MINI REVIEWS: August 2014

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Heartbreaking, charming and endlessly hilarious, I closed the covers of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves with a faint smile flickering across my face. If you ever want a reminder of what a good book feels like, pick up Karen Joy Fowler's latest release: a stunning tale of love and loss, depicting the intricacies of family life.

Author: Karen Joy Fowler | Publisher: Serpent's Tail | Pages: 323 | Source: Bought |

Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

MY THOUGHTS: From Rosemary's engaging narrative to the beloved Fern, from the enigmatic Lowell to the wild card Harlem, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves has an unforgettable cast. Yet, what makes them unforgettable is not themselves, but how they interact with one another. Fowler delves deep into the theme of sibling loyalty, presenting the complexities of Rosemary, Fern and Lowell's relationships. But she also sets out to present a friendship like no other; believe me when I say the relationship between Harlem and Rosemary is a highlight indeed.

Told through scattered memories, We Are Completely Beside Ourselves is an enthralling read. Rosemary, our narrator, is just charming and – as you realise at the end – nobody else could have told this tale but her.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a profound novel, accomplished in all aspects, complete with raw and interesting characters. Simply life-affirming.

MY FAVOURITE QUOTATION: “Language does this to our memories – simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the moment it was meant to capture.”


The Queen of the Tearling has everything needed for a good fantasy novel – a brilliant protagonist, a throne to fight over, an intriguing plot line – and, for the most part, it is a good fantasy novel. My only problem? It was too rough around the edges.

Author: Erika Johansen | Publisher: Bantam Press | Pages: 448 | Source: Borrowed |

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea's uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea's 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom's heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother's legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea's story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it's about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive.

MY THOUGHTS: Erika Johansen's debut is intriguing indeed – complete with assassins, murder plots and a young queen claiming her throne. With no romance (so refreshing!), Johansen focusses heavily on the characters and plot: perfect for anyone who wants an old-fashioned 'good vs. evil' fantasy tale. And, whilst there was nothing bad about The Queen of the Tearling, nothing bad at all, I found myself saying too many elements were just 'satisfying' – nothing more, nothing less. Whilst the protagonist was wonderful and the plot line solid, I can't say the writing style or pacing 'wowed'.

But, to end on a positive, the best part of Erika Johansen's debut was the ending. Compelling, thought-provoking and empowering to no end. I'll definitely be picking up the next book in the series.

MY FAVOURITE QUOTATION: "As the lovely water laps her ears and throat, moves inside her shorts, slips across her fragile ribs, Pearl grins, thinking she hears laughter, and raises her arms to the just-glimpsed sky. These are some of the reasons she comes to the woods."


The Library of Unrequited Love 
In short, The Library of Unrequited Love is about this: a woman who has a lot to say but is never given the chance. Yet, within the pages of Divry's debut, she's given that chance, her innermost thoughts flowing out in a skirmish of wit and oddity. The Library of Unrequited Love is a book for all readers willing to set aside half an hour to listen to the ramblings of one very, very outspoken librarian. I definitely recommend.

Author: Sophie Divry | Publisher: Maclehose Press | Pages: 95 | Source: Borrowed | 

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight.

She starts to talk to him, a one-way conversation that soon gathers pace as an outpouring of frustrations, observations and anguishes. Two things shine through: her shy, unrequited passion for a quiet researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love of books.

A delightful flight of fancy for the lonely bookworm in all of us…

MY THOUGHTS: Perhaps the best thing about The Library of Unrequited Love is that it's different to anything I've read before in so many ways. Told through second person, Divry's experimental style leads to an engaging, thought-provoking and delightful read. Stylistically it's perfect.

The librarian herself is a fully fleshed out character with odd quirks and thoughts. She's a truly interesting person. My only problem with The Library of Unrequited Love? At only 95 pages, when I reached the end, I needed more. The end feeling is comparable to eating a small but delicious meal, knowing that later on you'll still be hungry. But, overall, The Library of Unrequited Love is a short and sweet debut worth all the reads it can get.

MY FAVOURITE QUOTATION: “Love, for me, is something I find in books. You're never alone if you are surrounded by books”


Have you read any of them? What did you think? Are you planning to read any of them?

12 comments:

  1. I want to read all these books! In particular, your review of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves makes me want to read it.

    Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Aw thanks! And yes, that one is particularly spectacular. :)

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  2. Ooooh yyaaaassss, I like these reviews A LOT. I've not read two of them but you have made me want to read them NOW, especially the first because that quote. <3
    I agree with you about The Queen of The Tearling. It was good but not amazing and while I definitely want to carry on the series and I am very excited for the up and coming film [hopefully], it didn't blow me away, it just..rippled my hair. :P

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    1. WHY THANK YOU. And the quote is beautiful (and so accurate)! And yep, I'll definitely continue with the series because that ending was intriguing. :)

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  3. These are three books that I've had my eye on for God knows how long. The Queen of the Tearling sounds amazing, - not to be influenced at all by the fact that Emma Watson loved it on anything.
    We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves looks so unique and interesting. Glad to hear that on the whole you enjoyed these books :D

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    1. Haha the copy I got from the library had 'soon to become a major film starring Emma Watson' on the front so, naturally, I grabbed it as quickly as possible. :')

      We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is definitely one of a kind. :D

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  4. Having never read anything of these they look what one might say as out of the box. All of the books look as if they are plots that were really well thought out. Beautiful reviews as always Ruby!

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists

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    1. They're definitely all unique. :) Thank you!

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  5. I really enjoyed this style of review! The Queen of the Tearling sounds like something I could recommend to a friend, and ...Unrequited Love sounds really interesting and sweet. Nice review xx

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    1. Thank you , glad you liked the style! And The Unrequited Love is definitely sweet. :)

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    2. I have wanted to read The Queen of the Tearling, and I think I will purchase it now! Thankyou for the review xx

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  6. AAah, I know I've fangirled about it on this blog before but I just LOVE THE LIBRARY OF UNREQUITED LOVE!!! <3 <3 <3 <3

    REallly wanting to read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It has a brilliant title. I love a good title (I just wrote a post about titles, actually!), and long titles are just perfect.

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