Monthly Wrap Up | August 2021

Gosh, this month has gone fast! August has, all-in-all, been a pretty autumnal month, and it’s kind of put me in the mood for the revival of knitwear, hot chocolate and blankets… The perfect cosy reading accompaniment! Although I am hoping there’s one last revival of some kind of sunshine because I feel like my summer wardrobe has been deprived of use this year. Crossing my fingers that the heatwave rumours that have been around for ages finally materialise, although I won’t be holding my breath!

My reading for August has been a little slower than last month, due to a mid-month slump but overall it’s been pretty good. This month I’ve taken part in one blog tour, read seven books and will be reviewing three.

What I Read

Just Like You by Nick Hornby

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey ✰✰✰

Catch The Rabbit by Lana Bastašić

All Girls by Emily Layden (DNF)

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen ✰✰✰

Rules For Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson ✰✰✰

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris ✰✰

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian ✰✰✰✰

Book of the month

I had one stand out read this month and it was most definitely a worthy winner of my book of the month, Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian! My full review will be coming on 9th September, so I’ll update the post as soon as it’s uploaded, but wow. This is one you won’t want to miss, it’s captivating and mysterious with a very unexpected ending. It’ll definitely keep you guessing!

Going forward

I have a non-fiction blog tour to share with you in September, but besides that I have finally managed to get up-to-date with proofs that have past publication date or are being published in the immediate future. With that in mind, and I’ve already used it a couple of times, I’ve created a jar with the names of all the books on my TBR shelves and I’ll be picking one out and reading it. I’ve already found it quite liberating, so I’m looking forward to more of that! I’ll be reviewing what I fancy without pressure which will be quite a change. They’ll no doubt be some books which I’ve had on the shelves for years finally getting their time to shine, so you can probably expect some throwbacks on here for September!

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 | Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff Vandermeer

Thank you to Matt and 4th Estate for sending me a proof copy of Hummingbird Salamander in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A speculative thriller about the end of all things, set in the Pacific Northwest. A harrowing descent into a secret world.

Security consultant and former wrestler ‘Jane Smith’ receives an envelope with a key to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and clues leading her to a taxidermied salamander. Silvina, the dead woman who left the note, is a reputed ecoterrorist and the daughter of an Argentine industrialist. By taking the hummingbird from the storage unit, Jane sets in motion a series of events that quickly spin beyond her control.

Soon, Jane and her family are in danger, with few allies to help her make sense of the true scope of the peril. Is the only way to safety to follow in Silvina’s footsteps? Is it too late to stop? As she desperately seeks answers about why Silvina contacted her, time is running out—for her and possibly for the world.

Review

Hummingbird Salamander is a puzzling, complex and somewhat claustrophobic mystery. It’s a cleverly thought out and unique story, with a relentless narrator in persuit of answers.

The novel is written with hindsight and perspective, discussing a past as they are placed in the present. It’s in parts, with chapters, the first of which is entitled ‘diorama’.

“Jane”, the primary narrator of the novel, is not a particularly likeable character. She is cryptic with a somewhat tough personality, to match her ex-wrestler exterior. The interspersed struggles of her loneliness and past trauma make her feel more human, but I still didn’t feel a great connection to her. I think this is purposeful however, and her ambiguous nature has a point which runs deeper through the novel.

The novel is extremely fast-paced and the way it’s written, directly to the reader, only makes the urgency more profound and the tension further heightened. The stream-of-consciousness style really wraps you in to the chaos, suspense and stress of “Jane” and the story’s mystery. “Jane” finds herself in a large number of difficult, terrifying situations in her pursuit for answers and this gripping action really immerses you in to the story. With a dark atmosphere that is extremely compelling and unique, this eerie novel is definitely full of intrigue.

Hummingbird Salamander is out now from 4th Estate. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help support independent bookstores.

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 | The Pact by Sharon Bolton

Thank you to Patricia and Trapeze for sending me a proof copy of The Pact in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . .

Review

The Pact is a gripping whirlwind filled with unexpected twists and a collection of key characters.

The book is split into two parts, Part One covers before, and the immediate after, of the incident and it’s resulting pact. Part Two is twenty years later as Megan is newly free from prison.

I found the characters as a whole weren’t particularly likeable, they are all all naive and spoilt rich kids with parental ties for allowances and money. Their Part One personas continue into adulthood, with them being self-absorbed and self-centred. I found this to be perfect for the novel, however, as they are key characters and this lack of likability makes their unravelling all the more satisfying!

