Book Review · Books

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

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When the team from LoveReading UK contacted me regarding A Single Thread, all I knew was that I loved Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and would therefore read any other book she writes.

A Single Thread follows the life of Violet, during the year 1932, a few years after the First World War. Violet has lost her brother and fiance in the war and is still learning to cope. She is labelled as a ”surplus woman” by the society, a woman that in unlikely to marry.

With the grief, the society label and the suffocation of her mother, Violet starts a journey that will change her life.

She is determined to find where she belongs and who she truly is, in a time where being a woman and succeeding on your own was not praised by others.

Her journey starts with a long walk in a few towns, something she used to do with her late father and brother, and it continues with her learning canvas embroidery (today knows as needlepoint), and the beautiful art of bell ringing (which pleasantly reminded me of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, a book I read in high school and one I should re-read).

With Tracy’s writing, it is always so easy to lose yourself in the book and teleport to the past and re-live every scene as if you’re there. It is such a pleasurable experience.

I loved Violet, and I loved how she coped with all challenges of that era. Post First World War times were extremely hard, with too many men dying and too many women not being able to ever marry. Violet’s courage and hope kept moving her forward!

This novel yells courage. It yells freedom. It yells independence. And standing along Violet, while she finds courage when you least expect to was a moment I will cherish.

I recommend it to you, if you love novels in the war time period, or novels that talk about courage!

Thank you to the team at LoveReading UK, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review · Books

Living My Best Li(f)e by Claire Frost

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Fast and chill reads are always the hit for me. I definitely enjoy drinking my hot chocolate and cuddling my blanket while reading a chill book on my sofa. ” Living My Best Li(f)e ” was a modern-day book, that captures today’s problems, and it felt familiar, because I have seen these problems in my surrounding. It focuses mostly on social media, and the differences between what we present online, and who we really are in the real world. 

We have one woman – Bell – who is about to turn 40, and her comfort is broken when her man decides to leave her after years of togetherness.

We also have another woman, Millie, in her mid-thirties, and her little son Wolf (who names their child Wolf?). Millie fell in love with a football star Louis and had a child with him. To her disappointment, she realized the man she is in love with is the most unreliable parent in the world. She also happens to be an Instagram star, that only shows the world what she wants them to see.

While the followers see expensive dresses and well-behaved child, the reality shows that Millie takes a picture of the dresses and returns them to the shop, unable to afford them. She is also receiving calls from Wolfie’s school that he has not be behaving in his best manners.

When these two women accidentally meet, they turn out to be besties. In fact, they became besties so fast, that I had to laugh out loud at how bizarre and unrealistic that was. Do you ever go to a coffee shop, say hi to a person, and then THE SAME DAY, THE SAME CONVERSATIONS you both start sharing your deepest secrets? Yes – it was that bizarre.

I really wanted to love ” Living My Best Li(f)e ” , as it captured a lot of problems. But it only captured the surface of these problems, then solved them instantly and moved on. And I wasn’t satisfied. There were so many little plot problems that the author kept adding to the book randomly to keep the story going, and kept resolving them one by one – no anticipation, no hunger for one more chapter. Disappointing.

First of all, all the characters were not realistic. We have this woman that keeps saying she can be on her own, but she also keeps complaining every second of the day.

Then, we have this other woman, who seems like such a person that everyone is looking up to, but in fact, she is too scared to say no to her ex-love and father of her child, and she keeps up with all his nonsense on a daily bases.

Last, but not least, we have the 5-year-old Wolf boy, who talks like a 20-year-old boy, but behaves like a toddler, and I don’t know how to react to that.

And finally, we have ”the rest of the characters”, who were mentioned and had their own roles in the book, but didn’t have enough of a back story or air-time in order to be remembered by the audience.

The author also introduced us to a plot twist, that came out unexpectedly – but suddenly the government were about to destroy their community center and it was up to them to collect money and save this place in a record time. How convenient for the story, right? With no building up to it, the problem just raised from the ground… And you can all imagine the happy endings and soppy stories that followed with their success.

So yeah – that got me, and I didn’t believe it for a second, and therefore this review. I really wanted to love Living My Best Li(f)e, but nothing worked out. Disappointing characters, plots and lack of thrill. Not a great experience for me. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you choose to read it, I would love to know what you think! <3

Thank you to the team at Netgalley and Simon & Schuster UK, for providing me with an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review · Books

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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Miles is moving to Alabama to attend a boarding school. And while he is a quiet boy that happens to remember famous people’s last words, he is also looking to stay out of trouble. He meets, incidentally, the most troublesome people that are about to change his life forever.

”So, I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bun, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

One of these people is Alaska Young, and believe me when I say, she is trouble. She is also clever and beautiful, but most of all screwed up, and she steals Miles’s heart straight away.

