Liz Flanagan – Eden Summer

Liz Flanagan

So first of all, Eden Summer was maybe not the best name to choose for a book – I just searched on Waterstones website to get a link to the book and it turns out Eden Summer is the name of an erotic fiction writer – so if you tell people you’re reading Eden Summer and they give you a funny look, you know why!

I picked this book because it was set in Hebden Bridge and I like reading ‘local’ books. I’ve been going through a bit of a Young Adult spell at the moment so this kind of appealed to me for that reason too.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t really get on with the book, the style of writing was just not for me. The book starts off with Eden going missing, and then most of the rest of the book is told via flashbacks, and sometimes flashbacks from within flashbacks. I felt like it really affected the pace of the story for me – we were getting so much information of the history of the book, but none of the drama of Eden actually being missing.

I got to the end of the book and I was a little bit disappointed that nothing more happened, it just felt like a complete anti-climax at the end. Probably more a fault of it being aimed at teenagers rather than more dramatic novels I’ve read like The Girl on the Train, but I was expecting¬†more.

I’m not going to say don’t read it as I can see how other people would enjoy it, but it just wasn’t for me.

My Rating: 2/5
Year Published: 2016
Number of Pages: 289
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 13th May 2018 – 19th May 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.68
See this book...

Milly Johnson – A Summer Fling

A Summer Fling

Ah Milly Johnson, I could read you forever. As usual, this book was brilliant from start to end. The kind of book that I start reading and it turns into a lovely film inside my head, and I don’t realise how long I’ve been reading until I’m 200 pages in and my back is hurting from sitting in one place for too long!

One of my favourite things about Milly’s books is that they’re set in Yorkshire and all her characters are so lovely and relateable. Sometimes when I’m reading ‘chick-lit’, I find the characters so different from me that I can’t empathise with them at all, but I always feel like I could be best friends with the characters that Milly creates.

This book was no different. Despite the 5 main ladies being such different characters, I could imagine sitting with them in The Rising Sun and having a drink and a gossip.

The other thing that Milly has a complete knack for is creating the perfect ‘bad guys’. The men who are complete idiots and don’t deserve the lovely ladies they’ve got. The men never seem exaggerated, but you despise them all the same.

But that just leaves room for the nice guys like Vladimir or Niki to come in and sweep the lovely ladies off their feet, when they finally realise how lovely they are.

This book was like literary girl-power. All the ladies teaming up together and having each other’s backs to get them out of the bad situations they were in and make them finally happy again.

Love love loved it. Devoured it in less than a day because I just needed to know what was going to happen.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2007
Number of Pages: 484
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 13th May 2018 – 14th May 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.21
See this book...

Diksha Basu – The Windfall

The Windfall

Right up to the very end, I was loving this book, but the ending left me feeling a bit cold which really changed my impression of the whole book, dropping my overall rating from a 4 to a 3.

The book felt to me like Hyacinth Bouquet and Keeping up Appearances on steroids. I’ve never known someone so desperate to appear like he has more money than his neighbours than Mr Jha. To go to the point that you will openly insult your son and call him useless and his work rubbish just so that you look better to your neighbours makes you pretty sad to be honest.

Mr Jha and his wife have recently come into a lot of money, and Mr Jha has decided that they need to move from their family home surrounded by their friends, so to a nicer house on the other side of Delhi, surrounded by other wealthy people. Mrs Jha is not so certain, and you can tell as the book goes on that she would just much rather be back in her small apartment (despite its foibles) and have her friends near her. Money can’t fix loneliness.

Without giving away too many spoilers, one of the funniest things for me was when Mr Jha realised that his insane competition to look richer than his neighbour might have all been a waste of time. I mean, getting a sofa that was studded with crystals might have looked nice, but if you can’t sit on it without inflicting pain, what is the point?!

