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.

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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.

3 Stars, Cara Delevingne, Contemporary, Mystery, Rowan Coleman, Young Adult

Bee Reviews: Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne and Rowan Coleman

Format: Kindle edition, 368 pagesmirror mirror

Published: 5th October 2017 by Trapeze

Genres: Young adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones


Synopsis

Friend. Lover. Victim. Betrayer. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Sixteen-year-old friends Red, Leo, Naima and Rose are like anyone their age: figuring out who they are and trying to navigate the minefield of school and relationships. Life isn’t perfect, but they’re united by their love of music and excited about what the future holds for their band.

That is until Naima dies in tragic circumstances, leaving behind only one word. ‘Sorry’.

What awful truth was she hiding? What dark secret was lurking behind her seemingly sunny persona? And how did Red, the self-styled protector of the group, fail to spot the warning signs?

While Rose turns to wild partying and Leo is shrouded by dark moods, Red sets out to uncover the truth and find out what – or perhaps who – was responsible for Naima’s death.

It’s a journey that will cause Red’s world to crumble, exposing the dark and dangerous truth behind the fragile surface of their existence. Nothing will ever be the same again, because once a mirror is shattered, it can’t be fixed.


Review

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

I’m going to preface this review by reminding the reader that everything in this review is strictly my opinion, and that there might be things I mention that you yourself might not mind in a book. But for me, Mirror, Mirror was a bit of a mess.

I see her face again, and wonder how it can be possible to find someone and lose them in the very same moment.

First of all, I’m not sure if the person who wrote the blurb read a completely different story to the rest of us, but it’s not remotely how the book actually panned out. Secondly, the book isn’t an easy one to read. I understand it’s YA, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like it was written by a YA. I would normally make allowances given this is a debut novel, but even a debut novel should have a better writing style.

I see the lights reflected in her deep blue eyes, and the tiny hairs of her soft cheeks and the way her top lip bows when she talks, and the silver scar just to the left of her mouth, and it’s like everything in the universe, since the beginning of time has been reaching just for this moment, this one perfect beautiful moment.

I wasn’t really sure about the first half of the novel. It didn’t feel like it was going anywhere, but this novel is supposed to be about more than Naima – it’s about all of them and their journey navigating their way through life. As for Naima’s story, I have to say the ending was predictable, but in an era of trying too hard, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There is no need to despair over being brave, over risking everything to be true. Instead I feel free, because tonight I broke down one more barrier to truly being myself, crossed one more bridge towards the life I want. And for now, anyway, I feel good about doing that, even if I have burnt it down behind me. I feel proud.

All in all, Mirror, Mirror is a solid debut novel, and I feel it sets out to do what it intends to. I do hope that Delevingne works on her writing skills before her next novel though.

5 Stars, Book review, Contemporary, John Green, Young Adult

Bee Reviews: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

turtles

Format: Hardback

Published: 10th October 2017 by Penguin

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery | Waterstones


Synopsis

It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.


Review

Where do I start with this novel? I wasn’t entirely sure at first where it was going – all I knew was that I was glad not to be Aza. Aza really struggles against her compulsions, and does all the right things but faces all the wrong outcomes in her battle against herself. Aza is a wonderful example of when thinking becomes overthinking, which becomes nothing short of a curse.

This term chronic pain captures nothing of the grinding, constant, ceaseless, inescapable hurt. And the term crazy arrives at us with none of the terror and worry you live with. Nor do either of those terms connote the courage people in such pains exemplify.

But Aza is also just like everyone else: she has to keep up with work in school, she does everything to appease her best friend, she has an overbearing mother to reassure. Throw a little OCD into the mix and, suddenly, everything is even more chaotic. And to make things worse, her potential lover’s father goes missing, and Aza takes it upon herself to solve this mystery.

The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they’d be totally acceptable.

I cannot put into words how accurately Green portrays the mental health experience; the inescapable thoughts, the constant feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness, and, most of all, the way everyone says they will be there for you and everyone gets fed up. My favourite thing about this novel was how it was all show, not tell. Aza never once spoke about her symptoms: she just felt. The reader gets to see everything first-hand, everything from how Aza’s spirals begin, to exactly how a person with mental health problems can both isolate themselves, and also feel isolated (which are often two separate, although sometimes related, occurrences).

[…] she told me that beauty was mostly a matter of attention. “The river is beautiful because you are look at it,” she said.

I would definitely say this is my favourite John Green book to date. It is raw, emotional, and I didn’t even realise I had a heart until it got broken and remade by this book. It is bursting with Greenesque quotes that will make you laugh, think, and, of course, roll your eyes. I’ve never read another book like this before, and I have certainly not read a book in a while that has made me question whether I really do know it all. This book is filled with love and laughter and, above all, hope. The kind of hope everyone needs. Not the hope that things will get better, because oftentimes that hope is an illusion, but the hope that things will still be okay.

