book meme

WWW Wednesday | 04 Aug

Welcome back to another WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and the three Ws to be answered are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?


I’m currently reading How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie. This has had a lot of hype around it’s recent release, and I was very much looking forward to it. It tells the story of Grace, who is writing from prison, jailed for a crime she didn’t commit. The twist is that she has actually killed 6 family members.

Despite really looking forward to this, I’ve been finding it very slow, one-note and overall disappointing. You’re told the conceit about her having killed 6 family members in the blurb and in the prologue, and then what follows is a really long and quite tedious recounting of how she did it. It’s not particularly fun, or funny, or interesting. I’m almost at the end and I don’t foresee my opinion changing on this one, unfortunately. It’s just not for me and I’m struggling to see what others are seeing and loving in this one.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Since my last check in, I finished Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O’Donoghue (2.5 stars), Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn (4 stars), The Mountain Sings by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (rtc, 5 stars) and Summerwater by Sarah Moss (rtc, 5 stars). I was blown away by both The Mountain Sings and Summerwater, and I heartily recommend them both!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think once I’ve finished How To Kill Your Family, I’d like to pick up either Cecily by Annie Garthwaite (a historical fiction that follows Cecily, mother to two future kings of England) or Plain Bad Heroines (a gothic horror following a secret society in a girl’s boarding school in 1902, and then also set 100 years later when a book is written about the events at the school and then adapted into a film). Have you read either of these? What did you think?

book review

Review: Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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TW: miscarriages, bereavement, infertility, terminal illness, suicide

Thanks to Tandem Collective and the Viking Books UK for the gifted copy and the chance to take part in the Tandem Collective readalong.

Conversations on Love is a nonfiction book all about love. Natasha Lunn has interviewed a wide range of experts and journalists, interspersing these interviews throughout essays that span romantic love, friendship, family and all the issues you can face with these kinds of love. Lunn writes eloquently and engagingly, and no topic seems off-limits for her.

The book is split into three parts: how we find love, how we sustain it, and how we survive when we lose it. These parts are then broken down into smaller essays. I found the structure somewhat confusing, often meandering and repetitive. The essays were inconsistent in length and I don’t necessarily think they were broken up in the most organised or logical way.

The third section, how we survive when we lose love, was by far my favourite – and is the reason I’ve rated this book four stars, as I think that section would be five stars just by itself. I really appreciated Lunn’s openness and honesty in this section – it was equal parts heart-breaking and hopeful. The interviews were also inspiring. Of course, I think that perhaps people will feel more connected to different parts of the book depending on their personal situation – having lost someone relatively recently, this final section really spoke to me. If you are currently looking for love, the first section might be just for you.

There were a lot of interesting and thought-provoking points throughout the first two sections – things that I nodded my head to, or wanted to underline – but I also found it slightly repetitive, and sometimes too self-help-y. I found the essay on friendship particularly frustrating and unrelatable – I thought Lunn was looking for people to back up her point of view, and didn’t do her interviewees justice, as she only wanted to ask them about what was related to her.

It’s a really big thing to write a book as open and honest as this one – I think Lunn will have poured a lot of herself into this, and I find that really admirable. For me, I found this book hit and miss – some parts were inspiring, others not so much. I would suggest it’s one you dip in and out of, based on your need or interest, rather than read straight through, as I did. That last section on loss and grief, though, is well worth the ups and downs of the rest of the book.

book review

Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O’Donoghue

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O'Donoghue | Hachette UK

Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Scenes of a Graphic Nature follows lost 20-something Charlie, who feels like the world (including her best friend, Laura) are passing her by and moving while she is stuck in the same place, due to a disappointing career and the stress of her father’s terminal illness. Charlie grew up in England, but has been recording her Irish father’s memories over the course of his illness – and when she gets the chance to visit her ancestral home, she jumps at it. However, Charlie soon starts to discover that maybe her dad wasn’t telling the truth about a tragedy that happened to him when he was a child, and so she starts to dig into it.

