This wasn’t one of my best months for reading this year, and I’ve left myself with quite a few books to get through before the year ends if I want to hit my target of 100 books in 2022.
I fell into a bit of a reading slump when reading Beloved by Toni Morrison and it took me a lot longer to get through than I thought it would. Pair that with work being manic, a few outings, a weekend in Copenhagen and also being in a creative slump – it wasn’t the best recipe for getting through a lot of books this month.
As it was Black History Month and Halloween, I tried to pick up some thriller books and books by black authors in my local library. I also mixed in some gifted books this month and finished my Bali reading list at the beginning of the month.
So here are the reviews for the seven books I read this month, and you can find the YouTube video linked at the bottom if you would rather watch instead of read!
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
My rating: ★★★★★
I’ve now read all of Emily Henry’s books and this was by far my favourite. Emily Henry’s newest release, Book Lovers, was my final summer read as I got over my Bali jetlag. I’ve realised small town romance is my favourite trope and this is exactly what this was. A book editor and book agent who aren’t very fond of each other just so happen to be staying in the same small town and well, I’m sure you can guess what happens. Emily Henry basically makes fun of every cliche from every romance book in Book Lovers and I loved it. Incredibly predictable but still so good.
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
One fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighbourhood escalates into tragedy. ‘Boys just being boys’ turns out to be true only when those boys are white. Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal Shahid’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?
My rating: ★★★★★
I recognised the author’s name on this book when I spotted it in the library, from the Netflix series When They See Us as one of the Exonerated Five. If you haven’t seen this yet, then you must. A true story of five young boys wrongly imprisoned in New York for a crime they didn’t commit back in 1989. The most horrific true story of injustice and racism, which inspired the plot and character in Punching the Air. This book tells the story of a young boy wrongly imprisoned and how he doesn’t let the system get to him and keeps his creative talent alive while fighting for justice. Heartbreaking as some of the poetry included is Yusef’s from his own time in prison.
The Book of the Gaels by James Yorkston (Gifted)
Rural West Cork, Ireland. Two Kids, Joseph and Paul, and their struggling, poet father, Fraser, are battling grief and poverty. When a letter arrives with a summons to Dublin and the promise of publication, it offers a chink of light – the hope of rescue. But Dublin is a long, wet and hungry way from West Cork in the mid-70s, especially when they have no money – just the clothes they stand up in and an old, battered suitcase. So begins an almost anti-roadtrip of flipsides and contradictions – dreams and nightmares, promises and disappointments, generosity and meanness, unconditional love and shocking neglect.
My rating: ★★★★★
I would describe this as ‘if Shuggie Bain was set in Ireland’. If you loved Shuggie Bain or Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart, then you’ll very much love this. Told from the perspective of young Joseph, two brothers and their dad go through poverty and struggle to make money to survive. With a dad as a poet and without a mother who died in a boating accident, the family travel across Ireland from Cork to Dublin in the search of money and a publishing deal. Heartbreaking at times, witty and also heartwarming. I loved every page.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling herself Beloved, Sethe’s terrible secret explodes into the present. Combining the visionary power of legend with the unassailable truth of history, Morrison’s unforgettable novel is one of the great and enduring works of American literature.
My rating: ★★★★
I’ve been dying to read Toni Morrison for the longest time, so when I spotted this in my library I scooped it up right away. The introduction by Bernadine Evaristo claimed that Beloved was one of Toni Morrison’s toughest reads and I would have to agree, although this was my first time reading her work. I fell into a bit of a reading slump while reading this, taking over a week to get through it. The plot was heavy and at times I did get confused with the characters and names, but an incredibly important piece of literature which I found both educational and heartbreaking. The Bluest Eye by Morrison is next on my list.
The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas
When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations, the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body. Two bodies, in fact. Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years, which leads the police to question the cottage’s former owner – Saffy’s grandmother, Rose. Rose’s Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police – but it is clear she remembers something. As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched . . . What happened thirty years ago? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger? . . .
My rating: ★★★★★
I’ve seen this book all over Booktube, Bookstagram and BookTok lately and for very good reason. The blurb wraps up the basis of the book, but oh my word the plot twist! For a mystery/thriller-type book I can’t recommend this one enough. A page turner that I got through in about two days. Obsessed.
No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister
The police say she’s guilty. She insists she’s innocent. She’s your sister. You love her. You trust her. But they say she killed the person you care about most.
My rating: ★★★★
As the blurb doesn’t give too much away, this book is set over the course of just over a week during the trial of a woman charged with murdering her eight-week-old niece. We hear the perspectives of all those involved and learn what exactly happened before, during and after the event. There are a few twists and turns here and there when witnesses and experts are cross-examined and it was an enjoyable read despite the heavy plot. There was a last minute plot twist at the end, but I would say I’ve read better murder-mystery/thriller books than this. Still enjoyable!
Urgent Matters by Paula Rodriguez (Gifted)
A train crashes in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, leaving forty-three people dead. A prayer card of Saint Expeditus, the patron saint of urgent matters, flutters above the wreckage. Hugo, a criminal on the run for murder, is on the train. He seizes his chance to sneak out of the wreckage unsuspected, abandoning his possessions – and, he hopes, his identity – among bodies mangled beyond all recognition. As the police descend on the scene, only grizzled Detective Domínguez sees a link between the crash and his murder case. Soon, he’s on Hugo’s tail. But he hasn’t banked on everything from the media to Hugo’s mother-in-law getting in the way.
My rating: ★★★
Set in Buenos Aires with an array of characters, this book follows a man on the run and a family of eccentric characters trying to either search for him or keep him hidden. Throw in a curious detective on his chase, this book made me laugh and want to keep reading to see what happens. However, I feel like there was no closure at the end of the book because we didn’t actually find out what happened. I was left a little confused, which is why I rated it three stars.