Mini Reviews for Books I’ve been Reading Recently #5

Hey guys,

How has your weekend been? Mine has been busy so far, I’m writing my last essay of term and once that’s done I am off for Christmas so I am both excited but stressed to do well. Also my keyboard is still broken so I am sorry if there is missing or doubled letters where there is not meant to be – I promise I will try and catch them all.
P.s ffor thoe people who wante to now what my eyboar i oing without me ixing it thi iss it haha. Bonu point if you unertoo any o thi.

This kind of post is becoming a pretty common occurrence on my blog although it has been a month since I did one of these. While this started because I was reading a lot of short books that I couldn’t stretch into a full review, now that I have started back at Uni I am not reading as much so it’s a great way of talking about my course books that I’ve had to read that don’t deserve a full post. This is shorter than the other times I have done this because my uni work has been holding me back on my reading. Same as last time, I was very kindly sent a few of these via Netgalley but obviously all my thoughts are all my own and receiving it didn’t differ my opinions in anyway. Also, as I did get them on Netgalley, most of them are not actually out yet – but I will link to their Goodreads pages so you can find out when they do come out or if they already are. The ones I received via Netgalley will have (N) beside their title.

Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
From the great cartoonist-reporter, a sweeping, original investigation of a forgotten crime in the most vexed of places.
Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Strip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been bulldozed to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this bitterest of conflicts. Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident in 1956, that left 111 Palestinians dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah—cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake—reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco immerses himself in daily life of Rafah and the neighboring town of Khan Younis, uncovering Gaza past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy. As in Palestine and Safe Area Goražde, Sacco’s unique visual journalism has rendered a contested landscape in brilliant, meticulous detail. Footnotes in Gaza, his most ambitious work to date, transforms a critical conflict of our age into an intimate and immediate experience.
Review: I really enjoyed this book from my English literature course. I have found myself really enjoying these graphic novel/cartoon style representations of trauma far more than the traditional literary representations. I find it far more impactful and gripping. I know very little about this subject matter and I think that aids my enjoyment as it I have to trust the text implicitly which makes it far more gripping.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 7/10

I Could Read the Sky by Timothy O’Grady and Steve Pyke
Blurb: Accompanied by photographs, this novel tells the story of a man’s journey from the West of Ireland to the fields/boxing-booths/building sites of England
I read it for my English literature course and it wasn’t really for me. I found it quite dull and laboursome to read as not much really happened and most were recollection of memories.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐
Score Rating: 3/10

Breaking Up with Barrett by Katy Regnery
Breaking Up with Barrett is the first of six books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome English brothers who are all on the look-out for love. (Except Alex. He’s a womanizing manwhore. And maybe Stratton, because he’s wicked hot, but super awkward around girls.) Barrett English, aka “the Shark,” is the fair-haired, first-born of the English brothers, and the CEO of the oldest, most prestigious investment banking firm in Philadelphia. He rules the boardroom with an iron fist, refusing to take no for an answer and always getting his way. Emily Edwards, a first-year doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, grew up in the gatehouse on the outskirts of Barrett’s childhood estate. The daughter of his family’s gardener and housekeeper, she was always looking through the window of privilege, but forced to remember her place at the very periphery of the kingdom. When business partners suggest that a fiancee might soften Barrett’s image over business dinners, he approaches Emily for the “job” of fiancee. And while love wasn’t necessarily on Barrett’s radar, he begins to realize that Emily always has been. But will his take-no-prisoners boardroom tactics work on the heart of the woman he loves.
Review: This was a super sweet and quick read. I loved the premise and it was exactly what I was in the mood to read. I loved Barrett, he was so fun to read and super sweet. Emily was a great protagonist, one you really wanted to root for. Well developed with great morals for such a short novel. Their chemistry was amazing. The writing was beautiful and the logical approach to the plot twist at the end made me the happiest I think I have ever been with a dramatic moment like that. Normally its all hissy fits, crying and running away but it was done incredibly and made me love this even more.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 8/10

Amoretti by Edmund Spencer
Blurb: EDMUND SPENSER: AMORETTI The Amoretti by Edmund Spenser is one of the great Elizabethan cycles of love poetry. The Amoretti cycle of poems is printed here in full, with each sonnet on its own on a page. This is beautiful poetry, poems of love, full of Spenser’s delicate and intricate way with words. Full of vivid imagery, of the natural world, of the seasons, of suns and moons, of days and nights – this is love poetry at its most refined and intelligent.
Review: This is another sonnet sequence I had to read for my University course and this one was not as good as Astrophel and Stella. I found it dragged on and had to start reading each word aloud so I knew I was actually reading each word haha.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐
Score Rating: 4/10

Braco by Lesleyanne Ryan
Blurb: WINNER OF THE 2011 Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers, Lesleyanne Ryan”s debut novel, Braco, takes place over the five days following the fall of Srebrenica in 1995. The narrative follows the perspectives of Bosnian civilians, UN Peacekeepers, Serbian and Bosnian soldiers, as well as a Canadian photojournalist. A retired veteran and former Bosnian Peacekeeper, Ryan vividly captures the visceral tension and horror of Bosnian refugees fleeing Srebrenica, the ensuing massacre of Bosnian men, and the inability of the Dutch peacekeepers to protect them. The award judges acclaimed the debut novel as a “compelling, captivating, and fast-paced novel, from its vivid and intriguing prologue set in Srebrenica to an ending that fits, if not satisfies.”
This is a book I read for my English literature course. I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this but I was pleasantly surprised. I really liked the multiple POV’s and the plot was extremely interesting. I knew nothing about Srebrenica before this week of teaching and I thought this book explained things in a simple enough way where someone with very little context of the situation could understand what was happening. It definitely had a bias which isn’t great for accurately replicating the trauma of the events but it was still an interesting read.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 6/10

