book blog · Bookish News

June Bookish News | Women’s Prize For Fiction, Persuasion Trailer + More

June 15th, 2022

Hi Readers!

This is coming a bit early this month, but that’s because the Women’s Prize winner was announced yesterday and I’m too excited to share my opinion! There’s also been a lot of exciting developments in adaptations the past few weeks.

Here are my picks for the most exciting releases coming out in June.

Paperback Releases:

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Season 3 of Umbrella Academy Netflix

Comes Out June 22nd
Based on the graphic novels by Gerard Way.
Starring Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaรฑeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, & Aidan Gallagher

Love & Gelato Netflix

Releases June 22nd
Based on the novel by Jenna Evans-Welch
Starring Susanna Skaggs, Tobia De Angelis, and Owen McDonnell

The Summer I Turned Pretty Amazon Prime Video

Releases June 17th
Based On The Novel by Jenny Han
Starring Lola Tung, Christopher Briney, and Gavin Casalegno

Everything I Know About Love BBC

On the BBC IPlayer now.
Based on the memoir by Dolly Alderton
Starring Emma Appleton and Bel Powley

We Have A Trailer For Persuasion!

On my first watch of this, my initial reaction was, what is this?

Now I’ve given it some time to process, and I think I could enjoy this movie, if I forget it’s Jane Austen. This isn’t a faithful adaptation, Anne is so out of character, and I’m pretty sure the word ‘exes’ hadn’t been coined yet… But for some reason Hollywood has decided that Austen is boring and they need to spice it up a bit. We’ll see how that turns out…

We got a teaser trailer for the new Hunger Games based on Suzanne Collin’s prequel Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

I don’t know anyone who wants this, but it’s happening. It’s been given a release date of November 2023, but no news on cast yet.

Season Two Of Shadow & Bone finished filming!

Rick Riordan gave us some Percy Jackson casting news as filming got underway.

Red, White & Royal Blue got it’s main leads. Taylor Zakhar Perez is Alex Claremont-Diaz Nicholas Galitzine is Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor.

I’ve seen a lot of people not happy with this casting, and whilst I haven’t read the I do agree. They look too old for the role and I’m tired of straight actors being cast into gay roles.

We got our first teaser poster for The School For Good & Evil

A film adapted from the novel by Soman Chainani and starring High School Musicals (tmts) Sofia Wylie, Shadow & Bone’s Kit Young, and Charlize Theron.

We also got a poster upcoming adapation for Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, which is releasing in August.

The Women’s Prize For Fiction 2022 Goes To…

The Book Of Form And Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki!
Not my number one choice (The Island of Missing Trees). Or my number two choice (Sorrow and Bliss). But I guess it’s my number three choice by default as I wasn’t able to read the other three on the shortlist.

I had a rocky time reading this book, but my full thoughts are in my review here.

Costa announced it would no longer be hosting the Costa Book Awards.

This award, which ran for 50 years, has been a huge boost for the nominated and winning books. So far Costa hasn’t given an explanantion as to why and there hasn’t been any news as to whether is could be sponsered by anybody else, but hopefully they can as losing this will be a big blow to the industry.

Imogen Hermes Gower is ready to be published again.

It’s been four years since her super hyped debut The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was released and Gower found the experience ‘discombobulating’. But she’s possibly ready to dip her toes in again, and I for one will be here when she’s ready.

Matthew Perry Has Finished Writing His Autobiography

I’m not usually a fan of celebrity books, but I am quite excited for this one.

We Had A Beautiful Cover Reveal For Sarah Underwood’s Lies We Sing To The Sea

This is a beautiful book and I am all here for a sapphic Odyssey retelling!

What do you guys think of this years Women’s Prize winner? And are you excited, or devastated about the new adaptation of Persuasion?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Bookish News

The Women’s Prize Shortlist Is Here And It’s Fantastic!

April 27th, 2022

Hi Readers!

