July 2017 Reading Review

I genuinely can’t believe I read ten books in July. Some of these books were truly excellent, so without further ado let’s get stuck into my July 2017 reading review!

July 2017 reading review

July 2017 Reading Review
Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison [GR]
This was one of the smartest thrillers I’ve read in a really long time. In a Gone Girl-esque opening, a woman named Sutton disappears and her husband becomes the primary suspect after a mysterious note was left by Sutton requesting that people do not look for her. This was enough to get me hooked, and I binge-read all 426 pages in 24 hours. There are some nods to Gillian Flynn (a disappearing wife, the POV changing half-way through) but the story itself is different enough to not feel like you’re reading the same book. The chapter titles give you a preview of what’s to come in each chapter, which I found very entertaining. They definitely made it harder to put the book down when I had a small idea of what was about to happen. If you’re a psychological thriller fan, I suspect you’ll devour this one as quickly as I did. 4★

 

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan [GR]
I was blown away by how clever this book was. Lydia works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore but her perfectly crafted existence falls apart when one of her favourite customers commits suicide in the store. Lydia is bequeathed Joey’s meagre worldly possessions, including a small and eclectic collection of books. The books intrigue Lydia and when she opens one of them, she finds something very unexpected: the books have been defaced and cut up in seemingly random ways. Nothing about Joey’s book collection is random, and Lydia slowly begins to decrypt his messages and in turn uncovers some long-buried facts from her childhood and her connection to the terrifying murderer known as the Hammerman. I realise I’ve basically paraphrased the blurb here, but it’s best to go into this book knowing as little as possible. 4★

 

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber [GR]
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did, which was hugely disappointing. The premise is brilliant: a hit Serial-esque podcast opens up an old murder case, and the story follows the lives of those closest to the case. The book opens 13 years after the murder in question, and we meet the victim’s daughter, Jodie. Jodie has done her best to leave her horrific past behind, and no one who knows her now knows the truth about who she is and what happened to her family. The unexpected death of a family member forces her to return to her hometown at the same time that the podcast based on her father’s murder is gaining notoriety, and things spiral out of control rapidly as her family’s history is placed under a national microscope. Despite this amazing premise the story fell flat for me, but I hope to read more podcast/documentary based thrillers in the future. 3.5★

 

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg [GR]
I started reading this book in Portland in May but in the busyness of the trip I forgot to finish it, and I’m really glad I did. It was a quick and easy read about a woman named Andrea who is pushing 40 and still hasn’t figured out what she wants to do with her life. She is a mess of contradictions and that made her completely relatable to me, particularly considering she’s intentionally childfree. The chapters are structured more as vignettes than standard chapters, and the passage of time is different between each vignette. That’s a style I’m not used to but I found myself really enjoying it by the end of the book and if you couple that with Jami Attenberg’s sharp and poignant writing, this is a feminist literary story not to be missed. 4★

 

The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter [GR]
I got pretty frustrated this month with books that had great blurbs but failed to deliver, and Emily Carpenter’s book was another book that let me down. We meet Meg, a young woman whose life has been very privileged thanks to the success of a horror novel her mother wrote many years ago. The novel (within the novel) is called Kitten, and it was inspired by a real murder that took place when Meg’s mother was a young woman herself. Meg’s relationship with her mother is strained, so when she’s offered the chance to write her own tell-all memoir, Meg sees it as an opportunity to break free of her mother’s control once and for all. Her quest to dig into the past of Kitten uncovers some dark truths about her mother and the decades-old murder that inspired her. I was frustrated by the implausibility of the final third of this book, and I struggled to connect with Meg. Overall though another super strong idea just not executed as well as it could have been. 3.5★

 

Force of Nature by Jane Harper [GR]
Anyone who works in the book industry or who reads a lot of books knows about the second book struggle. As the name suggests, it’s the struggle an author faces to write a second book, and the struggle seems to get harder if the author’s debut was successful. I, like many people, loved Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry that came out last year, and I was genuinely surprised when her publisher told us a sequel would be coming just 12 months later. I was completely blown away by how good Force of Nature was. Five women on a corporate retreat head off into the wilderness, but only four make it back. Aaron Falk is back again and I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who loves a brilliant, gripping mystery. If you haven’t read Jane Harper yet, you’re really missing out. 5★

 

The Late Show by Michael Connelly [GR]
I’ve always wanted to read a Michael Connelly novel but I’ve often felt like I’m arriving too late at the party (his 20th book featuring Harry Bosch will be out in November). I like starting a series from the beginning, but life is too short to go back through a 19-book history! I was, therefore, stoked when it was announced that Michael was starting a new series with a female lead detective. This book is solid. It’s a bit too heavy on the police procedural side for me to say I loved it, but Renee Ballard his new protagonist is excellent. She’s not a carbon copy of Harry Bosch or Mickey Haller (I say this only knowing the vaguest history of these two characters, mind you) and she’s an interesting, flawed, and very likeable character. I look forward to reading her second adventure. 4★

 

Every Lie I’ve Ever Told by Rosie Waterland [GR]
This book broke my heart. Rosie Waterland’s best friend died suddenly and unexpectedly when she was writing this book, and she changed parts of the book to reflect on his life, his death, and how much it affected her. The lies make for humorous and poignant reading, but it’s the bits about Antonio that were truly devastating and moving. Rosie talks about grief and how hard it hit her, and I reached for the tissues more than once as she recounted the day of Antonio’s funeral. It’s a sad, funny, wise, and heartbreaking book and I loved every minute of it. 4★

 

The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland [GR]
This is actually Rosie’s first book and I read them in the wrong order, which made for really sobering reading as she speaks often (and with overwhelming warmth) about Antonio but I’d just read the book about his death so I struggled with that a bit. This book looks more at Rosie’s childhood and her relationship with her mother, and when you read both books side by side it really does make you wonder how on earth one woman can go through so much. Rosie does, and then writes about it with such grace and elegance (yes, even when writing about poop and puke) that it’s easy to forget she’s gone through all this and is only 30 years old. She’s a goddamn national treasure. 4★

 

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra [GR]
I don’t really know if Anna knew what she wanted this book to be. It’s got shades of psychological thriller and also shades of a murder mystery, but certain plot points along the way prevent it from being either and so it kind of ends up sitting somewhere in the middle. This is okay, though, because Anna’s writing is so strong. The strongest element of this book is the setting (not unlikeThe Dry) and the miserable small town is a creepy and suffocating character in its own right. There are two mysteries at the heart of this book, but the story ultimately boils down to how far people are willing to go when they feel like they have been backed into a corner with no escape. 4★

 

Ten books in one month is A LOT of books. I hope you’ve found something in here that you’d be interested to read!
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