July Reading Wrap-Up 2020

Sunday, August 02, 2020
July was a month of two halves, the first half of the month consisted of a reading slump but thankfully the second half was full of audiobooks and short reads so it wasn't a completely fail filled reading month. I started a Scribd subscription at the end of the month which was definitely kick started my love of reading again as well as my love for audiobooks. My favourite books of the month include: Skincare by Caroline Hirons and Bloody Work by Holly Tucker. 

The Insecure Girl's Handbook by Olivia Purvis (256 pages) ★★★
I'm always looking on Amazon to see if the kindle books on my ridiculously long wish list have reduced in price and thankfully two books on my wish list were reduced to 99p in the first week of July, including, The Insecure Girl's Handbook by blogger Olivia Purvis. I've been following Olivia on Instagram for a while and I adore her style, photos and humour so I had to pick up this ebook. As the title suggests, the book focuses on insecurity in all its forms and everything that accompanies feelings of insecurity such as negative thoughts or your inner critic, measuring 'success', comparison, body image issues and more. 

I related to so much of this book especially in terms of comparing my achievements (or lack of) to others, thinking that I have to accomplish everything by a certain age and body image issues. I liked her humour and personality throughout the book, it was an easy read, I liked the interviews and I found the tips and quotes interesting as well as comforting in a way as it reminded me that so many of us are struggling with the same issues, thoughts and feelings. I did find it quite repetitive especially with the recaps after every section but I think it is a great book, especially for those who do suffer with insecurity. 

Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution by Holly Tucker (336 pages) ★★★★
I read City of Light by Holly Tucker a couple of months ago and utterly adored it (it is one of my favourite books of the year so far) as she manages to make a time spanning and relatively complex time period, event and topics feel like an enthralling TV drama so I was very excited to read Blood Work. It focuses on the history of blood transfusions and all of the politics, debate, ethics, professional rivalry, successes and failures along the way. As with City of Light, the book focuses on a number of individuals and a specific event but it also encompasses the wider history and setting too. 

I adore the authors writing as it is so easy to read, page turning (something I didn't think I'd really find in a non-fiction read), interesting and drama filled. Holly Tucker manages to paint such a vivid picture of not only the main individuals and the events that are unfolding but also the setting so it feels at times like a captivating historical fiction read! However...there were so many aspects of the book, especially the first 30% that were so difficult to read as it contained horrifying, despicable animal torture and animal experiments that I found utterly heartbreaking. 

Sadly I didn't find this read as compelling or as interesting as her previous book; however I did find it intriguing and it contained a tonne of facts, historic events and individuals I didn't know about. I would recommend this read if you are interested in the topic but be aware of the heart wrenching information about animal experiment that I found very difficult to read. I'd also highly recommend her other book, City of Light, which is my favourite of the two. 

The Victoria Letters: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen (The Official Companion to the ITV Series) by Helen Rappaport (327 pages) ★★★
Next up, a bit of an unusual book for me but it was a quick and interesting read that was free on Kindle Unlimited. If you didn't know, I utterly adore history (one of my biggest regrets was being persuaded to study chemistry at college instead of history as I'd wanted) but one of my least favourite time periods to read about is the victorian era because, you know, the awful attitudes towards women, colonialism, horrendous treatment of the poor and children, I could go on. Also I'd read a book that previously included a section on Queen Victoria (Victorians Undone by Kathryn Hughes) which left me with an insight into how unusual she was, such as her strange views on her own children and how controlling and volatile she was; however that was somewhat explained by her upbringing, mother and her isolated childhood as explored in this read. 

However, I'm glad I read this TV show accompaniment as it did include quite a lot of information I wasn't aware of in terms of the other people close to the Victoria such as Melbourne and her Uncle Leopold, among others. I'm glad the book didn't solely focus on Victoria and instead encompassed a wider context with the main individuals that affected her life, reign and UK politics. I'd recommend it if you like the show or the Victoria era in general but it's not something I'll ever re-read. 

An Enchantment Of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (304 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
Towards the end of the month, I decided to start a free 30 day trial of Scribd which is a book, magazine and audiobook subscription service in which you can read/listen to an unlimited number of books or audiobooks for £9.99 per month. I've heard good things about the service so I started the trial and I'm so glad that I did as they had so many books as well as audiobooks that I was going to buy in August (August is my birthday month so it's an easy excuse to spend!) but now I don't have to. 

The first book I finished via Scribd was a YA fantasy read following Isobel, a master painter, who is in demand as a portrait artists by the fairies. Fairies within this world cannot create anything so they require humans to write and paint for them. Isobel is commissioned by the autumn fairy prince to paint his portrait and what follows is a hunt, an exploration into the darker side of the magical fairy world (where things are the opposite of what they appear to be) and a budding romance between Isobel and the autumn prince. 

This book pulled me out of my reading slump as it was such a quick, very easy and enjoyable read filled with magic, deception, an adorable sulking prince and a sweet romance. I don't ever read books involving fairies but I loved the version of fairies which portrayed them as conniving, devious, dark and disturbing! If you're looking for an easy and magical fantasy read then definitely check it out. 

