Book Review: The Song Of Achilles - Madeline Miller

Book Review: The Song Of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

I’ve seen this book pop up everywhere and I finally picked it up a few weeks ago, why have I only got to this book now?! This novel is a emotional whirlwind, most people I know said they cried over it, I didn’t but I think that’s only because it was too hot to cry but my heart hurt a lot after and I just wanted to start reading it all over again once I’ve finished and I’m not much of a re-reader.

This is the story of Achilles and Patroclus, not the one you may know, the end but we do get that eventually. This story starts as Patroclus has been exiled for killing a boy (not on purpose I may add) and is sent to live with King Peleus. In a chance meeting Achilles, who is destined for greatness, meets Patroclus and it is the the start of a beautiful friendship, one that will last the rest of their lives.

It honestly felt so pure to read in the beginning two boys growing together and slowly but surely falling in love with each other and the trials they must face – for Patroclus his exile and quieter nature, for Achilles the demands of his Goddess mother (who hates Patroclus) and his impending greatness.

I had to look up more about the story and, yes of course there is some creative license here but the two men were closely linked as friends and as many thought, lovers. Now, this book gets sexy. There are a lot of steamy moments for both character where you may need to take a minute after reading, if you catch my drift.

Miller is an incredible writer, I could quite easily see the the story in my head, I won’t lie reading in a heatwave made it much easier to imagine I was in Greece. She manages to make the story tender, while also making these boys, and later men, so real in their actions and emotions. I also had a few gasp out loud moments where I sent messages in all caps to my friend who has read and recommended it to me.

I gave this book 4.5 stars, it is brilliantly written and it hits you in the heart, if anything I wish it were longer. I adore Achilles and Patroclus and I think they have a place in my heart as two of my favourite characters that I’ve read about this year. I’m also eager to read Circe by the same author as I’ve heard both are fantastic and I’ll also be diving into some more myth and legend inspired novels too.

Have you read any of Madeline Miller’s books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Tour – Rapids by Anna Bowles

Yan Harris is VERY EXCITED.

Well, of course she is. It’s summer, she’s got over her depression and she’s in London for a week with her BFF Chelsea. After seventeen years in a sleepy village where everybody just knows them as The Chinese One and The Brainy One… life is calling.

It’s a pretty cool prospect… if Chel can stop worrying about online discourse in the Nordhelm TV fandom long enough to enjoy it. Chelsea’s worried about Yan, too, to Yan’s annoyance.

Barely sleeping, barely eating, getting increasingly gobby, having an – ahem – close encounter in a toilet, giving a Tory MP a good kick in the shins, and running around kind of literally screaming…. well, it’s all just good summer fun, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

In the desperate battle of Yan vs. bipolar disorder, does the poor disease really stand a chance?

I was asked by Zuntold if I would like to be a part of the book tour for Rapids a little while ago and jumped at the chance. While I myself do not have Bipolar Disorder, I’ve had my own struggled with mental illness and it’s important to me to educate myself, even if that is through fiction! It’s worth pointing out I finished this in 24 hours – I needed to know what was happening to Yan and Chelsea and get to the end, this is a novel that will grip you and take you on a wild ride.

Two teenagers exploring London for the first time while also looking at universities was always going to have humour in it, even if you don’t expect one of them to kick a Tory MP in the shins – although I’m sure plenty of us who have had their mental health services cut to ribbons have thought about it in the last few years. I was in love with the friendship between Yan and Chels, they’re very different but they work. I also liked the fact that as characters they could stand on their own two feet and not be completely dependent on each other – I’d quite like to read a book about Chels actually!

Fandoms and online interaction play a big part of this story and while I can see why it was included and it did add to the plot, it wasn’t really for me – but I think that’s just because I’m not really into fan fiction so it didn’t grab me in a way it would others. That said, I think including the online world, the worry about doxxing, people arguing about ‘what’s appropriate’ did make the novel more realistic, teenagers are online and it should be shown more in books!

What Bowles does well is mixing humour while also helping us to understand mania and what Bipolar can look like. This is a funny book and it takes a good writer to mix humour with a delicate subject. There were times where I laughed out loud, but others where I wanted to reach through the book and hug Yan, tell her it’s all going to be ok.

It’s important to note that this novel is own voices, the author herself lives with bipolar disorder, meaning that the reader is engaging with someones own perspective of what it is like to live with it. I think this comes across in the writing because when she’s manic Yan is Yan. You can understand how she thinks and feels when in this state and even though she may not be a likeable character at times – it further reinforces that mania is a medical issue. It’s obvious that Yan cares for her best friend and her family but in the grips of mental illness she acts in a way that she cannot help without treatment.

