What My Star Ratings Mean

What My Star Ratings Mean!

We’ve all seen the normal way of rating books. 1 Star to 5 Star, but what those ratings mean to people can really vary. So, I thought I’d make it clear what my ratings mean and give you some examples of books I’ve loved and loathed!

1 Star

Why was this written? What was the point of it at all? Normally it will be a one star if I find that it’s offensive, ridiculous or just nasty. It takes a lot for a book to be 1 star.

 

2 Star

When I don’t like a book. There’s always a reason behind it, usually, if I find it boring or don’t like the way in which it’s written. Also, it can be the topic and how it is portrayed.

3 Star

This doesn’t mean the book is good or bad, but just meh. There’s probably some things I don’t rate about it. It could be the pace, the plot or the writing. I simply means that I probably won’t pick it up again and it’ll eventually make its way to the donate/give away/selling pile.

4 Star

This book was really, really great. I loved certain aspects of it and I’m going to recommend it to people. For X reason it was quite a 5 star for me but damn it was good.

5 Star

OH MY GOD WOW, EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS. IM GETTING ALL MY FRIENDS A COPY AND TWEETING THE AUTHOR AND AHHHHH I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!

It’s true that over time I have been known to change ratings depending on how I feel. A book I might have thought was a masterpiece at 15, I might not feel the same way about now. Similarly, I used to hate classics with a passion but now I’m a little older I can appreciate some of them and understand why they were so important! We change so much in life, which means our ratings will too!

 

How do you rate your books? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

The Surface Breaks - Louise O'Neill

There was a LOT of hype for this book. A feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid, umm all of the yes! I know that Louise O’Neill is a fantastic author who isn’t afraid to challenge taboos, but this was different. If you’re looking for the Disney version of the Little Mermaid (which I love to no end) this is not for you. This is much more gritty.

We meet Gaia, the youngest princess of the Sea King. She and her older sisters are the pride of the kingdom must be perfect at all times. As her fathers favourite, Gaia faces her own pressures, including her fate as the most beautiful princess with a voice of gold. But Gaia wants more. She wants to know what life is like above the water, to know why her mother would risk it all just to see the human world.

This was heavily promoted as a feminist retelling. This wasn’t wrong but I wouldn’t have promoted it that way. The feminist aspects, I feel, don’t come into the novel until much later. There is a lot of misogyny and I felt quite uncomfortable reading parts, which was completely the point. That said, if you’re uncomfortable with misogyny, body perceptions or homophobia this may be a challenging need.

I also found it fascinating that this brings the fairytale into a more modern world. I wasn’t completely sure when this was set but it’s definitely not in an older time period, which I feel might have worked better? But maybe that’s just me.

This novel does teach a lot and makes you look at the world but at times I felt that it was trying a little hard to be feminist. At times the lessons felt a little forced or predictable. That said, I feel its true merit lies in the last quarter of the novel and that saves it.
I’m so torn when reviewing this book. I loved the idea, I loved the premise but for the majority, I sat at 3 stars, until we got to the last few chapters which really impressed me. The Sea Witch was an excellent character and the novel itself did look at some really important notions of being a woman. There were parts that were quite graphic, but it didn’t feel out of place, it just drove the point home further. As a feminist retelling, I did really enjoy it but I also felt that the best part was pretty rushed. But the ending was so, so good, currently sitting between 3.5 and 4 stars.

Book Review: Notes On A Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet - Matt Haig

In a world where we have constant access to social media, instant news and 24-hour access, the world can feel a little too fast. Now, I love social media, it’s one of my passions but even I need to step away sometimes. Matt Haig captures that in this book, that we as humans need to have that distance. We need to go on walks, to have someone step in sometimes and go hey, this is the real world. Well, I know I do!

I absolutely adored Matt’s previous book on mental health Reasons To Stay Alive. It talks about his own experiences of depression, as he stood at the age of 24 at the edge of a cliff, contemplating killing himself. But, how does someone get from that point? With great difficulty, but Matt has a beautiful way of writing about it. So, of course, I pre-ordered this the second I found out about it.

