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ARC Book Review: The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Title: The Book of Longings

Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Length: 432 pages

Publisher: Tinder Press

Synopsis: Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome’s occupation. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father’s ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. An eco inter with the eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.

I should start by saying I’m a huge, HUGE Sue Monk Kidd fan. I absolutely adore every fiction novel she’s written. ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ started my love for reading, and ‘The Book of Longings’ is easily my most anticipated read of the year.

In The Book of Longings, we follow Ana who meets a man called Jesus and falls in love and marries him. But the real love of Ana’s life is writing.

This book is absolutely beautiful. It’s called The Book of Longings and it’s so apt as you can the feel the longing on every page. I didn’t know I needed to read a book about the wife of Jesus, but it turns out I really did. It’s such an interesting premise for a book. I’ve never read a book like it.

Ana is such a wonderful main protagonist to follow. She’s so brave, vibrant. You can’t help but connect with her right away. She wants more out of her life and you as the reader want her to achieve everything she can. There’s also fantastic supporting characters such as Yaltha, Ana’s Aunt who has her own longings. Tabitha, Ana’s friend. They all had such spirit. I adored them all.

The story is also beautiful. It’s got a beautiful flow to it. It feels like you’re getting a different view on history. It was also incredibly interesting to see a different side to Jesus.

This is a historical fiction novel, but it felt so modern. I loved the juxtaposition of ancient times to the characters modern attitudes. The novel was full of powerful, complex women. Women who wouldn’t of even been given the chance to have a voice back then. Sue has done it for them. The relationship between Ana and Yaltha is truly something special. It might, aside from the writing, have been the highlight of this book for me. You could feel how much they care for each other, how much they respect one another. It’s a joy to read.

The Book of Longings is all about Ana finding her voice, but in this book Sue Monk Kidd finds hers. She absolutely writes from the depths of her soul and you can feel. So many times I had to pause to really take in a sentence. It often made me cry at its beauty. I just love the way Sue writes.

I can’t recommend this book enough, if you’re already a fan of Sue Monk Kidd then this book will make you love her even more. Or if you’re looking for a book that’s heartfelt, powerful and original, then this is definitely the book for you.

This book will stay with you. Long after you’ve finished it. I still think of Ana often. What a testament to the writing and storytelling of Sue Monk Kidd. It’s incredible.

Thank you so much to Caitlin at Tinder Press for a copy of this boil in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now. Don’t miss this one.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘Dear Edward’ by Ann Napolitano

Title: Dear Edward

Author: Ann Napolitano

Length: 352 pages

Publisher: Viking Books

I’d heard so many wonderful things about this book, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Synopsis: One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 192 passengers onboard: among them is a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet, a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured solider returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across country with their two adolescents sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor. Dear Edward depicts Edwards life in the crash’s aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle’s garage are stacks of letters from the relatives of other passengers, all addresses to Edward. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not to survive, but to truly live?

I absolutely adored this book. It was my last read of 2019 (I’ve saved the review for publication date) but it was the perfect way to finishing the year. It was emotional yet ultimately uplifting.

The book begins with Edward and his family queuing to go through airport security, to board a flight taking them from New York to Los Angeles. Whilst in the waiting room Edward notices other passengers waiting to bored the flight. The story then splits into Edwards life after the plane crash where he’s the only survivor and all the passengers on the plane perspectives leading up to the crash.

Edward is a fascinating main character. His story after the crash was incredibly emotional as he learns to cope with his injuries, his new life and the loss of his family. The way grief is described in this book is so heartbreaking and honest. It gave me shivers. I was desperate for Edward to be able really begin living his life again and it was beautiful to read his journey. The effect Edwards new life has on Aunt and Uncle who took him in was fascinating too. Also his friendship with Shay, the girl who lived across the street was beautiful to read. You could tell she was saving his life just by being there for him. I was wondering if it would turn into a romance, but I won’t spoil and I’ll let you read it to find out. But it was a wonderful ending.

The bit that really shone for me though was all the sections of this novel that take place on the plane leading up to the crash. You meet a variety of different character’s, I think it’s like 8. It was intriguing to see them all interacting. Oh, I’m really not doing this justice, but it’s just got a charm and a realness to it. As the plane begins to crash, and the characters all start to realise what’s happening, there’s beautiful section from Edwards mum that is absolutely heartbreaking. It was so touching. I had to stop and have a little tear, as always.

This book has obviously been well researched, as the details of the place crashing, and the pilots trying to stop is brilliant. Also to be able to get all those stories of the plane characters in the book, but not overwhelm it was great. And the complexity of Edwards characters was handled so well. Ann Napolitano is a terrific writer.

