June Reading Wrap-Up

Thursday, June 29, 2017
Last month I read so many books and this month I have read so many again (I'm really happy with my reading progress over the past three/four months). I did DNF one book this month which was The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter which was so odd and not in an interesting way, in a boring and overly philosophical way...

However, I did read NINETEEN books this month as well as FOUR audiobooks, I would have listened to more but one of them was a whopping 25 hours! The weather recently has been incredible so I've been reading a lot in the garden and all of the books I read this month were less than 370 pages and the shortest was only around 40 so that's why I've read so many. Now prepare yourself for an extremely long post!

BFG by Roald Dahl - ★★★★★, 5/5 *obviously*
After reading Blameless last month, I wanted something that wasn't filled with death and war so I picked up one of my favourite childhood books, the BFG by Roald Dahl. While everyone from my generation was obsessed with the Jacqueline Wilson books, I was reading Roald Dahl and the Horrible History books so they're very comforting and nostalgic to me. I bought this limited edition hardback last year as it's so beautiful and I love Quentin Blake's illustrations.

You should know what the BFG is about but basically it follows a lovely and magical tale of the big friendly giant and a little girl, Sophie as they try and punish the awful human gobbling giants in giant country as well as an exploration of this new and magical gain country. I adored the writing, the story and the illustrations - I just loved it.

Animal Farm by George Orwell - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I bought this gorgeous little hardback from World Of Books and while I'd heard of it, I didn't fully know what it was about apart from that it is a metaphor for communism? If you take the book literally then it's kind of like Chicken Run (one of the silliest and most nostalgic films of my childhood) as it follow a group of animals that live on Manor Farm run by a strict farmer and his wife.

However, this book wasn't published at the time because it's a thinly veiled mentions about communism and an attack on Stalin and his oppressive regime which was stunningly horrific and barbaric. I did enjoy this classic and I would definitely read it again in the future. It is a little telling of how corrupt and inhuman Stalin was and the society in with it happened could and is happening again around the world, well worth a read especially as it was so quick.

*Triumph and Disaster - Five Historical Miniatures by Stefan Zweig - ★★★★☆, 4/5
Around Christmas last year I was sent two of these stunning little hardbacks and I've only just got round to reading them and I wish I'd read them both sooner. The cover is just stunning and beautifully published! The book features five major historic events such as the battle of Waterloo which are based on the actual events but it's a dramatised version of what happened - so it's a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

I didn't know that much about any of the five events so for me this book was kind of like a drama documentary of a few snippets of history that was so interesting and enjoyable. The race to the south pole chapter made me cry, not just because of what happened but the writing was so evocative and endearing. I'd definitely recommend this book, the only reason it lost one star is because I didn't like the final story; it didn't have the same beautiful writing or interest for me personally compared to the others.

Three and a Half Deaths by Emma Donoghue - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I wanted something very quick to read on the train home from York earlier this month so I read this novella and sadly I was a bit disappointed. It follows the moments of death and a bit about the lives of a few people, a couple of which I'd heard of but on the whole because the stories were so short, it was difficult to connect or become involved. However, they were all based on true stories, people and events which did make it interesting to an extent.
*The Mayfly by James Hazel - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I was kindly sent this new release by Bonnier Zaffre at the beginning of the month and I couldn't wait to start it as it sounded so intriguing as well as very dark and that is exactly what I got! It follows a few different timelines and quite a lot of characters and at the beginning of the book, I was a little confused; however it did pick up and become so compelling that for the last 200 pages, I read it in one sitting!

In essence the story follows a series of characters and events that are linked through time from the atrocities of human experimentation during the second world war to modern day and a lawyer/former police officer is in the middle of a mystery surrounding a gruesome murder. The story does have it's twists and turns but most were predictable, in my opinion. It has an awful relationship in it with the main character and one of the daughters of the murdered man which I hated. However, I loved the super easy and quick writing style, the mystery and the feel of the book - it seemed to me like a classic British crime drama with a very dark side.