The story, and premise, drew me in from the first page. Sharon Bolton’s writing is fabulous and I was always eagerly awaiting the next page, chapter and twist!

The descriptions throughout the novel are brilliant, the salvage yard being most memorable. It really was eerie and I could definitely picture it all vividly in my mind. This really fleshed out the book and it made it all the more realistic and easy to imagine the settings, people and places.

The ending really blew me away and was definitely one of the most unpredictable things I have read in quite some time, an utterly fabulous read!

The Pact is out now from Trapeze. You can purchase the novel using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

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 | The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

Thank you to Rosie and Headline for sending me a proof copy of The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

ALBERT ENTWISTLE WAS A POSTMAN. It was one of the few things everyone knew about him. And it was one of the few things he was comfortable with people knowing.

64-year-old Albert Entwistle has been a postie in a quiet town in Northern England for all his life, living alone since the death of his mam 18 years ago. He keeps himself to himself. He always has. But he’s just learned he’ll be forced to retire at his next birthday. With no friends and nothing to look forward to, the lonely future he faces terrifies him. He realises it’s finally time to be honest about who he is. He must learn to ask for what he wants. And he must find the courage to look for the man that, many years ago, he lost – but has never forgotten . . .

Join Albert as he sets out to find the long-lost love of his life, and has an unforgettable and completely life-affirming adventure on the way . . . This is a love story the likes of which you have never read before!

Review

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is a lovely, wholesome novel with a wonderful main character and a tale of a truly awe-inspiring journey.

Albert begins the novel as a lonely older man who spends his days working for Royal Mail and coming home to his cat Gracie. The discovery of his imminent imposed retirement is just the beginning. He is an awkward, loveable character who has a clear difficulty with socialising, some might even say he appears to have social anxiety. His energetic, dance-loving true character is bursting to be let free, but he is held back.

Learning of Albert’s teen-hood and his experiences really was eye-opening and you could definitely feel the nervous energy. The root cause of his anxiety is evident and spending such a long time living in fear definitely made me appreciative of how far things have come in that time, even if there is still a way to go. It really is extremely poignant and an honest viewpoint, filled with prejudice and stereotypes, which are shut down by Matt Cain in a sensitive manner.

Nicole and Albert’s unlikely friendship was the highlight of the novel for me. The difference in generations, upbringing and life experience made them a perfect fit for each other and I loved following their journey. From not talking to becoming close friends, with Nicole’s daughter Reenie in tow, it was a heartwarming relationship.

Matt Cain’s vivid descriptions of Toddington and it’s sights really made me feel at home there. I could easily picture Albert and his little village life, which was delightful and I felt like I was taking the journey with him. I especially enjoyed tagging along and visiting places around the U.K. with him on his quest for George!

I felt like The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle taught me a lot about postal workers and their days. I always presumed they had an early start and a fairly long day, but I didn’t quite process all the sorting etc. that they had to do before even beginning their shift. It definitely made me have a newfound additional level of respect for all the posties that are involved in bringing my post to me!

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is out now from Headline. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help support independent bookstores.

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 Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood

Thank you to Ellie and Penguin Viking for the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour for The Perfect Life and for sending me a proof copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?

Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape. 

That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t. 

Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.

And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…

Review

The Perfect Life is a twist-filled, gripping read with plenty of unexpected turns!

The narrative takes a ‘now and then’ format, with some interspersed recollections. It was a little challenging to follow at first but quickly makes sense as you get into the novel. It’s also told through Vanessa’s point of view, in part one and part two, almost like a before and after style.

I liked the transition and the way of learning about Vanessa’s past through the past. Her actions and previous history added context and the first person perspective allowed us to be fully engaged in her thoughts and feelings, engrossing us in her actions.

The backstory of author Geoffrey Rivers and his Holly Maze House novels are fascinating and I felt they added a real ‘extra level’ to the novel. Having an additional storyline intertwined in such an original manner was really interesting and I enjoyed it. It fleshed out Vanessa’s character even further for me as we got a sense of her childhood shaping through the stories that she had read.

There was a couple of tough to read elements in the book, but they were well written and as much as I can comment, I felt them to be accurately represented.

I definitely devoured this novel and felt captivated by its premise. I wanted to know what happened and every time I finished a ‘now’, I’d be eager to read the ‘then’. Full of unpredicted twists and interesting turns, it’s definitely not a tale I will forget for a while.

A well-written and nicely paced novel, The Perfect Life is out August 5th from Penguin. You can pre-order 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.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour, some of which you can find below.

Until next time,