I recommend this book completely. I enjoyed it immensely. Heartbreaking yet beautiful, it was wonderful. However I’m not sure I’ll ever get in a plane again.

Thanks to Viking Books UK for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out February 20th.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘The Guest List’ by Lucy Foley

Title: The Guest List

Author: Lucy Foley

Length: 384 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Synopsis: It starts with a party.On a remote island, the guest gather for the wedding of the year- the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. Old friends. Past grudges. Happy families. Hidden jealousies. Thirteen guests. One body. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as storm unleashes it’s fury upon the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive. It’ll end in murder.

Now, I have to be honest and say this type of genre isn’t my favourite. I don’t read them very often at all, but I devoured this one. It was so good.

I’m sure a lot of you have read ‘The Hunting Party’ by Lucy and she’s back with this new book, and I think you’ll all love this one just as much.

The story starts on the wedding night, at the reception, when all the lights go out and a scream is heard. The story then goes back to guests arriving on a small island to attend the glamorous wedding of their friend June and her tv star husband. They are all staying together in a rundown castle before the big day.

The story is told through the perspective of five characters. Normally, I don’t like this many and this book even adds more towards the end, but I really enjoyed it this novel. Each character is different and has its own story that really adds to the overall story. This led to a twist I didn’t see coming! It was nice to have so many layers to this story.

Also, with the story being set on a island, and the wedding taking place on a stormy night, it really sets up the perfect atmosphere. It’s sort of got this gothic, derelict feel to it and it was great for the story telling. Lucy really uses it to her advantage. It’s another aspect of this book that’s fantastic.

Now let’s talk about that ending. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out who was killed and who killed them. I’m surprised the pages didn’t start to smoke! The mystery and the tension had been built up so perfectly. I couldn’t figure it out and when it was revealed I was little disappointed. I thought it was cliched. But then BOOM, another twist happened and I was incredibly shocked! I didn’t see it coming. I was so surprised. I loved it. That’s what an excellent thriller is all about.

I hope this isn’t a spoiler, I didn’t think it is.

Lucy really has crafted the perfect thriller. It’s got interesting dynamic characters, so many layers to the book. With the story building and building till it reaches a climax that doesn’t disappoint. And Lucy does extremely well, and is clever is it’s not just a twist of the sake of it. It all made perfect sense. There was some foreshadowing that after the ending is revealed makes perfect sense. I love that.

I can’t recommend this book enough, it was thrilling. I even stayed up late to read it, mainly because I couldn’t put it down and had to know what happened, but I never stay up late. Make sure you pick up this book. Now you’ll have to excuse, I’m off to pick up a copy of ‘The Hunting Party’.

Thanks to Jen Harlow and Harper Collins UK for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out February 20th.

Until the next review

JTH

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My Top 5 Queer Reads of the Year! 2019

I really tried to make 2019 the year I read more queer fiction and I managed to achieve it. Do I think I read enough? No, I’d definitely like to read more, but I think this is been my best year yet.

In June (Pride Month) I only read books featuring LGBT+ Main Characters and it was glorious. I’m also trying to read more books by queer authors. We need people writing are books who can relate to us. Not authors just writing their own fantasies or that have no idea what it’s like to be queer. Representation matters.

I did however manage to read some fantastic ones. I love seeing more queer fiction being released into the world. We still need more of course. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, representation matters.

So here are my top 5 queer books for the year.

‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer. Ok, I know this book wasn’t released this year, but I’ve only just got round to reading it. What can I say my TBR is huge! But I did love this book. I loved its charm. With a sublime ending. So beautiful.

‘Lie With Me’ by Philippe Bensson. Ugh, so beautiful and touching. I adored this book. One of my favourites of all time. The ending broke me though, I threw the book across the room. I cried like a little baby. But it was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston. Such a fun YA read. This one did manage to live up the hype. It was funny, sexy and a great book with a positive LGBT+ message. I’d quite like a sequel.

‘They Both Die At The End’ by Adam Silvera. Another one that wasn’t released this year and I’ve only just got around to. I loved it. Such a clever premise and a really honest, subtle love story. It broke my heart this one. You’ll need tissues.

‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ by Ocean Vuong. This book is stunning. So intimate and personal. The writing is gorgeous. I just got lost in this book. I loved it.

So that’s it. My top five for the year. Are any of these in year list? Got any recommendations for me? Let me know. I’m always looking to read more LGBT+ books.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer

Title: Less

Author: Andrew Sean Greer

Length: 261 pages

Publisher: Abacus

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for a while now (recurring theme, I know) and figured now was the perfect time to read it.

