It’s time for a wrap-up of the books I’ve read so far this year! As always, it’s a varied mix, including the long-anticipated return of Rachel Walsh in Marian Keyes “Again, Rachel”. Does it live up to the hype? Welcome to my Spring Reads 2022.
Want some more book suggestions? Here are my recommendations from my Winter Reads 2021-2022, Autumn Reads 2021 and my Summer Reads 2021!
As sex worker Tequila Leila lies dying, brutally murdered, her brain recalls the story of her life. Growing up in Turkey; family secrets; abuse. And the friendships that she forms throughout her short life. Once Leila dies, her friends – a group of misfits and social outcasts – take up her story to ensure she gets the goodbye that she deserves. I really enjoyed this beautifully written book despite the sometimes difficult subject matter.
Seven year old Elsa embarks on a mission to apologise to all the people that her beloved Granny has hurt in the past. And there are quite a few. These people are all connected, not only by Granny but by their role in Elsa’s life as she navigates grief and loss. Backman has a flair for making readers laugh one moment and then have them reaching for the tissues the next. It’s a poignant tale, partly told through a secret fairy-tale world, but highlights the importance of strong family connections.
After the disappointment of Firefly Lane, Kristin Hannah is back on form with this story largely set in the wild and unforgiving Alaskan landscape. Leni Allbright and her family embark on a new life, but they are not fully prepared for life in Alaska. Leni finds friendship, and eventually love, but her father’s alcoholism, depression and violence worsens each long dark winter. It’s a story of survival and sacrifice, and the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter
Time for the second feisty female Lenni as a main character. Seventeen year old Lenni is all alone in the world, but makes unlikely friends in the hospital where she is spending the rest of her short life. Eighty-three year old Margot reminisces about love, both lost and found. They document their total hundred years via a series of drawings in the octogenarian art therapy class that Lenni infiltrates. Sad but uplifting, it’s another book that will make you laugh and cry and laugh again.
I enjoyed Project Hail Mary so much last year that I was excited to read Andy Weir’s earlier book The Martian. Yep, the one made into a film with Matt Damon. And this lived up to expectations. Mark Watney is left for dead as a Mars mission is aborted due to a storm. Except he’s not dead. He’s learning to survive and thrive on an inhospitable planet while the experts of earth work out how to rescue him and avert a major PR disaster. It’s action-packed, full of tense moments and plenty of humour. Really enjoying Weir’s books so far
Although a work of fiction, this tells the story of a secret network which existed in 1850s America, helping slaves escape to a better, free life. Cora is fleeing from a life of slavery and abuse on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Whitehead tells of a literal underground railroad, the tunnels to who-knows-where, and those that risked their own lives to help others in need. It’s an intense and moving tale, and although fictional, sadly reflects some of the racial injustice still present to this day.
In preparation for the release of Again, Rachel I picked up a charity shop copy of Rachel’s Holiday and it was lovely to revisit the Walsh family – and naturally, everyone’s favourite Irish heartthrob Luke Costello. The follow-up, set 25 years later, sees an evolved Rachel. She is an addiction counsellor, swapping New York for Ireland, and swapping drugs for gardening. And swapping Luke Costello for Nick Quinlivan. But when Luke unexpectedly swoops back into her life, Rachel is forced to re-examine her version of the events that have led to her current circumstances. Funny, sad, nostalgic and happy, Keyes has given her readers what they wanted (although I still preferred her recent novel Grown Ups).
After The Foundling and The Familiars, Stacey Halls is becoming something of an auto buy author for me, and Mrs England did not disappoint. It’s another great read from Halls, with wonderfully vivid descriptions of West Yorkshire in the early 1900s. The titular Mrs England is mistress of Hardcastle House, and nurse Ruby is dispatched to look after the England’s four children. But the England’s have secrets, and Ruby begins to question the dynamics of the household whilst facing the demons of her own past. A superb book, well-researched and intriguing. Plus Halls’ book covers are always a masterpiece in their own right.
I refused to buy into the Colleen Hoover hype despite “bookstagram” filling my Insta feed with her bright covers. And then I bought Regretting You. And I’m now a fully paid up member of the Colleen Hoover fan club. Told from two POV’s – Morgan and her teenage daughter Clara – this is a book about family, with a flawed mother-daughter relationship at it’s heart. It’s a tad predictable but an easy read with romantic couples that you root for, even throughout heartbreak, loss and grief.
I don’t think I’ve read Again Rachel even though I am a Marian Keyes fan! You’ve read some great sounding books. Pinning for future reference.