As well as Mr and Mrs Jha, the book splits perspective between their son Rupak who is at school in America, and Mrs Jha’s friend Mrs Ray. I loved that we could see the story from multiple sides, as it meant that you got a better feeling of how ridiculous it all was.

Unlike most books I’ve read with multiple perspectives which devote a chapter at a time to one character, this book seamlessly switched from one character to another, sometimes mid sentence. It was a bit jarring at first, but once I got used to it, it was great. It meant that you could see the exact same events from multiple perspectives without splitting the book up into tiny chapters.

As I mentioned at the start, I knocked a point off this book for the ending which was just a total let-down for me, I was expecting something more and it felt a bit like it fizzled out. I still can’t decide how exactly I would have preferred the book to end, but just with a bit more of ‘something’ than it actually did.

My Rating: 3/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 306
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 9th May 2018 – 12th May 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.56
See this book...

Nick Page – A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity

A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity

So if you look at the Goodreads data on when I started and finished this book, you’ll see it has taken me a ridiculously long time to finish reading it. I’d like to point out that this definitely isn’t a reflection of the book, it’s just that I started off only reading the book when I was in the bath, and I don’t get to spend much time in there!

However, over the past week I’ve finished the last half of the book and it has been fantastic. The author has a way of blending the history with comedy to make the book entertaining as well as full of facts. I never really got on with history at school as I found it a bit boring, but this book made sure I was never bored and I learnt so much from it – if school history lessons had been like this, I might have paid more attention!

The book starts 2,000 years ago (as you may have guessed), and covers everything from the Nicene creed, through to the reformation, the abolition of slavery and the ordination of female priests. How the author managed to pack so much information into so few pages is beyond me, but I never felt ‘short-changed’ on information.

Interspersed throughout the book are little ‘fact files’ about important people in Christian history, along with little cartoon sketches which added to the ‘comedy’ side of the book without taking away from the seriousness of it too.

Nick Page - A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity

I would really recommend this book to anyone interested in learning a broad overview of Christian history, you will most likely find areas that you want to learn about in more depth – I certainly did. I’m now reading ‘A Nearly Infallible History of the Reformation’, in part because of how interesting I found the reformation part of this book, and in part because I want to read more by this author.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2013
Number of Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 13th September 2016 – 9th May 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.28
See this book...

Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Frost and Starlight

I was really quite excited about this book coming out having read the first three in the series over the new year. But when I started reading the first reviews coming through on Goodreads, I was a little apprehensive and the reviews weren’t great.

The reviews did prepare me for the fact that this is a novella between the original trilogy and the planned new trilogy to connect the two plots together, so at least I wasn’t expecting a full novel, but I was still left wanting more at the end – less than 300 pages just didn’t seem like enough.

Saying that, I didn’t feel like there was a huge amount of plot in this book compared to the first three – now that the war is over, there wasn’t too much action – it was a lot more focused on relationships than fighting. Not that it was a bad thing, I did enjoy seeing relationships develop more in many ways, even though not all relationships went in the direction I had hoped.

A word of caution – this was the first book in this series that actually had a warning on the back about mature content not suitable for younger readers (which I think really should have been on the others too), but I would definitely agree that the book was quite adult in places. In fact, I think it would be pushing it to include this in the young adult genre which is usually applied to books aimed at 13+ it seems.

Some reviews weren’t happy with this content, but I did feel like it fit quite well in the story-arc, I mean Feyre and Rhys are now mated/married and it seems like a natural turn for the book to take, especially given other decisions they make towards the end.

I can’t wait for book number 5 now, I’m just hoping it will be a bit more action-packed than this novella.

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2018
Number of Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 6th May 2018 – 8th May 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.2
See this book...

Katherine Rundell – The Wolf Wilder

The Wolf Wilder

It’s been a while since I read this book, so forgive me for a short/probably slightly rubbish review. I’ve been so busy that since I read this book I just haven’t found much time to sit down and write the review, and I haven’t read another book in almost a month. Not much good for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, which I’m now 7 books behind on!