Oh my goodness was I nervous for this years shortlist! The longlist had left me feeling a little underwhelmed with many books that were just absolutely not my thing, and many of them I never plan to read. Thankfully the shortlist is made up of my ideal books with just one I’m hesitant about (because of tw’s) but I might even brave that one.

So firstly, this years shortlist is…

I have read two. One is a new favourite and I will absolutely be rooting for it to win the whole thing.

I have one out of the library I will be reading soon, and the others I’ve got in reserve. Hopefully they come in soon, but we have a little while before the winners announced in June.

The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

My ideal winner!
I can’t express to you how much I adore this book, although I tried to in my review. I was having heart palpitations whilst watching the shortlist video until I saw the golden branches of a fig tree and I knew it had made it!

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

I have this out of the library and did start it over the weekend, but I wasn’t in the mood for it (and I have too many prompts I still need to finish for the magical readathon and this completes none of them, lol). I think I will read this next week.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

I was so excited to see this on the shortlist! I didn’t predict it but had I done an ideal shortlist, this would have been on it.
I’m excited to read this because it sounds like I magical realism I might actually like.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Not surprised this one made it, but very relieved all the same because I definitely want to read it, but it’s a pretty big book and I definitely needed that extra motivation.
It’s another one that has a long wait list at the library though so it might be a while before I can get to it. Thank goodness we have until June!

The Book Of Form And Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

This is the second one I’ve read, and whilst I wasn’t wowed by it, I’m glad it’s here because it means one less book to read!
I can see why it made the shortlist as it does explore mental health and how we view objects and possessions in an interesting way, I just thought it dragged on for too long.

The Bread The Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

This is the one I’m hesitant to pick up. I have been hearing nothing but incredible things, but I also know the trigger warnings and themes it explores will make this quite a tough one to read and I’m not sure if that’s something I want to do. I have reserved it from the library though, so if it does come in a might give it a try.

So that’s the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2022 shortlist! Are you excited? Happy? Is there anything you’re gutted didn’t make it? Honestly the only one I thought just HAD to make the shortlist was Island of Missing Trees so I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Review

Book Review | The Island Of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak… a new favourite

April 21st, 2022

Hi Readers

80 pages in I thought this would be a book I would want to push into everyones hands urging them to read it. Now I’m done and I’m not urging you, I’m begging you!

| Published: August 2021, Viking |
| Genre: Contemporary/Historical Fiction |
| Themes: Grief, War, Mental Illness |
| Length: 368 Pages |
| Age: Adult |
| My Rating: โญ โญ โญ โญ โญ |

Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, heโ€™s searching for lost love.

Years later, a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited – her only connection to her familyโ€™s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.

The Island of Missing Trees was more than I had ever hoped it would be. Throughout the whole book I found myself choking up at the slightest of things and it had me sobbing through the last page. But this book didn’t need a shock factor to pull that out of me. There was no devastating reveal, no climax you didn’t see coming. All this needed was language and nature and healing to make this one of the most tug on the heartstrings books I have ever read.

grief has settled on the house like a vulture that would not leave until it had gorged itself on every last trace of lightness and joy

This book follows two timelines, and three POVs. First we meet Ada, a teenage girl living in London ‘now’ who’s grieving the loss of her mother and struggling to connect with her father. Then we follow her parents and their history in Cyprus. The third is a Fig Tree, who acts as a witness to all these events.

I’ve decided two things after reading this book. One is I love books written for adults, but have teenage POVs (when done well like this one is anyway). The other is I love books where trees are personified. Tree’s just make the most wonderful characters as they feel and sound so wise and ancient.

Shafak uses the tree as a symbol for many things, and one is the beautiful, almost comforting way she describes mental health. The fig tree is used to explain how mental health can physically affect a person. How it’s like when roots of a tree entangle the trunk and can cut off vital water and nutrients. It happens underground, it’s an invisible thing but, ‘can put pressure on the tree and it just becomes too much to bear’.

This book has many messages. Messages about war, history, memory, mental health, loss and grief, culture and family. But one that I found very significant was it’s message about compassion for something other than humans. The importance of trees, animals, nature to us and our ecosystem brought so much heart to the book and was written with so much emotion, and is very topical for current times.

