Turtles all the way down by John Green – book review

Synopsis

Sixteen–year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Picket, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Overall Plot

In the beginning of Turtles all the way down, Aza is struggling with her intrusive thoughts and OCD. When an opportunity arises for the girls to possibly become rich, Aza and her best friend Daisy decide to investigate the disappearance of a billionaire.

Aza has regular therapy sessions and tries to come to terms with her thoughts and to stop constantly cleaning the Band-Aid on her finger with the help of Dr. Karen Singh. Her friend Daisy is a massive Star Wars fan and writes on a fan site. She’s actually pretty famous. Aza also meets an old friend while investigating Pickett’s disappearance.

Review

I absolutely loved this book! I’ve already read quite a few of John Green’s books and he has gradually become one of my favourite authors. I could relate to Aza quite a lot especially when she was talking about the thoughts in her head. “like invasive weeds, these thoughts seem to arrive at my biosphere from some faraway land, and then they spread out of control.”

Aza’s friend Daisy is a character I would love to have met in real life. She’s obsessed with Star Wars but even though she sometimes finds Aza annoying, she loves her a lot and supports her.

I like how Green talked more about the girl’s friendship and about Aza learning to deal with her OCD rather than focusing entirely on romance. I also liked Davis’s blog entries as it was an insight into Davis’s own thoughts and was a nice addition to the novel.

Conclusion

A really well written, enjoyable novel featuring a character whom many can relate to with OCD. Would recommend.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the first book as part of the Mentalhealth-athon which covers the OCD rep.

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore – book review

Synopsis

It is the winter of 1952, and Isabel Carey is struggling to adjust to the realities of married life in Yorkshire. Isolated and lonely, she is also intensely cold. And her husband – a doctor – is rarely home.

And then one night she discovers an old RAF greatcoat in the back of the cupboard. She puts it on her bed for warmth – and is startled by a knock at her window.

Outside is a young man. A pilot. And he wants to come in…

Overall plot

Isabel is a newlywed married to a doctor who is rarely home. Since moving to Yorkshire, Isabel spends much of her time alone. The flat is very cold and her landlord upstairs keeps walking around in the middle of the night. She finds a greatcoat in the wardrobe and throws it on the bed to keep her warm. While her husband is on a night shift, Isabel is startled by a knock at her window and discovers a young pilot outside the window, mouthing her name.

Review

Ugh this book had so much potential! I was so looking forward to reading this after reading the synopsis. It sounded like a classic ghost story to keep you on your toes. Instead, it was a great disappointment.

First of all, The Greatcoat reminds me of The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. The lonely woman, the creepy house, a ghost etc. There were various similarities between the two and I’m not surprised because the sequel to The Woman in Black was also published by Hammer.

The only way I can describe this book is this: You know when you see a video on Youtube and you click on it and then you realise it was clickbait? That’s what this book was like.

However, I was intrigued and was enjoying the storyline up until chapter 6. It was fast-paced and spooky but the book sadly turned from a ghost story into a romance novel which may I remind you is in no way mentioned in the synopsis.

Conclusion

I really thought this one had a lot of potential if only the plot stayed on track after chapter 6. Up until then it was quite a good novel.

Rating: ⭐⭐

The Greatcoat is the second book from my Charity Shop book haul

Educated by Tara Westover – book review

Synopsis

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

Overall Plot

Educated is broken up into three parts. Part 1 consists of Tara’s mother becoming a midwife. We are introduced to Tara’s family, her mother Faye( a herbalist), her father Gene( a devout Mormon), and her six siblings , Tony, Shawn, Tyler, Luke, Audrey and Richard.

The Westover’s didn’t use medication. When a member of the family were sick, only a mix of herbs was used to treat the illness. The women had to dress modest and most of the time everything was “God’s will” according to her father. 4/7 children ( Luke, Audrey, Richard and Tara) never attended school and had no birth certificate.

In Part two, Tara passes her exams and despite her father’s disapproval, she attends college where she finds it very difficult to fit in as a Mormon.

Part three is the final part of the book. Tara suffers from night terrors, an intervention is organised for her brother Shawn and Tara attends Trinity College.

Review

Educated is a wonderful memoir exploring the life of a young girl growing up in a Mormon household. This memoir covers serious topics such as physical abuse and violence.

I liked reading about the Mormon lifestyle because while I’d heard of the name, I never really knew about their religion or beliefs. It is evident from this memoir that Tara had a difficult childhood surrounded by religion, physical abuse and struggling to fit in to society due to her faith and background.

