Mini Book Reviews: The End of Men | Madam | The Final Chapter | All Boys Aren’t Blue

It’s time for another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read recently. These four books are from NetGalley and I enjoyed them all.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of Men opens with an A&E doctor realising that a virus is spreading through her department and she attempts to warn authorities. The novel then moves forward a day or two and then a few days at a time following a large cast of characters as we see how they react and cope with the virus and the implications it may have for their own lives. I was concerned this might be too much to read given that we’re living through a pandemic in the real world but actually I found it different enough that I enjoyed reading it. There are similarities to what we’re living through but there are differences too – in the novel women can carry the virus but it’s only males who die from it and only one in ten males are immune. We see people from all walks of life suffering through the pandemic and it’s heartbreaking the loss that people go through. I did find it hard to connect to any other characters in the book though – all the voices read the same to me and I kept having to flick back to the start of the chapter to see who I was with at the time. Also I understand that the focus of the novel was the virus but I felt that there wasn’t a lot of emotion in the early part of the book, it left me feeling a bit cold and disconnected from what was happening. Later on as time has moved on quite a lot there was more acknowledgement of loss and some moments really brought a lump to my throat. Overall, I did enjoy this novel – it was definitely compelling and I recommend it!

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

I was eagerly anticipating this novel as it seemed like it would be packed with all the things I love in a novel and I did enjoy it. Madam follows Rose Christie as she is recruited to teach Classics at the prestigious girls’s boarding school Caldonbrae Hall in Scotland. It soon becomes apparent that Rose is the first new teacher at the school in many years and there seems to be a lot of secrets being kept from her. The girls she teaches seem odd at times and the other members of staff are quite cold towards her. I found this novel suspenseful and I enjoyed getting lost within the pages. My only criticism is that it felt that some parts of the novel were too long and this detracted from what was happening in the novel for me. On the whole though I did enjoy this one – I thought it was unsettling at times and I loved that I didn’t know anymore than Rose did so I was right along with her as she tried to figure out what she had got herself into. This was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it.

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

I’ve been so keen to read this book so when I got approved for it on NetGalley on Saturday I immediately started reading it and I read the whole thing in one sitting! The Final Chapter follows David, a famous writer, who one day receives a typed book in the post and it turns his world upside down. The pages he receives detail what happened in the summer of 1986 when a young girl he knew was murdered. It then turns out that his childhood best friend received the same book but with a different ending. David is determined to work out what the book is trying to tell him about that fateful summer. This novel is so fast-paced, with short chapters that make it impossible to put it down as you keep thinking that you’ll just read one more chapter! This novel grabbed me from the beginning and I was enthralled all the way to the end. It’s a book that doesn’t always add up but it’s such a fun ride and I loved every minute that I spent reading it. I recommend this one if you want an addictive, fast-paced and fun read.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

This is such an emotional memoir aimed at younger readers but one that all ages will get something from. All Boys Aren’t Blue is Johnson’s story of growing up black and queer and he details his experiences of the things he went through and had to deal with. Through the book there is exploration of race, sexuality and gender, each handled so well and whilst not pulling any punches it is appropriate to its audience. I found this book heartbreaking at times; it’s horrendous to read what Johnson has been through in his life, but it’s also inspiring to read of the way he has come through their struggles and found peace in who he is. I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to everyone.

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (29 Aug 20)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Purchased eBooks

A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts

I read a review of this one a few days ago and loved the sound of it so much that I immediately bought it on Kindle. I think this one will really resonate with me and I can’t wait to read it!

At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake, badly. She was trying to impress the man who would later become her husband. Afterwards, grief pushed Olivia into the kitchen. She came home from her job as a criminal barrister miserable and tired, and baked soda bread, pizza, and chocolate banana cake. Her cakes sank and her custard curdled. But she found comfort in jams and solace in pies, and what began as a distraction from grief became a way of building a life outside grief, a way of surviving, and making sense of her life without her mum. And so she concocted a plan: she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons. She left the bar and enrolled on the Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, plunging headfirst into the eccentric world of patisserie, with all its challenges, frustrations and culinary rewards – and a mind-boggling array of knives to boot. Interspersed with recipes ranging from passionfruit pavlova to her mother’s shepherd’s pie, this is a heart-breaking, hilarious, life-affirming memoir about dealing with grief, falling in love and learning how to bake a really, really good cake.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