The theme of war also made this book feel extremely poignant because unfortunately history really does repeat itself, and war has never been a subject of the past. Whether it’s Ukraine or the Middle East, there always seems to be a country that’s suffering, and I actually didn’t know that Cyprus had so recently seen conflict as this, and still bears the scars.

โ€œWherever there is a war and painful partition, there will be no winners, human or otherwise.โ€

There was also this beautiful scene where the tree is used as a symbol for migration:

Despite all this it would take me seven years to be able to yield fruit again. Because that is what migrations and relocations do to us; when you leave your home to unknown shores, you don’t simply carry on as before; a part of you dies so that another part of you can start all over again.

I haven’t given a book five stars in a while. But this one is more than deserving of every single one of them. I’m not sure a book has ever made me feel as much as this one did, and still left me with a sense of hope and lightness rather than just leaving me devastated and crying on the floor.

It’s an important book for our times. And frankly, I will riot if it does not win this years Women’s Prize.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Review

Book Review | The Final Revival Of Opal And Nev by Dawnie Walton

April 18th, 2022

Hi Reades!

So… do you ever read a book, look at other peoples ratings, and thinkย ‘what is wrong with me?’

| Published: 2021 by Quercus Books |
| Genre: Historical Fiction |
| Themes: Music, Fame, Racism |
| Length: 368 Pages |
| My Rating: โญ โญ |

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, a Black punk artist before her time. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together.

In early seventies New York City, just as sheโ€™s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opalโ€™s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duoโ€™s most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything.

Firstly, there’s a lot about this book I appreciate. But the delivery didn’t work for me.

This is a very Daisy Jones style book, and although I wasn’t aware of the similarities before, it wasn’t long before I noticed them, so comparing the two was inevitable. I also think it had a certain Evelyn Hugoness to it as well with the interviewers connection to the singers, and I would be shocked if the author hadn’t been somewhat inspired by Reid’s two successes.

But this one has an obvious aim. To challenge racism. That message comes across clear and is done in an impactful way that makes this book worth reading for sure. I liked what it challenged, and I like the discussions it will start.

But the way it was done just left me feeling flat. The style really felt more like a magazine article than a novel, which may have been the authors intention, but came across for me as dry and created this wall between me and the story/characters.

The characters I also just never felt were real. Just to compare them again, Reid is able to create characters who felt so incredibly real I was googling their names just to make sure this band of this actress weren’t actually real people. Walton’s characters missed the mark for me as I feel like I never got to know them on a deep emotional level. I might have known where they were born, but I never felt I knew them.

This book will work for a lot of people, and again I appreciate the themes it explores so much. But the writing wasn’t for me.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Bookish News

Women’s Prize For Fiction | 2022 Longlist Reaction

March 8th, 2022

Hi Readers!

Firstly, happy international women’s day. This day means celebrating the vast sea of female voices, and that’s why I always look forward to the women’s prize longlist. This years has finally been announced, and there are so many books here not even on my raider, but sound so exciting.

This years longlist consists of 16 books again, eight of them I’d heard of before but eight are completely new to me. I’ve also not read any of them, so that means I have a lot of reading to do. I’m quite pleased by this years selection and there are only a couple of books I’m not sure about.

Here are the books, a small part of their synopsis, and my plans for them. n

Careless by Kirsty Capes

Sometimes it’s easy to fall between the cracks…
At 3.04pm on a hot, sticky day in June, Bess finds out she’s pregnant.
She could tell her social worker Henry, but he’s useless.
She should tell her foster mother, Lisa, but she won’t understand.
She really ought to tell Boy, but she hasn’t spoken to him in weeks.
Bess knows more than anyone that love doesn’t come without conditions.
But this isn’t a love story… 

This is a tale as old as time, I’m intrigued to see what Capes has done with it.

The Exhibitionist by Charlotte Mandelson

The longer the marriage, the harder truth becomes . . .

