Diva Reads June

So this was a funny old month for me and I spent a lot of it in a not so great, head space. My reading often reflects my mood and can also alter it to some extent. June was also a month that saw me binge watching a lot more TV than usual, to be honest I rarely watch tele but when I do I go in hard. I spent a whole day in June binge watching Station19 and ugly crying. It was pretty epic to be fair.

Back to books.

I finally read June’s House21 book club read of Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare. It was a perfect palette cleanser, and everything you expect from chick lit. The protagonist Tiffy is a typical girl next door, a bit geeky and out there along with utterly likeable. Tiffy shares a flat with Leon, they also share a bed, but not at the same time, at least not initially. Their love affair begins with post it notes in an unordinary, archaic fashion. Later when they finally meet in real life it’s a typical, happily ever after scenario and I loved it.

BA Paris – Behind Closed Doors.

This book was a real disappointment to be honest. I was expecting great things being a psychological thriller fan but I’m loathe to say it didn’t deliver. Tricked into marrying the worlds most sadistic man, Grace rushes into a marriage before she’s even seen the house she’s going to spend the rest of her life in. There was very little back story on why her psycho husband Jack was indeed a psycho, and it generally failed me as a reader. I also felt like the Author’s reference to the vulnerability of Grace’s sister Millie who has down syndrome was quite misinformed and bordered on offensive in parts. I’ve heard good things about other BA books though, and for this reason I’m willing to try another at a later stage. If you’re interested in predictable badly narrated domesticity this might suit you well. It didn’t me, unfortunately.

Alex Michaelides – The Silent Patient

I loved this book right up until the last few chapters. The protagonist Theo is an interesting and believable character who narrates the book from his point of view. He’s a therapist, married to an amateur actress. He later takes a job at The Grove a hospital for the criminally insane and his patient Alicia is incarcerated for killing her husband. She hasn’t spoken a word since her arrest. I won’t spoil the ending but I devoured this book with speed and ease, then got to the end and though – huh, that’s it? I will say it cleverly increased in suspense but the end was a little anticlimactic in my personal opinion. You can really tell my mood was low in June huh? Probably as a direct result of these mediocre books I read!

Pauline Black – Black By Design

After the death of George Flloyd I knew I needed to further my education into racism, particularly inherent racism and I wanted to go back and start at the Black Power Movement of the sixties. I’m a huge Ska fan and so it was fitting for me to read the work of one of my favourite female vocalists Pauline Black of The Selekter. What I learned from this book has blown my mind and caused me to address my own unconscious bias in a major way.

Pauline Black was a mixed race female adopted by an all white family in Romford Essex. She was the only girl with 4 brothers several much older than her. She grew up being made to play down the fact she was indeed a woman of colour. So much so, that she was ridiculed for her Afro Caribbean hair, and reminded by busybody aunties that she surely didn’t need sun lotion during a heatwave because of the tone to her skin. When she finally formed part of the Selekter with the help of both black and white friends she was part of the infamous 2Tone movement. She was also subjected to further racism at gigs and performances by 1960 Skinheads and National Front facist groups. As amazing as it is to read how Pauline became the woman she is today it left an unfading imprint in my mind of just how acutely racism and prejudice can affect a person. I still have a LOT left to learn and believe me when I say I plan to do just that. But I’m glad I started my learning with this book and would highly recommend it worth a read.

That’s about it really, I’m still feeling a little morose and not quite on top form so I’ve opted for some more lighthearted reads this month, starting with Ruth Jones, Never Greener. What a writer this woman is! This post will also be available to read over on House21 and listen out for myself and Mel who’ll be discussing our favourite reads on the House21 podcast in the coming months.

Diva reads: May Edition.

I managed to crack this out by the skin of my teeth. I know we’re almost in June but I hope I can still inspire you with some of my favs from this month. So, what have I been reading this month? For the last week I’ve been dragging my heels with my current read, a Tess Gerritson book, but I’d say it’s nothing to do with Tess and more to do with the fact I’m so tired I just can’t keep my eyes open at night to read it. That probably means I should try doing more day time reading —but you know— kids.

House 21 hosted their first book club in May and as mentioned in my April edition, we read An American Marriage. It was a strange book, not compelling as such, but easily interesting. It depicts the life of an African American man who’s wrongly incarcerated and delves right in to his relationship with his wife. It oozes big cultural vibes and it provoked me to address a few things: The demands of a marriage and the emotional toll on both parties, as well as unconscious bias. I would based on its ability to make me take stock alone, recommend it’s worth a read.

Next month’s book club read is Beth O’Leary’s Flat Share, but I’ve not started it yet, so let me tell you a bit about what I have been reading instead.

Following An American Marriage I reverted to my trusted genre of thriller and picked up my first Karin Slaughter book. What can I say besides WOW. It’s blew my mind. The pace was so elite I felt like I was reading as fast as Usain Bolt runs.

