29 March 2017

Paris for One and Other Stories // I May Have Only Fallen Head Over Heels For Two Stories But I Still Enjoyed It

Published: 9th February 2017
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Short Stories
My Rating:
From the #1 "New York Times" bestselling author of "Me Before You" and "After You," a sensational collection featuring the title novella and eight other stories. Quintessential Jojo Moyes, "Paris for One and Other Stories" is an irresistibly romantic collection filled with humor and heart.

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away to anywhere before. Everyone knows travelling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up for their romantic mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone including herself wrong. Alone and in Paris, Nell uncovers a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, "Paris for One"is vintage Moyes as are the other stories that round out the collection."

Paris for One
Between the Tweets
Love in the Afternoon
A Bird in the Hand
Crocodile Shoes
Last Year's Coat
Thirteen Days with John C.
The Christmas List
This is a book I knew little about. I simply requested on Netgalley after seeing the name of Jojo Moyes because she is an author I want to read more of. I saw they were short stories and thought that would be a great way to get a feel for some more of her writing as I simply knew her for writing Me Before You. I’m glad I requested it as I can see Jojo Moyes is an author I should explore a bit more. She writes books about people and I want to see what she would do with a different story. I will be watching out for her at my local library.

I will begin with the fact that this book is mainly made up of short stories which appeared in magazines so the majority are quite short and thus rather unsatisfying. They have the potential to develop into a lot more but they themselves are simply snippets of characters and situations which I found interesting but they didn’t satisfy my appetite for a good story. I kept waiting for more and they ended instead. There were only two stories which truly stayed in my mind and they were the longest ones. It goes to show Jojo Moyes’s writing skills are evident when she had a little bit more room to develop characters and story. When she’s writing small pieces you get a taste without ever feeling invested. Basically, I’ll only really be talking about Paris for One and Honeymoon in Paris. They were both stories I loved and they both made me want to go to Paris.

Paris for One was amazing. It was sort of like a version of Just One Day for grown ups. I think it’s the falling in love with a stranger in Paris that gave me the vibe. And the limited number of days together influencing somebody to change the way the act. Those things definitely gave me a strong urge to reread the Just One Day books a whole lot. Anyway, the story itself was fantastic, I could relate to Nell’s nervousness and unwillingness to try new things which makes her exploration of Paris all the cooler. And when she starts hanging out with a heartbroken Frenchman she gets over her anger at having a suckass boyfriend and learns to live her life for herself. It was sweet and awesome and will make you want to go to Paris. Like… a lot.

Then there was Honeymoon in Paris which was also great. I don’t want to say that the Paris setting worked for me in the two stories and made me love them but it did. I think I liked it because it wasn’t just the story of one couple and their honeymoon but two linked through time via one painting. It was just great seeing the relationship between these two couples and the way in which they push each other through their misunderstandings and the reasons for them falling in love marrying. It was truly awesome and a really good story and was smart seeing the connection.

So, if you feel like reading an interesting collection of short stories, sure go ahead, but to be honest, there are only two stories which will truly hooked you (at least that’s the case for me). I can’t recommend it to you but I won’t discourage you either. I enjoyed it and considering last time I checked it was £6.49 on Amazon I would recommend giving it a go but be aware you may only love two of the stories… but they are two really good short stories.

What are your thoughts on short story collections? And what is your favourite Jojo Moyes book?

27 March 2017

Five Reasons To… Read And Love You’re Welcome, Universe

5 reasons
I recently read an absolutely fantastic book. I bought it by mistake (sometimes you add stuff to your basket and click buy when you intended to just save it until later) but I had no regrets in buying it. Once I began I knew I would love it. The style of writing and the characters themselves and then the fantastic story all added up to hook me right in. I couldn’t figure out the words to explain my love for this book and then I remembered I like to rave about books and the perfect way to do it was give you all five reasons to read it.

