Book Review – Dear Martin

Dear Martin

Justyce is a straight-A student headed to one of the top universities in the world, he’s smart, kind and a good guy. That doesn’t stop him being racially profiled by a police officer and put in handcuffs for no reason. Trying to make sense of it all he starts writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr and his personal project is born.

I’d heard about this on Booktube a little bit but I honestly think that it deserves more attention. This is a novel that gets to your heart. This looks at a situation of not quite feeling like you fit. Justyce is from what is regarded as a rough neighbourhood but on a scholarship to an incredibly prestigious school. He is caught between the two and it is important to look at how he copes and at how racism exists and breeds in a privileged setting.

One of a string of novels to come from the injustice in the USA change is happening. It is a change we need to happen. I’m not nieve enough to think that the UK doesn’t have problems with race, a lot needs to change here, but what is happening in the US is on another level to anything I’ve ever seen. So many needless deaths and violence because of someone’s skin colour. It makes your heart and your head hurt.

The reason that this got 4 stars is because there were elements I found a little problematic for me. Some of the language that the boys use about women was a little extreme but this might be how she chose to present the characters. I also felt like the ending was quite sudden. This is a relatively short novel and I would have loved for it to have had more towards the end.

Overall, I thought it was an engaging and important novel. Nic Stone is definitely one to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.

Have you read Dear Martin? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: Bookshop Girl – Chloe Coles

Bookshop Girl - Chloe Coles

Sixteen-year-old Paige Turner loves her job working in her local bookshop, the only good thing about the small town she lives in. That is until she is told her beloved bookshop is going to be closed down to make way for a bigger shopping complex, but Paige decides she’s going to fight to save the shop she loves so much.

I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC copy of this via NetGalley and this is a book I’ve heard a lot about. I thought the subject matter was great. A teen who has a cause and does something about it? Count me in and about bookshops which are one of my happy places. So I could get behind this novel.

I really enjoyed the fact that Paige had other interests rather than just books too. She’s an artist, she’s thinking about uni and the wider world, something I could relate to. There was also a really strong feminist message too, did I think it entirely went with the book, no, but I appreciated it being there.

There were points where I felt the novel was trying too hard to be young and cool. There were a lot of OMG and LOL’s which I kind of cringed at. Maybe that’s just because I wasn’t like that as a teenager but, yeah, I felt like it needed to calm down and just be rather than trying to be overly teenager.

One of my other gripes was the love interest, I felt like it was quite predictable and the twist at the end I saw coming from quite early in the novel. That and I don’t think it added to the plot or character development, he could have been cut out and I would not have been bothered at all.

Overall I gave this a 3.5 stars, I did really enjoy this and will definitely be picking up the second novel, but felt it was a little young for me. I fully appreciate that I am not 16 but some of the language used seemed a little young for me, hence it not quite hitting 5 stars. This is an easy summer read and I would recommend it!

Book Review: Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood – Holly McNish

Nobody Told Me Hollie McNish

 

Holly McNish is on her way to Glastonbury when she decides to take a pregnancy test, the blue lines appear and it’s not long after that Hollie starts writing her thoughts and feelings down. This continues throughout the entirety of her pregnancy all the way through to her child’s third birthday. A collection of diary entries and poetry.

I picked this up while waiting for the train after seeing it on a list of incredible poetry collections. Seeing as my dissertation and another of my final essays was about the female body, motherhood and poetry so of course, I wanted to read this. It was even better than I could have imagined.

I want to point out that I’ve never had children but I loved this collection and found it SO relatable. At each and every point in this Hollie is honest about her feelings. She talks about the changes in her body during pregnancy, birth and post birth and how they make her feel. The resentment she sometimes feels for her partner. The need she had to go back to work while struggling with the guilt of being a working mother.

It won’t be much of a surprise to say that I really, really enjoyed this collection. It is a lot bigger than most poetry collections but I think that’s because it does have the prose/diary entries too rather than just poems. I felt like that is what made it better though. There was so much to say and it didn’t feel crammed.

I gave this the full 5 stars and I can’t wait to read more of Hollie’s work. There is honesty, humour and wise words within this book and I want to recommend it to all of my poetry-loving friends. An absolutely fantastic read and I cannot recommend it enough.

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2018!

I hate to alarm you guys but, we’re halfway through the year… It’s fine, it’s cool, I’m not freaking out, you’re freaking out. That also means it’s time for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out and I am so ready! I’ve watched and read these tags for years and finally wanted to have a go myself.

