The Go-To HQ book club has wrapped for another year, with bookworms from every department coming together monthly to share some very honest thoughts on the latest novel devoured.
Here’s everything we picked up in 2023, and exactly what we thought of the characters and plot.
Strap in. We have a fair bit to say.
Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin
We rated it: ★★★★☆
I think now we are in December, I can comfortably say this was my favourite book of the year. I didn’t know if I wanted to love or hate these characters but all I knew was how invested I was in their lives. - Chiara, Brand Education Lead.
The complex (and often frustrating) characters kept pace as you watched them go through struggles, triumphs, and heartbreak. It felt heavy and effortless all at once. I scoffed, I laughed, I bawled through this. - Alex, Community Manager.
This was a slow-burn for me! An enjoyable read but didn’t blow my mind at the time (I think it was really over-hyped earlier this year) - but I’ve found the longer I’ve had to digest, the more I would recommend this one to a friend. Creative storytelling, and great cover art never hurts. - Liz, Senior Graphic Designer.
Seeing Other People, by Diana Reid
We rated it: ★★☆☆
I’ll be honest, not my favourite book of 2023. The characters were painful to read, and there were so many moments that didn’t feel realistic. I was waiting for certain storylines to play out, and was left feeling a bit flat overall. - Alex, Community Manager.
A brutal two stars (sorry!). I feel Reid skimmed over complex issues - sexual identity, family betrayal, alcoholism - with very little nuance. The storyline, like the conversations between characters, felt unauthentic and forced. - Bella, Content Manager.
I found this story relatively engaging, although it lacked the social and political commentary that made Love and Virtue (Reid’s debut) so captivating. I enjoyed the familiarity of an Eastern Sydney setting, and the depiction of share-housing in your 20s. I just wanted a little more depth. - Hannah, Community Coordinator.
Pineapple Street, by Jenny Jackson
We rated it: ★★★☆☆
With a scoop of Gossip Girl and a sprinkle of Pretty Little Liars, it’s got the drama, dysfunctional characters, and New York City backdrop that’s so juicy and delicious to consume. - Ailish, Marketing Coordinator.
No one was particularly likeable… like, at all. But I kept reading, just to see what bizarrely unrelatable thing they’d do next. - Hannah, Community Coordinator.
The book’s quick pace made it an easy read, offering a glimpse into the world of NYC’s ultra rich trust fund babies. If you like Gossip Girl - I would recommend this book to you! - Anna, Purchasing Officer.
Romantic Comedy, by Curtis Sittenfield
We rated it: ★★★☆☆
Sittenfeld takes the trope of a romantic comedy and brings a rawness and honesty to the vulnerability of falling in love with someone you fear may be ‘too good for you’. I won’t spoil it, only to say I was in tears by the end. - Aoife, Regulatory and Compliance Manager.
Well written, but very sugary and quite predictable. I guess that should be assumed from a literal ‘Romantic Comedy’. An easy holiday read, but don’t expect any groundbreaking revelations. - Liz, Senior Graphic Designer.
Yellowface, by R.F. Kuang
We rated it: ★★★★☆
Unputdownable. The characters are deliberately unlikeable, making for an incredibly refreshing read. A welcome break from a plot rooted in young adult romance. - Bella, Content Manager.
What was true? What was exaggerated? What was a complete fabrication? Kuang brilliantly puts you in the mind of a bizarre character and her wild, problematic and ultimately delusional thoughts. It’s a page-turner that will suck you in and spit you out wanting more. - Ailish, Marketing Coordinator.
Chapter 1 had me absolutely hooked. But then it quickly plateaued and became super frustrating. How many times can someone make very obviously bad decisions? Still worth a read however to be part of the conversation - Kuang provides an incredibly interesting commentary about cultural appropriation and casual racism from the perspective of someone with zero self-awareness. - Liz, Senior Graphic Designer.
I Have Some Questions For You, by Rebecca Makkai
We rated it: ★★★☆☆
A murder mystery set in an elite boarding school? I’m in. An emotionally gripping story that leaves you wondering who to trust, like, and loathe right to the very end. - Lauren, Community Coordinator.
While the book did have some good moments, the ending fell flat for me. The resolution of the book was just boring, I was expecting a huge twist or climax. - Anna, Purchasing Officer.
With a look at the epidemic of violence against women, societal perceptions of inappropriate relationships, sexualisation of teenage girls, and wrongful convictions within the US judicial system, and a sprinkle of the true-crime-podcast genre for good measure… This novel is a LOT! However if you are not normally a fan of murder mysteries (like me), there is plenty more here to engage you long enough to find out ‘whodunnit’. - Aoife, Regulatory and Compliance Manager.
The Prison Healer, by Lynette Noni
We rated it: ★★★☆☆
This was my first ever fantasy read and after a bit of a slow start, I thought it would be my last. But I persevered, and am so glad I did! It intertwines friendship, family birthrights, magic, hope, courage, love, and a whole bunch of twists. This is a series of three books, and I haven’t been able to stop reading through to the end! - Alex, Community Manager.
My first fantasy read outside of Harry Potter, and I found it really hard to read. The characters failed to engage me, and I really struggled to connect with them and their journeys. - Anna, Purchasing Officer.
As a fantasy addict, I found this to be an easy, enjoyable read. With simple worldbuilding and a mega plot twist (or two) that will have you re-reading to make sure you got it right, I’d definitely recommend this for those new to fantasy. - Lauren, Community Coordinator.
The Woman In Me, by Britney Spears
We rated it: ★★★★★
I didn’t know the nitty gritty details of Britney Spears, and this book takes you behind the scenes of all the BIG media moments, but also delves so much deeper into the real person we’ve seen (and haven’t seen) go through so much. It’s quite heavy in parts, but Britney’s good-natured spirit, humour and generosity certainly shine through. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone and everyone. - Ailish, Marketing Coordinator.
The inside scoop on Britney that has still left me with so many unanswered questions: why did she not attempt to end the conservatorship earlier? How did K-Fed prevent her from seeing her children before their divorce and the conservatorship took place? How was she forced to take Lithium without being diagnosed with a major psychiatric disorder? But I respect that after so many years, this is her telling, and she absolutely has the right to reveal as much or as little as she likes. It is clear she was systematically abused for her fame and wealth by those who were meant to love and protect her most. And for that, it is a tragic tale. - Aoife, Regulatory and Compliance Manager.When I was a kid, I loved Britney Spears – “Baby One More Time” claimed a spot in my earliest HMV acquisitions. Exploring her narrative, from the intricacies of her relationship with JT to the contentious tabloid depictions, provided a captivating revelation. This book unveils a tale, illustrating the stark realities of talent, beauty, youth and the often ruthless nature of the music business. - Anna, Purchasing Officer.