The Style Book Club: Here's What We're Reading And Reviewing This Month

The Style Book Club: Here's What We're Reading And Reviewing This Month

The good, the bad and the epic

By Courtney Frank | 23rd April 2020

The Style Magazines book club is reading and reviewing some of the best books every month. Here's our list of the top trending books right now.

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As Long As We Both Shall Live, Joann Chaney

Three-word summary: Twisted, wicked, suspenseful.

Snappy synopsis:
What happens when you’re done making your marriage work? This wicked, gone-girl-esque tale examines a marriage filled with plenty of secrets that one day, goes mysteriously wrong. When Matt’s wife Marie is on a hiking expedition and falls off a cliff and into the raging river below, the police have plenty of questions. You see, Matt’s first wife also died in suspicious circumstances. But is Matt really a grieving, unlucky husband as he makes himself out to be, or is he a cold-blooded murderer?

Our review:
This was a fun, twisted, and entertaining read. Joann Chaney sets the wicked premise right from the get-go. The opening paragraph, “So here’s the thing: if you want to kill your wife, don’t. Don’t kill her, don’t touch her. Ditch the bitch if you have to, get on with your life”, lets the reader know that you are in for a RIDE. How unlucky can one man be, right? Two dead wives? It literally reeks of something fishy! I must admit, I thought I’d find the book to be somewhat predictable, but I was pleasantly surprised with the twist at the end. Full of deception, lies and the thin line between love and hate, you’ll love this book if you enjoy deceptive characters, mystery, scheming and a witty turn of phrase.

Our rating: 💔 💔 💔 💔

Normal People, Sally Rooney

Three-word summary: Contemporary, millennial, frustrating.

Snappy synopsis:
At school, Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He is the popular, outgoing, star of the school soccer team and she is lonely, proud and introverted. They aren’t exactly what you’d call a match made in heaven. However, when Connell arrives at Marianne’s house one day (where his mum is their housekeeper), a strange connection forms between the two – one that they are determined to hide from the rest of the world. Despite years passing and personalities changing, Connell and Marianne are always drawn back together, posing the question – how far will they go to be with each other?

Our review:
Gosh, this is a tough one. I think I liked it? It’s been months since I read it and I’m still not really sure how I feel. For starters, it’s an incredibly polarising book. Whilst Sally Rooney’s writing is amazing, the dialogue between characters lacks quotation marks, which definitely takes a little getting used to. Plus, the characters are deeply flawed and frustrating. Which is somehow both relatable and infuriating at the same time. Sometimes I wanted to scream at the characters and other times I sympathised with them. It’s contemporary, romantic, tragic and emotional for sure, but also (dare I say it), it errs on the side of entitled and whiney for me. Clearly, I still haven’t made my mind up! I’ll close on this final word of warning: if you love a climactic and satisfying ending, this book is not for you.

Our rating: 💚 💚 💚

Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton

Three-word summary: Shocking, historical, crazy.

Snappy synopsis:
Set in Brisbane’s violent working-class suburbs in the 80s, this coming-of-age debut novel by Trent Dalton tells the story of a lost father, a mute brother, an incarcerated mother, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious criminal for a babysitter/mentor. Eli, the book's main character, is thrown obstacle after obstacle, not least of which is Tytus Broz – an infamous Brisbane drug dealer and murderer. Follow Eli as he falls in love, breaks into prison, and crosses paths with Brisbane’s most notorious criminals.

Our review:
Okay wow. Where do I even begin! First of all, if you’re currently reading this book and you’re about a third of the way through and want to give up – don’t. This book lives up to the hype – and then some. The key characters are beautiful and complex in their own individual ways. The fact that the story is based on Trent Dalton’s own life and family only makes it that much more enthralling. I must admit, I was really struggling through the first third of the book – all the hype had me expecting a real page-turner from the very first chapter. But fear not – the last half of the book will have you gripping on for dear life and gasping at every page (I was literally Snapchatting the other BC members through the last chapters like ‘whoa wtf just happened’ because I literally couldn’t contain my shock). It’s filled with drug dealers, gangs, young love, and the suspenseful ending that dreams are made of. We’re praying that someone has bought the movie rights – Reese? Quentin? Anybody?

Our rating: 🐦 🐦 🐦 🐦 🐦

Moment Of Lift, Melinda Gates

Three-word summary: Devastating, inspiring, sincere.

Snappy synopsis:
As a Philanthropist, business-woman and global advocate for women and girls, Melinda Gates has written a touching memoir about the last twenty years of her work. Following her motto, “when you lift up women, you lift up humanity”, it shows the challenges, realisations and thoughts behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on their mission for equality.

Our review:
This voyeuristic view into the lives of one of the richest families on Earth was spellbinding. I was thoroughly engaged while reading this humble and passionate memoir about the inspiration behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, giving me a newfound respect for their work. I was thrown from the comfort of my room into the dark depths of third world poverty, forced to confront the harsh realities that so many live through daily, including child marriage, unplanned pregnancies, abuse, and slavery. I would recommend this staggering and enlightening book to anyone who holds equality, education, freedom, and unity as virtues and commodities worth fighting for.