The best book you’ve read so far in 2018:

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin

This is so, so hard… probably Only Child by Rhiannon Navin, her debut was incredible. Absolutely incredible. It is a pretty tough novel about a school shooting seen through the eyes of a child who loses his brother. A novel about family and grief, through the innocent eyes of a little boy.  The writing is incredible, the story heartbreaking and it’s a book that stays with you. I can’t wait to see what Rhiannon does next. My full review is here.

Your favourite sequel of the year:

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This was an AMAZING follow up to A Court of Thorns and Roses . There was excellent character development, the plot was brilliant and I wish I could say more but I don’t want to ruin the series. I just didn’t see the twists and turns coming and I loved it so much.

A new release that you haven’t read but really want to:

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Tyler Johnson Was Here has been all over Booktube and I hadn’t seen it anywhere in my local bookshops and then I went to Foyles and there it was. Not only is this a really important novel about race the cover is beautiful. I really, really hope this lives up to the hype. Full blurb here.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

The Curses - Laure Eve

I loved The Graces last year and the publication date for the second novel keeps changing so I’m really hoping we do get this in 2017, even though it says the scheduled release is currently the 6th September 2018 according to Amazon. I need this book in my hands after the end of The Graces. Need, need, need.

Your biggest disappointment:

Clean Juno Dawson

I try not to be negative but I really hated this novel. I made me so angry and irritated as someone who has and does live with a mental health condition. This was just very privileged and I don’t think it did the recovery process justice. Reading about a rich girl who gets whisked to a rehab that gives you Calvin Klein pjs just didn’t appeal to me when most people wouldn’t have that opportunity. Obviously, these are just my feelings.

Biggest surprise of the year:

Saga Vol 1 - Brian K Vaughan

Saga was something I meant to get around to, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. It was absolutely amazing and I’ve been making my way through all 8 volumes ready for volume 9 to come out in October.

Favourite new-to-you or debut author:

The Exact Opposite of Okay - Laura Steven

I definitely fangirled when Laura Steven replied to me on Twitter. I tried to get all of my friends to read this as soon as I finished. This is the kind of YA voice that we need! This looks at sexism and double standards but also manages to make you laugh the whole way through? You can read my full review here and then get on and buy it people!

Your fictional crush:

Rhysand – the ACOTAR series. Do I really need to say more?

New favourite character:

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Feyre – A Court of Thorns and Roses

I think Feyre is an absolutely amazing character. I read all three of the ACOTAR books in a month and I just found her to be a great protagonist. She’s not perfect, she has her own mental battles to fight. I think she’s ace and I wish I could go into more detail as to why but I don’t want to ruin the series.

A book that made you cry:

With The End in Mind - Katheryn Mannix

With the End in Mind: Death, Dying and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix

A book about death making me cry? Not exactly a shock. I read this for the Wellcome book prize and it was beautifully written. The kindness, compassion and intelligence of this book is nothing I’ve ever seen before and it will definitely get you talking.

A book that made you happy:

A Court of Frost and Starlight - Sarah J Maas

This book just felt like coming home. This is the novella to accompany the ACOTAR series which, I know, I’ve gone on about a lot in this blog. This is a short read with all the feels. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series!

Your favorite book-to-movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year:

I haven’t seen any book to movie adaptions this year! None that I can remember anyway…

Favorite book post you’ve done this year:

Hmmm, tough one. I actually think it’s the unpopular opinions book tag! It was good to get a few things off my chest!

The most beautiful book you’ve bought/received this year:

The Surface Breaks - Louise O'Neill

The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neil

Just look at this cover, isn’t it so, so beautiful! Even without the dust jacket, it was beautiful.

What are some books you need to read by the end of the year?

I wrote a post about the books I wanted to read in 2018 and there are only two on there I need to read to meet my goal. I’d also like to get around to the following 2018 releases:

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy – Anthology

Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig 

How to Be Famous – Caitlin Moran 

Just wanting to point out that, obviously, I didn’t come up with this tag, it has been floating around forever! If you do this tag yourself, I’d love to see your answers so link me below!

 

What I Read in May!

Another reading month been and gone! This month I managed to read a total of 8 books, which isn’t bad but is slightly less than I’ve read in previous months. Still, two a week is great and I had some cracking 5 star reads! So why not just jump right in and see what I’ve been reading this month!

I started the month by finishing an audiobook or Unbroken by Martine Wright. Martine lost both her legs in the 7/7 bombings, despite thing she went on to be one of the London 2012 Paralympians. This was such a tough but worthwhile read that got 5 stars from me and there will be a full review soon! Following this, I got my hands on the new ACOTAR novella by Sarah J Maas and it was just a nice warm story to bridge the gap towards the original trilogy and new books coming up, which I am SO excited for, this also got 5 stars a strong start.

