Right Book, Right Time

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Hi everyone! Happy Spring! I hope you’re all having a great year so far and that the weather is finally starting to get warmer where you are (it’s still freezing in Scotland!). Last week I finished reading a book and it occurred to me that perhaps if I had read that book at a different time then I may not have enjoyed it as much as I did. So this post is going to be a kind of discussion of that mixed with a relaxed review of the book, so let’s see how this works!

The book in question is On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. I love Carrie and have reviewed her non-fiction book All I Know Now on this blog previously. I watch her videos on youtube and am even lucky enough to be going to see her perform as Wednesday in The Addams Family Musical next month with my best friend so I was very excited when I heard that she was writing a fiction novel. On the Other Side is a story about a woman called Evie who has passed away in old age and has found herself unable to get into her own heaven without first ridding her soul of three secrets she kept her whole life. The story has elements of magical realism which were subtly done apart from one. In order to avoid spoilers for those of you who may want to read the book I won’t say which part it was but the instance seemed, to me, a bit out of tune with the rest of the magical realism system used and therefore it came across as a tad far-fetched. However, that being said I very much enjoyed the other touches of magic in the book, something that usually I may have found a bit distracting as I tend to enjoy more realistic stories.

The characters in the novel were written excellently, each with flaws and quirks that made them very real and easy to warm to. Evie was a great heroine, kind and unafraid to be herself while also putting the needs of others before her own desires. A shared trait between most of the characters was that they were sweet, again something which may have irritated me slightly in other novels or even if I’d just been reading this at a different time.

This is why I think it is so important to read what you feel like you really want to read instead of what you feel others think you should read or forcing yourself to read your TBR in a pre-set order. Reading and books are to be enjoyed and to enjoy them to their full potential we must read them when we feel the time is right and when we’re in the right head space for them. Do you feel like you want to pick up a book set at Christmas time in the middle of June? Do it! Do you feel like you want to read a fluffy contemporary instead of that non-fiction that’s been sitting on your shelf for months? Do it. Read what makes you happy when it makes you happy.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that maybe it made you pick up something to read that will make you happy like On the Other Side made me happy! Leave your comments below to tell me what you think!

See you soon,

Shannon 🙂

A Man Called Ove Book Review

 

 

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Published by: Washington Square Press

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 337

Hi everyone! I hope that you’re all well and that at least some of you are still interested in reading this blog! So, last night I finished an amazing book, so amazing in fact that it inspired me start writing about books again! Over the past few weeks I’ve read this book on the bus on the way into uni while the sun is rising over Edinburgh (It’s beautiful, trust me!) and before I go to sleep and I can honestly say that every page induced so many emotions, it was a rollercoaster for sure! The book that I’m talking about is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. It is a heart-warming tale of an elderly Swedish man named Ove and I can honestly say that it is without a doubt going straight into my all-time favourites!

There are so many elements of this novel that are exceptional but the one that stood out to me the most was the characters. Every single character in this book is so realistic with good and bad qualities; there are no cardboard cut-out characters in this book! Of course we have to talk about Ove, the main character, on first appearances he is a stereotypical grumpy old man who harasses his neighbours about driving in their residential area and is stuck in his ways but as the novel progresses we discover that he is so much more complex than this. It could be said that the reason that Ove is such an endearing character is that he is certain to remind us of someone in our own lives, he certainly reminded me of my own Grandad in more than one way! The hidden qualities to Ove’s character are revealed through his relationships with those around him, namely his neighbours. One neighbour who has a particular impact on Ove is Parvaneh, a pregnant Iranian woman who brings out all aspects of Ove. The whole cast of characters in this novel have a fantastic range of diversity, featuring characters of differing nationalities, sexualities and body-shapes which I think we can all agree is how all books should be!

The writing style of Fredrik Backman is exceptionally warm, with the words somehow managing to give you the comforting feeling of being at home while also inspiring a whole range of emotions with the turn of every page. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this book had me laughing out loud and crying in the same chapter such is the beauty of the authors writing. Similarly to the creation of his characters, the settings and situations in the novel are so realistic and reminiscent of so many suburban lives that it is bound to provide something that every reader can relate to. I would encourage everyone to pick this fantastic novel up and give it a read as I really believe that we can all learn from the love, kindness and light it holds within its pages.

I hope that you all enjoyed this book review and that it won’t be long until I am posting here again. Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

 

Shannon 🙂

Summary

Rating: 5/5

Recommend? YES

 

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick Book Review

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Published by: Headline

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Pages: 273

Hi everyone! Today I’m back with my first book review of 2016, how exciting! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year and are looking forward to all of the good times this year is sure to bring. This book is one that I received as a gift for Christmas (I gave my mum a huge list of books I’d like so that she could pick a few and it would still be a surprise for me on Christmas day) and I was so excited to read it, and I’m really glad I did. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is one of those YA books that I feel are just so important. It contains themes of suicide, mental health, sexual assault and parental neglect but these issues are dealt with in an appropriate and sensitive way by the author, and I commend him for this.

