Wrap Up | July 2019

Welcome one, welcome all, to my July Wrap Up! July was an interesting month. There was an important conference I had been building up to at work for months which turned out to be not as terrifying as I worried it would be but it was still A LOT, especially when it came to getting over it (I came back with definite conference flu). As a result, my reading was quite disrupted in the first half of the month whilst I worried about that conference and whilst I attended it. The conference was held in Edinburgh so me and Liz made a weekend of it before it started up and I got to show her some of the sights of a city I love visiting (and maybe one day wouldn’t mind living in).

Thankfully, my reading picked up in the latter half of July when I realised I needed to get reading or I would fail The Book Junkie Trials spectacularly! I am pleased to report I did reach the Bookie Grail but, as for the Reading Rush, I slightly failed that since I was a day late with finishing my TBR. Even so, I’m glad I took part in both of these readathons, and they helped to pull me out of what could have been a reading slump post-conference/Edinburgh. Let’s get onto the books themselves…


In July, I read a total of 12 books 11 fiction and 1 non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 2998 pages in total.

In terms of format: 1 was a hardbackwere paperbacks, 2 were audiobooks, and were ebooks.

As for genre, 5 were graphic novelswere fantasywas YA paranormal, 1 was YA fantasy, was contemporary/romance, 1 was a classic, and 1 was non-fiction.

Onto the books themselves…

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater *

Rating: 4/5
Genre: YA paranormal
Format: audiobook
Pages: 450
Read: 1st – 2nd July
Review: Yet another re-read of this series proves why I love it so much. The Dream Thieves focuses on Ronan Lynch’s character, and his family, and explores further the weird and wonderful world of Henrietta where plucking things out of dreams seems like a sensible character trait to have. The addition of the Grey Man as an antagonist is also a welcome development as it helps to bring the adults of the story more firmly into the light too.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: classic
Format: paperback
Pages: 400
Read: 2nd – 10th July
Challenge: Around the Year in 52 Books (Week 29: A book published before 1950)
Review: I didn’t expect this book to be nearly as bleak as it turned out to be. Set in the turn of the last century New York it tells the tale of Lily Bart, a socially and economically well-raised lady who, in her late twenties, starts to see a decline in her social and personal prospects. The realist bent of the conclusion of the book shocked me and made me really enjoy the novel, actually, much more than I thought I would.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Rating: 4/5
Genre: YA fantasy
Format: paperback
Pages: 438
Read: 10th – 27th July
Challenge: Around the Year in 52 Books (Week 13: A book that is included on a New York Public Library Staff Picks list – on the YA October 2015 list)
Review: It took me forever to read this book, largely because of Naomi Novik’s slow way of telling the story, even the action scenes seemed somehow slow-moving, and it’s something I’ve noticed in her Temeraire novels too, though I’d chalked that up to the time period it depicts. Uprooted therefore was a commitment of a read despite its relatively short length, but what saved it for me was the characterisation of the Wood (very much a character in this story) and the folklore surrounding people’s interactions with it. Although I found Agniezska frustrating at times, her growth throughout the novel as she comes into her own, and her interactions with The Dragon, make Uprooted a very worthy read.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Rating: 5/5
Genre: fantasy
Format: paperback
Pages: 530
Read: 21st – 28th July
Challenge: Around the Year in 52 Books (Week 1: A book that was nominated for or won an award in a genre you enjoy)
Review: Set in a fantastical city state named Camorr, clearly inspired by late medieval Venice, this novel swept me away with its world walked by the city’s upper echelons and underbelly alike. Relatively low fantasy until the idea of the Bondsmage is introduced, The Lies of Locke Lamora is less about its fantastical elements and more a masterclass in how to write sympathetic criminal characters who plot and con alike, based on their own twisted moral code, and are hilarious whilst they’re doing it. This book was everything I needed from it and although there weren’t that many main female characters compared to their male counterparts, I’m hoping this will be developed in the sequels as there is certainly potential there and Lynch can clearly write a great female side-character.

Art Matters by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

Rating: 5/5
Genre: non-fiction
Format: hardback
Pages: 101
Read: 28th July
Review: I love Neil Gaiman’s fiction so it’s no surprise to find that I love his non-fiction too. The way he writes about books and storytelling is lovely to read and this book sees him collaborate again with illustrator Chris Riddell to give his words the beautiful surrounding they deserve. If you ever need your faith in the power of words confirmed, read this.

Giant Days, Volume 1 by Various *

Rating: 4/5
Genre: graphic novel
Format: paperback
Pages: 112
Read: 28th July
Review: Giant Days is a cute and colourful graphic novel series that follows a group of girls rooming together in their first year studying at Sheffield University. It’s a series close to my heart because a lot of the everyday trials and tribulations that they go through when moving away from home to study at university (homesickness, academic anxiety, living with strangers), is close to my own experience of university. It’s one of the few stories I’ve read that focuses on the university experience in the UK (as opposed to the college experience in the US, which is the focus of many a YA contemporary), so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Giant Days, Volume 2 by Various *

Rating: 4/5
Genre: graphic novel
Format: ebook
Pages: 113
Read: 28th July

Giant Days, Volume 3 by Various *

Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: graphic novel
Format: ebook
Pages: 112
Read: 29th July

Giant Days, Volume 4 by Various

Rating: 3/5
Genre: graphic novel
Format: ebook
Pages: 114
Read: 29th July

Giant Days, Volume 5 by Various

Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: graphic novel
Format: ebook
Pages: 112
Read: 29th – 30th July

Stardust by Neil Gaiman *

Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: fantasy
Format: audiobook
Pages: 196
Read: 27th – 30th July
Challenge: Around the Year in 52 Books (Week 50: A book that includes a journey – physical, health, or spiritual)
Review: I adore Neil Gaiman’s ability to weave words into a magical and mystical tale that seems otherworldly but still holds a message that is grounded in the everyday. As with his other novels, he presents fantastical creatures and scenarios in his worlds with such blunt simplicity that it the suspension of disbelief required of fantasy already seems like a given – when he tells you in his books that a tree talks, you just belief it as already an established matter of fact, rather than something you need to get onboard with now. Stardust is much more adult than its film adaptation (which I adore) but both have their merits and this weird and wonderful story of the village of Wall bordering on the land of Faerie is such fun with a really heartwarming message underneath it all.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Rating: 4/5
Genre: contemporary; romance
Format: ebook
Pages: 320
Read: 30th – 31st July
Review: I laughed A LOT during this book, as I often do with Christina Lauren, but Josh and Hazel as main characters were particularly hilarious in their interactions. Christina Lauren have a way of writing both main and side characters with such careful attention that everyone seems a real and believable personality in their own rights, outside of their purpose in the novel’s storyline. Hazel seemed like a cross between Jess Day of New Girl and Phoebe Buffay of Friends and her inability to filter her thoughts, word-vomiting when she should really keep those opinions internal, was adorable as well as integral to the plot. Josh as her counterpoint was just wonderful and cute and certainly worthy of being Hazel’s best friend –  she bluntly tells him they will become best friends when they re-meet after many years apart at the start of the novel, and she’s not wrong. The title and the setup make you sure that Josh and Hazel dating will be end-game but what actually emerges is Josh and Hazel trying their hardest not to date (even setting each other up and going on a series of double dates) whilst also absolutely dating each other and their friendship and their flirtation is so believable as the two of them navigate their feelings for other people and for each other.

 

How did your July reading go?
What was your favourite book you read this month?
Please do share in the comments below and let’s chat books!


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