13 In Books & Writing

Book Roundup 6 | Reviews from June-July

book roundup

Welcome back to another edition of Book Roundup! This is the kind of post in which I quickly summarise and review books I’ve read since the last book roundup. I’m actually impressed with myself and have read 10 since last month yay!

Having a tablet has really helped me read more. I like to not have technology too much at night, but since I can read in the dark it means the Brit can sleep in peace even when I read until 3am because I’m trying to finish a good book! 

As you probably have noticed, I have also been reviewing a lot of books for NetGalley (*the first 8 were given to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*) and I’m thankfully coming to the end of the list soon. I’m happy about that because I’ve been obsessed with buying books at the charity shop recently and I have a massive to-read pile starting to take over our living room. Need to get on that soon!

I’ve also finished my Goodreads challenge of the year 6 months early! The challenge was 34 books and am currently reading book #38. BTW if you’re on Goodreads, we should be friends!

For now though, here are the reviews of the ten books I’ve read in the last month. Hope you’ll take some recommendations for yourself:

In twenty years. Allison Winn Scotch. 3/5

I thought this was a very good book. It follows 5 friends who come back to their alma mater at the request of their friend who passed away. I thought it was nicely written and it brought up very real feelings about growing up and meeting your younger self’s aspirations. On the down side, I thought it was a bit cliche and I could see where the book was going the whole time. Also, the characters are all very irritating – though I think it’s the main point of the book as they all seem to have lost their way and are reminded of their aspirations and who they wanted to be through this reunion.

I would recommend it, especially if you’ve graduated a few years back and have either lost touch with friends or find you struggle with ‘real life’ as a ‘grown up’.

Magruder’s curiosity cabinet. HP Wood. 4/5

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book and I have to say that it will be difficult to explain what it was about in only a few lines. It follows multiple characters who cross path on Coney Island at the beginning of the 20th century, mostly within the ‘freak scene’ and then the plague hits.

This is simplistic and probably a bit unappealing but this book was a revelation to me. I thought it was very well written and well constructed – I never knew where it was going, which is rare in this day and age. The plot sustained following multiple characters throughout and while it’s a bit confusing at first, I got so attached to all of them by the end of the book. I highly recommend it!

The A-Z of you and me. James Hannah. 3/5

I had mixed feelings about this book because it took me by surprised. I expected more of a romantic story and got a very bittersweet tale of a man at the end of his life in a hospice. Nonetheless, I thought it was an absolutely brilliant debut novel by James Hannah. The concept was fresh and interesting and it was very well written and constructed.

Ivo is in a hospice and in order to pass the time and forget the pain, plays the A-Z game, remembering often tragic stories with every single letter. It was touching, sad, full of anxiety and beautiful moments of humanity. I found the friends/sister characters very pathetic and draining, they irritated me so much and I found it frustrating that they seem to get their (selfish) way in the end, however, I found the ending very touching and lovely.

Hitman Anders and the meaning of it all. Jonas Jonasson. 2.5/5

I’ve enjoyed other work by Jonas Jonasson. His style is very peculiar and can draw you in with its quirky characters and almost magical coincidences. However, this story, which follows a hitman (or reformed hitman turned preacher) and two dubious money-grabbing opportunists, didn’t do it for me. It’s a great work, but I found it tedious. I put this mostly on the fact that none of the characters were particularly nice and I wasn’t able to identify with any of them. I didn’t particularly want any of them to succeed or care about what was happening, which is a real shame when reading a book. If you like a good satire about religion and enjoy Jonasson’s style you may enjoy this book.

A robot in the garden. Deborah Install. 3/5

This book is a bit of a travel novel meet sci fi meet adult bildungsroman. It follows a broken man, Ben, with nothing much in his life as he travels around the world to find the solution to fix the robot that happened to show up one day in his garden.

I thought it was very well done and couldn’t wait to know what would happen. I thought it showed Ben’s progression through the story so well. The only thing I disliked from the beginning was the fact that I didn’t really know in which world this was happening. I thought it was a normal world, but then there would be normalised references to AI, robots, etc. I kept feeling like I had skipped over something, making me feel uneasy. The ending was also not my cup of tea. I would still recommend it highly if you would like a novel about a man who grows up, travels, and love robots.

My Last Continent. Midge Raymond. 3.8/5

My Last Continent is a novel counting down and retelling moments to a shipwreck in Antartica. It follows scientist Deb Gardner who loves penguins and isn’t a big fan of people. This novel was beautifully written and I read it quickly as the count down toward the shipwreck announced at the beginning of the book is a great cliffhanger tool.

My only comment was that I didn’t believe in the love story that punctuates the novel. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t find any characters particularly likeable. To the fairness of the novel and the writer, I think that was because the main protagonist and narrator isn’t a particular fan of other people and that perhaps taints the perspective.

What I did love about this book / found particularly scary was everything that is said about nature, climate change, Antartica and the penguins. It was beautifully translated through a fictional story.

Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice. Beth Revis. 4/5

I picked up this volume about writing because I was stuck in a bit of a rut with my own writing. Reading this sometimes funny, sometimes so true, sometimes plain obvious and yet not so obvious book for writers by a writer definitely helped me. It’s given me the confidence to keep going and trust my gut as well as the confidence to keep pushing in my craft.

I would definitely recommend this book to any writer who may be needing some help regarding plot, character, showing not telling, etc. All the advices and tips are very insightful and I learned a lot by reading this book.

The Neverland Wars. Audrey Greathouse. 2.5/5

This book follows a normal young woman…urm I mean older child… as she finds herself off to the magical land of Neverland. I’m a big fan of Peter Pan and this was an interesting reinterpretation of the tale, especially from a modern standpoint.

Unfortunately, it was not exactly what I expected as there was almost no war within this book. And I am still unclear as to whether this is a series or not as it ends in a rather cliffhanger way.

I think me at age 10-15 would definitely have loved this book, it’s well written and full of imagination, but as an adult I would recommend against this book. You probably need to be younger to enjoy this as it’s somewhere between childhood feelings and a teenage’s crisis with understanding the world.

Fantastic Mr Fox. Roald Dahl. 3.5/5

I picked up this book when I was starting to plan a children’s book I’m currently writing. I wanted to see what children liked and how other writers approached it.

It follows the story of Mr Fox as he tries to outsmart a bunch of farmers. The short book was funny, rude, childish, scary. It was basically so many emotions that we go through in life. I definitely don’t think it’s my cup of tea, but I could see why children love this.

Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. 4/5

I love Mindy Kaling – I read her first book in a matter of hours and still follow her tv series. She is funny and smart and very astute in her observations. This book didn’t disappoint. It’s hard to say what it’s about, but if you read the first book, the second is very similar.

I weeped at one page when she talks about the reality of growing up and trying to still see your friends, I laughed when she writes her own ‘Sliding Doors’ (aka Versions of Us) version of her life and was proud and impassioned by her chapter about working hard and loving her job and her life. She is a kickass boss woman. It’s very empowering to read about all her experience. Highly recommend it if you loved books like Bossypants or Yes, Please, or just have a major crush on Kaling herself. 

What books have you read lately and would recommend?xx

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