The Last Books I Read

Straight from my GoodReads vault- here are my reviews of my Summer 2021 reads, coming in late I must say. I really tried to aim for a mixture of genres this Summer and also aimed to catch-up on a lot of fiction reading that my undergraduate degree did not allow me the time for.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make The Most Of Them by Meg Jay
4 Stars.
I have found that every single day since turning 20 I have become perpetually lost. My social media feeds are filled with engagements, babies, new jobs, aesthetic travel shots, articles about how much money other people my age are making from photos on IG. I have no idea what I’m doing, what I’m supposed to be doing or if what I’m doing is in anyway deemed ‘right’ or ‘normal’. This book provided myself with a much welcomed sense of zen. Jay provides perfectly picked anecdotes that provide you with a sense of reassurance that everything will be ok. My copy has trebled in size due to the sticky notes stuck to every page. I closed the final page with a firmer sense of understanding of what I do need to be doing right now to feel more stable. As with any book within the self-help genre I believe it’s a matter of picking our what is appropriate to your situation rather than taking every words as the Bible. I think it expertly highlighted that whilst you are unique, there are universal anxieties that plague us in our twenties and Jay provides clear stepping stones on how to deal with them.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
5 Stars.
Hamnet has sat in my TBR for a long while. I knew I didn’t want to delve into the world of Agnes and Hamnet until I could be undisturbed in my garden laying under the warmth of the early Summer sun. This read did not disappoint. As a self-claimed Shakespeare nerd I adored delving into this period and the life of Shakespeare in such a unique way. O’Farrell’s detailing of the settings is extraordinary and I am in disbelief that O’Farrell is not somehow a time-traveller. Maggie’s narrative transported me completely and I adored every second of it. My reading of Hament also re-fuelled my desire to go on my own pilgrimage to Stratford-Upon-Avon and try to find O’Farrell’s same connection.

American Dirt by Jeannie Cummins
3 Stars,
I was compelled by the controversies of Cummins’ narrative to take a read for myself. I endeavour anyone picking up this novel to educate themselves on the wider issues with this text concerning the stereotyping of Mexican and Mexico immigrants. Whilst those stereotypes were easy to recognise I did become swept by the plot and the indestructible bond presented between mother and son. I was surprised to find that my focus settled on the presentation of the maternal bond. I would say, to a reader wanting a similar experience but without the association of Cummins’ authorship, that The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the only other novel that has captured the essence of the paternal bond in the same way.

The Feast by Margaret Kennedy
4 Stars
I will admit I was drawn to this novel purely for the aesthetics of its front cover. I sought so much comfort in being taken away to the Cornish seaside each afternoon with my cup of tea. Kennedy’s characters are incredible. I still find myself wanting to know more about each individual who stayed in that tragic hotel and I think I always will. I adored the fact that I could not neatly place it’s genre. This is a thriller. A morality play. A romance. A typical English story. I adored it.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
3 Stars.
I often find myself asking what the hell is going on inside the male’s head? It was refreshing to have an expertly accurate insight into the male’s mind. God Rob is a tosser but, he’s a tosser that all of us know. Everyone has either been with a Rob, is a Rob or has once been a Rob. I laughed, I flinched, I cringed, I resonated- I, at the closing of the novel, understood.

The Ophelia Girls by Jane Healey
3 Stars.
This is the first book I have had to physically separate myself from. Very much akin to Joey with Little Women in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Healey has crafted this beautifully dark narrative about a mother daughter relationship. Honestly, I hated it yet simultaneously I could appreciate how expert Healey’s narrative is. Healey’s characterisations were so vivid I found myself physically reacting to many scenes. I would stress the many triggers contained within this book: suicide, alcoholism, sexual abuse.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
4 Stars.
I’ve become enthralled by Channel 5’s renewal of All Creatures Great and Small. I adore it. It’s everything I want from a programme and I was so excited to delve into Herriot’s actual diaries. They’re gruesome, hilarious, witty, poignant, potentially romantic (if you’re into honeymoons cattle tagging). I loved it.

Found by Erin Kinsley.
4 Stars.
Who doesn’t love a good thriller? With the abundance of crime and thriller novels and tv shows I think it’s hard to find a narrative that surprises you. Kinsley had me racking my brains till the final chapter about who was the culprit. It was a quick easy read that thoroughly entertained me on the drive from Cumbria to Manchester. 100% an author I want to become more familiar with.

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