The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas

I was kindly gifted a copy of ‘The American Roommate Experiment’ as part of a Tandem Collective UK readalong. As I have not read ‘The Spanish Love Deception’, I thought this was a great chance to be introduced to a new author, in a genre I do not always choose to read.

This is a piece of romantic fiction with all the comfort of the chickflick films of the late 90s and early 2000s – which is not a criticism, as we all know that they are some of the greatest films ever made… This is a classic strangers-to-friends-to-lovers story (I do not feel this is a spoiler, as it is a fairly obvious path as you read the book).

Rosie and Lucas are thrown together by fate when they both need somewhere to stay – their connection: Lina, Rosie’s best friend and Lucas’ cousin. Spending time together, friendship blossoms and they help each other to find their stride again after some bumps in the road. But, most importantly, they help each other to learn to love themselves – which helps them learn to really love someone else.

This is an interesting study of all sorts of relationships and how important they are to us. What a support they can be and, sometimes, how we need to ensure we support others.

If you like a slow burn classic friends-to-lovers romance (that can also be a little bit steamy), then this is the book for you. A perfect piece of escapism as we approach autumn.

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

The lovely Miss W sent me a copy of ‘When Stars are Scattered’ as a little treat a little while ago and, as it was a book that had been on my wishlist for quite some time, I was so excited when it arrived.

I absolutely love a graphic novel; they are just another beautiful way to enjoy reading. And they can be a perfect genre to tackle some harder topics, and this is exactly what ‘When Stars are Scattered’ does. This is even more special, as it is the story of Omar, who is one of the authors of the book.

Omar and his brother are living in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya, as they have escpaed the war in Somalia. With just each other, and their new foster mother, Omar is focused on looking after his brother Hassan, who is nonverbal. Life is hard for the boys, but one day Omar is giving the opportunity to go to school and possibly have the chance to give himself and his brother a better life in the future – although he knows the path will be a long one.

Beautifully crafted through words and pictures, we follow Omar and Hassan as they navigate the challenges that they face in Dadaab. As well as finding out about the experiences of some of their friends, and how a little kindness can inspire some to fight for the chance to change their future – and maybe the futures of others.

Although this is a book for older middle-grade readers, this is a book that readers of all ages should take the time to read, as this is a book with a heart – and a very important message. It causes us to reflect on the privileges that so many of us take for granted, and how showing a little kindness can go a long way.

This book has been added to my automatic recommendation list, so, if you can, pick up this story and give it a read. I am sure you will love it.

Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce

I have been very kindly gifted an uncorrected proof of ‘Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North’ by Rachel Joyce – which I was very excited about. However, I do have to confess that I have not read the two books that come before this, as my only encounter with the work of Rachel Joyce has been ‘Miss Benson’s Beetle‘, which was a book I really rather enjoyed.

So, I think maybe meeting Maureen Fry without meeting Harold Fry or Queenie was a slightly different way to read this book than maybe others will do. I had no preconceived ideas about any of the characters or the nature of the story, but I am certainly ready to read the others after finishing this, as I thought it was a delightful read.

Maureen is going to follow in the footsteps of her husband Harold, and go on a bit of a pilgrimage of her own. Maybe in not exactly the same way, but she and Harold have decided that she needs to make a journey north, by car, to visit Queenie’s garden. However, this is not an easy journey for Maureen, for all sorts of reasons (which I do not really want to go into, as I do not want to spoil it for anybody who is really looking forward to reading this book). But it is certainly a journey that Maureen does not entirely expect – even with the best-laid plans, it takes her further than she would ever have imagined in her own personal journey as she comes to terms with the past, present and future.

I read this book in one sitting, as I was so invested in Maureen and her story, and it certainly has me keen to meet Harold properly in his own tale. I also love that it is a book with a title that has so many different meanings throughout the narrative – it is a joy when you spot them or wonder if that is the moment that it is referring to. This is a beautiful and wonderfully emotional read about relationships of all kinds, and I am grateful I have been able to read this before its publication date.

Keep your eyes peeled if you would like to meet Maureen Fry, as she will be in bookshops in October.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

This is a book that I have seen around for quite some time – and as ‘The Maidens’ has also appeared to have taken the bookstagram world by storm too, I really wanted to give the books of Alex Michaelides a go.

And ‘The Silent Patient’ is a book that I think deserves the hype. It was a really fascinating and engaging thriller – told, I thought, in quite a unique style. Now, this is a really difficult book to try and write a blog post about, as I really do not want to give anything away, as this is a book that you need to read if you are a fan of a good thriller.

The tale is told from the point of view of Theo, the therapist who is determined to work out why Alicia carried out such an act of violence against her husband. And why, since that moment, she has not spoken a word or appeared to communicate in any way other than through one painting that she did after the violent and deadly attack on her husband. Theo sets out to find the truth and see if he can be the man who can get Alicia to speak – some would even say that he appears to be obsessed.

I know it is a cliche, but as a psychological thriller this is a real page-turner. I could not put this book down as I needed to know the outcome as we were drip fed snippets of information from Theo’s investigations and Alicia’s personal diary, which seems a surprise.

It has definitely got me keen to read ‘The Maidens’, as Alex Michaelides has proved that he has the skills to weave a chilling, thrilling read with quite the twist – or twists – throughout.