I managed to get through eight books this August, maintaining the same-ish number over the past few months give or take one or two.
It was another great month for my local library as I loaned five books that I had been very much anticipating and was thrilled to find them in the local library of all places. Can you tell I’m a full library convert these days with the majority of my monthly wrap ups featuring library books?
Anyhow, I didn’t have many five-star reads this month, but I did have a few above average and most of which I would recommend.
So let’s get into them.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
My rating: ★★★★
I’ve been saving this book for a long time so that I could read it on the beach. With a title like Beach Read, where else could I simply read this book? So I took it on my holiday to Rhodes, Greece (you can watch my YouTube vlog of the trip here) and read it in the sunshine while lying on a sun lounger by the water. Bliss. I will say that I enjoyed the book and it was just what I expected in a typical summer rom-com type trope, but the one thing that was missing for me was that it sounded like it was set in the woods in the Mid West of America, not anywhere sunny or near the beach. In fact, I’m failing to remember a beach even being mentioned in the book. It wasn’t giving me the summer-filled sunshine romance that I was hoping for, so that knocked a star off.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
In Anthony Burgess’s influential nightmare vision of the future, criminals take over after dark. Teen gang leader Alex narrates in fantastically inventive slang that echoes the violent intensity of youth rebelling against society. Dazzling and transgressive, A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil and the meaning of human freedom.
My rating: ★★★
This is the first of the library books for August, and I picked this up as it’s a very short book and of course, a classic. I instantly recognised the title and had to grab it as it’s one of those ‘books you should read before you die’ kind of classics, isn’t it? Well, I went in completely blind as I actually had no idea what this book was about but was pleasantly (sarcasm) surprised to find the book was written in a made-up dialect, meaning the reader has to decipher what the characters are trying to say through made-up words. I did get the hang of it after a while, but I wasn’t overly fond of the storyline with so much violence, but it’s definitely a book I’ll remember for a long time.
The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce
In the playground it’s the law of the jungle. But at the school gate, there are no rules at all… When Sadie Roper moves back to London, she’s determined to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. First, she needs to get her daughter settled into a new school-one of the most exclusive in the city. Next, she’s going to get back the high-flying criminal barrister career she sacrificed for marriage ten years earlier. But nothing goes quite as planned. The school is not very welcoming to newcomers, her daughter hasn’t made any friends yet and the other mothers are as fiercely competitive as their children. Sadie immediately finds herself on the outside as she navigates the fraught politics of the school gate. But the tide starts to turn as Sadie begins to work on a scandalous, high-profile case that’s the perfect opportunity to prove herself again, even though a dangerous flirtation threatens to cloud her professional judgment. And when Julia, queen of the school moms, befriends Sadie, she draws her into the heart of the world from which she was previously excluded. Soon Sadie and her family start to thrive, but does this close new friendship prevent her from seeing the truth? Sadie may be keeping her friends close, but what she doesn’t know is that her enemies are closer still…
My rating: ★★★★
This book I picked up because I had read Blood Orange a few years ago by the same author and loved it. It was one of the best books I read that year – dark, twisty with a great ending. So naturally, I was hoping for something similar with Harriet Tyce’s second book. I did enjoy the suspense element and the rich-mum type of characters, but some of the plot did seem a bit questionable and unrealistic so wasn’t as good as Blood Orange, but still thoroughly enjoyable and one of those books that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens which I love.
Careless by Kirsty Capes
Sometimes it’s easy to fall between the cracks… At 3.04pm on a hot, sticky day in June, Bess finds out that she’s pregnant. She could tell her social worker Henry, but he’s useless. She should tell her foster mother, Lisa, but she won’t understand. She really ought to tell Boy, but she hasn’t spoken to him in weeks. Bess knows more than anyone that love doesn’t come without conditions. But this isn’t a love story…
My rating: ★★★★★
This was the best book I read in August, and although I’m not usually one for a slow-burner, I will say that I loved this book. It follows Bess and her life in care, going through teenage-girl dramas and everyday life. Think of this book as a modern-day Tracey Beaker if she was 16 years old instead of 13. I could see this being turned into a British TV series in the future – would definitely recommend!
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans. In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
My rating: ★★★
I’ve seen Kazuo Ishiguro all over my Instagram and TikTok recently so when I saw Klara and the Sun in my library I almost jumped on it. However, a part of me wishes I had left the book right where it was on the shelf. It was a lot stranger than I thought it was going to be, looking at solar-powered AI robots as companions for children. The storyline didn’t grip me which made it an average read.
They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.
My rating: ★★★★
A very popular Booktok book, I found this in a second-hand bookstore a few months ago and have been planning to read it ever since. However, the only thing putting me off was that the title was a pretty big give away for the plot. After reading this, I feel like this sits very much in the Young Adult section of the bookstore as some of the language was quite juvenile and like an adult was trying to write the way they think kids talk today which did make me cringe a little. An enjoyable and easy read, quite like a thriller movie I watched a few years ago, but not the worst book I’ve read.
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
From the author of the Booker-winning modern classic Shuggie Bain comes another emotionally powerful and compassionate portrayal of sexuality and community set in urban Glasgow, as two young men on either side of a sectarian divide start to develop feelings for each other.
My rating: ★★★★
This was another book I almost jumped on in the library as it’s a new release from Douglas Stuart, after his critically-acclaimed Shuggie Bain that I also found in the library recently. There was a lot of hype for the release of Young Mungo and I would say Douglas Stuart was feeling the pressure after having such a successful debut with Shuggie Bain. I adored Shuggie Bain and so had high hopes for Young Mungo. I think if I hadn’t read Shuggie Bain so recently, I would have rated Young Mungo five-stars. However, Young Mungo was just so similar to Shuggie Bain that I hate to say I was disappointed. Young Mungo follows a young gay Mungo in Glasgow’s East End with an alcoholic/barely-there mother and living in poverty. Very much like Shuggie Bain, only Shuggie was a few years younger. The narratives were too similar for me, but I will say that Douglas Stuart writes amazing characters that you instantly connect with and root for. I would definitely recommend, but maybe not reading both Shuggie Bain and Young Mungo so close together.
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.
My rating: ★★★
I recently read Caitlin Moran’s How to Be Famous and thoroughly enjoyed, so picked this book up at a book market in Greenwich a few months ago as a follow up to read. Although this seemed more non-fiction in style compared to How to Be Famous and whilst reading, I felt like I was being ranted at a little and that I should be more of a strong-willed feminist. I did find it funny on occasion but would have to disagree with the Evening Standard’s review of ‘funniest book of the year’ because that wouldn’t be very fair to the other books published in that year. Overall it was ok but I wouldn’t rush to recommend it to a friend.