Summer reading picks 2015-16

Deborah Cook Life 7 Comments

Editor’s note: Please welcome back Deborah from Debbish dot com who’s sharing her favourite new releases with Styling You readers each month. 

It’s summertime here in Australia, which usually means a couple of things: holidays spent at the beach or by a pool; and dire weather conditions (cyclones, heatwaves and bushfires).

I’m afraid I can’t help a lot with Mother Nature, other than reminding everyone to stay safe, but I can make some suggestions to help make the most of your downtime.

And of course nothing says “holidays” like reading. Well… that and fighting kids, but if the latter are vaguely self-sufficient one can still read through the tears and tantrums.

Old favourites John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Maeve Binchy, Danielle Steele and James Patterson have all recently released novels which just scream holiday-reading, but I’ve decided to share some new and lesser-known local talent … in case you’re on the lookout for something different.

A little romance
I often shy away from self-published books, unless I know the author or their writing. Which was the case with Joanne Tracey and her latest book, Big Girls Don’t Cry. I’ve followed Tracey’s blog for many years and love her writing. In my own review of this book I called it “the thinking woman’s chick lit”.

There’s some romance (obviously) but the events in the book are precipitated by our lead character, Abby, refusing a marriage proposal and breaking up with her long-term partner.

Her personal and professional lives fall in a heap from there and Abby’s forced to come to terms with her own past—and the influence it continues to have on her. Abby is utterly believable and very relatable. She could be me. Or someone I know. I also love the time and focus Tracey allocates to Abby’s professional life and her workplace, which play an important role in the plot, and in Abby’s life.

Tracey’s love of Melbourne, Bali, food and music are also reflected in this novel which was released in December 2015.

big girls don't cry 1
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A bit of raunch
Former Sydney police officer TJ Hamilton read 50 Shades of Grey and was thoroughly unimpressed. Deciding she could do better, Hamilton initially self-published before coming to the attention of Harlequin and signing a publishing deal, with the first in her series being released in October 2015.

This book was a huge surprise for me because I HATE reading sex scenes and find them too flowery (ie. throbbing members and the like) or just demeaning and voyeuristic. Buying Thyme falls into neither of these traps.

The book (and series) is centred around “Miranda” who is delightfully pragmatic about her work. And given she’s a prostitute, sex features strongly… but in a way that is very blasé (and therefore palatable for this fussy reader!). Our narrator Miranda shares her story in present tense so it gets pretty graphic; but her cynical and almost-jaded approach to her work is refreshing.

Hamilton recently won the national Scarlett Stiletto award for short crime fiction and Buying Thyme morphs into a mystery with the disappearance of one of Miranda’s colleagues and a mobster-like client who becomes a tad too possessive.

buying thyme 1

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A mystery to solve
Aussie author Lizzy Chandler’s second novel By Her Side, at only 150 pages, is the perfect beachside page-turner. This romantic suspense featuring rich-girl Rory and police officer Vince could easily become a cliché but avoids that with a solid mystery and a (rare) lack of game-playing by our two leads.

After an attempt on her grandfather’s life and disappearance of her half-brother Rory—just home from asserting her independence overseas—is forced to accept on-leave Vince as a bodyguard. Not content to sit back and await further attacks, Rory and Vince join forces to find out who’s targetting her family. Chandler’s created great characters and offers a good balance between suspense and romance.

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The next big thing
I’ve included this non-Aussie author because Holly Seddon’s Try Not To Breathe is being compared to The Girl on the Train. Which of course was compared to Gone Girl… which had set the WTF bar for a few years.

The biggest similarity is a flawed lead character and Alex (like TGOTT’s Rachel) has a problem with booze. In fact, the freelance writer and former columnist plans her day around the wine she’ll start consuming once midday rolls around. In the meantime however she stumbles across Amy, a young woman her own age who’s been in a coma for 15 years after being beaten and left for dead as a teenager. Alex identifies with Amy’s “life in limbo” and in deciding to write about her stirs up a heap of long-buried secrets. I’m not sure this is really the next big thing but it’s hard not to like Alex and find her story as interesting as Amy’s.

try not to breathe

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A series worth bingeing on
Candice Fox is an Australian author who won back-to-back Silver Dagger awards in 2014 and 2015 for the first two books in her series featuring former crime lord Hades Archer, his adopted daughter (and detective) Eden and Eden’s (work) partner Frank Bennett.

The third in this series, Fall, was released in early December 2015 and will undoubtedly garner similar attention to Hades and Eden because (in my opinion obvs) it’s the best of the three. Fall picks up where its predecessor left off. Eden and Frank are working a case, but (again) the book’s as much about the charismatic and unpredictable sociopath and her slightly-dysfunctional partner as it is the murdered joggers they’re investigating.

If you’re looking for a project I’d recommend spending some time with Eden, Frank and Hades and reading all three novels—one after the other. They’re not exactly your usual light summer reading fodder but dark, gritty and bloody good.

candice fox 2

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Don’t forget to also check out the Christmas gift selections we shared last month here on Styling You for some more reading suggestions, and I’ve published a Favourite new releases of 2015 wrap-up on my own blog as well.

faves 2015

And that’s it for 2015. Next month I’ll be back with my fave new releases for January but in the interim…

I’d love to hear what you’re reading this summer. What was your favourite book of 2015?

debbishDeborah blogs about books, not-dieting and life in general at debbish.com. Her life-long love of reading is only surpassed by her addiction to vanilla diet coke, baths, chocolate and champagne. 

Comments 7

  1. Somehow I forgot to pack a book on our trip and it is killing me. These all look awesome. Big Girls Don’t Cry is standing out to me and I usually dislike romance!

    1. It’s not straight romance Jess as it starts with a break-up and has Abby pondering that relationship. There’s also a new potential love interest on the scene but… well I can’t tell you any more than that!

  2. I loved Memory Man as well, it was really hard to put down!!! Im definitely going to get Big Girls Don’t Cry, sounds like a perfect summer read.

  3. thanks for your info deb!
    I am trying to get my hands on patti smith’s “m train”!
    what an interesting life she has had! … I am of her genre!
    also will try for her “just kids” too …her long standing friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe! … true creatives!
    got some info form “brain pickings” which I subscribe to.
    enjoy your 2016! … much love m:)X

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