The Monthly Wrap: March

I started my March reading month off with ‘Goodnight Vivienne, Goodnight’ by Steven Carroll. Now this wasn’t a stand out piece of literature to me and I truely put this down to my general lack of knowledge behind T.S Elliot. ‘Goodnight Vivienne, Goodnight’ focuses on the downfall of T.S Elliot’s wife, Vivienne, and her admission to a mental asylum. From bits and pieces I’ve gathered from conversations with other readers and in the novel, a number of T.S Elliot’s early poetry was in fact written about his wife. The beginning of their love story was intoxicating, bubbling and exciting for them both, however soon after, Vivienne (as the novel is mostly from her perspective) discovers that her trust in Elliot is flailing. Elliot divorces Viv as his popularity surges and his illusive relationship with Virginia Woolf grows. Interestingly, the other perspective of this novel is from a police office, who is on a rat race trying to find Vivienne after she breaks out of the mental asylum. She is attempting to change her identity, therefore he continues to find himself coming up short until he reads some of T.S Elliot’s poetry. I would recommend this book to those who love and follow Steven Carrol, as I did really enjoy his writing style. I would also recommend this to lovers and admirers of T.S Elliot’s poetry and his back story, however it does not necessarily paint him in a positive light.

Next I read, ‘Only a Monster’ by Vanessa Len. I must preface that if I were say …. 15 years old, heck I would have LOVED this novel. However, since broadening my reading habits and styles, I did find this a little amateur. I can admire how much of an easy, quick and capturing read this novel is because it only took me 3 days to read. ‘Only a Monster’ I started after dinner one night and found myself flying through it – I wanted to have it finished the following day. Our story takes place in a modern day city and follows the perspective of Joan, who is in fact a monster and the villain of this story – which is quite clever. Early on, Joan falls in love with the hero of this story but he seeks to destroy her as it has been cast as his life mission. Que the haters to lovers and all the action, drama, and fantasy in between. This YA fantasy had great twists and turns, plus a fabulous plot twist that I didn’t see coming – this upped my overall like for the book. I can also admire that Vanessa is an Australian author breaking into the YA Fantasy scene – that takes guts and she has done a wonderful job at the age demographic she’s targeting.

My two half reads for the month of March were, ‘The Cult of Romance’ by Sarah Ayoub and ‘Careering’ by Daisy Buchanan. ‘The Cult of Romance’ is due to hit shelves on the 4th of May 2022.

‘The Cult of Romance’ is a fun young adult romance novel about Natalie, a Lebanese 20 year old young woman trying to understand WHY her best friend has made the unfathomable decision to get married at the ripe age of 21. This was youthful, fun and somewhat relatable due to how modern the author has made the character’s environment. Natalie is certain that love is a sham and cannot see how her bestie is actively choosing to marry a Lebanese boy she met on holiday while in Lebanon – less than 3 months ago! Natalie has be teed up to plan the hens party in Lebanon with the dreadful best man, whom she has never laid eyes on. Travelling to Lebanon for the wedding is also taking up a lot of Natalie’s thoughts and once she gets there, her perspectives on her culture, her family and her best friends new engagement start to change. Admittedly, I read this mostly for work as it enables me to broaden my reading style and recommend to more age demographics. ‘The Cult of Romance’ will sit in young adult fiction but it is a great stepping stone into adult fiction for 16+ readers.

‘Careering’ by Daisy Buchanan sounds so fun and totally up my alley, but I just wasn’t in the mood for it this month. I borrowed this book from my local library and look forward to the day it comes back into my borrowing stack again. Imogen, our main character, reminds me of myself in a lot of ways (aside from the fact that I love my job 😍). She is working full time, writing a blog in between that and trying to maintain the uphill battle of achieving her dreams. Additionally, she is trying to maintain a social and dating life. This book was told from two perspectives, Imogen and Harri. Harri is the leading figure in one of the UK’s most popular magazine copies, yet this company has seen the loss of their head of house and declining profits. Harri’s truely believes after all her hard work, she will be next in line for a big promotion – but it doesn’t come. Imogen idolises Harri, yet neither of their jobs give them back 100% of what each woman puts in. They are both being, bitten, chewed and spat back out again and they’re over it. Harri is offered the opportunity to develop and manage a new blog for the magazine and this is where Imogen comes in. This novel did have me laughing out load at times and I liked the way it was moving, however I just wasn’t ready to commit to the story at this time in March.

