Diva Reads June

So this was a funny old month for me and I spent a lot of it in a not so great, head space. My reading often reflects my mood and can also alter it to some extent. June was also a month that saw me binge watching a lot more TV than usual, to be honest I rarely watch tele but when I do I go in hard. I spent a whole day in June binge watching Station19 and ugly crying. It was pretty epic to be fair.

Back to books.

I finally read June’s House21 book club read of Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare. It was a perfect palette cleanser, and everything you expect from chick lit. The protagonist Tiffy is a typical girl next door, a bit geeky and out there along with utterly likeable. Tiffy shares a flat with Leon, they also share a bed, but not at the same time, at least not initially. Their love affair begins with post it notes in an unordinary, archaic fashion. Later when they finally meet in real life it’s a typical, happily ever after scenario and I loved it.

BA Paris – Behind Closed Doors.

This book was a real disappointment to be honest. I was expecting great things being a psychological thriller fan but I’m loathe to say it didn’t deliver. Tricked into marrying the worlds most sadistic man, Grace rushes into a marriage before she’s even seen the house she’s going to spend the rest of her life in. There was very little back story on why her psycho husband Jack was indeed a psycho, and it generally failed me as a reader. I also felt like the Author’s reference to the vulnerability of Grace’s sister Millie who has down syndrome was quite misinformed and bordered on offensive in parts. I’ve heard good things about other BA books though, and for this reason I’m willing to try another at a later stage. If you’re interested in predictable badly narrated domesticity this might suit you well. It didn’t me, unfortunately.

Alex Michaelides – The Silent Patient

I loved this book right up until the last few chapters. The protagonist Theo is an interesting and believable character who narrates the book from his point of view. He’s a therapist, married to an amateur actress. He later takes a job at The Grove a hospital for the criminally insane and his patient Alicia is incarcerated for killing her husband. She hasn’t spoken a word since her arrest. I won’t spoil the ending but I devoured this book with speed and ease, then got to the end and though – huh, that’s it? I will say it cleverly increased in suspense but the end was a little anticlimactic in my personal opinion. You can really tell my mood was low in June huh? Probably as a direct result of these mediocre books I read!

Pauline Black – Black By Design

After the death of George Flloyd I knew I needed to further my education into racism, particularly inherent racism and I wanted to go back and start at the Black Power Movement of the sixties. I’m a huge Ska fan and so it was fitting for me to read the work of one of my favourite female vocalists Pauline Black of The Selekter. What I learned from this book has blown my mind and caused me to address my own unconscious bias in a major way.

Pauline Black was a mixed race female adopted by an all white family in Romford Essex. She was the only girl with 4 brothers several much older than her. She grew up being made to play down the fact she was indeed a woman of colour. So much so, that she was ridiculed for her Afro Caribbean hair, and reminded by busybody aunties that she surely didn’t need sun lotion during a heatwave because of the tone to her skin. When she finally formed part of the Selekter with the help of both black and white friends she was part of the infamous 2Tone movement. She was also subjected to further racism at gigs and performances by 1960 Skinheads and National Front facist groups. As amazing as it is to read how Pauline became the woman she is today it left an unfading imprint in my mind of just how acutely racism and prejudice can affect a person. I still have a LOT left to learn and believe me when I say I plan to do just that. But I’m glad I started my learning with this book and would highly recommend it worth a read.

That’s about it really, I’m still feeling a little morose and not quite on top form so I’ve opted for some more lighthearted reads this month, starting with Ruth Jones, Never Greener. What a writer this woman is! This post will also be available to read over on House21 and listen out for myself and Mel who’ll be discussing our favourite reads on the House21 podcast in the coming months.

Diva reads: May Edition.

I managed to crack this out by the skin of my teeth. I know we’re almost in June but I hope I can still inspire you with some of my favs from this month. So, what have I been reading this month? For the last week I’ve been dragging my heels with my current read, a Tess Gerritson book, but I’d say it’s nothing to do with Tess and more to do with the fact I’m so tired I just can’t keep my eyes open at night to read it. That probably means I should try doing more day time reading —but you know— kids.

House 21 hosted their first book club in May and as mentioned in my April edition, we read An American Marriage. It was a strange book, not compelling as such, but easily interesting. It depicts the life of an African American man who’s wrongly incarcerated and delves right in to his relationship with his wife. It oozes big cultural vibes and it provoked me to address a few things: The demands of a marriage and the emotional toll on both parties, as well as unconscious bias. I would based on its ability to make me take stock alone, recommend it’s worth a read.

Next month’s book club read is Beth O’Leary’s Flat Share, but I’ve not started it yet, so let me tell you a bit about what I have been reading instead.

Following An American Marriage I reverted to my trusted genre of thriller and picked up my first Karin Slaughter book. What can I say besides WOW. It’s blew my mind. The pace was so elite I felt like I was reading as fast as Usain Bolt runs.

I couldn’t get enough of The Good Daughter – not only is it beautifully written (and it really is, no language or vocab corners cut for Karin.) It was so utterly addictive that I felt somewhat exhausted at the end. That only served to prove it was completely exhilarating. I don’t know what rock I’ve been hiding under, but the moment I finished this book I went on to read two more of hers.

Her Last Breath – which is a Novella prequel to The Good Daughter, equally as enticing, it’s only failure being it’s not a full book. It just wasn’t long enough, I felt robbed by it’s too soon climax.

I then went on to read: Pieces Of Her. Which is set to be made into a Netflix original series. It was a complex read but with equal amounts of explosive content from the very first page. It’s fast and punchy pace keeps up momentum until the end.

I mentioned on this week’s podcast that I’d previously struggled with reading American written books because of the language and dialogue used, however since Karin completely dragged me over to the dark side of American thriller I couldn’t wait to get my hands on more, so I downloaded Shari Lapena’s – The Couple Next Door – another great thriller about a kidnapping gone wrong. A mother’s worst nightmare and full of the kind of characters we all hope to avoid in real life. With shocking twists and American mountain vibes. It was another race to the end. I enjoyed it and would definitely consider many more of her books in future.

All of those thrillers drained me by being so fascinatingly edgy, but afterwards I needed some lighthearted vibes. With this in mind I reverted back to the woman who opened my eyes to genres of comedy and romance, friendship and girl power, Dawn O’porter and sped through Paper Aeroplanes. She hasn’t written a book yet that I don’t adore. I don’t know what it is about her realistic accounts of women and girl power portrayals that get me so emosh, but there’s really nothing not to like. She’s a legend and every woman out there should read at least one of her books, but I suggest reading them all.

That’s it so far this month, so enjoy!!

You can find all of these in local bookstores and downloadable for E-readers. Keep reading and tag me/ message me/ share with me what you think.

You can also read this over at House21 just head to the culture & reading section.

Recommended Reads #3

I promised to keep them coming.

What have I been reading the last couple of months? LOADS! I’ve been reading loads as usual. On average I get through a book in three nights.

I’ve now read all of C.L Taylor’s books and am patiently awaiting her 7th release. My favourites are definitely ‘The Missing’ ‘The Escape’ and ‘The Accident’ I liked ‘Sleep’ as I really related to the characters particularly Anna, but I found Christine’s role a bit far fetched and that kind of ruined it for me a bit. ‘The Accident’ is my most recent favourite and I could relate to Sue as both, a girl in a relationship with a narcissist and a mother, it definitely kept me guessing and I understood her battle with mental health also.

Some other good reads are ‘Watching You’ by Lisa Jewell, set in my home town of Bristol. A good twisty thriller written in a traditional English style, which you don’t come across often anymore and so it makes pleasant reading. Lisa is a powerful story teller and her thrillers always have a great protagonist.

Another of my new favourite Authors is ‘Mark North’ his first book ‘Hold My Hand’ is set between Bath and Oxford and that was what drew me in, having been born and bred in Bath I like books I can relate to in terms of geographical memory. I like to read about streets I’ve walked, I find it helps me connect. His second book ‘Keep Her Close’ is all Oxford based but equally as good. His Protagonist Josie Myers is a good strong female lead and I’m intrigued to see where her story goes in the next instalment. I do find a lot of Crime Thrillers & Cop Saga’s do tend to be samey but if it’s a genre you enjoy I would recommend this writer.

Another author who’s work I admire and I’m currently reading a book of his is Mark Edwards. Im almost at the end of ‘Follow You Home’ I love the way Mark manages to convince you of some supernatural activity before dropping the obvious explanation, making you question your own sanity for a moment or two. He did a similar thing with ‘In Her Shadow’ and I really enjoyed reading that too. Follow you home is dark and gripping making you look at the world at its worst but in an addictive and compelling way that will keep the pages turning until the very last.