I don’t know how it happened, but I read a lot this month. I wasn’t really in a reading mood in the first couple of weeks of July and so I made up for it by reading a lot over the last two weeks. More importantly, I’ve loved the majority of the books I’ve read this month, with the majority being 4 and 5 star reads. I’ve discovered some amazing new authors and new series to continue, sequels to wait for and books to reread. Below are my reading stats and then a breakdown of every book I read this month and a mini review.
Book of the Month – Take a Hint, Dani Brown
- Physical – 9
- Audio – 1
- ARCs – 4
- Graphic Novels – 2
- Short Story – 1
- ★★★★★ – 6
- ★★★★ – 6
- ★★★ – 5
Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
This was such a cute and fun fantasy graphic novel featuring a female witch and a non-binary werewolf who start a relationship as they come to terms with their powers and get involved in defeating some sort of evilness. I loved the art style and the beautiful colours – it was visually stunning. I thought it was a really fun graphic novel and I’d definitely read it again, I just thought it would focus more on cutesy baking and chilling between the protagonists, when it was actually a more high-stakes fantasy action plot.
I was kindly gifted this by a friend for my birthday and it was a very short but very interesting short story. I really love Sally Rooney’s writing style and her exploration of power dynamics and relationships. This was an interesting story about a woman with an older male friend that she is hopelessly in love with, and I think I would have happily read an entire novel based on the premise.
It was difficult not to name this as my book of the month as I really did love it. Lanny is a strange, enchanting and unnerving tale that follows a young boy, Lanny, and how he is perceived by the adults around him. It is completely captivating and contained everything I love in a whimsical, atmospheric tale. It combined mystery and supernatural with mundane day-to-day events and left a lot of questions unanswered. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and ended up buying a physical copy, which I plan to reread soon. If it sounds like something you’d like, you can find my full review here.
Girl, Woman, Other
This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read and I will always be thinking about it. Every character in this book felt so real that it was hard to remember that this was in fact a work of fiction, not a 12-part autobiography. I also really loved the free verse writing style – when I finished the book, I’d forgotten that full stops were even a thing to begin with. Verses and paragraphs shrunk and grew to compliment the momentum, mood and narrative of the story and it was amazing. This book deserved all the prizes and I will definitely be reading the rest of Bernardine Evaristo’s books.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown
There is a lot of hype surrounding this book and I was not disappointed. I really fell in love with the characters and the romance that Talia Hibbert created and I binge-read this in a single sitting. It was impossible to put it down and I really loved it. I love Talia Hibbert’s hilarious writing style, her sarcasm and the humour in the character’s dialogue and the situations she creates. I also loved the chronic illness representation as Chloe has fibromyalgia and it was great to see this in a romance novel. I didn’t end up giving it 5 stars and I’m not sure what it was that was missing but, whatever it was, I found it in Dani Brown.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Get a Life, Chloe Brown was amazing, but Take a Hint, Dani Brown was even better! It was hilarious and heartwarming and I once again fell completely in love with the characters and the humour. I loved the romance between Dani and Zafir and ended up tabbing this book so I could find all of my favourite witty descriptions and sassy remarks. There are also some incredible conversations about mental health, toxic masculinity and burnout. I really can’t wait for Act your Age, Eve Brown, which comes out next year and I think I’ll have to read some of Talia Hibbert’s other books in the meantime.
The Stone Thieves
This is the first book in a new sci-fi series that follows 4 teenagers as they learn about a secret society tasked with protecting knowledge. It was a fun, action-packed novel and showed a lot of promise. It has a third-person omniscient narrator, which personally isn’t really something I love, so that reduced my enjoyment a little, but I still enjoyed it. I will be carrying on with the series. My full review for this one will be up at the beginning of August.
I read this as part of a bookstagram tour and I really enjoyed it. It was a really fun coming-of-age novel that follows Nick, a fanfiction writer with a massive crush on the cities’ superhero Shadow Star. It was hilarious, heartfelt and sweet and the first book I’ve read with gay superheroes. Nick also has ADHD and I liked how this was portrayed. I particularly enjoyed the dialogue between the characters: it was sarcastic, witty and often involved insults. It is definitely a book that will make you smile.
This book made me cry. That’s all you really need to know.
This is a book written in verse about a young man that is visiting his older brother, who is currently on death row. It describes his experiences as he visits as well as recounting his childhood, and it is an exceptionally heartbreaking read. Sarah Crossan is amazing at conveying so much emotion and expression into only a few lines of verse, and I would highly recommend this book. I am also going to be reading all of her work in the future.
The Black Kids
Christina Hammonds Reed
I received an e-copy of this from @netgalley and I thought it was a really interesting and poignant read, despite being set around the Rodney King riots in LA, 1992. It could have easily been a contemporary book, which is equal parts disturbing and heartbreaking. This is a coming-of-age novel about Ashley, a Black teen trying to understand her identity at a time of brutality, racism and rioting. It was an incredibly insightful and powerful book, and the only downside for me was the writing style – I am not a big fan of books where the narrator speaks to the reader and references things that will happen next or what they will tell the reader about soon.
Technically, I read this poetry collection 3 times this month but I’m only counting it the once! I LOVED this collection and would highly recommend it if you’re interested in poetry. I downloaded the audiobook and ebook from Netgalley, intending to read and listen at the same time, but for some reason the audiobook stopped whenever I tried to open the ebook. So, I just listened to it and it was the most powerful piece of narration I’ve ever listened to. As soon as I finished the audiobook, I read the ebook and then bought the physical book. And re-read it when the physical collection arrived.
A Phoenix First Must Burn
Patrice Caldwell (Editor)
This is a fantasy short story anthology that introduced me to so many amazing Black female and non-binary authors. There were a whole range of different fantasy (and a few sci-fi) stories set in different time periods and inspired by different mythology and folklore. I really enjoyed it. I kept stopping after each story to search for the author’s full-length novels and add them to my wish list! It was hard to rate a collection so I ended up taking an average of my individual ratings of each story and rounded up my answer of 3.7 to 4 stars.
The Story of Babushka
I was sent this for review by the author and it was a really enjoyable read. It is a children’s book and therefore difficult to rate, but it was a complex story in a simple format about the tale of Babushka, who sets out to find the meaning of life. This book has the most beautiful illustrations and I really liked seeing the artwork alongside the story.
Taking Up Space
Chelsea Kwakye and Ọrẹ Ogunbiyi
“The book may have ended but the fight has not”. This is a must-read book for learning about Black women and non-binary people’s experience of university. It focuses on the barriers to education, the whiteness of academia, mental health, finding spaces and ‘Blacktivism’. It combines the authors’ personal experiences and the experiences of several of their friends with facts and statistics about university and education for women and non-binary people of colour. It was an incredibly eye-opening read and I think everyone should read it.
I really struggled to rate this book. I really loved it, but it just didn’t quite hit that 5 stars for me. I absolutely loved the writing style, which is reminiscent of Sally Rooney: beautiful descriptions, a focus on character introspection and frank conversations about love. It follows the friendship of three women in their mid-thirties, mixed with flashbacks to different stages of their life, seeing their friendship evolve through time. I really enjoyed reading it and tabbed so many amazing quotes, and I think it is one I’d like to reread in the future.
A Song Below Water
Bethany C. Morrow
This novel combines magical realism with an urban setting to provide a poignant social commentary on racism and sexism. It depicts a wonderful friendship between two Black women as they discover their respective identities and learn to raise their voices. I did enjoy this novel, particularly the friendship and the exploration of misogynoir, but I also found the mythology underdeveloped and quite confusing, and both perspectives were very similar to point where I had to continue flicking back to the chapter heading to figure out whose perspective the chapter was from. I loved the last 50 pages and it set up things nicely for a sequel, which I think I will enjoy more.
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I feel bad that I didn’t love this one as it is definitely a favourite of many and for me it just did not live up to the hype. It was a sweet story and a quick and enjoyable read, but that was it for me. I liked the commentary that is laced beneath the storyline, but it did not blow me away. I did like the illustrations that went alongside it, however, and I am glad that I have finally read it as it is a children’s classic.
And those are all the books I read in July. What was the best book you read in July? What books are you excited for in August?