So, June was a really good reading month for me. I pretty much let TV fall by the wayside altogether so I got a lot more read at night - it has been too hot to read during the day so we've been going for more walks. June's total was 15 - but it's more like 14 and a half, because I didn't finish one (hate doing that, but life's too short for bad books).
Rick O'Shea Book Club
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
This was the book club pick for May, but I had to wait for the library to buy it in for me (libraries do that, you know. If you want a new book that they don't have, they'll buy it). It's a Love/Hate type story set in modern day Cork City that centres around the lives of a drug dealer and his girlfriend, a prostitute, a gangster's mother - and digs deeper into the links they share and the secrets they hide. Brilliant read.
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
This was one of the June book club picks (the other being The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which I tried to read last year and gave up on). The title is a play on the four seasons of the year. The book follows the story of one year in a man's life - a man who doesn't have much social interaction, and who gets himself a dog that nobody else wants. They soon become as thick as thieves - but when that relationship is threatened, he decides to take the dog on a road trip of sorts. This is dark, it's uneasy at times, but the writing is breathtaking. In terms of plot, there's not a whole pile here - but the writing alone is worth it. It reminded me a little of Donal Ryan or Eimear McBride at times but much easier to read.
Books to Review
For The Love of Martha by Maria Murphy
I was kindly sent this to review from Poolbeg - it's a timeslip novel about an 18 year old orphan named Martha, who is living with her cousin as a Governess. The family decide to move to Carissima, a sprawling home in Co. Monaghan - putting an end to Martha's romance with a local handsome doctor. Meanwhile, we're also following the life of Juliet in London in 2010 - she is a photographer, and is seeing the man who currently owns Carissima. This lacked something for me - it took ages to get going and while I liked Martha's story, I wasn't bothered about Juliet.
The Number 8 by Joel Arcanjo
I requested this on Netgalley because the premise sounded amazing - a group of strangers in New Zealand, stuck on a tour bus, and one of them could be a killer? Yes please!! Unfortunately, very little of it was set on the bus so it lacked the claustrophic element necessary to build tension. The descriptions of the tour areas were fantastic, but the characters and plot were dull.
Date With a Rockstar by Sarah Gagnon
Another one from Netgalley - I enjoyed this way more than I should have. Set in the distant future, Monet O'Neal is suffering from the disease Fluxem. There's a cure, but it costs thousands of dollars. Monet applies for a place on a Reality TV show to meet and date rockstar Jeremy Bane, and win $30,000 - but what will happen if anyone realises she has Fluxem? Will the producers dig up any more secrets about her? Loved this. The Reality TV setting was brilliant and it was cheesy as hell, but it was written well enough to carry the story.
Seen the Movie? Now Read the Book!
One of my main 2015 reading goals was to read more original book versions of movies. This month, I read three.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Oh my GOD why have I not read this before now?! It's amazing. It was addictive - a sweeping, passionate, turbulent tale of Scarlett O'Hara and her determination to succeed. Set pre, during and post the Civil War era, I could not put it down. It's racist and hard to stomach in places, I had to keep reminding myself when it was written and when it was set - but it's one of the best reading experiences I've had in my adult life. Absolutely adored it.
Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine
Yikes. Where to start with this one - Mrs. Doubtfire starring Robin Williams will always be one of my favourite family films. It was one of the first I ever saw in a cinema, and it holds a lot of great memories about a favourite person from my childhood - so I was eager to read the book. It is horrible. The parents have horrific fights in front of their children, they play the children like pawns, and there's a horrible undercurrent of fear and worry where the children are concerned. Much like when I read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham - I was shocked at the lack of warmth, heart, or humour. The children know all along that their Dad is the new housekeeper - probably because his disguise consists of wellies, a pink coat and a turban. Absolutely one to avoid, watch the movie instead.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
This isn't a movie yet - but it's coming, and it will star Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role. Based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland in 1830, this is the story of Agnes' last few months at a nearby family farm where she has been sent to wait out her death sentence. Convicted of the brutal murder of two men, Agnes is silent about her crimes - until she begins to open up to her Spiritual Advisor, Tóti, and the lady of the house, Margrét. Agnes' story is so tragic and so sad, I knew what was coming but I didn't want to believe it - it was haunting, beautiful, and the eerie landscape of Iceland was a character in itself. 100% recommended.
Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall
The title refers to Mercy Gracia, or Sugar, as she is known. She is a very overweight Puerto Rican/Polish teenager who lives with her disgusting physically and verbally abusive brother and her mother, who has not gotten out of bed in months due to her increasing size. Sugar cares for her mother, but in the meantime, doesn't care for herself. When she makes a friend, something she once thought impossible, things begin to change and she realises that she must find the strength to make permanent changes in several areas of her life. This isn't a makeover book, it's difficult to read at times and I HATE the event that happens towards the end (kick a girl when she's down, why don't you) but it was a worthwhile read.
The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald
Catherine is 23, and gets a job in a care home - mainly to get her mother off her back. She doesn't like old people, she's not bothered, she just wants the money. Rose Price is 82, a resident of the care home and a former children's author. Rose is convinced that something sinister is going on at the care home - but nobody will listen to her. She enlists the help of a begrudging Catherine to try and find out what's going on. I thought this would be another Elizabeth is Missing but it was far from that - Catherine as a protagonist is a breath of fresh air, she's not exactly likeable but she's a strong character. Her relationship with Rose is brilliant - this is quite dark, and maybe not one to go for if you have a weak stomach.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Little Jacob Jordan is killed in a hit and run when his mother lets go of his hand to cross the street. Wracked with guilt, she flees. Jenna goes to a remote village in Wales to try and move on with her life, but still can't get over what happened to Jacob. Meanwhile, DI Ray Stevens is working on the hit and run case, trying to find the driver, while dealing with personal issues of his own. But Jenna's past is about to catch up with her, and it could prove fatal. Absolutely 100% the best thriller I've read this year. Clever, shocking, frightening, tense - this is everything a thriller should be. Read it.
Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler
One night when Mina is finishing up her shift in the Pizzeria where she works after school, a strange old lady comes in and tells her that she will have a baby. Mina laughs it off - she has a boyfriend of two years but she's a virgin - so how can she be pregnant? But she is......... This reminded me of that movie Saved! at times. It's not religious, but it does discuss faith (not in a preachy way). The author took the story of the Immaculate Conception and put it bang smack in the middle of High School in the social media era. Really good, unique concept, and enjoyable.
Lies Like Love by Louisa Reid
This has been on my Kindle for ages - it's about 16 year old Audrey Morgan and her battle with depression and self harm. Or is it? Audrey, her mother, and little brother have moved to a new area after a fire destroyed their home. Audrey has a history of self-harm, and her mother hopes that the move will bring a new beginning for them all. Leo is staying on a nearby farm - he is 17, and has had experience with mental health issues himself, so he immediately feels like Audrey is a kindred spirit. As their relationship begins to blossom, all may not be what it seems.......I really don't want to spoil this for anyone, so I'll just say - when the penny dropped, it hit me smack between the two eyes and I lay awake in bed with my heart thundering. It's really, really good.
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
Lane Rosen is a new resident at Latham House, a boarding-school slash Sanitorium for teenagers with a total drug resistant strain of TB. It's set in the modern day, it's not dystopia, it just happens to take place in a Sanitorium. Sadie is also a resident - Lane and Sadie know each other from Summer Camp a few years ago. But is there any point in getting close to someone at Latham when survival odds aren't in your favour? Full to the brim with witty dialogue and Harry Potter references, this was enjoyable enough.
Did Not Finish
Breakable by Aimee L. Salter
Also published as Every Ugly Word. In my copy, the lead character was called Stacy. In the subsequent editions, she is called Ashley. Stacy is in therapy after "an incident". We're not privy to the circumstances yet, but we're going along for the ride as Stacy discusses the months leading up to the incident with her therapist. Having gone through horrific bullying, Stacy turns to herself - quite literally. She sees an older version of herself in the mirror. "Older Me" seems to know all about Stacy's future. Here's where it got enough for me: I like magical realism. A lot. I love the idea of your future self appearing in the mirror to tell you what's going on. But she doesn't tell her anything useful. The bullying - when Stacy's mother finds abusive texts on her phone, she asks what Stacy did to provoke such a reaction. The therapist asks about her role in her own abuse. Her friend asks her to try and make friends with the bullies. Not at any point in the first 14 chapters does anyone pull Stacy aside and say - This is not OK. And there I left it - victim blaming ain't my cup of tea.
So that's it! Productive by all accounts, but I've about seventeen programmes to watch on Sky+ at this stage. I'll update the 2015 book page (here) with the covers, as usual you can click on a cover to go to my full Goodreads review.
Bring it on, July!