Next up I continued my Saga journey with volume 3, so far this is my least favourite volume but it still got 4 stars because I could see why but read on for my volume 4 thoughts. I then read Orphan Monster Spy a historical fiction novel and I absolutely LOVED it. It’s about a teenage Jewish girl infiltrating a Nazi boarding school, standard. This also got a 5 star rating from me!

Next up was Light Filters In by Caroline Kaufman which I was kindly sent by the publisher. I hadn’t come across Kaufman before and liked the idea of the collection and what it had done and it was a good first collection, but not entirely to my taste so I gave it 3 stars. Next up Saga volume 4 and I loved it, it’s taken the series in a different direction that I didn’t see coming. I can’t wait to get to volume 5!

Next up I finally finished the final few chapters of With The End in Mind which is just so emotional, hence me finally reading the last few chapters this month. I loved it and gave it 5 stars, you can see what all the fuss is about here. And last but not least I got my hands on the stunning new novel by Louise O’Neill, The Surface Breaks. This is a feminist retelling of the Little Mermaid and I think I’m going to give it 4 stars because the ending was so great, there will be a full review to come!

What did you read in May? Have you read any of the books I have? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Book Review: Unbroken – Martine Wright

Unbroken - Martin Wright

One moment can change your life

On the morning of the 7th July 2005 Martine Wright decided to let herself sleep a little later and slightly changed her route to work after celebrating London securing the 2012 Olympics. By making these changes she found herself on a tube with a suicide bomber. After he detonated his device, Martine’s life changed forever.

In the UK the 7/7 bombings went down in history. I remember being 11 years old and hearing it over the radio while in the car with my Mum, while my Dad tried to get hold of his best friend. It was so surreal that this had happened in London and the first time I realised these things could happen to anyone.

The book starts with varying perspectives of those closest to Martine as well as herself as they all heard about the 7/7 attacks. We hear from her now-husband, her parents, siblings, friend, surgeon and herself. Her story is one that not only inspired but was also difficult to believe.

After being found horrifically injured a courageous and kind policewoman and fellow passenger stayed with Martine. Both of her legs had been blown off and she was fading fast. So much so that when she arrived at the hospital she was referred to as Hotel Unknown until her family found her.

We follow Martine from the moment she was clinging to life, throughout her recovery. She doesn’t make light of the situation she talks about the dismissal that she wouldn’t walk again, the tears she cried and times she wanted to give up. Despite everything, the months she spent in the hospital she continued to fight for the rights of those injured and the families of those killed in the struggle for financial justice.

I spent the whole book cheering Martine on, wanting her to live her life as best she could after the bombing. So, did she go back to her day job and settle down? Not quite. Martine went on to become a Paralympic hero in Volleyball, she represented her country in the city she loved with all her heart.

This is a story of survival, spirit and determination but also being human. Martine doesn’t claim she’s perfect. She shares her doubts, her struggle to carry on at times and more. However, this made me laugh so much. She’s genuinely funny and learns to live and laugh at herself.

Martine is a hero and this was an incredible read. Was it tough at times, yes but I came out with a sense of determination because if Martine can get through that, I can get through my struggles. Of course, I gave this 5 stars. A truly brilliant story and one you should pick up.

Book Review: Everywoman – Jess Phillips

Everywoman Jess Phillips

 

A lot of people scoff at the thought of going into politics. Even more so if you’re from a less wealthy background because it’s not what someone ‘like us’ does is it? Be prepared to completely change your mind and want to start a revolution of diversity and equality and it’s all thanks to Jess Phillips.

I picked this up after watching an interview with Jess online, I finally saw someone who I could identify with who works in our government. This book is much more than politics, this is about women, empowerment and just giving things a go! Previously, Jess worked for Women’s Aid, an incredibly important charity supporting women who need help most. Some of the stories were harrowing but show the fire behind Jess’s speeches in parliament, such as those about domestic violence.

From Mum guilt to just about getting through university Jess talks about anything and everything. That said, she also touches on some heartbreaking topics. There were many moments in this book that touched me but it was the parts talking about Jo Cox that really got me. Jo Cox was an MP in the UK, a rising star in the Labour Party, Jo was murdered for doing her job and being a compassionate human. Jess was a friend of Jo’s and I can’t imagine how hard it was going through such a horrific loss.

Not only is Jess a kick-ass MP for Labour, she’s a friend, a proud Feminist, a Mum, a Wife and, by the sounds of this book, the kind of person I’d want to have as a friend. This book fell into my hands when I needed it most. I was feeling like I was struggling as a woman, I was feeling a little beaten down by the world. Then I realised I can do this because there is so much to do! It really gave me the pick me up I needed.

