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Monday 9 May 2016

Recently Read: March & April

I've slowed down a bit on my reading goal for the year, which currently stands at 15/80. A meagre 19% in. I just don't have the time if I'm honest and as long as I'm getting to read as many books that I can, it's all good. Anyway, for now, here's my most recent reads. Again, some are advanced reader copies, others are audio books, book club reads etc. 

Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent
I somehow have not read Unravelling Oliver, Nugent's first novel, which was highly acclaimed on its release in 2014. I very happily received an ARC of Lying In Wait though, which is due for release on the 7th of July of this year. The first paragraph of this had me absolutely hooked, although the first line alone played a big part in that: 
"My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle but the lying tramp deserved it". 
The husband in question is a well respected judge, living in Dublin with his wife and son in their period property that isn't quite as grand as they'd have people believe. We briefly meet Annie Doyle, a young woman from a working class background with a sad past. Although her murder wasn't planned, Lydia will now go to any length to hide her and her husband's dark secret and protect their young son. Unfortunately, as Lawrence grows up, he becomes increasingly more obsessed with the dead girl and her family, leading Lydia to take drastic action. This is one of the best thrillers I've read in a long time and I had it finished in a couple of days, such was my need to find out what would happen! I will say that the ending is possibly one of the most bleak that I've ever read but don't let that put you off, it's well worth it. Lydia is a brilliantly written character; an absolute psychopath whose actions kept shocking me. Definitely one to pick up in a couple of months time and I'll be getting myself a copy of Unravelling Oliver, pronto. 

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran
As I've previously mentioned, I am a big fan of Caitlin. I loved How To Be A Woman and enjoyed How To Build A Girl. I laughed wholeheartedly when my sister and I went to see her in Vicar St a few years ago where she got us all to stand on our wobbly stools and shout "I AM A FEMINIST" and I love her newspaper articles, although they're usually behind a paywall on The Times, and I'm a cheapskate. Moranifesto then, was the ideal book for me; a collection of previously unpublished articles and some of her most loved pieces (including that famous pre-posthumous letter to her daughter) and her random thoughts on everything from how extremely addictive Daft Punk's Get Lucky was for that entire Summer, to politics (that's where the Moranifesto part comes in), to how great the British opening ceremony of the Olympic games was, with plenty of time spent on feminism and how the patriarchy ruins everything for the rest of us. That's a very brief description of what's a surprisingly long book. I got this on audio and although she unfortunately doesn't narrate it herself, I had her thoughts in my head for a whole month. And I loved it. I loved every little bit of it and if you really liked How To Be A Woman but were less enthralled with How To Build A Girl (which was fiction and somewhat autobiographical), then this a real return to form and you'll love it too. 

Maestra by L.S. Hilton
Oh here, where to start with this one. Apparently hailed as the "most shocking thriller you'll read this year"(I can only assume by L.S. Hilton herself), this is not so much shocking as it is muddled. Judith is a tough young woman working for a prominent auction house in London. She's determined to succeed and when she finds out she can't do so the old fashioned way (hard work and putting the time in), she basically decides to just start killing her way around Europe. Oh and having lots of very graphic sex too. I'm not being reductionist here, that's the actual plot, of which I lost towards the end when she gets to Paris. I've also heard this compared to 50 Shades Of Gray but to be fair to Maestra, it's nowhere near as badly written as that but still, not quite well-written either. 
Save yisserselves. 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
I had seen so many reviews of this from people who loved it that I had to give it a go. This is a really mind-twisty thriller that starts with the fatal hit and run of a five year old boy and takes us on a a very disturbing look at a relationship dominated by domestic violence.  There's also a whodunit side to it from the perspective of the police investigation and an absolutely massive twist about halfway through that had me completely floored. I have to say, I found the storyline moved incredibly slowly for the first 50%; I struggled with it a bit if I'm honest but after that I couldn't put it down. Definitely one worth reading if you're a thriller fan but just be aware that you'll need to stick with it and that the abuse element is very hard to read- overall, it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna
Right. This was our book club read for March and what with the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations and all, it was most appropriate. 
You might remember Marita Conlon McKenna from such childhood books as; Under The Hawthorn Tree and The Blue Horse. I loved her growing up, as did the other gals in my book club so we were all looking forward to this one. You're sensing a 'but' here, aren't you?
Well, truth be told, this just wasn't very good.
The storyline follows the Gifford sisters (Grace, Muriel and Nellie) from their childhood in the leafy suburbs of Ranelagh up to the Rising itself, which they are all involved with to some degree. Unfortunately, I felt too much of the book was spent in trying to establish each woman's own traits and characteristics, and even that wasn't hugely successful. It seemed like the reader only got to know these bright, intelligent, kind, loyal and creative women towards the end of the book which felt like a failure in my eyes. The Rising itself and the immediate time preceding and following it and their involvement were what really interested me and it seemed like we only got to that part in the last 20 or so percent. I also found the writing to be a bit stilted and forced at times.
Quite disappointing.

High-Rise by J.G Ballard
I got this on Audible because it was pointed out to me that sexy Tom Hiddleston (who also stars in the film version) narrates it and I really can't resist that smooth voice. The main character is Robert Lang, a doctor who lectures in a nearby college and has just moved in to the high rise; a lavishly designed block of apartments. What floor you live on indicates your social standing both inside and outside the building; those at the top are the richest and include the architect who designed it. In general the residents are all middle to upper class professionals but slowly, a change comes over them all and they regress to an animalistic state. Over the course of the book, all of the high rise dwellers begin to debase themselves and others; they viciously attack each other in an apparent bid to take over/reach the top of the high rise, now heavily guarded by its upper echelon members. Dr Lang is one of the social climbers so we sometimes see the brutality through his eyes and often, it's via the other residents. Overall, this was a bizarre and at times, deeply unpleasant book but it was also gripping and a different kind of dystopia to what I'm used to.
Avoid if you have a weak stomach and/or really love dogs. Seriously.

And that's the lot!
What are you reading right now?
To the comments!


  1. I adore Caitlin Moran and yet haven't read any of her books. I need to fix this.

    1. Oh you definitely do! This is a good one to start with Claire! x

  2. I haven't read How To Be A Woman, but I wasn't too impressed by How To Build A Girl. Maybe Moranifesto could bring me back on the road.

  3. Oh thank you for this Chloe! Maestra was on my list but now I will definitely be giving it a miss.

  4. Interested to read your thoughts on Rebel Sisters which I wanted to read! I did not know that Grace Gifford was one of the characters...
    I read quite a few books about the Rising this year, both fiction and non fiction but my favourite one was Joe Duffys book! It was amazing!