Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Top 6 Reads for a Rainy Summer

This summer has not being very good at sun shining and warmness and general summeryness, but it has got the whole raining business down. Rain rain rain and storms too. Also cold, so cold. I live in Glasgow, Scotland so I suppose it's to be expected, however I thought I'd gather a list of good rainy summer reading. These books set the perfect mood for rainy reading in the long daylight hours. Perfectly suitable for reading on that *one* sunny day too! In fact on Monday it was a scorching 25 degrees and I read in the park with actual bare legs. And today, Wednesday, has brought the heaviest, most movie like rain I've seen. So I know what I'm talking about when it comes to rainy summers. Without further ado, here are 6 (ok 7 because I added a bonus one and didn't want to make it a top 7 for some reason!) of my reading recommendations for a rainy summer:

Wild Song- Janis Mackay

Wild Song by Janis Mackay, is a beautiful novel set in Finland. Niilo is a 13-year-old boy who is sent off to live at a young offenders centre on a little island due to his thievery and general bad behaviour. Niilo has to overcome his fear of the sea, with the help of a kind councillor and a seal friend. Perfect rainy summer reading, where you can imagine yourself swimming off with the seals and learning to find your own wild song. You can find my original review here.

Pond- Claire-Louise Bennett

Pond is a collection of short stories and essays by Claire-Louise Bennett. Beauty, wisdom, whim, and humour are found in the mundanity of a quiet life in an old cottage in a small town. Claire-Louise Bennett's writing is beautiful and full of much better words than I could possibly muster. Here are some beautiful words about watching a storm from the bath, which makes for perfect rainy summer reading:
"And then, from there, it was possible, unavoidable really, to listen to the storm going around and around, and I knew it was an old one that had come back- it seemed to know exactly where it was and there was such intimacy in its movement and in the sound it made as it went along and around and around. Yes, I thought, you know these mountains and the mountains are familiar with you also."

Maybe read Pond in the bath while it rains outside- especially if your bath is next to a window! My full review of Pond is here

I Capture the Castle- Dodie Smith

From the iconic opening sentence, "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink" right through to the end, this wonderful novel is evocative and charming and is the perfect rainy summer read. Cassandra is seventeen and lives in a tumbledown castle with her family, who is living in poverty due to her father's inability to write a follow up to his first successful novel. She writes about family, falling in love for the first time, and the rich potential suitors who come into their lives and shake things up. I suggest perhaps reading this book sitting in the kitchen sink, especially if that sink is by a window with a view to the summer rain outside. 

Spellbook of the Lost and Found- Moira Fowley-Doyle

Spellbook of the Lost and Found is a wonderful and magical book about the havoc wreaked by the titular spellbook, found in an old oak tree. The setting is wonderfully evocative, with all the closeness and tension of the small town, the dark and magical nooks and crannies of the old forest, and the eeriness of the abandoned housing estate. There is a real sense of stormy summer weather, and in fact I read this book by the fire in a little cottage by the sea in June, while the wind and rain battered the windows. I reviewed Spellbook last month, you can read the full review here.

Aurabel- Laura Dockrill

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill is the follow up to Lorali, a fish out of water mermaid tale from 2015. We're back in the sea two years after the events of Lorali. The politics of the underwater world, the Whirl, are becoming complicated and complex after Princess Lorali's departure to live on land. This book is set under the sea and it doesn't get much more rainy than that! Crack open a window and you'll really feel like you're under water.

Riverkeep- Martin Stewart

Should I stop going on about this book? Am I really putting it in another Top 5 post? You betcha! The story follows fifteen-year-old Wulliam, who is about to inherit his father's role as Riverkeep, which involves tending to the river's ice in winter and a lot of fishing out corpses too. A dark spirit possesses his father one night, which sets Wulliam on a journey away from his one know corner of the river, to row down the river's mouth and hopefully find a cure in the belly of a giant sea creature called the mormorach. I recommend getting yourself a hot drink, curling up in a blanket with a view of the pouring rain, maybe light a candle, and pretend it's winter already! Full review from last year here.

