Friday, October 1, 2021

Crying in H Mart by Michell Zauner Book Review

Crying in H Mart has received a lot of attention and hype online and there's a good reason for this. In Michelle Zauner's memoir, she tells us what it was like growing up as the only Asian American in her school, her often strained relationship with her mother (which was more relaxed the summers they spent in Seoul at Michelle's grandmother's house) and life since her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when Michelle was 25 years old.

 Zauner is unflinching at times when discussing her mother's illness and the devastating effects on her family, the book is so raw and brutally honest. It shows the difficulties of being a carer for someone who is sick and the states you nurse them through. There is also tenderness and love, as well as humour to lift the mood at times. The title of the book stems from the H Mart shops in America, a brand of Korean supermarkets. Zauner speaks a lot about Korean food, the role it played in her life growing up and as an adult, to her mother's relationship to it during her illness, as well as how Zauner has used it after her mother died as a way to help process her grief, stay connected to that side of her culture and find comfort. A tough read at times but an interesting one

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry Book Review

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry book cover, which features bright vector art of a woman on a unicorn float in a pool with a man sitting on the side of the pool with his feet in the water. The background has mountains and palm trees
Poppy and Alex have been best friends ever since college. Despite being polar opposites of each other (Poppy is free spirited, loves adventure and travels for a living. Alex is more stable, has a job as a teacher and knows he wants to settle down in life), the two really get each other and are probably the most relaxed and honest versions of themselves when they are together. Every year they've gone on some epic summer trip, except they haven't spoken in 2 years after falling out. When Poppy gets a chance to plan another trip for them to Palm Springs, she's hoping it's just what they need to heal their friendship. Or maybe she should just start being honest that her feelings for Alex are more than just friendship?

This is a cute opposites attract, friends-to-lovers story. I liked seeing their friendship evolves over time and adapt to their new lives and new partners. We get the present storyline of them in Palm Springs where the first days are a holiday and the last few days are dedicated to the wedding of Alex's brother. We also get flashbacks from when they met and each holiday they had over the years. The flashbacks are what make this a fun summer read, as you get to explore these new locations with the Poppy and Alex and as there's not a lot of travelling being done at the moment, it's pure escapism. Vancouver Island, New Orleans, Nashville, Italy, San Francisco to name a few of the locations.

I was rooting for Poppy and Alex throughout the novel, it's hard not to. But I did find the book to be a bit slow moving at times. Part of the reason for this is the number of flashbacks. They met 11 years ago and we see a snippet from nearly all of those summers. While it's interesting to see their friendship and see how their feelings over the years change, to actually reach the point of them acting on this happens after we're at 2/3s off the way through the book. Which is a bit late for me, as there's not a lot of time to see them enjoy this realisation. I think if you don't mind a longer build up, you may enjoy this book more than I did. Overall I did like the book, it was a fun summer read, it's perfect to read lying in the sun!

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman Book Review

The follow up to the hugely successful The Thursday Murder Club, we return to Cooper's Close and the 4 main characters again: Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron. When Elizabeth receives a letter from a dead man, inviting her to meet him, she's intrigued by this mystery and goes to visit him. What follows is a tale of stolen diamonds, the mafia and death threats. This man asks Elizabeth to help him and due to their long and complicated history, she agrees. However, as dead bodies start to pile up, are the 4 in over their head?

I enjoyed coming back to 4 friends, they're very different but you can tell they all really care for each other despite these differences, something that is really shown in a subplot with Ibrahim. The story is a bit outlandish but I don't mind this, you can suspend believability and just go along for the ride. Especially because Elizabeth is a such a fun, interesting character (anyone else see Helen Mirren playing her in a screen adaptation?!). There's a few twists and turns in the story to keep things interesting. I do think it's a bit crowded at times character wise, with the 4 main characters and then giving us personal stories for Donna and Chris (two local police officers who are friends with the Thursday Murder Club). I find these storylines with Donna and Chris (Donna a lonely almost 30 year old female police officer and Chris, midlife overweight, unmotivated police officer) a bit cliched as well. I'm also not a huge fan of the chapters that are written like Joyce's diary, they change the flow of things. If you were a fan of the first book, then I think you'll like this one as well. A cosy mystery, like a modern day Agatha Christie

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary Review

 

Cover for The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

Addie and her sister Deb have just set off early in the morning, for the long trek to the Scottish countryside for their friend Cherry's wedding. They expect it'll be a fun road trip, (even if they are giving a lift to stranger Rodney who is also going to the wedding) with plenty of time to get to the day before the wedding BBQ. However the plans changes when early into the trip, there is a fender bender with another car. Unfortunately, the two people in the other car are Addie's ex Dylan and his obnoxious best friend Marcus! Both of who she hasn't seen since her relationship ended and who are also going to the wedding. With Marcus and Dylan's car now out of action, they squeeze into Deb's Mini Cooper so they can all reach the wedding on time. But this road trip turns out to be anything but easy!

