Not Sponsored or Paid | Not Affiliated with Amazon or Netgalley | ARCs clearly defined | Disclosure and review policy here.
This month, I've had a bit of blogger's block, but thankfully not reader's block - I abandoned the TV altogether in June (apart from a nightly episode of Buffy) and managed to get 19 books finished.
The Rick O'Shea Book Club
This month, there were two choices - Conor O'Callaghan's debut novel Nothing on Earth, and the Pulitzer-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I had already read the Conor O'Callaghan one, I bought the other but didn't get to it.
Nothing on Earth by Conor O'Callaghan
Set on a ghost estate in Ireland in modern times. Our narrator is cagey, only giving us tidbits of information at a time, but eventually we hear the story of a family who gradually go missing one by one - culminating in a knock on a door one late Summer evening. Really tense, creepy, and disturbing. In a "read it now" kinda way.
Last year, I went on a Netgalley requesting binge and I still had some of those sitting on my dashboard so I tried to get through most of them this month.
Buzz Books 2016: Young Adult Fall/Winter by Publishers Lunch (available now)
These books are such a great resource for readers - you can download this and the adult one for free at the Publishers Lunch website here. This one contains extracts from 20 upcoming Young Adult reads coming up in the latter half of the year. Standouts for me included The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, and Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (published August 23)
Anne and Marco are married and have a 6 month old baby. One night they go next door for a party with their neighbours, but when they return home, the baby is gone. A good twisty thriller, believable characters, I couldn't put it down. Really enjoyed it.
Don't You Forget About Me by Liz Tipping (available now)
The Breakfast Club obsessed Cara works in a video shop that's due to close soon. She wants to save the shop, but doesn't know how - meanwhile, there's a school reunion coming up. Could this be Cara's chance to pull off her own perfect John Hughes prom moment? Full of 80s movie references and a quick read, this was a nice light summer choice. I'm a sucker for a school reunion book.
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins (available now)
Post-apocalyptic, set in California after a major drought. Liz is a former model who was used as the poster child for the drought - but now she's all grown up and trying to find her way to a safer place along with her boyfriend Ray. A bit hipster-y for me - I found it boring, I didn't enjoy it.
Himself by Jess Kidd (published October 27)
Handsome stranger Mahony comes to the little Irish village of Mulderrig under a cloud of suspicion - the villagers don't like people poking around asking questions. Especially when they ask questions about Orla Sweeney, a notorious hellraiser who vanished from the village 26 years ago with her baby. Mahony finds unlikely allies as the village begins to get tangled in its own web of lies - a really enjoyable, witty, story with a wicked sense of humour. Recommended.
Leave Me by Gayle Forman (published September 6)
Maribeth Klein is so busy with work and parenting that she doesn't even realise she has had a heart attack. Stressed out and under pressure from several angles, she decides to walk out of her life and go find her birth mother in Pittsburgh. I didn't enjoy this, I thought the main character was selfish and her decisions were inexplicable. I also thought the supporting characters weren't well developed and seemed to just slot in with whatever mood the main character was in at a particular time.
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (published July 14)
"My husband didn't mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it". So goes the opening line - the husband in question is a high profile Judge with a loving wife and son. When he kills the aforementioned Annie Doyle, the family members go in different directions. One goes into shock, the other goes into survival mode, and the third becomes obsessed with the victim. Set in Dublin in the 1980s, this is one of my favourites of the year so far.
Those Summer Nights by Mandy Baggot (available now)
Imogen is disgusted when her wreckless brother Harry buys a restaurant in Corfu. Harry wants Immy to help him set it up and run it - but Immy is happy working as a waitress in the UK as she waits to see if her dream job interview was successful. She goes to Greece with Harry to try and dissuade him from the idea, but when she gets there and meets the former owner and their family, will she want to come home? Summer romance, predictable, but with a sharper wit than many others in the genre.
The Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant (available now)
Millie Hopkin comes to the small village of Honeybourne to take over a rundown bakery and renovate it. Millie has some secrets that are fast catching up with her, can she outrun them? Meanwhile, Jasmine Green reaches out to Millie but is her own family in trouble? A quick, easy read. Not actually much baking/bakery involved despite the title and cover, the bakery is just a side plot.
My Map of You by Isabelle Broom
Recommended to me by Aoife (Pretty Purple Polka Dots), this is another Greek holiday story that's an easy Summer read. Holly finds out that she's now the owner of a property in Greece and leaves London behind to go and find out more about her family and what happened in Greece. Set on Zanthe, really Summery and a fairly good story.
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Having read and kind-of enjoyed Horrorstor by the same author last year, I picked this up. It's set in the 80s, and centres around two best friends - Gretchen and Abby. The girls experiment with drugs at a party and one of them will never be the same again - is she possessed, and what can the other one do about it? Equal parts satire and homage, I enjoyed this a lot even if it did venture into completely weird gory territory more than once.
Fellside by M.R Carey
Because I loved The Girl With All the Gifts, I picked this up blind. Big mistake. Big. Huge. This isn't at all like the author's first book (why should it be? Totally my fault for making assumptions) - this is a gritty female prison drama with a hint of the Supernatural. It reminded me a lot of Bad Girls and had a lot of stereotypes - the grass, the butch one, the liar, etc. Took a while to get through, it was okay.
The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
Carmel Summer Wakeford is 8 years old and has a history of wandering off. When Carmel gets lost again at a Children's Literary Festival, her mother is beside herself - where has she gone? This is told from the POV of both "gifted child" Carmel and her mother, so we do find out what happened. This was okay - it was a bit weird and repetitive toward the middle, I wasn't mad keen on the religion element, and I felt Carmel's voice too adult at times, but it was fine.
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
A good-girl-gone-bad tale about Hannah Dexter, transformed into "Dex" by popular bad girl Lacey. Contains a lot of mature content including sex, drugs, satanism, ritual abuse - really didn't like this and felt like I'd seen Lacey a million times before. I didn't feel there was much in the way of plot and what was there seemed to want to shock rather than tell a story.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
1918, off the coast of Australia, a lighthouse. Tom Sherbourne is a former soldier who takes the isolated job as lighthouse keeper. 1926 - Tom is now married to Isobel. They long for a family of their own but sadly, tragedy strikes multiple times. When a boat washes ashore one day containing the dead body of a man and a very much alive baby, the couple have to make a heartbreaking decision. Will they phone the authorities, or will they raise the child as their own? What if doing the right thing isn't always the right thing to do? Adored this book.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Influenced by the activities of the infamous Charles Manson cult, this follows Evie Boyd in the 60s in California and in the present day. Evie spots beautiful, enigmatic girls in the local park when she is 14. Desperate to be like them and to be noticed, Evie gets involved in the dark world of Russell, a cult leader. Hard to stomach in places, but a good read nonetheless. Very evocative and sixties - the 60s chapters were much more engaging than the 00s ones.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2016, this is a tale translated from Korean about a woman, Yeong-hye, who makes the decision to become vegan (not vegetarian) after a dream. Her husband and family are shocked, this is far outside the cultural and social norm. Told in three sections, this is a very weird, gory little book that uses veganism as the vehicle for a story about mental illness and obsession. I don't know if I loved it or hated it, but it has stayed with me since I read it.
The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward
A YA story about two girls, one a Princess, the other an Alchemist. When the Princess accidentally curses herself with a love potion meant for someone else, a Wilde Hunt is called - several Alchemists are summoned to go on a trek to try to find the ingredients to make an antidote. Among them, Samantha Kemi, who wants to win so she can use the money for her family. Quite juvenile but I'd probably read the sequel if I wanted something light and airy between thrillers.
That was it - no non-fiction and no audiobooks this month, which surprised me when writing this round-up. July is Booktube-a-thon month - very excited!! This year it runs from July 18-24. If you're a book blogger, youtuber or just an avid reader and you want to get involved, keep an eye the Booktube-a-thon twitter account here.