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

Plum hollie mcnish

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

Good Immigrant

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

Them

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

OurMemoryLikeDust

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

Marshking's Daughter

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? 

February Reads

My February wrap-up is a little later than planned as I wanted to get a couple of book reviews up before hitting publish on this post.

Last month I had a relatively good month for reading, finishing off seven novels and one audio book. Two of the books are upcoming releases and both not out until June, so I’ll be putting up full reviews in the next couple of weeks.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 14.47.42.png

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes (SF Masterworks) – 4/5

“Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone’s jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius.”

 I was a bit wary going into Flowers for Algernon, as it’s billed as science-fiction, which isn’t normally my cup of tea, but I’m glad I put those reservations aside as it transcends the genre. After an experiment Charlie’s IQ starts to soar beyond belief; Flowers for Algernon focuses on artificial and human intelligence, the nature of intelligence and the divisive nature of it. I really enjoyed how the book was written in periodic reports from Charlie’s point of view; as a reader we saw him grow, decline, love and suffer. Originally published in 1958, this feels like a modern story. I recommend reading this if you’re interested in stepping into science-fiction, but don’t want anything too ‘out there’.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven – Chris Cleave (Sceptre) – 5/5

A WWII novel like no other, Everyone Brave is Forgiven follows Mary, Hilda, Tom and Alastair as the bombs start falling in London. Focusing on home life during the war, this is full to the brim with love, humour, courage and friendship. My full review can be read here. Spoiler: I loved Everyone Brave is Forgiven and have recommended it to plenty of friends and family since finishing it. 

I See You – Gregg Hurwitz (Sphere) – 4/5 (a newer version of this novel has been published under The Crime Writer)

Having read, and loved, one of Hurwitz’s more recent novels – Orphan X – I went into this novel with high expectations. After a massive brain haemorrhage Drew Danner wakes up in hospital with no memory of the past 24 hours. With blood on his hands, he is accused of his ex-fiancée’s murder. Once discharged Danner makes it his mission to find out who framed him for murder. We follow Drew as he unearths the clues to the mystery. One thing that I found a little jarring at times is that I See You is a book within a book, with Danner writing his story as he tells it – it felt an unnecessary addition to what was otherwise a great, action-packed, thrilling read. Whilst the plot wasn’t particularly complex in places, I See You was still puzzling and was a fast-paced, enjoyable read with a sprinkling of dark humour thrown in.

The Museum of You – Carys Bray (Hutchinson) – 3/5

The Museum of You is a quaint novel about belonging and family. Clover grows up during the height of her father’s mourning and in the shadow of her dead mother, with more questions than can be answered. She wants to know her heritage, her background and more about her family, so decides to create her own museum at home; curating her parent’s belongings into a shrine for the Mother she never met. This was an endearing, cosy novel, looking at grief from both a parent and child’s perspective. I thought the premise was great but unfortunately, The Museum of You just didn’t keep me engaged – I didn’t connect with the characters and was left wanting more.

Closed Casket (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries #2) – Sophie Hannah (HarperCollins) – 4/5

In Closed Casket, the eponymous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot returns to solve another murder mystery; this time we’re at Lady Athelinda Playford’s estate in Clonakilty, County Cork. The Lady of the house gathers friends and family to inform them of a change to her will. Expecting uproar and her imminent murder Playford has also invited Poirot and Catchpool along for the ride, to keep her safe. When the evening takes an unexpected turn, Poirot steps in with his little grey cells to solve the gory, twisted murder.  The charactes, in true Christie fashion, are eccentric and unlikeable. I’d heartily recommend this if you’re a fan of murder mystery, but don’t expect Christie’s traditional Poirot as there are subtle differences, with Hannah breathing new life into the detective.   

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive – Tom Malmquist/ translated by Henning Koch (Sceptre) – 4/5

I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy from Sceptre. Originally published in Swedish, Henning Koch (author of The Dinner) has translated this stunning memoir. In Every Moment We Are Still Alive we hear of the horrifying moment in which Tom gains a daughter but loses his soul-mate, in a cruel twist of fate. I found this heart-breaking, tender and hypnotic – rich and raw, I couldn’t put this down. A full review of this will be up on the blog in March.

Planned UK release date: 01st June 2017

One Little Mistake – Emma Curtis (Black Swan) – 4.5/5

“You trusted your best friend…you shouldn’t have” – as soon as I saw the front cover I knew I was going to love One Little Mistake. This gripping, psychological novel follows Vicky and Amber’s ‘perfect’ friendship, until one day Vicky makes an irreparable mistake, which sends their lives tumbling apart. From the first page I was hooked with this domestic thriller, so much so that I finished it off in two sittings. The publishers kindly sent me an advanced copy for review, which I am in the process of writing up – it will hopefully go live next week.

Planned UK release date: 29th June 2017 (already available to purchase on eBook)

The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press) – 3/5  

The Princess Diarist recounts what really happened behind the scenes of the first Star Wars movie, after Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept whilst filming. I listened to this one on audio book and I wish I’d read it instead. Narrated by Carrie Fisher herself there were a number of humorous parts, but I found it a little slow in places – I wasn’t invested in the stories and often felt my mind wandering instead of focusing on the narrative.

As usual, I’d love to hear from you. What did you read in February? Have you got any recommendations for me?