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ARC Book Review: The Antarctica of Love by Sara Stridsberg.

Title: The Antarctica of Love

Author: Sara Stridsberg (translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner)

Publisher: MacLehose Press

Length: 272 pages

Synopsis: Inni is a rebellious teenager, a volatile young woman, a drug user, a sex worker, an unstable mother… she loves her life on the margins, but it is a life that is full, complex, filled with different shades of dark and light. Until it is brutally ended one summer’s day, on a lake shore at the heart of a distant, rain-washed forest. But Inni’s story doesn’t end with her murder. We sit with her as she watches her children, parents and friends living on in the world without her, hoping, as time passes, that they will still remember her.

I read the synopsis of The Antarctica of Love and just thought it sounded so interesting and intriguing, so I was very lucky when MacLehose Press sent me an early copy.

The Antarctica of Love is beautifully written. I really mean it. It’s gorgeous. It’s so beautifully written that it almost feels ethereal even though it deals with such a horrible subject matter. There were points on this book that the writing is so beautiful and Sara Stridsberg took the novel to places I didn’t expect it to go, that it made me cry.

The novel begins with Inni being murdered and it is so impactful. It is absolutely brutal at times, but Sara has some struck the perfect balance between the hard hitting acts of violence committed against Inni, and the tangible vulnerability of human connection. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that is so full of tenderness yet packs a real punch. It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

You can’t help but feel for Inni, as you learn about how life and how it lead to the point of her murder. And I loved Sara’s choice to make the reader experience Inni looking back on her life after her depth and then to see all other characters she’d left behind. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, as was this book.

It amazes me how Sara has packed so much depth in the story, in the characters and their connections. It’s one of my favourite things about this exquisite novel. There is so much to unpack. It deals with loss, death, addiction, grief and love.

There is such a sense of sadness and heartbreak about this novel but it’s never overwhelming as it’s also full of love. And Sara’s writing elevates the book to even higher heights. It’s the kind of book you tell your friends about at work because you can’t stop thinking about it and you want them to read it too. It’s that good.

It has also been beautifully translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner.

I was wonderfully surprised at how much I loved The Antarctica of Love. There is no doubt it’s ine of my favourite reads of the year. I hope it’ll be nominated for the international Booker prize next year as it fully deserves to be. It’s book I won’t forget for a long time and I don’t think you will either.

Thank you so much to Katya and MacLehose Press for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 30th.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fantasy, #fiction, #yafantasy, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, books, bookstagram, fiction, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

ARC Book Review: Defy The Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Defy The Night

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Length: 443 pages

Synopsis: In a kingdom where sickness stalks the streets and only the richest can afford a cure, King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick are forced to rule with an iron fist. Tessa Cade is a masked outlaw marked for death, but she likes it that way. Together with the mysterious, handsome Weston, she robs from the rich to help the poor, distributing medicine to those who need it most. As it becomes clear that the only way to save her people is to assassinate the King, Tessa faces a deadly mission that will take her to the dark heart of the kingdom… and force her to work with the very people she intended to destroy.

Defy The Night is a young adult novel that’s an absolute triumph.

Sometimes with a fantasy novel it can take me while to get into, as we learn about the worlds and the characters, but with this book I found myself instantly engaged and engrossed. Seriously, I couldn’t put the book down. And I was excited to see where this book was going.

I mean, I was into it. I loved the characters, I loved the world, I loved where the story was going and then the twist happened. The twist happened that I didn’t see coming (don’t worry no spoilers). And it just elevated the book. I haven’t been that shocked by a book in a long time. My jaw actually fell open.

I loved the characters in this. I loved Tessa, Wes, Corrick and Harriston. I liked that they were all complex. And I liked the personal issues each had to go through (I know I’m being vague but I really don’t want to spoil anything). But I really liked that Brigid put some social issues in the book, it gave it real depth and therefore the characters became stronger too.

There was a romance that I totally believed and and I want more of and I want more of it now. But you’ll have discover that when you read it.

