We’ve moved into the third quarter of the year at breakneck speed and it’s time for another lengthy update on my recent reads. Much like the first quarter of the year, I read a lot between April and June. I really need to start writing these reading updates more often, because they end up so long otherwise! I’ve still got a growing pile of books beside my bed, and my wishlist is always growing, but here’s what I’ve loved getting stuck into over the last few months…
I desperately wanted to love this book but it fell so short of the mark for me. The F Word is marketed as an “exploration of modern female friendship”, but it’s more of a memoir of Lily’s experiences with her own friends. I found this really repetitive and poorly edited, reading like a mishmash of agony aunt style advice columns that you’d find in the likes of Shout. I think it maybe should have been marketed to a younger audience, although some parts came across as preachy and a tad patronising. I usually enjoy Lily’s work, but this just was not for me.
This was one hell of a hyped up book – to the point that I was actually a bit worried that it would fall short of the mark for me. Fortunately, it didn’t, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Eleanor Oliphant struggles with social skills and lives a relatively small existence – timetabling her life to avoid social interactions, and spending her weekends with a frozen pizza and a bottle of vodka. One day, Eleanor meets someone and everything changes. It was quite an emotional read, to be honest, and I did spend a lot of time feeling sorry for Eleanor. There was some really heartwarming character development and had plenty of humour, despite the tinge of sadness. So worth a read.
I was a bit reluctant to get stuck into Dolly Alderton’s memoir after having read The F Word, but this was so much better. My god, Dolly can write. Even though I couldn’t relate to a lot of her experiences – having been with my boyfriend since I was fourteen and being too painfully awkward to attend many parties – I loved every minute of this book. She made me feel like I was her best pal, and she was just filling me in on the weekend’s activities. Everything I Know About Love was a rollercoaster of emotion – it was hilarious, heartbreaking and honest. It’s cliche, but this book made me laugh and cry.
I ordered this because the cover was pretty – there’s no point in lying about that. I had to spend a few pounds to get free delivery on Amazon and, as I always do, I added a book to my order to meet the threshold. Anthony Peardew is the “keeper of lost things”, after losing something special to him many years ago. This charming tale follows his journey, as well as that of his assistant Laura, and the twisting paths that life often takes. It’s a beautiful read, very moving and clever, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a bit too slow paced for my tastes, because I’m very much a fan of lightning-fast thrillers, but it made a welcome change and I loved it nonetheless.
I love Ruby Tandoh. I love who she is and what she stands for. I love her ethos and the fact that she’s not afraid to take a stand when people get preachy online. Eat Up, however, wasn’t quite for me. I thought I’d love it, but it came across as a bit too repetitive for me. It felt dragged out and I struggled to make it through – partly because it made me so hungry all the time. It’s a shame, because I had such high hopes, but I don’t think it’s my sort of read.
Audrey is recovering after an incident at school resulted in severe anxiety until she meets Linus, and he starts to entice her into the “real world”. I’ve started to realise that I’m maybe a bit old for “young adult” fiction now, and this was potentially the catalyst. I thought the overall concept was great but was frustrating overall, left me with a lot of questions and felt a bit cliche in its execution. Probably better suited to a younger audience than me!
This book follows the intertwining lives of Amber – a wannabe socialite who’s desperate for money and power – and Daphne, an actual socialite who has the life Amber dreams of. There are two parts to the story, and whilst the first was a little bit slow, the second is where things really take off. This is an incredibly written look at the psychological aspects of manipulation. It’s marketed as a thriller, which I don’t feel is accurate, but it is incredibly intense, very well executed and really enjoyable overall.
Now, this is the perfect example of my kind of book. Nora hadn’t seen Clare for ten years, and out of the blue, an invitation arrives for her hen do – which is when things start to go very wrong. What happens next will suck you in and take you on an electrifying rollercoaster of suspense and confusion. This is the epitome of a thriller. It’s really fast-paced, to the point that I finished it in a night, and I can’t wait to read more of Ruth’s work.
I read a fair bit of non-fiction, with lots of personal and business development books topping my to-read list on a regular occasion. I’ll be honest, I really did not like Emma Gannon’s first book, so I was a bit reluctant to read her second. Luckily, it proved me wrong in a big way. The Multi-Hyphen Method is probably one of my favourite non-fiction reads of all time, and it’s definitely my favourite for the year so far. It’s packed full of relatable, practical advice and covers everything from freelancing and side hustles to pensions, banking, flexible working and feminism in the workplace. It summed up a lot of what I want in life – flexibility to have a life I love – and I’d highly recommend it for anyone who has any sort of interest in modern working practices.
I read Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You earlier in the year and loved it, so I’m not too sure why it took me so long to get round to reading Little Fires Everywhere. Celeste’s second book was just as beautifully written as the first, following a heart-wrenching situation that takes over the sleepy suburb of Shaker Heights. I thought this was really well executed, covering different perspectives in a way that flowed well. It was a great book, really worth picking up this summer.
This probably wouldn’t have been my first choice of book, but when it was announced as the first pick for The Coven’s book group, I had to give it a shot. I really enjoyed a lot of it, but think it would be more suited to someone at an earlier stage of starting a business than me. That said, there were a lot of points made that were relevant to some stuff I’m working on for the rest of the year and it did help me clarify some forward steps for Blog & Beyond. I really enjoyed the explanation of our approach to learning, which really cleared some things up for me. Their outline helped me figure out my own brain a bit more, and acted as words of encouragement in favour of being a bit more patient with my capabilities.
I wanted to love this so much, the concept is right up my street and I adore dystopian fiction (although it’s painfully realistic these days), but it really fell short of the mark. Over time, mankind loses the ability to reproduce, with wave after wave of boys being born and not a girl in sight – until Eve. Eve must be protected at all costs, even if that’s at the expense of others. A lot of the plot felt reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale, but the execution was rubbish. It was such a cliche from start to finish, with an incredibly predictable plot. Again, this was probably targeted at a younger reader than me, but I was disappointed nonetheless.
I loved this. One of Us is Lying is described as being The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, and I’d say that’s an accurate description. Five near-enough strangers walk into detention together, but only four make it out alive. This had me hooked from the off and is full of twists throughout. This is the first young adult book I’ve enjoyed this much in a really long time, but it’s easily one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s overly dramatic, but it will totally suck you in.
I’ve got a fair pile beside my bed now and my Kindle is really filling up – I just need to find more hours in the day to get reading! I’m currently reading Friend Request, a creepy psychological thriller, then I’m planning on picking up Start With Why for the next book in The Coven’s book club. My beloved Sarah Knight has added a new book to her series of “No F*cks Given Guides” in the form of the Get Your Sh*t Together Journal, which I’m going to share a full review of shortly.
I’ll also be getting stuck into something nice and inspirational for the Blog & Beyond book club, which starts this month! Come on over and join the Facebook group to find out more about getting involved.
As always, I track my reads over on Goodreads, so feel free to add me as a friend on there if you fancy some regular updates on what I’ve been reading this year.