Monthly Wrap Up | July 2021

The weather definitely made up for lost time this month with that heatwave! To be honest it was a bit too warm for me, so I’m happily embracing the return of the slightly cooler days. The sunshine could have stayed but the rain is at least keeping things cool. I can’t quite believe we’re in the midst of summer at the moment though, as it just doesn’t feel like it. Here’s to hoping there’s a little more sunshine, and a little less heat, in August!

In terms of July and reading, it’s been a good month. I’ve read a few longer books this month, between 400-500 pages, so I feel like I’ve achieved a lot! This month I’ve taken part in one blog tour, read eleven books and reviewed nine.

What I Read

The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves ✰✰✰✰✰

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain ✰✰✰✰

The Pact by Sharon Bolton ✰✰✰✰

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean ✰✰✰

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary ✰✰✰

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

Grown Ups by Marie Aubert

The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood

The Mismatch by Sara Jafari ✰✰✰✰

The Other You by J.S. Monroe ✰✰✰✰

Book of the month

This month my favourite read has to be The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves. A beautiful story with a mystery at it’s heart, wonderful characters and brilliant writing. Abbie’s books never disappoint so if you haven’t already, I really recommend you read both The Silent Treatment and The Ends of the Earth!

Going forward…

I have a blog tour in August, my post date is in just a few days so you’ll see my review for The Perfect Life shortly. My proof stash is almost depleted so I’m finally almost back up to date which is amazing! I have quite a lot of books I’m really eager to read from my tbr bookshelf so I’m looking forward to reading some of those this month. The tricky part is always deciding which one to read first…!

As always, a huge thank you to the publishers and authors who provided me with a gifted copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. You’ll find their details tagged in each individual blog post, linked above. 

Until next time,

Book Review | The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

Thank you to Najma and Penguin for sending me a proof copy of The Ends of the Earth in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Mary O’Connor has been keeping a vigil for her first love for the past seven years.

Every evening without fail, Mary arrives at Ealing Broadway station and sets herself up among the commuters. In her hands Mary holds a sign which bears the words: ‘Come Home Jim.’

Call her mad, call her a nuisance, call her a drain on society – Mary isn’t going anywhere.

That is, until an unexpected call turns her world on its head. In spite of all her efforts, Mary can no longer find the strength to hold herself together. She must finally face what happened all those years ago, and answer the question – where on earth is Jim?

Review

The Ends of the Earth is a beautifully heartfelt and emotive read with a mystery I was eager to know the answers to.

The timeline alternates between present (2018) and past (starting at 2005), primarily focusing on Mary but with Alice playing a large part in the storyline also. Mary is an intriguing character, and one who I was drawn to immediately, wanting to know more about her from the outset. The vigil she has held for years was an engrossing premise. Wanting to unravel the mystery and the reasoning behind it really kept me gripped and I found myself devouring the novel.

Alice stumbles across Mary at Ealing Broadway Station, quickly befriending her and starting the biggest task of all – looking for Jim. I liked Alice, young and full of enthusiasm for her cause, if slightly swayed by her own intentions.

Learning about Mary’s childhood and her past alongside the in’s and out’s of her meeting Jim was a really nice way to get a feel of her character. Her personality is evidently forever changed in the present, but watching her relationship blossom alongside learning about her life was fascinating. I really felt it fleshed out her character and made me vouch for her even more than I already did.

The mystery element of Jim’s disappearance is nicely weaved through the novel. It kept me guessing, and I enjoyed the fact it wasn’t entirely the sole focus. Getting to know Mary, Alice and the characters was really enjoyable and I felt like I was part of the NightLine friendship group as I made my way through the novel.

Being introduced to, and subsequently being informed about, Jim through the past was a good way to bring him alive as a character without his physical presence. I felt I knew him despite his absence, and as the story progressed more of his traits and character were revealed.

There are some strong and heartfelt sentiments weaved through the novel. A real depiction of relationships, their ups, downs, flaws and strengths. The honesty and true nature of the writing is wonderful and I loved The Ends of The Earth as much as The Silent Treatment. Abbie Greaves is a brilliant writer and I can’t wait to read more from her, and hear all about her next novel!

The Ends of the Earth is out now from Penguin. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookshops.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Book Review | Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks

Thank you to Penguin Michael Joseph for sending me a proof copy of Until Next Weekend in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

NOAH AND KATE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER.

Married with two gorgeous sons, it looked like they’d got their happy ever after.

But marriage isn’t easy. And one day, Kate left, taking their two boys with her.

These days, Noah is a weekend dad – and it breaks his heart. He misses the chaotic mealtimes, the bedtime stories, the early mornings and the late homework.

Suddenly, he decides enough is enough – he has to win his family back. Starting with Kate.

The only problem?

IN SIX WEEKS’ TIME, KATE IS GETTING MARRIED TO SOMEONE ELSE . . .

Review

Until Next Weekend is an emotional, and at times heartbreaking, read with a lovely set of characters and an honest story.

