Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

August 10, 2018 in Book Reviews, Fairytales, Retellings, Short Stories

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Various
Published by Greenwillow Books on 9th August 2018 (UK)
Genres: Retellings, Short Stories, YA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

About The Book

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is an anthology of short stories, retelling the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia.

Editors Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh have gathered 15 bestselling and acclaimed Asian authors, with each reimagining their favourite Asian myths and legends.

I guess, due to my heritage, I’m mostly familiar with Celtic folklore. That said, it isn’t something that I actively sought out until recently. My 7-year-old Goddaughter has taught me more about Greek mythology than I’ve ever known, and it piqued my interest (as well embarrassing me at my lack of knowledge!)

So when I saw A Thousand Beginnings and Endings which draws upon Asian folklore, with Asian writers, I figured it was time to expand my knowledge.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this anthology. As I find with most short story collections, there were one or two stories that I was less keen on. However, even with those I enjoyed learning about the traditional legends and folktales that inspired the works.

Following each story the author shares the premise of the original tale, myth or legend, and explains why they chose it for their retelling. That in itself is fascinating and educating.

Another beauty of such an anthology is that you get to discover some new (to you) authors. While I’d heard of the majority of the writers, I’d only actually previously read some of Renee Ahdieh’s work. Now that I’ve had a taste of the others’ writing there are many more books to add to my ever-expanding TBR list.

There’s a mix of everything in the collection – science fiction to fantasy, romance to contemporary, there’s something for everyone. My favourites? For me, Julie Kagawa’s Eyes like Candlelight, Alyssa Wong’s Olivia’s Table and Renee Ahdieh’s Nothing into All were perhaps my favourites, but I took something from every reimagining.

Whether you’re looking for a book to dip into, or binge read, I think you’ll enjoy these retellings. If, like me, you are pretty ignorant when it comes to Asian mythology, then I’m sure you’ll learn something too.

Authors

With stories from Renee Ahdieh, Aliette de Bodard, E.C. Myers, Elsie Chapman, Melissa de la Cruz, Cindy Pon, Sona Charaipotra, Julie Kagawa, Aisha Saeed, Preeti Chhibber, Rahul Kanakia, Shveta Thakrar, Roshani Chokshi, Lori M. Lee and Alyssa Wong.

Edited by Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh.

four-stars

Review: How To Be A Grown-Up

June 26, 2018 in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

I received this book for free from bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: How To Be A Grown-Up How To Be A Grown-Up by Daisy Buchanan
Published by Headline on 28th June 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: bookbridgr
Goodreads
four-stars

Have you ever felt lost, anxious, panicky about adulthood?

Have you ever spent a hungover Sunday crying into a bowl of cereal?

Have you ever scrolled through Instagram and felt nothing but green-eyed jealousy and evil thoughts?

Award-winning journalist, Grazia agony aunt and real-life big sister to five smart, stylish, stunning twenty-something young women, Daisy Buchanan has been there, done that and got the vajazzle.

In How to be a Grown-Up, she dispenses all the emotional and practical advice you need to negotiate a difficult decade. Covering everything from how to become more successful and confident at work, how to feel pride in yourself without needing validation from others, how to turn rivals into mentors, and how to *really* enjoy spending time on your own, this is a warm, kind, funny voice in the dark saying "Honestly don't worry, you're doing your best and you're amazing!"

Sometimes it’s just nice to read a book that you can relate to. I might be in my thirties and been through a lot in my three and a bit decades on the planet, but I think How To Be A Grown-Up is a phrase I’ll forever ponder (won’t we all) and so Daisy Buchanan’s book called to me.

Ok, full disclosure, I didn’t actually know who Daisy Buchanan was before I picked up this book (if you’re wondering she is an award-winning journalist and Grazia agony aunt), but I now feel like she’s my pal.

Buchanan shares her life with such honesty; the lessons shes’s learned, mistakes she’s made, emotions she has tackled, such that by the end of this book I felt I knew her.  From Instagram jealousy to fear of the financial, panic attacks to body image, Daisy writes with honesty, humour, and wit. Her anecdotes are relatable, and I can’t tell you the number of times I felt less alone reading this.

