Mr Loverman – Bernardine Evaristo – 2013 – LGBT Contemporary

Image result for mr loverman bernardine evaristo

Goodreads Summary

Barrington Jedidiah Walker.
Barry to his friends.
Trouble to his wife.

Seventy-four years old, Antiguan born and bred, flamboyant Hackney personality Barry is known for his dapper taste and fondness for retro suits.

He is a husband, father and grandfather.

And for the past sixty years, he has been in a relationship with his childhood friend and soulmate, Morris.

Wife Carmel knows Barry has been cheating on her, but little does she know what is really going on. When their marriage goes into meltdown, Barrington has big choices to make.

Mr Loverman is a groundbreaking exploration of Britain’s older Caribbean community, which explodes cultural myths and fallacies, and shows how deep and far-reaching the consequences of prejudice and fear can be. It is also a warm-hearted, funny and life-affirming story about a character as mischievous, cheeky and downright lovable as any you’ll ever meet.


My favourite character was Morris – I loved finding out more about him, although I think the story would be so different if it was from his perspective. In particular I love the scene of him in the gay bar as you can tell he is so ready to explore that part of himself as a proud out gay man.

The story is told from Barry’s point of view. I think one of the strengths of the book is how Barry develops from quite a misogynistic, almost homophobic guy to being able to confront things he’s kept hidden all his life. It’s great to read a book with elderly protagonists – I rarely read anything with MCs above 40!
I loved the way Evaristo switched between eras in Barry’s life to show how he has gotten to where he is in his 70s. The way she describes both eras and places is very expressive, almost as if you are there in the moment with Barry – I sometimes struggle to visualise settings in books but she was so expressive, yet never overdoing it.
I loved the way the book ended – at the start of the book I really didn’t like Barry and I wasn’t sure whether to continue reading but as I continued the book got better and better. The final chapter is beautiful because it sums up Barry and Morris’ relationship, including all the flaws but still gave me an uplifting feeling.

One part of the book I wasn’t as keen on was the chapters from Carmel’s perspective. At first I couldn’t understand why Evaristo had included them as I found Carmen an unsympathetic character, but even as I understood her motives more I didn’t like the style they were written in, which was quite free-form.
I gave the book 5/5. I think this is such an important novel for the LGBT canon because it’s not often you read about m/m romances in such a realistic way in that time frame or from characters of colour.

Book Review: Dear John

Dear John

Dear John – Nicholas Sparks – 2006 – Romance / Chick Lit

Goodreads Summary:

An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life–until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who has captured his heart.

But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. “Dear John,” the letter read…and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love—and face the hardest decision of his life.

My Thoughts:

This is a really easy read and having seen the film before I read the book I liked seeing the differences (of which there are several) between the two mediums.

The story is told from John’s point of view, and there were many times when I felt very connected to him. In particular I think anyone who has gone through a breakup will understand how he feels when Savannah writes to say she is in love with someone else. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be in a war zone looking forward to seeing the person you love, only to find they have moved on.

Reading previous reviews on Goodreads a lot of people seemed to be in a agreement that the “unhappy” ending of this book is typical of a Sparks novel, but I personally found the ending to be more realistic – sometimes love doesn’t work out, but it helped me to empathise with John until the end.
The one thing I was unsure of with this book was that at times Savannah felt like she was straying into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, especially during John’s first leave – because we are told the story from John’s perspective she doesn’t get much of her own character development until he loses her – by then it’s too late.

I gave this book 4/5. If you’re looking for a light, quick romance read, I’d definitely recommend Dear John.

Book Review: The Hunger

The Hunger – Alma Katsu – Horror – 2018


Goodreads Summary

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. 

Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck–the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history. 

While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions–searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand–evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves “What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased…and very hungry?”

My Thoughts

I first heard about this book when it was recommended on the Books in the Freezer podcast. It’s a really interesting premise and I thought it was a well-written novel which was clearly well researched.

Part of the problem I found in the book, however, is that it is told from so many different characters’ perspectives it was difficult to tell them apart. I couldn’t keep track of many of the characters because there was no individual personality so I often lost the idea of whose narrative I was supposed to be reading.

