Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott- A book review

Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott- A book review

I jumped at the chance to buddy read Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott, because it is not something that has ended up quite well for me historically and I would not pick it up on my own even though it was on my TBR. Go figure!

It has been a while since I read a young adult based in a hospital romance (or sick-lit, if I may). Yes it is supposedly a trope by itself, if you had not known earlier.

About Five feet apart

Five Feet Apart

Book Name: Five feet apart

Author: Rachael Lippincott

Genre: Fiction – Romance, Young Adult

Characters: Stella and Abby Grant, Will Newman, Poe, Camila, Mya

Setting: The United States of America

Plot Summary of Five feet apart

Stella Grant is a high schooler who is at the final stages of Cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder that mainly affects the lung. She has been a regular at the hospital for most of her life. She loves lists and being in control is the only way she knows to cope up with her health.

While she has a great support system and friends circle in and around the hospital, she has to avoid putting herself at the risk of infections she would be eligible for lung transplant.

Will Newman is a new CF patient to the hospital and all he wants is to get away from it. He has spent most of his life between clinical trials and staying at various hospitals and is now waiting to turn eighteen so that he can get away from all these restrictions and enjoy life as it should be. 

When they both stumble upon each other, they know they should stay away from each other. But what if they maintained a five feet distance between each other? Would that be so bad forms the rest of Five feet apart.

Book review of Five feet apart

Due to my earlier disappointments with the romances with sick teens, I was skeptical when I started reading Five feet apart and I was mildly surprised that I enjoyed it as much. Though I have a few misgivings about the plot, the easy writing and witty dialogues kept me going. 

I wish books would stop portraying that kids who are suffering some physical ailments do not get to enjoy anything in life and they need to break free of their treatments / medical restrictions to get to be “normal”.

I liked reading about the CF which is a new thing for me, and the story was cutesy as YAs tend to be and am totally looking forward to watching the movie Five feet apart starring Cole Sprouse now.

Things that worked for me

  • Five feet apart plays exactly into the trope of sick lit and does a good job with it.
  • I enjoyed the easy writing style and the witty banter between the characters.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I didn’t feel related to the characters but it is just me. It did not hinder my reading.
  • As I mentioned earlier, I personally had issues with the trope that encourages patients to break free of the treatment.

Bottom-line

Five feet apart is a typical sick lit that does its job in opening up talks about the CF with a positive ending. I would recommend it for all John Green (of course) and Nicoola Yoon fans.

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Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott- A book review

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams – A book review

Does it ever annoy you when you expect something from a book because it was marketed so but then it turns out entirely different? I picked Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams because it had great reviews and it said it was ‘Bridget Jones meets Americanah’. But it turned out to be something different. Let us find out how Queenie was for me, shall we?

About the book

Book Name: Queenie

Author: Candice Carty-Williams

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Queenie, Tom, Diana, Darcy, Kyazike, Cassandra

Setting: LondonEngland, The UK

The plot

Queenie is a 25 year old Jamaican British woman, a typical millennial living in the pricey London and working for a newspaper. She has a close friend’s circle and a long term Caucasian boyfriend. Her family consists of overbearing grandparents, a religious maternal aunt and an estranged mother – you know the typical Jamaican family. 

Things spiral down fast when her boyfriend proposes a long break from their relationship. Her performance at work suffers and finally she gets fired. Her social life derails when she starts hooking up with men who have no time or interest in her personality.

How Queenie deals with it and gets out of the mess that is her life now with the help of her family and friends forms the rest of the story. 

My initial thoughts

Queenie is a tale of a young woman who tries to find her identity between the two cultures. It is less of a love story but more about strong female characters and their friendship and family ties. The characters are flawed but they are relatable and their problems are real. Though set in the UK, their story is from everywhere. 

I agree that the Jamaican culture took little back seat among the other themes but from what was described I found it was similar to the Asians. Especially the importance given to family and religious sentiment. I loved how Queenie spoke about the stigma around the mental health and that is something really close to my heart. If only more people get off that mentality soon.

Also when I picked Queenie looking for a cheesy love story but instead found an intense book that spoke about several themes like sexism, feminism, sexual harassment at work and fetishising of Black women’s body. Though they were touched lightly, I am glad Queenie opened the topic at the least.

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the flawed characters and the pains were real.
  • Queenie talks about the importance of female friendship that sees through every up and down of her life. 
  • It opens up the topic about the stigma around mental health and taking steps to improve it.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I wish Queenie had spoken more about the racial and other issues.
  • I was totally misled by the genre classification and the summary. 

Bottom-line

If you loved dry British humor like Chewing Gum (Netflix) or Fleabag, you will love Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. It totally surprised me and I think it is one of my best reads of 2019, as of now.

