Okay, I know it’s halfway through August (practically) but here is my reading wrap up from July! Last month I managed to read 12 books, and they varied from life changing to rage inducing which I’m pretty sure is my personal best for 2019.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
I had seen a lot of screen caps of Brene Browns stuff going around, so I decided to bite the bullet and finally read something by her. I really liked her approach to self compassionate and vulnerability, if you want a self help book that goes beyond the macho ‘Just keep pushing’ this is definitely the one to go for.
Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco:
I went into Stalking Jack the Ripper with quite low expectations, but it was a lovely experience, it has everything I love in a YA novel. The aesthetic, the dark, victorian vibe is a beautiful and intriguing setting and my favourite time period to read about. The book also has a lot of steampunk themes, which worked well in the story. As a historical thriller, it loosely uses true crime stories from the past as a base, which I thought was was well done without being too disrespectful. I liked the love interest, the protagonist, and I thought their mutually supportive relationship was a breath of fresh air in the YA genre, because if I have to read about another couple that refuses to talk about their feelings, I’m going to throw the book out the window. The plot was a tiny bit rushed, but overall it was an enjoyable read.
Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco:
After how much I enjoyed the first book, I was so excited to start this book, because I really enjoyed the first two books, but I was really disappointed. What I loved about the first books was that it didn’t fall into the YA tropes that I hate, namely, pointless love triangles (Seriously- stop it). This book really disappointed me, and although the setting was beautiful, the plot line really let me down. I’m hoping the next one is better, and it doesn’t fall into another frustrating, and namely lazy, trope.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton:
I was really intimidated by this book when I first started it, but I loved it. The Goldrush setting in New Zealand is beautiful, and the structure, based on the astrological signs is haunting and pulls you deeply into the story. And although the twelve or so perspectives can be confusing, especially in the first half, it is a fascinating and deeply symbolic book that is thick with subliminal messaging and metaphor.
The Diviners by Libba Bray:
I love this book, it’s bright, creepy and really good fun, I loved the vibrant, well written main character, its varied support characters. I also liked the plot, which wove together in an entertaining way. I was also excited to read a YA book that wasnt set in a lily white New York and had great representation. It was my favourite book I read this month, and I can’t wait to continue with the series.
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare:
The newest instalment in the Shadowhunter Chronicles, Lady Midnight follows the LA institute and a new group of loveable rascals. Like all Cassandra Clare’s books,there were things I liked and things I didn’t like. I thought it was good that the aftermath of war was dealt with, and I liked the themes of family that went through the books, but I found it pretty formulaic. But saying that, I will definitely continue the series. I read the other Shadowhunter novels, and they were good fun, I’m a simple girl, I like a fun setting, cool characters and interesting monsters.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:
Speaking of cool monsters, I finally read the OG monster book, written by Mary Shelley at the tender age of 18 (!) it is largely considered the first book in the science fiction cannon. I had already been exposed to the ‘Frankenstein’ aesthetic in almost all of pop culture, so it was great to finally read the source material. I would say its worth reading just to compare to the other adaptions of the theme in popular culture. It’s also a fantastic insight into Gothic Victorian literature.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo:
I read this book because I heard you have to read it before the Six of Crows Duology, which I have heard is amazing. Shadow and Bone… was fine, I guess? The protagonist is stunningly passive which irritating because the plot could advance even if the main character was a pot plant, which honestly might have been more entertaining. The plot of weirdly paced, but the main antagonist is really cool and well developed (or the only developed character?) and he was enough for me to pick up the second book.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo:
The second book in the Grisha Trilogy, which I decided to give a chance after not really enjoying Shadow and Bone, and boy do I regret it. It was so frustrating I will not be continuing the trilogy. The main romance antagonised me every time it was in the plot and it has the same underdeveloped back story, gross emotional abuse and lack of communication that seems to plague the YA genre. The new characters were fun, and they really carried the story, which made me wonder why the book was centred around the most boring protagonist ever. It was overwhelmed by every bad trope in YA romance ever.
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
My Favourite Murder is my favourite podcast, and I was really excited about their book, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turns out the part memoir, part advice book and part true crime book. So basically it is everything I could have wanted in a book, and the audiobook in particular is heartwarming, funny, sensitively told and powerfully sings the praises of the sisterhood and female friendship.
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris
One of my beautiful friends lent me this book with little explanation, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. Although the title is somewhat misleading (the author explains in great detail the adversity itself, not so much how to heal its effects decades later), the book was extremely enlightening and offered me a much deeper insight into the mind-body connection and how our early childhood experiences affect our biology and even our DNA. Our adverse childhood experiences impact our behaviour, our ability to learn and our health, with some of the effects showing up much later in life. Studies show that a huge percentage of all the people on Earth have faced at least one toxic stress issue (Adverse Childhood Experience or ACE) So yeah, although I wasn’t really that much interested in Dr. Harris’ detailed struggles to finance her clinic, I gained an immense amount of knowledge and I am deeply grateful for the chance to find at last some explanations for many issues which are troubling most of us (and which, if not taken care of, could trouble our kids in the future). Her writing style was delightful, the anecdotes she told were just enough to spice up the scientific issues she was illuminating, and her narration was excellent.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Mixing memoir and cultural history, Nelson uproots conventional notions of genre and form in The Argonauts, supplanting them with her radical interest in creating art without a centre. The short book quickly branches off from the writer’s initial focus on her romance with her life partner, gender fluid artist Harry Dodge, and it sprawls in many different directions. Nelson touches upon the ethics of feminist art; the difficulty of sustaining queer relationships, without having models to follow; the intricacies of childrearing; the shortcomings and strengths of critical theory, past and present; and so much more. While The Argonauts can feel aimless at times, Nelson’s insights on (queer) motherhood are astute, and following her intellectual somersaults makes for a stimulating reading experience
What did you read in July?