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Features | July Reads

For me July started out as a good reading month full of many beautifully written books, from the verse format of Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo), to the lyrical feel of Girl, Woman, Other (Bernadine Evaristo) and poetry collection Surge (Jay Bernard). Towards the end of the month and heading into August I've hit a little bit of a slump, but luckily I still have quite a few titles to share with you today.

Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo) is a book that everyone has been talking about lately and I can confirm that it’s definitely deserving of the hype! The book shares the story of two teenage girls, one living in the Dominican Republic, the other in the USA, who are brought together by the tragic loss of their father. I absolutely loved the dual narration and the way the book was written so beautifully in verse. It was such an enjoyable reading experience that I sped through the book in two days and am looking forward to reading more of Elizabeth Acevedo’s work in future.

My library reservation for Girl, Woman, Other (Bernadine Evaristo) also arrived this month and, similarly to with Clap When You Land, I can certainly understand why so many people have rated this book so highly. Girl, Woman, Other is a collection of short stories each focusing on a different character, mostly Black British women, and I really loved the clever ways that they were all connected together. I’m sure many of you have already picked up this Booker Prize winning novel, but if you haven't I would definitely recommend adding it to your summer TBRs.

My book club pick for July (books with maps) was Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Although I don’t read a huge amount of YA Fantasy, I had heard such amazing things about this 2018 release and I wasn’t disappointed. Alternating between the perspectives of Zelie, Amari and Inan, this book takes you on an action-packed adventure filled with many exciting moments alongisde some very heartbreaking ones. I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives and each character’s arc as well as the writing style, in particular the descriptions of the story’s setting. At the time of writing this post I’m part way through reading the sequel Children Of Virtue and Vengeance.

I also picked up a couple of other enjoyable YA books this month, including the latest releases from Jenn Bennett and Juno Dawson. Chasing Lucky* (Jenn Bennett) follows budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin as she moves back to the small town she grew up in and is reunited with her childhood best friend Lucky. This a contemporary novel with themes of first love, friendship and family, and I adored the small town setting as well as the fact that the Saint-Martin’s run a bookstore (!). Overall I didn’t enjoy Chasing Lucky quite as much as Alex, Approximately (which I read a a few months ago) but I liked the way the story unfolded and it was still a cute summer read.

Wonderland (Juno Dawson) is a YA re-telling of Alice in Wonderland with themes of gender, privilege, mental health and relationships. I thought the way that the characters from the original story were incorporated into this new version was clever and enjoyed the little mentions of characters from other books in the London Trilogy too. Again, I didn’t love it quite as much as Juno’s previous release Meat Market, but it was still a great read and one to add to your summer reading lists.

Over in non-fiction I borrowed Caroline Hirons' recent release Skincare: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide, via my library app. I won’t say too much about he book here as I’m hoping to share a full review soon, but I can confirm that I read it in just two days and immediately ordered both a copy of the book and a bunch of new skincare products to try!

I don’t often read a lot of poetry but when I saw Surge (Jay Bernard) listed in the Award Winners section of my library app I was intrigued by the description and decided to reserve it. At the time it was available it wasn’t the next book on my TBR but I decided to have a quick look anyway and was so drawn in by the author’s note that I ended up reading the whole book in two sittings that same day. The collection includes several poems influenced by tragic events such as the New Cross Massacre and Grenfell. It’s only a short read but it’s full of powerful words.

The final book I wanted to talk about this month is This Lovely City by Louise Hare. I was admittedly initially drawn in by the beautiful cover design and when I read the blurb I knew I had to read this debut novel. The book tells the story of Lawrie who has arrived in England on the Empire Windrush following World War II and centres around his relationship with Evie, the girl next door. When Lawrie finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, he is caught up in a police investigation and the book explores the topics of discrimination and racial bias in the UK. I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated from the perspectives of both Laurie and Evie and really enjoyed the story in this format. If you are interested in learning about the more recent Windrush scandal I would also recommend both the BBC drama Sitting In Limbo, based on the true story of Anthony Bryan, and documentary The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files (available on iPlayer in the UK).

*Review copy of Chasing Lucky provided by Netgalley/Simon & Schuster Children's UK

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