Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Brutally Honest by Melanie Brown

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEL B! Now let's talk about your book.

I recently got on a Spice Girls kick after listening to their albums, remembering how amazing they were, and realizing I’ve never read any of their memoirs! Mel B had me tearing up from the first page with her honesty about her marriage, insecurities, and struggle to overcome everything. She said it was hard to act like an empowered woman with this happening behind the scenes but I think sharing it now makes her more empowered and relatable than ever before.

It jumps around a lot and in some places is difficult to follow the thread. I kept having to google some of her relationships to grasp the timeline and files the stories from the book into the right place. However, she's open about ADHD and Paris Hilton was the same in her memoir, so I can appreciate the authenticity of feeling like you're getting inside the people's minds.

Selfishly, I wanted a lot more information about the Spice Girls days, but this is Mel B's book and it focuses more on her personal life and relationships, especially her abusive marriage. I just need to get my hands on Catch a Fire from 2003 which apparently covers her early fame.

Still, this was a compelling read and I can't wait to find her earlier book, along with others by Spice Girls.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

So as Not to Die Alone by Lisa Johnson Mitchell

 The book club I run with two friends focuses on short fiction - typically flash fiction in chapbook or novella-in-flash form. These books come from independent presses, so it's basically the opposite of the big-name children's/YA/adult books I share on this blog. However, I love shining a spotlight on good writing no matter what form it's in. And if I help other people discover flash, small presses, or specific authors, then YAY! Win-win!

Since I love this form, I like to write reviews of the books to help spread the word. This month, I reviewed So as Not to Die Alone by Lisa Johnson Mitchell.

In So as Not to Die Alone, Lisa Johnson Mitchell shares stories of people yearning for a human connection to, arguably, not die alone. The stories are filled with quirky characters who are off-putting yet endearing and full of potential. 

The characters show the author’s skill in capturing the complexities of the human experience with compassion. Each person is portrayed with depth and subtlety as they carry their own burdens, allowing readers to empathize with their struggles and root for them despite their flaws. 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth

 Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth

Over the past few months, I've been re-reading Sally Hepworth's books. I first read her more literary novels when they came out in 2015 and 2016. I really loved how she handled realistic topics and wrote so eloquently. She pulled at my heartstrings without trying to be overly emotional.

Some of her later books veered into domestic thriller territory, which is fine! I love those books too. But I usually love the stories in those books more than the writing style, and I did feel like Hepworth's writing changed accordingly for that market. I still read each of her books because I'm a fangirl, but they didn't hit me the same way her earlier work did.

The truth is, I'll never turn down a Sally Hepworth book, even though I've rated two of them (The Family Next Door and The Younger Wife) as two stars (after her first three being solid five star reads in my opinion). So when I saw Darling Girls at the library, I knew I'd read it.

I feel like this is getting back to her literary roots. There's still a fair amount of suspense, but it's more of a buried mystery than current danger. The story is told between four points of view - three foster sisters and another person who is revealed later. I think the mystery was woven into the story really well and the resolution was satisfying and realistic.

You can read my reviews of Hepworth's other books on Goodreads.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

My mom got this book from the library and said she read 3/4 of it in one day. I feel like I've been in a reading slump since the new year, so I was definitely in the mood for a book I couldn't put down.

And this really delivered! It's something I would call a cozy thriller, in that it doesn't really mess with my emotions but the suspense does keep me turning pages. (Okay, is there really a sub-genre called cozy thrillers? I love me some cozy mysteries but I won't lie - some of these thrillers almost give me a heart attack because they're so over-the-top. I want the suspense but I don't want to put my health at risk.)

In all seriousness, I call it that because I didn't really care about the main character. She was interesting and unique and I had no clue what her backstory was or what she would do next, but I wasn't invested in her survival. She was somewhat flat, and I mean that in a good way! I didn't want to care about her - I just wanted her to entertain me.

And she did. I read this book on Sunday, start to finish, and I genuinely had no idea how it would end. I call that a job well done.

With that said, I feel like trying to explain the story would either confuse you or give it away, so I'd suggest reading the blurb and seeing if it strikes your fancy. And if it does, comment so we can talk about it because I got lots of thoughts!