I think that by reading that blurb, you might get a sense of what the major problems are with this book. And that is that there is just too much happening. Scenes of a Graphic Nature is a confused that novel that doesn’t know whether it wants to tell the story of a lost woman trying to regain some purpose in her life, or the more thriller-esque story of a woman who uncovers a buried conspiracy in a small Irish island. By the end of the book, its told neither of these stories – it sacks them both off at about 75% of the way through to tell an underwhelming romance instead.

I wish that I was being hyperbolic here, but we genuinely are left with so many loose ends that I don’t know why any of these weren’t questioned by her editor. We never get any closure to her relationships with her parents (quite a large part of the first half of the novel) or her best friend Laura (again, quite a large part of the first half of the novel). She doesn’t quite work out what really happened on the island, and is instead just told it in the very last chapter by someone else (in an explanation that doesn’t cover why certain people on the island – like Donal and Benjamin Barry – were being so vicious and horrible towards Charlie). She forms a relationship with a woman who, when she is assaulted and almost drowned (!!) by someone on the island, that she doesn’t have much sympathy because at least she didn’t have an abusive husband.

I think the reason that I am so obviously wound up about this is that Caroline O’Donoghue can write. The writing is engaging, Charlie isn’t particularly likeable but she could’ve had interesting growth, and I flew through the book because of her easy writing style. But unfortunately the plot really let this down for me, and I’m unsure whether I will pick up anything of hers in the future.

book meme

WWW Wednesday | 14 Jul

Welcome back to WWW Wednesday, which is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and the three Ws to be answered are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O'Donoghue | Hachette UK

I’m currently reading Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O’Donoghue. I actually picked this up because I’d been listening to her Sentimental in the City podcast with Dolly Alderton, and was interested to see what her writing is like.

Scenes of a Graphic Nature follows lost 20-something Charlie, who feels like the world (and her friend, Laura) are passing her by and moving on while she is stuck in the same place, due to a disappointing career and the stress of her father’s illness. Charlie grew up in England, but has been recording her Irish father’s memories over the course of his illness – and when she gets the chance to visit her ancestral home, she jumps at it. however, Charlie soon starts to discover that maybe her dad wasn’t telling the truth about a tragedy that happened to him when he was a child, and so she starts to dig into it.

I’m about 1/3 of the way through this novel, and I’m enjoying the writing style – it’s very readable. Charlie isn’t necessarily that likeable, but not in a bad way; I think she’s got a lot of growing to do, which hopefully we’ll see over the course of the book. I also wonder if there are too many threads (the conspiracy around the tragedy in her dad’s past seems out of place at the moment) – but again, maybe they will all link beautifully by the end!

What did you recently finish reading?

When She Was Good - Cyrus Haven (Paperback)

I finished When She Was Good by Michael Robotham as part of the Tandem Collective readalong (this was gifted to me by Tandem and the publishers, but all views are my own). I enjoyed this book – I found it gripping, and I thought the characters were well written. However, I didn’t find the relationship between the two main characters (Evie and Cyrus) very convincing – there was a lot of telling us they were very close, but not much showing us. I also thought the ending was rushed and wrapped up too quickly. I’ll write a full review soon but I think this will probably be 3 stars.

I also recently finished House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, which I really enjoyed – you can see my review here – and Animal by Lisa Taddeo, which I still need to write a full review on.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I don’t know yet! I’ve been reading less ‘serious’ or heavy books recently because that’s just what I’ve felt like, and now I feel ready to sink my teeth into something a bit more serious. My favourite books of the year so far have been: Homegoing, Pachinko, Transcendent Kingdom and The Manningtree Witches. I would really like to read something with similar vibes/style to any of those books – does anyone have any recommendations? Thank you in advance!

book review

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City 1) by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I approached House of Earth and Blood by SJM with much hesitation, as I have never finished a series by SJM. I’ve read the first couple of books in the Throne of Glass series, and I’ve read A Court of Thorns of Roses, but I always lose interest when she brings in alternate love interests. This isn’t necessarily her fault, I guess I’m just resistant to change. I’ve always been this way. Even when I was reading YA at the height of its craze, when every single YA novel had a love triangle, I always sided thoroughly and unwaveringly on the side of whichever guy the main character had fancied first. So, it always irked me that SJM introduced love interests and then seemingly discarded them when she got bored with them.

