Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

Meet Rachel Walsh. She's been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her adoring boyfriend, Luke. But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn't quite part of her plan.

She's only agreed to her incarceration because she's heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, spa treatments and celebrities going cold turkey - plus it's about time she had a holiday.

Saying goodbye to fun and freedom will be hard - and losing the man who might just be the love of her life will be even harder. But will hitting rock bottom help Rachel learn to love herself, at last?

We read this as Tsundoku Squads March group read. This was also my first Marian Keyes book (I know right!). I actually really enjoyed it. To be honest the last couple of weeks I lagged behind reading it, and could only manage little bursts whenever I did pick it up, which I think spoiled it a bit for me, I’d have enjoyed it more if I read each part in one sitting. But, I still liked it and would gladly read another of Marian’s books.

So this book is based on Rachel (obviously), who ‘isn’t an addict’, but very much is. We see her enter the Cloisters, while still not believing she has a problem. She passes her days waiting to meet the celebrities, visit the sauna and be pampered. 

Rachel is a bit of a dick, but she has problems. She is an addict. She is awful to people around her, people who care about her. But I really liked how the book ended, if you have read it you’ll know. And the last line was perfect in my opinion.

I gave it 4 stars, and would happily read more of Marian’s books. Actually, I have the follow up, ‘Again, Rachel’, sitting on my bedside table! 

Check out Em’s group collective thoughts over on her blog

Monday, March 28, 2022

Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner

From the indie rockstar Japanese Breakfast, an unflinching, powerful, deeply moving memoir about growing up mixed-race, Korean food, losing her Korean mother, and forging her own identity.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humour and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band - and meeting the man who would become her husband - her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live.

It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Thank you to Gaby over at Picador books for my gifted copy!

I read this with my book buddy Kath, we took our time and talked about each part, and I loved it. 

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this book, but I was really surprised at how much I liked it. First off, the main story is Michelle’s mother finding out she has terminal cancer, and then the three of them (Michelle, her mother and her father) trying to come to terms with what’s happening. It’s a sad story, and I cried, but there was so much love too. The stories of the bonding over the years were so heartwarming.

Another major part of the story is food. Now I love food, but wow does Michelle’s family like their food! Oh the descriptions had my mouth watering at times. But there is a deep connection with the family through food, and Michelle told it so beautifully. There’s a scene where Michelle is at a food hall and is watching and describing the other people around her, it’s so mesmerising.

I loved the trips they took, and at times felt like I needed to reach in and help them in sticky situations. I felt you forget sometimes this isn’t fiction, and you’re brought back down to earth with heartbreaking scenes. 

Please read this book, it’s beautiful. Thanks Kath for reading and chatting along with me.

Now, off to find more Korean recipes!

Monday, March 7, 2022

Book Tour! My Perfect Daughter by Sarah Denzil

Most mothers hope their little girl turns out like their dad, but not Zoe. She hopes the apple falls far from the tree.

Zoe didn't meet her daughter the way most mothers do. She finds five-year-old Maddie alone and dirty on a countryside road. Frightened for Maddie's safety, she picks her up and takes her back to her father, not knowing what she's about to step into. Because Maddie wasn't just lost, she was there to lure her serial killer dad's new victim.

After escaping from the clutches of Maddie's dangerous father, she bonds with the little girl. Only Maddie knows what it was like to be at that house. And when no family members come forward to claim Maddie, Zoe decides to adopt her. They move away to a safe house on the Cornish coast and become a family of their own. Zoe gets married and has another child, a baby brother for Maddie.

But Maddie is still traumatised by what she experienced. Diagnosed with callous and unemotional traits, Zoe has a tough job to ensure Maddie has the love and support she needs. Zoe truly loves her daughter—she wouldn't change a thing about her. But there is a part of her that always stays alert. A part of her is afraid of Maddie.

And now, eleven years later, Maddie's school bully is found dead, and another girl is missing.

Zoe can't help but wonder... like father, like daughter?

I was thrilled to be asked to be on the book tour for this one, as I had previously joined a tour for another of Sarah’s books: The housemaid. This one seemed very different though and the blurb caught my eye straight away. 

I was hooked from the start, the first chapter was all I read before I fell asleep, but I woke up thinking I needed to get on with it as it was brilliant! You’ll understand why if you read it. I have been glued to my kindle app since and could hardly put it down (damn the housework for making me stop from time to time haha). 

The story focuses on Zoe and Maddie, it passes from the past to the present, and I actually enjoyed both timelines. The past is harrowing, reading about the capture and what happened, what Maddie went through back then, what she thinks is normal, but what clearly is not. But Maddie and Zoe’s bond is so strong, you can understand why as they’ve been through so much together. But they do sincerely love each other, but even after all these years, still struggle with certain things, and definitely with certain emotions. I liked reading the ‘past’ bits, but more of the after the farm, seeing how emotions were dealt with, how Zoe’s parents dealt with it. I can’t even imagine what something like that would do to a person, a family.

The missing girl brings up so many memories for Zoe, and the girl happens to be Maddie’s best friend. Then another girl dies, she also goes to school with Maddie. It made for a really good guessing game, with a lot of different factors and theories flying around.

The story was so gripping, so many different people you judge for so many different reasons. But are they all right? Once you’ve guessed, sometimes you may end up guessing again!

If you like thrillers, who dunnits, and family dramas… this is definitely one you should read.

Thanks so much to Victoria from Insta Book Tours for letting me be a part of this fabulous tour, and thank you to Sarah for all of her comments and for writing such great stories! And obviously, thank you for my e-arc :)

Please remember to check out the other stops on the tour, it’s been great so far! 

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Paper Towns by John Green