This is definitely a book to pick up, it will make you laugh but will also make you think and I do believe that, for some, it may help them feel less alone.

Thank you to the publisher and author for inviting me to take part in this book tour and don’t forget to check out some of the other lovely bloggers below!

Book Review: Dear NHS - Edited By Adam Kay

Book Review: Dear NHS – Edited By Adam Kay

Created and edited by Adam Kay (author of multi-million best seller ‘This is Going to Hurt’), ‘DEAR NHS’ features household names telling their personal stories of the health service.

What would we do without the NHS? In the UK it means that no matter what we earn, no matter who we are we can receive healthcare for free. The immense pressure that it has been under in the past year is quite possibly the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced since it started. Even after cuts after cuts it still stands on shaking legs and continues to provide us with one of the best healthcare services in the world.

I pre-ordered this as soon as I heard it was happening. I’m a big fan of Adam Kay and the fact that each copy purchased gave money to NHS charities. In the UK at least, we all have a story of how the NHS has helped us or someone we love. Of course I was picking up a copy.

The stories within this collection may be by celebrities, those who we see as ‘having it all’ that they too rely on our incredible health service, that some of them may not be here without it. Like many of us the NHS has been there for them at the start of their lives, at times where we are scared and in pain and will be there for us when it’s our time to go, to make us as comfortable as we can be.

Emilia Clarke’s essay is the one that stuck with me the most. While filming the first season of Game of Thrones, Emilia became incredibly ill due to a brain aneurysm. Every step of the way she thanks the NHS for their expertise, care and for saving her life. In particular she thanks “The nurse who suggested — after everyone else in A&E struggled to find an answer when I was first admitted — that maybe, just maybe I should have a brain scan. She saved my life.”

There are so many popular names, I’m sure that everyone who picks up this book will find a story that they relate with. Celebrities include; Peter Kay, Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Sir Trevor McDonald, Graham Norton, Sir Michael Palin, Naomie Harris, Ricky Gervais, Sir David Jason, Dame Emma Thompson and Joanna Lumley.  

Some of the pieces are short and funny, others will make you want to hug your family a little closer, all of them will make you proud of the incredible institution that the NHS is. It will remind you that weekly clapping isn’t what got us this far, it’s the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears of all that work within the NHS, not just the surgeons, doctors and nurses but the health assistants, the porters, the receptionists, the secretaries. Every single person working within the NHS is a part of one of the greatest things to come out of this country – something that must be protected.

I couldn’t give this book any less than 5 stars. The fact that in the midst of everything this idea was born and such a beautiful collection was created so quickly is truly wonderful. Adam Kay is excellent, there is no one else I think that could have put these stories together so well. I finished the book and immediately ordered a copy for my Nanna so she could read this too. I highly recommend picking up a copy and money from each goes to NHS charities.

Blog Tour: The Sad Ghost Club - Lize Meddings

Blog Tour: The Sad Ghost Club – Lize Meddings

Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don’t belong anywhere? Like you’re almost… invisible?

Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.

When BookMark asked if I’d like to be part of their blog tour for The Sad Ghost Club, I jumped at the chance. I requested to read an early copy of the book because I liked the art style and thought the idea sounded sweet. The team at Bkmrk got in touch asking for my address, I mentioned it would be a great distraction as at the time I was in isolation with Covid. Not only was Becci kind enough to send me The Sad Ghost Club, she also sent across a few other books that I was so looking forward to. That kindness meant the world. Anyway, I digress.

For anyone who has felt depression or anxiety, who’s felt like they’re going through the motions because they don’t feel entirely present, you’ll be seen within the pages of this book. While reading I could feel myself nodding, remembering times where everything has felt so urgent and terrifying, while I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it.

The first half of this book will make you feel less alone, less weird, because I know for certain that in my toughest times with my mental health I felt not only lonely but also like there was something wrong with me. The experience being put on a page does wonders.

The second half of the book will do something even better, it’ll give you hope – something I think we’re all in need of right now. The good news, and something that you’re reminded of while reading is that there are others like you and, actually, people who understand can make really good company. We all have our stories, quirks and oddities – we’d be really boring if we didn’t, but it’s what makes us work.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a shorter read and, for me, it was something I could pick up and go through without having to think too much, which is great when you have a foggy brain. If you want to find out more you can also see the other stops on the blog tour below!

Thank you to the publishers and author for my copy in exchange for this post.