The book does involve graphic murder, torture, human experimentation, secret societies and more so if that sounds like something you'd like to read then definitely give it a go as even though it's very dark, it is worth a read, especially as it was a quick read; although I think it would be even better as a TV show or movie though.

The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy & Other Stories by Tim Burton - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I bought this used copy as I have been wanting to buy it for ages and finally I found it for a cheap price; however it wasn't entirely what I expected. I did expect dark, depressing and melancholy tales as that's what Tim Burton does best (I love all of the films he's directed) but it was so short that it almost seeded a little pointless. Also the stories were so short that they were more like poems than short stories. However, I did enjoy them and the illustrations but I think it would have been more enjoyable and fulfilling a part of a larger collection.

*The Devil's Prayer by Luke Gracis - ★★☆☆☆, 2.5/5
I was drawn to this book as I *embarrassingly* really like the Dan Brown inspired films, especially Angels vs Demons and this book sounded similar and it definitely was but it had quite a few problems with it sadly - for me anyway! The book follows Denise aka. Sister Benedictine on a mystery that pulls in all of those around her as well as secrets, religious mysteries and murderous monks...it sounds incredible doesn't it?

The first third or so of the book was amazing, so engaging and such a quick read to the point where I thought it was going to be one of my favourite books of the month but then...oh, boy. While I liked the religious mystery aspect of this book, what I didn't enjoy was all of the rape (lots of rape), torture (lots of torture), murder/crime, drug abuse, suicide and just so many vile and completely unbelievable characters that bordered on the completely ridiculous! The actions of most characters just didn't make sense, it wasn't believable and it was for the most part just over the top.

Here are my feelings of the book as I was reading it: it felt like an amazing historical fiction, then a contemporary mystery thriller followed by a ridiculous slasher gore fest then a boring travel guide and to top it off, a environmental and philosophical lecture about how human are destroying the plant...then back to the mystery - it almost gave me whiplash. Don't get me wrong, there were some good points (it was a quick read, I loved the first part and the mystery as well as the setting in Spain) but on the whole I feel as though it was written for the over the top shock factor and it felt very info dumpy towards the end. It's a book I've seen good ratings for but for me personally, it was such a let down and I had so many problems with it sadly as it started so well and I think it could have been SO much better.

Lost in Translation by Ellen Frances Sanders - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have been wanting to buy this illustrated non-fiction book for so long but it's always been a little pricy for what it is but I finally found a cheap used copy - I loved this little hardback. I adore the cover, the illustrations inside and the concept. It goes through a range of words from various languages, including German, Icelandic, Gaelic and Welsh then explains what they mean as they don't have a clear translation into english. Some words were sweet and other words were just very odd but it was a nice, extremely quick read. The only problem is that the font choice and colour over the illustrations makes it a little hard to read at times.
*Genuis and Discovery: Five Historical Miniature by Stefan Zweig - ★★★★☆, 4.5/5
I read the other book of this duo earlier in the month and I loved it so much than I wanted to read this book in June too. The cover is just so gorgeous, I adore the copper foil detailing on the cover! I don't know why I put off reading these two books as long as I did because they are both fantastic and I really enjoyed reading them.

The previous book followed expeditions, adventures and ancient battles but this one follows discoveries and inventions such as the creation of the French national anthem, for example. The writing is perfection, it's such an interesting selection of stories based on true historical events. I think these books are amazing for quick snippets into the past and would be perfect for people who want to get into non-fiction as they aren't dry or boring at all, in fact they're quite the opposite.

*Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have wanted to read more non-fiction all year but I've only read a few so when this one came up on Netgalley, I had to request it and I was accepted. It's all about the weird, odd, sickly and frankly very dangerous 'cures' and 'medicines' that were used throughout human history that actually did a lot more harm than good as well as the quacks that claimed these substances, pills, poisons or techniques would work...spoilers, they don't.

