Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What I Read in July 2017 – Wrap Up & Mini Reviews

Wow, July was a whirlwind reading month. I went to Edinburgh for a long weekend, which means I was on trains for a good ten hours providing plenty of reading time, and I picked up quite a few quick reads in the past month as well – so I ended up reading eleven books in total! In an attempt to finally read some of the ones that have been gathering dust on my shelves, I've also made a (small) dent in my TBR, which feels awesome, though being less picky did mean that I read three books I rated with just 2 stars and another I gave 2.5 stars. To balance that out though, I got lost in the magical worlds of Lost Boy by Christina Henry and Moonrise by Sarah Crossan, both of which were so incredible that they will likely make my top 10 of favourite books for all of 2017. 



Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff (Bloomsbury)

Jonathan has a long-term girlfriend, an apartment in a covetable part of New York and a steady job for a marketing advertising agency. On paper his life seems on track, but in reality it's chaos and it's only when he starts babysitting his brother's two dogs, and a new PA arrives at work that turns into his spirit guru, that Jonathan is forced to see his life for what it really is; unsatisfying. With the help of matchmaking dogs, sassy French bakers, and a mental breakdown Jonathan's life becomes unhinged and unleashed, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. A witty portrayal dissecting the rut of life many of us get trapped in, this is a book that is as funny as it is thoughtful. A great first foray in adult fiction from YA favourite Meg Rosoff. 4 stars. Buy here.

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace (Transworld)

The Finding of Martha Lost was on my to-read list for a while, I loved the sound of a girl being found and brought up at a lost and found office in a station, the premise seeming both quirky and magical, a la Hugo. However, while there were some fantastical elements to the story, and a fascinating array of characters surrounding Martha, the actual story didn't capture my attention like I hoped it would. Rather than being magical and charming, it was often unexpectedly harsh – and the whole storyline surrounding a missing case of supposed Beatles memorabilia and the Australian journalist on the hunt for answers and riches making his way into Martha's life was completely off-putting. 2 stars. Buy here.

Five on Brexit Island by Bruno Vincent (Quercus)

Having grown up on Enid Blyton's books - especially the adventure ones - I thought I would adore this series for the sense of nostalgia it would bring combined with adult silliness. But while it was mildly entertaining I didn't feel the jokes really worked very well, despite being so rooted in a current hot topic that really opens itself up for some good entertainment value (hey, if I don't laugh I will cry). It was okay, and these books definitely make for a fun one-off gift, but I wouldn't go out of my way to collect or gift the whole series. 2.5 stars. Buy here.



A Sticky Note Guide to Life by Chaz Hutton (HarperCollins)

I randomly found this book at my local tube station's book exchange one morning and despite being in the middle of another book I had on me I couldn't help but flick through it... two commutes later I finished this hilarious and eerily accurate depiction of the challenges of adulting as told through the medium of post-its. The drawings are a delight, the Venn diagrams acutely confronting, and the text underneath each yellow page from life providing additional insight into either the author's own experiences or a fun fact related to the drawing above it. This was a sheer joy from start to finish and I'll now be subscribing to the Instagram account these stories originated from. 5 stars. Buy here.

100 Small Ways to Manage Time by Oliver Luke Delorie (New Burlington)

I've been on a non-fiction splurge recently, especially picking up inspirational titles that can help me manage my life better. This little hardback looked great on the surface, beautifully illustrated and using lush thick paper it looks impressive. Unfortunately this is very much one where the term style over substance comes into place. While the design execution of this little tome is excellent, its actual written contents are pointless. Its top tips to manage your time more effectively includes 'gems' such as "leave on time", "plan ahead" and "start small" – no sh*t Sherlock. It would also have been helpful if the book had more obviously been marketed as something aimed at senior management or above, as many of the 'tips' are things such as "hire a virtual assistant" and "delegate", which really don't apply to the average person (me included) at all. 2 stars.



