I dedicated last week to only reading print books rather than digital – time to get back to my roots!
Between you and me, I started reading books on my phone a year or so ago and though that lets me power read like some kind of machine, it does mean that I don’t have time to review everything I read and I’ve developed the bad habit of being glued to my phone, the convenience of it making me oblivious to my surroundings and, in all honesty, disassociated and rude because I’m so frustrated when something else needs my attention. It could also be a coincidence, but I’ve noticed a rapid decline in my eyesight and more frequent headaches since I’ve been spending 4+ hours reading on my phone on a regular basis.
With this in mind, I’m thinking of deleting the Kindle app on my phone so that I have to restrict myself to print and Kindle paperwhite only. Is this… maturity?
The books that I read the past week have been on my TBR for a long, long, long time but here’s what I thought:
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl.
But you won’t when you know the truth.
Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family’s rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls.
But what she doesn’t know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice…
Daaaaaaaaaaaaaark. ‘Insidious’ is right for this story, the darkness isn’t graphic or gory but a slow spread of poison that affects all of the characters and multiple generations of Roanoke girls, far reaching and inescapable.
I was super impressed with the way this author took a taboo subject and explored it to its fullest extent rather than using it for shock value.
The chapters bounce between the past and present of Lane Roanoke, as well as some of the Roanoke girls of the past – this gives you a multifaceted view of what’s going on and builds up to the stunning conclusion.
Content warning: sexual abuse, child abuse, incest, suicide. (I think the need for warnings outweighs the need to avoid spoilers in this case)
The Grand Man: A Scandinavian Thriller by Florence Wetzel
A fast-paced detective novel about an American jazz-journalist in Stockholm who gets drawn into two unsolved Swedish mysteries: the 1986 murder of prime minister Olof Palme, and Stieg Larsson’s missing fourth book.
Journalist Juliet Brown is a ScandiGeek, a person who is enamored of all things Scandinavian. An unexpected opportunity sends Juliet to Sweden to interview an American jazz singer, and she is quickly drawn into the vibrant Stockholm music scene.
When one of Juliet’s new friends is murdered, she finds herself embroiled in a real-life Swedish mystery. Journalist Magnus Lindblom offers to help Juliet despite his own struggles, which include hiding the truth about Stieg Larsson’s missing fourth book.
Set in the depths of the cold and dark Swedish winter, amid the weaving cobblestone streets of Stockholm’s Old Town, The Grand Man ultimately solves two contemporary Swedish mysteries: the 1986 assassination of prime minister Olof Palme, and Stieg Larsson’s missing fourth book.
This book is a real hidden gem – what started off unpromising in the first few chapters culminated in a well written and really enjoyable thriller.
I loved the main character’s enthusiasm for Sweden, which was infectious rather than cringeworthy and portrayed a genuine love for the country and its people. What was even better is that the main protagonist is an independent, intelligent and adventurous single woman in her 50s who isn’t actively searching for a man. Her age is only mentioned once, that I remember, and isn’t in any way used as a gimmick despite being unusual in a book of this genre.
The mystery is suspenseful and almost impossible to work out before the end, which made it a thrill to read from start to finish.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
This is a story that’ll stay with me forever.
It’s written so powerfully and manages to tell the story of an unarmed black teenager shot by a police officer based on his own preconceptions without telling you what to think.
The story is told from the perspective of Starr, the 16 year old girl who was sat in the car with Khalil, the boy who was shot. Through her eyes, we see her neighbourhood and hear what the people in her life have to say about the incident and what contributed to it – there’s a real variety of insights but it’s all underpinned by the love and devotion her family has for each other.
I really hope that this book is on school curriculums… curriculi? There’s so much to be learnt and discussed about this book, I can’t think of anything more important.