July Reads

Another month has passed, which means it’s time for another wrap-up! I must apologise in advance for my tardiness with this post – I had written half of it before 1st August, then it fell by the wayside, but it’s here now! Better late than never, right?

Once again, my reading hasn’t been great having only read six books – I’ve found it hard to have time to pick up books, having to prioritise other things (if you haven’t taken a look at this post, please do!).

Without further ado, last month I read…

Plum by Hollie McNish (Picador Poetry) – 5/5

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Plum is poet Hollie McNish’s newest collection and features both new and old poetry – her recent poems are interrupted by earlier writing from her formative years – voices that are raw, honest and also very, very funny. If you’re looking to get into poetry, this is a fantastic place to start – Hollie is warm, honest, funny, sarcastic and passionate. I could listen to her poetry over and over again (a personal fave of mine is Mathematics – I encourage you to go and have a watch on YouTube!)

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound) – 5/5

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This is a collection of essays written by BAME authors, edited together by Nikesh Shukla. It explores what it means to be Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic in Britain today. The essays look at identity, culture, family and diversity; I found it enlightening, eye-opening, funny, heart-breaking and infuriating all in one. This is such an important read and one that everyone should pick up!

Them: Adventures with extremists by Jon Ronson (Picador) – 3/5

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It seems I was on a bit of a non-fiction roll this month! I’m a big fan of Jon Ronson’s books and my favourite of his is The Psychopath Test, however I wasn’t mad about Them: Adventures with Extremists. The book goes on a quest to explore extremism, from Islamic fundamentalists to Neo-Nazis. Originally written in 2001, this book is definitely still prevalent today; I found it fascinating in parts, but also a little boring in others.

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (Orenda Books) – 4/5

Front Cover Dying to Live

Dying to Live is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series – I loved the setting of the book, the African landscape added a different dimension, making it stand out from so many British crime books, which can sometimes feel a bit samey! If you’re looking for a fairly light crime novel, which is a bit different, then I’d definitely recommend giving the Kubu books a go. My full blog tour post is here.

Our Memory Like Dust by Gavin Chait (Doubleday Books) – 2/5

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This one puzzled and perplexed me – my full review can be found here. Our Memory Like Dust wasn’t completely up my street, but I definitely think you’d enjoy it if you’re a fan of light sci-fi or dystopian fiction. Chait is a complex storyteller, using many themes, characters and contemporary issues to make a wider point about society – although I think some of these points went over my head…

The Marshking’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (Sphere) – 4/5

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Last of all, I picked up The Marshking’s Daughter to help get me out of my slump! I was hooked from the get-go; it is thrilling, suspenseful and action packed. The story is centred around a woman who was born into captivity after her Mother was abducted – I was wary that this might read like Room by Emma Donoghue. I shouldn’t have been worried as it was completely different. Dionne creates wonderful, atmospheric scenery which chills you to the core. After finishing The Marshking’s Daughter I was excited to pick up another thriller.

What did you read in July? Do you have any recommendations? 

Blog Tour: Our Memory Like Dust by Gavin Chait

#BlogTour #OurMemoryLikeDust #BlogTour #BookReview @RosieMargesson @GavinChait

Good morning and happy Friday! Welcome to my stop on the Our Memory Like Dust blog tour. Here goes…

About the book: 

OurMemoryLikeDust

Why do we tell stories? To hold on to what has been loved and lost, to create new myths, to explain and teach in ways that seep into memory.

Shakiso Collard leads the evacuation from Benghazi as jihadis overwhelm the refugee camp where she works. On arrival in Paris, she is betrayed by her boss, Oktar Samboa, and watches in despair as those she illegally helped escape are deported back to the warzones of Libya.

Elsewhere, Farinata Uberti – strongman CEO of Rosneft, the world’s largest energy company – arrives in London after triggering a violent insurrection in Tanzania to destroy a potential rival in the oil market. In the Sahara, an air convoy on its way to deliver billions of dollars of drugs and weapons to Ansar Dine jihadis crashes and is lost.

A year later, having spent months in hiding, Shakiso travels to West Africa. She is there to lead the relief effort that are hoping to stop the 200 million refugees fleeing war and environmental collapse heading for a fortified and fragmented Europe.

As the myths of these millions seeking new lives across the Mediterranean intrude into reality, Shakiso is drawn into the brutal clandestine fight against Rosneft’s domination of European energy supplies being conducted by the mysterious Simon Adaro. And, deep within the disorienting Harmattan storms of the desert, a group of jihadis have gone in search of the crashed convoy of planes – and a terror that could overwhelm them all.