Moonrise by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury Children's)

The flashbacks of brothers Joe and Ed growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, interwoven with the present timeline where now 17-year-old Joe moves to Texas to see his brother again for the first time in 10 years as the date for Ed's execution nears is absolutely harrowing. This is a book that really got to me on an emotional level because of its heart-wrenching subject matter tearing a family apart. And yet there were also tender strands of hopefulness woven throughout that didn't just make this a difficult read – as I smiled along with the brothers reminiscing about sillier times too. And while I thought that after falling in love with Sara Crossan's One, reading another novel by her hand I wouldn't be quite as impressed by her use of verse, I couldn't have been more wrong. Her carefully chosen words and sentence structure added such an emphasis to the story that a mere few words on the page could feel like a punch in the gut. Another incredible novel. 5 stars. Buy here.

Lost Boy by Christina Henry (Titan Books)

While the Disney adaptation imprinted on most people's memories glossed over the more cruel side to Peter Pan in J.M. Barrie's source material, Christina Henry doesn't skip the darker side of Neverland in her version, which shows the origin stories of some of the most famous characters in literature. It was twisty, unexpected, and made such complete sense. And the way she spun the story turning everything we thought we ever knew about Peter Pan around was as inspired as it was horrific. My only advice would be to avoid any and all reviews for Lost Boy as much as you can, as even the tagline on the US version spoils its greatest twist. And it's far more exciting to unravel the clues yourself until that devastating ending. Trust me. (Read my full review.) 5 stars. Buy here.

The Fandom by Anna Day (Chicken House)

If you're an 80s or 90s kid, you're undoubtedly familiar with the classic animated series Dungeons & Dragons, were a group of teenagers end up in a fantasy world through a roller-coaster ride in a theme park and suddenly have to turn into warriors and heroes to defeat that world's greatest evils. The Fandom is a modern-day version of a similar premise, with a group of teenagers at Comic Con ending up in a world based on the (fictional) fantasy novel The Gallows Dance, and they have to follow in the footsteps of their heroes, ensuring the story follows its written progression, to be able to return back home. There were lots of awesome references to popular franchises within, while creating its own multi-layered and eerily believable world. This book isn't out until 2018 so a full review follow then! 5 stars. Buy here.



The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood (Macmillan Children's Books)

This book has been on my wish list for ages as the premise sounds so cool and it was all over the blogging community when it came out. Unfortunately, the tale of one teenager's summer coping with grief in such a way that she ends up travelling through wormholes to important parts of her past to try and come to terms with what has happened was both confusing and far less original than it sounds. At the heart it's a contemporary read about first love, friendship and loss – and not a very good one as the main character was selfish and annoying, and the relationships described in such a way that the reader never really cares for the other characters. And the time travelling, which should've elevated the average contemporary teen read to the next level, was far too complicated and implausible, only grating further. 2 stars. Buy here.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (Scholastic Press)

Jenny Han's books are very cute contemporary YA reads, not too complicated but perfectly sweet book to transport you away from the stress of work and life for a little while. The second book in the Lara Jean series is a bit different as while it's still very sweet looking at first loves, it also tackles the very real issue of cyber bullying; though at the heart it's still very much an innocent, feel-good romance. The one thing I liked less and found not so believable was how this one ended, but I feel we haven't seen the last of the love triangle yet and the third book might just fix the wrongs from this one! 4 stars. Buy here.


Girlhood by Cat Clarke (Quercus)

I was instantly pulled into this read about tight female friendships (heightened as the characters are in boarding school and so always in close proximity) moving into dangerous territories, but I felt that towards the end it became too unrealistic. Main character Harper was too naive and too forgiving for the storyline progression to continue to make sense and some developments were just a tad too convenient. The novel has a great premise and some excellent insight into toxic female friendships, but definitely tethered out towards the end, especially the neat way in which it ties up loose ends so very conveniently. 3 stars. Buy here.


Have you read any of the above books? And what have you read in July? Let me know in the comments below!


5 comments:

  1. wow you read SO much this month! Some great reads there :)

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    1. It was definitely a good reading month for me! Hope it was for you too :)

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  2. Wow, that's loads of reading! I have high hopes for August after a slower reading month in July (so much travel!).

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    1. I LOVE my books, but travel does beat reading for me, hope you had an amazing time! :)

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  3. You read SO MUCH in July! Congrats! I think I finished 9 books, but it was mainly because of all the readathons xD
    TheBooktarian

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