Conclusion

The admirable part of this memoir was that despite the author having never stepped foot in a classroom or having a birth certificate early on, the author still received an education. However, some chapters were a tad bit repetitive. The chapter describing her college roommates could have been particularly shortened. Overall, an admirable memoir.

Rating : ⭐⭐⭐

This is the first book in my charity shop book haul

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – book review

Synopsis

Sara has never left Sweden but at the age of 28 she decides it’s time. She cashes in her savings, packs a suitcase full of books and sets off for Broken Wheel, Iowa, a town where she knows nobody.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps some romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

With a little help from the locals, Sara sets up Broken Wheel’s first bookstore. The shop might be a little quirky, but then again, so is Sara. And as Broken Wheel’s story begins to take shape, there are some surprises in store for Sara too…

Overall plot

Sara Lindquist, a young Swedish woman, arrives in Broken Wheel to meet an older woman (Amy Harris) she has been exchanging books and letters with. Unfortunately, the woman she has come to meet has passed away and Sara finds herself living in the woman’s house, visited by people she has never met and gradually learns about Amy’s life.

Sara begins to get to know the people of Broken Wheel and becomes friends with Tom, John, George, Grace, Jen, Caroline, Josh, Andy and Carl – all(apart from Josh and Carl) of whom knew Amy Harris.

All of the characters may be living in or nearby Broken Wheel but each of them live completely different lives.

Characters such as recovering alcoholics, characters of different races, Christians, housewives, gay and bisexual characters and relatives of Amy Harris are all introduced to the reader.

Review

What an amazing book! This book had all the feels. It made me laugh at times and cry towards the end of the novel. This book is a timeless read. The author focused on real-life issues which many can relate to. We got to learn more about each of the characters as the novel progressed. The characters of Broken Wheel were incredibly portrayed by the author. The writing makes you feel as if you are a resident of Broken Wheel yourself.

The relationships and romance in the book seemed real, not cliché like. Not only romantic love was mentioned but the love between family, friends, and residents of the small town and of course, couples.

The relationships endured troubles, doubts and heartaches, just like in reality, but in the end the relationships survived because of love, romantic or otherwise.

Conclusion

The readers of broken wheel recommend was a really enjoyable read. Every character had a story to tell and each were unique, just like all of the books in Sara’s bookstore.

A novel filled with love, friendship and how a small town come together and support one another while also following the journey of a young woman from Sweden, the readers of broken wheel recommend is a must read.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The readers of broken wheel recommend is one of the books from my charity shop mini book haul.

Charity Shop book haul

I recently visited my local charity shop and discovered they had some great books up for sale at great prices! The deal was 3 books for €5. I bought 3 books in my last charity shop haul post which you can view here:

  1. Educated
  2. The Greatcoat
  3. Rebecca
  4. To all the boys I’ve loved before
  5. P.S I still love you

This time around I bought 5 books. ( I know its only two more books than my last charity shop book haul but still, that’s 5 more books added to the never ending to-read pile)

Educated by Tara Westover


Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

I remember seeing Educated listed as one of last years to-read books. It’s fairly recent and I don’t usually go for these kind of books. And yes it’s pretty cool me and the author have the same first name.

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

It is the winter of 1952, and Isabel Carey is struggling to adjust to the realities of married life in Yorkshire. Isolated and lonely, she is also intensely cold. And her husband – a doctor – is rarely home.

And then one night she discovers an old RAF greatcoat in the back of the cupboard. She puts it on her bed for warmth- and is startled by a knock at her window.

Outside is a young man. A pilot. And he wants to come in …

When I read the synopsis for The Greatcoat, I knew I had to buy it. Plus it’s by Hammer and being a horror fanatic, how could I resist?

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers …

I haven’t seen the film Rebecca but I have often heard my mam saying how it’s easily one of the best horror movies she’s seen. I read the synopsis and loved how creepy the plot sounded and was anxious to know how the book turned out. Who knows? It may become one of my favourite horror books.

The all the boys I’ve loved before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean Song keeps love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her – one for every boy she’s ever loved. She can say anything she wants, because the letters are for her eyes only. Until the day they’re sent out.

I really wanted to read To all the boys I’ve loved before after seeing the Netflix adaptation. I was delighted to get 2 books from the trilogy and look forward to reading them.

P.S I still love you by Jenny Han

I’m not going to write the synopsis for this one incase I spoil the first book for those who haven’t read it. P.S I still love you is the sequel to the first book, to all the boys I’ve loved before.

