The Monthly Wrap: July

Well, well, well – that’s a stack and a half of books! I had a bit of a slumpy July to begin with and have now rediscovered my reading pace in the last week … so let’s get straight into it shall we ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ“š

After finishing ‘The Marriage Portrait’ by Maggie O’Farrell, released in August and my second favourite literary novel of 2022 – closely tailing ‘Devotion’ by Hannah Kent (click here for review), I needed something to get me out of a gnarly book slump! I will be posting a book review of ‘The Marriage Portrait’ on its release day, that being the 30th of August. Yes, yes, I’m making you wait – but it’s for good reason ๐Ÿ˜

I picked up ‘Salt and Skin’ by Eliza Henry-Jones thinking I will counteract my literary book slump with another EPIC literary fiction. Sadly, this did not go as planned. Salt and Skin covers heavy topics of grief, denial and continental travel. At this point in time, these were not topics I felt in the mood for reading (and as we know, I’m very much a mood reader). The bones of this book are fantastic and I have been pining for a pre-release copy of this to land in my hands for months now, therefore I will not give up! I am determined to read this in August and without fail, I will provide you with a review.

Mixing up my genres, I decided to dip my toes into a Fantasy – I thought this may help. Our Other Worlds Book Club had recently read and throughly enjoyed ‘Atlas Six’ by Olivie Blake and I had multiple members encourage me to pick it up. I found it available at my local library and decided now was the time. I really like the witchiness, the changing perspectives and learning each characters’ powers. The mystery behind their training and schooling is really interesting to follow and kept me gripped. However, a quarter of the way through this book, I went on holidays and it just wasn’t fitting the bill for a light, funny, holiday read – you know? Enter, ‘Today Tonight Tomorrow’ by Rachel Lynn Solomon.

Extract from ๐Ÿ’ซ Mini Review ๐Ÿ’ซ:

“Ahh, this was just cute. It was cute and feel good and made me smile and made me laugh. It had all the feels and was the perfect enemies to lovers plot. Rowan Roth is a determined young woman and hard working right up to the very end of high school but her witty drive is pushed along by the likes of Neil McNair. The two have been in hefty competition with each other since the time they met. Their schooling has been a constant battle of who will be in first place and who will come in second. Rowan is set on not placing second best in their last bid for victory โ€ฆ winning valedictorian.

Yet as graduation looms and their end of Senior Year celebrations of a Seattle scavenger hunt kicks off, Rowan and Neil begin to realise that rather than opposing each other, they are smarter, swifter and more aligned working together than they ever realised. Slowly, they learn about one anotherโ€™s lives outside of the small portion of school they experience with one another. Outside hobbies, passions and home lives come into play, furthering even more of their connection.”

I actually picked up my copy of ‘Today Tonight Tomorrow’ by Rachel Lynn Solomon while on holiday in Melbourne. I purchased it at Dymocks Melbourne, located on Collins Street. At the time, I also purchased ‘The Mars Room’ by Rachel Kushner (a literary fiction listed for the Booker Prize in 2018), ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (of which I read the first book last year and adored its Japanese morals, whimsical thinking and translation) & ‘The Soulmate Equation’ by Christina Lauren (recommended by an avid reader friend who also loved ‘The Unhoneymooners’ by Christina Lauren, as much as I did).

I then visited Canberra, in which I tracked down a Harry Hartog Bookseller. I purchased my copy of ‘Last Time We Met’ by Emily Houghton (contemporary romance) on that adventure! As you can tell from this stack of 5 book purchases, I was feeling the “easy reading’ vibes, with only one literary fiction thrown in there for good measure.

Back to what I actually read! Gosh Mel, way to get side tracked with book buying ๐Ÿ˜‰ Presently, at home with Covid, I have had the time to finish a crime fiction novel, ‘The It Girl’ by Ruth Ware. This was suspenseful, twisty and great at developing characters into the kind of people you suspect and cannot stop following their motives. April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Decked out in her luxury branded clothing, exclusive haircut and performative posture, April is clearly the kind of girl that makes herself known. She’s the ‘it girl’. April is clever, manipulative and powerful, until she ends up murdered on the closing night of her theatre performance … and Hannah is the one to find her. Moving back and forth, past to present, we now learn that Hannah is married and expecting her first child to April’s then boyfriend. Suspicious – yes โœ…. Hannah also totally isolated herself from a number of their friends at the time after the murder. Suspicious – yes โœ…. Hannah also gave evidence against a security footman in court to convict him of April’s murder, yet he has always plead innocent. Suspicious – yes โœ…. Lot’s of things don’t add up and it made for a very interesting story. Full review coming soon ๐Ÿ‘€

Last but not least, I am currently reading and endeavour to have finished in a few days (iso and all), ‘When Only One’ by Meg Gatland-Veness. This young adult fiction opens on a school shooting in an Australian high school. The book is giving feelings of being set around the 70’s or 80’s time era with reference to things such as old Nintendos and Catholic ideologies. The heaviness and seriousness of this novel hits you immediately and I felt gripped straight away. Meg then takes us back in time through the lens of a teenage boy and his life a year prior to the tragic event. We learn of him, his life goals, his friends and who is struggling within the community – letting the reader peel back slow layers of who may have committed this horrific crime. The writing style is perfect, captivating and feeling.

