4 Stars, Book review, Contemporary, Laura Steven, Young Adult

Bee Reviews: The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

the exact opposite of okay coverFormat: Paperback, 335 pages

Published: 8th March 2018 by Electric Monkey

Genres: Young adult, contemporary, feminism

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…


Review

Bear with me, there are gonna be a lot of quotes in this review because, basically, this is the most quotable book I’ve ever read. Izzy O’Neill is the funniest protagonist I have ever read, although it’s borderline annoying how she constantly uses humour as a coping mechanism instead of facing up to her problems, but dealing with emotions is a journey, one that we all must make (slightly paraphrasing Gandalf here).

The problem is, even the most basic entry-level jobs now require at least three years’ experience, a degree in astrophysics and two Super Bowl trophies to even be considered for an interview.

So, Izzy’s struggles aren’t limited to being broke and brought up by her grandmother who has to work some 60 hours a week in a diner just to pay bills and rent. No, little does Izzy know when she attends a party one Saturday evening, she’s about to find out just how cruel the world can be…

It always leaves me feeling kinda empty when people preach “follow your dreams” to those with “do what you gotta do” kind of lives.

When someone sets up a website targeting Izzy and her sexploits, Izzy tries to ride the waves. She laughs along with her classmates, but when Izzy’s nudes surface, it gets a little harder to breathe, let alone laugh. Izzy finds herself more alone than ever, although constantly surrounded by swarms of photographers and journalists, because, you guessed it, this particular teenager’s sexploits become a national scandal when a politician’s son gets caught up in it.

How the hell are we supposed to have it all figured out by the age of eighteen? We don’t even know who we are yet, and still we’re expected to choose what we want to do with the next fifty years.

This novel should be required reading for everyone who doesn’t understand why slut-shaming is wrong. The ultimate take-away message from this story is if men can take nudes and have sex without it becoming a national scandal… why can’t women? (Hint: the answer is misogyny.)

I honestly do not know why guys think solicited dick pics are a turn on. Like, have they ever seen a penis? Do they really look at their own genitals and think, “Yeah, that looks good.” No. Exactly.

Something that slightly irked me about this book was just how much of an adult Izzy seemed – I was only reminded she was a teenager whenever she talked about school. But perhaps this is a reflection on how teenage girls are tried as adults, whereas “boys will be boys”. Really though, Izzy’s sharp wit and humour are well beyond her years.

Never trust morning people. They have deeply rooted psychology issues and, as a person with deeply rooted psychology issues, I consider myself something of an expert on the matter.

This novel included an absolute boat-load of diversity: we had explicit ethnically-diverse characters, characters of varying sexualities, explicit mention of a student in a wheelchair (although it is just a mention). Kudos to Steven for trying to include as many social issues as possible (including anti-black racism and mild pro-Palestinian propaganda). But one tip for if you’re trying to write a socially-conscious book – don’t make the Maths teacher Asian.

As an aside, I actually admire people who slut-shame on the internet. Usually when someone has a low IQ they try to hide it, but these guys just throw it right out there in the public domain.

Have you read this book? Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!


Header credits: the Enchanted Rose was made by Angraves and gifted to me by my pretty amazing boyfriend, the book was by Laura Stevens, the candle by Etsy user Bookwormcandlescraft and gifted to me by a pretty amazing friend, the bookmark was made by aforementioned pretty amazing friend and can be found here, and the pygmy puff was from the WBST and gifted to me by yet another pretty amazing friend (I know, I’m lucky to know so many amazing people).

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3 Stars, Book review, Connie Glynn, Fantasy, Young Adult

Bee Reviews: Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn (Rosewood Chronicles #1)

-undercoverprincessFormat: Kindle edition, 288 pages

Published: 2nd November 2017 by Penguin

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

When fairy tale obsessed Lottie Pumpkin starts at the infamous Rosewood Hall, she is not expecting to share a room with the Crown Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolf. Due to a series of lies and coincidences, 14-year-old Lottie finds herself pretending to be the princess so that Ellie can live a more normal teenage life.

Lottie is thrust into the real world of royalty – a world filled with secrets, intrigue and betrayal. She must do everything she can to help Ellie keep her secret, but with school, the looming Maradovian ball and the mysterious new boy Jamie, she’ll soon discover that reality doesn’t always have the happily ever after you’d expect…

A thrilling world of parties, politics and bad ass princesses, this is the first book in the brand new series THE ROSEWOOD CHRONICLES.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

This book has been such a delight to read for several reasons, all of which will be explored in this review that will hopefully leave you, the reader, convinced that you have to read Undercover Princess.

Eating animals just didn’t seem very princessy. How could she expect little woodland critters to assist her in her daily tasks if she was going to turn around and eat them?

Let’s start with Lottie Pumpkin – yes, her name is ridiculous, yes, she does know it, and yes, she’s very sensitive about it. Well, Lottie is just about sensitive when it comes to everything and anything, which, in an era of “strong female protagonists” telling other girls they have to “man up”, is quite refreshing. Lottie’s greatest strength, aside from being brave, being kind, and being unstoppable, is that she is perceptive and so in touch with her emotions – very unusual for a teenager. Having a likeable protagonist who is a breath of fresh air is so important, and Connie Glynn nails this one.

It was no secret that her love of English stemmed from her childhood obsession with fairy tales. She was so fascinated by words and how they could be used as signifiers to express abstract thoughts and feelings; it all seemed to beautiful and romantic to her.

Then we’ve got Ellie, who so perfectly complements Lottie, and, if we’re being frank, is everything Lottie isn’t. Ellie is wild, she is daring, and she turns Lottie’s whole world upside down. I loved reading about a rebel with a cause, which is exactly what Ellie is. So for readers who like their fair share of badass female characters, I present to you the Crown Princess of Maradover, Ellie Wolfson.

Ellie didn’t fit into the cookie-cutter image of a girl, let alone a princess. She was unapologetic and ferocious and this aristocratic world resented her for it.

Rosewood is also fascinating. It gave me Hogwarts vibes – a boarding school with three houses that each student must take an aptitude test in order to find out which house they belong to. There is, of course, inter-house competition, and for this book at least, you have your Draco Malfoy and his cronies. Then there’s the mystery of William Tufty, the founder of Rosewood – like the brilliant author she is, Glynn manages to sow enough seeds for a sequel, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it comes out!

Sometimes the world can get very loud and people can get caught up trying to get their own voice heard and they end up silencing those that really need the space to speak.

The only reason this highly re-readable book is a three star instead of a five is partly because of the mild queer-baiting, which I’m hoping will still be picked up in later book(s). You’ll know what I mean when you read the book. There’s also a problem with mischaracterisation, particularly with the introduction of Ellie – it just seems that characters are frequently OOC to suit whatever drama Glynn chooses for the sake of having drama, but this book really doesn’t need it.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she could hear her mother’s voice reciting a verse from her distant past.

They found each other in the woods,
Together they did build a house.

A story her mother used to tell her, before she knew how brutal the world could be.

The final thing that put me off this wonderful book that was otherwise a delight to read is, even now, I struggle to tell if the book is satirical or genuine. For example, the Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolfson, disguised herself as… Ellie Wolf. This is addressed in the book, but as I said before, it’s difficult to tell if it’s in satire or if the other characters are genuinely dense. I’ve been left with the same feeling a few times throughout reading the novel, which makes the writing seem somewhat clumsy.

“I bet you ten pounds someone falls in the pool.” “Twenty pounds says I push one of them.”

Otherwise, this book was intriguing and difficult to put down! I would definitely recommend it to people who are into princesses, fairy tales, and are looking for a very light read. Have you read this book? Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

4 Stars, Book review, Fantasy, Melissa Albert, YA Fantasy, Young Adult

Bee Reviews: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

- hazel woodFormat: Paperback, 359 pages

Published: 8th February 2018 by Penguin

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. 

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

The Hazel Wood is about Alice’s quest to find her mother after she goes missing. She’s danced around the borders of the world her grandmother created all her life – running from it, hiding from it – but finally the time has come for Alice to go into the Hazel Wood and uncover the secrets her mother’s been trying to hide from her.

Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.

This book is AMAZING. I regret how long it waited on my list before I finally opened it. I was swept away from the start although it was something of a slow burner to start off with – I didn’t really understand where it was going until it had gone, but sometimes that’s the best kind of story, the kind that you just can’t predict.

My favourite bit was perhaps receiving the snippets of the dark and twisted fairy tales her grandmother wrote about, although reading about the tales coming to life was a very close second. Rarely have I come across a novel so imaginative, and I can’t wait for Melissa Albert to release the Tales from the Hinterland. I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

Hell is caring about other people.

This novel is so carefully crafted; everything about it, from Alice’s creation (yes, she is a little annoying but it’ll all make sense when you get to the end) to the world Albert has created in which Stories are brought to life (note: Stories with a capital S). The Hazel Wood is a wild and magical ride from start to finish and I can’t wait to see more of what Albert has in store. I highly recommend this novel not only to readers of YA, but also people who just love fairy tales.

