Some Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) included. They’re marked with an*. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Continuing the adventures of actually remembering to write about books, here are more quick-fire reviews of some of the books I’ve read this year.
Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell
A gorgeous collection of short stories set in Belfast about growing up, falling in love, queerness, motherhood and figuring out who you are. Caldwell’s writing is evocative and full of nuance.
Stand out stories – Poison, Through the Wardrobe and Here We Are.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
I’ve mentioned my love of Roxane Gay numerous times; her writing is thought-provoking, raw, confronting and necessary. The subtitle A Memoir of (My) Body sets the tone of Hunger – this is Gay at her most vulnerable and also most powerful.
Hunger is an exploration of the trauma following rape and sexual assault, food as comfort and crutch, sexuality, and the reality of being a fat woman, particularly a fat black woman, in today’s society.
Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
What do you do when the debut novel of one of your favourite writers is in a genre you usually avoid? You make an exception and end up with a new found appreciation for sci-fi and fantasy, that’s what.
In the aftermath of the Turn, a world changing event where our reliance on computers comes back to bite us, Nell is trying desperately to live up to the achievements of her father and deceased mother. But post-apocalyptic Dublin is a lonely place when you’re scrambling to figure out who you are and what you can contribute to the good of society. When she finds a mannequin hand, Nell has a moment of inspiration – what if she builds herself a companion?
Spare and Found Parts is strange, wonderful and beautifully written. Nell Crane will forever have a special place in my heart.
Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy
How to review a book where you absolutely love certain elements, but others left you frustrated –
Feel all the feels.
Sit with those feelings.
Accept that it’s OK to hold conflicting thoughts about something.
Re-read the book, have pretty much the same response.
All the feels – the realities of dealing with a crisis pregnancy in Ireland and the need to travel in the UK in order to have an abortion are really well handled. Lauren feeling that she isn’t ‘queer enough’ because she’s bisexual but dating a boy, hit me where it hurts and reminded me of the range of emotions I felt while figuring out my (changing) sexuality.
Frustration – over and over Lauren is dismissive of her best friend, who recently came out as trans. Acknowledging that the things you say and do are problematic, doesn’t stop them being problematic. I get it; no-one is perfect, least of all teenagers. There is an acceptance and learning, of sorts, by the novel’s end but for me it doesn’t undo the damage she causes up to that point.
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly*
This is difficult to talk about without giving too much away. From the title, He Said/She Said*, you can probably guess the crime. A crime and its aftermath, which changes more lives than people realise. Laura and Kit have been living in fear ever since. But who exactly should they be afraid of?
I can see what Erin Kelly was going for with eclipses being the backdrop for so much of the story; shade and light, black and white and shades of grey. It’s a clever device but, while enjoyable, it promises more than it delivers.