Reading Wrap-Up | January to February 2018
We are mid-way through February and so far I have read 16 books this year. I am definitely on target to complete my reading challenge of 80 books. Exciting times.
Today I going to do a little reading round-up of what I have read so far, including my overall rating of each book.
Disclaimer: Two of the books I have read this year are books that I am working on through my current job in publishing. They are yet to be released so I will not be reviewing them today.
Let’s jump in! These are in order of being read.
1. Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce
My first book of the year was a wonderful read! A World War Two historical fiction, with a personal edge. This is a fast-paced, easy-going novel that will knock-you-for-six about three-quarters of the way through so bring some tissues to this reading party.
The protagonist, Emmeline, is dreaming of becoming a war correspondent and by mistake takes a job as an assistant to an advice columnist. This advice columnist is a bit of a cowbag and refuses to answer letters to people that mention ‘real’ problems like relationships issues and dealing with grief. But Emmeline can’t help but feel she needs to do her bit… which of course leads to some problems.
It is an utterly heartwarming read and a simply lovely book! I would highly recommend it.
5 stars from me! And a good way to start off the year
Out on the 5th April 2018, published by Picador.
2. What Fresh Hell by Lucy Vine
I read Hot Mess by Lucy Vine last year and whilst I related to the character in it, it also kept going from highly amusing to plodding along and that annoyed me. The case was the same for What Fresh Hell in some ways.
The story focuses on weddings this time around, and the number of weddings we 20-30 something women have to attend. In the protagonist case, a lot of the plot is ranting about he countless hen dos she has to go to, the annoying amount of money she has to spend on stupid presents and what happens when her bridezilla of a best friend gets engaged. It’s relatable but there were moments when I thought situations were too felt far-fetched or a little flat and it would be up and down again.
It is still a good read if you’re in your 20s and 30s with some genuinely funny moments though, so I’ve given it a 3.75 star rating.
Out on the 8th March 2018, published by Orion.
3. Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong — and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini
I listened to this on audiobook and there were moments when I was fascinated and gripped by what Angela was saying, such as the chapters on women’s bodies and the evolving way it has altered to help the process of birth, to allow women to work and to live aside men as equals and not as inferior beings. But there were other moments when my mind drew a blank and I easily tuned out.
I wonder if I should have read this book as an ebook/paperback rather than an audiobook, as I may have concentrated on it more, as I do think the topic is very important. Still well worth a read though.
3 stars out of 5
Out now and published by 4th Estate.
4. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Another audiobook – I’m keeping the trend from last year which I loved. This is only a short pamphlet of suggestions that Chimamanda wrote for a friend after she had a daughter. It is a gorgeous and personal manifesto of ideas for how to raise a daughter a feminist. But, before the trolls come streaming out from under their bridges, it’s not about ‘making’ her a feminist, it’s more about teaching her to believe that she is every bit as good as a man and how she should not let her gender define her, but love herself instead.
5 stars out of 5!
Out now and published by 4th Estate.
5. The End of Oz by Danielle Paige
After two years I have finally completed the Dorothy Must Die series and it was bittersweet. I must admit that after finished the previous book about 9 months ago I had forgotten a lot of where we were in the story so it took me a while to catch up and get on the same page. Much like book two and three in the series, I felt that The End of Oz was nowhere near as strong as the first novel as it was too short, again! At only just over 200 pages long, it could have done with some bolstering up as I was just getting into it when it was finished.
The overall ending is good, even though it’s been done before but there is still magic there, and I would like to think that Danielle Paige has kept the story open for another adventure in Oz. Just one that doesn’t involve killing Dorothy Gale. *Spoiler alert… kind of*
3.5 star rating overall.
Out now and published by HarperCollins
6. The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge
After suffering a little with anxiety after moving to London, and having a bit of meltdown in October/November time with my confidence, I was keen to learn more about the subject. I got the Anxiety Solution as an audiobook and listened to it when I could, mostly during my commute. Chloe explains the effects and differences between people’s anxiety about various topics from body image to relationships and describing several exercises to do when you’re feeling anxious.
It’s an alright read but it still won’t ever make up for a meeting with a trained therapist, as Chloe is, and talking your problems through individually for them. But it will help to educate you on various techniques to help calm yourself and learn to understand you and your anxiety a little better.
Out now and published by Penguin.
7. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
I have never read the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman before. Please don’t throw rocks at me. One of my colleagues says that this is the best book ever written – seriously! – and at Christmas he suddenly got most of us to buy it and start an impromptu book club where any of us who hadn’t read it in the office finally got around to it. It led to many a funny conversation about polar bears and daemons.
And I did really enjoy it. I got through it in record time and even took longer journey’s home in order to get a chance to read more of it. I can understand why people love it so much. In the scene where Lyra and her daemon are about to be severed from each other, I felt the pull of my own daemon and I don’t have a daemon! (FYI it would be a cat or a goat). But Pullman wrote in such a way that I felt that I did for some reason.
That being said, I haven’t rushed out for the second book as the only part of this story I didn’t like was the ending. I thought it was too rushed and muddled. We’ll see if I carry on the series as I think should and probably will enjoy it.
4.75 out of 5.
Out now and published by Scholastic.
8. Peach by Emma Glass
This novella has been getting rave reviews and the writer is also a friend of one of my colleagues so my interest was peaked. I requested a copy on NetGalley – which I was lucky enough to receive – this is a stylised novella about a girl called Peach who is raped.
