July Reads

Another cliche monthly wrap up introduction but July was hands down the quickest month of 2018 so far. It has been a bit of an up and down month in my personal life but it flew by so fast. August is my favourite month of the year. Not only is it my birthday aka the best day of the year, we’re off on holiday to Madrid for a few days for some much-needed relaxation and then I see Britney Spears! I’ve seen her back in 2011 and been hoping she would come back to the UK so when tickets came out, I had to get my hands on one. In terms of reading, I got through eight books in July. A pretty standard amount for me but I was in such a weird reading funk for most of the month. I was either binge reading books in one sitting or having gaps where I didn’t read at all. This month was also a mixed bag genre-wise so before I end up on another tangent, let’s get into what I read.

The Lido by Libby Page

This book has been doing the rounds on Social Media thanks to being featured in so many celebrity and bloggers book clubs/summer picks – including my own. This was an enjoyable, lighthearted read and it is easy to see why it has glowing reviews. We meet Rosemary, an 86 year old widow from Brixton who visits her local outdoor pool every day and has for as long as she can remember. When the local council threatened to close it in order to build swanky, expensive apartments, Kate, a twenty-five-year-old lonely and anxious journalist for the local paper is tasked with reporting on its closure and what it means for the community. It’s a story of an unlikely friendship, reminiscing over Rosemary’s relationship and community coming together to help save the lido. It was such an easy read and I found all the characters likeable – I can’t remember the last time I read a book that I did. If you’re looking for a light, summer read then this is one for you.

Home by Karen Dionne

I was sent this by the lovely team at Little Brown and couldn’t put it down. This was previously published under The Marsh King’s Daughter. I was completely obsessed with this book and found it so engrossing. Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behaviour, she loved him. Twenty years later, her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance and knows just one person who has the survivalist skills to conquer the marsh – her. Alternating between the present and the past we learned so much about Helena’s childhood. It was such an addictive book and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for something full of suspense, action and creepiness.

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager

Final Girls, Riley Sager’s debut novel, was one of my favourite books of last year. It had horror movie, suspense vibes that I loved so when I found out he was releasing The Last Time I Lied, I pre-ordered this on my Kindle so I could read it on release day. I was a little worried it wouldn’t live up to the standard of Final Girls but OH. MY. GOD, this was SO much better.

Twenty years ago, Emma attended Camp Nightingale and shared a cabin with three other girls. When she watched them sneak out one night, she didn’t think anything of it. When the girls go missing and are never found, the camp is shut down. When the camp owner gets back in touch with Emma to let her know the camp is reopening, she is asked to attend. As hesitant as she is, Emma decides to go. Once she arrives, she feels she has made a mistake. Will her stay help her get closure or is being back at camp going to cause her to relive the worst summer she ever had?

This is the first book in a while that has kept me up past my bedtime to finish. From page one, I was gripped and it set the tone for the whole entire book. Sager has an incredible writing style, keeping you on your toes throughout the book and making you question so many things. You think your finally sussing something out until something else is thrown in the mix and you don’t know what to believe anymore. There was also a bit in the book that left me going “WHAT?” – in a good way. I loved the setting of Camp Nightingale. It felt atmospheric and you felt like you were being transported to this sinister location. The plot was so well executed and left you guessing. Nothing felt predictable and I found it an engrossing, eerie read full of suspense. 

The Family Next Door – Sally Hepworth

The Family Next Door is another book that was one of my six summer selections and one I was really excited to read. I was drawn to the plot and with an endorsement from Lianne Moriarty – what was there not to like?  We follow Essie, Ange and Fran who live in Pleasant Court, Australia with their families. When a new neighbour, Isabelle, moves in – she sticks out from the rest of the residents. With no husband or children, Pleasant Court seems like an unlikely location for a single woman. The women are all intrigued by her but behind closed doors, all have their own secrets. Over the course of the books, we find out just what they are and just how well you think you know your neighbours. I flew through this in one sitting. It was an easy read with likeable characters and I wanted to know what happened from fairly early in the book. My main gripe was some of the characters ‘secrets’. One of the women’s stories (Fran) didn’t grip me as much as the others and Ange’s was pretty predictable but I did enjoy Essie’s story and found that to be very engaging.

One thing I will say about this book is the writing style is EXACTLY like Lianne Moriarty’s. If I didn’t know the author’s name beforehand, I would have assumed it had been written by her. Overall, it was a decent, easy summertime read that was enjoyable – even though as time went by, things were quite predictable. If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty’s books then this is one for you!

