ARC REVIEW: The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

ARC REVIEW: The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

GoodReads Synopsis:

‘The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.’

 

My Rating:

★★★☆☆

 

My Thoughts:

Firstly, I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with the ARC (Kindle version) of this book in exchange for an honest review. Now, on to the hard part…

I have mixed feelings about The Girls at 17 Swann Street.

On the one hand, the story was heart-breaking, incredibly intimate and honest which is something that can be quite rare in a book that deals with an illness such as eating disorders. Nothing about Anna’s illness is glamorised or romanticised in any way which is what fiction of this kind is often in danger of doing. Mental illness and eating disorders have become almost fashionable in literature and whilst its brilliant to see so many authors doing their bit to end the stigma and bring attention to issues which affect so many people, there is also a danger to just including them for dramatic effect or as a plot device. The Girls at 17 Swann Street is the exact opposite of this, which made it a difficult but compelling read.

That being said, I really didn’t like the writing style. As much as I was engaged with the story, the way in which it was written just didn’t appeal to me. It felt inconsistent, disjointed and quite difficult to follow and it wasn’t clear whether this was intentional or not. The book moved from past tense to present tense and from narrative to written medical reports so quickly that there often felt like things were missing from the story or I would sometimes wonder if I had skipped a page.

I think it’s worth saying that this is not the kind of story that you enjoy reading. It was painful at parts because of the subject matter so if you’re looking for a light read and a happy ending then this is not the book for you.

If I was judging this book based on story alone then I probably would have rated it higher. I would still definitely recommend reading this if it sounds interesting to you as my issues with the writing style are really a matter of personal preference, so I think this could be a book that a lot of people would love and relate to.

 

The Girls at 17 Swann Street will be released on February 5, 2019, and is available for preorder now. 

Thank you for reading! Do you like the sound of this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

October Wrap Up

October Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies!

October was a long and stressful so I’m glad to see the back of it! It really felt like it dragged, and I barely had any time for blogging or even reading so I’m hoping November is less stressful!

One thing I’ve thought since I started this blog is that I never want to do posts because I feel like I have to. I want to want to write my blog posts and share my thoughts on what I’m reading which is why my posting has become quite sporadic these past few weeks. I’m hoping to get back to a posting schedule when I have some more time but for now, I’m okay with posting when I get the time.

That being said, if anyone has any tips for how to manage your time or stay ahead of schedule then please let me know in the comments below!

 

My October Reads:

October was a good month for books. I am behind on so many reviews but I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you on some of these brilliant reads!

 

A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood

My Rating: ★★★★★☆

 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My Rating: ★★★★☆

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

My Rating: ★★★★☆

 

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

The Girls at 17 Swan Street by Yara Zgheib

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

 

Currently Reading: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu & Scythe by Neal Shusterman

 

I’m over half way through both of these books and I can’t wait to finish them!

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading! Did you read any great books in October? What are you looking forward to reading in November? Let me know in the comments below!

Top 10 Tuesday: Halloween/Creepy Freebie!

Top 10 Tuesday: Halloween/Creepy Freebie!

Hello lovelies!

I’m back with another top 10 Tuesday and this week it’s a Halloween freebie!

If you’re not familiar with Top 10 Tuesday, it’s hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl and features a different book related topic each week.

I have decided to use this week’s freebie to do a top 10 list of Halloween/spooky books I want to read. These are all books that are spooky, scary, creepy or magic themed.

 

 

  1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  3. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  4. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  5. IT by Stephen King

 

 

  1. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist 
  2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  3. City of Ghosts by V. E. Schwab
  4. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  5. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these or do you have any favourite spooky/creepy reads that would recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

 

It has been a while since I posted as I took last week off to get back on track. October has been a hectic and stressful month and I haven’t been able to dedicate the time needed to keep on top of my posts.

In the last few weeks, blogging started to feel like a chore which is the last thing I want so I thought taking a week without the pressure might help and it definitely has. I have read lots of amazing books recently that I’m still yet to review so I’m excited to start posting again and what better way to start than with The Cruel Prince by Holly Black!

This is one of the many books I have purchased based on recommendations and reviews I’ve read on various blogs. With all the hype surrounding it and a cover as pretty as this, how could I resist?

Side note: I’m introducing a new section to my reviews from now which is going to be some bullet points at the end of each review of things I liked/didn’t like. This is just because as much as I would love to write long and detailed reviews for every book I read, I’m struggling to find the time, so this should help stick to my schedule but still include everything I want to say about a book. I’m not sure if I’ll keep doing this but I’m going to give it a go!

GoodReads Synopsis:

“Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.”

 

My Rating:

★★★★☆

My Thoughts:

Fantasy will always be one of my favourite genres because of how diverse and creative it is. This is not the first story I’ve read about Faeries and it won’t be the last and yet the world Black has created feels so unique.  I love that authors can take an initial well-known concept such as magical creatures and create a whole new and interesting world for their reader to escape into and I would definitely love to experience the High Court of Faerie in real life after reading this book!

