Royal Book Club #4

The Spring Batch

Fellow bookworms,
The trimester has been a literary disaster.

Bar one, the books I read ranged from unimpressive to downright pathetic. It didn’t help that most of them belong to the “light women’s fiction” genre (some totally by mistake). Nevertheless here they go, rated according to the pleasure they offered me, as usual complete with brief reviews and paired with nail polish.

1. Milkman – Anna Burns

In one line or less: Highly atmospheric psychological thriller.
Tell me more: This one started as a 3 and stayed this way till page 118 (of 360+). After that the plot picks up and keeps on picking up through to the end. An original subject, masterful character depictions and an atmosphere so alive you almost feel part of it.  Its pace is hard to catch but once you do, it is riveting. A booker prize winner that is worth it for a change.   
I like it with: Essie Signature Smile
The Queen’s Grade: 8
(commoner’s Grade: 3-10, depending on the reader’s grasp of the subject)


2. Before She Met Me – Julian Barnes

In one line or less: Sophisticated AND hideous, unmistakably male literature.
Tell me more:
The plot is absurd -somewhere between pathetic, hilarious and annoying – yet Barnes’s masterful, elegant command of the English language (and grasp of the human mind) makes reading the book a treat; most of it at least, since towards the end it stretches and becomes tiresome. Nevertheless, this is a genuine piece of literature.
I like it with:
Essie Mauve-tivation Treat Love & color
The Queen’s Grade:
commoner’s grade: 7, but for different reasons)


3. The Push – Ashley Audrain

In one line or less: A vicious circle of familial failure.
Tell me more: Interesting psychological drama, dealing with a taboo topic (parents who don’t love their children) – this alone, makes it interesting for starters. Onwards, it gets unputdownable and doesn’t disappoint in the end.
I like it with: Essie Worth The Tassel
The Queen’s Grade: 7
(commoner’s grade: 8)


4. Magpie – Elisabeth Day

In one line or less: Cool lightweight thriller that seems to be missing its end.
Tell me more: Original story, interesting perspective, unexpected plot twists that generate the desire to read on. That’s until page 280 of 330. In the last 50 pages the author seems to have forgotten what she was up to and wraps up in random haste, leaving all fronts open or otherwise unaddressed, as if in a hurry to put a roast in the oven.
I like it with: Essie Go Overboard
The Queen’s Grade: 6
(commoner’s grade: 8)


5. It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover

In one line or less: Passion story for the young / naive. 
Tell me more: The writing style is very basic (e.g. the verb “roll” appears 3 times in 5 consecutive paragraphs and the heroine’s main reaction to things is “gasping”) and full of unnecessary (and utterly hideous) sex / passion scenes that just have to be skipped, due to excessive corniness. Apparently the book is about domestic violence but it feels more like an undercover soft porn, intended for a teenage (or otherwise uninitiated) audience. Bizarrely, it is super hooking. 
I like it with: Essie Topless & Barefoot
The Queen’s Grade: 5
(commoner’s grade: 8)


6. Freckles – Cecelia Ahern

In one line or less: Undercover chick lit.
Tell me more: Starts (very) slow but quickly builds up. This is light female literature approached from a slightly less obvious angle, making it instantly more interesting (though it doesn’t avoid being overall predictable, cliche and coy). The main character is so constipated it is funny(ish). It reads fast. 
I like it with: Essie Lapiz of Luxury
The Queen’s Grade: 5
(commoner’s grade: 7)


7. Would I Lie to You? – Aliya Ali-Afzal

In one line or less: Chick lit and proud of it.
Tell me more: An overdone plot and a character so deceitful the thought it comes from real life is off-putting (but seems to be the case); that said, it is a flowing read that hooks you (against your will). A standard example of its genre.
I like it with: Essie Scarlet Starlet
The Queen’s Grade: 5
(commoner’s grade: 7)


8. Performers – Irvine Welsh & Dean Cavanagh

In one line or less: Irvine Welsh lazily copying himself.
Tell me more: The fact that we are in position #7 says it all but still… Welsh is my favourite author so everything he publishes will be bought and enjoyed. This book is a notable exception on the enjoyment front: it was tedious and boring and overall unnecessary. There is zero plot, just the author replicating his signature style in the abstract. While you do break the occasional laugh, mostly (and despite its tiny size) you just pray he gets it over with. Did I mention it is a theatrical play (double yawn)?
I like it with: Essie PR Stunt
The Queen’s Grade: 5 (and it is totally honorary)
(commoner’s Grade: 4)


9. The House of Memories – Monica McInerney

In one line or less: A frivolous downer. 
Tell me more: Another pointless, unsatisfactory chick lit specimen, forgotten upon putting down. Incredulously, it combines being frivolous with being a downer. Would completely have survived without reading it.
I like it with: Essie Blanc
The Queen’s Grade: (very generously) 5
(commoner’s grade: 6)


10. Fidelity – Marco Missiroli

In one line or less: Whatever.
Tell me more: Yet another “No 1 international best seller” from hell. I read the English version and it feels like it has been translated with a dictionary in hand: the wording is random, clumsy and at times downright incomprehensible (I speak Italian and my guess is it has been translated word by word). Counting how many grains of rice fit in a 1 kg packet might have been more fun.
I like it with: Essie Like it Loud
The Queen’s Grade: 4
(commoner’s grade: 6)


Check out more book reviews below:

Winter 2022
Autumn 21
Summer 21


The commoner’s grade is what The Real Queen of Stuff imagines a commoner would grace said books with.

All images © The Real Queen of Stuff

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