I love books about family, and I love books about art. This one brings those two together, and I have big hopes for it.

The Bread The Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

This is an engrossing and atmospheric novel with a strong feminist message at the heart of its page-turning plot. It explores an abusive love-affair with searing honesty, and skilfully tackles the issue of gender violence and racism against the lush and heady backdrop of the national festival, and the music that feeds it. Itโ€™s impossible not to root for Alethea โ€“ she is an unforgettable heroine, trapped in ways she is only just beginning to understand but shining with strength, resolve and, ultimately, self-determination. 

This is normally something I would avoid because it’s main character is a victim of domestic abuse and I don’t like reading that. I would however like to try this. I may not be able to though as my library doesn’t currently have it available.

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho, a world where magic is everywhere, food is fate, politics are broken, and love awaits. Everyone in Popisho was born with a little somethingโ€ฆ The local name for it was cors. Magic, but more than magic. A gift, nah? Yes. From the gods: a thing that felt so inexpressibly your own.

Another book I would have normally avoided. I’ve tried magical realism before and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed one. But I will definitely try to read this as it has got some great reviews.

Flamingo by Rachel Elliott

A novel of love, homelessness, and learning to be fearless
In the garden, there were three flamingos.

This is one I’m considering skipping. I have reserved it and if it comes in I’ll give the first couple of chapters a go. But the way the full synopsis is written just doesn’t entice me, and kind of gives me reservations about the writing style.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Spanning Prohibition-era Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, wartime London, and modern-day Los Angeles, Great Circle tells the unforgettable story of a daredevil female aviator determined to chart her own course in life, at any cost.

Finally, one I predicted correctly! I am so pleased to see this made the longlist because I’m very excited to read it. This just felt like a women’s prize book.

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

It is a perfect July morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace” — the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside.

I’m very excited for this, and I’m very annoyed with myself for not predicting it. I don’t know why, I just didn’t think it sounded like a women’s prize book. But I definitely think I’ll enjoy it.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki–bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.

I had never heard of this book before today, and that’s why I love this prize, because this book sounds incredible. I love books about books and grief, and whilst this is another magical realism, I think this could be a very enjoyable one.

Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejide

With echoes of Toni Morrisonโ€™s Beloved, Yejidรฉโ€™s novel explores a forgotten quadrant of Washington, DC, and the ghosts that haunt it.

I have never seen this book before, and I can’t say I have much interest in it personally. Just the fact that it achoes Beloved, a book I’m really not a fan of, puts me off. It’s also another magical realism, apparently it has ghosts. This might be one where I wait to see what other people think first. My library doesn’t have it in anyway.

Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey

The looming presence of the nearby prison camp โ€“ lying just beyond a patch of forest โ€“ is the only blot to mar what is otherwise an idyllic life in Buchenwald.

This is another subject I tend to stay away from, especially in fiction. The holocaust. I think that these stories will always be important to share, I just can’t read them. My library also doesn’t have this in, so I’ll just see what everyone else thinks of it.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.

This book completely escaped my notice last year, but it sounds incredible and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

A moving, beautifully written and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history and eco-consciousness.

I can see this becoming a favourite. I’ve read and enjoyed two of Shafak’s previous books, but this one sounds like something I could love. I did want to read it when it was first released but I never got around to it. I definitely will now.

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

Two young women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.

Doesn’t that one line just hook you? It has me, and I can’t wait for it.

Salt Lick by Lulu Allison

This book has a chorus, the dreamy herd voice of feral cows, who are impatient with humans for their cruelty and lack of ability to find contentment, but they watch over Jesse, Isolde and Lee with benevolent care, understanding their lives as part of a bigger story that ravels and unravels endlessly over time. 

My library doesn’t have this, and the synopsis doesn’t really speak to me. I think it’s from the POV of animals which I’ve never really been a fan of so I don’t think I would have read it anyway. Maybe if it makes the shortlist.

The Sentence by Luise Erdrich

The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written. 

