Book Review Roundup #4

It’s that time again. Where I talk about the books I’ve read! We’re starting to slowly catch up to real-time books I’ve read though we still have a long way to go Fam! You know the drill with this kind of post – it’s freaking long so bring snacks and a beverage.

Let’s go!

Meat Market – Juno Dawson

Jana Novak’s history sounds like a classic model cliche: tall and gangly, she’s uncomfortable with her androgynous looks until she’s unexpectedly scouted and catapulted to superstardom. But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous. And there are unexpected predators at every turn. Jana is an ordinary girl from a south London estate, lifted to unimaginable heights. But the further you rise, the more devastating your fall … Honest and raw, this is a timely expose of the dark underbelly of the fashion industry in an era of #TimesUp and #MeToo. It might just be Juno Dawson’s most important book yet.

I loved this particular read – it was short and quick but had you turning the pages. I won’t say that its twists had me completely shocked. It definitely has a dark theme to it but it keeps you turning the page. What I love is that it’s a present-day story that shows you despite many changes in the industry how brutal it still is! The story is recounted from the point of a review of the main character and you get alluded to future events before they happen (I loved this aspect). A very very good read, I highly recommend it!

The storyteller – Jodi Picolou

Sage Singer is a young woman who has been damaged by her past. Her solitary night work as a baker allows her to hide from the world and focus her creative energies on the beautiful bread she bakes. Yet she finds herself striking up an unlikely friendship. Josef Weber is a quiet, grandfatherly man, well respected in the community; everyone’s favourite retired teacher and Little League coach. One day he asks Sage for a favour: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses. Then Josef tells her that he deserves to die – and why. What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed horrendous acts ever truly redeem themselves? Is forgiveness yours to offer if you aren’t the person who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – would it be murder, or justice?

This book is a clear example of how the blurb on the back cover doesn’t guarantee you will love or hate it. With this particular read, the blurb didn’t appeal to me whatsoever but I heard such good things about this author and wanted to give it a go. I freaking loved this book! You have multiple narratives being told and it’s such a complex read filled with so many twists. I cannot explain how much I loved this book but I immediately went on to buy a bunch more from this same author. The blurb definitely doesn’t do this story justice and only indicates the tip of the iceberg regarding what the story is about. A few of the chapters were quite long but I didn’t even mind! You get multiple character perspectives, a switch between past and presence, and a romance that gets you in the feels. You also get smacked with a twist even my hypothetical brain couldn’t guess! While it’s a long read, not for the faint of heart, and not an option if you are craving an easy ready but I highly recommend it!

Somethings in the water – Catherine Steadman

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you? Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares? Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . . Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

I would classify this read in the “crime” type of genre though for those who are avid readers of crime novels – this wouldn’t be your favorite. I liked it, it had twists and wasn’t predictable but I wouldn’t call it my favorite. I thought it would be “scarier” than what it was and I’m a chicken so I’m glad it didn’t creep me out but it definitely wasn’t as intense as I thought it would be. I like the way the first chapter reels you in as a grave is being dug and it then backtracks to explain how the character got to that moment. So while it wasn’t mind-blowing, I highly appreciated the way the story unfolded and was organized! You definitely read the book having one perception of the main character but the twist at the end makes you realize how wrong your perception was. So while it wasn’t amazeballs I still enjoyed the book!

Star crossed – Minnie Darke

In this sparkling romantic comedy, a young journalist tampers with her magazine’s horoscopes to win her friend’s heart – and sets in motion an unpredictable and often hilarious ripple effect . . . When Justine Carmichael (Sagittarius, aspiring journalist and sceptic) bumps into her old friend Nick Jordan (Aquarius, struggling actor and true believer) it could be by chance. Or perhaps it’s written in the stars. Justine works at the Alexandria Park Star – and Nick, she now learns, relies on the magazine’s astrology column to guide him in life. Looking for a way to get Nick’s attention, Justine has the idea of making a few small alterations to ‘Aquarius’ before it goes to print. It’s only a horoscope, after all. What harm could changing it do? Charting the many unforeseen ripple effects of Justine’s astrological meddling – both for herself and others – Star-crossed is the funny, super-smart, feel-good novel of the year!

Who doesn’t love a romance genre read! I’m a sucker for love stories but I’m also quite picky because there is a fine line between a love story that hits you in the feels and one that doesn’t draw you in. This one was somewhere in the middle. I did like it and the quirky plotline it came with, I especially loved the main character’s inner dialogue as it’s relatable to basically every girl on the planet. The story arc is on the predictable side and I wish it had more substance to it (the blurb seemed more appealing than what it ended up being). Overall it was an enjoyable read, doesn’t get you teary but it’s still sweet.

The girl on the train – Paula Hawkins

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

With this book I haven’t watched the movie. I quite enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. It makes for an interesting read that the main character is an alcoholic – you get quite an interesting twist when the main character is all over the place and yet is narrating the story for you. I found I also got equally frustrated with the character as well as defensive on her behalf – it definitely paints alcoholism quite realistically. You also get three different perspectives and a shift between past and present! The book is filled with interesting twists and a final twist that isn’t by any means predictable.I enjoyed the book, if you are into crime related fiction, you’ll enjoy this one.

Nine perfect strangers – Liane Morirarty

The retreat at health and wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage and absorb the meditative ambiance while enjoying their hot stone massages. Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired bodies and minds. These nine perfect strangers have no idea what is about to hit them. With her wit, compassion and uncanny understanding of human behaviour, Liane Moriarty explores the depth of connection that can be formed when people are thrown together in… unconventional circumstances.