I wrapped up my reading month with ‘You and Me on Vacation’ by Emily Henry. This novel by Emily and her other, ‘Beach Read’ have been on my TBR for a while now. Therefore, as soon as I saw ‘You and Me on Vacation’ become available at my local library, I jumped on board. I will be posting a full book review on this light holiday read quite soon, therefore I cannot give too much away 😉 What I will say is that this was exactly what I needed when I grabbed for it! Poppy and Alex are the best of friends and for years they’ve have taken budget friendly holidays together. These holidays are the pinnacle of each of their stressful jobs/lives/personal expectations, and something they dedicate to just the two of them. As grow as individuals, their relationship also changes and feelings develop, but neither is likely to admit or acknowledge how they feel – until this summer … when everything changes 🎆

What did you read and love in the month of March? Was it a brand spanking new book, or one off your long awaited TBR pile? 💬 Comment below …

The Monthly Wrap: February

February has been a quiet little reading month for me. February is my birthday month and this year I took myself on a holiday which involved lots of beach reading, coffee, walking and beautiful catch-up’s with long time friends.

I started my month by continuing Impossible by Sarah Lotz. I was and am still throughly enjoying this book and I’d like to see where it ends. If I were comparing this romance book to say ‘The Spanish Love Deception’, it does not read as quickly nor have it in your grasp as suddenly. I want to see where Bee and Nick’s story will end in the month of March.

I picked up my Literary Lovers book club book, ‘Infinite Country’ by Patricia Engel in the mean time. Now this is only a small book of 191 pages, but it really does cover a broad scope of life as a Colombian person seeking refugee in America. The multi-perspective narrating really threw me to begin with and I actually had to start the book over at about 25 pages. I just felt I hadn’t fully grasped the characters and their experiences. We learn about Talia, who is an incredibly resilient adolescent escaping a correctional facility in the Colombian mountains. A passage in the book that stood out to me and that I think perfectly describes Talia’s life is; “The impulse to hurt Horacio (the man she attacked to wind up in the correctional facility) must have come from somewhere, they agreed, but Tahlia was exemplary at home and school. Her record undeniably clean. They ran down the list of traumas. Rape. Abuse. Neglect. Displacement from the armed conflict. Orphaning. None applied to Talia. She told them her mother was abroad and sent her back to Colombia when she was a baby. But this particular family condition was so common it couldn’t possibly be considered trauma.”. A large portion of the book is about learning her parents story of resettlement, financial challenges, exposure to violence and how they came to be living between America and Colombia – growing a family in separated circumstances. I found this book interesting but it didn’t stand out to me greatly.

Thennn … I went on holidays to the beach!! Wooo!! And I needed an easy romantic fiction again 😊 I purchased a copy of ‘The Unhoneymooners’ by Christina Lauren before I left, and let me tell you I was so glad I brought it along! I loved it! When all of the guests at Olive’s twin sister Ami’s, wedding get immediate food poisoning from the seafood buffet – Olive is left with no other choice but to take the free 10 day honeymoon with her brother-in-law/arch nemesis/biggest pain in her butt, Ethan. Their plane ride is hilarious, their honeymooners suite is HILarious and their couples activities have them not only despising each others presence, but also starting to slightly enjoy one another’s presence. They become all very confused about their feelings but figure it out in the end, you know, the usual romance trope that I’m a sucker for at the moment. I finished this is in the two days I was away, unputdownable!