I love the cover and I also love the layout as it contains photographs, images, other little snippets of information and it is set out in bitesized chunks so you can dip in and out which is what I did so it did take me a lot longer to read but I really enjoyed it...well, I found it very interesting and a bit disgusting at times. One of my favourite line from this book was: "There's no greater turn on for women than emanating gamma rays from their vaginas"...

I loved this book, it was so interesting and quite shocking at times! I did know some of the information and cases mentioned already from college, university and from all of the documentaries I watch but there was quite a lot of information I didn't know. I found the first 60% more interesting than the rest but it's still definitely worth a read and I'll probably buy the physical book!

*Get Well Soon by Marie-Sabine Rogers - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I read Soft In The Head by Marie-Sabine Rogers last year and I loved it for being so unique, endearing and oddly familiar. So I was excited to read her latest book! It follows Jean-Pierre, a middle aged man after an accident that has left him in hospital where he has time to muse on his situation and his life which hasn't gone quite as he'd hoped. It has a little mystery to the story, as you want to find out what happened on the night he was severely injured.

It has the same feel, writing style and familiarity as Soft In The Head which I really liked for being a real and unedited story of people who aren't perfect and who have flaws but you can't help but like them. It is so quick and easy to read but it has a lasting impression as the characters feel so real - she makes realistic and flawed characters, likeable. As far as I can remember from the first, this one mentions more 'taboo' or less talked about topics such as teenage pregnancy, the inability to have children and problematic marriages/relationships. It was an interesting, enjoyable look into his life, what he's going through while in hospital and the people he meets along the way who open his eyes to new ways of life and new opinions.

*Lost Boy by Christina Henry - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have wanted to read Christina Henry's series inspired by Alice In Wonderland for a while but I haven't got round to it yet; however I received a copy of Lost Boy by Christina Henry which is her latest book and I couldn't wait to start reading it. I finished it in a couple of days as I couldn't put it down and now I need to read her other books!

It's pretty much a prequel to the original Peter Pan story that most of us are familiar with from childhood, however this isn't Peter Pan as you know him. It follows the first boy that Peter takes to Neverland, Jamie and the adventures they have as well as the fights with pirates, the creatures of the island and how this wild group of boys manages to survive on their own....until things turn violent, twisted and sinister.

The writing is just fantastic, she manages to take a world and concept that we are all quite familiar with and turn it into something dark and sinister. It's a book that will have you second guessing and thinking about the original story in a completely new, eye opening and twisted light. The twist and the ending were amazing and I cannot recommend this book enough - read it! You'll never view Peter Pan in the same away again.
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux - Audiobook - ★★★★☆, 4/5
This is my second audiobook of the month and one of my favourites of the year! It was much shorter than the previous audiobook at around 7 hours. It's a YA gothic horror/paranormal book that follows teenage Louisa Ditton, an Irish pickpocket and maid as she finds new employment at Coldthistle House which is a mansion owned by the mysterious and devilish, Mr Morningside.

The narrator for the audiobook I listened to (Billie Fulford-Brown) was fantastic and I listen to it on 1.5x speed so it was quick to get through but it was still very enjoyable and easy to follow. I loved the mystery, the setting of Coldthistle House, Mr Morningside as a character and the feel of the audiobook as it has a YA Tim Burton vibe.

It does have some horror but it's not really scary, it's just the right amount of slight gore, supernatural, monsters and magic. I also loved the friendship, not so much the romantic relationship but I definitely want to carry on with the series. The only thing I didn't like was the ending and that there was a part towards the end that felt a little pointless but other than that it was entertaining and interesting.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige - ★★☆☆☆, 2.5/5
I read the first book in this series last year and adored it but I've only just got round to reading the second book. It's an alternative, dark Wizard of Oz retelling. I can't say much about this book as I don't want to ruin the first but it starts off when the first ended and it's full of magic, action, flying monkeys...unicorns, rainbows, evil lions, witches and more.

