Mini Review: Another Brooklyn – Jacqueline Woodson

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

IMG_1292Synopsis: 

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion. 


I picked this book up on a whim, simply looking for something short and quick to read, and there just happened to be 2 copies lying around at work for the taking. It sounded like something I would love. And I did at the time, until now when I’ve come to review it, I’m remembering things that I really didn’t like about it… oh no.

On first impressions, I enjoyed this. I loved the writing style; poetic and flowing, and very descriptive in painting the surroundings and horrific atmosphere of Brooklyn at that time for a young teenage girl.

The big flaw for me though, which I realise now, was that I just didn’t care about the characters at all. I found them very vague and it just felt like something was missing the whole way through. Which is such a shame because I really did love how it was written. I wish that it had just been developed that little bit more!

By no means was this a bad book. It was enjoyable, short (bonus!) and read beautifully, I just didn’t feel for the characters the way I wanted to.


View Another Brooklyn on Goodreads

Advertisements

March Wrap Up & April TBR

Another month passes and I’m already behind on my Goodreads challenge – oh dear!

I’ve found it difficult to really get stuck into a book this month, so I have several on the go and haven’t really finished much!


Here’s what I’m currently reading:

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab – I’ve been on a fantasy binge for the past few months now, and I think I’m in need of something a bit different, so it’s taken a while for me to get into this one. But now I’m over 100 pages in and I’m starting to get into the swing of it a bit more now! I loved the first book, so I’m excited to really make progress with this one!

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – I picked this up a few days ago from the library as an emergency replacement book when I forgot to bring my book with me for a long journey. I’m absolutely loving it, it really is just stunning and devastating and I can’t wait to finish it – I’m flying through it!

Illuminae by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff – still haven’t picked this back up… just not feeling it at the moment, it’s not grabbing my attention at all! Might just put it down and come back to it a bit later.


Books I’ve read this month:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 I really enjoyed this! Full review coming soon.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(.5) This book really surprised me, pleasantly. It was a super quick read, and I got through it in just a couple of days. I may have also cried a few times… full review coming soon!

Looking at that feeble 2 completed books is a bit disappointing, but actually if I think about it, I’m about 100 pages into each of the 3 other books I’ve got on the go, so not totally horrendous! Just been in a slight slump this month again, but I’m definitely getting back into it! I may also finish at least one of these books just before the month is out…


April TBR

I’m going to be ambitious this month, and set myself an actual TBR list! I haven’t done this in a while, so I’m hoping it will encourage me to boost my reading rate and shove my Goodreads challenge along a bit. There’s also a lot of books that I’m really excited to get stuck into!

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – My BF has actually caught up with me on this series now, so we’re going to read this one together; cute!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I’ve been left in charge of the teen book club at work next month, and this is the selected book, so that’s worked out as a nice excuse to finally get around to reading it!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Another book my BF is desperately waiting for me to read so he can borrow it… I’m just being kind. I also told myself I need to read this before I read Strange The Dreamer, which I’m so hyped to read!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I’ve been desperate to read this since I got sent my proof copy, but still haven’t been able to get to it. This month. It will happen.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol – This is my “if I have time” choice. Nice and short, and something that I really should have read many years ago but just didn’t!

Five books is probably slightly unrealistic seeing as I’ve already got 3 in progress, but a girl can dream! Also, better to shoot for the moon and land among the stars, some might say… 😌


Also, considering I was saying “I might need something different” other than fantasy, the majority of these choices are fantasy… oops! Hopefully they’ll provide enough variety!


Goodreads Challenge Status: 7/40 (2 Books Behind Schedule)

Review: When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis: IMG_1291

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.


I don’t often read much non-fiction, but I’d been wanting to read this since it’s release and took the opportunity when the publisher sent me a reading copy, and I’m so glad I did!

It was such a moving and intriguing read, and also rather rewarding. Kalanithi is such an inspiration, not only as an excellent surgeon, but just as a human being. His spirit and determination, and love for other people in general shine through in his writing.

I particularly loved the references to literary works throughout the book, which stem from his personal love and study of literature before he got into the field of medicine, and how they inspired him in his every day life at home and work.

For me, the last section written by his wife, Lucy, was the most moving, and my favourite part of the book. It was a wonderful dedication to her husband, and concluded the book brilliantly.

I only wish I could’ve understood a bit more of the medical jargon – it would have made the reading experience a bit more fluid for me, but this by no means took anything away for me, it would have simply enhanced my understanding of his life and profession.

If more non-fiction and biographies were written like this, I’d definitely read them more frequently! But this did make a nice change in my reading routine, and I’m very glad I decided to pick it up.


View When Breath Becomes Air on Goodreads

Review: The Memory Book – Lara Avery

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis: “They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.”

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned. 


I received a review copy of this book way back before it was released, and read it pretty much straight away. Ironically, I can’t remember many details about this book… but I do remember enjoying it, and getting slightly misty eyed at times… god, I need to start writing my reviews straight after I read the book, rather than leaving it for months!

I’ve read a few books about various terminal illnesses, and they tend to be a bit depressing and cliche, but for me, this book wasn’t like that at all – it was empowering.

Sam McCoy suffers with Niemann- Pick type C, which is basically a progressive form of dementia that develops in Younger People, or children, and has an extremely low recovery percentage, eventually taking over all of your regular body functions until you have virtually no control over your mind or body. Devastating.