Next I picked up a super special pre-release book, ‘The Woman in the Library’ by Sulari Gentil. I feel really privileged and lucky to be reading such an early copy of Sulari’s June book, and then being able to discuss all things mystery, suspense, murder with her. Sulari is one of our local authors and excitingly, has signed her newest novel with Ultimo Press (whom I love!). ‘The Woman in the Library’ surrounds 4 strangers becoming quick friends when they believe a scream has signified a woman being murdered in their local inner city library. Soon all becoming suspects, they start to feel closely bonded, protective but not suspicious of one another until the pennies start to drop. Pieces of each person’s story don’t add up, histories become exposed and each character has their particular reasons for being in the library that day. Sulari has crafted this unique crime novel in such a way that, as the reader, you are seeing the narrative unfold through a storytellers eyes. A big portion of this books is told via two authors email correspondence and it starts to becoming a little… hmm… dangerous. The story is forming, developing and being written by an author at the same time as we are learning about the story. We are literally seeing the story piecing together! I was left reeling at the ending and had to message Sulari straight away saying “OMG NO WAY”!! ‘The Woman in the Library’ is twisty, as Ultimo describes it on the front cover of my copy – but easy to follow, a great read and just so DARN clever! Highly recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Now I’m going to class this next book as my February read because it was just too fantastic not to include in the wrap up – three days into March and I’m buzzing on the energy of a fantastic reading month ahead. I devoured ‘The Paper Palace’ by Miranda Crowley-Heller in less than 24 hours yesterday. WHAT. A. NOVEL .This is a story about Elle and her extremely strong love for two men whom have both shaped her at different stages of her life. The story flicks between past and present. In present day, Elle is holidaying at their annual home away from home, the paper palace. A small collection of costal huts in Massachusetts. She is there with her husband Peter, their three children and her mother – of whom we learn a lot about. Elle’s relationship with her mother is explored a lot throughout the novel and it provides a backstory of the mental, emotional and sexual trauma of her childhood. It becomes clear very early into the novel that sexual trauma is faced generationally for the women in this story. It is a strong theme throughout the novel, so trigger warning for those endeavouring to read. I will be posting a full review on this novel soon as I’m listing it down as another one of my favourite reads this year.

What are you guys reading into March? Any stand outs in February for you? Leave me a comment 💬

The Monthly Wrap: January

Welcome to my monthly wrap series, where I will be posting all the books I have completed, attempted and considered for the month. 

For the month of January, I can easily acknowledge that I was in the midst of a book slump. Hannah Kent’s Devotion truely set the bar high for my 2022 reading and if I’m being completely honest, I am still yet to find anything to top it. That novel is unbelievable to say the very least 🤯 (Click on the title name to read my full review)

After I finished ‘Devotion’, I attempted to start Hannah’s only other novel I hadn’t read, that being ‘The Good People’. I really enjoyed continuing the feeling of immersion and escapism that her writing provides me, however the bookish slump was creeping in and taking hold! I felt connected to the characters and the storyline but I just think after the heaviness of ‘Devotion’, I really wasn’t ready to deep dive into another emotional, literary and historical fiction. I put ‘The Good People’ down after 100 pages and moved onto ‘The Housemate’ by Sarah Bailey. 

At this point, I really do need to preface that regular reading Mel probably would have loved all these books I’ll be mentioning a lot more if she weren’t in a book slump! 

Oh how I desperately wanted to be addicted to ‘The Housemate’! I wanted to be scared, feel gripped and left gasping at the unknowns and who-done-it’s, but sadly it didn’t get there for me. I was craving something fast paced, twisted and an addictive plot with easy to read dialogue. From what I did read, there had been one housemate of three, murdered under suspicious circumstances. The main perspective is told from a journalist who has re-opened the case. This journalist is finding leads and setting up interviews when another of the housemates is found dead after she has presumably been missing for years. I’ve been told by a customer recently that this book is a great read and the ending does capture your attention. It just wasn’t for me this month. Maybe I’ll try again later in the year. From here, I moved onto Sofie Laguna’s, ‘Infinite Splendours’.