While I was reading this I was struggling with panic attacks, things weren’t going as planned, I’d lost my job and this is the book I needed. When I told people this book changed my life I meant it. This is broken down into short chapters, with lists, ideas and this format makes it so readable. I wasn’t sure at first but when the whole books is about breaking things down, slowing down and taking your time, it makes perfect sense.

The best thing is that Notes on a Nervous Planet doesn’t tell you to just stop using technology, sit in a field and meditate. Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to do that an avoiding the world around us isn’t possible, nor is it healthy. I was refreshing to read because it made me realise I wasn’t alone in feeling anxious about the speed of the world around us.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re struggling, if you’ve wondered if you’re alone in this then you need to read this book. Even if you haven’t I recommend reading this for a beautiful look at the world around us. This is an inspiring, thought-provoking and beautiful read.

2017 in review.

I’ve thought about, and more than slightly dreaded, writing this post for a few weeks now. What first came to my mind about this year was the negatives, because there have been more than a few. I’ve had more jobs this year than I wanted to, I’ve seen both the best and the worst in people and I’ve struggled myself. That said, when I was driving on Christmas Day, I realised I felt content. 

Let me explain. This time last year we were living at Ali’s Mums, I’d just started a new job that I wasn’t happy in and all in all I was quite low. In 12 months so much has changed for me and Ali. We’re in our own place, which was so special, we’re both working in jobs that we feel good at and enjoy and we’re happy. I’ve realised I can survive Ali being away for months at a time, and we can still get through tough times apart (I lost my job when he’d started the second month of tour, not great timing).

I’ve definitely seen the best and the worst of people this year, but through it, all learnt that I have some wonderful friends and that my family will always support me. When I was going through awful times this year, job hunting, going through the pain of spinal injections, losing Hamski and just feeling lost, I had people around me who cared.

Even though all that happened I fought my way through. For so long I’d thought, great, the ‘real world’ is about hating your job and being miserable. Thankfully, and while I never take any job for granted, I’ve actually found that I have so much passion working in Social Media, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a student. I’ve realised that if I’m in pain I can go back to the doctors and be firm with the help I need. I’ve learnt that, when I have to, I can survive on just texts and phone calls with Ali, even at the worst of times.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t had a great time too! I’ve been to Pride in Brighton, got published in a magazine, went on holiday, fallen in love with another little hamster and grown my blog more than I thought I would.

So, while 2017 might not have been the easiest, it’s shown me that I’m resilient and you know what, sometimes, I’m pretty damn cool too.

Book Review: Riot Days – Maria Alyokhina

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In 2012 a group calling themselves Pussy Riot staged a protest ,called ‘Punk Prayer’, against Putin and the Russian government. Following their protest  the women were forced to go on the run from the law. Maria, called Masha in the memoir, is one member who gets caught and sent to prison for her ‘crimes’, this is her story.

The story of Pussy Riot hit headlines worldwide, women put in prison simply for protesting. Going into this memoir I didn’t know what to expect, I’d followed the story with interest but wondered what had happened to the women. This memoir explores the reasons behind the protest and what many people forget, the humans who lived it.

The book is set out in a fragmented style, almost as if it were a diary. That said it can make it incredibly hard to read. There were times when the book jumps between time frames and situations, which caused a lot of confusion while reading and meant that I often lost concentration while reading. I also think there was an issue with the translation, some things didn’t come across clearly, leaving me to guess what the author meant.

This is an important book to read, there is a lot we don’t know a lot about what happens to political prisoners. With Masha’s determination and status within her prisons she was able to make some changes to the way women were treated in prison. She was able to give them some basic human rights, many of which they are denied.

It is a fascinating look at the reasons behind the movement, however, there were points where I felt too distant from Masha, I didn’t feel like I knew her as a person. She mentions a son at the beginning but he’s hardly mentioned for the rest of the book, I wanted to know more about her life, her family and who she was outside Pussy Riot.

I gave Riot Days 3 stars. While I enjoyed it and thought that it was an interesting look at the life of a political prisoner and what lead her there. That said, there were issues with the way translations came across and the format made it incredibly difficult to follow.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for this review copy.