Book Review: The Girl And The Goddess - Nikita Gill

Book Review: The Girl And The Goddess – Nikita Gill

Let her be a little less human, a little more divine
Give her heart armor so it doesn’t break as easily as mine

Meet Paro. A girl with a strong will, a full heart, and much to learn. Born into a family reeling from the ruptures of Partition in India, we follow her as she crosses the precarious lines between childhood, teenage discovery, and realizing her adult self. In the process, Paro must confront fear, desire and the darkest parts of herself in the search for meaning and, ultimately, empowerment.

Nikita Gill is an incredible poet who isn’t afraid to try new things in her collections – The Girl and The Goddess is no different. Weaving poetry with stories of Hindu mythology I was hooked.

As a warning I will say that if you are sensitive to reading about violence or sexual assault then please take your time with this, make sure you know more before you go into it and that you’re okay.

This is a stunning collection we follow the story of Paro from a baby to a child forced to leave her home, all the way to a young woman who is figuring out who she is and her place in the world. I didn’t know much going in, only that I liked some of Gill’s previous collections

Paro is an incredible character, I think because she has flaws. She’s not perfect but she is human, she gets confused, hurt, angry. We see the world through her eyes as she grows and in a way that we feel like we don’t miss anything. I fell in love with her over and over again and just wanted the best for her.

I found myself desperate to find more about the Goddesses and God mentioned. I’m the first to admit that I knew nothing about Hindu myths and legends before starting but I can’t wait to learn more (if anyone knows any good books for me to start, let me know in the comments!).

A few people may hear poetry and think that it’s not for them, I would urge you to try this collection, which I would say is more of a novel in verse. It’s absolutely stunning and flows so well that you’ll fall into without realising it’s different from what you’re used to.

This collection was 5 stars for me, it’s absolutely beautiful and I had to keep reading. For a real treat, I’d recommend reading a few out loud, just for yourself to really feel the magic within the pages of the story. A breathtaking piece of literature that more people want to know about.

Book Review: Majesty – Katharine McGee

Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we’re looking at you Daphne Deighton.

As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.

A new reign has begun….

As a follow up to the first novel American Royals, Majesty is possibly even better than the first. Picking up not long after where we left off as Beatrice not only has her love life to deal with but also the small matter of becoming the first Queen of the United States.

The novel is, again, told in multiple perspectives Beatrice herself, Princess Samantha, her best friend Nina and social climber Daphne as each woman finds her way in this new era for America. Each of them has guy troubles, parental expectations, the public eye and their own feelings to contend with.

I felt this novel grew more than the first. I mentioned in my review of American Royals I felt that it had very close ties to The Crown and following the life of Queen Elizabeth 2nd. At the start of the novel I wondered the same but this picked up and I really enjoyed seeing not only Beatrice grow as a Queen but also Samantha as a person.

One small thing I would say is that I’m not sure how needed Nina was in this novel. It may be that 4 perspectives in a novel of this length is 1 too many for me. It feels as if there is only room for Nina or Daphne – in this case we learn much more about Daphne.

Katharine confirmed on Twitter that American Royals is a 2 book series (for now at least) I’m really, really hoping that she changes her mind about this because there is so much that is left open at the end of the novel. I really feel like there are opportunities to come back and let us know what happens next.

I gave this novel 4 stars because I couldn’t put it down. There’s secrets, romance, scheming. It’s an excellent book for when you want to be absorbed into a novel that you can flow along with – a perfect companion to the first novel.

Thank you to the author, Netgalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Reviews: The Liar’s Daughter – Megan Cooley Peterson

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn’t know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That’s why she takes care of all her little sisters. That’s why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That’s why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn’t. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father’s followers–even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

I can’t help but find myself intrigued by these kind of books about those who are raised in cults and don’t know any better, because they have had no choice. This is a story about Piper’s discovery of herself and questions about the world around her.

The novel is told before and after the raid. In the time before the raid we see Piper and what she believes to be her siblings being raised under strict rules by the Aunts with visits from her mother and father – the heads of the compound. All she wants is to care for her younger siblings and prove herself to her father. Although she is starting to question memories and practices in the house.

In the after sections, however, Piper is struggling. She doesn’t trust anyone and thinks that this is the real kidnapping, living with a woman who claims to be her mother. She also starts therapy which was incredibly interesting. Seeing her attempt to unlearn years of lies and pressure.

There is also a romantic element which, at first, I was unsure about whether it was necessary in terms of the wider plot, but the more I read the more I understood. When there is a lack of people around, it isn’t surprising that you would have feelings for one of the people who show kindness.

