Reading Slumps

Through this 3rd UK lockdown, I’ve been reading so, so much! I was on such a roll. I have loved working less and reading more and I will honestly be sad when I have to work full time again and go out and socialise.

When I started reading the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I was excited to be reading a fantasy and really liked the main character. This series is all over bookstagram and I was dying to read it but… I got to the third book and gave up. I just didn’t want to read. I think it’s because the books were so big and it was taking up a lot of my time to get through them when all the while I was thinking ‘I could have read 3 other books by now’. Which is a shame, and I am by no means slamming the ACOTAR series at all, it has been so many people’s favourite series and I can appreciate its good elements but I just want to read other books.

Sidenote: Why does this sound like a break-up?

I just don’t think series reads are for me. I feel bad that I haven’t finished the series but I want to read a few stand-alone books before I consider going back to it.

I was so kindly gifted books for my birthday off my family and this definitely sparked my interst in reading again. I also went to Waterstones and picked up a few books and was so excited to start them. I am currently reading Sharks in the Time of Saviours which has pulled me in with its unique premise: Gods are alive in Hawaii and Nainoa is blessed by them. The experience of being back in a bookshop and finding this peculiar book has been enough for me to dive back into reading.


How have you got out of a reading slump before?


Happy reading,

Charlon

Intagram Inspired TBR

Since joining bookstagram I have seen so many amazing book accounts and posts!

I now have a huge list of books I want to read but a few have stood out for me. So let’s have a look at the books that Instagram has inspired me to buy!


Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Recommendation by @elliesbookshelf_ on Instagram

I was drawn to this recommendation because Alice in Wonderland is such a popular story and I love The Queen of Hearts as a character so this retelling of her life is a must read for me! I love the simplistic cover with the red foil against paper white. I think the fact that the cover is simplistic is because The Queen of Hearts is so widely known and needs no obvious introduction. I can’t wait to read this book!


Deeds Not Words by Helen Prankhurst

Recommendation by @carasbooklist on Instagram

I havent’t read up on feminism since university. I was so clued up about it then but unfortunately I haven’t made time to read a more up-to-date piece on the topic. I was drawn to this because Cara described it as essays on the topics of politics, money, identity, violence, culture and power. The author is also related to the suffragette Emmeline Prankhurst. I think this is the exact type of book I’ve been looking for!


This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I can’t pin this recommendation down to one person in particular because this is all over my Instagram.

I was hesitant to read this because I didn’t want to cry but I want to know what goes on in a hospital from a doctor’s perspective. From experience of my mum being looked after in hospital, I have a deep appreciation for what all hospital staff do day to day and wanted to know more.

The book is in the form of diary entries filled with funny, heartwarming and tragic stories of all the patients Kay has met along his career. There is also political commentary throughout the book, the fact that the staff have to pay for their own parking (which has been a huge dispute in the news lately) and how severely underpaid the staff are. One line from the book I will take with me forever; ‘next time the government takes its pickaxe to the NHS, don’t just accept what the politicialns try to feed you. Think about the toll the jobtakes on every healthcare professional’. I think now more than ever we need to pay attention to this statment.


What has Instagram inspired you to read?

Happy reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Book Review: Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genre: General Fiction

Source: Watertones purchase


What Is It About?

I was originally drawn to this book because the synopsis said it was about a love triangle split between New York and London. I love books set in cities so I was immediately drawn to this. The book also covers Mina’s deep depression, and the effects it has on her life.

What I Thought

I kept plodding along with this thinking that it was going to amount to some big revelation or that something significant was going to happen but nothing ever did. The characters just plodded along, and although this is probably a commentary on how Mina lives her life dealing with depression, I just found it quite mundane to read. I thought Mina’s husband dealt with her depression atrociously and it was awful to read. One minute he wouldn’t leave her alone and the next he was across the world ignoring her messages when she needed him. I couldn’t understand what the book was trying to convey and I really struggled with it. This book is essentially a glimpse into the character’s lives rather than a strong storyline or plot that it implied with a love triangle in the synopsis.

I think this book was good in that the author didn’t ‘cure’ Mina’s depression. Recently, I have seen a lot of critique on books such as The Midnight Library where it is argued that depression is over-simlplified in this book and that just a change in perspective can make someone happy again, which is of course not the case.

I didn’t connect with this book overall, I think the characters were unlikeable and were shitty to each other and ulitimately I thought it was going to be a lot different to what it was.

The author’s writing is undeniably beautiful and parts of this book were stunning but if youre looking for something that glamorises cities and features a love triangle, this isn’t it.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Happy reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Kindle versus Paperback (or basically) Amazon versus Waterstones

Which do you prefer?


Reading Habits

I’ve recently bought myself a Kindle. I wanted to get it because I’m going to be travelling more to work and I wanted something light. I also have changed my reading habits… I used to have a Kindle in uni about 7 years ago now (don’t want to think about how long ago that was) and I really didn’t like it.

