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! 

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BLOG TOUR: The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

BLOG TOUR: The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

Hello lovelies!

I usually post my book reviews on a Sunday but as I’m taking part in the Blog Tour for The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney, you’re getting an extra review this week!

I would like to start by saying thank you to NetGalley and Legend Press, the publishers of this book, for sending me a Kindle version to read in exchange for an honest review.

This is my first ever Blog Tour on The Girl with All the Books and I’m so excited to be involved! I have been extremely lucky so far with the ARCs I have requested and read an The Great Unexpected was no exception.

The Great Unexpected_smaller

GoodReads Synopsis:

“If you’re going to end it, you better make it big. No slipping off bridges, it’s undignified for men of our vintage. Go big or don’t bother.”

Joel lives in a nursing home and he’s not one bit happy about it. He doesn’t like being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to take his pills. In fact, he doesn’t like living at all, and he’s decided he’s going to end his life on his terms.

When he tells retired soap-actor Frank about his dark plan, Frank urges him to go out with a bang. Together, they embark on a mission to find the perfect suicide, and along the way, discover the strength of friendship when you really feel alone.”

My Thoughts:

This book was beautiful but heart-breaking, which, let’s be honest, all the great books are. The absurdity of the plot tied with the outrageous, yet lovable characters worked perfectly, and the well-timed humour softened the edges of the serious topic.

As you will have read in the synopsis, Joel Monroe has decided he is going to commit suicide. His new and extravagant friend Frank de Selby has decided he is going to help him. For Joel this means trying to decide what he should wear to the occasion, a football shirt, his pyjamas or maybe just a nice suit? For Frank this is an opportunity to show Joel that his life is worth living. The two are the most unlikely friends yet they are perfectly matched, and I could not stop my self from smiling when reading the scenes where they bicker back and forth or where they go out clubbing with Joel’s young grandchildren. (Yes, you read that right. Clubbing!)

If you love a book with a quirky story and exceptionally well-developed characters, then this is the one for you. Joel Monroe broke my heart into pieces several times. He was infuriating yet lovable and Mooney captured such raw emotion in his character that brought me close to tears at times. It also made me think differently towards my grandparents, particularly my amazing 92-year-old grandmother who has herself complained to me about the lack of independence she has. I have seen my family treat her like a child and like Joel, I have seen her act like a child in response but now I feel like I understand her position a bit better.

My favourite thing about this book was that no character seemed to just be there to assist a plot line. They were all so well-crafted and multi-dimensional and they each brought something different to the story. This for me worked particularly well with the staff at the nursing home where Joel is living. They could all just be name tags mentioned in the escapades of Joel and Frank, but Mooney gives them all a back story. It is the little things like this that make this book feel like such a well rounded and full story.

If you have read any of my other blog posts you will know that I am a huge fan of Frederick Backman (I mention him in at least 50% of my posts). The Great Unexpected reminded me so much of the type of genius yet crazy stories that Backman comes up with and also another favourite author of mine, Jonas Jonasson. This is a huge compliment coming from me as these are 2 of my go-to authors. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up one of their books and I after The Great Unexpected, I would definitely read more of Mooney’s writing.

The Great Unexpected is out now and if you’re interesting in reading this lovely book (which I hope you are after this glowing review) then you can buy it here.

If you want to hear more from this author, then follow him on twitter @danielmoonbags

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

ARC REVIEW: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hard Castle by Stuart Turton

ARC REVIEW: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hard Castle by Stuart Turton

Hey, lovelies!

I would like to start by saying thanks to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is only my second ARC review so I’m still getting the hang of things but luckily my first 2 reads have been great!

Synopsis:

Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once.

Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

 

My Thoughts:

Wow. This book is one wild ride. I think this is one of the only (or very few) books that I can honestly say I had no idea how it was going to end.

For the first few chapters, I had no idea what was going on as I didn’t re-read the synopsis before starting the book as I like to be surprised and Turton definitely surprised me.

This murder mystery is truly unique which is a rare thing in this day and age. All the twist is and turns left me guessing. As I’m sure you can tell from the synopsis, this book is extremely interesting. It reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel but slightly crazier and more out-there.

My favourite thing about this novel was the setting. Blackheath was like something straight out of a gothic novel. Turton’s descriptions are so vivid and detailed that I can picture the dusty, decrepit building and all of its inhabitants. His characters are all so different and watching Aiden navigate his way through each of them really added to the strength of the novel. I would have loved if Aiden went into some of the female characters such as Lucy or Grace to give the narrative more depth, but I did still enjoy it as it is.

I would love to go into detail about all of the twists and turns to really do this book justice, but I can’t bring myself to spoil it for anyone! You will have to just trust me that this book is worth the read!

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below!