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My Anxiety Handbook by Sue Knowles, Bridie Gallagher and Phoebe McEwen – book review

Synopsis

For 12 to 18-year-olds with anxiety, this anxiety survival guide will help you learn to recognise and manage symptoms and overcome your biggest worries. This book helps you understand the ins and outs of your own anxiety, and challenge the difficult patterns you may get into.

Co-written with a college student who has experienced anxiety herself, it is a relatable and straightforward guide. As well as providing tried-and-tested advice and exercises that are proven to reduce feelings of anxiety, it includes recovery stories from young people who have managed their symptoms successfully. It includes chapters on sleep, exams and transitions.

Overall Plot

“My Anxiety Handbook” is the first self-help book I’ve read this month. I flicked through the book briefly in the library and it seemed like a straightforward, easy to read self-help book. There was a lot of text throughout the chapters which was thankfully broken up by various illustrations. The first few chapters focused mainly on what anxiety is, how one gets anxiety and ways to tackle anxiety.

These chapters were fairly straight forward and the authors gave a good explanation of anxiety that the reader can easily understand. There were some great tips and tricks throughout the book on how to tackle anxiety (going for a walk, meditation, good night’s sleep etc.) all of which are mentioned quite a lot in many anxiety based books.

Opinion

Maybe it is because I’ve read many anxiety/depression books in the past and I’ve gained a deep understanding of anxiety but I felt as though much information that was mentioned in the book I knew already. Chapters such as school, college and exam stress, discussed tips for exams all of which I have seen in various books such as this one.

However, I quite liked the “Tackling Worries” chapter. I might even give the worry box idea a go as it sounds quite interesting. I also like the addition of personal experiences throughout the book. I felt like I could relate to what some of the students spoke about and how they are managing their anxiety. The personal experience sections covered many different events that caused anxiety for students such as bullying, stress, feeling out of place etc. The students were of different ages, some in their early teens, and some in their early to late 20s.

Conclusion

This was a nice informative self-help book. Unfortunately, to me I felt that I had heard a lot of the information before whether by books, films, guest speakers etc. Only some of the information was new to me. While I could relate to some of the students stories about their struggle with anxiety, in my opinion this book is much more geared at early teens (ages 14-17).

If you haven’t read an anxiety book before or you would like to learn more about it then I would highly recommend this book as it gives great tips on how to reduce feelings of anxiety. I would rate “My anxiety handbook” 3 stars.

Where’d you go,Bernadette by Maria Semple – book review

Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.com

Synopsis

Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown.

And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.

Plot summary

When I heard that “Where’d you go Bernadette” was being made into a film (released in March 2019) I knew I had to read it. The book is focused primarily on Bee, a young fifteen-year-old girl who happens to be very intelligent for her age. There is also Bee’s relationship with her mother Bernadette, an agoraphobic who was once a thriving architect.

As mentioned in the synopsis, Bee gets straight A’s in her exams so she suggests that the family take a trip to Antarctica. Bee, dad and Bernadette begin to prepare for the trip as a serious of events occur throwing the whole Branch household upside down.

Opinion

I would first like to mention that the synopsis is a little misleading. You expect Bernadette to disappear fairly early on right? Wrong! She doesn’t disappear until part 5 which is about half way through the book.

The author mentioned an internet security storyline in the beginning which I liked. She emphasised the dangers of the internet, hackers and the types of information hackers can easily get a hold of. It’s scary stuff indeed.

I flew through the first half of the book. It was mostly composed of emails and letters so it was easy to read. After part 5, the book became a bit complicated. I didn’t really feel anything towards the characters and I began to lose interest in the storyline.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t say this was “one of the year’s best books”. It was okay but it wasn’t great. While I enjoyed up until part 5, the book went a bit bland after that. All in all, I would give “Where’d you go Bernadette” 2.5 stars.

Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald – book review

Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure.

Set on the French Riviera in the 1920s, Tender is the Night charts the captivating lives of American Dick Diver and his wife Nicole. The pair are the epitome of chic, living a glamorous lifestyle and entertaining friends at their villa.

Young film star Rosemary Hoyt arrives in France and becomes entranced by the couple. It is not long before she is attracted to the enigmatic Dick, but he and his wife hold dark secrets and, as their marriage becomes more fractured, Fitzgerald laments the failure of idealism and the carefully constructed trappings of high society in the Roaring Twenties.

