Ooh it’s time for another mini reading round up! Below are five quick and super honest reviews of the five popular titles that I read in April. I didn’t give anything over 3/5 stars so you could say it was a bit of a ‘meh’ month! However, the variety was good and I was pleased to make the most of lockdown and get through a fair few.
Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
Blood Orange – the debut domestic noir about a chaotic young barrister in a toxic marriage – was our April Beth’s Book Club pick. It was a resounding success in that respect; so many member joined in and plenty loved it. After a very dark and risqué prologue describing auto-erotic asphyxiation, I found the first half of the book slow. Alison, the main character, isn’t written to be particularly likeable. Her redemption comes later but it’s difficult to get through a book where you don’t actually feel any compassion for any of the characters.
Interestingly, I found the case that Alison was working on – a domestic murder trial – more gripping than the actual plot. With themes of alcoholism, infidelity, gas lighting, emotional abuse and rape present throughout, it makes for a heavy read that some readers may find triggering.
It’s high on drama and certainly not afraid of approaching some rather grisly passages of narrative. I finished the final third in one sitting. Whilst the ending definitely isn’t for everyone, it certainly gives a succinct finality to the novel and must have been fun to write! Ultimately what brought it down a star for me was that I never really cared about Alison.
Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara
Kara’s debut, The Rumour, was pacy, unpredictable and housed some pretty impressive twists. Who Did You Tell? felt like it was written by a different author. I found it slow and underdeveloped and though I persevered, it never redeemed itself.
Trigger warning: heavy themes of alcoholism and over dose throughout
The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh
I’m not entirely sure what I expected from The Man Who Didn’t Call. The premise is intriguing: a couple meet, spend seven whirlwind days together and fall madly in love. Then he ghosts her. Convinced there must be more to it than a wham-bam-thank you ma’am of a week, she (I can’t even remember her name) is determined to find out the trust behind his sudden disappearance. I suspended by scepticism over that first part in the hope that the latter would be twisty. It’s not. It’s a domestic romcom that never really ventures anywhere and then ties up neatly in a ‘happily ever after’ bow.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
When a domestic flight comes down in the US, 12 year old Edward is the sole survivor. All other 191 passengers including his mother, father and brother are killed instantly. The chapters alternate between the final hours on the plane and Edward’s life ‘after’ as he grows through his teenage years living with his aunt and uncle, exploring therapy and fighting grief. Despite the rather dramatic premise, this is a really gentle novel. It’s not thick with plot and if you’re looking for twists then this isn’t for you. Instead it’s an honest and at times relatively profound look at grief, trauma and life after death.
I’d have rated it higher but it wasn’t one I was burning to pick up. At times I’d have liked it to have a little more pace and I didn’t enjoy the chapters on the plane much. I enjoyed most of the narrative bar the final ending which felt as though it conceded to stereotype where it could’ve done something a little different.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary
O’Leary’s debut, The Flat Share, is one of my favourite novels. I really wanted to love The Switch but it had very big boots to fill and it just didn’t do it for me in the way that The Flat Share did. The premise is fun if a little unrealistic: a grandmother and her granddaughter switch lives for two months. Eileen moves into Leena’s trendy Shoreditch flat share, taking her laptop and her iPhone, whilst 29 year old Leena moves into her grandmother’s quaint cottage in a sleepy village in the Yorkshire Dales, swapping her city life for a Nokia brick and community fete meetings. It’s a sweet novel and perfect if you need an uplifting, easy read. However it reminded me that I’m not a chick-lit reader. Where I embraced the predictability of The Flat Share because I was so madly in love with the characters and their stories, I really struggled to like Leena. I had most, if not all, of the plot figured out within the first couple of chapters so there forward it was just a nice read.
However(!) I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews so if you’re a lover of chick lit and authors like Mhairi McFarlane and Marian Keyes then don’t let me put you off!
What have you read recently?
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