This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post reviews and all opinions are my own.
We’re in April already? How has this happened?! Anyway, for March I wanted to read mainly Irish authors, I blogged my TBR here. I got through most of them and read some others not on the list too.
Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley
I picked this one first as I knew Sharon from Behind Green Eyes had enjoyed it and it had been sitting on my Kindle for a while. Yvonne is a new mother in a new country who is struggling. She turns to the Netmammy forums to help her and she becomes friends with the other mothers on there. When one of the women goes offline and matches the description of a murder victim on the news, Yvonne is convinced it’s her friend. Sergeant Claire Boyle is pregnant and passionate about her job. She’s put on the case to investigate this murder but will anyone she takes Yvonne’s claims seriously? The book was a very fast quick read, you could easily read it in one go. I did enjoy it but I wasn’t blown away by it to be honest. I do love the fact Crowley used the idea of online friends and can you trust people you know online. Crowley has a second book out that also features Sergeant Claire Boyle which I think I’ll pick up as I liked that character.
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
This is the first Cecelia Ahern book I’ve read and I requested it on NetGalley because it’s a dystopian YA book. If you’re sick of dystopian YA books and all the tropes that go with it, you might not enjoy this. I did read a lot of those books after reading The Hunger Games and some were good, some were dreadful. This is defintely in the better camp. It’s set in a world where if you make a moral mistake, you are marked as Flawed, by being branded in a certain area on your body. The book centres around perfect 17 year old Celestine, who believes in the Guild and the Flawed system. Celestine is left in a difficult postition after an incident on a bus. She can lie and pretend to be perfect and continue on with her life. Or she can tell the truth and risk being found Flawed. I wrote a proper review post which you can check out here if you’re interested in finding out more.
Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes
I’ve mentioned before on here that I’m a fan of Marian Keyes. I reviewed her latest book which you can find here. I was staying at my aunt’s and saw this on her bookcase, so I picked it up and began to read. It follows Tara, Katherine and Fintan, who have all been friends since school in rural Ireland and now in their thirties, all living in London. Tara is forever on a diet, living with her horrible sexist penny pinching boyfriend and Katherine has been burned in the past and so she keeps herself single. Fintan has a boyfriend but his life takes a turn for the worst when he’s diagnosed with cancer. All their lives are thrown into disarray as they try to come together during this crisis. I enjoyed this book, I liked seeing the dynamics of the friendships. I’ll admit, there was times when I wanted to reach into the book and slap Tara! Her boyfriend was horrible. My favourite thread of the story was with Katherine and Joe. Marian does a great job at making you want to cry one minute and then laugh the next. The book is quite long though, I would have prefered it to be slightly shorter.
The Secret Place by Tana French
I read the first Tana French book 2 years ago when I was reading all Irish authors for March 2014. The Secret Place is the 5th book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Detective Stephen Moran is working in the Cold Case Squad when 16 year old Holly Mackey (daughter of Frank Mackey, the main detective in book 3) comes to him with a photo claiming to know who killed a boy on grounds of the all-girls school a year earlier. Moran teams up with Detective Antoinette Conway, one of the detectives on the original case, to try and find out once and for all who killed Chris. This book was a bit different to the other books in the series. It’s told in present time, interviewing the girls in the school and trying to piece things together, as well as in past time, the months leading up to the murder from the prospective of the girls. Because the second narration was to do with the girls, I feel like we never got to know Detective Stephen Moran all that well, especially because the present time narrative is done over just one day. I will say that French manages to capture teenage friendships and nuances really well, with just enough nostalgia to have me thinking back to my school days! The mystery had me guessing til near the end when I twigged it and it was good to see Frank Mackey again, who lands on the scene when he finds out that Holly might be implicated. It’s possibly my least favourite of this series but it was still enjoyable. And I was delighted when Beth over at Plastic Rosaries told me that there’s a new book coming out later this year!
The Lake by Sheena Lambert
This is another book I read because of Sharon’s review! The book was sent to me by the author last year but for some reason it just wasn’t capturing my attention until now. Set in 1975, a body is found on the shores of a man made lake. Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is sent from Dublin to investigate. There he finds Peggy Casey, youngest of the Casey family, struggling to keep the family pub The Angler’s Rest afloat while her 3 older siblings barely help, too busy getting on with their lives. I enjoyed this book, it’s different than I expected. It IS a murder mystery but that’s not the forefront of the book. It’s really a family drama, where this mystery body is the catalyst for all these family secrets waiting to spill out. I liked the setting of the novel, I seem to be enjoying books set in 1970s as I also really liked The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. I liked the main character of Peggy, I felt myself rooting for her as she battles with her siblings, wanting to live her life but also not wanting to let the family business close. If you like your murder mysteries to be more thrilling and have a lot of tension, then you won’t get it here. But you will get a mystery that flows well, is a fast read and has likeable characters.
The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in March 2014 and I enjoyed it (bar some rambling part midway through which bored me). I’ve been trying to read more plays and so I picked this one up, not really knowing much about it. Two friends, Jack and Algernon, have wooed two different woman using the same allias of Ernest. It all comes to head one weekend when all 4 people end up in the same house in the country and confusion (and hilarity) ensues! I really enjoyed this, I found it really witty and actually laughed out loud once or twice. I’d like to see a stage production of this if I get the chance. If you’d like to try Oscar Wilde but you’ve put it off, I think this would be the best place to start.
