Book Review

Unspoken – Guvna B

Today I am reviewing the raw, honest memoir, Unspoken, by Guvna B. Many thanks to HarperCollins UK for providing me with a copy of this book which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Men are bold. Men are brave. Men are strong in the face of fear. But what happens when that strength crumbles?

Growing up on a council estate in East London, rapper Guvna B thought he knew everything he needed to know about what it means to be a man. But when a personal tragedy sent him reeling, he knew he had to face these assumptions head on if he was going to be able to overcome his grief.

In this intimate, honest and unflinching memoir, Guvna B draws on his personal experiences to explore how toxic masculinity affects young men today. Exploring ideas of male identity, UNSPOKEN is an inspirational account of Guvna’s journey.

REVIEW:

Toxic masculinity is a concept that I have only a vague awareness of, but I decided that 2021 was the year that I needed to educate myself on a number of matters, and this brutally honest memoir from Guvna B seemed a good place to start.

Isaac’s faith is a strong theme throughout the book, so if this isn’t something you are comfortable with then this may not be the book for you. Personally, it made me wish that I could be even half as strong in my own faith as he is. The warmth of his personality shines through in his writing along with his commitment to helping people. I am a long way from the target audience, but I found him so relatable and it really felt like I was talking to a trusted friend. I think it was this instant familiarity that meant parts of this book completely and utterly destroyed me, to the point that my chest hurt through crying.

I don’t know what drew me to this book. As a white, 40 something female I could hardly be further from the target audience, I am not a fan of rap, had never heard of Guvna B before, and my faith is on somewhat shaky ground. But, something made me pick it up to read and the words within went right to my soul and the grief that I still feel after the loss of grandmother. Guvna B is a man who cares passionately about making things better for today’s teenagers, showing them opportunities and guiding them to live the best lives they can and frankly we need more people like him in this world.

Book Review

Freckles – Cecelia Ahern

I have just got back from a week’s holiday where I had the luxury of lots of time for reading, so I have a bumper crop of reviews heading your way this week. First up is the wonderful Cecelia Ahern and her latest book, Freckles. Many thanks to Cecelia and HarperCollins for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city.

But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin.

Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.

REVIEW:

Freckles is a beautiful, charming book that manages to be heart-breaking yet also uplifting in equal measure.

Parking warden Allegra is a wonderful quirky character, so socially awkward but willing to put herself out there and tackle the world. The more I read of this book, the more I wanted to be one of her “five.” Among the other characters we meet along the way, some warmed my heart from the start, and others took longer for me to make my mind up about. Becky, however, was awful from the outset, deliberately so, and I loved to hate her.

Although it lacked some of the more magical elements which I loved in some of Cecelia’s other books (If You Could See Me Now will forever be my favourite), Freckles retains all the warmth that regular readers of Cecelia’s books will recognise, and feels like a hug in book form.

Book Review

Monstrous Heart – Claire McKenna

For today’s review, I am looking at Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna. Many thanks to HarperCollins UK for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

A sensational debut novel perfect for fans of Outlander and The Binding. This is gothic, epic, romantic fantasy at it’s very best; a tale of magic, intrigue on dangerous waters and a love story for the ages.

When Arden Beacon is sent to the lighthouse, she is simply a woman with a job to do. She neither seeks, nor expects, distraction. After years tainted by disappointment, Arden is finally taking up her family’s profession. She must prove herself worthy of her name, for she has nothing else.

But the coast she has been tasked with lighting is far from the world she knows – the salt-swept, backwater town of Vigil is battered by a sea teeming with colossal, ancient beasts. It is a place of secrets, rumours and tight-lipped expectations of a woman’s place.

More than anyone, the folk of Vigil whisper about Arden’s new neighbour, Jonah Riven, hunter of leviathans. He murdered his wife, they whisper – a perfect, golden girl, full of charm and potential. So very different to Arden Beacon.

They say he is as much a monster as his prey, but Arden cannot get this dark stranger out of her head.

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REVIEW:

Monstrous Heart is a book that is hard to pin down. The language in which it is written feels almost out of time, part classic novel, part modern, with elements of steampunk, all in a time when monsters like the kraken still roam the seas. There is a gothic feel to it, and the desolate landscape where Arden’s lighthouse is located put me somehow in mind of the moors of Wuthering Heights. Because of this, it took me a little time to get into, but before long I was completely swept away by the story. It is a book that is strange and enthralling in equal measure, and one that refuses to be pigeon-holed.

In a world where magic is restricted to the nobility, and feared by the general population, Arden Beacon has to feel her way through a strange society so different from the one she grew up in, as she takes over control of a remote lighthouse whose nearest neighbour is the mysterious and, if rumours are to be believed, deadly Jonah Riven. In Riven I found a character that I was instantly drawn to and who again put me in mind of Wuthering Heights and the rugged Heathcliff, and I desperately wanted the rumours about him to be proved false.

The mystery of Bellis Riven deepens with every page, and the pace of the book suddenly picks up in the latter part as secrets and betrayals are revealed, and Arden finds herself fighting for her life.

Although at the start I was a little unsure of what to make of this book, I ended up absolutely loving in, and I am so happy that there is more to come from this world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

1108922Urban explorer, typewriter collector, slow-cyclist and low-key adventurer, Claire McKenna is an award-winning speculative fiction writer from Melbourne, Australia.

Weeks after being born in Australia, her parents whisked her off to New Zealand for a Kiwi childhood in Auckland, before returning to Australia and eventually the beachside suburb of Frankston, where she still lives.

After two decades of publishing short stories in Australian and international anthologies, Claire’s debut dark fantasy trilogy comes out in April 2020, beginning with Monstrous Heart, (through HarperVoyager UK).