Winter Reads

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The set up for this is so damn late what with December being around the corner ad it has also been in action since the beginning of November. So it does all fall into the umbrella of winter reading.

Final 10 books of the year. Shit.

Bridge of Clay – I switched my Markus Zuzak books for the year because I have a pre-ordering problem and this one ended up in my life first. I’ve already read this one, the review is gonna do its thing imminently.

Crimes of Grindlewald – She loves a script book. I’m so on the fence about this whole film for a variety of reasons, but I love a script.

The Little Friend – This book is a beast and not one that I am prepared to commute with. Meet my Christmas week read. Or my Malta read, yeah going there first of week of December.

The Dark Vault – 2018 is the year that I fell in love with VE Schwab. I need all her work in my life, here’s another one.

London Fields – I went in with this one, realised I wasn’t meshing with it and so here’s take two.

Becoming – I miss Michelle Obama, it was a no brainer to buy this book, I jumped on that pre-order, the time is coming.

Shadow of the Wind  – This was another book I’ve tried to read this year and just couldn’t on board with. I don’t really know if it’s ever gonna be my up of tea, but I’m willing to give it another try.

Godsgrave – Final book that I’ve already attempted. I’m actually excited to read this book, but I was not in the headspace for it when I started it. I think I was waiting for Vengeful to drop and so my mind was just wandering.

The Good Immigrant – The amount of times I have picked this book up, stared at it somewhat lovingly and put it back down is kind of ridiculous. I’m finally gonna buy it and get it read.

The Princess Diarist – There will never be  time when I am ready to read this book, so I’m just gonna have to accept that and get it done, potential tears and all.

And with that I should close out my 2018 Reading Challenge. Given what a mess this one has turned into these books are subject to change. Also, yes there are A LOT of books that I said that I was going to read at the beginning of the year that I have not. I’ve just got a book buying problem and am trying to set up my own personal library or some shit.

But I’ve just been trying to get to 70 and this should get her done.

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Bonus Book Review – What If It’s Us?

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So I’ve run out of Adam Silvera books to read. That’s what 2018 brought be. Adam Silvera. I love him.

Now, this is a co-write. So this year also brought me Becky Albertalli. One because Love, Simon came out this year and so I read the book before I watched the film and two because this book came out and I knew I needed it my life.

And I got it in my life and read it almost instantly.

First of all, what I liked about this was that the two authors’ styles blended together seamlessly. They alternated perspectives but if you didn’t know that it was written by two authors then you wouldn’t be able to tell (it was similar to They Both Die in the End, except ya know, it didn’t break my heart).

Arthur and Ben are cute. I love them. They were so cute. I could probably just keep saying they’re cute but that would get boring. You get it, cute.

They’re meet cute (not my fault that one) actually made me laugh out loud, it was just so messy and great and the mild comedy of errors that followed as their paths tried to cross again was amusing and also resourceful. It was really a testament to the time we live in that it was based on so much in social media stalking. We all have that one friend that can track a person down with half a name and Instagram.

I loved the characterisation of Arthur and Be. You can’t help but root for them, especially in the beginning when they are trying to find one another.

I loved Ben and the relationship that he had with Dylan and how it was unapologetically friendly. and close, you know the way that friends are regardless of their gender…how close their relationship is really came into play towards the end when Dylan went to hospital. It doesn’t matter what shit goes down you show up for each other. I will say that he was hella judgdey sometimes and he made bad decisions when it came to his ex-boyfriend, but the again he’s a teenager and sometimes they do stupid shit.

Where most characters in Ben’s perspective felt mostly fleshed out, the one’s in Arthur’s didn’t. And on the one hand that’s probably because he was pretty much on his own while his friends weren’t there and only existed in snippets, but it made it kind of hard to be fully invested in what happened, so it kind of felt like you know Arthur by the end of it. Which isn’t a totally bad thing, until his friends show up and it feels kind of ‘meh’.

For the most part I enjoyed this book. However I just need to take a minute to talk about the ending, which I hated deep in to my core. Don’t get me wrong, it was the realistic ending, but I don’t need realistic from my books all the time. I want my light and frothy, probably unrealistic, happy ending. This was just annoying. It made the whole book feel a bit meh because what was the point? I’m being a tad dramatic, but also, no, the ending let me down in a book that otherwise I quite enjoyed.

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – This Will Only Hurt a Little

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Busy Phillips on Instagram is one of my daily highlights. Has been for a while. She’s hilarious on there.

