20BookOfSummer2022 THE EIGHTH GIRL by MAXINE MEI-FUNG CHUNG #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

One woman, multiple personas.

But which one is telling the truth?

Beautiful. Damaged. Destructive. Meet Alexa Wú, a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her shrink Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella. The perfect trio of trust.

When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she catches the attention of its shark-like owner and is gradually drawn into his inner circle. As Alexa’s world becomes intimately entangled with Ella’s, she soon finds herself the unwitting keeper of a nightmarish secret. With no one to turn to and lives at stake, she follows Ella into London’s cruel underbelly on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, Alexa will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her most dangerous obstacle.

Electrifying and breathlessly compulsive, The Eighth Girl is an omnivorous examination of life with mental illness and the acute trauma of life in a misogynist world. With bingeable prose and a clinician’s expertise, Chung’s psychological debut deftly navigates the swirling confluence of identity, innocence, and the impossible fracturing weights that young women are forced to carry, causing us to question: Does the truth lead to self-discovery, or self-destruction?

PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM MORROW

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is book 12 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022

Dark. Intoxicating. Twisty. Gripping. …. blooming brilliant!! Fair to say that I loved this one and it was one of those stories that just kept me sat on my chair for ages at a time, often holding my breath wondering where the plots would take me next!! And they often took me to very dark places through the character of Alexa, and I loved every single minute of it!

Alexa has multiple personalities – I was a little worried how this would play out as a story, but the author has done a brilliant job of mixing them all so well, and allowing each ‘personality’ to share little glimpses into their world, while Alexa gets on with her often complicated life. And what a story she has to tell! When her best friend gets in trouble she finds herself going along for the ride, and the world she finds herself involved in is a very dark and scary place, involving the trafficking of young girls and sex work.

And we also get the POV of Daniel, her therapist, who is dealing with his own issues and watching her open up to him is very revealing and allows us to see the start of her problems from a very abusive childhood and constantly looking for ‘love’ and approval from people as she missed out on that. The world she finds herself becoming trapped in is full of other young girls who seem to be searching out for that too and it’s sad to see them mistaking sex for love, and the promise of security and money.

The twists and turns are perfectly played out and they got me good!! I always love a story that shocks and surprises and that is exactly what this did to me! A brilliant book that I cannot recommend highly enough!!

★★★★★

20BooksOfSummer2022 THE CHAMELEON by SAMUEL FISHER #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

John is infinite.

He can become any book, any combination of words — every thought, act and expression that has ever been, or ever will be, written. Now 800 years old, John wants to tell his story.

Looking back over his life, from its beginnings with a medieval anchoress to his current lodgings beside the deathbed of a cold war spy, John pieces together his tale: the love that held him together and, in particular, the reasons for a murder that took place in Moscow fifty years earlier, and that set in train a shattering series of events.

Samuel Fisher’s debut, The Chameleon is a love story about books like no other, weaving texts and lives in a family tale that leads the reader into an extraordinary historical journey, a journey of words as much as of places, and a gripping romance.

PUBLISHED BY SALT

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

Imagine if your books could talk! What they could say about us as they observe us from their bookshelves! And in this story that’s exactly what happens! ‘John’ is 800 years old and has a story to tell – no strange thing as he’s a book, watching over as time and history happen in front of him. And he’s a very funny narrator and I loved his humour and quips as he recounts various stories, mainly based around Roger who he is currently with. Roger has had a stroke so John is telling his story for him, watching what is going on and interpreting stories that Roger has forgotten as his mind fails him.

It was such a fresh feeling to this story, to have this really interesting perspective. The places and things a ‘book’ witnesses over the years, the situations he finds himself in – he’s even been buried! – and it was a unique reading experience as he recounts the experiences of Roger and how his family evolved from meeting Margery to fatherhood.

It’s often emotional and a really compelling story and one I thoroughly enjoyed – I just hope my books don’t get the idea to share their stories about me with the world!!

★★★★

20BooksOfSummer2022 THE GIRL FROM THE HERMITAGE by MOLLY GARTLAND #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Katya are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating soup made of wallpaper, with the occasional luxury of a dead rat. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could now provide a safe haven, provided Mikhail can navigate the perils of a portrait commission from one of Stalin’s colonels. Nearly 40 years later, Galina herself is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she embarks upon that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and Galina’s familiar world changes out of all recognition. Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist world, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the glitz and bling of 21st-century St. Petersburg. Galina’s story is at once a compelling page-turner and an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia.

PUBLISHED BY LIGHTNING BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

This is book 11 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

This was an often haunting read, as we followed the story of Galina from childhood to late adulthood as she lives through history and the changing face of Russia. It gives a real insight into the way that the country used to run, alongside the promise and downsides to the new promiseland that a new regime brings.

The Battle of Leningrad is where the story starts and Galina and her friend Vera are caught up in it, having to survive on rats and wallpaper soup and the story gives a real sense of how it hit the population. Her father is an artist and sees another side to the War as he’s commissioned to paint for a prominent General. The sacrifices he has to make to keep his family fed are starkly brought to life.

We then follow Galina over the years as she begins her own working life, motherhood and seeing how she fares when faced with ‘wealth’ considering how she grew up. She sees the good and bad in the new ways of life, that many can’t understand.

This is a story based on a painting that the author bought which got her thinking about the life of the artist, and this story is a powerful tale and one that has opened my eyes to the horrors that many lived through.

★★★★