A Reading Wrap Up #2

Here I am again to bore you with my latest reading wrap up.  I’ve decided to review books I’ve read in groups of between 3 and 5, unless something really grabs me and I do a standalone review of it.  Check out my last wrap up here.

Lets crack on with the last 4 books I read, all very different….

Girlvert – Oriana Small

I ordered this one after watching the genre of ‘Porn Memoir’ reviewed on YouTube.  This particular book was offered up as revealing the more hardcore, seedier, darker side of the porn industry and I thought, if you’re going to read about porn Mand you might as well start at the hardcore end of the spectrum, go in at the deep end as it were (If you’ll excuse the pun).  So, this book is written by porn star Oriana Small a.k.a Ashley Blue.  It spans the entirety of her and her boyfriend Tyler’s porn careers and the various scrapes and situations she’s got herself into over the years.  She definitely doesn’t pull any punches or shy away from the detail, and I mean the proper grim, gory detail that had me thinking ‘really?? do things like this actually go on?!’  I was a little unsure on starting this whether I would just feel sad for a girl who had been forced into a world of porn against her will, but the reality was that she willingly entered into the profession and way of life and openly admits at the start of the book that she enjoyed rough experimental sex and wasn’t afraid to push her boundaries.  That’s not to say that she doesn’t find herself in situations beyond her control along the way.  Places she shouldn’t be doing things she doesn’t want to do.  However, the majority of the time she is off her face (technical term) on drugs of all kinds and is powerless to stop what is happening to her.  Scary stuff.

At points this book is sad, eye opening, shocking, even humourous.  It prompted a few debates in my office let me tell you!, especially when I recounted a story involving Ashley, 7 men and a metal spoon…..I’ll leave that one there.

‘Tyler and I had the same philosophy: a hedonistic approach to life.  Just like any young girl does with her first love, I planned to be with Tyler forever.  “Whatever”, we said to one another.  “Its just porn. So what? Lets try anything.  Let’s be open-minded and not limit ourselves to what might be out there.  We might enjoy it….”   This is just a small sampling of the rationale Tyler and I rolled through in order to put our minds at ease for trying porn.’

The Sudden Departure of The Frasers – Louise Candlish

This one had been on my TBR shelf for a good while and I grabbed it as a bit of a palate cleanser from all that porn.  This book tells the story of two couples who have both occupied the same house on a very upmarket street in a very affluent area at different times.  The story starts with the Davenports moving into the house and not quite believing their luck at having got it for such a knock down price, due in part to the fact that the previous couple, The Frasers, moved out very suddenly and under mysterious circumstances.  The narrative flits backwards and forwards in time between the two couples over a period of 18 months or so.  Christy Davenport finds herself unemployed and getting more and more drawn into finding out just exactly why the Frasers left so quickly, what makes their neighbours so cagey and standoffish? and why nobody is willing to talk about the enigmatic, beautiful Amber Fraser and her husband Jeremy, why they left and where they could possibly be now, given that they’ve disappeared without a trace.

I expected this book to reveal its ‘mystery’ early on, now I’m no Columbo but I can quite often guess a twist before it’s revealed but this book kept me guessing right up until the end and to be honest I enjoyed being taken on a wild goose chase.  Trying to figure out what on earth had happened, I almost didn’t want to find out and have the bubble of anticipation burst.  This book did not disappoint, I loved it.

She on the other hand, was reduced to what was starting to tip alarmingly close to being a nosy neighbour.  Just as well she hadn’t confessed that the first thing she’d done when dusting down her laptop was not to job-search but to google The Frasers.  She wanted to find out who they were and where they were now; she wanted to see if they still existed….

Hidden Bodies – Caroline Kepnes

This is the sequel to ‘You’ which I read a couple of years ago I think.  I really enjoyed the first book which tells the story of a man called Joe who works in a bookshop and becomes obsessed with a customer called Guinevere Beck.  This stalkerish obsession ultimately ends in murder (multiple).  Joe is a high functioning psychopath who infiltrates ‘normal’ peoples lives and flys under the radar.  Hidden Bodies picks up where ‘You’ left off as Joe has evaded the law for his crimes.  He now has a girlfriend called Amy, who is everything Beck wasn’t. He is equally as obsessed with her until she betrays him and disappears.  This then turns his obsession very dark and he’s off on a search to find her to make her pay like Beck did.  Things happen in this book that are so far outside the realms of possibility I nearly eyerolled myself back in time. I just couldn’t get along with this sequel and really wished I’d just stopped at ‘You’.  I wouldn’t recommend this at all. Quite disappointing.
The Other Mrs Walker – Mary Paulson-Ellis

I came across this one by accident on Amazon whilst searching for something else and man I’m so glad I did.  This book, (aside from having a beautiful vintage dress on the cover) is everything I love about a good story.  A split narrative, switching between two time periods, a mystery, family secrets and investigating things on microfiche in a library!….I’ve ALWAYS wanted to investigate something on microfiche *sighs*.

This follows the story of Margaret Penny, running away from her life in London having done something she isn’t proud of.  She returns to live with her Mother in Edinburgh, jobless, relationshipless and a little lost.  She takes a job at an agency that deals with people with no families who have died, in the hope that they can identify who they are and trace some relatives.  Margaret is tasked with trying to trace the relatives of one Mrs Walker, no first name.  All she has to go on are:

An Orange

A Brazil Nut

An Emerald dress

A photograph

and six orange pips sucked dry.

In unravelling the mystery the story travels back in time to the Walker family and the various dark secrets they’ve kept along the way.  Death, neglect, madness, institutions, loneliness and poverty.

This book had me gripped and as with The Sudden Departure Of The Frasers I didn’t guess the twist until the last 4 or 5 pages.  Its written beautifully and I particularly loved the chapters set back in time.  I love a good family mystery.  Read it.

She dies like this – with her shoes on and nylons wrinkling at the knee.  The glass she was holding fell to the floor, the last of its contents trickling out with the last of her breath.  The liquid glinted in the moonlight, winking a last goodnight before seeping away too – down through the fibres of the carpet, down through the rough and dusty floorboards, down to the ceiling of the flat below.  It evaporated as it went, leaving nothing but a stain.  And that smell. Whisky.  The water of life.  But not for her. Not any more……

In the drawer she left a Brazil nut with the Ten Commandments etched into it’s shell.  On a mantelpiece a ridge of dust where once a photograph had stood.  In a wardrobe she left an emerald dress, sequins scattered along the hem.  On a blue plate an orange, full of holes now like her bones and her brain…

So that’s my most recently read books.  I hope you fancy at least one of them.  Let me know if you’ve read any of them, I’d love to know what you think.



See you soon kids!



Mand xx


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