Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

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 ever weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything…

Thoughts:

People were going on and on about this book and I’ll be honest- I was scared of the hype surrounding it. Call me a wimp if you will, but I’m so used to hype letting me down. Really, I should’ve known it would be a good read because my dear sister and fellow book blogger Beth was nagging me to read it. I’m so pleased that I made time for it, because I thought it was a truly brilliant read.

The title itself intrigued me. I assumed before reading it that she wasn’t completely fine at all. I was right. Eleanor is a simply fascinating character. Her life consists of working and barely socialising with anyone. She’s a socially awkward character and in many ways, I felt she came across as having autism. She’s very to the point and blunt. This doesn’t exactly win her any friends. She’s such an outcast that she’s often someone that her co-workers laugh at. Eleanor drinks vodka over the weekends and isolates herself from the world. When Eleanor becomes closer to Raymond who works at her company, Eleanor’s outlook starts to change. They both help an elder man when he becomes ill in public. From then, Eleanor realises that she isn’t as fine as she thought she was. You see, Eleanor has an awful history. She wants to become happier and doesn’t want to be lonely or isolated anymore. Can she do it?

I loved that this story was a mix of melancholy and hopeful. There were some really fantastic laugh out loud moments. Eleanor seemed like she belonged in a different time period. She wasn’t up together with the modern world and why would she be? She was always alone. Gail Honeyman perfectly paints a picture of Eleanor’s isolation. Eleanor is incredibly awkward and you can see how her behaviour isolates herself from the rest of society. Please don’t think that this is a doom and gloom story though. It isn’t. It certainly becomes more hopeful. I don’t think I’ve rooted for a character as much as I did with Eleanor. She is complex but utterly wonderful. I can imagine that some readers might find her rude but her past has shaped who she is today.

I think it was perfect how more and more of Eleanor’s history came out as the story progressed. I think this was a fantastic way to build anticipation and keep the reader invested in the story. I was eager to find out what had happened to her. It’s horrific but so well written. You grow to love Eleanor so much that is breaks your heart even more when the truth is revealed.

This was an excellent debut from Gail Honeyman. Highly recommended!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

This book is well worth the read, in my opinion! Eleanor stole my heart!

Friend Request

Friend Request

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all. 

Thoughts:

I had heard really good things about this book, so was looking forward to checking it out. I put it on my Winter TBR and made it my mission to get to it. I really enjoyed this thriller and thought it was a great debut. I would definitely put this author on my radar to read more from in the future.

Friend Request centres around Louise who is a divorced mother. She lives with her son and has her own business. Everything seems to be going okay in her life until she gets a friend request from an old school friend Maria. The only trouble is…Maria has been dead for many years. The story flips between the past and the present. It becomes quite the mystery when the friend request comes at the same time as a school reunion. Louise is ashamed of her past, of when she used to do things to fit in with the popular kids and keep her friendship with Queen Bee Sophie. Those things included the bullying of Maria.

I really enjoy books that incorporate social media. It’s so current and so now. It also can be incredibly toxic and fascinating to read about. I’m just pleased Facebook and Twitter weren’t overly popularly when I was at school. It’s scary how much I have to teach about the dangers of social media in primary school now, because children are getting onto social media earlier than they should be. Terrifying.

I loved this plot because it’s something that so many people can relate to. I’m pretty sure many of us have done things that we regret when we were school age. Even if it’s not as intense as Louise and her friends. There are many interesting relationships to delve into. The pace of this story is quite fast. There are some plot twists along the way that definitely keep you interested. I didn’t really enjoy the ending which was a shame and that’s the reason I haven’t rated this book 4 stars.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A gripping read and a very promising debut novel from Laura Marshall!

The Hidden Memory Of Objects

The Hidden Memory of Objects

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, she now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.

Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother’s charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.

