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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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!  

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…

 

popcorn_the_it_crowd

 

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?

whaaaaat

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.

shurggg

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!

REVIEW: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

REVIEW: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Hello, lovelies!

I hope you’re all having a lovely week so far. This week I’m reviewing Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow.

I just want to make it clear before you read any further, that this review contains references to self-harm, suicide, and mental illness which may be triggering to some readers.

GoodReads Synopsis:

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

 

My Thoughts:

Don’t let the pretty cover fool you as Girl in Pieces is far from a light-hearted YA read. It is a detailed fictional account of struggling with a mental illness, self-harm and the road to recovery.

Mental illness has become a common trope across YA, arguably overtaking the recently neglected and controversial love triangle trope. This is both a blessing and a curse as on the one hand, mental illness is getting the representation in literature that it needs but on the other hand there are times when it is clear that an author is only using mental illness as a secondary plot devise, with no intention or desire to fully explore the subject matter.

Often, we read to know that we are not alone in what we feel which is why it is so important that authors take the time to consider their reader and the message they want to send before deciding to include such a sensitive yet critical subject.

Girl in Pieces is one of the best novels I have ever read that deals with the topic of mental illness. It isn’t a plot device that takes a back seat to romance or teen drama. It is woven into every chapter, page, and sentence of this novel so thoughtfully and carefully. It is the very heart of this novel, providing readers with the honest and raw representation that so desperately needs to be seen in literature.

I won’t lie, it was a difficult read. It was upsetting, heart-breaking but it really resonated with me.

The novel follows Charlie, a young girl recovering from a suicide attempt who is just trying to navigate this often challenging world, with the weight of her past still hanging on her shoulders. When we meet Charlie, she is in a rehab/psychiatric ward following her suicide attempt. She is silent, bandaged up and broken. Surrounded by other young girls all suffering from the same affliction, Charlie begins to heal, begins talking again and tries to face up to her past.

 

“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.”

 

All of the girls Charlie is surrounded by are different. They are each in their own way, in pieces. Glasgow slowly develops each of their characters to highlight that there is no one way that mental illness affects people. For Charlie, she cuts herself away with shards of broken glass, for Blue, she sticks needles in her body to get away from the pain and for Isis there is fire leaving circular scars across her body. They all feel their pain in their own way just as they all must recover in their own way.

For Charlie, recovery is a rollercoaster of ups and downs. When she leaves the safety net of the rehab/psychiatric ward, she finds herself under the blazing sun in Tucson and soon begins to try and get her life back on track. She finds a job, a place to live and tries to begin to heal but her past is always close behind her. It is here that she meets Riley West, an ex-musician, alcoholic and a drug user battling his own demons. It is at this point that Glasgow could easily have taken this down the root that so many other authors do (girl is struggling, boy is struggling, girl meets boy, they fix each other and drive off into the sunset) but she doesn’t. She makes it clear that Riley is not the answer to all of Charlie’s problem, in fact, he becomes part of the cause.

Glasgow’s deeply emotional and at times witty writing style complimented the story perfectly. There was just the right amount of dark humour coupled with beautifully written philosophical observations for this story to grip me completely. I couldn’t put this book down because I needed to know what happened to Charlie and whether she was okay. I would love to tell you that this book has a happy ending, but it is more realistic that is doesn’t. It does, however, offer the reader a hopeful ending. Charlie is still dealing with her mental health problems, fighting off the urge to turn away from the world and to self-harm, but she is trying.

So, whilst this is a powerful yet painful read, it is also a hopeful one. For anyone out there struggling with mental health issues, this story may make you feel less alone and more understood.

 

Thanks for reading! I know this has been a particularly long and serious review but I felt I had to do this book justice. This book deals with a lot of sensitive subjects that may be harmful to some readers so do bear this in mind before picking it up. If you’ve read this book then let me know what you thought in the comments below!

T5T: Tropes I’d Like To See More Of

T5T: Tropes I’d Like To See More Of

Hello, lovelies!

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

I didn’t take part in Top 5 Tuesday last week so I have decided to use last week’s topic for this post as it was a good one.

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.

 

Top 5 Tropes I’d Like To See More Of:

  1. Unlikely friendships/relationships

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Think of The Breakfast Club but in book form and you’ll understand what I mean. I am a sucker for the typical popular athlete falling for a bookworm Americanised trope that fills the pages of most popular YA novels. No matter how hard I try, I simply can’t deny the stupid grin on my face when the unlikely couple finally realise they are perfect for each other.

  1. Close-knit/Supportive Families

family

Every other book I read seems to use the dysfunctional family format trope to surround their protagonist in tragedy so it’s always refreshing to read a book where family is not the root of the protagonists’ problems. My favourite example of this is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I mentioned this in my review of the second book in the series but the scenes with Lara Jean and her family are so pure and lovely.

