A Weekend in Waterstones

waterstones book review shopping

"Come on now, if we dawdle any longer, we're going to miss the bus! I *know* Waterstones will be open for another five hours yet but I want to get there ASAP! There's something just lovely about browsing through a bookshop on a Saturday morning, isn't there? It doesn't matter if the British weather has failed to deliver more than 30 seconds of sunshine in the past month beacause there are so many books just waiting to whisk you off into sunnier climes, realms of the past, and new worlds you couldn't even imagine! I just love the escape that reading provides, so that's exactly why I wanted to take you along with me to Waterstones this weekend. There are sooo many books that I've read recently and can recommend to you, so be prepared to hear about them all. Oh! Here's the bus, let's flag it down! The bookshop awaits!"

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas ★★☆☆☆

As much as it pains me to say it, because I LOVE this series, this book was ... a disappointment. The focus of pretty much the entire thing was on the Winter Solstice festival, which, while a nice aside into the daily lives of the characters, didn't really hold my attention. The whole event focused around the buying and giving of presents and drinking wine, which wasn't that enthralling. The book left the characters in the same position at the end as they started, so the whole thing felt a bit unnecessary. There were so many interesting issues raised in the last book, A Court of Wings and Ruin, which I reviewed in my last reading round-up post, that just weren't touched upon here. I'd much rather have heard more about Mor coming to terms with the revelation she made to Feyre in the last book, about Nesta and Elian's transition into living a fae life, and how Amren was dealing with a substantial loss suffered in the previous novel than about a pretty dull festival event. And honestly, I'm a bit bored of Feyre and Rhysand as a couple now. I felt that this book would've been a lot stronger with different leads - perhaps Nesta and Cassian - with Feyre and Rhysand still featuring but in a less prominent way. Meh. The most exciting part of this book was the teaser for the next instalment that came at the end...

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath  ★★★★★

I. Loved. This. Book. When I first posted a photo of the cover over on Twitter, saying that it was my next read, I recieved so many replies saying that I was going to really enjoy it, and those people were absolutely right. The Bell Jar is the story of Esther Greenwood, an incredibly talented and successful young woman making waves in the world of publishing whilst on an internship in New York City, but Esther's world is not all champagne and roses. She experiences an intense mental breakdown that eventually results in a suicide attempt, institutionalisation and even treatment with electric shock therapy. Esther's descent into mental illness is chronicled with incredible emotion - the characterisation of depression and the feelings of utter helplessness and alienation which accompany it was nothing short of stunning and will stay with me for a long time. The writing was absolutely enthralling and I was utterly immersed in the contradictory world of 1950s America and the young women who struggled to navigate it. I devoured this book in the space of 48 hours and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

book review sylvia plath the bell jar poet

The Sisters by Claire Douglas ★★★☆☆

I have the lovely Zoe to thank for sending me this book - she kindly posted it to me after reviewing it for the Blogger Book Nook. The story goes as follows: After her beloved twin sister Lucy passes away, Abi tries to make a new life for herself in Bath. However, she is still haunted by memories of her sister and is drawn to a new acquaintance, Bea, who strongly resembles her sister. Bea also takes a shine to Abi and invites her to join her close circle of artsy friends, which also includes Bea's own twin - a brother named Ben. Abi moves in to Bea's house and strikes up a romantic relationship with Ben, but it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems. Abi is hiding a dark secret connected to her sister's death, and Bea and Ben seem just as shady. When Abi's precious mementos of her dead sister start to go missing and she receives threatening messages, she starts to suspect that jealous Bea is responsible. Others, including Ben, seem to think that Abi is just attention seeking and that Bea is totally blameless. This story has a lot of twists and turns and when the real culprit of the threatening actions is revealed, I guarantee that you'll be surprised. I didn't see the ending of this book coming which made it exciting for me, but I do feel that the mystery was spoiled a little bit by having Bea and Abi as joint narrators. I feel that if Bea's sections had been removed, the book would've been more psychological and effective as thriller.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman ★★★★

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a powerful and touching story that I couldn’t put down. When I finally got it from the library after weeks of waiting, I read the entire thing within 24 hours. The book was incredibly well written, a deeply moving yet still funny insight into loneliness and depression. The story follows the routine of Eleanor’s life, which hasn’t changed in years: work, a meal deal for lunch, home to watch the TV, and sink two bottles of vodka every weekend to pass the time. Eleanor is very set in her ways, until one day a chance incident sparks major changes, meaning that Eleanor ultimately has to face up to her past and let someone in to her very isolated existence. The character of Eleanor was completely charming if a little bumbling and you root for her throughout the entire tale. The book is so skillfully written that while you sympathise with Eleanor as the details of her horrific childhood and the reasons behind her loneliness are slowly revealed, you can also understand the reactions of other characters in the story to her special brand of social graces. Overall, the book was well paced and kept you guessing. However, the revelation at the end about Eleanor’s mother was the only part that I didn’t like, it felt like a bit of a rushed conclusion. The ending scene between Eleanor and her new friend was very sweet and touching without being cliché, however, which I appreciated.

gail honeyman eleanor oliphant completely fine book review

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami  ★★★☆☆

Having heard amazing things about Murakami's writing from several other people, I had pretty high expectations for this book. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was anything very special. In terms of storyline, it was very similar to another book I've read and reviewed recently, Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence. South of the Border, West of the Sun is the coming-of-age story of a young man called Hajime. After growing up as an old child and having just one true friend, a girl named Shimamoto, Hajime is now a thirty-something businessman and bar owner, married to a devoted wife with two little girls. Everything seems to be going swimmingly in Hajime's life until Shimamoto, with whom he had lost contact at age 12, turns up unexpectedly. Shimamoto is now a great beauty and is surrounded by mystery. Hajime and Shimamoto start to see more and more of each other and eventually he will have to make a choice - his wife and family, or his long lost lover? The reviews on the back of the book promised a profoundly beautiful and moving love story but I didn't really feel that it had much impact on me. Granted, it was an interesting and sometimes thought-provoking study on the power of love and desire but I don't think I'd reach for this book again.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig ★★★★

Here's another book which promised something big. I have seen countless amazing reviews of Matt Haig's work all over the blogging world, so I couldn't resist picking up a copy of Reasons to Stay Alive for myself. This book contained some absolute gems on the subject of mental health, depression, and anxiety. Matt Haig writes very convincingly about how mental illness is in fact exacervated by 21st century society. As he rightly points out, happiness isn't good for the economy. Making people worry about ageing convinces them to buy anti-ageing moisturiser. Making people worry about their physical appearance sells gym memberships and plastic surgery. Making people worry about missing out can make them do almost anything! Matt Haig is an incredibly relatable and insightful author with many thought-provoking things to say, many of which come from his own experiences of mental illness. As I read, I kept noting down quote after quote that really spoke to me. The writing was very candid, which I really appreciated, but I felt that what really let the book down was its structure. The book was sort-of structured into chronological chapters with many subsections within them, but these jumped all over the place in time that it kind of ruined any cohesive experience of reading. I'd definitely read another Matt Haig title.

book review matt haig reasons to stay alive reading

"So, there we have it - our weekend in Waterstones is complete! Did you have a good time? Spent way too much? I know I did! Ah well, I'll consider these new books a great investment, they're fodder for more reading review posts in the future! Thank you for joining me on this very bookish adventure!"

Do you like spending your weekends in bookshops? What's the best book you've read lately? Comment down below!

Until next time,

A x