Hi my loves,
Here’s June’s book reviews!
Dear Edward – Ann Napolitano
This is a book I’m glad I read, as I feel as though I could’ve easily missed it. Keeping in mind the cover of this book, even before reading the story, just the cover alone felt like something you’d read in an airport. It feels like something you’d see next to the water bottles in WHSmith as you’re waiting to board your flight, so already the atmosphere was there for me.
This book is sad in an indirect way, and in that respect I think it covered grief and the heaviness that it entails extremely well. It’s not in your face, it’s not trying to tell you this is sad so you should be sad and this bad thing happened so you should be upset, it more so tries to almost ignore those things and work around them, which in my opinion works very well when covering such a topic that a lot of writers try and resultantly fail at.
The whole thing is very indirect, it’s more of a feeling rather than words on a page. It’s a heavy book, a very heavy book and you should be careful when reading it if you’re not in the best mindset at the time. It was very sad and heavy – it was the mood, the feeling – rather than saying “he did this” and “he did that”, it was the atmosphere that was created through the flow of the story instead and it worked very well. The loss of Eddie’s brother hurt me the most (this isn’t a spoiler as it’s in the synopsis) – in the latter half of the book, there’s a letter from a girl called Mahira that choked me up a lot. That was a turning point in the book for me where I just thought wow, damn. It was the beginning of the book turning from a 3 star to a 4 star for me because everything that followed was so beautiful.
It really hurt me, there were certain lines that I’d read and my whole face would burn, I assume through a mixture of general sadness at the story but also through a mixture of my own grief and my experience of it, because it’s something that never goes away. I think this book re-opened that wound a little, it re-charged those emotions in me that had been settled for a while now. Don’t read this book if you’re scared of flying, plane crashes, dealing with grief and / or are not in the right headspace. It’s a book full of heavy feelings and it can leave you feeling down as there’s not really any light to it. It’s a sad story, however, it’s not a depressing book in itself, it’s a beautiful book, but please just be wary that if you’re looking for something lighthearted…this is not it.
It was so beautiful, I don’t know how to describe this without sounding weird, and maybe it won’t make any sense, but sometimes there are words inside you that you believe people will never understand, or know. There are thoughts that cross your mind and words you speak only to yourself that you believe only you will ever understand, but this book, this feeling, these words, I understood. This book understood. They’re my own words that I thought no one else would ever speak, I thought no one else would ever be able to conjure up the same sentences as I because they were so far from what I had ever heard anyone else say, yet here they were. Here were my words, and they came to me like a song. Dear Edward.
Outline – Rachel Cusk
I had such high hopes and expectations for this book but it was just so disappointing. You may remember in this post where I said I was really excited to read Outline because the premise of it sounded so good and it sounded like the perfect Summer read…
Yeah, I was wrong.
This book was, in other words, rubbish. It was so boring. I couldn’t imagine Cusk’s descriptions of well, basically anything at all, there seemed to be no imagery whatsoever. I feel like she could have really gone somewhere with this book – with the scenery and the atmosphere – but she just didn’t, and it was a shame. It felt like she kept trying to say something but kept missing it, like she was just off the mark the whole time. The whole thing was just slightly off the mark for me really, I guess I just didn’t really get it.
Cusk also kept using wrong tenses in single words within a sentence which really irked me and threw me off, one minute she’d be talking in present tense but then for a single random word within the sentence she’d use past tense instead and it didn’t make sense. Her grammar and sentence structures were very odd to me, it felt very unnatural and it made the writing kind of choppy and awkward, nothing really flowed properly. Kind of like this was the advanced copy but not the finished product as it felt like she’d not proof-read anything and therefore there were still a lot of tweaks to be made. For example –
“Theirs was a colder though perhaps a bitterer war” – there’s nothing wrong with this sentence, but within the context of the writing it wasn’t smooth at all (I should have taken the whole paragraph to show you but didn’t, well done Chloe). Within the context that she’d written it I would have removed the “a” and possibly changed “though” to “yet”.
“The cause of many of his parents’ arguments, for the power even in memory that he continued to hold over his daughter” – sorry what ?? What does this say ?? I feel like I get halfway through this sentence and then my brain switches off because it can’t comprehend what it’s trying to say. I assume there’s supposed to be (more) commas here, but there isn’t, and even if there was, it still wouldn’t make sense. For example, if I add commas so that the sentence reads “The cause of many of his parents’ arguments, for the power, even in memory, that he continued to hold over his daughter” it still does not make sense. There’s no connectives here that make this sentence flow properly and the sentence is just off. We’re missing context, which we’re not given in any of the surrounding paragraphs either.
