Sunday, June 12, 2016

Books I Read in May

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I have 13 books for you this month:

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

The picks for May were "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers and "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. I bought both, but chose to read the latter.

In this book, Dawkins presents facts about organised religion in order to prove there is no God. Do I agree with him? Not on everything, no. I think that while the facts were interesting and the hypocrisy of some religions are glaringly obvious, I think that Dawkins can be quite preachy and mocking of those who have a particular faith. It was a bit condescending, but it was definitely an interesting read.

Review Copies 

I'm really trying to get through my Netgalley requests, I've stuff sitting there since last September - so I got through four review copies this month.

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry
Reviewed in full here, this is the story of two women who both have a huge role in one man's life. As the book opens, the man, Ed, has been murdered. The story is then told from the POV of Ed's muse, Carla, and his wife, Lily, over a period of fifteen years. I enjoyed this a lot.

Homecoming by Tanya Bullock
I received an email a while ago asking if I would like to read "the strangest love story ever told" - who can resist that? This is a short little novella, under 100 pages, but it was sweet and touching. It addressed a lot of issues that we don't often see in books - I don't want to give the plot away so I'd recommend taking a chance on it.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
I somehow ended up with two ARCs of this one - billed as Barack Obama's favourite book last year. This is the story of a marriage, that of Lotto and Mathilde, two hipster model types who fall for each other instantly and marry within weeks. Mathilde is mysterious, Lotto is creative. We get a look at their marriage from both sides - the first half from Lotto, the second Mathilde. Both paint a very different picture of their marriage and one has been hiding quite a lot. I found the book okay, but boring compared to what I was expecting.

Until Beth by Lisa Amowitz (YA)
Beth is a stellar guitar player, so much so that she ends up in a school for talented youths. Her boyfriend is one of a number of teenagers who have inexplicably gone missing, but could someone at the school hold the key? This was alright, but I've seen it a million times before. If "chosen one" or "divergent" or "immune" or "special" or "unique" stories are your thing, you may enjoy this. Personally I want to see strong independent female characters who don't just rely on some sixth sense to get by.


I listened to three this month while doing housework or cooking, I find it such a great way to get more books in. Funnily enough I haven't been able to concentrate on any fiction yet, I tend to zone out, but I'm enjoying working my way through the autobiography section on audible and the library (there's a blog post here about how to borrow audiobooks from the library).

Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart
I was really disappointed with this - I actually gave up halfway through. But poor wifi and having nothing else to listen to made me finish it one day, and it improved a bit - I just found it a bit repetitive, especially when half the stories have already appeared on Miranda's TV series. The main gripe for me was "18 year old Miranda" (Miranda using a high pitched moany teenager voice) popping in every few minutes, using slang like "sozbuckets". No.

The Life and Loves of a He Devil by Graham Norton
I love Graham Norton, I'm a big fan, and this was enjoyable. I really enjoyed the stories about other famous people - Madonna, Dolly Parton, Cher - and I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes gossip from Graham's various shows. There's a great story in here about Liza Minelli's wedding, enough to keep even the biggest gossip hound going!

The Soundtrack to my Life by Dermot O'Leary
I liked the premise of this - a life story told through songs. Just to be clear, there's no actual music on the audiobook (I naively thought there would be) - but Dermot talks about his life and career so far by dedicating a song or two to each chapter and talking about how it links in with that time period. There's the first song he played on radio, the song he listened to over and over while on holiday, songs from childhood, the song he associates with his first presenting gig, songs from T4, the X Factor, etc - my only gripe is that he talks quite fast so I couldn't always catch what he said, but this was enjoyable and it prompted me to make my own mini list about songs that I've attached to memories (I've listed them on my Goodreads review here).

Other Fiction

Wreckage by Emily Bleeker
Lillian went on a dream trip to Fiji and ended up stranded on the island after the plane crashed. One of only two survivors, Lillian is now preparing to give one final interview to the media to get them off her back. But Lillian is hiding something - what happened on the island? A great read for the first 50-60%, then it got a little silly for me.

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
This was a 5 star read for me, it's a creepy Hammer-esque novel about a man reflecting on a summer spent at The Loney, a wild place with a Shrine reported to have healing properties. Along with his parents, his mute brother, and some family friends, the boy spends the summer at the creepy Victorian mansion where his parents are convinced his brother will be 'healed'. It's atmospheric, it's weird, it's creepy, it's disturbing, and I really enjoyed it.

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs (YA)
Written in 1973 and set in the late 1940s, Lewis Barnavelt is sent to live with his magician uncle Jonathan after his parents are killed in an accident. Jonathan lives in a three storey stone mansion, one that has an incessant ticking in the walls. While trying to impress a new friend, Lewis unwittingly unleashes real evil - can he find and stop the clock ticking? This was enjoyable, a nice read, might be a good one for young teens around Halloween.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
This short book has been nominated for multiple prizes, more notably the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction 2016. It focuses on Lucy Barton, who is reminiscing about a long hospital stay she endured some years before. Her estranged mother shows up and they talk about people from childhood. There are allusions made to some darkness in Lucy's past but it doesn't really go anywhere - at one point I thought the Mum was a figment of Lucy's imagination because she was so detached. This has been billed as the story of a relationship between a mother and daughter but I didn't get it - I didn't enjoy it and felt it was overhyped. But I am in the minority and it's short, so give it a go and let me know if you like it!

The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman (YA)
Described as being similar to "We Were Liars", this is a magical realism story in which teenagers are able to have their wishes granted - for a price. You want to be beautiful? Fine, but you'll have diminished intelligence as a result. You want to erase a painful memory? Okay, but here's some physical pain for you instead. This is full of secrets, lies, and it took me a while to read - I didn't love it. I liked the idea a lot but felt that it dragged a bit.

And that's it! If you have any audiobook suggestions please leave them in the comments, I'm running out of autobiographies and would love something light and easy to listen to - non-fiction if possible!

As always, you can go to my BOOKS 2016 page to access clickable book covers for all the books I read, they will take you to my full Goodreads review.

See you in July...


  1. I have a a copy of Graham Norton at home but I haven't read it yet, and I'm on the hunt for My Husband's Wife. After reading this, I have decided I need to get on them.

  2. Some nice reads in May for you.

  3. The Loney sounds right up my street, great reviews Sharon!


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