Mini Book Reviews: Survive the Night | The Impossible Truths of Love | We Are Not Like Them | My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of recent NetGalley books that I’ve read and enjoyed.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

I can never resist a new Riley Sager book and have been eagerly anticipating this one. I picked it up and read it all in one day as it was written in such a way that I just didn’t want to put it down. We’re following Charlie who is really struggling after her best friend was murdered and now she’s leaving Uni. She finds Josh on the ride share board at school and says goodbye to her boyfriend. We find out that Charlie has had a tough life and when things are really bad she sees movies in her head overlaying what is really happening. The first half of this novel was gripping, I was unnerved with suspicions (and to be honest hopes) of where the novel might go as Charlie becomes increasingly unnerved by Josh. Unfortunately, the novel instead went in a much more predictable direction and ultimately left me feeling a bit disappointed. Having said that, I couldn’t put the book down so it was clearly gripping and it was enjoyable enough for the most part.

The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

This novel is told in two timelines: the present day follows Nell as she’s left reeling following a deathbed confession by her father; and it follows Annie 35 years earlier as we see her starting her family and making decisions that will have consequences down the line. I love Hannah Beckerman’s writing and this book is beautiful. I really felt for Nell to have to deal with what her dad said and then not be able to talk to anyone about it as her mum has dementia and now her dad is gone, and to know she might never be able to find out what he meant. The fraught relationship that Nell has with her two older sisters felt really realistic and I ended up feeling for all of them. The two timelines move forwards and you’re left wondering how they’ll converge and what happened in the past. It wasn’t something I saw coming but it felt completely believable and was heartbreaking. I definitely recommend this book!

We Are Not Like Them by Christina Pride & Jo Piazza

Riley and Jen have been friends for many years and now they’re excited to be back living in the same city again. Jen is white and Riley is black but this has never been something they’ve thought about. But now Jen’s white police officer husband has been involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and suddenly they have to confront what this means for their friendship. I found this book quite hard to get into but once it clicked I found it really hard to put down. There are so many issues covered within this story and it really felt believable and realistic. I was much more on Riley’s side and felt that Jen was at times wilfully being ignorant of why her friend felt the way she did, but then we’d be back with Jen and I could see why she was torn. This is such a prescient novel that really makes you think and it’s one that I would recommend to everyone.

My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me by Helen Naylor

This book is heartbreaking. Helen has grown up with a mother who is often cold and cruel, who is always ill and needs rest every afternoon so Helen as a child had to learn to play in complete silence. She doesn’t know any different than how her own home life is and accepts this as being how it is for everyone but it does start to affect her own mental health. Helen really shows how complex her relationship to her mother is, that she loved her mother but also feared being trapped into looking after her for ever. There is a real exploration of how complicated the aspect of looking back on her mother’s life was for Helen and it’s these parts towards the end of the book that really struck a chord with me. This is the point when it felt the reader was really let in to how everything has affected Helen. Helen’s mother behaved monstrously, not just to Helen but to others as well, and it’s uncomfortable to think about whether this woman was a monster or whether she was mentally unwell. I think this contradiction is something Helen must waiver on too as the title says Munchausen’s but in the book her mother is referred to as a narcissist. It is always so difficult to confront who a parent really was, and I definitely felt for Helen as she grappled with this throughout the book. This book isn’t always easy to read but it’s a book that I would recommend.

Fiction #BookReviews: If Only I Could Tell You | Matilda | Daisy Jones and the Six | The Flatshare

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Today I’m sharing a few more reviews of books that I’ve read and loved over the summer months!

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley but after reading reviews of the book I decided I wanted to listen to the audio book as I read so I bought the audio. This is such a brilliant novel and I loved it! It’s the story of a band called The Six in the 1970s and all the ups and downs that comes with making it big. Things become even more complicated for the band when Daisy Jones joins them. The dynamics between the band members is fascinating and it all felt so real! I loved how the book is told in snippets from interviews, which meant that we see each person’s view point and how memories differ from each perspective. Some people want to be seen in the best light, to be the hero and this shows through. Others play down the part they played, seemingly wanting to be a little more distant. This book was so good that by the end it felt like I’d read about a real band and I wanted to look up their music and to listen to it! It’s the mark of a great novel when you completely forget that this isn’t a true story. I highly recommend this book, I am sure it will be in my favourite books of the year list!

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

This is another wonderful novel that I very much enjoyed. The story is told from the viewpoints of both Tiffy and Leon – they flat share but they’ve never met! This premise sold me on the book and I’m so pleased to say that the novel lived up to that premise. I love how these two people communicated through a chain of post it notes, and how they gradually came to know each other so well before they ever met. There is more depth to this novel than I was expecting, and some difficult issues are dealt with. It made it all feel more real to me though and I appreciated that. This is such a gorgeous novel and it’s another one that I highly recommend.

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If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

I was eagerly anticipating this novel as I adored the author’s debut and I’m so happy to say that this was everything I hoped it would be. It’s the story of Audrey and her two adult daughters. Something happened when the two sisters were on the cusp of being teenagers and it’s completely pulled the family apart. Jess can’t forgive Lily and as a result won’t let her daughter see Lily’s daughter, and Audrey never gets to have all of her family together in one place. As the secrets of the past are slowly revealed I was just so sad that this family had allowed the inability to speak openly at the time had caused such a long rift. I can understand it though because when you fall out with a family member, the longer it goes on the harder it is to ever get things back. I thought this was such a beautiful novel and it did make me cry – they were cathartic tears though and ultimately this book gave me hope. I adored it and recommend it!

 

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

I was a little too old for this book when it first came out but I had loved other Roald Dahl books as I was growing up (Danny the Champion of the World was my favourite back then!). So when my baby brother was old enough to have this read to him, there was no way anyone else was getting the chance but me (this was almost 30 years ago now)! I’m so glad I made time to re-read it recently as I loved it as much as I ever did. Matilda is such a brilliant character, one you root for all the way through the book. I remember getting absorbed in my very own copy of Oliver Twist when I was 9 and while I was nowhere near as precocious as Matilda I could identify with the way adults didn’t believe I could read at that level on my own. I loved the humour in this book, Roald Dahl had such a talent for capturing children’s imaginations but also making his books fun for adults to (re-)read too. I adore this book and now want to re-read my whole Roald Dahl collection!