Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid [Book Review]

Did I get roped into buying this from all the beautiful photos and wonderful reviews over on bookstagram?

Yes, yes I did.

But I don’t regret it.


Summary

Daisy Jones & The Six is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a very long time. Set in the 1970’s, amidst the height of rock ‘n’ roll, it follows the journey of six bandmates (The Six) and the singer Daisy Jones. It’s written purely in dialogue – the truth lies only in the words which have been spoken – as the reader is thrown into a world of music, heartbreak, desire and ambition. Tell me it’s not real, I dare you. These characters light up the stage of the page in a way that really does make you believe in their souls.

My Thoughts

One of the most disappointing feelings as a reader is going into a book with such high expectations and then having them fall flat. I half expected this to happen with Daisy Jones & The Six but it really did take me by surprise.

I’ve never read a book written purely in dialogue and I think naturally I had some questions going into it. Would I feel too detached from the inner worlds of the characters? How is the plot going to formulate? Would I simply get bored? However, as soon as I started reading, none of these questions even mattered – I didn’t need to think about them at all.

Daisy Jones & The Six is a success, I think, because it doesn’t try to be something its not. It allows itself to be character-driven without trying too hard to make a plot out of it. And it’s believable – so believable. From the very first page I felt like I was watching a documentary play out before my eyes. Dialogue was interspersed cleverly to keep everything relevant, and yet each character had its own style, its own life and its own sub-plot.

I don’t often give books 5 stars – only if I feel I connected to the book in some way. And when I’m reading a book about rock ‘n’ roll in the 1970’s, before I was even born, it’s easy to think, well, how can I relate to any of this? But there were so many stripped back, beautiful moments in this book, which felt like those vulnerable moments in a documentary when a singular person is talking to the camera and they just bare their soul. And in those moments, as a reader, you see these characters as flawed human beings – behind the parties, the drugs and the commotion, they are facing a universal struggle.

As someone who loves both music and writing, I was particularly interested in the way these two elements were brought together for the songwriting scenes of the book. The power of music, of writing, of putting a chunk of your own heart and soul into these art forms is what this book is all about – and how sometimes the most important of words are never spoken, or never needed to be. Whilst I couldn’t relate to the characters on a surface-level, their deeper thoughts, the way they placed themselves within their art, resonated with me. I so wanted the band to be real. Honestly. I still do. I wish the songs were real.

Daisy Jones & The Six may look like an exciting, thrill of a ride – and it is, most definitely. But it also places a much deeper emphasis on relationships, art, choices and trust. It has that extra layer that any reader surely looks for in a book. And that’s what makes it so great.

If these wonderful quotes (my favourite quotes from the book) are anything to go by…

“These people from a different country, people I’d never met in my life, I felt connected to them in a way that I hadn’t felt connected to anyone before. It is what I have always loved about music. Not the sounds or the crowds or the good times as much as the words – the emotions, and the stories, the truth – that you can let flow right out of your mouth. Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until it hits something.”

Daisy Jones

“She had written something that felt like I could have written it, except I knew I couldn’t have. I wouldn’t have come up with something like that. Which is what we all want from art, isn’t it? When someone pins down something that feels like it lives inside us? Takes a piece of your heart out and shows it to you? It’s like they are introducing you to a part of yourself.”

Billy

Have you read Daisy Jones & The Six?

I’d love to know what you thought in the comments below!


‘The Truants’ by Kate Weinberg [Book Review]

The Truants is one of those books that is really quite difficult to explain – both in terms of plot and how good it really is. Character-driven and drenched in darker undertones, I was consumed by a world that felt like hanging delicately on the edge of a cliff, never knowing what felt stable. There is no “one mystery” to solve; you are simply waiting around as many lives and stories interweave to create something much like a disastrous maze, in which no one can really get out of.

It’s not the usual kind of book I would pick up. I had no idea what it would be like going into it. But wow, I must say, I was really blown away by the writing. I loved Weinberg’s style, and I don’t often say that about a lot of authors. She had a very unique, simple yet meaningful style and I loved the parts that were written like inner reflections of the mind poured onto a page (those who have read it, you know what I mean – the ending).