Bonus: Our Dark Duet- V.E. Schwab

The second and final in the Monsters of Verity series, Our Dark Duet picks up almost half a year after Kate Harker's departure from Verity in This Savage Song. She is now living in Prosperity, hunting monsters there, where the monster epidemic is still very much underground and mostly unknown by the population. Kate witnesses the aftermath of a an attack by a new kind of monster, and after an encounter with this strange creature, she finds herself leaving her new friends and heading back to Verity to warn them of this new danger. There is a very urban, gritty, city vibe to this series and I can attest to its suitability to rainy summer reading as I read This Savage Song during last year's rainy cottage holiday and Our Dark Duet on this year's rainy cottage holiday!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Review! Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Spellbook of the Lost and Found is a wonderful and magical book about the havoc wreaked by the titular spellbook, found in an old oak tree. We follow the stories of Olive and her best friend Rose, who begin to lose their things following the summer party in their little Irish town; Hazel, her brother Rowan and their friend Ivy, who are running away from terrible parents; and friends Laurel, Holly, and Ash, who first find the spellbook and cast the spell within to return their lost diaries to them. 

As belongings begin to go missing all over town, the characters' paths cross leading them to discover more about the spellbook as items and loved ones of their own seem to be disappearing from right under their noses. The setting is wonderfully evocative, with all the closeness and tension of the small town, the dark and magical nooks and crannies of the old forest, and the eeriness of the abandoned housing estate. 

Spellbook has a similar feel to Laure Eve's The Graces, with some characters believing there is magic taking place and others questioning and refusing to believe. There's a real sense of the heightened emotion and stakes of a teenage summer with stormy weather, new friendships being formed, and romances being sparked much like in The Graces. 

There's a big cast of characters, but once you've got your head around which tree-named characters belong together it soon makes sense. There are twists and turns and magic and kissing and storms and hangovers and families and friendships and I had such a great time being immersed in this world. If you enjoy a bit of magical realism I'd definitely pick this book up. Bonus points for bisexual characters and same sex love making. 

I received a copy of Spellbook of the Lost and Found from Penguin Random House in return for an honest review:
which this is! 

Review! Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Well what have we here- a robot human love story set in space? Don't mind if I do!

Noemi is the human- she's a solider for Genesis, an Earth colony planet. Genesis has been at war with Earth for years. Basically Earth has continued to die under the strain of its human population and Genesis doesn't want the people of Earth to use it as a back up planet they can destroy too. Abel is the robot- a super intelligent and humanlike robot designed to be the most intelligent, strong, and advanced robot out of all the models designed by Burton Mansfield, a fancy old man Earth engineer guy. Genesis is way behind Earth in its technology. On Earth there are robots for everything from soldiers and nurses to sex workers and cleaners. The people of Genesis are very wary of robots and Noemi is no exception. 

Noemi and Abel's paths cross during a battle and they end up on a mission through space to save the fate of Noemi's planet despite their differences and mistrust of each other. They make their way around the other Earth colony planets and along the way learn they maybe don't want to kill each other and maybe actually like each other. Noemi realises that Abel is maybe more human than robot and begins to question what really makes her more human than Abel, if anything. 

A compelling story, with a satisfying plot, working in a circle around the planets. Claudia Gray builds a really visceral sense of both space and Space, two really convincing internally conflicted characters, and an impressive supporting cast of vagabonds and vagrants. 

I received a copy of Defy the Stars from Hot Key Books in return for an honest review, which this is! 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Books I read in June! Girl Walks into a Bar, Aurabel, Our Dark Duet, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, The Huntress: Sea

Well hello there, it's July how on earth did that happen?? I guess I better sort out my June reads then! I started the month with the audiobook of Rachel Dratch's Girl walks into a Bar, which was pretty funny and stuff. I went off to the seaside for a week with the sequel to mermaid novel Lorali- Aurabel by Laura Dockrill and Our Dark Duet V.E. Schwab, the sequel to This Savage Song. I've already reviewed Our Dark Duet over here. My sunny seaside break turned into a rainy sit by the fire kind of hoilday with Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle, which was so magical and reminiscent of The Graces, which I read in the seaside cottage last year! I finished off the month of reading with The Huntress: Sea by Sarah Driver, and wow what a magical, lyrical, thrilling adventure! I'll get reviews of Spellbook and Aurable up soon and maybe The Huntress: Sea too!

Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill

Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab

The Huntress: Sea by Sarah Driver

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle