Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | On The Come Up

 

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This month brings the newest book from best-selling author Angie Thomas to the top of my “need to read list.” Following the incredible continued success of her debut The Hate U Give, I’ve been impatiently waiting for whatever she would come out with next.

On The Come Up is an set within the same town of Garden Height as The Hate U Give and while there are many nods to it, this story is its own entity. The reader is introduced to Bri: a teenage girl who is trying to break onto the rap scene. Given all the expectations already placed on her because of her race, music is the one aspect of her life that Bri feels she can fully control.

Angie Thomas just has an incredible way of bringing characters to life on the page and I feel that this reading experience is only enhanced by the brilliant narration from Bahni Turpin – it’s like I’m listening to Bri directly tell her story.

At the time of writing this post I am 53% through.

Have you read On The Come Up? What did you think?
What audiobooks are you loving at the moment>

 

 

Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | The Disasters

After reading the many blog posts from an array of wonderful reviewers sharing their anticipated reads for the year, I stumbled across The Disasters by M.K.England which is a Young Adult Sci-Fi novel comprising of a diverse cast from Muslim characters, to Asian characters and British Characters, to gay and bisexuals all wrapped up in the domain of space.

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I’ve mentioned many a time before that Sci-fi is a genre that I often struggle with, but the concept of this group of teens being the only survivors from a terrorist attack on a space academy, and then being framed for the crime, was enough to make me want to dive in.

For the most part, The Disasters is within the realms of what I can handle. The protagonist, Nax, is from Earth and so is the team he acquires, so there are lots of pop culture references such as Harry Potter. While I really appreciated this because it doesn’t make the story too dense, I have found that it’s hard to distinguish where in the universe they are because their current location on this brand new planet feels too much like Earth. In fact, I sometimes forget that they’re not until one of the characters starts to talk about how they miss their family on Earth.

The tagline for this book also got me excited: “Space is hard. Grab a helmet” sounds like the reader is about to endure extreme, nail-biting space battles. Sadly, that is not the case and instead it’s just a lot of the characters sitting around until everything blows over. At a quite short audiobook (8 hours), I can’t imagine that much of what is seemingly promised is going to come to fruition.

At the time of writing this post I am 56% in.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

What audiobooks are you listening to at the moment?

Posted in adult fiction, lgbt, review, romance

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

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Blurb: “Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?”

Trigger warning: brief homophobia and slurs, emotional and physical abuse.

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is a book that I’ve heard a lot about. Towards the end of 2018, it popped up on everyone’s favourite lists for the year, and I’ve not seen a single bad thing about it. Sadly, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve avoided it: I don’t tend to have good experiences with hyped books. It wasn’t until fellow blogger Sofia kept badgering me to read it whenever I mentioned my next audiobook listen that I finally cracked.

The story is centered around Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo who has decided to come out of hiding to write a book about her life with the help of Monique, a magazine reporter. Evelyn is famous of her many film roles but also the absurd number of husbands she’s garnered along her journey. Monique, on the other hand, is the epitome of the writer stuck in a dead-end job looking for that something to give her life purpose.

I fell in love with this book instantly. The glamour and mystery around famed Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo reminded me so much of The Great Gatsby in the sense that everyone knows Evelyn Hugo, but know one really knows her. The story starts with Monique being informed by her boss that Evelyn Hugo has requested her specifically to write a brief article on her life; when she accepts the offer that story becomes a memoir. The book has multiple narratives: Monique’s, a gossip columnist, and Evelyn Hugo. I went with the audiobook (on several recommendations) and every single narrator – Alma Cuvero, Julia Whelan and Robin Miles- for this book is utterly brilliant. I was completely immersed in every part of the plot, in every single character, and when it came to Evelyn talking about her life, and her many husbands, I often found myself stopping what I was doing just to take it all in. There were many instances where I just forgot that Evelyn Hugo isn’t a real person and that I wasn’t actually listening to an autobiography. I’ve come out of the reading experience feeling like I have learned so much about this incredible woman who lived such a mesmerizing, complicated life only to be faced with the cold reality that she never existed.

Monique fades into the background a lot but always pops up at the right moments to ask Evelyn the questions that I, and probably many other readers, wanted answers to. She is the other side of the coin. Here you have a rich and famous actress spending hours in the same room talking to a magazine reporter who can barely make ends meet, and yet they were able to realise the similarities in their lives; that despite their different classes, ultimately they are both human.

A big surprise in this book is that Evelyn Hugo is bisexual. I say that because none of the marketing that I have seen for the book has mentioned this aspect at all – which is something that would have made me pick up this book a lot sooner. It has gay men, lesbians and bisexuals littered throughout and I feel like this is something that should be shouted about from the rooftops.