Surprisingly, I realised during the book that it was also inspired by UEA, since the author studied her masters in creative writing there. This initiated an unexpected wave of nostalgia for me, since I graduated there, also having studied creative writing (but as an undergrad) earlier this year. Whether this had an effect on my connection to the book, I don’t know. But it did feel comfortingly familiar to me in some ways.

Overall, I feel quite taken aback by this book. It’s a truly original piece of work and a surprisingly good debut. There are flaws, of course – one of them obviously being the likelihood of a lecturer befriending her students – but at its core it’s a very intriguing read. I will certainly look out for more of Weinberg’s books in the future.

What book have you been reading recently?

Let me know in the comments below!


‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman [Book Review]

Admittedly, I’ve had this book on my shelves for way too long. After hearing all the wonderful reviews, I finally sat down and gave it a read, and it was far from what I expected!


Summary

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. Her days roll into one as she goes to work, eats the same lunch, returns home and drinks away her weekend. She’s odd, she’s an outsider, and she doesn’t quite fit in – and she doesn’t really want to either. Not until she realises quite what she’s missing…

My Thoughts

I don’t think I’ve ever had such a change of heart from the beginning to the end of a book. I started Eleanor Oliphant not quite sure what I had got myself into. The premise seemed simple. I wasn’t sure I liked the writing. In my head, I was convinced it would be a 2 star read.

However, the more I read, the more intrigued I was by Eleanor. The more I read, the more I began to care about the characters as genuine people. And I don’t think I’ve felt so immersed in a book for a long while; I really would lose track of time.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

I think the turning point for me in this book was when the character of Eleanor became not just a surface-level being, but the author let us, as readers, into her thought pattern, her struggles and why she is the way she is. And I felt so bad for her. She’s a character perhaps we can never really understand or relate to on every level (and Eleanor says this herself in the book), but most of us have, as humans, on some level experienced the journey she has been through – realising the value in small acts of kindness and the power of human connection.

There are so many unique qualities to this book that will remain with me for a long while, eventually leading me to give it 5 stars. From Eleanor’s naive misunderstandings in the Bobby Brown make up section, which genuinely made me laugh, to the beautiful friendship between Eleanor and Raymond that I’m so glad wasn’t ruined by an unnecessary romance. Eleanor is a strong person, even when she believes she’s far from it. Her past haunts her but, with time, she learns to truly overcome it.

I read somewhere that Honeyman was inspired to write this book after speaking to a young lady who said she never spoke to a soul between the time she left work on Fridays until she returned on Monday mornings. It’s interesting how, as a society, we think of loneliness as a struggle of the elderly, and yet it can affect young people just as strongly. This book was such a heart-warming exploration of how a lonely soul, who believes she can take care of herself, finds happiness in friendship, opening herself up to a world she never knew existed.

And I think, deep down, it’s also an exploration of what we call home. Eleanor has lived in the same place since university and she sees it as home, but it isn’t until the end that that home becomes meaningful. As people, it’s often not the place that is valuable to us; it’s the memories that live there. We find a home in other people. And Eleanor, until the end, has never really felt that before.

Have you read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine?

Let me know what you thought in the comments!


‘The Man I Think I Know’ by Mike Gayle [Book Review]

I’m afraid I have been led astray by high rated reviews again… because this was another popular book that just fell completely flat for me! A wonderful premise, not so great execution, and I may have loved the cover more than the book itself…

Summary

The Man I Think I Know follows two male protagonists who once were acquaintances at school. Brought together by a string of unlikely circumstances, they meet again. With James’ slow recovery from a brain injury and Danny’s lack of a job, they develop a friendship and help one another fight the struggles in their life.

My Thoughts

As you can see from my (not so great) attempt at summarising this book, I really don’t know how to describe my experience with this book. I’m always tentative starting something with high expectations, and yet I always find myself wondering how my opinion of a book can be so overwhelmingly different to the majority of the people who have read it. It just proves the power of perspective.

The main reason this book did not resonate with me was that I felt like there was very poor character development. With a book on such a sensitive topic, speaking about brain injury, alcoholism and depression, I would expect to have some emotional attachment to the situations at hand, but I found myself completely detached. Although the perspective was switching between the two main characters, I often lost myself on who was speaking because there were no differentiating characteristics. It was like they just moulded into the same person, with the only difference being one calling the other “mate”.

