Reviews

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book Depository|Amazon

This…is a really great book.

I’m a little bit late to this party, mostly because I tried once before to read it, and made it to the end of the second chapter before I put it down. I think sometimes it’s just a case of wrong book, wrong time. I’m never going to enjoy a book if there are others I’d rather be reading.

However, I’m immensely glad I finally woke up to how good Seven Husbands is. So, why the 4 stars?

Perhaps a little unfairly, the book lost a star through no fault of its own. Unfortunately, being late to a book party often means that spoilers are very hard to avoid and have kind of entered social discourse (i.e. book twitter) with no spoiler warning. And rightly so; comparatively speaking this book is old. Especially in the world of blogging and book reviews. This meant that I went into the book knowing what was going to happen, there was almost no mystery, and therefore lacked suspense – absolutely not the book’s fault, but nevertheless had an impact on my enjoyment. I’m a murder mystery lover, suspense often means a lot for me.

Having said all of that, I absolutely loved almost everything else.

The pacing, the characters, the story, the writing, even the format of the book – I loved it all. The book being split into parts pertaining to each husband worked really really well for the story, the pacing was amazing – it sometimes took a little while to get a grip on where exactly we were in Evelyn’s life but it didn’t detract from the book. Evelyn’s character is just superbly written. Complex, caustic, yet so completely human – you get a sense of feeling how those around Evelyn must have felt had she been real. She has flaws – major ones sometimes – but as the reader you fall completely for her and are rooting for her from the first page, regardless of how she acts. She’s brilliantly written.

I have to say that I felt very little for Monique, I know the book isn’t technically about her, I felt like a little bit more of her character could have been explored – there was comparatively little and not enough for me to really connect.

Spoilers commence from here———————————-

Celia and Evelyn’s relationship was heart wrenching, with the husbands as secondary yet no less real characters I felt that the over all way the book was handled was masterful. The ending – ouch. Gosh it hurt me, yet felt completely right in a way, and it was something I did see coming from about halfway in.

For me, this is a really refreshing approach to a book and is unlike most other things I’ve read…I love that it makes me feel that way as sometimes I see too many books whose plots are basically just a copy and paste. Not for Evelyn Hugo though – she only gets the best treatment.

This is a book I would highly recommend to pretty much anyone who enjoys the ‘old Hollywood’ vibe, mystery, intrigue, romance and beautifully written characters – it won’t disappoint you.

Yes, going into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo I knew what to expect – I was not, however, prepared for how it would make me feel. Sometimes, that’s the best part.

Where to Start With...

Where to Start With…NetGalley

Free books. Doesn’t that sound AMAZING.

Did you know, with a little work, you can get free books – sometimes highly anticipated releases – before they are formally published!?

In all likelihood, if you are reading this, you have some knowledge of the book blogging world, perhaps you run a blog and read reviews of people receiving these mythical ARCs, getting their hands on books you can’t find yet!

Well I’m here to give an introduction to the wonderful world of NetGalley. Be warned though. This is a cautionary tale.

  1. ARCs – what the heck are they?

The term ‘ARCs’ is actually an acronym – it stands for Advanced Readers’ Copy. These can be physical books, audiobooks or EBooks, though NetGalley is primarily EBooks and, more recently, audiobooks.

Be warned though. Often these books have not been through their final edit, sometimes the formatting and spelling is all over the place. It’s usually pretty easy to contend with but I’ve had a few books that were almost unreadable.

NetGalley is first and foremost built on reviews. Make sure you’re willing to review books after you’ve read them before you join up. If you’re not, it will affect your chances of getting other ARCs you might want.

2. Sign Up!

Yep, before you can do anything you need to sell your soul to the site, i.e. give them your email address and a password (which you will almost certainly forget after a week, don’t worry, we’ve all done it).

Head to either UK NetGalley or US NetGalley depending on where you are in the world. I think there are more links, but if you head to either of these, NetGalley will give you a link to your local site!

Then, you’re in!

3. The Home Page

Welcome to NetGalley’s home page. you will have a taskbar, which looks something like this:

It might be tempting to jump in straight away, but we need to sort some things first. So head to the top left of the page, and next to the ‘Sign Out’ and ‘Help’ buttons, will be your name. Click on this – we’re going to set up your profile and sort out where to send your ARCs!

I’ll leave you to set up your profile yourself, but on the right will be a menu. We need to head to ‘Reading Preferences’:

Once there, scroll right to the bottom,and read the instructions. You can add your kindle email (to find this, go to your devices on Amazon, they have a whole tutorial on how to find it) or you can download the NetGalley app.

4. You’re Ready to Read!

You’re all set up, now to get to the good bit, the books. Head back to the dashboard, you will see a search bar, and a drop down menu:

You don’t have any books yet, so it’s time to find one you like, if you know what you want, go head and search for it, otherwise you can just browse through the recommended books on the homepage.

