A Very Large Expanse Of Sea

A Very Large Expanse of Sea

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Shatter Me

Furthermore

Synopsis:

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

Thoughts:

I have enjoyed Tahereh Mafi’s writing for quite some time now and was intrigued to find out that she was releasing a contemporary book. She usually writes in the dystopian genre. I was definitely interested to see how A Very Large Expanse Of Sea would compare to her other books. I thought it was a fantastic read on a very important subject.

The story is set in 2002, a year after 9/11. Shirin, is a Muslim-American girl who is dealing with the fall out and racism after 9/11. Shirin wears a hijab which causes her to become a target for bullying and racist comments within school and the local community. Shirin has started to become hardened to the way she is treated. She doesn’t come across as a very nice person anymore because her guard is up. She’s desperate to protect herself. When Ocean comes along, he wants to get to know her. Shirin has to learn how to let her guard down and let someone become closer to her.

The relationship between Shirin and Ocean is both sweet and frustrating. I think that’s pretty relatable though for the age of the characters. Sometimes I just wanted to push them together, but I think their struggles and stubborn behaviour were totally spot on. Having a relationship for Shirin, would have been a challenge, especially post 9/11. I loved Shirin as a character. She’s so fierce and not afraid to speak her mind despite what the community is doing to her.

This story does heavily involve romance, but it’s also more than that. Tahereh Mafi takes you into Shirin’s world. We find out how terrible people can be towards Muslims, especially those wearing a hijab. It was interesting (although horrible) to read about Shirin’s experiences with racism, but it was also lovely to read about the people that really cared about Shirin. I think there was a good balance. It mean it’s not all doom and gloom.

I feel like Tahereh Mafi somewhat educated readers about some aspects of Muslim culture. Of course, not all Muslims are the same, but it did give you an insight into some of their lives without being condescending. I appreciated that. I loved how we learnt about Shirin’s family. Her mum and dad were immigrants and aren’t sympathetic towards her drama at school. You can understand when you read about their experiences, however, they do still care about their daughter. That’s clear.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A very touching read. It was lovely to read a contemporary story from Tahereh Mafi. Especially a topic in which she has so much personal experience with!

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Learning To Breathe

Learning to Breathe

How did I get it?:

It was a gift!

Synopsis:

Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules—to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow.

When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth.

Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof—it’s about the people she chooses to share it with. 

Thoughts:

I was immediately gripped by the synopsis of this book, so I put it on my Christmas wish list. I received a copy for Christmas and decided to get around to it ASAP. I’m pleased I did because although it didn’t blow me away, I thought it was a really interesting read. I will warn you though, it’s not an easy read. There’s sexual violence involved so proceed with caution.

Learning to Breathe follows Indy. She’s only just turned sixteen and finds herself pregnant after being assaulted. Indy now lives with her Aunt who couldn’t care less about her. She went from living with her dear Grammy who protected her, to someone who judged Indy on her mother’s reputation, which let’s just say, isn’t exactly glowing. Indy finds herself hiding the pregnancy, desperate to not be tarred with the same brush as her mother.

Indy is such a lovable character. I really wanted to reach into the story and protect her. I wanted to shake the adults in her life and get them to care more about the girl in front of them. I think the teachers at her school needed a good talking to as well. Completely useless!

This is Janice Lynn Mather’s debut novel and I think it shows a lot of promise. I did the feel like the pacing of the story was a little off. Sometimes it dragged and then the ending happened so quickly. The pacing of the story is what prevented me from giving this book 4 stars.

Would I recommend it?:

Yes!

A promising debut novel. The story isn’t easy to read but the main character is well developed and she makes you wish for a happy ending!

Daisy Jones & The Six *Buddy review with Bibliobeth*

Daisy Jones and The Six

How did I get it?:

I bought it!

Synopsis:

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now. They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed. Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

Thoughts:

When I recently got a copy of Daisy Jones & The Six Beth suggested that we buddy read it. We usually don’t buddy read, but I thought I’d go for it this time, especially as it was during my 2 week break. I had time to commit to reading which is just fabulous. I enjoyed my buddy reading experience. Whilst I don’t think I could read our books like this all the time (hoorah for Talking About, Kid-Lit and Banned Books- our other features!) buddy reading will be happening again.

