Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Reviewed by Sophie:

“A bank robbery. A hostage drama. A stairwell full of police officers on their way to storm an apartment. It was easy to get to this point, much easier than you might think. All it took was one single really bad idea. This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. “

This has to be one of the best openings to a book ever. Thank you Net Galley and Penguin for allowing me the opportunity to read this book.
I have read many books by Fredik Backman, so was excited to be allowed to read his latest addition to the collection.

From the off set the book begins its humorous account of a bank robbery gone wrong. I mean… It’s definitely an opportunity for some hilarious antics and this book doesn’t disappoint with that.

The language is wonderful. There are some moments where I literally laughed aloud and giggled all the way through.
Solely in the first chapter, Fredrik compares the knowledge of sex to a usb leads” wrong way round, wrong way round, wrong way round and there! In” as well as the bank robbers mum “consisted of so much gin and tonic that they didn’t dare cremate her because of risk of explosion”. The book is full of these little gems.

The structure of the book is very disjointed and goes back and forth in time. The writing seems to go off on tangents just as of you were having a conversation with someone who was relaying this tale rather than reading a book, which could make alot of people … Well anxious…. As the flow of the book isn’t smooth transitions and could almost be deemed as frustrating to some.

However, the structure of the book becomes a unique quality. We start to learn more about the individual characters. Again at first all deemed annoying and unlikable in there own rights, but Backman builds on these qualities as and reader sees that first impressions aren’t always correct.
Like all his books Backman looks at the characters in a manor that makes us laugh and cry at the same time. Each character is not an “idiot” as the introduction may lead us to believe but actually a spider web of intricately knitted problems that all of us may have encountered at some point in our lives. The bank robber who messes up everything just to pay the rent; Roger who’s life is the buying and selling of these apartments to fill a granchildless void, Ro who is missing her father’s support and is needing an apartment for her blossoming family with Julie; Zara who’s attends viewings because of addiction and routine, Jack and Jim and many other characters. We realise it’s more than a bank robbery gone wrong; it’s a story about people helping others; chance meetings.

Anxious people was not what I was expecting….it was better.

Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: 8 September 2020

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (Lady Astronaut #3)

Reviewed by Lotte:

This book takes place at the same time as the second book in this series, written from the perspective of Astronaut Nicole Wargin, whilst Elma is off on her Mars mission. I was worried I’d miss Elma, our Lady Astronaut, but I absolutely loved Nicole and loved this approach.

Nicole was such a great character to add to this saga. She was relatable, fallible and just all round really interesting and well-developed. I loved that she didn’t have to be perfect, that she was real and that it didn’t limit her either. She was still strong, independent, capable and reliable. That for me is true strength and the type of thing I want to read! It added so much depth to the plot too.

As for the story itself, all I can say is wow! I keep thinking I can’t enjoy this universe anymore and then Kowal just goes ahead and takes it to the next level. It was a genius idea to shift the focus and write this as a parallel to the previous story. It helped develop the world more, building on the details we already had, making the universe more substantial, and ultimately more intriguing and enjoyable, without it being laborious.

Add in all the mystery, sabotage, drama and ultimately the fight for survival, along with all the sci-fi elements and the complexities of space, and you find yourself with an epic read with so many facets. I was engaged every single moment and often found myself mulling over the pieces of the puzzle between reading sessions!

I’d just like to say how much I appreciated Kowal’s sensitivity in writing the parts that related to eating disorders and recovery. Including it was inspiring without ever being triggering or encouraging. This should be the gold standard for writing!

Thank you Mary Robinette Kowal, Tor and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Rebellion, Solaris
Release Date: 26 November 2020

The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow by Zoe Sugg & Amy McCulloch

Reviewed by Lotte:

This story is set at the boarding school Illumen Hall, immediately after one of their students was found dead. Her death was ruled as ‘misadventure’ with the police believing it was suicide. But was it? We get to see the story unfold from the perspective of Ivy – one of Illumen Hall’s top students, a prefect and all-round perfectionist, and Audrey – an American that recently had to move to England, attempting to leave her past behind. But it’s not always that straight forward.

I loved that the two authors, Sugg and McCulloch, each wrote from one of the protagonist’s perspective. I didn’t know this until after I’d read the book, but honestly you couldn’t tell there was a switch, their writing was perfectly in sync. I think the very subtle differences probably just enhanced the character definitions.

For me this was a modern day ‘Enid Blyton – The Naughtiest Girl in School’ (if you’re old enough to remember this trilogy!). The story held everything you could want from a boarding school novel: inter-pupil dramas, difficult backstories, a secret society, and even an unsolved mystery. The use of a mystery podcast presenter was a stroke of brilliance and very current. It added to the suspense and generally kept us pondering…is this more than it seems? And if so, who did it???

With a couple of twists and turns along the way, coupled with an unlikely alliance, we were kept guessing right up to the end. I found myself not wanting to put it down, helped by the shorter chapters, switching perspectives and intermittent podcasts. Of course, we also had that ending! I mean really?! Bring on 2021 when I can read the next instalment!

Thanks to the authors, publisher and Netgalley for granting my wish to read this ARC. Apologies, my review is a few days late due to ill-health.

Author: Zoe Sugg & Amy McCulloch
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: 29 October 2020