What I Read This Month: July 2016

August is here, July is no more, time for a quick wrap-up. I had a rather good reading month, read a grand total of fourteen things, I absolutely loved almost all of them, and didn't really dislike anything. So here is a quick run-down of what I read in the past month and what I thought of it...

Vicious by VE Schwab

Review can be found here.

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets by JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire by JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix by JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

It's Harry Potter... You need more explanation? Perfection. Or, so beloved to me that I can overlook all flaws. You know, whichever.

It's All In Your Head: True Stories Of Imaginary Illnesses by Suzanne O'Sullivan

This was the winner of the Wellcome Book Prize, 2016, but I picked it up on the recommendation of the lovely Acacia over on booktube after she read and loved it. This is a non-fiction book written by a neurologist about psychosomatic illnesses; ones that have real physical symptoms but no physical cause. It is rather amazing just what our minds are capable of doing to us, from the common things we don't even think about like your heart pounding because you're nervous, to the horribly debilitating things suffered by some of the people in this book, things as severe as seizures, blindness, and even paralysis.

This was a very interesting read, exploring one doctor's experience with this often overlooked or belittled area of medicine, far too often things are dismissed as being "just in your head", a broader problem concerning the whole field of mental health. It was a little bit heartbreaking to see that some of these patients were horrified and in complete denial of even the possibility that this was what was wrong, that it was somehow lesser or the very idea insulting, like they were being told they were simply making it up, but to paraphrase a certain wizard, just because something is in your head doesn't mean it isn't real. One strange issue I have with the book then is the subtitle, the implication that psychosomatic illnesses are "imaginary" is very out of place when the main emphasis of the book is on just how very real the impact of these illnesses are on the people who suffer from them, they are not imagining them or making them up, they just have a psychological (or as yet unexplained) cause rather than a physical one. Definitely a subject worth thinking about.

Lost Cat by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton

Picked this up on a whim while at the library, it looked like it would be a quick, fun read about a kitty with some nice illustrations. And indeed it was. The true story of Caroline Paul's quest to discover just where her beloved cat Tibby had disappeared to when he mysteriously went missing for five weeks only to return just as suddenly, looking healthier and happier than ever. Involving GPS, psychics, animal-communication classes, and even, gasp, talking to her neighbours, this was a fun and mostly light-hearted look at what it is like to be a cat's human. The illustrations throughout, done by Caroline's partner Wendy, were rather nice too, with a nice bold quality to them they added a splash of colour and imagination to the story, and it helped bring Tibby, and his sister Fibby, to life on the page.

As a proud kitty-mumma myself I felt Caroline's pain, though thankfully not the surviving-a-plane-crash kind she was also dealing with. I too have attached notes to kitty-collars (though not my own cat) and had a wave of jealousy as one of my furbabies acknowledged another human's affection, and when I was young we had a cat who went missing for weeks and broke my family's hearts, only to stroll back in one day looking a little bedraggled but not too worse for his experience and acting like he'd just popped to the shops. The panic and heartbreak is very real and if small-child me had had access to kitty-GPS you can bet your socks I would have used it. This book made me laugh, smile, and at one point cry (if you've read it, you know... you know). So, kitty-mummas and papas, check this out and know it's not just you, everyone is a little bit ridiculous when it comes to their furbabies.

The Imaginary by AF Harold, illustrated by Emily Gravett

Another whim pick up, this time from the children's section of the library (pretty sure it's middle-grade), I'd never heard of it but was drawn in by the fact that it was a brand new book that nobody else had checked out yet because oooooh shiny, basically. This is the wonderfully imaginative story of Amanda and her imaginary friend, Rudger, and the not-so-imaginary adventures they have when the sinister Mr Bunting sets his sights on them, leaving Amanda in the hospital and Rudger all alone, with nobody to imagine him.

This book was so much fun, I never had an imaginary friend but the concept is rather fascinating and this book takes full advantage, creating an entire hidden world of imaginaries, populated by talking cats and giant pink dinosaurs, a whole society taking refuge in the heartland of imagination; a library. I really enjoyed Rudger who was ever so endearing, and oh how I loved Fridge, he was my favourite, but Amanda was a bit irksome at times, self-centered and oblivious, very realistic for a young kid. Mr Bunting and his companion were genuinely really creepy, surprisingly so for a kid's book, they sent shivers down my spine and I spent a good deal of the climax on the metaphorical edge of my seat. The book itself is a beautiful thing too, chunky and made from good quality paper, and filled with beautiful, colourful illustrations that help bring the world to life. This is one I would like to add to my own collection at some point and is sure to be a hit with kids.

Dreams Of Shreds & Tatters by Amanada Downum

I very nearly bought this when it was first released but decided against it, turns out to have been a pretty good decision. Not that this was bad, it just didn't really grab me. This is an adult urban fantasy story, inspired by The King In Yellow short stories by Robert W Chambers which I have not read but now kind of want to, about Liz, a young woman who has very strange dreams, of another world that might just be real. When she starts dreaming about her friend Blake, drowning and in trouble, she discovers that a mysterious accident has left him in a coma from which she may be the only one who can wake him. But not with a kiss; with a rescue mission. Dun-dun-DUN!

There were elements of this that I loved, Liz was an asexual main character, basically a unicorn in literature, and there were some really interesting ideas involving the magic system and fantasy world which was really dark and fun. The writing style was quite beautiful if a little verbose for my liking at times and once I got into it I whizzed through pretty quickly, but at a mere 255 pages it still took me three days (that's a long time if you're me, which I am). The beginning was so confusing and weird that I had no idea what was going on, and not in a good way, but once I grasped the basics it got much easier and I started to enjoy it but it was certainly a bumpy road. Worth a read if it sounds like your thing.

Tinder by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts

I had never heard of the Hans Christian Anderson story of The Tinderbox so I had no idea what to expect from this story, but it has been on my radar for quite some time now because of that gorgeous cover art. This is that fairy-tale retold, a story of death, of love, of witches and wolves, wonderfully dark and macabre. I really enjoyed this, read it in a single sitting, curled up in the dark with a cup of tea. It was beautiful, it was sad, it was more than a little bit on the creepy side, the Lady of the Nail especially gave me the shivers.

The illustrations throughout are absolutely stunning, with a colour pallet of black and white and red it is incredibly striking and really fit the rather sinister elements of the story, the spurts of blood or the sweep of a red cloak really standing out in the more dramatic moments. It took me far longer to read than the words should really have taken because I just wanted to drink all the gorgeous imagery in. The prose was quite beautiful too though, there was a definite slightly archaic, fairy-tale tone to it that fit the story very well and that gripped me from start to finish. Well worth a read for lovers of darker fairy-tale retellings or just gorgeous illustrations.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

Full review can be found here. Seriously, I went and bought myself a copy after finishing it. Twas so good.

Total Books: 14
Total Pages: 5172
Average Rating: 

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