I love her writing style as it's so incredibly easy, quick and enjoyable. I can read her books in lightning speed, I don't know why. I think that I might be too old for these books, I think 14 year old me would love these books so much more than 24 year old me as it is very cheesy and YA; however it is a fun and extremely quick read.

Black Door by Richard J Aldrich and Rory Cormac - Audiobook - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
I started this audiobook back in May at least but I've only just finished it. I wanted to listen to it as it seemed like an interesting look at the history of the intelligence services from it's creation and the involvement with spies to the present day. My main problem with it was the length - it was 25 HOURS LONG. The first part was very interesting but with time it just became more and more dull, boring and info dumpy. I know it's a non-fiction book but there was just so much information and none of it has stuck. Also the narrators voice didn't help, nor did his awful accents. It would have been interesting as a documentary or a mini audiobook/book series as it needs to be split up, instead of being a ridiculous and boring 25 hours long.

*A Is For Asteroid, Z Is For Zombies by Paul Lewis and Kenneth Kit Lamug - ★★★★☆, 4/5
Another fantastically illustrated short book listing an alphabetical series of apocalyptic happenings, events or disasters as a bedtime story, that's definitely not for young children! I adored the illustrations even if they are a bit gory. I also loved the almost poem like writing which plays out each apocalyptic scene from zombies, viruses and bugs to Trump, ISIS (very current) and of course, asteroids.

*Odd & True by Cat Winters - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
This ARC from Netgalley sounded perfect, it follows two sisters as they go monster hunting in early 20th century America but it's not quite as supernatural, ghoulish or dark as I thought it would be. It has themes of family secrets, sisterhood, family legends, teenage pregnancy/adoption and disability, the latter two I haven't experienced so I'm not 100% sure if the representation is accurate.

I liked the writing style as it's so quick and easy to read; although one of the main characters, Odette, is quite annoying at times. I like the setting and time period as well as the supernatural elements and family secrets but sadly I wasn't wowed by it but I'd still recommend it for a quick, enjoyable read - it is over 350 pages, making it one of the longer books I've read this month but it's an easy read so perfect to read in the garden.
The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I heard about this book by the one and only Jen Campbell (I get most of my book recommendations from her) and I had to buy it although this edition that I have seems to be a little hard to find. I love the cover, it's a cute hardback and it's very unique and magical story that follows a group of strangers who are approached in a bank by an unusual bank robber as he doesn't want money, he wants something sentimental from each person...and things take an even weirder turn from there.

It's such a unique story with lots of magical realism involving a lion, shrinking people and many other odd goings on! It also contains simple illustrations that I love and I would recommend it as it's so incredibly short at only 88 pages but I think it might be too whimsical for some.

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carol (illustrated edition by Rifle Paper co) - ★★★★★, 5/5
The old school animated Alice in Wonderland film was one of my absolute favourites growing up and since then I have loved everything related to Alice In Wonderland but embarassingly I haven't read the book, until now. I have this stunning edition which is illustrated by my favourite stationery company, Rifle Paper Co.

The illustrations within and the cover is just so incredibly stunning and I can't stop staring at it so I don't know why it's taken me months to finally pick it up. I knew the story from the film but I was surprised when Alice in the book is even more naive and pretentious than she is portrayed in the adaptations. Besides that, I really enjoyed the story and the gorgeous illustrations throughout the book. There were some parts that were in the films but not the book and vice versa which was a little confusing and the ending wasn't what I thought or remembered it being. However it's still very nostalgic to me and I adore this edition.

*Philosophy In An Hour - Marx and Machiavelli - Audiobooks - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I love these history and philosophy in an hour audiobooks mainly because they're so quick to get through and I do find them interesting, the Machiavelli one was a 3/5 and the Marx one was 2/5. I'd definitely recommend the audiobook about Machiavelli!
*Soot by Andrew Martin - ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
This book looked and sounded right up my street but sadly it was quite disappointing! I read it while I was full of a cold and a throat infection which I still kind of have, so I read it in a day which is one positive point for the book as well as the gorgeous cover!

