January Book Reviews

Hello my loves,

Here’s January’s book reviews!

The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
3/5 Stars

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Last year I read The Mothers by Brit Bennett and really enjoyed it, I gave it 4 stars. The Vanishing Half has been one of my most anticipated reads ever since I found out about it and I’ve waited this long to read it because there was a specific edition I wanted to buy that I’ve been searching for years to find.

The book however was…not a disappointment exactly, but definitely not the show-stopping story I was expecting. This book follows two black twins, Stella and Desiree, and essentially, Desiree grows up as a black woman, and Stella grows up as a white woman, and it’s about the story of how their lives are different because of the choices they’ve made to live the particular life they have. It’s set in multiple POVs – Stella, Desiree, Desiree’s daughter Jude etc. I thought there was way too much focus on Jude as most of the book was in her POV even though it didn’t start off that way, I found myself itching to get back to the lives of Stella and Desiree but it was all Jude’s story, experiences, life etc. and I just found myself feeling like there was too much of it, like it was straying away from the story and all I wanted to do was get back to it. Jude’s role in the story was important, but I think it should’ve been left at just her role in the plot rather than delving into her life, her relationship with her boyfriend etc. as I didn’t find it relevant to the twins (it wasn’t, really) – but maybe that’s just because I had such high expectations for this book and what it was going to be and it just didn’t live up to that. Possibly my fault and I guess it shows you shouldn’t over-hype books too much! (But of course that will never stop me from doing so). The Mothers was definitely better in my opinion and I enjoyed it a lot more.

When We Believed in Mermaids – Barbara O’Neal
3/5 Stars

When We Believed in Mermaids: A Novel: O'Neal, Barbara:  9781542004527: Books

This book…it’s been on my TBR for a couple of years and I was really excited to read it because the premise sounded so promising. I read one of O’Neal’s other books last year – The Lost Girls of Devon and really enjoyed it, and I was looking forward to this one even more. This book is about Kit, a girl whose sister Josie died in an explosion, but 15 years later Kit sees her on TV and realises that actually, she’s not dead at all. Interesting plot right?

But the whole book was just so…middle-aged woman cringe. I don’t know how else to describe it. Kit goes to a different country to find Josie at the beginning of the book but it’s not until around 60% of the way through that she actually bothers to start looking for her, and *SPOILER* when they do find each other, considering they’re supposed to be sisters and soulmates and Kit has been living under the premise that her precious sister has been dead for the last 15 years…the reunion was just so underwhelming and unrealistic – no one was even really bothered, apparently. Even Josie’s reunion with their mum was like, oh Kit I’m so glad you travelled all that way to find Josie I’m so proud of you, hi Josie call me when you get a minute ok! The whole book was just eh and really disappointing. I just thought it was silly. Probably one of the last O’Neal books I’ll be reading for a while, if not ever.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins
3/5 Stars

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Wikipedia

I like The Hunger Games as much as the next person, but I was never obsessed with it or anything like that. I read the first book when I was 15 and the second book…last year I believe? I saw all the films when they came out and enjoyed them, but it’s never been something I’ve really thought about other than that. When Ballads came out I had no intention of reading it, but last year I saw a brand new copy of it in a second-hand bookstore for really cheap and so I thought I’d buy it (with basically no intention of ever reading it…logic). My friend and I do a buddy-read each month though and decided that for January we’d read this one to basically get it out of the way, because it’s 500 pages of unnecessary writing about President Snow…I mean, really? Could Suzanne Collins not have chosen a better character to focus on? Anyway, this is basically about President Snow as a boy, before he became the president. There’s a lot I could say about this book but it would probably just be a big moan. I think Suzanne Collins is a great writer, really easy and quick to read – it’s just the subject matter wasn’t interesting to me, I didn’t really care and even at the end of the book I didn’t feel like I’d really gained anything from reading it, it was all just a bit pointless. Like Stephenie Meyer had brought out another Twilight book and so The Hunger Games had to do the same, but none of it really made a difference, you know? I don’t feel like the book gives us much of an understanding as to why Snow turned out the way he did, and if I hear “Snow Lands on Top” one more time…

I feel like Collins should have picked a lane and stuck to it – is he good or bad? But she kind of just sways in between throughout the book and we’re never really sure because it’s almost as if the author herself is unsure – she doesn’t know whether she’s writing a hero or a villain so she kind of just winds in between both and we’re left in a murky puddle of confusion wondering what the book and Snow’s intentions are actually about. It was all just a bit of a muddle. Also, anything written after The Hunger Games section, so about the final 30% of the book, was completely pointless. Completely. It added nothing to the story or to Snow’s character, and even The Hunger Games section itself was quite bland, which you could attribute to it only being the 10th Hunger Games and therefore not fleshed out / developed enough yet but I think if I was to say that I’d just be using it as an excuse. Maybe if we were given different POVs of Lucy Gray whilst she was in the arena for example, it would’ve been more exhilarating and exciting, but instead it was all just quite bland.

The ending of the book between Lucy Gray and Coriolanus (Snow) was also just…eh. I thought it was a clever way for Collins to end the book without having to actually explain anything – not a cop-out as such but just, it was easy. She kind of just got to end it as she wanted without warranting the reader to demand more, so I think she conveniently got lucky there. Overall the book was fine – as I said, Suzanne Collins is a great writer (unlike Stephenie Meyer for example who should not be allowed to write another book ever) but the story itself was just pointless and felt unsure to me. An average 3 star read.

And there we have it loves, let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought!

All my love,

Chloe .xx

Goodreads – ChloLuna

5 thoughts on “January Book Reviews

    1. Completely agree, I think a lot of my problems come from overhyped books that then disappointment me when I read them because they don’t live up to the hype – definitely trying to steer away from that in my reading this year!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve been meaning to try The Vanishing Half for over a year now but I never got around to it. From the synopsis I wouldn’t expect Jude to be focused on at all, so that’s definitely surprising to learn. I hadn’t heard of The Mothers before but now I think it might make a better place to start with Brit Bennet’s work!

    Liked by 1 person

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