Monday, September 7, 2015

Books I Read in August, Book Haul & Booktube-a-thon 2015 Results


August kicked off with the Booktube-a-thon (previous post about that here) - out of the 7 books I hoped to read, I managed to get through 5. I could have read all 7 but I completely lost my reading mojo after getting stuck on a book that was really boring (more about that in a bit). Apart from that, I read 5 others - bringing my August total to 10.

It was a poor reading month for me (considering I read 7 of these books in the first ten days of the month) - when I lose interest in reading I really lose it and don't want to go near books for weeks. It happens a few times a year so hopefully it's full steam ahead now for September!

As always with these round up posts, if you want to read my original Goodreads review for each or any book, visit the Books 2015 page and click on an individual book cover to go to that review.

Rick O'Shea Book Club Pick

This month it was a choice between Paul Murray's The Mark and the Void or Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. I chose the latter, and I just finished it at the start of September. The protagonist, Christopher, is fifteen years old and has Aspergers Syndrome. The book is told from Christopher's POV. His neighbour's dog has been murdered - this is the catalyst for a chain of events that leads Christopher to discover all is not as it seems within his family. This is a fantastic portrayal of someone with Aspergers - not something I'm familiar with, I was fascinated by the way Christopher's brain worked. I liked the book a lot.

Booktube-a-thon 2015

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
This classic coming-of-age tale has been around for decades, but I'm only getting to it at the grand old age of 32. Margaret Simon, aged 12, recently moved to a new town and is shocked by the way the other girls talk about boys, boobs and periods. Feeling a bit lost, Margaret turns to God for the chats. This was okay - it was a bit rushed and nobody was particularly well developed (pardon the pun) apart from Margaret. But it's worth a read - I mean, it's Judy.

Memoirs of a Fruitcake by Chris Evans
This is the book that killed my mojo. Having had such an enjoyable reading experience with Chris' earlier autobiography It's Not What You Think, I had high hopes for the follow-up - what I got was a mind-numbingly boring account of how a very rich man spent all his money. I just didn't like this at all - it was pretentious and it wasn't enjoyable. Chris himself seems to be a lovely man, this was just at a period in his life where he was flinging money around, forgetting he bought houses, and it didn't make for a relateable or entertaining read. This took me the guts of a week to read, and considering this was during a week-long challenge, it wasn't ideal. I'd recommend the first book but you don't need to read this.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The premise for this was brilliant - a teenage girl with a disease that means she could be infected by anything outside of her own house. Inside her home is sterilised, it's safe - but Madeline has never been outside. When a new boy moves in next door they begin connecting via Instant Message but when things look like they're progressing, what can Madeline do about it when she can't even leave her home? I didn't like the direction this book took towards the end, it seemed to turn from an inventive, new concept to a typical YA romance but it was worth a read and it was enjoyable.

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
If you haven't read anything by Donal Ryan I'd very much encourage you to go and rectify that as soon as possible. His writing is edible, especially if you grew up in small-town Ireland. His descriptions, his turn of phrase, his characters - this tale about a community of people in post-recession Ireland connected in various ways had a real Pure Mule feel about it and I wanted to read it again the minute I put it down.

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Set in the near future, NASA decide to boost popularity for a new lunar expedition by selecting three teenagers to join the astronauts on the mission to moon base DARLAH 2. They want to investigate something under the guise of a 50th moon landing anniversary - when the teenagers get there, they realise that NASA have not been entirely honest with them, and that something very sinister is going on. I liked this a lot - it's definitely a YA book but it's a great concept and was written really well. I got vibes of Hugh Howey's Wool or Marcus Sedgwick's The Ghosts of Heaven from it so if either of those floated your boat, give this a go.


Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
This is such a clever little book - set in an Orsk store that sells knock-offs of IKEA products, Amy is an employee that gets roped into doing an all-night spying exercise with some other employees and her horrible manager after some items in the store have been damaged. Perfect black comedy for those who have ever worked in retail, this takes a really dark twist in the middle and goes down the horror/gore route. No issue with that, but I do wish it had retained some of the comedy. Great social commentary, brilliant illustrations, fantastic concept, but the quality of the horror let it down.

You by Caroline Kepnes
Joe works at a book shop. One day, he notices a woman named Guinevere Beck in the shop and becomes fascinated with her - his obsession reaches dangerous levels as he begins to slowly make sure that Guinevere is dependent on him. This is written from Joe's POV - a brave choice, but I just didn't like it that much. There's a lot of swearing (the C word - not the Santa one, the BAD one is used to describe both female genitalia and as a swear word), plus the whole thing left me with a nasty feeling. Was I supposed to feel sympathy for Joe at any point? Because I didn't. I felt like Guinevere (or Beck, as she's known) was made out to be a slut, a tramp, therefore had all this coming to her. Probably (and hopefully) not the intention but I just didn't like it. It definitely made me more aware of what I put on social media, it's frightening how easy it is for strangers to track your every move even from a few seemingly harmless tweets. This just didn't hit the spot for me thriller-wise.

