It’s time for another book round up! I’m proud to say that I finally smashed a Goodreads challenge (two months early, too!) – books truly saved my sanity this year throughout the uncertainty surrounding Covid. Below are four honest, spoiler-free reviews of what I’ve been reading these past few weeks.
The Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins
Meet the daughters of Iris Parker. Dee; sensitive and big-hearted; Rose uptight and controlled and Fleur the reckless free spirit.
At the reading of their mother’s will, the three estranged women are aghast to discover that their inheritance comes with strings attached. If they are to inherit her wealth, they must spend a series of weekends together over the course of a year and carry out their mother’s ‘bucket list’.
But one year doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for them to move past the decades-old layers of squabbles and misunderstandings. Can they grow up for once and see that Iris’ bucket list was about so much more than money…
After reading thriller on top of thriller I was feeling a little overwhelmed and needed something to cleanse my palate. The Kicking the Bucket List was recommended to me by the lovely girls over at Beth’s Book Club – I wanted something funny and heartwarming and this delivered spectacularly.
I thought the premise was charming and unlike anything I’d read before. I really enjoyed following the relationships between the sisters – Dee was by far my favourite character and I was rooting for her throughout. When Daniel arrived I groaned and expected a cliché romance, but I was quite surprised with how the story unfolded (I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil it!)
It was a bit cheesy and predictable in places but I didn’t mind too much. Overall I found it an easy, feel-good read – someone online compared it to stepping into a hot, relaxing bath and I’d have to agree!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
I feel guilty for giving this such a low rating as I know so many people love it. I thought the plot was sweet and original but unfortunately it just didn’t hold my interest. I listened to it via Audiobook and I found it so hard to pay attention; I rewound chapters countless times as I couldn’t keep up with the characters and their numerous anecdotes.
I found the epistolary format so jarring. I didn’t read any reviews beforehand so I wasn’t aware of the composition; after fifteen minutes or so I found myself willing the ‘normal’ prose to begin. When I finally figured the whole novel was composed of letters I groaned. I’ve read several epistolary books in the past and it’s never bugged me until now; for some reason this one really threw me off.
This book has received countless glowing reviews so if you think it’d be your cup of tea then definitly give it a go. If you’re not too fussed you can catch the film instead – I watched it a few weeks after and much preferred it (controversial I know).
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend...
I’ve been aching to read this ever since I finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (aka my favourite book of the year). I took Daisy Jones and the Six on holiday with me and devoured it in two sittings.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a music person but I enjoyed the glimpse into life in a band – I was convinced I was reading real interviews and found myself wanting to listen to Daisy’s songs! I liked how the author explored the struggles of fame and the brutality of the industry. I thought the characters were well-written and had a lot of depth but I struggled to connect with them due to the transcript format. The whole thing felt a bit impersonal and detached.
Despite the negatives, I did enjoy this and it certainly kept me entertained by the pool. It was no Evelyn Hugo, however!
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favours, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
I really enjoyed this one in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. It was riddled with clichés and gaping plot holes but the story kept me hooked right until the end. Gritty, fast-paced and full of suspense, it proved the perfect holiday read.
There are several POVs to keep up with but you soon grow accustomed to each voice. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and learning their backstories. Hannah was my favourite but I thought Johnno was interesting, too – I felt sorry for him towards the end and his and Will’s secret absolutely broke my heart.
The story is unrealistic to the point where it gets silly but it’s very clever nonetheless. I didn’t predict any of the twists and I relished each revelation. I wasn’t overly satisfied with the ending, however, and found myself wanting more resolution.
Overall this was a quick, entertaining read that I’d recommend to anyone wanting a juicy thriller. My only other gripe is how similar it is to The Hunting Party!
What have you been reading recently?
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