There are three books (parts) within ”Tender is the Night”. Book 1 of “Tender is the Night” was nicely written. In the beginning, we are introduced to young film star Rosemary Hoyt as she arrives in France accompanied by her mother. Rosemary has only been a celebrity the past 6 months but people already recognise her. Rosemary meets Dick Diver for the first time in chapter 2.

Dick’s wife, Nicole Diver, is described later on in chapter 4 just as Rosemary becomes infatuated with Dick Diver.

I enjoyed reading book 1 but sadly, the story went quickly downhill as book 2 began. There were several times where I found myself wanting to skip pages and to try and figure out where the remainder of the book was headed.

The final parts of the book seemed like an attempt by Fitzgerald to finish the 315 + page novel but in doing so, gradually let the plot slip through his fingers. However, I think the ending was a good and well-structured end to the novel.

Conclusion

I was looking forward to reading “Tender is the Night” after reading Fitzgerald’s most successful novel” The Great Gatsby” which I loved. However, if you are looking to compare the two novels, then I am afraid you may be disappointed.

Charity shop mini book haul

Today’s post is a little different. Recently, I decided to start writing about all-things budget-friendly alongside other niches and came up with lots of ideas but I thought why not start off with a mini book haul on a budget?

So I bought three books from my local charity shop. (I plan to have bigger book hauls at a later stage). The books were priced at €2 each or 3 books for a €5! The majority of the books were brand new (Eason’s sticker was still on some of them) and some were listed as my to-reads on my Goodreads account. I’m really excited to read them but for now, here are the three books I bought accompanied by their synopsis.

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

Synopsis

‘ I need you to call me back. It’s important.’

Just days before her sister plunged to her death, Jules ignored her call.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules must return to her sister’s house to care for her daughter, and to face the mystery of Nel’s death.

But Jules is afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of this small town that is drowning in secrecy…

And of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Synopsis

It is Ireland in the 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go, leaving behind her family and home for the first time.

Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. She is far from home – and homesick. Then, just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma – a devastating choice between duty and one great love.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Synopsis

Sara has never left Sweden but at the age of 28 she decides it’s time. She cashes in her savings, packs a suitcase full of books and sets off for Broken Wheel, Iowa, a town where she knows nobody.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps some romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

With a little help from the locals, Sara sets up Broken Wheel’s first bookstore. The shop might be a little quirky but then again, so is Sara. And as Broken Wheel’s story begins to take shape, there are some surprises in store for Sara too…

I look forward to reviewing these books but until then I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading x

Similar posts: http://lifeisanadventure.ie/2019/04/02/charity-shop-book-haul/

Oh my God, What a complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen – book review

*review may contain spoilers

Synopsis

Aisling is 28, and she’s a complete Aisling.

Living ‘Down Home’ with Mammy and Daddy, she commutes to her good pensionable job in Dublin and stays two nights a week with her boyfriend of seven years, John.

But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants the grand big house with the utility room of her dreams.

When a week in Tenerife doesn’t result in a proposal, Aisling decides she’s had enough. It’s time for a change.

A new start, a love triangle (well, more of a square) and some home truths force Aisling out of her comfort zone and into a life she never imagined. 

Review

I saw this book in various bookshops and famous Irish authors saying it was “hilarious “and “moving”. So since the character Aisling was nicknamed the Irish Bridget Jones, I thought I’d find out for myself what all the hype was about. Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

This was a highly overrated book. There’s a ton of Irish phrases on nearly every page but the thing about these Irish phrases, nobody says them anymore. Even my father is from the country and he doesn’t say half of the stuff Aisling was on about. It seemed like an attempt to fill up the entire 272 page book.

If you ask me it seems like Aisling doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing. She doesn’t know what she wants in life or who she wants to be with. First she wants to get married and then later on she doesn’t know if it’s for her or not. Aisling is very indecisive.

Aisling breaks up with her boyfriend of 7 years but proceeds to want to know his every move. Who he’s with and what he’s doing at all times. (Bit stalkerish to be honest).

Conclusion

The repetitive mention of the GAA really made me consider closing the book there and then. It was so annoying. Not every Irish person is involved in the GAA.

There wasn’t really any love triangle/square in this. It was just Aisling deciding who she liked and then comparing that person to her ex John.

There was no character development. Characters such as Piotr, Aisling’s brother and Donna seemed to be thrown in for the sake of it. I didn’t really like Aisling’s character. Aisling was overly emotional, indecisive and did I mention a low key stalker as well? The book was full of Irish clichés. (Oh the cringe). Overall, I’m disappointed with how the book played out.