”Looking for Alaska” reminded me so much of ”The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. There was definitely the same vibe of boy goes to new school, boy is quiet, boy meets loud friends and boy falls in love.

And even though I got really annoyed at the beginning due to the fact that Miles barely talks to his friends and does whatever he is told to do, his character does develop throughout the book and he manages to find his voice and his purpose which I believe made this book way more meaningful.

”That is the fear. I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without.”

On the subject of his feelings towards Alaska, the love he feels, it is very hard to actually notice the big impact she has on Miles. Yes, we might agree that she didn’t really care about him as we would’ve wanted her to do. She didn’t have big feelings for him, but she did have an enormous influence on him. While she was there thinking about her boyfriend, Miles was constantly thinking about her, memorising every opinion she has, learning all her favourite book titles, listening to all of her stories and always wondering whether she maybe, just maybe feels at least a fraction of what he feels for her. And while Alaska might not be aware, Miles will still carry all his emotions in his heart. Even if they have never been returned back.

”What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.” 

The book perfectly captures a young person’s way of thinking and a young person’s perception of feelings, actions, and responsibility into the unfair thing we call life. I recommend it to all of you!

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Book Review · Books

The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

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When Rebecca’s boyfriend Ezra goes missing, she knows something is not quite right. But when she reports it to the police, they don’t seem to really care. They suspect he’s been playing ”The Stranger Game”, a game that went viral, where people take social media behaviour on the streets and start following each other in real life.

The rules of the game are simple:

  • You must choose a random person.
  • You cannot make contact with other people (or tell them you’re playing the game)
  • You mustn’t follow the same person twice.

But as the game spreads, the rules start to change, and people start disappearing without a trace.

In hope that she she can find her man, Rebecca starts playing the game herself. But the more she gets involved, the bigger the risk is.

When I read the synopsis about ”The Stranger Game” by Peter Gadol, I knew I had to read the book. It is a plot that intrigues me and I am always up for reading more psychological thrillers.

But this book’s delivery was weak. I found the story very slow and unintriguing, with no exceptional plot twists and with a disappointing and rather predictable ending. 

Rebecca was a difficult character to begin with. The writing in the chapters felt different, even though it was the same character’s point of view. I was left very confused. I just wanted to get a better glance at ”The Stranger Game”. And I did, but the game scenario was so much different compared to the synopsis – which was only slightly annoying. But to top up the annoyance, there was a huge lack of mystery and suspense throughout the book. I just stopped caring whether Rebecca was going to find Ezra or not. I did not care whether her life was in danger. I was that unbothered. 

On a positive note,

I did enjoy the psychological theme and people’s behaviour. I always want to know more about how and why people behave in a certain way and this book definitely opened some interesting discussion points.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

If you like human psychology and behaviour, this is a good book to have on your stack. But will this be the next mystery and suspense hit? Probably not…

Thank you to team at HQ (Harper Collins Publishers), for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

”The Stranger Game” comes out on 5th September 2019. 

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Book Review · Books

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson

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(The image has been taken from Alice Peterson’s Website)

 

DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT read “If You Were Here” in public. People will ask you why you’re crying and you won’t know what to say. 

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“If You Were Here” by Alice Peterson is an emotional story about Huntington’s Disease, a disease that affects your brain & movements and it gets worse as it progresses, without any cure for it yet. 

Peggy has lost her husband to this disease, and now her daughter as well. But what she needs to do now is tell her granddaughter Flo that the disease is hereditary and she might be at risk. 

Flo is about to get married and move to the US, but the news change everything. How do you even deal with such news, right? How do you process it? Through Flo’s character, you can clearly see her confusion and struggle to accept the fact – something that is so common for a human to do. Her fiance is not ready for the risk and will probably never will. The only support Flo has is her roommate James, his sister and her grandma Peggy. Flo needs to make the hardest decision of her life: does she take the test or not? Is she at risk of getting the disease too? What if she is tested negative? But, what if she is tested positive? Or would she just rather not know and live every day experiencing as much as she can? With her mother’s diaries helping her on this journey, she finds hope and strength she never knew she had before. 

I loved Flo’s character. Despite the whole world turning upside down, she picked herself up and was always thinking on the positive side. Sure, there were ups and downs, but damn, that persistence was incredible. 

”If You Were Here” is such a sad, but positive and powerful story about what we can do with our lives, and how we should live every day of our lives like it’s our last. Because – that is the truth: you don’t know whether you’ll wake up in the morning. You don’t know whether you’ll be going through troubles until it happens. You don’t have a map of your life, and that’s completely okay. Try to achieve as much as you can today, because you never know what tomorrow may bring.

Please pick this book up. It’s powerful, it’s incredible, it’s sad and it’s motivational. But above everything else, this book is bloody real! 

Thank you to the teams at Netgalley and Simon & Schuster UK for providing me with an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review.

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