Book Review | These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany

Thank you to Leanne and Trapeze for sending me a proof copy of These Impossible Things in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

They recognized that they were all existing in a perfect moment, and eventually it would have to end. Other times it felt like it would always be this way. 

These Impossible Things charts the dreams and disappointments of a group of British Muslim women; Jenna, Kees and Malak. They have been friends for years: the three of them together against the world.

Yet one night changes everything between them and they are left adrift, marooned from each other as their lives take different paths. Without the support of each other, nothing seems to go quite right and in the wake of heartbreaks, marriages, new careers and new beginnings, they need each other more than ever. Will they be able to forgive each other in time?

These Impossible Things tells the story of three women coming to terms with the choices we make, of reconciling love, loss, faith, womanhood and friendship, and how one moment, in a life where everything feels at odds, can change everything.

Review

These Impossible Things is an honest and open coming-of-age story navigating friendship and faith, amongst much more.

The story is told through the perspectives of Malak, Kees and Jenna in alternate chapters. Each of them speaking to the reader in their own manner, dealing with their own issues.

The alternate perspectives provide a really wide overview of the girls’ and their personalities. Each one is battling with their own take on their religion, on love, on friendship and everything in between. I found them to be realistic characters who had a lot of charm between them. Salma El-Wardany ensured their personalities came through strongly which made their respective chapters clear and engaging.

Many ‘modern day’ coming-of-age dilemmas and issues are lived though. Ordinarily relatable, I found them more educational. The addition of the Muslim faith and the girls’ personal struggles and battles make’s it a really open read. I found the raw discussions and the plain-spoken religious beliefs extremely informative. There were a lot of things that I wasn’t fully informed on and found eye-opening.

There are a number of sensitive topics discussed within the novel, domestic violence and sexual assault alongside family politics/rifts. They were tough to read but, I felt, handled in a respectful manner.

These Impossible Things is out now from Trapeze. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Book Review | The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

Thank you to HQ for the giveaway win of a proof copy of The Art of Loving You.

Synopsis

They were so in love . . . 
And then life changed forever . . . 
Will they find happiness again?
 
Libby and Jack are the happiest they’ve ever been. Thanks to their dear friend, eighty-year-old Sid, they’ve just bought their first house together, and it’s the beginning of the life they’ve always dreamed of.

But the universe has other plans for Libby and Jack and a devastating twist of fate shatters their world.

All of a sudden life is looking very different, and unlikely though it seems, might Sid be the one person who can help Libby and Jack move forward when what they loved the most has been lost?

Review

The Art of Loving You is an emotional, raw and different kind of love story. One that will break your heart but also teach you how to put it back together again.

The book is written in two parts, with a prologue which introduces Libby’s dilemma in an ambiguous way and teases us into the story, and it ends with an epilogue.

Told through Libby’s perspective, you’re truly immersed in her emotions and follow the chain of events which, one by one, combine to alter her life forever.

I really felt like I was on the emotional rollercoaster alongside Libby. The up and down emotions of grief, heartbreak, confusion and everything else in between.

Sid was a brilliant character and he really made the story for me. Such a ‘wise owl’ with a lot of life experience and many fascinating words of wisdom to share with Libby. He felt a lot like her rock at times, and had a kind heart.

The combination of backstory past with main story and hindsight hints work well and I always felt like I had a broad picture of the situation. The little sentences of foreboding inserted into the end of some chapters kept me reading and eager to know what turn of events would soon follow.

Amelia Henley writes well and you really feel the emotions of the characters. I felt totally immersed in the situations, actions and goings on. It all felt very real.

The book is emotionally quite heavy but also filled with hope. The pages are filled with love, loss, grief, laughter, raw reality and so much more. A truly beautiful and captivating story.

The Art of Loving You is out now from HQ. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Book Review | Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

Thank you to Jen, Penguin Michael Joseph and Squadpod for sending me a proof copy of Meredith, Alone in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days.But she insists she isn’t alone.

She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.

But something’s about to change.

First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life. Then an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years.

Suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide.

Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door . . .

Review

Meredith, Alone is a wonderful, charming novel filled with strength and resilience.

The chapters are a timeline, with a prologue starting at day 1 and the bulk of the novel beginning at day 1214. The date is also given underneath. I found this really helps to gain context and also with understanding the extent of Meredith’s condition. Additionally the present day is alternated with past, staring in 1993 with a teenage Meredith as she begins to pick through her life, and various other points, not in chronological order.

From the beginning I warmed to Meredith, she’s very humble and I found her focus on details interesting. Her fears and hopes were all completely realistic, if illogical as they truly can be in real life. Meredith was a very three-dimensional character for me and I could definitely vividly imagine her living down the road and going about her limited life behind closed doors.

A lot of the descriptions of panic, fear and anxiety I could resonate with and really remembered feeling similar things at one point in my own life. It was a complete throwback and in some ways I had really forgotten what it was like. Claire Alexander’s descriptions were spot on. Having those feelings and reactions definitely teaches you not to take anything for granted. When your world shrinks to the four walls of your house, meticulous details and timings become all you have to focus on. You find the pleasure in the smallest most menial tasks and I think Alexander really gets this across well.

I liked learning of Meredith’s past through the snippets of information we were given. Of her wider circle, family and friends. Her backstory is as fascinating and it was really informative to gather together a picture of what had happened to her and why it had triggered what it had.

The loneliness and isolation are extremely well portrayed. The network Meredith has around her is wonderful and I really rooted for her, her life and her friends. Tom is a lovely character and I really found his and Meredith’s unorthodox friendship a delight. Their bond over jigsaw’s and their shared problems made their conversations free-flowing and purposeful. His perseverance and looking out for her, even through closed doors, was also charming.

Meredith is a real character, full of humour but equally filled with pain. Her life has been tough and I really wanted to give her a hug on many occasions! Learning about the reasons behind why she hasn’t left the house in so long was quite a tough read. There are some hard topics dealt with within the pages of the novel and I feel Claire addressed them in a sensitive and respectful manner.

A character and story who will definitely stay with me for a long time, Meredith, Alone is out now from Penguin Michael Joseph. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Monthly Wrap Up | June 2022

June was possibly the fastest month of the year so far! I can’t believe we’re past the half way mark of 2022 already. The weather with it’s varied combination of heatwaves and rain showers has been a strange introduction to Summer… From looking at the weather forecast things seem like they’re on the up again after this weekend so fingers crossed the rain disappears! July is my holiday month so I’m looking forward to having extra hands and eyes to help watch the boys and hopefully getting some more reading in.

In terms of reading, June was a little slower than usual, as I had quite a reading slump in the middle! I didn’t take part in any blog tours but I read six books and reviewed three.

What I Read

The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas (eBook)

Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

The Heights by Louise Candlish

The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany

Book of the month

My book of the month for June is… Meredith, Alone! Meredith is such a lovely character, with an extraordinary story. You learn of her life through both past and present, which includes a lot of surprises, a couple of other brilliant characters and a wonderful cat. Her story is definitely one you won’t forget, so I really recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book! My review will be up very soon, so keep an eye out and I’ll update this page when it’s published.

Going forward

I don’t have any upcoming blog tours in July but I do have a book that I’m very much looking forward to. Here’s a clue, it’s the second novel about a certain Evie Epworth… Also, due to my reading slump in June I didn’t get to pick up a lot of books from my shelf to read so I’ll be continuing with that this month. There’s a few recently published books I’m looking forward to reading and also older books that I can’t wait to get stuck into!

As always, a huge thank you to the publishers and authors who provided me with a gifted copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. You’ll find their details tagged in each individual blog post, linked above. 

Until next time,