Book Review: Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo

Book Review: Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

After reading Acevedo’s novel With The Fire on High I knew I needed to read Clap When You Land. I was fascinated by the idea of a tragedy bringing together unknown family members and the difficulties they have after learning the truth. 

This is ultimately a story about grief, family and secrecy. While both Camino and Yaharia share a father, their lives couldn’t be more different. One is used to living in New York in reasonable comfort, while the other is keeping her head above water with her aunt in a struggling neighbourhood. 

As with Acevedo’s other book I read there are a number of diverse characters in terms of race and sexuality as well as looking at forms of intimidation women may face around the world. 

The way in which this is written is beautiful, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the Dominican Republic and Camino’s sense of community and love for those around her. Overall I think I felt more connected to Camino, simply because I was rooting for her the whole time. That’s not to say I wasn’t rooting for Yaharia, it was just a different kind of connection. 

For me this was a 4.5 star read, I can’t talk about the ending without risk of spoilers but I wanted to see more of that happened after the endpoint. I would definitely read a second book about the girls. I wish I could say more but I refuse to spoil this wonderful book for anyone. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for review. 

Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist - Kate Weston

Book Review: Diary Of A Confused Feminist – Kate Weston

Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she’s not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times.

Join Kat AKA the Confused Feminist as she navigates EVERYTHING from menstrual cups and mental health to Instagram likes and #TimesUp in her HILARIOUS, OUTRAGEOUS and VERY EMBARRASSING diary.

While I was working in a book shop over the Christmas period this was left in a pile of ARCS that we could take home and I was instantly drawn to it. A teenage feminist trying to navigate her life and feelings? Hell to the yes please, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There were times while reading where I wondered if I was too old for the book. Did I speak like this as a teenager? Were teenagers this petty over things? The answer is yes, I remember arguing with one of my friends over something ridiculous and then refusing to sit next to each other in our art class. In fact Weston has completely got the characters right.

While reading I felt like this had Caitlin Moran vibes to it (whos book How To Be A Woman changed my whole perception on feminism) there were important points but at the same time it was incredibly funny. It also took me back to when I was the same age trying to work out my on again off again relationship with feminism, because it is bloody confusing!

What skyrocketed my rating for this was the mental health element. There are some hints early on that Kat was struggling but seeing these explored was really excellent and I feel that it could help young people reading. As well as the anxiety that Kat struggles with the pressure to keep up and be interesting on social media.

This was a 4.5 star read for me. I think Kate Weston is definitely one to watch. When I got to the end I KNEW I needed a sequel which will hopefully happen.

Book Review: Postscript – Cecelia Ahern

“It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.”

I have to put it out there, I was nervous when this was announced because I loved P.S I Love You so much when I was a teenager, both the novel and the film for separate reasons and it was in my heart. It turns out I had nothing to worry about

The novel takes place 7 years after Gerry’s final letter and while we catch up with Holly, we also catch up with other characters we got to know in the first novel such as Holly’s family and friends. In particular, I loved catching up with her friends on what their lives and relationships were like.

Holly’s life has moved with the times too, for example, this all happens from a podcast recording, Holly is older and considering her life, her friends lives and approaching the end of her thirties.

What was special though is that we got to see snatches of Gerry and Holly’s lives together that we didn’t get the first time around. Their love story carries on throughout the pages, but it doesn’t feel repetitive, instead, it’s an excellent reminder of why their relationship was so special in the first place.

Ahern has a great talent for writing the complicated emotions and situations real-life can put you in. Holly is doing ok and one thing shakes her to her core and brings everything back. She has to weigh up moving forward and looking back to embrace her life to help others. Nothing is easy or simple and I really appreciated that Holly continued to be full of depth.

As for the P.S I Love You club, what can I say I loved all of them and it completely broke my heart. I managed to hold off crying until just before the end and then I couldn’t stop for the last 50 pages or so. Oof, it was a corker!