In case you haven’t already gathered, I really enjoyed this book! It’s a brilliant example of a book that uses the strong-female lead trope in the right way. Jude was such a refreshing character. As a human living in faerie, she was at the bottom of the ladder, vulnerable and weak. She has limited options and yet, she uses her intellect to fight her way into a position of power. However, I think the main reason I liked Jude was that she was more of an anti-hero than a saviour. Even though we know what she did was right, we also know her actions were morally questionable at times which made her so much more dimensional and interesting.

Carden was also a brilliant character. He is awful with seemingly no redeeming qualities and whilst part of me wanted him to stay this way, I knew that eventually we would have some reveal that would explain why he behaved the way he did. Black slowly unveiled Carden’s true character and private life to the reader and Jude, making us realise that the prince doesn’t have it quite as good as Jude believes. I know that YA fiction seems to love the ‘bully has a difficult home life’ trope with authors using it flippantly in near enough every coming of age story they write but In The Cruel Prince, the reveal of Carden’s true self completely changes the trajectory of this story. I honestly felt sorry for him at the end when Jude double-crossed him. As much as I enjoyed his involvement in the story, I secretly wanted him to just escape to his own castle far away and not have to deal with any of the Faerie Court’s politics.

The only thing I thought was unnecessary but completely saw coming was Carden and Jude’s kiss. The story would still have worked and made logical sense without adding in the potential romance. Once Carden’s personal life was revealed, we had enough justification for his treatment of Jude without needed the ‘he hates her because he secretly is attracted to her which repulses him’ plot line. That being said, there was no part of me that didn’t expect them to be romantically linked at some point of the book. I do think it’s great that Black didn’t make this the focal point of the book, but it did feel like everything was leading to it which was a bit disappointing. I hope in the next book this takes a back seat to Jude being bad-ass but I’ll have to wait and see!

 

Three things I loved:

  • I found it interesting how Black explored/used the theme of power and how quickly this shifted between characters.
  • As horrifying as it was, I did enjoy the part where the new king was going to be crowned as it reminded me of an episode of Game of Thrones (if you’ve read it then I’m sure you know which episode I’m thinking of – the Red Wedding!)
  • The descriptions of the parties, the food, and the outfits. I felt like I was immersed in their world which is what every good fantasy book should do!

 

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!  

TAG: The Literary Dinner Party

TAG: The Literary Dinner Party

Hello, lovelies!

This is the first tag I’ve done in a while and although I wasn’t actually tagged in this, I couldn’t resist participating!

I first saw this tag over at The Bibliophagist (you can read Sara’s version here) but I’m not sure where it started. I think the idea is just to pick characters that fall into each of the different categories/headings and then build a little scenario out of it at the end.

As I wasn’t tagged in this, I’m not going to leave this open as well so anyone who wants to take part, consider yourself tagged!

  1. One character who can cook/likes to cook

Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I know Lara Jean bakes, not cooks but I was struggling with this one. I think she’d be a cute guest to have at a dinner party. She’d bring baked goods and try and fill any awkward silences.

  1. One character who has money to fund the party

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Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. Who doesn’t want to go to a Gatsby hosted party?!

  1. One character who might cause a scene

Achilles from The Song of Achilles. I feel like Achilles doesn’t understand social conventions so should anything go wrong or not his way, he will throw a hissy fit and drag someone’s dead body around the dinner table like a thousand times.

  1. One character who is funny/amusing

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Izzy O’Neill from The Exact Opposite of Okay, so funny she could even make Kanye smile.  With Izzy at the table, hilarity will ensue.

  1. One character who is super social/popular

Caitlin Cardew from A Sky Painted Gold. Social, popular and glamorous, Caitlin Cardew would be the must-have guest at any dinner party. She’d probably even offer to help plan it!

  1. One villain

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Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Olaf would be both the villain and the one making a scene, usually both at once. I have made sure that that the dinner party has a distinct lack of billionaire orphans, so he should be on his best behaviour. Although, he’ll probably steal some of Gatsby’s silver wear and heirlooms.

  1. One couple – doesn’t have to be romantic

Elsa & her Granny from My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. Name a better due, I’ll wait.

  1. One hero/heroine

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Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I honestly could not think of a worst dinner party guest which is why I’ve included her. Fun and Katniss are not exactly two words that go together so you just know she’d be the cause of lots of awkward moments.

  1. One underappreciated character

Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Tiny Cooper is arguably the best thing about that book, so much so, he deserves a whole book to himself.

  1. One character of your own choosing

Kitty Pong from Crazy Rich Asians. I almost chose Kitty for someone who would make a scene, but I think Achilles lack of social awareness would make him more likely, but Kitty would still be a brilliant guest. She caused a scandal at every party she went to in Crazy Rich Asians and always seemed like she was having the most fun!

