Thursday, 27 July 2017

Words In Deep Blue - Cath Crowley; Review


Book Details:
Hardcover: 269 pages
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (6th June 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101937645
ISBN-13: 978-1101937648

Summary:

Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came. 

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

Links To Buy:




Rating:
Review:

This book, was quietly menacing - which should no make sense at all, but if you read it, you’ll totally get my oxymoronic claim. A book about bookshops? 
TAKE MY MONEY. This type of book has to be, by far, my fav thing ever to read - but more than that, when it’s done right. Though having said that, I have yet to read a book about bookshops that destroyed that glorious theme, and I hope I never have the misfortune of reading such a tragedy. But it can so easily go wrong, if the author doesn't reallyyyyy feel the way they should about books and stories, and that can so easily come across in the characters and plots they build. Anyway, I digress, Words In The Deep Blue luckily did it right - and what we are left with here, is such a beautiful and poignant tale about love and loss, relationships, growth, and of course booooooks books BOOKS. 

Told in a dual narrative between Rachel and Henry, two people who used to be friends, possibly something more. Rachel is unwillingly reunited with Henry when she moves back to the town after the death of her brother and in search of a job, lands at Howling Books, owned by Henry’s parents and Henry who works in the store. - Sidenote; dear Rachel - you landed the best job ever. EVER. What ensues between these two characters is rediscovery of their friendship and relationship, as they both tentatively go from frenemies to actual humans to friends. Henry; sweet, cute, caring, totally lost in the abyss of what he currently thinks he wants (a girlfriend that keeps dumping him). Rachel; lost in a sea of her own grief (pun intended) after losing her brother who drowned. 

Two of my fav characters, aside from Rachel and Henry who were awesome in their own right, was Henry’s little sister, George, and Henry’s Dad. George - because she’s epic. Witty, sarcastic, funny, and her sub plot broke my heart a little, and if you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean. She reminds me so much of Louise, from Bob’s Burgers - which basically means George echoes one of the best cartoon characters, very close to my heart. Henry’s Dad - because it’s all stemmed from him - despite the financial troubles that’s threatening to tear down Howling Books, hid Dad just loves the bookshop too much and can’t bear to let it part. Everything that’s in this bookshop, from it’s eclectic mix of patrons, the Letter Library, the monthly bookclub; it’s all part of this glorious bookshop and makes my heart swell with happiness. Sidenote; uhm we need a Letter Library in every bookshop please, ASAP. I mean come on, people leave HANDWRITTEN letters in between the folds of books, for strangers to discover? EPIC MUCH?! Think Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares on steroids. 

All the characters were fleshed out so well, so dimensional and vivid, individuals with their own personality and had nuggets to add to this gold-rush of a story. The prose was beautiful, so wonderfully written, so easy to read in one sitting. The love the characters had for books and reading; granted Rachel and Henry spoke a lot about classical books, which went straight over  my head as I don’t read many classics, but just reading about them and reading about why they loved these books, why these were their favourites and just general bookish chatter had my heart soaring. Also. Other books about books which are a must read: The Shadow of the Wind (aka, my fav book EVER), Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.

Words In Deep Blue -  beautiful book with beautiful characters that really is just one of those books that you settle down in a comfy chair, with a mug of hot chocolate, and read into the early hours of the morning, with a smile lingering on your lips with every page. Going back to how I opened my review, “it’s quietly menacing” - this book doesn’t scream drama or shout - it’s a softly spoken thing, with tonnes of character, growth and love. It’s menacing in the way it will settle in your heart. It’ll make you laugh and smile and have your heart aching. But in a nice way. Leaving behind for you one of my fav parts of the book. 

"What?" she asks.
"Your head," I tell her, "is a very pleasing shape."
"Likewise," she says, and smiles.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

After The Fall - Kate Hart; Review


Book Details:
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (24th Jan 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0374302693
ISBN-13: 978-0374302696

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn't want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together. 

Links To Buy:




Rating:
Review:

The lure of another YA contemporary about relationships, slut shaming, and high school issues, drew me in like a moth to the flame. Other books that deal with important issues can be found here - What We SawWhat Happens NextExit, Pursued By A Bear,  All Is Not Forgotten and The Butterfly Garden

I was excited for this book to bring something fresh to the table when it came to slut shaming and positive body image. But I felt like the book was a bit scattered; so many threads and issues in this book that it became overwhelmed and drifted from what could have been a really insightful book. For me at least, there was a lot going on - from topics such as sexual consent, gender roles, slut shaming, grief and loss - and few others thrown into the fray. The focus should have been singular for books such as these as otherwise the message gets lost, swallowed up by everything else you’re trying to cram in there. A lot of good questions were raised and this is great in getting conversions started - but it was left there, with no answers and no conclusions. Stick to one issue and make it count.