The last quarter of Defy The Night is a real page turner. I was up till gone midnight reading this book, I never do that. But I couldn’t put it down. Every chapter finished on a cliffhanger and I kept saying to myself I’ll just read one more and the next thing I knew I’d finished the book.

I really like how it ended. It ends in such a strong position for the next book to explore (which I am already highly anticipating). How long do I have to wait? I’m excited to see where the second book goes and to continue to get to know these characters. And that’s the sign of a great start to a new series right?

Thank you so much to Mattea at Bloomsbury YA Uk for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 14th.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#contemporary, #fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, historical fiction, literary ficton, review, Uncategorised, ya

Arc Book Review: Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson

Title: Damnation Spring

Author: Ash Davidson

Publisher: Tinderpress

Length: 442 pages

Synopsis: For generations, Rich Gundersen’s family has made a living felling giant redwoods on California’s rugged coast. It’s treacherous work, and though his son Chub wants nothing more than to set into his father’s boots, Rich longs for a bigger future for him. Colleen just wants a brother or sister for Chub, but she’s losing hope. There’s so much that she and Rich don’t talk about these days – including her suspicion that there is something very wrong at the heart of the forest in which their community is built. When Rich is offered the opportunity to buy a plot of timber which borders Damnation Grove, he leaps at the chance – without telling Colleen. Soon the Gundersens find themselves on opposite sides of a battle that threatens to rip their town apart. Can’t they find a way to emerge from this together?

This a strange book for me to review as I went through so many stages of what I felt about this book. At times I thought it was average, at times wonderful, then totally captured by the story and then let down.

I’ll start with the positives, the characters in this are quite incredible. From the very first pages they felt so real. I just felt like I knew them, like I was reading about real people. I think the best character in the book was Colleen. I think Ash Davidson really captured what she was going through incredibly well, it was so moving and heartbreaking. Ash Davidson really can write characters.

This book also tackles some hard-hitting points, such as deforestation, the taking of Native American land and the poisonous spray the used to help with the deforestation. It felt like this book was going to make some really powerful points. The first three quarters of the novel felt like a social commentary of the time this book was set and how everyone felt about the changes happening and it was really interesting.

It wasn’t till about 75% into the book that I realised how attached how had become to the story and the characters when Colleen went against the town people to fight against the poison and the story felt tense and taught. I thought the story was going to go down that route but I was wrong. Then when an incident happened with Chub, the son of the two main characters, I found myself quite emotional and then I thought this book was excellent.

However, then after the incident with Chub, another incident with his father happened and it felt like the whole novel changed course. The two shocking incidents almost cancelled each other out and totally lost their impact. It felt the author just went for shock factor. I couldn’t help but feel let down. The more I thought about it the more it just ruined the story for me.

When these incidences happened, everything else got forgotten about. The poisonous spray, the deforestation, the towns people, the Native American protesting deforestation and conflict between them just never got resolved or even mentioned again. It was strange and slightly jarring. It felt like this meticulously detailed novel and the build up was for nothing.

So when I take all this into consideration Damnation Spring can only come out as an average read for me. I think the thing I’ll remember it for is the disappointing ending and such much promise gone to waste.

Thank you to the publishers for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 3rd.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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July Wrap Up

Another month has come and gone. And I had a reading month that was very varied. Some of these books will potentially be in my favourites at the end of the year. Some I found disappointing. Read below to find our which ones I loved.

I only managed 8 books this month, mainly because one of the ones I didn’t enjoy to me forever to get through. I hoping to read more for the month of August because so many books are on my tbr!

So let’s talk about these books shall we?