It is a heart-wrenching depiction of life after a sexual assault with some horrifying scenes that feel like a proper punch in the stomach. The image of the main character coming home after being attacked and stitching up her labia where it has been torn by the assailant will probably stay with me for a long time. I’m not a massive fan of stylised writing but even I can’t deny the power that this book contains.
Not for the fainthearted but definitely a must-read.
Out now and published by Bloomsbury.
9. Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives by Anna Kessel
I never thought I would say that a non-fiction book about sport would be my read of the year, but this is definitely my read of the year so far! After reading this fantastic book on women in sport, and the various taboos and experiences women have had to face whilst trying to keep fit, I was inspired to go to the gym more often, start researching to join a sports club and generally be more active. I still have a long way to go to achieve these goals but I am determined to take part in sports from now on.
The book features interviews and stories from some of the worlds leading sportswomen of the day, including Jessica Ennis-Hill and Serena Williams, and the struggles that they have faced to be taken seriously and to, basically, keep their jobs and become champions. The book covers women’s experience of exercise during pregnancy and periods, and the issues we face in childhood physical education to the representation of female Olympic athletes. This book examines it all and comes to the same conclusion every time: any women can do sports and should do sports, but are being suppressed by opinions that wrong!
An absolute must-read! I loved it. I felt empowered, enlightened and energised every time I picked this book up.
Out now and published by Macmillan.
10. Audrey Hepburn (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
I love this collection of Little People, Big Dreams books. They’re children books but they’re gorgeous and I like them #guiltypleasure. Each book takes a woman from history and explains her backstory, what she is famous for and how she should use her ambition, drive and experiences to help educate, inspire and generally help others.
Audrey Hepburn’s story focuses on her history of growing up in a war-torn country, being taken away from her parents and never having enough food. She survived and went to America to learn how to be a ballet dancer, but due to being undernourished as a child she was not strong enough to remain a dancer so she became a famous actress instead. In later life, she started up a charity to help other children in wartorn countries have enough food, as she never forgot what it was like.
Full of gorgeous illustrations and an uplifting message these books will definitely be great presents for young boys or girls! Or grown women of 22, like me.
Out now and published by Frances Lincoln Books.
11. Agatha Christie (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
I read three of these books in one go. This one followed Agatha Christie, the most successful writer of all time.
4 stars as well.
Out now and published by Frances Lincoln Books.
12. Rosa Parks (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
And another one. In this book, I’m glad that I finally learnt what happened to Rosa Parks after she refused to leave her seat on the bus. Her story always used to end after her arrest in school and in reality her story went on for a good few more years!
13. Can I Speak to Someone in Charge by Emily Clarkson
My most recent audiobook was a book written as a series of letters by Emily Clarkson of Pretty Normal Me (a blog). She is also the daughter of Jeremy Clarkson, which I didn’t know until about halfway through the book. Emily writes letters to quite a few different topics and people in this book, most of which I agreed with but some of her opinions didn’t mesh with mine entirely, but that’s fine as you’re allowed to have opinions people!
Some of the letters I enjoyed the most were letters to the thinspiration movement and a letter to Topshop, as well as a letter to Hollywood and Make-Up. Her arguments aren’t revelations, a lot of people are saying the exact things everyday, such as where are all the real women in Hollywood and why do women have to shave/wax/laser off our body hair? But there still interesting to read about and see from different perspectives.
Now, there were times when I really didn’t agree with her – such as her opinion on Page 3 of The Sun, she believes seeing images of posed, white, size 10 and under naked ladies was inspirational to women – but like I said before opinions are allowed.
But most of the time I thought her arguments were spot on.
4 stars and the audiobook was pretty good.
Out now and published by Simon & Schuster.
14. The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
Can I just say that I love this cover! Gorgeous.
This is another NetGalley read from me and I am so glad I read it. I finished this last night at midnight as I had to know what happened, and I’ll tell you now that the ending will break your heart.
To start with though, this story feels very confused. Spanning over 50 years the story follows Catherine Wray, a pregnant sixteen-year-old at the start of the novel through to a grown woman, who runs away to a magical toy shop in London only to stay forever. At one moment it feels like your classical historical fiction then it is a magical realism novel, then it is a fantasy and then it flits between the three genres in a matter of pages.
It’s complicated, and it took until about 30% of the way through to have me gripped. But there is no denying there is magic in the pages. If you like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern then this is very much of the same ilk.
To explain the story would be to give a lot away so instead know that is about a brother’s feud, the effects of World War One on relationships, mental health and lifestyle, childhood and childhood innocence and most importantly family.
Well worth a read, I think this will be on a lot of favourites lists this year.
4.5 stars from me.
Out now and published by Ebury.
And, as I said previously, I have two other books for work this year but I’m not at liberty to describe them as yet. I can tell you though that they are awesome! And I can’t wait to start shouting about them on Twitter! If you’re a book blogger/bookstagrammer or BookTuber and fancy reading an ebook, or two, of some kick-ass crime thrillers, just email me or tweet me for a copy!
But that’s it for my reading round-up of the year so far! There are a lot more books on the way as I’m currently reading/listening to four books at once.
I’m loving this reading rush!
Let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments below, and if you have read any of these books.