Reasons to Read June

5 Reasons to Read 5 Great Books – June 2018 Edition

Books Entertainment Featured Reviews

Reasons to Read JuneAt the start of 2018, I made a resolution to read and review more books than I had in 2017. The reading side of this self-made pact has gone reasonably well, but whilst I’ve been putting in the time on surmounting my paper mountain, finding time to review the books has proven trickier.

My plan was to review each book I read with a “5 Reasons to Read” post. Inevitably, I have fallen behind. Whilst I still hope to continue this idea, I am now introducing my first round-up post. 5 Books. 1 Reason why you should read each one, making a total of 5 reasons altogether.

All of these books deserve more coverage than I’ve had time to give them (especially the first two), but hopefully, this post will serve as a springboard for further investigation. Here then, are 5 reasons to read 5 of the best books I’ve read in the first half of 2018.

1: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton.

What’s it About?

The Belles is a secondary world, urban fantasy, set in “Orleans,” a place where beauty is everything. The proles are simply grey in color, their beauty leeched by a curse on humanity. Only specially chosen “Belles” can change the way people look, add color to hair and skin. The skills of the Belles are highly sought after and only affordable by the very rich. This sets up a society where beauty has currency, and it’s the most beautiful who have the most power and influence.

Why Read it?

For its scorching analysis of the beauty industry and amazing world building.

It’s not hard to see that the novel’s construct is a metaphor for 21st Century power structures. Clayton’s world-building is excellent. Her setting is deeply evocative and the “magic” system in the book (the power used to make people beautiful) is unlike anything I’ve encountered before.

But The Belles is not just all arch metaphor. There is a great story here too, filled with twists and turns, strong characters and shifting alliances. The end of the novel turned my expectations completely. This is clearly the first book in the series. Whilst many threads are tied off, the narrative is left open-ended for book two, which I can’t wait to pick up when it arrives.

You can buy The Belles here, in the US and here in the UK.

Reasons to Read June

2: Clean by Juno Dawson

What’s it About?

Addiction and Rehabilitation.

Lexy is a spoiled socialite. A teenage girl who believes she has her drug-taking under control. As the novel opens, Lexy is delivered, by her brother, to an exclusive, remote treatment center. She is not happy (massive understatement). Clean charts Lexy’s road to recovery and the recovery of those at the center with her.

Why Read It?

For its sensitive portrayal of mental health, addiction, and recovery.

As a parent of nearly teenage children, this is a tough read. I’m not a billionaire. My children won’t have unfettered access to Lexy’s lifestyle, but that isn’t the point. In Clean, Dawson shows how one or two poor decisions can lead to catastrophe and chaos.

There is hope though. Clean does not glamorize anything about drug taking or certainly not rehab, but it does offer hope. Realistic hope; Lexy’s journey to recovery is hard and not always in the right direction. With Lexy and the rest of the patients at the “Clarity Centre,” Dawson builds up a sensitive portrait of some of the issues facing teenagers today. Clean is by no means an easy read; it pokes at things we (as parents) might prefer to pretend didn’t happen. The novel contains some grown-up themes and language. It’s definitely one for mature readers.

Clean is powerful and compelling fiction, delivering the message that recovery from mental illness and addiction is far from easy, but that few situations are ever without hope.

You can buy Clean, here in the US and here, in the UK.

Reasons to Read June

3: The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

What’s it about?

A website appears with a series of small but 100% accurate predictions. This causes uproar across the globe. Does it prove the existence of God or the opposite?

Why Read It?

It’s an intriguing thriller that asks questions about Free Will.

The less I say about The Oracle Year the better, but for good reason. It’s a first-rate thriller with an intriguing premise and I don’t want to dilute its power to surprise. This is a clever “What If?” novel, that keeps the reader guessing throughout. As is often the case for novels with complicated and entertaining plot gymnastics, the dismount is, perhaps, little underwhelming. I often find there’s disappointment when a multitude of possibilities collapses down to one reality. Nevertheless, I don’t imagine there will be many books published this year, that hold the attention quite like The Oracle Year. A clever and entertaining read, perfect for lazy summer days.

You can buy The Oracle Year here, in the US and here, in the UK.

Time Shards 5 Reasons June

4: Time Shards by

What’s it about?

Time has been ripped apart and crashed back together almost randomly.

Why Read it?

For its riotous and somewhat preposterous storyline.

It’s tempting to call Time Shards a guilty pleasure. It won’t be winning any literary prizes. Yet, as I move towards my fiftieth year, I’ve realized I’ve been finding pleasure in the same kinds of book I read in my fifteenth. I’ve become more motivated by plot and action. Time Shards has both in abundance.

The premise really is ridiculous. Time has been fragmented, the earth shattered and reforged with bits of different eras all wodged together to make some sort of terrifying temporal tapestry. Set in the suburbs of London (Romford, Essex) giving the book a vague feeling of H.G. Wells, the book’s central character Amber has just been to a comic con when a timequake hits. Being dressed as fantasy priestess will rather complicate things later.

As Amber travels across the ravaged land, at first searching for London, she finds, amongst other things, a primordial swamp with roving dinosaurs, battlefields populated by implacable roundheads, a Celtic warrior, and a policewoman from the 1980s. The novel features a rich cast of misfits drawn from across time, past, present, and future. Somehow they must work together to reconfigure time. If that wasn’t bad enough, the reader knows there’s a serial killer on the loose too.

Time Shards is great fun from start to finish. It’s the first in a series and delivers a jolt of unpretentious entertainment.

You can buy Time Shards, here in the US and here, in the UK.

Silenced 5 Reasons June

5: The Silenced by Stephen Lloyd Jones

What’s it about?

An evil pervasive secret society wants to murder two people it believes they consider to be abominations.

Much like The Oracle Year above, The Silenced is a “what on earth is going on here?” thriller. A young woman is attacked insider her London flat but is preternaturally disposed to dispatching any would-be assailants. In rural Cornwall, a surfer-dude does the night-shift at a dog sanctuary, because he finds their company easier than humans. What connects the two and why is there a powerful shadowy organization trying to kill them both?

Why Read it?

For its frenetic chase vibe.

Who doesn’t like a powerful, shadowy organization? Especially when they’re trying to track down two misfits who have no allies and almost zero possessions. The Silenced is a thrilling underdog story of narrow escapes and wild-bluffs. There’s also some quasi-religious cults thrown in for good measure.

Like Time Shards above, The Silenced is a great beach read. I’m not sure it’s a book that will stay with you for a long time, and at its edges, it probably stretches plausibility a little too far, but at its heart, it’sa  fine thriller, that rattles along at a breakneck pace.

The two central characters are very likable. Their escapades are brought to life by their camaraderie and interaction. Mallory is a fine female lead, and Obadiah’s flawed surfer is a strong foil for her. It’s the respect and sympathy that Jones engenders in his characters that makes the book such a worthwhile read. There is some silliness in the novel as it reaches a climax, but the ending is quite something and liable to bring a tear to the eye.

You can buy The Silenced in the US, here and in the UK, here.

And next month?

I still hope to write individual reviews for my 5 Reasons to Read posts, but I’m already another 4 behind as this goes to press. This was the June installment (upon which, writing started in May).

They’ll definitely be more coming in July, so look out for reviews of Kim Curran’s, SlayTom Pollock’s White Rabbit, Red Wolf and a triple review of Sylvain Neuvel’s, set to be a classic, Themis Files Trilogy.

I was sent review copies of all the books featured in this review.  

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