I read a total of ten books in July – one hardback, seven paperbacks and two e-books. This was an extremely good reading month for me, as I didn’t give any of the books I read below a three star rating and I managed to read a lot despite being ill for two weeks and extremely busy for the other two weeks. I will briefly describe each book and whether or not I enjoyed it. Hope everyone had a good reading month too, happy reading!
1. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin – 4/5
This book was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017 and I can completely understand why – this short book packs a punch within its 151 pages. Amanda is in the hospital with a young child named David by her side. However, he is not her child, he is merely there to help remind her how she got there in the first place. We recap Amanda’s past activities holidaying with her daughter in the country to try and figure out what the “important thing” is. David is extremely insistent upon this and the dialogue between the two is detached and unsettling and the anxiety Amanda experiences as a mother makes for an uncomfortable reading experience. I would recommend reading this in one sitting to allow for the build up of tension. I would also recommend not reading it immediately before bed like I did. However, I rated this a solid four stars and would be interested to read more from the author in the future.
2. The White Book by Han Kang – 5/5
The White Book is an extremely poignant and moving exploration of the colour white and the themes surrounding it. I have a more in depth review for this one here if you are interested – The White Book .
3. The Power by Naomi Alderman – 4/5
This is a dystopian novel that explores the concept of gender role reversal and feminism – females suddenly develop a power that allows them to take control of society and the ways in which it mirrors our current society provide an intriguing and much needed social commentary. My review for this novel can be found here – The Power.
4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – 5/5
I raved about this book in my review, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and my feelings haven’t changed. It is an endearing but emotional book that explores loneliness in depth and makes us feel a range of emotions as it describes the most unfortunate aspects of our protagonist’s life.
5. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – 3/5
Another one I have a more in depth review of – Children of Blood and Bone. This is a young adult fantasy novel about young people called diviners who have had their magical birthright taken from them in a bloody event called the raid. The princess realises her father is not as innocent as he makes out and she chooses to run away and attempt to save the world – magicians and all. I was slightly disappointed with this one simply because of the hype surrounding it, but I still enjoyed myself and would recommend if you are interested.
6. Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky – 4/5
This is a historical fantasy novel set in the backdrop of a war between the people of Lascanne and the Denlanders – a supposedly evil race of people who have recently assassinated their king. However, as time elapses and women are drafted to fight in the losing battle, we realise all is not what it seems and the characters involved must decide what is most important to them. Our main character Emily is a gentlewoman with a strong family name whose father passed away by his own hand. When she is suddenly drafted to fight a seemingly everlasting war, she is given the opportunity to finally find herself and understand the concepts of family, peace, war and friendship. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and felt compelled to keep returning to it. By the end I felt I was friends with these characters and the ending is one I was fully satisfied with. I would definitely recommend for those people who appreciate a slow burning fantasy novel.
7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid – 3/5
This is a strange little book, because whilst I was reading I felt it was only a two stars, then when I finished I was shocked and impressed so wanted to give it four stars, then finally, I settled on three stars. The book is definitely fast paced and should be devoured in one or two sittings if possible, as this is the best way for the tension to be felt. However, I feel the dialogue was unrealistically disjointed, and I partially predicted what was going to happen at the end. Overall, I would recommend if you’re in the market for a new thriller as I did enjoy it but I don’t believe it as fantastic as some of the rave reviews make it out to be.
8. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – 4/5
Longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, Rachel Kushner’s novel explores the culture within female prisons and how socio-economic and gender factors leave women at a disadvantage within the legal system. I was taken aback by the discrimination faced by the financially poor, transgender and institutionalised characters within the book and felt myself becoming angry and wanting to research more into the issues it discussed. Romy Hall is a single mother who tries to make ends meet by stripping in a club called The Mars Room. However, her world, and more importantly, her son Jackson’s world is turned upside down when she meets a new, extremely insistent customer and ends up committing a crime. Instead of treating her fairly and taking into consideration her quite clear mitigating circumstances, the courts give her two consecutive life sentences, meaning she will be unable to watch her son grow up. I will be doing a more in depth review of this one in the coming days, but I strongly recommend.
9. Order of the Vespers by Elyse Reyes – 3/5
This is the first installment in a young adult paranormal fantasy series about protagonist Jasper Andrews and her special, but sometimes unwanted abilities. We begin the book with our main character living with the aftermath of an explosion at her school that she caused herself by mysterious means. This has severe consequences for her and eventually she ends up in some sort of compound with people who also have magical abilities they need to control. The story was fast paced and interesting, but I did have a few qualms with it, which I will address in my full review later.
10. Clean by Juno Dawson – 4/5
This gritty novel explores themes of addiction, wealth, friendship and love. Russian heiress and socialite, Lexi Volkov is forced to leave the London party scene and enter rehab when she almost overdoses on heroin. The book follows her struggles and triumphs whilst trying to remain clean. Despite being a character that I couldn’t initially relate to, I slowly began to warm to Lexi and found that regardless of her massive wealth, she still had some deep personal issues. I admire what Juno Dawson has done with this one and I will have a full review up soon, I thoroughly recommend.