After reading another Katherine Rundell book not too long ago, I thought I’d give this one a try since it was available on loan from the library. The start of the book felt very familiar to me, like I’d read it before, but as the book went on, I realised I hadn’t (or at least I’d never made it to the end). I just didn’t click with this book and didn’t get on with it as much as The Explorer – which I gave a 5 star rating.

I loved the fairytale element to the story, the world that was described on the pages felt almost magical, the descriptions of the land around Feo were beautiful. But it was Feo herself that was distancing me from any kind of connection with the story – a headstrong young child, she assumes she is always right and ends up making the same mistakes over and over again, which was infuriating, especially when she kept putting the people she loved in danger.

All in all, not my favourite book, but still giving it 3 stars for the magical world that I got to spend time in.

My Rating: 3/5
Year Published: 2015
Number of Pages: 329
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 1st April 2018 – 8th April 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.04
See this book...

Allan Stratton – The Way Back Home

The Way Back Home

Urgh. I don’t know if I’m just way older than the target demographic for this book, but I just could not get along with it. I’m guessing it was aimed at teenagers who may be able to relate to the main character, Zoe, but I just found her a whiny brat throughout the whole book and it completely spoilt it for me.

I think it’s supposed to be played as Zoe the wild child going on this grand adventure and somehow reuniting the family and making everything right in the world, but all I could think about was how selfish Zoe was being.

Her grandma has dementia and she’s finding it hard to live alone (although she doesn’t realise it herself), so Zoe’s parents place her in a care home so she can be looked after. But Zoe decides that her grandma shouldn’t be in a care home, she should be “free”, so she decides to take her on a trip across Canada to visit her estranged son.

I think we’re supposed to think Zoe is a hero for trying to rescue her grandma from the evil parents, but the only thought running through my mind was how naive she was.

Unfortunately, this is my first 1 star review of the year. Maybe other people would enjoy it more than me (it does have a 3.85 average on Goodreads), but it just wasn’t for me.

 

My Rating: 1/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 266
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 15th March 2018 – 16th March 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.85
See this book...

Chelsea Sedoti – As You Wish

Imagine if you had one wish, and you knew for sure that it would come true. What would you wish for? Money? Beauty? Success? Love?

But what if you had already seen generations of people make their own ‘one wish’ and you could see the toxic affects it had on their lives? Would you still be so eager to make that wish?

For Eldon, that’s his reality. He lives in Madison, a place where each citizen can make one wish on their 18th birthday and it’s guaranteed to come true. But Eldon’s life has been heavily influenced by the consequences of his mother’s wish when she was 18, and he’s dreading his.

All his friends are excitedly discussing theirs, or they knew for months in advance what they would wish for, but Eldon just doesn’t know. He knows what his mother wants him to wish for, but he also knows it wouldn’t have the outcome that she wants.

I was taken on so many turns on this book that I honestly couldn’t decide what Eldon would wish for. I did find it got slightly teenage and brooding in points, but there we were also many places where it was pretty spot on as well.

“Wishing either gets you everything or nothing. And it’s a gamble everyone is willing to take.”

“Eldon, we all mess up. No one should measure their worth by how often they screw up. What matters most is how a person deals with the aftermath. How they grow and change.”

Including this one which was so relevant for me right now that I actually had to stop and have a little cry.

“When someone dies, it doesn’t just take them. It takes a piece of everyone who ever loved them and everyone they ever loved.”

I think I’d give this book 4 out of 5. The idea and most of the execution was great, but I just feel like it was a bit juvenile in places.

My Rating: 4/5
Year Published: 2018
Number of Pages: 432
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 9th March 2018 – 13th March 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.49
See this book...

