Sunday, 10 September 2017

Recently Read: June & July.

Monthly book roundup time y'all! I'm very late with this but that seems to be the standard I've set for myself! We're now well over the halfway point of the year (how did that even happen?) and so that means I need to kick my reading up a notch in order to reach my 60 book goal for the year. 
A couple of these are book club reads, some are audio books, some are library finds. 
Most, were excellent!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I suggested this one in my Summer Reads post way back in May and I was correct! Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine has been a huge seller this Summer and if the Rick O' Shea book club is anything to go by, then every second person has read it. Eleanor is an unusual character. When I started it, I considered that she might be autistic and it reminded me a little bit of The Rosie Project. Eleanor has her own way of doing things. She has a strict routine; she goes to work and eats the same M&S meal deal for her lunch every day, she doesn't make friends with her work colleagues cause she doesn't see the point, she eats pasta pesto every night, whereas at the weekend it's a Margherita pizza and a litre bottle of vodka. There's something not quite right in Eleanore's life (the vodka was not the only giveaway). The darker side to her is slowly revealed after she decides it's time she got a boyfriend. Her attempts to improve herself in order to achieve this, lead her into the path of good people who treat her with kindness and slowly but surely, she starts to unravel. This is a really great book. It's been slightly over hyped now but it's definitely still worth a read. You'll get sucked into Eleanore's world and find yourself laughing, crying, despairing and hoping for her. 

The Cows by Dawn O' Porter
This is Dawn O' Porter's first non YA novel. I've read her other books so I was interested to see what this would be like. The Cows focuses on three different women who on the surface, don't know each other and have nothing in common. There's Cam; a lifestyle blogger, famous for her somewhat inflammatory feminist-lite posts. She's sponsored by L'Oreal and becomes the "face of childless women". Stella is a hate-reader of Cam's blog- she only reads it to be outraged and then email Cam with abusive comments. Stella works for a lovely man, who she's decided she's going to seduce in order to get pregnant and make her life a little less sad. Lastly, there's Tara, a single mum of one who goes on a really successful date, lets her sexual desires get the better of her and ends up being very publicly shamed. This is a really odd book. When I started it, I thought it was quite an interesting concept and it covers some interesting and important topics; internet shaming, being childless both by choice and not by choice, expression of female sexually and the negative connotations surrounding that, blogging, single parenthood etc, all quite relevant in today's society. Having said that, I feel like the book kind of lost the run of itself and some of the events that took place and the actions of the characters didn't seem at all realistic. I finished it because I wanted to know what would happen (I was both surprised and not surprised by the ending) but I can't say I would recommend this one. 

The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney
This is the sequel to The Glorious Heresies, which was one of our book club picks last year. In case you didn't read that one, it's set in Cork city and follows several people; some of which are part of the criminal gang scene- drug dealers, drug users, sex workers etc. The Blood Miracles follows on exactly from where that left off but the focus here is on one of the main characters in the first book;    Ryan Cusack, now 20. In spite of his promises to his girlfriend, he has only gotten deeper into the criminal underworld. His life begins to unravel when he meets both a nosey older woman who thinks she can save him and a beautiful but secretive younger woman, who is "slumming it" with Ryan. I didn't love this as much as the first in the series, the writing itself felt different to me and didn't flow as well. I really like Ryan's character and warmed to him in both books but by focusing only on him in this book, Grew quilt disinterested in his story and I'm not sure I'll read another in the series, if the author writes one. 

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
This is a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. Anne Tyler is a great writer; this flowed along so nicely and was a pleasure to read. Anyone who can take such a well known story from Shakespeare and put their own spin on it is definitely one to read more from. As an aside, you can read more in this series, including Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood, a retelling of The Tempest, which is next on my list to read. Kate is in a bit of a rut. She dropped out of college, works as a teachers assistant, even though she's not very good at it. When she's not working, she looks after the house for her younger sister and dad. She has no romantic prospects, friends, or any real life, sadly. Her dad is a scientist and seems to be going out of his way to get her to his lab, to meet his assistant, Piotr. Kate is horrified when she realises that he's trying to set her up with Piotr, who needs to marry in order to stay in the county and finish his important work with Kate's dad. This is a really light hearted book that would be perfect to bring on holidays; it's in no way mentally taxing and overall was really enjoyable.

