Wednesday, 5 July 2017

What I Read in June 2017 – Wrap Up & Mini Reviews

I posted my first monthly book round-up in May, which received a lot of nice comments on social channels and on my blog for which many thanks. I loved writing it and I'm glad you guys enjoyed it too, as I'm back today with June's book wrap up! It has been an exceptional reading month with just one 2-star read and the others all 4 stars or more. My favourite books in June were political courtroom thriller Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, missing person mystery Last Seen by Lucy Clarke, teenage action adventure Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz and contemporary YA Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel.



The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara (Spere)

I am a huge fan of Ali's novels and the last one I read of hers, The Little Flower Shop by the Sea, was my favourite one yet so understandably I was very excited to read her new book. And what a special and beautiful read it is. Part romance and part folklore, The Summer of Serendipity was all magical; from the legend of The Welcome House on the Irish island of Ballykiltara taking hold of main character Serendipity Parker, right through to the delightful islanders that make up the rest of the cast of characters of Ali's wonderful new novel. One to add to your summer to read list for sure. 4 stars. Buy here.


The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley (Quercus)

Rosanna Ley's Bay of Secrets is one of the most memorable novels I've read within the women's fiction genre. Focusing on The Lost Children of Francoism it was beautiful, heartbreaking, intriguing and enlightening all at once, and so I've been seeking out Rosanna's books ever since. But none of them have quite captured that same level of beautiful storytelling to me, and The Little Theatre by the Sea was my least favourite yet. With unlikeable characters at the core, slight contradictory elements, a completely unnecessary storyline (that of the parents) detracting from the main plot and making it slow to progress, and an ending seemingly there only to shock, this one really wasn't for me, and that's a shame. 2 stars. Buy here.


Last Seen by Lucy Clarke (HarperFiction)

I am not normally a reader of missing person thrillers, but Lucy Clarke's name on the cover persuaded me to pick this one up and boy am I glad that I did. Last Seen was a constantly surprising and superbly plotted novel which completely pulled me in with its multifaceted characters and intriguing developments. Each of Lucy's novels is different from the one before, the pull of the sea and her beautifully descriptive writing being the only constants, and even though I only just finished Last Seen, I already can't wait to discover what she'll surprise her readers with next. (Read my full review here.) 5 stars. Buy here.


Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster)

You don't know what the word 'gripping' means until you've read Anatomy of a Scandal. What a privilege it has been to discover the world so meticulously created by author Sarah Vaughan. Focusing on an alleged rape case involving a well-known fictional politician, this is a court room thriller, political thriller and marriage thriller all wrapped into one incredibly gripping package. This is actually not the genre of novels I generally tend to read, but I have loved Sarah's books all the way back to The Art of Baking Blind and the hugely intriguing concept completely pulled me in. With incredible plotting and story developments, and amazingly complex characters, this is one book you cannot miss in 2018. 5 stars.



Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz (Walker Books)

Alex Rider, the teen equivalent of James Bond, was always innovative, action-packed and with a crackin' underlying storyline and character developments and that hasn't changed. Baddie organisation Scorpia may have finally been dismantled thanks to Alex' missions in the previous books, but there are still plenty of evil people to defeat, especially those with a grudge against Alex. The novel wasn't flawless though. I'm not sure if this was written more rushed, dumbed down to introduce new readers to the world of Alex Rider, or if I've become more perceptive over the years but some of the writing was unnecessarily repetitive and distracting. Despite this it was great to be back in the world of Alex, MI6, and the other characters we've come to know and love for so many years. There were foreign locations, evil villains, explosions and tons of other action; just bring back more gadgets in the next one please, Anthony! 4.5 stars. Buy here.


Truth or Dare by Non Pratt (Walker Books)

For all its hardships in the first part of this novel I absolutely loved it and the two main characters, Claire and Sef, as they embark on creating a Truth or Dare YouTube channel to raise funds for the care of Sef's severally disabled brother Kam. And then part two happened. [Insert mind blowing graphic here.] Those first few pages turned a lot of my believes upside down and I wasn't sure whether I liked what I'd discovered. And yet I couldn't stop reading. As the pages went on, the two parts of the novel were drawn closer together and I started to understand the characters in a different way. The journey was difficult, thought provoking, moving and enlightening all at once. This is an important book in so many ways, from the way it deals with race and sexuality to disability. But most of all this is the story of how two people come together to make a difference, and the life lessons they learn along the way. 4 stars. Buy here.


Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel (Penguin)

I kind of picked this one up on a whim, based on its fun title, as I was in the mood for something fluffy that wouldn't take much effort to read. However, this book had far more depth to it than I'd expected and I loved it. As Juniper struggles coming to terms with the death of her sister, she meddles in other people's lives as a distraction, resulting in unlikely friendships and romances being born. The merry band of characters, from Nate to Kody and Angela to Sponge right down to Juniper and Brant had a touch of the Breakfast Club about it and I didn't hate it. I had to hold back tears once or twice but for the most part (and despite its subject matter) this was a novel I wanted to squish as I loved it and its characters so much. More please. 4.5 stars. Buy here.


Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (Pan Macmillan)

After Alice buys a winning lottery ticket as a gift making one of her friends a multimillionaire their worlds are turned upside down. She’s trying to keep things the same but at a time when first love blossoms and college decisions have to be made it would’ve been difficult anyway without throwing a nearly impossible number of dollars in the mix too. And with the loss of her parents 9 years prior bubbling to the surface, Alice’s coming-of-age journey is anything but easy. If you want a cosy, not too complicated read in a time where the world is anything but then this is it; Windfall has all the telltale signs of a sweet Jennifer E. Smith YA romance with some added substance thrown in. A blissful few hours of reading. 4 stars. Buy here.



Have you read any of the above books? And what have you read in June? Let me know in the comments below!


2 comments:

  1. You make me want to read all of these books. I need to read Truth or Dare having loved Trouble. Obviously I loved Windfall but did find another Jennifer E Smith that I didn't like! I loved your summaries on this post. I've uploaded my June Wrap Up blog post but going to upload my video today!

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    1. Haha, mission accomplished! I haven't actually read any other Non Pratt books but after this excellent read I'll most definitely have a look. x

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