2022.
“Finally, she turned. She scanned the crowd slowly and when she spotted Sam, the smile spread over her face like a time-lapse video he had once seen in a high school physics class of a rose in bloom.”...more
“Gaining insight into a friend’s musical tastes can be an intimate experience that reveals how they see themselves in relation to the world, the value“Gaining insight into a friend’s musical tastes can be an intimate experience that reveals how they see themselves in relation to the world, the value of aesthetic experiences in their lives, or who they want to be when they grow up (or who they wanted to be).”
Well first of all, this book has changed how I will listen to music forever… (in the best way!)
Second of all, I think every book should now come with an accompanying playlist. It was such a wonderfully immersive and educational experience to be able to hear and understand what was being discussed in the text. The satisfying effect blew my mind, honestly.
I get why this book was called “This is what it sounds like” (the author is a talented female music producer / professor who worked with Prince for years) but it’s more accurately a book that explains technically, physically and scientifically, why we ‘fall in love at first listen’ with certain songs. A recipe that is, of course, unique to us all.
Music taste says so much about us; our incredibly individual lives and experiences shape the kind of listeners we become, but this book dives into the production techniques that helps music pass through our ears and straight into our hearts.
“Every deviation from our rhythmic predictions feels like watching a magician make a card disappear.”
Ooft. Enticing, yes? Music is so intimate. And our expectations can be fulfilled or violated in a split second. Music production really is such an exact science, a specialist skill that I never fully appreciated until reading this book.
“You seem like you like to keep others at arm's length, uncompromising and ever so hard to know. You seem like you care very little about what people “You seem like you like to keep others at arm's length, uncompromising and ever so hard to know. You seem like you care very little about what people think of you. You seem like you know what you're doing. You seem equally horrible and awesome, and just the thought that there's someone you'd like to open up to, someone who's not me, makes me feel like I can't sit at this table any longer.”
Student Olive and Professor Adam make a pact to fake-date each other, for mutual benefits of career progression and an ex-boyfriend issue. Although a very unlikely pairing, their friends start to notice they’re actually very good for each other, and as their breakup deadline grows closer, so do a bunch of real feelings.
If you’re looking for a ‘grumpy meets sunshine’ story, this one is about as textbook as it gets! In fact, the entire book is like a collectors-edition of rom com clichés, but in a satisfying kind of way.
The poor student and the rich professor, the sickly pumpkin spice latte and the bitter Americano, the inexperienced lamb and the highly-skilled lion.
Quite a few things annoyed me about this book - the scenarios that would simply never happen (hello, ‘lack of chairs so must sit on your lap instead’), the fact that Olive was very naive in places for a very intelligent student, and the pacing was so slow in the beginning that I read 2 other books in-between. But the intimacy is beautiful when you finally get to it, and it’s very heartwarming between friendships too.
For me, there are much better examples of this trope (such as Book Lovers) but I’m glad I finished it.
“It had been less than a week since she'd last seen him - six days to be precise, which was just a handful of hours and minutes. Nothing, considering that she'd barely known him a month. And yet it was as if the space she was in, the whole campus, the entire city was transformed by knowing that he was back. Possibilities. That's what Adam's presence felt like. Of what, she was not certain.”...more
Oh my goodness, inject this drama directly into my veins please because my eyeballs couldn’t get enough!!
This is a pretty clean romance for Colleen HoOh my goodness, inject this drama directly into my veins please because my eyeballs couldn’t get enough!!
This is a pretty clean romance for Colleen Hoover, but wow I was addicted to Ben and Fallon as if it wasn’t.
“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”
It’s this wisdom that sparks a five year experiment between two 18 year olds…
Ben and Fallon agree to postpone starting a real relationship and avoid swapping contact details for five years due to their 3000 mile distance. Instead, they agree to meet up on the same day each year and that day only - you guessed it - on November 9th.
Ben reminded me so much of the character Nathan from Misfits, his humour and quick wit were always so memorable and dramatic, but in an adorable way. If the concept doesn’t hook you, the characters will.
I really really enjoyed it; ‘read-instead-of-sleep’ enjoyed it.
