The Book Whisperer’s Month in Review: April 2017

month 2

April has been a real mixed month for me. I have been spoiled with some utterly fantastic books and started some I couldn’t even finish. I completed 7 books and out of that seven, I adored 5 of them so much that I am going to struggle to put them in order.

So, I am starting with a joint first purely for the fact that I loved these 2 books so much but they were completely different from one antoher and I loved them for totally different reasons:

 

Joint 1st

 

Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew by Susan Fletcher

This book was a joy to read from start to finish. Susan Fletcher can write. I mean, REALLY write. If you love beautiful storytelling and pitch-perfect prose, you need to read this book. I cannot recommend highly enough.

 

Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker 

Such a great book – mystery, humour, humanity, the whole works. And included one of my favourite ever characters in a book – 17-year-old-wannabe-gangster Manny. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!

 

Honestly, I do not know why either of these books is not being more widely read. They are both fantastic and highly, highly recommended.

 

3rd

sweetpea

 

Sweetpea by C J Skuse

This book is dark, it’s crude, it’s shameless, it’s but it’s utterly and absolutely freaking hilarious! Sweetpea is a serial killer but I guarantee you’ll fall in love with her. A riot of a read and highly recommended.

 

Joint 4th

In any other month, either of these books could have romped home in first place. I’ve just been so spoiled this month and it’s actually a travesty that two fantastic books look like they’re so far down my list.

 

The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon

Set in Cornwall and Thailand, this feel-good, romantic book is pure escapism. Big thumbs up.

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

Review to follow but utterly gripping as always. If you’re already a Bolton fan, this is up to her usual high standards, if you’ve never read any of her books, what are you waiting for?

 

6th 

bricks

The Bricks That Built The Houses by Kate Tempest

So here’s the thing: while I hated parts of it, and early on could quite happily have put it to one side for later (or never), I ended up racing through this book and really quite enjoying it. I was invested, I wanted to know what was coming next, and I started to look forward to picking it up. Whatever your view on the topics in the book, it’s certainly a good one to read in a book group!

 

7th

quicksand

 

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

Quicksand, for me, lacked suspense or tension: there were no surprises, twists, red herrings and no reason to keep reading on. And yet I did. Because surely an award-winning book must redeem itself, right? Wrong. I read all the way to the end and wasn’t even rewarded for my slog. That said, it is getting lots of rave reviews so definitely one to make your own mind up about.

 

Verdict:

An outstanding month for books (which makes me slightly worried that I will have a run of duff ones now).

I could honestly recommend any of the books on my list for this month. The first 5 because they were all brilliant, and the latter two because I’m curious to hear what others think about them and despite them not necessarily being my cup of tea, I can certainly see why others would love them. Something for everyone.

Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know what you think.

 

Review: The Bricks That Built The Houses by Kate Tempest

bricksWhat I thought:

 

This is going to be one of the trickiest reviews I have ever written because I keep changing my mind on how I feel about it. It was chosen as my book groups read last month and is a book that I probably wouldn’t have picked up for myself (which is exactly what I love about book groups as it takes you out of your comfort zone, and I have found many a cracking read this way over the years).

Firstly, a little bit about the author that I have discovered while reading The Bricks That Built the Houses. Kate Tempest is an award-winning poet and a rapper who grew up in “a shitty part” of South London and had a wayward youth, living in squats and hanging around picket lines. This does not surprise me in the least. Her book felt like a simmering, bubbling, molten-hot pot of cynicism and discontent that is ready to spew and explode at any moment. It felt sometimes angry, sometimes jaded and always unflinching.

So what’s it about? Herein partly lies my struggle, as I’m not entirely sure. There are several main characters – Becky, Harry, Pete and Leon – all in their 20’s, all wanting something more than they have, and all living a daily battle with the life they are in. Aside from the main four, Tempest also takes us back in time with all the protagonists’ parents and their struggles and how they ended up where they did. It appears that whatever generation you’re from there is something that will get you down / hold you down and keep you down. I saw one quote somewhere that said: “this book leaves Generation Xers understanding the woes of millennials much better”. That probably sums up best how I feel about it. Maybe I’m more of a fogie than I realised. It basically seemed like everyone was on drugs, nobody wanted to earn an honest living, and everyone just wanted to hang around getting pissed and wasted.

The book itself could have done with a bit more editing. OK, a lot more. Tempest is a poet and a rapper and that was obvious in her prose. While there were some beautiful and lyrical moments of narrative, everything, it seemed, was a metaphor. At first, I quite liked this. Then it got too much, too quickly. To the point that I was rolling my eyes at the page and urging her to get on with it. Interestingly, she did towards the end; almost as if she had run out of them. And while we’re on the subject of the end: it left me with that dreaded “is that it?” feeling when you don’t feel that the ends have been tied up well enough. Now what?

Verdict:

So here’s the thing: while I hated parts of it, and early on could quite happily have put it to one side for later (or never), I ended up racing through this book and really quite enjoying it. I was invested, I wanted to know what was coming next, and I started to look forward to picking it up.

Whatever your view on the topics in the book, it’s certainly a good one to read in a book group!

Have you read this? I’d love to know what you think.