It’s been a long time since I finished reading a book and felt such a sense of happiness but also loss that led to me wanting to starting reading that same story again right away, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo did that for me. I will be thinking about it for a very long time.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is a book that I’ve heard a lot about. Towards the end of 2018, it popped up on everyone’s favourite lists for the year, and I’ve not seen a single bad thing about it. Sadly, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve avoided it: hyped books have a tendency of letting me down. It wasn’t until fellow blogger Sofia kept insisting that I give it a go that I finally cracked.

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The story is centered around Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo who has decided to come out of hiding to write a book about her life with the help of Monique, a magazine reporter. Evelyn is famous of her many film roles but also the absurd number of husbands she’s garnered along her journey. Monique, on the other hand, is the epitome of the writer stuck in a dead-end job looking for something to put her on the map and this proposition seems like it could do just that. The book is split into three narratives: Monique’s which covers her life, the events at work (where they currently believe Evelyn will be doing a cover shoot with them – however this is not the case), the “autobiographical” chapters of Evelyn’s stories that act as part of the book she’s working on, and then the gossip columns that follow alongside the past and present of Evelyn’s life.

Quite simply, I am in love with this book. The whole world view of Evelyn reminds me so much of The Great Gatsby and all the rumours that circulate about the mysterious Jay Gatsby. The audiobook has multiple narrators who are all quite simply fantastic. It’s so easy to drop into this world and feel like I’m listening to real people talking about their lives. The narrator for Evelyn has me completely hooked to the point where I actually forget that I’m not listening to a non-fiction book. I’m completely invested in learning about the history of the character.

I didn’t know that this book was gay. It’s several hours into the audiobook before it’s even hinted that Evelyn has an interest in women; and subsequently comes out as bisexual to Monique in their conversation. It’s a shame this hasn’t been pushed more in the promotion or hinted on the blurb because I know a few readers who also weren’t aware of this prior to reading the book.

At the time of writing this post, I am 45& into the audiobook and I just can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? What did you think?

What audiobooks are you listening to at the moment?

Posted in Audiobook Of The Month, Uncategorized

Audiobook Of The Month | The Humans

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After getting into Matt Haig’s books last year, and one of them making it onto my list of favourites for 2018, I’ve decided that I really want to read more of his back catalogue so when I was scrolling through audible desperately trying to find my first listen of 2019, I came across The Humans. 

The Humans is about an alien who comes to earth and takes over the body of Professor Andrew Martin. The unnamed narrator has been sent to stop the humans discovering the answers to a mathematical theory. Initially, this summary didn’t really interest me, but I adored the writing style in How To Stop Time so I took a tiny leap out of my comfort zone and decided to give The Humans a go.

A lot of my pure enjoyment from this audiobook so far comes from the narrator, Mark Meadows. He is simply fantastic. The delivery of the lines and the tonal usage really makes the funny and witty moments land perfectly and I’ve found myself laughing out loud many a time at my desk during a work day. Of course, part of this falls to the clever nature of the narrative constructed by Matt Haig. The narrator talks about walking around naked and being confused about why the police have been called on him, not understanding why on earth someone would have a wife, and learning the human language through magazines such as Cosmopolitan.

It’s a short audiobook – standing at just over 8 hours- so I’m wondering where exactly the story is going to end up given the length.

At the time of writing this I am 29% into the audiobook and loving every minute of it.

What audiobooks are you listening to this month?

What were your favourites of 2018?

Posted in contemporary, review, thriller

Monday’s Not Coming – Tiffany D. Jackson

“This is the story of how my best friend disappeared. How nobody noticed she was gone except me, and how nobody cared until they found her… one year later.”

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Blurb: “Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumours and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.”

Monday’s Not Coming is a book I didn’t really hear much about until I saw Tiffany D. Jackson talking about in on the Epic Reads channel talking about what inspired her to write it. When children go missing they can be the front page of newspapers, the breaking stories on a news channel. But what if they aren’t from a rich background or a “perfect family?” What if they’re a different ethnicity and their absence barely making a ripple in the water?

Monday’s Not Coming is a YA thriller centered around a girl called Claudia who’s best friend Monday Charles has gone missing, and no one seems to notice or care: her phone is disconnected, her friend’s mother won’t get her a straight answer – much less her siblings – and when she contacts the police they don’t follow up her concerns. The story flits around the timeline, for before to after, to one year before the before, allowing the reader to piece together who Monday is, her friendship with Claudia, Claudia herself and the wider issues starting to face them. There’s talk of the estate Monday’s family lives in being torn down to make way for fancy rich apartments, Claudia’s mother telling her off how using slang instead of proper English because she wants Claudia to integrate more, Claudia herself falling under the radar and later being diagnosed with learning difficulties after the school didn’t take her lack of development seriously, the handling of the investigation as a whole. Simply: no one wants to listen to Claudia going on about her missing friend and it’s nothing short of infuriating.

