The Bees by Laline Paull | Book Review

Hi Sweeties,

Another book review for you today! With the summer months soon upon us, some of you may view this time as prime reading opportunity and will be looking for books to add to your list. I’ll be honest now, I don’t think the following is holiday reading material, but who am I to say what you like to read in your downtime?

I rarely buy books from new, but I knew that it would be years probably before I would find The Bees in a charity shop and so I broke my rule. What made me pick up The Bees? Curiosity I think. I had no idea what it was about but I had seen the odd person within my social feeds picture themselves reading it, and I wanted to know more. Yellow is also my favourite colour and the cover is fabulously yellow so I couldn’t resist really.

The Blurb:

The Bees Laline Paull

Flora 717 is a survivor. Born into the lowest class of the totalitarian hive society she is prepared to sacrifice everything for the Queen, surviving internal massacres, religious purges and terrifying invasions by vicious wasps. With each act of bravery her status grows, revealing both the enemies within and the sinister secrets that rule the hive. But when her instinct to serve is overwhelmed by a fierce and deeply forbidden maternal love, she breaks the most sacred law of all…  View Full Post

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Committed – A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage | Book Review

Hey Sweeties,

So far I am managing to keep on track with reading a book a month; although I look technically to be out of sync (being April and only now posting about book three), I got through The Fault in Our Stars (review here) very speedily and fortunately put me ahead. Today I am reviewing Committed: A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert, here are my thoughts beginning as standard, with a copy of the blurb:

“Having been effectively sentenced to wed, Gilbert tackled her fears of marriage by delving completely into this topic, trying with all her might to discover what this stubbornly enduring old institution actually is. The result is Committed – a witty and intelligent contemplation of marriage that debunks myths, unthreads fears and suggests that sometimes even the most romantic of souls must trade in her amorous fantasies for the humbling responsibility of adulthood. Committed is ultimately a clear-eyed celebration of love, with all the complexity and consequence that real love, in the real world, actually entails.”

Committed: A Sceptic Makes peace with marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

If I am totally honest, I barely determined what this book was about before I dived in as I saw it was by Elizabeth (Liz) Gilbert and about marriage so didn’t hesitate to buy it, thinking it was going to pick up where we left Liz in Eat, Pray, Love (review here). While to an extent this is true, as the blurb explains, this book is Liz exploring marriage throughout history, in different cultures and from different perspectives so in short, it’s not a story/work of fiction. That being said, intermittently the book is broken up with Liz talking about her own relationship with Felipe and how they are both coming to terms with marriage (having both been previously divorced), and the progress on his visa case which is the whole reason why the book is centred around marriage in the first place. Because of all this, I didn’t glide through it like I would a standard piece of fiction, and although it’s not intentional, at times it does read quite academic, which I personally didn’t mind, but it wouldn’t be for everyone.

Do I think you need to have read Eat, Pray, Love before Committed? Not really. It would help of course to provide some context which Liz doesn’t delve into too much, but it’s not essential as her relationship with Felipe aside, the book is exploring marriage from a historical and sociological perspective.

From a personal perspective however, this was a great book to read in the lead up to my own wedding a couple of weeks ago and actually made me consider a few things I hadn’t otherwise thought about. Nothing sinister, but it made me properly consider my own values and beliefs and why I was making the commitment that so many take for granted. While it is very easy to plan a wedding (despite the stress), marriage is a totally different thing and sometimes I feel that people fall in love with the idea of a wedding, forgetting that what follows is a lifelong commitment to someone, ‘til death do us part ‘n all that. The book has helped me appreciate the institution I have now entered and its importance, not just for myself and Ian as a couple, but in our families and in society overall. If you’re getting married yourself soon, I would definitely give this book a shot!

Next on the reading list, The Bees by Laline Paull which I have been despite to read for months!

Until next time x

 

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The Fault in Our Stars | Book Review

Hey Sweeties,

Following completion of my first read of the year – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (review here), a little over a week later and I’m back reviewing my second read, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

The Fault in our Stars

I have had this book sat on my shelf for months, maybe even the past year? I picked it up on Amazon when probably trying to round up the cost of my basket to qualify for free delivery and until last week, I just haven’t got around to reading it. Thing is though, when you know something is going to be a sad read (and of course until you get stuck in, you don’t know how sad, you’re just going by what you hear), you sort of feel you have to brace yourself for it. While I don’t think anyone is particularly in the mood for something sad, last week I was just like, let’s do this!

In summary, The Fault in Our Stars is a brilliant book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (until the sad bit of course but I’ll get to that in a moment). If you’re unsure what the book is about, here’s the blurb:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

The dialogue between all the characters is both intelligent and brilliantly witty, particularly between Hazel and Augustus (Gus). Sometimes I did question if the language used sounded natural for teenagers, but in this kind of scenario where kids are older than their years, you accept that they probably do. Either way, it makes for a great narrative and an engaging read.

