June Round-Up

When I made made my New Year’s resolution of reading and reviewing at last one book a month, a big incentive was the idea of a ‘June Round-Up’ that would see me talking about the six (SIX!!!!!) books that I’d read so far. I’m so pleased with myself that I not only stuck to my initial target of a book a month, but that I surpassed this having read twelve books in the last six months. To many readers, twelve books account for a casual reading month but to me, a person who until January was a self-proclaimed ‘books aren’t for me’ type of person, that’s a huge achievement and one that I’m very proud of.

In total honesty, my June Round-Up was going to be a brag-heavy blog post about how many books I’d read (yes, even when the potential figure was six) but since having read so many fantastic books I’d much rather share recommendations than ask for flowers and praise to be thrown my way. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve read so far in 2015…

Strangers on a Train | Patricia Highsmith | Full review here
This was my first book of the year and is a book that I really enjoyed. A psychological crime novel written and set in 1950s America, Strangers on a Train tells the story of Guy and Bruno, two strangers who fall into an unbreakable relationship that sees them committing crimes and coping with murders. I’d not read anything by Patricia Highsmith before but I definitely would again; this was fast-paced, wonderfully written, interesting, and kept me engaged the whole way through. I loved the style of the book, and once I’d gotten into it, found it very hard to put down. This felt like a classic detective story and is certainly worthy of the praise that it has amassed since it was published in 1950.

Iceland Defrosted | Edward Hancox | Full review here
In February I read Iceland Defrosted by local author and friend Ed Hancox. Considering the fact that I didn’t really want to read this (cus Iceland is boring duh), I was absolutely astounded by how much I enjoyed it. Ed’s writing is funny, chatty, easy to read, and so full of passion for Iceland that even I, an Iceland sceptic, was intrigued and entertained by his tales. Definitely a recommended read for anyone interested in Iceland, but also for anyone interested in travel writing, anyone interested in blogs, or frankly anyone who loves a good book.

The Art of Being Normal | Lisa Williamson | Full review here
My first read of March was The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. This book tackles gender identity and transgender issues beautifully and is told in dual narrative which works really well. It’s quite hard to describe The Art of Being Normal because as the saying goes, “There are no words to describe a good book. Ironically.” What I will say is that if The Art of Being Normal was the only book that I managed to read in 2015, I would have considered it an excellent year of reading. Everyone should read this- a brilliant, brilliant book.

Fire Colour One | Jenny Valentine | Full review here
I was lucky enough to read a proof copy of Fire Colour One 4 months prior to publication as a copy was sent to the shop. I’d describe this book as a holiday read because although there was nothing wrong with it, I didn’t feel excited about having read it once I’d finished. I’d definitely recommend this to fans of John Green as the plot and style felt very similar to that of his books, in particular The Fault In Our Stars. Just as with TFIOS, I felt that the plot was a bit far fetched and a bit too perfect in its conclusion. However, what I disliked in both The Fault in Our Stars and Fire Colours One is exactly what other people loved and so I’m sure that this will loved by loads of readers. I think perhaps that I’m a bit too cynical for these types of books and so if you’re slightly younger and a lot less sardonic than me, this is the book for you!

The A to Z of You and Me | James Hannah | Full review here
In April I read 2 fantastic books, starting with The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah. After attending the book launch and getting a wonderful signed copy I had decided to leave this book until the summer. I was quite conscious of the fact that I’m a slow reader and, just as with Iceland Defrosted, I was worried that I might not like it and have to pretend in front of James so I left it for as long as I could. At the book launch I bought my mum a signed copy too and unlike me she dived straight in, finishing in just a couple of days. Despite my best efforts, there was no way that I could resist my mum’s persuasion, and if her sobs didn’t speak loud enough, her words certainly did. After witnessing her declare it, ‘the best book I’ve ever read’ I had to read it too. The A to Z of You and Me was very different to anything that I’d ever read before and is a book so beautifully written that it will stay with me for a very long time. I would recommend this to fans of David Nicholls as well those who love contemporary fiction – an excellent book worthy of its Desmond Elliott nomination.

