BOOK REVIEW | Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

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Read: February 2017

UK Release: 2nd March 2017

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Literary fiction

Synopsis: Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 80s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak. Goodreads.

I was provided with a copy of this book by Canongate via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 Stay With Me tells the story of Yejide and Akin’s marriage, and its eventual disintegration. The novel is told from both their perspectives, beginning in 2008, at the funeral of Akin’s father, where it is revealed that Yejide and Akin have not seen each other in 14 years. The bulk of the novel, however, takes place in Nigeria in the 1980’s, following Yejide and Akin’s struggles to have a child. This novel is absolutely heartbreaking, and throughout, it feels heavy with grief.

Yejide and Akin are under great pressure to conceive, and much of this burden falls on Yejide herself, as it is perceived to be some kind of ‘failure’ on her part. Yejide longs for motherhood, and it’s gut-wrenching what she goes through in order to become a mother. However, Akin, as a firstborn son, faces a pressure of a different kind. At the start of the novel, Akin’s mother introduces Yejide to the second wife she has arranged for him. Akin’s mother believes that Yejide is unable to have children, and that this is the only solution to their perceived problem. It is clear, in their reflections of the past, that Yejide and Akin loved each other deeply, and these outside influences who claim to ‘help’ their marriage, ultimately poison it.

One of the things I liked the most about this novel was Ayobami Adebayo’s characters. She manages to create realistically flawed, sometimes unlikeable characters, that I nonetheless felt so much sympathy for. Yejide, in particular, I found it impossible not to like. I’d expected to prefer Yejide’s narration over Akin’s, but this was not the case. I really liked the dual perspective, and felt that it really contributed to the narrative as a whole. As you might expect, Yejide and Akin keep plenty of secrets from each other, and many of these are revealed to the reader before the other party ever hears of them, meaning that while their chapters were often discussing the same period of time, you’re always getting new information. I also found that Yejide and Akin’s narrative voices were incredibly distinct; it was always clear whose chapter I was reading. This allowed for an intimate portrayal of both their characters and their relationship, and even when I didn’t agree with their actions, I could always understand why they were making the decisions they did.

Another aspect of the book that I liked was how the political situation in Nigeria was woven through it. It was something that I didn’t know too much about, but this didn’t hinder my reading in any way. I felt that this was as its most effective toward the end of the novel, as the political unrest and the catastrophe that Yejide and Akin’s relationship has become, come to a head at the exact same time.

Given that this book deals with societal expectations surrounding the family, it naturally discusses the impact this has on women. Some points in Yejide’s narration felt claustrophobic due to the intense pressure she was feeling, most particularly when she is forced to accept the presence of Akin’s second wife. As the novel progresses, Yejide’s situation only gets worse, and I found myself marvelling that she was able to get through it. Her grief in this book is almost palpable, and I honestly felt like I spent most of this book on the verge of tears. Akin, by contrast, feels distant, and it isn’t until later in the novel that its revealed how he struggles to cope with the expectations in terms of his masculinity. Akin hides plenty from Yejide, but he also hides things from the reader, and I really liked this. This book took turns I wasn’t expecting, particularly in regard to Akin’s character, and it kept me hooked throughout.

I know it’s only March, but so far this is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. Ayobami Adebayo’s writing is beautiful, I was highlighting so many passages as I was reading. It’s hard to go into this book too much without spoiling it, but I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys intricate, character-focused novels. This is an astonishing debut, and I’m really looking forward to whatever Ayobami Adebayo writes in the future!

Books for International Women’s Day!

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Happy International Women’s Day! In honor of today, I thought I’d share with you some great books written by women, all with a feminist theme. Feminism is a pretty nebulous term, so I’m by no means saying that these books entirely encompass it. In fact, they probably barely scratch the surface. There are a few here that I’ve read and highly recommend, and a few that are on my radar and I hope to get to soon. So let’s get into it!

Just as a warning, some of the books featured mention rape and sexual assault.

Continue reading “Books for International Women’s Day!”

RECENT READS | #6-10

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Hello! This is a new feature on my blog where I’ll be briefly talking about the books I’ve read this year. I did quarterly wrap up posts last year, but I decided that I wanted to do these wrap up posts with a little more frequency. Really, I’d just like to get into the habit of saying something about every book that I read, and I don’t always have enough to say about a book to warrant a full length review.