I’m starting to realise that this author just isn’t my cup of tea. I read her first novel “Truly madly guilty” and it was only okay. This novel is following that same trajectory but two be fair both this and that novel involved blurbs that just simply didn’t appeal to me from the start. It’s clear that Liane Morirarty definitely loves to give a multiple-character perspective to her novels. The chapters are once again short but I am finding it quite a slow read. I have one more novel from this author sitting on my bookshelf but that particular novel had a “blurb” that actually peaked my interest – so maybe there is hope for that. This particular story wasn’t my cup of tea but it wasn’t terrible either.

How to wind friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie

The iconic bestseller. The world’s benchmark business and personal development book. This book will help you solve one of the biggest problems you face: how to get along with and influence people in your daily business and social contacts. Since it was first published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s all-time classic has been translated into almost every known language and continues to help millions of readers around the world. How to Win Friends & Influence People can help you achieve these important goals: Get out of a mental rut, think new thoughts, acquire new visions, discover new ambitions; Make friends easily and quickly; Increase your popularity; Win people to your way of thinking; Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done; Handle complaints, avoid arguments; Become a better speaker and more entertaining conversationalist

Although it was originally written in the 1930s it’s still so relevant in today’s society. The writing style definitely tells sign of a classic book and a lot of the examples provided are quite old school and definitely apply to the 20th century. It didn’t have a modern feel to it like some of the other non-fiction books I’ve read but I nevertheless enjoyed it and still recommend it.

Eggshell skull – Bri Lee

A fiercely intelligent, heartbreakingly honest memoir and feminist call to arms in the tradition of Fight Like A Girl. Eggshell Skull: A well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must ‘take their victim as they find them’: If a thin skull caused the death of someone after a punch, that victim’s weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime, nor the punishment. But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his ‘victim’ as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system, who will not back down until justice is done? Bri Lee began her first day of work at the Brisbane Magistrates Court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Eighteen months later she was back as the complainant in her own case. This is the story of Bri’s journey through the Australian legal system; first as the daughter of a policeman, then as a law student, and finally as a judge’s associate in both metropolitan and regional Queensland–where justice can look very different, especially for women. Confronted by horrific criminal behaviour every day in court, Bri’s eyes were opened to the inequity of the legal system and how complainants in sex crime investigations and trials struggle to receive justice, are re-victimised, and let down by the system with heartbreaking frequency. The injustice Bri witnessed, mourned and raged over every day finally forced her to confront her own personal history, one she’d vowed never to tell. And this is how, after years of struggle, she found herself on the other side of the courtroom, telling her story. Bri Lee has written a fierce and eloquent memoir that addresses both her own reckoning with the past to speak the truth, as well as the stories around her, with wit, empathy and unflinching courage. Eggshell Skull is a haunting appraisal of modern Australia from a new and essential voice.

The essence of this book is about sexual assault and if that topic triggers you it may be difficult. There are quite of graphic images explained. The book is written like a narrative (the way a fictitious story is written). However, the entire book is a true account and the author is the main character in the book. The story flows in a way that makes sense whilst having moments whether the author hints at the future. I enjoyed this read and felt it to be extremely powerful, it’s definitely an intense book and to any fellow readers I’d follow this one up with a light-hearted book.

Harry potter and the philosopher’s stone – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

Although I’ve watched all the Harry potter movies countless times it’s always been on my bucket list to read the series (even before I transformed into a book worm!). Aside from knowing exactly what happens I still enjoyed the book. I picked up details that I either didn’t notice in the movie or weren’t included. It wasn’t an overly long read either but the later books in the series have definitely cut my work out for me.

The woman from St Germaine – J.R. Lonie

She is a celebrated writer stranded in Paris after her French lover is killed fighting the German invasion. He is an enigmatic foreigner with a dangerous secret, fleeing Nazi-controlled Austria. Only the war could bring them together. Armed with a precious first edition of Finnegans Wake and an even more precious stash of Chesterfield cigarettes to barter with, Eleanor Gorton Clarke joins the sea of refugees escaping the city for the Spanish frontier. But when a stranger kills two German soldiers to save her life, Eleanor is forced on the run with her mysterious rescuer, pursued by a vengeful detective from the Wehrmacht. Two strangers from vastly different worlds, the unlikely pair despise each other at first. But as the ruthless hunt for the two fugitives escalates and they are forced to become allies to survive, a powerful attraction erupts between them. As their relentless German pursuer begins to close the net, a heartbreaking discovery forces the great romantic novelist to experience something she was supposed to know all about – the true nature of love.

You guys know by now I love me some historical fiction BUT this particular read was below average. I find that the essence of the story being about a relationship, it’s got to pull you in and have you as a reader invested in the couple. I wasn’t invested. But I always takes reads like this where I didn’t overly enjoy the book as a way of growing my patience. Also the very act of reading gives me peace and fills my soul so even the meh books – my love of reading can trump an average read.

And that wraps up this MEGA long blog post. If you got through this whole thing a round of applause to you! Have you read any of the books mentioned above? What have you been reading lately? Drop a comment and let’s have chat! I love you guys and I’ll see you next time. x B

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1 Comment

  1. The Exclusive Beauty Diary

    June 11, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    I didn’t read any of these books. Thank you for recommendation.

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