La Chamade. Book Review #56

Hey everyone!

La Chamade by Francoise Sagan is a 1965 contemporary novella that follows Lucille and Antoine in post-war Paris – two lovers who leave their older and richer partners so they can spend their days roaming the city, learning of each other and life.

I deeply enjoyed this book. Certainly La Chamade is an adult novel but it reads very much like a new adult contemporary; at its core it is a love story. Love is an ambivalent, evasive force in the translation I read of the novel. Sagan gives the young and beautiful Antoine and Lucille an irresistible kind of love that feels limitless and invulnerable. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed La Chamade so much is because of how simply happy the pair are – Sagan does something very rare in offering the reader a happily ever after in a modern romance story – (don’t worry this is no spoiler – the ending is refreshingly confusing). I certainly felt I was swept up in the glamour and pleasure of 1950s Paris, partly because of the author’s skill in world building but also because of the way love was intertwined with every cafe and street corner described. Sagan’s Paris is a romantic one.

I would recommend this book if you are looking for something that is luxurious, uplifting but also complex and challenging!

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

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Beautiful Quotes. #55

Hey everyone,

Here are some of my favourite quotes from some of my favourite books!

Touch by Claire North.

“My skin is wild in the wind

my breath is restless shock

and I am

woman, thick gloves woolly against the cold

man in yellow shoes who lost his way

I am the stranger who gave you the white flowers she carried

in her hand

the face you forget as it turned away

I am beautiful

until I see that she is more beautiful than me

and he more beautiful again

so beautiful, and never enough

I am the woman who stood on your foot on the train

jostled you in the queue

asked you for the time

I am the ancient man who has forgotten his name

the tired old woman who wished to be someone else.

I am no one.

I am Kepler.

I am love.

I am you.”

This is my favourite quote from Touch and is the last page of the book. Not only does it read like a piece of poetry it also manages to entirely sum up the meaning of the story. North breaks the wall between the reader and the page and makes you question whether you really are Kepler or Kepler really is you.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

“Beautiful and full of monsters?”

“All the best stories are.”

This quote is GUH! Strange the Dreamer is beautiful, it is full of Monsters.

I hope you liked these quotes!

Keep on reading!
And thanks again Beth.

Book Review. The Kite Runner. #54

Hey everyone.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a coming-of-age, historical fiction novel that I’m sure many of you will have already heard of!

The story surrounds and is narrated by Amir, a Pashtun Afghan who lives in Kabul. This is a book about family, friendship, class, war and what it means to call a place home. The Kite Runner begins in 1970s Afghanistan before the fall of the monarchy and the later rise of the Taliban. We begin at Amir’s childhood and his friendship with the Hazara boy Hassan – his best friend and the boy he is jealous of most. As the two spend hours buried in stories, flying kites and going to the cinema the Kabul they know and love is unfurling around them, just as Amir’s relationship with Baba is. The winter of 1975 will set forth a series of events that change Amir’s whole life and the lives of everyone he loves.

I went into this book knowing that it was going to be heartbreaking, earth-shattering and tear-jerking and thats why I’m shocked that I was still so surprised when it ended up being all of those things precisely. I thoroughly enjoyed the Kite Runner, not just because of how it made me feel, but more importantly, because of what it taught me about the world I am living in today.

Amir’s description of Afghanistan is worlds away from the Afghanistan I knew, the Afghanistan I had seen, whilst growing up, on the news. In a similar way to Exit West, Hosseini humanises these parts of the world that Western media is so inclined towards demonising. Kite Runner is not just a powerful text that shines light on the horrors of modern islamaphobia, it is also a cry for help to all of the Afghani children who have been left out in the dark because of ignorance and arrogance. After finishing this book I felt like I had gotten closer to learning what it is to truly feel empathy for another human.

Hosseini’s characters are rich, beautiful and horrendous constructs, constructs that are balanced perfectly with accessible but provocative language. Amir’s narration is both extremely frustrating and painfully rewarding; Hosseini pushes us to hate his protagonist so that when we learn to love him we are all the more shocked.

I will say that this is not an easy read – I won’t spoil of course, but do not go into The Kite runner expecting a nice story or a fun read. I recommend this book to all of you because it is important that this kind of story is told.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Currently reading. To Be a Machine. #53

Hey everyone,

For the past week or so I have been reading To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell. The book is a series of essays and recollections that are each trying to understand what it is to be human in the face of modern technology. Transhumanism is the idea that the human body can be freed from its own anatomy so that the mind can live forever by becoming a computer.

I have really been enjoying this book, if not only because it is so interesting (as a lover of sci-fi) to read about real life cyborgs and super AI, also, more simply, because it reads so much like a piece of fiction. To Be a Machine is a piece of journalism that makes O’Connell’s experience with multi-millionaire tech moguls and cutting edge computer scientists feel like a dramatic adventure novel.

This book is certainly philosophical but it is also really funny. Whilst challenging his reader to define where they draw the line on life or death in the face of biotech that in the near future could allow us to upload our minds into software, O’Connell also makes us laugh at the absurdity of it all. To Be a Machine is a refreshing glance into a world of technology and neuroscience that you didn’t even know existed.

Although I haven’t finished yet I think I’ll have no choice but to recommend it!

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

My YA TBR. #52

Hey everyone!

After finishing What If It’s us just over a week ago I realised how much I had been missing YA as a genre over the past couple of months.

Here are some of the books I want to read now I’m starting to fall in love with YA all over again!

