Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid


reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddDaisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

 

Daisy Jones and the Six seems as if it has been absolutely everywhere, but I was very resistant to pick it up initially. I’m a fairly stubborn person so this happens to some degree with most books that get a lot of hype surrounding them (with Reese Witherspoon championing Daisy within her book club and optioning it for TV, it seems like this book has received more hype in the short time it has been published than almost any other this year).

The other reason I wasn’t sure I’d get on with this book is I’m not a huge music person. Given the choice to listen to music or sit in silence, I pick silence 99% of the time. I use music to block out other more annoying noise, but I’ve never been one to gush over albums and listen to music as a sole activity. Daisy Jones and the Six follows one of the best bands in the world as they tell the oral history of their rise and fall, so clearly there’s going to be a lot of music chat involved.

Eventually the temptation to give it a try got too much and I picked up a copy for myself, reasoning that I knew a lot of people whose cup of tea it definitely would be and I could pass it on to them once I was finished or if I really didn’t like.

In all honesty, it took me a while to get into the story. The book is written as an oral history in the form of interviews with the band and other individuals involved in the making and breaking of the group. This involves a lot of anecdotes overlapping and in most cases outright contradiction between characters telling the same story. My enjoyment of a book is very heavily reliant on connecting with characters and it took me a while to feel like I had a grip on the main players in this book. However, once I had dedicated some solid reading time to getting used to this unique style I thoroughly enjoyed it and came to find each characters way of telling the story familiar and amusing. I’m very keen to get my hands (or rather ears) on an audio book version as I think it would work incredibly well in this format- I’m also waiting for bated breath for news on the TV programme.

For what is on the face of it a simple plot (band gets together, band gets famous, band falls apart), Daisy Jones and the Six leaves you feeling like you’ve experienced something unique. At times I forgot I wasn’t reading a real biography of a band, I was so involved within the rawness, the sexuality, talent and angst of these characters and their hopelessly flawed self-destructive natures. I must have pulled up google several times wanting to search for a character to find an image of them, or to see the album artwork before remembering it didn’t actually exist.

There was still a lot of description of how they wrote songs and put their albums together which I knew wouldn’t be my cup of tea going into it, but my goodness the rest of the story was well worth those parts of the book.

Weeks later I’m still gathering my thoughts and feelings about this book, which is a real testament to the talent of Taylor Jenkins Reid. Having read ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ I immediately went and bought another of her extremely hyped books to try and honestly, I don’t know how I ever lived without her writing in my life.

Damsel by Elana K Arnold


Damsel
by Elana K. Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb:

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.

However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her. 

For the past couple of years I have really been enjoying fairytale retellings, so when the opportunity to review Damsel came up I jumped at the chance not really knowing what it would be about beyond Princes, Damsels and dragons.

Unusually I’m going to start my review by talking about the ending because I think it will be the part of this book that is most controversial and potentially disliked. For my part, I got to the end and said aloud to the empty room “WHAT.THE.HELL”. I’m not going to give any spoilers beyond saying that the secret behind Prince Emory’s slaying of the dragon is… graphic, disgusting and fairly shocking. It definitely hit me from left field, although thinking about the book as a whole I think you could argue that there’s a strong theme throughout that builds up to this ending.

As much as the ending wasn’t my favourite part of the book, it does add to the grim, gritty, dark tone of the story. I still dropped my rating of Damsel by a star because for me, it took the book in a direction I felt was unnecessary. I feel like the feminist tone of the book and the gradual rebellion of Ama was strong enough to make a fantastic story without needing the truly bizarre shock factor part of the ending.

Ending aside, I was hooked on this book from the first page. Arnold’s writing style lends itself fantastically to the fairytale genre and I thought the world building in this book was particularly strong- possibly because Ama is discovering the world at the same time the reader is.

This book will make you angry, sad, probably a little big disgusted in places but it will also give you some real feminist satisfaction. This is a truly grim fairytale, so if you’re looking for a romance, this is not it. It’s gritty, but also beautifully written. Just don’t blame me if you read it and hate the ending…

Thanks to Harper 360 for sending me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Distortion by Victor Dixen

Distortion by Victor Dixen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review

I really loved Ascension so I couldn’t wait to start reading Distortion. I was desperate to know what the Martian pioneers would decide to do!

Distortion opens straight back in the thick of the action that Ascension finished on, which I loved. All too often sequels finish on a really juicy story line and pick up miles in the future when everything has been resolved. In Distortion, we get to experience the pioneers making the decision whether to land on Mars or turn the Cupido around. The suspense was really well built and up until the decision was made I was unsure which they would choose to go with.

I found the story line with Andrew and Harmony a bit of a disruption to the flow of the book. I don’t massively care about their characters because they went from being secondary to a main story line in this book and really when I’m reading about them I just want to be back on Mars! However, I feel like they do play an important part in the ongoing plot and I’m interested to see what happens in the next book.

I really loved all of the action on Mars, in particular the storm and the revelation that the robots can talk really peaked my interest and made the book impossible to put down. I’m really enjoying this series and can’t wait to continue it and see whether they continue to live on Mars, return to Earth or suffer from the depressurisation of the habitats.

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The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was instantly intrigued by the premise of this story. I loved the idea of the dead letters depot, staffed by letter detectives working to return lost mail to their rightful owners. I would absolutely love to be a letter detective, so much so I can’t bring myself to research whether this ever was an actual, real job once. I couldn’t bear to have missed out on such an interesting job because I was born in the wrong decade!

As the plot unravelled I became enthralled. I was so heavily invested in the love story of William and Clare, and then so intrigued to read more letters from the mysterious Winter. I was desperate to find out who she was and whether William would find her.

As characters, William and Clare were very flawed but also very lovable. I was rooting for their marriage and shaking my head in despair every time they did something to damage the chances of them fixing their issues. I felt like I knew them both intimately by the time I was a third of the way through the story and I think this is because of the incredibly beautiful and almost melodic way of writing Helen Cullen has.

Personally, I found the ending a bit disappointing. As I got nearer the end I could feel that I wasn’t going to get the neat, tidy ending I was yearning for. The number of pages I had left didn’t tally with the amount of story that still needed to be reconciled. I feel a bit cheated that we never got to properly “meet” Winter and that we didn’t get to see William and Clare’s reconciliation.

Overall though, I loved this beautifully written book and will be highly recommending it to many people.
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Eve of Man by Giovanna Fletcher

Eve of Man by Giovanna Fletcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Individually I love both Tom and Giovanna’s writing. Giovanna’s warm, cozy romances always go straight to the top of my TBR list and as the mother of an 18 month old troublemaker I loved her non-fiction parenting book too. Tom meanwhile has until now stuck to children’s picture books and middle grade fiction and whilst I have enjoyed them, I’ll admit that I was interested to see how his writing style, which seemed so suited to younger audiences, would adapt to fit this new audience for him.

Eve of Man is set in a world where no girls have been born for 50 years. Then, Eve is born and she is protected and revered as the saviour of mankind. Kept in a tower, away from the rest of the world Eve’s whole life is mapped out for her but all Eve wants is freedom and the chance to make her own decisions about her future.

The plot appealed to me immediately. I love a post-apocalyptic dystopian story and although it’s a genre that became quite saturated a few years ago, I haven’t read any in a good few years so I was ready to get stuck in.

The story is told through the point of view of the two main characters Eve and Bram, with each author taking resposibility for writing one of the characters. I love the idea of this collaberative way of developing a story and I think it was really effective in making both Eve and Bram such well developed characters. Obviously both Tom and Gi had an overview of the story as a whole but as you read the book you can tell that they trusted their instincts and wrote each chapter as they felt their character would react and that meant I felt really personally invested in them as people.

A main part of the story centres around Eve being presented with suitors for her to select one with whom she would begin to repopulate the human race. The scenes that centre around Eve’s preparation for this are really uncomfortable but also so powerful. Internal examinations and frank discussions about what is expected of “the saviour of mankind” would of course be part and parcel of Eve’s life but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them featured in a book in this way.

There were lots of little touches in the book that weren’t particularly part of the main plot but which really added to the atmosphere of the story. One particular aspect I liked was the inclusion of a little pod that they travel the Thames in. Not until it docked in a “big wheel” did I realise it was a pod from the London Eye! I thought this was an ingenius little touch.

I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for the next installment in the trilogy.

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Trying by Emily Phillips

Trying by Emily Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-arc of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review

I initially requested this book via Netgalley because I thought it was going to be a humourous book about a couple trying for a baby. It is a humourous book, and it is about a couple who want a baby but the humour and the infertility are separate. I feel like that’s an important thing to state early in on in this review. If you are currently struggling with fertility and you’re hoping to pick up a book that you can empathise with and to help you find some humour in your own experiences then this isn’t the book for you.

Considering it wasn’t at all what I expected it to be, by the time I was about 1/3 of my way into it I enjoyed it immensely, however, I did have some difficulties with it. I disliked the main characters very, very much. I felt they were immature and vacuous. Although the premise of the book suggested they were desperately trying for a baby, in actuality they seemed unwilling to do anything that might assist them with getting pregnant. I also have a real annoyance with the cliche that so often pops up in fiction that if a married couple have an argument they’ll both immediately pop off and drop their drawers for anyone who winks at them. It seems like there are no happily married people in books and that would be nice to read about.

As I mentioned though, by the time I was about 1/3 of the way into the book I felt I had a good understanding of the characters and my dislike for them personally did not detract from the fact that Emily Phillips has written a really good dramatic, funny and emotional story. I became fully caught up in the dramas; I could feel myself cringing as the lies started to unravel and I shed a few tears at the end of the book. It’s a testament to her writing that I obviously found myself emotionally invested in characters I hadn’t liked at the beginning of the book.

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Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me an advanced reading copy of this book

I found this book a really touching, sensitive depiction of death. Unlike other books i’ve read which follow a person after their death, Sunflowers in February somehow manages to explore the idea without being too maudlin or gruesome. Funny in places and so heartbreaking in others it moved me to tears, this book is an accurate and touching portrayal of grief.

Sunflowers in February follows Lily directly following the hit and run accident that killed her. Lily follows her family, confused and angry and desperate for another chance at life until one day she gets the opportunity to live through her twin brother. Will this last chance be enough for Lily to make peace with her death and move on, or will her brother have to share his life indefinitely.

This is such a hard topic to write about and if i’m being honest, isn’t usually a subject I generally like to read about. I struggled to read The Lovely Bones (which is a similar sort of plot but much, much darker) however, the title of this book evokes such lovely, bright images I was hopeful that I would enjoy reading it. I liked that the reason behind Lily’s death wasn’t too macabre. It was refreshing for a book not to focus on the gruesomeness of the murder/death and I felt it allowed the reader to focus more on what Shrimpton was trying to say about grief.

I think that this book will be a useful book for teenagers to read to help them understand their actions have consequences, that they aren’t immortal and to make the most of their life and their families whilst they have them. As characters Lily and Ben are your typical teenagers, managing to be loveable, naive and irritating all at once. As a parent myself, Lily’s desperation to live again and the complete despair of her mother really moved me and I yearned for them all to find some kind of resolution to their pain even though I knew that the happy ending I wanted where Lily was magically resurrected wasn’t going to happen!

In all, this book left me feeling very positively. It’s a beautifully written YA exploration of death and grief.

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