I’ve recommended this to almost every one of my friends because it’s the kind of book that can and will start a revolution. Of course, I gave this 5 stars, I could not stop listening to the audiobook at every opportunity I had. I’m pretty sure I’ll not only be buying this as a gift for a few people but I’ll also be listening again very soon!

Book Review: Red Clocks – Leni Zumas

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In the not too distant future abortion is illegal. IVF has been banned and the clock is ticking for any women who wants to have a child past a certain age or a child on her own. This is America. In one city, four women deal with their own lives in relation to these changes. This is their story. A pregnant teenager, a healer trying to help, a frustrated mother and a woman wanting to be a mother more than anything.

I knew I wanted to read this as soon as it was released so as soon as I could I requested it and was graciously given a copy to review and devoured it. The scariest thing about this novel, it could be a reality in the US from recent news, which is exactly why you need to read it.

One of the best parts of this novel is that women come through for women but not in a cheesy way. Becuase of the situation they are in there is a vibe where women pass on vital knowledge to other women to help each other but not in a cheesy way. Also, this novel isn’t about hating men. Are there some terrible guys in this? Yes, but most importantly they are not the focus, not a plot point they just exist. This is a novel for an about women.

The one criticism that I have is that I felt the character of Susan, a frustrated mother didn’t add that much to the story. I understood why she was included but I just felt a little irritated with her and her perspective on things. You don’t need to like every character in a book and out of the four main women she was the one I felt the least connected with in any way.

I gave this 4 stars. I was thinking about this constantly for about a week after reading it. I had so many thoughts, questions and a little bit of anxiety. That said, it is a really important novel and a stunning debut. I can’t wait to see what Zumas comes up with next.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for my review copy

What I Read in April!

Another month, another stack of books I’ve devoured. This month I wanted things I could get through because I was struggling to concentrate but I still managed 8 books and almost all of them were incredible.

First up was Red Clocks which I have been waiting to read forever and it was so worth it. This is set in a future USA, abortion is banned, IVF is banned and so is single parenthood. We follow four women as their lives are impacted by these laws. It was a 4.5 star read and review to come soon. #MeToo is a collection of poetry that just felt so real to me, these were incredible poems and got 4 stars from me. And another collection of poetry the second from Amanda Lovelace, the witch doesn’t burn in this one. This is the second in a serious about the magic of women, a 4 star read, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first but it’s still a brilliant read.

 

Next up I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell this was a strange but brilliant non-fiction book look at the 17 brushes with death, it’s absolutely fascinating and got a well earned 4 stars. The next one I’d seen spoken about on Youtube and it had such a huge impact on me, Everywoman is about feminism, UK politics and is a rallying cry which means it got 5 stars from me. I also read my advance copy of Holly Bourne’s new adult novel How Do You Like Me Now which, in total honesty disappointed me and only got 3 stars.

 

 

And finally, Saga. I could have picked this up years ago and I’m kicking myself. This series is amazing we have some brilliant characters and interesting plot and beautiful art. So far, so amazing and 5 stars for volume 1 and volume 2.

What were you reading in April? Let me know in the comments below!

Re-embracing my Feminism with Paola Diana – Blog Tour

Reclaiming my Feminism

There are times when a book falls into your lap at the right time. I’d been struggling with my own feminism. It felt like a constant fight whenever I mentioned it, multiple times people used it as a reason to argue with me about something completely unrelated, so I’d kept my mouth shut. Then I got an email offering me the chance to read Paola Diana’s book Saving The World, Women: The Twenty-First Century’s Factor for Change as part of a blog tour and I thought why not?

Earlier in the month, I’d picked up Jess Phillip’s Every Woman which made me proud of feminism again. Paola’s book was a perfect follow up to keep the fire burning. Looking at politics, religion, economy and society Paola doesn’t shy away from addressing the how powerful women really are and will be in this century.

This is not an opinion based book, followed up by facts and her very own activism it got me excited. If there is a time for equality it is now. In no other period in history have women been so educated, aware and able to voice their opinions. Although, of course, we still have a long way to go around the world. Now we just have to make it happen. The combination of intelligent research, looking at the wider picture and optimism is a welcome addition to my bookcase.

Feminism itself is complex. The basic premise of wanting equality of the sexes can be forgotten at times. I know I’ve felt overwhelmed trying to defend my reasons for being so open as a feminist. I’ve felt that there is so much fighting over what feminism is and should be. So I took a step back, I still carried on with my life but I was quiet about it which I hated. This isn’t me. I guess sometimes life does beat you down but, personally, I’m back and ready to reclaim my feminism and continue to educate others with this book by my side.

Sound good? I’m also running a giveaway on my Twitter so head over here, follow and retweet for your chance to win! UK only.

Thank you so much to Midas PR for sending me this book, Paola and the publishers for this opportunity!