September 2021 Mini Reviews

 The Divines by Ellie Eaton
Published: 18th February 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I have to say, I was not expecting to relate to this book or Josephine, the protagonist, as much as I did! I really liked the whole dynamic of the book, being thrown straight into school life and the intense friendships of boarding-school teenage 'Joe', and then the contrast with 'Sephine' and her adulthood relationship with her husband. This coming-of-age novel was told exceptionally well by Eaton, especially seeing Josephine's struggle between her identity as a "Divine" and her blossoming friendship with a "townie". Josephine made for a really relatable main character, and despite initial reservations, her teenage experiences are ones I think most could understand. The ending was very fitting, I found, in showing the difference between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. I thought this was a great debut novel, one of the best I've read in a while, and I'm excited to see what Eaton writes next.
4 stars

Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan
Published: 23rd February 2021 by Montlake
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

This might be one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year! I knew right from the start that I'd like Make It Sweet - a TV actress and a hockey player who bakes; what's not to love? However, the story is deeper than that, and I really liked seeing how Emma was initially constantly compared to her character, while Lucian couldn't see himself as anything other than a hockey player. The whole dynamic of everyone living at Rosemont put a smile on my face, from Sal and Luc's interactions to Mamie and her authority. I found myself unable to put this down and ended up reading it in less than a day, so if that's not a recommendation I don't know what is!
4.5 stars

Little Gods by Meng Jin
Published: 7th October 2021 by Pushkin Press
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

Seeing the comparisons to Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, which I really enjoyed, made me want to pick this up and try it out but to be honest they felt like very different books to me! I was interested by the premise of a daughter's journey back to the place where she originally comes from, and exploring the mother-daughter relationship. However, I don't feel as though we get the full experience of this, as the perspective of the book is not written solely from hers. I also agree with what I've seen from other reviewers that there felt like an emotional distance from the reader and the characters, which may work for some, but I found it to be hard to engage with the book in general because of this. The characters felt stilted and I felt the story could have been much more human and relatable if portrayed differently. It was an interesting concept but I feel as though the execution of it fell flat for me, unfortunately.
3 stars

The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende
Published: 2nd March 2021 by Bloomsbury
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I devoured this short work of Allende's take on womanhood! I've never read any of Allende's work before (I've been meaning to for years), but thought that it would be interesting to get an insight into the woman behind so many great books, and it's only made me want to read them more. This mini-memoir shows just how full of a life Allende has led, and it was really insightful to read her opinions on feminism and womanhood. They are definitely more akin to second-wave feminist ideas, and she references Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan at points, but I still found them to be incredibly relevant to today. This isn't a reflection on the book itself, but the proof copy I received was so poorly formatted that I actually found it quite hard to read at times, with letters from words and full words themselves missing from the text, which did ruin the flow of the book for me to some extent.
4 stars

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