May in Review Image depicting books read by Peachy Books for the Month of May: Landslide by Susan Conley, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Can You Hear Me Now by Celina Caesar Chavannes, The One by John Marrs and The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Blog Roll, Monthly Reading Recall

Peachy Books’ May in Review

Here are my reads for the month of May. Some heartfelt selections, with detailed reviews to follow for The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, The One, and The Library, so watch for those soon! Don’t miss my very first review on the Peachy Books blog: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Landslide by Susan Conley

Landslide, is a slow-dripping tale of a life that has been percolating for decades. Conley shares with us a wife and mother’s journey to self and acceptance, amongst the males in her life: her fisherman husband, and the two ‘wolves’ they have for sons. The sparse writing style seemed poetic at times and lackluster at others.

I didn’t agree with the hype over this one, so I’m going to skip the detailed review, as it didn’t grab me enough to write one. But, interestingly, it was named after my favourite song – you know the one, by Stevie Nicks – so that curried some favour.


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

An exquisite piece of fiction that marries the real, historical Pack Horse Librarian Project, and the genetic anomaly that fated the ‘blue people’ of the Kentucky Hills.

The content, although disturbing at times, never felt gratuitous, and was a necessary part of understanding the bigotry and misogyny of the times. Watch for a detailed review of this emotional novel in the coming weeks.

Full review for The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek here.

Audio Read-a-Loud of the full review here.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My favourite book this month was definitely this inspirational novel that sees our protagonist (anti-hero to some), Eleanor, suffering from a history of trauma and loneliness, only to find her true-self when a new friend opens up a world of possibilities.

If you have already read this very popular book, please visit my review (with some spoilers), where I dive into Eleanor’s struggle, and how I connected with her plight.

Find my Read-a-Loud for the full review here.


Can You Hear Me Now? by Celina Caesar-Chavannes

This biography outlines the life of a Canadian entrepreneur and one-time Liberal MP for the Town of Whitby, in Ontario, Celina Caesar-Chavannes.

A forthright accounting of her days working for the current Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, where she pulls no punches in laying out the unsavoury moments during her role as a ‘token’ black female member-of-parliament, for the ‘feminist’ PM. Unflinching, brave, and admirable, Celina is not afraid to share her vulnerability and speak her truth.


The One by John Marrs

A creative and thrilling novel, told from 6 different viewpoints, The One offers us a world where DNA match-making is the way to meet your soulmate. This quick read explores the unintended consequences of such technologies, and how they affect the matched couples.

Watch for a detailed review on Peachy Books during the coming weeks!

Listen to the audio review here.


The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book is at once a nostalgic homage to libraries, whilst focusing on the details of the devastating 1986 fire that destroyed over a million books and burned down part of the Los Angeles Public Library in downtown LA.

This was another of the titles that I found to be overrated, but I still decided to write a review for it, so watch for it next month!

Full review for The Library Book here.

Full audio review for The Library Book here.

Coming Soon on Peachy Books…

Blog Roll, bookmarks

Bookmarks

I love crochet. Alongside reading, it is my other favourite way to unwind, and has been so for three decades. I had an Etsy shop for a few years, where I sold gifts and various items, but now that I’ve started my book blog, I’m sticking to making bookmarks!

My little guy loves these colourful place holders for our books, and is excited to see what theme I’ll choose every time I pick up a new read. What started out as a collection for him has turned into a slight obsession for me. After every book I read I have an overwhelming urge to make a bookmark inspired by the story, so make I shall. Do you have any bookmark ideas? Let me know in the comments.

Here are a few that I made for Mother’s day

Image of 3 crochet flower branch bookmarks
Blog Roll, The Gallery

The Gallery

Come on in to The Gallery, where we will celebrate the artistry of books and writing. Here is where I will share with you any inspiring book-related art that I come across, any bookish art that I create myself, as well as posts that feature art specific to any of the books I’ve reviewed.

Often, after finishing a book I spend some time ruminating over everything I’ve learned, and how a book has made me feel, and this section will be for the posts that I create to process these musings; where I’ll provide visual representations, and detail my thoughts. Feel free to join me in the comment section to explore ideas, dive deeper, and discover all the beauty there is to see in to the books we’ve enjoyed.

