April seemed to drag on forever, but it was a successful reading month – my best so far this year. I finished eight books, albeit one of them was a re-read.
Below there is a short review for each of the books I have read. Links to longer reviews are attached but more will be added as separate blog posts over time.
The books I read in April include:
House of Beauty by Melba Escobar
House of Beauty is a crime novel that has been translated from Spanish. Set in a beauty salon in the city of Bogota, the book uncovers the mysterious murder of a young teenage girl last seen by beautician Karen. It is narrated by two different middle-class women, ghostwriter Lucia and Claire, a customer at the salon. As a result of flicking back and forth between these two perspectives, it could be very confusing to keep up.
Though this is seen as a thriller, it has quite a slow pace. A lot of the novel centres around other stories, including divorces and Karen’s life inside and outside the salon. The story was good but it was not as exciting as I had thought it would be and the reason for the murder was confusing and unsatisfying.
There are some interesting parts though, especially the fact that it is set in Colombia and the author demonstrates the difficulties facing many people in that area. It also gives a great insight into the culture there. Although the story is puzzling at points, it has a fairly unique plot that starts off better than it ends.
Identity by Francis Fukuyama
Identity gives a lot of insight into how to overcome political polarisation and strengthen our democratic systems after entering a period of “Trumpism”. Fukuyama says “no critique of identity politics should imply that these are not real and urgent problems that need concrete solutions”, which is interesting as he agrees with the fact that both Britain and American appear to be focusing on the inequalities and discrimination that exists in society today. The arguments in each chapter are to the point and very brief – he doesn’t go on about it for a long time.
Fukuyama also focuses on the movements surrounding these issues including “Me Too” and “Black Lives Matter”. He looks at the idea that class politics has now been replaced with cultural politics. It was really intriguing to try to understand how and why people decided to vote the way they did in America’s presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the UK.
He touches on a range of other points in the book too and I think it makes a great read, whether you agree with him or not, because politics is all about debating and opinions. It is a short book, just over 100 odd pages. Perhaps the only downfall is the fact that some of the arguments written aren’t new. As he has said himself, without Brexit and Trump the book wouldn’t exist.
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones and The Six is one of those books that could be read over and over again without becoming the slightest bit tedious. It follows, from the late 1960s to the 1970s, the journey of how the band formed and how it ended so suddenly. It is written completely in dialogue, apart from a few descriptive news clippings. Every member of the band gets to tell their version of history through an interview. This made the story really exciting as various character’s remembered events differently – such as the colour of a top or even who started an argument at the time.
There are strong female characters in the novel – Camila, Daisy and Karen. They all have different outlooks on life and have a lot to deal with in their own lives but they come across as very successful and strong-willed. The other character that stands out is Billy. While at times it might be hard to like some of the stuff he does, it is not until the very end that you will realise why he acted a certain way. The characters definitely make the story better and as readers it is easy to get drawn into their world.
The book delves into some dark topics, including severe drug use and references. Though there are darker moments in the plot, author Taylor Jenkins Reid does a great job at adding humour and friendship into the story-line, making the characters appear to be more realistic.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
The Flatshare is one of those books that is impossible to put down. Both of the main characters, Tiffy and Leon, narrate the story and it is very easy to know which perspective you are reading as Leon is a lot more blunt and to the point whereas Tiffy describes things in a lot more detail – just like their personalities.
In this book Tiffy has just broken up with her long-term boyfriend and has had to look for somewhere new to live in the expensive city of London. Leon needs to rent out his flat to make more money to help his brother who has been wrongly convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. The problem is that the flat only has one bedroom and one bed. So as he works in a hospital on night shifts, she spends the evenings in the flat and he spends the days.
This is a really fun and riveting story-line that hasn’t been written before. It is very cheerful plot but it does look into issues of mental abuse which may be unsettling for some readers. Every character in the book adds something to the story too, from Tiffy’s best friends to Leon’s family and colleagues. It is nice to read a book that is so uplifting.
Viper by Bex Hogan
Bex Hogan’s debut young adult novel is extremely riveting. The story is set on a pirate ship and is narrated by Marianne, 17, the daughter of the captain of the ship and leader of the Viper group. This book is the first instalment in a trilogy so while the ending is satisfying, there are some things that have been left unanswered.
Her father is corrupt and will do whatever it takes to achieve power, whether or not Marianne gets hurt in the process. Marianne is the complete opposite of the Viper and while he wishes she would fight and kill others, she does not wish to and doesn’t understand what purpose she would have by doing so.
This book will take you on an adventure but it is a lot darker than expected, with a large amount of violence and abuse throughout the plot. There is a touch of romance and a lot of friendships blossoming in the book too which was a nice addition. The last few chapters are completely shocking and unexpected. It is definitely worth a read.
You by Caroline Kepnes
I think almost everyone who has a Netflix account has watched the TV adaption of this book but I was intrigued to see if it would be any good. The story is written entirely in the second person which was a nice touch as it made it both creepier and much more original. It follows bookshop worker Joe and his quest to become romantically involved with the girl, Beck, he has been stalking.
There is a lot of violence in this book but it is expected with this kind of story. Sometimes it can be amusing too, when Joe tries to hide his wrongdoings and his chaotic life. His relationship with bookshop owner is interesting as he has a more prominent role than the unseen Mr Mooney from the TV show.
While the plot was well-written and interesting, the writing at times was crude and the author chose to use the C-word a lot, which isn’t to my taste. The book doesn’t make the main character come across as likeable at all and it was difficult to read about someone who had zero redeeming qualities.
Queenie by Candice Carty Williams
This is another inspiring novel that would definitely come under the “up-lift” genre category. Though this story has been advertised as a modern Bridget Jones, it is very different and a lot deeper than that. It is told through Queenie’s eyes, as she starts the novel being separated from her long-term partner Tom. Queenie is a black woman and only seems to be interested in white men. While on a hiatus from Tom she decides to find closeness in whoever will have her.
Though it is a funny book and very modern with the added sections of group text messages, it is quite a sad novel. But significant nonetheless. It shows how self-love is important and the value of friends and family. Both Queenie and her mother have had a traumatic past and readers get an insight into their strained relationship.
Candice Carty-Williams has included a lot of issues in this novel that aren’t always addressed or told well in other stories. This includes discussing other cultures and the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Queenie is an impressive debut novel that should be read by all.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling (reread)
Do you ever get to a point where you just have to continue with your re-read of Harry Potter? Even though my “TBR” pile is growing I needed my J K Rowling fix.
Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Comment below or send us a tweet @bookwormgirl_24