First up was She Who Became The Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan. This was one of my most anticipated releases for the year, but unfortunately it let me down. I started this June 26th and it took me so long to read it mainly because I just couldn’t get into it. There was some beautiful writing and I liked what it had to say about gender, but the rest didn’t do it for me. At all. I found the story especially in the beginning and middle dragged for me. The ending was definitely better than the beginning I will say that. But I definitely seem to be in the minority with this one, as lots of other people seem to love it. Thank you to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Then I read Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey. I did enjoy this one, but I just think it could’ve been better. We don’t say this very often but I think this book could’ve benefited from being longer. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and we needed more detail into what was actually happening. But overall I did enjoy this book. I loved the connections between the stories and how the plot unraveled. It just needed a better ending. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Thirdly I read Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn. This features many different authors that Natasha has interviews and it’s a truly wonderful book. It’s moving, heartwarming and helpful. And being nearly thirty and single I needed reminding that it’s ok. I really recommend this book. So many interesting perspectives on love, loss and everything in between. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Up next I read The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. Hands down one of my favourite books of the year. It’s so beautifully written, so clever and engaging. It has so much packed into, yet I was left with a smile on my face when I finished it. I absolutely loved it. Will definitely be in my top 10 books of the year. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out August 5th. You can check out my full review here.

Then I read This Is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman. This is a really hard hitting young adult book that features some really difficult subject matter. It can be hard to read at times, but it was still brilliant. Full of great characters and wonderful friendships, it was hard to put down. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now. You can check out my full review here.

Sixth this month I read Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauber. This is a truly special memoir. It’s filled with food that you’ll want to eat and relationship between a Mother and Daughter that’ll break your heart. It details loss and grief in a nuanced and powerful way. It really made me emotional in places. I can’t recommend this one enough. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out August 5th.

Up next I read Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson. This one started with such promise but ultimately I was let down by the ending. It felt like the author threw away the detailed for 3/4 of this move for a shock factor ending. It was so disappointing. It did have fantastic characters though, that I won’t forget. Lots of potential in this book that unfortunately wasn’t fulfilled. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out August 3rd.

Eight this month I read The Magician by Colm Tóibín. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and for it fell totally flat. It was so disappointing. I was missing feeling anything towards the characters. I felt absolutely nothing for them. I was just incredibly uninterested in the whole book. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out September 23rd.

So that’s it! That was my reading month.

Are you planning on reading any of these? Or have you read any? Let me know.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, fiction, lgbt, literary ficton, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

ARC Book Review: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Title: The Island of Missing Trees

Author: Elif Shafak

Publisher: Viking Books Penguin Random House

Length: 343 pages

Synopsis: Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the floor, a fig tree. The fig tree witnesses their hushed, happy meetings; their silent, surreptitious departures. The fig tree is there, too, when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns – a botanist, looking for native species- looking really, for Defne. The two lovers return to the taverna to take a clipping from the fig tree and smuggle it into their suitcase, bound for London. Years later, the fig tree in the garden is their daughter Ada’s only knowledge of a home she had never visited, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets and silence, and find her place in the world.

I need to start by saying that this book was one of my most highly anticipated books of the year and I feel very lucky and grateful to have been given a proof copy.

I love this book. I love it so much. I don’t think any review I’ll write will ever be able to do it justice. To capture what makes this book so special I know you’ll have to read it. And you won’t be disappointed when you do.

From the very beginning of The Island of Missing Trees you are immediately swept away by the glorious writing. Elif manages to evoke such beautiful imagery throughout the book with some of the most evocative writing I’ve read.

As we follow the love story of Kostas and Defne, who find young and forbidden love before civil war breaks out in Cyprus, and the effects it has on Ada their child as a teenager. I was immediately drawn to these characters because they are so real. They way Elif shows how the past trauma can carry on for generations is so poignant. You can feel Ada yearning to know more about parts of her. I also have a special place in my heart for Yusuf and Yiorgos, a gay couple who run The Happy Fig Kostas and Defne meeting spot. I always love to see LGBTQ+ representation in books, especially when it’s this well done. But did I expect anything less from Elif? No, no I did not.

Another thing Elif captures in the book is humanity and connection. Through characters and world conflicts, Elif captures the importance of connections to others, to where we come from and to ourselves. She conveys the complexity and lasting effects for the people living through wars, both those who stayed and fled, in the most profound and heartbreaking ways.