Your now is not your forever.

I would recommend this book for people who fall under the following categories:

  • People experiencing mental health problems (warning: may be triggering as Aza’s compulsions are quite severe)
  • People who have never experienced mental health problems
  • People who think OCD is “cute” or “quirky”
  • Everyone else
  • Turtles

Have you read this book? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

5 Stars, Book review, Historical fiction, Ian Mortimer, Sci-Fi

Bee Reviews: The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

theoutcastsoftime coverFormat: Kindle edition

Publication: 15th June 2017 by Simon & Schuster UK

Genres: Historical fiction, Sci-Fi

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery


Synopsis

December 1348. With the country in the grip of the Black Death, brothers John and William fear that they will shortly die and go to Hell. But as the end draws near, they are given an unexpected choice: either to go home and spend their last six days in their familiar world, or to search for salvation across the forthcoming centuries – living each one of their remaining days ninety-nine years after the last.

John and William choose the future and find themselves in 1447, ignorant of almost everything going on around them. The year 1546 brings no more comfort, and 1645 challenges them still further. It is not just that technology is changing: things they have taken for granted all their lives prove to be short-lived.

As they find themselves in stranger and stranger times, the reader travels with them, seeing the world through their eyes as it shifts through disease, progress, enlightenment and war. But their time is running out – can they do something to redeem themselves before the six days are up?


Review

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

This is by far the most quotable novel I have ever read. Mortimer is definitely one of the most skilled writers of our time, in language and through his imagination. His ability to manipulate the reader to feel exactly how he wants them to feel is to be admired.

To hate yourself is to squander the privilege of being alive.

So this poignant story follows two men faced with purgatory if, in the next six days of their lives, they’re unable to perform a pure good deed. The trick is, for each of the six days they live, they’ll be ninety-nine years in the future. Aside from the barrier this presents in terms of language, fashion and technology, good deeds somehow become harder to achieve through the centuries.

There’s so much beauty in the world, don’t close your eyes to it just because you’ve lost your own small patch of happiness.

This is an excellent piece of historical fiction that highlights the changes, both small and substantial, that have taken place over the last few centuries. Funny and factual, I would definitely recommend this novel to people who enjoy reading historical fiction.

People need a common enemy. War is one of those things that binds us together. You could say that men need someone to oppose – otherwise we start fighting among ourselves.

Another dimension of this novel is that it is highly philosophical. John and William together embrace the prospect of dying while pondering the existence of humanity. I feel as though this dimension of the novel should have a whole genre of its own, a “books that make you think” genre, because that would suit this novel perfectly. Rarely do I come across a book that I read, and I feel a changed person afterwards. This is one of those books.

I finally understand the beautiful secret of dying. It is that one may, at last, escape the tyranny of time.

I’m exceptionally impressed by what a good read this book turned out to be and I hope to explore more of Mortimer’s work because if it’s anything like this novel, I’m sure it’ll turn out to be a great read.

Ayisha Malik, Carrie Ryan, Frances Hardinge, Kendare Blake, Kristen Cashore, Sophia Kingshill, Stark Holborn, Stephen King, YALC, Zen Cho

YALC buys!

Almost two weeks later and I’m still experiencing post-YALC depression. So here’s a list of some amazing-looking books I can’t wait to dig into to help me through the void that YALC left.

1sorcerer to the crown1. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

I was watching a panel about genre-bending with Zen Cho. She made her novel sound absolutely enchanting – anything about sorcery in Britain and I’m there. I’m a very fussy reader and the fact that Cho sold her book to me in mere moments is an accomplishment. She was signing afterwards so I dashed to the Waterstone’s stall to buy a copy, but unfortunately they were sold out. I pulled out my phone straight away and ordered a copy. Glad to say I have this book now and I can’t wait to read it!

 

2bitterblue2. Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3) by Kristin Cashore

One of the stalls was doing 2 for £10. Sorcery in Britain is one of my favourite things to read, the other being castles and princesses. So when I picked up this book, I had to buy it immediately – without even realising this is the third book in the series. Quickly rectified though as I bought the first two off eBay immediately afterwards. This series sounds mystical and I hope to read it ASAP. Which I say about every unread book on my bookshelf that I’ve been meaning to read for years, but still, one can hope.

 

3sofia khan3. Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (Sofia Khan #1) by Ayisha Malik

I received an ARC of the sequel to this a few months back (you can find my review here) and I was mesmerised. Sofia Khan is by far the funniest protagonist I’ve had the pleasure to come across in years. Described by Malik as the Muslim Bridget Jones, I cried laughing so hard reading the sequel that I had to go back and get this one. (And, of course, get both books signed by the lovely author who also happened to tell me I looked ethereal in my elf outfit.)