When I would read in uni, I loved non-fiction books or classic fiction novels and I wanted to devour them. I just wanted to speed through them, feel acomplished that I’d learnt something and then move on to the next one. I never got lost in a book, I always counted how many pages were left and I just wanted to finish the books. The kindle didnt give book pages, it wasn’t easy to see how far through the book you were (back then) and I just hated the experience of not having a physical copy. I ended up giving the Kindle to my mum who let me know that it is nowhere to be found when I went looking for it recently (maybe she felt the same about it). So I bought myself a brand new one, its smaller, lighter and I got it in white.

Nowadays, I honestly just have more time to read and get lost in books. I have a brand new appreciation for contemporary fiction and am not obsessed with ‘learning’ anything from books. I don’t have any deadlines over my head or any guilt about spending time to myself and not thinking that I could be learning or working on uni assignments instead. Now I read a variety of non-fiction books, I love them as a source of entertainment and especially in being part of the Bookstagram world, I love reviewing books, sharing reading experiences with others and immersing myself in the book world.


Amazon versus Brick and Mortar Stores

I did a Master’s Degree in Publishing and when I tell you the publishing industry has a gripe with Amazon it is the understatement of the century.

The bones of the argument is that Amazon needs physical bookshops for the consumer to browse books. They directly benefit from this browsing experience without having to provide a shop themselves. All whilst the publisher is trying to not have to sell their books dirt cheap to Amazon.

A customer walks into Waterstones, finds a book they like the look of, goes on to amazon, searches for it directly and buys it for a cheaper price. Amazon doesn’t pay for a physical store, they don’t have this ‘middleman’ so to speak. Amazon buys directly from publishers at a lower price because they have huge marketshare and buying power. Books are more expensive in stores because Waterstones is buying them for a more expensive price than Amazon from the publisher and adding their own cut to the book to keep the shop and pay the workers.

Amazon has done its best to recreate the browser expeience, you can search through genres, it will suggest books to you etc. but nothing is like walking into a bookshop is there? Picking up the book, seeing how large the text is, the print of the book and a personalised bookseller review next to it on the shelf.


Do you have a Kindle? What is your experience with it?

Happy reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Recommendations From Friends ♡

I’ve been given good book recommendations from 2 of my friends lately and wanted to showcase them on here!

It is so, so lovely to share experiences with books. There’s nothing like lending books, recommending them and bonding over them. I am lucky to have friends who love to read and who have different reading tastes to me.

I never want to stick to one genre/theme with books but I think it is difficult to buy books from genres you’re not drawn to. I often find that reading a synopsis puts me off a lot of books, but when someone close to you has said they loved a particular book and tells you their personal experience with it, it is more appealing. I definitely rely on my friends (and now Bookstagram accounts) to tell me about books from other genres whch they loved.


My friend, Amy, sent me some recommendations after seeing my Bookstagram account which was so kind and I always love her recommendations, she has the best taste from books to films to TV shows!

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix ★★★★★

I’ve already read this book, I couldn’t resist this cover and wanted to read it straight away. It’s oversized, looks live a video and was so perfect! It is set in the ’80s in a highschool and is centred around music, frienship and the supernatural. I loved this book! I usually like books around heavier topics but I always want recommendations because I would never usually go for a book like this but had the best experience reading it.

I’ve yet to buy a few more recommended to me from Amy but they will be on the way next month!


Ellie recommended me this next book! I lent Ellie Selected Poems by Silvia Plath and got this in return.

The Graduate by Charles Webb

I have yet to read this book. It is a bout a graduate called Benjamin who’s life is laid out for him but he wants more. He ends up having an affair with a family friend and which runs into a few complications to say the leasr. It sounds dramatic, I like the premise and I always trust Ellie’s recommendations! I can’t wait to start this book.


Have you been recommended any good books lately?

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Genre: General Fiction

Source: Waterstone’s website


I have seen the trailer for the movie adaptation for this film and it came up in an Amazon bestseller list so thought I’d give it a go. I’ve also gotten over my fear of reading bigger books after I read The Shining and loved it so I gave this a go. This was also promised to be an epic love story which I was in the mood for.

This was a frustrating read. I always want characters to do different things than what I read. I liked one message in the book, that you should pursue your dreams and live a life you can be proud of. But there are huge issues in this book that need to be addressed related to disability.

Lou is employed by Will’s family with 2 months to convince him not to commit assisted suicide.

The relationship and love elements to this book ruined it completely, it’s not what anyone signed up for. There was a massive build up to an epic love story where love conquers all which never happened. Will (who had suffered a bike accident and left him with disability) was intent on ending his life. Which leads to the underlying dangerous message of this book, where even when Will has everything he wants, living a disabled life is enough for him to want to die.

Disability and assisted suicide has been a huge topic of conversation on this book, one reviewer in Goodreads writes;

‘This [book] sic. reinforces dangerous assumptions society already has about people with disabilities. Many (able bodied) [characters] sic. have commented that they completely understand Will and if they were in his position they’d want to die too. They are wrong… there is data on this- that the vast majority of people with similar disabilities as Will do not want to die.’ – Ela, Goodreads.