Partly narrated by the The Fig Tree, Elif reminds us how important and how connected we are to the natural world. I have to say I really loved these sections, they were my favourite of the book. It’s fiction writing at its finest. The way Elif had an animals visiting the tree and how they moved the narrative forward really is something special.

Although the book deals with Civil War and loss, it’s also full of hope. It’s a reminder to live life with an open heart, an open mind and to be accepting of joy in your life. It’s a book that has so much depth to it and so many layers.

There’s no denying the Elif is a master storyteller. She captures the complexities and nuances of the human spirit like no other author. It’s remarkable. By the end of the book I was smiling and it brings a smile to my face to even think of the book. It’s the kind of book I was telling my friends about at work, the kind of book I couldn’t wait to get home and read, the kind of book I’m looking forward to reading again.

There’s no doubt this will be in my top 10 books of the year.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fantasy, #fiction, #literature, #yafantasy, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, fiction, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

Books I’m looking forward to in the second half of the year!

Now, I’ve never done a post like this before mainly because I never, ever know what’s coming out. But I’ve done my research as to what’s coming out later in the year and I’ve found some I’m excited about.

1) The Magician by Colm Tóibín

I crave Queer historical fiction and this one sounds like it could be it. I absolutely loved Brooklyn and I’m excited to see what this author does. Set in the period of WWII and featuring a queer main character. Yes please. I’m also very lucky to have a proof of it, so I will be reading it soon.

2) Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin

This is the conclusion to this epic trilogy. I fell in love with the first book Serpent & Dove, I am so excited to see where this book ends. I’m excited (and a little scared) to see what happens to my beloved characters. This is really the only series I’m a Stan for. I own two copies of the first to books and I’ve already got two copies of this ordered. So yes, I’m very excited. It’s out in August.

3) Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko

I loved Raybearer. Absolutely loved it. It was my favourite fantasy of last year. I could to be more excited for this book. So excited. I can’t wait to see where this book goes and how this brilliant duology wraps up. Please don’t disappoint me. It’s out in August.

3) Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.

I love All The Light We Cannot See, is a brilliant book and I’ve been looking forward to Anthony Doerrs book for so long and I’m excited. I don’t even really want to know what it’s about. I just want to be taken away in this story. My expectations are very high. It’s out in September.

4) The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. I am very excited for this one. Elif is a beautiful writer and I’m excited to read more of her lyrical prose. I don’t know much of what this one is about and I’m keeping it that way on purpose. I just want to be swept away. It’s out on August 5th.

5) Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I need this book. I need it so bad. I’m so looking forward to going back to this world. These characters. It’s out October 12th.

That’s it, these are the novels I’m looking forward to in the second half of 2021. I’m sure there’s going to be more added to this list. My poor bank account.

Let me know if you plan on reading any of these.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

anthology, blog, blogtour, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, fiction, gay, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya

Book Review: Mainstream – An anthology of stories from the edges.

Title: Mainstream

Author: Edited by Justin David and Nathan Evans

Publisher: Inkandescent

Length: 247 pages

Synopsis: This collection brings thirty authors in from the margins to occupy centre-page. Queer storytellers. Working class wordsmiths. Chroniclers of colour. Writers whose life experiences give unique perspectives on universal challenges, whose voices must be heard. And read.

Thank you so much to the team at Inkandescent for having me on the blog tour for this short story collection and make sure you check out the other bloggers on the tour.

First of all I love what Inkandescent are doing with this book. It’s such an important thing and they’ve done it successfully. It’s a great collection.

Mainstream has a real variety of short stories in it that it keeps the book fresh and exciting. You never knew what kind of story you were going to get next. Yet it’s a very cohesive book.

There are some really fantastic writers in this book, some I’d read before and some that were new to me. They all have something to say and it was wonderful. I’ll definitely be checking out more from these writers and I have a feeling you will be too.

I have to say I really enjoyed the queer stories in this short story collection. I love how varied they were. Some were heartfelt, some were sexy. I always love to read about queer lives and especially from authors this talented.

