July feels like it went by so fast and yet when I think back to it’s beginning it feels like it was years ago. It was a very weird month for me, and now that it’s over it’s a little bit like waking up from a bad dream. But although it may have been a slightly depressing month for me, I did manage to do a LOT of reading of a lot of really good books, which you better believe I am going to talk about. (This will likely be a long one so I’d suggest settling in with a comforting beverage of your choice.)
Before I dive in to what I read this month, I do want to mention that I’m going to be changing up my reading selections for the remainder of 2020. For the first five months of the year, I was doing two books a month, one fiction and one non-fiction, but if we’re being perfectly honest I lost all motivation for the non-fiction part. I know they’re important to educating myself and expanding my mind, but lately I don’t care and all I want to do is get lost in a good story. So this month I read not two, but three really good fiction books across the genre spectrum which I’m going to be reviewing in this post. That being said, I decided that for the remainder of the year I would be more inspired by selecting a theme for each month’s reading, rather than just doing the fiction and non-fiction. This month’s theme was simply good summer stories, but for example, since the month of August is my anniversary month I thought I might do a month dedicated to marriage books and then talk about them on the blog, and so forth. Let me know what you think!
We’ll start with the first book I read this month, My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. I found this book while randomly scrolling on my library app trying to find something good to read, and the premise intrigued me. Daphne du Maurier was a successful English author prominent in the 1950’s, who wrote historical romantic novels, often with a dark, psychological twist. I was very fascinated by the fact that this book was about 70 years old in itself, but was also a historical novel at the time, set in the mid 1800’s in England. It’s sort of like historical within historical, which I of course love. Anyway, the story is told from the perspective of a young man named Philip Ashley who has been raised by his cousin Ambrose, a self-proclaimed bachelor for life who has trained young Philip up to be his sole heir. But when Ambrose travels to Italy for health reasons and writes several months later to announce he’s been married to a distant relative of the family named Rachel, young Philip’s life is turned upside down. Months later Ambrose dies from a severe illness halfway across the continent and when his widow comes to see the estate that would have been hers had her husband lives, Philip is determined to get to the bottom of his death. Overall, I have to give this book like a 7/10 because despite the fact that it was incredibly slow moving at times, and the main protagonist was probably the least likable character I’ve ever suffered through an entire book of, the mystery and the faint sense of something being out of place and wrong that threaded through the whole story made me curious as to how it would end. Rachel’s character was also very fascinating to read. All in all, I would recommend this book if you like more of a slow moving, lushly descriptive, thriller-like story. There were definitely parts where I was bored, but the twist ending kind of made it all worth it. Like my jaw actually dropped, and stayed that way for a minute as I tried to process what had just happened.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows was published in 2007 and over recent years became so popular that it was made into a Netflix original movie in 2018. Surprisingly, I had actually watched the movie before I read the book, I watched it just after it came out and loved it, but I figured it was about time I read the actual book. You. Guys. I ADORE this book, it is pure magic and happiness, and has quickly become one of my top favorite reads of all time. The story follows Juliet Ashton (best character name EVER btw), a British writer navigating life after World War II has just ended, and is told in it’s entirety through letters, telegrams and notes written from one character to another. She begins a correspondence with a man named Dawsey Adams who lives on the island of Guernsey and is a part of a ragtag literary society. Before long she has formed an attachment to the island and the many quirky and lovable characters that inhabit it. Recognizing the potential of their stories of life during the Nazi occupation, she sets out to write a book about their experiences and bumps into love along the way. There’s something that I love so much about books that use unique formats such as letters and diary entries, they have this singular ability to get you inside the character’s head and understanding the way that they think, and it shows so much talent and skill on the part of the writer. To be able to tell a whole story with a beginning, climax and conclusion all through letters requires skill to make it believable. Small details must be woven into the letters and it has to make sense why they’re there. Let alone the amazing ability to give each character a unique and recognizable voice. Barrow’s characters are real people, they are! And while the story has a lovely lightness to it, it doesn’t hesitate to touch on the important topics of love, sacrifice, and the setting aside of prejudice in the midst of a war torn world. This whole book is like a refreshing sip of lemonade in an English garden on a summer day. It’s just a simple, pure delight from start to finish, and you should definitely read it.
The last book I read in July could not have been more different from the others. The Host by Stephenie Meyer is definitely much less known than the popular Twilight series, but in my opinion is much more intriguing. Earth has been taken over by a parasitic alien species known as ‘souls’ who can only live when inserted into a host body. A young woman named Melanie Stryder is part of the rebellion but gets captured when she is trying to rescue her cousin. The book begins with a soul named Wanderer getting inserted into Melanie and follows the journey that the two of them go on together when Wanderer realizes that Melanie isn’t going to just be “erased” and that they can communicate with each other. It was just a really interesting read that kept me hooked the whole time. It wasn’t one of those super violent or action-y sci fi books, but instead I feel like it really explored the depth of human nature, what we will do for the ones we love, and self-sacrifice vs self serving. It was such a touching story actually and I found myself completely invested in the characters and what they were going through. Overall it’s one that I would 10/10 recommend for anyone, even if that type of book isn’t usually your thing. Also, it’s a movie starring Saoirse Ronan who I’m sure you know by now that I’m obsessed with! So I need to watch that. Updates to come.
This post was so long that it took me like four hours to write but we DID it. If you’ve read the whole thing, I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart. Let me know if you’ve read any of the books mentioned and what you thought of them!