Even halfway through the novel I didn’t find myself connecting to any of the characters. I think if there were only a couple of stronger personalities telling the story I’d have cared more about the story. This could be because I didn’t know the story of the Donner party before I started the novel, but I also found it uncomfortable that imagined storylines such as homosexuality, promiscuity and sexual assault were put onto characters that were actually real people. There is no evidence I could find online that suggested one of the people was gay for example, and it kept taking me out of the story.

I really liked that the author included a historical note at the end of the book. Not being from the USA I had never heard of the Donner party so when I did a little research I found the story fascinating – I do wish that there had been a timeline included though because at times it was confusing to know when events were supposed to have happened.

This is a well-researched book – although the pace can be slow at times, this is generally because so much information was included. If you enjoy slower, more literary books the pace may suit you but if you are expecting this to be a fast-paced horror, this book may not meet your expectations.

I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5. If you are a fan of slower moving historical fiction / horror this is a well-written book, but I personally found putting imaginary “sins” onto historical people a bit uncomfortable.

Book Thoughts: Hate

Hate – Alan Gibbons – 2014 – YA General Fiction


Goodreads Summary:

Eve’s older sister, Rosie, was bright and alive and always loved being the centre of attention. Then one day, she is brutally murdered. Six months later, Eve meets Antony and discovers that he was there the night Rosie died and did nothing to help. Is there any way she can ever get past that? Inspired by the Sophie Lancaster murder in 2007, which saw Sophie and her partner Rob viciously attacked in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, Lancashire because of the way they dressed. This is a hard-hitting real-life thriller about friendship, courage, loss, forgiveness and about our society and communities.

My Thoughts:

One of my favourite things about this book was the plot, which was based on the murder of Sophie Lancaster. I remember this being on the news and it really touched me, so it was interesting to read this book as the plot quite closely followed what happened in the real case.

Something I didn’t enjoy as much was the characterisation. I didn’t find the characters particularly interesting but more as “stereotypes” to stand in for the issue that the author wanted to talk about. There was no character development so I didn’t really feel any empathy for the characters despite the situations they were in.

The story was told between three points of view and apart from one part at the end it was easy to know which character you were reading. This might have been because they were written in different fonts because the characters actually read quite similar to each other, and you could tell the author’s aim was plot over character.

I gave this book 4/5. Although I did enjoy this book and found it easy to read, it’s not the most memorable book I’ve read this year.

Book Thoughts: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr – 1971 – YA Historical fiction


Goodreads Summary:

Anna is not sure who Hitler is, but she sees his face on posters all over Berlin. Then one morning, Anna and her brother awake to find her father gone! Her mother explains that their father has had to leave and soon they will secretly join him. Anna just doesn’t understand. Why do their parents keep insisting that Germany is no longer safe for Jews like them? Because of Hitler, Anna must leave everything behind.

My Thoughts:

I really liked Anna, the 9 year old narrator of this story. She is a very believable character and I definitely empathised with her, particularly her struggles to pick up a new language. She is such a positive character, despite the fact she knows that something bad means she is now a refugee, she often talks about little ways she is trying to keep her family happy while also having that childish selfishness that makes her real.

I wish I had had the opportunity to read this book in school. We learned so much about the soldiers and the adults in the war, but never much about how children were affected. Jewish people, too, are always mentioned as faceless victims, but this book personalised one of those families but kept it suitable for children with minimal mention of the actual atrocities but enough that as an adult you understood what was going on.

I also liked the way that the book ended as Anna going to live in London with her family. It felt like a nice ending, but I am glad there’s a sequel – Kerr’s writing is so accessible.

Trying to think of something I didn’t like about this book is quite impossible. The writing is beautiful, the story is so gentle and yet a very important subject, and I thought there was some great character development considering it was less than 300 pages.

I gave this book 5/5 on Goodreads. I would definitely recommend this book, it’s a wonderfully unique view on World War 2.