Once you find a book you’re interested in, make sure to check that it’s available in your country. Then, hit request!

5. The Waiting Game

Now, we wait.

Publishers can take a long time to approve requests, so don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t happen quickly. Sometimes I don’t get approved until after the book has released.

6. So, You Got Approved?

Congratulations, you got your email! You’ve been approved for an ARC of the book you wanted.

Make sure to read the email carefully, it will mostly likely to have instructions on what to do with your review on the book. BE CAREFUL! Sometime the publisher will want the review at a specific time, so make sure to take extra care with this.

Next, head to ‘Your Shelf’ to send/download your book to the platform you registered with.

And now, read the book! But, once you’ve finished, don’t forget to head back to NetGalley and click ‘Give Feedback’ next to the book to let the publishers know what you thought.

It’s important to do this, it’s the primary use of NetGalley, and the reason we are allowed ARCs. Don’t be afraid to say what you thought though, it won’t affect your chances of getting other books.

Then, repeat the process over again, and enjoy your books!

Before you start though, here are some things to bear in mind.

7. Some Things to Bear in Mind

  • Take note of the publishing date of the books you’re requesting and don’t request too many all at once, although believe me, I know it’s hard. You can very easily get overwhelmed by the number of books to read all at one time, in my experience it leads to procrastination. so just start with one, and build up from there!
  • Keep an eye on your feedback rate – this has a direct impact on whether you get approved for some ARCs – general thought is that around 80% is the optimum feedback rate, so try to always give feedback on the books you’re reading in order to increase your chances of being able to carry one.
  • You don’t always hve to finish the book before release date. It’s good if you can, but don’t stress over it. Read it when you can and make sure to give feedback. That’s the most important thing.
  • Badges! NetGalley gives you badges for certain achievements. they are displayed on your dashboard and look like this:
  • Enjoy the experience – it’s cool to be able to read unreleased books, but make sure the THANK THE PUBLISHERS in your reviews, they have, after all, trusted you with an unreleased book. Whatever you think, be polite and say thank you. Manners don’t cost a thing.

8. Freedom

We’ve reached the end young padawan, and now I set you free. Have a play around with the website and familiarise yourself with the interface and search functions.

Don’t be afraid to ask me or any of the lovely bloggers online for help, we’re always happy to assist someone!

Comment any questions below, I’ll be happy to help! And why not try the NetGalley app, it takes a lot of the stress out of reading!

Enjoy!

Credits: The NetGalley logo is the sole property of NetGalley.com, all images used here, though generated by myself, are from the NetGalley website.

Reviews

Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haigh

The Midnight Library by Matt Haigh

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Book Depository|Amazon

Unfortunately for Matt Haigh, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I’m a huge fan of How to Stop Time. It has become the standard by which I judge all of Matt’s books, rightly or wrongly.

The Midnight Library is, in my mind, a good book, but fell short of the things I really loved from How to Stop Time. I keep seeing this book called a sci-fi novel…in my opinion it’s not really, there is a small element yes, I’ll agree with that, but not enough for me to class it as sci-fi.

Nora Seed is dissatisfied with life. Everything is going wrong, and she’s having her worst days, everyday. Exhausting. When Nora gets the chance to live some other lives, she finds The Midnight Library and thus begins a complicated collection of living and dying..at the same time.

The main problem with The Midnight Library is that to be honest, I didn’t really care about any of the characters. I wasn’t really rooting for Nora, and even though we have shared experiences, I found it really difficult to connect with her. It fell a little flat for me.

I was also expecting more from the ending. The middle third of the book originally had the rating at 4 stars, it was ramping up, there were some interesting things going on, my attention was grabbed…and then swiftly released by a little bit of a flat ending. Not a bad one, just not a great one. And a good ending is sometimes half the battle.

All in all, if you like Matt Haigh’s work, don’t be afraid to pick this up. You’ll probably enjoy it. Just, in my opinion, don’t be expecting something on the level of How to Stop Time.

Reviews

Review: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Book Depository|Amazon

Well. Where to start with this. The review and rating are a little different to my usual parameters.

I approached Midnight Sun in full knowledge that I was not to expect a different story to one I’d already heard, or to expect great literature, because we know that’s not what these books are. 13 year old me though? Absolutely ecstatic I’d imagine.

Unsurprisingly teenager-ish, Midnight Sun transported me right back to Forks in a way I enjoyed in a nostalgic way, but in other ways not so much. For one thing, this book could have been a minimum of 200 pages shorter. We do not need that much Edward angst. It’s the whole first half of the book and gets boring real fast.

HOWEVER, once we get past all of that…it has to be said, there is some interesting stuff in here. For one thing, I actually enjoyed learning more of the Cullens’ back story. I rediscovered my love for Alice and Jasper, and the last half of the book was as fast paced and yes, was quite enjoyable as I remember.