Here’s me, trying to pick up another literary fiction when it isn’t what my brain wanted – silly silly Mel 🤦🏽‍♀️ Therefore, here I am again, telling you that I got 100 pages into ‘Infinite Splendours’ and put this book down. The premise of this book captures me, as it surrounds the troubling relationship between a young boy and his uncle. Their connection to art brings then together and the young boys mother is unbeknown to the damaging actions the uncle takes with the boy. It follows the effects of sexual abuse and its impact on child development. I do believe I will finish this book one day. Sofie Laguna was recently mentioned on the ABC television program, Books that Made Us. Her book, ‘The Choke’ was mainly highlighted in this program for its raw and uncomfortable feelings it provokes in the reader. I thought by attempting her latest novel, I may feel some of that and I really did. Yet, book slumpy Mel wasn’t in the mood for beautiful and careful writing, or historical settings. No, no, no – she wanted smut! I placed ‘Infinite Splendours’ back in the TBR pile and grabbed ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ by Elena Armas.

My goodness! If you’ve read my book review for ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ (click the book title for link) you will know how much I ADORED this book! It was cute, it was sweet, it was steamy and it was exactly what I’d been looking for in a novel *que Mel’s reinvigorated love for romance novels* I finished ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ in under 24 hours – yes, that’s right. I sat down in the afternoon and just couldn’t stop! I was up until midnight unable to put this book down! Our main character Lina is single and so embarrassed to be turning up to her sisters Spanish wedding alone. Her co-worker Aaron, whom she despises (for all the obvious reasons in these types of books), offers himself to be her date. What a whirl of events from there! They travel to Spain, they pretend to be a full-fledged couple, they dance, they share a bed 😉 and they discover their feelings may not be completely made up. Of course because it was so fabulous, I then picked up another romance called, ‘The Love Hypothesis’ by Ali Hazelwood.

Ahhhh, the lovers to haters tropes really get me! I didn’t adore ‘The Love Hypothesis’ as much as ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ (which I have noted as my next “get out of a book slump re-read book”) BUT, I did find it entertaining as it filled the romance void for another week. ‘The Love Hypothesis’ is about Olive, a PhD student who wants to prove to her best friend that she is lapping up the dating scene and taking it in her stride. Although, in an attempt to actively prove this in front of her friend, she kisses a stranger in her science lab. This stranger ends up being the most disliked Professor at her University. Now that I write this, I can acknowledge it’s total smut – I know! But it was a great read to escape and it was perfect for my brain this month 🧠

To round out my strange reading month that was January, I picked up Charlotte Wood’s, ‘The Natural Way of Things’. Now, again let me preface again that I was not in my typical reading mood, therefore, I feel as if my ability to take in prose, metaphor and literary significance was lacking. Sadly, this book rated quite low for me. I wasn’t feeling like I had the capacity to see where the story was leading and felt a little confused at times. I usually like eclectic, misleading and confusing aspects in a book to some extent. I like to wait as the reader, to be lead toward the “uh-huh” moment – but I didn’t feel that with this novel. It is beautifully written, I can admire that. Charlotte Wood has strongly conveyed the message of feminist action against control and oppression in government areas, in imprisonment and sexual coercion for power. I personally just found this book was not to my reading tastes this month, however I am still glad I gave it a go!

At present, I am dancing into the beginning of February 💃🏻 I am reading a fantastic new novel released in March called, ‘Impossible’ by Sarah Lotz. This is her first contemporary romance and I’m so here for it. The book starts with a very aggressive email being send to the wrong address. Luckily, it turns out the person on the other end is really funny, totally single and happy to explore the connection that they’ve just stirred up online. Half of the book is email thread and the other is told from the dual perspectives of Nick and Bee. I am loving this book so far and I notice that before it has even been released, it’s already ranking near 5/5 stars on GoodReads! I’m excited to give you guys a review of this one soon ⭐️🎙

What does your monthly wrap look like? I would love to know – tell me in the comments 💬💬