July was the month of the BookTubeAThon, the fourth annual one. You can check out my results here, though I’ll be posting all my reviews below.
The Life-Changing Art of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight
If the title of this seems to ring a bell with you, it’s because it’s a pisstake of the Marie Kondo book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In fact, this book’s content style is written in parody as Marie Kondo’s book but the content itself does have a bit of substance. It isn’t a novelty book, while reading it I did write some notes and pick up some interesting tips. There’s plenty of articles about the book floating around with some of these tips. I did find the book grated on me a bit, purely because it’s very repetitive at times and also because for a book about trying to make you give less fucks about something, the fact that the title has fuck censored really annoyed me!
The Girls by Emma Cline
The Girls is set in California in 1969 and is told from the point of view of Evie, a 14 year old who gets involved in a cult (it's based loosely on the Manson Family cult). The story focuses more on the girls who were often involved in these cults and not the charismatic leader, which most books and stories seem to centre around. In this book the leader, Russell, is more of a side figure and Evie instead is captivated by 19 year old Suzanne and craves her attention and validation. The book has two storylines, the 1969 story as well as another narration of a middle aged Evie. While other reviews I read disliked the middle aged Evie part of the book, I did enjoy it but it did feel a bit disjointed at times. There's no doubt that Cline can write and she has such beautiful sentences at times. But others times it felt convoluted and a bit too forced. Cline also captures the essence of a teenage girl really well, the thoughts and turmoils and what I liked about middle aged Evie was seeing that some of those feelings were still there (like enjoying the attention of others). However I found the pacing of this book too slow for me and it didn't live up to the hype. Not that I wouldn't recommend it to others, it just wasn't for me, but I can see why other people really enjoy this. Overall a 2.5 out of 5 for me [NetGalley]
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain
My sister read this book a few month's ago so when I saw it on NetGalley I decided to request it as she spoke highly of it. And it didn't disappoint! The President's Hat starts with accountant Daniel Mercier having dinner alone at a brassiere when lo and behold President François Mitterrand sits next to him! Savouring the dinner and pretending he's the fourth dinner guest, Daniel is delighted when he sees Mitterrand has left his iconic black felt hat behind. After taking it for himself, Daniel discovers the hat makes him feel different and is devastated when he later misplaces it. We follow the journey of the hat and how it affects the lives of all who have it in their possession. It's a sweet uplifting story, I loved the characters and I enjoy books and stories where people's lives intertwine, paths crossing, like invisible string. The book is set in the 80s and has just enough nostalgia that makes it charming, any more and it would have been too much. I sped through this book, reading it in two sittings, it makes for a great summer read. C'est magnifique! [NetGalley]
Darkmouth: Chaos Descends by Shane Hegarty
This is book three in the Darkmouth series (possibly just a trilogy though, I’m not really sure) and I listed it in my first 2016 Most Anticipated Books post. I can’t really say much about it seeing as it’s part of a series but it’s the continuing adventures of Finn, a 12 year old who is reluctant to become a Legend Hunter (monster hunter to me and you) like the rest of his family. It’s a quick read and I think children from 9 upwards would enjoy this series.
The Muse by Jessie Burton
I mentioned this book in part 2 of 2016 Most Anticipated Books and after I read it I posted a full review which you can read here. Carribean immigrant Odelle has just started working in an art gallery for the aloof and mysterious Marjorie Quick. When Odelle comes across a painting rumoured to be by Issac Robles, a painted who died in mysterious circumstances during the Spanish Civil War, another narration starts with Olive Schloss, who moves to Spain in 1936 with her parents and is greeted by Teresa Robles and her half brother Issac. The two narrations weave together and reveal the secret behind the painting. It’s definitely one of my favourites so far this year! [NetGalley]
Love Poems by Carol Ann Duffy
For the BookTubeAThon I wanted something I could quickly read at night so I picked this up from the library. I don’t read a lot of poetry but I am familiar with Carol Ann Duffy’s name and it crops up every now and again especially when I watch Jen Campbell’s YouTube channel. I already knew two of these poems, without knowing they were Duffy’s: one from Leaving Cert English and the other was Valentine, a poem my English teacher read out in 3rd year. This poetry collection isn’t full of sappy love poems. Yes, we get sweet, sentimental ones but Duffy also explores themes such as longing, adultry and leaving love behind. If you want to try read more poems, this is a good place to start.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
This book was all over BookTube a year or so ago, as it was part of the Books Are My Bag campaign and Booktubers were given packages for the campaig, this book included. This is a semi-autobiographical story of Jeanette, a girl who is adopted by a religious zealot mother. Jeanette lives a shelted life of homeschooling, destined to be missionary. Until one day she is forced to go to a real school and learns how different she is. When Jeanette develops feelings for her new friend, she’s rejected by her family and church for these ‘unnatural feelings’ and she must decide whether or not to hold onto this faith that tells her she’s a bad person or believe in herself. It’s a coming of age story that felt a bit jumbled for me. Just when I felt like I had a hold of the tone of the story, it would change, with Winterson weaving in myths and legends as a way to tell the story. I didn’t connect emotionally with Jeanette, which might happen if I read Winterson’s memoir Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? which I probably will read in the future.
The Burning by Jane Casey
The Burning is the first in a series by Jane Casey featuring Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan. The Burning Man is a vicious serial killer in London, brutally beating women before burning them. When the 5th victim Rebecca Haworth turns up, something seems off and so Maeve investigates, hoping to unravel the truth and find not only Rebecca’s murderer but The Burning Man too. I enjoyed this, it’s not a psychological thriller, the pace is slower and we actually find out who does half way through, just not how or why, we wait for those pieces to slot together as the rest of the plot develops. The slowness of this book seems to possibly be because it’s the first book in the series but it does a good job at establishing some characters like Maeve and it has piqued my interest enough that I’ll be picking up the 2nd book!
When We Collided by Emery Lord
Vivi and Jonah are dealing with their own struggles and secrets. Vivi is bipolar and has done something that has really upset her friends. Jonah’s father died suddenly and his mother just sits in her room and cries, leaving Jonah and his 2 older siblings to look after the 3 younger kids. When Vivi arrives at Verona Cove for the summer, she takes a shine to Jonah and his family and a magical summer begins. I loved this book, it tackles a lot: grief, mental illness, personal pain, family. Vivi and Jonah are polar opposites but they work together. I liked the characters, especially Jonah and his sweet family. Vivi can grate a little but I think this has partly to do with how she handles (or doesn’t handle!) her bipolar diagnosis. I am glad there’s a YA book that tackles mental health issues. This isn’t a perfect book, but when I read it it was perfect for me. A fantastic contemporary YA summer novel.
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
“My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it."
These are the opening lines to the book and boy do they grab your attention! Told from 3 points of view [Lydia (who’s husband killed Annie Doyle), Laurence (their 17 year old son) and Karen (Annie’s sister)] the story spans 5-6 years and slowly the story immerges. I read this book as it was the July book of the for the Rick O’Shea book club and I wrote a full review post which you can check out here.
Ms Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why by G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphonsa and Jacob Wyatt
2nd volume in the Ms Marvel series, following Kamala Khan, a nerdy teenager in Jersey who suddenly finds she has super powers. I liked this more than the first one, as we already had a sense of the characters and the tone of the series. I also loved the cameo from another Marvel character in this! I already have book 3 on order and hope it gets here ASAP.
Number of Books Read- 11
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 10:1
Number of eBooks- 4 (The Girls, The President’s Hat, The Muse and Lying in Wait)
Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 6 (The Life Changing Art of Not Giving a F**k, Darkmouth: Chaos Descends, Love Poems, The Burning, When We Collided and Ms Marvel Volume 2)
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Completed
Read a book originally published the decade you were born- Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness- When We Collided
And that’s July. Not a bad month really, I’ve only got 4 Book Riot Read Harder Challenges left to complete, just need to pick the books for those challenges. If you’ve read any of the books above or have any questions leave a comment below!