We wanted something different to differentiate this review from the others that we do. Beth came up with the idea to describe the book using the first letters of Daisy Jones… I thought that sounded fun and unique, so here it is!

Drug dabbling- (look at that alliteration!)- This book is based in an era where drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were definitely a think. Be prepared to read about a lot of drug use.

Absorbing- the way in which the story is told completely pulls you in. It’s very unique.

Immortal- I feel like Daisy felt she was immortal. The music of the band will always keep them alive, but I always felt like she was dabbling with her mortality with every drug binge.

Savage- Without spoilers, I felt like some of the characters’ actions were savage although sometimes necessary… Ooh intriguing!

Young- I felt for Daisy all through the book. I think the lack of love she had from a young age contributed to her troubles.

Jealous- Initially, I thought there might be a lot of jealousy in the story. I think there’s elements of jealousy, but I was surprised at how accommodating some of the characters were… No spoilers 😉 Sorry!

Obvious- Beth and I were texting at various stop points and although we partly guessed what might happen, we didn’t fully get it right. I like that the story isn’t that obvious. I think because there was such a twist on Evelyn Hugo we expected the unexpected?

Notable- This book felt like it was real. It did feel like this band existed and were reading an expose.

Effortless- Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing seems effortless, (even though I’m sure she puts lots of effort into writing beautifully!) it’s just so seamless and easy to devour.

Satisfying- I’ve ended both Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six feeling very satisfied. I’m now sure I want to read more from this author!

Please go and check Beth’s take on this book by visiting her blog, HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Without a doubt!

Roar- 30 Women, 30 Stories

Roar

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?

From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.

Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

Thoughts:

It’s really hard to review a book of short stories as it’s such a mixed bag. There are some fantastic stories within the pages and some that I could have done without, although that being said, that’s the case for most short story collections. Instead, I noted down some words as I was reading that I thought best described this book. Here they are:

I think this is a fantastic book to read if you’re looking for short stories that are a little different. They all start with The Woman Who… There was a great range of stories all carrying a message, some that made me stop and think and some that made me laugh out loud!

Would I recommend it?
Yes! 3.5 stars

A collection where I think there will be at least one story that everyone can connect with!

No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley #3)

No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley, #3)

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin Books

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked. 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

Thoughts:

Crime thrillers aren’t usually my sort of thing but Cara Hunter is an author that I make an exception for. I really like her writing style. I find it engaging and exciting to read. It’s often quite twisty too and I love a good twist. No Way Out is the third book in the DI Adam Fawley series. It is an excellent addition. Whilst I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book at first, I’m glad I stuck with it, because it’s certainly worth the read.

No Way Out starts with a house fire in Oxford. It has completely destroyed the family’s home. 2 children have been pulled from the house. The youngest has died but the eldest is in a critical condition in hospital. The strange thing is, the mother and father are missing. The detective team start to piece together what happened. They search for the mother and father- eager to find some resolution.

Although it took me a while to familiarise myself all of the names, the detective team are incredibly strong and bring a lot to the case. I think they were really well developed and I loved reading about these quite complex characters. The death of the youngest child was always distressing to read about. There were some very harrowing discoveries along the way which added to the overall tension of the story. I loved how alongside the investigation, we learnt more about the character’s lives. Fawley will always remain a favourite for me. I find him to be a very likeable, interesting character.

As I mentioned, I’m not always a fan of crime thrillers and it takes a decent one to interest me. Cara’s style engages me because she uses a range of narratives to tell the story. I like the social media element and love reading the interview transcriptions. It keeps it modern and very realistic to me. This series is certainly worth a read!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful addition to the series. These characters are just fabulous.

Talking About ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ with Bibliobeth!

Nine Perfect Strangers

How did I get it?:

I bought it!

Synopsis:

One house. Nine strangers. Ten days that will change everything . . .

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 ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined.

For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . .

CHRISSI: There’s been mixed reviews of this book. Did that affect your opinion going into the story?

BETH: I hadn’t actually realised there had been mixed reviews until you told me – haha! I’m a huge fan of Liane Moriarty although I’ve only managed to read a couple of her books – the incredible Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret (although I have Truly Madly Guilty on my shelves). I have to be honest and say that because of that, I probably look at the author’s work through rose-tinted glasses and was determined to keep an open mind, ignore the haters and try and make up my own mind about the novel as I read my way through.

