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Bitter Like Orange Peel

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Six women. One man. Seven secrets. One could ruin them all.

Kit is a twenty-five-year-old archaeology undergrad, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. Life seems purposeless. But if she could track down her father, Roger, maybe her perspective would change.

The only problem—Roger is as rotten as the decomposing oranges in her back yard according to the women in her life:
Paperback, 268 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by Vine Leaves Press (first published September 30th 2013)
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*** Possible spoiler alert but I have intentionally been quite vague :) ***

Ummm, sorry for what follows, as it's not so much a proper-format review as just my rambly thoughts about a great read. So here goes.

The blurb for Jessica Bell's forthcoming novel Bitter Like Orange Peel states that there are 6 women, 1 man, and "7 secrets", and all that is true. However, sometimes I felt like the secrets would never stop being revealed, the lies would never stop being uncovered and the extremely
Lily Mulholland
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, netgalley
This is an age-old tale: how the intersection of lies and families can destroy the relationships we crave and need to deliver our emotional security.

Bell presents us with a cast of flawed characters, characters who are so smart they're rather dumb when it comes to emotions, knowing themselves and being able to deal with reality. While the idea of lies undermining families is not new, Bell imbues this story with modern drama - the prodigal daughter's distance from loved ones is enforced by
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, e-book
Bitter Like Orange Peel by Jessica Bell is a 2013 release, published by Vine Leaves Press.

This story is told from the perspective of the wives, lovers, and daughters of one man named Roger.

Ivy's mother, Eleanor, was married to Roger when he began an affair with one of his students, Ailish. Ailish has a child by Roger named, Kit. After Eleanor's divorce, Ailish and Eleanor become friends and raise the two half sisters together as a family. Now, as adults, both girls are emotionally stunted. Ivy
Patrice Hoffman
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Bitter Like Orange Peel the debut novel by Jessica Bell, is the story of six women who's lives have all been changed because of one man. The novel begins with Kit looking at a defaced photograph of her father and decides to call her half sister Ivy. She tells Ivy that she is interested in finding their father. Wanting to find that missing piece is how we begin to see secrets revealed and revelations brought to light.

Bitter Like Orange Peel essentially is a well-written story about female adults
This is another case of me being unable to connect to characters because their ideals and values differ so much from mine. Still, I can deal with this, as long as I understand their motivations. Blaming your sister for your ex-husband being a rapey douche doesn't belong in that category. The moment that disconnect happened, I no longer cared about the story. It became tedious, melodramatic and cheap, which is very unfortunate, because there were some promising elements in there.

Read the full
Aug 06, 2013 rated it liked it
This book has a good story. It has good characterisation. It's quite punchy. It has an interesting style. And yet. Ultimately, it's not for me.

This is the story of several dysfunctional families, all with a single connection, and how the secrets they keep affect their lives, and more Importantly, those of the people they love.

I was not even halfway through this fairly slim novel before I had concluded that I was not its demographic. I reached that conclusion long before I had answered "me" to
I received a free Adobe Digital Editions copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley, this has not compromised my ability to write an honest and critical review of the book.

20/11 - I don't really know what's going on yet, but I didn't want to forget the first thought that came to mind my when I read the following lines:

She takes the photo from her bedside table and runs her fingers around the edge of his legs. My father's legs. Roger's legs. Dad's legs. She tastes the different
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Bitter Like Orange Peel by Jessica Bell focuses on six women with an interconnected relationship. In a rather awkward scenario, three are daughters of Roger and three are the mothers of those daughters. Ivy, an anthropologist with a masters who is recently divorced and working as a barista, is the daughter of Eleanor, a pediatric surgeon who is the only women who was ever actually married to Roger. Kit, also an anthropology student, is the daughter of Ailish, an English literature professor who ...more
MaryAnn Clarke
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
Bitter Like Orange Peel by Aussie author Jessica Bell (who is also a talented book cover designer) I found very interesting. I guess I'd have to call it literary WF. LOTS of telling, w multiple POV (like 8?). Very unique writing style. It actually works, but it isn't as emotionally compelling, or perhaps I mean immersive, as a book with more showing. I liked it anyway. The woman is a master wordsmith. Brilliant really. With the most killer metaphors and ways of describing emotion I've ever seen. ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didn't expect to like this book at first, the slightly misleading YA-sound of the opening chapter almost made me put the book aside prematurely, but the determination to read something outside of my comfort zone made me stick to it, which I am now very grateful for. To be clear: this is not a YA novel. It's just one that opens with the least mature 30 year old I have ever encountered.

Jessica Bell tells her story through several voices and she does so very well, there's not a single cardboard
Elnora Romness
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Family secrets...what family doesn't have secrets? Perhaps at the Christmas table, you've caught furtive glances between relatives, a sudden shushing that alerted your attention to something said that may have best remained quiet, awkward silences without an immediately apparent cause, etc. You want to ask...but do you really want to know the answer? What if the answer to the secret is more unbearable than you've ever realized...but can you bear not knowing?

Bell has worked an
Miranda Lynn
Normally I give myself a chance to digest between finishing a book and writing my review for it. But I just finished Bitter Like an Orange Peel a couple of seconds ago and really need to talk about it right now.

I'm so mad at this book. I'm almost having trouble coming up with how to explain to you guys how much I did not like this book. I guess I'll just start at the beginning...

Something that was very confusing right from the start was where this book took place. I didn't completely understand
Luca Marchiori
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In a recent interview about 'Bitter Like Orange Peel', author Jessica Bell said that it was aimed at women readers, but that there were some men who had read and appreciated the book. I am one of those men.
I have always loved Jessica's luscious writing, with choice words packed into the pages like exotic produce in a rich fruit cake, and here I was not disappointed. Neither was I disappointed with her, controversial it seems, decision to make all of her characters dislikable. I am not a person
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: net-galley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it
I like that this book was written from the point of view of all of the characters. It helped me to understand better what everyone was going through. Even though I could understand the characters a little better, the secrets stayed secrets until the very end, which definitely kept me reading.