So obviously when it came onto my radar that she had a book coming out I obviously jumped on that pre-order and (im)patiently waited for it to arrive.

Then I devoured it in like 3 days.

This book feels like you’re having a conversation with her. The way it is written feels conversational and a little rough around the edges. Which I liked. I liked that you can tell that it was Phillips writing the book, because sometimes you’ve got to wonder.

Fun fact, I did not know that Phillips was at all involved with Blades of Glory. I love that film and it was shitty to realise that she was almost ousted completely.

Phillips is honest in this book. Brutally at times. The candid way she talked about her marriage and the way it ebbed and flowed, especially after she had kids and how when you think about it, it’s not been that long since it happened.

She talks about sexual assault, which never gets any easier to confront, and body image in an industry that insists on calling her ‘plus size’. She talks about her shitty relationships (including the boyfriend that tried to steal her idea completely).

The overall thing I got from this though is that she works hard (for her money). Like really hard. I, as a reader who does not know this woman, felt disheartened by the number of knock backs she had. She lived through them and still kept on trucking. I felt inspired by that.

Something about Phillips feels relatable. You get that throughout her writing continually. She pulls you in, tells her story and makes you laugh really fucking hard. This is another book that kind of off guard with how much I actually laughed out loud at this book.

This book is an easy read, written well enough about a woman who I’ve always enjoyed watching, seriously she is my highlight of White Chicks and Cougar Town. It’s also a little heartbreaking at time, but the way that Phillips tells them kind of dictates the way you react, if that makes any sense? Like you feel for her but you don’t pity her or something…I don’t know, in my head that one makes sense. I’d recommend this one if you’re a fan of hers or a fan of reading autobiographies (I am both).

Also I’ve written the bulk of this after watching her hot take on The Beatles. She doesn’t like them, and honestly? I’m inclined to agree…don’t @ me.

4/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – Vox

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This book haunted me for all of two days before I stumbled across a signed copy and took it as a sign.

The synopsis intrigued me. It’s The Handmaid’s Tale on crack.

However, it didn’t really do it for me in the way Atwood’s novel did.

Let me start with the good things.

Writing style, gave me life. It was so easy to read and was engaging. It’s what kept me going with it and is the reason that I sped through it.

I also liked the concept. It sounds wild as one, but in the world that was built (and honestly it was grounded in reality) it made a worrying amount of sense.

Also I liked how it was obvious from quite early on that this crazy shit was going on only in America because people in Europe weren’t that fucking crazy.

I liked the change in Stephen and how the youth can be made to believe that TOTAL INSANITY actually makes perfect sense.

But then I also felt like that development fell short. It was clear that there was guilt there but it was never truly touched on. And the reasons for that within the narrative make sense on some level, but it all felt a little unfinished.

I’m not huge into science or anything, I haven’t really thought about it in nearly a decade. This book dealt heavily with science. It got a tad confusing and it wasn’t until the end when it kind of clicked with me. Which was nearly 400 pages in. That’s a lot of time to spend a little confused.

The more science-y that it got the more it lost the grip that it has on me because it stopped being what I expected of it. Which is partially on me, I fully accept that, but also it just felt a little lacklustre.

The love story element of it felt kind of pointless because neither of the characters felt fully fleshed out, also it didn’t feel like much of an affair because the relationship with her husband didn’t really mean anything either.

The comparisons between this book and The Handmaid’s Tale  are hard to ignore and that was also kind of a of a problem when it came to this book. Because it was more extreme but not as good. I’ve said it before, but it fell a bit short.

It did show the power of women to a degree and there were moments where it struck a little close to home but it just wasn’t for me.

I found it too confusing at times, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and felt like the premise was good but didn’t get there. It was as frustrating as it I thought it would be, some of them were for reasons that I expected and some came out of nowhere. Like I said, I thought it was well written and had good bones, in just wasn’t for me.

3/5 stars

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Mid Month Update

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So let’s just get straight to it with this one shall we?

It’s the middle of the month.

It’s the middle of THE month.

And so I guess an update is due.

It’s Day 15, it is not looking great.

I’m supposed to be at 25,000 words by this point. I think I can quite confidently say that I have not broken 5,000 words.

This has been for a few reasons.

One, I had to tidy up some shit from the 12,000 odd words I had already written and also familiarise myself with what I had already put down.

Two, I have not yet properly planned this whole arc out. Which means I have no plot. I mean I do, but also I don’t. I keep just chucking characters and not keeping track of them or making them real people.

Third, I’m not writing this Thing in any kind of order. It’s very much all over the place. Both in my head and on paper.

