One huge reason why I love doing monthly round-up posts is that even when I think I haven’t read that much, I’m always pleasantly surprised to see how many books I managed to get through. April was such a quick month for me but, I managed to get through 10 books – not including my first DNF of the year. I had a treat yo’ self-moment at the end of March and bought myself lots of new reads as a perk me up as March was an incredibly rubbish month for me. I took advantage of some great deals on my kindle so this month seen me use my e-reader more than ever. My April reads include some great hits and awful misses so let’s crack on.
It was pretty hard to avoid The Immortalists on my Instagram the last few months as it seemed to be a book everyone was either reading or keen to pick up. Sadly, for me, the hype surrounding this book just didn’t live up to my expectations. I almost didn’t finish the book but, I persevered despite my feelings remaining the same when I got to the final page. The Immortalists follows the Gold children – 4 siblings; Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya. Starting off in 1950’s New York City, the children each visit a mysterious psychic who predicts the exact date of their deaths. We then go on to have a section of the book dedicated to each siblings story and the lives they now lead. I enjoyed both Simon and Klara’s story but I didn’t connect with either of them as characters. The last two parts of the book – Daniel and Vayra’s stories – was just ok. Again, I didn’t feel like I gelled with them and found their two tales a bit boring. Overall, this was a massive disappointment for me. I adored the concept but found it poorly executed. I rated this two stars, a rating I always feel is pretty harsh but there were no redeeming qualities in this book for me despite the love of the overall idea.
Another Brooklyn is a book that had been on my to be read shelf for ages and April was the month I finally decided to dive into it. The book is really not what I expected for some reason. The story splits between present day and the 1970’s in Brooklyn, New York where our main character August, returns to the town she grew up in after her father’s death. When she meets an old friend, memories flood back and we are transported into a coming of age story surrounding August and her three best childhood friends – Slyvia, Angela and Gigi. This book is like nothing I’ve read before and it’s one that I feel very conflicted about. I enjoyed the story but the writing style just didn’t work for me. The book is split into paragraphs and while Woodsen is clearly a very talented writer, I found the structure disjointed and a bit much for me to take in. I’ve been open on social media around the concentration issues I’ve had since mid-March so I am hoping to re-read this but, it just lacked something for me. I rated this 3 stars and at only 175 pages, I hope to pick it up over the summer and see if my opinion changes.
Sometimes when I read mostly fiction, I crave a good thriller and here, enters The Woman In The Window. YES. This delivered for me in so many ways and more than satisfied my need for a great psychological thriller in my life. We meet our protagonist Anna Fox, a recluse living in New York City who doesn’t leave the house, drinks most the day and spends her time watching old Hitchcock movies and watching her neighbours from her window. A new family move in across the road from her home – The Russell’s; a mother, father and son who appear to be the perfect family. But, when Anna sees something take place while spying on them from her window, her life is thrown into turmoil. She knows what she saw, but did it really take place? This book kept me on my toes and I managed to devour this in just two sittings. As time went on, I began to question Anna and wonder if she did really see the event she thinks she did take place. I also think the writer tackled the claustrophobia aspect very well. Similar to The Girl On The Train and the movie Rear Window, if you’re looking for a thriller that is full of suspense then this is one I recommend you read.
After the intensity of The Woman In The Window, I wanted to read a lighthearted, dysfunction family, character-driven book and The Children by Ann Leary is certainly that. The book is told from the perspective of Charlotte Maynard – a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret very successful parenting blog, despite having no children. Her online famous life is kept a secret from her blended family at their home huge home named The Lakeside in Connecticut. The house, once owned by Charlotte’s stepfather, Whit Whitman, occupies Charlotte, her mother Joan and sister Sally.Whit’s two sons, Spin and Perry visit quite frequently. When Spin arrives at The Lakeside one day with a new girlfriend, Lauren Atwood on his arm, Charlotte and her family want to find out as much about her as possible. As Spin and Lauren get engaged, the family dynamic begins to show strain as inheritance issues become prevalent, Charlotte receives messages threatening to expose her fraudulent online life and sister Sally starts to become unstable. Nothing major happens in this book – if you’re after a drama filled book then this isn’t for you. It’s a slow-paced tale filled with extremely like and unlikeable characters and is beautifully written. I haven’t seen much about this online but for me, it’s one of my favourites this year so far.
After a couple of rubbish books to kick April off, I began to be on a bit of a great reading roll and in stepped my next novel of the year – Bone Gap. When Finn sees his unreliable mother being kidnapped, he alerts the police and nobody, not even his own brother Sean, the law or the residents of Bone Gap believe his story. Their mother, Rosa, already ran off with a boyfriend to Oregon before so what is to say history hasn’t repeated itself? Bone Gap is an entirely unique read for me. It’s hard to pinpoint a genre for this as it encapsulates everything from magical realism, mystery and contemporary fiction. It is a beautiful tale, told from Finn and Rosa’s point of view and is written so beautifully, you feel you could be transported to the small town of Bone Gap. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I’m going to keep ahold of my copy and re-read it again at some point in the future. I’ve tried not to spoil much of the story as I really recommend picking this up.
