If you want to find out which amazing books I’ve been reading this month, and those I would like to recommend to you my fellow readers, then my monthly wrap-up post is the one for you!
In my monthly wrap-up posts, I share the details of all the books I read in the month just gone. For July, I decided to keep with a similar concept with my TBR and only set a couple of ‘fixed reads’, whereas the rest could be changed with my mood. I’ll clearly mark out which books fell into which bracket.
Overall, I found this approach really worked for me once again.
Whereas last month I ended up sticking to my provisional mood reads, I did actually swap one book out for another this month. It was entirely on a whim, but that’s the point. I want to give myself the flexibility if I really want to read something, to just pick it up.
Publication Date: 1 Jun 2022
My first read of the month was Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. I committed to taking part in a blog tour for this particular book and shared my review as a part of it. That post was due on the 11th of July, so reading this particular book was my first port of call.
If you want to check out my full thoughts on the book, you can find a link to my blog tour post here. In summary, Twelve Nights was a fun historical-fiction/mystery novel in which a number of themes are brought together – the treatment of women in the 16th century, the impact of religion on daily life, William Shakespeare, the theatre and surprisingly, suffering from Alzheimer’s/dementia.
We are taken through a variety of twists and turns as Magdalen tries to get to the bottom of a murder she did not commit, all before her ‘inquest’ and inevitable conviction for the crimes. The mystery took a turn I was not expecting, and I really enjoyed the element of surprise at the 11th hour!
If any of these things sound like something you’d enjoy, then I recommend picking this book up.
The Man Who Died Twice
Publication Date: 16 Sept 2021
My second and last ‘fixed read’ of the month was The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. I set this as a fixed read as I wanted to return the book to Chris whilst he was on island visiting with my sister. I had every intention to pick this up straight after Twelve Nights, however, that didn’t come to pass.
Instead, I had a real hankering to pick up another book (and not one on my July TBR). I indulged myself by picking this other book up, before returning to The Man Who Died Twice.
The story was engaging, high-stakes, and enabled us to see a little into Elizabeth’s past, which I really enjoyed. I think she’s one of the more interesting characters of the book/series so far, even if she is quite unrealistic in real life. But, that’s not the point. It’s a bit of fun and I enjoy how Richard Osman manages to write an intriguing mystery, with a lot of humour along the way.
At the same time though, he doesn’t neglect difficult subjects. In his first book, the narrative includes a character suicide. In the second book, one of the characters experiences violence and a consequent knock of confidence as a result of the attack.
The copy I read was a chunky hardback edition, but this turned out to be a quick read regardless. I really enjoyed being back in the company of Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim (a.k.a. the Thursday Murder Club). The narrative of this second book in the series was honestly slightly better than the first. I managed to read this in just a handful of days and return the book to its rightful owner with plenty of time to spare.
This was one of my top reads of the month. If you enjoy mystery books on the lighthearted, contemporary side, this is one for you!
Publication Date: 1 Oct 2020
I picked up and read Pandora’s Jar completely on a whim.
After reading Twelve Nights and suffering the injustices of women through the perspective of Magdalen, I wanted a book that almost served a bit of social justice. What drew me to Pandora’s Jar, in particular, is that the author features 10 female characters in Greek myths and explores how they are done injustice in their own stories.
One of the more interesting things I found, is that these stories weren’t written that way originally; the stories have changed over time and the roles these women play in the stories (whether made inconsequential, turned into monsters or painted to be downright evil). In Pandora’s Jar, Natalie Haynes challenges these changes and puts to right how these characters were portrayed in earlier/alternate versions of the stories.
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: 27 Mar 2014
Next, I wanted to continue my foray into the Realm of the Elderlings, so picked up Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb.
Royal Assassin is the second book of the Farseer trilogy and I am loving these books so far! I am a big fantasy reader, with greater emphasis on those that are in series as opposed to standalone.
Needless to say, these books are right up my street. They aren’t quick reads, but I really love these books. I just managed to finish Royal Assassin on the last day of the month. Given the way the book ended, I can’t see myself reading the third book of this first trilogy very, very soon!
This was my top read of the month, although The Man Who Died Twice came a close second. This is a book for epic fantasy lovers – especially if you like to invest in a detailed world spanning multiple books.
A Feast of Phantoms
Audience: New Adult
Publication Date: 17 Mar 2020
I signed up to review A Feast of Phantoms via BookSirens a few months ago, and as the review deadline is coming up imminently, I decided to pick this up in July.
Also as I didn’t have my copy of The First Binding yet, it felt like a perfect opportunity to squeeze this in. I did also end up taking a brief break from reading Royal Assassin to make sure I had time to hit the review deadline.
A Feast of Phantoms is a nice short read and is an eclectic mix of genres. The book has a western/steampunk theme, with a predominant fantasy baseline with elements of supernatural. Are you still with me? It is quite a wild combination, and whilst I wasn’t sure about it at first, it won me over. When it became clear in the narrative that all is not as it seems, that was the hook.
This is a solid fantasy read if you’re looking for something on the shorter side. At 270 pages, I flew through A Feast of Phantoms. If you want to find out more, I am publishing my review on Thursday.
A Note on The First Binding…
I had put The First Binding on my TBR for July, as I was expecting a review copy ahead of a blog tour post on the 15th of August.
However, I only just received my copy on Friday. This is a reading priority now (for obvious reasons), but I just wanted to include this explanation in my monthly wrap-up to let you know why I haven’t picked it up this month. It’s because I couldn’t.
I have decided to add a section to these monthly wrap-up posts for audiobooks, as it is abundantly clear that I am back into a phase of listening to these. I have been doing a lot of crafty projects lately, and whilst I don’t have a deadline for a gift anymore, I’m working on something for myself.
It’s quite a large cross-stitch project, so it’s going to take me a while. However, that means I’m going to have plenty of time to listen to more audiobooks. I set the precedence when making my friend Rachael‘s gift, so I am really into it.
Still, I’m not a quick audiobook listener. It’s The method I consume books in the least, so I’m not going to have loads of books here in any one month.
Audience: Children/Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Publication Date: 23 Oct 1998
This month I have completed listening to Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I’ve enjoyed the story element of it even though I’m not necessarily the target audience. I do have some gripes about the audiobook itself.
I am not a fan of the casting of this audiobook in particular. A lot of it is narrated by the author Philip Pullman himself, however, character speech is cast out to other people. Personally, I would have preferred consistency and if the author had narrated everything himself, I think it would be smoother.
I also don’t like some of the voices, especially the main character Lyra. I understand the casting in a way, but her voice is just irritating. Overall, it’s quite jarring and not as pleasant an experience as it could have been. I’m going to try and not let it deter me from listening to the rest of the series, but there is just my two pence worth.
That’s a wrap for my monthly wrap-up post! Did you read any great books in July? Do you have any book recommendations to share? As always, I’d love to hear from you!