So, yes, I wasn’t sure that I was going to read House of Earth and Blood, but I’d seen some good reviews and then a while back it was 99p on Kindle, so I thought why not? And I’m glad I did download it! I really liked the urban fantasy setting, which had phones and the internet alongside angels, fae, witches, wolves and vampyr (to name but a few). I thought SJM did a good job of building the feel of the world, if sometimes the details were a bit lost in translation – it felt real, even if I didn’t fully understand all of the hierarchies going on. And I also enjoyed the Adult genre of the novel; it felt a lot like From Blood and Ash and other Jennifer L. Armentrout books to me, which I really enjoy.

This book felt very long (I was reading it on Kindle and it took a while for me to feel like I’d made any progress) and I do think the first 100 pages or so took a little bit of perseverance, especially because I knew there would be a time jump after the first section. But once the novel got going, it really grabbed me and I struggled to put it down, especially in the second half.

My favourite thing about the novel was the characters – SJM just writes such likeable characters! I really liked the depiction of Bryce and the way that she was dealing with loss – it struck a chord and I definitely got a little bit teary at times. I also liked the way that her relationship with the love interest developed – it wasn’t too instalove-y. Even though you knew that they’d get together, I thought it felt really organic, and I liked the development of the friendship before the romantic relationship.

What more can I say? This was a really enjoyable, addictive and fun adult urban fantasy – if you like Sarah J. Maas’s other novels, or From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I think you’ll love this!

book review

Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid | Waterstones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Publisher: Del Rey

When the Holy Order of the Woodsmen arrive at a pagan village hidden by the forest, they are there to take a seer for their weak, power-hungry king. But the village has a plan – they will send Évike, the only girl without magic in the village, in the place of the seer. But Évike soon learns that there is more to fear than the king – such as his strong, pious pagan-hating second son, who wants the throne for himself so he can cast out all pagans, and the feelings she develops for a seemingly cold, one-eyed Woodsman on the journey to the castle.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is a beautiful fantasy novel inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish folklore. This novel at times felt like a celebration of Jewish culture and religion. It was brilliant to see such heartfelt representation of a much under-represented group in fiction – and I think this element will feel incredibly important and moving to a lot of people. It was great to see such representation, and to read something a bit different/learn more about other cultures.

The world building in this novel is truly amazing – Reid creates such a magical yet brutal world. It feels equally like a fantastically magical fairytale and like something that mirrors the pages of our history books, as she tackles the dark and complex themes of nation building, ethnic cleansing, cultural genocide and religious persecution. To do all of this (and to do it well and sensitively) within one book in which she also builds a highly detailed world and complex, lovable characters is quite the feat and I’m in awe of how much she got done in one book.

Reid brings this novel and the characters to life with beautiful, lyrical, haunting prose. I loved Évike, who was spiky, determined and holding on to a lot of hurt. Gáspár, the love interest, is complex and nuanced and I loved the way he developed over the course of the novel. The world is so well crafted and the novel was gripping – I felt completely immersed in it when I was reading, and I didn’t want to stop.

There’s so much to love about this novel and I highly, highly recommend that you pick it up! Through gorgeous prose, Reid created an unforgettable world and cast of characters, and I’m excited to see what she will do next!

book review

Review: The Rules of Revelation by Lisa McInerney

AD – Gifted. Thank you to Tandem Collective and John Murray for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Publisher: John Murray

Pub date: 13 May 2021

Genre: General fiction/Irish literature

Content warnings: Child abuse, rape

The Rules of Revelation follows four women from Cork (Karine, Mel, Georgie and Maureen) and the person that connects them all: Ryan Cusack, an ex-drug dealer turned musician.