Going through major changes at this stage in my life isn’t something that I ever expected or wanted, but although Daisy’s story is very different to mine, her kindness and advice on being kind to yourself shine through. It has helped me.

Sometimes I fear a book like this can come across a bit ‘preachy’ but that isn’t the case here. Daisy lifts the lid on her life with seemingly nothing off limits – sharing her more difficult times with us as well as the happier times.

I enjoyed Daisy’s writing, her way with words and turn of phrase often appealing to my sense of humour.

Perhaps I related to a lot of this book as I was raised in the same era as Daisy. However, I do feel that those in their 20s will get a lot from this book, maybe a bit like an older sister sharing advice.

20s, 30s or 40s – do we ever really know how to be a grown-up? If this is a question that you often ponder then Daisy’s book is one for you. A perfect easy-to-read book for your Summer TBR.

P.S. I just noticed that the Kindle edition is only 99p on Amazon right now! (Not an affiliate link)

four-stars

Review: The Accidental Bad Girl

May 14, 2018 in Book Reviews, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Accidental Bad Girl The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan
Published by Abrams, Amulet on 15th May 2018
Genres: YA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

After getting caught hooking up with her best friend’s ex on the last day of junior year, Kendall starts senior year friendless and ostracized. She plans to keep her head down until she graduates. But after discovering her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for stealing from a dealer, Kendall is drawn into a tenuous partnership with the mastermind of a drug ring lurking in the shadows of her Brooklyn private school. If she wants to repair her tattered reputation and save her neck, she’ll have to decide who she really is—and own it. The longer she plays the role of “bad girl,” the more she becomes her new reputation. Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers—no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall.

 

The blurb for The Accidental Bad Girl really intrigued me and I had high hopes for this novel – it did not let me down.

17-year-old Kendall is starting her senior year at Howell Preparatory School. She’s an intelligent girl, a scholar and has always been in the popular crowd at school. The thing is, on the last day of junior year she was caught with her then best friend Andrea’s ex, Grant. She’s now facing her senior year friendless and the talk of the school. No-one will look at her. When she can’t quite imagine how everything could get worse, she discovers that her Facebook account has been hacked and that a drug dealer called Mason is after her for supposedly stealing from him.

With none of her old friends to lean on, Kendall finds herself wandering deeper into Mason’s world as he blackmails her, threatening to ensure she loses her place on the Young Astronomers Talent Search program – the one good thing she has in her life right now.

The deeper she gets, the more she learns about Mason and the drugs he is dealing.

I really enjoyed this book. I was drawn in from the start and found it hard to put down. Kendall is an interesting character, a capable young lady who finds herself in increasingly difficult and dangerous situations.

It’s a gritty read that doesn’t shy away from detail. It tackles a plethora of issues, from modern day problems associated with technology and social media, to older issues such as drugs. (View Spoiler »)

It’s a multilayered book. We have the mystery of who is framing Kendall and why, the blackmailing by Mason and how Kendall deals with it, as well as seeing Kendall reach out to trust new friends, all the while uncovering who she really is.

I don’t want to risk any spoilers so I’ll just end by saying that I really enjoyed this book. It’s hard to believe that it’s a debut novel and I’m looking forward to reading more of Kaplan’s work in the future. If she carries on as she has begun, I foresee her being a strong, unflinching voice in YA literature.

four-stars

Review: Valley Girls

May 8, 2018 in Book Reviews, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Valley Girls Valley Girls by Sarah Nicole Lemon
Published by Abrams on 8th May 2018
Genres: YA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
two-stars

When 17-year-old Rilla is busted for partying 24 hours into arriving in Yosemite National Park to live with her park ranger sister, it’s a come-to-Jesus moment.
Determined to make up for her screw-up and create a stable new home for herself, Rilla charms her way into a tight-knit group of climbers. But Rilla can’t help but be seduced by experiences she couldn’t have imagined back home. She sets her sights on climbing El Capitan, one of the most challenging routes in Yosemite, and her summer becomes one harrowing and ecstatic experience after another: first climb, first fall two thousand feet in the air, first love. But becoming the person Rilla feels she was meant to be jeopardises the reasons why she came to Yosemite—a bright new future and a second chance at sisterhood. When her family and her future are at odds, what will Rilla choose?