However, the dialogue was the most frustrating part for me. It was unbelievably unrealistic and it felt stilted and forced. Normal conversations were turned into arguments in a matter of seconds with no build up, and there were too many clichés in this book to count, including the typical argument conclusion “it’s not fair!” from a grown woman, and the classic “my heart feels like it has just broken into a million tiny pieces.” I have no comment.

I so wanted to like this book, and I think that’s why I kept going until the end. There had to be a redeeming quality, right? It had such great reviews, after all. And I don’t think it was a pointless book – it got me reflecting on what it would be like to have to start life over again, for things to not go the way you had planned, and the importance of family and friends in supporting you. However, the switch never flicked. I got to the end – to the cringey, predictable and unsatisfying end – and I felt nothing.

I wish I could see this book through the eyes of all the four and five star reviews, but it just wasn’t for me. Instead, you get to read another of my ranting reviews!

Pick this book up if you like – maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did – but for now, I’ll happily move onto the next book in my to-be-read pile, and hope it goes better than this did!

What book have you been reading lately?

Any good recommendations?

Let me know in the comments below!


‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens [Book Review]

Beautifully unique, and full of intricate descriptions of nature at its most vulnerable, Where the Crawdads Sing is different to any other book I’ve read.

Summary

Kya Clark, known as the “Marsh Girl”, lives amongst the gulls and the sand, residing in a shack on the edge of the marsh with no true company than herself. When a murder echoes across the town, rumour has it that it is the “Marsh Girl”. But what can be said of an isolated girl, with nothing but the wild beauty of nature by her side?

My Thoughts

This was one of the only books I’ve read where I felt immersed in the world within the first few pages. Owens has such a unique writing style that I couldn’t help but feel nature right at my fingertips, authentic and all-consuming as soon as the story began.

There is a meaningful slowness to this book, a capacity to really breathe in every empty space within the marsh as if it is your own. And I imagine that is what it felt like for Kya, to have a home deep-rooted in the earth itself. It is an inspiring reflection on what it means to truly be connected to life.

I’m not sure I really knew the character of Kya, even by the end of the book, but I feel like this was entirely the point. It was all about an isolated and misunderstood girl who doesn’t speak her truth, not in the way that she’s always wanted to. Instead, her passion for nature rings her soul.

This beautiful debut novel, with a truly wonderful ending, had me consumed in a world I’m sure won’t leave me for a long while. This book isn’t to be understood, but to be hugged from the inside, to feel life on the flip side, to be grateful for our feet on the ground and the people by our side.

Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi [Book Review]

I bought this book on a complete whim when I was out in Waterstones for the first time since before lockdown, and I was super excited! I loved the cover, had heard the name flying about somewhere on bookstagram, so thought: why not give it a go?

Summary

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a Japanese bestseller in translation, all about a little coffee shop in the back alley of Tokyo with unique powers – the ability to send people back in time. If a visitor sits in one particular seat, they can travel back to any moment they choose. But there’s a catch: they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold.

My Thoughts

First of all, I just wanted to say how much I love the concept of this book. I have such a vivid image in my head of what it would be like to live in this coffee shop of a world, where travelling in time becomes a way of finding purpose, of understanding others, of understanding yourself. I found myself telling my family the plot of the book in so much detail, because it’s such an inspiring story, I couldn’t help talking about it!

However, there is a but. The but is that I really did not enjoy the writing itself, and that disappoints me so much. I really wanted to like it – I tried so hard to like it – but I couldn’t connect to the characters in the way I wanted to. It felt like standing in front of a brick wall and I just couldn’t get past it.

For me, a good book is one I can connect with on a deeper level, one where the characters come alive and exist in themselves, and I think with this one they felt a little bit like templates that hadn’t fully formed inside my head yet, which is such a shame, but that’s my honest opinion!

Overall, I feel like this book has so much potential – there are so many different directions it could have taken. The key message by the end of the book did swing it for me a little, because I liked the way it was concluded (I won’t reveal spoilers, don’t worry), but I can’t give it more than 3 stars.

