Friday, July 20, 2018

Recent Reads #1

Hi folks! Welcome back! It's been a long time, hasn't it? I'm sorry for being awol for so long. But I'm done with my three years at university and I'm finally trying to fit blogging back into my schedule. I was doing a Creative Writing degree so a lot of free time was spent reading and writing short stories and poems. But now that I'm done, I can finally come back to the first thing that made me love writing, to begin with. Blogging! I might upload a blog post about my overall university experience at some point but we'll see. For now, let's get into this post!

We are starting a new little series here. A book review series! If you didn't know this already, I love books. I have since a really young age. I was that one kid on the side, reading instead of playing with others. So it's been a huge part of my life for years. But over the years in education, I found less and less time to read for pleasure. Especially whilst doing an English degree, I had other reading that I needed to prioritise. But in the last few months, I have been reading more. It's mainly because for Creative Writing assignments, I had to read widely in the genre of choice for that specific assignment. And now with it being summer, I'm planning to read a lot more.

I decided why not review my most recent reads? This will be a combination of paperback books, audiobooks and ebooks. Now with it being summer, I'm planning to read a lot more. I still don't read as often as I used to so these won't be monthly reviews, but I thought it would be nice to share new books with you guys. I probably won't do extremely detailed reviews. It's just not my thing. I'm not that great at giving those full detailed reviews you might see on Goodreads or BookTube. But I'll share my opinions and thoughts with you all so hope you enjoy reading. Let's start!

The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi 



If you have ever heard of the genre Chick Lit and enjoy it as much as I do, this is the kind of book you might just like. Although it's listed as Cultural Fiction on Goodreads, this book is what I like to call South Asian Chick Lit just because of the similar themes to standard Chick Lit. Through 'The Mango Season' we follow Priya Rao and her journey to rediscovering her home country, India. She has spent many years in the USA, first studying and now working. But after seven years, she is going back, leaving behind a fiance in the states, who is nowhere near the perfect Indian boy she is supposed to marry. When she arrives back in India, she finds so many things she once loved and missed but at the same time, she looks at her country and culture with a fresh pair of objective eyes.

This book was the first of it's kind that I'd ever read. I've been reading Chick Lit for so many years but I always stumbled upon books with white, middle class or upper-class characters. I never saw or even thought to read books with characters like myself, South Asian. Although I'm not Indian like Priya, I am Pakistani and sometimes, cultural elements clash so I found this book relatable so often which is something I never experienced when I was reading the genre as a teenager. The portrayal of the cultural norms like marriage and caste mixing, age-old traditions (that are seriously outdated!), the occasional evil women of the family (we all have them!), gossiping aunties and of course, the clash between Priya's Indian upbringing and new Western way of life all came together so well.

I really felt fully immersed in the story. There were so many times that I couldn't put the book down. I feel asleep whilst reading in bed late at night and on my bus journeys to uni, I honestly sometimes wished they were longer so I could read one more chapter. There were times that the story annoyed me, namely, Priya's outbursts. Sometimes it was a bit childish/immature but I could easily overlook those since the plot was ace and the characters were well-rounded and relatable. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. This was the first time I'd read Malladi's work so I can't wait to read more of her stories!

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman


So I don't know if this actually counts since I didn't read the book. Instead, I listened to the audiobook but I had bought the book beforehand and hadn't got around to reading it, so moved onto the audiobook. I'm still going to class it as a 'recent 'read' though, even though I 'listened' to it!

Eleanor lives a secluded life. She lived an ordinary life, working an ordinary job. From the original description I read of the book, I wasn't too sure. I didn't know if I'd like it. But I decided to read it since my Creative Writing lecturer recommended it to me. I strangely found myself relating to Eleanor so much. The whole idea of her being a bit to herself, not interacting with many people etc. but then we were slowly introduced to her troubling past. And this is where the book became incredibly gripping. 

At first, I was confused on how this book could be classed as regular ol' contemporary fiction and something like I don't know, Bridget Jones couldn't because Eleanor seemed oddly fascinated with this guy who was in a band. But as the book went on, I realized why this book wasn't just standard Chick Lit. The more we learned about Eleanor and her past, the more I sympathized. How Eleanor went through a lot of tough times but she came out of still somewhat okay baffled me but it was inspiring to say the least. I don't want to give any spoilers so I won't share what exactly happens but damn, her past story is riveting and moving. I cried a lot towards the ending chapters when things were being revealed which says a lot because I'm generally not very sensitive, nor do I cry easily with books, movies etc. 

This might be because I read the book alongside listening to the audiobook, but Eleanor's voice was incredibly fascinating too. If and when I read the book myself again, I'm not sure how her voice will sound to me. The one I loved the way she noticed the little things. She was incredibly observant of her surroundings in a way that reminded me of myself really. She also had such a straightforward attitude which I loved. The writer did a brilliant job at exploring themes of grief, loss and mental illness through the unique voice of Eleanor Oliphant. I really liked the writer's style and voice so I can't wait to read Honeyman's next book whenever she releases something new.

New Found Love For Audiobooks!

Before rounding up this post, I just wanted to talk about how I listened to the last book. I used an app called BookBeat. I couldn't afford to pay for Audible when I could only listen to 1 book a month. I actually found BookBeat randomly just by googling audiobook apps. 

The app was great because you paid once a month (£12.90) and could listen to an unlimited amount of books and you also had a 2-week free trial. It was in that free trial that I listened to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and after hearing it, I decided I wanted to carry on paying monthly. The selection of books was not a lot compared to Audible but it was more than enough for me to find books that were interesting to me, both fiction and non-fiction.

I also like that I can pretty much cancel it anytime I want to but at the moment, I think I'm going to keep using it. I'm currently listening to 2 books at once; one is a non-fiction book on introversion and the other is the YA fantasy series by Cecelia Ahern called Flawed and Perfect. 

I think that is all for this post! I seriously loved both of these books a lot and they really got me excited to start reading for fun again. It has been an awfully long time since I've read just for the fun of reading. I really want to reread the entire Harry Potter series since the first (and maybe even the last?) time I did that was when I was like 9 or 10 years old in primary school. But for now, that is all for the 'recent reads' on this blog. I'm so happy to be back to blogging but be patient with me whilst I conjure up new ideas and try to get back into it. 

Thank you so much for reading! Are you a bookworm? What was the last book you read and what did you think? Please don't hesitate to talk to me in the comments. I'll talk to you guys in the next post real soon xoxo

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