“Fate. A word meaning destiny. Fate. A word meaning doom.”...more
‘There’s still no happy ending for a woman who wants it all, the kind who lies awake aching with furious hunger, unspent ambition making her bones rat‘There’s still no happy ending for a woman who wants it all, the kind who lies awake aching with furious hunger, unspent ambition making her bones rattle in her body.’
Meet Nora, an uptight, career-driven literary agent who intimidates men with her fast pace, quick wit, and ability to wear heels in all terrain!
This is a plot that pokes fun at itself, and I love that. Nora’s bookish career means she is constantly swimming through predictable plots and, with her sister’s help, decides to recreate the plot of one of her best selling romance novels - with hilarious and wholesome consequences.
The banter in this book is unmatched, honestly. I told friends to bump it up their reading pile immediately. I laughed out loud so much at how hilarious Nora’s comebacks are. The girl is always on fire. I highlighted so many different types of quotes, actually: the funny ones, the deep ones, the beautiful ones, the steamy ones. The writing is just so easy to sink into. I enjoyed that the plot keeps you guessing too.
I’ve deducted stars for the over dramatic reactions in places. They often felt unfaithful to the previously cool and independent character traits, but that could simply be my own restrained emotions refusing to surface.
‘This book has crushed me with its weight and dazzled me with its tiny bright spots. Some books you don’t read so much as live, and finishing one of those always makes me think of ascending from a scuba dive. Like if I surface too fast I might get the bends.’...more
“Don’t tempt the scorpion if you don’t want to get stung.”
I really do loooove Colleen Hoover’s books so much, so I feel a little mean with my rating h“Don’t tempt the scorpion if you don’t want to get stung.”
I really do loooove Colleen Hoover’s books so much, so I feel a little mean with my rating here, but this one definitely wasn’t my favourite.
On an empty Boston rooftop, Lily meets a neurosurgeon who’s also having a bad day. While on their first date the man who serves them just so happens to be the only other man Lily has ever loved, and they have unfinished business for sure.
While Lily’s heart is trying to lead her somewhere new, her brain is telling her to revisit her history. A stressful dilemma when you can only choose one future.
It Ends With Us has some incredibly important messages about healthy relationships, difficult decisions, addictions and self preservation. And the passion is always incredible in Hoover’s books. But, with this one, I found the story and characters much more predictable throughout, I found the many diary entries of 15-year-old Lily to be a little cringey/unbelievable, and I struggled to find a favourite quote - which is one of my favourite things to do when reading a book.
Don’t get me wrong, I will 100% be reading the prequel when it comes out, because I feel invested in these characters, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.
Favourite quote (meh):
“There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”...more
“Just as someone who, without ever having contemplated suicide, allows themselves to be seduced by the abyss from the top of a skyscraper, I felt the l“Just as someone who, without ever having contemplated suicide, allows themselves to be seduced by the abyss from the top of a skyscraper, I felt the lure of pregnancy.”
My favourite book so far this year.
Beautifully insightful and timely, Still Born is the story of 2 career-driven, adventurous friends in their mid-30s, living in Mexico City. Laura chooses to be sterilised while Alina is desperate to become pregnant with her husband. Soon, both women find themselves in unexpectedly complex motherhood-dilemmas.
Heart-gripping, real, and hugely thought-provoking, I find myself still staring into space trying to absorb the unexpected emotional whirlwinds that fall upon these women.
It really is a beautiful book. Wonderfully written (/translated) and researched, the facts about motherhood in nature, genetics and medical marvels all add to the addictive quality of how quickly you want to devour each page. It definitely hurts in places but it’s a life-affirming kind of pain.
“Who has not plunged headlong into an irreconcilable love affair knowing it has no future, and clinging to a glimmer of hope as flimsy as a blade of grass?”...more
When a deranged ex girlfriend tries to take Layla away from Leeds, their lives are changed forever. Can Leeds fWill soulmates always find each other?
When a deranged ex girlfriend tries to take Layla away from Leeds, their lives are changed forever. Can Leeds fix it by going back to where they first fell in love?
This plot is such a wild ride - I can’t say much about anything without giving major plot twists away - but I need to say that all confusing and questionable character actions do pay off in the end.
So many times I was tempted to walk away from this very strange book which takes an unusual deep-dive into the paranormal. But I’m glad I stuck with it, even though I started hating most of the characters.