BETH: I found Moriarty’s dry wit brought something a bit more interesting to this story. Do you agree?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I think without dry wit this book would have puzzled me even more. I think it made the story more cold? If that makes sense. It wasn’t a heart-warming story. It was almost clinical for me. I hope that makes sense, I know what I mean. I felt like the way in which the book was written, didn’t really make you feel for the characters. It was almost like Liane Moriarty was making fun of her own characters.

CHRISSI: Why do you think the author chose to tell this story through multiple perspectives? How would it have changed your view of each of the characters if the story had been told through just one voice?

BETH: I always love a story told through multiple perspectives. You get a much more rounded view of the situation as it happens and a true view of each individual personality. I think if it had been told through one voice, you would have that individual bias of how just one character saw a situation and other people around them. It does make it more exciting too – especially if you’re not a fan of a particular individual but you’re keen to get back to another one’s point of view.

BETH: Who was your favourite character in Nine Perfect Strangers and why?

CHRISSI: Oh wow. This is a tough question because like I said in my previous answer to your question, I felt like I didn’t feel for any of the characters. That disengagement meant that I didn’t have a favourite character. I guess, if I had to pick I would pick Yao because I found him the most intriguing.

CHRISSI: Discuss the pros and cons of the retreat’s ban on technology and social media. What do you think the author is saying about the effects they have on society?

BETH: I’m not sure about the author’s personal views on social media and technology but I find it crazy sometimes how much they take over our lives. Obviously having blogs, we probably spend a good deal of our free time on social media. I know I post a lot on Instagram, try to blog hop every day and re-tweet other bloggers posts every day but I can also remember a time when we didn’t have the internet and I got my kicks by watching Top Of The Pops on a weekday night and recording the TOP 40 off the radio on Sunday afternoons! In a way, the fact that we have constant access to information (and funny animal videos which I have a particular fondness for!!) has isolated us slightly from those around us and I do try to restrict the time I spend on my phone and have normal, face to face conversations too. From the point of view of Nine Perfect Strangers though, it is fascinating to watch how individuals cope when these things we now take for granted are taken away from them.

BETH: I sympathise with your struggle to give this book a rating. Why do you think you’re torn in this way?

CHRISSI: I think it’s because I wanted to love it. I love Liane Moriarty’s writing and I know she is highly thought of. I also really enjoy reading her ideas. I just felt for me this book was too ridiculous and unbelievable. Not every book has to be believable, but something like this got too far fetched for me. I wanted to love it, I didn’t hate it…so I’m somewhere in-between. I think if I could have connected with the characters, then it might have been completely different.

CHRISSI: Would you ever go on a retreat like Tranquillum House? Why/Why not?

BETH: Maybe not EXACTLY like Tranquillum House haha. However, I could see myself doing something like this. I love the idea of getting away from the world and learning new techniques to relax. As long as I had a big pile of books to accompany me, I think I would quite enjoy a retreat like this. For now, I’ll take pleasure in my reading holidays to Malta with you my sister! 🙂

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I do like her writing and I’m not put off at all.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Yes! 3.5 stars!

CHRISSI: Yes?

Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) *spoilers for previous books*

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Shatter Me

Furthermore

Synopsis:

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

Thoughts:

I was really worried when I heard that the Shatter Me series was going to get another book. I really enjoyed the trilogy and I was anxious that it might not live up to expectations. I know not everyone likes this series, but there’s something about it that really captures my attention. I find it utterly readable. Now, this review might seem a bit short and vague, but I really don’t want to ruin it for those that haven’t read it yet, so I’m going to try and keep it as brief as I can.

Restore Me picks up not long after Ignite Me. Juliette has taken over the Sector 45 and has been named the new Supreme Commander. She has Warner and needs to get her sh*t sorted out. Understandably, Juliette is struggling with the enormity of the task. There’s so much she doesn’t know and secrets are starting to be revealed. Secrets that could turn her whole life around. The world in which this story is set is pretty terrifying and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better…

I loved that we were introduced to some new characters and met up with some others from the previous books. I absolutely loved that Warner and Juliette narrated this instalment. I used to be on neither ‘team’ but over the series I’ve really come to love Warner. I’m really excited to see where this story goes.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Bring on Book 5! Not something I usually say… but I’m excited!