Becoming by Michelle Obama
When I haven’t been meeting up with friends and family, my week off work has consisted of watching reruns of The Hills and reading Becoming by Michelle Obama – a complete contrast I know.
I read the first 250 pages over two days of the Easter weekend whilst sunbathing in the garden.
What struck me most about Michelle Obama is how humble and down to earth she comes across. She doesn’t strike me as someone who has changed from being a First Lady and expects heirs and graces. She wanted and continues to use her platform for social change and to improve the lives of young people.
She knows who she is and seems truly comfortable with herself admitting that although Ivy League educated and reading and composing briefings whilst in the White House, she would still watch Sex and the City and read People magazine. She worked hard to become a lawyer however wasn’t afraid to say that she didn’t like the corporate world and instead changed vocation to helping young and vulnerable people.
Neither her or Barack came from wealthy backgrounds and had to work hard to get what they wanted. Although brought up in working class families both were installed with string values and ethics.
A complete cliche but by the time I had finished reading the book I felt as though Michelle had become a family friend.
She speaks to the people and conveys her thoughts in an honest and articulate way. It’s not a sordid book where she gives always her husband’s secrets, she’s completely loyal to him and their daughters. A slight contrast from who is currently in power.
Lullaby by Leila Slimani
I am absolutely obsessed with this book and dragged it out for as long as possible so I didn’t have to stop reading it. It’s the type of book you could easily read in an afternoon and you become so engrossed in it that you forget to eat, drink and lose all track of time.
Myriam and her husband decide to hire a nanny for their two children when she wants to go back to work. Louise comes highly recommended and the couple cannot believe their luck once they employ her. She cooks, cleans, plays and teaches the children, she’s creative and she never seems to lose her patience. And most importantly the children adore her. The couple even decide to take Louise on holiday with them. It’s as though the family have fallen under the nanny’s spell.
The novel starts with the tragedy and the rest of the narrative is unpicking how disaster struck, interspersed with neighbours wishing how they could have prevented the situation.
The character of Louise beautifully unfolds from loving and attentive nanny to mentally unstable and financially broke.
It’s such a well written book which has you hooked from the off. Completely compulsive.
The Second Sister by Claire Kendal
The Second Sister tells the story of Miranda’s disappearance ten years ago and the search for what happened for her.
Ella’s search for her sister is all consuming. Since Miranda’s disappearance, Ella has given up her degree to look after her nephew Luke, and works as a self defence expert helping victims of attacks.
Even in the smallest of clues Ella and her family search for hope. There’s rumours that Miranda could have been killed by serial killer Jason Thorne. When Ella plucks up the courage to visit him in prison, he plays mind games with Ella and when he attacks her, the calming and charming doctor Adam is there is soothe Ella.
But Adam is not as he seems and appears to pop up everywhere from parties to Ella’s self defence classes.
The climax of the novel is really chilling and the author’s portrayal of Jason Thorne is so calculating and manipulative I really wanted to read more about him.
Is this novel going to change your life? No, but it’s definitely worth a read!
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
So everything I seem to be watching at the moment involves murder mystery – namely Luther and Fargo, therefore it probably wasn’t the best idea to read a pretty gruesome book about some poor author being chopped to pieces and eaten by his so called pals.
The second in the Cormoran Strike series, this book is definitely more gory than its predecessor.
What makes this series of books is the relationship between Strike and Robin – the sense of professionalism but the hint of underlying attraction and wanting to please each other.
As with The Cuckoo’s Calling, there is a point about quarter of the way through where I start to lose interest but the likeable characters makes me want to read on. I probably needed to read something a bit more light hearted to counter balance the mystery and violence I have been watching on Netflix!
Guilt by Amanda Robson
To start, this book has BBC drama written all over it. This novel would be great to turn into a two part programme! It’s packed full of twists and turns, suspense and betrayal.
Sisters Zara and Miranda are close – almost too close. Miranda is sensible, successful in her career and looks out for her sister. Zara is impulsive, immature and relies heavily on Miranda.
