Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • New adult, contemporary romance
  • Fiction
  • Paperback
  • 310 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.34

The day before Fallon is moving across the country, she is saved from a disastrous lunch with her father by Ben, an aspiring novelist who is having lunch at the same restaurant by sheer coincidence. They spend Fallon’s last hours in L.A. together and decide to let each other live their lives, but meet up every year on the same date, November 9th. After 5 years, they will either stop or decide to be together, but a lot can happen in 5 years.

This was definitely NOT my favourite CoHo so far. Every new CoHo book I read is automatically my new favourite CoHo, except for this one. I thought it would be,I have been so curious about this book for ages and I was really, really looking forward to reading it. I did actually end up finishing it within 12 hours and it completely had me under its spell for hours and hours, BUT… the ending. I was so disappointed. But we’ll get back to that.

Let’s start with the dual POV; I loved it. CoHo is the queen of dual timelines and dual POV’s, she knows exactly how to use them to add extra drama and tension to the story and make sure you want to keep reading. Sadly, CoHo decided to incorporate a little miscommunication trope in this book, which I think is pretty common in dual POV stories, since you can see into the minds of multiple people. Miscommunication is one of my least favourite tropes because of the sheer frustration it comes with (“But she secretly loves you, why can’t you see that! Don’t run off with someone else because you think she isn’t interested anymore!”). So I wasn’t a big fan of that, but it is not the main trope, so I could kind of ignore it.

I absolutely loved the November 9 thing. I am a very impatient woman, so I love books that cover a larger period of time. That way you don’t have to wait 400 pages to find out what happens to them over the years. I mean, I want to know about Fallon’s life, but I like getting a recap more than having to read through an entire year of her life. I think it really kept up the pace of the book and made it fun to read.

Let’s talk about the plot. CoHo never ceases to amaze with the originality of the plot. She always seems to find the perfect balance between writing a romance worthy of envy and a story that is deeply disturbing on so many levels. In characters too, she finds the perfect balance between perfection and flaws. She managed to do it in this book as well for like.. 90%, until you get to the end and the level of toxicity just.. I don’t even have words for it. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that throughout the book, Ben gives off a few red flags that probably would’ve made me very uncomfortable and likely would’ve made me run for the hills. But since it’s CoHo, you accept it, because she probably has a completely reasonable explanation for all this.

Which brings us to the ending. Let’s just say the explanation wasn’t exactly reasonable. I personally feel like the ending is definitely on the wrong side of the toxic line. I really wish she had either changed Bens motives or had let Fallon make a different decision, because this was just disturbing.

I know a lot of people love this book, including the ending, but the ending was just too toxic for me. The entire book was a definite 5-star read, but the last few pages just ruined it for me. Maybe the 4 stars are still a little generous, but I really did enjoy reading the book very much. Except for those last 10 pages.

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Mini Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Mini Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Rating: 2 out of 5.
  • Christmas Romance
  • Fiction
  • Paperback
  • 433 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 3.63

Since this was a DNF for me, there’s not really a point in me writing a full on review, so I’m just going to keep this short. I DNF’ed at about 63%, I guess. The book really wasn’t at all bad, but it was literally the slowest romance I have ever read. I started reading this just before Christmas, but underestimated the length of the book, so I tried to finish it for about 4 months after Christmas, but I just couldn’t work my way through it. It’s like Bayliss thinks she is fricking Tolkien, describing every single snowflake and leaf in the book.

The concept of the book is pretty cool. Kate signs herself up for a program called “The Twelve Dates of Christmas”, which makes her do 12 dates with 12 different guys that have all been screened for compatibility. This sounds like a lot of fun, right? Yeah, except it takes FOREVER to get through the dates. Especially since I was pretty sure I already knew who she was going to end up with. I finally got tired of working my way through pages and pages of irrelevant information and decided to just check if I was right about the ending and then DNF. For the record: I was right.

The book was kind of fun, so if you’re a quick reader and you have plenty of patience, you would probably enjoy this. If that does not describe you, pick a different Christmas romance, something quicker and sweeter. I’ll make sure to recommend some before the Christmas reading season starts.

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Mini Review: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Mini Review: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Psychology/mental health
  • Paperback
  • 272 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.13

The Comfort Book is Matt Haig’s third nonfiction book about mental health and mental illness. Just like the first two, this book is autobiographical and contains a collection of stories meant to comfort you in an increasingly stressful world.

The Comfort Book definitely lives up to the expectations set by the title. Reading it literally feels like somebody is hugging for a few pages. You need to be present for the full experience, though. If you’re just flicking through, you’re not going to get the full effect. Even though the book is literally written to make you feel good/better, it’s not necessarily an easy, relaxing read. I zoned out every once in a while and I put down the book to pick up a little later, so that I wouldn’t just be reading to finish, but to actually learn and gain something (this is actually a theme that is mentioned in the book).

“It is easier to learn to be soaked and happy than to learn how to stop the rain.”

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book

I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone, at least everyone who is open to the idea of changing their mindset in order to be happier. While it is definitely a comforting book, it also encourages you to look at yourself a little critically. I am definitely someone who has a habit of being completely bummed out when it is raining (see quote) when I was planning to go outside, the rain could completely ruin my day. Since I read this book, I’ve been on a run while it was raining twice already, something I never thought possible. This book is already making me a better/happier person.

