Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Tandem Readalong

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Published: February 16th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:

With bits of BuffyGame Of Thrones and Outlander, this is a glorious series of total joy – Stylist

Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court.
The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame.
As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

********

MY REIVEW:

“Immortality was not a serene youth.
It was fire.”

ACOSF was one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I was thrilled when Tandem Collective UK offered me the chance to take part in a readalong of the book. At over 700 pages it is an intimidating tome, and I admit that I found the first third of the story quite slow and difficult to get into. But once things got going it was addictive, and I flew through the pages quickly; holding on for dear life as Maas took me on a high-octane and emotional thrillride. 

“So Nesta had become a wolf. Armed herself with invisible teeth and claws, and learned to strike faster, deeper, more lethally . Had relished it. But when the time came to put away the wolf, she’d found it had devoured her, too.”

ACOSF stands out from the other books in the series as it shifts from telling Feyre’s story to that of her fiery sister, Nesta. I was initially hesitant about this as I’ve enjoyed Feyre’s story and love her as a character, while Nesta wasn’t someone who lit up the pages and drew me in. But after reading it I can say I’m glad the author gave us the chance to get to know Nesta as there is so much more beneath the feisty and sullen mask. She has a story that needs to be told; one that addresses mental health, trauma and PTSD.  I liked how Maas explored these issues not only through Nesta’s story, but also through the stories of other characters. There is a lot of discussion about the issues throughout the book and it will be hard for some to read. But as someone who lives with these issues, I found it to be sensitively written and liked that Mass highlighted things like the importance of facing your pain, self care, opening up to others, and celebrating the tiny steps that are huge accomplishments in your recovery.

“Perhaps in voicing those truths, they’d given them wings. And sent them soaring into the open sky above.”

Though the familiar faces from Night Court do feature in the book, Nesta spends most of the story away from them and has isolated herself on an emotional level too. This led the way for the introduction of Gwyn and Emerie, two new characters who I loved. They have also been through trauma and through their shared experiences they develop a truly special friendship and camaraderie. Watching as that blossomed and the women slowly began to recognise their inner strength, was probably my favourite part of the book. 

“Your power is a song, and one I’ve waited a very, very long time to hear, Nesta.”

There is no talking about this book without discussing the steam factor. I’ve been shipping Nessian for a while and was hoping for them to finally get together, and we all know there have been some hot scenes between Feyre and Rhys, but I was not prepared for the level of sizzle in this book. It’s so steamy that I would find myself blushing and feeling almost embarrassed to be caught reading it – and I was at home! I did enjoy the hilarious discussions with fellow bookstagrammers that it led to though. Maas has certainly moved away from young readers with the raunchy scenes in this book. So be warned.

“When you erupt, girl, make sure it is felt across worlds.”

Ms. Mass knows just how to keep the reader begging for more, ending the book with a heart-pounding finale that had me on the edge of my seat. It was an electrifying ending to a spectacular book and I can’t wait until the next installment. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Steam Rating:🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆

TW: Mental health, sexual assault, trauma 

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel,is available now.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*| Google Books | Apple Books| Kobo
*These links are affiliate links

********

Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for my gifted copy of the book and to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass

“The black water nipping at her thrashing heels was freezing.
Not the bite of winter chill, or even the burn of solid ice, but something colder. Deeper.
The cold of the gaps between stars, the cold of a world before light.
The cold of hell – true hell, she realized as she buckled against the strong hands trying to shove her into the Cauldren.
True hell, because that was Elain lying on the stone floor with the red-haired, one-eyed Fae male hovering over her. Because those were pointed ears poking through her sister’s sodden golden-brown hair, and an immortal glow radiating from Elain’s fair skin.
True hell – worse than the inky depths mere inches from her toes.
Put her under, the hard-faced Fae king ordered.
And the sound of that voice, the voice of the male who had done this to Elain…
She knew she was going into the Cauldron. Knew she would lose this fight.”

