2020 Reading Challenge: What I Read in July

August 2, 2020Hels

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami)

I can’t believe we’re well over halfway through this absolutely bizarre year. July was generally pretty nice. I was able to see friends, I went for my first brunch date since March, and we had our garden done (finally) and I’m absolutely in love with it. We’ve been able to spend plenty of time outside, and it’s made me so happy!

It’s also been a fairly good month for reading…

Our House Louise CandlishOur House (Louise Candlish) ⭐⭐⭐💫

When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can these people possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

This book was just what I needed to read. It’s absolutely bizarre and completely far-fetched, and I loved every second. It’s a very convenient domestic thriller, and I didn’t particularly warm to any of the characters, but I think it’s worth the read. The characters are well developed, and I could picture them all perfectly. The Bird’s Nest arrangement was really interesting, I had no idea that was a thing, and I thought it was a really intriguing concept to explore in the story.

There is a LOT that happens in Our House, I actually found it a bit hard to keep up at times, particularly as the narrative jumps around a lot. However I think it’s well-written and I did think it was cleverly done, with a lot being told via a podcast, with listeners sharing their thoughts as Fi’s story unfolded.

It’s not really got a big dramatic twist at the end, but there are lots of little twists and turns throughout. There were a few loose ends that I wish could have been tied up, particularly with Wendy’s character. A lot of it felt very convenient, and I think you have to suspend your disbelief a little, but I honestly enjoyed this book, and I want to read more by Louise Candlish.

 

I Am Not Your Baby Mother (Candice Brathwaite) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Candice started blogging about motherhood in 2016 after making the simple but powerful observation that the way motherhood is portrayed in the British media is wholly unrepresentative of our society at large.

The result is this thought-provoking, urgent and inspirational guide to life as a black mother. It explores the various stages in between pregnancy and waving your child off at the gates of primary school, while facing hurdles such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point.

This book is incredible, essential reading. Candice says a couple of times that the book is not an autobiography or memoir, but rather a guide. It’s brilliantly written, frank and honest, while also being educational and enlightening.

The story she recounts of what happened after she gave birth to her daughter is devastating, as are the statistics she shares. The thought processes she went through when choosing names for her children was, I’m ashamed to admit, not something I’d ever really thought about, a clear example of my white privilege.

I’d recommend this book to everyone. It’s not a particularly long book, but it doesn’t need to be – it speaks volumes.

 

Home Truths Susan LewisHome Truths (Susan Lewis) ⭐⭐

Angie Watts used to have everything. A new home. A beloved husband. Three adored children.

But Angie’s happy life is shattered when her son Liam falls in with the wrong crowd. And after her son’s bad choices lead to the murder of her husband, it’s up to Angie to hold what’s left of her family together. Her son is missing. Her daughter is looking for help in dangerous places. And Angie is fighting just to keep a roof over their heads. But Angie is a mother. And a mother does anything to protect her children – even when the world is falling apart…

This was one of the choices for Beth’s Book Club, which to be honest was the only reason I persevered with it. The writing itself was okay, but it was SO long, so repetitive and I found it quite a struggle to get through. There were SO many themes it tried to deal with, which meant they all felt a bit rushed. Angie’s daughter’s storyline in particular was terrifying, and yet it just kind of tailed off and felt like it had been forgotten about which was such a shame. I struggled to warm to any of the characters. It all felt so convenient and I disliked the fact that Angie had a knight in shining armour coming to save her. I thought it was going to be a thriller and it really, really wasn’t.

Mr. Loverman (Bernardine Evaristo) ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

74 years old, Antiguan born and bred, Barry is a husband, father and grandfather, and for the past sixty years, he has been in a relationship with his childhood friend and soulmate, Morris.

What a story. I absolutely adored this book, it is funny, charming and cheeky, but also a really fascinating exploration of prejudice, fear and culture.

The characters are vibrant and entertaining, I could picture them perfectly. I adored Barry, although it is very easy to see him as the bad guy – he’s open to the reader about his dishonesty towards his wife, and his cheating. The majority of the book is told from his perspective, so initially I struggled to warm to Carmel, but she was given her own voice and chapters, and I found myself liking her character. Both were sympathetic but flawed, and I thought Evaristo did an amazing job of bringing them to life.

“Truth is, both of us was desperate to be anything other than what we was.”
― Mr. Loverman (Bernardine Evaristo)

I’d have loved a bit more of Barry and Morris’ relationship and backstory, this is literally the only reason I haven’t given the book five stars.

The novel tackles some huge themes, but there is so much warmth and humour in it, I think it’s almost impossible not to be completely drawn in by it.

To Dare Jemma WayneTo Dare (Jemma Wayne) ⭐⭐⭐

*Trigger warning: miscarriage, abuse, rape*

Veronica and her wealthy husband George are unpacking boxes, hoping a fresh start in their newly refurbished Victorian terrace will help them heal from a recent trauma. Next door, Simone returns to her neglected council flat. Miserable and trapped, she struggles to take care of her children under the watch of her controlling husband Terry. When childhood friend Sarah re-enters Veronica’s life, things are thrown even further off balance. As tensions in their own lives rise, the painful memory that binds them threatens to spill into their present.

Three lives collide in this story of family, inequality and revenge.

Ahhh this book had SO much potential. I was really gripped by the first 200 pages or so, and I had no idea where it was going – I was sure it was going to be a 4/5 star read, and then it just kind of…dissolved. The characters all felt very disjointed, especially Veronica. This might have been the point but it didn’t feel like it quite added up. Also the fact one of the characters in it was called David Beckham was just a bit weird.

The ending was actually really grim, but felt quite random. Simone’s storyline was the one I was really invested in, but it never really felt like it was resolved. I found I wasn’t really bothered about any of the characters other than Simone’s children. It is well written, but I was expecting a twist-y and turn-y domestic thriller and it’s not that at all, it’s pretty heavy in places.

 

What have you been reading this month?

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