You’re Welcome, Universe – Whitney Gardner
Published: 7th March 2017
Source: Bought
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
My Rating:
A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

Diversity Out The Wazoo

Seriously, I loved the fact that this book wasn’t trying to tick the diversity box. It didn’t force it but instead simply was. The main character was deaf, and she was proud of being part of the Deaf community. She didn’t see why she had to change herself to fit the ‘hearies’ instead she questioned why she had to adapt to their world. She was also an Indian MC with two moms and that wasn’t a big deal. She was accepted by those around her and she accepted herself and that was awesome. I know one of the biggest complaints about the publishing world is the lack of representation as people fail to see characters who are like them. This book definitely succeeds in showing that it isn’t difficult to include diversity as this one does it without it being a problem.

The thing I really loved about this book was the fact that there were multiple characters who were deaf and the fact that they were all part of the Deaf community and it was just awesome. I especially loved her moms. That’s a whole other point, though.

Present Parents

Now, having lesbian parents in a book is not ground-breaking. I loved it but the actual reason I loved Julia’s parents is actually because they were so present and involved in her life. One of my biggest pet peeves in YA books is when parents are just utterly absent. I mean, I get parents being the enemy in YA, they so often feel that way as a teenager. I get bored of seeing bad parents in books, though. I know they feel like the enemy but most parents aren’t bad ones and I do find the whole bad parent trope boring. To see Julia’s two moms suspicious of her, checking up on her and inspecting her bag was great because that’s what parents do. When you get expelled from a school you don’t get complete trust from your parents and I liked that. I liked seeing Julia sitting with her parents over a meal and chatting about her day and getting annoyed with them when it feels like they’re spying. I liked seeing genuine family life with one parent who feels a little guilty and gives small gifts, like cool new boots, even if they aren’t necessarily deserved. I want that kind of parent in YA because that is the kind I know and recognise. I want more awesome parents and strong family bonds.

The Integration of Art Into The Story

Art, graffiti more specifically, plays a major part in this story and so the fact the book features artwork throughout to demonstrate art from the story was fantastic. I am not always the best at visualising things in a book so I really enjoy seeing things to support the story. The only thing which would have made it better was if the artwork was in colour (I would buy a special edition if they did that). It felt like the colour of the artwork would have added something a bit extra as a lot of thought went into the colour choices. That may just be me, though.

The Friendship

I love when a book features friendship of any kind and this one is all about friendship. This is most definitely a book where our MC Julia learns no man is an island. She forms this fantastic friendship with YP without intending to and it was awesome. She connects with her purely on accident and then the friendship she develops is brilliant not only for her but YP as they both accept each other just as they are, something they haven’t had much of previously.

There is also an element of toxic friendship and often who we view as friends can take advantage. Often toxic friends aren’t acknowledged but this time it is and Julia goes kind of an extreme way of showing she is better friend (and some might question if what she does makes her a worse person) but it was satisfying to see the contrast between good friendship and bad and even when a good friend betrays you it is very different to just having a bad friend. Just everything about friendship in this book is right.

The Story Felt Real

Okay, we can’t all relate to graffiti artist dreams and I got confused about some of the slang used (it made me feel old and out of touch) but Julia felt like a very real character. She was a teenager who acted selfishly and impulsively and didn’t think about others all of the time but she felt like a real teenage girl. She could be selfish but then she would go out of her way for YP even when she didn't truly consider her a friend at that point. She could do something to prove a point and act like a crazy self-destructive psycho but also be really sweet. it was insane and I love that because that is how you act as a teenager. Consequences come later and I loved the path she took to apologise. I just really enjoyed it.


Learning Deaf Culture

I cannot say for certain, I know no one who is deaf, but I felt like a lot of work went into making the representation of the Deaf community accurate. Like the alarm clock where it seemed like an earthquake and the way, there are short names for people which get chosen for you. The way that too often when you have an interpreter with you people will speak and look at the interpreter rather than looking at who is doing the talking. It was small, it was the little things like people muttering about Julia’s use of her phone to type communication as the youth of today and the embarrassment of learning she’s deaf. And her quick dismissal of having an implant to hear when she feels she’s not missing anything by not hearing. And her outrage at the ESL class and how much she didn’t enjoy English with all the grammar rules. Just every part of Deaf culture and the difference between being deaf and being Deaf was amazing.

