In August I read eight books – seven fiction and one non-fiction:
The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney (John Murray) – perhaps my favourite of all the books I read this month, a brilliant, gritty debut. A murder with an unlikely culprit has consequences for a group of flawed characters making up an Irish ‘underworld’. An excellent cast of characters; this is a gripping story of morality, shame and finding your place.
The Bees by Laline Paull (Fourth Estate) – An intriguing dystopian thriller set in a beehive. This is the story of a humble working bee who tries to break free from a totalitarian society. In a world where everyone has their place and only those of a certain class are able to breed this is an interesting look at society through the eyes of an insect.
Francis Plug: How to be a Public Author by Paul Ewen (Galley Beggars Press) – A surreal and hilarious look at the literary world through the eyes of Francis Plug – aspiring writer and wine drinker. With a self-help guide for fellow authors in mind Francis attends the events of Man Booker Prize winning authors – with hilarious consequences. Aside from the humour there are also serious themes here of loneliness and the reader can’t help but feel for our flawed protagonist.
Landfalls by Naomi Williams (Little,Brown) – A nautical, historical adventure following the journey of an expedition of two ships in the 18th century. This is an interesting look at how the men on board prepared for the journey and coped with its many challenges, most notably dealing with the loss of their crewmates and the absence of their families. This is a novel of exploration, discovery and loss.
Early One Morning by Virginia Baily (Virago) – A beautifully written and compelling story. Chiara Ravello makes a sudden decision to take hold of Daniel Levi, a boy destined to be taken away by the German forces during the Second World War. This single act changes both their lives forever. Three decades later, Chiara is contacted by Maria, a girl who claims to be Daniele’s daughter. Chiara is then forced to confront her past. This is a gripping novel, a moving story of family, love and loss.
The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell (Penguin Michael Joseph) – A heart-warming memoir from Tom Michell, a teacher who rescued and adopted a penguin from an oil slick in Uruguay. Explores how one act of kindness changed not only Tom and the penguin’s lives but helped inspire his students and others – the touching bond that can occur between humans and wildlife.
The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Sceptre) – An interesting take on the dystopian novel. Our protagonist, Simon Wythern, arrives in London to find out what happened to his parents. Here he finds himself in a world where we are controlled by a vast musical instrument and where memory is forbidden. He meets the mysterious Lucien, an outlaw who has secrets of his own. The Chimes is an imaginative debut combining music and memory.
The Zoo by Jamie Mollart (Sandstone Press) – The Zoo is a darkly compelling novel following James Marlowe, an advertising director who on the brink of securing a major ad campaign is admitted to a mental health ward. He is overcome by fear of ‘The Zoo’ a collection of characters that reside in his conscious and mirror the personalities of the people who have influenced his life – for good and bad. This is a moving story of one man’s hope for redemption, and his battle against mental illness and the corporate world.
Full reviews of all my August reads can be found listed in the August 15 archive in the right hand menu. Would love to know what you think and which of the books you have read or want to read!