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Book bites: 1 May 2016

Fans of the Impossible LifeFans of the Impossible Life
Kate Skelsa
****
This debut is so much more than just another teenage love-triangle story – it’s a captivating novel that follows three young friends and the struggles they face for being “different” in high school, something many readers will relate to. The book latches on to the international trend of issue-driven YA and features a line-up of nasties, such as bullying, homophobia, teen suicide, trauma and depression. It’s not an easy ride, but there are touching moments and memorable characters that make this a wonderfully moving read. For fans of Perks of Being a Wallflower. – Sally Partridge @Sapartridge

At The Edge Of The OrchardAt The Edge Of The Orchard
Tracy Chevalier
****
A vivid and uncomfortable read from the author of Girl with the Pearl Earring. Chevalier tackles a realistic portrait of the pioneers and the American Dream. It’s 1838 and James and Sadie have an apple farm in the bleak and inhospitable land of the Black Swamp in Toledo. They’re struggling to make it work with Sadie keeping herself fuzzy on applejack. This toil is hard on their fractured relationship. A tragedy takes place in the orchard which is pivotal to their children’s lives, especially their elder son, Robert. The book is gloomy but the characters are intriguing and they draw you in. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Happiness for BeginnersHappiness for Beginners
Katherine Center
****
A cynic would write off Happiness for Beginners as a fictionalised rewrite of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. A woman (Helen), at a new life-low, goes hiking. It’s a frothy read and pretty people are still undeservedly awarded accolades and a woman at only 32 can be made to feel old. But readers will adore this book because of Jake, best bud of Helen’s brother. The young man is hilarious, intelligent and cuts through the BS. Heck, ladies, he’s read The Beauty Myth. Helen’s grandma won’t be the only one wanting to reach out and rumple Jake’s hair. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

ReboundRebound
Aga Lesiewicz
****
Like Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and The Widow, this is a sophisticated thriller with general appeal. Anna Wright lives in London: beautiful, successful and popular. She is a strong woman making a name for herself in the TV industry. At night she unwinds by running in the park with her dog. But then her favourite route is no longer safe — there ’s a rapist around, possibly a killer, and it is soon clear Anna is his target. A slick and exciting debut. – Aubrey Paton

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