Book Review: ‘The Sun is also a Star’ by Nicola Yoon.

Title: The Sun is also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Length: 344 pages

Publisher: Corgi Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Having previously read ‘Everything, Everything’ by Nicola Yoon and loved it, I’ve been nervous to read this as wasn’t sure whether it could live up to predecessor?

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget all about that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store – for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has bought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

‘ Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.’

I loved this book. I honestly feel like I could finish this review here, so you stop reading this and start reading this book.

The plot takes place in one day in New York City, where you follow the journey of Natasha and Daniel, how their day begins, how they meet and how the day ends. The two characters are instantly likeable. I really enjoyed reading their points of view. They had such great chemistry together. I enjoyed reading them falling in love.

‘I didn’t know you this morning. Now I can’t imagine not knowing you.’

The writing in the book is heartfelt and witty. I mean, for them to fall in love on the day they meet and for us readers to want them to last is a true testament to the writing. Each character has a clear and concise voice. In a less talented writer, these characters and storyline could’ve come off as cliche but the reader is left with something wonderful.

The diversity in this book is one of the best things about it. An illegal immigrant and a Korean American are at the front and centre of the story. They’re backgrounds really make this book special. The illegal immigrant storyline is obviously, very relevant today and this book really puts a heartfelt, very real spin on it. It’s truly thought provoking and really made me feel for Natasha and her family. I think it could open a lot of people’s minds.

Throughout the book, there are chapters about the people Natasha and Daniel meet along the way, their family members or a subject they’ve discussed and they are fantastic. They’re a real highlight throughout the book. They’re short, funny, heartfelt. In one of these chapters you meet Irene, who think is my favourite character. How these chapters can be so engaging and heartfelt even though they are often only two pages long, just proves the talent of Nicola Yoon.

I fully recommend this book. If you love Young Adult novels, a sweet romance then this is the book for you. Or if you like a book with diversity, then pick this one up.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy

Title: Sea of Memories

Author: Fiona Valpy

Length: 275 pages (kindle edition)

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I am a huge fan of Fiona’s, loving her other book ‘The Beekeepers Promise’ and I had high hopes for this book. Did it live up to my expectations?

When Kendra first visits her ailing grandmother, Ella has only one request: that Kendra write her story down, before she forgets… In 1937, seventeen-year-old Ella’s life changes forever when she is sent to spend the summer on the beautiful Île de Ré and meets the charismatic, creative Christophe. They spend the summer together, exploring the island’s sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, and, for the first time in her life Ella feels truly free. But the outbreak of war casts everything in a new light. Ella is forced to return to Scotland, where she volunteers for the war effort alongside the dashing Angus. In this new world, Ella feels herself drifting further and further from who she was on the Île de Ré. Can she ever find her way back? And does she want to?

‘Never lose hope. Even when everything else is gone. Life without hope is a living death. Hope is what makes us human. Without it, we are in danger of losing touch with what it is to be alive.’

Fiona Valpy is a fantastic author. I could just leave the review there, but then I wouldn’t get to share about this fantastic book. There’s not many writers out there that can get you so emotionally invested in characters that quickly. It amazes me, a few pages in and I’m hooked.

This book is set in two different times. In the tumultuous beginnings of WW1 and in modern day Scotland. Fiona does both seamlessly. While the main focus of the book, in my opinion, is the story that set in the past, I found myself just as excited to read about the present day.

You follow the story of Ella, as she heads to spend the summer in France, with family friends, where she encounters new experiences, first loves and utter happiness until France and England become torn by war.From then on we see how this affects Ella’s love with Christophe and her life after.

Ella is such a likeable character, to follow her story is a real pleasure. To read about her falling in love for the first time is such joy. Fiona writes it so well, they fall in love quickly in the book, yet it’s totally believable. Then it’s fascinating to read what’s happen to Ella as war rages on.

Fiona Valpy really is a master at Historical Fiction. You really get a sense of the atmosphere, the fear, the panic and the fighting spirit of WW1. I found myself desperately wanting to go to Île de Ré because of Fiona’s descriptions. They are so detailed and atmospheric, it’s wonderful.

