Monday, August 3, 2015

July Wrap-Up (11 books!)

I read 11 books in July, which is crazy since I've actually been super busy this past month. I was also very lucky to pick up some amazing books this month. Most of these are 4 stars or 5 stars book that I would absolutely recommend. If you've read these books too, I'd love to hear your thoughts about them!  

The Classics 

The first classic I read this month was Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë and I absolutely loved it. I gave it 5 stars. After a poor investment leaves her father heavily impoverished, Agnes Grey decides to take up a job as a governess to bring financial support to her family. Agnes has however no experience with the job and a secluded life confined to her family’s company has left her with little awareness of the real world out there. While she is initially enthusiastic to start working and earn her independence, the disdain of her employers and the indiscipline of their children soon bring her to a much harsher reality than the one she had envisioned. This beautifully written little book shows the struggles of an unmarried woman at a time where women had almost no job prospects save for the trying and often ungratifying task of the governess. A must read for all Brontë fans.

The next couple of books I read were books 1 and 2 in the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In A Study in Scarleta man is found dead in the bloodstained room of an abandoned house and Sherlock Holmes is called to assist the police in unraveling the mystery. The book also shows how Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson came to meet, setting the stage for one of the best bromances in literature. I loved this book and gave it 4 stars.

Book 2, The Sign of the Four, didn't disappoint either. It’s been a while since Sherlock Holmes has had any mystery to solve and he has sunk in a deep melancholy, resorting to cocaine-induced hazes to overcome his idleness. Everything changes though the day a beautiful young woman comes to him with a mystery unlike anything he’s ever faced before. Thus ensues a mystery involving a wronged woman, a stolen Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian and even the beginning of a love story. I also gave this one 4 stars. 

The YA Books

This month I also read The Walled City by Ryan Graudin. This book was definitely one the best I've read so far this year. The Walled City is home to chaos. It’s where girls are pitilessly banished to brothels and gangs rule with fear and violence. In a place where trust is an open invitation to backstabbing, three people will find their lives unexpectedly interwoven. Dai is trying to escape a dark past. He has one shot at escaping the Walled City forever and starting a new life elsewhere but to get that, he has to fulfill a very dangerous mission for someone else. Jin, whom everyone believes to be a boy, is actually a girl who had to resort to disguise to escape the gangs and brothels of the city. For two years, she’s been surviving in the streets of the Walled City, while also trying to find her lost sister. Mei Yee has been trapped in a brothel for two years, dreaming to escape but afraid to do so. She’s prepared to give up of her dreams of freedom until one day, she sees a face at her window. I gave this book 5 stars.

I also read More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, which I also really enjoyed. Life hasn’t been easy for Aaron Soto. Dealing with his family’s poverty and his father’s recent suicide has taken a toll on him. Although his girlfriend has been by his side throughout all of his ordeals, Aaron still can’t shake off the pain and haunting memories inside him. Then, one day, he meets Thomas. Suddenly Aaron has someone with whom he can fully be himself and at first, he feels like he might have at last found a path to happiness. But when his new friendship with Thomas start to turn the people in his life against him, Aaron decides to do something about the new person he’s become. If he can’t change the people around him, then he’ll change who he is. And thus, one day, he decides to try the Leteo Institute’s new and revolutionary memory-alteration procedure. This book was really well-written and fast-paced. I can't recommend it enough! I gave it 4 stars. 

The Children Books

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, was also one of my favorite books this month. Meggie lives a quiet life with her father, a bookbinder. Father and daughter are very close, even sharing a common love for books. One day though, a mysterious visitor arrives with strange news and Meggie begins to realize that she doesn’t quite know her father the way she always thought she did. Indeed, her father has a secret he’s been keeping from her for years. He has an extraordinary magical power. A power that gives life to words and stories. Someone now wants this power for himself and sends his forces after Meggie’s father. And thus begins an adventure like those she always thought only happened in books. If you love books, then you need this one in your life. I gave it 5 stars. 

Isabelle Day Refuses To Die Of A Broken Heart, by Jane St. Anthony, follows the story of a young girl who moves in a new town with her mother after her father passes away. Isabelle is still pretty shaken by her father's death and at first finds it hard to open up to the new people in her life. Over time though, as new friendships develop, Isabelle begins to slowly become herself again. I gave it 3 stars. It was quite pleasant to read but ended in a rather abrupt and unsatisfying way. 

The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie is about a young boy, Daniel, who stumbles one day across a shop unlike anything he's seen before. He is soon recruited by the owner, Mr Silver, and thus enters the magical universe of the Nowhere Emporium. Despite some similarities with books like Harry Potter and The Night Circus, I found this one quite fun to read, hence a 4-star rating. 

The Illustrated Children Books

These two books can both technically qualify as picture books, although they do come with a narrative text. My favorite was The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear. It's the story of a little girl who's unhappy to be spending her holidays in a lonely beach house with her family, until the the ocean begins to reveal its hidden magic to her. I found the artwork simply gorgeous, hence a 4-star rating. If you have kids or young siblings, you might want to get this book for them. 

The next book is The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi. Although it did have beautiful illustrations, I found the story to be way too simplistic, hence only a 3-star rating. It takes its roots in Little Red Riding Hood, although it comes with a unique fantasy spin.

This Month's Favorite 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini totally made an emotional wreck out of me. This book follows the volatile and violent events of Afghanistan’s last 30 years through a very emphatic and human approach. Through the eyes of two women belonging to different generations, we discover the horrors of war, the weight of tragedy and finally the power of hope and courage. We watch these two women survive and grapple for their happiness as their very world falls apart. This book will haunt me for a very long time. I was scared of finding a tragedy-heavy war story and instead I discovered the beautiful and very human story of two women who lived, dreamed and hoped in a time where the world around them had turned to merciless chaos. A five star book, like few I've come across before.

So that's it for this month's wrap-up guys. Have you read any of the books mentioned here? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Congrats on a great month in reading. I've heard of A Thousand Splendid Suns before, but I didn't know what it was about, until reading your post. It sounds like a very heavy read in terms of emotions and difficult topics. I'm not sure I could handle that one to be honest.
    Wishing you all the best in August.

    1. Thanks Melissa. I hope you're having a nice August :)

  2. Hi! I've nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. Click here to find out more.

    1. Thanks for the nomination Amy. I'll do the post soon :)

  3. Oh, I just love A Thousand Splendid Suns, and I think it is a saddening but realistic story which also says a lot about the setting. I read Inkheart in my childhood and I just loved the fantasy world that it was in, and the fact that the main character was such a bookworm as well! I want to read More Happy Than Not at some point, so I am glad to see you enjoyed it.

    1. Inkheart is a book for book lovers, definitely XD I'm currently reading Inkspell and really enjoying it as well. More Happy Than Not was way deeper and better that I was expecting! I hope you enjoy it too :)

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