The Goldfinch | Donna Tartt | Book Reviews Are Back Despite No-One Reading Them Because I Ramble Too Much

Where do I start in reviewing such a masterpiece? It’s left me feeling accomplished (since it was a hefty book) though not necessarily happier or sadder. Although it has left an impression, I can’t exactly pinpoint where or how 🤷‍♀️ That’s not to say it’s a bad book because I loved it! From start to finish, the description enticed me and the plot was so detailed.

Initially I picked this book up in aim to defeat my fear of large books. I’ve always avoided books with 600+ pages, especially if their font is small. In a way, it has helped defeat my fear. But the book was so fascinating that I forgot about the word and page count, and became immersed in the plot and characters.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate. 

Theo Decker is our main protagonist. I don’t know whether to love or hate him, but I do dislike him at the very least. In the last few pages he gave a beautiful, poetic passage that seemed to come from a place of wisdom. However, that alone does not counteract the mistakes he made throughout the novel that in my opinion where stupid. Perhaps this is a spoiler, although it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the novel if you decide to read it: Boris and Theo become really close friends. They have no support from outsiders so are left primarily to their own devices. They turn to drugs and crime in this period of abandonment. It follows them around like a shadow far into their adult life, and hinders their social abilities. The way Tartt describes and develops their characters appears to be incredibly realistic, although I have never known a drug addict/criminal 😅

I took this book slow, despite it being a page-turner. Every sentence was a work of art, and I wanted to savour that as much as possible. However this morning I woke up late, around 8am, sat on the sofa all morning and trundled through 165 pages worth of this novel until I reached the end. Do I regret rushing the last few chapters? Not at all! It felt so right, and I couldn’t put it down even though I tried. I thought, ‘I’ll just go and practise my cello, and come back to this later’ but my eyes kept moving across the page and physically could not stop reading. 

My favourite character has to Hobie. If any of you have read this novel, I’d love to know who your favourite was! He took on a father-like role for Theo, and became a solid rock for him to rely on. Unlike Boris, who often slipped away without warning. Ever since I was introduced to Boris I felt wary and did not trust him in the slightest. I don’t think Theo did either!

Theo’s character was believable, and this whole book almost felt like a retelling of a non-fiction story. It’s written in first person, from his perspective, but from other people’s dialogues you could guess that he wasn’t someone to admire. Even up to the last pages, Theo was incredibly pessimistic and brutally honest. However I did like this a lot! Many chapters just sounded like one great old moan, but it was entertaining simultaneously. It made the book more believable and almost made me feel guilty because I’m under blankets with a cup of tea while he’s committing drug abuse and being dragged into a criminal underworld… 

The reason I give this book 5 stars is for reasons I’ve just explained, but also the timeline. We see Theo grow from 13 to his mid-twenties! And it’s not as if details have been skimmed over or anything has been missed out because it did make loads of sense. 

Bought this copy from a charity shop for £2. Safe to say I’m a happy customer!

Have you read any big books recently? Or are you afraid of them?

erin x

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6 Books In One Day | 24-Hour Readathon Wrap-Up

Did I stay up for the whole 24 hours? No. Was it as successful as I anticipated? No. But was it worth it? Yes!

On 25th April I spontaneously decided to partake in a 24-hour readathon. I’ve seen these challenges all over booktube and I really wanted to try it myself. So my friend and I challenged ourselves to read for 24 hours straight! The readathon didn’t set off on the right foot, I woke up and 1:20am instead of midnight as planned. Then I took a break from 5:30am-10:00am. Then went for an hour long walk. Then took a half hour lunch break. And I didn’t end at midnight either, but cut it short at 11:00pm! So this was more like a 12 hour readathon than a full 24 hour one. Although I did finish 6 books, which I am quite pleased about. Here are the books I read:

1) The Lost Princess – Connie Glynn

This was a re-read however I enjoyed it so much more the second time around! I have grown to love the characters and I’m really excited for the next one in the series. Though it felt a bit all over the place, the general plot got through to me and I especially enjoyed all of the cat scenes.

2) The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken

Unfortunately I have no desire to continue with this series. It would have been an amazing read if I hadn’t read so many other 2010s YA dystopian! There was nothing particularly original about it, and most of the tropes I had seen previously. The whole Clancy and Ruby situation gave off Warner and Juliette vibes. Though it was an entertaining read, it didn’t spark much interest. If it weren’t for the readathon I would have probably DNFed it!

3) Leia: Princess Of Alderaan – Claudia Gray

Star Wars is a franchise I only love due to my dad. If I had discovered it myself I probably wouldn’t be the biggest fan! However this book was just so good. Not 5 stars, but quite empowering. We all know of Princess Leia and her romance with Han Solo, but how about independent Leia? Before she had a man? When she stood on her own two feet? The premise of the book is that Leia needs to complete challenges in order to be crowned heir of the throne. We follow her through this journey and she encounters many barriers on the way. But these obstacles only help to bring down the Empire, which is the Rebels key mission. 

4) The Safest Lies – Megan Miranda

Fast paced, enjoyable and quick read. In one sitting I devoured what was an excellent thriller. Though it doesn’t reach the 5-star mark, it was incredibly well-developed for such a short book. Highly recommend for anyone doing a 24-hour readathon!

5) Third Year At Malory Towers – Enid Blyton

Since the series came out on CBBC, it reminded me of the books I used to really love. Though I haven’t watched the programme, the appearance of it around social media was a signal to pick these up again. Of course, I did enjoy them. I admire the way Enid Blyton creates such an atmosphere with so little description. This book helped me through the readathon because it was short and quick, while remaining enjoyable.

6) Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban

My final book of the readathon! I honestly didn’t think I’d finish this one. But once again J.K Rowling’s magic gripped me and I felt compelled to read on. The Prisoner Of Azkaban sees the transition of Harry being young and naive to older and under threat. I would recommend this to anyone, of course, though it isn’t my favourite of the series. 

That wraps up my readathon! Hope you enjoyed reading, if you did stick to the end. Don’t forget to check out my Goodreads to see what I’m reading at the moment. Also, if you’re on my website there’s a little widget to the side of this post. 

What are your reading at the moment? What is your favourite Harry Potter book? 

erin x

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The Unexpected Everything | Morgan Matson | Book Review

Okay, now it’s over. And I just want more! Like, why end it so abruptly? What will happen to Clark and Andie? Please, Morgan Matson, give me more! 

I spent a week on this book, a lot longer than I would usually dedicate to reading, but I just wanted it to last forever. Sadly, it came to an end. As much as I tried to postpone the ending, it eventually came. Sometimes finishing books gives me satisfaction. This one just made me sad. I wanted to know so much more about Andie’s future. From a writer’s perspective, it’s good to allow your reader to predict what’s going to happen next. However, as a reader, I’m hungry for more. That’s how much I enjoyed this book!

The beginning started off like any YA contemporary: explaining the problems the protagonist faces. I thought this was going to be Andie solving her problems… but no! It was actually way more intriuging. Matson introduced many obstacles along the way which I really appreciate. You thought the hurdle had been jumped, then another one came. That kept the pace of the novel going and make me hasty to read on!

It was a wonderfully crafted book. The description was dreamy and clever, allowing the reader to create their own version of Andie’s world. Also, Andie was her own narrator. That meant we could see much deeper into her thoughts and feelings – especially about Clark! In YA it is common to see the standard life events skipped over, but Matson really focused in on the ‘normal’ things. Like dinner, texting your friends or the relationship with your parents. 

One element that I really enjoyed was the side narrative about Andie’s father. He worked in politics and for most of Andie’s life was away from home. But after the scandal, he ended up staying with Andie all summer. The novel showed the growing of a bond. It was very realistic in its hurdles – not washing over the reality too much. 

I suppose what I really enjoyed about this book was the various different things going on at once. There wasn’t just a love interest, but also the loss of a parent. And then the side plot about Andie’s father always working and never having the time for her. On top of that was friendship, and house parties and summer jobs. 

Please read this book. It will make you smile, laugh and cry.

Have you read this book? What are your favourite summer romances? Any titles you can recommend? 

Hope you are all having a lovely day. If not, I hope my blog can make you feel better!

erin x

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February Goals | Novel Writing & My Etsy Shop

A New Year can be very daunting for all of us. All of this goal-setting can be very overwhelming; I don’t think any of you are failures for already giving up! That’s why I don’t do it. I introduce new habits whenever I think that I need them! For example, I am now working on the plank position. I started by doing it for 30 seconds every morning and night but now I’m bumping it up to a minute. I keep fit because it makes me feel better – the physical results are just a side-effect!

However, setting resolutions can be an attractive idea. That’s why I thought it could be interesting to do a ‘February Goals’ post! Just because the New Year hype is over doesn’t mean that we can’t still be challenging ourselves day-to-day.

Write 5000 words on my novel 

To all of the authors out there, I know 5000 doesn’t seem a lot. But we’ve got to start somewhere and small goals are really the only way for me! Don’t expect this novel to published anywhere soon. No doubt it will be another draft I am too insecure to share with anyone.

Read 100 pages a day

Towards the end of last year I was focusing a lot on other hobbies, so reading wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. Now that school has started again it feels more necessary to be reading a lot! Fiction also helps me develop ideas for my own books.

Sell my first scrunchies!

I’ve been working on an Etsy shop for a little while. Though everything I have the products and the website, I don’t have the packaging. This month I’d like to work on that and hopefully post my first order. Etsy isn’t something I want to do in the long run – I just thought it would be a good way to fundraise for GirlGuides! And if I somehow found the time then I’d make stickers too. I’ll link the shop here. All purchases are much appreciated! 

Do you set monthly goals? Have you kept up with the New Year’s resolutions you set?

erin x

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Orphan Monster Spy | Book Review

Okay, so we’ve encountered a five star read. It’s the first one in a while, which is what really excites me! Historical fiction has got to be my favourite genre and this book has everything in it that I love about the genre. There were elements in it that were  unique, such as including the dreams/nightmares of Sarah. They weaved into the plot slightly and gave it a lot more depth.

Synopsis

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah–blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish–finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined.

The style of writing wasn’t too ‘heavy’ yet it did have a good few metaphors! I wish I had written them down to how you examples but I’m not a literal critic and this is just meant to be a casual post. Sometimes I really get carried away with myself and start thinking it’s a language exam 😂

It doesn’t have much hype as it was only released in 2018, but I think it deserves more. There isn’t anything romantic or overly ‘YA’ about it other than a bit of bloody description. Similar to The Book Thief it is a book for all ages. I would press my mum to read this if she could before it was due back in the library! I don’t know if it’s for everyone, but as it isn’t spoken about much on bookstagram I don’t know many other opinions. If you have read this then I would really appreciate a chat in the comments!

Have you read any five-star reads this year? Do you like historical fiction?

erin x

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