It’s also great to see a Woman’s side of the war. There aren’t enough books that focus on that, especially smart women like Ella. This story continues after the war, as we read Ella trying to put her life back together, whilst building a new future. This book, at multiple times, is heartbreaking. Don’t read this without some tissues near by. Why did you do that to me, Fiona?

So, if you haven’t read this book. Or any other of Fiona Valpys books, I seriously can’t recommend them enough. It’s Historical Fiction at its finest. Fiona also has a new book coming out later this year. I can’t wait, I’m already excited. Let me know, if you’ve read any or plan to read these books.

Until the next review

JTH

100 followers + (E)ARC

Just a quick blog post today to say how thrilled I am about reaching 100 followers on my blog. It truly makes me happy. I read books and write the reviews because I love it. And it’s great to have you all along for the journey.

Also, last month I got approved for two books (thanks Netgalley). They are ‘The Tubman Command’ by Elizabeth Cobbs that comes out May 7th. And ‘Today We Go Home’ by Kelli Estes that comes out August 6th. Both are Historical Fiction novels, with the first being Young Adult also. I’m so excited to read them both.

Again, thank you so much for following. I hope the number continues to grow.

Until the next review

JTH

Book Review… ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton

Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Author: Stuart Turton

Length: 505 pages

Publisher: Raven Books Bloomsbury Publishing

⭐️⭐️/5 Stars

This was another one of those popular books of 2018, that people couldn’t stop talking about. I have to admit I was intrigued, but did this book live up to the hype?

At a party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed- again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. The only way to break this cycle is to identify Evelyn’s killer. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath…

Now, like I said I found this book very intriguing and was looking forward to reading it. To be honest I was disappointed. This book is very hectic, there’s a lot going on, so many different characters, so many different storylines. I found this book tricky to get into.

Some books are complicated in a good way, they keep you guessing, they make you read faster because you can’t wait to find out what happened. ‘Seven Deaths’ did not do that for me. While it kept me interested enough to finish the book, I was in no hurry to do so. Although the storylines certainly came together more towards the end.

It took me a long time to finish this book. Not one of the characters are particularly likeable, I found myself not caring why Aiden Bishop is at Blackheath, or not caring if he got out. I was not emotionally involved, but maybe that’s not to expected with this particular genre. But like I said, I did want to know how it would be resolved. So, I have to give this book credit for that.

When I finally did reach the end, I was expecting some big twist, a shocking revelation, because that’s the point of mystery/thriller books. I didn’t get that. I wouldn’t say I saw the end coming, I think it just left me with a lot of questions. It felt like the end was dealt with in a rushed way, not explaining enough. I like my books to be wrapped up neatly at the end, unless the have a sequel of course. And let’s hope this book doesn’t.

I have to say, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book. But I know a lot of people loved it. Did you? Comment and let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

January Wrap Up

Well, I can’t believe it’s the end of January already. The month has just flown by. I’ve managed to read five books this month. Some good, some not so good. I know five isn’t many compared to some of you, but it’s good for me I’m a slow reader

First up was ‘Two Boys, At Swim’ by Jamie O’Neill. This book was what you call a slow burner. It’s started slow, and to be honest was hard to read as it’s written in Irish dialect. Once you get into it, it’s wonderful. Queer Fiction at its finest.

Second up was ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and it’s still on top of the bestseller list in the United Kingdom. This book had a few good moments but overall I didn’t like this one. It was too light and fluffy considering it was set in such horrific circumstances. This book just missed the mark for me.

Thirdly, was ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ by John Green. Wow, I did not like this book. I just thought it was horrible. The story was set around a disappearance that’s barely mentioned throughout the plot. While it’s excellent to get stories about Mental Illness out in the world, that’s all the character was reduced to. Could’ve done so much more. If John Green hadn’t already had big hits with his books, would this be as successful?

Fourth was ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. I know Memoirs aren’t everyone’s first choice but this one is terrific. It’s a fantastic look behind the scenes in one of the greatest political moments of our time. It’s so compelling.

The fifth and final book of the month was ‘The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton. Another popular book of last year, and once again I don’t really agree. Hard to get into, too many characters. I stayed till the end, it wasn’t worth it.

