Book Reviews: May Wrap Up

More book reviews!
Another month has passed by in this crazy world. Everyone is continuing to use their time on baking, home workouts, and video hangs. And again, this month I dove headfirst into fiction to escape reality.

Following on from April, I’m going to keep up with sharing what I’ve been reading and my thoughts on them. So I hope you can take some recommendations away and discover new worlds within the literature.

For me, every book is an escape. I fully immerse myself in the place and setting of what I’m reading. In the last few weeks, I have been escaping to North Carolina, France, Poland, London, and finally LA. This is what I love most about reading. The travelling you go through when absorbed in the pages is second to none.

May 2020 Book Reviews from Words by Abi, including Daisy Jones & The Six, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and more.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Rating: 5 out of 5.

At first, I was hesitant to read this book. Everyone was hyping about Where the Crawdads Sing, giving it 5 star reviews. I’m always cautious of books that come across as too popular as I’m normally a bit disappointed when they don’t meet expectations. But something kept drawing me to the book, and finally I caved and got involved. I am so glad I gave this book a chance.

Where the Crawdads Sing Book Review Shot

This is a gorgeous book. The colours that shine through the pages are warm and simply make you happy when reading.

The story follows the life of Kya and shows her growing up in the Outer Banks marshes of North Carolina. While her family leave her one by one, she turns to the wild as her comforter and teacher. This coming of age narrative incorporates a beautiful element of nature writing at the heart.

While reading this, I felt a strong connection to To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my all-time favourites. Parallels can be drawn between the two with the drawled Southern dialects and suspenseful court scene. It is as if Kya is representing a possible outcome of Scout if she didn’t have Atticus’ guidance when growing up. Kya is what Scout would have become.

Child to child
Eye to eye
We grew as one,
Sharing souls.
Wing by wing,
Leaf by leaf
You left this world,
You died before the child.
My friend, the Wild.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a love story with the wild. It’s a fantastic example of romantic nature writing. This book is a perfect escape, filled with poetry and romance of nature. I found every element inspiring for my own poetical explorations and writings.

Kya represents the inner wild child that resides in all of us. I have completely fallen in love with it and therefore I am swept along to join the masses of 5-star reviews. Give it a go and I promise you won’t be disappointed!
NB: It takes a few chapters to get used to reading the Southern dialect, but don’t give up! Top tip – read it out loud in an accent to help you out.

Half a World Away Book Review Shot

Half a World Away by Mike Gaylee

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Again, this is another book that has some high reviews. Unfortunately though, this is a prime example of being left incredibly disappointed and not meeting expectations. It’s as if I have read an entirely different book to those reviewing on Amazon and Goodreads.

Half a World Away attempts to tackle some big themes. The two main characters, Kerry and Noah, are long lost siblings who find each other after being separated as children by social services. The reunion is the centre for the narrative and yet is brushed over because of all the other massive themes.

SPOILER AND TRIGGER ALERT: The book explores separation and drug abuse, as well as miscarriages and cancer.

There was so much potential for this book to explore deeper into the long lost sibling relationship. However, the narration barely scratches the surface and is extremely basic in the characters thoughts. I feel this is mainly because the author took big of a bite to handle.

To me, it reads like YA fiction with topics that are too heavy and difficult to effectively display. Of course, I choked up at points. But that was more because I was reliving my memories and emotions, not those of the characters.

The chapters jump between characters and are written in a train of thought style. It’s too close to Dear Diary sing-song. I found myself getting annoyed at both of them. There was no depth behind the characters, everything was bare on the surface for the reader which makes a highly boring read. The dialogues lack sophistication and just come across as simple in a simplistic book.

Overall, I am glad I only spent 99p on this title and I did enjoy reading it at that cost. However, I would be even more disappointed if I paid the ticket price in full for it.