I spotted this book in the Kindle sale this week and immediately hit the 1-click button. I read and loved In Five Years earlier this year and now I want to read everything this author has written.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, THE DINNER LIST, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You. When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

The Power in You by Henry Fraser

I was immediately drawn to this book when I spotted it as I follow Henry Fraser on twitter and I love his attitude to life. I’m partially paralysed and so much of what he says strikes a chord with me so I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Mouth artist, motivational speaker and author of the inspirational memoir The Little Big Things, Henry Fraser, explores the transformative power of acceptance in this motivational guide. If The Little Big Things was about Henry’s past, The Power in You is about his present and his future. And through understanding his daily experience, Henry teaches us all how best we can live. This book is about right now, and it’s about tomorrow. It’s about recognising progress, it’s about accepting our past to become free of it, it’s about living in the now to avoid anxiety. It’s future focused on the positive. Henry discusses acceptance, how to adapt and deal with our pasts, how to forgive ourselves, and how to forgive others. He will remind us to live in the present and just how empowering that can be, how to work through self-doubt, how to become aware of our progress, and how everything you need in life comes from within you. The power is in you.

To Love and Let Go by Rachel Brathen

I bought this book on a whim when I was browsing the Kindle sale as it sounded like such an emotional buy ultimately positive read. I’m keen to get to this one.

While on her way to teach a yoga retreat in March 2014, Rachel Brathen collapses at an airport, brought to her knees by excruciating stomach pains. She is rushed to the hospital on the tiny island of Bonaire, and hours later forced to undergo surgery. When she wakes up from anesthesia, her boyfriend is weeping at her bedside. While Rachel was struck down with seemingly mysterious pain, her best friend, Andrea, sustained fatal injuries as a result of a car accident. Rachel and Andrea had a magical friendship. Though they looked nothing alike—one girl tall, blond, and Swedish, the other short, brunette, and Colombian—everyone called them gemelas: twins. Over the three years following Andrea’s death, at what might appear from the outside to be the happiest time—with her engagement to the man she loves and a blossoming career that takes her all over the world—Rachel faces a series of trials that have the potential to define her life. Unresolved grief and trauma from her childhood make the weight of her sadness unbearable. At each turn, she is confronted again and again with a choice: Will she lose it all, succumb to grief, and grasp for control that’s beyond her reach? Or can she move through the loss and let go? When Rachel and her husband conceive a child, pregnancy becomes a time to heal and an opportunity to be reborn herself. As she recounts this transformative period, Rachel shares her hard-won wisdom about life and death, love and fear, what it means to be a mother and a daughter, and how to become someone who walks through the fire of adversity with the never-ending practice of loving hard and letting go.

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes by Jessica Redland

I read some lovely reviews of this book recently so when the author let me know it was free on Amazon I couldn’t resist downloading it. I’m saving this one to read nearer Christmas and I already can’t wait!

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is a cosy heartwarming tale of friendship, family, putting the past behind, and embracing the future.  It’s Christmas in Whitsborough Bay. With fairy lights connecting the shops and cafés on either side of the cobbles, Castle Street seems magical. And in such a magical place, surely Christmas wishes can come true.  Carly Travis, owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, has two Christmas wishes this year. Her first is for her younger sister, Bethany, to focus on the positives in her life, including her Christmas wedding, instead of writing herself off as a failure. Bethany’s attempts at cake-decorating aren’t going to win any awards, but she’s certainly great with customers. Carly’s second wish is for her best friend, Liam, to come home for Christmas.  When Liam calls to say he’s been granted leave from the army, Carly makes a third Christmas wish. It’s the one she’s made every year since she was a teenager and, if she’s really brave, could this be the year when it finally comes true?  With Liam coming home, the shop having its best year yet, and a wedding to look forward to, it’s shaping up to be the best Christmas ever for Carly. But for Bethany, things are starting to unravel …

Review Books

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

I keep seeing this book on social media and was so intrigued by it that I went straight to NetGalley and downloaded it. I hope to read this one soon.

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.  The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world. What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the “male plague;” intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.

Purchased AudioBooks

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

I bought this book on an Audible daily deal this week. It was an impulse buy as I’ve really enjoyed previous novels by this author on audio. I think this will be another lovely read (listen).

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change. Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks. But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