Now for the sad part.

While I haven’t actually read a proper review of the book before reading it for myself, I have seen countless people on my social feeds over the past year or two, saying how much they cried. I also had a couple of colleagues tell me how their daughters and wives cried at it. Regardless of this and let’s say you came into this book totally organically having read nothing about it before, as the story progresses, you can feel something slowly creeping up, like you can tell the ending it suggests throughout is probably going to happen. Without giving the story away, despite the plot clearly leading up to something fateful in the long run, the story still manages to take a sudden turn and surprise you.

But let’s not beat about the bush. The book is about cancer, it involves death and it’s sad, you’ll cry, in fact, in all honesty, you’ll probably be a snotty mess but it’s not emotionally draining. Fortunately for me, I timed the sad bit brilliantly by arriving at it on Friday night and not, Friday lunchtime in the office as that would have been a bit awkward.

Overall, I thoroughly recommend The Fault in Our Stars. Have any of you read it? What did you think? Next on the reading list is Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Until next time x

 

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And the Mountains Echoed | Book Review

Hey Sweeties,

At the beginning of the year in probably at least two posts, I mentioned how I really wanted to push myself to read more in 2016; I want to aim for a book a month. So, with January now over, I am so far on track and in a position to review for you, my first read of 2016: And the Mountains Echoed, by Khalid Hosseini.

And the Mountains Echoed

For a little bit of context, this is Hosseini’s third novel, his previous two –The Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns– were both best sellers and The Kite Runner has been made into a film. I am a huge, huge fan of Khalid Hosseini’s work and I think if you’re someone that has a real interest in Middle Eastern culture, and/or love how a book can unravel relationships with such emotion, you have to give this author a go.

The easiest thing for me to do initially, is repeat the blurb on the back of the book to give you an idea of the story. I would try to explain it in my own words but in all honesty, why bother when someone has already painstakingly already gone to the effort?

Ten-year-old Abdullah would do anything for his younger sister. In a life of poverty and struggle, with no mother to care for them, Pari is the only person who brings Abdullah happiness. For her, he will trade his only pair of shoes to give her a feather for her treasured collection. When their father sets off with Pari across the desert to Kabul in search of work, Abdullah is determined not to be separated from her. Neither brother nor sister know what this fateful journey will bring them.

Without then going on to give the story away, what I will say is that this journey happens early on in the book and the rest of the novel covers the next fifty or so years of the characters afterwards. It’s only when writing this now, am I reminded of the journey –as a reader- you’re taken on and can’t quite believe it’s all taken place within 466 pages. Hosseini’s ability to weave different lives and characters together is quite unbelievable and he does it with such incredible skill. While the story is always moving forward, he slots in moments from the past in the characters’ lives that provide further context and fill in some gaps to their existence and present moment.

Of Hosseini’s three novels, this one didn’t make me cry but that’s not because it isn’t sad, it is, but not so far that it brings you to tears. I love how the author brings together a story that spans across Afghanistan, Paris and America as well as all the individual characters, with their own backgrounds. While the book is beautifully written, it’s not a beautiful read; the story acts as a poignant reminder of how life can take new directions at any moment, and how easily it can pass you by.

That all being said, it’s a wonderful read and like I mentioned earlier, if you have an interest in Middle Eastern and Western cultures, and/or just love getting involved in different characters and their relationships to each other, And the Mountains Echoed would be a good read for you and I definitely recommend you do so.

Has anyone read either or all of Khaled Hosseini’s books?

Until next time x

Ps. Next on my reading list? The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

 

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Recently I have been Reading…

Hey Sweeties,

Oh my, so close to 2016 now -are you ready?

I thought I would talk you through some of the books I have read recently but firstly, let’s get something straight, when I say ‘recently’ I don’t literally mean in the last month or so, this post really is a few of my reads over the past year. A resolution for 2016 is to definitely read more books as it’s something that I have not given myself enough time to do this past year and I love nothing more than losing myself in a book. Even my magazine reading has slipped lately, I have a pile of them still wrapped in plastic.

Recently I have been reading

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really got on board with the Girls (HBO) bandwagon yet; it’s simply not something I have got around to however, Lena Dunham is though very much on my radar and why I was so keen to get a copy of her book and was lucky enough to get it from a colleague last Christmas.

So what do I think? Overall I really enjoyed it and there were many parts in which I sat and giggled to myself as for a few things she was so on point and things I totally knew what she was describing. Also however, the book in places was not comfortable reading and it was sad to read about some of her sexual encounters and her anxiety but for the most part I loved how blunt she was about it all. She tells it like it is and anyone who can do that well has my respect.

If you like her, I would definitely recommend this book. If you don’t, ultimately it would come down to your reading style and tastes as to whether this would be enjoyable for you.

