Another month, another wrap up. I managed to finish 11 books throughout July, bringing my total for the year so far up to 72. Here are some brief thoughts on each of them, with links to full reviews if you’d like to know more.
Supper Club by Lara Williams
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Overall, I’d describe this as a book I liked more in concept than in execution. When it homes in on sisterhood and the concept of women taking up space unapologetically, it’s pleasingly incisive, but flat supporting characters and some clumsy queer rep stopped me from ever feeling fully engaged.
The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne
[ ⭐ ⭐ ] This thriller about a woman returning to her childhood home to recover supressed memories surrounding her parents’ deaths requires a hefty suspension of disbelief. The twist itself is underwhelming but there’s a decent cat-and-mouse feel in the build-up, and I liked the use of a remote woodland setting. It becomes a bit silly and isn’t particularly original, but it’s a swift and enjoyable enough read.
Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This gentle yet powerful novel is an ode to the sacrifices made by nursing staff. It may be slight but it packs quite the punch, chronicling the physical and mental deterioration of a paediatric nurse haunted by a strange spectre that lingers just beyond her grasp. It’s a compelling read with a sympathetic heroine, but there is enough nuance and perfectly pitched ambiguity to invite deeper thought. I found it oddly thrilling and deeply impactful.
Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This sci-fi short is a bizarre yet fascinating look at the fine line between love and servitude, the physical trauma inherent to birth, the reversal of gender roles, and the human fear of bodily invasion. It may be slight, but it’s certainly memorable.
Moss by Klaus Modick, translated from the German by David Herman
[ ⭐ ⭐ ] Supposedly a meditation on the importance of the link between man and nature, I found this novel dry and directionless. A few nicely written passages and the potential for some interesting ideas sadly weren’t enough to elevate this beyond psychobabble.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Emotionally exhausting yet strangely gripping, this is an intelligent, layered look at the difficulty of facing up to historic abuse. It shows how the framing of an experience can completely change someone’s perception of it, dissecting what it really means to be a victim. I thought it was a little over reliant on literary references at times, but it’s a powerful read destined to spark important conversations.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Set almost entirely during one elevator ride, this is a swift yet incisive look at the cycle of toxic violence born of gang warfare, and its disproportionate impact on poor, Black youth. Written in verse, it captures a sense of urgency perfectly suited to the narrative and its themes.
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Full review to come for BookBrowse.
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] While I didn’t adore this as much as Brown’s other collection, The New Testament, it still showcases his ability to balance intimate, personal reflection with wide-reaching social commentary through concise, impactful poetry.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Charming if sentimental, this combines Mackesy’s lovely illustrations with comforting musings on life. There’s a particular focus on the importance of friendship and kindness, making this a book that’s applicable to readers of any age.
You Are Invited by Sarah A. Denzil
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A flawed yet fun read that brings a distinctly modern touch to classic gothic-horror tropes. While some potential wasn’t capitalised on, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with this one.
There we have it! This was a very strong reading month overall. My favourite picks were Rest and Be Thankful and The Pull of the Stars. What were yours?