September Books

Normally when I’m this late to the game when posting my reviews I group a couple of months together, but I feel like I’ve been reading sooo much lately that if I did that then this post would go on forever! So please enjoy this post and check out my October reviews when you’ve finished this one!

As always, if you want to catch my other book posts you can click here, and feel free to chat with me in the comments or over on Instagram. I’d love to know your thoughts or if any of my reviews have made you want to read (or completely avoid) any of these books! Enjoy reading, or if you prefer you can watch the Youtube video version below.

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor – Adam Kay (audiobook)

I can’t remember the last time I read a non-fiction book and I think this might be the first memoir I’ve ever read, so I’m pleased to say that this book has opened my eyes to the wonders of non-fiction.

This is Going To Hurt is an eye-opening account of the pressures and struggles that young trainee doctors face on a daily basis, including long hours, lack of a social life, low pay and poor support from those supposed to be looking out for them. Adam Kay manages to paint a very grim portrayal of the realities of being a junior doctor whilst still keeping this book very light-hearted, funny, sarcastic and easy to read.

I think this is a really important book as it appeals to the masses, spreads a vital message about the dire situation the NHS finds itself in, and encourages a demand for change. It both entertains and educates so I think this is a great place to start if you’re a newbie to non-fiction like me.

You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here – Frances Macken (audiobook)

3/5

Set in a small town in Ireland, You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here is a contemporary fiction story exploring the realities of living in a small town, dreaming of something bigger and the toxicity of old friendships.

Our narrator Katie has been friends with Evelyn and Maeve since they were all young, but as they grow older it seems that the only reason they are still friends is because they always have been. This is something I can relate to from my own past, so it was great to see this dynamic talked about in so much depth. The trio are full of jealousy and mean thoughts about one another, so whilst some of the banter between them was funny, to me it felt overwhelmingly nasty, particularly towards Maeve. Even Katie had a mean streak which meant I found her to be quite unlikeable and I didn’t root for her to achieve all the big dreams she had. In fact I thought she came across as quite entitled and snobbish.

This would’ve been fine had the mean characters had their comeuppance, but I felt like a lot of their behaviour was ignored or tolerated even towards the end. I wanted more arguments and confrontation and for them to stand up for themselves!

I also felt that this book lacked a proper ending, there was barely any closure for one of the main plot lines involving the disappearance of a local girl and I found Katie’s ending way too convenient. However, I did find this book quite funny, I was interested in the story throughout and I thought it portrayed harmful friendships really well, so for that I enjoyed it.

The Only Child – Miranda Rijks

3/5

This book was my first ever ARC from Netgalley, but this is no way affects my review.

Stuart and Chantal are outwardly “the golden couple”, she’s a hot-shot divorce lawyer and he’s the face of daytime television. Their son Alex and his girlfriend Luna are passionate environmentalists, which causes friction within the family. Things start to fall apart when Chantal starts receiving threatening blackmail texts, cracks begin showing in her marriage, and her relationship with Alex is fracturing beyond repair.

This is a domestic thriller that is highly addictive and can easily be read in a couple of sittings. At first I thought the writing was a little poor, I hated the way that Chantal described her own wealth and magnificent home in 1st person narrative (it made her instantly unlikeable) and the dialogue felt a bit unnatural and at times repetitive. However, I overlooked those issues because the plot was very gripping and I ended up speeding through this book.

I found the ending a little messy, I wish the POV dynamics hadn’t shifted so much as we heard a lot less from Chantal when we really needed to hear more. I couldn’t work out when some of the plot reveals at the end happened in the narrative and I don’t think the overall twist will be well-received (I won’t say why as it would be a spoiler, but message me if you want a heads up).

Although I had some issues with it, I still enjoyed my experience reading this book and it gave me all the excitement I want from a domestic thriller, hence the 3 star review. I would still recommend it as a fast, fun read even though it wasn’t my favourite book ever!

False Witness – Karin Slaughter

3.5/5

You all know that Karin Slaughter is my queen, so it pains me to say that I didn’t like her newest stand-alone as much as her other books.

In a similar premise to The Good Daughter, we are following two sisters who have a complicated relationship and a dark past together. Leigh is a defence lawyer and Callie is consumed by drug addiction, but the two re-connect when a young man requests that Leigh defends him in an upcoming rape trial. Leigh soon realises that the case could be linked to her and Callie’s darkest secret, which she will do everything to protect.

As always with Karin Slaughter, I loved the sibling relationship in this book, particularly seeing how Callie’s addiction affected both herself and her sister. Callie was my favourite of the two sisters and I loved seeing her thought process, I also adored her relationship with the vet she works for.

However, this book is way more character focused than I had first anticipated and I wanted more thrills and twists from it. The chapters are longer than your standard crime thriller so I felt it dragged in places, and because you know who the “bad guy” is very early on there isn’t as much mystery as I would’ve liked.

It was still as dark, gritty and emotional as you would expect from Karin Slaughter, but when I compare it to her other stand-alones The Good Daughter and Pretty Girls, this book didn’t affect me on a deeper level nearly as much.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the Covid-19 backdrop. The afterword helped me understand why she chose to include it, but some parts read a little preachy to me, especially when talking about wearing masks and obsessive hand sanitising. I completely get it and admire her for politicising Covid-19, but I have mixed feelings as it took me out of the story a bit.