Since this book was full of secrets, there were a lot of questions that were going through my head throughout the book, many which were left unanswered. What was the deal with Brian? How was he already so in
Heather Truett
I was torn about how to rate this novel. If I could’ve cut most of Ivy from the story, I would have given it at least four stars, if not five. I didn’t like Ivy. She made me vacillate between eye rolling annoyance and head banging frustration.

I loved Kit. A lot And I loved Ailish and even Eleanor. Eydie was awesomeness. I loved her spunk and wanted her to make it. I felt invested in the characters. I kept reading, driven to know each incremental secret they would slowly reveal to me.

At one
Elizabeth Hein
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
Bitter Like Orange Peel is a fresh take on family drama. The narrative explores how secrets and withholding shape the life of an extended family through the eyes of three half sisters. Each sister is at a place in her life where she needs answers to her questions about their mysterious father.
Jessica Bell’s prose is interesting and engaging. Each of the sisters are uniquely flawed in ways that make the characters jump off the page and take up residence in the reader’s head.
Rebecca Hall
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Harsh, compelling and real. Bell has a habit of telling like it is - without being dour and depressive. This is good writing, do not miss the chance to read this family drama told from various POVs - Bell's strong narrative.
Leigh Moore
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
gorgeous writing! Unique story--love it~ <3
Pam Torres
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love Bell's lyrical writing and her honesty on the page.
Jean Gill
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blood ties!

One extended family linked by blood, the past and the pain of close connection. If you’ve ever felt the urge to destroy the closest relationship you have by screaming every hurtful word you can think of, you’ll understand the characters in this book. And also their hopes that this time they won’t screw up.
Like all Jessica Bell’s work, this novel speaks for borderliners, outsiders and misfits with disturbing honesty. ‘White Lady’ is more polished as a novel but this raw diamond cuts
What a bloody awful book. I'm sorry, but it has to be said. I've read some bad books in my time, but this is most definitely in the top five. The synopsis held the promise of a novel that wasn't delivered.

The basic premise is a group of six women who all have ties to this one man - to some of them he was a lover, a husband, and to others he was a father - or an absentee one at that. Kit, one of the daughters, is desperate to find out about this man who she has never met, so sets out on a journey
An entertaining book about six women, three daughters and three mothers, and the man they are all related to in someway. The daughters, never knowing the man, are now grown and wanting to know. The moms, who have not disclosed about the man whom they had loved so well but were left behind by in the end, kept silent about the man and why he was absent from their lives.

The lives of all six women become complex as the younger daughter, who later finds out that she is in fact the middle one, begins
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am sitting here so confused by own thoughts on this book right now. I can’t decide how I feel.

First, I have to say, I was drawn to this book/blog tour because of the cover. It is different, it is beautiful, and it is right there in your face.

When I say this next line, it is no reflection on the author, she is a wonderful writer, everything was superbly written, it’s reflection on all of these scenarios in the book. It is like watching a train wreck. You just can’t turn away. You have to keep
Emily (All in a Book)
*Received a review copy for a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.*

I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this book when I started it. The premise was interesting to me and I love emotional reads, but how this one man connected to all six women beyond the brief glimpse provided in the blurb nagged at me. Going in, this book definitely felt like it could go either way.

The main female characters were also this way. At times I would love them for their humor, honesty, or strength and at
Nov 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I wish to thank the author for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This story starts with the relationship of two woman, half-sisters and blossoms to the intertwining story of six women. Through life they’ve all been dealing with a mutual betrayal of one man, but unknowingly to some they’ve been betrayed even further. Life has been good in some ways to them but in other ways they each have moments of weakness that shape their lives into something not quite fitting
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2013
Bitter Like Orange Peel - the story of one man, due to numerous reasons, abandoning six women that loved him told from their various perspectives.

Jessica Bell delivers a multifarious plot along with overwrought characters in Bitter Like Orange Peel . She approaches a fragile subject matter - absent father and abandonment in a bold and fresh manner. Her characters, numerous and as varied as you can get weave together to create a multidimensional story.

All six characters are damaged in some
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, net-galley
I had to twice check that this book was not a YA or teen read: it isn’t, but the protagonist is so blatantly immature that even her approach and speech patterns are that of someone half her stated age of twenty-five.

While the author has made great efforts to deal with difficult situations, the character of Kit was one that I was dying to shake: adults learn to take responsibility for the here and now, and don’t constantly whine about “but I never had”. They place blame rightly or wrongly at a
Chrissy (The Every Free Chance Reader)
Did I enjoy this book: I wanted to but it just didn’t do it for me. The story has promise but the delivery fell short.

Bitter Like Orange Peel is a look at a “family” — 3 different women, 3 daughters, 1 man — and how they all relate, react, and coexist with each other while hiding secrets from each other. It was a raw, gritty look at this type of situation. It was interesting and, as I said above, has a lot of promise. However, there are some issues that made me want to put it down without
Liz Crowe
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it

A truly epic effort to represent the lives and emotions of 6 different women part of a complex, character-driven narrative that revolves around (what else?) a guy, and a fairly worthless one at that.

It's a central theme of this book--that people are flawed. If I were to say anything negative, it would be that we are sort of beaten over the head by that fact, but I sense that was the author's intention so I say "mission accomplished!"

I'm the first to admit I love book that challenges me to
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If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she'd give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she currently resides in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a 30-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, award-winning poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she's written.