The main character, Leonard Peacock, was well-written and interesting. He was a teenage boy with mental health issues but also so much more than that (as all people who suffer from mental issues are) which is another accomplishment of Matthew Quick’s writing as many authors tend to zoom in so far on these traits that their character ends up having no other qualities. Leonard is in a seemingly hopeless situation and portrays himself as having no hope but throughout the novel we repeatedly see this ever-present fragment of hope in his actions, that someone will stop him from committing suicide or even just wish him a happy birthday and this characteristic is one of the things that made me love Leonard. My favourite character in the novel is Walt, Leonard’s next door neighbour who is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart movies and smokes like a chimney. Walt is one of the only people who seem to really care for Leonard and he’s just such a sweet old man that you’d be strange not to love him. Besides this, the relationship between Walt and Leonard is one of the only things keeping them both alive; they are kindred spirits despite their difference in age. Then there is Herr Silverman, Leonard’s holocaust class teacher, one of the most well-written and caring teachers that I’ve ever read in YA. Herr Silverman’s character is one that will resonate with anyone that reads this novel, we all have that one teacher that went the extra mile and changed our lives for the better, and it warmed my heart that this character represented all of those wonderful teachers so well.

The plot of this novel is fast paced and exciting with everything leading up to the murder-suicide that Leonard has planned to carry out on his 18th birthday but despite the fast pace you don’t feel that anything has been missed out. The plot is well thought-out and an emotional rollercoaster – you may need tissues and a cup of tea to help with both happy and sad tears. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book; however, I did feel that the ending could have had more detail and information as we are so emotionally invested in the storyline but apart from that, an excellent and important read for fans of YA fiction.

Hope you enjoyed!

Until next time,

Shannon x

Rating: 4/5

Recommend? YES

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The Night Is Darkening Round Me By Emily Brontë

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Hi everyone! I am back today with a tiny review of a tiny book of poetry! This cute little collection is an instalment of the Penguin Little Black Classics. There are 80 of these books in total by 80 different authors and they are each 80p. They were brought out as a celebration of Penguin’s 80th birthday and I think they are adorable! I own three in total; the one I am reviewing today which is a collection of poetry by Emily Brontë, The Beautifull Cassandra which is a collection of short stories by Jane Austen and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. I have only read one so far but I will get round to the other two eventually as they are nice short reads. So now, onto the review!

I am not much of a poetry lover, I have a great appreciation for it but I just don’t read it very often. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this small collection of poems featuring topics such as death, nature and life in general. Overall the selection of poems was put together very nicely, I felt like they read well as a group and I liked that they had similar themes. It has to be said that I failed to understand or connect with a few of them but I think that’s the joy of poetry; the ones you like are the ones that you connect with and the ones you don’t like you can appreciate for what they are anyway. I would say that the main reason that I didn’t like a few of them was because they were pretty long and my taste in poems could be described as ‘short and sweet’.

I have three particular favourites that I would like to mention, the first being the 11th poem in the book which is named ‘To Imagination’ which poignantly details the joy of the imagination and how we are never truly alone because we have our imaginations to imagine light in even the darkest of times. Another of my favourites was number 21 ‘The Old Stoic’ which was surprisingly relevant giving the times that it was written in as it spoke of how we don’t really need riches or fame in our lives as long as we have courage. And lastly, my favourite of all the poems was number 2 ‘Stars’ which talked beautifully of someone who loved to lie awake at night and look at the stars and how they hated when the morning came because then the stars went away. It was written so romantically and was stunning to read.

Overall I thoroughly recommend picking this up if you see it around as it’s a great little book to have lying around for people to look at, or just to read if you are in the mood for some pretty poetry.

What are your thoughts on poetry? Do you have any particular favourites?

Until next time,

Shannon

P.S I have been getting nominated/tagged in a lot of tags and awards recently and I’d just like to say thank you to everyone nominating me, it really means a lot and makes me very happy. I am working on them so look out for them appearing on my blog soon!

The Wedding Girl By Madeleine Wickham Book Review

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Published by: Black Swan

Genre: Adult Romance/Contemporary

Pages: 366

Hi everyone! I’m back today with another book review for you all, so I hope you enjoy it! For those of you who don’t know; Madeleine Wickham is the real name of the well-known author Sophie Kinsella. However, although the novels written by both names are similar in genre, they are written in different ways or styles so, for all intents and purposes, it is like they are two different authors. I have read many Sophie Kinsella novels as she is one of my all-time favourite authors; however, this was my first Madeleine Wickham novel. Before we dive into the review I’d also like to add that, for this post I have used an image from the internet rather than photographs of my own edition as this was another charity shop find and therefore it is not in the best of condition. And now; on with the show!