Told through dual narratives from Raychel and Matt, we get to see the same relationship but through two different perspectives. I particularly like this narrative style and it works well for this type of book, highlighting gender differences and how this might shape opinions in similar or different ways. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t really connect with either of the characters, neither Raychel nor Matt. Raychel and Matt are best friends, through Matt’s perspective we see that he wants something more from the relationship, but enter the triangle - where Raychel instead has feelings for Matt’s brother Andrew, who she’s sleeping with. The dual narrative with these two voices got messy at times, a little confusing, and did nothing in aiding me to enjoy the book or even like the characters. I didn’t like either of them and instead their voices and perhaps what they wanted to represent, fell really flat. 

In terms of the storyline, it went at a slow pace for me, with nothing much really pulling me forward in the book, except to see how it ends. There was no engagement and no excitement - the only emotion I felt was with that shocking major event *trying not to be spoilery!* at which point I was legit like wait, WHAT THE FUUU? Even then, I felt so betrayed by that act and it was so random and weird, really weird. 

I feel like overall, the author started this book with the intention of raising some good questions and that she did at certain points, but what she intended this to become vs what it actually came across as, are two different stories. There wasn’t the level of focus on sexual assault as there should have been, and instead to me, it felt overshadowed by the romantic lines drawn between these three characters; a triangle in which sexual assault was used as a vehicle to resolve romantic angsts. Could have been better in many departments overall. 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Love and Gelato - Jenna Evans Welch; Review

 

Book Details:
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (3rd May 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1481432540
ISBN-13: 978-1481432542

Summary:

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Links To Buy:




Rating:
Review:


Another contemporary bites the dust - alas! The word “cute” is probably plastered all over everyone’s reviews, and that is exactly what I wanted it to be, but it failed on so many counts that this just became a roller-coaster of eye-rolling for me whilst reading. I wanted to love this, trust me, I really did - it’s all there, Italy, gelato, cute falling in love in a beautiful city (there’s that word cute again) but the characters (or a certain character I should say) waft of insta-love and lack of actual chemistry, really set the ball rolling in my unwanted conclusion to really dislike this book. 

The storyline was promising - Lina, our main character, arrives in Italy to stay with the father she hasn’t seen for 16 years, as a dying wish to her mother. She then discovers her Mum’s diary, learns more about her past which intricately links into her future. Along the way, she finds romance. I feel like this would have made the perfect movie - not dissimilar to Letters to Juliet (the immediate movie that pops to mind) but mainly also because as a story, as a book, this should have been oodles and oodles of cute and fun - but for me, it failed in that sense. I can’t even summarise coherently why, except for the reasoning that I didn’t much like Lina - to me at least, she came across as quite rude, judgemental, immature and not a likeable character. She meets Ren, who was likeable enough I guess, but in the long run of the book, these two together just lacked any real chemistry, everything with them felt too fast and stumbling rather than the slightly slower and sweeter burn I was expecting. 

Also, Lina discovers her now deceased Mum’s diary, and is it just me, but if you discovered something like that, would you not be speeding through it at breakneck speed to find out everything as soon as you can? Rather than how Lina did it, in chunks, drips and drabs, at some snail pace? Kinda reminds me of Clay from 13 Reasons Why, who took 5eva in listening to all those tops (but fair enough for the book and TV show, you kinda had to long it out to actually move the plot along). 
In terms of the rest of the characters, I really liked Lina’s Dad and felt bad for him, having to deal with this stroppy unappreciative teenager - fair enough she’s just moved all the way across to Italy, to live with the Dad she hasn’t seen in 16 years and her Mum has passed away - but her rudeness towards him is not warranted, also given she has no idea why she hasn’t seen him in so long - something she does find out later on, but still. 

The writing style was okay, nothing spectacular, but readable - though the use of metaphors definitely could use some help. “My voice was like weak tea”. The upside however to this book, was the description and imagery of Italy, the hidden nooks and crannies of the places Lina and Ren go on to visit, and of course - the fooooood. The need for gelato and pasta as I read this book was unreal. This just wasn’t the book for me in the end - I’m glad others loved it enough to compensate for my dislike, but just the execution, the character growth and general feel of the book, just wasn’t for me.