I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Imani Parks who has made it onto my list of favourite narrators. Her voice is just magnetic and she breathed life into Claudia’s character and I was invested from the first paragraph. Every emotion conveyed by the narration I felt deep in the pit of my chest. I wanted to scream, to have someone take this teenage girl’s concerns seriously.

Navigating this story is like trying untangling a pair of headphones. When you think you’ve finally worked it all out, you find out there’s still a knot you missed. I didn’t know what to believe, or what the outcome would be and the pacing was incredible.

As mentioned earlier there are a lot of elements woven in that deal with the treatment of black individuals and their families which I cannot relate to or feel comfortable commenting on, so if you know of any own voices reviews, please let me know!

The only real issue I had with this book is the timeline. It jumps around a lot and not in a way that is really clear. I would have preferred maybe a “September 2016” rather than a vague “before the before” because the narrative is so crisp that it’s hard to tell when thing are actually taking place and I did have to restart chapters sometimes to understand when they were happening.

Monday’s Not Coming is a terrifying book full of twists and turns with moments that will make you despair.

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Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | Becoming

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Unless you’ve been living under rock which has been buried several feet underground, you’ve probably heard of Michelle Obama. For eight years she was First Lady of The United States of America, but as a non-American I only saw bits and pieces of what she used her position to create. So it’s pretty helpful that she decided to write a book all about her life! I always have to listen to non-fiction on Audiobook because I really struggle to read these kind of books otherwise; it also really helps hearing the individual tell their own story and Michelle Obama is really soothing to listen to.

The book starts at her growing years, laying down her roots and detailing the significant memories she has such as her piano teacher and the application advisor at Princeton who told her she didn’t stand a chance of getting in. She talks about the moment when she started to be treated differently due to the colour of her skin along with seemingly small events that she didn’t realise the weight of until she looked back on them with an adult perspective.

I’m already learning so much about her life, but one of the big reminders I’ve received is that Michelle Obama is just a person. It’s easy to see her as almost ethereal after seeing her talk strongly about women’s issues, racism and education in public and watching her reside in the White House for eight years. It feels almost too easy to forget that fundamentally she’s a wife and a mother as well as an activist.

I am really enjoying listening to the audiobook and at the time of writing this post I am 22% in.

Have you read Becoming? What did you think?

 

Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | Monday’s Not Coming

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We’re so close to Christmas that I can almost taste all of the gingerbread lattes and walnuts I’m going to consume! I’m also back to wearing cardigans so it feels like I’m in my  true form again.

This month, I’ve been listening to Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson and I was already sold on the premise, but hearing the author talk about the book on Epic Reads made me add this to my TBR and impatiently wait until release.

The story follows Claudia whose best friend Monday goes missing. She’s not on the register at school, her phone is disconnected and her parents seem unwilling to talk to her. While becoming very much a mystery novel as the narrative fits around in time to build up Monday’s character and her relationship to Claudia, there is a big emphasis on how missing white children are investigated compared to POC children. Monday’s absence barely makes a ripple in the water.

After the disaster of my last audiobook, it’s such a relief to get one with a really good narrator. This is narrated by Imani Parks who is doing a fantastic job of bringing life to Claudia.

At the time of writing this I am 37% in and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story is going!

Posted in Non-Fiction, review

When They Call You A Terrorist – Patrisse Khan-Cullors

“We are not terrorists. I am not a terrorist. I am Patrisse Marie Khan-Cullors Brignac. I am a survivor. I am stardust.”

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Blurb: “A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free.”

Note: I am fully aware of my position of privilege and that there are some aspects it’s not my place to discuss. If you know of any own voices reviews, please let me know and I will add them here.

I discovered this book after Patrisse Khan-Cullors was a special guest on the bookish podcast Mostly Lit and I found her incredibly compelling to listen to. When she read a snippet, I knew I needed to hear her story in full and, of course, I decided to go with the audiobook as I feel this is the best way for me to consume non-fiction.