The Wedding Girl follows the story of Milly, a girl who once married a man in order to keep him in the country when she was young and free, and who is now about to marry the man of her dreams, Simon, in what her mother hopes will be the wedding of the year. Nobody in Milly’s family knows about her first marriage, but will her past comes back to haunt her a few days before her wedding. The plot of this novel pleasantly surprised me, with there being more well thought out storylines than I expected. Although Milly’s past and her wedding were the main focus of the plot there were quite a few sub-plots that were very interesting and all of them were well rounded and perfectly padded out, instead of lacking in entertainment value or great characters as is sometimes the case in romance novels. One of the sub-plots that I enjoyed was the story of Milly’s sister Isobel, a successful interpreter and translator of many languages, with a secret. It was fun to see Isobel’s side of things and, of course, find out her secret. I must say that there were times in the story that I felt it was lacking a little in excitement, however, this was forgiven by the fact that there were a few plot twists in this novel that took me completely by surprise. I loved the element of mystery that was present in the plot, this for me was one of the key differences between the writing of Madeleine Wickham and Sophie Kinsella.

The main character, Milly, was not one of my favourites in fact I definitely preferred her sister Isobel. Milly was a little naïve for her age, particularly with regards to her relationship with her fiancé Simon and I found this irritating. However, throughout the novel Milly seemed to grow a backbone and started to stick up for herself which helped me to start rooting for her, her character development was great. The family element in this novel was very prominent and I thoroughly enjoyed this as sometimes in adult novels it can seem to escape the mind of the author that adults still have parents, sibling etc. The characters of Milly’s mother and father were funny and emotional in equal measure which made them very realistic to read about. I can’t forget to mention Rupert, who is a key character in the novel but I will not reveal for what reason. Rupert is a man living a lie and struggling with sexuality. I found this character and their story to be extremely emotional (yes, there were tears) and poignant, not to mention extremely well written. I really appreciated that this sensitive and more serious theme was included in the novel in a big way as it really added another level to the story, veering it away from being a typical romance novel. This theme also made me happy as I realised how far the world has come in celebrating and accepting LGBTQ+ people in the past decade.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this more ‘grown-up’ or serious writing style that still managed to keep Wickham/Kinsella’s trademark humour. It wasn’t as fun as the shopaholic series but then it wasn’t supposed to be, therefore I will definitely be exploring more of Wickham and Kinsella’s works and championing their differences!

Let me know if you have any thoughts in the comments!

Until next time,

Shannon x

Summary

Rating: 3.75/5

Recommend? YES

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Duology By Jenny Han Review

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Published By: SCHOLASTIC

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Romance

Book 1 ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Pages: 421

Book 2 ‘Ps I Still Love You’ Pages: 357

Hi everyone! So, the time has come for my first series review! I’ll start off by saying that I am aware that there is a lot of speculation at the moment over whether there will be a third novel in this series but after the first book Jenny Han seemed quite sure it would be a duology so I’ve decided to review it as such. However, if a third book does get released (and I will definitely be reading it if there is) then I will review it individually and link back to this post – no big deal! The first book in this duology; ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ was the first Jenny Han book that I had read and I was really excited due to the hype around this book, and ok I will admit that the adorable cover had something to do with it! So I am excited to share my thoughts with you!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before centres around our main character Lara Jean and her family which consists of their Dad, Lara Jean, her older sister Margot and their little sister Kitty; the girls’ mother having died prior to the beginning of this novel. As most teenagers do Lara Jean has developed a few crushes as she’s been growing up, however, when these crushes fizzle out she writes a letter to the boy explaining exactly how she felt about them in order to rid herself of the feelings. Of course these letters are never meant to be sent out; they’re meant to stay in Lara Jean’s hat box forever more, but one day they are posted. The main character of Lara Jean is very innocent and naïve in this novel, something that others have disliked in this book, but I think that this is quite realistic and relatable to many other girls, and essentially the target demographic for this novel. The characters of her sisters and father were fully developed with Margot being strong and dependable with a caring maternal side, Kitty is determined to be more grown up than she is and has a menacing temper and their father is one of the best that I have read in any YA; he is extremely supportive of the girls and I loved that he made a huge effort to incorporate the heritage that their mother would have encouraged into the girls’ upbringing by cooking Korean food and teaching them about it. Two of the other main characters are Josh, Margot’s boyfriend and honorary family member and Peter Kavinsky, a stereotypical popular boy, and one of those to receive a letter from Lara Jean. These characters were also well written with full personalities and flaws but I don’t want to say too much about them in fear of spoiling it for you! The writing style was fun and descriptive, especially when describing the cakes and cookies that Lara Jean is always whipping up – it was enough to make my mouth water! I thoroughly enjoyed that the girls were half Korean and learning about certain foods and traditions that they had in honour of this. Overall I really enjoyed this book and was left wanting more, even though at times I did find Lara Jean to be a little irritating, so thank goodness that there’s a sequel!