Arthur Less is a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the post: it is from an ex-boyfriend of nine years who is engaged to someone else. Arthur can’t say yes – it would be too awkward; he can’t say no – it would look like defeat. So he begins to accept the invitations on his desk to half-baked literary events around the world. From France to India, Germany to Japan, Arthur almost falls in love, almost falls to his death and puts miles between him and the plight he refuses to face. Less in a novel about mishaps, misunderstandings and the depth of the human heart.

‘He kisses – how do I explain it? Like someone in love. Like someone who has just learned a foreign language and can only use the present tense and only the second person. Only now, only you. There are some men who have never been kissed like that. There are some men who discover, after Arthur Less, that they never will be again.’

This was another book I’ve read for my Pride Month readathon. Where all month long I’ve only been reading books with LGBT+ characters.

I’d heard mixed reviews on this book, so it’s taken me a little while to pick it up. So now, I only have one question, why did I wait so long??

There’s something about this book that I can’t quite explain. It’s one of those books that slowly steals a place in your heart. I really struggled to put this down. This book is so charming and quirky, yet it’s got this deep, melancholy feel to it. But that doesn’t mean it’s depressing by any means, it will make you laugh out loud. It’s a book of quality.

Arthur Less is a character who will capture your heart. He’s so relatable, so real. I could feel his sadness throughout the book, his self doubt, his self deprecating manner. It never goes to far, he never becomes annoying. He’s so endearing.

The writing throughout this book is truly wonderful. In fact, I’d say the writing is so clever. Andrew Sean Greer has balanced this book so finely. Like I said it could’ve been depressing, but it’s just got this overall charm. Andrew has also created one of my favourite characters in modern literature in Arthur Less.

Let’s talk about the ending! I think it’s one of my favourite endings, to any book ever. I didn’t see it coming, yet it worked. It didn’t make the book lose any charm. It was wonderful. It made me gasp out loud. It filled my heart with joy, it may have made me cry.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It was wonderful. I think it’s going to be one of my favourites. It’s the kind of book that you won’t ever forget, I know I certainly won’t. I can see why it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Until the next review

JTH

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Upcoming Releases!

Hello my fellow book lovers. I haven’t done one of these posts before, mainly because I usually find out which books I’d like to buy after they’ve been out for a month, I’m always behind the times. But as we are in the second half of the year, there’s a few books I’m looking forward to and I thought I’d share them.

There’s been some great books the first half of the year, and I’ve read some fantastic ones but thankfully we’ve still got more to come.

As I’m sure you might know if you follow my blog, I read many different genres, so this going to be a real mixture of books.

So I guess I should get started:

First up is ‘Find Me’ by André Acimen. I’m sure you guys know about this one, it’s the sequel to ‘Call Me By Your Name’. It’s probably my most anticipated book of the whole year. I’ve actually been blessed by the book gods and I’ve got an ARC copy of this book. I don’t know how I got it, but I’ll be forever grateful. I’m just waiting for the right time to read it so I can savour every word.

Out 29th October

Another book is ‘Serpent & Dove’ by Shelby Mahurin. This is a Young Adult book. I’ve been hearing great things about this one. It’s the start of a new series. It’s got romance, witches, action. I’m super excited. It’s another book I’ve managed to get a ARC of and I can’t wait to dive in.

Out 19th September

‘Kingdom of Souls’ by Rena Barron is another high fantasy Young Adult book I’m looking forward to. I’ve heard such great things about this one. I have to be honest, I’ve preordered a special signed edition of this book! I told you I was excited.

Out 19th September

‘Wayward Son’ by Rainbow Rowell. Another highly anticipated sequel. Yes, I may have preordered an exclusive Waterstones edition with sprayed edges. This is Young Adult queer fiction at its finest. Well at least I hope it will be.

Out October 3rd

‘The Fountains of Silence’ by Ruta Sepetys. Tell me you’ve Salt to the Sea by this author. It’s simply fantastic. That’s why I’m so looking forward this one! I am really! I should go and preorder this now in fact! I’ll be right back!

Out October 1st

‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood. How can you not be looking forward to this one? The Handmaids Tale is just wonderful. I’ll sure be buying this one and adding it to my TBR

Out 19th September

‘Ziggy, stardust & me’ by James Brandon. I’m excited for this one. It’s another one I’ve preordered. I never usually preorder so you can tell I’m excited. Can’t wait to get stuck into this one. Another queer fiction to add my growing collection.

Out September 1st

I kind of feel I should be looking forward to more books, but I’m not! Sure there’s some honourable mentions like ‘Ninth House’ by Leigh Bardugo, but I think these are my main ones!

So, these are the books I’m looking forward to. And you can best believe my reviews will be up once I’ve read them. Are you looking forward to any of these? Or is there a book I should be looking forward to reading and it’s not on the list! Let me know

Until the next review

JTH