The Boy Between by Susan Stairs
This is Susan's second book, it's the tale of a daughter trying to uncover a family secret. Set in modern day Ireland, Orla can't make it home for Christmas because of the Big Freeze of 2010. When she finally gets home, her mother is even more dejected than she feared - the second half of the year has always been hard for Orla's mother, but nobody will tell her why. In a moment of desperation, her father hands her a photograph of her parents the year Orla was born - in the photograph, there's a teenage boy with white-blonde curly hair. Orla has never seen him before, but when her father clams up, she sets off on a journey to discover more about the boy and whether or not his identity will prove to be the key that unlocks the sadness within her mother. We get the boy's story here, revealed in every second chapter. It's a beautiful, sad tale about love, loss, grief, and hope. Really good and recommended.
Book Haul

I visited Amazon to get the Mark Haddon book for Book Club, and saw that it was in the 3 for £10 deal. Now - here is my logic for this next photo. Amazon offer free shipping over £25. So that's the 3 for £10 deal twice. There's still £5 to make up - but for another £5, you can have THREE more. So I got three more. And a single one. I won't be doing that again for a while until the exchange rate improves, but for now I'm happy with my shiny new books! Also in the photo there are some beautiful books from ROADS publishing that I received for review, but they'll get their own post soon. I placed a small Book Depository order earlier in the month as well, so those two books are in the picture too. Most of the ones I ordered from Amazon are Richard & Judy Summer Reads. I've only read two so far but I'll give a brief synopsis of each one in case you want to take advantage of the offer.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker
15 year old Nola Kerrigan disappears in New Hampshire in 1975. 33 years later, her body is dug up from the yard of author Harry Quebert, along with a copy of his manuscript. It's up to his student, Marcus Goldman, to clear Harry's name and find out what really happened.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Adapted from a Russain fairytale, this is set in the 1920s in remote Alaska where a couple have moved to the wilderness after suffering a loss. One night, the wife makes a child from snow - the next day, the child is gone, but they begin to see a little girl around the farm.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman
Ove is an incredibly grumpy man who passes his time doing "rounds" of the neighbourhood to point out the stupididy of his neighbours, but is there more to Ove than meets the eye?

Her by Harriet Lane
A tale of two very different women with two very different lifestyles - but their paths have crossed before, and though one may not remember.........the other does.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
An epic modern classic about a group of eccentric classmates studying classics at a New England college and how their lives are changed by a terrible secret.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
A novel about a 17 year old boy refusing life-saving medical treatment and the Judge who must decide on the case.

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham
The book upon which The Village of the Damned was based. A silver object falls from the sky one day and all the town residents fall unconscious. The next day, the object is gone, but every woman in the town is pregnant with a blonde, blue-eyed child. I ordered this from Book Depository.

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
Set in a small rural town in the aftermath of Celtic Tiger Ireland, tensions and tempers are high and  violence is inevitable. When an incident occurs, several different people connected in some way are given a voice and given their say. Nobody gets a second chapter, but the truth gradually comes to light. If you've read Ryan's The Thing About December, Johnsey's story is mentioned and we find out what happened afterwards. Also ordered from Book Depository.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Set in London in 1922, an impoverished widow and her spinster daughter take in lodgers that change their lives in unforseen ways.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
A fifteen year old boy with Asperger's Syndrome sets out to solve the mystery of how his neighbour's dog was murdered.

The Humans by Matt Haig
Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling himself after an incident one Friday night - he appears to be annoyed, irritated, and frustrated with every aspect of the human race. What could have changed him so much?

A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray
The Bradleys are, in every respect, a normal family. The 16 year old is in love, the 13 year old dreams of playing football professionally, the 7 year old believes in miracles. His Dad does too - but the Mum finds it hard to believe in anything after losing Issy, in fact she finds it hard to get out of bed.

I'll cover the ROADS books in a post of their own, they deserve their own post.

So - spot anything you like, or have you read any of these?

Where the hell do I start?!


  1. I haven't read Judy Blume's classic yet either! Definitely one on my 'to read' list! Impressed as usual about the amount of books you've gotten through xx

    1. Thank you Zoe! The Judy Blume is definitely worth a read, I'd love to know how teenagers now would view it. x

  2. I liked the Curious Incident as well. Really want to read Horrorstör- may get it for my Halloween reads! Loving your book haul! I've read The Paying Guests and although I love Sarah Waters, I found that one was a slower read than her other books, still well written just slower. I have The Children Act and The Secret History and am yet to read either but they both look brilliant!

    1. Horrorstor would make a great Halloween read, I'm really looking forward to October this year, I got stuck in a reading rut last year so hopefully I'll get to some of my spooky ones this year! I've never read anything at all by Sarah Waters, I think it was on the Richard & Judy book club x

  3. I love your book reviews Sharon you get through so many

  4. Oh Sharon, you lost me at Are you they God... The memories! That book went around my 2nd class like fucking smack... Girls who couldn't read - read it in a night. I love how you prioritise your reading. I'm such a lazy bitch... I'm embarressed to say when I finished a book last!!!! (Where's the shame faced monkey emoji)
    Love this post!
    Siobhan xx

    1. I love it so much, I'd go mad if I didn't read! Absolute addict. Are you There God sounds like the pre-teen equivalent of Fifty Shades, people who never read a book before were reading that too! Shhh there will be no shame faced monkeys around here, everyone's different :) xx

  5. Your book posts make everything better.

    I've never read a judy blume book. I think she might be before my gen. Jaqueline Wilson was where it was at for learning about boobs, periods and other preteen worries.

    Going to add the spinning heart to the reading list. I'll get to it in 2030 at this rate!

    1. My sister definitely had some Jacqueline Wilson books, I haven't read any at all! I don't know how I missed Judy either, I've read Forever but it was years and years ago. I was big into Lois Lowry and The Babysitters Club! The Spinning Heart is fantastic and it's tiny x

  6. I love The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, I think it's coming to Bord Gais before Christmas and we were thinking of going!

    1. I've heard only good things about the musical xx

  7. Brilliant, hopefully I'll get to it soon!

  8. Hmm, Horrorstör sounds like it could be a fun read, but, but.. *whimpers* I'm really not good with horror/gory stuff.
    The Curious Incident.. was a mandatory read for our equivalent of a leaving cert ("matura"), "some" years ago, and I remember quite liking it; interesting POV.

    Also, I'll never stop being amazed by your book posts - how do you manage it? :D You rock.


Talk at me!