Book Thoughts: Weetzie Bat

Weetzie Bat – Francesca Lia Block – 1989 – Fantasy

Book Summary

This could be a book about cheap cheese and bean burritos, slinkster dogs, lanky lizards and rubber chickens …Or strawberry sundaes with marshmallow toppings, surfing, stage-diving and sleeping on the beach …It could even be a book about magic. But what it’s definitely about is Weetzie Bat, her best friend Dirk and their search across L.A. for the most dangerous angel of all …true love.

My Thoughts:

Weetzie is the main character of the story. It is difficult to give an opinion on her because the book is so short we never really get to know who she is. The book is part of a seven part series, so if I continue reading them I might get more of an idea of her as a character, as well as the other secondary characters. I’d like to see more of the characters because they felt a bit one-dimensional, but this also suits the style of the novella. The story is told from the third person, but it’s in a really impersonal way which again feels like a deliberate move to make the story a bit ‘weird’. The characters all have very odd names, and I think one of the strengths of the book is actually how fantastical and magical it feels, as if you’re watching aliens on another planet.

Apart from the lack of characterisation I quite enjoyed the book. It was a quick read, at just over 100 pages. I really enjoyed the last line of the book which was “I don’t know about happily ever after… but I know about happily.” I can’t really understand why this isn’t some sort of Facebook meme, it applies to so many situations in life.

I’m not really a huge fan of the cover. I really don’t like the colours together, and it’s a little bit boring. In fact in one of my reading challenges I used this book for the prompt to read a book with an ugly cover. To be honest, that’s probably my biggest criticism I could find.

I think if you want a short fantasy book that you can get through quite quickly I’d recommend this. It’s not brilliantly written or full of plot, but there are some cute quotes that made me feel a little bit more philosophical. On Goodreads I gave this book 3 out of 5.

Book Thoughts: Hollow Pike


Hollow Pike – James Dawson – 2012 – Fantasy

Before you read, please know there’s some spoilers in this review. Thanks!

Book summary:

She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. Lis thinks she’s being paranoid – after all who would want to murder her? She doesn’t believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you? Not until you’re alone in the woods, after dark – and a twig snaps… Hollow Pike – where witchcraft never sleeps.

My thoughts:

The story is told from the point of view of Lis, who has just moved from Wales to Hollow Pike in Yorkshire. I really couldn’t stand Lis. I’m not sure if you were supposed to like her or not, but she was very shallow and seemed to change her friendship group based on very little reasoning. One minute she wanted to be friends with Lauren and the cool girls, the next she wanted to be friends with the unpopular kids. I could sort of understand why she’d felt the need to move from Wales because she was being bullied because she seemed like a bit of a bitch. I’d have liked to see more character development from Lis, because she just remains a little bit self-absorbed throughout the book. To be honest though I didn’t really warm to any of the characters in the book. I’m not sure you were supposed to, as I feel like the book was more about the story line than the characters but it’s a bit disappointing not to find one character I actually liked.

My favourite scene in the book is either the part of the book just before Laura is killed – sounds a bit morbid but it was one of the more action-driven parts of the book. Although you know Lis and her friends are messing around with Laura, this throws it into sharp contrast when she is killed just minutes later.

I also really enjoyed the climax of the book. There were a few surprises as to the characters true intentions, which I definitely didn’t see coming. I think the best thing about this book is when the action parts are. There is a lot of suspense building, but I’m not sure if it’s because I’m maybe a bit old for the target audience – I just didn’t care about the little ways the author was trying to make you guess and they seemed a bit forced. Although I didn’t expect the ending, I’d rather have had more witchy death scenes and suspense built that way that Lis just not trusting her friends with little evidence.

I think this book would be really interesting if it was made into a TV programme for teens. All the way through reading the book I couldn’t help thinking that it read like it would be great as a script, because there was a lot of suspense and visual imagery. I’d really like to see the book adapted by CBBC for example.

I also absolutely loved the cover of the book. I really like the colours, and the way that you don’t know where Lis’ hair ends, and the blackness of the cover begins.

I rated this book 3/5 on Goodreads. I think if you enjoy fantasy and you want an easy read you should check it out. It’s not the most memorable book I’ll read this year, but it wasn’t a bad book either.

Book Thoughts: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night – Jen Campbell – 2017 – Short Stories


Book Summary:

Stories of family and magic, lost souls and superstitions. Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.