I was kindly gifted this book by the Tandem Collective and the publishers. Though it’s the third in the series, both advise that you can read it as a standalone if you wish. I’ve not read the first two books in the series (the first of which is Women’s Prize and Desmond Elliot Prize winning The Glorious Heresies) – and though I did follow what was happening, and do agree that it works as a standalone, I do feel like it’s probably best if you read it as the third book. You can tell that the characters have rich backstories, and it feels a shame to miss out on all of that character development.

Having said that, I loved a lot of things about this book. I think Lisa McInerney writes beautifully, truly immersing you in the world. Cork is basically a character in the novel – you can’t divorce the story from the setting and she develops it so well. I don’t think that her writing style will be to everyone’s tastes – it’s a bit fragmented, jumping between multiple narrators without any signposting, which takes a little while to get used to. This didn’t bother me so much, but I think it could irritate others.

I find it really interesting that Ryan is the main character of this novel but the only narration we receive from him is in the form of explanations of the origin of each of the tracks on his album, written to Karine and sporadically inserted into the book. The rest of the narration is from the four women. This is an interesting way of telling someone’s story, but the more I thought about it, the more I was less sure about it. I think maybe something didn’t sit right with me about these four women essentially all telling Ryan’s stories and not their own. They did all have their own arcs, but they definitely weren’t the centrepiece of the novel.

The downside to reading this as a standalone was that I couldn’t tell when something was underdeveloped or whether it was in a previous book in the series. I really liked Mel at the beginning, for example, but I found her plot petered out quite quickly and for the most part she was just a bystander. She had the potential for a really interesting, deep character, but she was underdeveloped. The threads of her storyline that were picked up at the end had pretty much been forgotten about by the preceding 80% of the book.

Karine also got little to do, other than participate in the romance, which I actually found to be the weakest part of the novel. I was rooting for the characters (and again, might have loved them more if I’d read the previous two books) but didn’t necessarily feel invested in it as I was reading. I would’ve liked more time devoted to other characters instead.

I enjoyed a lot of things about this book – McInerney’s writing style really gripped me and I found it difficult to put down. She is clearly an accomplished writer, and reading this does make me want to go back and read the first two novels in the series. I do wonder if I would have rated it higher if I had not read it as a standalone, though.

book review

Review: Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Publishers: Windmill Books

Genre: Historical fiction

Pub date: 22 Apr 2021

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I was very excited about Cunning Women and loved the premise. It’s set in 1620s Lancashire, after James I had published Demonology and when God-fearing communities suspected anyone different of being witches. Sarah and her family are healers, who live away from the village and suffer their judgement while selling them healing salves and poultices on the side. When Sarah meets Daniel, son of the wealthiest man in the village, she starts to imagine another life for her and her family.

I love stories about witches – I recently read AK Blakemore’s The Manningtree Witches, set in a similar time, and adored it – but for me, this book really fell flat. It was essentially just a love story that happened to be set in 1620s Lancashire. And though that’s not really what it sells it as, I would’ve been able to get on board because I do love romance novels. But the romance in this book is instantaneous and inexplicable – Sarah and Daniel see each other for a moment and then are obsessed with each other for the rest of the novel, for no apparent reason. It felt unrealistic and therefore I couldn’t get on board with it and so didn’t care about it – and as that was the driving force of the novel, I really started to struggle.

I also found the plot weak – there’s a ridiculous part where the main character puts on the outfit of a milkmaid (so a clean dress and a bonnet) and no one recognises that it’s her! Even people who have seen her up close. Other than this, there isn’t too much plot to speak of, and I found picking the book up quite a struggle. Reading it definitely began to feel like a chore.

