Books Hitting The Read Pile in July

Well, turns out having a baby does truly make it practically impossible to squeeze in the time to do anything else apart from wash, eat, hardly sleep and scroll through Twitter at 4am.

With Oliver arriving in late June I was expecting to have settled back into sort of a routine by the end of July. Something had to be dropped in order to juggle being a new mum, and that ended up being reading. I can just about handle making myself something to eat or drink whilst holding the baby and can vaguely sit through a film or TV program with subtitles and breaks for feeds/nappy changes/cuddles but reading a book (mostly) requires two hands and that can be a challenge.

I could easily whip out my Kindle but I’ve got a bookcase full of books and some borrowed from my local library, it feels like a waste to start reading new e-books when I’ve got so many I want to enjoy just because my baby is being especially clingy. So, my husband and I have been attempting to take it in turns so one of us has Oliver and/or my step-daughter during the day so the other can take a step out to take some time doing something they enjoy. It’s worked generally okay so far and is going to take some tweaking to make sure we all get to spend our time with each other but for saying we have a six-week-old baby at home we’re doing really well at getting some sort of normality back.

Anyways, onto the two books I persevered through for July to keep chipping away at my Goodreads target. These were both picks from my local library and stories I’ve wanted to read but hadn’t wanted to purchase because they were far too into the ‘young’ part of ‘young-adult’ for me but were still generating some hype worth exploring:

The Girl of Ink of Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I checked this book out of my library because I’d been intrigued by the synopsis since I saw it in book shops close to it’s original publication quite some time ago now. I love a mystical adventure-type story with a descriptive title and, contrary to what you shouldn’t do, I tend to judge a book by its cover too. This ticked all of the book-magpie boxes for me with a lovely cover, an interesting title and a plucky female heroine – my guilty pleasure. Some readers like holiday romance chick-lit, I like trashy YA and I felt like I had it down with this one.

The back of the book reads:

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart. But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself. 

Sounds epic right? Well, I should’ve realised that a book with only two-hundred and twenty-eight pages wasn’t going to pack a punch. This book was short and if I hadn’t been trying to handle a newborn, recovering from major surgery and keeping an eye so my husband didn’t do too much himself – I would’ve finished this within two hours tops. The adventure in this is light to say the least, making the twist and turns in the story very flimsy. The only saving grace for this book is that it’s currently touring my region as a play so my step-daughter and I will be seeing it performed next week and I have a feeling that it will make more sense as visual piece rather than in book-form. I would happily pass this to my eight-year-old to read herself but she’s not really interested in this genre at the moment however she’s looking forward to seeing it as a play.

Honestly, this was one of those books I pick that makes me question why I still stick to primarily YA in my reading diet, at 29 I was was far too old to be excited by this and it was just too short and boring for me – hence why I only gave it one star on my Goodreads.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Set in an American high school, One of Us is Lying hits off with a murder mystery in the first couple of chapters. Five students are in detention under shady circumstances and then one of them ends up dead via an allergic reaction to peanut oil – a weapon that was surely planted. We then follow each suspect as they fall under the police’s questioning and we discover that not everything is as it seems on the surface.

This book has been hyped about for ages with many of my favourite book bloggers picking it up and giving it praise. I’ve been put off because I don’t like the murder/thriller genre so the premise completely turned me off. Nonetheless I was hunting the shelves of my library looking for something easy to read and after a skim through I simply thought ‘why not’.

Even though it wasn’t my cup of tea per se I enjoyed this more than The Girl of Ink of Stars because the plot and the characters weren’t as simplistic. These characters and themes were older yes, but I found McManus to have more talent in writing for a younger audience in the first person making the book easier to follow and much more interesting.

I didn’t see the twist of the ‘whodunnit’ coming by the conclusion as I was too invested in the character’s personal storylines to find it shocking or to hold my interest. The clues weren’t there much for me as a reader to try and put the puzzle together myself either until nearer the end which took the fun out of a murder mystery for me. This was probably why I didn’t see the identity of the killer immediately – shame.

Overall I liked this book, it wasn’t as exciting as others had led me to believe and I can see this easily being made into a Netflix drama. Not sure if I could be bothered to watch it though. I’m glad this something a borrowed rather than purchased because it would’ve ended up in the charity shop within five minutes – a story I’m satisfied I’ve read but not willing to hold on to.

So that’s it, the two lonely books I managed to get through in a month. I had a genuine excuse but I’m still pretty proud about being able to concentrate on something other than being a Mum or running a house enough to complete these. I just hope I can carry on managing my time to get through some more exciting reads in August.

Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments.

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