Mini Book Reviews: No One is Talking About This | Like A House on Fire | Homecoming | Life in Pieces

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini book reviews of books I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I’m slowly getting my reading and blogging mojo back but in the meantime I hope you find some books you enjoy from these mini review posts.

Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

I really enjoyed this novel – it’s both light-hearted and a very realistic portrayal of family dynamics! The novel follows a family as they are all about to come together in a murder mystery party organised by the mum. Stella and George and the central characters – they’ve both recently agreed to divorce and are living separately but Stella has yet to tell her parents so persuades George to go to the party with her and to pretend all is fine. Stella is the middle child – her older sister Helen is ‘perfect’. She’s married with two children and always does the right thing. Pete is the youngest and he is very wayward but can do no wrong in his mum’s eyes. I loved the dynamic between the three grown up children – it’s one I know and understand very well and the author captures it perfectly. The murder mystery party begins around halfway through the book and it’s just brilliantly written. I adored how the novel played out and the way the denouement comes about. This is such a fun read and I highly recommend it.

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

I listened to this on audiobook via NetGalley and I really enjoyed it. I finished it a while ago now and have been struggling with how to review it. I don’t really know how to express my thoughts on this one. It follows a woman who is obsessed with the Portal, her posts regularly go viral and she is famous within this social network. She thinks in social media soundbites and her life seems to revolve around what would make a good post and how best to express her thoughts online. She questions this life though and wonders about whether this life online is hell and is it going to be what we’re doing forever. Then one day she gets a text from her mum to say that something is very wrong. All of a sudden she has to confront real life and the potential for tragedy in her own family whilst still feeling very much under the influence of the Portal. The second half of the novel is her dealing with what has happened and the juxtaposition between the portal and the very real situation her family has to confront and cope with. I loved this novel, I found it very thought provoking and it’s one that I keep finding myself musing on. I think I’d like to buy myself a physical copy of the book so that I can read it again in print form as it feels like a book to be experienced in both forms. I definitely recommend this one, particularly if you find yourself obsessively scrolling through social media on a frequent basis!

Homecoming by Luan Goldie

Nightingale Point was one of my favourite books of last year so I was very highly anticipating Luan Goldie’s next book and I’m so happy to say that I very much enjoyed it. This novel follows three characters: Yvonne who has buried her demons and is trying so hard to move on with her life and to ignore her guilt. Kiama who has grown up without his mum and he desperately wants to know more about her. And Lewis, Kiama’s father, who just wants to protect his son and to keep him from the pain of the past. I loved Kiama and Yvonne in this novel and was intrigued at how she had been in his life when he was a young child but then lost touch with him over the last decade. The two end up going back to Kenya to try and resolve what happened in the past. I found this such a beautiful and moving novel. I could understand everyone’s point of view and so felt for all of the characters. The setting of London and Kenya were so vividly written that I felt I was right there along with Yvonne and Kiama. I just adored this novel and keep finding myself thinking about the characters and wondering how they are now. I recommend this one!

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

I’ve read and loved Dawn O’Porter’s novels so was keen to read her non-fiction book. I got a copy of this one from NetGalley and I read it a little while ago now. This is the author’s diary and blog posts from the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic. I couldn’t read it when I first got it as it all felt too recent but when I finally did pick it up I quite enjoyed it. I like her writing style and could hear her voice in my head as I was reading. There are quite a few sections in the book that I could identify with and found very moving but some of it felt very self-indulgent and unaware of how other people might be feeling as they read her words. It was jarring at times as she complained about being stuck in her big house with her big garden. At the same time I think that the general fears around Covid and grief, and they way our priorities have changed throughout the pandemic and what we want in life has become much more apparent to all of us. These parts of the book I very much enjoyed and could identify with. Ultimately, this was a mixed bag but I did quite enjoy it for the most part.

WWW Wednesdays (16 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

I’m still struggling with my reading so am sticking to one ebook and one audiobook at a time. I’m really enjoying both of these books and am hoping they might break me out of this slump I’m in.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Recent Reads

I found Liar to be such an intriguing book and really enjoyed it. It was a book that made me think, I recommend it. Fallen Angel wasn’t a great read, it was predictable and full of stereotypical characters so didn’t really help with my reading slump. Dead to Her was an okay read – I’ve already reviewed it so you can find my full thoughts here.

The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim and hoping to find a way through this reading slump. These three books are the one that most appeal to me at the moment so I hope I can read them in the coming days.

Summer by Ali Smith

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (15 Aug 20)

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Review Books

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

Dawn O’Porter has been thinking about life. In lockdown. Mostly from a cupboard. From reflections on grief and identity, bad hair and parenting, sleep and spirituality, to the things we can control and the things we cannot, Dawn’s daily diaries track the journey – for a hilarious, heartbreaking and highly entertaining glimpse into the new normal. LIFE IN PIECES is a book for anyone who’s been thrown into a life they didn’t plan, or who just wants to stick it to 2020. When it looks like everything’s falling apart, we’ll piece it back together.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘Reading has saved my life, again and again, and has held my hand through every difficult time’ For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help. Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra is 25, mixed-race and from Essex. As a trainee criminal barrister, she finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. This is her story. We follow Alexandra through a criminal justice system still divided by race and class. We hear about the life-changing events that motivated her to practice criminal law, beginning with the murder of a close family friend and her own experiences of knife crime. She shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin or someone you suspect is guilty, and the heart-breaking cases of youth justice she has worked on. We see what it’s like for the teenagers coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers. Her story is unique in a profession still dominated by a privileged section of society with little first-hand experience of the devastating impact of violent crime.

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.” As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams

The year is 1871. In Ashwell, Massachusetts, at the farm of Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline, a mysterious flock of red birds descends. Samuel, whose fame as a philosopher has waned in recent years, takes the birds’ appearance as an omen that the time is ripe for his newest venture. He will start a school for young women, guiding their intellectual development as he has so carefully guided his daughter’s. Despite Caroline’s misgivings, Samuel’s vision–revolutionary, as always; noble, as always; full of holes, as always–takes shape. It’s not long before the students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms. Rashes, fits, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. In desperation, the school turns to the ministering of a sinister physician–based on a real historic treatment–just as Caroline’s body, too, begins its betrayal. As the girls’ conditions worsens, long-buried secrets emerge, and Caroline must confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities around her, the ones who insist the voices of the sufferers are unreliable. In order to save herself, Caroline may have to destroy everything she’s ever known.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