Theft by Finding, Diaries, Vol.1 by David Sedaris
I'm a big Sedaris fan and I was really excited about this book coming out. I got it on audible because, if it's read by the man himself you just know it's going to be even funnier. Parts of it made me actually laugh out loud. "I ain't never cooked a squirrel in my life. Wouldn't know how to, wouldn't want to". 
That particular line had me laughing away to myself on the street as I walked to work. There was plenty more like that too- the description of him doing construction work and careening into a tree with a wheelbarrow is priceless, as is the fight he got into on the street with a Native American woman over his broken window frame. So much of this book is incredibly random and bizarre, humorous and of course, poignant. He gets abused on the street a lot in the earlier years of his diary which is always difficult to read..leave David Sedaris alone! There was something missing here for me though, perhaps because it was diary entries it made it less cohesive than his other books. Still worth a read for fans. 

Princess by Jean Sasson
This is one of those cult faves that's been around for years. I remember someone telling me years ago in absolute outrage about how terribly women are treated in Saudi Arabia, after she read this book. This is the first in a series of three books about the life of Princess Sultana, a member of the Saudi Royal family and so, quite a privileged young woman with uncountable wealth. She has absolutely no freedom though and like her mother and sisters is a prisoner in her home, subject to the whims and rules of her brother, father and eventually, husband. It's basically misogyny 101. Parts of it were shocking and enraging but mostly, I knew a lot about this culture already so the interest for me stemmed from reading a first hand experience and even at that I'm still not completely convinced that this really has been written by a Saudi Arabian princess. 
I'm not sure if I'll read the next in the series, it felt poorly written at times and a bit trashy (which sometimes is exactly what you want to read) but engrossing nonetheless. 

I See You by Clare Mackintosh
I See You focuses on Zoe, a forty-something year old mum of two who takes the same route to work every day and the same route home. She favours the same seat on the tube, drops money into the hat of a busker at the same station exit every day, completely unaware that someone is watching her the entire time. Then she spots a photo of herself in a classifieds section of the paper. Surely it's just someone who looks like her and it's a weird coincidence? She puts this out of her mind until other women who's photos were also used without their consent in the paper become victims of crime; house break-ins, muggings, rape, murder. Unfortunately, pretty much no one will take Zoe seriously, including her live-in boyfriend, who we're all supposed to suspect, cause it's always the fella, right? This was really unnecessarily dragged out. There was so much filler that didn't need to be there/ I get "setting the scene" but there was far too much repetition added in there. I hadn't figured out exactly who the baddie was but I knew who it wasn't and even the final twist was one I had worked out thanks to some hinting previously in the book. This just didn't do it for me, it wasn't terrible but there are plenty of better thrillers around, I wouldn't be recommending this one. 

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
The book begins with Nic returning home to small-town Cooley Ridge, where she hasn't stepped foot in ten years. She's now built a successful life for herself in the big city with a fiancĂ© and a good job but has to go back to look after her sick father and tie up loose ends; cleaning and selling the family home. 
As soon as she arrives back she becomes embroiled once again in the unsolved disappearance of her high school best friend, Corrine, which could involve pretty much everyone she knows; her family, friends, neighbours. When another local girl goes missing days after Nic's return, the heat is really on to unravel the truth. 
This one is told backwards, which only served to increase the tension- I was absolutely dying to find out what was going to happen and piecing it together myself because of the way the timeline is written, made it all the more interesting. I really enjoyed the "high school first love" storyline that runs through it as well. Well worth a read.

The Break Down by B.A. Paris
This started out really well. Cass is driving home from a a work night out and decides to take a short cut down a dark path near her home- her husband doesn't like her driving this way but it's raining and visibility isn't great so she chances it. She passes a woman sat, waiting in her car and the side of the road, and although she pauses, Cass decides not to stop, in case its a trap of some sort, plus the woman looked fine. She somehow, forgets about this seconds later when she gets home and goes to bed. Waking up the next day, she's horrified to hear on the radio that the woman was murdered in her car shortly after Cass drove past her. She's worried that she is partially guilty so she tells no one and hopes to forget about it (again. Way to go, Cass) until that is, she starts to get prank phone calls every day and at the same time becomes more forgetful, showing signs of the alzeihmers that killed her mother. Does someone know what she saw and can she outwit them before she succumbs completely to the loss of her mind? 
Lookit, save yourselves. This was brutally bad. Repetitive, extremely predictable, obvious and overall, unsatisfactory. 

And that's that! I'd love to know your thoughts on any of these books if you've read them and of course, what you're currently reading yourself!
To the comments!

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