The fourth and final book I predicted! I very excited to see this made the longlist because I absolutely want to read it, and now I can for the prize. I just love the sound of this.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

An electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour.

Just like The Book of Form and Emptiness, I hadn’t heard of this one. But this book sounds like something I could possibly love. I love music and bands, and if this author does what TJR does and makes this band feel real, this could be a potential new favourite. We’ll see!

What longlisted book are you most eager to get to? I can’t wait to get my hands on The Island of Missing Trees myself, but there a few here I’m excited for.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Prize · Most Popular Posts

Women’s Prize For Fiction 2020 | Winner Prediction + My Thoughts On The Shortlist

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Hi Readers!

The time has finally come. In just a few hours we will learn the winner of this years Women’s Prize for Fiction. It’s been a longer wait than normal, what with the event being delayed, like so many other things, due to the pandemic.

But the announcement is almost upon us and with that I think it’s time to round up my thoughts about the shortlist. Which is my favourite? Did any disappoint me? And what book do I think is going to be this years winner?

Firstly, for full thoughts on each of the books (that I read) here are links to their full reviews:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Weather by Jenny Offill
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

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As you can see, despite the extra time we had to read this years shortlist, I still didn’t get to The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. That isn’t because I don’t plan on reading this book, it’s just taken a while for me to get my copy from the library. I’m number 3 on the waiting list now though so not long to wait!

My Thoughts On This Years Shortlist

I have quite polarizing thoughts on the books on this years shortlist. Of the five that I’ve read I found two new favourites, two that I just very nearly DNFed and one that I kind of want to give another try sometime in the future.

I did however notice similarities between the five that I read so I can see why each of them made this years shortlist. They all give voices to female characters who, in history/real life, probably felt like they didn’t have one.

We have a young Dominican bride who’s immigrated to America. A chorus of black woman in Girl, Woman, Other. The wife of a world famous poet and playwrite in Hamnet. The female perspective of the Trojan war in A Thousand Ships. And a modern day wife/mother who has growing concerns about the world in Weather.

I’ll start with the negatives. Two books I struggled with. I feel like they were written in quite experimental ways that just didn’t work for me and I really struggled to get through both of them. Those were Weather by Jenny Offill and Dominicana by Angie Cruz.

I wasn’t too disappointed about Weather because I guiltily went into that with low expectations anyway. But I had high hopes for Dominicana just because I find the experience of an American immigrant to be so intriguing. But I just felt this book had nothing new to offer.

I’d like to give A Thousand Ships another try some day. I really felt like I just kind of missed the point of it because the entire time I was thinking ‘I wish I’d read The Iliad before reading this. Not because it’s necessary to read that first, but because I’ve wanted to for a while and I felt I’d have more of an understanding if I knew more about the Greek myths.

So far, not much luck. But from this shortlist I’ve also found two new favourites and obviously I’ll be routing for one of these to win.

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now but these are Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Both vastly different stories, but they just spoke to my soul and I could feel myself falling in love as I read them.

Hamnet is, putting it simply, a historical fiction about Shakespeares wife and children. It’s poetically written and so atmospheric it transports you to Stratford in the 16th century. It captivated me, and it’s not often I use that word for a book so you know I’m telling the truth.

Girl, Woman, Other is set in modern London and follows a group of black women, losely connected to one another, and each chapter follows a different story. This book is so powerful as it gives a platform for the people in society who are often left out. In the unique way it’s told, we come to learn about 12 black women, each with their own, individual story.

My Winner Prediction

Trying to predict a winner when I technically haven’t read the whole shortlist is going to be a little tricky but I have read Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies so I feel like I can still give it my best shot.

I’ll start with what I want to win. Out of what I read obviously I’m routing for Girl, Woman, Other & Hamnet. Of these two, I think Hamnet has pushed ahead as my favourite (although it is fresher in my mind as I read GWO last year) so I’m wishing for Hamnet to win.

But what would I bet on? This takes a bit more thought because I have to consider what the judges think of the books.

Just based on my personal opinion, I would be a it underwhelmed if Weather or Dominicana won.