Andrea Gonzales & Sophie House – Girl Code

Girl Code

I stumbled across this book when looking for any coding books on my library app – turns out there aren’t that many.¬† But actually, I’m really glad I ran across it as I found it such a relateable story. Sophie and Andy were two teenage girls who found themselves at a coding camp together and through that camp, they built a game called ‘Tampon Run’ which was intended to challenge the taboo of talking about periods when people are perfectly fine with guns and violence. The game was only really intended for a few people to see, but it ended up going viral and getting international attention.

Partly a story about their experiences with the reaction to such a ‘controversial’ game, the part of the story I related most to was their experience of being a female in the world of coding.

I was the only girl in most of my computing classes at school, I spent 8 years at my last company and I was the only woman who was ever on the development team, and although I’m really lucky that the place I work now has a more even gender balance, there’s still such a disparity in the dev world in general and it was great to hear about the more positive experiences that Sophie and Andy had.

I really appreciated that the book was written by both girls. Although they both have a huge shared interest, they’re very different people and this book celebrates that. It’s also intensely personal in parts, with both girls opening up and sharing things about their private life which impacted on their coding life too.

I’d guess this book was mainly aimed at young girls looking to get into coding, but actually I’d say it’s a valuable read for a much wider range of people than that – whoever you are, you’ll probably learn something.

One of my favourite quotes from the book (although completely serious, it really made me laugh):

“Coding is like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for someone who has never heard of either ingredient, never opened a jar, or used a knife. You can’t just tell them to put jelly and peanut butter on a piece of bread and smush it together. You need to explain how to pick up the bread and how to pull it out of the packaging and then how to open the jar and how to pick up the knife…

And if your steps don’t make sense, you get a coder’s worst nightmare: a bug, the programming term for when a program fails to run the way you expect it to. The bug will either make the computer follow the steps incorrectly (like trying to spread the peanut butter on the plate instead of the bread), or the program won’t run at all.”

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 304
Format: E-Book
Date Read: 4th March 2018 – 8th March 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09
See this book...

Katherine Rundell – The Explorer

Katherine Rundell

Part of my Book Bingo for this year is to read a Costa Book Awards winner. So when I was at Waterstones and this beautiful cover caught my attention, and then I saw the Costa Book Awards Winner sticker on it, I knew that this would be the one.

I didn’t realise until I started reading it that it is actually a children’s book, I’ve never really come across a children’s book thats’s 400+ pages long before, and although I can see how the story is definitely aimed at children, there were definitely many reasons why this was a great book for an adult too.

The picture that the author creates in your head is so vivid that you might as well be stranded with these four kids in the rainforest. I was so lost in the book that I didn’t realise how many pages I was turning subconsciously until I stopped for a tea break and I realised I’d read 150 pages. To me, that’s a sign of a great book, when you’re so enthralled that you sink into the pages and it becomes like a live-action film in your head.

When I’m reading a book and come across a quote that I like, I usually take a photo of it on my phone so that I can read it back later. Needless to say, my phone is peppered with quotes from this book. Some of the phrases that jumped out at me would probably have sailed over the head of a child, but sometimes left me feeling a bit stunned or made me laugh out loud.

I’ll repeat a few here:

“I just liked the idea that there’s still things that we don’t know. At school, it’s the same thing, every day. I liked that it might be all right to believe in large, mad, wild things.”

“Can’t bear moustaches myself. Grotesquery mouth-eyebrows, I always thought”

“The time will come, I hope, when the world values people as much as it values land. But for now, we do not need more men in pith helmets marching through the jungle towards us”.

“And cut only what you need. Don’t hoard. Leave enough that the tree can replenish itself. The greatest threat to living things is man, which is not a thought to make one proud”.

I won’t go into too much detail on the story itself as I would just recommend that you buy this book and read it. Either to yourself, or out loud to your children. But definitely read it, and if you’re an adult – don’t be put off by the ‘children’s book’ label – you’ll definitely get a lot out of it too.

My Rating: 5/5
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Date Read: 3rd March 2018 – 4th March 2018
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.18
See this book...