0 In Books & Writing

Book reading in 2019 – Part 1

I haven’t done a book post in a while – sorry 2018 books! I’ve been doing loads of book reading in 2019 however and wanted to share my reviews up to now.

I’m participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge and put 40 as my target for 2019. I’m 23 books in now, so a little bit behind schedule (as it keeps reminding me…). But there is plenty of time to go!

All the books marked with * were given to me by the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The House Between Tides. Sarah Maine. 4/5

A nice period drama book set in the Scottish isles. It switches between a current day timeline and the past timeline of ancestors. I really enjoyed it, despite the soapy twists and turns.

*How to be Content. Arlene Unger. 3.8/5

A very underrated book that brings up a lot of interesting ways to seek happiness in simple ways in every day life. As I was reading it, it made me aware of some daily enjoyments and victories. 

Amphibian. Christina Neuwirth. 3/5

We read this for my feminist book club. The main character works in Edinburgh and her office gets literally submerged in water, a tactic to try to increase productivity. It was whimsical but in the end I thought it was a bit pointless.

The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Stuart Turton. 3/5

I listened to this one with Audible and it was tough to follow as it keeps jumping. You experience one evening from many characters perspective. It’s an interesting structure, but as a whole was underwhelming.

The Goldfinch. Donna Tartt. 3.8/5

The Goldfinch was another great Donna Tartt. It is a long read but mostly enjoyable. Tartt’s writing is so good and truly mesmerising. I love the first half, but the second part (from the Las Vegas part) was a tough road. It’s a love it or hate it kind of book and I felt both strongly at different parts of the book.

Stardust. Neil Gaiman. 2.5/5

I didn’t enjoy this book like I expected. It was a weird read and I think it was tainted by the movie, which I had thoroughly enjoyed. The book is shorter, but much darker at times, with characters that are less likeable.

*New Minimalism. Cary Telander Fortin & Kyle Louise Quilici. 4/5

This book is very similar to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and its strength is where Kondo’s fail. It offers more thoughts on how to create, design, and live more intentionally in your home (none of that thanking socks as you fold them…) in a more realistic and understandable way. It is more holistic about the whole aspect of the home and making the best of it.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Rachel Joyce. 4/5

I really enjoyed reading this slightly pointless journey through England. It was a beautiful coming-of-age path, even for an older person, coming to terms with his life, choices and where he’s going now. I thought the ending was a bit unsatisfying, but I guess life can be like that.

La Tresse. Laeticia Colombani. 3/5

This was an interesting short novel which ‘braids’ 3 story lines together – through hair. There is one timeline in Montreal, one in India and one in Italy. I found it aggressively French, despite not being set in France, and seemingly none of the characters are French.

*The Northern Lights Lodge. Julie Caplin. 3/5

An English girl who is slut shamed by an ex feels she must exile herself and moves to Iceland to work at a remote B&B. Everything worked out much too easily, but it was a nice light read.

*So Here I Am. Anna Russell. 3.8/5

For anyone who likes to learn about women through history, this is a great read! It introduces the many women, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Michelle Obama, along with an excerpt from their famous feminist speeches. I felt the book was slightly tainted by the addition of certain speeches – especially the one by Margaret Thatcher.

*Literary Places. Sarah Baxter. 4/5

What a great book! It mixes both travel writing and literature, as Baxter discusses the history and culture surrounding some of the most iconic locations in popular books. I discovered new books I wanted to read, learnt about places I’ve never visited before and loved to read through the ones I knew all too well! 

Milk and Honey. Rupi Kaur. 3/5

I really enjoyed some of the poetry in Milk and Honey. Some of it was interesting, in the way it was constructed or laid out. Some poems felt a bit young, but I’m sure I would have enjoyed them more before my 30s.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl. 3/5

A fun wee read. Most people know about this book, if not the movies. I didn’t think it was possible but the book makes a caricature of the characters even more. I’m not sure I would read any Dahl’s to my children, what about you?

*Pride & Prejudice and Passports. Corrie Garrett. 3.8/5

A great modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice! I was happily surprised by how some of the classic P&P plot points were interpreted and retold. As a proud latina, it made me happy to see a latina leading lady! Set in 2016, before/after Trump gets elected, its highly steeped into American politics, which can be a bit of a put off, but generally a fun read.

How to Stop Time. Matt Haig. 4.8/5

What a beautiful book. I’ve recently discovered Matt Haig and his writing is so sensitive and kind. How to Stop Time follows a man who ages much slower than normal people. The only reason it doesn’t get a full 5/5 is because I’m not sure it passes the Bechdel Test.

*Yale Needs Women. Anne Gardiner Perkins. 4.5/5

This non-fiction book recounts how Yale went coed at the end of the 60s and the struggle that women faced to gain equality. What an incredible book. Well written, engaging and inspiring. Perkins has a way of describing past events that is very interesting. It’s eye-opening that at the end it states the way it has changed/not changed for women and poc at Yale. I recommend it for anyone who is interested in Yale’s history, gender and equality issues, and minorities in academia.

Let Me Tell You This. Nadine Aisha Jassat. 4/5

A girl I know wrote this poetry collection, in which she tackles racism, gender and violence. It’s beautiful, haunting and very honest. I highly recommend it, especially if you love a good feminist read and poetry.

*Confessions of a Bookseller. Shaun Bythell. 3.5/5

I was vaguely annoyed by this book and yet really enjoyed it. It follows the day-to-day life of bookseller Bythell in the Scottish book town of Wigtown. He mostly complains the whole time, about people who buy books, about people who don’t, about people that try to sell their own used books, people he works with, etc. But there’s something very relatable and self-deprecating that I really enjoyed.

The Psychology of Time Travel. Kate Mascarenhas. 3/5

I wish I liked this book more. It was an nice read with some fascinating (although a bit gobbledygook) science and kickass women scientists. But most of the book was spent dealing with the unlikable characters’s petty revenge plots and desires.

The Royal We. Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan. 2/5

I’d heard about this book so I picked it up when I saw it in the charity shop. Oh, what a trash pile. An amusing trash pile that is mostly fanfiction (about the Royals?). It swayed between being way too American and way too stereotypically British, and the romance was a bit lacklustre.

Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere. Jeanette Winterson. 4/5

A short book based on the 2018 Richard Dimbleby Lecture that Winterson delivered. It calls to action and standing for what you believe. It is followed by Freedom or Death, the 1913 speech by Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurt.

A Wizard of Earthsea. Ursula K. Le Guin. 3.5/5

What a great and short fantasy read. It was beautifully written, but I struggled to keep wanting to read it as the subject was a bit dry and not very plot driven. I’ll keep reading the series in hope that it gets better.

What have you been reading lately? Any good recommendations?xx

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