Image of a grand library with a ceiling painted with various depictions of books
Photograph by Susan Q Yin

Blog Roll, The Cookery

The Cookery

Welcome to The Cookery. Not unlike crochet and reading, cooking and baking have helped soothe my soul along this journey through life. In this section of Peachy Books I am so excited to perform trials of cookbooks – so you can better decide how to spend that big cookbook money – and share some of my favourite recipes for you to explore!

Dinner time is a chance to enjoy delicious food and relax with family (except for the whole cooking the meal and washing the dishes thing, but shhh,) so I will be sure to include what my gents think of the various recipes I stir up. With a seven year old ‘particular’ lad and a partner who will eat just about anything, I have two very different ends of the spectrum at my table. With tips, tricks, working photos, and a spotlight on the finished product, I will share with you all that makes up the delectably delicious recipes that I will be serving up to my family.

I am really excited to look at different themes and cultures when choosing the cookbooks I’ll be reviewing, and would love any suggestions or information that my international readers could offer. Don’t forget to post photos of your finished products, if you decided to take part in the making of these tasty treats!

Image of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine book with a crochet red, orange, yellow, and plum phoenix from the flames bookmark
book reviews, Contemporary Fiction

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Blue Book Cover for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Gail Honeyman

*Some Spoilers Within*

The month of May is about Mental Health Awareness, and as someone who has been battling with mental health throughout life, I am always eager to recognise the occasion. This year I am doing so by reading and reviewing Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Of course, Eleanor isn’t fine, and herein lies the façade of wellness that people masquerade behind, and that others are willing to accept to keep their own ‘wellness’ properly shielded. What a perfectly fine way to keep everyone teetering on the edge of madness. It’s time to change that, and it starts with honest and unflinching stories like this one.

Eleanor is not an easy woman to admire, as she is judgemental, unabashedly ornery, and wallows in misery. Some might find her downright annoying because of these attributes, but I am rather fond of her because of them. The realness that she exudes is exactly what I would expect of someone having gone through the traumas that she has shouldered, and Honeyman has written a phenomenally accurate portrayal of a broken and abandoned soul, arrested in development, and closed down to human connection.

I wasn’t good at pretending, that was the thing. After what had happened…given what went on there, I could see no point in being anything other than truthful with the world. I had, literally, nothing left to lose.

As uncomfortable as her behaviour might be for others, it is her reality that has moulded her, and most would likely carry on the same way if handed her experiences. Do we just cast away and ignore broken people, those who make us feel uneasy? At the very least we shun them socially, thus we’re not reminded of their pain.

Favourite Quote by Gail Honeyman in the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: "If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn't spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say."

Imagine, if you will, living every day of your life without a parent that loves you. As sad as it is, a lot of people in the world have a void in place of ONE of their parental figures. Either of the two people charged to love, cherish, and support a child instead have either used, abused, or abandoned them, sometimes all three. But being dealt the double whammy of having two duds for a mom and dad, now, that’s a rough ride. Add foster care and no other family to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for the social pariah that is Eleanor.

I wondered if that’s what it would be like in a family–if you had parents, or a sister, say, who would be there, no matter what.

Life is full of suffering, and making it in a world that will chew you up even when you’ve been sent in fortified with a force field of unconditional love is one thing, but what happens to those without a stitch of armour? They become hardened, disconnected, fearful, and live by the mantra, ‘I will get them before they get me.’ Not a very pleasant way to be, but a harsh reality, nonetheless.

I had no one, and it was futile to wish it were otherwise. After all, it was no more than I deserved. And really, I was fine, fine, fine.

At times you’ll see people invalidate the struggle of someone like Eleanor, lambaste them and instruct them that all they need to do is pull up their bootstraps and deal with their childhood issues like it’s just a rite of passage or a hill to climb; besides everyone has problems, right? But when you haven’t a soul that cares for you, how do you know how to care for others, least of all yourself? How do you realise that you are even worth it?

I pondered this. Was that what people wanted for their children, for them to be happy? It certainly sounded plausible.

It has been my experience that it takes just one person to show kindness and affection to someone who has lived a life in survival mode, to make all the difference and set things in motion towards betterment, and for Eleanor, Raymond is that person.