I really wanted to know more about what happened after the children were rescued, how they coped and while we do see some of this I found myself wondering if they ever saw each other again. That said, I understand that wasn’t the intent of the book.

This was a 4 star read for me. I read it incredibly quickly and found myself absorbed in the story and even through I knew that Piper and the other children would be rescued at times I forgot while reading – that’s how absorbed I was in the story.

Book Review: We Are Okay - Nina LaCour

Book Review: We Are Okay – Nina LaCour

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun.

Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. 

I’d heard so much about Nina LaCour’s books, so I added We Are Ok to my to read/to buy list, then I got a copy for Christmas and I didn’t know I’d find a new favourite author. Fast forward to the UK lockdown and I picked it up…then I couldn’t put it down.

This is not a story that is full of action, movement and adventure. It is a quieter novel, something that fully wraps itself around you and lets you see a life rather than a spectacle. A glimpse into grief, sadness and becoming an young adult for the first time.

The novel is written incredibly well and has a beautiful lyrical quality that I haven’t seen in a while. I read this in less than 24 hours, only stopping to sleep. I needed to know what was going to happen between Marin and Mara (although I will admit I did get the two names confused at times). What had happened in the past and how it impacted the current story.

There is also an LGBT element to the story which came across as very well done, particularly because it wasn’t the main focal point of the novel, it was simply there. Additionally, I felt the pain of losing a friendship and not knowing how to put it back together.

I would happily have read a book that was double the length because I wanted to know what happened after the last page, I can’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. I absolutely adored it and felt for Marin the whole way through. Beautiful writing, a thought provoking novel and one that I absolutely adore. Keep your eyes peeled for my review of Hold Still, LaCour’s first novel, coming soon.

Book Review: Letters On Motherhood - Giovanna Fletcher

Book Review: Letters On Motherhood – Giovanna Fletcher

Giovanna Fletcher is a best selling author, award winning podcast host and is known for her down to earth social media channels. As well as all that she’s raising three small humans alongside her husband Tom (yes, Tom Fletcher from McFly). She writes letters to her sons, her family and her husband in this beautiful collection.

I love the idea of writing letters to children while they’re growing up, it’s something I’d like to do for children that I have in the future. While I’m sure there are so many more that aren’t published (because privacy!) this gives an insight into motherhood that I feel will bring light to others who may feel like they’re alone.

This isn’t Gi’s first book about being a Mum, her previous non-fiction book Happy Mum, Happy Baby was also a firm favourite of mine. That book birthed an incredibly popular podcast as well. What works well is that in no way does she pretend she knows it all or even knows what she’s doing half the time.

There is a kindness within the pages of this book and a calming nature. Giovanna doesn’t make out that motherhood is all sunshine and rainbows, she shares the moments of self doubt, times when she felt overwhelmed and what it is like to raise 3 little boys who are so different.

As well as warming my heart there were a few times where I really, really laughed – which I often do as Gi share’s her musings on her Instagram page. It really does feel like a light that shines. I intend to get these books out again in the future, as well as buying them for friends who have little ones/are expecting.

This is a 5 star read, there is no doubt. There is so much honesty, love and warmth through these pages. While I may not have children myself, reading this made me feel so much towards my own mother, towards the children I hope to have in the future.

Book Review: The Near Witch - V.E Schwab

Book Review: The Near Witch – V.E Schwab

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

Lexi has grown up with the stories of the Near Witch with little thought to them other than to scare children. But not long after a mysterious stranger arrives and children start to go missing from their beds, Lexi needs to find out the truth – and make sure her sister doesn’t become one of the missing children.

I meant to pick this up a while ago but it slipped my mind, it was only when I saw the gorgeous sprayed edges edition that I knew I needed to buy and read it. I also managed to persuade my book club to read it too!

Lexi is an excellent character, she’s intelligent but also has a softer side, it’s great to see a character that has both. While she’s dealing with the death of her father and what is expected of her in her village she’s also fiercely determined and wants to do the right thing.

I was also fascinated by Cole (this edition also included a short story about him at the end which I wish had been a whole book in itself), the element of mystery really kept me reading. Who was he? Was he the Near Witch? Could he be trusted? So many questions.

I’m not entirely clear when or where in the world this is meant to be set but it gives me a old worldy vibe because of the way the town acts and the types of jobs that are mentioned – which I enjoyed.

When you consider that this is her debut and something that she was writing while at university it’s even more impressive. I lost myself in this story and this world once I started reading.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. An engaging story and while at the beginning it was slightly slower than I’d have liked, when it picked up it was an enjoyable read. I’d actually quite like to know what happened after.