I really did enjoy all of the stories in this collection, but some really did stand out for me. They were so interesting and unique. I loved ‘Scaffolding’, ‘Twickenham’, ‘The Birdwatchers’, Pixmalion’ and ‘Going Up, Going Down’. But there really is something in this book for everyone.

Mainstream has accomplished what it set out to do and then some. If you love short stories this is definitely a book to add to your collection. I know I’ll keep returning to it to reread these stories. It’s really wonderful.

If you’d like to purchase a copy which is out now, you can buy it from Amazon here or from the Inkandescent website here.

Again, thank you so much to the team at Inkandescent for a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out now.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fantasy, #yafantasy, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, fiction, gay, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

Book Review: The Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron.

Title: The Poison Heart

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Length: 370 pages

Synopsis: Briseis has a gift. She can grow an apple tree from seed in a heartbeat, and flowers bloom at her touch. But she and her adoptive mothers have spent her whole life trying to hide her extraordinary powers. And then Briseis inherits an old house from her birth mother and suddenly has the privacy to test herself for the first time. But as Bri starts to magic the house’s rambling grounds back to life she finds she has also inherited generations of secrets. In a hidden garden overgrown with the most deadly poisonous plants on earth a dark legacy lies waiting for her. And Bri’s long-departed ancestors won’t let her rest until she finds it.

Let’s first just mention how unbelievably beautiful this cover is. We all agree? Good.

I didn’t know too much about this book going in, as I wanted to be surprised and I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. It was brilliant.

There is just so much to love about The Poison Heart. It was full of fantastic characters, an engaging story and brilliant magic system.

We follow the character of Briseis, who is left a house by her birth mothers family and with her mums they decide to spend the summer there. I loved the beginning of this book and getting to know Briseis. She really is a wonderful character to follow. She’s funny, kind and I just instantly warmed to her. I also really loved her parents. So much. So, so much.

I also just have to say how much I loved the family Kalynn has written. It’s so wonderful to see a queer family written so beautifully. The dynamics, the love and the joy between Briseis and her parents was one of my favourite things about this book and I think it should be celebrated. I really loved reading it.

I really loved the magic in this book, it was I unlike anything I’ve read before. And it’s great to see something new in YA. I loved that Briseis was still learning about her powers as the reader did, it really helped to form that connection with her. I love how it ties in with her family. It’s just so expansive, but I’ll let you discover all that when you read the book.

Let’s talk about the ending shall we? I knew something was about to go down and I couldn’t figure it out. But let me tell you, I never would’ve figured it out. It was brilliant. It was suspenseful, shocking and heartbreaking. It’s the kind of ending you message your friends about because you need to talk about it. But that’s all I’ll say. No spoilers!!!

So basically I really loved this book and now I desperately want to read book two. This is a fantastic fantasy novel that will have you turning the pages and it’ll only leave you wanting more.

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury YA kids for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out Tomorrow (June29th)

Until the next review

Jthbooks

blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, fiction, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, literary ficton, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

May Wrap Up

Another month has come and gone. I managed to read 10 books this month. I think I could’ve done more but I got ill at the end of the month and it really slowed me down. I was on such a roll.

There were some books I enjoyed this month, but mostly it was average. Not any ill necessarily remember or rave about. Oh well, there’s always next month.

So lets talk about the books shall we?

First up I read Assembly by Natasha Brown. This novel is only 100 pages but it sure does pack a punch. There are so many interesting aspects to the book that I wanted it to be longer but I think its shortness is what makes it special. Thanks to the publishers for my gifted copy. It’s out June 8th.

Secondly I read We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida. This book was very middle of the road for me. The writing was just okay, the story was just okay. I just felt like it all could’ve gone further. I just don’t think its a book I’ll remember. Thanks to the publishers for my gifted copy of this book. It’s out now.

Up next I read The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain. I really enjoyed this book. It was a really sweet, wonderful story that I just got lost in and didn’t want to end. Thanks to the publishers for my gifted copy of book. It’s out now.