5 Stars, Book review, Fantasy, Historical fiction, Katherine Arden

Bee Reviews: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

- the bear and the nightingaleFormat: Paperback, 430 pages

Published: 5th October 2017 by Del Rey

Genres: Fantasy, historical fiction, fairy tales

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery | Waterstones


Synopsis

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…


Review

So, this book was bought for me as a gift. And what a GREAT gift it was. I’ll explain in this review exactly why this book was perfect for me, and why you should read it too.

Nothing changes, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.

So, I’m a Psychology student, and something that we have touched on in class is the concept of a “collective unconscious”. This is basically a part of the unconscious mind that is shared with pretty much everyone in any given circle. Arguably, folk stories, fairy tales – these all contribute to the collective unconscious. If you spoke to any random person in the streets of Britain and started talking to them about, say, Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, they would know exactly what you’re talking about. You’re on the same wavelength. Magical stories like The Bear and the Nightingale also contribute to the collective unconscious, by weaving together beloved Russian folk stories to make the most magnificent fantasy novel.

“All my life,” she said, “I have been told ‘go’ and ‘come.’ I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.”

The only thing that tops a fairy tale for me, is a fairy tale from a different culture – it’s fascinating getting an insight into a whole world I didn’t know existed. I’m thrilled to find out this book is part of a trilogy and I can’t wait to read the second installment!

Sleep is cousin to death, Vasya. And both are mine.

I don’t know how Katherine Arden manages to write a fantasy novel that is also so relatable. Although she can see things no one else can, Vasya is just like us. She is spirited, she is headstrong, she is both troubling and troublesome. Although her trials and tribulations are as different as can be from the average person, Vasya is an entirely wholesome protagonist.

It is a cruel task, to frighten people in God’s name.

It’s not just Vasya – I could read a whole novel about any one of the characters. Lovely Olga, sweet Irina, Marina and Pyotr’s backstory, Dushya, Sasha – Arden could release a trilogy on one or all of these characters and I’d pick it up in a heartbeat.

There is magic in your bones. You must reckon with it.

Fair warning: tears *might* be shed. The story has twists and turns, and there’s a lot of love and laughter, but also some loss. More than anything, this is a heart-warming fantasy that anyone can sink right into. I don’t normally compare authors to authors or books to books, but if you loved Uprooted by Naomi Novik, or anything by Eva Ibbotson, you will for sure love The Bear and the Nightingale.

But I think you should be careful, Batyushka, that God does not speak in the voice of your own wishing. We have never needed saving before.

Tip: there’s a glossary of words at the end of the book. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise this until I got to the end.

3 Stars, Book review, Non-fiction

Bee Reviews: Dare Not Linger – The Presidential Years by Nelson Mandela, and Mandla Langa

 

- nelson mandela

Format: Kindle edition, 384 pages

Published: 19th October 2017 by Macmillan

Genres: Non-fiction, biography

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery | Waterstones


Synopsis

‘I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.’ Long Walk to Freedom

In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first president of democratic South Africa. Five years later, he stood down. In that time, he and his government wrought the most extraordinary transformation, turning a nation riven by centuries of colonialism and apartheid into a fully functioning democracy in which all South Africa’s citizens, black and white, were equal before the law.

Dare Not Linger is the story of Mandela’s presidential years, drawing heavily on the memoir he began to write as he prepared to finish his term of office, but was unable to finish. Now, the acclaimed South African writer, Mandla Langa, has completed the task using Mandela’s unfinished draft, detailed notes that Mandela made as events were unfolding and a wealth of previously unseen archival material. With a prologue by Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, the result is a vivid and inspirational account of Mandela’s presidency, a country in flux and the creation of a new democracy. It tells the extraordinary story of the transition from decades of apartheid rule and the challenges Mandela overcome to make a reality of his cherished vision for a liberated South Africa.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

It’s always difficult finishing the works of someone who has since passed, but Mandla Langa does a great job. That said, Dare Not Linger does still rely heavily on factual information which is in complete juxtaposition to the emotion in Long Walk to Freedom.

 With freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not ended yet.

I would recommend this biography more for people who are heavily invested in politics, particularly that of South African politics. I know little about South African politics, so in this sense, Dare Not Linger was somewhat difficult for me to read and fully comprehend.

Contemporary, Dhonielle Clayton, Katherine Arden, Laura Steven, Melissa Albert, Samantha Shannon, Tomi Adeymi, Uncategorized, YA Fantasy, Young Adult

The Books and the Bees has turned 1 today!

