Fabulous new book releases: your 2018 summer reading list

If you’re readying yourself for one long, hot summer and need some fabulous books to accompany it, then here are all my book reviews for the season. From memoirs to thrillers to historical fiction (including Instagram influencers, the AIDS crisis and the man behind Breakfast at Tiffany’s), I have you covered with all these new book releases that are great additions to your summer reading list.

📌 Looking for more fabulous books to read this summer? See my previous book reviews.

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

UK publication date: 3rd May 2018

Lucy is at a very loose end. Her interest has diminished in both her PhD and long-term relationship and life in her college town has grown pretty stale. But when her boyfriend enthusiastically jumps at the idea to break-up and a deadline is set for her dissertation, Lucy finds herself without loveless and almost definitely jobless. Her sister throws her a lifeline, offering up her Venice Beach house for the summer while she travels around Europe, in exchange for looking after her much-adored dog. Newly single, and hoping the months away will help her finally finish her writing, Lucy plunges headlong into life by the sea in one of the world’s most iconic (and bonkers) beach suburbs. Balancing group therapy sessions with Tinder dates and dog walking duties, Lucy finds herself unravelling until she meets a secretive night swimmer who has a strange hold over her.

So, this book is pretty weird. It’s a modern reversion of the mythical sirens, and Lucy is definitely lost at sea. This woman is definitely not making smart choices in her life and this is probably why I really loved this character and the other women that surround her. There’s this idea that our 20s are for messing things up and our 30s are for getting our sh*t sorted. As anyone over 30 will tell you, this is hilariously untrue – you’re pretty much the same silly person but with more responsibilities. So it’s really refreshing to read a book from the perspective of women who are really not getting anything right. There were a couple of hands over my eyes and cringe moments were Lucy’s poor choices led her into some pretty unsavoury situations, but Melissa Broder’s acerbically funny internal dialogue saves you (nearly) every time.

Buy it now from:

Foyles

Waterstones

Amazon

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides This Is Just My Face Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

UK publication date: 7th June 2018

This is less a “memoir” and more a bringing-you-right-up-to-speed on the life so far of Oscar-nominated actor Gabourey (not Gabby) Sidibe. If you don’t know her from the intensely brilliant 2009 film Precious, then you’ll probably know Gabourey’s blonde locks from the hit TV series Empire. The book covers her pre-fame days, growing up in Harlem with an iconic subway singing mother and secretly polygamist father, and then moving on to become a phone sex worker before accidentally becoming a huge star.

Gabourey writes in a really likeable conversational manner, tripping over all manner of subjects on her way to getting the point and interjecting with the frequent amusing side note. It’s all too easy to say something about this book like ‘Gabourey is so strong and so sassy – she tells it like it is’, which is totally true but also feels (as an industry-shaking plus-size black female actor) incredibly glib. There’s much more to this book than that. I was especially interested in how she talks about trying to fit into her father’s life and trying to fit him into hers; how weirdly her mother turned down the role in Precious long before the film was ever made; and how she pulls no punches when it comes to her relationship with Lee Daniels and fame. Also, as soon as she mentioned that her name is pronounced like Cabaret (my favourite musical) I couldn’t stop purring her name over and over throughout the book. I am now officially a massive fan of Ms Sidibe after reading this.

Buy it now from:

Foyles

Waterstones

Amazon

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

UK publication date: 7th June 2018

Covering three different eras (skipping between 1980s Chicago and current-day Paris with each chapter, whilst also looking back to 1920s Paris as well), this is the story of one man’s attempt to live a normal life as his world crumbles around him and another woman’s attempt to deal with the fall-out from her the trauma of her youth. In Chicago, we follow Yale and his friend Fiona’s journey the growing AIDS epidemic and in Paris, many years later, we follow Fiona’s attempt to track down her missing daughter. These two narratives start out feeling distinctly separate but grow entwined as we learn more about the space between them.

This novel is probably one of the best literary attempts at conveying the impact and fallout of the AIDS crisis that I’ve ever read. Viewed from the assumed security of a monogamist relationship, we watch Yale grapple with the growing understanding of what shape this epidemic will take as more and more of his friends fall ill. He’s also just trying to get on with his life and his relationship as well acquire a potentially exciting collection of art for his gallery. Fiona, on the other hand, is way over her head in caring for her brother, then his boyfriend and one friend after an another as the virus wipes out almost her entire circle of friends. How does one possibly move on and lead a normal life after that? This book humanises this era with incredible grace. I did wonder at times where it was all headed but that’s the charm of a good story, right? Definitely one of the best new book releases you can read this summer.

Buy it now from:

Foyles

Waterstones

Amazon

Summer reading 2018 @minkaguides Shame On You by Amy Heydenrych

Shame on You by Amy Heydenrych

UK publication date: 26th July 2018

You know Holly. She’s that famous healthy eating influencer, who has basically invented ‘clean eating’ and has an Instagram full of juices, yoga wear and being #thankful. Everything about her life is picture perfect – aside from the fact that she doesn’t appear to have any love interests, family or friends – aside from her PR agent. When an impromptu date turns into an almost deadly attack, Holly has to work out why this man wants to kill her – or destroy her reputation at the very least.

This is quite an interesting, albeit cheesy, thriller about the world of influencers. This story is pretty clearly inspired by the scandal surrounding the Australian wellness influencer, Belle Gibson, and the revelations about her health empire in 2017. But, of course, this is fiction so the story goes off on one crazy, but relatively believable, tangent. There’s a moment about midway through the book (without giving away any spoilers) where I thought Holly was going to go completely 180 and have a total feminist rampage with her target set squarely on the world of influencers. Sadly, this doesn’t happen (that would have been amazing though) but this is still a pretty fun and thought-provoking read. Definitely a great summer reading option for the beach these holidays.

Buy it now from:

Foyles

Waterstones

Amazon

Other new book releases I’ve read

The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve (UK publication date: 3rd May 2018)

A historical mystery about a trans man working as a coroner’s assistant in Victorian London. I really wanted to like it, as it’s an excellent idea for a story, but the story structure and the characterisation were quite weak. Not a bad read if you fancy giving it a try but don’t have high expectations.

Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (UK publication date: 14th June 2018)

If you’re fascinated by the lives of really rich people, then this book is for you. The story attempts to capture the cataclysmic fall-out Truman Capote had with his “Swans” (the gaggle of super-rich women of Jackie Kennedy’s ilk who doted on him) in the mid-70s after he publishes a thinly-veiled story that dishes all of their dirt. They close ranks and he is thrust back out into the cold… and that’s basically it. I found the rich b*tches terribly boring but was more fascinated by what was not in this book. I had no ideas Capote’s next door neighbour and childhood friend was fellow author, (Nelle) Harper Lee. I want to read a book about that.

 

📌 Looking for more fabulous books to read this summer? See my previous book reviews.

 

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Fabulous New Book Releases: Your 2018 Summer Reading List

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