Welcome to another month of book reviews. I can’t believe we’re at the end of March already!
I had hoped for 10 books or so this month, just to get a good move on my 100 books target but managed an ok 8 books in March.
A trip to Liverpool and Paris put the reading on the back burner for a few weekends, so it can’t be helped really. Oh, if you would like to see what I got up to in Paris, you can watch my short vlog here.
And on to the book reviews for March!
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones’ Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget’s permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR. Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74. She remains, however, optimistic. Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter, and — like millions of readers the world round — you’ll find yourself shouting, “Bridget Jones is me!”
My rating: ★★★★★
I’ve seen the movie, but wanted to also read the book for some light-hearted reading to start off the new month, and it was exactly as I expected. I was laughing out loud, smiling and giggling to myself throughout the book. If you’re after something fun and light, this would be the book for you. Although, I would say there is a problematic element to the book where Bridget focuses a lot on her weight, calorie counting and thinking 9st was obese which is pretty mental. Other than that, a great book and I would love to read the next few in the series.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…
My rating: ★★★
I have been wanting to read this for so long. Obviously we all know it as a huge television series, but I haven’t yet watched it and wanted to read the book first. However, after reading the book I don’t really have any eagerness to go and watch the show. It was an incredibly slow burner and not much really happened. Although, I can see how they would make this into a great concept for a TV show, but also some of it hit a bit close to home with what’s happening in Western Europe at the moment so was a bit dark to read at times. Not my most enjoyable read this year.
How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran
I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly. My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs Hell – as rockstars do. And my new best friend – the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks – has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name. But when my two-night-stand with edgy comedian Jerry Sharp goes wrong, people start to know my name for all the wrong reasons. ‘He’s a vampire. He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick’ Suzanne warned me. But by that point, I’d already had sex with him. Bad sex. Now I’m one of the girls he’s trying to destroy. He needs to be stopped.
My rating: ★★★★
I picked this book up by accident in my local library. I thought this was a biography by Caitlin Moran as I oddly thought she was a comedian and not an author. More fool me! But I was very pleasantly surprised as this book had all of my favourite things – the music industry, journalism, celebrities and gossip. Something along the lines of Taylor Jenkins Reid, but not quite as good (TJR is in a league of her own). I really enjoyed this and would read more of Caitlin Moran’s work, but the only thing that annoyed me was the over-use of exclamation marks, which made it seem quite preppy and unrealistic for me at times. But some great paragraphs and messaging in this book so I would thoroughly recommend.
Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
You don’t see her. But she sees you. Midnight: in an area of urban wasteland where cats hunt and foxes shriek, a girl is watching… When Saffyre Maddox was ten, something terrible happened and she’s carried the pain of it ever since. The man she thought was going to heal her didn’t, and now she hides, learning his secrets, invisible in the shadows. Owen Pick is invisible too. He’s never had a girlfriend; he’s never even had a friend. Nobody sees him. Nobody cares. But when Saffyre goes missing from opposite his house on Valentine’s night, suddenly the world seems to be watching Owen. Accusing him. Holding him responsible for Saffyre’s disappearance…
My rating: ★★★★
I haven’t read a murder mystery/thriller in so long and I was really hoping for something that would keep me so engrossed and glued to each page so picked up Invisible Girl after loving The Family Upstairs by the same author last year. I did enjoy this, but I don’t think it was as good as The Family Upstairs, and it wasn’t as gripping as I was hoping for. A good mystery novel with some twists and turns, but I found parts of it quite predictable.
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society. Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought – a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together? In this gripping, stimulating and totally absorbing novel, black and white are right and wrong.
My rating: ★★★★
I had seen this series of books recommended quite a lot online, and according to the back of the book, this is Stormzy’s favourite book so if that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is. I’ve been adding some more Young Adult fiction into my reading and I’m really enjoying it. I picked this up in my local library so God knows when I’ll find the next instalment of the series in the library, but for Young Adult, I really, really enjoyed this and it gave representation of classism, racism and switched the narrative of some very important topics. Thoroughly recommend!
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals—personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others—that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.
My rating: ★★★
Of Women and Salt was this month’s Books That Matter pick that arrived and it’s my favourite delivery to receive every single month as it highlights female authors and books that cover important topics or represents authors from a ethnic minority background. Of Women and Salt covered the story of a lineage of women that stemmed from Cuba, and living in America. The book covered immigration, heritage, culture and the issues within American immigration. I enjoyed, but did find myself lost at different parts and not fully engrossed in the story.
The Innocent by Harlan Coben
Matt Hunter’s life has already been blown apart once. A fight, a friend in trouble, and the dull crack of someone’s skull on the concrete cost him four years in jail, and a small sliver of his soul. When Matt got out he set about rebuilding his life. He carved himself a job as a lawyer and fell in love with a beautiful woman. The break in the road seemed only to have made him a stronger person. But now someone is following him, and Matt realises that his new existence is under threat. Suddenly Matt can’t trust anybody – least of all those he loves…
My rating: ★★★★★
I am an absolute sucker for Harlan Coben, I really am. This must be the fifth or sixth book of his that I’ve read in the past two years and each time, he never disappoints. I can see why so many of his books are made into TV series as the books are so gripping and always have the most out-of-the-box twists and turns that you don’t see coming. Harlan Coben is a go-to author for me, and I would happily read all 20 or more books of his in succession.
Luster by Raven Leilani
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.
My rating: ★★★
I picked up Luster when I was in Paris, purchased from the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore. I always love to buy books when I’m on holiday somewhere as it reminds me of where I bought it and has a story of its own. Plus Shakespeare and Company add a stamp to the book too, which helps. This was a short book that I was able to squeeze in at the end of March to bring my total to 8 books for the month. It was not quite what I expected, although I probably should have guessed from the title. It was a book that I enjoyed, probably wouldn’t re-read, but also had some great passages of writing that made me re-read twice or three times. I think we’re going to see some great books from Raven Leilani in the future, and I’ll definitely be picking them up.