To celebrate my book blog’s birthday, here are some birthday books I received / bought for myself because I’m greedy and buy a ton of books before I’ve finished any of the millions on my to read list.

- the bear and the nightingale1. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

So this one was actually a gift from a close friend of mine, also coincidentally called Kathryn. This book is about – actually, I’m not entirely sure what it’s about yet, but I love it. Set in Russia, full of magic and fairy-tales and unexplainable goings-on, I’m head over heels in love with this book just six chapters in, which is probably why it was a gift (and a darn good one for me!).

Stay tuned for the review which will follow in due course.

 

- the belles

2. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

I love fantasy because fantasy novels are a more interesting version of the real world. That’s to say, our fantasy heroines tend to experience the same problems we do, but in a more imaginative and action-packed way, and The Belles sounds like just this. Did I also mention a royal family is involved?

Fantasy, royalty, an exploration of body politics… what more could you want from a novel?

 

 

- children of blood and bone3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeymi

Rumour has it that this is the most hyped-up YA novel of the year and I can’t wait to find out why. This novel captures the desire of many YA readers – fantasy, with an interesting twist. In this case, the twist is that it’s based on West African magic, and I am definitely here for this.

Again, this book involves magic, royalty… ticks all the boxes for this blog! Stick around for the review which will come as fast as I can finish this book.

 

- the exact opposite of okay4. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

So this book is hugely different to everything else on this list so far, but it’s not unlike other books I’ve reviewed on this blog because I do love my contemporary.

This novel is about a girl whose sex life is the talk of the town, and she’s not let it get to her before – but when a sex scandal with a politician’s son makes the national news, Izzy finds it harder and harder to keep her chin up.

 

- hazel wood5. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Oops… so I just realised I’ve had an ARC of this novel since January that I hadn’t gotten around to reading. It’s nice to know my taste in novels hasn’t changed between then and now.

This fantasy novel is based on fairy tales (there seems to be a common theme recurring here…), specifically the tales that Alice’s grandmother has told her, tales that become truth when Alice has to venture into The Hazel Wood to find her missing mother.

 

The Beauty and the Beast Colouring Book (Macmillan Classic Colouring Books)

6. The Beauty and the Beast Colouring Book by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve

I thought I would end this on a light note as most of these books seem quite heavy – this was something a friend (again, Kathryn) got me for my birthday (definitely a recurring theme) that I can’t wait to start because sometimes you need a break from all the action and the fantasy to just chill, and colouring is probably the perfect way to wind down.

 

the song rising alternate cover7. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Oops – almost forgot about this gem of a book. I’ve already read this book but I waited a year to buy it in hardcopy to match all my paperbacks. If you haven’t already, you must pick up The Bone Season series because it is hands-down the best fantasy series in existence.

You can find my full review of The Song Rising here.

 

 

And that’s it! To wrap up this post, I would like to say thanks to Waterstones for having Buy One Get One Half Price off some books in their YA section which allowed me to buy so many books for myself on my birthday.

Are any of these books on your to-read list? Or have you read them already and want to share how much you love them? Let me know in the comments!

4 Stars, Contemporary, Short stories, Tom Hanks

Bee Reviews: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Uncommon TypeFormat: Kindle edition, 416 pages

Published: 17th October 2017 by Cornerstone Digital

Genres: Fiction, short stories

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery | Waterstones


Synopsis

A hectic, funny sexual affair between two best friends. A World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A woman adjusting to life in a new neighborhood after her divorce. Four friends going to the moon and back in a rocket ship constructed in the backyard. A teenage surfer stumbling into his father’s secret life.

These are just some of the people and situations that Tom Hanks explores in his first work of fiction, a collection of stories that dissects, with great affection, humour and insight, the human condition and all its foibles. The stories are linked by one thing: in each of them, a typewriter plays a part, sometimes minor, sometimes central. To many, typewriters represent a level of craftsmanship, beauty and individuality that is harder and harder to find in the modern world. In his stories, Mr Hanks gracefully reaches that typewriter-worthy level.

Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing. Alternatingly whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

Tom Hanks is apparently such a huge fan of typewriters that he wrote a series of short stories about one. And there’s something oddly charming about that. Uncommon Types is a compilation of 17 short stories about… people. You could open the page at any book and you could never tell what that particular story was going to be about.

In the time I spend lollygagging over my whites and colors, Anna will drywall her attic, prepare her taxes, make her own fresh pasta, and start up a clothing exchange on the Internet.