Today’s first lines come from a book that is one of the most anticipated books in fiction this year. A Court of Silver Flames is the fifth installment in Sarah J. Mass’ epic A Court of Thornes and Roses series.

SYNOPSIS:

Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court.
The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame.
As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

I was late to the party with these books and only discovered them last summer thanks to readalongs with the Tandem Collective. And it is thanks to them, and the wonderful people at Bloomsbury Publishing, that I will be reading ACOSF as part of a readalong with other bloggers starting on February 23rd.

Categories
book reviews Tandem Readalong

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Merky Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Thank you to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong and to Merky Books for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

‘You can’t stop birds from flying, can you, Sameer? They go where they will…’

1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.
___________________
Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is an immensely resonant novel that explores racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong.

It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today.

MY REVIEW:

“In a way, I suppose, we are all birds of Uganda.” 

We Are All Birds of Uganda is a beautifully told story that follows Sameer, a twenty-something British lawyer whose family were amongst those expelled from Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin. The story moves between Sameer’s story in the present day and that of his grandfather, Hasan, who tells his story through a series of letters written to his late wife. 

There is no denying the beauty of this book; from the stunning cover to the exquisite prose and vivid imagery that bring the story to life. But this book is one that also covers issues darker than the dazzling colours on the cover would suggest. The author explores topics such as race, gender, privilege and oppression. Even addressing the rise of open and accepted racism in society today. But what is at the heart of this story is the search for one’s identity; to learn who you are in your heart and soul. I particularly enjoyed following Sameer’s journey of discovery as a young man torn between two cultures. The author has drawn on her own background as British woman with Nigerian and Pakistani roots to explore these subjects which lends it a sense of authenticity and sensitivity. 

The racial tensions of Uganda and expulsion of Asian minorities in the seventies is something I was vaguely aware of but actually knew very little about. I was shocked and appalled as Hasan writes what is happening in his adopted home; my heart breaking for him as he is forced to leave all he loved and in fear for his life. I took no pleasure in his journey from wealthy, privileged Asian who looks down on the black Ugandans to an impoverished immigrant in the UK who is treated with the disdain he himself reserved for others. I felt only shame in how some in my country treated those seeking a place of refuge in their time of need – I shame I still feel in some of those in my country today – and his fall from grace is a stark reminder that our fortune can change in a moment. 

Richly drawn, evocative, powerful and affecting, this is a wonderful debut from an author who is one to watch. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hafsa Zayyan is a writer and dispute resolution lawyer based in London. She won the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize in 2019. We Are All Birds of Uganda is her debut novel, inspired by the mixed background from which she hails. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and holds a masters’ degree from the University of Oxford.

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Bookshop.org* | Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

Don’t forget to check out the reviews from other bloggers who took part in the readalong on Instagram.

Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Year In Review

My 20 Favourites of 2020

I can’t quite believe that 2020 is over! It’s been a strange year and I think we’re all hoping that 2021 brings better things and that we can soon get back to a new normal.

It was my second full year of blogging and once again I read more than I had even hoped to. I had set my Goodreads challenge at 120 and managed to read 177. That’s 27 more than in 2019.

As you can probably imagine, reading so many books made putting together my favourite twenty books of the year a difficult task. That last spot in particular had four other books that I really wanted to include and it was a real struggle to know which should make the final spot.

Here is my list in the order that I read the books:

  1. Firewatching by Russ Thomas
  2. The Foundling by Stacey Halls
  3. Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  5. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  6. What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
  8. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
  9. The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith
  10. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  11. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  12. All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
  13. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
  15. The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
  16. The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby
  17. The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  18. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn
  19. The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
  20. The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Out of the final twenty, sixteen are by new to me authors, nine of them debuts. I found that 2020 was a strong year in terms of fantastic debuts, with others such as The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, Pine, The Memory Wood, The Wreckage, The Holdout, If I Can’t Have You, Dear Child, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon, Shiver, The Push and The Thursday Murder Club standing out in particular.

