This one, if you notice, is simply title ‘July Reading Review’ and not ‘Theme Review’–because I didn’t end up reading or rather finishing even one single book from my theme reads (Doorstoppers) this month. So very very embarrassing. But I did read a total of 9 (8 and 1/2 to be honest, I finished book 9 only in August) books this month, so as a reading month, it wasn’t bad at all. Only the books I read turned out to be group reads and netgalley reads for the most part. So here’s a quick review of how this month went for me reading-wise.
I kicked off the month with a non-fiction read which I had started in May but couldn’t pick up in June for one reason or other. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir takes us into the reign of Henry VIII, but told from the point of view of his six wives and their stories, and the parts of his life that were concerned with the women who became his wives. This is a long read so it did take me some time but it kept my attention throughout and I ended up learning a lot that I didn’t know about some of his wives and also about Henry himself, besides ‘meeting’ all six Tudor monarchs, who appear in the book. My review is on this page here.
Next were three very different titles, all of which I got through NetGalley. The first My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih is the heart-wrenching, and culturally rich story of a Jewish family in Ukraine, which must first put up with the hardships of Russian rule, but then, far worse, with the Nazi invasion. Told in the voice of fourteen-year-old Hanna Slivka, it tells of the family’s struggle living first in the woods and then in a cave for over two years, each day spent in perpetual fear of what if. A book I cannot recommend highly enough. My review is here.
Next up was another book I enjoyed very much, Isabella of Angouleme, part 2 by Erica Lane. This is the story of Isabella of Angoulême, second wife of the cruel King John (of the magna carta and Robin Hood fame), after his death. Her her son Henry III is now on the throne while she herself returns home to France to begin to achieve her own ambitions for power. This leads to a somewhat happier second marriage and the beginning of a career where her relationship with her children is tested, and she must make difficult choices (although she doesn’t have many qualms). An easy read, and about a time in history that I knew very little about so informative as well with plenty of details that I enjoyed. My review is here.
Then also from NetGalley I read my very first Manga comic, Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Vol 1 by Akiko Hagashimura. I had a few minor struggles with reading when I started being unused to manga. Overall, the plot was something I liked the idea of but I couldn’t really connect with the main character so it was over all an ‘ok’ read. My review is here.
In July I also wrapped up A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, which I have been reading act-wise and positing about on this blog as I went. In July I read Acts III (my post is here) and IV and V (my post is here). My review (of sorts) in on goodreads here.
Then there were a couple of books that I read as group reads for different Goodreads groups. One was Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett, the second of his City Watch series and number 17 of the Dicworld books. This one had humour, murder, a mystery, a werewolf and also reflected some issues that we face everyday in our lives–people not being able to along with other communities, those who are different from them, and I thought had a positive message to give about that. I enjoyed this, perhaps even more than Guards Guards (first of the City Watch books). My review is on goodreads here.
Up next was another mystery, but this time a mystery proper–The Mystery at Underwood House by Clara Benson. This is the second of her Angela Marchmont series set in the 1920s. In this one, Angela who has a more prominent role than she did in Book 1 is called by a friend to look into a series of mysterious deaths in her family, each taking place at a dinner/meeting that the patriarch had required his family to have as a condition in his will. An Agatha Christiesque atmosphere (though not as strong), and an interesting enough mystery where I didn’t guess whodunit. My review is here.
Finally, two more NetGalley reads. First was Illusion by Stephanie Elmas which tells the story of Tom Winter who’s friend Walter Balanchine has returned to England from the east after three years and involves Tom in performances of magic/illusion that he gives. When a young woman (whom Tom has fallen for) appeals to him for help in one of these performances, as she is to be married to the much older and sinister Cecil Hearst, Walter and Tom must come up with a plan to rescue her. My review is here.
Lastly, the book I finished only at the beginning of August, No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen is another I recommend very highly. The story of twelve-and-three-quarters-year old Felix Knutsson, who is living with his mother Astrid in a van, circumstances having rendered them homeless, Felix’s one hope lies in winning the junior edition of his favourite TV show. Cute, humorous, and heart-breaking, this was a wonderful read. My review is here.
In August what I basically plan to do, is clear the table. One read the few books I still need to read for different group reads: The Dancing Bear by Francis Faviell, The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, and Death at the Bar and A Clutch of Constables, both by Ngaio Marsh. I shall also be reading my NetGalley books–currently The Elf and the Amulet by Chris Africa, and attempting to catch-up with my theme reads for last month, Don Quixote, Poland, and Syren.
What are your reading plans for August? Looking forward to hearing them. Happy reading month!