Grayson Perry: Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Girl by Wendy Jones

This book won’t be for everyone but if you love or have an interest in art and like artists and work that is slightly more alternative, Grayson Perry should appeal to you. Famously, Grayson won the 2003 Turner Prize dressed as his alter-ego, Claire but Grayson is otherwise an acclaimed ceramic artist… as well as a transvestite. The book covers his first twenty or so years of childhood through college and his development as an artist. It’s a thoroughly engaging read and I think even if Grayson Perry may not particularly appeal to you, if you still enjoy culture and biographies, this one definitely wouldn’t be a bad shout.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is the second time I have read this book and something over the summer made me want to revisit it which I don’t often get with books save for the odd few, but I had a real calling to read this again, partly because I wanted to see if I related to anything different on this second visit.

The book is split up into three parts (Eat – Pray – Love) and each tackles an element of author Elizabeth (Liz) Gilbert’s life that she feels she needs to dedicate time to healing. A recent divorcee, Liz decides to take a year out and travel to three different countries -Italy, India and Bali (Indonesia)- and by doing so learns to find herself again through deep spiritual searching and healing. As a reader, you not only feel her pain, but you go on a journey with her and while Liz is confronting a lot, the book is often humorous and overall thoroughly enjoyable.

Footloose by Kate Cann

Speaking of revisiting books which I seldom do, this is one I have many times over. A bit like To Kill a Mockingbird (which is another book I re-read every couple of years), I discovered Footloose in my teen years and just fell in love with it from the off but to be honest, while it has always been on my shelf, I haven’t read it for a long time. For some reason I felt like a summer read and something to get me in the holiday spirit before going to America and this was it.

First things first, this is a teen novel and I remember reading a review of it in 17 magazine or something similar and bought it before a holiday. It was the first thing I read that actually spoke about relationships and sex from a teen perspective and I could just relate to it. While I have never been on a girls holiday, the book transported me away and I devoured it easily and something this year made me want to go back there. It will definitely be one of those books that I keep forever and possibly let any daughters I have read when old enough.

Recently I have been reading

Desperate in Dubai by Ameera Al Hakawati

This isn’t the sought of book I would usually pick up but as a lover of Eastern Culture and Dubai being somewhere I have wanted to visit for a very long time, I was compelled to give this book a go. Although I read chick lit, I hate really girlie characters and stories where it’s all men and sex, and where the main female character(s) hasn’t got her shit together (and this applies in films also). Desperate in Dubai kind of balanced between being the sought of book that I found irritating and something that from time to time, I couldn’t put down. I really liked how the lives/stories of the four main female characters came together and the end of the book definitely had my heart beating in anticipation of what was about to unfold. What I didn’t like though was the constant need by the author to brand everything (i.e. the IKEA table), I appreciate that it was often done in context but it did quite soon get annoying and I simply didn’t need that level of detail attached to a description of something. But if you do like chick lit and want something that mixes in with Eastern culture then I would definitely give this a read.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Last Blogmas regular readers will remember that I posted about my favourite books and that I am a huge fan of Lisa Jewell, so you can imagine my delight at getting my hands on her latest novel (at the time, another book has since been released). The way Lisa tells a story and takes you through the individual journeys of her characters is truly incredible and this book has such a depth to it that I urge you to read it for yourself. Essentially it is about a family with four children who grow up and have to address a family tragedy that happened many years before, and how they each have come to terms with it in their own ways. The book also centres around the mum -Lorelli- who as the pages turn and the years pass, sees her lose herself in hoarding. It’s difficult to not give too much away but one of the things I love about Lisa’s writing is that whatever she takes you through during the book, they always end on a positive. My favourite ending of hers was the one in Thirtynothing as I remember just feeling so delighted with a revelation at the end with two of the characters.

When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

I have seen this book floating around my parents house for ages and recently I discovered it’s one of my Mum’s favourite books and thus, it was lent to me to read it for myself.

While I am no longer religious, I am definitely spiritual and I do find comfort in that with many things in my life. Rabbits are also my favourite animal and again, have and still do provide me with great comfort in my life and so the way the rabbit (God) is written and loved within the book by the character, Elly is something I can not only completely relate too, but something I adored in the book.

It’s a gorgeous read and I can now understand why my Mum loves it so much and has re-read it several times. While it’s quite light-hearted, the characters are rich and each bring something wholesome that really shapes the book. For me though, I love the close bond Elly has with her brother Joe and how this never disappears, even as they get older and is also a constant throughout the book. I also really enjoy how quirky some of the characters are and how they each move you in different ways.

I have no doubt you’ll have seen this book all over the place and a part of you has been a little bit intrigued about what it’s about. All I’ll say is give it a go, it won’t disappoint you.

What books have you guys read this year? Anything you can recommend me?

I have a pile of books that have been sat on my shelf for a long time so as I said earlier, 2016 I am going to make it my priority to dedicate more time to reading and less time to looking at a screen.

Until next time x

 

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