One Minute Book Reviews: Spring Reads

23 Jun 2024

Spring books

It's that time again. Spring passed in a rain-filled haze but hey, there were some good books. Let's delve in. 

Slug by Hollie McNish 

Not sure why it’s taken me so long to read this as I love Hollie McNish but it was definitely worth the wait. A gorgeous mix of poetry, essays and short stories all loosely based on the things we have been told to hate. I think everything Hollie says is just spot on, and so funny. I loved this. 5/5

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

An expansive novel that weaves together the lives of a 1950s vanished female aviator and a modern-day Hollywood starlet. This novel is a journey. We follow Marian’s entire life, and that of her twin brother Jamie, in incredible amounts of detail (several chapters are devoted to the story of her parents, before she’s even born). From her wild child days growing up in prohibition America to the glamour of wartime London, Marian is consumed by flight. Having become one of the most fearless flyers of her time, she sets out to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe from pole to pole. Half a century later, troubled actress Hadley Baxter is offered to play Marian in a film about her life which will lead her down a path of unexpected discovery. I can’t possibly unpick everything about this book in such a short review, but I found it extraordinary. I can see why it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I’ll be honest, there were times where I flagged. It is long and extremely detailed. But by the end, I was so in awe of it, it couldn’t be anything other than five stars. 5/5

Lobster by Hollie McNish 

The companion piece to Slug, another brilliant collection of poems and essays around the theme of things we have been taught to hate and need to learn to love again. I gotta say, if you don’t consider yourself a poetry person, do check out Hollie McNish. I’m not big on poetry but her stuff is very readable and very funny/heartwarming. 4/5 

You Are Here by David Nicholls

A lovely, gentle story, beautifully written with such spot-on details. Marnie is stuck working alone in her London flat, often feeling like life is passing her by. Michael is reeling from his wife’s departure, taking himself on long walks across the moors and becoming increasingly reclusive. When a mutual friend and the English weather conspire to bring them together, they suddenly find themselves alone on an epic walk across the country. It could have been very formulaic, but this is David Nicholls so it’s brilliant. The witty, sharp dialogue is a particular highlight, as is the setting of the wild and bleak British countryside. 5/5

Funny Story by Emily Henry 

When Daphne’s fiancé leaves her for his childhood best friend just weeks before their wedding, she accidentally ends up rooming with the only person who could understand her situation: her ex-fiancé’s new fiancé’s ex-boyfriend. They are total opposites but united in their shared grief and after one tequila-fuelled evening, they form a plan which may or may not involve posting deliberately misleading photos of their adventures together. But their new ‘relationship’ is just an act of course…

This was my second Emily Henry novel and I’m learning that they are a lot of fun. Loveable characters, excellent banter, gorgeous summer rom-com settings. Basically, the perfect fun read. 4/5

The Lifeline by Libby Page

This novel can be read as a standalone story, but is technically a follow-up to the The Lido, Libby Page’s first novel which I really enjoyed. We re-join Kate five years later, now living in Somerset with a new baby and struggling with new motherhood. Living in the same town is Pheobe, a community mental health nurse, recently dumped and struggling with the demanding pressures of her job. They both discover their local wild swimming group and it kickstarts a journey to recovery for both of them. Libby Page’s novels are described as ‘hot buttered tea-and-toast’ fiction and I pick them up when that’s what I’m in the mood for. Even so, there was something about this one that felt a little too ‘twee’ for me, but it was gently enjoyable nonetheless. In particular, I thought the descriptions of early motherhood were written with the honesty only someone who has been through it could have and I think it could be very reassuring for a lot of people. 3/5 

The Mars House by Natasha Pulley

Within the first three pages of this book, the entire city of London floods and I thought, buckle up lads, this is gonna be a good’un. January Stirling is a climate refugee, shipped to Tharsis, the terraformed colony on Mars, after his city finally gives way to rising water levels. He goes from being a principle of the Royal Ballet to a second-class factory worker, unable to gain citizenship. As an ‘Earthstronger’, a person whose body is not adjusted to the lower gravity, he poses a physical threat to those born on, or naturalised to, Mars. When Aubrey Gale, a controversial politician who believes all Earthstrongers should be forced to naturalise – a process that is disabling and sometimes deadly – chooses January for an on-the-spot press interview at a factory visit, it lands January in prison and Aubrey in the middle of a media storm ahead of the election. A made-for-the-press arranged marriage is proposed as a solution to January’s citizenship and Gale’s political success, kickstarting a story about politics, refugees, old mysteries and love across class divisions. Something I thought was done particularly well was that the character of Aubrey, and all those born on Mars, are gender neutral and it’s totally irrelevant to how well you can visualise (and fall in love with) the characters. It was a lesson in challenging your own subconscious bias and I liked it. I also loved how the (slightly terrifying) environment, politics and technology of the future felt very plausible. The plot was a little loose so perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved the world building and the gentle love story and would have happily meandered along in that world for another 400 pages. 4.5/5

Happy reading folks x