When They Call You A Terrorist is split into two parts: the first focuses on Patrisse’s life growing up, while the second documents what led to her becoming a co-founder of Black Lives Matter. I expected it to be centred on the latter but as I continued to listen, I became so invested in Patrisse’s life. She talks about growing up in her neighbourhood, her family and how she started to notice particular things as she got older such as how the white girls at her school face no reprimands for smoking weed whereas she ends up in handcuffs. She openly addressees how frequently people she knows are stopped by the police because they happened to match the description of someone who robbed a store, and if the same sort of thing happens to white people. For example: “how many skinny white blonde men have been pulled aside simply because they matched a description?”

Her brother, Monti, forms a lot of the narrative which I found incredibly difficult to read. Frankly, the treatment he’s received is absolutely disgusting and just highlights how much of a stigma there is around mental illness.

As someone who has seen the movement of Black Lives Matter from the media side and conversations online, it was really interesting to see the “behind the scenes” of how the movement started and grew to something more than could possibly be imagined. What I took away from this book, besides the important discussions on diversity, is the reminder that Patrisse Khan-Cullors is just a person. When you think of big movements fighting for change and hear the name of/see the person leading at the front, it’s easy to forget that they are a real person with feelings and life experiences just like everyone else. She talks candidly about struggling with her sexuality, loss, and growing up.

The phrase “it’s a difficult read but it’s so important” is thrown around a lot in refers to books dealing with current events. But if you’re looking for just one to read, I highly recommend you listen to Patrisse’s story.

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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

Eve Of Man – Tom & Giovanna Fletcher

“She represented the rebirth of the human race. She was the answer to their prayers. She was all they cared about; their final hope. Eve was the saviour of humanity. I am Eve.”

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Blurb: “All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past. But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate. Until she meets Bram. Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom. But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?”

I’ve been a long-time fan of both Tom and Giovanna Fletcher independently, so when I saw the announcement that they had written a book together, I was both excited but very wary. Tom Fletcher is a children’s book writer, known primarily for The Christmasauras, and Giovanna is a romance writer, known for Billy And Me. So not only were they merging together, but also stepping into a new area of the book world as Eve Of Man is the first in a Young Adult Sci-Fi series.

To start with, I was very anxious because I wanted to love it, and throw aside all my preconceptions as they are new to YA and many adult authors etc. have made a successful transition. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Charlotte Richie and Josh Dylan, and honestly don’t think I would have gotten through this book without it. Because it’s a bad book. A really bad book.

Eve of Man is pitched as an “unconventional love story” and yet with the premise of the story, it does little to surprise the reader. Eve is sixteen, the first girl born in fifty years and now about to be palmed off to any boy who might be capable of ensuring the survival of the human race. Eventually she realises her situation is wrong and starts to rebel. There was a lot of buzz shortly after the release regarding gender sterotypes in the book. It’s, again, predictable but not really surprising that it’s rigid in binary as the point we’re introduced to the characters is when Eve is deemed ready to bear a child. The reader is doused in layer upon layer of information about how the world got to this point, revealing how the woman suddenly stopped carrying girls to full term and methods that were put into place. There are a few hints to other sexualities but these are very much brushed over and I was more concerned that in this Handmaid’s Tale-esque aspect there wasn’t much attention brought to what happened to infertile women.

The story is told in two perspectives: Eve and Bram. It’s first person, meaning the reader gets into the route of their thoughts and to be honest I found Bram infinitely more interesting. Eve lives in this place called “the dome” which is essentially her prison. The regular communication she has is with a hologram called Holly who has to be operated by a pilot in order to interact with Eve. Bram is one of these pilots which was super interesting and destroyed my previous idea that Bram would turn out to be one of the suitors. His perspective was great in showing what was going on outside of Holly’s world from the government interference to the people rallying in the streets, demanding Eve’s freedom. However, the narrator was so bland that it just didn’t make him feel real. There was no real change in voice either for characters so I often had to rewind to work out who was speaking. Eve’s narrative wasn’t necessarily bad but I just didn’t really care for her.

In terms of the writing, what I gathered from the audiobook is that Eve very much has Giovanna’s usual writing style and will be comforting to those familiar with her other works. My main issue was that Eve didn’t’ come across as sixteen. As for Bram, Tom’s writing is quite simply a mess. It’s very clunky and could have done with a lot more buffing around the edges. Both perspectives had the issue of information dumping both in the sense of “telling rather than showing” and the reader is constantly having bits of knowledge thrown at them that isn’t really needed; a lot of it was information that the writer needed to know to form and understand the world, but wasn’t vital for those reading. It always seemed to come at the worst times. For example, there’s a dramatic section in the latter half of the book with Bram and the action is suddenly halted for a few minutes while the reader is given the history of the room. All that build up is suddenly halted and it was hard to get back on board after being steered off track.

To me, Eve of Man  was a book with a lot of potential but completely fell apart in the execution.

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