With nothing but time on my hands, my Goodreads reading challenge has definitely gone easier than expected! I’ve been making an effort to read more in lockdown (and not just, you know, play Animal Crossing all day). Thankfully, the weather in Bournemouth has, for the most part, been glorious, so sitting out in the sun with a book has been no great hardship! Let’s get stuck in to some of my favourites…
Pretending – Holly Bourne
This is my first Holly Bourne read and certainly won’t be my last. Pretending is a frank and honest account of life after sexual assault, following April as she tries to figure out whether she can ever trust men again (frankly, no, men suck).
With such a heavy topic matter, I didn’t expect this book to be “enjoyable” but Bourne meshes heartwrenchingly raw, unflinchingly honest perspectives with moments that will make you laugh, moments that will make you “uhuh” along with April, and a character who at the end of the day, you’re rooting for.
Buy it here.
Letters To The Lost & More Than We Can Tell – Brigid Kemmerer
Not quite a series, but set in the same world with overlapping characters, these two novels by Brigid Kemmerer have resparked my love of YA books that don’t fit in the fantasy genre. These books touch on a variety of struggles that teenagers face, from the commonplace divorcing parents, to the heavier, child abuse, family death, and the effects of alcoholism amongst other things. They’re filled with characters you just want to hug and romances you’ll root for. Whether you’re a teen or just looking for some escapism, I highly recommend.
The Jetsetters – Amanda Eyre Ward
This book is a really great example of why covers are SO important. A lot of the less than glowing reviews of this book are disappointed, they were expecting an easy beach read, something fun and frivolous – which this book is definitely not.
This is a super character heavy read, untangling the threads of a complicated family dynamic. None of the characters are particularly likeable, and it touches on some heavy subject matter. Fun and frivolous, not so much. But the cover definitely suggests otherwise, I’d go as far to say the title is a little misleading too.
It’s not a bad book, I actually quite enjoyed it, but if you were picking it up looking for something fun, and instead found yourself tearing your hair out at the characters screaming NO DON’T DO THAT, well, you’re going to be disappointed.
If you like books with deeply flawed characters trying to muddle through, this ones for you. If you’re looking for lighthearted beach reads, move on.
How Do You Like Me Now – Holly Bourne
I told you it wouldn’t be my last Holly Bourne Read! How Do You Like Me Now was not quite what I expected after Pretending, but follows the same vein as lots of these other ‘millenial women’s fiction’ reads out there right now. Tori is a self help motivational writer & speaker who is more worried about what her Instagram followers think of her than being truly happy.
This book is actually really bloody bleak, because the fact is Tori is miserable, and won’t do anything to change her situation. It’s raw to the point of uncomfortable, and whilst there were things I found myself agreeing with, there were also moments I just wanted to scream at her. That said, Bourne’s writing is skillful, the depth with which she conveys emotion in this book is masterful, if uncomfortable.
Buy it here.
Olive – Emma Gannon
*Advanced Reader Copy gifted by publishers.
|I was hesitant on starting this book because even pre release it’s received massive praise and hype online, and I often find I don’t enjoy books that receive the same treatment (Eleanor Oliphant, Everything I Know About Love etc). This book though, was special.|
The discussion and choice of whether to procreate is a polarising subject, but in this book Gannon explores it tenderly and thoroughly. She examines every aspect of the debate, from so many possible angles, it’s impossible not to find a character to relate to. Her observations are gentle but startling, especially if, like me, you’ve never been sure if kids are part of your game plan. Aside from that, it explores relationships, especially those with your female friends in a poignant and somewhat romantic way, that means despite each characters flaws, you end up loving them and rooting for them.
I steamed through this in a day because the writing style strikes the right balance between easy and inflammatory, and the protagonist Olive is just endearing enough to keep you rooting for her.
I’ll be recommending this to every millennial woman I know, and eagerly awaiting Gannon’s next foray into fiction.
Buy it here.
The Switch – Beth O’Leary
|The Flat Share was an unexpected highlight of last year’s reading list for me, so I was highly anticipating this one. Yes it’s a simplistic style, yes it’s fairly predictable, but honestly it was nice to disappear into this book for a day and enjoy the comfort of it. I also really didn’t expect to enjoy Eileen’s chapters so much, but she ended up being my favourite part of the book!|
I felt like the supporting characters were much stronger (and fundamentally more likeable) than in The Flat Share, which really pushed this to a 5* read for me. I loved seeing how every character in this book evolved and underwent their own ‘switch’. A good, happy, heartwarming read.
Buy it here.
Grown Ups – Marian Keyes
|This was a surprising one for me, having read most of Marian Keye’s books this was different to what I expected. It’s a little less fluffy, a lot less humorous, and generally a bit more serious. Not a bad thing, but I imagine some long term fans would be disappointed. It’s a chunky read that really allows you to get sucked into this dysfunctional family dynamic, but the lack of Keye’s signature lighthearted notes can leave it feeling slow and heavy at points.|
That said, I enjoyed following this family through their ups and downs, and found myself connecting a lot with Nell, which I didn’t expect at all to start. It’s an interesting examination of what being “grown up” means, and the difference between how we perceive ourselves vs, how others see us. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would!
Call It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer
What if Robin Hood went to high school? Don’t worry, Kemmerer has sussed it out. I can’t explain to you how deeply this book hooked me in, but I had to binge it in the day, every time I put it down I couldn’t stop thinking about it. More than her other books, the romance between Rob and Meagan had me crossing everything they ended up together. If you’re looking for a heartwarming YA Romance that also touches on trickier themes for teenagers, look no further.
Buy it here.
The Cactus – Sarah Haywood
This book is everything I thought Eleanor Oliphant would be! If you’re looking for an easy read, pick this one up, whilst I found it somewhat predictable (and sometimes the legal plot got a little slow) this is a heartwarming read that proves change is possible at any age.
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart – Margarita Montimore
|It’s going to take me a long time to forget about this book. This story is so fresh, and unlike anything else I’ve read, it’s complex and incredibly well thought out, and it feels like a great reminder to be present. It’s hard to write about without giving the game away (no spoilers!) but I implore you to pick up this book.|
Don’t let the time travel aspect put you off, this is a coming of age story where the timeline just happens to be non-linear. Think 13 Going on 30 not Doctor Who!
Buy it here.
Read anything good lately?