June 2020 Wrap Up


Hey everyone!

I’ve been writing on this blog for a decade, and I have never written any kind of monthly wrap up! I felt that, since my reading game has been really strong during lockdown, now would be a better time than any to give it a go! I can’t guarantee that this will definitely be a monthly thing, because I’m by no means the fastest reader on the planet. However, I do like to share the books I’ve read with you all, so I thought it would be worth trying it out! I will also say that I have written reviews on the majority of these books, so these won’t be proper in depth reviews on them!

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor

The basic plot surrounds a group of kids in an English town, in the 1980’s, who discover a dead body in their local woods after a series of chalk man drawings are seen around the town. The narrative jumps forwards and backwards in time, so we get two sides to the story from the same character, but at different times in his life. I thought this aspect was really interesting, because you can look at the child’s perspective as well as the adult’s perspective… but overall, it just wasn’t my favourite. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this book, and I rated it 2/5 stars.

[You can read my full review here]

The Color Purple, Alice Walker

The next book I read in June was The Color Purple, and I adored this book. It was the first time I’ve read it, and I just wish I’d read it sooner because it was definitely one that is going to stay with me for a long time! I loved that it was written as letters, and I loved how the story unfolded over time. The content is very difficult to read at times, so bare in mind that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, there were some really beautiful aspects of the book, such as the relationships between Celie and her friends, and her sister. I think this is possibly my favourite read of the year so far, and so I rated it 5/5 stars.

[You can read my full review here]

The Henna Wars, Adiba Jaigirdar

This debut is such a beautifully written story about Nishat, a 16-year-old girl from a Muslim family, living in Dublin, Ireland. Her family moved from Bangladesh, and her Bengali culture is an important part of her life. What her parents don’t know, is that Nishat is a lesbian. This becomes an issue when she decides to come out, because her parents simply don’t want her “choose” this lifestyle. Nishat reconnects with a girl from her primary school, Flavia, who ends up going to the same school as Nishat. She realises she has feelings for Flavia, until the start of a business competition, when the two girls both want to start a Henna business, and so go head to head.

What I found to be a really great detail in this book is that there is a content warning right at the beginning, which says how there are cases of racism, homophobia, bullying and a character being outed. I think it’s so important to include these in books, especially if there are issues being discussed that some people may find difficult. Overall, I rated this 3.5/5 stars.

[You can read my full review here]

The Pale Dreamer, Samantha Shannon

I read the prequel novella to The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon towards the end of June, and I was pleasantly surprised! I wasn’t necessarily planning on reading it, but as I have been reading the series since it came out, I thought it would do no harm to read a bit more about the main characters, before the events from the Bone Season take place. I thought it was really nice to see Paige and some of the gang from Seven Dials working together before things take a turn for the worse in the main series. This novella is only 100 pages, so it was one I read in one day and I would definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of the series! I rated it 4/5 stars.

A Keeper, Graham Norton

I was really surprised by this book. As I said in my review, I was expecting a lot of humour from Graham Norton, as I’m a big fan of his show. However, it isn’t a comedy, but in fact a story about two women, Elizabeth Keane, and her mother, Patricia Keane. However, the story is split into “then” and “now”, so we see the two women in very different times. Patricia is Elizabeth’s mother, and her part of the story takes place in 1970’s rural Ireland. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s narrative takes place in the modern day, after her mother has passed away. She comes home to Ireland to arrange everything, talk to lawyers, sort out the family home… but she soon comes across some letters, and from there, secrets begin to be revealed. I really did enjoy this book, and so I rated it 4/5 stars.

[You can read my full review here]

Goodbye to Berlin, Christopher Isherwood

This is one I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time, and I’m glad I’ve finally got around to it. I didn’t know, until I re-read the back recently, that this book was the inspiration behind Cabaret and having watched Cabaret with my mum and sister at the start of lockdown, it was nice reading this to see how different both texts are. This book was and wasn’t what I was expecting. At 250 pages, it’s not too long. It seems to be written almost as like a diary from Christopher Isherwood’s time in Berlin in the 1930’s, during the rise of the Nazi party. I found the chapters to be quite easy to read, and I really liked the interaction of all the characters. As someone who loves to travel, I related to Isherwood’s experiences with local people in Germany, and it was interesting to read something about a time that wasn’t actually during the war; I think it’s common for people to read lots of WW2 fiction, and not actually think about how it all began, and how it affected normal people. It was such a different read, unlike anything I’ve read for a long time, and so I rated it 4/5 stars.

