Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A month in books - June 2016

For those of you who have noticed something missing on Stephanie Jane, but can't quite put your finger on what, I am now publishing my book reviews daily on a new blog, Literary Flits! Please do click through and take a look!

I didn't want readers over here to be completely literarily bereft though so I have resurrected my 'A Month in Books' roundup posts. Here you can find out what I read in June and where you can buy yourself a copy, and you can click through to the relevant Literary Flits posts to read my full book reviews.

Here's the books I read and listened to in June:

The Parable Book by Per Olov Enquist

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Read my full book review on Literary Flits

I chose this English translation of The Parable Book from NetGalley as its original Swedish publication was highly regarded selling 20,000 copies in just its first week! Unfortunately I didn't get on with the book at all and gave up half-way through.


Disgrace by J M Coetzee

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Read my full book review on Literary Flits

I bought a copy of Disgrace from Totnes Community Bookshop and was impressed with the writing. It's not an easy novel in themes or for likeable characters, but I found it an ultimately rewarding read.


Spinsters' Rock by Caeia March

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Read my full book review on Literary Flits

As a teenager I went through a phase of reading Women's Press books, but the books are harder to find now so I made a point to swap for Spinsters' Rock when I saw the novel at Dornafield campsite last month. The novel follows lesbian couple Dee and Lotte who find themselves sharing their home with troubled teenager Gail. Spinsters' Rock is very much a novel of friendship and women being strong for themselves and for other women.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

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The Alchemist celebrated its 25th anniversary last year so I am definitely late to the party in only just having picked up a copy to read. The fable of a young shepherd search for his destiny, has become a contemporary classic and is easy to see why!


Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates

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Yates explores the search for happiness in Young Hearts Crying. We follow the lives of Michael and Lucy, together and apart, over more than two decades as they strive to find their niches in life. The novel begins similarly to Revolutionary Road and I would liken its overall feel to books by Kent Haruf and Anne Tyler.


The Stationmaster by Jiro Asada

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Asada is a well-known writer in Japan and this collection of eight short stories was newly published in English in June. The stories explore universal themes such as aging, illegal immigration, family bonds and social duty and I was very impressed with them all. Great writing.


The German Messenger by David Malcolm

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I received a copy of this entertaining espionage adventure tale set across First World War Europe after 'meeting' its publisher on Twitter. The German Messenger is my third book for the 2016 Read Scotland Challenge.


Shuttered Life by Florentine Roth

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A German young adult mystery novel set in an aristocratic ancestral home. Elisa returns to her childhood home for the first time in years after her uncle is taken ill. Her relations behave oddly and when Elisa begins receiving menacing notes, she sets to work narrowing down the suspects.


A House For Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

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An interesting exploration of the issues surrounding paid surrogacy in which an affluent Indian-American woman pays a poor South Indian woman to have the baby she is unable to carry to term. Malladi shows us both sides of the story and the intense emotional impact involved.


Love in Exile by Ayse Kulin

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Popular Turkish author Ayse Kulin uses her family history to evoke turbulent years in Istanbul as the old ways of the Ottoman Empire gave way to the new modernity of the Turkish Republic. A fascinating portrayal of a country undergoing extreme change.


Gulag 101 by Nico Reznick

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I loved this sharp and insightful poetry collection and had no hesitation in awarding it five stars. Indie author Nico Reznick has a distinctive voice and, if you're looking for purchasing suggestions for Indie Pride Day on the 1st of July, I would highly recommend this book.


Waiting For The Barbarians by J M Coetzee

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Another superb five star read and a very powerful novel which, for me, summed up a lot of the misdirection and antagonism of the Brexit campaigns despite Coetzee having published this thirty-six years ago and thousands of miles away. I guess people are depressingly the same wherever and whenever we live!


Victorian by Jordan Elizabeth

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Indie author Jordan Elizabeth got in touch a few weeks ago to ask if I would like a preview copy of Victorian as I have enjoyed several of her previous books. This one is surprisingly adult in its themes of coping with and overcoming traumatic past events, but also includes a ghostly mystery to lighten the tone.


Donny's Brain by Rona Munro

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Read my full book review on Literary Flits

The 2016 AudioSYNC season is in full swing and I am enjoying my third summer of their weekly free audiobook downloads. Donny's Brain was one of last week's pairing and is a very interesting audio play exploring the effects of brain damage and memory loss .


The Swimmers by Joaquin Perez Azaustre

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A Spanish novel for my final new read of June, albeit not a completely satisfying one. I liked individual chapters and sections of The Swimmers, but struggled to maintain my concentration and understand the underlying meaning of the story.


So that's it for June. Fifteen books from authors in eleven countries and some fabulous reads among them! As an FYI, all the Buy links are affiliate links so I would get a few pennies should you click through and purchase a book. If you agree with my SmallSteps blog post and are looking to BuyBritish, then Speedyhen and Waterstones are British businesses. Caeia March and Nico Reznick are English authors. David Malcolm and Rona Munro are Scottish. If you would like to ShopLocal then localbookshops.co.uk lists independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland.

The next Month In Books post will be published on Stephanie Jane at the end of July and will definitely include reviews of Greek war fiction - Orthokosta by Thanassis Valtinos, historical Russian fiction - The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevski, and Canadian indie fiction - Haven by Katherine Bogle. If you can't wait that long, subscribe to my daily book review blog Literary Flits. There's a mixture of brand new books and reviews, revamped vintage reviews and a weekly giveaway to enter.

In the meantime, why not get involved with Indie Pride Day on the 1st July? It's a celebration of all books by indie authors and small publishers and I believe there are lots of events and giveaways planned online across Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!

4 comments:

  1. It looks like you had a good reading month. I really need to read a JM Coetzee book. I read part of one for a class a long time ago and remember liking the writing.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Oh, you just missed my giveaway for the two JM Coetzee books :-(
      He's a great author and I am hoping to read more of his books in future

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  2. I don't know most titles in here hahaha besides Coetzee, Coelho and Yates but you had a great reading month for sure besides the disappointments but that's inevitable

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    1. Embarassingly, Coetzee was new to me this month. I don't know how I had never found his books before!

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