The sisters live together and their close bond seems unbreakable until Zara meets the dashing Sebastian who sweeps her off her feet. The reader is unsure whether it’s Miranda who dislikes Sebastian for coming into her sisters life or if Robson has created a monster.
As the novel progresses the reader learns what a monster Sebastian is and he will stop at nothing to drive the sisters apart by bullying Miranda. He starts working at Miranda’s firm and sets her up to make her look like she’s not doing her job properly. He comes onto Miranda when Zara is out of sight however Miranda knows that because her sister is so infatuated with Seb, she will never believe who he really is. Zara also self harms and Miranda doesn’t want to upset Zara by revealing who Seb really is as her younger sister is so happy.
Seb refuses to introduce Zara to his family as they are always on holiday however paints an idyllic picture of family life and is often on the phone to his mum laughing and joking.
But things get awful when Seb drugs Miranda and rapes her while Zara is away for the weekend. Things take a downward spiral as Miranda still refuses to tell Zara the truth about Seb and she starts to make mistakes and her job and mental needs help. And it turns out that Seb’s family all died in a car crash and he was driving. Feeling guilty he pretends they are still alive.
Not to give too much away – there is a confrontation between the sisters and one is accidentally murdered.
I loved this book however it was so frustrating as although Miranda clearly wanted her sister to be happy and have a boyfriend, why didn’t she tell Zara how horrible he was as he was to save her sister?
Home Fires by Kamila Shamsie
This is such a topical book at the moment and definite must read for everyone.
Home Fires is told from the perspective of three siblings from a Muslim family. – Isma, Aneeka and Parvaiz. They are torn apart from the recent death of their mother and are shaped from by the actions of their terrorist father and his awful death at Guantanamo Bay, forever haunted and shaped by his actions.
Isma is the most straight laced of the siblings and the mother figure. She is currently in America as a student.
Aneeka is the more flamboyant and adventurous sister and has an extremely close relationship with her brother. She embarks on a passionate relationship with Eammon, the UK Home Secretary’s son.
And then there’s Parvaiz who is haunted most by his father’s life. A lose canon with no direction, he gets in with the a terrorist group who make him suffer physical abuse to help him understand the pain his dad went through and build a white hatred in him. So he goes off to fight. He struggles to deal with what he sees and what he is forced to do and thinks of his innocent sisters.
When Eamonn’s dad finds out his son’s girlfriend’s brother is a terrorist he begs Eammon to cut all ties.
The ending is not a happy one for the siblings and is a stark remind of the unhappiness and brutality that terrorist organisations cause to all involved.
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
It’s been nearly two weeks since I finished reading Since We Fell and I am still trying to make up my mind as to whether I liked it. The first three quarters of the book was a real rollercoaster but with a hundred pages left I then couldn’t wait to finish reading it.
Set in the US, the book begins with the main character, Rachel’s childhood. She never knew her dad and her mother was a relationship expert with a successful career in self help guides, however couldn’t seem to manage her own relationship with her daughter. Following her mother’s death, the now grown up Rachel seeks out her father. She develops a close bond with Jeremy who she believes is her father however once she finds out he isn’t her dad the pair drift apart.
The book then jumps to her career in journalism -and what should have been the pinnacle of her career- reporting in Haiti following the devastating earthquake. However it seems as though Rachel’s childhood and the mental impacts of that catches up with her as she cannot comprehend the darkness she sees on the island – starvation, murder and rape. She breaks down live on air and that is then the end of her career.
Rachel becomes a recluse and rarely leaves her apartment. She does however meet Brian, an old friend who she then marries. He helps her to come out of her shell slightly and she is forced to fend for herself when he’s away on his business trips. One day she thinks she sees Brian when he is meant to be away in Europe. She questions him but he assures her he is in Europe. But Rachel cannot accept this and one day follows him when he is supposedly going to the airport. Instead he goes to a house with his pregnant other wife. When Rachel, questions him it leads to her husband revealing he and his best friend have a double life in which they have hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is a tense novel and I won’t spoil the ending however I did feel the book went on for at least fifty pages too long. It definitely has lots of twists and turns but I did struggle to warm to Rachel.