So that is all for today’s post! I really hope you enjoyed reading it, and let me know if you’d like to see more monthly wrap ups in the future! I’d also love to know what books you read in June, so let me know in the comments!

-Janet

Review on… A Keeper


Hey everyone!

I recently finished reading A Keeper, by Graham Norton, and wow it was a ride. It was the first Graham Norton book I’ve ever read, and it really surprised me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t expecting much from Norton, but I was expecting something funny? I’ve grown up watching The Graham Norton Show, and listening to his commentary on the Eurovision Song Contest, so I just went into this expecting humour.

What I will say is that, the less you know going into this, the better. Even the synopsis on the back of the book doesn’t give too much away; just enough so you can get started.

The story follows Patricia Keane, and Elizabeth Keane, her daughter. The chapters go between “then” (Patricia’s story) and “now” (Elizabeth’s story). The “then” chapters are set in 1970’s Ireland, and how Patricia is dealing with the recent death of her mother. Patricia has been left the house, but as a 30 year old woman who is still single, she has definitely felt the pressure to settle down. It’s when her friend Rosemary suggests that Patricia write to the Lonely-hearts column of the newspaper, to try and find love, that things really start to happen…

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has come home to Ireland, from New York, to settle everything after her mother has passed away. In the old house she grew up in, she finds a box of letters from the man she assumes was the father she never met. Although she has more questions than ever, it seems that not many people in the town of Buncarragh can really help her, so Elizabeth takes it upon herself to find out the truth of not only her past, but her mother’s.

I rated this book 4/5 stars on my Goodreads, because as much as I loved it, (which I’ll go onto in a sec!) I did find the ending fell ever so slightly flat. Throughout the book, I didn’t know what to expect, and maybe the ending was just… too safe? I’m still not sure how I feel about it to be honest! However, I do think that there could have been worse endings, so in all it wasn’t really that bad. The other issue I had was with Elizabeth’s storyline. I just found that, in comparison to Patricia’s, it was kind of boring… I liked the idea of the chapters jumping forward an backward in time, so you figure things out slowly, but I do think that this could have worked really well just as a story about Patricia.

The final issue I had was, although I loved Patricia’s story line, I found her kind of annoying at times. I don’t want to give too much away, but I often found I put myself into her position, and thought of all the ways I would do things differently. She was kind of timid, and I felt that there were so many opportunities for her to get out of the situation she was in.

Negatives over, let’s get onto the positives. I mentioned how this was a book with a plot I was not expecting. It took a turn all of a sudden, which I didn’t know I wanted to read. It was definitely gripping, and it kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire read. I loved how Norton wrote about feelings of loneliness, love and loss, because it really did feel relatable and realistic. I also really liked the crossovers in both Patricia and Elizabeth’s timelines, and how both women experienced very similar things, but in very different times. It showed that although the women had suffered a great deal, they were more connected than they may have originally thought.

So, in all, I absolutely loved A Keeper. It’s the first Graham Norton book I’ve read, and I definitely want to read more from him in the future, especially his fiction. I don’t know too many people personally who have read this, so if you’ve read it, let me know in the comments! What did you think of the story? Or, have you read anything else by Graham Norton that you’d recommend?

-Janet

Review on… The Henna Wars


Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all doing really well. I spent last week reading a brand new release called The Henna Wars which is a debut by Adiba Jaigirdar. She is an author from Bangladesh, who now lives in Dublin. This aspect definitely comes across in her novel, as the main character, 16 year old Nishat, is from a Bengali family who moved to Dublin.

Nishat’s family is muslim, and the idea of Nishat being a lesbian is something her family definitely don’t want to know about. However, Nishat knows that this is who she is, and she doesn’t want to hide it from her family. Along side this, she meets a girl over the summer holidays, Flavia, who went to her primary school, but they haven’t seen each other in years. There is a spark between them, but Nishat doesn’t think she’ll see Flavia ever again. However, to Nishat’s surprise, Flavia starts at the same school. Things will be great, right? Well, once the business competition is announced, the two girls go head to head in a battle between who has the best henna business.

I rated this 3.5/5 stars on my Goodreads, simply because I felt that I was maybe too old for the writing style. I think, had I read this when I was 16, I probably would have enjoyed it much more. However, that doesn’t take away from the story, or the characters. I really liked that there was so much diversity in this book, and Jaigirdar does bring to light a lot of issues that people of colour may face in a city like Dublin.

I think there were parts which were maybe predictable, but again, that didn’t really bother me. I went into this knowing it was relatively light-hearted, even though there are definitely some deep topics such as racism, and homophobia. One of my favourite aspects of this book was the relationship between Nishat and her sister Priti. They’re a year apart, and therefore they are really close. It reminded me a lot of me and my sister, so that was something which I really loved about this book!

If I was to be really critical, I found the first 100 pages took me a while to get into, compared to the rest of the book. But, in saying that, I think the writing style was really easy to read, and I often read over 100 pages a day when I really got into it. It might be because it’s written for a slightly younger audience than myself, but I liked feeling like I was making good progress!

I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you’re in your late teens, trying to navigate life at school, friendships, exams, and of course if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community. Like I said, the fact it’s also written by a Bengali writer made it feel more real, in a way. I liked the authenticity of Nishat’s family life and also it was really nice to read something that shows more diversity all round.

Have you read The Henna Wars? What did you think of it?

-Janet

Review on… The Color Purple


Hey everyone!

I’ve finally got around to reading this classic novel by Alice Walker. It’s been one I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time, and after reading two fairly disappointing books before picking up The Color Purple, I’m definitely happy that I read it when I did! The story is written as a series of letters, mainly between the protagonist, Celie, and God. Later on, there are letters between Celie and her sister, Nettie, and these form as the way the story is told.

This was the first time I’ve read The Color Purple, and it’s also the first book I’ve read by Alice Walker. Having read it, I now know I want to read more of her books in the future. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I went into this. I knew the basic story, but I didn’t know it was written as letters, and I didn’t really know much about how things happened in the story, and why.

I think what made this book special, for me was the fact that it was written as a series of letters. I think it made it so much more personal, and that as a reader, you were really connecting with the secrets and personal thoughts of the characters; especially Celie and Nettie. It felt really raw at times, as well as being heartwarming and heartbreaking, too. I can’t think of too many books I’ve read in the past which have left me feeling the way I do about this book.

I think it needs to be said that there are references to sexual abuse, and of course some racist issues, so in terms of the content it’s not the easiest book to read. However, I loved the way the story evolved, and although there were some awful characters, they all played an important part in the story. I loved the way Celie and Shug Avery’s friendship evolved, and I loved how Celie really grew into herself, and how she grew as a person.

This is a really important book to read, especially right now, and if you’re unsure if you should read it or not, I’d definitely recommend it. I think this is one of those rare and special books that really changes you once you’ve finished it, and I think it’s definitely going to stay with me for a long time!

-Janet

Some Books I’m Excited To Read!


Hey everyone!

I recently filmed a lockdown book haul over on my Youtube channel, and a few days after filming it, I realised I missed one book! Then, my mum was sent some books from her cousin which she recommended and as my mum is really busy doing a teaching course at the moment, she’s handed them to me to take good care of! So, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to share them with you!

Jamaica Inn, Daphne Du Maurier

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might already know the story with me and this book. I started reading it in August last year, and then on my flight home from America, I managed to leave it behind on the plane! After moaning and moaning about what happened for months, I finally got around to ordering another copy off Ebay!

Anyway, Jamaica Inn is a classic, and is possibly Du Maurier’s most well-known novel. I got about halfway through before we were tragically separated, and have been wanting to finish it ever since! I am going to start the book from the beginning again, because I don’t know what page I got up to, and I think it’ll help me a lot in terms of remembering the story if I start from the beginning!

Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

This is one I haven’t read, nor have I accidentally left on a plane! I’ve seen Where the Crawdads Sing has been everywhere online recently, and I’m definitely excited to read it! I can’t say I know to much about the story itself, but I think it’s sometimes better to go into a story not knowing very much.

I do actually have a funny story with this one; I intended to buy it off Ebay, and got so excited by the price (£1.99 for a book? YES PLEASE!) and only after I ordered it, did I realise that I’d ordered a PDF version of the book…. not exactly what I wanted! But, at least it didn’t cause too much damage to my bank account, and it turns out I probably didn’t need to buy it after all!

Transcription, Kate Atkinson

This was the third and final book on this list, and it’s one I’ve actually never heard of before! It’s a historical ficiton novel (one of my favourite genres, so I got very excited when I read the back!) set during WW2 and in the 1950’s. It’s a story about a girl who gets caught up in espionage, and working with MI5 on some mysterious spy stuff… wow, way to sell it, Janet… I don’t really want to give too much of this story away, but if you’re interested in war time fiction, spies, and mystery, I’m sure this will be just up your street! From what I gather from the blurb, Transcription actually reminds me a bit of The Alice Network, which I read in 2018, so I’m curious to see what this story has to offer!

So those are all the books I’ve got recently, that I’m excited to read! Let me know if you’ve read any of them, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

-Janet

Review on… The Bloodprint


Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all doing well. Today, I’m back with another book review, which is on Ausma Zehanat Khan’s adult fantasy novel The Bloodprint. It is the first in the Khorasan Archives series, and follows Arian, a member of the Companions of Hira, whose mission is to end the war started by the One Eyed Preacher and the oppressive spread of the Talisman. When it is thought that the Companions of Hira have discovered The Bloodprint, a script that can bring the One Eyed Preacher’s regime to an end, it is up to Arian and her second in command, Sinnia, to travel on a treacherous journey to find The Bloodprint, and bring it back to the council.

Generally, I think this book had a lot going for it. It comes across as being a feminist text, it’s set in a middle eastern setting and therefore the characters aren’t just white people; there is a lot of diversity, and it also looks at things such as religion, magic, and culture being important aspects of society and history. I think, as the start of a series, this has so much potential, and it was nice reading something with a lot of diversity, and a different perspective on the typical fantasy genre as a whole. I found that I was interested in the storyline the most, and I was curious to see what characters they meet on their journey, what else the world of Khorasan has to offer, and ultimately, what will happen when the characters finally get their hands on the Bloodprint.

However… I did have several issues with this book. Firstly, the world building. From the very first chapter onwards I found I was just a bit confused, and although I was intrigued enough in the plot to finish the book, it took me the entire month of May to get through! The Companions of Hira use an ancient scripture called the Claim to use their magic; however, it’s never explained what the Claim does, why it’s so important, and why these women are the ones who can use it. Throughout the novel, Arian is almost worshipped for being the First Oralist, but again… I didn’t know why that was so important.

Also, unless they are brought back in the books in the rest of this series, I kind of felt that bringing in loads of the companions at the beginning who weren’t actually that relevant to the rest of the story just added a bit more confusion for me. At the back of the book there is a list of characters, and many of them have “alternate” names that they go by; almost like nicknames. But I just didn’t understand why some had so many. This did unfortunately continue throughout the novel, with some of the other characters that they met along their journey. I could see why they added something to the story, but they weren’t always memorable. At one point, they meet the people of the young boy, Wafa, who Arian and Sinnia save from a slave train. They manage to save these people, but once they’ve been saved, I can’t actually remember what happened to them. Did Arian say goodbye? Where did they go? It just felt like they were there for no reason.

I had a bit of an issue with Khan’s writing style sometimes; she often told the story rather than showed it. For example, not only do some characters have other names they go by, but so do some buildings. She could describe these places in such a way that makes the reader feel like they’re reading about something special, but instead she often introduces them as “The Palace, also known as…” And this happened a lot. It annoyed me because I felt that Khan had so much more to give, and sometimes she was nearly there, but then it didn’t go any further.