Book Review: Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

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“Mothers took their mothering so seriously now. Their frantic little faces…Ponytails swinging. Eyes fixed on the mobile phones held in the palms of their hands like compasses.”

When a parent’s night at the local school ends in death questions need to be asked, was it an accident? Was it murder? The masks of perfection that parents have been wearing all year are starting to slip, but it all started long before.

Now, this isn’t my normal read, I’ll put that out there to start. I was part of a book club and this was the book of choice. I’d tried another Liane Moriarty book in the past and struggled with the characters, so I was a little apprehensive when starting but hearing everyone rave about it, I gave it a go.

This is very much a book about the wars Mums have in the playground, the stuff that is in my nightmares. The novel focuses on three women, each very different. Madeleine is battling with bringing up her teenage daughter, her son and the fact that her daughter is in the same class with her ex-husband’s new daughter. Celeste has a life that seems perfect with her twin boys and charming husband, but demons are lurking beneath the surface. And finally, we have Jane, a young mother who has moved to town with her son Ziggy to start a new life. All three become friends and help each other get through the school year.

Now I know, I know so many people loved this novel but the unnecessary drama drove me absolutely mad. This Mum was bickering with this one and this child was accused of this. I think if it wasn’t for knowing someone was going to be murdered I would have stopped and put the book down a few chapters in. While I was intrigued by the trio, in particular, I found them all to be quite stereotypical. It might be because I haven’t experienced it myself but I just struggled to care about the whole ‘he said, she said’  situations within in novel.

That said, I will admit that the mystery of the death drew me in. Moriarty uses twists throughout to keep your attention, which is something I personally needed. While some, I worked out quite early on others, such as the big twist toward the end really threw me (so much so my best friend took a picture of me at that moment). So, in that respect there is a reason to read.

Overall, I think that there is reason to read the novel but I give fair warning that if you don’t want to read about unnecessary drama, this isn’t the novel for you. There are some serious themes touched on throughout, but for me personally, it took too long to get to those.

I gave this novel 3 stars. Admittedly, it did engage me eventually but I just felt it took a little too long and if I had just picked it up from the library I would have probably not gotten to the end! That said, I would quite like to watch the television series as I feel this would play out much better on screen rather than in a novel!

Book Review: Dreadnought – April Daniels

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After witnessing a superhero fight between the ultimate hero, Dreadnought and a new unknown villain, Danny’s life is going to change forever. As Dreadnought dies he gives Danny a gift like no other, his powers and the body he’s always longed for. Daniel, becomes Danielle.

Yes everyone, we have a transgender superhero and about time too! I heard about this book from CeCe at Problemsofabooknerd over on Booktube and immediately went and put in a request to Netgalley,which I was lucky enough to be granted. I wanted to read this on holiday and did so in less than 24 hours. If that’s not enough to get you excited for this book, then I don’t know what is.

Daniels is a brilliant writer, she doesn’t make this a disney-type happy story. Danny has to deal with a lot through the novel and her transition. She deals with transphobia, an abusive parent and sexism after transitioning, all of that on top of getting some of the most powerful super powers ever known. Just what a 15-year old needs to deal with while going to High School.

One of the best things about this novel, which has been mentioned before, is that this sets out to show that superheroes aren’t instantly good and uncomplicated people. Within the novel Danny does struggle with the judgements of others because of their own prejudices because her transformation includes a transition of gender. This was really interesting as it challenges the idea that superheroes all being instantly accepting. On the other hand, Daniels also explores that not everyone with powers wants to be a well known super-hero, something that not many of us would have considered.

I have so much love for Danny and another character, Calamity, although I won’t spoil too much other than she’s an amazing character and persona, I could see her in my head so clearly. The relationship that evolves between them is just something that the novel needed. I cannot love it any more than I already do.

If you love superheroes, action and diversity then Dreadnought is one for you. I gave this wonderful novel five stars, a rare score but it truly deserves it. So much has been packed into this book to set up a series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next in the series, Sovereign which is released THIS MONTH. I honestly can’t contain my excitement to see what’s going to happen next to Danny after that ending.

As always thank you to the publisher and April Daniels for this copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.