This book kicked off to me as a dark, cliche YA novel until suddenly, at the turn of a page, there was something I didn’t see coming. Sasha is in love with her best friend Xavier, who is in love with Ivy, his on and off again girlfriend who likes to play games with his emotions. Disappointed when they rekindle their relationship, Sasha sets up a profile posing as a guy to help prove Ivy isn’t as in love or genuine as she seems. The book makes you think it is going to be another predictable story but I didn’t see what was coming. It is extremely dark, well written and sucks you into a tale you wouldn’t have predicted. It also tackles issues such as mental health, catfishing and sexuality very well. I rated this 3 stars but on reflection, I am going to bump this up to 4. If you like YA fiction, this is a must-read.
This book was April’s selection for the Belletrist book club, run by Emma Roberts. I have to admit, this is the third book I’ve read from the club and I’ve not been overly impressed by any of them. We meet Laura, a wealthy young lady heading into her thirties who is partner and child-free. Laura doesn’t want to be a mother but when a very bizarre one night stand takes place, Laura discovers she is pregnant. As the identity of the father isn’t know, Laura prepares for life as a single mother and welcomes a daughter named Emma. The story progresses into Laura raising Emma, the challenges she faces and the mother-daughter relationship they start to build. For me, this was a quick read with likeable characters but extremely boring. The first few chapters reeled me in, certainly with Laura’s quirkiness, the craziest circumstances around her one-night stand and her endearing wealthy family. But that’s it. The book grew stale for most of Emma’s upbringing which dragged on. I liked the last few chapters when Emma was much older and some generational hot topics were explored but there was a massive chunk of this that I found extremely bland and just not for me.
Due for release on the 14th of June 2018, this is the perfect, girly beach read for this summer. A big thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy. Tori Bailey is 31 years old, a successful author of a positive mindset memoir that has her fans hanging onto her every word. She has a gorgeous home, a hugely successful career and amazing opportunities. Behind the scenes, Tori’s life is anything but perfect. In a relationship that is fizzling out, Tori is absolutely miserable and having a bit of a personal crisis. This book is filled with issues most women can relate to such as pressure to excel in a career, marriage and babies, feminism, navigating friendships and the fear of being single and alone. Tori’s character can be frustrating at times, mainly because you want to shake her for being ungrateful but that’s exactly the point – as amazing as some aspects of someone’s life seems, it doesn’t mean they feel happy internally. A well structured, thought-provoking summer book that I’m sure so many women will connect with.
Well, aren’t I a little late to the party with this one? Published in 2013, The Rosie Project is a book I’ve seen but never felt compelled to read. I always assumed it was a cheesy love story but, after finishing The Cactus last month and on the hunt for another book featuring a quirky character, this was suggested to me and I’m so glad I decided to pick it up. We follow Don Tillman, a professor of genetics, who is on a mission to find a wife. After never progressing past a first date, Don creates The Wife Project which results in a rather ludicrous questionnaire he wants all potential partners to complete. When Don’s good friend and colleague Gene throws Rosie into the mix, her and Don begin their own project – The Father Project. Rosie has never known her father’s identity, although her mother shared that they had a liaison on the night of her graduation. Don and Rosie create a plan to make a list of potential fathers and sneakily get their DNA. Although in Don’s words, Rosie is ‘entirely unsuitable’ as a potential wife, he begins to grow feelings for her. This was an extremely loveable book and I loved the quirkiness of Don with everything from his ridiculous cleaning regime to his rather extravagant weekly meals – lobster for one on a Tuesday? I can’t wait to read the next instalment. A must read for any fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Cactus.
My last yet most anticipated read of April was Tangerine. As soon as I found out what this was about and how it had been described – Gillian Flynn meets Donna Tartt with Hitchcock vibes – I had to buy it. Before I got round to reading it, I’d seen so many mixed reviews and I can see why even though I absolutely loved it. The story follows Alice, who is living in Tangier, Morroco with her husband and is living as a recluse. Alice hates living in Morroco and rarely leaves their home. When her old college roommate, Lucy, arrives on her doorstep to visit, she’s met with mixed feelings. They haven’t seen each other in over a year after the events of one night back at college turned their relationship sour. As the story goes on, we start to learn what unfolded on the night that changed their friendship, the obsessive nature of their relationship and lots of other twists and turns. Mangan is extremely talented at her craft – the writing was sublime and atmospheric, making you feel like you could visualise, touch and smell what Tangier was like. It was a slow build up for me though. I didn’t get fully sucked into the book until 80/100 pages but, it was clear this had to be done to build up the picture and character development. I was hooked before I knew it and the main plot of the book left me so frustrated and hating certain characters. Any writer that manages to get a rise out of me like that is what I like. It was great but, the last 10 pages were SO disappointing. It felt like it was rushed and totally disjointed from the novel. Overall, I loved this but I can see why other people could be on the fence. Tangerine is certainly like marmite in this case – you’ll either love it or hate it.
These posts always take SO long to write, but I’m so nosy that I love to read posts like this to see what other people have read and whether or not to give them a miss. 10 books in one month is probably the best I’ve done this year and with everything else I have planned in the coming months, I doubt I’ll be able to match it. Do you find these posts helpful or do you prefer something much more short and sweet? I’d love to hear from you as always! You can comment below or reach me on social media at @amysbookself for Instagram and @amysbookshelf_ on twitter. Thanks so much for reading.
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