*SPOILER AHEAD* There is a point towards the end of the story, when Arian and her friends have just found The Bloodprint, after breaking into a Talisman city, and they literally turn around to find they are going to get arrested. There seems to be no fighting, no attempt of escaping… they just give in. There is no explanation, and it just fell a bit flat for me. This wasn’t the only time that Khan just told the story, rather than showing it. The characters at this particular point had just been through a great big fight scene, so I can understand that maybe Khan had to start wrapping things up… but it just didn’t feel right. I had to read that part again, because I felt like I’d missed something.

The final issue I had was the fact that Arian’s love interest kiiiind of had to keep coming in to save the day. For a novel that prides itself on being a feminist story… this was a bit disappointing. There was a whole backstory between these two characters, and it was obvious from the get go that they would rekindle their love by the end of the novel. I’m all down for a bit of romance here and there, but Arian was more than capable of doing a lot of these things herself, instead of… whatever his name is. I know I should know it, but I honestly can’t remember!

Overall, I gave The Bloodprint 2.5/5 stars on Goodreads. Like I said, I really do feel it has potential, and I’m on the fence about continuing on with the series. Part of me hopes that the world building and Khan’s writing style will improve with time, but generally, I just felt that I didn’t really care about the magic system of the Claim, because it wasn’t established enough at the beginning. But, it ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, so of course, I am left wondering what will happen next.

Have you read The Bloodprint? If so, what did you think?

-Janet

What I’ve Read in Lockdown


Hey everyone!

We all know how much of a book nerd I am, and I have really been trying to use this time in lockdown to get through the books that have been sitting on my shelves for the longest time! I have already listed some books that I would recommend to read during lockdown, which you can read here, but for today’s post, I thought I would share with you the books I’ve read so far.

Quickly searches Goodreads Reading Challenge to check which books I’ve read… Speaking of Goodreads, you can follow me here!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I have already written a review on this book, which you can read here, but in short, this was the first book I *finished* in Lockdown, so I’m going to count it! I really did enjoy it for the most part, but I did find that sometimes parts lacked more than others, and I had to focus quite a lot on those parts, which wasn’t my favourite thing about this book. But I would absolutely recommend it, if you want to read a book that gives definite Grand Budapest Hotel vibes. Maybe it was just me. Read it to find out!

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Again, I have already reviewed this book (you can read my thoughts here) so I’ll try and keep it short; I didn’t think I’d love it until the very last page when everything changed. If you know, you know, but bloody hell, Oscar Wilde just went and did that. I personally wasn’t a fan of the poetic writing style that Wilde has, but I think that’s just personal preference. However, for the most part it didn’t take too much away from my overall reading experience. It’s a very short classic, so I’d definitely recommend reading this one!

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This is one I’ve been meaning to read for at least a year now, maybe two. I was absolutely blown away by this book; was it perfect? No. But it lived up to my expectations, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. It didn’t take me too long either; although the content of the story isn’t the easiest to read, I found I really liked Whitehead’s writing style, and it made the story flow. There are parts where the chapters start off in the “present” (for the characters) and then jumps back in time, but once you get used to this way of writing, it’s not bad to read at all!

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

This was a re-read, although the last time I read it was back when I was doing my GCSE’s. I think we’ve all read Of Mice and Men, and we all know the basic story; George and Lennie are living in America during the great depression, and are looking for work. It’s a very short read, and I think I read it over a few days in total. I remember I did enjoy the story when I first read it, but it wasn’t anything super special for me, and I think my feelings remain the same having read it a second time.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Again, I’ve reviewed this one already, which you can read here. This book has been out for quite a few years now, and there are loads of books in the Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I adored this book; I loved that it was set in Botswana, I loved how accurate McCall Smith’s representation of Africa was, and I loved the characters too. I did say in my review, I found sometimes that things seemed a bit easy for the protagonist at times, but I think the point is that it’s meant to be an easy read, so although that was a bit of a negative for me, it didn’t take too much away from the book. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it already!