Until the next review

JTH

Book Review: ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama

Title: Becoming

Authors: Michelle Obama

Length: 421 pages

Publisher: Penguin/Viking

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

Now, I know Memoirs aren’t everybody’s ideal read. But if you feel like trying to broaden your horizons, then definitely pick up this one. It’s one of the best I’ve read.

‘When she was a little girl, Michelle Robinson’s world was the South Side of Chicago, where she and her brother, Craig, shared a bedroom in their family’s upstairs apartment and played catch in the park, and where her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, raised her to be outspoken and unafraid. But life soon till her much further afield, from the halls of Princeton, where she learned for the first time what it felt like to be the only black woman in a room, to the glassy office tower where she worked as a high-powered corporate lawyer- and where, one summer morning, a law student named Barack Obama appeared in her office and upended all her carefully made plans.

‘It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open a fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look as something you’d otherwise find beautiful – a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids -and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.’

This memoir is truly wonderful. The stories Michelle tells are truly fascinating. From her humble beginnings to her time as First Lady.

I loved Michelle’s memories from her childhood. They were told so vividly. You’ll absolutely fall in love with her parents, who you can truly tell shaped her to becoming the wonderful person she is. The story of her romance with Barack is so tender and heartwarming, it’s like something out of a novel. It’s so nice to get to know the people behind the political figures. And Michelle doesn’t hold back.

Of course, the bit I was really waiting for was the Presidential Campaign and the Presidency. And they didn’t disappoint. It was so intriguing to read about what goes on behind the scenes, how Michelle handled the attacks and how they managed to raise two children in such extreme circumstances.

What really impressed me throughout this memoir was Michelle’s writing. It was so eloquent. The stories were honest, detailed, entertaining. Michelle’s writing was heartfelt (see quote above to see just how brilliant it was) funny, clever and self deprecating.

The Obamas ran their campaign on hope. Somehow throughout this memoir Michelle has managed to convey hope and the reader is, I truly believe because I was, is left with hope. And to me, that’s a sign of a terrific read.

So, if you like memoirs, have an interest in politics or want to get to know the person you’ve seen on your tv screens for years, then this is the book for you. Comment and let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

Book Review… Turtles All The Way Down by John Greene

Title: Turtles All The Way Down

Author: John Green

Length: 289 pages

Publisher: Penguin

⭐️/5

I should start by saying I’m not the biggest John Green fan, whilst I loved ‘The Fault in our Stars’, I haven’t enjoyed the rest. However I know readers love his books, so I was willing to give this one a go.

Sixteen-year-old Aza is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend and a good student. She’s also trying to track down fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, who has vanished without a trace. Alongside her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, Asa sets off in pursuit of the truth – and a $100,000 reward. The trail leads them to Pickett’s son, Davis, a sometime friend of Aza’s who might have the clues they need. But as her compulsive thought spirals take an ever-tighter grip on her mind, Aza finds herself struggling to keep her investigations – and her life – from falling apart.

Firstly the plot, it’s terrible. There’s no other way for me to say it. In the synopsis of this book, it mentions how the main character is trying to track down a fugitive billionaire and I have no idea why. It’s barely mentioned. It’s like author added this storyline as a after thought and it doesn’t work. The conclusion to this story line (the only reason I kept reading) was dull. The plot is predictable, unrealistic and quite frankly boring.

The main character (Aza) is unlikeable. Whilst I do applaud the book for talking about mental health, that’s all this character is reduced. It could’ve been a great opportunity to show that someone can be more than their mental health but the author totally missed the mark. The character wasn’t fleshed out, to be honest when reading it felt like Aza was being used to get the writers opinions across and nothing else. The supporting characters are all cliche and dull.

The writing is so pretentious. It tries to be quirky and charming and totally misses the mark. It feels like John Green was just adding things to the book that ya readers like but it doesn’t work. Also, throughout the novel, other books and writers are mentioned and it’s such a pet peeve of mine, it just reminds me that I could be reading better, well written books. And that’s never been more true than with this book.

Overall I would say don’t read this book. But if you have (or will) comment and let me know what you thought.

Until the next review

JTH