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: 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