Astrophel and Stella by Phillip Sidney
Blurb: This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world’s literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.
I read this for my university course. I’m not generally a fan of sonnet sequences, so in relation to that, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this. I didn’t hate it which I am taking as a win.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 5/10

Windows on the World by Fredric Beigbeder
Blurb: Windows on the World debuted at #2 on the French national best-seller list and won the prestigious Prix Interalli prize in 2003. Now available in paperback, this unprecedented novel will once again astonish, provoke, and embrace the reader as it attempts to penetrate the unspeakable. Windows on the World unflinchingly imagines the moments from 8:30AM to 10:28AM inside the World Trade Center on September 11. Weaving together philosophy, myth, world politics, and humor, Beigbeder succeeds in creating a tapestry of fury and wonder, a tribute to thousands of unsung heroes.
I adored this book. It had me in tears. It was heartbreaking and conflicting in the best way possible. It’s a hard book to read because of the subject matter but it is written in the most incredible way that keeps you reading despite this. If you are looking for a book that will challenge you then this is that.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 9/10

John Donne’s Poetry
Blurb: The texts reprinted in this new Norton Critical Edition have been scrupulously edited and are from the Westmoreland manuscript where possible, collated against the most important families of Donne manuscripts the Cambridge Belam, the Dublin Trinity, and the O Flahertie and compared with all seven seventeenth-century printed editions of the poems as well as all major twentieth-century editions.
I enjoyed his poetry, specifically The Relic, The Canonisation and some of his Holy Sonnets. They were extremely interesting to analyse or my University course.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 5.5/10

Hel to Pay by Emily Stormbrook (N)
Blurb: Helena Truit, Hel, had spent her entire life from the age of seven cleaning up after her parents. Because of her they spiralled into a world of drugs and gambling, which meant it fell to her to dig them out. Drowning in debt and thrown from their cluster, Hel gives up her promising future to slave away all day and night just to scrape together enough to make payments to loan shark Bram Woodroe, alpha of the Woodroe Cluster. If rumours are true, this dangerous man is one of the top names in sex-trafficking and when her parents sank too deep, they offer him the only thing they have. Her. Marrok Lovel was will-bound at fourteen to serve Woodroe. At Twenty-eight he is now the strongest and most ruthless of all his enforcers. For fourteen years he learnt to shut away the world outside, block out the horrors of what he was doing, that was until he was sent to collect payment for a debt long overdue. He’d collected women before. They always cried and begged, but not Hel. Instead, she awoke something in him that had been sleeping for a long time. The need to protect. Saving Hel from her fate would mean going against his alpha, bringing down his operation from the inside. It’s a death sentence, but maybe some things are just worth dying for.
(Trigger warning, contains a scene of sexual violence)
This wasn’t a great read. First off, I dont know if it was the copy I was sent but there were a ton of formatting and sentence structuring errors and even a few spelling mistakes. I dont want to hold it against the book because these can be fixed but by the end of the book after this happening again and again it definitely was impacting my enjoyment because so many parts made no sense. (I have since been told these have been fixed thankfully.)
Secondly, the weighting was odd in the writing. It felt like the important parts of the book were missing; eg. Hel and Marrok’s early conversations that would give the reader a reason to root for them as a couple. And then you had parts that felt overly and unnecessarily verbose. A lot of the parts with Ryder and Ethan etc felt overworked. I understand its the first in the series and there was a decent amount of world building required but it was a step further than that were it was almost verging on two unrelating plots in the one book.
Let’s end with the good bits! I liked Hel as a protagonist. She was witty and strong. Not my favorite female but certainly no gripes with her and she was fun to read. Similar situation with Marrok. I liked their romance and I did find myself rooting for them despite the lack of anything to really make me want them together. It was definitely very insta-lovesque but thats often the case with shifter/mate books so I dont hold it against it. The general premise of the plot was a fun idea but I feel that it was executed poorly. And I think that sums up the book as a whole really, good idea but missed the mark.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐
Score Rating: 4/10

Out of the Blue by Simon Armitage
Blurb: This book brings together three verse form pieces each of which was created to be part of a broader form. ‘Out of the Blue’ itself is a powerful, award-winning, poem-film created five years after the attacks which destroyed the twin towers in NewYork. With a title from a speech of Churchill, ‘We May Allow Ourselves a Brief Period of Rejoicing’ was a Channel 5 commission for a broadcast celebrating the 60th anniversary of VE Day. The third, ‘Cambodia’, comes from the radio drama The Violence of Silence set 30 years after the Khmer Rouge. 
I really enjoyed this. It dealt with difficult subject matter in a beautiful way. I loved the varying structures and the repetition throughout the works. Highly recommend.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 7/10

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Blurb: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.
I liked this book. It was so sweet but also very sad and at times difficult to read, not only because of the subject matter but because of the photos, typography and all the traditionally non-prose elements in the text. While they made it exciting and fun, they also were quite disruptive to my reading but they were there to show the disruption caused by trauma so it made sense. Generally a good read but not my favourite on the course.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Score Rating: 6/10

So these are the books I have read recently. Since this academic term is ending I will hopefully be able to read some longer books in order to have some book reviews that are more detailed and dedicated to a single book soon. I hope you enjoyed this and I will see you tomorrow! Have a great day ❤

Are you more of a long book or a short book person?
What Books do you plan to read over the Christmas Break?
Any Novella recommendations since Netgalley’s has dried up?

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