Half-and-Half Books: From ‘wow’ to ‘meh’ and back again

By Rosie Wiggins

 

I recently finished a book called The End of the World Running Club, which I picked up because I convince myself to exercise by pretending I’m surviving an apocalypse and need to train. True story.

After a powerful and truly horrific opening chapter, in which the apocalypse hits in real time and in full devastation, I was ready for a story that would change my life, blow my mind, clear my skin and water my plants. What I got was… not that. But it wasn’t not not that, either.

This is how to handle ‘Half-and-Half’ books: books that leave you gripping the pages with tension in one chapter but falling asleep in another, and flit between the two extremes for their entire run.

Minor spoilers below. 

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Review: The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla

By Michelle Nathan

 

Another lucky acquisition from NetGalley, The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla is a book I have been excited to read for a while now. This book is wonderful in many ways, but I especially loved how it made me feel connected to my family and Asian heritage while also reminding me, and consolidating a belief I already hold strongly, that no one person’s experience is the same. As a group, first generation Asian immigrants and their children have certain shared experiences, of course, but all of us have lived very different and individual lives as well. Shukla does an amazing job of balancing these two ideas of shared and individual experiences pretty much perfectly in this book – which is something that I go into (alongside much more!) in my full review below.

 

Short n’ Sweet Summary

The One Who Wrote Destiny shares the tales, dreams and heartbreaks of three generations of one family, weaving through time and space. We start with Mukesh, who has just moved from Kenya to Keighley, England, a hopeless romantic who has fallen for the desi girl across the road. Neha, his daughter, is dying of the same cancer that stole her mother’s life, and is looking for a logical reason behind the ‘big questions’, both craving and rejecting human connection all at once. Her brother, Raks, is a stand-up comedian, grieving for his twin sister’s death and trying to make sense of it through his humour. Ba is the twins’ grandmother, a woman who left England to escape the ghosts of her beloved family members, lost too soon. She doesn’t know what to do with two children who don’t even share her mother tongue, but maybe a connection can be forged through sugar rotlis.

 

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Review: ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

By Michelle Nathan

 

Hello lovely Book Buds! I was lucky to receive an ARC of  ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ by Anna-Marie Crowhurst from NetGalley, and had many thoughts and feelings about it (as per usual…!) Read on for the full review, and hope you enjoy 🙂

 

Summary

‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ is a vividly told, humorous, honest tale of a young girl’s journey towards becoming a playwright, and the hardships she faces along the way. Stuck in 17th Century England, a time where all that was expected of a girl of her status was to become an obedient wife and doting mother, Ursula Flight meets an actress by chance and starts dreaming of a bigger, brighter future. A passion for writing is ignited and has her scribbling plays in the margins of her diary and yearning to see the stages of a London playhouse. But the course of true love never did run smooth, and Ursula has to face down pompous suitors, dashing rogues and tragic times before the stars align and she’s given the chance to live her life on her own terms.

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SECOND CHANCE: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

It’s now been over a year of Book Buds and to commemorate this  momentous occasion I decided to take another look at our first ever book club entry Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. As the original post makes clear this was far from my favourite of the books we’ve reviewed, however my biggest problem with Miss Peregrine was that I wanted to like it and felt the book kept wasting its potential. So one year removed from my frustrated ranting I decided to give Miss Peregrine a second chance. Did it manage to redeem itself? Find out below!

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BOOK CLUB: Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth

For our extra spoopy Halloween Book Club special, we all read the first volume of  ‘Spell on Wheels,’ a new comic book series about three young witches living and practising magic in America. In this story arc, their house is broken into, and various magical and sentimental items stolen, leading to a cross-country road trip to reclaim what is rightfully theirs and take down the thief before the thief takes THEM down. Let’s get crack-a-lackin!

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Horror Stories by E Nesbit

This week Spooky Sunday looks at Horror Stories by E Nesbit, an author best known for her children’s classics such as The Railway Children and Five Children and It. This is also the first short story collection I’ve tackled for Spooky Sunday and it’s interesting to see how this more concise medium tackles the task of creating a sense of creepiness. But can an author best known for enchanting children craft a truly spooky story? Let’s find out!

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring

This week Spooky Sunday tackles a real life ghost story in Neil Spring’s fictionalisation of the investigation into Borley Rectory: The Ghost Hunters. Set over the first half of the twentieth century the novel follows Sarah Grey and her employer, paranormal researcher Harry Price as they investigate the place known as ‘the most haunted house in England’. Does this novel live up to the spooky reputation of its real life inspiration? Let’s find out.

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday but seeing as we get five whole Spooky Sundays this October I think we can  deal with one Spooky Tuesday. To kick off this year I read one of the pillars of the genre, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Telling the story of an ancient Transylvanian vampire who tries to make it in the big city and the group of meddling kids determined to stop him Dracula is one of the best known horror stories out there. But is the original anything like our pop cultural perceptions and does a novel that spooked readers over hundred years ago still hold some scares in the modern day? Let’s find out!

SPOILER WARNING: Very vague and minor spoilers

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CHRISTIE CORNER: EVIL UNDER THE SUN

As an avid Agatha Christie fan (as evidenced from my twelve thousand recommendations in our Roger Ackroyd post) I am slowly collecting all of her bibliography and even more slowly making my way through. In this series I’ll hopefully cover the many high and occasional lows of Christie’s career while also reducing that massive section if my TBR made up by her works.

To start off with we tackle Evil Under the Sun a beach themed murder mystery packed with everything you could ever want. Love triangles! Witchcraft! Drug dealers! Are any of these actually relevant to the main crime? Find out below!

SPOILER WARNING: Very mild spoilers (no revealing whodunnit)

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Comedy Review – Austentatious

By Michelle Nathan

 

A hearty hello, young lords and ladies! Over the weekend I had the pleasure of going to see AUSTENTATIOUS – an improv comedy show in the style of Jane Austen, where the plot line is based solely on title suggestions from the audience, making every show completely unique. I’ve been trying to go to one of these shows for over a year now, so when the stars finally aligned on Sunday my expectations were high and I could barely contain my excitement. I was slightly worried, however, as I know that improv comedy can be very hit or miss, depending on the style of humour (and, frankly, how talented the actors are!) but the show was absolutely incredible. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that much while watching a live performance, and by the time the cast were taking their final bows me and my friends were already talking about booking tickets for their next London show.

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