I couldn’t get enough of The Good Daughter – not only is it beautifully written (and it really is, no language or vocab corners cut for Karin.) It was so utterly addictive that I felt somewhat exhausted at the end. That only served to prove it was completely exhilarating. I don’t know what rock I’ve been hiding under, but the moment I finished this book I went on to read two more of hers.

Her Last Breath – which is a Novella prequel to The Good Daughter, equally as enticing, it’s only failure being it’s not a full book. It just wasn’t long enough, I felt robbed by it’s too soon climax.

I then went on to read: Pieces Of Her. Which is set to be made into a Netflix original series. It was a complex read but with equal amounts of explosive content from the very first page. It’s fast and punchy pace keeps up momentum until the end.

I mentioned on this week’s podcast that I’d previously struggled with reading American written books because of the language and dialogue used, however since Karin completely dragged me over to the dark side of American thriller I couldn’t wait to get my hands on more, so I downloaded Shari Lapena’s – The Couple Next Door – another great thriller about a kidnapping gone wrong. A mother’s worst nightmare and full of the kind of characters we all hope to avoid in real life. With shocking twists and American mountain vibes. It was another race to the end. I enjoyed it and would definitely consider many more of her books in future.

All of those thrillers drained me by being so fascinatingly edgy, but afterwards I needed some lighthearted vibes. With this in mind I reverted back to the woman who opened my eyes to genres of comedy and romance, friendship and girl power, Dawn O’porter and sped through Paper Aeroplanes. She hasn’t written a book yet that I don’t adore. I don’t know what it is about her realistic accounts of women and girl power portrayals that get me so emosh, but there’s really nothing not to like. She’s a legend and every woman out there should read at least one of her books, but I suggest reading them all.

That’s it so far this month, so enjoy!!

You can find all of these in local bookstores and downloadable for E-readers. Keep reading and tag me/ message me/ share with me what you think.

You can also read this over at House21 just head to the culture & reading section.

Diva Reads #4

Diva reads April

So I’ve been busy this month. Busy doing a lot of reading and not much else, but that’s okay, because it means I get to share my findings with you guys.

I stumbled upon this first author mentioned by accident, and the first book of hers I read was so fantastically tragic and twisty that it made me download a second book, immediately after I’d read the last page of the first.

Lucinda Berry

When She Returned – This book set in modern America has an undercurrent of betrayal throughout, building to a crescendo at the end. It’s so good it had me flicking pages faster than I could blink in a desperate bid to get to the end.

It tells a story of a modern marriage and a completely opposing cult lifestyle that are world apart but intricately linked. There’s no happy ending either, which is a surprising relief because sometimes I get to the end of the book and am met with disappointment at its highly unbelievable ending, but this just adds an additional twist making the turning of that very last page all the more satisfying.

Missing Parts – Another exceptionally twisty read. I’ll admit it didn’t surprise me quite as much as the first but the story was quite different.

This one, about a mum who struggled to bond with her daughter who was then diagnosed as critically ill. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but equally demanded I put myself in the protagonist’s shoes. Full of betrayal and tragedy, this book will keep you on your toes until the very last page.

CL Taylor

Strangers – Cally Taylor is one of my all time favourite writers, I read all 7 of her books in a seriously short space of time and she never disappoints. Strangers is set in my home town of Bristol and that only adds to the relatability for me.

There are three main protagonists in the story, I probably related to Alice the most but each had both endearing qualities as well as misgivings, making them believable. It also wraps up well and for a stand alone book I feel that’s important. I don’t think you’ll ever be disappointed as a thriller fan with a C.L Taylor book and this one is no different.

Belinda Bauer

Black Lands – This was pretty dark. It had a classical murder mystery vibe, set up on Exmoor in typical Moors Murder vibes. The difference being this wasn’t your typical whodunnit. In fact it wasn’t a whodunnit at all. Another thing to set this book aside from your average crime thrillers is, the protagonist is a child. It’s very well written and captivates you from the first page. However the actual storyline was a bit over the top tragic and not much excitement, in my opinion.

Rubber Necker – Another Belinda Bauer thriller. She was recommended to me by author C.L Taylor and there’s absolutely no denying she has a talent for writing unusually dark and atypical thrillers. Completely different from backlands Rubber Necker tells the story of a young man with Aspergers who stumbles upon a conspiracy that has tragic consequences.

Tayari Jones

An American Marriage- I cant say too much to give this story away as it’s House 21’s May book club edition. What I will say though, is it really opens your eyes to a poor judicial system, overbearing pride and wavering love. It’s well written informative fiction with several protagonists each with their own endearing and flawed characters.

All of these books were read on Kindle and can be downloaded from your amazon kindle store.

Don’t forget to let me know what you think by emailing me here divamumsteph@hotmail.com