 

4forest4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

This was the other book I bought in the 2 for £10 purchase, and it. Sounds. Amazing. Reminiscent of a favourite of mine (Uprooted by Naomi Novik), this novel is about Mary who lives in a village where it’s rumoured unsafe to leave, but Mary soon discovers that perhaps it’s not only the outside world that has its problems. This book is the first in the trilogy and sounds every bit enticing as the blurb promises. Stick around for the review in a few short months!

 

5lietree5. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I think I bought this one at 2 for £10 as well. This book follows Faith Sunderly whose family fled to an island following a scandal that ruined her father’s reputation. When her father is found murdered, Faith takes it upon herself to unravel the secret of his death and seek revenge. She comes across a tree that produces fruit every time she tells a lie, fruit that delivers to her truths, and hopes this brings her closer to unraveling the mystery her father left behind.

 

6threedarkcrowns6. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

This was the other book I bought at 2 for £10. I wasn’t initially sold by the idea of this novel, which boils down to three sisters who ultimately have to kill each other for the crown. But the sales assistant did a number on me, and I had to have it by the time she was done. And like I said before – anything with queens in it, and I’m there. I can’t wait to find out which sister wins the deadly battle – Mirabella, the elemental; Katharine, the poisoner; or Arsinoe, the naturalist.

 

7revival7. Revival by Stephen King

I’ve never read a Stephen King book before. I’ve always meant to, but after watching The Shining as a very small child, I was kind of put off by anything Stephen Kingish. But also enticed at the same time. Which is why when Hodder & Stoughton was doing 3 for £5, I jumped in straight away. Somehow, I can do horror films. But horror books? I’m still scarred from reading Goosebumps as a child. Revival seemed like the softest of the Stephen King novels. I can’t wait to be too scared to sleep at night.

 

8onwriting8. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

So I’ve never read a Stephen King book before, and now I have two! I picked up this book because I appreciate Stephen King for the mastermind he is when it comes to his works and what he does. And as an aspiring author, I thought there’s no better person to take a few tips from than one of the bestselling authors of all time. While it’s impossible to review a memoir – something that’s personal to someone – I’ll write about everything I’ve learnt in the review to come.

 

9nunslinger9. Nunslinger by Stark Holborn

This was the last book I chose in the 3 for £5 sale. Another thing I’m a sucker for besides princesses and castles is historical fiction. This novel is set in the 1800s, and the protagonist, Sister Thomas Josephine, is on the run after being accused of murder – and trying to run from a man who has become dangerously obsessed with her.

This book encapsulates the twelve installments of the series, so there might be a bit of a wait for the review!

 

 

10betweentheravenandthedove10. Between the Raven and the Dove by Sophia Kingshill

I love magic in (almost) all of its shapes and forms, and this very YA novel is about just that. I had the chance to speak with the author and came away with this copy signed (bonus!!). Thirteen-year-old Mag has lived with her father in a home for mentally ill people. Suddenly, Mag’s real mother comes along to claim her – and tell her that she’s a witch. This story focuses on Mag’s world being turned upside down, and the lines blurring between good and evil.

 

So those were my YALC buys! In my defence, I don’t think I came away with as many books as my friends.

Are any of these books on your to-read list? Let me know in the comments!

5 Stars, Crime, Lauren Lee, Mystery

Bee Reviews: When Houses Burn by Laurèn Lee

whb1Format: Kindle edition

Expected publication: 15th August 2017 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Genres: Thriller, murder mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | AmazonAuthor’s website


Synopsis

Dr. Delilah Hedley is a well-respected Doctor of Psychiatry in a small, affluent city on the East Coast. Despite her professional success, Delilah is physically unable to have children, causing increasing turmoil in her marriage.

When Delilah begins seeing a new patient, a man previously accused of murdering his parents, a woman is simultaneously found dead in the river. As the hunt for Jane Doe’s killer intensifies, Delilah falls deeper and deeper for her new patient, despite his dark past.

Will the doctor get a taste of her own medicine, or will she find an escape from the flame in time to save her own life?


Review

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

It’s unbelievable to think there is this much talent in one author. This novel was so carefully crafted, and completely defied my own expectations – as Lee undoubtedly intended. Lee players on the readers’ assumptions really well to make the characters hugely complex and at the same time, suspiciously simple. I was caught out numerous times throughout this novel.

The plot is wild, which at first I wasn’t overly fond of, until I realised that this comes with the territory of writing a thriller, and the quickly-thickening plot is a sign of creativity more than anything else.