Author: Gavin Chait
Publisher:
Doubleday
Hardback: 400 pages, 27 July 2017

My thoughts:

Following a number of characters and storylines, at first Our Memory Like Dust is a little confusing, but soon enough you start to connect the dots and the story unfolds. Throughout, Chait focuses on the fragility of memory, which ultimately is explored through the good, the bad, the powerful, the helpless and those in between. Set in Africa, in a dystopian future there are loads of cool tech ideas and concepts that Chait includes to bring the story to life.

I found that Chait tackles so many contemporary issues throughout, that sometimes I had to take a step back to get my head around what was going on. Themes of war, conflict, mythology and politics cropped up, but to name a few. However, I certainly think it worked with his style and also the woven story that he tells, which is rich and disturbing in places.

Going into Our Memory Like Dust, I had no idea what to expect. After finishing it, I’m still digesting it in my head and going over what happened. Overall, Our Memory Like Dust is a really unusual read and was not at all what I was expecting. This book is ideal if you’re looking for a slow burner and are a lover of light sci-fi or dystopian fiction.

About the author:

GavinChait

Born in Cape Town in 1974, Gavin Chait emigrated to the UK nearly ten years ago. He has degrees in Microbiology & Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering. He is an economic development strategist and data scientist, and has travelled extensively in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia and is now based in Oxford. His first novel, Lament for the Fallen, was critically acclaimed (Eric Brown in the Guardian called it ‘a compulsively readable, life affirming tale’). Our Memory Like Dust is his second.

I received an advanced copy of Our Memory Like Dust in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Rosie!

 

June Reads

A little bit later than usual, here is my June reading wrap-up!

Despite going on holiday in June, thinking I would have all the time in the world for reading, I actually ended up having a relatively slow month – it took me ages to get into anything and even longer to finish things. I’m amazed I managed to even read six books as the last week and a half of the month I ended up reading nothing.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (Titan Books) 4/5

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I was hooked on If We Were Villains from the first few chapters and then utterly engrossed until the final page. I definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a solid literary thriller, which will leave you thinking about it for a long time after. My full review for the blog tour can be read here.

Miss You by Kate Eberlen (Pan MacMillan)  4/5

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The tale of Gus and Tess is light-hearted and fun; exactly what I wanted for a pool-read on holiday. Recounting their crossed paths, it is a hybrid of One Day and Sliding Doors – will they or won’t they ever find true love? Yes, it is cheesy and predictable, but it is also funny, warm and tender.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Berkley Books) 5/5

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Liane Moriarty is a fantastic storyteller, she weaves an impressive web of characters and storylines, which all merge into one big plot point by the end. I was absolutely gripped by Big Little Lies; it is an easy read but also one that makes you question whether you truly know someone and whether face value judgement can ever be right. I can’t wait to download and watch the TV adaptation of this as I’ve heard nothing but amazing things!

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday) 3/5

intothewater

I picked this up as I absolutely loved Hawkins’ first novel, Girl on the Train. Sadly, I was a little disappointed; Into the Water is still an enjoyable read, but there are just too many characters which at first is particularly confusing as the narrative switches perspectives multiple times. It took me a long time to get into the actual story and by the end I wasn’t satisfied – Into the Water certainly isn’t as gripping or fast-paced as her debut. It felt like something was missing.

Secrets of the Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts (RedDoor) 3/5

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I read this in one sitting and for such a short book it packs so much in thanks to Crofts magical storytelling ability. It encompasses everything from what it is to endure grief to understanding, and accepting, your own morality. Political, tense, philosophical and intriguing, The Secrets of the Italian Gardener is a well-developed, thought-provoking read that will make you quetion good vs. evil. My full review for the blog tour can be read here.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith (Doubleday / Transworld) 4/5

The Things We Thought We Knew - Hardback

Mahsuda Snaith’s writing is stunning – it draws you in from the first page and envelops you in feeling and emotion. The Things We Thought We Knew is a beautifully moving coming-of-age tale that captures life on a council estate with such clarity. It is gutsy, eye-opening and emotional, showing the reader what it is to truly find ourselves in this cruel, crazy and vivid world. My full review for the blog tour can be read here.

Did you read anything good in June? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Blog Tour: The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

#BlogTour #BookReview @DoubledayUK @MahsudaSnaith @TransworldBooks

Welcome to the penultimate stop on The Things We Thought We Knew blog tour. Thank you Transworld Books / Doubleday for having me and letting me share my review!

About the book:  The Things We Thought We Knew - Hardback.jpg

Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practiced handstands together, raced slugs and went into the woods to play. But now everything has changed.

Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome. And her best friend Marianne is gone. How did their last adventure go so wrong? Who is to blame? And where is Marianne?

Heartbreaking, bittersweet and utterly unforgettable, The Things We Thought We Knew is a powerful novel about the things we remember and the things we wish we could forget.

Author: Mahsuda Snaith
Published by: Transworld Books / Doubleday, 15th June 2017
Hardback: 304 pages

My thoughts:

Mahsuda Snaith’s writing is stunning – it draws you in from the first page and envelops you in feeling and emotion. Firstly, her descriptions of chronic pain are done in such a sensitive and complex way. The exploration of an invisible illness is heartbreaking as we see how Ravine adapts and conquers. It is a fascinating glimpse into both the physical and mental aspect of what it is to suffer an endless, chronic illness.

The Things We Thought We Knew is also full of familial relationships and friendship. I found it interesting how Snaith explores the impact memories can have on us; how they evolve over time, the way in which they can trick us and also shape us into the people we grow to be. It is interesting to see how Ravine’s perspective changes over time, between her younger and older self. The story is like an origami bird that keeps unfolding, revealing more and more hidden secrets as we delve deeper into the narrative. Snaith writes about Ravine’s multicultural surroundings and the sense of community and claustrophobia echoes through the pages. Her characters are so vivid, with humanity and life experience shining through them.

The Things We Thought We Knew is a beautifully moving coming-of-age tale that captures life on a council estate with such clarity. It is gutsy, eye-opening and emotional, showing the reader what it is to truly find ourselves in this cruel, crazy and vivid world.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Mahsuda Snaith – she’s certainly an author I’ll be keeping watch on!

About the author:

Mahsuda Snaith © Jonathan Ring.jpg

Mahsuda Snaith is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short Story Prize 2014, and a finalist in the Myslexia Novel Writing Competition 201. She lives in Leicester where she leads writing workshops and teaches part-time in primary schools.

Mahsuda is a fan of reading and crochet. This is her first novel. 

You can catch the other blog tour posts here:

TheThingsWeThoughtWeKnew Banner.png

I received an advanced copy of The Things We Thought We Knew from Doubleday in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Transworld / Doubleday!

Holiday Reads – Corfu 2017

At the start of June I headed off for a week’s break in Corfu – as usual, I had visions of grandeur, thinking I’d read a book a day, if not more! Alas, I only read three books during the whole week! After all, it was because I was having too much fun playing card games, completing arrow words puzzles (hello guilty pleasure!) and drinking gin fizzes in the sun.

I’m in a very fortunate position where I frequently get sent books for review, however I decided that my holiday reading would be ones that I had picked out myself and had a thirst to read – I made sure they all had no review, timeline or expectation attached. It was oddly refreshing! Given the location we were in, I probably should’ve packed The Durrells of Corfu as one of my books. I’ll be doing mini reviews of these three books in my monthly wrap up at the beginning of July, so without further a do…on holiday I read…

Miss you by Kate Eberlen (Pan MacMillan) – 4/5

missyou

A Richard and Judy Book Club pick, a Radio 2 Book Club Choice – and the most unconventional love story you’ll read this year Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven’t met properly yet. And perhaps they never will …Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can’t get it out of her head, even though she’s in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university. Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence – and, for one day, the paths of these two eighteen-year-olds will criss-cross before they each return to England. Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and chance, there’s no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly …or is there?

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Penguin Books) – 5/5

biglittlelies

Perfect family, perfect house, perfect life; Jane, Madeline and Celeste have it all …or do they? They are about to find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control. From the author of Truly Madly Guilty and The Husband’s Secret comes a novel about the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. Jane hasn’t lived anywhere for longer than six months since her son was born five years ago. She keeps moving in an attempt to escape her past. Now the idyllic coastal town of Pirriwee has pulled her to its shores and Jane feels as if she finally belongs. She finds friends in the feisty Madeline and the incredibly beautiful Celeste, two women with seemingly perfect lives – and their own secrets. But at the start of a new term, an incident involving the children of all three women occurs in the playground, causing a rift between them and other parents. Minor at first but escalating fast, until the whispers and rumours become vicious and spiteful, and the truths blur into lies. It was always going to end in tears, but no one thought it would end in murder …

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday) – 4/5

intothewater

The addictive new psychological thriller from the author of The Girl on the Train, the runaway Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller and global phenomenon. In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool…With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, satisfying read that hinges on the stories we tell about our pasts and their power to destroy the lives we live now.

As a bonus for reading this far, here are some photos of our break away…

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What books will you be reading this Summer?