Somewhere between constantly listening to the Hamilton soundtrack (still, I know) and spending every other waking moment reading as much as possible in August, two-thirds of the month has slipped by without me noticing?! I've not written a blog post in ages, despite being determined that 2020 is going to be my year for actually posting regularly again. Anyway, I'm excited for writing this post because I'm pretty sure the best book I've ever read/will ever read is included?!
'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy - 4/5 stars
I'm kickstarting this post with my only kindle read of the month. The God of Small Things is set in Ayemenem, India and follows the story of a pair of twins when they are seven and something happens to their cousin which forces one to be sent away. Reunited again later on in life, the pair need to learn how to work through their separation. The book heavily engages with class structure, focusing on the impact that caste relations and cultural tensions can have in minute ways that lead to major issues.
I really enjoyed the way this was written - you're not quite sure what happens to make Esthappen be sent away until late on in the book, and it really kept me hooked. The book does come with a trigger warning for sexual assault. This is dealt with sensitively.
'Liar' by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen - 1/5 stars
This was my first physical read for the month and by far my least favourite. I had really high hopes for the book and found myself pretty disappointed. Nofar, the main character is sick of her boring summer job in an ice cream shop. When a washed up celebrity hurls abuse at her for working slowly, she runs into a nearby alley crying. He follows her and her cries mean people come to see if she's okay - soon the bystanders become concerned that she's been the victim of attempted sexual assault, and Nofar does nothing to deny this. As the lie escalates, she becomes bound to her first boyfriend: the only person who saw what really happens and knows the truth. Later in the book, we're introduced to Raymonde, an elderly woman who has been pretending to be her recently deceased friend, a Holocaust survivor, to prevent loneliness.
I liked the idea of this book and wanted to see how things would play out with Nofar's lie, but came away a bit deflated. There were some good parts - Nofar did struggle a little with her lie, but I just don't think it was for me. My main issue with it is that we live in a world in which victims of sexual assault are never believed. I just couldn't suspend my belief in a judicial system that would accept the word (and even the police officers put the words into her mouth really to make the statement about the alleged attack) of a teenage girl about this kind of situation without any evidence whatsoever. She ruins his entire life and he's sentenced based on this word. I think it sets up a bit of a false narrative in suggesting that it would be that simple, and the whole suggestion that a girl would accuse someone of attempted assault and won't own up to the lie to seem more interesting to people at school is damaging I think to the stories of real victims of assault.
'A Court of Mist and Fury' by Sarah J Maas - 5/5 stars
I'm going to try and keep this fairly short and sweet because I'm planning a whole post on this but OMG I finally completely understand the hype around Sarah J Maas' books. As I was reading this all I could think about was the fact that I was worried I'd never ever read a book as good as this ever again. If I could give it ten stars I would.
This is the second in her ACOTAR series and follows on from Feyre's bargain which Rhysand to spend one week out of every month with him. She's in love with High fae Lord Tamlin and dreads with every part of her the upcoming start of the bargain. But when she starts to feel stifled by Tamlin's need to protect her, will she realise that perhaps going to Rhysand's Night Court may well be the fresh air she needed?
I really don't want to spoiler anything, but this was filled with so much action and love and honestly the best sexual tension I've ever read in a book.
'Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas' by Adam Kay - 5/5 stars
I adored This is Going to Hurt and was so excited when this novella came out. It's the shortest book I've read so far this year, and although not *quite* a seasonal read for July, I tore through it. I'm not convinced it should have come with the same price tag as a full length novel, but I managed to borrow this from someone so I'm not feeling too wounded by it.
In true Kay style, the book made me laugh and cry. It's set on various gynae wards over Christmas over a number of years. Kay talks about what it's like to work for the NHS over the Christmas period, the good moments he had, and all the hard ones. I was worried there wouldn't be much content at all, or there would be repeats of stories told in the bigger book, but everything was new and really well written.
'The Hidden Beach' by Karen Swan - 3/5 stars
I read The Christmas Lights by the same author in December last year and loved it (I still want to read all of Swan's festive books), but I just couldn't quite get into this summer one as much. I did enjoy reading it, but I just didn't love it, you know? The book got very intense and I wanted it to be a total page turner, but everything moved quite slowly for me so I found myself not wanting to keep picking it up.
The book is told in two timelines. In the main one, we follow a nanny to a Swedish nuclear family whose world is rocked when she finds out that the mother of the kids she looks after has a husband who's just woken up from a long coma. The other timeline is mysterious and we don't quite know who's involved or what's happened, but there's some kind of illicit mystery.
I struggled to really get on with any of the characters in this one. The love interest in the romance side of the book really wasn't very kind to the main character at all and she just accepted it and continued to stay in love with him? The lines between her own life and the family she worked for got way too blurred and I just found it all a bit uncomfortable. I also guessed the mystery side of things quite early on.