MONTHLY WRAP UP – JUNE 2020

As usual I am more than a couple of days late for the June Wrap-Up Post. But I started to read ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ and physically couldnt stop myself. I really need to plan these in a more organised manner. I wanted to read 10 books this month but again capped it at 9. But I am not disappointed, it was another great month for books. I had a little bit of a disappointing start, but as the month progressed so did the books. So without further ado, presenting the nine books in the order I read them with a few thoughts on each

  • 1. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – 3.5/5

How do I summarize the plot, when I couldn’t really find one. I was eagerly waiting to read this book, Erin Morgenstern previously wrote ‘The Night Circus’ which till date remains one of my favourite books. So I really wanted to love this one, but it frustrated me. Don’t get me wrong it is beautifully written brimming with fantastical imagery and such beautiful writing that has become Morgenstern’s signature. She is a master at creating a visual journey like no other. The world of The Starless Sea is beautiful and fantastical. I absolutely loved it. But there is no plot whatsoever. The story is about Zachary Ezra Rawling who discovers a mysterious book in the library that leads him to a  secret society dedicated to stories and a magical underground world. She introduces some great characters who have so much potential but they remain on the surface, seemingly doing nothing. I spent 5 days with Zachary, Miriam, Dorian and even Kat but came away with no information about them. They could have been great, they could have been flawed and relatable with unique quirks. There are many who absolutely love the book, and I get it, the prose is beautiful, It’s truly an ode to literature and stories. But the narrative is a mess.  The overarching story  of Zachary and Miriam did nothing for me , the beauty of the book lies in the small stories of pirates and storytellers and rabbits and doors  that surround it. There is a quote in the book that a reviewer on Goodreads picked that truly encapsulated what it is like to read this. 

“How are you feeling?” Zachary asks.

“Like I am losing my mind, but in a slow, achingly beautiful sort of way.” 

I desperately wanted to love this enchanting book  ‘The Starless Sea.’

2. Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – 3/5

This is a story about rich, beautiful and spoiled  British Socialite Francesca Day and tall, good looking Texan Dallie Beaudine. It’s about Francesca’s fall from her socialite position and slow rise back up, written over a span of a decade. This was written in the 80s and is one of those books that hasn’t aged well. It has a dollop of misogyny with sprinkles of homophobia and both the protagonists are absolutely detestable. I hated the both of them, simply awful. I almost DNF’d this one but it was a recommendation from a friend whose opinion I value so I decided to stick with it and lo and behold, bit by bit they started to redeem themselves. The secondary characters in the book are much much more likeable and truly they are what kept me going. I am glad I stuck with it because even though I hated the heroine Francesca it was lovely to read her transformation and go from loathing her character to admiring it. 

3. Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James 4.5/5

The first book in the Pages & Co. series. This book was special because it was recommended by my 9 year niece. She came over one day with the book and insisted that I read it. “ You just have to read this book. You will love it Bu (her endearing name for me), I know you will !!”

So I had to give it a go plus the book sounded absolutely delightful. 

This is the story of 11 year old Tilly who lives with her grandparents above their bookshop ever since her mother’s disappearance shortly after she was born. She soon realises that she has the ability to talk to her favorite characters and moreover wander in their world. So with the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland she is able to solve the mystery of her Mother’s disappearance. This was so cute, an absolutely delightful read all about the love of books, friendship and family. The author did full justice to all the borrowed characters from old classics and weaved a story that will entice young readers into exploring them. So my niece was 100% right. I did love it.

4. The Simple Wild by K. A Tucker 4.5/5

This was the June pick for the #literallylitbookclub and I loved it. As it is I am a sucker for stories about small close knit communities and this had everything from romance and adventure to  flawed and relatable characters with a great arc. It is about a city girl Calla reconnecting with her estranged father after 23 years against the backdrop of wild Alaska. This book is truly about all the different kinds of relationships that you form with family, friends, and people around you.The bonds in this story like between father and daughter, step-father and daughter, friends, neighbors colleagues, and ofcourse the budding friendship and romance between Calla and Jonah were palpable. They were all so thoughtfully written with so much empathy that you connected with everyone to the extent that you find yourself reading with happy tears at times and sad ones at others. 

5. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwaab 4.5/5

This is the first book in the Shades of Magic Series. The protagonist of this story is Kell, a rare kind of magician that can travel between parallel Londons – Red, White, Grey and at one time Black. He is an ambassador for Red London but sometimes partakes in small bouts of smuggling, taking artifacts from one parallel world to the other which is strictly forbidden. It goes without saying that things go awry and he finds himself to be a pawn in a dark scheme to throw all parallel worlds in chaos so they suffer the same fate as the now lost Black London. He teams up with the amazing Delilah Bard (Lila), a slight of hand thief who aspires to be a pirate from Grey London to save all three parallel worlds.  I really enjoyed this book, what a vivid world with such colorful and badass characters, it will play on all your senses from beginning to end. It also has a decent sprinkle of politics between royalties of the different Londons, which is intriguing to read. It is wild and fast paced with not a single dull moment. Apart from the fascination that parallel worlds will provide, you will find a lot to keep the page turning, psychotic royals, assasination plots, charming princes, cross-dressing thieves and a whole lot of magic. It was such a fun read and I promise you , you will fall in love with Kell and Lila, especially the fierce and courageous Lila.

6. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 3.5/5

Korede’s life is often interrupted by a call from her beautiful sister Ayoola, and Koerde knows she needs to clean up the mess that is another dead boyfriend with her gloves, bleach, cleaning supplies and strong nerves. After the third time, she is conflicted  but family comes first, always until her world is shook when Ayoola starts to date a doctor that Korede has been in love with for the longest time. This was a dark, sardonic and entertaining read. It explores the dysfunctional relationship between two sisters, one who is a serial killer and the other a reluctant enabler in Lagos Nigeria. The pacing is quick if a little abrupt, the writing smart and the tone ironically deadpan for the content. My problem with the book is that it is too short. You don’t get enough time to connect with the characters. Serial murders, childhood trauma, a commentary on beauty standards in society and the role that social media play in it is a lot to put in such a short book. Just as you start to connect with the story and the players, it ends. It is not predictable though, I will give you that. It’s a fun and easy read if you are in the mood for one.

7. Normal People by Sally Rooney 3.5/5

I read a lot of mixed reviews for this book and so even though I had it in my kindle for a while I kept procrastinating. Finally got around to it and went in with my expectations managed. I land somewhere in the middle with this one. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either. I liked the book but it frustrated me with it’s reality. This is a story about Connell and Marianne and their relationship over a span of many years. It deals with first love and friendship between two people from different classes of society. The characters feel very real and terribly flawed. They will make you miserable with their ways. It’s a very real and humanising story about young love and it can be very exhausting to read at times and depressing in small bouts but I guess that was the point of the book. Normal people, leading Normal lives can be exhausting and depressing. Most of the time you read this book you will have this overwhelming desire to just grab the two leads and shake some sense into them. You can’t deny that it is beautifully written and thought provoking, you will find some truly fabulous sentences but be warned it will make you feel slightly uncomfortable and wholly frustrated. I do look forward to more of the author’s work. I have heard the BBC series is fantastic and really rounds up the book so am definitely keen on watching it .

8. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A Corey 4.5/5

I was kind of craving good Sci-fi and boy did this deliver. Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond. Leviathan Wakes  is the first book in a 9 part Expanse Series. It follows two different main characters, Jim Holden an idealistic captain of a spaceship and the world weary Detective Josephus Miller. When Jim and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a dangerous secret. Meanwhile, Miller is trying to solve the mystery of a missing girl, which also leads to the Scopuli. The book marvelously merges a space epic and a noir style mystery into a breathtaking plot. Holden and his crew reminded me so much of the crew of Firefly. (One of Joss Whedon’s brilliant TV shows with too short a life) That there is no way I wasn’t going to like this one. What is so great about this is that it is a character driven sci-fi novel and hence doesn’t get bogged down with just space tech and nihilistic futures. It has got very well thought out setting and world development, a lot of galactic politics and face paced action. It is funny, heartfelt and exciting. Everything a good science fiction book should be.

9. The Red House Mystery by A. A Milne 4/5

I ended this month with this charming Whodunnit. Firstly it is penned by the creator of Winnie the Pooh, so you know it is going to have some really likeable characters. The mystery takes place in the Red House, Mr. Mark Ablett’s residence in the English countryside. While visiting this cozy retreat, amateur detective Anthony Gillingham and his friend, Bill Beverley, investigate their host’s disappearance and its connection with a mysterious shooting. I really enjoyed this book. It was very Agatha Christie-ish which I am bound to love. Set in the early 20s with a lot of witty banter and a sharp plot, this book will delight all mystery lovers. It has extremely likeable characters and is funny with a lot of heart, It has midnight stakeouts, evil brothers, secret passages and a lot more to keep you hooked

And that’s that. Done and dusted June and all set for July which let me tell you has had a great beginning. Have you read these books? what did you think of them? Any recommendations based on these? Holler back!

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