July is here and we are currently experiencing a heatwave. It is so refreshing to have the sunshine sticking around for more than three days in Scotland – is this what others would call a summer? June was a super busy month and winning my award has really given me a new lease of life towards my corner of the internet. I didn’t get as much reading in as I wanted to but, I still managed eight books, so it isn’t too bad. For July, I have a huge to be read pile that is neatly piled up on my bedside table so I can’t wait to get stuck into those. I also want to try and get back into audiobooks again this month after featuring them in my Mid Year Reading Goals post. Now to stop rabbling on about what July has in store and fill you in on what I did manage to read in June.
When I first came across this book on GoodReads, I knew I had to pick it up ASAP. I was so excited to read this and sadly, I felt so disappointed by it. The book kicks off promising – we meet Lana Maddox, a fifteen-year-old girl who has just been found after going missing for three days. Covered in mud and bruises, her family are desperate to find out what happened to her – but she will not talk about where she has been. Every question is answered with “I don’t know.” Her mother Jen is determined to find out what happened to her. The book follows Jen and Lana gradually building up a mother/daughter relationship that was strained even before Lana’s disappearance and, we do finally find out what happened to Lana. Overall, this book was missing something. The book was split into different paragraphs with headings that I found a nice feature but I didn’t care for any of the characters – especially Jen. It got a little frustrating at times as there were chunks were nothing took place and the ending fell flat for me. It was beautifully written but sadly, it was too much of a slow burner for me.
The only celebrity book club I follow religiously is Reese Witherspoon’s and this is another stellar monthly selection. Don’t get me wrong – this book is incredibly far-fetched. The majority of it was totally unbelievable but it was so addictive. We meet Erin, a documentary maker and new husband Mark, an investment banker. During their honeymoon in Bora Bora, they discover something in the water that turns their life into complete chaos. It a real edge of your seat material read that left me wanting to know how it all panned out. An ideal, juicy beach read for the summer.
With Sleepless in Seattle being one of my favourite romantic movies and as a listener of The High Low podcast where Nora is often spoken about, it is about time I dived into some of Nora’s writing. This was one of the books stacked at the check out at Waterstones, so it was an ‘impulse at the time’ kind of purchase, but I’m so glad I did. Based loosely on her own failed marriage, Ephron tells the tale of a Rachel, who at seven months pregnant, discovers her husband is having an affair. With their relationship in turmoil, Rachel must decide whether or not to give her marriage another chance or to walk away. This book had some real laugh out loud moments and Ephron has an incredible sense of humour. I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading some more of her books. If you loved Dolly Alderton’s memoir Everything I Know About Love, then this is one for you.
One of my six summer book choices, the best word to use to describe this book is simply unique. It is like nothing I have ever read before. The story is told from the perspective of Jasper, a 13-year-old boy who suffers from a condition called Synesthesia meaning when he hears sounds; he also sees colours. A talented painter with a remarkable condition and love for parakeets that have nested in his neighbour’s tree, Jasper’s life is turned upside down when Bee Larkham moves into his street. While she disturbs the neighbours with her antics and loud music, Jasper and Bee strike up an unlikely friendship which we soon learn, perhaps isn’t the most healthy. But Jasper discovers another colour – the colour of murder. When Bee goes missing, he’s positive something has happened to her and is desperate to find out the truth but begins to question what part he played. All in all, this book is seriously delightful. The description of beautiful colours makes for a vibrant, colourful accompaniment to the mystery of Bee’s disappearance. I rated this four stars as I adored Jasper as a character, enjoyed the beautiful prose and found the story original, quirky and brilliantly written. I would recommend this, especially if you’re looking for a book that is incredibly intriguing and not like anything you’ve read before.
This book has been on my GoodReads TBR list for what seems like forever so I’m glad I finally got the chance to pick this up in June. It is a book that is met with so much praise and it was easy to see why. With a unique take on immigration, among what is a country on the brink of civil war, we meet Nadia and Sadeed, who fall in love. When tension mounts and uncertainty around the country’s future deteriorates by day, they can pick to go through mystical doors that appear that can transfer them to another country easily. But they are desperate to hold onto one another. This was such a beautifully written book and I devoured it in just two sittings. I was rooting for Nadia and Sadeed the whole way through and it really got me thinking, what would I do if a door appeared that could transport me elsewhere? It was stunning and now I want to read Hamid’s first novel that also has rave reviews.
When this book began to do the rounds on social media thanks to being one of the Book of The Month selections earlier in the year, I couldn’t wait for this to be released in the UK. We are introduced to our protagonist Romy Hall as she is on her way to a correctional facility to serve two consecutive life sentences. Over the course of the book, we learn about Romy’s past, the crime she committed which wound her up in prison and her life as she is incarcerated. This book tackled great social issues such as female imprisonment in the USA but for me, this was a huge disappointment. I honestly can’t put into words how gutted I was that this book didn’t live up to the hype for me. I wanted to give up on it so many times and persevered but it didn’t get any better.
I’m not going to say too much about this book as you can read my full review of this here. This was an incredible memoir that made me shed a tear or two and I couldn’t recommend this enough.
Another of my six summer book picks is The Ensemble by Aja Gabel. This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. I love music and can play a couple of instruments, so I gravitated towards this book. We follow a strings quartet made up of Jana, Brit, Henry and Daniel. All unique in their different ways with different life stories. It is a coming of age story as we follow them as they navigate their career as a four-piece, juggle relationships and what life throws at them. It was beautifully written, and the character development was well executed. The vivid description of the music was incredible and I enjoyed the musical backdrop. However, I seen a few reviews thankfully on bookstagram before I read this with others finding it wasn’t about the music and they were disappointed it wasn’t a more prominent feature – it was more like a nice bond that held the four characters together but, did contain lots of references to classical composers and the book came alive to me as Gabel described one of the quartet’s rehearsals/concerts. I’m glad I knew this before I dived into it as I can see why some people are disappointed. Overall I loved it but at times, felt a little bored and could easily have had the book condensed down just a little.
For June as a whole, there where more disappointments than usual and I’m gutted that a couple of books I couldn’t wait to get my hands on didn’t live up to expectations. But I have such a great stack lined up for July that I can’t wait to start so onwards and upwards! Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts below or you can tweet me at @amysbookshelf_ or on Instagram at @amysbookshelf. Thank you for reading!