Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2021

Another great few weeks of reading… can’t wait to share them with you!

Books I Have Finished This Month

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson: Back at the start of the year I had a delve into the work of Jansson; reading some of her short stories, correspondence and of course her iconic Moomin adventures! This month saw me once again soaking up her delicious prose in the form of her most well-known book for adults. Jansson drew on many of her own experiences to write this book. The story follows an elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while they are away on holiday on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. Their constantly evolving relationship forms the backbone of this heartfelt and perceptive story of human nature, but it is the landscape they inhabit that provides the vivid and sensory backdrop to the events which unfold. I read this one afternoon in the middle of this months heatwave, which added perfectly to the atmosphere of the story and made me feel almost as if I was there.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Length: 176 Pages

My Star Rating: 4/5

Format: Physical Book

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans: This book had been in my TBR pile for an absolute age! I was really pleased I finally got around to reading it. As a child I loved Lissa Evans Small Change for Stuart adventures. One of my favourite films is also Their Finest which I was surprised to discover was based on the fictional book for adults Their Finest Hour and a Half by Evans herself. I quickly bought the book but was even more surprised to discover that it did not live up to expectation. Not only that but *gasp* I think the film is better…! It was this discovery that created my reluctance in picking up Old Baggage. In the end though the timing was just right. Having just lost Margery and Enid in finishing Miss Benson’s Beetle last month, I was delighted to pretty much find them again in Mattie and ‘The Flea’ from Old Baggage. In her youth Mattie was a militant suffragette, but now in her 60’s she still hasn’t quite adjusted to the fact that the world has moved on. Will her defiant and rebellious spirit prove more trouble than it’s worth as she embarks on a new project? Full review coming soon…!

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 336 Pages

My Star Rating: 5/5

Format: Physical Book (Second-Hand)

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey: Sometimes the awards a book has won can actually be slightly intimidating (do drop me a line in the comments if you sometimes find this). The subject matter/concepts can also be quite niche – especially for the big awards. The Mermaid of Black Conch won the Costa Book Award in 2020 (among several others), catching my attention, but not enough for me to really consider reading it. But when I saw it in paperback last month, it once again drew my eye – so I bought it. I think it just seemed so unusual – verging on fantasy but rooted in a tone of folklore – I was super intrigued to see how it had been executed. At the heart of it, it’s a tale of love, innocence and discovery, pitted against history itself. I became really invested in the story; I loved the mix of prose, diary entries and poetry used to convey the narrative. I especially loved the interwoven culture and folklore. In conclusion, I’m really glad I gave it a go.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Length: 272 Pages

My Star Rating: 3.5/5

Format: Physical Book

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan: Last year I read Atonement and found McEwans prose mesmerising. His portrayal of the human psyche verges on unsettling but the detail of perception is artistically amazing. I should confess that I think what appealed to me about On Chesil Beach was it’s length…it’s under 200 pages(!) However, I was also really interested to see how this author worked in a microcosm… Atonement was considerably longer. On Chesil Beach centres around just two characters, young innocents Edward and Florence, in the lead up to their wedding night in the July of 1962. Once again, McEwans incredible talent for conjuring characters on the page, comes into play. It’s an unusual story and I wasn’t sure about it right until the final page – here he pulls his master stroke. Looking back at it, I can only admire his skill.

Genre: Fiction

Length: 176 Pages

My Star Rating: 3.5/5

Format: Physical Book (Second-Hand)

Jane Austen Investigates: The Burglars Ball by Julia Golding: I was super excited to be able to read an ARC of this sequel in Julia Goldings new 9-12 mystery series featuring the infamous Jane Austen as a vibrant young detective! I pretty much dropped everything to read it and was not disappointed. The Burglar’s Ball is a smashing mystery surrounding the burglary of a jewel necklace, Jane is detective once more and this time she’s got her sister Cassandra by her side. Together, and with the help of new friends and old, the sisters set out to clear the name of the wrongfully accused and capture the real culprit all before it’s too late! It’s pacy, full of wit, and brimming with sneaky Austen references (I can feel a ‘Sense & Sensibility’ re-read coming on!). A really brilliant addition to the world of Austen and a portrait of Jane I think she herself would be proud of. It’s especially perfect for fans of Robin Stevens Murder Most Unladylike series and Katherine Woodfine’s Sinclair’s Mysteries.

Genre: 9-12 Mystery Fiction

Length: 176 Pages

My Star Rating: 5/5!!

Format: Net Galley ARC

Outraged by Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles: This book was actually brought to my attention due to it being selected as Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month for July. I was immediately intrigued by it’s premise – the idea that Outrage is a seriously over-saturated market, with social media adding fuel to the flames and, in consequence, limited actual action… Mmm interesting right…? Dotty had me laughing out loud on several occasions – she is the perfect narrator for her own book. You really get a sense for what she is saying; the humour, the irony, the frustration and the subtleties all come across so well. To add to this, Dotty really has a way with words. I particularly enjoy non-fiction that can competently balance engaging and charismatic prose with facts and figures. For me, Dotty achieved this – and she has some cracking one-liners to boot! However, there were still a few elements that didn’t work for me.

Read more…

Genre: Sociology | Politics

Length: 176 Pages

My Star Rating: 3/5

Format: Net Galley Audiobook

The Appeal by Janice Hallett: Firstly, I feel it is quite pertinent to mention that I am not much of a crime reader. Excluding 9-12 murder mysteries, I can probably count on one hand the number of crime books I have read. However, having a younger sister who has developed an obsession for Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle, plus a lockdown of binge-watching ‘Death In Paradise’, crime has been stealing it’s way into my repertoire… though definitely the lighter side of this genre! Like Outraged, Hallett’s The Appeal was selected as a Waterstones Book of the Month for July. The more I heard about it, the more I wanted to read it. Hallett is heralded by the Sunday Times as ‘a modern Agatha Christie’ – a title I now feel is thoroughly deserved. Think small backwater town, super tight community, a suffocating social hierarchy, double personalities, lots of secrets and the truth hidden in plain sight… I loved the epistolary structure as it really helped to keep the pace up, and the amateur dramatics society backdrop was brilliantly entertaining!

Read more…

Genre: Crime

Length: 444 Pages

My Star Rating: 4/5

Format: Physical Book (Loan)

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint: Having been initially super excited about reading this book, I have to say I have actually been a little disappointed. There is nothing really wrong with it; it’s brilliantly written, atmospheric, it’s got strong female protagonists and I loved the dual narrative of the sisters. However, it has just fallen a bit flat for me…I wasn’t really invested in the characters and often lost interest altogether. I’ve been wondering whether readers who are more interested/know more about Greek mythology are able to get more out of it? It’s well enough written that you don’t need that knowledge to know what’s going on, but perhaps there are some more clever subtleties that I have missed…? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Genre: Fiction | Mythology

Length: 400 Pages

My Star Rating: 3/5

Format: Physical Book (Hardback)

~

Well that’s it from me!

What did you read this month?

Meg xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s