I think A Thousand Ships could have a chance. Like I said I didn’t give it much of a chance myself, but it’s premise is pretty powerful and it’s been a while since a Greek myth retelling won the prize.

Hamnet is the book on this list which is freshest in my mind that I loved. It’s just such a beautifully told story, but I wonder if the fact it’s historical fiction might put it in disfavour with the judges.

I think it would make waves if The Mirror and the Light won. It would definitely get people talking about the prize seeing as the previous two novels in this trilogy made the shortlist but didn’t win. For that reason I think this could possibly grab the prize.

Girl, Woman, Other co-won the Booker prize last year (should’ve won outright but lets not go into that now). This, I think, has a big chance of winning and I think if I were to put money on a book, it would be on this one. It’s just so currently significant and it’s popularity has grown despite being put in the shadow of The Testaments. I would cheer if this won.

What do you think? Is your favourite book on the shortlist the one you think will win?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Review

Book Review | Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson


Released: September 2019
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 196 Pages
My Rating: โญ โญ โญ โญ

Hi Readers!

This is a relatively short book, falling at just under 200 pages. But despite it’s length it wasn’t lacking in story or character and whilst I read it in one day it definitely stayed with me for a time after. I can see why this was longlisted for the Women’s Prize, and I can definitely see it making the shortlist.

Opening at Melody’s coming-of-age celebration, this book moves backward and forward through time following the POV of Melody’s family and slowly telling us the story of her mothers teenage preganany and events that followed.

This follows the story of Melody’s family. We begin at her 16th ‘coming-of-age’ party and then travel through the POV’s of her mother, father, etc and slowly learn about her family’s history.

The primary story is of her parents, Iris and Aubrey, who became parents to Melody at 16, and about the affects that had on their family. It delves into each individual characters POV to give a full and rich story that was layered and left me feeling so connected to the characters.

We get multiple perspectives and end up hearing from almost all of the members of Melody’s family. Her mother and father, who had her as teenagers, her grandparents, who helped raise her, and herself at 16. This is a short book but each character was so full of depth and soul and I really felt their emotions and their struggles.

I think my favourite character was Melody’s mum, Iris. She was the most complex and represents the really interesting discussion of women having to chose between being a mother, and being ambitious.

The writing was truly beautiful. It really lifted a story that we’ve all read and seen before in various forms. This was my first Jacqueline Woodson book but I’ve now added all of her other works to my TBR that I hope to read soon.

It’s crafted so perfectly that you don’t even realise all of these threads of stories and thoughts are slowly weaving together to create a full history of this family. I also felt her execution of writing multiple voices was on point. I never felt confused as to whose perspective I was reading and felt their tone and indiviuality really shone through the words.

Favourite Quote

“Guess that’s where the tears come from, knowing that there’s so much in this great big world that you don’t have a single ounce of control over.”

– Jacqueline Woodson, Red at the Bone

Thanks for Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Review

Book Review | Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel… a unique reading experiance


Released: April 2009
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 559 Pages
My Rating: โญ โญ โญ โญ

Hi Readers

Wolf Hall has been on my raider for a while now. How could it not be? Mantel has garnered so much success from her Thomas Cromwell series, having won two Manbookers and shortlisted twice for the Women’s Prize. You can’t really get better praise than that.

She’s the name that’s on everyones lips at the moment and seeing the excitement for the third and final installment made me want to join in. So I finally picked up a copy and gave it a try myself.

Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne and he was a divorce so he can marry Anne Boleyn. This piece of well known history is told from the eyes of the formidable Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith who rose into the being the most influential member of Henry VIII’s court.

This is a very accurately fictionalised account of the divorce of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, told from the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. It feels as factual as any non-fiction but by it being fiction Hilary is able to give the reader the feeling of being in the moment rather than looking back.

It’s like most books. Unless you’re really interested in the subject, in this case the Tudors, then I’m not sure you’d enjoy this book. I also think some prior knowlege of the Tudors is necessary to actually understand the story. Or at least have google at hand because it does get confusing.

