Wednesday, May 10

April Book Reviews


Now I know the world believes it is May, but let's say for the sake of this post that it is still April ( and so that I don't have to re-edit the above image).  I was technically supposed to have these reviews written and published in March but you know me, I am a total disarray of a blogger. Recent events (hospital, surgery, chest infection, asthma... ) in my life became priority and so I do have a valid excuse ( this time )

My April book reviews features 3 books I have been very keen to read. One was sent to me, one was borrowed to me and one was bought almost 2 years ago. I was very excited to read all three of these so my expectations had been very high. And I'm happy to say there were no (major) disappointments.


Title: Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the R.M.S Titanic
Author: Iain Reading
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Stars: ★★★★
Origin: Sent to me by book publicity services

This 4th instalment in this series is located around Ireland and England. I got very excited when I found this out as you all know I live in Ireland and have been to London a few times. So naturally I was very picky when it came to reading the book. I wanted the descriptions of "beautiful rolling-hills Ireland" to be perfect. For the most part it was very accurate but I found it had a very tourist view on Ireland. A sort of western idea of what it is like here. The start irritated me because it seemed like madness having an opening day for some sushi restaurant and a sumo-wrestling match on Grafton Street.  On top of that there was an emphasis on Irish food like stew and Guinness and Whiskey. It's so stereotypical. I mean my staple diet is pasta and lasagne. Not very Irish now is it? But I won't get too bogged down by this as technically Kitty is a tourist visiting Ireland and so of course she's going to try the most "Irish" of things.

The second thing that bugged me was Kitty herself. Up until this point in the books she had been such a great role model and strong female lead.  I don't think she had enough time to grow and develop in this one. She was just missing that kick-ass-ness. Replaced more by badass-ness. She did some pretty reckless things that I admire but also dislike. She wasn't the hero she had been in the previous books.

Before you start thinking I've only negative things to say I must point out that there are so many wonderful elements to this story. The Kitty Hawk books are all so educational and fun that they only compete with themselves. From the four books my favourite topic is definitely the titanic in this one. I have a HUGE obsession with the Titanic. Always have. That and Anne Frank are my favourite parts of history even though they are extremely sad. I knew a lot about the titanic but this book definitely taught me some really interesting things. There is a bit near the end where Kitty googles some interviews from the titanic enquiry and finds some piece of information that helps them solve the puzzle. What's amazing about this is if you google the same thing - there it is! Mind blowing. I love how factual this book is and how Iain manages to tie it all into this gripping story.

I must mention Newgrange. If you don't know what that is then shame on you. I actually studied Newgrange in Art and all about the details on the stones so when Kitty was visiting there I was nodding along with happiness and approval. I have never been there but actually plan on visiting soon. This book rekindled my love of Newgrange and all the other historical parts of Ireland. It's wonderful how much detail Iain goes into in the story. He really does his research.

The only other thing that bumped down this rating to 4 stars is the treasure. I was utterly disappointed. I guess from the Titanic film I was imagining them finding the heart of the ocean. I know the actual treasure meant a lot to the family and it was necessary for the story to remain humble  but a diamond necklace would have been awesome.

I very much enjoyed this book and cannot wait to see where Kitty takes me next.



Title: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise 0'Neill
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian / Feminism
Stars: ★★★★
Origin: Borrowed from housemate

Can Louise O'Neill ever write a happy ending? After reading Asking For It and Only Ever Yours I guess the answer is no. So if you're looking for a fairytale this ain't the book for you. In fact this is one of the realest stories I've ever read. Now it is a dystopian, set sometime in the future so obviously it isn't real but the fact that this life in 2017 is an echo of this book makes me open my eyes to so many different issues highlighted by "Only Ever Yours". It is haunting to read.

Thank you to my housemate Margaret who let me borrow this book. She came home from a talk from Louise one day and we started gushing about her and other feminist related things. I was super excited to meet someone who is as obsessed with her as I am ( in an admiring way, not creepy stalker ). I love how this book dealt a lot with mental health, eating disorders and how we perceive people based on looks.

In a summary this book is about how women are only used for sex and reproducing. In fact women who will be mothers take medication so that they will only produce boys. Girls are made by scientists engineered to be perfect and then brought up in schools away from the outside world until they reach an age when they are shipped off as concubines, wives or chastities.

It is a sick and disgusting world. The girls compete against each other based on their looks. They must be perfect. And when they're under so much pressure to be this perfect girl you can see how their mental health suffers. They develop eating disorders and rely on drugs to be able to sleep. It is an exaggeration of what already exists in this world. There is so much pressure to be perfect from social media, magazines, celebrities and our own friends. Uploading pictures to Facebook and instagram you must look your best. It's all about how many likes you get. This book shows how ridiculous it is to base your value on a number. On how many people "liked" your profile picture. It is an addiction. Looking for approval and confirmation from other people that you are enough.

It is such a raw story that I hope will change a lot of people's opinions. Being beautiful is not just about your flawless skin or tiny waist. You shouldn't judge someone on how they look. To be cheesy: it's what's on the inside that counts.

And particularly how women are viewed in society in this book is so disturbing because we all know that gender equality is still a major problem in the world. Women do not belong to men. We are our own person and our body belongs to no one else. No one should have a say in what you do with your body. It is nobody else's business and certainly not any man's business.

I hope this book opens people's eyes.



Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Genre: Young Adult / Mental Health
Stars: ★★★
Origin: Bought in Waterstones after reading raving reviews

I'm afraid this is a book that has become over-hyped. I bought this after reading a bajillion 5 star reviews but then didn't get around to reading it until only recently. It has been described as a mixture of The Fault In Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. I can see the resemblance and as I really didn't like Eleanor and Park then I obviously wouldn't be hugely obsessed with this book.

In short it's about a boy and girl who fall for each other even though their lives are entwined in grief, pain and suffering. It sounds like a good story but like many people I found that the subject of mental illness became the sole point of the book. The characters were engulfed by depression. They were walking bodies of bipolar and suicide. But this isn't necessarily criticism. For isn't that what mental illness is. It sucks you out and leaves behind a gaping hole. Sometimes filled with anxiety and fears or other times totally empty. A vacancy. It is not my right to say that this book is bad because it didn't show my "version" of depression. For many people how they live or exist with a mental illness is not just one single way. People react all different. You cannot condemn these characters for being overwhelmed by their suffering.

Unfortunately I failed to make a connection with this book. I thought I would, particularly with Violet because of losing someone in her immediate family but I just didn't relate. I didn't "like" the characters and I was just not as interested as I would have wanted. Now the ending did make me cry. How couldn't it? Only a robot could stay cheery through those last chapters.

I'm very glad I read this book as it opened  up some things about bipolar disorder which I knew very little about. Mental health is an important thing that everyone needs to be aware of. This book touches very much on that but loses its story in the meantime.

Have you read any of these?

Always, M