It has been a couple of weeks since my last Mini-Review Monday, so there are quite a few books to cover. It has been a mixed few weeks. I have read some fantastic books but have also had a couple of bookish disappointments as well. As there are five books to discuss this week, I’m just going to dive straight into them.
For reference, the way I rate is as follows:
1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved
Confident Data Skills by Kirill Eremenko
Confident Data Skills was my final book of May and was a very different read for me. While I do occasionally read non-fiction, those are usually on topics like sexism or serial killers rather than data analytics. As a data analyst, however, this book did call to me.
This book offers to beginning to end insight into data science, from the gathering of questions and requirements at the start of a project to the presentation and dissemination of results at the end. While it could easily have gone into a lot of detail and complicated terminology, Confident Data Skills is incredibly accessible and discusses the topics in a manner which anyone interested in data science could understand but without it being patronising or too simplified. While it could have gone into more detail about the different kinds of algorithms used (it only covers a small number) and there were a few diagrams and images about colour that were in black and white, it provided a good introduction, and general resource, for data science.
The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Confident-Data-Skills-Kirill-Eremenko/9780749481544/?a_aid=rosienreads
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
If there was ever a duology I would push on anyone, it’s this one.
Crooked Kingdom is the first and last book in the Six of Crows duology, so I can’t say too much about plot. Only that it follows a group of miscreants who plan to pull off an impossible heist in order to gain a lot of money. I love everything about this series. The world-building is exceptional – it feels incredibly rich and alive, almost as if you could step into it. On top of that, the plot is intricate while also being gripping to read. However, the real strength of this duology, for me, is the group of characters. They are so well crafted and rounded that they could be people you know, and indeed they feel like you could easily join them in their escapades and be part of the team. This book builds on that even more, exploring the different relationships between each of them and building on their characters so much so that a character I didn’t particularly appreciate in the first book I thoroughly enjoyed in this one (although Inej and Kaz are still my favourites). I definitely recommend this duology if you haven’t picked it up already.
The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Six-Crows-Crooked-Kingdom-Leigh-Bardugo/9781780622316/?a_aid=rosienreads
A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney
The second non-fiction in this wrap up, which is a rarity in itself.
A Secret Sisterhood is a book about female friendships, specifically in the context of four famous female writers – Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. It explores each of the writers’ careers in the context of their friendship with another female writer (published or otherwise) of the time. While it was an interesting book to read, particularly with finding out about parts of the authors’ lives I had not previously been aware of, I found that the book struggled in making its case properly. Very little of the evidence to back up their descriptions of the friendships were included in the text, which made it very difficult to not see some of the points made as either guesswork or wishful thinking. This was particularly true of the older writers. If a few more diary entry segments or letter extracts had made their way into the pages of the book, it would have been a stronger text and have made more of an impact on me. That being said, I did enjoy the focus the book had on the female friendships, which is not something we often see in either non-fiction or fiction.
The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/A-Secret-Sisterhood/9781781315941/?a_aid=rosienreads
On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher
On the Other Side was probably the biggest reading disappointment in a long time. I went in expecting a lot more than I got out of it. The book itself is about a woman called Evie who, on dying, must remove the weights from her life that are preventing her from entering her own personal heaven, which sounded amazing. All of these weights revolve around a year she spent pursuing her passion to be an artist and falling in love with a violinist called Vincent.
Unfortunately, I really struggled to enjoy this book and considered DnFing it at one point. Most of this was due to the fact I could not bring myself to care about the Vincent story-line (and I spent the whole book feeling really sorry for Jim). I loved Evie as a character and would have really enjoyed seeing her fight for her passion to be an artist, but that is only side-lined to focus on her relationship with Vincent. The key conflicts on the book felt contrived and the introduction of the supernatural was a bit left-wing and awkward (although did make the book considerably more interesting for me).
The writing itself was easy to read and I actually ended up reading this book in a day. Carrie has put a lot of herself into this book and her voice as a writer is very strong (I could almost hear her reading the book to me as I read it), not to mention the diversity, however the story itself was not for me, no matter how much I want to support the author.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (narrated by Christian Coulson)
I had no idea what to expect with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vide and Virtue, but I dove straight in with the audiobook. The book itself is a historical fiction about a young man called Henry Montague who sets off on his tour of Europe with his sister Felicity and his best friend Percy in tow. Things are made slightly more complicated given the fact that Henry is head over heels in love in Percy, and then they all end up on a man-hunt across Europe after Henry steals from the King of France.
This book is essentially a lot of fun. It did take me a while to get into, due to getting use to the writing style as well as the fact Henry is quite dislikeable at the start of the book. As the book went on, however, I enjoyed it more and more. The situations they found themselves in were bizarre and entertaining. Not to mention that the fact that Henry acted completely opposite to a typical story protagonist and ended up getting themselves in even worse scraps just added to the fun of the book. It does have its serious moments and handed issues of race, sexuality and disability in the time period really well. The narrator (Christian Coulson) was also fantastic and really captured Henry, and the story, in his narration.
The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Gentlemans-Guide-Vice-Virtue-Mackenzi-Lee/9780062382801/?a_aid=rosienreads