Quote from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: "Sometimes you simply needed someone kind to sit with you while you dealt with things."

Raymond is a kind and endearing chap that fate has dangled in the path of Eleanor, and not a moment too soon. Although she hasn’t the ability to recognise the fortune that their becoming friends affords her, we the readers are able to see how his lightness of spirit is able to envelop the darkness of Eleanor’s heart, and how she slowly evolves into whom she was always meant to be.

Raymond is a saint, that’s for certain, as Eleanor undoubtedly tests the limits of his friendship with her quirky, bold, and destructive ways, but because he is a true friend who cares for her unconditionally -something she has never personally experienced before – her fortress of fear and judgement cracks, and she makes a metamorphic shift.

Eleanor, I said to myself, sometimes you’re too quick to judge people…The voice in my head – my own voice – was actually quite sensible, and rational, I’d begun to realise. It was Mummy’s voice that had done all the judging, and encouraged me to do so too. I was getting to quite like my own voice, my own thoughts. I wanted more of them. They made me feel good, calm even. They made me feel like me.

This novel will tear you down and toss you up, spin you around and leave you coming out dizzy by its surprise ending, but it is so worth the read. Eleanor is mistrusting, damaged, frightened, and unaware of the possibilities that life holds for her, but she is also a survivour and an inspiration. No matter the devastating circumstances that we are made privy to throughout, by the novels conclusion we are left uplifted, cheery, and exalted by a life headed in the right direction. A perfect selection for a discussion about the importance of mental health, and the ways to achieve it.

“In the end, what matters is this: I survived.” I gave him a very small smile. “I survived, Raymond!” I said, knowing that I was both lucky and unlucky, and grateful for it.

Favourite New Word:

sybarite – (noun)  /ˈsɪb.ər.aɪt/ A person devoted to pleasure and luxury; a voluptuary.

Eleanor inspired me to make a bookmark of the phoenix rising from the flames.

Image of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine book with a crochet red, orange, yellow, and plum phoenix from the flames bookmark
Blog Roll

Peachy Books’ First Blog Post

Image of a wall with multicolours that says welcome on it.
Photograph by Belinda Fewings

Let’s Do This!

I’m thrilled you’re here and reading the first official Peachy Books post! Reading, writing, and connecting, that’s what this blog is all about; a place for story lovers. I am a lover of imagination and crawling around inside the recesses of an author’s mind. Burying my head in another world to escape has been at times imperative in my life, this pandemic being no exception. It’s even helped me quit smoking by replacing cigarettes with books. We won’t discuss which is the more expensive of the habits (eh em.) Instead of escaping to the backyard into a cloud of toxins, now, I spread out on a recliner and take my break in unknown and exciting places.

Reading is a passion I’ve held for most of my life, and has been a saviour, time and again. I will forever be indebted to every author that shared their gift of words, which collectively became the lifesaver that offered me buoyancy, as I floundered and felt I might drown. I trust that this blog will in some ways serve to be a personal homage to them, and all of the talented artists that have inspired me to keep hope a part of my story.

Writing is something I’ve always felt compelled to do, and even as a young child, I remember taking notes of what I would write for my ‘life story’ one day. This blog is a great way to practice my writing and find my literary voice. So, that’s what I’m hear to do: mesh together my love of two worlds, and meet fascinating people to talk about what comes of it.

About a decade ago, after having married my husband, I had a book review collection on blogspot for a fleeting minute. It was only a hobby and I didn’t take it too seriously. I hadn’t the time to commit to building and maintaining a successful website. Instead I put the idea on hold and pursued other exciting adventures, like having my son.

After an arduous struggle to get pregnant, which I’m sure I will get into at some level in future posts, I was fortunate enough to have my darling son. With the lessons I’ve learned whilst raising him, I have formed a deeper understanding of the things that are important to me. I am hopeful that through reading and discussing books with readers of my blog, I will be able to learn from others, as well as share my thoughts, in the hopes of helping them to do the same.

Please join me in my appreciation of all things literary, with book reviews, book-related art, crochet bookmarks and more! I enjoy discussing favourites, receiving recommendations, and learning from others all over the world, as we share in our love of reading.

Visit my About Me page to learn more, and get in touch!

Take a peek to see the Peachy Books’ Rating System.