Skincare by Caroline Hirons (audiobook) ★★★★
The next audiobook was by the queen of skincare, Caroline Hirons. I've been watching her Youtube channel for a year or so and I love her no nonsense, easy to follow and straightforward approach to delivering skincare advice and product recommendations with her sarcastic and almost blunt humour, all of which were present in her audiobook. Caroline narrates the audiobook herself which I loved and I think the book (or audiobook) would be ideal for anyone, whether you are a complete skincare novice, beauty blogger, skincare junkie or if you just want to learn more about the fundamentals of skincare and skincare ingredients. 

She includes easy to follow steps for looking for your skin with specific advice and product recommendations for all skin types and conditions. I knew some of the tips, advice and the more famous products but there were still so many facts and tips that I didn't know such as: don't use eye cream as your last skincare step, wash your pillow cases at least once a week and how much SPF to use - it's so much more than you think. 

Along with a baffling number of comparisons to bras and teaspoons, the audiobook is filled with so much useful information, not just about common skincare myths or generic tips but very specific information such as your post-exercise skincare routine for your skin type and skincare recommendations for those with various health conditions, for example. Also the audiobook has a bonus section at the end with a Q&A with Caroline as well as bloopers which I did chuckle at! I will be buying the physical book as I know I'll want to re-read - highly recommend! 

Monsters You Should Know by Emma San Cartier (112 pages) ★★★
Now a few short reads from Scribd to finish my July reading wrap-up, the first is an adorably illustrated book all about various mythological creatures from around the world. It's a very short but very cute read with the most wonderful illustrations, that would be ideal for older children or young teens. It's an adorable little book that was perfect to flick through while lounging in the sun. 

Make Yourself Cosy by Katie Vaz (128 pages) ★★★
Another very short and sweet read that is filled with beautifully illustrated ideas of self cafe, relaxation, cosy days at home and lazy days. As with the previous book, my favourite aspect has to be the illustrations as well as the occasional recipes. I think it's a lovely little book that would make a sweet gift, especially during the colder months as that's the quintessential cosy time. 

The Make-Up Manual by Lisa Potter Dixon (160 pages) ★★
After reading and loving Skincare by Caroline Hirons, I wanted to read more make-up and skincare books so when I saw this book on Scribd by the famous Benefit Cosmetics makeup artist, I had to read it. Sadly, it contained only general and almost old fashioned makeup tips as well a some contradictory skincare advice that Caroline Hirons advised against! I personally didn't like the layout of the book and none of the information was new to me. The only section I found useful at all was all about brows but other than that it was so disappointing. I think I'd only really recommend this book to teens or those with no knowledge of makeup at all.

Adulthood Is A Myth by Sarah Anderson (112 pages) ★★★
I've read a previous illustrated comic from this author so I thought I'd read another as they are relatable, entertaining and easy - perfect to get out of a reading slump. I liked her previous comic and this one has the same art style (which I love), simple layout and humour. I think they are very relatable and entertaining short comics that most people would enjoy. 

The Terracotta Bridge by Zen Cho (51 pages) ★★★
I've been loving short fantasy and translated novellas this year so I was happy to see this one on Scribd as it's been on my Amazon wish list for a while. We follow Siew Tsin after she has been married off to one of the richest men in hell (yes hell, complete with demons) and she tries to reconcile with his first wife and new artificial wife. I loved the setting, the premise and the inspiration of the Chinese afterlife; although it's such a strange read! I will be picking up more from this author in the future though. 

Other-Wordly by Yee-Lum Mak and Kelsey Garrity-Riley (53 pages) ★★★
As with most of the books I read in July this one is a combination of beautiful illustrations and a low page count, it has definitely helped me get out of my reading slump! Other-Wordly looks at unusual words from various languages and explains the meaning alongside gorgeous illustrations. It would make such a lovely gift or coffee table book!

Galata by Madeline Miller (20 pages) ★★★
Last but not least is a very short story by Madeline Miller, an author I've wanted to read for a while. We follow a sculptor who has created the most perfect woman out of marble and his sculpture has been blessed by the goddess with life. I didn't read anything about this short story beforehand and I am not familiar with the ancient greek myth that it was inspired by so I had no idea what to expect and it was a little shocking, unusual and bizarre, if I'm honest. If you like greek myths then it might be of interest to you. 

Have you read any of these books? What have you read in July? 

9 comments

  1. Christ, you read so many books! Thanks for these recommendations x

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  2. I've heard so much about Caroline Hiron's new book! Sounds like one I need to read x

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  3. These are some great sounding books. I haven't read any of these but there are a couple that I'd like to.

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  4. The Victoria Letters sounds like it could be a great read.

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  5. I need to pick up a copy of skincare!! Blood Work sounds really interesting x

    Sophie

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  6. I must be the only blogger who doesn't have the Hirons book! I feel ashamed of myself lol x

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  7. I loved Skincare too - it will also be a really handy one to reference back to for information :)

    Jasmine xx

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  8. Love the sound of Other Wordly! I have the Skincare book to read too! xx

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  9. I will have to check some of these out xx

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