The Book Review Round Up Vol. 1

The Book Review Roundup Vol. 1

I’ve been avidly reading books non-stop since late April 2019 and I’m only now beginning to introduce this area into my blog – better late than never I say. One thing I can say is reading isn’t just a phase anymore and not something I plan to get sick of any time soon. In 2019 (starting from late April) I read 49 books. Currently, when you are reading this post I will be finishing my 53rd book or having started my 54th.

Now I’m not saying this to show off. I had a good two and a half months before I found a full-time job where I had a lot of time on my hand. Secondly, workdays involve only reading during my commute to and from work. Also, the success of reading is not defined by how many books you get under your belt or how quickly you finish a book. When I started reading, I thought the quickest I’d ever finish a book in would be one week (which is the case now during work weeks).

The whole point of why I talk about reading so much on my makeup/skincare Instagram and nowhere is to showcase the fact that I went from never reading books/especially at school to totally jumping on the bandwagon. It is possible and how fulfilling reading is for the soul I cannot even begin to explain.

So reading related blog posts will be a feature on the blog, not only reviews but lots of different reading-related posts.

This series will just focus on reviewing the books I’ve read I figured every 10 books I’ve read will sum up one post and as you can imagine I have quite a few posts ready to go at this point.

Apologies for the stupidly long introduction but I couldn’t just casually jump into my first ever book-related blog post on TMA without some sort of insight.

Nevertheless, let’s jump in now!

The Art of Not giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. Mark Manson, however, doesn’t sugar-coat or equivocate: “F**k positivity,” he says in his wildly popular internet blog. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” Backed by both academic research and well-timed poop jokes, Manson makes the argument that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. It’s time to recalibrate what it means to be happy: there are only so many things we can give a f**k about, so we need to figure out which ones really matter. An antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society, and filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humour, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap in the face for a generation spoiled by being rewarded with gold medals just for showing up.

I read it in 24 hours! If that doesn’t tell you what an awesome read it is, I don’t know what will. It’s funny, sarcastic and I’m sort of in love with the author just from his sarcasm and sense of humour. It isn’t a preachy/hippy-dippy book. It’s real and raw and cuts through a lot of B.S. Only 224 pages which believe me isn’t that long. Its’ certainly not a P.G rated read but it’s incredible. Even if you are not a reader of books, this one needs to be an exception for you.  I CANNOT recommend this book enough!

How to Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee

A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

An absolute classic. I read this book in school and it was one of the few positive reading experiences at school. Many of the books picked out for us to study at school sucked, but this one didn’t. The story had two separate climaxes and whilst the first one had a predictable end (at least for me) the second twist didn’t. I loved how the story was told from the point of view of Scout who is a child that gives a different perspective on a lot of heaviness that occurs in the novel – especially the theme of racism narrated by a child. Also, the way the town of Maycomb is described gives you such a level of detail you feel like you live there yourself. A lovely read and one of the few classic reads that are actually good.

Frankenstein – Mary shelly

Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. Mary Shelley’s chilling gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her lover Percy Shelley near Byron’s villa on Lake Geneva. It would become the world’s most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity.

I’m not an avid reader of classic fiction but when I first got into reading I didn’t know where to begin so I retraced my step by some books I read (or at least half-read) at school. Classic fiction can drag and this one definitely does as it includes a lot of detailed description regarding nature and feelings as well as feelings about nature. What I do love about this story is who it’s a story within a story within a story so you get the perspective of a neutral character – old mate Robert Walton, Victor (the monster creator) as well as the actual monster. You know the story is going to be tragic immediately as it’s more of a recounting and a cautionary tale. I did enjoy the book but I won’t be rereading it. if you do want to try classic fiction, this would be a good one to choose (there are quite a few crappy ones out there) though this isn’t one of them.

Ask an ocean explorer – Dr Jon Copley

How deep do sharks swim? Have more people been into space then the deep ocean? And what effect are we having on the health of our seas? Ask an Ocean Explorer answers these questions and more! ‘Our everyday lives are connected to the deep ocean in ways we seldom realise.’ Between these pages is everything you need to know about our oceans, explained in 25 questions. In Ask an Ocean Explorer marine biologist of over 20 years and advisor for the BBC’s Blue Planet II, Dr Jon Copley, explains the science and wonder of the deep ocean.
Combining untold history of ocean exploration and personal account of what it’s like to be a ‘bathynaut’ diving in a mini-submarine, Ask an Ocean Explorer will bring to light weird and wonderful deep-sea creatures that we find down there and how the oceans and their health is connected to our everyday lives

This may seem like a totally random read but if you loved the ‘Blue Planet II’ Documentary or you love reading about science and nature then this book is for you! I love all things about the ocean so any digestible reads about the ocean reel me in. It’s quite an easy read (doesn’t have any presumed knowledge) but in the first quarter of the book it drags on slightly when it talks about the history of studying the ocean. Despite dragging on, I found it quite fascinating the difficulty of studying the ocean. As the title suggests the book is divided into 25 questions whether it’s about physically exploring the ocean to ocean animals. You learn about ocean topography, the technology used to explore the ocean, the history of ocean exploration as well a focus on ocean discoveries and ocean animals. All in all it’s very very interesting!