I loved how headstrong and determined Sam was to not let the sickness beat her, and even when it did, how she still fought against it and learned to appreciate the little things in life – being more daring and venturing to experience new things.

Her relationship with her siblings was beautiful to read, especially their messages to her toward the end of the book. It was these that really got me. It was so moving to read her family and friends’ love for her, and that it WASN’T MORBID! The messages were light-hearted and positive – a true dedication to Sam’s memory, and it was beautiful.

I do have one (big-ish) qualm… the love triangle… oh the love triangle, how it pains me. Please, it’s a trope that’s totally overdone, and unless it’s done *really* well, 99% of the time I can’t bear it, and just don’t want to read it! But never mind.

All in all, this was a lovely book, and if you want to read an “illness” book that’s a bit different, this could be the one for you.


View The Memory Book on Goodreads.

February/March Book Haul – It’s A Bit Crazy…

A lot of you may well remember that I put myself on a book buying ban back in December…

I did pretty well, and didn’t buy a single book all the way through to the end of February! I made up for all the lost time by buying about 15 books over the duration of a couple of days… oops!

But let’s be honest, it’s exciting, and I WILL get around to reading them all eventually… right?

So anyway, 

Here are the books I bought last month:

  1. Cinder – Marissa Meyer
  2. Heartless – Marissa Meyer
  3. Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
  4. Wintersong – S. Jae Jones
  5. The Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J Maas
  6. Throne Of Glass books 1-5 in Hardback – Sarah J Maas
  7. Uprooted – Naomi Novik
  8. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  9. The Raven Boys – Maggie Steifvater
  10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
  11. Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Okay, looking at this list, it’s clear I need to not buy any books until AT LEAST May. May is my birthday, so that’s allowed. This doesn’t even include books that I was sent by publishers…

giphy (1)


Publisher Haul:

  1. A Conjuring of Light – V.E Schwab
  2. The Girl of Ink and Stars – Karen Hargraves
  3. The Island – Olivia Levez
  4. The Huntress: Sea – Sarah Driver
  5. Release – Patrick Ness
  6. Red Sister – Mark Lawrence
  7. The Witch’s Tears – Katherine & Elizabeth Corr
  8. Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton
  9. Show Stopper – Hayley Barker
  10. The Blackthorn Key – Kevin Sands
  11. The Edge of Everything – Jeff Giles
  12. Riverkeep – Martin Stewart
  13. Hour of the Bees – Linsday Eagar

That’s enough books to last the year… literally. I wanted to take a photo to brighten up this post a bit, but 1. There’s no way even half of them would fit into one picture, and 2. I can’t be bothered to go through my bookcase and pull them all out to then have to put them all back again… sorry guys! In the future I promise I’ll take pictures as I go!

giphy (2)


How many of these books have you read/want to read?

Review: A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

8621462Synopsis: The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.


I started reading this book with no expectations of what to expect. I was sent a copy of the illustrated edition as soon as it was first released, and kind of just put it to one side without really looking at it, until I decided to open it up to take photos of it and discovered that it was signed by both Patrick Ness and Jim Kay; naturally, I got stupidly excited, and then started reading it immediately.

Nothing could have prepared me.

I was absolutely encapsulated in the story – honest, mesmerising and suitably heartbreaking all at once. I absorbed the whole thing pretty much in one sitting!

I loved the fantastical element to the story, which adds to Conor’s inner turmoil as he struggles to cope with his mother’s illness both in his home and school life and the guilt he feels toward the situation.

The narrative doesn’t go the way you’d expect it to – “Oh the tree is a metaphor for his mum dying…” Nope, it’s not. The ending is totally unexpected, and with in this particular edition especially, provides a stunningly visual reading experience. Even without the illustrations, it was like a movie playing in my head. I haven’t seen the film, but I expect it to be incredible if my imagination is anything to go by!

I haven’t read any other of Ness books, but after this I definitely will be – although I’ve heard that this is very different in style to his other works due to it being a continuation of Siobhan Dowd’s unfinished idea before her death. What an incredible tribute it is to her though. Ness has definitely done her justice.

Just read it, if you haven’t already. It’s super quick so won’t take any time out of your busy lives; it’s a good one to tick off your TBR (or add to it if for some bizarre reason it’s not on there already!)


View A Monster Calls on Goodreads

Winter Round-Up: Books I’ve Read PLUS GIVEAWAY.

Spring is upon us, and the last of the chilly days are coming to an end – hurray! So it’s time for a seasonal round-up…

Here are the books I read this winter, and how I rated them:

December:

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – ⭐️⭐️⭐️Read my Review Here

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Read my Review Here

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (Review coming Friday!)

The Memory Book by Lara Avery – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

January:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene – ⭐️⭐️(DNF)

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

February:

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

What Was Never Said by Emma Craigie –  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


I succeeded in completing my Goodreads challenge of 25 books last year, so this year I’ve upped it to 40… I’m already behind, so I really need to kick myself into gear!

I’ve also missed out on writing several reviews for books I’ve read in my absence, so I’m going to try and catch up on as many of them as possible (although, I’m not going to lie, I’ve forgotten a lot of the detail about them…)


In other news, it’s officially been 1 year since I started this blog, and my Bookstagram account – I’m hosting a giveaway on my Instagram, so be sure to check it out and enter. It’s international, and super quick and easy to do (No re-posting etc.)

ENTER MY GIVEAWAY HERE.