Book Club No.8



Happy Friday you lot! I have been reading so so much on my commute to and from work lately and during my Easter break from work, so there's a lot of back-dated book review posts coming your way, but I'm trying to keep them in order of when I read them so I can keep track! So here's some books I read and finished back in March:

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
Okay so this first one was something I won in a Twitter giveaway and to be perfectly honest, I had never heard of the author or the book but the cover sold me instantly because I mean *look* at it - it's beautiful! When the book landed through my letterboz, I did a little bit of research and discovered that this is in fact Elif Shafak's tenth novel and she is heavily involved in the World Economic forum and has been prosecuted by the Turkish government. This made me realise this lady needed my attention. She's a vastly celebrated author and woman in general for acts such as defending gay rights and arguing about why feminism is important to write about - and not just from a Muslim woman perspective. If you want to know more about this inspiring lady, definitely check out her TED talk where she discusses the freedom writing gives her. But for now, let's talk about the book itself.

The book follows the life of Peri, a wife, mother, and inquisitive woman living her life Istanbul but during an altercation with a homeless man, she has flashbacks to her younger years and questions start to rise again. The book flits between different periods of Peri's life: the present day as an adult woman with multiple responsibilities, to being a child in a household torn apart by religious differences, to her teen years and early adulthood where she explored herself and her beliefs in a western cultural setting whilst attending Oxford University. The whole book is about soul-searching and deals with some many cultural, societal, and religious aspects that I really admire Shafak for tackling in this novel. For a fan of learning about religion, this book has it all and displays it all in such an honest, down to earth way that you can't help but feel engaged throughout the book. It's not the sort of novel I would naturally reach for but I did enjoy reading it nevertheless. If you want to read something that feels incredibly current, that can educate you as well as entertain you, and that will make you question your own beliefs and standpoints on certain topics as you read it, then this is the book for you. You can pick up a copy in various formats here.




A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This next book is something I received as a birthday present from Matt. As soon as I opened it I recognised the name and realised it was because it has recently been made into a movie and I can remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked great. Patrick Ness is an author I've been intrigued by but for some reason hadn't read any of his work until I got this novel. His work can often be found in the young adult fiction area of your local Waterstones and has won many awards for various works he has written. A Monster Calls is no exception to the awards and guys, this is possibly one of the best things I've ever read.

A Monster Calls is about a little boy called Conor. He is in secondary school, he's a young teen, and he's your typical stroppy teenager to boot. However he's got a lot going on at home - his mum's extremely ill, his dad lives with his new family in America and doesn't really spend any time with him, he's got a bad case of bullies at school mocking and beating him up daily, and his grandmother sticks her oar into his and his mum's life and let's just say he doesn't like it. He keeps having a recurring nightmare that he is terrified of and the novel opens with a development in the nightmares - a monster. Not a big hairy or beady eyed beast, but a gigantic tree that keeps visiting Conor and wants to tell him stories. Conor develops a relationship with this monster based on folk lore, morals of stories, questions and honesty. The way the story develops really pulls on the heartstrings and I genuinely struggled to put this book down. It's not a long read and I got through it in 2 commutes to and from work and I genuinely wanted to sit and cry relentlessly on the train reading the ending. It's such a fantastic book for being such a short read but playing on the emotions so well; it's a work of genius. Although it is young adult fiction, it deals with some dark dark stuff that many people come in contact with in reality and can definitely upset the reader. That's in no way a criticism of it - it's actually the thing I loved most about it - but it's something to bear in mind if you're going to pick it up. The wriitng style of Ness is so quick pace and makes you stay engaged and desperate to keep turning the pages whilst also creating such vivid images in your imagination that I honestly felt like the movie version of this was playing in my head as I read. I can't wait to watch the film now. If you fancy giving this amazing book a read, grab a cheap copy of it here.



American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell
My last review is a collection of short stories by award-winning writer, Bonnie Jo Campbell. This book is something I wanted to read after reading my favourite blogger, The Dainty Squid, review it on her blog and she sang it's praises. I usually steer clear of short stories as I find I start to really get into the story and then it's over and I'm left wanting more but having not previously read any of Campbell's stuff before, I thought this would be a good entry route to get a taste of her work. My wonderful American Twitter friend, Akeen, got this book from my Amazon Wishlist and it arrived on my birthday and I was so overjoyed (thanks again dude!). The internet is a wonderful place, don't let anyone say any different.

So, American Salvage is a collection of short stories and those stories all centre around small-town life in the Michigan area. If you ever enjoy that small-town American stereotype, then you will definitely enjoy these stories. Campbell has a great ability to tell stories about characters that are experiencing incredible hardships from domestic violence, to poverty, to alcohol and drug abuse. All of the stories are so very different but all share a great thread of misery, hopelessness, and unfortunately, realism running throughout all of them and tying them all together as a seamless collection. I obviously enjoyed some of the stories more than others and my favourites are The Burn, The Solutions to Brian's Problem, and The Inventor, 1972 (which has won awards). As I said earlier, all of the stories seem so true and real-life for working class suburban America and therefore create a window of insight for the reader, but despite their usually dark tone, there's a weird sense of beauty in how Campbell writes which makes these short stories a quick, easy and great read. Make sure you pick up a copy of American Salvage here.



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