Trouble | Non Pratt | Full review here
My second book of April was Trouble, a book that I was very excited to read after seeing it short listed for the YA Book Prize 2015 – I certainly wasn’t disappointed! When 15 year old Hannah falls pregnant, she knows exactly who the father is but can’t tell anybody the truth. Out of the blue, her new friend Aaron offers to pretend to be her baby’s dad. Non Pratt uses dual narrative in a wonderful way, flipping between characters many times a chapter. This allows her to very carefully steer the reader’s emotions as she plays characters off against each other. Trouble is funny, tragic, shocking and so sweet which is a result of her flawless characterisation and effortless writing style. One of my favourites so far!

Only Ever Yours | Louise O’Neill | Full review here
After loving Trouble so much, I looked into the YA Book Prize a little more and picked the prize winner, Only Ever Yours, as my next read. Only Ever Yours is entrancing,captivating, terrifying, and haunting, and I was completely absorbed by the story. Louise has very cleverly tackled so many feminist issues in a way that is accessible to teenagers who may be unaware of the fundamental problems that women face in society and for that reason, Only Ever Yours is an important book that I believe everyone should read. I really enjoyed this book, and couldn’t stop thinking about it for a long time after. Thought provoking, intense and exceptional, Louise deserves every bit of praise that she has received.

None of the Above | Rick Edwards | No review
As the May elections were to be my first general election I wanted to ensure that I had enough basic understanding of UK politics to make an informed decision at the polling station. I follow Rick Edwards on Twitter and knew that he was releasing a book to help young people (hideous term but I suppose I am a ‘young person’) with this decision and so once it was published I bought a copy. I found None of the Above to be a huge help as it educated me about the most basic political things and gave me a better idea of each party’s identity without feeling like a boring textbook. Rick Edwards is really funny and his humour translated perfectly through his writing which was fabulous because instead of being a bore to read, it was really light-hearted and in parts very, very funny. There’s not an awful lot more to say about it really except that it did the job and I felt that I made an educated vote on May 7th. Although this book was intended to be read before the 2015 election, it would still be an interesting read for political newbies.

One | Sarah Crossan | Full review here
One was the second proof copy that I read this year and is a book so beautiful that it’s publication date (August 27) can’t come soon enough. This is the only book written entirely in free-verse that I’ve ever read and Sarah’s gentle yet powerful voice is so incredibly moving. It’s truly magical to read so few words and experience so many emotions. One is fundamentally a story about love and family which is why it’s so easy to feel a deep connection with narrator Grace and her conjoined twin Tippi. This story is beautiful, heart-breaking and utterly wonderful.

How To Be A Woman | Caitlin Moran | No review
I’ve still not written a review of How To Be A Woman because in all honesty, I have no idea where to start. This book is full-on feminism told with charm, humour, opinions, and occasionally a little too much detail. I’d say that it’s a mixture of anecdotes and essays about various aspects of female life, all told in Caitlin’s signature booming voice. I really enjoyed this book and wish that I’d read it at 16 when I still foolishly believed that all feminists were man-haters. This book is the confidence boost that I needed as a teenage girl because the over-riding message is to be yourself in whatever shape or form that may be. If you’re a prudie, this definitely isn’t the book for you as Caitlin goes in all guns blazing and everything (EVERYTHING) is up for discussion. However, if like me you’re down for a bit of sex, drugs and rock and roll I’d definitely recommend this to you!

Solitaire | Alice Oseman | Full review here
Solitaire was my fifth(!) and last read of May and is hands down my favourite book of this year. Solitaire is the only book that I nodded along to whilst reading because the experience described was so real to me that I felt like crying happy tears of nostalgia. This is much less of a plot driven novel and instead is a book about friendships, family, love, sixth form, and day to day teenage life. I’m in the same school year as Alice and so the moments that she captures in her writing unlocked such strong emotions that I haven’t felt through reading before. Certainly the beauty of this book is that it’s an honest representation of English teenage life and I would absolutely recommend this to everybody but in particular people the same age as myself and Alice. Solitaire is a book that I will read over and over and is definitely the best book that I’ve ever read.

Remix | Non Pratt | Full review here
I finished Remix on the 2nd of June and it was sadly the only book that I was able to read in the whole month. Luckily, I enjoyed Remix so much that I was filled with enough bookish joy to last me the whole month. Remix is Non’s second novel and again is written in dual perspective telling the story of best friends Kaz and Ruby at their first festival. Just like with Trouble, this book tackles sex, relationships, friendships and self-perception in a brutally honest way. I really admire Non’s willingness to discuss topics that are often ignored and I think that it’s her openness that makes her books such a delight to read. Another brilliant book filled with humour and tragedy in just the right amounts!


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