So that folks, is the STACK! What have you book lovers been reading for the month of July? Have you been book buying? Share below ๐Ÿ’ฌ๐ŸŽ™

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 ๐Ÿ˜). 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐ŸŽ†

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? ๐Ÿ’ฌ Comment below …

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 Kentโ€™s โ€˜Devotionโ€™ truely set the bar high for my 2022 reading and if Iโ€™m being completely honest, I am still yet to find anything to top it. That novel is unbelievable to say the very least ๐Ÿคฏ (Click on the title name to read my full review)

After I finished โ€˜Devotionโ€™, I attempted to start Hannahโ€™s only other novel I hadn’t read, that being โ€˜The Good Peopleโ€™. 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 โ€˜Devotionโ€™, I really wasnโ€™t ready to deep dive into another emotional, literary and historical fiction. I put โ€˜The Good Peopleโ€™ down after 100 pages and moved onto โ€˜The Housemateโ€™ 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 werenโ€™t in a book slump! 

Oh how I desperately wanted to be addicted to โ€˜The Housemateโ€™! I wanted to be scared, feel gripped and left gasping at the unknowns and who-done-it’s, but sadly it didnโ€™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 wasnโ€™t for me this month. Maybe Iโ€™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 ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ 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 โ€˜The Spanish Love Deceptionโ€™ by Elena Armas.

My goodness! If you’ve read my book review for โ€˜The Spanish Love Deceptionโ€™ (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 Iโ€™d been looking for in a novel *que Melโ€™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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿง 

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 ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿป 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 โญ๏ธ๐ŸŽ™

What does your monthly wrap look like? I would love to know – tell me in the comments ๐Ÿ’ฌ๐Ÿ’ฌ

My Year in Books (2021 edition)

It’s here folks! Here you have it in all its glory – ‘My Year in Books (2021 edition)’ ๐Ÿฅณ

2021 was such a fun reading year for me and honestly, probably the best ever in my reading life! This past year I read a total of 50 books and 17, 591 pages! If you’d like to see my individual ratings for each book, you can jump onto my GoodReads (click here) โญ๏ธ

  • ๐Ÿ”ฆ The TORCH emoji will indicate if these books were part of my Crime Fiction Fanatic Book Club
  • ๐ŸŽจ The ART PALETE emoji will indicate if these books were part of my Literature Lovers Book Club
  • ๐ŸŽ™ The MICROPHONE emoji will indicate if these books have a review on my blog – have a read!

‘The Friend’ by Sigrid Nunez

‘Bridie’s Choice’ by Karly Lane (re-read)

‘The Dry’ by Jane Harper

‘Before the coffee gets cold’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

‘The Year of the Witching’ by Alexis Henderson

‘The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot’ by Marianne Cronin

‘Can’t Say it Went to Plan’ by Gabrielle Tozer

‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish

‘Roadtrip’ by Beth O’Leary

‘Consent’ by Vanessa Springora

‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Steig Larsson ๐Ÿ”ฆ

‘Those Hamilton Sisters’ by Averil Kenny *read our interview here* ๐ŸŽ™

‘A Court of Silver Flames’ by Sarah J Maas

‘Eight Lives’ by Susan Hurley ๐Ÿ”ฆ

‘The Prison Healer’ by Lynette Noni

‘Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray: River of Dreams’ by Anita Heiss

‘The Guest List’ By Lucy Foley ๐Ÿ”ฆ

‘The Storied Life of AJ Fikry’ by Gabrielle Zevin

‘In Five Years’ by Rebecca Seale

‘The Last Night in London’ by Karen White

‘Scrublands’ by Chris Hammer ๐Ÿ”ฆ

‘Early Morning Riser’ by Katherine Henry

‘North Star’ by Karly Lane

‘Starfell: Willow Moss and the Vanished Kingdom’ by Dominique Valente

‘Between Shades of Grey’ by Ruta Sepetys

‘She is Haunted’ by Paige Clark

‘A Curse So Dark and Lonely’ by Brigid Kemmerer ๐ŸŽ™

‘A Heart so Fierce and Broken’ by Brigid Kemmerer

‘A Vow so Bold and Deadly’ by Brigid Kemmerer

‘The Wife and the Widow’ by Christian White (re-read) ๐Ÿ”ฆ

‘Heartsick’ by Jessie Stephens

‘The Reading List’ by Sara Nisha Adams ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Memory Police’ by Yลko Ogawa

‘The Wattle Island Book Club’ by Sandie Docker *read our interview here* ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Tribute’ by John Byron ๐Ÿ”ฆ ๐ŸŽ™

‘Thread Needle’ by Cari Thomas ๐ŸŽ™

‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Mother Wound’ by Amani Haydar ๐ŸŽ™

‘Defy the Night’ by Brigid Kemmerer ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Silent Patient’ by Alex Michaelides ๐Ÿ”ฆ ๐ŸŽ™

‘Love & Virtue’ by Diana Reid ๐ŸŽจ ๐ŸŽ™

‘100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze’ by Clayton Zane Comber ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Gilded Cage’ by Lynette Noni

‘Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief’ by Katrina Nannestad *read our interview here* ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Night She Disappeared’ by Lisa Jewel ๐Ÿ”ฆ ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Labyrinth’ by Amanda Lohrey ๐ŸŽจ ๐ŸŽ™

‘The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart’ by Holly Ringland ๐ŸŽ™

‘Deception Creek’ by Fleur McDonald

‘Christmas Wishes at Pudding Hall’ by Kate Forster

‘The Lost Apothecary’ by Sarah Penner

‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty