What books did I read in July? Read on to find out!
Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah *
I’m a big fan of Sophie Hannah; I’ve read a fair few of her Spilling CID series, and loved pretty much all of them. She’s known for this series, primarily, and her Hercule Poirot books, but Did You See Melody is a stand-alone novel. Cara Burrows is facing problems at home that she doesn’t want to face up to, so she hops on a plane from Britain and heads to a luxury spa resort in Arizona. While there, she becomes entangled in a murder mystery; years before the parents of Melody Chapa were convicted of the child’s murder, and now Cara is convinced that the girl, now a teenager, is at this very same spa. It truly is one of those stories that becomes unputdownable, as you reach a point where you can’t rest until you know how the mystery will unfold. I’m now planning to pick up where I left off with the Spilling CID series.
The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Man of My Dreams is one of those books that, a month on from reading it, I’m searching my memory for details of the plot. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it; I did, as I do with most of Sittenfeld’s work that I’ve read, but it’s a book that is not heavy on plot. It centres around Hannah, who at the start of the novel is staying with her aunt and uncle due to her parents’ marriage being all but over. As the book progresses, we are party to the major milestones in Hannah’s life, and we discover how her parents’ marriage and subsequent divorce impacts on her and her own relationships. Sittenfeld’s characters are just so well written that they stay with me for some time after, and Hannah was no exception.
Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks *
There’s always room on a bookshop shelf for novels like this, as people are jetting off on their own holidays, I suppose the assumption is that they’d like to read stories of other people’s summers, especially if they are exotic. I reviewed this book as part of a blog tour; I can’t say that I’d necessarily have picked it up otherwise, but it was diverting enough while I was reading it. It’s a very formulaic romance story, but that’s not to say it’s not enjoyable. Our hero, Cesca, is one of four sisters, and I believe that there are three more stories to follow in the Shakespeare Sisters series. You can read my review of Summer’s Lease here.
The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara *
Another blog tour that I was involved with, and another summer book. This one was a little different, however, because it was set on the west coast of Ireland – rather less exotic than the Italian villa of Summer’s Lease, though I’m sure no less beautiful. Its most pointedly noticeable difference from other romance/chick-lit books though, was the inclusion of a fair amount of mythology and local folklore. It made a change that this was the backbone of the story, allowing the romance of the central characters to play out around it. As I mentioned in my review of The Summer of Serendipity, my major complaint with this book was the sheer number of cultural references, something that I find pretty hard to ignore, even in whimsical romances.
Songs About Us by Chris Russell
Last year I went along to YALC, heard Chris Russell speak, bought Songs About a Girl and got him to sign it. This year, I didn’t go along to YALC, but I did go to the library to collect my reserved books, and amongst them was Songs About Us, the second in his Fire&Lights trilogy. It follows on from where the last book left off, so anyone coming to this book without having read the first would be wise to start with Songs About a Girl. Charlie Bloom, having had her heart broken by boyband heart-throb Gabe, apparently hasn’t learnt her lesson, and heads back into the Fire&Lights maelstrom to once more take photos, and to try dating another member, Olly. All the time that this happening, she’s also trying to repair her relationship with her dad, study for her exams, and uncover the mystery surrounding her mother, which is intrisically linked to Gabe’s own family. This is a really entertaining series; Russell has a deft hand when it comes to writing about a teenage girl, and the insight (real or imagined) into behind the scenes of a world-famous boyband is a lot of fun.
Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers.
Books in 2017 – 25