How I Think It’ll Go Down

Despite hosting, Gatsby would be nowhere to be seen for the majority of the night. Kitty Pong would turn up wearing something completely outrageous, offering to sign autographs for everyone else. Elsa’s Granny, Caitlin Cardew, Tiny and Izzy would spend all night laughing and telling scandalous stories together with Lara Jean and Elsa hanging on every word.  Count Olaf would definitely put on some impromptu show which most people would humour but Tiny would join in and then take over, leading to an unplanned performance of Hold Me Closer Tiny Cooper in its entirety. He would convince Caitlin, Izzy, Lara Jean, and Kitty to join in, giving them various parts from the play which would make Count Olaf furious as not only has he been upstaged, he’s not been given a part.

Achilles and Katniss would spend the majority of the evening either brooding or misunderstanding Elsa’s Granny and Izzy’s humour. Izzy, Caitlin, and Kitty would be flirting with Achilles but getting nowhere and then Gatsby would make a dramatic entrance at about midnight, descending a grand start case and calling everyone old sport. At this point, Elsa would be asleep under a table or something whilst the adults/young adults partied into the night.

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I could have kept going with my story, but I thought it best to cut off before I ended up with a full book! As I said at the beginning, I’m not doing specific tags for this post so if you want to join in, then please consider yourself tagged!

 

Thanks for reading! Who would you want at your literary dinner party? Let me know in the comments below!

T5T: Top 5 Books That Lived Up to The Hype

T5T: Top 5 Books That Lived Up to The Hype

Welcome back to another Top 5 Tuesday!

If you aren’t familiar with Top 5 Tuesday, it is a group here on WordPress currently run by Shanah over at BionicBookWorm, that features a different book related topic each week.

This week’s topic is the top 5 books that didn’t live up to the hype, but I was struggling to come up with 5 so I’ve gone for the top 5 books that lived up to the hype instead (although this meant I had the opposite problem, only 5?!)

In an attempt to narrow down my list, I’ve decided to only focus on books that I’ve read within the last year.

 

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 

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  1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

 

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  1. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

 

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  1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

 

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  1. The Power by Naomi Alderman

 

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Thanks for reading! What books do you think did/didn’t live up to the hype? Let me know in the comments below!

If you’re taking part in this week’s Top 5 Tuesday or if you’ve done a similar post in the past, then please leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll check it out.

REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockheart

REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockheart

Happy Sunday!

Today I’m reviewing We Were Liars by E. Lockheart. If you’re a fan of this book, you may not want to read on…

 

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GoodReads Synopsis:

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.

My Rating:

★★★☆☆

 

My Thoughts:

I have tried to read this book several times but I’ve never made it past the first few pages mainly because of the writing style. I gave it one last chance and finally made it to the end but there was more than one occasion where I wanted to give up.

I genuinely disliked this book which is rare for me. I quite often read books that underwhelm me or just aren’t my thing but it’s unusual for me to have such a strong, negative opinion about a book. I think the last book I read that caused a similar reaction was 13 Reasons Why and that is going back a long time.

I had two main problems with this book, the first being the characters and their background. I don’t know when or why ‘rich people have problems too’ became a trope in YA but it is just not needed. The world doesn’t need more books about rich people suffering. Its always the same, the protagonist comes from a ridiculously wealthy family, but their family doesn’t understand them, or they have mental health issues, or their family is fractured. We’re then supposed to feel sorry for the rich kid because ‘look how hard they actually have it despite having millions of pounds and a private island’, but I don’t understand how a reader can be expected to do this as the characters and the story weren’t relatable (unless of course you’re extremely rich with your own private island in which case, my bad). There were also far too many characters in this book to keep tabs on. It unnecessarily complicated what was already a difficult story to follow.

The second problem I had was the writing style. Having studied modernism at University and suffered my way through Ulysses, I just don’t care for books that are written using little to no grammar and seemingly incoherent sentence structures. I just don’t find it enjoyable to read. You can get a sense of what I mean just from the synopsis but if you’re struggling, think of those ‘poets’ you see on Instagram whose poems consistent of half-written, spaced out sentences and you have the structure/writing style of We Were Liars. I know that some people love this style of writing but I’m more of a classical kind of gal, give me proper sentence structures over this any day of the week.

Now you might be thinking, why is she tearing this book to shreds when she gave it a 3-star rating? Or, how bad does a book have to be for her to give it 1 star?

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Well, one thing this book did exceptionally well was to completely take me by surprise. I never saw the plot twist coming. It wasn’t even that when I got near to the end I started to figure it out, I genuinely had no idea it was going to happen or that there was even going to be a plot twist which is some amazing storytelling on E. Lockheart’s part.

This is what earned We Were Liars 3 stars and made me think, perhaps I should have just listened to the audiobook.

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Thanks for reading! I know this book is popular so please accept my apologies if I’ve just slated one of your favourite books. If you’ve read this book let me know what you thought (good or bad) in the comments below!