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Mini Reviews: Reasons to Stay Alive & Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Mini Reviews: Reasons to Stay Alive & Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Self Help
  • Psychology/Mental Health
  • Hardcover
  • 266 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.11

Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt Haig’s memoir from the years his depression and anxiety were at their worst. Haig describes how he crawled out of his mental illness(es) step by step with the help of his girlfriend/wife.

“How to stop time: kiss.

How to travel in time: read.

How to escape time: music.

How to feel time: write.

How to release time: breathe.”

Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive is definitely my favourite one of these two books. It felt a little more hopeful, where Notes on A Nervous Planet felt more of an instruction manual at times. Reasons to Stay Alive felt like 266 warm hugs that you can just take when you need one. Every page shows you a different aspect of life that makes it worth living. Haig’s writing is so open and honest and I have the biggest respect for him that he is willing to share his own experiences in this way. This book, and Notes on a Nervous Planet too, may actually save lives. I recommend buying this books and just reading a couple of pages whenever you are having a bad day. It will make all the difference.

Notes on A Nervous Planet

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Nonfiction
  • Self Help
  • Psychology/Mental Health
  • Paperback
  • 310 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.00

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a follow-up on Reasons to Stay Alive, although I read them in the “wrong” order. There are a lot of references to its predecessor, though none that you will not understand if you haven’t read Reasons to Stay Alive first.

Notes on a Nervous Planet explores how certain aspects of modern society can feed our anxiety and other mental illnesses (depression, eating disorders etc.). It describes how every technological advancement can also have its drawbacks, but also how to shield yourself from aspects of society that negatively influence your mood and mental health. The book focuses a lot on social media and the news, but there are sections on all sorts of subjects, such as the way we work and the importance of sleep.

The writing in Notes on a Nervous Planet (and Reasons to Stay Alive) is very accessible. Like I said about RtSA, the way Haig describes his own struggles with mental health is very open and honest. I especially like how he gets to the bottom of things like WHY supermarkets (a recurring theme in both books) can overwhelm people with anxiety so much. He explores the biology of it and explains that we were not made to have so many choices and so much stimulation at once. It makes you feel less guilty about having trouble with doing certain things or going certain places.

My other favourite thing from NoaNP was when Haig invented Psychograms. There is no unit in which you can measure the psychological weight of certain things, so Haig invented one: the Psychograms. Having to make a phone call costs 200pg for example. Going grocery shopping might cost 500pg, but watching a sappy movie or reading a good book may gain you some Psychograms. I’m all for implementing this system!

I tried to keep it short and sweet, but there was a lot to talk about, in Notes on a Nervous Planet especially. I’m currently reading The Comfort Book, so I’ll be back with a mini-review on that shortly.

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All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Fiction
  • Contemporary Romance
  • New Adult
  • Paperback
  • 305 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.31
  • TW: mental health, infertility

Quinn and Graham meet in an entirely improbable way that is probably not the best base for a relationship. Nevertheless, they get together and they are the absolute perfect couple. For a while, at least, until Quinn and Graham start trying to have a baby and it’s just not happening. They stop talking to each other and only have sex for the purpose of having a baby. But every month Quinn will get her period and fall apart all over again.

“If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim.”

Colleen Hoover, All Your Perfects

Where do I even start? There are so many good things about this book. This is only my second CoHo book and I am absolutely blown away. First of all, the story is so original. The way that Quinn and Graham meet stirs up so many emotions, it really sets the tone for the rest of the book. Hoover writes her story and her characters in a way that makes you feel like you completely understand what infertility feels like without actually having experience it (luckily). It absolutely broke my heart to read about Quinn’s struggle with not being able to get pregnant. Everything that happens in this book is so well thought out. There is a box that is referred to in the story every once in a while and that keeps you curious (“What’s in the box!”). You eventually find out and it is absolutely perfect. If you must know, yes, I cried.

I’m a sucker for books with dual timelines. It keeps the story exciting and gives you exactly the information you need in a way that doesn’t get boring. Also, it keeps you from needing a therapist. Hoover has a gift for balancing the heartbreaking main story with lighthearted fun stuff from the beginning of Quinn’s and Graham’s relationship.

I came across some writing tips on Pinterest a while ago on how to write a character for your book or story. The main thing that stuck with me was that you shouldn’t make your character too perfect. An interesting character has flaws. Well, Hoover definitely has Pinterest too, because man, her characters have flaws. I’ve never written a book, but I’m guessing that creating characters is probably the most tricky part of writing. If the characters are too perfect, nobody will care, if they’re too flawed, everyone will hate them. The characters in All Your Perfects are perfectly imperfect, if that makes sense. Quinn’s mental issues that derive from not being able to get pregnant and her inability to communicate about it with Graham make her an amazing main character to a heartbreaking book. The imperfectness of Hoover’s characters is what makes this story so perfect.

Colleen Hoover is probably the most talented romance writer on earth. Her books are completely unique, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. After I read It Ends With Us, I thought “Okay, this is really good. Maybe I’ll read more CoHo books in the future, but I’ll probably only be disappointed, because nothing can match this.” I was wrong. This book was incredible, absolutely mind-blowing. If you can get your hands on this book or any CoHo book for that matter, do it. Buy it, read it, tell me what you think.

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