Yes, it’s time for another wrap up. I love that all you lovely people in the Northern Hemisphere are in the middle of summer because we freezing southerners get your blockbuster summer reads to cosy up to! Here are my picks for what’s intriguing me for July (picked by book website surfing and countless hours on social media).
Close Call by Stella Rimington
From the publisher (Bloomsbury):
The international arms trade is about to become a national problem…In 2012, in a Middle Eastern souk, CIA agent Miles Brookhaven was attacked. At the time he was infiltrating rebel groups in the area. No one was certain if his cover had been blown or if the act was just an arbitrary attack on Westerners. Months later, the incident remains a mystery. Now, Liz Carlyle and her Counter Terrorism unit in MI5 have been charged with the task of watching the international under-the-counter arms trade. With the Arabic region in such a volatile state, the British Intelligence forces have become increasing concerned that extremist Al-Qaeda jihadis are building their power base ready to launch another attack. As the pressure mounts, Liz and her team must intercept illegal weapons before they get into the wrong hands. When MI5 learns that the source of the arms deals is located in Western Europe, Liz finds herself on a manhunt that leads her to Paris, to Berlin and into her own long-forgotten past. A past buried so deep that she thought it would never resurface . . .
My thoughts: Fantastic that Liz Carlyle is back! This secret agent has brains and talent to find out the world’s secrets.
Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth
From the publisher (Bloomsbury Circus):
Thirty years ago, on Mother’s Day, Mary Byrd Thornton’s nine-year-old stepbrother was murdered. His killer was never found. At the time, Mary Byrd had been fifteen: in love and caught up in the excitement of the Sixties, and when Stevie died, her family and her life fell apart. All these years Mary Byrd has suppressed the tragedy and the knowledge that the murderer is still out there, as well as her own nagging guilt over Stevie’s death. She has built a life for herself in Mississippi, with a Southern gentleman for a husband and two children she adores. With her ramshackle house, her teeming garden and her menagerie of animals, she is immersed in a comfortable, if somewhat eccentric and occasionally restless day-to-day existence. But when a journalist chances upon the mystery of Stevie’s death and begins to dig into it, Mary Byrd suddenly finds herself on a reluctant journey back to her childhood home in Virginia. Along the way she encounters help from unexpected quarters and finds herself confronting not only her family’s story but the stories of many others – both the living and the dead. Rich with humour and pathos, and peopled with a glorious cast of characters, Flying Shoes is a luminous novel about loss and recovery, love and fidelity – about losing your footing and remembering how to soar.
My thoughts: Sounds like a great winter read, to take you from sadness to recovery with a mystery thrown in.
Analogue Men by Nick Earls
From the publisher (Random House):
Do you ever feel like you might have just one more chance to get on top of your life and make things happen?
They’re starting to feel like Analogue Men trying to make sense of a digital age.
Andrew Van Fleet is 49 and feeling 50 closing in. He’s bailed out of his private equity job for something that’ll let him spend more time at home, but the house is overrun by iPads and teenage hormones and conversations that have moved on without him. Plus his ailing father is now lodged in the granny flat, convalescing from surgery and with his scrappy bulldog in tow.
And then there’s Brian Brightman, the expensive fading star at the radio station Andrew’s signed up to manage, whose every broadcast offers fresh trouble. He’s 49 too and, like Andrew, starting to wonder if the twenty-first century might prove to be his second best.
My thoughts: Nick Earls’ books are always funny and topical. I’m expecting some good jokes about i-things here!
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
From the publisher (Random House):
What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself.
It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit.
By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.
But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?
Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.
My thoughts: Even though I am one of the three people in the world who hasn’t read Moran’s other books, this looks like seriously good fun. Plus Helen Fielding says it’s funny – so it must be sidesplitting!
Her by Harriet Lane
From the publisher (Hachette):
You don’t remember her… But she remembers you. The stunning new novel from Harriet Lane, author of 2012 break-out hit ALYS, ALWAYS.
Two women; two different worlds. Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold. Nina is sophisticated and independent – entirely in control. When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time the women’s paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did. But what exactly does Nina want from her? And how far will she go in pursuit of it?
My thoughts: This sounds like a deliciously creepy psychological thriller!
Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant
From the publisher (Hachette):
‘If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don’t know how to explain.’ In the early Seventies a glamorous and androgynous couple known collectively as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But the varnished patina of youth and flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories. For Adele, with the most to conceal, Evie/Stevie become a lifelong obsession, as she examines what happened on the night of her own twentieth birthday and her friends’ complicity in their fate. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for nearly forty years. From summers in Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after they have disappeared, Evie/Stevie go on challenging everyone’s ideas of what their lives should turn out to be.
My thoughts: This sounds very interesting – love the ideas and the Seventies background.
Have you read any of these books? What is on your wishlist of books this month?