Colleen Hoover does what she does best and writes about passionate young love. She takes you through beautiful love-at-first-sight moments, breaks your heart a few times, gives you glorious forbidden sexual tension, and (thankfully) always leaves you smiling.
Stick with it despite the 3-star wobbles. Trust me.
“I still take my time with her. So much time. Minutes feel like they matter more when they’re spent with her.”...more
Never has so much happened at once in one story, my goodness!
Set in modern London, Eva is a young black woman who has just lost her adoptive mother, Never has so much happened at once in one story, my goodness!
Set in modern London, Eva is a young black woman who has just lost her adoptive mother, Cherry, and is now trying to find her birth mum.
Whilst rummaging around her ex-police, adoptive father’s locked office, she comes across a photo of 4 black women who disappeared in 1994, and realises her birth mum is one of them.
She’s now on a mission to solve their disappearance whilst trying to locate the place where they were last seen, and work out what the company was up to where they worked. She’s also trying to solve the mystery of why her adoptive father left the police force, trying to come to terms with her own past, trying to bond with a new half sister, trying to work out who the new woman living in her adoptive mum’s house is, grieving for Cherry, trying not to get arrested for showing up at work when she’s been forced out, and trying to hold her marriage together.
Honestly it was kind of exhausting to keep up (easily done with my brain) and the drama level is super intense, but it is very fast paced and time flies when you read it! The messages around racism within the police force, medical professions and within society in general are incredibly important. They will stick with me for a long time.
“The crowd of mourners is so dense they resemble a black scarf wound tight around me as if offering shelter so I can bear my sorrow.”...more
This book is lovely. It’s intense and racy (and somehow has more forbidden sexual tension than Twilight?!) but it’s simply full of the perfect ingrediThis book is lovely. It’s intense and racy (and somehow has more forbidden sexual tension than Twilight?!) but it’s simply full of the perfect ingredients to make a page-turning modern romance that I didn’t want to put down.
Miles is a quiet, mysterious, young pilot with a dark past and a strong aversion to every and any kind of relationship. Tate is a new arrival in a flat across the hall, who’s brother makes her forbidden fruit to any of his friends, Miles (of course) included.
As we watch Miles and Tate’s casual relationship become more emotional (and hot AF), we start to see elements of Miles’s past revealed - elements that makes his aversion to love all too understandable.
The extra characters are all so lovely, from the cute 70-year-old elevator assistant, to the overprotective brother and even Miles’s ex girlfriend, it’s just such a wholesome story, even if it’s head-shakingly, heart-meltingly mushy in places.
It was so good that I honestly might read it again.
“Her eyes tell me she already knows she’s mine.”...more
This book was the most ‘okay-est’ book ever. Do you know what I mean? It wasn’t anything special but it felt like hanging out with (kind-of-dislikableThis book was the most ‘okay-est’ book ever. Do you know what I mean? It wasn’t anything special but it felt like hanging out with (kind-of-dislikable-but-in-an-entertaining-way) friends.
The story alternates between 4 mixed race girls in their early-to-mid 30s, living very normal lives in London.
4 main characters is already quite a lot for my brain to keep up with, but then they all have partners, exes, crushes, parents, partner’s parents, etc. I almost made maps of each character so I could remember who was who and who was related to who.
But it was a nice, mostly realistic, story about the day-to-day lives and pressures surrounding women. It was interesting, but it definitely wasn’t a page turner.
Sometimes the dislikable character qualities were too heavily exaggerated for me: “why are they together?” or “why are they friends?” were questions I asked myself a lot. But you see the twists coming in quite a satisfying way.
For me, the ending was unforgivably fast and a bit ridiculous, but I did enjoy dipping into this book regularly, so it’s a confusing 2 stars from me!
“It was their colour that had thrown Simi and Isobel together. Mixed-race kids were unusual in 1980s Lagos. It wasn’t that different in 1990s Bristol – that’s how she met Boo and Ronke too. It was natural – you had an affinity, a bond – there was nothing prejudiced about it. Simi believed it was impossible to be racist if you were mixed. The more of us the better. If only the world would shag racism into oblivion.”...more
Oooh I like this book. The writing is so wonderfully visual, I particularly love how Hadley highlights details within scenes you'd never otherwise expOooh I like this book. The writing is so wonderfully visual, I particularly love how Hadley highlights details within scenes you'd never otherwise expect to notice. I felt myself say "oooh, that's nice," multiple times.
Phyl (Phyllis) is a suburban housewife in her early 40s, well dressed, well behaved and well-liked by everyone, except perhaps her teenage daughter who is envious of her mother's beauty and slim frame. The year is 1967 and Phyl's family looks picture perfect, until a friend's twenty-something son visits for dinner one evening, late and a little drunk. Young Nicky quickly turns Phyl's head - then all of their futures upside down.
From the plot description you might think the story would read a little sordid and cliche, but it's wholeheartedly liberating to read about Phyl's experiences. It made me emotional at times how happy I was for her character.
The beautiful writing grips you from the start, listen to this kind of description:
"With adult resignation Hugh undid the chain, then stood back in the hall while his aunt underwent a mammoth disrobing..."
Then the plot takes over and pulls you in further, and by the last few chapters I was carrying this book around like an addict.
This was my first Hadley book, but it definitely won't be my last.
"Phillis had always, since she was a child, been able to conjure up an idea of God if she tried hard enough. Not as a benign patriarch, personally interested in her; more like a concentration of clarity, a patch of white light like a magnesium flare, hovering somewhere outside her. If she focused on that clarity, she seemed to be able to see things impartially and justly from the outside, free from the clamour of her self. But now when she most needed it, she struggled to bring God into being."
“His sexual life otherwise was humiliatingly unsatisfactory. An idyll of playful sexual ease seemed to lie only just out of reach - what prevented him from arriving at it? You heard about everyone sleeping with everybody. And there were so many attractive and fascinating women, he saw them all around on the streets and in bars; the films he watched were knee-deep in possibilities. Whenever he did manage to get hold of a girl, she was a disaster, too silly or too plain, too awkward or too keen, so that he was eager to get rid of her next morning. Idly, and ashamed, he had made use of Phyllis now and again in his fantasies. Then suddenly, one Wednesday afternoon, rapping with a brisk little fist at his door, she was actually there - the least plausible person to materialise amid his sordid solitude.”...more
The plot of this story sounds like it would be right up my street - a culture-clashing romance with a juicy history of sexual secrets and an emotionalThe plot of this story sounds like it would be right up my street - a culture-clashing romance with a juicy history of sexual secrets and an emotionally-rocky engagement. Yet, I couldn't even make it through a quarter of the book.
I found the lengthy details tedious, especially when describing an aspect of life I have zero interest in, such as cooking techniques or numerous patients' histories.
With lack of grit keeping me turning pages (and after three very determined attempts to tackle it again) I have given up. Sorry. Other people have loved it, but apparently it's not for me....more
‘Now that I knew who she was, such meekness looked absurd on her, like a great eagle trying to hunch down to fit inside a sparrow’s nest.’
I was not aw‘Now that I knew who she was, such meekness looked absurd on her, like a great eagle trying to hunch down to fit inside a sparrow’s nest.’
I was not aware of the story of Goddess Circe until reading this book. Some call her a sorceress, this story favours ‘witch’. Either way, her tale makes for an interesting read.
After being banished to a mortal island of Aiaia, for having more of a heart than most Devine beings, Circe finds ways to entertain herself, hone her magic skills and make new friends. The envious or bitter Gods don’t make her life easy and their selfishness really shines through in this book.
As with most Ancient Greek myths and legends, there are some seriously gory details, birthing and slaying of monsters, brutal torture and punishment, extended family quarrels and spine-breaking spells. It’s safe to say my dreams were haunted every night after reading!
My only gripe was that, in numerous places throughout the book, I found myself confused as to which character was speaking or who had arrived. I’d have to read a couple of pages before they were named.
There were so many lovely quotes to highlight though. I’ve chosen a few favourites below.
‘A look flashed in his eyes, like teeth in a wolf’s mouth.’
‘You can teach a viper to eat from your hands, but you cannot take away how much it likes to bite.’
‘Last year Odysseus had helped me. I touched the thought like a bruise, testing its ache.’
Not bad at all if you like your goddesses with a little vengeance and determination!...more
‘He never lost his faith in the realignment of the synapses that occurs every time we pick up a good book and start reading, find something that inter‘He never lost his faith in the realignment of the synapses that occurs every time we pick up a good book and start reading, find something that interests us or makes us turn to the next page, so much so that when we look up, the world has changed. This is the abiding miracle of the book.’
Unrelated to the quote above but, from the introduction alone, I knew this book would be funny as well as educational to me.
Andy Miller spent a year *actually* reading books he’d already pretended he’d read. 50 of them. Classics, best sellers and those collecting dust on his shelf.
It was an enjoyable and insightful journey. A favourite part of mine is a chapter where he compares the classic Moby Dick to the ‘overrated’ Da Vinci Code. Very, very funny stuff.
I have to say he skimmed over some books I would have been really interested to hear his take on: On The Road and Jane Eyre being two of them, and instead he seemed to focus and dwell on some very niche books. I lost interest a little in some chapters, eager to get back to books I could relate to a little more. Understandable, really.
I’ve also deducted some virtual points because in places Miller complains about authors who use large words unnecessarily, forcing him to reach for a dictionary, and then in later chapters he does the exact same thing.
It was a fun read, although definitely written for himself instead of the masses. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that!
“Somebody once described the Internet as a library where all the books have been taken off the shelves and dumped in the middle of the floor. Disorganisation, however, is not the issue. The Internet is the greatest library in the universe; unfortunately someone has removed all the 'no talking' signs.”
It’a worth mentioning that I’ve also ordered 3 books from Miller’s list, so I am excited to dive into them later this year!...more
“I decide, while fully penetrated, to consent, because you can always throw your body on the fire to keep others warm. I was already filled with petro“I decide, while fully penetrated, to consent, because you can always throw your body on the fire to keep others warm. I was already filled with petrol; he’s just a man-shaped match.”
Amelia uses sex to escape from her own mind and, presumably, also her day job as a mortician. But, when she loses a member of her own family, she seeks distraction in more extreme places. It makes for fascinating reading.
I got major Australian Fleabag vibes from this book (and I mean that as a huge compliment). It caught me very off guard with how beautiful and deep the writing is, while Amelia is also incredibly relatable, awkward and charming. It’s such an addictive and likeable mixture.
It’s the kind of book I find inspiring. It’s short, it’s deep, it’s moving. I absolutely blasted through it, and yet it made me cry with both laughter and sorrow in that short space of time.
There are very strange scenes of kink experimentation, characters you hope to never come across in your own life (pun not intended), and paragraphs so deeply existential that you have to stare into space for a little while after reading them.
Memorable for all the right reasons.
“The deceased are beyond beautiful, but only because they are so empty of worry. Everything tense or unlikeable is gone. Like a shipping centre in the middle of the night, they have lost all the chaos and clatter.”
New Animal will be released on 17th February 2022, thank you NetGalley for the arc....more
I am usually the last person to see a twist coming, but this one seemed really obvious to me. Am I the only one who was expecting a second one in a deI am usually the last person to see a twist coming, but this one seemed really obvious to me. Am I the only one who was expecting a second one in a desperate attempt to be surprised / for the plot to redeem itself?
I was left feeling short changed by the flat ending, I was left questioning the strange and unbelievable behaviour of the main characters (especially Hannah’s solo ‘save the day’ attempt whilst basically disabled?), and I was left knowing for a fact I could definitely never recommend this book to anyone.
Wild themes, wrong behaviours and weird character relationships. Sorry!...more
“There are two hundred heart transplants each year in the UK, and only a handful of those are for children. Meg is a success story. Meg is a miracle. “There are two hundred heart transplants each year in the UK, and only a handful of those are for children. Meg is a success story. Meg is a miracle. Our miracle.”
The Donor is a short, emotional and very gripping story about a mum who’s 14-year-old daughter Lizzie gets a heart transplant after years of illness.
Despite being advised not to, Lizzie’s mum responds to a letter from the mother of boy who gave up his heart for her daughter. And a strange relationship starts to develop between Lizzie and the mother who lost her son.
I couldn’t put this book down and I gasped out loud a couple of times. I really enjoyed the drama of this story, I didn’t expect the twists and the story didn’t feel rushed at all either, despite being a quick read.
‘The pain we inflict on others doesn’t take away our own despair. That is a journey we have to walk alone.’