Book that I hated

I love reading books and spend a small fortune in Amazon and charity shops purchasing books. However some books I have purchased often end up being real disappointments. Since I take my unwanted books to the charity shop, I delved back in my amazon purchases to see which books ended up being disappointments.

Contest – Matthew Reilly

Synopsis: The New York State Library becomes an arena for Dr Stephen Swain and daughter Holly where Dr Stephen Swain is competing for his life. 

I loved Ice Station and Hell Island so when I was looking for a book to take with me on holiday Contest seemed like the perfect answer. Matthew Reilly’s books are know for being over exaggerating. Ice Station and Hell Island are two but they were kind of believable, Contest was just so ridiculous from the start with. As soon as I was reading about alien creatures that speak to humans, I just couldn’t read the rest of the book. If you are into fantasy it may be one for you.

The Fair Fight – Anna Freeman

Synopsis (from Amazon): Born into a brothel, Ruth’s future looks bleak until she catches the eye of Mr. Dryer. A rich Bristol merchant and enthusiast of the ring, he trains gutsy Ruth as a puglist. Soon she rules the blood-spattered sawdust at the infamous Hatchet Inn.

The Fair Fight will take you from a filthy brothel to the finest houses in the town, from the world of street-fighters to the world of champions. Alive with the smells and the sounds of the streets, it is a raucous, intoxicating tale of courage, reinvention and fighting your way to the top.

A historical fictional novel about female boxers really appealed to me as I read a five star review about it in an magazine. But the book was just such a slow burner that I got fed up and gave up half way through. I found it confusing and didn’t want to spend the time finding out what was going on.

Generation X: Tales for an accelerated culture – Douglas Coupland

Synopsis (from Amazon): Andy, Dag and Claire have been handed a society beyond their means. Twentysomethings, brought up with divorce, Watergate and Three Mile Island, and scarred by the 80s fallout of yuppies, recession, crack and Ronald Reagan, they represent the new generation- Generation X. 
Fiercely suspicious of being lumped together as an advertiser’s target market, they have quit dreary careers and cut themselves adrift in the California desert. Unsure of their futures, they immerse themselves in a regime of heavy drinking and working in no future McJobs in the service industry.
Underemployed, overeducated and intensely private and unpredictable, they have nowhere to direct their anger, no one to assuage their fears, and no culture to replace their anomie. So they tell stories: disturbingly funny tales that reveal their barricaded inner world. A world populated with dead TV shows, ‘Elvis moments’ and semi-disposible Swedish furniture.

For those of you reading that know me personally, this does sound like a book that would be right up my street, especially its relevance with today’s society. I found it a choir to get through, quite self indulgent and boring.

Kill All Enemies – Melvin Burgess

Synopsis (from Amazon): 

Everyone says fourteen-year-old BILLIE is nothing but trouble. A fighter. A danger to her family and friends.
But her care worker sees someone different.

Her classmate ROB is big, strong; he can take care of himself and his brother.
But his violent stepdad sees someone to humiliate.

And CHRIS is struggling at school; he just doesn’t want to be there.
But his dad sees a useless no-hoper.

Billie, Rob and Chris each have a story to tell. But there are two sides to every story, and the question is . . . who do you believe?

I had read Junk and absolutely loved it, so when I googled searched more of Melvin Burgess’ books this one appealed to me. But when I had purchased it, I was disappointed, I found the book never got quite going for me.

Becoming: Sex, Second Chances and Figuring Out who the hell I am – Laura Williams

Synopsis (from Amazon): 

When the man Laura Jane Williams thought she’d wed dumped her and married her friend, she was devastated. Empty. Drinking too much, sleeping around, and moving from place-to-place in a refusal to put down roots, she tried to fill the void – the gaping hole – that heartbreak had left behind. She wanted control. To grab life by the balls. To live boldly. But, she rapidly learned it wasn’t that simple.

Resolving that life couldn’t go on as it was – that the backlog of men and sadness that haunted her would not define her – Laura declared a year-long vow of celibacy, ultimately finding herself in a Riviera convent as she slowly put pieces of herself back together.