As you can see I loved this book and I think you will too. It is a fantastic read which is real and interesting and included characters which felt real. Have you read this, what did you think? And can you recommend books which will make me just as excited to read?

26 March 2017

Sunday Summary // 26.03.2017

 photo sunday summary_zpsutc6nw4v.png
How has it been a full month since my birthday? Where has the time gone? I mean, how don’t know how it has all passed so quickly, we’re practically in April now and I am very much not ready for that.

It was a bit of a sad week this week, and also a frustrating one. I won’t go into the details but one team has now officially been made redundant. It was sad to see them go but they had all successfully gotten other positions both in the company and outside so at least I could be happy that they were going on to other things. Their leaving did coincide with us being told who was moving over from another office which is closing and being told we were getting lots of extra work and also finally got a confirmation date for moving office. Or a provisional date as long as everything doesn’t go wrong so yay! It’s all changing at my office right now. At least I know I won’t run out of stuff to do for a while.

Anyway, work is boring. I talk about work an awful lot. It’s where I spend a lot of my week, after all. This week I’ve had less of a social week. I was planning to see Beauty and the Beast with a friend but it was sold out and when we got to the cinema the queue for the screen was snaking towards the door. I’m glad we decided to go see Get Out instead, which was a good film if a little weird and very funny. I get why it’s gotten such good reviews, I really do.

Apart from the cinema, though. It’s been a slow week. I’m busy next week so I kind of feel like I’m trying to chill before that. Also, it’s mother’s day today here in the UK so I have to spend the day celebrating the awesomeness of my mom (pretty damn awesome). I’ve not bought her a gift because me and my brother already paid for her getting her hair done a couple of weeks ago (her request, not our idea) but I will be spending most of the day with her rather than my usual pyjama day. At least the weather is meant to be nice this weekend, I may try and persuade her we should go out somewhere.

What I’ve Been Reading

303183062530929433224718Ancillary Mercy
Another slow week of reading, really. I stayed up way too late reading Gemina on Sunday night (like 1am and five hours sleep too late) and so I was in bed dead early the next day and did basically no reading. I picked up and put down Jaeth’s Eye a few times. Ultimately, I don’t think I’ll be finishing it which annoys me because I want to like it but you know when your mind drifts when reading? I keep doing that and I know if I persist much longer I will actively not want to read and that is not where I want to be. To try and counteract that I was trying to read Ancillary Mercy as well, which would have been fine but I was still suffering some sci-fi hangover from Gemina so then I had to switch to something completely different in the form of Geekerella (because I saw Nick liked it) and that cured things a bit for me. I have then returned to Ancillary Mercy which I’ve enjoyed a whole lot more after having a book to break the sci-fi up with.

New To Me

30095464rookie movehard hitterdark made dawn
Oh, my excellent skills at not buying things went right down the drain a little this week. I was buying all the things and it all started with The Bone Witch which technically I bought a while ago but it took a while to be dispatched. I’ve not read it yet as I am majorly daunted but I’m hoping it’ll be good. It was then a slippery slope with Rookie Move going on offer for Kindle and so I had to buy Hard Hitter as well because I’ve been dying to read it. I know it’s only three books but I bought nothing last week (apart from freebies). I do feel proud that I’ve seen a few Kindle books go on offer that I’ve wanted to read but I’ve made the decision to visit my library instead.

And then there was Dark Made Dawn which is actually a review copy but I’ve only had the one this week so I included here. I still need to start the second book in this series but I’m hoping it’ll be good.

That’s my week, it may not have been as eventful as weeks past but it’s been good. How has your week been?