Our rating: 👩 👩 👩 👩

Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

Three-word summary: Raw, empowering, vulnerable

Snappy synopsis:
Author, Taddeo, tells the true story of three women, Maggie, Lina and Sloane, whose lives she followed for eight years. She details the sexual desires, vulnerabilities and challenges that each woman individually faces over the years beginning with Maggie, a 17-year-old who becomes involved with a teacher. It trails to Lina, who finds passion outside of her marriage after it falls apart and Sloane, a successful woman navigating the strange kinks and desires of her marriage.

Our review:
I’m going to begin by saying the number of recommendations this book had before it was thrown into our book club was insane. Though it was Zoe Foster-Blake that cemented it for me (obvi). I suppose it gave me super high expectations from the get-go, but this was like nothing I’ve ever read before. Why? A) It’s a true story B) It’s in yo’ face (bad choice of words, perhaps), and C) I can’t decide whether I enjoyed it or not. It was definitely eye-opening and somewhat empowering to know these women owned their stories and shared every extremely raw detail with Taddeo. While I found it a bit tough jumping between characters because each chapter is a different woman, you quickly pick up the storylines again and you're off. Definitely no Disney ending here, but if you’re into authentic, real-world, no BS reading – then this one is for you!

Our rating: 🍆 🍆 🍆 (and a half)

Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

Three-word summary: Survival, hope, mystery.

Snappy synopsis:
Set in the marshes of North Carolina, this gripping novel introduces readers to Kya – a poor, unkempt girl who grows up alone in the marsh. Equal parts coming-of-age and crime drama, it allows readers to see through the lens of Kya in her childhood, one that’s full of fear, love of the wild and hope for her future. As she grows older, love interests enter her life, but her timid nature and vulnerability remain. It’s only when the body of a well-known local man is found in the marsh that Kya’s life turns from quiet and private to the talk of the small country town, and all she wants to do is escape back into the wild, where the crawdads sing.

Our review:
Not only has this novel been #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list (for 30 consecutive weeks, btw), it was on Reese Witherspoon’s book club reading list. So, I mean, we’re in good company here. What really sold it to us though, was the ‘crime drama’ label. We love a bit of murder mystery in the Style book club and that, coupled with the fact that it’s set in the North Carolina marshes, made it seem extra spooky. But now having read it, it wasn’t the crime factor that put this book in my top three of all time. It was the rich description of Kya’s childhood and coming-of-age details that were so gripping I literally couldn’t put it down. Oh, and the twist got me gewd! The only points I’ll deduct is for the last chapters of the book. I felt they weren’t as rich as the first few. Still, I’ll talk the ears off anyone who shows even a slight interest in this book. L.O.V.E.D it!

Our rating:

The Prettiest Horse In The Glue Factory, Corey White

Three-word summary: Brutal, honest, heart-breaking.

Snappy synopsis:
A memoir from one of Australia’s brightest young comedians, The Prettiest Horse In The Glue Factory details the troubled and traumatic life of Brisbane’s very own Corey White. After losing his father to jail and his mother to heroin, Corey became a victim of the cruelty and dysfunction of the foster home system. Fast forward to a stint in a prestigious Brisbane boarding school that inspired a love of learning and then later, a crippling drug addiction of his very own and a long bout of crushing depression.

Our review:
I’m going to come right out there and say it. This is probably one of the best books I have ever read. It absolutely consumed me from start to finish. It made me angry, it shocked me, it made me cry and it made me so thankful for my family. Corey’s memoir is filled with so much trauma and so many confronting moments. I was constantly in awe of his ability to share the raw, honest and agonising aspects of his life, in all their brutality. But above all, it’s a powerful tale of survival – of grit, self-love, and the will to go on. Fair warning, this book will break your heart over and over again and then show you how to rebuild it. As soon as I finished reading it, I wanted to start again. I loved every single page. Bravo Mr White, a fantastic memoir.

Our rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Eggshell Skull, Bri Lee

Three-word summary: Melancholic, moving, raw.

Snappy synopsis:
Eggshell Skull is a memoir of a Brisbane lawyer named Bri Lee. Working as a judge’s associate, she travels around Queensland hearing countless cases of sexual assault that bring up her own disturbing childhood memories. Fighting the legal system for justice she ends up back in the courtroom, putting her accuser on trial. Eggshell Skull provides an introspective view of the Australian justice system and highlights its flaws that can let the guilty walk and the innocent to rehash haunting past moments.

Our review:
Bri has written a gripping book, each chapter oozing the traumatic truth of her own assault and has somewhat exposed the sticky mess that is our legal system. Never before have I felt such compassion towards the author of a memoir and to each and every sexual assault victim she speaks of, who relived their suffering years later in court. Bri paints a morbid yet authentic picture of society and I am grateful that she’s shone a light on its downfalls. While a slow and melancholic book at points, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in law and justice for women.

Our rating: ✍️ ✍️ ✍️ (and a half)

Currently reading… Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng.

Be sure to follow our Goodreads account to stay up to date on what we're reading and reviewing every month.

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Article by Courtney Frank

Hailing from sunny North Queensland, Courtney believes there’s nothing a good swim in the ocean can’t fix. With a strong background in print journalism, Courts (as she’s affectionally nicknamed) is most proud of her extensive sneaker collection and ever-growing podcast library. A tomboy at heart, when she’s not watching her beloved Brisbane Broncos or adventuring around the Sunshine Coast, you can find her with family, friends and a glass of red wine in hand.

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