Book Recommendations: What I Read in April

Thursday, 30 April 2020

kindle and calendar on bed

As we reach week 1000 of isolation and social distancing, it's getting increasingly more difficult to fill the time at home, right? I find myself spending some days just staring at my phone for 9 hours straight (I really wish this was an exaggeration, but my screen time report says otherwise) and other days with enough energy to go for a run, bake three batches of banana bread and write a short story. There's not really a guide for how to 'do' isolation properly and it's understandable that we'll all have up and down days.

One thing that I've had much more time for since being at home is reading. I've found my best form of escapism from the current situation is flicking through fiction books at a lightning speed. It's been a while since I've done any book reviews online (in fact, this is the first one on this new blog which hasn't come from the archives), so I thought I'd share some of the books that I've loved recently in case you need some inspiration for what to read next.

If I Never Met You - Mhairi McFarlane (★★★★)

I've never read any Mhairi McFarlane before but she seems to be held highly as a great chick lit writer. If I Never Met You follows the story of Laurie who is left heartbroken when her partner of 18 years suddenly leaves her. In a ploy to may him jealous, Laurie agrees to a fake romance with office scoundrel, Jamie, and tries to toe the line between fake boyfriend and real love. This book is a real heart warmer and was exactly the soppy, lovely book that I needed to read in the moment!

Blood Orange - Harrie Tyce (★★★)

I don't read nearly enough thrillers and I must admit it's a genre I definitely want to get more into. Blood Orange tells the story of Alison, a lawyer who is struggling to keep afloat in family life and who is busy in her working life defending a woman who has just murdered her own husband. Something tells Alison there's more to her clients case than she's letting on and the book unravels both of their stories. I really liked this story, I thought the characters were interested but I did feel like there maybe weren't enough twists and turns in it for your average thriller.

Tin Man - Sarah Winman (★★★★★)

Tin Man was one of my absolute favourite recent reads. It's beautifully written and there were a lot of pages I had to start reading all over again just to take in how lovely the imagery was. It follows the lives of Ellis and Michael, two boys who have been friends since childhood and lose contact into adulthood. The book deals with loss, bisexuality and grief really well and I felt like for such a short book it perfects character development.

The Unhoneymooners - Christina Lauren (★★★★)

I am yet again confessing the lack of chick lit that I've read, but this was my first Christina Lauren and I really enjoyed it!  The Unhoneymooners follows Olive and Ethan, a pair of sworn enemies who are forced to go on a free honeymoon together after everyone else at a wedding they're attending gets food poisoning. I thought the plot of this book was pretty far fetched and hilarious, but I did grow to really like the characters. I thought it was a funny and easy read which got better and better as the pair get to know each other more.

The Flat Share - Beth O'Leary (★★★★★)

By now you're probably well aware of all of the hype around The Flat Share, and I can assure you it's for very good reason! For those who've not been sold on Beth O'Leary yet, The Flat Share follows the story of Tiffy and Leon who become flatmates who never meet. Tiffy has the flat in the evenings, Leon has the flat in the days, they share a bed and a bedroom but are never there at the same time. The pair begin communicating through post-it notes left around the flat, and the cuteness overload unfolds. This is probably my favourite book I've read so far this year. I completely fell in love with both characters and just found the story so sweet and heart-warming.

Convenience Store Woman - Sayaka Murata (Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori) (★★★)

Convenience Store Woman is a Japanese novel translated to English which tells the story of Keiko, a young woman who has spent the majority of her life working in a convenience store. Her character lives and breathes the store, much to the anxiety of everyone else in her life who believes she needs to grow up and strive for more. I thought this book was very sweet. I fell for the main character and felt like she was extremely likeable. I only wish this book could have been longer as I felt like there was so much more that we could have learnt about Keiko. Convenience Store Woman is human, comical and sad but a sweet, quick read.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold - Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot) (★★★★★)

Following on with another book translated from Japanese, Before The Coffee Gets Cold is another of my recent favourites. The imagery in it is really beautiful and I found it a joy to read. It tells the story of a small cafe in a back alley in Tokyo which offers its customers with the chance to take a trip back in time. The only catch? They have to stay in the same seat in the cafe when they travel back. This story was way more emotional than I was expecting it to be. It deals with themes of loss, separation and the fear of being forgotten. It's a beautiful story and is one I'd definitely read again.

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