The story is set in York which I adored as I recently visited York so it was weird but interesting to read about streets and places that I visited recently. It's a mishmash of a historical fiction, murder mystery and a slight meandering romance. It follows the aftermath of Mathew Harvey's murder and the mystery of who killed him as well as the lives of the the people around him and the person charged with finding the killer, Fletcher Rigge.

I adored the setting of York, I love the cover and how quick to was to read but I didn't connect to any of the characters, the main character was quite one dimensional, I found the mystery interesting but very drawn out and I didn't like the tangents or the romance. I think the premise was so interesting and unique but it could have been SO much better!

*Know It All Chemisty by Nivaldo Tro - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I studied chemisty at college and only just passed (I should definitely have chosen history instead) but I still find chemistry interesting and I thought this book would be great to refresh my knowledge and learn something new.

I liked the layout, it's set out in small chunks which makes it much more consumable and easy to get through - it's also a short book which helps too! I found the organic chemistry, biochemistry and nuclear chemistry the most interesting as well as the little biographies of various chemists. I think you definitely need some understanding of chemistry to understand most of this book, you can't go into it not knowing anything about basic principles for example. I did enjoy it and I will be requesting others in this series. The only thing I didn't like was I found it a little repetitive, even on the same page there will be repetitive information.

All of the books I read this month were less than 370 pages so I think that's why I've managed to read NINETEEN books and FOUR audiobooks this month; the weather has been helping too and I've been ill recently so all I've been doing is sneezing, complaining and reading...but in July I'm attempting to start War and Peace so next months reading wrap-up will probably be much shorter! Follow me on GoodReads to get my updates and my thoughts as I'm reading and to know what I'm currently reading!

Have you read or listened to any of these books/audiobooks? Let me know if you want a post about how to read more/quicker! 

16 comments

  1. The BFG was a favourite of mine when I was little. I'd love to read it again. Great picks, getting me inspired to read! Xx

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  2. So pleased you are enjoying all these great books!

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  3. I'm going on holiday soon and will need some good reads so will come back to this post x

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  4. I can't believe how many books you have read, I definitely need to read the BFG again. I haven't read that book in years.

    Kristy | www.thevioletblonde.com

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  5. Woah 19 books?! Well done Heather! Going to have to add some of these to my reading list. I love Animal Farm (and pretty much anything by Orwell) x

    Evelyn @ We Were Raised By Wolves

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  6. You've read some quite eclectic books this month and I read Animal Farm for my GCSE x

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  7. You've gotten through so many books that's incredible! I want to get more into reading but during the uni semester I am doing so much reading for classes it puts me off reading for fun. Though I am up to my last semester of uni, so once I am done hopefully I can get back into reading for fun.

    www.themakeupaficionado.com

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  8. I love that Tim burton book! Definitely not a book to read and get into, but witty little poems and illustrations x

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  9. I lvoed the BFG as a child, it was always my favourite! You have gone through so much this month!

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  10. You read so much I wish I did, I used to and got out of it, I have started to read a bit in bed again though so I'm getting better xxx

    Zoe ♥ MammafulZo

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  11. Ahh the BFG...one of my all time favourites from my childhood!
    Chantelle x
    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

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  12. I can't believe how many you've got through! That Alice in Wonderland cover is gorgeous too

    Gemma x | flutterandsparkle.com

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  13. Some great picks here. I find Animal farm fascinating and harrowing! x

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  14. This post really makes me realise I need to start reading more. I always used to read before bed.

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  15. I haven't read the BFG in years. I can't wait to get Penny the entire collection & read them to her for the very first time.

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  16. You got through so many books! I read Animal Farm back in school, it's a great read.

    Cass | CassandraMyee

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Feel free to leave me a comment, I read all of them!

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