So what almost made it? Contenders for this list included Three Hours, Pine, The Memory Wood, In Five Years, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, If I Could Say Goodbye, The Push, Strangers, Dear Child, The Ice Cream Girls, All My Lies Are True and The Thursday Murder Club.

My favourite book of the year was not a difficult choice. Though there were many that were good enough to take the title, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is the standout book of the year for me. I can honestly say that I’ve thought about this stunning debut every day since I read it in April. Do yourself a favour and read it if you haven’t already. I’m just hoping it’s not too long before I can read another book by the talented Stephanie Scott.

Did we have any of the same favourites? What was your book of the year? Let me know in the comments.

Keep an eye out for a post tomorrow with the top 20 lists of some other bloggers and which 2020 book we recommend most of all.

*Thank you to the tagged publishers for my #gifted ARCs.

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – November 2020

Well that was a fast month!

The last month of 2020 is almost upon us and my mind is full of what to include in my favourite books of the year. But before that, there’s this month’s reading wrap up and a month of reading more books to do.

November has been a slower month for me as this time of year always brings with it the worsening of my chronic health conditions. I didn’t manage to read all the ones I’d started either and am in the middle of 3 others (one paperback, one kindle and one audio).

So, what did I manage to do? I read thirteen books, took part in thirteen blog tours, two readalongs and one watchalong. One of those readalongs was a bit different as we made cocktails using the new Peaky Blinders Cocktail Book. It was also fun taking part in the Shirley watchalong. It’s made me want to finally read Shirley Jackson’s books and more about her fascinating life.

Here is what I read in November:

  1. The Night Away ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  2. The One Before ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  3. The Diabolical Bones ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. One By One ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  5. The Package ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Company Daughters ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. Fallen Angels ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. How To Belong ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Body Language ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. Her Sister’s Child ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  12. Dead Girl Walking ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. Bright Lies ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I read some great books this month. The Diabolical Bones and The Package were standout reads that were contenders for BOTM for a while. But when I read The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside there was no question that this would be my BOTM. EVERYONE needs to read this book! It is one of my favourites this year for sure. You can read the review for it, and the other books I’ve read this month, by clicking the link in their title in the list above.

In December I’m looking forward to a more relaxed month. I’ve only taken on three blog tours and will be doing more mood reading. I can’t wait!

Thank you to the tagged publishers who sent gifted copies.

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite book in November? Let me know in the comments.

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – October 2020

I can’t quite believe we’re in the start of November and in just a few weeks we’ll putting together our best books of the year! But the clocks have gone back, the weather is cold and wet and October is over. This means it’s time for another wrap-up.

October was a fantastic month for me. I read a total of 19 books and discovered some that will have a place in my favourites of 2020. I took part in twenty-one blog tours, three readalongs and managed to squeeze in some much-needed mood reading at the end of the month. The latter was so refreshing and reinforced my decision to take on less blog tours next year.

So, let’s look at what I read this month:

  1. The Meaning of Mariah Carey ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. A Court of Frost and Starlight ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Ex-Boyfriend ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Where The Edge Is ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Betrayal ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Watch Her Vanish ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. When Life Gives You Mangoes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. The Book of Two Ways (unrated)
  9. All Your Little Lies ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. The Princess and the Prick ⭐⭐⭐
  11. Gone Before ⭐⭐⭐💫
  12. Dangerous To Know ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  13. The Exiles ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. The Housewarming ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  15. Dead Perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. The Nesting ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  17. The Illustrated Child ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  18. The Shape of Darkness ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  19. The Burning Girls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Choosing a favourite has been tricky as the last three books I read in October were each outstanding enough to take the title. In addition, The Meaning of Mariah Carey was a sensational memoir that I had thought was a shoe-in for my favourite book all month. After some thought I have decided to give two books the title of BOTM: The Illustrated Child and The Burning Girls. In the end I just couldn’t choose between the two.

