Friday, 12 June 2015

June Reads: Part One

I've once again had to split my Reads post into two due to the volume of books. To be honest, these actually aren't all June reads: numbers 1, 2, 6 & 7 were all read on my trip to Nijmegen at the very end of May (and therefore after my May Reads post had gone live). 

1. When four people - Brooklyn moms Lottie and Rose, Hollywood star Caroline, and grief-stricken Beverley - agree to share a summer let on a tiny Maine island, they don't anticipate that their longed-for summer vacation may have a wider impact on their lives. Whilst not a challenging read, Enchanted August* was an absolute joy and would make perfect sun-lounger reading this summer. I loved it.

2. Simon Vs The Homo Sapien Agenda was so good that I read it twice in one day. Simon is a junior in high school and while he doesn't have a problem with being gay, he's in no hurry to out himself. So when classmate Martin accidentally sees an email he's sent to the mysterious Blue - with whom Simon is falling in love despite having never met him - and threatens to reveal all unless Simon sets him up with a friend, Simon doesn't have much choice. From the petty jealousies and emotional turmoil to the longing and lust, Albertalli creates realistically flawed - and therefore hugely likable and sympathetic - teenagers. If you read one YA novel this month, it should be this one.

3. I love Valentine's earlier novels, so was excited to read Fire Colour One*. Teenage pyromaniac Iris has been dragged to the UK by her fame- and money-hungry mother and stepfather, and is taken to meet the father she's never really known when her mum realises he's dying... and has plenty of valuable paintings to leave to his next of kin. It might be that I read too quickly, but I never felt much connection with Iris, so it became hard to care what happened to her. Her monstrous mother, Hannah, is much more successfully realised, and seeing her get her comeuppance is extremely satisfying.

4. I'd read a blog review of Unsticky that made it sound worth a read. Grace is 23, skint thanks to a low-paid assistant job on a fashion mag, and has just been dumped on her birthday. When a suave older man rescues her, she's presented with a dilemma: is agreeing to become his paid mistress morally wrong? It's significantly better written and less objectionable, politically speaking, than Fifty Shades Of Gray, to which - with its talk of contracts and wealthy but cruel love interests - it bears a superficial resemblance. Like all of Manning's books, Unsticky was very well written, with engaging characters, however I'm really not keen on the whole 'reform an unpleasant and frankly sociopathic man' trope in romantic literature.

5. More Icelandic crime fiction with Someone To Watch Over Me (I read Sigurdadottir's most recent novel last month), and again there's a mystery with a supernatural element for Thora to solve: this time, how is the hit-and-run death of a teenage babysitter linked to a fatal fire at a residential centre for disabled young people?

6. I loved E Lockhart's When We Were Liars and thoroughly enjoyed Lauren Myracle's sections of the book she wrote with John Green and Maureen Johnson, Let It Snow, so I figured How To Be Bad would make for some light holiday reading. Three teenagers - religious Jesse, hiding a secret, Vicks, who's missing her boyfriend, and newcomer, rich girl Mel - set off on a road trip across Florida to reunite Vicks with said boyfriend and high jinks ensue. This was fine: I probably wouldn't rush to read it again but I enjoyed it.

7. The Mysterious Affair At Styles was the debut novel for Christie's popular detective Hercule Poirot. When wealthy Mrs Inglethorpe, owner of the magnificent country estate of Styles, is found dead - presumed poisoned - it is up to Poirot, with the help of old friend Captain Hastings, to solve the case.

8. I read the first 6 or 7 books in The Hollows series - which begins with Dead Witch Walking - a few years ago and for some reason decided I wanted to give them a reread. It's not great literature (I feel like I say that about a lot of the books I read!) and in fact I found some elements extremely irritating - such as constantly being told how scared of her vampire roommate protagonist Rachel, the witch of the title is, in an attempt to drum up some tension. But I think I'll probably still re-read the next couple because sometimes I just need to escape into trashy books about pixies and demons, ok?

9. Love Is The Higher Law was clearly Levithan's memorial to and meditation on 9/11. It looks at how the events of that day impacted on ordinary New Yorkers by following his three fictional teenagers - Claire, Jasper and Peter - on September 11th itself and then in the months after.

* These books were kindly supplied by the publishers via Net Galley, 
but all opinions are entirely my own.
Note: I do not use affiliate links in these posts, but like to provide a (non-Amazon) source