Book Review · Books

Letters of Note: Grief by Shaun Usher [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate on the readalong for Letters of Note: Grief. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher Canongate Books for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:


Publisher: Canongate Books

Pages: 130

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Letters of Note started as a website where Shaun Usher was sharing people’s letters. Now it is a collection of the world’s most inspiring, compulsive and powerful letters, curated into different books based on their topic.

My Thoughts:

When I signed up for the readalong, I didn’t know which topic I will get, and when I got grief, I was a bit let down. I thought to myself – “another book that is sad”. Now, looking back, I am grateful I have read this book, as it allowed me to get closer to my grief and feel emotions I deliberately refused to feel. It also gave me a bit of comfort, an unexpected hug, one of those that you didn’t know you needed.

Through the 31 letters, I felt different people’s sadness of losing someone. I read words of sympathy, empathy, love and joy. For such a short book, it made me feel so much!

My favourite letter is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s letter to his grandma, when his grandpa died. My grandpa’s death is still so painful to me – even though it’s been a couple of years now. He died on Christmas Eve, and I never got the chance to say goodbye. On my last visit, I was certain I would see him again. A year later, my grandma passed away as well, and the pain stacked itself on top of the pain I was already feeling.

Is that how grief works?

We just keep stacking pain on top of each other like tower blocks through the years… waiting for it to collapse on us? Does it ever go away, or do we always carry it with ourselves? I guess only time will tell…

“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined.”

I am very grateful for this book. Being able to dive into how other people feel helped me understand my emotions better. Even though, we are never quite ready for grief, and we never fully heal. But without knowing painand sadness, how will we ever really know happiness?

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Shaun Usher was born in St. Albans in 1978 and currently lives in Wilmslow with his wife and two sons. He is the sole custodian of the popular blog, Letters of Note, a much-anticipated book of which is to be published in October 2013 following lengthy periods of hair-pulling and despair. His obsession with correspondence is particularly interesting given that he regularly receives–and more often than not doesn’t reply to–abuse from exasperated friends and family due to his apparent inability to return their calls, emails, and, on very rare occasions, letters. His second book is underway.

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Book Review · Books

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris [BOOK REVIEW]

The Dilemma is unfortunately a book I didn’t enjoy and one I won’t be recommending to anyone, ever. I dived in expecting a thriller, a mystery, a suspenseful novel. What I got was everything but.

About The Book:


Publisher: HQ

Pages: 352

Format I read it in: Audiobook

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

One day that will change a family forever.

My Thoughts:

In the Dilemma, we follow the life of what seems like a normal family, and we slowly start to uncover their secrets. The mum is busy planning her 40th birthday party – a huge celebration to make up for the fact that she never had a wedding ceremony. Her husband is slightly annoyed at this, but tries to make her happy. Whilst planning a surprise, he learns that something bad may have happened – and this is where the dilemma appears. Should he tell his wife now, or wait until the party is over. At the same time, the mum also learns a secret, and she is also doubting whether she needs to tell her husband.

And that’s one of the main issues with this book. The couple spend all the book not talking to each other.

I am sorry, but what kind of relationship is that? What kind of a marriage?

The other issue is that the dad is not even sure that something bad happened – but he also refuses to find out more. There were so many ways he could have checked if that information was true, but instead he chose to spend all day worrying about it.

Then, we also have a woman who has been dreaming for a 40th birthday celebration to replace the wedding she never had. I will never be able to understand her obsession to push something into happening, to force a celebration in which she makes all guests believe she is the bride. Let’s just conclude this to be a desperate need for attention and just leave it there…

I was so frustrated with every character’s decision and their decision making process as well. There was no logic in some of the actions they were taking, and it felt like the book was dragged to be much longer than is actually needed. There was also little to no mystery in this book – just some weird “secret-hiding-family-drama” scenarios that were mediocre at best.

But I’ll give credit where credit is due – I liked the writing. The scene descriptions were vivid and the chapters ended on a note that made you want to keep going – and that is the sole reason I managed to finish this book.

If you’re ever in a Dilemma (see what I did there?) as to whether to pick this book up, I suggest you pass.

Rating:

About The Author:

B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, Bring Me Back and The Dilemma. Having sold over a million copies in the UK alone, she is a New York Times bestseller as well as a Sunday Times bestseller. Her books have been translated into 40 languages. Having lived in France for many years, she and her husband recently moved back to the UK.
Her fifth novel is out in 2021

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Book Review · Books

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so glad that the author, Intisar Khanani, sent me an ARC e-copy of Brambles. Brambles is a prequel to Thorn, and is a part of the Dauntless Path series. I absolutely adored Thorn, and you can read my review of it HERE. When I heard there is a prequel, I was immediately sold!

About The Book:

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 40

Format I read it in: Uncorrected Proof – ebook

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.

My Thoughts:

In Brambles, we get to meet princess Alyrra before she is betrothed. We also meet her family and Valka as well. As short as this book was, it was filled with a lot of emotion, as well as a good moral story of doing what is right. Valka enjoyed messing up with the servants and ruining their lives, and when Alyrra stood up to her, it was at this point that everything changed.

Alyrra did what was right, but it was interesting to see her brother and her mother’s reactions. Clearly, their reputation was much more important to them than integrity. It is also in Brambles that we witness Alyrra’s brother and how cruel he can be. And most importantly, it is here we witness her first connection with the wind.

If you have already read Thorn, Brambles will be such a delight for you. It has Easter eggs hidden in it, and it also shows us a different side to the characters in more depth than we get to know them in Thorn. It is also lovely to see Alyrra’s life before she needs to move to the city, and how she behaves when nobody is watching.