I doubt this was the intention of the author but it is an issue with the book that cannot be ignored. I cannot find anything online that states her opinion on this matter.


Happy reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Featured image by Pedro Monteiro @ unsplash.com

Book Review: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Source: Waterstones online order


Synopsis

Antara has suffered at the hands of her mother for years, she was abusive and never showed her love or affection. Now, her mother is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and is relying on Anatara to look after her. This is a story of a toxic mother- daughter relationship without closure.

What I Thought

This was so difficult to get into, it was so flat and relied so much on the premise of Antara’s mother being awful and now Antara has to care for her mother and it didn’t move much further past that. Her father never cared for her either but this was much more overlooked. There was a lot of women hating women in this book and it really didn’t sit right with me. I think it was unknowingly very mysoginistic and I struggled to get to the point of the book unfortunately.

The novel is shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. I think that at some point down the line, I’ve really missed the underlying theme of this book. I think it’s gone over my head because of my initial issues with it. As the book progressed, I believe that Antara was a mirror image of her mother in some way, they were tied to eachother in such a strange way. I may have to read this again and try to have a different perspective on it.


Has anyone else read this book? I really want to see a different side of this book!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Source: Watersones listing


When I finished this book, I just had to sit there and take it all in. This book is amazing. There was so much said and so much representation. It had a lot to say about life, people, society and beliefs (religious and political). Reading this was an ethereal experience and I’m so glad I finally got around to buying it.

Synopsis

Leila is lying dead in a rubbish bin in Pera, a city in Istanbul known for liberalism, debauchery and Westernization. As her body is shutting down, neurones in her brain are still ticking away, bringing back scents and memories both distant and not so long ago. We learn about Leila’s upbringing, the pains from her family home and how Leila obtained her freedom, moved to the city and built friendships stronger than family.

What I Thought

I loved the main charater Leila, she was feisty, loved life and loved being in the city. I loved the friendships in this story, her friend Nalan said that there is your blood family and your water family and sometimes water is thicker than blood. They were such good friends to eachother, all bonded by having to leave their families for a better life or to live out their destinies in the city. I haven’t felt so much towards characters in a book for a long time, I truly enjoyed getting to know them.

The representation in this book is phenomenal, the friendship group featured in this novel came from all walks of life and they breathed so much life into this story.

What I Appreciated

This book is quietly educational in terms of the history of Istanbul and the treatment of sex workers and covers political and religious topics extremely well. Shafak does not shy away from depicting issues covering violence, the massacre in Istanbul on International Workers Day and the treatment of women.

There was a lot of symbolism with the blue betta fish, the cycle of life and destiny. It was so interesting and so satisfying to read, it was so so well written. This is a truly soulful, beautiful, political, spiritual and original novel.


Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

My rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Pace: Slow

Source: Waterstones valentine’s recommendation


Synopsis

Connell and Marianne are from the same town and the same school but this is where their similarities end.

What I Thought

The polarity between the two characters was so satisfying to read, it was so evenly written out. Connell was poor, Marianne was rich. Connell was popular, Marianne was not, Connell had a loving family, Marianne’s were abusive.

They were a true ‘opposite attracts’ story without clichés that I hate so much. I usually dislike romance stories because they make me cringe but this was different. It was so realistic. It was a salt of the earth story; so gritty and honest in subjects like sex, relationships, domestic abuse and depression. I loved the push and pull of Marianne and Connell’s relationship, how they always came back to each other and always will.

What I Appreciated

I loved the literary references throughout the story, the characters loved to read and studied novels like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë which I also studied at uni and it made the story so much more familiar and accessible to me. There were also a few novels in there that I now want to read, which is always good!

Series Adaptation

I haven’t seen the television series yet but it’s next on my watch list! I can’t wait to see these characters brought to life on screen.


Has anyone else read this or watched the series show? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Book Review: The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

My rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Pace: Slow

Source: Costa Book Awards announcement

“ I knew she was from ancient times, from times when people knew magic, when people saw gods everywhere and talked to the plants, the animals and even the fish in the sea.”


The embellished writing, the beautiful mythical theme, the talk of heart-mates, the push and pull of life and loneliness. There is endless beauty to this book.

What Is It About?

Aycayia was cursed by jealous women over a thousand years ago to live a lonely life as a mermaid. She is lulled to Black Conch bay by David’s singing. Fishermen pull her ashore and she spends her time above water loving, learning and never quite running away from the women who cursed her even though they are long, long gone.

What I Thought

The way this is written is beautiful, there are parts of speech written in the Black Conch vernacular that makes you slow down with your reading and enjoy the story. It is the perfect mythology mixed with modern day, it was conscious of class, colonialism and history also.

I usually break the spines on books and fold the pages (sorry to admit that) but not with this one! I just wanted to cherish this story, the feel of the book and the cover are so astoundingly beautiful so how could I?

What I Appreciated

The author introduced me to new words such as bougainvillea and tabanca. I love when this happens, I was introducted to new imagery and emotions. This is when you know a book is good!


I wish I could read this again for the first time!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon 🧜🏻‍♀️