Mermaids are on display at the local aquarium. A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island. And a couple are rewriting the history of the world in the middle of the night.

My thoughts:

I often watch Jen Campbell’s YouTube channel, and I’m a big fan of her. I particularly enjoy her videos about disability and its representation in different media. So when she said that she was writing a new book for adults, I was really interested to read it. It’s a really sweet collection of fairy-tale-esque short stories, many of which have aspects of disability or being “different”.

My favourite stories in the book were The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night, or Aunt Libby’s Coffin Hotel. The first was written in a script style and this made it really unique from the rest of the book. It was the easiest story to read and get absorbed in, and it was quite sweet to read about a couple having cute conversations in the middle of the night. Aunt Libby’s story was my favourite story for plot. It’s about an old lady who owns a hotel where the guests sleep in coffins to get closer to ‘the other side’. The hotel is supposed to be haunted and although it is supposed to be a scam, there is a spooky twist at the end.

My least favourite story was probably Margaret and Mary and the End of the World, or Bright White Hearts. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the writing, but I just didn’t really understand the references, as I’m not really into fantasy and fairy tales. The writing in the book is truly magical, so it was a bit of a shame I didn’t understand them. On Jen’s youtube channel she has talked about the stories a bit and some of the references, and I’d love to read the stories again and read them a bit more slowly to fully understand the references and be able to research them properly.

I really loved the cover of this book. I think it might be one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen. I think there was a day cover and a night cover when people talked about this on Booktube, but I’ve only seen the night cover so far – I prefer that one anyway!

I rated this book 3 / 5 on Goodreads. I would recommend the book to people who like fairy tales, and the writing is truly beautiful. I think if I’d understand the references more I’d definitely have given it a higher rating.

Book Thoughts: Lingo

Lingo: A language spotter’s guide to Europe – Gaston Dorren – 2014 -Language and Linguistics



Book description:

Lingo takes us on an interesting tour of fifty-odd European languages and dialects, from the life of PIE (our common ancestor) to the rise and rise of English, via the complexities of Welsh plurals and puzzling Czech accents. Along the way, it explains the baffling ways of Basque, unlocks Ukrainian’s enviable grammar and provides a crash course in alphabets. We learn why Esperanto could never catch on, how to language of William the Conqueror lives on in the Channel Islands, and consider if English is like Chinese.

Lingo also looks at words that English has loaned from across the continent, and those we really should import, like the Norwegians’ utepils (lager enjoyed out of doors), the Germans’ gonnen (the opposite of envy), or the Frisian tafalle (to turn out better than expected).

My thoughts:

In Lingo, Dorren is attempting to look at some of the most interesting points of over fifty European languages, and in many ways he does this. There are a huge range of languages presented throughout this book from the larger languages (like English, Spanish and German) to smaller languages I’d never even heard of before (Faroese, Monegasque and Ladino). He presents each language from a different point for example, the alphabet, pronunciation, grammar, interesting vocabulary points, or its’ history.

Honestly speaking though I found the book didn’t really hold my attention. It was a bit dull in parts especially when it got more in-depth with a small language point such as Welsh spelling patterns or the Russian alphabet. The parts of the book where he looked at the language from a point of their history or social aspects are personally more interesting to me, and I found that these chapters didn’t happen often enough through the book to keep me engaged. My favourite chapter was the Belarusian language, where Dorren presented aspects of the language from the opposing aspects of people who were pro- and anti- Russian. For languages I have very little knowledge of (most of the smaller ones in the book) I’d rather he’d presented them in a similar way to this.

I’d also have liked a small glossary included in the book. Dorren uses a lot of linguistics-related jargon that, even with a degree in Linguistics, I wasn’t certain what they meant. I think if you were just someone with a passing interest in the subject you might be put off by the more specific references.

I gave the book 3 stars on Goodreads. My degree is in English Language and Linguistics, so although I’m not an expert in languages themselves, I have a keen interest in the sociological factors behind them. This is a great book I’d probably recommend for someone who is studying English Language or Modern Foreign Languages at A Level or university for something more educational but that still doesn’t require much concentration.