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Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott- A book review

Book review: Very Large Expanse of Sea, A

I just realized it has been a while since I reviewed a romance book and I am here today to rectify that situation. I picked up A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi with a similar motive.

That and the fact that about three billion of fellow book bloggers and bookstagrammers decided to fall in love with this book. So let us see how this works out right?

About the book

Book Name: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Genre: Fiction – Romance, YA

Characters: Shirin, Navid, Ocean James 

Setting: The United States of America

The plot

Set in the year immediately following the 9/11, Shirin is a sixteen year old who got caught among the fear, prejudice and consequent Islamophobia prevalent in the general society in the USA. 

She is used to her father’s frequent job transfers and having to switch schools, meet new people often but she is also used to the cold stares, racists comments and some times even physical violence. She accepts that as a part of her life, a consequence of her religion and her hijab that she choose to wear.  

Shirin didn’t expect anything different at her new school. When her brother Navid decides to start a break dancing troop her life suddenly wasn’t that bad anymore. 

Then she met Ocean James, the school’s golden boy, who wants to befriend her even when she tries to push him away. What was worse is she seems to like him as well. Can these two get a normal high school life when the whole world is spewing hatred at her? Read A Very Large Expanse of Sea to know more. 

My initial thoughts

Once I picked this book, I stayed up to 3 AM to finish it because I didn’t wanna set it down. The cute romance was so adorable that I wanted them to have a positive ending. I hated those who hated them and wanted to harm them. They were so good together, you know? 

I loved Navid, his friends and Shirin’s parents. Seeing an Iranian Muslim family that had to navigate in the post 9/11 USA was heartbreaking and this being an #ownvoice story, made me wonder how many more were still under pressure because of their beliefs and religion. 

But at the end of the day it is a Young Adult romance, diverse representation is only a part of it. So do not pick the book with the hopes of getting more than that. 

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the Romance and the leads were adorable.
  • The representation was on point and the characters were fully developed
  • I heard this is not Tahereh Mafi’s usual style of writing, but I liked it anyway.

Things that didn’t work for me

I loved their parents but they were around for just a few scenes, I wish there were more.

Bottom-line

I loved reading A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. I will continue reading Tahereh Mafi’s other series. If you are looking for a Young Adult romance with a Muslim representation then A Very Large Expanse of Sea should be your pick.

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Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott- A book review

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: Book review

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is one of those books that have been on my TBR for a long time and when Evalinah and Simant asked me for a buddy read I just jumped at the chance. So shall we get on with it?

About the book

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Book Name: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Eleanor Oliphant, Raymond Gibbons, Laura, Sammy

Setting:  GlasgowScotlandThe UK

Plot Summary of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is a twenty nine year old  blunt and has not mastered the social etiquette yet. She has been living alone for a long time and barely speaks to people. She has had a difficult relationship with her mother, her only relative always but now she sees a light in the form of a guy, a musician apparently. 

She has it all planned. All she had to meet him, he will realize she is the one for him, they will fall in love and a happily ever after was destined. But she was not ready to bump into Raymond, a office coworker nor meeting his mother. 

What happened in her past that affected her so much? How did Raymond’s presence alter her path? You will have to read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine to know more.

Book review of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

I am nowhere like Eleanor in real life but somehow I could relate to her thoughts. And that is where the author shines. She has written a character who is full of flaws and is annoying, unlikable, yet believable and relatable. 

Things that worked for me

  • I think the strength of the book was its well developed characters.
  • I liked how the tension and suspense about Eleanor’s past was maintained till the end. 
  • There are lots of funny moments that had me chuckling loud in the public.

Things that didn’t work for me

The plot is character driven so if you are waiting for that plot twist, it isn’t coming.

As part of our buddy-reading, Evalinah, Simant and I exchanged some questions for each of us to answer. You can hop to their blogs and check out their answers.

Evalinah’s questions

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine has some bigger than life concepts and ideas. What’s the biggest lesson you took away from it? Has it affected how you view things in life at least a little bit?

I loved how Eleanor was a go-getter and was never afraid to push her limits. Be it the makeover or the bikini wax, she was ready to try them because she needed to. She is a strong woman not because of her circumstances but despite them.

Since Eleanor is a very unreliable narrator, the first things we hear about Raymond are somewhat repulsive because she sees him very negatively at first. But then we indirectly learn that he basically has a heart of gold. What was your “reader’s journey” in regards to Raymond? Did you start seeing him as a “book boyfriend” eventually, or..?

Raymond reminded me of Roy from the IT crowd, right from the beginning. I loved how he wasn’t portrayed as just another guy and we all fell in love with him directly. 

What did you think of the writing style? Namely, the way we were always given Eleanor’s sometimes ridiculous opinions first, and only then learned the truth indirectly through actual events? What do you think this gave to the story, especially when it comes to how we see Eleanor and her changes?

I remember us updating each other (while reading) about the mystery about the ‘past’. She had us hooked right where we wanted and even though we were able to kinda predict we stuck through it to see how it panned out. 
And I think that is where the author won as a writer.

Check out her post here

Simant’s questions

Eleanor is an unlikable character in the beginning. It’s not that we generally meet such people in daily life. She is one of the oddest characters I’ve ever read. But as the story progresses, we start connecting with her and understanding her better. 

Why do you think it is so? Why we felt connected to her though we don’t relate to her on so many levels? Or if you do resemble her in some way, share your experience may be? 

I think at some level we all relate to her because she says aloud things that we all think. I think those rough edges helped Eleanor win us over. 

Throughout the book, there is a mystery about Eleanor’s mother. Off course, in the end, the mystery is resolved. Do you think this twist was necessary for the overall growth of the story? The ending we expected for Eleanor arrives eventually, so don’t you think this mystery angle was tiresome to stretch out till the very end? 

I kinda guessed what it have been (more or less) but I think without that mystery I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book as much.

It made us (the reader) keep thinking about it even though Eleanor was not ready to deal with it yet. I Like I said before, this book is not about the plot twist, it is more about the characters. 

This novel is a mix of humour and a darker plot. There were some thought-provoking sections, like Eleanor’s relationship with money. She was always highly conscious about how much she spends and is not willing to pay for social occasions etc. But since she had no one else to take care, I think it made sense that she was keen on safeguarding her personal finances.

What do you think about this? Also, do you think Raymond’s introduction in her life changed her views on lots of things?

I think Raymond opened up Eleanor to a whole lot of things and emotions that she didn’t understand earlier. She obviously didn’t have a normal childhood nor adult life, and she definitely needed someone to guide her through these social etiquette. 

Bottom-line

As someone who avoids series, I rarely say this but I wish there was a sequel coming up to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I have not got enough of Eleanor Oliphant.

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Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott- A book review

Book review: Eliza and Her Monsters

I rarely read the blurb of the book and just jump into a book when I get them, Well, it has been both good and bad for me. I did the same with Eliza and Her Monsters, after reading so many positive spoiler free reviews about it.

I needed to read something easy and light hearted after reading a serious classic like The Picture of Dorian Gray. How did that turn out for me? You will have to read ahead to know.

About the book

Eliza and Her Monsters

Book Name: Eliza and Her Monsters

Author: Francesca Zappia

Genre: Fiction – Drama, Young adult

Characters: Eliza Mirk, Wallace Warland

Setting: Indiana, The USA

The plot

Eliza is the creator of the popular online comic, Monstrous Sea which has a tremendous fan following. She goes by the LadyConstellation and is frankly a virtual super star. In real life, she is quiet, shy, and avoids people as much as possible. Her family doesn’t understand her or her online business but let her be to an extent. 

She suffers from anxiety attacks and has no friends in school, where she usually spends her time drawing for her comic. She has two online friends who help her navigate through life and family issues. She feels safer online and prefers to keep the real and virtual life separate. 

When Wallace, a famous fan fiction writer of her Monstrous Sea, joins her school her worlds collide. Eliza being Eliza, misses all her chances to come out clean to him about who she is.

But is it now too late now to tell him? What would it take for him forgive her when he finally realizes the truth? Did she overcome her personal fears and monsters at the end? Read the Eliza and Her Monsters to know more. 

My initial thoughts

Well, it was definitely not what I expected at all. But don’t worry you freaks, I meant in a good way. I suppose. Well I will try and explain better.
I thought the book Eliza and her monsters was about her own inner monsters, like her mental illness. I was not happy to find it was not about her anxiety but about her comic.

And then I realized it was indeed about her mental illness. So I guess it was a roller coaster ride. Just what I wanted. So I am happy again I guess. 

Another thing that stood out for me was the portrayal of online friends. Like any of you, I have and love all my online friends and I probably will share my dark deep secrets with them before I would with my family and friends. You all get that right? Finally there is a book that puts across that it was okay to do that and not all virtual friends were creeps and tricksters. 

Things that worked for me

  • YES to showing how online friendships that can be real and time zones can be pain in the butt.
  • I loved how well the pressure and her desperation to finish the story were depicted.
  • The Eliza-Wallace friendship turned to relationship was realistic and the growth arc was spot on.
  • If you hate the ‘Love conquers all’ trope, you will love the ending.

Things that didn’t work for me

While the stories within story worked for so many of my friends, it failed to impress me. It maybe due to the fact that I don’t read fantasy books.

Bottom-line

If you are looking for a book that deals with mental illness or about online community with a bit of romance, Eliza and Her Monsters might be your pick. If you love books like Fangirl and Radio Silence, do not even think twice, you will completely adore Eliza and Her Monsters. 

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