Through a third person perspective but one focused heavily around Noah’s world, we gain a really thorough insight into him. I enjoyed this approach, and particularly liked learning about him through his job as a teacher. I feel like teaching, especially younger children, is still primarily women-led so this was a refreshing change to see from the opposing gender.

I really felt for Noah, despite his constant mess-up’s. You could sympathise with him and his cycle of self-loathing and missing his children. Understanding he wasn’t helping their bond but also being sad and feeling unable to stop himself being self-destructive. He was quite vulnerable and raw and I liked him as a character.

The depiction of male and female friendships, between Noah and Mimi, is well portrayed. The two characters may meet in a bar but their friendship definitely develops naturally, with Mimi helping Noah with his self improvement plan. Their natural relaxed way with each other is nice to see and a positive depiction of mixed-gender friendships.

The father-son relationship between Noah and his son’s Gabe and Finn grows so much through the timespan of the novel. This was heartwarming to read of and it definitely felt as though their bond strengthened through each chapter.

The book deals with quite a challenging topic two thirds of the way through, but does so in a respectful and well-written manner. It was quite difficult to read at times but definitely added an extra layer to Noah and gave some explanation to his behaviour.

Until Next Weekend is out now from Penguin Michael Joseph. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help support independent bookshops.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Book Review | How To Live. What To Do. by Josh Cohen

Thank you to Sarah at Harwood PR and Ebury Publishing for providing me with a copy of How To Live. What To Do. in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

From the truths and lies we tell about ourselves to the resonant creations of fiction, stories give shape and meaning to all our lives. Both a practicing psychoanalyst and a professor of literature, Josh Cohen has long been taken with the mutual echoes between the life struggles of the consulting room and the dramas of the novel. So what might the most memorable characters in literature tell us about how to live meaningfully?

In How to Live. What to Do, Cohen plots a course through the various stages of our lives, discovering in each the surprising and profound insights literature has to offer. Beginning with the playful mindset of Wonderland‘s Alice, we discover the resilience of Jane Eyre, the rebellious rage of Baldwin’s Johnny Grimes and the catastrophic ambitions of Jay Gatsby, the turbulence of first love for Sally Rooney’s Frances, the sorrows of marriage for Middlemarch‘s Dorothea Brooke, and the regrets and comforts of middle age for Rabbit Angstrom.

Review

How To Live. What To Do. Is a fascinating read about life, the combination of learning from fiction and it’s relatability to reality.

The book is sorted into chapters for each life stage, meaning it’s easy to follow chronologically. You begin with childhood and move right through to old age.

Cohen really takes us through the stages with him and along the way shares bits of his own life. I feel like this made the narrative more relatable and I found him a humorous and likeable narrator.

The seamless transitions between life events, patients stories and the chosen literature is extremely well written. The explanations make so much sense, and I definitely found myself relating to elements and questioning things that I do.

The explanations of each of the referenced books are concisely written, but with enough information so as you understand the story if you haven’t read it. This really helps to link the cases and the ‘reality’ to the fiction. I found it fascinating that an entire lifetimes worth of events have links to fiction and can teach us a lot about ourselves and society.

Cohen writes in a way that’s easy to understand and despite the sometimes complex and ‘deep’ subject matter, it’s easy to navigate. Having once studied psychology as an a level subject, I find this kind of subject matter especially interesting.

Be prepared, the book definitely provided me with some new potential reads to add to my ever-growing list! How To Live. What To Do. Is out now from Ebury, and you can purchase using the link below and also help support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Until next time,

Book Review | You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes

Thank you to Jess and Simon & Schuster for sending me a proof copy of You Love Me in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Joe Goldberg is back. And he’s going to start a family – even if it kills him.

Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cosy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library – he does know a thing or two about books – and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old fashioned way . . . by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is . . . Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s . . . busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

Review

You Love Me is a gripping, fast-paced and twisty novel, with lots of signature Joe Goldberg charm.

Joe Goldberg is somewhat of an iconic character, and he does not fail to disappoint in this latest instalment! We follow his perspective with his fast-paced thoughts and one-of-a-kind narrative through the novel.

The rollercoaster of emotions continues, as one minute you love him and one minute you hate him. Kepnes writes so well that you really truly get in Joe’s head, and that’s one scrambled place to be. The obsession and revenge theme continues, one we are extremely familiar of by now. Joe’s passion flits between obsession and lust, to revenge and brutality.

Joe’s current interest, Mary Kay DiMarco, is equally gripping. Her family, particularly her daughter Nomi, and her friends are an interesting collection of characters. They really flesh out Bainbridge and create an interesting fictional neighbourhood and livelihood.

The world of books is once again spotlighted by Mary (and Joe’s) career in the library. The many references to a variety of books and authors is just one of the hidden gems in the You series.

The book was a definite emotional rollercoaster and the ending really blew me away. Caroline Kepnes is a terrific writer and storyteller, and I can’t wait to read more from her.

If you haven’t already read the other novels in the series, You and Hidden Bodies, I’d really recommend them. The Netflix adaptation is also brilliant, Penn Badgley is the perfect Joe, and I definitely recommend giving the series’ watch, be prepared for a binge as you’ll be hooked from the start!