There are a lot of characters. So much so that there’s a ‘cast list’ at the beginning of the book in case you get lost, which is pretty much inevitable. A big contributer to this is that everyone pretty much had the same names. There’s at least five different Thomas’s, Henry’s, Anne’s, Mary’s and Richard’s.

Confusion aside Thomas Cromwell is person we spend the most time with. Hilary describes the perspective of this book as being a camera on Cromwell’s shoulder and it definitely feels that way, like we’re viewing the action first hand through him.

I’ve read a bit about this time period, most recently Alison Weir’s biography The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the picture that I got of him from that is totally different to how Mantel chooses to portray him. In history he’s been viewed as a villain but Mantel’s choice of beginning this book with Cromwell being beaten by his father sets the motions for making him a more sympathetic and heroic figure.

I also really enjoyed Anne Boleyn. I’ve always found her so interesting and any time she popped up on the page in this she really stole the scene.

Another source of confusion at times was Mantel’s choice of structure. I actually went back and forth between the audiobook and the physical book for this one because of how lost I sometimes became but I was eventually able to figure it out and get sweeped up in the words.

The confusion came from it not always being clear to me who was being talked about, and the lack of distinction between what was dialect and what wasn’t definitely made it a hard read. I found myself having to backtrack a couple of times to try and grasp what was happening to who.

Saying that though the writing style, once I got used to it, was astounding. In a story full of betrayal and lies Mantel was able to add such touching and humane moments that really made me feel for the characters.

Favourite Quote

“He kissed the infants fluffy skull and said, I shall be as tender to you as my father was not to me. For what is the point of breeding children if each generation does not improve on what went before. “

– Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

Would I Read Again? Yes
Would I Recommend? If you’re interested in the Tudor period, yes.

Thanks for Reading,
Jess X

book blog · Book Prize

Initial Thoughts On The Women’s Prize For Fiction 2020 Longlist! I’ve got a lot of reading to do…

This Years Longlist!

Hi Readers!

Well this is a post I’m very excited to be writing and sharing with you. The Women’s Prize longlist was finally announced last night! Now my plan was to stay up for midnight and do my reaction then but I made the mistake of just ‘closing my eyes’ for a second at 23:30pm and didn’t see the world again until 6am. Oops.

But it’s fine, we’re here now and the longlist has been released. And boy is it an exciting one. I actually don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to get to reading this prize’s longlist. This years judges have picked some amazing books!

My Predictions | How Did I Do?

Just like the past couple of years I’ve tried to predict what books will be on the longlist. This year was my most successful guesses yet! Out of the 16 books on the longlist I predicted 7 of them. I had heard of three others and there are 6 books on the longlist that are new to me.

What’s Missing | Books I Wish Had Made the Longlist

Of course the judges can’t please everyone. There are just 16 spaces on the longlist and there are always going to be books deserving of a spot that just didn’t make it.

There’s two books I personally would’ve liked to have seen on the longlist. Long Bright River by Liz Moore and FrankissStein by Jeanette Winterson. But saying that I’m excited to see so many books on the longlist I haven’t yet read. I never protest to adding more books to my TBR.

There’s also the notable absence of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. But I’m not upset about that to be honest. It’s already had a lot of coverage and I think Atwood would agree it’s good to give another author a spot on this list.

How Many Have I Already Read?

Three. So… I have a lot of reading to do! I do of course plan on reading the entire longlist and 6 of those books were already on my immediate TBR anyway.

The Longlist!

For those who haven’t seen the longlist yet, here it is! How many of these books have you read/are planning on reading?

  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
  • Girl by Edna Oโ€™ Brien
  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Weather by Jenny Offill
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
  • Hamnet by Maggie Oโ€™ Farrell
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

In this years longlist we have three past winners, Patchett’s The Dutch House, Mantel’s anticipated The Mirror and the Light & Enright’s Actress. But they have strong competition from Evaristo, co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize with her multi-perspective book Girl, Woman, Other.