Thoughts:

I am working my way through some debut novels that I meant to read in 2017.  My most recent read was The Hidden Memory Of Objects. Now this was a book that I didn’t know much about before reading it and I’m glad I didn’t. I went into it not knowing what to expect and I do like that!

The Hidden Memory Of Objects centres around Megan who is dealing with her brother’s death. It is said that her brother took a drug overdose. Megan hasn’t really accepted what the police have told her as it was so far from the brother that she knew. Whilst going through her brother’s belongings, she discovers an ability to see memories attached to objects. Megan realises that she can investigate the circumstances of his death. This was such a unique spin on a grief plot which I really did appreciate.

Megan is a great character. I loved that she was so close to her brother. The supporting characters are also wonderful. It was great to see that Megan’s parents were in the story. They were both dealing with the loss of their son and trying to protect Megan from what the police were telling her.

The story has plenty going on to get stuck into. There’s a wonderful friendship between Megan and Eric and also a slow burn romance. I do prefer a slow burn as I think it’s totally more realistic. I literally roll my eyes when I come across insta-love. Something else quite unique in this story was the historical element of the story. It included the assassination of Lincoln. There were artefacts linked to the night of the assassination that also had memories attached to it that Megan could see. It’s surprising how well this works with the rest of the plot!

This a fantastic debut novel. Danielle Mages Amato has a very compelling writing style and has created such a unique story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I had a very odd reading experience with this one. It was a compelling read but strange at the same time!

Girl Out Of Water

Girl Out of Water

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word. 

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

Thoughts:

I continue with my quest to read some 2017 debuts, as I totally failed on that front last year. I’m doing well so far. It was time to read Girl Out Of Water which I’d heard some really good things about. I thought it was an easy to read, interesting book. It was lovely to see a diverse representation of characters in this book too.

Girl Out Of Water centres around Anise who can’t wait to spend the summer with her friends and the ocean. She loves surfing and wants to spend the summer making the most of her free time. However, Anise’s aunt has a terrible accident, which results in Anise and her father having to go to Nebraska to help her aunt with her cousins. Anise is understandably disappointed to miss out on her plans, but she recognises the importance of her family and looking out for her cousins. Whilst in Nebraska, Anise becomes close to a skateboarder named Lincoln. Lincoln challenges Anise to learn skateboarding and step outside her comfort zone.

Anise finds it awkward to be in touch with her friends at home. She’s jealous of the fact that they’re living the summer she wanted. She doesn’t want them to feel bad because they’re having fun without her. I thought it was really clever how the author portrayed how difficult it can be to be away from home when you don’t want to be. She really showed Anise’s battle between wanting to be there for her family and wanting to be with her friends.

Anise’s mother is absent for quite a substantial part of the story. She pops up in her life every now and then, but Anise is practically raised by her father. She has a good relationship with her father which is lovely to read about.

I thought there were some fabulous characters in this book. I really liked Lincoln and his outlook on life. I thought Anise’s father was wonderful too. I did like Anise as a character, but I can imagine that she’ll grate on a few readers as she does come across as a bit bratty in points, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. I thought overall it was a great debut!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A solid debut! I think this would be a good summer read!

Seven Days Of You

Seven Days of You

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

Thoughts:

I have had this book on my TBR for over a year now, so I thought it was about time that I got around to reading it. I was aware of some reviews that weren’t overly complimentary about the story. In some ways, I can see why, but I thought it was an okay read and it definitely didn’t take me long to read at all. I think it would make a good beach read or a book in-between heavier books.

Seven Days of You follows Sophia who is entering her last week in Tokyo before she moves back to the US. She’s struggling with the thought of leaving her friends and the place that she loves spending time in. Sophia has set an alarm counting down the days, hours and minutes until she leaves. An old friend named Jamie is back in Tokyo during Sophia’s last week and he makes the last week pretty unforgettable.