Floored – Eleanor Wood, Holly Bourne, Lisa Williamson, Melinda Salisbury, Non Pratt, Sara Barnard, and Tanya Byrne

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It was actually Beth who gave me this book as a gift! I’ve heard mixed reviews but the blurb makes it sound like something I would love –

When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn’t that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn’t match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn’t as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who’s losing her sight but won’t admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn’t be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.

And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year

They Both Die At the End – Adam Silvera

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I feel like I am actually the last person in the entire cosmos to have not read this book. After meeting Adam and Becky at their signing a few months ago in Manchester I feel like I need to read it even more! –

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

A Court of Frost and Starlight – Sarah J Maas

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If you knew how much of an ACOTAR fan I was then the fact that I still have not read ACOFAS is almost ridiculous. I know that this is a shorter novel – more of a novella – but I get the sense that its going to be just as amazingly tense and magical as all of the others. –

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

And that is my YA TBR.

Whats on yours? Are you still on a post christmas book buying ban?

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

 

What If It’s Us. Book Review #51

Hey everyone.

I picked up What If It’s Us after attending the Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera signing in Manchester this autumn with Beth. You can read her lovely review here!

I went into this book looking for something fun and fluffy and I was certainly not disappointed. Albertalli and Silvera do an excellent job at creating a story that is simultaneously a piece of easy comfort reading, full of broadway references and cute moments, and a book that deals with more serious challenges that we all find ourselves facing in our own relationships in real life.

Ben and Arthur’s love felt special to me, special enough that I could suspend my disbelief that they could have fallen in love in a matter of weeks, special because it was orchestrated and blessed by the cosmic randomness of the universe. It was heartwarming and I found that after a while I was standing on the sidelines of the romance pitch cheering Arthur’s name as well as Ben’s. I say ‘after a while’ because initially I found Arthur too ridiculous to actually like him. I can imagine getting on with Ben in real life but Arthur was too cringey to the point that I actually felt embarrassed for him. Still, I did learn to love Arthur because I realised that he is the inner freak out geek that all of us slightly obsessed bookworms are inside.

In terms of diversity this story was right on point. Silvera and Albertalli recognise their responsibility as widely read YA authors and don’t just do enough to be deemed hip and liberal – they create realities that genuinely empower and celebrate ever reader hailing from every race and sexuality reading.

Perhaps the only thing that let me down, and it was a little bit of a big let down, was the writing style. I had never read Silvera prior to What If Its Us but I found that the constant use of cultural symbols and random misplaced young people jargon was jarring and distasteful as someone who is actually a young person. WIIU felt like a glass half full in terms of language compared to Simon Vs. the Homosapien Agenda. It was clunky and unnecessarily colloquial. It is not a criticism of Silvera or Albertalli – they are both excellent writers – I simply feel in this case that this was a matter of personal taste and teenagers who sound like adults pretending to be teenagers is not a taste I like very much. It was artificial and in some places it really did stop me from enjoying this epic story.

I would certainly recommend this book, just go in knowing that it sounds a bit like it was written for you by a computer programme designed to be cool.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars!
Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Book Review #50

Hey everyone!

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and a happy New Year!

This week I’m going to be talking about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers which I picked up whilst visiting Astley Book Farm with Beth!

TLWTASAP is a Sci-Fi, new adult story that follows the Wayfarer, a wormhole tunnelling ship that hurtles through the galaxy, boarded by an eccentric and eclectic crew of ‘spacers’. Set in the distant future, this book asks the big questions about gender, sex, humanity, science and the environment.

TLWTASAP was brilliant because it was story-less. Going into this, reading the blurb, you might think thats its going to be about Rosemary, the new clerk onboard the Wayfarer and her new life in space. And yeah, it is about that but it is also about every other crew member and all of their other pasts and loves and lives. I think its important to tell you now that TLWTASAP does not have a plot per se, but is more like a Tv show in that you will watch lots of episodes that all cleverly tie together before a satisfactory but equally independent season finale. This style of writing was like nothing I have ever encountered before and thats why it was even more refreshing; One chapter I might be reading about interspecies relations and the history of the Galactic Commons (This was extremely interesting) and the next I might be pouring my soul out over the tragic past of a crew members life on their homeplanet. Between each page, the possibilities and the size of the universe feels endless.

I want to shed light on my favourite part of the book which wasn’t a moment in the narrative or an aspect of a single character but instead a focus within the writing itself. TLWTASAP impressively makes you think about who you are as a human by spending over a third of the book, intermittently, describing, discussing and enlightening you on the mannerisms, cultures and belief systems of entirely made up species. The multi-species crew has all of the flare that you would expect from aliens in Sci-Fi but it also allows us to question what we value as modern 21st century citizens when the institution of marriage for an Aandriskk is so completely different to ours or the concept of happiness to the Grum is but a trivial endeavour. Chambers is especially good at being specific about the histories and worlds behind her aliens. These are not UFO-riding green men, these are sapient beings with rich backgrounds – they are, paradoxically, real people.

The only limitation for me was the fluffiness of the crew and how perfectly ‘troupey’ they all felt at times. Sometimes this read more like a fan fiction than a piece of fiction – which isn’t always a bad thing. Perhaps, in my dream novel, everyone would be a bit more cynical and gritty, but in space its fair enough that they wouldn’t all have there feet on the ground.

I recommend this book, not if you are looking for an epic space opera, but if you are wanting to read a story about people.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.