Having read 7 books, June wasn’t the best month in terms of numbers. However, I LOVED most of what I read. Also, I’ve dedicated the past week to finally read my most-anticipated book of the year: A Little Life. Does anyone else associate big books with the summer? I received this book for Christmas but have waited for the right moment to take my time and savour every last word. Also, this 720-page book is not only long, but it’s quite dense too. Just 100 pages remain, but I’ve lost count of how many times my heart has been broken and then mended, just to be broken again. Keep an eye out for my glowing praise of this in next month’s wrap-up!
June was an amazing reading month overall with a couple guaranteed to be my favourite books of 2019. It’s probably also been my most varied month so far; ranging from non-fiction to a YA dystopia.
As always, I’ve condensed my initial Goodreads reviews into smaller chunks. I’ve linked my full thoughts in the headings if you’re interested! Without further ado, here’s my June reading wrap-up.
I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to read this book. It received high praise from Dolly Alderton and that woman never disappoints with her recommendations. So, I requested it on a whim and oh my god, what a book.
Three Women comprises unrelated stories about the lives of well, 3 women. Having written this over the course of eight years, flying across the country to interview the women in their hometowns, Taddeo zooms in on the chaotic truths of their sexual desires with unflinching detail. These women are of different social status, are different ages and are from different parts of the country, yet their commonalities are clear. They each seek out something in sex that they were missing in their past. This is a challenging book which dives into the psychology of women, revealing hidden thoughts, desires, obsessions and ultimately, hope.
Taddeo’s writing is enthralling, and I was constantly having to remind myself that this is nonfiction. Reading about their experiences, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that these women are characters that have sprouted from Taddeo’s imagination. I felt for these women. I rooted for them. By the end of the book, I felt I knew them inside and out and I was left itching to know what these women are doing now.
In a male-dominated town where the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, everyone can hear men’s thoughts. As Todd’s 13th birthday approaches, the day he officially becomes a man, his guardians tell him that he must run away. With no further explanation, Todd must flee. From here, Ness takes us on an action-packed adventure through a dark and dangerous dystopian world. Todd and his dog, Manchee, encounter a female for the first time in the flesh and more questions rise to the surface. What really happened to the women of Prentisstown? Why is it so important that Todd, just one boy, reaches his birthday and becomes a man? With Viola, the group take on evil enemies, discover new settlements and unveil the long-kept secrets about the New World.
The first half of the book fell flat in comparison to the second. With so many unanswered questions and a whole lot of running, I was itching to know more about both the characters and this dark world. However, Ness doesn’t disappoint and, of course, hits you with a cliff-hanger that demands you to pick up the sequel immediately.
There are no befitting words to express how beautiful this book is. Every word is as beautiful as the title suggests and I’m in utter awe. My review for Vuong’s debut piece of autofiction can be found here!
This book tells the story of budding journalist Monique who has been personally requested by glamorous Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo to write a biography about her scandalous life that included seven marriages. After decades of love, loss and heartbreak, Evelyn is ready to reveal her truth; unfiltered, unmoderated, just complete sheer, honesty.
I was surprised by how themes surrounding sexuality and race dominate this historical fiction novel. They’re seamlessly incorporated into the narrative yet still pack a punch. Evelyn was a woman in a white man’s world. A Cuban woman in a white woman’s world. A bisexual where same-sex attraction was destructive and demonised.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo portrays what it’s like to be a woman in the film industry. While men were praised for talent, women were judged on their sexual availability. Women to this day are expected to dilute their personalities and hide their ambitions to seem appealing and attractive to men. The second a woman shares an opinion, demonstrates intelligence or displays confidence or passion, she’s a whore, she’s too opinionated, she’s not womanly. And why? Because the patriarchy is desperate to uphold power and supremacy.
What I adored most was the complex characters who steer the narrative. Each and every character feels so real and nuanced. Evelyn is a morally grey, unapologetic character who makes questionable decisions. She puts everything on the line to get what she wants and protect those she loves. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her. The films she starred in, the awards she won, her born beauty, none of that mattered. Ultimately, what she cherished most was the family she created, the family she lost, and the one woman who she so fiercely loved. Yes, Evelyn Hugo and Celia St. James are now my favourite fictional couple of all time. Full stop. They had a complicated, tumultuous relationship, yet their love is eternal.
Overall, this book of hers is her demand to be humanised after being portrayed as nothing more than a mere sexy film star. Taylor Jenkins Reid reminds us that no matter how glamourous someone’s life might look – be it a celebrity or someone you envy on social media – they still have days, weeks, even years where they feel unloved and rejected. Fame makes no one invincible.
By the end of this novel, I was itching to watch Evelyn’s movies myself. This book is packed with plot twists, romance, Hollywood drama and messy, beautiful characters. I want to read it all over again.
Legend is about teenager Day who is the country’s most wanted criminal. We watch him fight for his family’s survival while the Republic’s teenage prodigy, June, seeks to avenge her brother’s death, Day being the prime suspect. When the two cross paths, they uncover the truth about the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
There was no elaborate world, and while I thought both Day and June had interesting backgrounds and developed throughout the novel, they act way older than 15. They seem impressively intelligent and perceptive given their age. I couldn’t help but be in disbelief as they conveniently leapt to accurate conclusions. Nonetheless, it was still action-packed and swarmed with brutality, lies, kidnaps and street fights.
It’s by no means a bad story, it just follows a lot of predictable tropes which left me slightly disappointed. If you love a trashy dystopia with star-crossed romance or are seeking out some light entertainment to pull you out of a reading slump, I’d recommend you try this!
I’ve only read two of her novels, but after reading Persuasion, I’ve fallen irrevocably in love with Austen.
For me, this surpasses Pride and Prejudice. While I swooned over Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, the sweet love story within Persuasion is a new-found favourite of mine. It is Austen’s final novel and features her most mature heroine, Anne Elliot. As a reticent, well-read and extremely patient character, she is someone who a lot of readers can identify with, my introverted self included. Austen pleas for social change as we witness Anne resolve both the internal and external forces that keep her from pursuing her own happiness.
Then, we have the cast of brilliant characters. Some are so absurd they had me laughing out loud; from Mary’s over-dramatic outbursts to Sir Walter’s irrational stubbornness. Moreover, Austen’s writing is sarcastic, clever and full of witty remarks on social absurdities and she well and truly defies the assumption that ‘classic literature is boring’. Oh, and Wentworth’s love letter is the single most beautiful piece of writing that has and will ever exist.
I read it in a frenzy of four hours. I couldn’t get enough of Ali Smith’s wondrous, quirky prose in which there is so much to uncover.
Autumn is a multi-layered, subversive novel which paints a beautiful picture of friendship. I was captivated by the bizarre yet heart-warming relationship between young art lecturer, Elisabeth, and elderly, former lyricist, Daniel Gluck. While recounting the lives of these two characters, Smith explores time and its passing; Autumn into Winter, past into the present, young into old. As the seasons change, so do we.
The chapters time hop across the century, yet the story didn’t once feel disjointed. It is brimming with British cultural references which swim amongst charming metaphors, intertwining the real with the fantastic. From the amusing Post Office scenes which illustrate their inefficiency and mind-boggling slowness, to the melancholic musing on the political mayhem in post-Brexit Britain, there is so much to uncover.
Autumn was a beautiful, exploratory novel full of thought-provoking contemporary ideas and features even more beautiful characters. I’m looking forward to reading more of Smith’s musing on art, politics and the nature of life in the rest of her exciting seasonal quartet.
Have you read any of these books? What are you planning on reading in July?
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Thanks for reading!
Check out My Summer Reading List to see what titles I’m reading this season!