I’m noticing that six books a month is the best I can manage given my busy schedule, so I suppose I’ll finally accept this and stop making excuses for a slow reading month, as I did with the last two Month in Review posts. Gone are the days when I could spend endless hours reading books while my son toiled away at his computer for virtual school, and I could be flexible with my time. Instead we get to enjoy bike rides, gardening, and trips to the lake, so all is well that ends well.
I’m pleased to report there were a couple of thought-provoking reads this month. I also read my first horror fiction since my Stephen King days back in my youth, and enjoyed it far more than I’d anticipated. I’ll be working on detailed reviews for Klara and the Sun and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, so watch for them in the coming weeks, along with my thoughts on some other fabulous books.
Stephen King was one of my go-to authors in my youth. It was thrilling to spook my teenage self with stories like Christine, Carrie, Cujo, and Pet Sematary. I had an obsession with Anne Rice for a few years while enamoured with The Witching Hour and the Mayfair Witches, when all of a sudden, that was it; creepy tales were banished from my reading list in favour of the classics, contemporary and literary fiction.
Intending to expand my horizons and see what modern horror fiction looked like, I decided to dive into this morbid tale, and I am glad I did. Thankfully I wasn’t traumatised but instead shuddered through an appropriate level of hair-raising and devilish delight as McMahon twisted together the frightful past of the cursed Bradenburg Springs with its modern-day horrors.
The Drowning Kind doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, so be forewarned that this story shines a blinding light on mental health, infertility, and self-harm.
What a hoot! Aliens on Vacation was the hilarious first book in the Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast series (review for it here), and this gem was the second. I dare say it was better than the first, which, given how rarely I’ve experienced this phenomenon when reading or watching films, is quite the honour for the second novel in a series to obtain.
David is super excited to be back at his grandma’s B & B for another summer, but when things don’t start off on the right foot between him and the new crabby off-world employee Scratchull, he begins to feel differently. With the help of David’s new ravenous alien-pet Snarffle, there may be hope for the summer, and humanity at large.
This is Where it Ends is the miss of the month for me. I struggled to take in the first 50 pages with its slew of characters, changing viewpoints, and info-dumping. In hindsight, I should have quit while I was ahead, but I restarted and felt confident enough to keep going the second time and saw it through to the end.
Although the theme of a school shooting is an intense one, I was bored when reading this. I had no attachment to the characters who felt fake and forced, as did their connections to each other. I read that this author is part of an initiative for inclusive YA publishing, and quite frankly, was left feeling that this goal ended up taking over the story to the point where all else was lost. Tokenism is not the road to inclusivity.
I’m still feeling a bit hazy weeks after reading Ishiguro’s latest. I’m not sure that I fully grasped all that he was trying to convey. Artificial intelligence is the way of the future, and I have mixed feelings regarding this technology and how it will interact with the easily swayed masses. I was hopeful that I would come out the other side of this novel with a clearer picture of what AI can and might do for society, but, alas, I am just as befuddled as when I went in.
Klara is an AF (artificial friend) commissioned to keep 14-year-old Josie company as she struggles with her health and tries to maintain her education via a tutor on her oblong (something similar to a tablet, if I’m guessing.) This thought-provoking novel is presented through Klara’s naïve first-person narrative while she attempts to navigate life amongst the humans in this apparent dystopian society. I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to hash out more of a coherent understanding once I start dissecting my notes and working on a full review, so stay tuned.
Read the full review here.
Listen to the full review here.
This tragic tale of unrequited love, denial, and self-loathing is heartbreaking. Paradoxically, I despise David whilst harbouring a sadness in my heart for the man he never truly allows himself to be.
My head is foggy amidst the desolate exploitation that permeates this story and its characters as I recognise the societal fear, opposition, and hatred that pushes it to the fore.
I have so many thoughts still swirling that this review will likely become more detailed with time. For now, I will continue to process this heartbreaking and ugly tale while I wallow in the gloomy yet masterful prose of James Baldwin.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia series as far as the storyline but is the first published and most beloved of the seven fantasy tales. There has been much contention in literary circles over the years regarding which order is most appropriate to read them in, but we just made it simple and went in keeping with the plot.
This internationally renowned children’s classic is a magical tale of adventure that unfolds in the wintry fantasy land of Narnia, where the children learn lessons about life and themselves. Reading this is a reader’s rite of passage, so I hear, but although I will admit to enjoying this book, some parts set off my creep metre. I’ll save these thoughts for my detailed review. 😉
The Chronicles of Narnia is a series that I have enjoyed reading aloud to my son, thanks to all the animated voices I can use for the talking animals and bold characters. To hear my dramatic reading of Chapter 11 of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Aslan is Nearer, click here.
Have you read any of these titles? What was your favourite read from July?