  1. Strong Female Leads

katniss

This is so easy to get wrong but when it’s done right, there’s nothing quite like it. My favourite examples of this are definitely Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and Izzy O’Neill from The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven.

  1. The Fall of Society/ The World Inverted

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I am a big fan of dystopian fiction, so I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this trope. Whilst the premise is the same, each author uses it for an entirely different purpose which is always so interesting to see. Some of my favourite examples of this are The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood and The Power by Naomi Alderman.

  1. The Chosen One

chosen one

I love this trope even if I don’t always love the character that is the chosen one (I think we all know I’m talking about Frodo here). The only example needed for this one has to be the self-titled chosen one, Harry Potter!

Thanks for reading! What are some of your favourite tropes that you’d like to see more of? Let me know in the comments below!

REVIEW: P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han

REVIEW: P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Hello, lovelies!

 

Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve had a relaxing weekend. I’m finishing my week with a review of the brilliant P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han, the follow to her bestselling novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

 

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS & NEGATIVE OPINIONS OF PETER KAVINSKY

GoodReads Synopsis:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

My Thoughts:

I read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before about a year ago now and I kept meaning to pick up the next in the series but then I kind of forgot about it. Enter Netflix and the Lana Condor/Noah Centineo combo and P.S I Still Love You went straight to the top of my TBR pile.

I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the first book but I needn’t have been as Jenny Han did not disappoint. It was a very different experience reading P.S I Still Love You compared to TATBILB as I was picturing the characters from the film as I was reading. Lana Condor makes the perfect Lara Jean and Noah Centineo is one dreamy Peter Kavinsky so I have no complaints about that!

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The book starts a few scenes before the film ended and things with Lara Jean and Peter are still off. It didn’t come as much of a surprise that they immediately got together thanks to another one of Lara Jean’s letters (and also thanks to Netflix for the spoiler!).

I’m going to get this out of the way, rip it off like a bandaid. I actually didn’t like Peter at all in this book which is a complete shift from TATBILB. He is an awful boyfriend to Lara Jean and she somehow ends up taking the blame for this in the end which infuriated me. The Gen drama continues and despite being in a relationship with Lara Jean, Peter spends 3/4 of this book with Gen helping her through some ‘family’ troubles. Lara Jean naturally is uncomfortable with this and can’t help but feel jealous after always being second best to Gen (a perfectly reasonable reaction I might add).

When we find Gen’s family drama was, Lara Jean is suddenly fine with Peter’s complete neglect and disrespect for their relationship and goes running back to him to apologise. This bothered me so much and I’m sure I’m not the only one. No one no matter how mature or secure they were in their relationship would be comfortable with their significant other spending all of their time comforting their ex.

No one deserves to be treated like that, especially not Lara Jean and don’t even get me started on that hot tub video situation! For all you Peter K fans out there who are going to say ‘but Gen was going through a really hard time’, I know. That doesn’t give Peter an excuse to treat Lara Jean the way he did. Gen was manipulating the situation to hurt Lara Jean and Peter let her.

So, if it’s not already clear, I can safely say I am no longer a Peter K fan which leads me on to one of my favourite parts of this book… John Ambrose McClaren.

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John Ambrose McClaren is one of the recipients of Lara Jean’s infamous love letters and just as things with her and Peter start to heat up, John writes her back in typical John Ambrose McClaren fashion. He is the real MVP of this book and is who Lara Jean should be with. He’s thoughtful, smart, sweet and there for Lara Jean when Peter is off being Gen’s shoulder to cry on. I also loved that his full name was used so frequently throughout the book.

I loved the introduction of new characters in P.S I Still Love you including all those at the nursing home Lara Jean works at and it’s safe to say that Jenny Han has created some spectacular characters in this series but, I think we can all agree that Kitty Song takes the crown. I think some of my favourite scenes from this book are ones were the Song family spends time together. Often in YA novels, we have a dysfunctional or turbulent family at the center of the story and whilst the Song’s have faced their fair share of tragedy, Lara Jean’s family are so adorably close and normal that it was a breath of fresh air.

I am honestly surprised at how invested in this series I am and how passionate I have been about these fictional characters and relationships in this review. I intended this to be a more serious review of the writing, character building, and plot techniques but it quickly descended into a rant about my new found hate for Peter Kavinsky.

I love this series and I’m so glad there’s more to this story, let’s just hope Netflix carries on adapting these books into the cute romcoms we know they can be!

 

 

 

Thanks for reading! Are you a fan of this series? Let me know in the comments below!