But my opinion is in the minority, as I said before, most people rave about Half a World Away in other book reviews. Maybe you can look past the holes in the plot and give it a better rating than me.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wow. Where to even start? I loved every page of this powerful novel. The Nightingale is exactly what I focused my undergraduate dissertation on, so of course I am a little bit biased. Often, the position of women of WWII is generally overlooked for obvious reasons. Most wartime literature focuses on the front line action that involve strong male characters, with women supporting on the sidelines. However, in this novel, the author explores and showcases a different perspective of strength in the time of war. Again this novel is highly rated across the board, but it is for good reason.

The Nightingale book recommendation

Did you know there was an underground resistance force in France desperately working to get grounded airmen over the Pyrenees mountains?

The Nightingale is a story about two sisters fighting to survive in occupied France, Vianne and Isabelle. Both live vastly different lives but are brave in their own right. The horrors of WWII are insane. I don’t need to describe anything here. But this book explores a perspective that is less spoken.

The baroque descriptions sweep you away in a classic French Romance manner and place you in rural France. Every detail that piles-up adds more emotion and imagery to draw the reader in.

Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.

Both sisters hold their own and have a depth to them. You can believe these women existed, lived through and survived the German occupation. This book acts as a window to the past and is successful in transporting the reader there.

It’s not surprising that The Nightingale has been picked up by Hollywood. I am looking forward to watching the movie adaptation when it’s released next year.

If you’re lucky, you can still snatch up a copy on Kindle for only 99p! All I can say is, where was this book when I was writing my dissertation?

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It turns out this month had a bit of a theme for me in keeping to the VE Day celebrations. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is fantastic. The narrative style completely contrasts The Nightingale. The plainsong prose states the facts and moves on, almost as if it’s rushing through, skipping details. But then again, a novel about the holocaust needs a fine balance of facts and details. Otherwise the reader will not be able to cope with the horrors.

As the title suggests, the plot follows the life of Lali Sokolov, who was the Jewish prisoner tattooing new arrivals coming into Auschwitz. This is a true story. The author worked closely with Lali in real life to piece together the narrative. Some people are merged into one character, like the guards, as a representation and symbolic view. All in all, this is a work of historical fiction at its finest.

Again, another love story. What is a good book without love weaved in?

It’s hard to imagine people finding love in Auschwitz. However, Lali did and this is his story. For that, it is a beautiful and unbelievable read.

You will honor them by staying alive, surviving this place and telling the world what happened here.

And that is exactly what Lali and Gita did. They beat the odds and have told their story to the world.

With the style being plainer, this book is more accessible to a wider range of readers. I would say anyone could give this a go and enjoy it. While it is a simple text to read, the themes are strong throughout which makes it a winner overall.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 5 out of 5.

And finally, my May ended with a bang. Daisy Jones & The Six is truly sensational and I beg everyone to experience this book. Even though I have read it, I am tempted to give it another go as an audiobook to experience a whole new side.

Daisy Jones and The Six Book Review Shot

Taylor Jenkins Reid presents this story as a transcript for a documentary or interview with the band. Both The Six and Daisy Jones are works of fiction, but they incorporate 1970’s rock n’ roll bands as a whole. Some people have suggested she used Fletwood Mac as inspiration, but you can recognise most bands from that time in the novel.

At first, I was concerned the unusual narrative style was going to throw me off the story and not give the level of details I would have wanted. But in reality it did the complete opposite. Each character adds their side of what happened which creates a whole new level to the depth and layers. It’s funny and interesting to see how each band member viewed a situation differently, highlighting complexities in groups and various situations.

Sex, drugs, rock n’ roll. Daisy Jones & The Six has it all. This book embodies the whirlwind of the music industry and takes the reader along for the wild ride. But it also paints the picture of the struggles that bands go through with group dynamics, conflicts and opposing opinions.

We love broken, beautiful people.

Despite only giving the reader the dialogue of characters in an interview, we still receive raw details and descriptions. It’s almost as if you can hear the music while you read this, feel the sweat and tears.

If you are going to take anything from my book reviews this month, choose this one. Daisy Jones & The Six will not disappoint. I LOVE DAISY JONES. READ IT OR LISTEN TO IT!

So there you have it. My May book reviews and recommendations for more happy reading and escapism.

Are you enjoying reading my book reviews? What have you been reading this month? Have any suggestions for me? Let me know!

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