I’ve heard a lot of praise for O’Brien’s Girl and one I’m particularly excited about is Haynes’s greek myth feminist retelling A Thousand Ships. I’m also intrigued by Red At the Bone. Woodson is an author I’ve heard of but never read before so I’m excited to finally give her a go.

We also have some amazing debuts with Carty-Williams’s modern Queenie, O’Farrell’s Shakespearean Hamnet and Anappara’s India set Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

The other authors and books are completely new to me but that’s what I love about this prize. It brings new authors and voices onto my radar. I’m especially intrigued by Dominicana and How We Disappeared.

What books are you most excited to get to?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

book blog

Women’s Prize For Fiction | 2020 Longlist Predictions

A Heart So Fierce & Broken by Brigid Kimmerer (3)

Hi Readers! It’s that time of year again…

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is my favourite book prize. I love that it celebrates female voices and that it’s selection of longlisted books are always so diverse and exciting.

For the past few years I’ve been trying to predict what might appear on the upcoming longlist. I’ve never been close to accurate and they’ve always been able to find books I’ve never even heard of before. But it’s a fun reason to look at and check out recent releases by female authors so I’m excited to do it again.

The official longlist is being announced on March 3rd and when it does I will for sure be attempting to read all of the books on it.

For my predictions I’m going to put them into three categories:

  • Almost Definitely
  • Most Likely
  • Eligible But Less Likely

I’ve also mostly gone for books that I have read but there are a few I just have a feeling about.

Alright, let the fun begin!

*Underlined books are links to full reviews

Almost Definitely

Now I don’t want to be presumptive. But I will be shocked if these books weren’t on the longlist.

Girl, Women, Other by Bernadine Everisto
Co-Winner of the booker prize and an amazing read covering a diverse and large range of women.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The other co-winner of the booker prize. I liked this one less but can’t see this not making the longlist.

The Dutch House by Ann Pratchett
Patchett has been longlistee, shortlistee and winner of this prize before. This was the first book of hers that I’ve read and I kind of fell in love with her. It’s a story about a house, family and forgiveness and I just can’t see this book not making the longlist.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I think this book has what it takes to possible.. maybe even.. win it?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
I really hope the recent controversy of this book won’t dampen it’s chances. It’s a beautifully written dark tale about the relationship between a 15 year old student and her teacher and I just thought it was done remarkebly well.

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
This is the third and final book in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy which has been critically acclaimed since the release of the first book Wolf Hall in 2009. It’s being released tomorrow and there weren’t many proof copies so I don’t know what peoples thoughts of it are yet. But both of the previous books were shortlisted for this prize so it seems likely this one could as well.

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Most Likely

These books are eligible and I think completely worthy to be on the longlist. It’s just whether the judges think the same I’m not sure about.

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
Another Booker prize longlisted book. This is a kind of modern retelling of Frankinstein whilst also being a historical fiction of how Mary Shelley came to write it.

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
I’ve seen people saying it will either be this book or The Confessions of Connie Langton (which I haven’t read). I loved the new perspetive this gave of Victorian london and the increasingly eerie atmosphere.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore
I feel like they always like to have a thriller on the list and I think this ones very worthy of that spot. It’s about two sisters and addiction and murder. It’s very good.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
I haven’t read this yet but I definitely will. It’s a feminist retelling of Greek mythology and I hope the fact that there was two of those on last years longlist won’t hinder the chances of this one.

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Another book I have yet to read (I’m on the waiting list for a library copy) but I’ve heard so much about this book that I reckon it’s in for a chance.

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One of these is a book I’ve read that is eligible but I don’t think will make it. The others I haven’t read yet and don’t know that much about:

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
Actress by Anne Tyler
Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth
Strange Hotel by Eimer McBridge
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Coming Up For Air Sarah Leipciger
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

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Overall here I talk about 21 books… which is five books more than the number normally chosen for the longlist. Could I possibly have the entire longlist right here three days early? Probably not, haha!

What book do you think deserves to be on this longlist?

Thanks for reading,
Jess X