The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma Jane Kirby

This was the most recent book I finished, and I loved it. You can read my review on it here, but in short, it’s a really lovely book about human nature, and helping others. There are some really difficult descriptions in this book, as it’s about refugees who travel across from North Africa to Italy, and some of the struggles that they are faced with; as well as the struggles faced by a group of friends who try to help some refugees after their boat sinks. If you haven’t read this already, you must! It’s one of those books that will definitely sit with you long after you finish reading it.

The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher by Ahn Do-hyun

I finished this book on the same day as The Optician of Lampedusa, mainly because they’re both the same length, and I was already most of the way through, so just thought I’d keep my reading game strong and finish two books! I don’t know how I felt about this book as a whole; I liked the messages it gave, about how it’s fine to be different to those around you, and that we should treat the environment with respect. I loved the artwork too. However, I just didn’t love it that much. It was just okay for me; I’m glad I finally got around to reading it, but I don’t think I’ll be in a rush to read it again soon.

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

And the book that I am currently reading! I’m about halfway through The Bloodprint, and like the book above, I don’t know how I feel about it. I’ve seen some very mixed reviews on Goodreads about this, and at the moment it’s sitting on a 2 or 3 star rating for me. I find that the writing style is a bit meh, and it could really do with more description on how the magic in this world works. It is a fantasy, and it looks at things such as religion and feminism. I loved the idea, and I think it really had the potential to be a really great book but so far I’ve found myself feeling quite confused while reading it. I am going to carry on and try to finish it, because I am invested enough in the story to see what happens; but it’s certainly not going to be one of my favourite books that I read this year.

So that is all for today’s post! I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought of them… or, let me know some of the books you’ve been reading in lockdown!

-Janet

Review on… The Optician of Lampedusa


Hey everyone!

I recently read Emma Jane Kirby’s book “The Optician of Lampedusa”, and it was one I bought for my mum a few years ago, after it was recommended to me in my local Waterstones’ book shop. My mum is a keen reader, but sometimes it can be hard to find a good book for her if I don’t know what she’s already read!

However, I told the book seller the types of books my mum would be interested in, and he pulled this one off the shelf. It had recently come out at this point, and it’s a story about how a group of friends on the Italian island of Lampedusa helped save a large group of refugees from drowning. At 120 pages, it’s a very short read, and you could absolutely finish it in one sitting. I finished it in two, but that was because I’d started reading it the night before, and was already feeling really tired.

As mentioned, the story follows the optician, his wife, and his friends who go out on a boat in late October, and discover, to their horror, that a large amount of refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. This is based on a true story, but the way Kirby writes makes it feel like a complete work of fiction- that’s not a bad comment by any means. The optician’s name is never revealed, he’s just referred to as the optician. I thought it was an interesting choice by Kirby, because it kind of gives the effect that he views himself as just another normal person, and he doesn’t feel like he deserves to be given a name in this story.

I’m sorry, did the English literature student just come out? Let’s put her back in her shell…

Anyway. Part of me wanted to know his name, but I felt it added to his character. From the beginning he comes across as shy, and kind of reserved but also very modest and kind. As you can gather, he is an optician, and he is a very observant character.

I loved the dynamic between the eight main characters- the eight friends on the boat who saved 47 lives. Kirby really brought them to life, and I felt that they all added something to the story. It’s a really heartbreaking read, from the moment they start saving lives, to the end of the story when the friends reunite a year after the tragedy. It’s horrifying to think how often this happens, and how many countries in the EU use their words to say what must be done… but nothing ever gets done.

Kirby discusses mental health after this tragedy happens, and it’s not a novel about the Optician being a saviour. She goes into detail about the aftermath on their mental health, and how the Optician wishes that maybe he hadn’t gone on that boat, and how different things would have been… I think she really brings out the human side of all of us in this story. Although these people managed to save so many lives, they also live with so many questions; why couldn’t we save more? Why didn’t more people help us sooner? What is going to happen to these refugees?

Obviously, this is an issue that is still happening to this day, and is something that needs to be resolved. I know that while reading this, I felt so many of the same feelings as the Optician. There’s a moment when he thinks about how many other times he’s seen in the news a story about another refugee boat that has sunk, and he’s just seen those people as more numbers, rather than people. It’s a story that really makes you think about us as humans, and what we can do to make a difference to the lives of so many others who need help.