I think my main frustration with this book was that I didn’t feel like I got to know Tokyo. I’ve never been there, so I really wanted the setting to be rich and descriptive. I wanted to go on an armchair adventure, but it definitely wasn’t for me. It really could have been set anywhere because I didn’t get a strong sense of place.

I did think the romance was believable and I liked how it was initially based on friendship. I think the relationship was hopeful for the future at the end of the story. To me, this story isn’t a love story for Tokyo, it’s a story about finding out who you are readdressing the friendships in your life. I don’t think Sophia’s friendships were as strong as she thought they were and it was interesting to read her discovery of this fact!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! Read this book if you’re into contemporary YA and you’re looking for a quick read.

Whilst I wasn’t blown away by this book, I did think it was easy to read and it barely took me long to read at all!

The Education Of Margot Sanchez

The Education of Margot Sánchez

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot 
Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts. 

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moisés—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

Thoughts:

I have heard such good things about this book that I knew I needed to get to it ASAP. I’m really pleased that I found time for it because I thought it was a decent read. Lilliam Rivera is a fantastic writer. I couldn’t believe that it was her debut!

I would describe The Education Of Margot Sanchez as a story about becoming who you really are. Margot is desperate to be liked by the popular gang at her private school. Margot has two sides… her side where she pretends she’s has a wealthier more edgy side to her to her peers at school. Then there’s the side that is family orientated and proud to be different/expressive. The story follows Margot as she grows and develops as a person and works out who she really wants to be.

Margot starts off as such as annoying, insipid character, but she really does grow as a character throughout the book. That’s something I really enjoy. I also really salute to lack of insta-love. Too often a girl falls in love at first sight and it makes my eyes roll. This didn’t happen between Margot and Moises. I also loved how as a reader, we’re left wondering whether they got together or not. I don’t always like ambiguity in a story, but this really worked for me.

I loved that this story had a Latina character. I also appreciated the many issues represented in this story, despite the fact that the story is less than 300 pages. It’s much deeper than you first anticipate. I loved how this story didn’t wrap everything up. Life isn’t wrapped up for anyone and that should also be the case in stories. Much more real!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut- well worth reading!

Show Stopper (Show Stopper #1)

Show Stopper

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land must watch their children be taken by a travelling circus – to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives – pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds – but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport.

Thoughts:

I was invited to read the second book in this series, I agreed before I realised it was a series! I knew then that I had to read the first one. I was hoping to really like it so my commitment to review the second book wasn’t such a chore. Luckily for me, I really did enjoy Show Stopper. It’s an incredibly dark YA novel. I think it may cause contention with some because it’s very much about those ‘pure of blood’ being separated from those that are more diverse. They are treated awfully because they’re not ‘pure.’ I can see this grating on a few readers, but sadly I don’t think it’s a far fetched notion. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s definitely something to think about.

Show Stopper is set in future England. The poorest people have to give up their children to the circus to perform in front of hungry animals, high wires and an absolutely awful ringmaster. Those that are pure of blood often visit the circus as an escape from their busy lives. They are entertained and blood-thirsty, eager to see if the poor get hurt or even killed. Ben, the son of a government minister responsible for weeding out the poorer class, visits the circus one evening and becomes captivated by Hoshiko. They both come from completely different worlds, but must work together in order to escape the circus.

It is narrated by both Ben and Hoshiko. I never had a problem following the narrative. It was clear to me which one of the characters were narrating. I thought Show Stopper was such a fast paced read. I think the short chapters definitely helped this. I quickly raced through the book, eager to find out what was going to happen. There are some brilliant characters within these pages. The Ringmaster is awful, yet I thought he was great to hate.

I can understand why this book sits uncomfortably with many readers as some of the issues discussed are relevant to the issues we face in our society. However, there’s something about this book that totally engrossed me and kept me reading until the end and eager to pick up the next book!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was an amazing book. I’m really into the circus vibe at the moment and this story was utterly engrossing!

Look out for my review of Show Stealer later in the month!