I’ve read 11 books so far this year — if you’re wondering why this post is starting at #6, it’s because I talked about the first four books I read this year in my #DAReadathon Wrap Up post back in January, and I’ve also written a full length review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I’ve had a great reading year so far, I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever read over ten books before the end of February before. Plus, I’ve given every book I’ve read a pretty good rating, so let’s get into it!

Covers = Goodreads.

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BOOK REVIEW | Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Read: January 2017

UK Release: 9th February 2017

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling.

Synopsis: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. Goodreads.

I was provided with a copy of this book by Pan Macmillan Children’s Books UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I’d been anticipating the release of this book for quite some time, as I’m already a fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. I really enjoy how she interprets and adapts popular fairy tales in that series, so I was excited to see her take on Carroll’s Wonderland. This, and the fact that I really enjoyed her last foray into a villain backstory—Fairest—meant that I was intrigued to see how she’d go about the villain origin story for the notorious Queen of Hearts. Overall, I did enjoy this book, but I found it lacking on certain points, so I gave it 3 stars. This review is spoiler free, for the most part. Really the only “spoilers” are things you already know are going to happen if you’ve ever seen or read Alice in Wonderland.

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BOOK REVIEW | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Read: October 2016

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. Goodreads.

It’s always intimidating to read a book that’s so widely well-loved and admired. This is likely why The Name of the Wind sat in my room unread for so many years. I bought it in about 2014 after seeing so many positive reviews. I hadn’t read much—if any—fantasy since marathoning the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series in 2012. Which was probably because I was feeling more than a little burnt out on fantasy novels after completing that particular task. I’d hoped that The Name of the Wind would inspire/motivate me to pick up fantasy books again.

Which it did, if a few years later than I’d originally intended. I loved this book, really all I’m doing here is contributing to its already considerable hype, but still.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss”

Top Ten Graphic Novels on my TBR

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This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday is all about the visuals, a kind of freebie topic focused on graphic novels/comics/picture books. Today, I’ll be talking about the ten graphic novels that are at the top of my wishlist. I’ve only really gotten into comics and graphic novels over the last couple of years, so a lot of the books that I mention here are probably already pretty well-established. I’ve heard amazing things about all of them, and I’m desperate to read each and every one of them!

As always, the covers will take you to the Goodreads pages.

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#DAReadathon Wrap Up

 

 

 

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It’s time for my (belated, as always) wrap up for the #DAReadathon! I managed to read a total of four books for this readathon, and so completed four of the challenges. I did get partway through my fifth, but ended up losing steam. Despite not hitting my seven book target, I’m not in the least disappointed. I really enjoyed all of the books that I read, so without further ado, let’s get into the books!

As always, the covers will take you to the Goodreads pages.

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OCTOBER – DECEMBER READING WRAP UP

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Here’s my (slightly belated) wrap up of all the books I read in the last three months of the year! You can read my January-March wrap up here, my April-June wrap up here, and my July-September wrap up here.

As always, let’s talk about the books I’m currently reading before getting into what I have read. I had the very lofty ambition that I would completely clear my currently reading shelf. It’s really no surprise that I wasn’t successful in doing this. So, once again, I am still reading House of Leaves. It’s such a commitment, so I’ve just been prioritising other books. I’m also about halfway through I Am Malala, which I’d hoped to read for the #DAReadathon, but will probably finish up in January regardless. I also got approved for two ARCs, those being Heartless by Marissa Meyer and Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. While these are both sitting on my currently reading shelf on Goodreads, I’m only actively reading Heartless at the moment.

Now, here are the books I have read!

Continue reading “OCTOBER – DECEMBER READING WRAP UP”

Top Ten 2016 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn’t Get To

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Hello! Welcome to my first Top Ten Tuesday post of the year. This week’s theme is 2016 releases you meant to read, but didn’t get around to. Today I’ll be sharing with you some of the 2016 releases that I bought and haven’t read, and some that I meant to buy, but didn’t.

Hopefully I’ll get to most of these in 2017, but for now, let’s get started! As always, the book cover of each will take you to the Goodreads pages.