Overall this is still a strong stand-alone, it is well-written, Callie in particular was a well-developed and complex character and the tension and suspense in this book had me on the edge of my seat. However, I can’t help but feel disappointed as it is my least favourite stand-alone of hers and it didn’t have the same hold on me as her other books.

Leave the World Behind – Rumaan Alam

4/5

I would describe this book as a quiet, literary fiction version of the apocalypse, similar in tone to Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Amanda, Clay and their two children go on a week-long trip to a luxury Airbnb in a remote corner of Long Island to escape their life in New York City. The trip is soon interrupted by the owners of the house, an older black couple, who turn up asking to stay with them as there is a blackout in New York. Not knowing who or what to believe, the two families cautiously begin to share the house with no TV, internet or phone service to guide them through the impending doom.

One of my favourite things about this book was the atmosphere the author created. You could cut the tension with a knife and it captured the fear of the unknown perfectly. I also loved the 3rd person narrative style, jumping in and out of different character’s heads constantly and teasing the reader with tiny bits of information about the outside world and what was really happening out there.

Although I struggled with the over-written style of this book at first (in the first few pages I literally had to google the definitions of about 10 words), I quickly got used to it and actually enjoyed the superfluous writing more and more as it went on. Alam is clearly a talented writer – the description of ‘the noise’ in this book is hands down one of the creepiest things I’ve ever read, how he managed to bring the noise to life and terrify me with just a few sentences is magical.

However, the lack of answers in this book is frustrating and I would’ve loved to read more but I felt it ended too soon and too abruptly. There are suggestions as to what might be happening in the outside world but it wasn’t satisfying enough to fulfil my need for closure. Saying that, the fact that I could’ve read so much more of this book goes to show how much I enjoyed it.

The Promise – Katerina Diamond (#4 in a series)

4/5

As the fourth instalment of one of my favourite police procedural book series, this one certainly did not disappoint. It was just as gripping, thrilling and dark as the other books in this series and I loved it.

One of my favourite things about this book is seeing how the different perspectives slowly came together throughout the book. I did start to predict how they connected towards the end, but I still thought it was really clever and well-crafted. In fact, I preferred new character Connor’s POV to our main detectives storylines in this book which demonstrates how quickly you can become invested in the characters in this series.

There was also a slight shift in the relationship between the two detectives which I’m a little apprehensive about, but we’ll have to see how that pans out in the later books.

A strong follow-up to a series that I’m just obsessed with!

Rock Paper Scissors – Alice Feeney

4.5/5

This book has been soooo popular in the book community recently, and for good reason!

Adam, a workaholic screenwriter and his wife Amelia win a romantic getaway to the Scottish Highlands, and they are hoping that this trip will save their rocky marriage. However, on arrival they discover that they’re staying in a creepy abandoned chapel where unexplainable things start happening. It becomes clear that the couple are lying to each other, and someone is watching them.

This book was so well-written! The atmosphere is superb, the setting is described so vividly and it felt genuinely spooky, ghostly and isolated. It was super fast-paced, packed with short chapters that often ended on a bombshell where you just have to keep reading.

I LOVED the twist in this book, it completely caught me off guard and I was gobsmacked. It was so smart and well done!

The only slight issue I had with this book which held it back from being a 5 star read was how quickly it ended (maybe that’s because I was flipping the pages like crazy) but some of the action was off-the-page and then we were at the final chapter which I thought was just fine. Saying that, I did really like the ending and it felt very unique for a mystery thriller, I’m just not 100% about how it was delivered.

I would still highly highly recommend this book, it’s the second book I’ve read from Alice Feeney and she’s quickly becoming a favourite author of mine!

The Night She Disappeared – Lisa Jewell (audiobook)

5/5

My first five star review for a Lisa Jewell book! I’m so happy!!! This is her latest release and the fourth book of hers that I’ve read, so I am ecstatic to say that I loved everything about this.

It has a similar premise to Then She Was Gone (my second favourite by her), whereby at its heart is a strong mother daughter relationship. For the last two years, Kim has been distraught over the disappearance of her daughter Tallulah after a night out with her boyfriend Zach, who also vanished. Last seen at a house party in the nearby woods, the missing persons cases are at a standstill until Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she finds a note that says “DIG HERE”.

The characters in this book are what sold it for me. We get to read Tallulah’s perspective in the months leading up to her disappearance and she is just the sweetest character ever. Seeing what she was going through alone at that time was heart-breaking but so thoughtfully written and realistic.

This book also featured one of the most interesting characters I’ve read about in a long time – Scarlett – who was complicated and manipulative but yet so fascinating and likeable!

I honestly can’t fault this book at all, I loved how all the different POVs and timelines came together and the characters were so authentic. I think listening to the audiobook really contributed to this as the voice actor was amazing and really brought the characters to life.

And that’s all for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and please do get involved in the comments or over on my Instagram. Until next time,

Lots of love, The Amber Approach

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