But at the same time – if this is the first book you decide to pick up from this series, it is a perfect introduction to the story that’s about to follow. You’ll get to meet Alyrra and find out more about the circumstances she lives in. Intisar Khanani beautifully created a loop of content, that no matter which book you choose to read first, it will be a delight nevertheless.

I still find it amusing how the author managed to create such a compelling and intriguing prequel in only 40 pages.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Intisar is the author of the Dauntless Path books (Thorn, The Theft of Sunlight), and her indie epic fantasy series, The Sunbolt Chronicles.

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Book Review · Books

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland [BOOK REVIEW]

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in another instagram readalong – this time reading House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland with some amazing bookstagrammers. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher Hot Key Books or sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 352

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.

Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.

As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.

The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.

My Thoughts:

I loved the mystery that surrounded the Hollow sisters and their disappearance. It gave me a Stranger Things vibe and the writing was beautiful!

I loved the relationship that the sisters had with each other and I also appreciated how complicated their relationship was with Cate. Once I finished the book, I was able to fully understand the reasoning behind it, and I loved how this was represented in the book. It must be so hard for Cate to have done what she was doing all her life, and I was really amazed by her character!

You can feel the suspense from the very first chapter.

It grips you and it doesn’t let go until the very end! Reading this book as part of a readalong was so hard. Imagine only having to read 50 pages a day, when you just want to devour the whole book in one evening. I am not sure where I acquired the patience I needed to be able to resist finishing this book early.

My favourite character was Iris.

I loved how she grew as a person throughout the book. So did Tyler, even though, let’s be honest – he wasn’t a very important character in the first place. I felt like his presence was unnecessary at times, and he seemed to have existed in the book to just assist with one thing around the end. A bit convenient in my opinion.

One of the favourite parts about this book is how I started reading it and I formed certain opinions about certain characters. And as I kept reading, these opinions changed so dramatically, but in such a natural way. By the end of the book, I felt like I was a completely different person as well.

I was left slightly unsatisfied with the ending, as it doesn’t quite end. I feel like there is still some room left for perhaps another book. If so, I’ll be the first in line to read it. But if not, I liked how it leaves us to determine what might be happening in the future, with a slight guidance on what the character’s plans are.

If you’re one of those people that love searching for clues and answers, you’ll have so much fun reading this! I went on a wild paranormal adventure entangled with myths, fashion and wild flowers. House of Hollow is certainly one of my favourite titles this year.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Krystal Sutherland is an internationally published author. Her first novel, Chemical Hearts, was published in over 20 countries and was named by the American Booksellers Association as one of the best debuts of 2016. The film adaptation, produced by Amazon Studios, stars Lili Reinhart (Riverdale) and Austin Abrams (Euphoria); Sutherland served as an executive producer on the project. Her second novel, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, was published to critical acclaim in 2017 and has been optioned for adaptation by Yellow Bird US. In 2018, she appeared on the annual Forbes “30 Under 30” list. Originally from Australia, she has lived on four continents and currently calls London home. Her next novel for young adults, House of Hollow, is set for publication by Penguin in spring 2021.

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Book Review · Books

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in another instagram readalong – this time reading the Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane with some amazing bookstagrammers. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher, Harper Fiction, for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Harper Fiction

Pages: 416

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.

But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

My Thoughts:

You don’t know how much you miss a certain type of book until you start reading one and you feel the instant refreshment it brings. This happened to me with Last Night. This book is so much more than your typical rom-com novel. I wanted to read it because of the “best friends to lovers” possible scenario, and instead I got so much more, and I’m so glad I did! I felt like I was Eve’s shadow – feeling everything she feels. Friendships, relationships, grief, secrets and betrayals… A remarkable roller-coaster of a story that I wasn’t able to put down.

“I notice, once again, that company that’s not the right fit for you is so much lonelier than being happily alone.”

I loved Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed.

Their group was unique and very dear. The chemistry these characters have between each other, especially Eve and Susie is truly something remarkable, and quite rare in today’s world. I felt like we didn’t get enough of Justin, and I quite liked Ed, although I did judge him for his poor decision making skills. I loved Finlay, and I really enjoyed getting to know him slowly throughout the book.

“Incredible how one revelatory discovery can completely change your perception of someone.”

Last Night is also one of those books where it’s so hard to write a review without spoiling anything, as the big bombshell happens quite early in the book. So I’ll just say this – I loved the ending and I feel like everyone got what they deserved! Last Night is the first book I’ve read by Mhairi Mcfarlane, and (said with the voice of Michael Bisping) “believe you me”, I’ll be definitely reading more. And while I’m checking out the rest of Mhairi’s books, you go ahead and check this one out. 🙂

A truly incredible story, a very emotional journey that will leave a mark in your life. A lesson on how to cope with grief, how to stop wasting energy on people that don’t deserve you, and how to start loving again and accept love back. And most importantly, a lesson that sometimes, it’s okay to be rude!

“I ponder how many mistakes in life are born of a simple fear of being rude.”

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Mhairi was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1976. She went to school in Nottingham, studied English Literature at Manchester University and then returned to Nottingham to delight its citizens with her journalism. Her debut novel, the romantic comedy You Had Me At Hello, was an instant hit upon being published in December 2012. It’s since become HarperCollins’ best selling ebook to date, has been translated into 16 languages and is being developed as a major feature film, with Mhairi writing the screenplay. The follow up, Here’s Looking At You, was published in December 2013 and made the Sunday Times Bestseller list.

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