An honest exploration of a young woman’s soul and a road trip through Italy, America, Paris and… Derby, BECOMING is a book that makes you laugh and makes you cry, but most of all? It makes you realise that even when the going gets tough, no one is really f*cking up like they think they are.

This book, again, I had brought due to a review I read in Cosmo I think. I wanted to like this book, I really did, but found it just too self indulgent. I have to expect that, it is a memoir and what happened to her was truly awful but it was too much for me. A lot of people go through a lot worse and don’t travel around, they have to get on with it. It just wanted her to get over it!

That’s it for now! What books have you read which you were disappointed with?

Image of the book Happier Thinking Lana Grace Riva

I recently was sent Happier Thinking* to review. In the past I have reviewed self help books such as How to make a decision and The Defining Decade and I do love a good self help book so was looking forward to reading this book. Happier Thinking is a short book (50 pages!) providing techniques and tips to help turn negatives into positives.

Happier Thinking is not a scientific book, and Lana does not claim to be a scientist. The book is written from her experience attending mindfulness classes, therapy and reading. The techniques she shares are techniques Lana has found helped her. The chapters are short and succinct, I like this, as other self help books can get so bogged down in the science you have to read half a chapter before a point is made. The book is handbag sized as well which is handy if you want a pick me up in the middle of the day or when you are out and about.

All the chapters are based on rewiring negative thoughts that may occur from everyday things such as not writing off the day if you have had a terrible time getting to work to acting on what you can change and not worrying about the things you can’t.

The don’t compare compare your life to imagined others really resonated with me. Lana talks about how you could be sitting on a train, looking at someone else and thinking they are having a great life but you don’t know them and this type of thinking is unhelpful. I am incredibly bad at always comparing myself to others to the extent that I make myself miserable, so to read what I do on paper did put it into perspective for me that I need to work to change my thinking regarding this.

The disadvantage of the book is that I found a lot of the examples to be too simplistic that they seemed unrealistic that the average person would stress over them. One example, Lana mentions, in the book is about you could get stressed over discontinued washing detergent. Another being what happens if the wrong food order arrives in a restaurant, therefore you now think the whole evening is ruined. You could argue that those examples are more relatable to everyone but it doesn’t work for me.

Overall the book didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know but it is useful as a starter book into self help or as a quick reminder.

*This book was sent for me to review but views, as always, are my own.

Image of The Wrong Knickers book by Bryony Gordon

Since at the moment I am spending time either watching telly or reading books. So a book review is the way it is going to go!

Bryony Gordon is a Telegraph Columnist, mental health advocate and author of the famous Mad Girl (which I have written a blog post about) and her latest book which is about running with a mental health condition. Today I am focusing on her first book The Wrong Kickers which she recalls her twenties in absolute hilarity. Bryony Gordon first rose to popularity because she wrote the popular Girl about Town column which ran from …. To …. In all honestly I was too young to read or even know about the column. I knew her from the Mad Girl book but you don’t need to know that history to not enjoy the book.

The Wrong Knickers opens with Bryony round at a a guy’s house, it is the morning after the night before, and he throws her over a pair of knickers – which turns out to not even be hers. This kicks off her adventure of her parents divorcing, the numerous weddings she has gone too, drug taking, experience about her low self-esteem, moving out into dodgy flats, watching her career grow, having an affair with a married man and eventually finding peace.

I loved the book, Bryony tells her stories so vividly and all of the chapters interlink. There are quite a few life events in the twenties that most of us can relate to at least one of them in one way or another. I find that people forget or don’t realise what a rollercoaster being in your twenties can be. Someone said to me that your twenties is where you go through more change then any other decade in terms of work and life, as beyond your thirties you are putting down roots and when you are a child and in your teens you are largely based at home. I kind of agree with that and Bryony puts that across well. The only negative I found is that I do feel that Bryony should have had some kind of self-restraint, it does go from one car crash to another which yes it is part of the appeal of the book but you do think that either at times she just didn’t know where to stop or she knew what she was doing was wrong but didn’t stop anyway- which is just awful.

If you want a good laugh or you are feeling pretty shit about your own and you want to feel better then yes this book is worth a read.

