Reading Challenge 7/12
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
My reading has been somewhat hampered this month by the fact I've been driving backwards and forwards between Essex and Cornwall every week, trying to get our new holiday flat ready for the rest of the family. I had very good intentions and each time I went down, I took both my writing and reading things with me, but by the time I'd driven the 300 miles to get there, finished cleaning, accepting deliveries and constructing an entire flat's worth of flat pack furniture on my own, I was too tired to do anything but crawl onto the airbed and sleep! This is when audiobooks come into their own and each journey I've done on my own, I've been listening to a book, but this month has also been the month of the long book and one book (David Copperfield) lasted me two round trips and several hours of listening while I was building furniture!
As this has been the month of the long book, the list of reviews is significantly shorter this month. However, although this has been slightly frustrating because I've mostly read books I had to read either for the challenge or for review purposes, I have had some reading preconceptions turned upside down, including a long-held view of Charles Dickens.
July Book Total: 14
Overall Challenge Total: 175/150 (182 incl audiobooks) and 70/100 on BBC 100 list
Audio books (month/year): 1/7
July Book Reviews
The Promise of Summer – Bella Osborne (full review of this done on 23rd July. Review can be found here.)
When He Was Wicked – Julia Quinn (Book 6 in the Bridgerton series. Many references had been made earlier in the series to Francesca’s early widowhood so it was nice to finally find out what had happened. She isn’t mentioned much in the early books but I was very quickly invested in her relationship with Michael.)
It’s In His Kiss – Julia Quinn (Book 7 in the Bridgerton series. Hyacinth is quite annoying in the earlier books and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this one as much. The plot felt a little like a rehashing of the Duke of Hastings’ story – Simon doesn’t want to marry Daphne to spite his father, Gareth wants to marry Hyacinth to spite his father. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read.)
On The Way To The Wedding – Julia Quinn (Book 8 in the Bridgerton series. This was probably my least favourite of all the Bridgerton books. Gregory didn’t feel quite as fleshed out as a character compared to the rest of his siblings and some of the scenarios and solutions seemed far-fetched, even by Bridgerton standards. It was still a pleasant read, but possibly because Gregory isn’t mentioned much in the earlier books and his siblings – Hyacinth aside – don’t really appear in this one, it felt a bit detached from the rest of the series.)
The Beach Reads Book Club – Kathryn Freeman (full review coming on 6th August – I LOVED this one! Review now available here)
We Belong Together – Beth Moran (full review coming on 17th August – this was really good though)
Tales Of The City – Armistead Maupin (A Between The Covers recommendation. It was an interesting read, but not one I really engaged with. Easy to tell that it was originally serialised and I may have enjoyed it more in this format. It was hard at times to keep track of everything that was going on and none of the characters really stood out. It’s only a few days since I finished this book and already I’ve forgotten the names of many of the characters.)
Dune – Frank Herbert (BBC list book. Science-fiction is not really my thing so I wasn’t looking forward to this at all. It was described as the pre-cursor to Star Wars though so I hoped it wouldn’t be too onerous to read. It wasn’t. Even though I didn’t feel any particular affinity with most of the characters and didn’t get emotionally involved with their fates, it was an interesting read. The reviews for this on Goodreads are quite mixed and I can see why – I think my reaction to it is best summed up by the word ‘meh’. I can see the value of the book in terms of the writing but it wasn’t really for me. I couldn’t read it in huge chunks like I normally would and was easily distracted when I was reading it. In fact, I read a large part of it during the England semi-final as I can’t give the match my full attention – if I do, they definitely lose!)
The Taming Of The Shrew – William Shakespeare (I was expecting to like this one, as the film Kiss Me Kate is based on it and in spite of some of the dubious messages about the treatment of women, it’s one of my favourite musicals.
All’s Well That Ends Well – William Shakespeare (so many things wrong with this story - forced marriage, people being tricked into having sex with someone other than the person they intended to sleep with and a baby being produced as a result, but hey it's ok, because everyone is perfectly ok with all this by the end of the play!)
Twelfth Night - William Shakespeare (marginally funnier than the above play and definitely less problematic, but I can't help feeling sorry for Olivia who ends up married to someone she's met once (seriously - who decides to marry someone the first time they meet them - I'm looking at you Sebastian!). Also - who, on discovering their male servant is actually a female, thinks 'I know - that's the basis for an excellent marriage'?? And as for Malvolio, quite frankly, it's bullying and it's not funny.)
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth (a monster of a book, but worth tackling. There were odd sections where it lost my interest a little bit, but on the whole I enjoyed it. The characters are warm and funny, even when their behaviour isn’t what we might hope it would be. I felt for them as they struggled to find their way in post-partition India and found myself hoping everything would come right for them by the end of the book.)
I Let Her Go – J A Andrews (full review of this coming on 2nd August. Review now available here.)
The Count Of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (another long one, but I read this in 3 days because it's interesting and quite an easy read in spite of the length. Thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely one I'm glad was on the 'to read' list!)
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens (Audio version. I hate Dickens, I always have, so I wasn’t looking forward to this one at all. However, I decided that I’d get the audio version and listen to it while I was going backwards and forwards to Cornwall. Best decision I could have made. Richard Armitage was narrating it and he is one of my favourite actors – his narration was SUPERB and I actually found myself looking forward to listening to it. I actually really enjoyed the story. David is a likeable hero and his poor decisions are made through naivety but everything came right by the end, most people got their just deserts and it felt far less ‘doom and gloom’ than the other Dickens novels I’ve read. Hoping this might mean the other Dickens books on the list may also be less onerous than I expect!)
Favourite Book Of This Month?
If I'd been able to write a proper review of it this month, I'd probably have chosen Kathryn Freeman's The Beach Reads Book Club. Although it's a light summer read, I found it really resonated with me and it was about so much more than the romance between the main characters. However, as I can't properly review this until next month, I'm going to have to go with the audio version of David Copperfield instead. That's definitely worth a listen, but the Freeman book is also a must if you like rom-coms.
(images from IMDB, audible & Rachel's Random Resources)