-Janet

Review on… The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency


Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all doing really well at the moment, with all that’s going on! I’ve really been working on my reading game during lockdown, especially as it’s something I’ve always loved to do, but find it’s something I put aside when I “don’t have enough time”. Now that I have all the time in the world to read, I feel like I’m just whizzing through books that have been on my shelves for months, if not years, that I’ve just neglected…

The other day, I finished reading Alexander McCall Smith’s novel The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I can’t actually remember when I bought it, but I have a feeling it was about a year ago, so a fairly recent buy for me. I’ve heard about this book before, and I know that there was a TV series about it, but I never got around to reading it, until now. It’s a book that my mum loves, so I was excited to go into it.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency ...
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The story takes place in Botswana, and follows Mma Precious Ramotswe, who, after the death of her father, decides to set up the first (and only) Ladies Detective Agency. Word gets out, and slowly but surely, she begins to get clients and cases. With each chapter, there is something new that she discovers, and overall, it’s a really fun, easy book to read, at only 240 odd pages.

This is the first book in the entire series, of which there are apparently 20 books, and though I really enjoyed reading this one, I’m not necessarily in a rush to read the entire series. I loved McCall Smith’s way of story telling, and how the stories within each chapter link together in one way or another. Plus, there’s the fact that it’s set in Africa, where I’m from, and I loved his descriptions of it. He really does create the imagery for you to picture in your head, and it was so nice to read because I haven’t read many books that are set in Africa.

One of the other things I loved were the characters. I thought Precious was a great main character, and I liked her “get on with it” kind of attitude. However, I did kind of feel like it was almost all a bit too easy? Though it might show she’s a good detective, part of me felt it was maybe a bit unrealistic… but that didn’t change how much I enjoyed the book as a whole!

So that’s all for today’s post! I really hope you enjoyed reading it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and what you thought of it!

-Janet

Review on… The Picture of Dorian Gray


Hey everyone!

I recently finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde for the first time, and I have to say… it was a journey. It’s one of the most well known classics in English literature, and I was lowkey disappointed in myself for not having read it up until now. So, as soon as I came home from Thailand, I knew it was one I wanted to get started on.

The book isn’t particularly long, at about 241 pages, and I honestly thought I was going to whiz through it in a few days. However, I found Wilde’s writing style really wasn’t my cup of tea, and I spent a lot longer reading it than I’d anticipated. I have to say though, that I really enjoyed the plot, and when I wasn’t reading the book, I was always thinking about it.

Before reading this, I really didn’t know an awful lot about the story, other than that it’s about a really pretty guy called Dorian Gray, and he has a portrait that has something to do with his good looks. In all honesty, the writing style wasn’t the only thing I didn’t like, as looking back on it now, I didn’t particularly love any of the characters either. Dorian Gray, from what it seems, is supposed to be vain and kind of selfish, and the same goes for Lord Henry. I think I like him less than Dorian Gray, but I think that’s the point of the book. I don’t think any of the characters are really meant to be perfect, even though they seem to be perfect in every way. I think the only character I kind of liked was Basil Hallward, but even at that there wasn’t much to him.

I said I liked the plot the most, and I think this story is definitely driven by the plot. I found the first half of the book interesting enough to keep me reading, but it was really the second half of the book that really gets darker, and that was when I really couldn’t put it down. I do have to admit, I basically skipped a whole chapter because I felt that I wasn’t gaining anything from it… but after that chapter, I needed to know where the story was going to go, and I really did not expect a lot of what happened… to happen. It almost felt like it escalated quickly, but it didn’t feel wrong, or out of place.

I really liked how the portrait was like a character in itself, and it added a spooky element to the story, especially towards the end of the book. I think Wilde has done a good job of writing a story about obsession, lies, and deceit, and the fear of being discovered as being something you’re not. Is it a book I would read again? Yes, I think I would. Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you’re already interested in a poetic style of writing. I don’t think you have to be a nineteenth century literature fanatic to enjoy this book!

-Janet