Not Real, Not Recommended // REVIEW: Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

Title: Adults
Author: Emma Jane Unsworth
Publication Date: The Borough Press
Publisher: February 20th, 2020
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN
Blurb Description: Jenny McLaine is an adult. Supposedly. At thirty-five she owns her own house, writes for a cool magazine and has hilarious friends just a message away.
But the thing is:
• She can’t actually afford her house since her criminally sexy ex-boyfriend Art left,
• her best friend Kelly is clearly trying to break up with her,
• she's so frazzled trying to keep up with everything you can practically hear her nerves jangling,
• she spends all day online-stalking women with beautiful lives as her career goes down the drain.
And now her mother has appeared on her doorstep, unbidden, to save the day…
Is Jenny ready to grow up and save herself this time?
Deliciously candid and gloriously heartfelt, ADULTS is the story of one woman learning how to fall back in love with her life. It will remind you that when the world throws you a curve ball (or nine), it may take friendship, gin & tonics or even your mother to bring you back…
 
What is adulting to you?

In the last eight months that I’ve been away from home, it’s about finding time (to do laundry, to exercise, to have fun) and balancing my workaholic streak with everything else.

While I realised that Emma Jane Unsworth’s Adults was more about social media right from the get-go, I also hoped it would be REAL, you know?
After I read 40% and then skimmed the latter 60% of the book, I ended up being completely disappointed. While it started off as smart and witty, going back and forth in time, exploring Jenny’s relationships with her boss, mother, boyfriend and best friend, it got tedious fast. VERY FAST.

Jenny’s character itself was migrane-inducing. She was obsessed with captions to who followed her and Suzy Brambles and kept saying things like ’30 likes? I should go kill myself.’ I know that everyone in this generation is OBSESSED with the perfect picture they paint online, but it was like Jenny didn’t have another side - You know, one where she just wanted to snuggle in bed or enjoy her favourite drink on a winter morning or just LIVE IN THE MOMENT and it made her an unbelievable character - BECAUSE, like I said, I grew up in the generation that lives their best life online and there’s always more to the person than their Insta account that makes relatable, human and REAL and Emma Jane Unsworth somehow missed this key aspect.

All in all, this is really not a book I would recommend to anyone.

1.5 Stars.

Emma Jane Unsworth
Emma Jane Unsworth is a British writer from Bury, Greater Manchester. She writes short stories and has had three novels published; Hungry, the Stars and Everything, Animals and Adults.


What are some of the books that have let you down recently?
Have you read Adults? What do you think of it?

ARC Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Title: Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1)
Author: Janella Angeles
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/2 of the Kingdom of Cards Duology
I Got A Copy Through Macmillan INTL (THANK YOU!)
Blurb Description: In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.
As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.
The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost
The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told
The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide
Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed. 

As soon as I saw the cover for Where Dreams Descend, I knew it was a book I HAD TO READ! It sounded dark and atmospheric and, most of all, like a wonderfully-immersive read and I hoped, from the bottom of my heart, that it would make up for the UTTER DISAPPOINTMENT that was Stephanie Garber’s Caraval.

Aaand… Where Dreams Descend was. It delivered on the magic, the intrigue, the romance, the kick-ass female power BUT IT JUST DIDN’T EXPLAIN ENOUGH, YOU KNOW?

I can’t help but feel that we should have received more answers in Where Dreams Descend, instead of a 400+ page book building up about 400 more questions. You start with knowing something, and through the viewpoint of the master, learn that there are sinister forces at bay. Then, female magicians deliver all the time. Then, it, of course, has something to do with creepy mirrors. There’s a competition and a circus. There’s a contract and a city without gates. There’s a lot of questions and really, no answers.

Why did ‘Jack’ keep Kallia locked up? Why all the illusions in Hellfire House? WHAT WAS THAT ENDING? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?


Apart from all the questions, there were a lot of things I enjoyed about the book –

1)      There’s NEVER A MINUTE in this 400-page book that you’re bored – whether it’s the mystery of what’s happening to the contestants, wondering what crazy trick Kalila will come next or just wondering WHEN YOUR QUESTIONS will be answered, Where Dreams Descend keeps its readers hooked!

2)      Daron and Kallia had an ADORABLE romance and I WANT MORE!

3)      We didn’t see nearly enough, or learn enough about, of Kalia’s assisstant Aaros. When he was initially introduced, I thought he was going to play a bigger role that he ended up playing.

In a nutshell, CAN SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER ALL MY QUESTIONS AND ALSO GIVE ME BOOK TWO PLEASE?

Janella Angeles

Janella Angeles is a Filipino-American writer who works in children’s publishing by day while penning novels by night. She graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, but found the most valuable way of learning to write was in creating glorious Harry Potter fanfiction and reading obscene amounts of books. Janella currently resides in Massachusetts, most likely to be found reading and writing like she’s running out of time. She is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Her debut novel, WHERE DREAMS DESCEND, will be out in 2020 from Wednesday Books.

Have you read and love any retellings recently?
I'd love to hear your recommendations!
 