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite read of October?

Categories
book reviews Tandem Readalong

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Published: June 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction

I read this book as part of a readalong with Tandem Collective UK. Thank you for the invitation to take part and Bloomsbury UK for my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

In this companion tale to the bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Feyre, Rhys and their friends are working to rebuild the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond after the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin.
But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated – scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their court.

Sarah J. Maas is a global #1 bestselling author. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into 37 languages. Discover the sweeping romantic fantasy for yourself.

MY REVIEW:

“It had been a long, brutal winter that had brought me so deep into the woods that day nearly two years ago. A long, brutal winter that had made me desperate enough to kill a wolf, that had eventually led me here—to this life, this… happiness.”

A Court of Frost and Starlight is a cosy yet fierce winter novella. This short, lighthearted read with bite was perfect after the much darker and longer ACOWAR. 

While there is tension and drama with Tamlin and the Illaryians, this is overall a book about family, both blood and that you choose for yourself. Fayre is settling into her role as High Lady of Night Court but is struggling with the destruction that was left behind following the war. She feels guilty that she couldn’t do more and protect those who died and we follow her journey of self-acceptance and forgiveness, as she finds a new purpose that she hopes will help her people. 

I really enjoyed this book but felt like it’s purpose was to set up the next installment by addressing things about the faerie way of life that hadn’t yet been examined but needed to be explained before book five. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

Website |Instagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

Categories
book reviews Tandem Readalong

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction

I read this book as part of a readlong with Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to them for the invitation and Bloomsbury UK for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring her land to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords and hunt for allies in unexpected places. And her heart will face the ultimate test as she and her mate are forced to question whether they can truly trust each other.

Sarah J. Maas is a global #1 bestselling author. Her books have sold more than nine million copies and been translated into 37 languages. Discover the sweeping romantic fantasy for yourself.

Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.

MY REVIEW:

“To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.” 

Fayre is now back in Spring Court. She has returned under the guise of going back to Tamlin but is in fact still Lady of the Night Court and biding her time before taking revenge for how he and others betrayed Prythian in the war with King Hybern. As war looms once more, her relationship with Rhysand is tested and they must decide who among the High Lords they can trust to be on their side. 

I loved how fierce, determined and strong Fayre was in this book. She stands up to Tamlin, refusing to let him twist and rewrite their narrative, even when he shreds her dignity with lewd words and savage lies. Back when I read book one, I could never understand why people loved Rhysand and hated Tamlin; now I’m totally the same. Tamlin is a vile, abusive, controlling snake and I got almost as much pleasure out of Fayre’s revenge as she did. 

I enjoyed seeing more of the other courts and how Fayre’s sisters handled their unexpected and unwanted transition to immortality. I found myself worrying about the fate of the characters and wondered if the author would take a leaf out of George R. R. Martin’s book and kill off a much-loved main character. It is quite a dark book in many ways, addressing abuse, coercive control, trauma, PTSD and consent.

This was my favourite yet in the series. Action-packed, emotional and gripping, it kept me on the edge of my seat and broke my heart. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

Website|Instagram|Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon|Waterstones|Hive|Google Books|Apple Books|Kobo

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Line Friday

First Line Friday: October 9th, 2020

Welcome to First Line Friday. This is a tag that was started by mrscookesbooks on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

So here’s this week’s first line:

My calendar is full of dead people.

When my phone alarm chimes, I fish it out from the pocket of my cargo pants. I’ve forgotten, with the time change, to turn off the reminder. I’m still groggy with sleep, but I open the date and read names: Iris Vale, Euan Ae Kim, Alan Rosenfeldt, Marlon Jensen.

I close my eyes and do what I do every day at this moment: I remember them.

That fantastic opening is from The Book of Two Ways, one of my most anticipated books this year. I’m starting the book today as part of a readalong with the Tandem Collective but the book is out on October 20th.