This book certainly wasn’t for me, and I wouldn’t recommend it to others either. If you’re looking for something witchy, I definitely recommend The Manningtree Witches. This novel is compared to The Essex Serpent on the blurb, which isn’t a fair comparison (they aren’t alike at all), but The Essex Serpent is also another book you should read instead of this one!

book review

Review: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Pub date: 1 June 2021

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The promotional materials for The Other Black Girl describe it as The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out – I would say this is pretty accurate, though more weighted on the Get Out side of things. The Other Black Girl follows Nella Rogers, an editorial assistant and the only Black employee at Wagner Books. She’s delighted when Hazel, also a Black girl, joins the company – but before long things start to get weird between them, and Nella starts to receive notes telling her to leave the company.

The Other Black Girl is an intense and thrilling read. I thought it was paced really well – Harris leaves enough breadcrumbs throughout to build the tension, which meant that it carried the slower parts of the novel for me, because you always want to know what the hell is actually happening. This novel combines a sort of horror-esque vibe (though, if you’re not a horror reader, don’t worry because it’s not actually scary, more wild/suspenseful) with a commentary on racial tensions/relations (and outright racism) in the workplace. The author brought these episodes to light really well – and it (sadly) felt all too real and realistic, making you feel for Nella and feel rage on her behalf. This is really insightful and interesting commentary on racism in a majority white workplace, and as someone who works in publishing, it’s a lot of food for thought – and I hope it will spark a lot of conversation and the industry and what people can do better.

Where I think the book falls down is the coming together of the different narratives and plots in this book. I felt like the horror element could have been pushed much, much further (as I said, it’s not scary or even that creepy, just suspenseful). I also think too much was left to resolve at the end of the book, and I felt like the different threads didn’t necessarily gel very well (the thread about Kendra Rae and Lynn felt like it wasn’t really wrapped up, and I feel like it wasn’t all that clear what was actually happening). Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed it and found the whole book fascinating, thought perhaps the last chapter was unsatisfying.

The Other Black Girl is a well-written, gripping novel, and I think there’s so much to unpack/discuss about it and its commentary on race especially.

book meme

WWW Wednesday | 26 May

Welcome back to WWW Wednesday, which is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and the three Ws to be answered are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?


I’m currently reading The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. I’m about 75% through it. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews of this one, and I really liked the first 50% but I’m not sure about the next part of the novel. A lot of people say that it’s not like anything they’ve ever written, and I’m not feeling this yet – it feels like a typical thriller to me. I’m hoping maybe something amazing/very surprising is going to happen in the last 25%.

I will say it’s very readable and engrossing though – I read that first 75% all in one go!

I’m also listening to an audiobook of The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie. I only started this one today so I don’t have much to say about this.

What did you recently finish reading?

After a very slow start to the month, I’ve not done so bad recently!

I’ve finished:

  • The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. I really enjoyed this and I posted my review today, you can check that out if you’re interested.
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. I found this a really fun and cleverly plotted YA mystery. Though you do have to suspend your disbelief, once you’re over that, it’s a really enjoyable ride and it keeps you guessing! My review is here.
  • The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. This was my first Agatha Christie book, it’s the first Miss Marple and it was also my first time listening to a fiction audiobook! I really enjoyed this – I think it’s the perfect sort of book for audiobook, and I loved the humour and vivid characters Agatha Christie creates. The narrator was Richard E Grant, who does a really good job of bringing her characters to life. Though slightly convoluted, I also thought the mystery was pretty great, and Christie writes the sort of closed-room mysteries I prefer.

Overall, it’s been a really good reading week!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I don’t think I’ve successfully predicted what I’m going to read next for approximately the last 2 months or so… I’m reading aimlessly with no rhyme or reason! But I’m enjoying it, which is what matters. So I think I will just see where the next week takes me and will let you know next Wednesday!

Have a good week everyone!