They say “Everything happens for a reason,” but what is the reason for this? Why has fate brought us here, to this place filled with doubt, misery, and unhappiness?

The way the novel is written was, at first, a tad confusing but this is mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to chapter headings because I was so deeply engrossed in reading the novel. I hate to think how much time was spent writing it – and I managed to finish reading it in three hours.

I would definitely recommend this to fans of thriller/crime/murder mystery novels – and put all of your assumptions aside because things aren’t always as they seem, and people can surprise you.

4 Stars, Alison Weir, Book review, Historical fiction

Bee Reviews: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession (Six Tudor Queens, #2) by Alison Weir

ab1Format: Kindle edition

Published: 18th May 2017 by Headline

Genres: Historical fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery


Synopsis

A novel filled with new insights into the story of Henry VIII’s second—and most infamous—wife, Anne Boleyn. The second book in the epic Six Tudor Queens series, from the acclaimed historian and bestselling author of Katherine of Aragon.

It is the spring of 1527. Henry VIII has come to Hever Castle in Kent to pay court to Anne Boleyn. He is desperate to have her. For this mirror of female perfection he will set aside his Queen and all Cardinal Wolsey’s plans for a dynastic French marriage.

Anne Boleyn is not so sure. She loathes Wolsey for breaking her betrothal to the Earl of Northumberland’s son, Harry Percy, whom she had loved. She does not welcome the King’s advances; she knows that she can never give him her heart.

But hers is an opportunist family. And whether Anne is willing or not, they will risk it all to see their daughter on the throne…


Review

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

Okay so I’ve never picked up Phillipa Gregory book in my life even though I have all twelve of her books on my shelves, but I think Alison Weir can give me my fix of Tudor historical fiction novels.

Where do I start with this book? It was enormously long, it took me several weeks to finish, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Weir’s writing had a way of magically transporting me 500 years back in time. My experience of reading this novel has implanted scenes in my mind as clear as memory – the views from Hever Castle, the hustle and bustle of Margaret of Austria’s court, every turn of the page was a new experience.

I thought I knew a lot about the Tudors prior to reading this book, but how I was wrong. There was so much to learn, and the facts made this novel all the more interesting. This is Weir, an acclaimed historian, weaving together the facts of Anne Boleyn’s life with a bit of imagination to deliver a novel that’s thrilling from start through until finish.

The only bit that was frustrating as a reader was the length of the novel allocated to Anne Boleyn’s wait for Catherine of Aragon’s and Henry’s marriage to be dissolved. But I think this is a great reflection on how frustrated Anne Boleyn probably felt. I also wasn’t sure about Henry’s characterisation at first, but it was interesting to see the renowned monarch in a different portrayal to that which I had initially imagined.

I would definitely recommend this detail-packed novel to others interested in historical fiction, and I can’t wait to read the prequel Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen.

4 Stars, Book review, Colleen Hoover, Contemporary, Romance

Bee Reviews: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

it ends with us

Format: Kindle edition, 367 pages

Published: 2nd August by Atria Books

Genres: Romance, contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.


Review

Warning: This review contains spoilers and also trigger-warnings for domestic violence.

Okay, so I have very mixed feelings with regards to this book. At first, I’ll be honest, I couldn’t stand it. I loved finding out about Atlas, but that was it. For the first half of the novel, I crawled through it. I hated Ryle, I hated who Lily was when she was with Ryle – but I hated all of this more in the second half of the novel, and this was a good thing.

Imagine all the people you meet in your life. There are so many. They come in like waves, trickling in and out with the tide. Some waves are much bigger and make more of an impact than others. Sometimes the waves bring with them things from deep in the bottom of the sea and they leave those things tossed onto the shore. Imprints against the grains of sand that prove the waves had once been there, long after the tide recedes.

Writing about domestic abuse isn’t easy. Hoover should be commended for writing this in a sensitve, hollistic way. The only thing I didn’t like was how everything worked out so easily. Lily had money, she wasn’t forced to go to work. But this would have been a whole different novel of its own.

I don’t think this is a romance novel. This isn’t about either of Lily’s two love interests. This is about Lily Blossom Bloom (yes, that is her real name) breaking the cycle of abuse, and I’ve never been more proud of a fictional character.

Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. It takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet.

It’s easy to love someone, slightly less so after they’ve wronged you, but it’s harder still to love yourself enough to leave someone who has hurt you. Lily got there eventually, and it was no easy feat, but she demonstrates the devastating effects of abuse, both from the experience as a bystander, and as a survivor.

Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.

I’m not sure that this is a book I would read again, but it’s certainly one that everyone should read and take lessons from, which, as Hoover says, is the purpose of the book. It’s not so much for entertainment, but a journey of personal growth in itself.