SYNOPSIS:

Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: what does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

Doesn’t that sound amazing! Pre-order your copy here.

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Tandem Readalong

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Published: October 20th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga

Happy Publication Day to my favourite author!

Thank you to the Tandem Collective for the invitation to take part in the readalong and to Hodder & Stoughton for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Jodi Picoult’s stunning new novel about life, death, and missed opportunities.

Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: what does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

MY REVIEW:

“My calendar is full of dead people… At one point, they were my clients. Now, they’re my stories to keep.”

Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and any book she releases is one I highly anticipate. So when Tandem announced a readalong of her new book I jumped at the chance to take part. It wasn’t only that it was a JP book that had me excited, it was the inclusion of Egyptology, as I have always been fascinated in ancient Egypt and looked forward to seeing how that was included in the book. 

“Even people who don’t know much about Egyptology have heard of the Book of the Dead… It’s a New Kingdom collection of spells to help the deceased make his or her easy to the afterlife —but it evolved from earlier, lesser known funerary texts… Also part of these Coffin Texts is the Book of Two Ways, the first known map of the afterlife.” 

The story begins when Dawn Edelstein is travelling on a plane that is about to make a planned emergency landing. As she prepares to land, she doesn’t see the face of her husband Brian or their daughter Meret, the person she sees in what could be her final moments is Wyatt, the man she left behind in Egypt fifteen years ago. What follows is a story of the two paths her life could have taken following a heated argument with Brian about their marriage that mirrors the two paths that can be taken to the afterlife in the titular Book of Two Ways.  

For the first time in almost two decades of reading this author, I DNF’d one of her books. This book has been a bit of a marmite book throughout the book community but like my thoughts about the controversial condiment, I’m ambiguous about this one. I didn’t stop reading it because of bad writing or not liking the story, I stopped reading because the book heavily focuses on the subject of death and I found it too traumatic to keep reading after losing one of my best friends suddenly earlier this year. 

“I think what really shocked me is how many people can’t see the shape of the life they’ve lived until they get to the very end of it.”

Overall, I liked the idea for this book and the concept of showing the two different paths Dawn’s life could take. As always with JP’s books, the story is well researched and there were many fascinating facts I learned about Egypt, ancient Egypt and death. But at times I felt like it  got bogged down in academia, which took away from my enjoyment of the story and it felt a bit like reading a textbook. 

This isn’t a lighthearted read and it is definitely one you have to be in the right frame of mind for. I wasn’t. It’s too soon for me. But I will go back and read the remaining third of this book at a later date as I was enjoying the story and characters and liked the format the story took. As with the layout of her last book, A Spark of Light, I don’t think everyone will like this. But I like that she takes these risks in both how and what she writes. It’s why she’s my favourite author. 

*I’m not rating this book at the present time as I feel my judgement would be clouded by my grief. I will rate it at a later date when I finish the final part of the book.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jodi Picoult is the #1 bestselling author of twenty-five novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, The Storyteller, Leaving Time, the acclaimed #1 bestseller, Small Great Things, which explored the issues of power, privilege and race, and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Picoult’s most recent novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT., published on October 2, 2018, was her tenth consecutive instant #1 New York Times bestseller, and was praised as “Picoult at her fearless best” by the Washington Post.

Picoult’s books have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Four novels – The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, and Salem Falls – have been made into television movies. My Sister’s Keeper was a film released from New Line Cinema, with Nick Cassavetes directing and Cameron Diaz starring. SMALL GREAT THINGS has been optioned for motion picture adaptation by Amblin Entertainment and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Picoult’s two Young Adult novels, Between The Lines and Off The Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, have been adapted and developed by the authors into a musical entitled Between The Lines which had its world premiere in September 2017 at the Kansas City Repertory Theater and is expected to premiere Off-Broadway in Summer 2019.

Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven.

Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven. She is also a member of the advisory board for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children.

Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Apple Books |Kobo