“For by now it was nearly dark” – this isn’t an incorrect sentence either but it stopped the flow of the writing yet again within the context it was given to us – I would have changed “for” to “as”.
“Moving over that threshold which no one else could see into another element” – again, what ??? This sentence makes no sense the way it was given to us – there’s nothing to join both parts of this sentence together other than the word “which” which, in the context, does not work. If I add a comma into the sentence though – “Moving over that threshold which no one else could see, into another dimension” does it make more sense? Yes. Does it make easy to read, complete sense? No. Is this what Cusk was trying to tell us but simply just decided to opt out of using a comma? I don’t know, and I don’t care. Your readers shouldn’t have to edit your book in order for it to make sense.
I could go on and on but I feel like I’d pretty much be typing out the whole book in that case. It was just jarring and I couldn’t concentrate because of the lack of flow within the writing – barely any of it made sense. It was just choppy and senseless, accompanied with a lack of description and therefore a lack of imagery which, in turn, didn’t make for a good read. It’s like Cusk had two ideas within a sentence but didn’t bother, or didn’t know how to join them both together, so instead she just put them both side by side and hoped people would understand what she meant. News flash, we didn’t.
Cusk also kept saying “deep” stuff out of nowhere that made no sense, as we knew nothing about the narrator and therefore it was all irrelevant to the reader – it gave us nothing and added nothing to the narrative or the story. I had to keep re-reading lines over and over as they just kept going over my head. I wasn’t engaged because I couldn’t imagine any of the things that she was writing about – the people, places she was describing etc. I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened to me with a book and as I said before it’s a shame, because she could have made it really atmospheric but didn’t, even though she had a great opportunity.
I also didn’t think it did any good to not know anything about the narrator and only discover small things about her halfway through the book either when by that time, it was automatically irrelevant since we didn’t care about her anyway. We didn’t even discover her name until the last 40 pages. The last 40 pages of this complete slog. I felt like I was reading a book written from the perspective of a Karen – I can’t remember the main character’s name anyway but I bet it was probably Karen and I bet she had a “can I please speak to the manager” haircut.
There was also too much babble about the neighbour on the aeroplane…I didn’t want to know that much about him and didn’t find him that interesting (I’ll be surprised if anyone did) – Cusk spent half of the book talking about something incredibly boring rather than actually focusing on creating atmosphere and imagery which she had such !! a !! great !! opportunity !! to !! do !!
Like I said, the whole thing just completely missed the mark for me.
Maybe I disliked it more because I had such high expectations for it but yeah, it’s a no from me. A disappointing read.
Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson
As I mentioned in my aesthetically pleasing book haul, I bought this book because I’d seen it everywhere and I really loved the hardback version of it (it kind of reminds me of like, a sweet wrapper? idk the glossy blue just gets me) and so I really wanted to own it and have it on my shelf.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really liked it. I only gave it 3 stars because it didn’t change my life or anything like that, but I thought it was such a fun and interesting read, I didn’t want to put it down. I originally read this back at the beginning of April (so nearly 2 months ago now…my book reviews are behind) but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book to find out what happens next.
One of my favourite tropes in literature is boarding schools and that whole kind of setting, I’ve no idea why but I just really enjoy it and this story has the same kind of vibe…mixed with murder mystery. Sign me up. I’m definitely more of a standalone kind of girl, I rarely read series and if I do, I only make it through the first couple of books anyway because they never interest me enough to keep reading, however, this is the first series (well, trilogy) that I’ve actually been keen to continue asap. Bring on the next one! A super fun read.
Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard
I wish I’d written notes on this book closer to the time I’d read it as it’s been about a month now and I’m not really sure what to say about it. It’s a good book, I liked it. Was it anything groundbreaking? No. Does it make me want to read the next book in the series? No. Therefore will I be doing it? Also no. However, I think this book is important for young girls and teenage girls, it deals with the complications of friendships, how to navigate being a teenager and also family issues (tw: abuse) – I think if you read this book at the right age / time in your life, it can really do something for you. I personally just enjoyed this book as an average, good read, as I didn’t personally connect with the characters or the time period in which these characters are living their lives since I’m past that stage now however, I think if I’d have read this book a few years earlier I would’ve connected with it a lot more. Overall though a good read and I’d recommend!
All my love,
Goodreads – ChloLuna