Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Reading round-up: July

July 2013 books

63. Eve in Hollywood by Amor Towles - 5/10. A follow-up to Towles' debut Rules of Civility, featuring six short stories about one of Rules' most memorable characters, Eve. Well-written, but far too short, even for a cheap ebook: I would have preferred to wait for another full-length novel. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
64. Tampa by Alissa Nutting - 8/10. One of the most controversial books of the year, Tampa - as you probably already know - delves into the psyche of Celeste Price, a teacher who has a sexual obsession with underage boys. Although very explicit, it's brilliantly written and realised. Fantastic, dark and unflinching, but not for the faint-hearted. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
65. Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach - 9/10. Moggach's much-talked-about first novel, telling the story of an isolated young woman who becomes involved in some nefarious goings-on on an online forum, has won praise for its exploration of identity in the social media age. I thought it was excellent, but was more transfixed by the protagonist, a classic love/hate unreliable narrator. Read my full review / Buy the ebook (now back up to £1.79, still a bargain!)
66. The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell - 7/10. In 1980, a group of students move into a tumbledown cottage and seal themselves off from society. In the present day, a grieving young wife is bequeathed the cottage for reasons she doesn't understand. What is the connection between the two?Richell's second novel doesn't break any new ground and it's easy to guess the twists, but I enjoyed it so much I didn't really care. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
67. Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates - 7/10. A hazy, hypnotic 1970s campus novel, in which a young female student becomes intimately entangled in the strange world of her charismatic professor and his wife. Highly atmospheric and memorable, despite its brevity. Read my full review / Buy a copy (it's out of print but you can get used copies very cheap on Amazon)
68. The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson - 4/10. From the premise - group of intense academics becomes deeply involved in live-action role-playing games, culminating in a re-enactment of the Bacchae - I was hoping for The Secret History Mark II: instead, this is a lacklustre affair in which the characters are underdeveloped and the dialogue is overwritten. Disappointing. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
69. The Professor of Poetry by Grace McCleen - 8/10. Progressing at a leisurely pace, this enchanting, lyrical narrative introduces the reader to Elizabeth Stone, an introverted fiftysomething academic who is far more complex than she at first appears. The story is a classic literary tale of love, repression and regret, and was so moving that the ending had me in tears. Read my full review / Buy the ebook

All in all, a good month. Kiss Me First was my favourite book of July, with Tampa a close second, and I also really enjoyed (and would recommend) The Professor of Poetry, The Shadow Year and Beasts. Only The Magic Circle was a real disappointment.

My reading slowed right down in July but I'm hoping to get back up to a greater number of books in August - if only because there's so many I want to read so much. What did you enjoy reading in July? And what are your most-anticipated books for August?


  1. Hey there! Greetings from Brazil! I found your blog by accident the other day, and absolutely loved your book reviews! "Kiss me first" seems really interesting; I'll give it a try. Maybe "Shadow Year" too. Anyway, I was wondering… how do you read so much in just one month? I wish I was able to read that much haha x

  2. I have Tampa on my to read list and can't wait to get started. I love a good controversial novel.
    Anna x