This book won’t be for everyone, and it was a very conflicting read for me, but I still feel like I got something out of it – I’m sure the plot will stick with me for a while, regardless.

Have you read Before the Coffee Gets Cold?

Let me know in the comments below!


You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

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The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat [Book Review]

This was the chosen May read for the book club I recently joined! This is the first review I’ve done of a book I actually didn’t like all that much! But I think sometimes writing bad reviews are quite fun, because you get to rant about all the things you wish were better!

Going into this book, I was looking forward to seeing how the story would unravel. I absolutely loved the premise – that it focused around one women, with nine different perspectives from people who loved her during her life (or “loved”, should I say). I expected something deep and reflective, that would make me contemplate the way perspective really does change everything. But instead, it fell kind of flat.

 

Here are the three main reasons it didn’t work for me:

 

Each voice wasn’t distinctive enough

If you’re going to have nine different perspectives, they all need to have their own spin on life, and it’s not enough to just throw them into a different place and a different situation. A lot of the voices overlapped and merged and I didn’t feel like I inhabited their character at all. They all felt and acted along the same sorts of lines, which made me question their human capacity.

 

The writing itself was lacking

This might sound a little brutal, but the way it was written just wasn’t for me. It had all the things we are always told not to do in creative writing class, such as excessive adverbs and telling rather than showing. It felt like a book of statements, rather than a book of insight and understanding.

For example:

‘You say it’s delicious, but on your face I can see sadness.’ (how do you see sadness?? explain don’t just state it)

‘I decide to tell you the truth. // ‘No.’ // You don’t seem surprised.’ (again, show that they’re not surprised. A shrug of the shoulders, or a blank face.)

 

Lost potential of could-be brilliant ideas

There were so many elements of this book that I really felt could have been meaningful, but their potential just wasn’t reached. For example, the vagueness of the characters, the fact that they had no names. I think this would have worked really well, but only if the characters had distinct voices to make them memorable.

I loved the idea of ‘the city with a river’ versus the ‘city with no river’ but it was completely lost on me because I was so confused at where the woman was situated in half of the stories, and where each other person was situated in relation to that. There needed to be more locational reference points.

There were also some phrases that did dig a bit deeper and intrigued me. Such as: ‘they will grow up and plunge into vocations that do not call for beauty’ and ‘the ones we pretend to ignore are the ones we are most aware of’. But these were very sparse, which was a shame, because if the whole book had this kind of depth then it would have been magical.

 

Overall, I found that, even by the ending, I didn’t feel like I knew the woman all that well. The stories that stuck with me the most were the art teacher and the musician, but I suspect that’s only because they were touched on more than once throughout the book. I really wanted to like this book, but it didn’t work out.

 

⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5

 

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Have you read The Nine-Chambered Heart?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

(even if you loved it, I won’t judge!)

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

The Possession of Mr Cave by Matt Haig [Book Review]

A few weeks ago, I asked you all to vote for what book I read in May, and The Possession of Mr Cave won! So, here is the review that some of you have been waiting for…

There was something so undeniably disturbing about this book – the fact that a man so seemingly “normal” can completely lose himself to madness in the depths of trauma. The story follows a father who, in the past, has lost his mother and wife, and has recently lost his son. The only person left that really matters to him is his daughter, and he decides he will do anything to protect her.

It was an intriguing read, subtlety possessing my attention as Mr Cave continued to dive further into his obsessions. I was shocked at some of the decisions he made, including putting a baby monitor in his fourteen year old daughter’s room to listen into her conversations, but mostly because he didn’t go about them all in a secretive way – he would tell Cynthia, his daughter’s grandmother. He tried to justify his actions with words and I think, in his head, he believed everything he was doing really was acceptable. And, for me, that was what was disturbing most of all. 

Of course, I love the way that Haig writes, with so much human intricacy and feeling, even in the perspective of a character so terrifying. There is no doubting he has a great writing style – I’ve explored this many times before in my reviews of his other books: The Humans, Reasons to Stay Alive, Notes on a Nervous Planet, How to Stop Time and Echo Boy.

For some reason, I don’t have many words for The Possession of Mr Cave, not in the same way that I did with his other books, but I guess that’s because I have no idea how to sum up such a uniquely worrying, terrifyingly real study of the life of someone who just loses control. And there is no way to be shocked by the ending without revealing everything that occurs. Instead, it’s one of those books that, I’m afraid, you will have to read to figure out!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5

 

 

Have you read The Possession of Mr Cave?

Or any other books by Matt Haig?

Let me know in the comments!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes [Book Review]

Before picking up this book, I’d already seen both season 1 and 2 of the TV show ‘You’. Normally, I try to read the book before seeing the adaptation, so this was a very strange experience!

It’s hard to know what I would have rated this book if I hadn’t seen the show. Perhaps I would have had a lower opinion of it, since I would have had to rely on the writing for imagery, or a higher one because I wouldn’t have seen the twists coming. Either way, I can only comment on my experience as it is.

Overall, I loved reading this. It was surprisingly very similar to the show, especially in terms of Joe’s voice and character – I didn’t find it hard to connect his literary persona with his theatrical one. I thought it was so interesting having it from the perspective of Joe because I could really get inside of his head. The more I read, the creepier he became, but it was weird trying to understand the internal voice of a sociopath. I think, stereotypically, they are seen as people with no emotion who intentionally harm people, but I think what made this book so intriguing was the fact that Joe did care – in fact he cared too much – and the reason he did everything he did was because he genuinely believed, in his own head, that he was doing what was right and what was best for the person he loved. And it was really quite scary how distorted his view was.

I found the character of Beck to be slightly disconnected from her character in the TV show. I’m not quite sure why, but it could be down to the book being from the perspective of Joe. He often tried to twist her into a bad person in the book, which isn’t necessarily reality, it is just his reality. It’s funny how perspective can completely change the way you see things.

This is the kind of book that is completely addictive. I wanted to pace through it and could quite easily have finished it in a few days if I hadn’t forced myself to drag it out. The writing itself isn’t necessarily the best I’ve ever read, but the character voice is so strong that you can’t help but be drawn into the world.

Part of me wishes I could have read this book before I’d seen the show, just to see if my opinions would have been different. But at the same time, I liked having the show in the back of my mind as it meant the story’s world was already set up in my mind and all I had to do was jump in again.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5

 

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Have you read or seen ‘You’?

Let me know your thoughts below!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

‘Dear Edward’ by Ann Napolitano [Book Review]

I picked up Dear Edward a month or so ago when I was in Waterstones, treating myself to a couple books. I don’t normally buy hardback, but the cover of Dear Edward is so beautiful and I’d heard so many good reviews about the book, that I thought it’d be worth it.

At first, I was conflicted whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars… I really liked reading it but at the same time I felt like it was a little underwhelming. Perhaps because I’d heard so many great things about it that I was expecting some sort of perfection (although we all know this doesn’t exist).

I thought the writing was simultaneously thought-provoking but distant. There were a lot of phrases that got me thinking about life which is what makes a book interesting to me, but at the same time I felt like the book took a distant, looking-through-a-glass kind of approach – it could have been even more emotional. However, maybe that wasn’t the intention?

The beginning of the book I found really confusing – flicking between the present and the flight – as I constantly forgot which character was who and it frustrated me. But once I knew who they were, the book grew on me – I just wish the characters could have been introduced more thoroughly at the start for me to get invested in them sooner!

Despite all of that, I found the world of Edward easy to fall into. I thought the ending was really beautiful. It got me quite emotional, leaving the characters of Edward and Shay behind – I really loved their connection and that it wasn’t pushed into a relationship but sizzled into an underlying force of love. I also admired the brotherly love between Edward and Jordan – I think sibling relationships are often underestimated and I liked how this was the focus that led Edward forwards in life.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and it was a beautiful story. It’s worth reading just for the ending. The writing was hit and miss – there were some lovely moments, but I think the structure and jumping about made it feel like a draft of a novel, rather than the finished product, and this is what prevented it from reaching 4 stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5

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Have you read Dear Edward?

What did you think?

Let me know in the comments!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud