Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 📚

I read a hardback edition of Queenie.

Genre: Contemporary fiction, romance.

Publisher: Trapeze

Originally published: March 19th, 2019

Pages: 400 (hardback)

Audiobook length: 9 hrs and 45 mins.

Synopsis by the publisher:

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

My thoughts:

When I shared pictures of me reading Queenie on Instagram, I got a couple of DM’s from people asking me if it was true that Queenie was a lot like Bridget Jones’s Diary. I wasn’t aware that the two were being compared before that, but when I finished reading it, I saw that mentioned more and more.
I have to say (even though I think Bridget Jones is good fun and all that) that to compare the two is incredibly unfair to Queenie and to Candice Carty-Williams. Why? Because the two characters are so different! And the two stories are so different! Just because both books are about single women in London, doesn’t make them the same kind of stories.

Queenie is such a complex character and what she’s going through in this book when it comes to mental health and racism goes far deeper than the struggles Bridget Jones was facing in the fear of becoming an old spinster. I’m not saying that loneliness isn’t a subject that can be complicated and emotional, but Bridget Jones is not a book about mental health, at least not in my opinion.
And the big difference between the two is also that in Queenie we have a story that goes to some quite dark places, and that was something that I really appreciated with this story.

Dating in this modern age, with people walking around with all their own kind of bagage and own sets of issues, it can be difficult, challenging, hearbreaking and just downright frustrating and (at times) impossible to wrap your head around.
I’ve been there, and I know a lot of people have, and that’s why I think so many fall in love with Queenie and relates to her character so much. Even though you haven’t gone through the exact same experiences as she has, it is still easy to fing emotions and frustrations to relate to.

Queenie and her friends will make you frustrated at times when you read about the choices that they make (like having lots of unprotected sex and choosing dating partners that clearly isn’t a good match), but that is also what makes these characters feel more real. They make mistakes, they are imperfect, and they are trying so hard to navigate through a complicated and weird time in this world and their lives.

Queenie is a book with lots of humor, cringe worthy moments, diversity, exploration of mental health, friendships, love, and relationships for good and for bad.
It explores darkness and brightness and is also extremely entertaining! You can’t help but root for Queenie!

I would highly recommend Queenie to those readers out there who likes more complex and complicated contemporary/romance fiction. But it is not for the faint of heart! It was quite sexually graphic, and as I mentioned, it does go some pretty dark places, so that’s something to be aware of when going into this story.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides 📚

I listened to an audiobook edition of The Silent Patient.

Genre: Psychological thriller, mystery, crime.

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co, Macmillan Audio.

Originally published: February 5th, 2019

Pages: 352 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 8 hrs and 43 mins

Synopsis by the publisher:

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

My thoughts:

Mysteries, crimes, and thrillers aren’t usually my go-to genre. I think that is why I often find myself being overly critical and harsh when reviewing them, so after listening to The Silent Patient (which I had heard so many great things about) I took my time with letting it sit in my mind before reviewing it. Mainly because I didn’t want my genre preferences to shape this whole review, but also because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it.

Let’s start with the characters.

Alicia Berenson was my favorite character to follow in this story. There’s something about hearing the written voice of the mystery woman that has suddenly gone quiet that I found extra intriguing.
Theo Faber had quite a few mysteries and some backstory to unravel as well, at the same time as he was trying to get Alicia to find her voice again.
I loved how we got to see both characters evolve in very different ways and in different timelines. That made the mystery even more mysterious, and the psychological aspect more interesting to me.
I also really enjoyed getting to know Theo’s journey with mental health and how that got him into the line of work as a criminal psychotherapist.
Stories and non-fiction that explores psychology and the workings of the mind always seem to appeal to my curious nature.
Michaelides definitely did that with this book!

Now, the story.
A lot of reviewers mention that this book was impossible to put down. I didn’t feel that way because even though I was curious about the story and the mystery surrounding the characters, I wasn’t wholeheartedly invested in the story. This might be due to my genre preferences again, especially since there wasn’t really anything specific that I could put my finger on that made me not as invested in this as so many others seem to have been.
But the pacing was really good, the way the chapters shifted between Faber trying to solve the mystery and Alicia’s journal from before it all went down was really interesting, and I didn’t find myself bored at any time during this story.

There are a couple of major plot twists in this story, and as we were getting closer to them I had sort of an idea of what they were going to be. So it didn’t take me entirely by surprise, but I thought it was all very well thought out and executed.

All in all, I did really enjoy this book, and after letting it rest in my mind for a bit, I liked it even more than I thought I did.
If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers and mysteries, then I definitely think that The Silent Patient is worth checking out.

And I think that I need to push myself to read more of the genres that I’m often too quick to judge as well so that I might not miss out on some brilliant stories just because I judge them by their genres before giving them a chance.

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Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky 📚

Stephen Chbosky

I read a hardback edition of Imaginary Friend.

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co

Originally published: October 1st, 2019

Pages: 720 (hardback)

Audiobook length: 24 hrs and 32 mins

Synopsis by the publisher:

IMAGINE…
Leaving your house in the middle of the night.
Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.

IMAGINE…
Starting a new school, making friends.
Seeing how happy it makes your mother.
Hearing a voice, calling out to you.

IMAGINE…
Following the signs, into the woods.
Going missing for six days.
Remembering nothing about what happened.

IMAGINE…
Something that will change everything…
And having to save everyone you love.

My thoughts:

It’s been five years since I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and to be completely honest, even though I really enjoyed that novel, I haven’t read anything else by Chbosky.

But then all of a sudden, Imaginary Friend started to pop up in my feed and was recommended to me a few times. It sounded like something that was up my alley. I then stumbled across a signed copy while I was in London last year and so it ended up traveling back to Oslo with me (adding quite a bit of weight to my luggage).

Imaginary Friend is a chunker of a book, coming in at 720 pages! So, if you’re not reading it on a Kindle or listening to it as an audiobook, be prepared for some heavy lifting.

I’m not really sure what I was expecting going into this one, but what I didn’t expect was forgetting several times throughout the book which Stephen had written this book. Because the truth is that it felt like reading a Stephen King novel!

This book is filled with interesting characters, and quite a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. And even though there’s much focus on the “monsters” and mystery of this imaginary friend that Christopher encounters, what really gives this story depth is the people and the horrors and evil that lives in them. This is what makes it feel like an early King novel. At one point I was almost certain that it must’ve been a prank of the Stephens, and at the end, Stephen King would jump out and reveal himself as the one with pen in hand.

I get the frustration that many readers might feel if they jumped into this novel with their utter love for the writing in Perks of Being a Wallflower, and what they got was a haunting horror story with a completely different writing style. But my horror-loving heart absolutely loved it and found it to be a pleasant surprise.

I (like so many others) struggled a bit with Christopher’s age. He’s supposed to be 7-8 years old, but he reads like a character of 10-12 years. Some of it does make sense though when you know what it is that Christopher goes through in this story. There are many ways of forcing kids to grow up too fast.

It is rare that I read books of this size and don’t find myself bored at any moment. Imaginary Friend definitely grabbed my attention and kept it from beginning to end. That being said, it still felt like the book could have been 100 pages shorter. Some parts of it felt just a tiny bit repetitive and unnecessary. That, and the vast amount of biblical references was the thing that made it into a 4.5 rating instead of a 5.

If you love your Stephen King novels, and you like to get lost in horror stories, I would definitely recommend giving Imaginary Friend a go! It’s dark, twisted, mysterious and haunting!

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