The plot has two parts: the current timeline of the gang trying to make it to Scotland on time as well as the flashback timeline which starts at Addie and Dylan meeting and works it way up to their breakup. Addie and Deb were working as housekeepers in Cherry's family's French villa, which was being rented out to wealthy families. Dylan ends up staying there and this is where he and Addie start their relationship. This setting, as well as the road trip plotline, makes for a fun summer book. Living in the French countryside and being on a road trip are two very summery things in my mind, so I really enjoyed reading this book, outside in the sun. I liked the road trip element a lot, there's lots of things that go wrong, I also like the tension of two exes being forced to share this small space and reflect on their relationship. Rodney, being a bit of an odd character and also a stranger to the others, adds an element of comedy and bizarreness. I found the flashback plot a lot slower at times, it's obviously needed to show why the couple broke up but it slowed down the road trip plot, which I felt more invested in. Overall I liked the characters though Marcus confused me a bit at times, how nasty he is to Addie felt almost unwarranted. I felt like compared to The Flatshare and The Switch, this book didn't have as much charm and feel good energy. I do think that if you liked Beth O'Leary's other books, then you'll enjoy this one as well though, the road trip portion is super fun

I received this ebook free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to post a review on here and all thoughts are my own

Monday, July 12, 2021

About Us by Sinéad Moriarty Book Review

Copy of About Us by Sinead Moriarty is standing upright on a wooden table on the left side of the photo with some yellow and pink flowers in an old glass milk bottle on the right

'Three Couples. Three Love stories. One Couch'

Today is my day for the About Us by Sinéad Moriarty bookstagram tour. I was very kindly sent a copy by Penguin Books Ireland and decided to share my review on here as well as on Instagram.

About Us follows 3 different couples:

•Ann and Ken are in their 60s and Ann is feeling lost now that all her kids are grown up

•Alice is struggling as a stay at home mother to 4 kids while her husband Niall is resentful that she no longer has the time or energy for him

•Orla is a young teacher in her 20s who is falling hard for one of her pupil’s dad but she is unsure if her past relationship fails means she is unable to be intimate

They each end up on the couch of Maggie, a sex and relationship therapist. Can each couple work through their problems and discover what’s best for them as individuals too?

This book sucked me in, I devoured it in a day or two! I was completely wrapped up in all the stories. Each couple is at a different stage in their lives, all with different relatable sex and relationship problems. It felt balanced, every character has flaws. Mostly told from the women’s point of view (it changed every chapter), we sometimes see it from the men’s point of view too which helped ensure it wasn’t all one sided

I liked how with one couple it was the woman who suggested the therapy but with another couple it was the man, it gave a sense of balance and realism. The progress the characters make in therapy isn’t linear, they hit bumps in the road which is realistic to real life therapy. You can tell it was well researched by the author

Throughout the story, one of the main feelings is hope. You’ll be rooting for the characters to do what’s best for them and find their happiness! The lives of all the characters also slightly overlap outside the therapist’s office which is sometimes I love in novels. For example Orla lives with Ann’s daughter and while they don’t have many scenes together, the scenes they do have are sweet

If you like stories about the complexities of relationships, this is the perfect read to immerse yourself into this summer!

Release date 15th July

This book was sent to me by Penguin Books Ireland for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Authenticity Project by Claire Pooley Review

Do you like books where people are connected, sometimes without even knowing they are, and how they all impact each other lives? Then this might be the book for you!

Julian Jessop is an eccentric artist in his 70s who is lonely. He writes his story in a green notebook, being open and honest about his life and leaves it in his local cafe. The owner Monica finds the book and is so touched by his story that she decides to reach out to help him. She’s so inspired that she too writes in the notebook and leaves it on a stranger’s table. From there, the book has 6 people who write in it, who all cross each other’s lives and eventually meet in different ways.

It’s a cute uplifting novel, a feel good summery read. I read it very quickly as I was enjoying it so much. The characters are not perfect, they have their flaws and we get to hear what they’re thinking as it rotates the POV for each chapter. It is slightly cheesy and predictable at times but it’s still charming and overall I enjoyed it



Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi Review

 

Cover of Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi packs a punch. Jayne is in college and barely keeping it together, stuck living with a freeloader who isn’t her boyfriend, her only friends are those she parties with and she has an eating disorder she’s in denial about. Despite all this, she’s happy she’s in New York City, at least it’s not Texas. Her successful sister June is also in the city, but the two sisters have been estranged and haven’t spoken in years. Suddenly June contacts Jayne to tell her that she’s sick with uterine cancer. Their lives are slammed back together with this news, which isn’t always easy sailing. But will the sisters be able to help each other through their illnesses?

Jayne is a hot mess, for a number of different reasons, yet I still found her compelling. Sometimes when characters are written like this, as unpredictable and unreliable, it can be over the top. But it felt authentic with Jayne, as more of the story goes on, you can understand how someone would spiral like this. The book is so raw at times, painfully so. The portrayal of an eating disorder is brutally honest and could be potentially triggering to some people

Family is at the centre of this book, the ways they support and hurt you, sometimes at the same time. Jayne and June have a tumultuous relationship, which at the core has a lot of love. I enjoyed seeing the sisters reconnect and seeing Jayne rebuild other relationships (including the one with herself). This is being marketed as a YA book but I would say it’s more New Adult. Jayne is in college, I would say she’s 19-20. I think teens could read it, but this book covers a lot topics like racism, eating disorders, sexual assault, cancer with raw honesty and anguish


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