Rating: 4/5

P.S I Still Love You

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I read P.S I Still Love You while on holiday and I will say that it makes a pretty perfect fun summer read, even though the majority of it is set in the winter! This book picks up pretty much where the first book stops which I really enjoyed as it meant that there were no gaps that needed to be quickly filled in before the story could commence. In this book Lara Jean, in my opinion, goes through quite a significant amount of character development, she becomes less naïve and juvenile particularly regarding her relationships with other people. I actually enjoyed this book more than the first one as we got to know some of the secondary characters’ back stories and some new, fun characters from Lara Jean’s childhood were introduced which I loved reading about. Margot is featured less in this novel as she is away at university in Scotland (my home country!!) but the character development in Kitty and Lara Jean’s new love interest definitely make up for that! Perhaps one of the reasons for the development in Lara Jean’s maturity is that she now has to play the mother figure alone most of the time. I enjoyed the writing more in this novel too although it’s hard to put my finger on what exactly was different. A new setting in this novel is that of the elderly persons residency that Lara Jean goes to work at, this was possibly my favourite setting as the people living there had such compelling and hilarious characters which made me think of my own grandmother and her friends. I am reluctant to talk about plot as this is a sequel and I am determined to always make my reviews spoiler free but I will say that there is an incident in this novel that involves modern use of technology and I absolutely loved the way that it was written and the reaction of the characters to it – a round of applause for Jenny Han, please! Finally, I’d just like to note that I very much appreciated the hot, charming young men in this novel. That is all.

Rating: 4.5/5

As always, thank you for reading! Until next time,

Shannon x

RECOMMEND SERIES? YES

 

You’re The One That I Want By Giovanna Fletcher Book Review

Published by: Penguin

Pages: 372

Genre: Adult Romance

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Hi everyone! I don’t know about you guys but summer and sunny weather always puts me in the mood for some fluffy, fun romance novels. The romance genre has many authors to choose from and one of those that I have been meaning to check out for ages is Giovanna Fletcher. What drew me to want to buy and read Giovanna’s books were her YouTube videos. I found her videos through watching her sister in law Carrie Hope Fletcher, whose book I have also reviewed. I really enjoyed her great sense of humour and positive attitude, so I wasn’t surprised when this translated in her book!

You’re the one that I want follows the lives of three inseparable best friends, looking specifically at the different relationships that develop between each of the two boys in the friendship group, Robert and Ben with the only girl, Maddy. So, let’s talk about the characters shall we! Ladies first; The boys first set eyes on Maddy Hurst when she is the new girl at school, aged nine with wild red hair and a uniform that is too big for her.  The boys, particularly Ben, are instantly drawn to her and the three almost instantly become best friends. Throughout the novel Maddy’s character grows into a strong young woman and a talented photographer, something that I would have liked to have read more about. However, as is important in a character, she is flawed. When faced with tricky, mature decisions, particularly to do with her romantic relationships, Maddy is quite indecisive and somewhat reliant on other people’s advice to get her through – however this is not a criticism of the book at all as I found this to be very relatable and relevant to most young people’s decision making route, we all need advice now and again! The leader of the group is Robert, a cheeky, charismatic character – the kind of jack-the-lad boy that I’m sure we can all liken to someone we’ve known. I would say that Robert was my least favourite of the trio but I will explain why when we get on to talking about the format of the book! The third piece of the trio is Ben, the epitome of tall, dark and handsome with the sweetest, most caring personality to boot – the kind of character that I can’t help but root for! The majority of the novel focuses on these three characters, all of whom where well written, my only wish in the character department would have been for the secondary characters to have been a bit more involved but that’s if I’m being really picky!

The book is written from the points of view of Maddy and Ben – therefore explaining why I possibly did not connect quite as much with Robert. I loved that not only did we get both of their points of view but it was split into random ages, all the way from age nine when they met until age twenty six which made it feel like we were really growing up with them. The age sections were split by paragraphs from a speech being made by Robert, commenting on things that had occurred throughout their lives therefore nicely leading into the new age where the events were explained more thoroughly. I really enjoyed this layout as I thought it was a nice spin on dual perspectives.

The writing style was witty and inviting making this book the perfect kind to curl up with over a cup of tea (with a slice of cake, obviously) or to take on holiday. Another aspect that set this apart from other romance novels was that, I felt, it had a deeper emotional level because not only romantic relationships but real, life-long friendships were involved. So, to conclude, I will definitely be picking up Giovanna’s other books (she has a new release called Dream a Little Dream!) and I hope you will too, if you fancy it!

Until next time!

Shannon x

SUMMARY

Rating: 4/5

Recommend? YES