1984 – George Orwell

In the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to appease the needs of the Party. Inwardly, he rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the watchful eye of Big Brother. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with Julia. Awakening to new possibilities, Winston begins to question the party. But what is price of freedom?

A long read but I love me a dystopian novel. Has strong elements of surveillance and you definitely feel a sort of dread when you read this book because it can easily be seen as a glimpse into our own future. The ending surprised me as it definitely doesn’t give the reader closure or is by any means predictable. It’s quite an intense book filled with very long chapters and by no means is it breezy but it’s definitely one to check out.

The Outliers – Malcom Gladwell

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Another non-fiction read. I read this years ago and it was the first non-fiction book I ever read. Quite an interesting read and almost reads like one big case study focusing on what makes people successful. By successful, I mean the likes of Bill Gates. I find it so refreshing and interesting, the way the case studies are broken down and linked back to concepts mentioned in previous chapters. The case study dives into such specific yet interesting topics – famous musicians and athletes, why Asians are good at math and why plane crashes occur. I highly recommend this even if you don’t particularly like non-fiction reads. This is by no means a “self-help” book but I feel like aspects of it can be applied to life for anyone who believes luck is what causes success. It definitely has made me interested in more social science reads.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer – the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance. His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

A quick easy read despite its heartbreaking theme of the holocaust. It only took me two days to read and the chapters weren’t overly long. Based on a true story it focuses on a love story that happens to begin in literally the most awful place – a concentration camp. I did find that as you read the novel, you feel this heaviness in your chest because it is based on the reality of the holocaust which happened. So all the violence depicted essentially happens and it definitely hits you as you are reading. The main character Lale has this positive, refreshing and hopeful attitude. It isn’t in a naïve way and despite the situation he expresses charm, wit and a little banter. I highly recommend this read, it’s left me with a love for historical fiction.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life. Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine? An astonishing story that powerfully depicts the loneliness of life, and the simple power of a little kindness

An absolutely awesome and quite unusual read! Quite an easy read filled with short chapters. The very premise of the story is quite relatable for anyone who is even a semi-introvert. There’s a lot of social awkwardness in the book to a point where the main character Eleanor can make you both cringe and feel sympathy for her. The theme of psychological trauma is quite obvious throughout the book only as of the reader we don’t immediately get the full story. I found myself turning page after page to learn more about that. I loved the narrative that blossomed between Eleanor and Ray! It really gives you an insight into mega introverts. I could go on and on about this book but I can’t without risking spoilers. Any of you who’ve read the book, send your comments of what you thought!

Five feet apart – Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias lanconis

Can you love someone you can never touch?
Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions. The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals. Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment. What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too? 

An absolutely adorable, sweet read that has you choking back tears! I immediately watched the movie after this. The story fluctuates between the two main characters – Stella and Will as the story. It gives you a lot of insight into Cystic Fibrosis and I had no idea people with this illness actually can’t touch each other. Your heart literally encompasses the same ache they feel. You so badly want them to get together and live the rest of their lives together with a freaking white picket fence. But it’s literally impossible because of the disease. This book hits you right in the feels!

The Girl from Munich – Tania Blanchard

Growing up in Hitler’s Germany, Charlotte von Klein has big dreams for the future. Her mind is full of plans for a sumptuous wedding to her childhood sweetheart Heinrich while working for the Luftwaffe, proudly giving her all for the Fatherland.

But in 1943, the tide of the war is turning against Germany, and Lotte’s life of privilege and comfort begins to collapse around her. As Hitler’s Reich abandons Germany and the country falls to the Allied forces, Lotte is forced to flee from the unfolding chaos to the country with the darkly attractive Erich Drescher, her Luftwaffe superior. Amid the danger, pain and heartbreak of a country turning on itself, Lotte must forge a new life for herself. But as the country struggles to find its future, shadows of the past come rushing back and Lotte finds herself questioning everything she has fought for – love, duty and freedom. The choices she makes will change her life forever.

The book is set in Neo-Nazi Germany focusing more on the German side during WWII. I liked the novel but it wasn’t one of my favorites. I did prefer the second half of the book more as it focuses more on personal turmoils and troubles that the main character Charlotte goes through. It’s quite interesting getting the perspective of the Germans (particularly the civilians) who weren’t necessarily 100% aware of what was going on with the holocaust. A nice book but not my favorite.

And that wraps up this very long post! If you made it this far, you’re a legend! Have you read any of the books mentioned in today’s post? What books have you been reading lately? Drop a comment and let’s have a chat. I love you guys and I’ll see you in the next post!

5 Comments

  1. Charlotte

    January 26, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    LOVE reading and definitely welcome more book blog posts to your blog!! I think I’m one of the only people who didn’t enjoy the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I just couldn’t get into it at all.
    Charlotte / Charlotte’s Picks

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      January 26, 2020 at 9:34 pm

      I can’t wait to do bring more book content to the blog! There were parts that were definitely cringy but I actually enjoyed it, I didn’t think I would

  2. Jessica

    January 26, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Outliers is one of my favorite books! I feel like I reference those anecdotes at least once a week.

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      January 26, 2020 at 9:34 pm

      I’ve read that book twice now! An absolute classic!

  3. Danielle Beautyblog

    January 30, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    My aunt mentioned Elinor Oliphant as a good read to me recently too, will definitely need to get a copy!

    Danielle’s Beauty Blog

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