book review

Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O’Donoghue

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O'Donoghue | Hachette UK

Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Scenes of a Graphic Nature follows lost 20-something Charlie, who feels like the world (including her best friend, Laura) are passing her by and moving while she is stuck in the same place, due to a disappointing career and the stress of her father’s terminal illness. Charlie grew up in England, but has been recording her Irish father’s memories over the course of his illness – and when she gets the chance to visit her ancestral home, she jumps at it. However, Charlie soon starts to discover that maybe her dad wasn’t telling the truth about a tragedy that happened to him when he was a child, and so she starts to dig into it.

I think that by reading that blurb, you might get a sense of what the major problems are with this book. And that is that there is just too much happening. Scenes of a Graphic Nature is a confused that novel that doesn’t know whether it wants to tell the story of a lost woman trying to regain some purpose in her life, or the more thriller-esque story of a woman who uncovers a buried conspiracy in a small Irish island. By the end of the book, its told neither of these stories – it sacks them both off at about 75% of the way through to tell an underwhelming romance instead.

I wish that I was being hyperbolic here, but we genuinely are left with so many loose ends that I don’t know why any of these weren’t questioned by her editor. We never get any closure to her relationships with her parents (quite a large part of the first half of the novel) or her best friend Laura (again, quite a large part of the first half of the novel). She doesn’t quite work out what really happened on the island, and is instead just told it in the very last chapter by someone else (in an explanation that doesn’t cover why certain people on the island – like Donal and Benjamin Barry – were being so vicious and horrible towards Charlie). She forms a relationship with a woman who, when she is assaulted and almost drowned (!!) by someone on the island, that she doesn’t have much sympathy because at least she didn’t have an abusive husband.

I think the reason that I am so obviously wound up about this is that Caroline O’Donoghue can write. The writing is engaging, Charlie isn’t particularly likeable but she could’ve had interesting growth, and I flew through the book because of her easy writing style. But unfortunately the plot really let this down for me, and I’m unsure whether I will pick up anything of hers in the future.

book meme

WWW Wednesday | 14 Jul

Welcome back to WWW Wednesday, which is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and the three Ws to be answered are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O'Donoghue | Hachette UK

I’m currently reading Scenes of a Graphic Nature by Caroline O’Donoghue. I actually picked this up because I’d been listening to her Sentimental in the City podcast with Dolly Alderton, and was interested to see what her writing is like.

Scenes of a Graphic Nature follows lost 20-something Charlie, who feels like the world (and her friend, Laura) are passing her by and moving on while she is stuck in the same place, due to a disappointing career and the stress of her father’s illness. Charlie grew up in England, but has been recording her Irish father’s memories over the course of his illness – and when she gets the chance to visit her ancestral home, she jumps at it. however, Charlie soon starts to discover that maybe her dad wasn’t telling the truth about a tragedy that happened to him when he was a child, and so she starts to dig into it.

I’m about 1/3 of the way through this novel, and I’m enjoying the writing style – it’s very readable. Charlie isn’t necessarily that likeable, but not in a bad way; I think she’s got a lot of growing to do, which hopefully we’ll see over the course of the book. I also wonder if there are too many threads (the conspiracy around the tragedy in her dad’s past seems out of place at the moment) – but again, maybe they will all link beautifully by the end!

What did you recently finish reading?

When She Was Good - Cyrus Haven (Paperback)

I finished When She Was Good by Michael Robotham as part of the Tandem Collective readalong (this was gifted to me by Tandem and the publishers, but all views are my own). I enjoyed this book – I found it gripping, and I thought the characters were well written. However, I didn’t find the relationship between the two main characters (Evie and Cyrus) very convincing – there was a lot of telling us they were very close, but not much showing us. I also thought the ending was rushed and wrapped up too quickly. I’ll write a full review soon but I think this will probably be 3 stars.

I also recently finished House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, which I really enjoyed – you can see my review here – and Animal by Lisa Taddeo, which I still need to write a full review on.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I don’t know yet! I’ve been reading less ‘serious’ or heavy books recently because that’s just what I’ve felt like, and now I feel ready to sink my teeth into something a bit more serious. My favourite books of the year so far have been: Homegoing, Pachinko, Transcendent Kingdom and The Manningtree Witches. I would really like to read something with similar vibes/style to any of those books – does anyone have any recommendations? Thank you in advance!

book review

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City 1) by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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I approached House of Earth and Blood by SJM with much hesitation, as I have never finished a series by SJM. I’ve read the first couple of books in the Throne of Glass series, and I’ve read A Court of Thorns of Roses, but I always lose interest when she brings in alternate love interests. This isn’t necessarily her fault, I guess I’m just resistant to change. I’ve always been this way. Even when I was reading YA at the height of its craze, when every single YA novel had a love triangle, I always sided thoroughly and unwaveringly on the side of whichever guy the main character had fancied first. So, it always irked me that SJM introduced love interests and then seemingly discarded them when she got bored with them.

So, yes, I wasn’t sure that I was going to read House of Earth and Blood, but I’d seen some good reviews and then a while back it was 99p on Kindle, so I thought why not? And I’m glad I did download it! I really liked the urban fantasy setting, which had phones and the internet alongside angels, fae, witches, wolves and vampyr (to name but a few). I thought SJM did a good job of building the feel of the world, if sometimes the details were a bit lost in translation – it felt real, even if I didn’t fully understand all of the hierarchies going on. And I also enjoyed the Adult genre of the novel; it felt a lot like From Blood and Ash and other Jennifer L. Armentrout books to me, which I really enjoy.

This book felt very long (I was reading it on Kindle and it took a while for me to feel like I’d made any progress) and I do think the first 100 pages or so took a little bit of perseverance, especially because I knew there would be a time jump after the first section. But once the novel got going, it really grabbed me and I struggled to put it down, especially in the second half.

My favourite thing about the novel was the characters – SJM just writes such likeable characters! I really liked the depiction of Bryce and the way that she was dealing with loss – it struck a chord and I definitely got a little bit teary at times. I also liked the way that her relationship with the love interest developed – it wasn’t too instalove-y. Even though you knew that they’d get together, I thought it felt really organic, and I liked the development of the friendship before the romantic relationship.

What more can I say? This was a really enjoyable, addictive and fun adult urban fantasy – if you like Sarah J. Maas’s other novels, or From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout, I think you’ll love this!