Image of the book Eloise by Judy Finnigan

I am seriously derived of reading material at the moment so I picked this up at the charity shop in Newark. Eloise is a book written by Judy Finnigan (from Richard and Judy fame) and it is her first book. The story, set in Cornwall, is about Cathy whose best friend Eloise has passed away from cancer. Cathy starts seeing Eloise in her dreams and gets frustrated as Eloise keeps warning her that her twin daughters will come to harm and to keep them away from her husband Tom.

Cathy’s husband Chris, who is a psychiatrist, does not believe her at all and believes that she is heading towards a break down. Mental illness is a strong theme in this book, there is this constantly to and throwing because Cathy has had a previous breakdown she is constantly doubted by her husband. Without giving too much away we learn a lot about Eloise’s family and it becomes a race against time to save the twins from danger and for Cathy to leave for London permanently.

The book for me was a real slow burner, half the book was about Cathy grappling with her dreams about Eloise. To be honest I was getting sick of it, as well as the really long rambling descriptions of Cornwall. Maybe because I haven’t been to Cornwall so couldn’t relate at all. But it just went on and on and on. The book just didn’t really get going until the last quarter really.

I couldn’t shake the feeling with the book that Cathy was Judy so the main character I just keep imaging is Judy, which was frustrating. You could tell Judy loves Cornwall and although the rambling descriptions annoyed me you could see it was full of meaning. In the authors notes Judy mentions that Caron Keating (daughter of Gloria Hunningford) who died of cancer in 2004 did inspire Eloise’s character. I have actually read both Gloria Hunningford’s books about Caron’s death and I knew that they were both close (Judy was mentioned in the books) and I did wonder if Eloise was based on her. The book is alright but I have read better and it wouldn’t be a book that I would recommend.

The Cows book

Having been listening to Emma Gannon’s Ctrl, Alt Delete podcast I just so happened to listen to the episode with Dawn O’Porter and it was such a good programme and her latest book sounded so right up my street so I thought, why not! So if you are looking for a new book, that will give you a laugh with strong women that make mistakes and learn a lot about themselves then read ahead!

The Cows is about three women, Tara who is 42 and works as a documentary maker. She is constantly belittled at work by her misogynistic male colleges. Tara also has a 6 year old child from a one-night stand but the father does not know about the child. There is Stella, who is still mourning the death of her twin sister and mother from cancer, also she has the BRCA gene (which puts her at high risk of developing cancer) and is yearning for children although at the same time her relationship is falling apart. Finally there is Cam Stacey, owner of the blog howitis.com. Through the blog she has turned into a bit of a feminist icon as she doesn’t want children, much to the dismay of her mother.

The story really gets going when Tara gets caught masturbating (yes really, I wasn’t expecting that either) on the tube as she is travelling home after a date with a guy called Jason and a nearby passenger films it on his phone. The footage gets put on YouTube and goes viral. Tara becomes the butt of all jokes overnight, she can’t eat, she doesn’t want to leave the house, she got a warning from the police and she has lost her job. Tara finds solace in Cam Stacey who has been the only person to support her by writing a blog post sticking up for her after the tube incident. They soon strike up a friendship and constantly email each other. Stella on the other hand is Jason’s PA, it just so happens Jason is on an internet ban as he tries to finish his book. Therefore Stella goes to great lengths to protect Jason from finding out about Tara. Yes, it does feel very six degrees of separation.

The Cows banner

I am not going to lie this book is a bit bat-shit crazy. There are a lot of themes touched here – feminism, misogyny, whether you should tell the father of your child that he has a child. The fact that women enjoying sex is deemed to be wrong (there is nothing wrong with it, just not on public transport regardless if you are male or female!). The characters are all flawed in some way and that women are just as bad as men. For example Tara is judgement about all the Mum’s at the school gates, thinking that they all stay at home and that they all judge her when she comes to the gates, on her own, from work. Which we find out later it couldn’t be further from the truth. Cam doesn’t see that her fuck buddy has feelings for her and when she does she tries to dismiss them. Stella is probably the most flawed of all- she literally does everything wrong. She lies and trolls all for her selfish gain. What I did like from the book that as the women are older, so you see clearly the impact of their actions unlike books about women in their twenties who are just starting out.

Have you read The Cows? What do you think?

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