There were definitely ups and downs – some stories you couldn’t wait to finish, but some really made the whole thing worth it. My favourite stories in particular were about Anna, MDash and co. A reflection of Hanks’s liberal stance, Uncommon Types successfully intertwines nostalgia with modern day America – and it works wonderfully.

In New York City real estate parlors took your money and lied to you, drug addicts relieved themselves in plain sight, and the Public Library was closed on Mondays.

I’ve very rarely lately read a book I would be happy to read again, but this is definitely going to be one of them. It’s light, fun, thoughtful, and, most of all, very heart-warming.

5 Stars, Book review, Contemporary, Gail Honeyman

Bee Reviews: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

oliphantFormat: Kindle edition, 336 pages

Published: 9th May 2017 by Pamela Dorman Books

Genres: Fiction, adult, contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery | Waterstones


Synopsis

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of a quirky yet lonely woman whose social misunderstandings and deeply ingrained routines could be changed forever—if she can bear to confront the secrets she has avoided all her life. But if she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this book was a rom-com. I thought this was going to be another Bridget Jones. I was wrong: it’s so much bigger and better than that.

If the book has one failing, it’s that there is insufficient mention of Pilot. You can’t have too much dog in a book.

I struggled to believe that this was a debut novel. It was so well-written, not a single word was out of place; so well-crafted, you might well believe at first that it was based on a true story (and you might have to keep reminding yourself that it’s not!).

I opted instead for a coffee, which was bitter and lukewarm. Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor!

My favourite thing about this novel is nothing is as you might expect. While reading this novel, I would constantly guess what was going to happen next – and I always got it wrong. The twists and turns through Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine will definitely keep you on edge! You will cry your eyes out – from laughter, and from sadness.

There are so many books in the world – how do you tell them all apart? How do you know which one will match your tastes and interests? That’s why I just pick the first book I see. There’s no point in trying to choose. The covers are of very little help, because they always say only good things, and I’ve found out to my cost that they’re rarely accurate. “Exhilarating” “Dazzling” “Hilarious”. No.

Women are almost always written into one of two categories; they are either the girl everyone clambers to be friends with, or the girl who is too good to be like other girls. Eleanor isn’t either of these. As a protagonist, she is unlikely, unfathomable, and yet somehow a character everyone can, in some way, relate to. She is witty and insightful, and watching her grow throughout the novel made me feel like a proud mother (unlike Mummy).

There are all kinds of reasons why they might not look like the kind of person you’d want to sit next to on a bus, but you can’t sum someone up in a ten-second glance. That’s simply not enough time. The way you try not to sit next to fat people, for example. There’s nothing wrong with being overweight, is there?

Eleanor provides a wonderful, filter-free insight into our world. This covers everything from weird “human mating rituals” like dancing, to the importance of even the briefest of encounters with strangers. Eleanor is an empty vessel just waiting to be filled up with love. No, not love from a romantic partner, as the synopsis might insinuate. She is waiting to be filled up with love for herself.

No one had ever shown me the right way to live a life, and although I’d tried my best over the years, I simply didn’t know how to make things better. I could not solve the puzzle of me.

Seldom do I find a novel that I truly can’t put down. But I managed to finish this book in about six days, which is a testimony of how great this novel is. Honeyman has really done a number on the world with this debut novel, and I can’t wait to read more of her work when it comes. I would highly recommend this novel to absolutely everyone and anyone under the sun.

3 Stars, Book review, Crime, Mystery, Paula Hawkins, Thriller

Bee Reviews: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

into the waterFormat: Hardback

Published: 2nd May 2017 by Transworld Publishers Ltd

Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones


Synopsis

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.


Review

This is no The Girl On the Train, as it was advertised as. And that’s a good thing, because if an author wrote two books that were the same, that would be very boring. This book did fall somewhat flat for me after The Girl On the Train after a first read though. While I had problems with the debut novel, at least it was fast-paced – this certainly was not.

It’s, like, when someone has an affair, why does the wife always hate the other woman? Why doesn’t she hate her husband? He’s the one who’s betrayed her, he’s the one who swore to love her and keep her and whatever forever and ever. Why isn’t he the one who gets shoved off a fucking cliff?

I loved the feminist aspect of this novel. This book is coming for all the people who have crucified women for simply existing. It’s all about how women who dare to speak up or women who prove challenging are silenced – but in this case, silenced in quite a lethal way.

No one liked to think about the fact that the water in that river was infected with the blood and bile of persecuted women, unhappy women; they drank it every day.

Overall, this is a strong follow up novel to the much hyped-up The Girl On the Train. Somewhat difficult to follow but still a very satisfying read.