Finally, that motivation that had crept back into my life last month, that came with it a bunch of creativity? Yeah, gone again.

And I’ve incorrectly wallowed in that feeling of failure and not really done all that much (for example, I started this post yesterday at lunchtime, I finished it 40 minutes ago).

My mission for the tail end of this year is to be kinder to myself. Previously when I’ve found myself in this position before I end up beating myself up about it and I just end up banging my head against that wall that I’ve found myself up against.

This year though?

I’m letting the 50,000 by year end is still the goal because in total that should take me to the end of a first draft and that’s the ultimate goal. I’m adjusting to what is my new reality. Because that is a way healthier way to live your life and also, it’s just not that fucking deep at the end of the day.

They’re just words on the page.

And I’m aiming for 30,000. That just about accounts for the 20,000 that I’ve lost so far this month.

Part of the way that I’m going to get through is a little bit through forcing myself to just put words on the page and part of it will come from the fact that at this point, with my self imposed pressure removed, I actually feel drawn to creating shit for it again.

So there we are. That’s where I’m at with the Nano thing right now.

Under 1,000 words, shooting for 30,000.

Parentheses count: 1. See you on Monday!

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 39 – Hunger

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And here begins my legit love affair with the writing that is Roxane Gay’s.

I bought all 3 books I have on my list for the year pretty much all at the same time, because I was prepared to commit to them all. You know when you know you’re going to mesh well with a writer?

This was me with Roxane Gay.

And I was not disappointed.

From the opening few pages I knew we were going to get on well.

The thing about really good writing is that you can relate to it even though it’s not your story.

This was that for me.

The way that Gay talks about her relationship with food and her body was painstakingly candid and honest. It was almost painful to read at times. Gay has an incredible style of writing that kind of picks you apart and then ours you back together again because there is a string of hope within it.

Hunger talks about body image and eating disorders candidly. And shows it for all the complexity that it is. It comes in waves, there are always going to be external factors that contribute. And people are always going to judge no matter what.

The thing that I really appreciated about this book is that Gay intentionally didn’t try to frame this like it was a tale to becoming thin or that she was sorry she was fat and was writing this book as a way to repent that. She wrote her story.  She wrote about why she turned to food and how the results in that decision affect her day to day. It’s her truth in a world that maybe doesn’t want to accept that truth.

It’s brutal at time. Gay doesn’t shy away from the circumstances in her life that made her who she is today. You can see quite clearly as you through the pages that the circumstances Gay has found herself in aren’t ideal, she unapologetic in that that, and in some ways that adds to the fact that this is not an easy read.

The psychology behind it all is kind of fascinating and gives some kind of insight into the the way that people deal with trauma. I could probably go deeper with that one, but I won’t.

Like I said earlier, a good writer makes you relate to them even it’s not close to your story. This is what this is. There were parts that hit so close to home for me. This book is not an easy read because of how it is written. Gay is an incredible writer.

I cannot recommend this book enough.

4/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 38 – Why Not Me?

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This is a book that I had actually planned to read this year. Go me! It’s also a book by someone who I really love.

Mindy Kaling.

I loved her first book. As a writer she felt so relatable and funny. This book followed in some way.

Mostly.

There was a section towards the end that felt like it went on a bit in a book that otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed.

It was funny.

I legit laughed out loud in public a couple of times. It caught me off guard. Which was bizarre because I know Kaling is a funny woman. And can write funny. But there I was, surprised that there was laughter bubbling out of my mouth while I was on the tube.

The thing I took away from this book, and her first, is that Kaling knows what she wants and she will work her ass off to get it.

It was an inspiring read as a result. Seeing all the work that she puts in on a day to day basis just to get shit done.

It also drops some real truth bombs. Like Kaling’s approach to body image and the clusterfuck that always is. How hard/weird is is to make and keep friends as an adult, I always love it when she talks about her relationship with BJ Novak because the way they support each other is beautiful. I loved how she aired out her flaws, she’s a bad loser and competitive af. It felt honest.

Her writing style feels conversational. You kind of feel like you’re getting to know her over the course of the book. I thought this was better than her first, probably because it just covered her life from a later point. I blazed through it as a result. It felt like a catch up with a friend.

I really loved the final chapter of this book. It felt like a rally cry on some level.

Because ‘why not me?’

(I would recommend this book. Kaling is great as a creator and it will actually make you laugh out loud at pints. There’s a lot of good stuff in it and she has some funny tales to tell.)

3/5 stars

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