Well, I’m quite horribly late with my bookish wrap-up of July, seeing as it’s currently September already, but as I mentioned in my last post, August has been a busy and strange month for me, so I didn’t get around to doing much of anything (although I did read quite a bit – my August wrap-up will be up soon – hopefully).
This year, I’ve been posting all of my monthly wrap-ups in video form, but I’ve decided that I’m going to stop doing that for the time being and return to the written version of my mini-reviews. I like making YouTube videos, but they take a lot of time (especially the editing), and right now I just don’t feel like it’s worth it. Writing is and will always be my first love, and I feel like there isn’t enough time for me to do it all, so YouTube will be put on the back burner for a while. I’m going back to my roots by focusing on this blog again, but I’ve also recently started a TikTok account, so I am still trying new things.
Anyway, now that that bit of housekeeping is out of the way, let’s move on to the books I read in July! There were five of them and here are my thoughts…
Act your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert ★★★★★ (5)
I think I’ve found my favourite romance novel! This is the third and final book in the Brown sisters series and it’s absolutely delightful and made me so happy. Eve’s parents are exasperated with her flighty nature (which has a lot more to it, psychologically speaking, than just being flighty) and demand that she gets a job and sticks to it. This somehow, inadvertently and accidentally, leads to her finding herself as the chef in a charming B&B run by Jacob. It’s a grumpy vs sunshine romance, it’s set in a lovely B&B in a small town, it has great autism representation and the writing is wonderful and witty. There’s no way I could not love this book! I read it as an ebook but went out and bought a physical copy after finishing it because I have a feeling I’ll be returning to this one.
The Story of a Goat by Perumal Murugan ★★★☆☆ (3)
This book, originally written in Tamil, tells the story of a small black goat that gets thrust upon an old man and his wife, who vow to take care of her. Through the eyes of the goat, we see what life in poor rural India is like. It has clear political and critical undertones, which was interesting, and the potrayals of both the goat and the old couple were beautifully nuanced. However, although the story was enjoyable and at times even quite moving, it didn’t strike a particular chord with me, so it’s not a book that’s going to stay with me for very long.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton ★★☆☆☆ (2)
I had such high hopes for this book. It’s a multi-generational magical realism story, which is something I tend to love, but I never really clicked with the book. It’s clearly inspired by the likes of Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez but it never got to that level; it felt too constructed, the magical realism too awkward – it didn’t feel as real as a story like this should feel. I did enjoy the setting of one particular street and community in suburban Seattle, and there were rare moments in which I got swept up in the story, but there was never a connection. Near the end, the book completely lost me due to a shocking, unnecessary scene that left me reeling, which knocked off another star for me.
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie ★★★☆☆ (3)
After reading three of Agatha Christie’s novels and now this short story collection, I can say that I definitely prefer her longform work. These stories were fun to read, but they were over in a blink and felt more like studies or exercises in preparation for full novels. There wasn’t much room for depth and I could frequently spot the culprit quite early on, while Christie’s novels always leave me guessing until the end. Nevertheless, I had fun reading this, and the length of a single story was perfect for my lunch break at work.
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin ★★★★★ (5)
The Stone Sky is the final book in the Broken Earth trilogy and it completely knocked my socks off! This SFF series is one of the best things I have read: it’s though-provoking, groundbreaking and intelligent. It’s literature at its best and it made me realise again how much I adore speculative fiction. Set in a world where catastrophes (earthquakes and the like) happen regularly, people have learned to adapt and to wield the power of the earth as a weapon. They do this by enslaving orogenes: people with the ability to connect to the earth, to start but also prevent earthquakes. Obviously there’s much more to it than that, but that is the gist of the world of the Broken Earth. It’s an exploration and discussion on both slavery and climate change, all while being truly original and magical. The worldbuilding is magnificent and the characters are vibrant, gritty and real. And then there’s the ending… The ending can make or break a series like this, and this ending was perfect. I loved it completely.
And that’s it for my July wrap-up! Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments and we can chat about it!