1. THE RAVEN KING BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER

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I really like the Raven Cycle and I was so excited for this book to come out, but then I just…never bought it? My favourite thing about this series is definitely the characters, but I was so excited to see how the whole thing would conclude. I’m definitely hoping to buy/read this at some point this year!


2. THE LAST STAR BY RICK YANCEY

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Again, this is a series that I really, really like. But I didn’t buy the last book, and now I barely remember what happened in the second book, so I’ll probably have to reread the whole series. Why do I do this to myself.


3. STARS ABOVE BY MARISSA MEYER

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This is a collection of short stories set in the Lunar Chronicles universe. However, it’s set after the events of Winter, and since I haven’t read that yet, I couldn’t read this!


4. FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM BY J.K. ROWLING

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While this wasn’t a priority, I’d hoped to read this not long after I watched the film. I ended up seeing the film quite spontaneously, and then didn’t get the screenplay until Christmas. Still, I’d really like to read this, because I enjoyed the film much more than I thought I would, so it’d be interesting to compare the two!


5. THE ESSEX SERPENT BY SARAH PERRY

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I mean, I mostly bought this because of the cover. And because I had a full Waterstones stamp card, which meant that I got £10 off, which meant that I was completely justified to make an impulse cover-buy. It does still sound incredibly interesting, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about it.


6. EMPIRE OF STORMS BY SARAH J. MAAS

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Now, this one I’m not sure I’ll ever read. While I didn’t enjoy Queen of ShadowsI did intend to give Empire of Storms a chance. However, after reading a considerable amount of reviews, I’m not so sure anymore. I’m about 80% sure I’ve completely dropped this series — 80% because every time I tell someone I won’t read it, I doubt myself. So we’ll see.


7. THE BUTCHER’S HOOK BY JANET ELLIS

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This was actually another impulse buy when the hardcover was really cheap on Amazon. I’d heard Jen Campbell on YouTube talk about it a lot, so I figured that it must be good. Really, all I needed to know was that it’s historical fiction about a cunning, apparently macabre girl, and I’m pretty much sold.


8. AND I DARKEN BY KIERSTEN WHITE

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You guessed it, this was another impulse buy. I just thought the concept of this book was so intriguing, I couldn’t resist picking it up. I love reading about unlikeable characters, so I’ll be sure to make time for this book soon!


9. THE CITY OF MIRRORS BY JUSTIN CRONIN

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This book was my most anticipated release of 2016 by a long, long way. The only reason I didn’t read it is because the previous book in this series came out in 2012, so I really need to reread all of them. This is one of my favourite series, so it’ll be interesting to see what I make of it when I do make time to read all three books.


10. LABYRINTH LOST BY ZORAIDA CORDOVA

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This book was everywhere last year, and I (impulsively) bought it during a Kindle daily deal. This was one of the books on my TBR for the #DAReadathon, and I’m actually currently reading it at the moment! Look at me! Not avoiding books on my TBR! Progress!


Those are all the 2016 releases that I fully intended to read. I’m not entirely sure which of these I’ll get around to in 2017, but I’ll definitely be prioritising the books I actually own. Which, realistically, means that there’s probably going to be a couple more series that I’ll need to reread in the future…

If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Books I’d Like to Read in 2017

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For a long time, I’d assumed that things like monthly TBRs don’t really work for me because I’m mostly a mood reader. That, coupled with the fact that for the last four years I’d had mountains of assigned reading, I never really liked tying myself to reading certain books within a certain time frame.

As it turns out, I was dead wrong, and setting tentative TBRs has actually helped me a lot in getting around to reading books that have been sitting around my room for ages. I made a post like this last year and you might notice that a couple of the books that I mentioned last year, are also on this list. That’s mostly because I was lazy, and didn’t push myself to read them, so they’re top priority this year. I’m thinking about setting a “theme” for myself each month—for instance, I’ve decided that I’ll read only fantasy books in February. This way I know I have to read certain books.

Very quickly, the books I’m carrying over are The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I talked about them a little in last year’s post, so I won’t go into them here. On the plus side, I did read two of the books on last year’s list so that’s not bad, right? 2 out of 5? Right.

Anyway, here are the books that I’m making a priority in 2017. As always, the covers will take you to the Goodreads page.

Continue reading “Books I’d Like to Read in 2017”