All These Beautiful Strangers – Elizabeth Klehfoth

We all have a guilty pleasure when it comes to books and mine is reading about rich teenagers. Why? I have no idea but I was an avid viewer of The OC, Gossip Girl and My Super Sweet 16 when I was younger and still watch from time to time. So when this book was described as being Gossip Girl meets Cruel Intentions, I was sold.

We meet Charlie Calloway, daughter of Alistair Calloway who is extremely wealthy as she embarks on her first term at the prestigious Knollwood Augustus Prep. When she arrives at the school, she is called upon by a secret, elite group called The A’s. Everyone wants to be an A but only a select few are chosen. There are tasks that have to be completed in order to be initiated into the group and big consequences if you fail to comply. But there is something looming over Charlie – the unsolved disappearance of her beloved mother, Grace. She is believed to have walked out of Charlie’s life when she was just a child but when information starts to resurface, she is desperate to get to the bottom of her mother’s disappearance. The book was told from three different points of view – Charlie, her father Alistair and mother Grace. As the mystery of Grace’s disappearance grew, it was interesting to hear the different take on events. I also sussed out what happened but not until near the end so it did leave me questioning things for most of the book

My only gripe is there was a decent sized chunk of the book where I wish the pace was as fast as the rest of the book but I managed to get through it pretty quickly and enjoyed the book overall. It was juicy, ticked all my guilty pleasure boxes and thought it was well executed. I could easily see this being adapted as a teen drama on TV, similar to the likes of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. It would make great viewing.

Girls Night Out – Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

I kept seeing Girls Night Out on social media and I instantly added it on my GoodReads TBR. When I saw that you could request an ARC copy on NetGalley, I was over the moon when I when I was accepted.

When Ashley, Natalie and Lauren embark on a girls trip to Tulum, beyond the beaches and margaritas there is a real reason they are there beyond having fun – to repair their friendship that has been under strain. Ashley and Natalie own a successful hair tool comparing, BloMe, and with Revlon swooping in to offer to buy the company, one wants to sell while the other doesn’t. It has caused some friction between their relationship and they hope by the end of the trip, they can reconsider each other’s feelings and it can all be resolved. Lauren, who often feels like the third wheel in their friendship, hasn’t spoken to Ashley and Natalie for over a year but wants to also get back on track after tragically losing her husband a year prior. But when a girls night out goes terribly wrong, Ashley goes missing. With Natalie not being able to recall the night – they are determined to find their friend.

It was a proper girly, beach read and I secretly wished I was in Tulum sipping on some cocktails with this read to accompany me. I don’t want to give tooooo much of the plot away but it’s definitely engrossing and I managed to fly through it pretty quickly. Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke are fantastic writers. The plot flowed at a nice pace and although you were keen to find out what happened to Natalie, it was nice to read a mystery book without having tons of characters to suspect or be pulled in all different directions. It was just so enjoyable and well written.

Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata

This was a bit of a strange book that I was looking forward to but sadly, didn’t enjoy that much. Keiko has always been considered a strange child. When she takes a part-time job at a convenience store while studying at university, what was supposed to be temporary alongside her studies slowly turns into 18 years of service. Keiko knows the store like the back of her hand, loves to please both management and customers and performs her job to military precision. At 36, she has never had a boyfriend and has no intention of getting married and having children. When her family voice their concerns that she is not living up to society’s expectations, she feels like she’s letting them down. When a similar, cynical young man named Shiraha comes to work at the store, she begins to question her life and wonders if she is missing out on what society thinks is a normal way to live

I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either. I was just a little disappointed as it was described as the Japanese Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and that wasn’t the case – both quirky characters but two totally different tales. I felt Keiko’s character could have been explored a little more. I also couldn’t stand Shiraha – he was a misogynist, sexist pig who made me feel frustrated reading about him. It was, however, a great observation on how ‘success’ is measured – having a career, marriage and a family. It was refreshing to read about a character who did not feel like she had to conform to the social expectations we often sometimes feel in life. Overall, it was a good read but I wish it was a little bit longer with more time spent focusing on Keiko and her quirks. It really got me of the expectations that society puts upon us and the pressure we face to look as if we aren’t ‘failing’

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang

Let me hold my hands up and admit, as much as I say I will read any genre, romance is just not my bag. I’ve always found the books too cheesy and predictable but this was a game changer for me. I absolutely loved this book and did a full review which you can find here.

I tried and failed at sticking to a book buying ban in July but I did snag some bargains on Amazon Prime Day. I hope to read a mixture of different genres in August and I have a couple of books I’m looking forward to reading by the pool. What are you reading plans for August?