May was another slow reading month for me. I only managed to get through five books in total, but with travelling and being busy at work, I’m finding it a lot harder to sit down and read for a long time.
With the world opening up again it was only going to happen that reading took a little bit of a back-burner, so I’m ok with only reading five books per month before the winter sets in again and maybe I can catch up on myself then.
Anyhow, here are the five books I read this month and their reviews!
The Actuality by Paul Braddon (Gifted)
Evie is a near-perfect bioengineered human. In a broken-down future England where her kind has been outlawed, her ‘husband’ Matthew keeps her hidden. When her existence is revealed, she must take her chances on the dark and hostile streets, where more than one predator is on the hunt.
My rating: ★★★
I will say that I’m not usually one for sci-fi or futuristic kinds of books or movies, but I was intrigued since the rise of virtual influencers/AI people, and of course, robots. The Actuality follows a robot-of-sorts called Evie who was made to look like her owner’s deceased wife. However, these ‘robots’ are extremely rare and so Evie remains hidden for most of her robotic life until she is one day discovered. The book follows Evie whilst on the run from captors to find her ‘family’. I gave this book a 3/5 as I didn’t get overly excited by the plot and didn’t find it as intense as I thought it could have been.
Milkman by Anna Burns
At the book’s heart, a teenager – whose only means of escape is literature – is slowly ground down by the unwanted attentions and creeping psychopathy of a paramilitary many years her senior. This is the secret state, a place where gossip and hearsay are weaponised methods of control, contained in a novel written with both a sad humour and a certain kind of fury. Eschewing mention of Belfast and cloaking every character in nameless anonymity, this is contemporary history rewritten as dystopia, where power and fear are wrought by rumour and half-truth. ‘It’s a novel,’ remarked an astute Irish Times, ‘about failing to remember and failing to forget; failing to speak and failing to remain silent.’
My rating: ★★★★
I picked this book up in Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, in the mystery novel section. The book was wrapped with only a tag of a minor description of the book. Once it mentioned The Troubles, I was naturally intrigued after reading another book about this last year. I won’t lie that it took me a little longer than usual to get through the book, and I didn’t love that there was a grand total of five chapters in all, but I understand the concept of it. Even though the location was never mentioned, it was a little reminder of home with all its little quips and colloquialisms. I find it really interesting to read about a time that I never went through but was only ten years before I was born; a very different world that I was brought up in, but amazing to learn about all the same.
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?
My rating: ★★★★
After reading Milkman and The Actuality, I wanted a bit more of an easy read as Milkman took me a lot longer than expected, so I thought some light-hearted young adult fiction would do the trick. I read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder back in March and thoroughly enjoyed, so expected nothing less from Good Girl, Bad Blood. I got through the book rather quickly and it was exactly what I needed to get me out of my reading funk. One I would definitely recommend if you’re into young adult/light-hearted detective work.
A Trip of One’s Own by Kate Wills (Gifted)
If Joan Didion was right, and we do tell ourselves stories in order to live, then a travel story is the best story of them all. And I had form for escaping in stories… Kate Wills wasn’t expecting to be divorced after less than a year of marriage. She hadn’t anticipated restarting a life that had, for the last 12 years with her partner, seemed so stable. Luckily, her job as a travel journalist offered her the perfect opportunity to escape from it all. But this time, her jet-setting felt different. Kate felt more alone, particularly against a backdrop of never-ending hen dos, weddings and baby showers. So she began to search history for female travellers to inspire her. From a 4th-century nun to a globe-girdling cyclist, Kate discovers that throughout history, there have been astonishing women who’ve broken free from more burdensome expectations, clearing the path for us to do the same. A Trip of One’s Own is a funny and heartfelt invitation to take that trip: to Paris, to Whitstable, and maybe down that street you’ve always wondered about.
My rating: ★★★★★
As someone who is currently travelling around the UK and extremely missing being able to travel further afield, this book definitely filled the travel-void in my life. Reading about solo female travellers dating as far back to 300 BC inspired me to get out as soon as I can and make more of my own adventures (as soon as we’re able). The life of a travel journalist sounds enviable, and one I’m going to further investigate as to how I can become one myself. I loved how Kate was able to intertwine her own life and experiences into these stories of the women who have come before her and I also found the little breaks of tips and tricks for solo travellers extremely useful.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
My rating: ★★★★
Just like Beth O’Leary’s debut novel, The Flatshare, I found The Switch equally as pleasurable. Easy, chick-flick and leisurely reading, this is a great one to help switch off from your day and engross yourself in the world of Leena and Eileen. The book follows granny and granddaughter duo, the two Eileens, who switch lives for six weeks. I was mighty impressed at the 79 year old moving to London and navigating the city when I found it so hard at 20. But that’s the world of fiction for you. A lovely read, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Beth O’Leary’s most recent book, The Road Trip.