REVIEW: The Octopus Curse by Salma Farook

Title: The Octopus Curse
Author: Salma Farook
Publication Date: November 1st, 2019
Publisher: SeaShell Publications
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy From the author (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN
Blurb Description: Science would have us believe that we are nothing but cell upon cell. I disagree. We are made up of stories. The stories we hear from our mothers, the ones we tell our daughters. The tales we share with sisters and friends. The ones we never say out loud, but are heavy on our minds and run like a fever in our blood.
There are a multitude of great divides between us; race, religion, cultures, the way we dress, the languages we speak, but the stories we tell bridge us together in the universal tongue of smiles, tears, pain and laughter. They remind us that, as women, we’re all chasing similar fairy-tales.
This book is a call to celebrate the bridges, delight in our stories and to focus on the joy in our lives right now, rather than racing behind the happily-ever-after. That will come in it’s own time.
There’s a bridge,

Between holding on
And letting go.
I just need to find it.
Maybe the reason why
I can’t
Is that my feet
Are planted firmly on it.
Every goodbye sounds like Hello.
Each step closer, the further you go.
- ‘I need to cross’

It's hard to find good poetry - verse that manages to capture what you feel but can't put to words; poetry that manages to be immersive, understanding and so deeply personal.

I've only really loved two poetry collections - Nikita Gill's Fierce Fairytales and Caroline Kaufman's Light Filters In - and when the author of The Octopus Curse pitched her book to me, I was a little apprehensive but excited nonetheless.

The first part of this collection read like a series of cliche poems on a love that never ended, perfection and more. There was nothing wrong with it, it just... wasn't deep.

I put the book down temporarily and with my busy work schedule, 'temporarily' turned into a bunch of weeks and when I finally picked it up again, I was DETERMINED to finish it.

And then, The Octopus Curse SURPRISED ME!

The poems grew into politically relevant, inspiring, deep pieces that I thoroughly enjoyed and continuously highlighted. I feel like the author grew as she wrote this book and so did her writing and it ended up being something I really enjoyed.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau,

In India, A rape occurs every twenty minutes.
That means
Three times in an hour,
Seventy-two times a day,
And over five hundred times a week,
I should remember to be thankful
That at least this time,
It wasn’t me.
Because when
A daughter of this great nation, (In which Goddesses are revered)
Cries out in pain,
Justice arrives
A little too late,
A lot too cold,
And in 3 out of 4 cases,
It never arrives at all.
- ‘When will it stop?’


Would I recommend it? YES! And I would recommend not judging it until you finish the book. Like I said, there is a lot of depth in the latter half.

I'll sign off with another of my favourites from this collection:

I am the bridge between continents,

The merger of languages,
The fusion of cultures.
I am the reminder that the lines
We once drew between ourselves
Were not meant to be fractures,
But only to show how our borders
Fall together like puzzle pieces.
- ‘Migrant’

Salma FarookSalma Farook is a Seychelloise doctor, writer and poet. A mental health and positive-thinking advocate, she strongly believes in the role of interfaith harmony and the power of words in making a positive impact on the world.
She was born on the islands to two ‘very Indian’ parents. She grew up on the islands and went on to complete Med-school in India. She believes the scenic beauty of the Seychelles and the cultural impact of one of the world’s oldest civilisations gave her the best of both worlds.

Although adept at observing tiny quirks in people and fascinated with the mechanics of human relationships, she regularly pushes doors that very clearly say PULL. She currently lives on Mahé with her husband. She loves, loves to hear from her readers so reach out to reach.wysak@gmail.com.
 

Have you read any poetry collections recently?

Who would you recommend I read next?

Absolutely Eye-Opening | REVIEW: Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Title: Permanent Record
Author: Edward Snowden
Publication Date: September 17th, 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy From Pan Macmillan India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN
Blurb Description: Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the US government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down.
In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.
Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, Permanent Record is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online—a man who became a spy, a whistleblower, and, in exile, the Internet’s conscience. Written with wit, grace, passion, and an unflinching candor, Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.


It’s taken me a while to finish reading Edward Snowden’s memoir.

Everyone knows who Edward Snowden is – I was in my early teens and a little too self-involved when he blew the whistle on NSA activities for me to fully comprehend the consequences of the news he broke.

However, as I grow up a little more, watch documentaries like The Great Hack, read books like Christopher Wylie’s Mindf*ck, and even fictional works like Qualityland and understand the power of the digital world that’s not really free at all where people and data are the new commodity, Permanent Record was a logical choice of book to pick up.


Parts of this book had me ENGROSSED and others flew past the top of my head and I had to keep going back and re-reading it to make some sense of it. I loved learning about Snowden as a person, what the Intelligence Community was like pre and post 9/11, how Congress, the executive branch, the blatant lies in Congressional hearings and much more. The way Snowden described how he left the country to get ready for his whistleblowing, and even his early years were just so interesting.

Maybe after writing and posting this review I’ll be on some NSA watchlist – who knows? Maybe I already was for any number of things I’ve previously googled – all I know is that this book was WORTH it, even if it took me a while to get through.


Would I recommend it? YES! Non-fiction isn’t my go-to genre, but some books are worth stepping out of your comfort zone for.

Edward Snowden

Edward Joseph "Ed" Snowden is an American computer professional who leaked classified information unveiling mass-surveillance at an unimagined scale from intelligence agencies to mainstream media which created ripples across the globe.

Have you read any moving and eye-opening non-fiction recently?

I would love some recommendations.

Have a very happy new year!