It’s no surprise that I gave this novel 5 stars. Any worries I had about the time gap in between the two books were quashed it was an absolutely perfect follow on. If there are any fans of P.S I Love you I would highly recommend this book, to me it was perfect. Absolutely perfect!

I purchased a copy of this novel, but I was also sent a copy for review thank you to Netgalley and the publisher.

Book Review: The Stolen Ones - Vanessa Curtis

Book Review: The Stolen Ones – Vanessa Curtis

My name is Inge. I am sixteen. I live in Munich. Food is rationed, though the war ended years ago. My boyfriend is Jewish. My parents would not approve, so I hide this from them. I think they are hiding something from me, too. Letters arrive on my birthday, but they are not addressed to me. They are for a girl named Kasia. This is her story.

After picking this up at YALC I thought I knew what this book would be about and I was pleasantly proved wrong while reading The Stolen One. This has a lot of twists and turns throughout which I didn’t expect – it’s kind of part historical fiction, part mystery. Different, but I like it.

What stood out for me about this book is that it focused on the wider Nazi horrors and what they did to a large number of communities as well as the Jewish population. A lot of WW2 and post war fiction focuses on the Holocaust – and rightfully so! But, it means that I haven’t read much about others who were impacted by the Nazi regime.

I really liked Inge, I found her to be intelligent and headstrong but also realistic for a 16 year old who’s surrounded by secrets. It shows both the good and bad in people and that just because a war ends, doesn’t mean that things go back to normal. There is a lot of confusion, hurt and pain after such an event.

The relationships Inge have are vital to the plot and it was clear there was both planning and care that went into writing them. At times I felt the her conflict and confusion. The novel did a great job of capturing that age where you realise the adults around you are humans with their own flaws, thoughts and feelings that might not match yours.

I do wish that the book had been longer, I felt that there could have been even more to the novel and get into some more depth – I can’t pinpoint where I would have liked it because it would be a massive spoiler!

Last but not least, I learned a great deal from this book about parts of the war I knew nothing about and after reading I definitely want to do some of my own research. This was so well told – I really want to have a read of other novels by Vanessa Curtis at some point.

I gave this 4 stars, I thought this book was interesting and there were quite a few twists that I didn’t see coming which was really appreciated. If you enjoy fiction about WW2 this will be a good read for you even though it is set after the end of the war. I’d really love to know more about what happens to the characters after the end of the novel as well which is a sign they were well written.

Book Review – Vicious – V.E Schwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Well, this was a bit bloody brilliant wasn’t it? Vicious was the first V.E Schwab book I read and I’m more than a little bit in love with the novel and plot. Victor and Eli are both stand out characters and, more so, I was just knocked sideways by how smart the plot was.

When I first started reading the novel I did get a bit confused, there’s quite a few characters to start with quite early on, we’re going between modern day for the characters and 10 years ago. That took quite a bit of getting used to and I had to really concentrate at times to make sure I knew what was going on. However, once I got past that I was obsessed with this book.

Personally, I love Victor he was definitely my favourite character, even if he wasn’t always likeable. I feel that all of the characters were interesting but there was just something about Victor that I found so interesting, possibly in his way of thinking, his motives. I didn’t quite connect with Eli the same way but I might in the next novel, who knows?

This is a book that really kept me reading, I needed to know what what going to happen – how the ‘game’ was going to play out and more importantly who was going to survive. And I was completely hooked. I also had a huge soft soft for Sydney and needed to know what was going to happen to her.

Also, no spoilers but that ending, THAT ENDING. I absolutely loved it and I’m quite glad I picked up both novels after Vengeful was released because while I am taking time to process between books I can go to the next one without that much of a wait.

I gave this 5 stars, I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. I am kicking myself for not picking up a V.E Schwab novel sooner. She is clearly an incredible story teller and I can’t wait to see what happens in Vengeful.

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.