Following an incident at home in Rainelle, West Virginia, 17 year old Rilla is sent to stay with her elder sister, Thea, a Ranger in Yosemite, California. She has schoolwork to catch up on over the summer if she wants to graduate high school and Thea is determined to see her achieve it.

It seems she is the only person in Yosemite who doesn’t climb or hike. So when she makes friends with a group of climbers, she gets some lessons and catches the climbing bug.

This is probably best described as a ‘coming of age’ tale. Rilla arrives in Yosemite at the start of summer and is lost and low, but we see her progress as the story evolves.

I wanted to enjoy this book and there were parts I did get caught up in but overall I found it pretty lacklustre. For the first 80 pages or so I was pretty bored, to be honest.

Evidently, the author has a love of climbing and this shines through, but at times I found all the technical jargon a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, I did learn along with Rilla, but at times I couldn’t process, or want to process, all the climbing lingo.

I felt that most of this book trundled along, then at the end, when there was finally some action, it was rushed. I’d have liked more of the action at the end and less preamble.

Also, I didn’t really care that much about the characters. I wasn’t particularly rooting for any of them and I find books like that hard to get into.

This wasn’t really the book for me. I learned about Yosemite and (when I wasn’t overwhelmed) about climbing but I was left pretty disappointed by this read.

two-stars

Blog Tour: The Lido

April 19, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Contemporary

Every now and then I want to read something that is going to fill my heart, and The Lido most certainly did that. So I’m delighted to be today’s stop on The Lido blog tour – and it’s PUBLICATION DAY! So you can now get your hands on this heartwarming novel.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: The Lido The Lido by Libby Page
Published by Orion on 19th April 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

My Summary

When the local council threaten to sell the lido in Brixton to a developer, Rosemary is devastated. She has spent over 80 years of her life swimming in that pool. It’s where she got to know her husband, where they spent many hours together, and where she went for solace after he died two years earlier.

Rosemary won’t let the lido go without a fight and so starts distributing leaflets which grab the attention of the local paper who send one of their journalists, Kate, to meet with the 86-year-old.

Kate is 26 and having moved to London, finds that her life there isn’t what she expected. She lives with strangers and faces a constant battle with panic and anxiety. Her job at the newspaper has been dull until she is given the Brockwell Lido story and meets Rosemary.

The two strike up a friendship and Kate finds that the lido is really as special as Rosemary says. Together they take up the fight to save the pool, and in doing so save one another.

My Thoughts

I love stories of friendships across generations, so I really had high hopes for this book and I’m so pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I loved the characters of both Rosemary and Kate. While we join them in their fight to save the lido, we also go back in time with Rosemary and follow the story of her life with her husband George. I really appreciated the way this dual storytelling worked, eventually merging to the current timeline.

This novel looks at the changing world we live in, where cornerstones of local communities are being lost and replaced by new, often inaccessible to most, accommodations and facilities.  I liked the way that we are introduced to the community along with Kate. We uncover the wonders of the lido as she does, and meet the community that she has until now been oblivious to, along with her.

There’s so much to like in this story and it is wonderfully told. It’s the kind of book that feels like a hug. It’s so easy to read and such a joy to read. It’s an uplifting tale and is perfect for filling your heart with warmth.

My Rosemary!

As part of the tour I’ve been asking who my Rosemary is. I am lucky to have had many wonderful relationships with older people over the years. There’s one lady who stands out to me though; she is one of my favourite people in the world. We get on so well despite our 50 year age gap and I just adore being in her company. I’m not joking when I tell you we’ve been separated at the dinner table before so that we’ll behave!

Who is your Rosemary?

four-stars