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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The Midnight Library Book Review

The Midnight Library Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Fiction / contemporary / magical realism
  • Paperback
  • 288 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.07
  • TW: depression, suicide, anxiety

Nora Seed has decided that she has absolutely no reason left to live. She has nothing but regrets for all of the choices she has made. She has nothing and nobody will miss her. She ends her life at the stroke of midnight. When she wakes up, she sees a library. This is not the afterlife, but a Midnight Library, where every book is a life she could have led if she had made different choices. She gets to live those lives to see what could have been. If she can find a life that leaves her with no regrets, she gets to stay there.

“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

Matt Haig has a way with words, that’s for sure. His writing is soft and gentle, but still gets its point across. I didn’t know that Haig had struggled with his own mental health when I read the book, but I had a hunch. He describes depression and anxiety from the main character’s point of view in a way that I’ve never seen any writer describe it before, which made me wonder about his own experiences with mental illness. Turns out I was right (though for his sake, I would rather have been wrong). Haig approaches such delicate subjects with so much care, but he also makes it clear that it is okay to talk about mental health. There is no taboo around mental illness in this book. Though the book is a work of fiction, there are plenty of ideas on regrets and mental health to take away from it.

“Sometimes just to say your own truth out loud is enough to find others like you.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

I read this book as a part of a buddy read back in December, which had its pros and cons. Pro: the book was a little slow, especially around the 50% mark. Spreading the book out over multiple days definitely helped keeping me interested (I loved the book, but I have a hard time getting through slow-paced books). Con: If someone who hasn’t read the book is in charge of dividing the pages, you end up with pauses in places where it was just getting interesting.

“You’re overthinking it.’ ‘I have anxiety. I have no other type of thinking available.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

It was the concept of the book that really made me want to read it. I didn’t really know Matt Haig or anything he has written, but the summary really spoke to me. It wasn’t at all what I had expected the book would be about and I was intrigued. It is wonderfully executed as well, I was definitely not disappointed. At no point was I bored with the story or did I find it predictable. Haig kept surprising me with turns on events and was always one step ahead. Every time I thought I knew what was happening, it turned out.. I didn’t.

I would definitely recommend this book to any- and everyone. If depression, suicide or anxiety are a trigger for you, don’t do it, though. These are not just a scene or two, they’re a main theme throughout the book. Everyone else: if you haven’t read this yet, I urge you to pick it up. You’ll read a wonderful work of fiction that might actually teach you a thing or two. This will definitely not be the last Matt Haig book I read. Feel free to send me recommendations for my next one.

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Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

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  • Fiction
  • Contemporary romance
  • Humor
  • Paperback
  • 496 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 3.84

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Life is like an escalator. You see, it carries you on regardless. And you might as well enjoy the view and seize every opportunity while you’re passing. Otherwise, it’ll be too late.”

Sophie Kinsella, Twenties Girl

While Lara Lington is attending her great-aunt Sadie’s funeral, she is visited by Sadie’s ghost in the form a demanding girl in a 1920’s flapper dress. Sadie demands that Lara finds a necklace that had been in Sadies possession for seventy-five years, but was lost when she died. Lara refuses at first, being busy enough with her own troubles, having just been dumped by the love of her life and trying to keep her head above water as co-owner of her headhunting agency. Sadie keeps pestering Lara until she finally agrees on finding the necklace, uncovering some ugly secrets in the process.

This is the second Sophie Kinsella book I read. It’s also still one of my favourites (if not, THE favourite). The first Kinsella book I read is “Finding Audrey”, which is absolutely beautiful, but meant for a younger audience. I’ll write a review on that one soon.

Even though this book is 500 pages long, I literally devoured it. I love Kinsella, because her books are always light and easy to read. They really pull you into the story. She has a talent for making you feel like you’re really there. She doesn’t dwell on irrelevant things like the exact colour of a tree (which can absolutely be beautiful and relevant in a different kind of novel, obviously).

I loved the friendship between Sadie and Lara that evolved throughout the book. Lara started off being really annoyed by Sadie and naturally, I was really annoyed by Sadie as well, but Kinsella did an excellent job peeling off the layers of Sadie’s personality. Every time you learn something new, you start loving her a little more. The dynamic between Sadie and Lara is amazing. It’s enemies to friends, but Sadie also takes a role as a mentor. Being 105 years-old, she has a lot to teach Lara, though some of it is a little outdated…

“If a love affair is one-sided, then it’s only ever a question, never an answer. You can’t live your life waiting for an answer.”

Sophie Kinsella, Twenties Girl

There’s one theme that keeps coming back throughout the novel and that’s unanswered love. It wasn’t that obvious to me while I was reading the book and I really don’t remember it being featured so prominently. I only just noticed while looking up the quotes for this review. Nearly all of the quotes on Goodreads are about unanswered love. It’s Sadie telling Lara to stop waiting for her ex to start loving her back, that it’s not possible to make someone love you. She tells her to stop trailing after her ex. I didn’t mind the theme so much in this novel, but Kinsella does have a habit of making some of her main characters annoyingly dependent on men.

“Honestly, it’s so easy to get what you want from people if they think you’re a psycho.”

Sophie Kinsella, Twenties Girl

If you’ve never read anything by Sophie Kinsella before, consider this a sign to pick up Twenties Girl at your nearest bookstore and dive in. If you’re not really a fan of the paranormal element in this novel, I would recommend starting with “My Not so Perfect Life”. I’ll do a review on that gem soon.

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