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
For some reason I hadn’t heard of this book until it was announced as part of the longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. I requested it on NetGalley and went into it not knowing what to expect but I was bowled over by this. Jimmy Phelan, big career criminal, brings his mother Maureen home from London after she was banished there 40 years earlier for having him out of wedlock. One day she discovers an intruder in her house and bashes his head in with religious relic. And thus the story unfolds, linking together various people on the grittier side of life: the alcoholic abusive father Jimmy enlists to help get rid of the body, his 15 year old son Ryan who is a drug dealer and madly in love with his girlfriend, their nosy poisoness wannabe do-gooder Tara, prostitute and addict Georgie who just wants to know what happened to her missing boyfriend. The story spans 5 years and over those years we see these characters weave in and out of each others lives.
I love McInerney's writing, it was witty, gritty and grim. Having lived in the city it's set in for 4 years, I loved being able to know all the places this is set. I could hear the Cork lilt rise off the page reading the dialogue between characters. McInerney writes characters how are tough but show how vulnerable and self destructive they are too. I liked seeing the lives link up, I know some people might think it's convenient or cliched but I love when stories do this and I thought it was effortless. Well worth the read!
Demon Road by Derek Landy
Derek Landy is a name I’m familiar with as I have 2 siblings that loved the Skulduggery Pleasant books but I have never been tempted to pick one up. I kept seeing Demon Road everywhere though so I decided to chance it, I was going to get it from the library but it popped up on NetGalley as the second book is out soon, so I requested it there instead. 16 year old Amber lives a normal American life. Until she finds out that she's demon and that her demon parents plan to kill and eat her as part of their pact with the Shining Demon! Amber is forced to go on the run with the mysterious Milo to try and escape her parents and find a way to stop all this craziness.
I really enjoyed this book, I love how Amber is a normal girl (besides the demon aspect!) and how she's just trying to come to terms with all this and still be a good person. This book has ghosts, vampires, creepy murderous children. It's well paced, maybe too much so at times. It felt a bit formulaic with problem then solved on to next problem etc. but seeing as this is a young adult book that could be what I'm picking up on. And it didn't make me enjoy the book any less. I liked the characters and look forward to the next book which I’ve already started!
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of this book. Set in a small town in Ireland, Emma is a typical eighteen year old who enjoys going out and having fun with her friends at the weekend. After one weekend, she wakes up the next morning on her front porch, in agony and unable to remember the night before. But soon pictures and videos crop up online and Emma’s life is changed forever.
This book starts off as a normal enough read. O’Neill captures certain elements of being a teenager perfectly, the vernacular as well as the competitive element of constantly trying to be the prettiest, the smartest, the most popular. Emma isn’t a particularly likeable character, but I think this helps with the book because even though I didn’t like her, I still hated what happened to her and felt sorry for her. The main themes of this book is incredibly important, there’s so many issues here that need to be discussed more: rape, slut shaming, victim blaming, the hive mentality of small towns, using social media to shame people. I’m not surprised at the reaction of the people in this book, which as I type this makes the whole thing even more disgusting. The whole thing makes me so uneasy but that probably makes it even more of a reason to read this book. I did think it fell apart by the second half, it felt repetitive and I was a bit bored but it wouldn’t put me off telling people to read this book.
Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane
The only non-Irish author I read and finished this month! Edie's life takes a turn for the worst when at her colleagues' wedding, the groom kisses her. Not wanting to face work, her boss agrees to give her a job back home in Nottingham, ghost writing the autobiography of the hot new actor Elliot Owens until things die down. Adding to all this is having to move back in with her father and her younger sister who seems to hate her.
This is the second Mhairi McFarlane book I've read and I enjoyed it. The book explores some interesting themes, like how the man in a cheating scandal can come out smelling like roses while the woman gets ostracised and torn to shreds. She also goes through how social media can make it much easier to do this and it reminded me a bit of So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I don't feel like I fully clicked with Edie as a character, I didn't hate her though and at times I did find myself cheering her on. I liked seeing her relationship with her sister and all the issues they have. One scene had me tearing up but then laughing by the final line. The end disappointed me a bit as I felt it left some things unresolved but I can see why McFarlane wanted the ending to be that way. It was an enjoyable quick read, perfect if you're a fan of Lindsey Kelk!
Number of Books Read- 10
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 10:0
Ratio female to male- 8:2
Number of eBooks- 6 (Can Anybody Help Me?, Flawed, The Lake, The Glorious Heresies, Demon Road, Who’s That Girl? )
Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 2 (The Secret Place and The Importance of Being Ernest)
Book Riot Challenge Completed
Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel- Flawed
Overall I felt this was a month of highs and lows for me. I probably would have read more but after I finished Asking For It, I started a biography and that has slowed me down a lot. I would have liked to have read all my TBR, I couldn’t have read the Shane Hegarty one but I still have Miss Emily to read. And I really wasn’t in the mood to listening to anything so I didn’t start The Gathering. I finished no non-fiction which has annoyed me as I haven’t read a lot of non-fiction this year. 9 months in the year left to change that though!