You Love Me is out now from Simon and Schuster. You can purchase using the link below, and also help support independent bookshops.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | The Island Home by Libby Page

Thank you to Ellen and Orion for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for The Island Home and for sending my a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Lorna’s world is small but safe. 

She loves her daughter, and the two of them is all that matters. But after nearly twenty years, she and Ella are suddenly leaving London for the Isle of Kip, the tiny remote Scottish island where Lorna grew up. 

Alice’s world is tiny but full.

She loves the community on Kip, her yoga classes drawing women across the tiny island together. Now Lorna’s arrival might help their family finally mend itself – even if forgiveness means returning to the past…

So with two decades, hundreds of miles and a lifetime’s worth of secrets between Lorna and the island, can coming home mean starting again?

Review

The Island Home is a wholesome, comforting story, with a wonderful reflection of community and the poignant idea of ‘coming home’.

The novel is told through Lorna and Alice’s perspective’s, in turn. Sister-in-law’s, who at the beginning of the novel have never met. They are both great characters and I instantly felt like I was engrossed in their respective (and combined) journey’s.

There are a few difficult topics covered within the novel, in relation to Lorna and her story. I feel these were tastefully written by Libby Page and it definitely made me root for Lorna more as a character. Her fiercely strong and independent nature is partly due to a sad reasoning, but I felt this made her even more realistic and likeable.

The relationships and emotions in the novel are extremely strong, and there are so many ups and downs. They are all beautifully depicted, and Lorna’s feelings towards her brother Jack were definitely some of the most intense. I could definitely ‘feel’ them through the page.

Libby Page has a fantastic way with words and I really did find myself fully immersed in the story and all of the wonderful characters. They each had their own quirky sense of self, traits that drew me in and brought their own unique story to the novel. Each one added so much love, laughter and heartbreak to the pages of The Island Home. The friendships and community as a whole are so wonderfully illustrated in the novel, that I felt like I was a part of them. It’s comforting and cosy, and whenever I picked the book up I felt like I was returning to some old friends.

The scenery is beautifully described throughout the novel and I really felt like I was fully immersed in the Scottish Isle of Kip. Everything from the sudden downpours to the sea and landscape was wonderfully detailed and I could practically taste the salty sea air on my tongue. A truly beautiful read!

The Island Home is a truly wonderful story about relationships of all kinds, finding yourself and returning home. It’s out now from Orion. You can purchase the novel using the link below, and also help support independent bookshops.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour, some of which can be found in the banner below.

Until next time,

Book Review | The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta

Thank you to Emily and Headline for sending me a proof copy of The View Was Exhausting in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

THEY CANNOT BE TOGETHER AND THEY CANNOT BE APART.

Whitman ‘Win’ Tagore and Leo Milanowski are the greatest love story of our time. International movie star meets the beautiful son of a millionaire. Their kisses write headlines and their fights break the internet. Nobody needs to know it’s not real.

Win knows that Hollywood demands perfection – especially from a woman of colour.

Leo just wants to enjoy life, and shift press attention away from his dysfunctional family.

Together they control the narrative.

Except this time, on the shores of Saint-Tropez, Leo is hiding a secret that is about to send Win’s world spinning. Now everyone’s dream couple must confront the messy reality of their relationship. Just as they’re starting to realise that they might actually be falling in love…

THE VIEW WAS EXHAUSTING is a bold, swoon-worthy and utterly modern debut novel about truth, fame and privilege – and how we love now.

Review

The View Was Exhausting is an interesting novel with a thought-provoking concept. It’s at times challenging, but fascinating and authentic.

Whitman’s drive to succeed in her career is all-consuming. This comes at a cost to her relationships and allows her to have little ‘work-life balance’. She is an extremely strong and resilient character, but equally one I felt was quite dislikable through the majority of the novel.

The navigation of Wit as a woman of colour in the industry and the struggle she faces to be picked for roles due to her mixed heritage is insightful. The prejudice and daily racism are at times tough to read, but I felt like the topics were well navigated and extremely relevant to 2021.

Leo is a typical ‘trust-fund’, rich guy character, born into money. He is looking to expand his own career opportunities through his ‘relationship’ with Wit. In all honesty I didn’t particularly warm to him. My favourite characters were probably Wit and Leo’s Mum’s, who definitely added some charm to the novel.

The story felt very realistic, and I found myself questioning whether ‘fake romances’ in the celebrity world do actually occur. There would be many reasons; a publicity stunt, a convenient relationship to deter from other drama and keep said person/people relevant and their face(s) in the limelight. It’s an interesting concept and one I felt opened up a lot of further lines of questioning and thought.

The celebrity lifestyle was well portrayed but definitely felt thoroughly exhausting, for use of part of the title! The constant scrutiny, the strategic positioning, constantly thinking about how to play things or monitor what you say and do. I definitely felt tired just from reading through their lifestyles, but it really did feel authentic and the authors did a fabulous job. The references to many well-known gossip sites only further adds to the authenticity.

The View Was Exhausting is out today from Headline books. You can purchase a copy using independent bookstores using the link below.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,