Fourth this month I read Black buck by Mateo Askaripour. I loved the first half of this novel, I thought it was entertaining and intriguing and had a real message. The second half just lost it for me. There was a reveal which really bought the novel down for me. I don’t know why. Definitely not a bad book, just definitely could’ve been a lot better. Thanks to the publishers for my gifted copy of this book. It’s out now.

Up next I read The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper. I loved the premise of this story but something about it fell flat for me. I wanted so much from it. It needed more description, more depth. I kept willing it to give me more. It wasn’t a bad book, it just could’ve been so much better. I didn’t feel any emotional attachment to the characters. Thanks to the publishers for my gifted copy of this book. It’s out now.

Sixth this month I read Diamond Hill by Kit Fan. This one started off slowly for me and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it but I ended up really enjoying it. It had moments of beautiful writing and fantastic, in-depth characters.

Seventh was What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster. There was a lot to like about this novel, strong complex characters, a gripping story with an important message. There’s nothing stand out about it, but it was definitely a good read. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Then I read The Fortune Men by Nadia Mohamed. This one was based on a true story and it’s really captivating and infuriating in the best way. It maybe dragged at the beginning, but this one is definitely worth a read. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Up next I read The Wolf and The Woodsman by Ava Reid. You know, this one just wasn’t for me. It took me an age to read it, I couldn’t get into it. I could see what the author was trying to do, but they didn’t pull it off in my opinion. But I know a lot of people have loved this one. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Lastly I read Heaven by Mieko Kawakami. I really enjoyed this book, although due to its subject matter it was hard to read a times. It was another short novel but really packs a punch. I won’t forget this one for a while. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out June 10th.

That’s it for me this month. Are you going to read any of these? Or have you and you didn’t like them? Let me know!

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, historical fiction, lgbt, literary ficton, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Title: Still Life

Author: Sarah Winman

Publisher: 4thestatebooks

Length: 487 pages

This is the proof copy, the final copy of the book is beyond beautiful.

Synopsis: It’s 1944 and in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening together. Ulysses Temper is a young British Soldier and one-time globe-maker, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and relive her memories of the time she encountered E.M. Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in particular Florentine room with a view. These two unlikely people find kindred spirits in each other and Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seen in Uylsses’s mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades.

In Still Life Sarah Winman captures the essence of what it means to be human. It will remind you the importance of being yourself and the wonder of human connection. It’s beautiful, it’s ethereal and its how all books should make you feel. There’s no doubt this will be one of my favourite books of 2021. It’ll probably be one of yours too.

One of the many things that shines in this book is the characters. I’ve never read characters like this before. Sarah has crafted characters that are so complex, so real. The way these characters came to life is astounding to me. Sarah makes you care for everyone of these characters. I still do care for them. I read this two months ago, and i still care about them. They’ll stay with me long after I’ve finished the book.

Also, I’m so glad Evelyn got her own section in the book. I could read a whole book on her. Evelyn has my whole heart. I loved her. And her friendship with Dotty. I love them.

Just a warning this book make you want to travel to Italy.

The connections Sarah creates between the characters is phenomenal, their is an intimacy in the simplicity in the conversations, in the way they know each other, how they feel about each other. It’s a part of what made these characters feel so real. It’s what makes the book unforgettable. It’s what makes me think about the novel even though I read it months ago. I’ve never known another author to create such honest, full connections in a book.

Sarah’s writing is just absolutely stunning. It’s beautiful. I cried because of the story but I also cried because of the beautiful writing. It just hits you right in the heart. Every so often there was a sentence that captured the soul of the character, or described what its like it be human. It’s brilliant. I was basically just weeping for the last quarter of this book. I need all books to be written this well.

I didn’t want this book to end but I couldn’t put it down. I just can’t stop thinking about this book. This book reminds me to have hope, you nebr know what or who’s around the corner. These characters live in my heart now. I adored this book from beginning to end.

Thank you so much to 4thestate books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out June 10th.

Until the next review

Jthbooks