I think the secret to reading this book is not to approach it with expectations, don’t expect the writing to be different 10 years on, it isn’t. But if you can put all that aside, you might just find a little enjoyment within those 800 pages.

Is it a good book? No. Did I enjoy parts? Yes.

Am I okay with that?

Absolutely.

Reviews

Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club – By Richard Osman

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book Depository|Amazon

See my review on Goodreads

I received this free from Penguin UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Penguin!

Mild Spoilers – Character Names only.

I’d like to start off by saying I am SO happy that this book is good, it was one of my most highly anticipated book this year and it didn’t disappoint. Having been bought for an amazingly high figure by the publishers I would have been seriously disappointed if this hadn’t been good.

First things first, the mark of a good murder mystery in my book…I didn’t guess who did it, which honestly is refreshing.

This is a ‘cosy’ murder mystery with wonderful characters, an engaging plot and good writing.
It has most of the charm of an Agatha Christie (quite without her edge, and not quite on her level hence the 4 stars) set in a retirement village. The characters are infiniately likeable, Ron and Ibrahim especially, both of whom made me laugh on several occasions. I also cried at the ending which for me does not happen often.
I found Joyce to be frustratingly passive which I forgave on account of the fact that she’s supposed to represent the reader (I think) and Elizabeth was downright annoying at times if I’m perfectly honest. Though one thing I did like about the group as a whole is that they buck the ‘trend’ of old people becoming useless once past a certain age, this book goes to show they aren’t!

At times there were too many unknown elements for me, I felt that it distracted a little from the story, but having said all of that, these are minor issues.

The book is full of warm, REAL characters and I will not hestiate to join them on another enjoyable adventure. What’s more, you can tell that Osman has poured his love of similar books into this, it’s full of his recognisable humour and is a real success for him.

I laughed, cried, and liked this book a lot, as I knew I would, and would recommend it to Agatha Christie fans who need a good mystery to distract from life for a while.

Reviews

Review: The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

The Eighth Detective – By Alex Pavesi

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book Depository|Amazon

See my review on Goodreads

I received an e-arc of this book free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph UK.

Described as an ‘original love letter to detective fiction’ I had incredibly high hopes for this book, further buoyed by the continuing stream of excellent reviews. Although this book IS by all account very clever, intricately woven and, yes, very good…I’d hardly call it original.

Whilst it can be certainly said that the ‘stories with a story’ element is fairly new to this genre, it’s been done before, and with books like The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, this book’s type is definitely out there. A lot of the plots were very clearly directly inspired by Agatha Christie’s works, one of them almost an absolute copy, and the ambiguous-ness of whether this was intentional means that I’m slight put off by the fact that the plots themselves are nothing new.

That said however I did immensely enjoy this book. It was fast paced and twisty, with some real brain work involved which is something I really enjoy about good books in the genre.

Whilst it can definitely be said that some of the end twists were wholly unnecessary, the book as a whole was an enjoyable ride through detective fiction tropes with intriguing and beguiling puzzles throughout.

Pavesi has done an amazingly good job of keeping a complicated plot together in a coherent way without causing the reader to lose their way. I really enjoyed his prose and structure, it made for a quick but engaging read.

Reviews

Review: Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Reviews

Everything I Never Told You – By Celeste Ng

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Book Depository | Amazon

The first chapter of this book was so so promising, and even until around 3/4 of the way through I was confident I would love it.

I’ve heard a LOT about Celeste Ng in the last few months. It’s mainly been discourse about Little Fires Everywhere, but every so often this book comes up too, and since it was her debut (and for some reason seemed slightly more appealing to me than Little Fires) I picked this one up.
I’m glad I did. It wasn’t an awful book, and in the grand scheme of things its probably one of the better written ones I’ve read this year. I was just left with an overall feeling of….meh.

When I’ve finished a book I always look at it and think about whether I will keep it or donate it. And I’m not interested in coming back to this one.

Celeste Ng’s writing is really nice in places. There were some beautiful analogies which just felt different and showed a spark of ingenuity in my opinion, and something else I really liked were the sentences which indicated the future of the character. That was something else which felt fresh about her writing.

MILD SPOILERS FROM HERE————————————-

On to what I didn’t like. Firstly, WHY is a family tragedy ALWAYS an excuse for the husband to cheat???????!!! I really hate this trope which seems to be emerging. Like really really hate it.
Secondly, and finally, this ENTIRE book is on one level the whole way through…there is ZERO dynamic, which is fine in some cases but in a book like this where you’re expecting a big culmination of the plot with some sort of emotional explosion and there is NOTHING, it’s somewhat of a let down, and the reason it lost two stars in my mind. It just did not vary in tone at all.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with how this played out, and although Ng’s writing I think has sparks of something different, the story itself ended up feeling a little flat.