Books I Read In August 2019!

And we are back on a roll people! August saw me read 10 books – that is totally down to all the wonderful books I picked up at YALC being on my now pretty full shelves. I got through 10 (!!) books this month and I’m super pleased. Here they are in their full glory.

First up I finished the audiobook of Eat, Drink, Run – How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad by Bryony Gordon. I’ve really enjoyed Bryony’s other books looking at her life with mental illness. You can read all my thoughts in my review here. This is a 5 star read for me.

Next up was another YALC read – The Disconnect by Keren David is a short book that centers around a group of teenagers asked to give up their phones for 6 weeks in the name of research and a cash prize. This was a gifted book and more to come! I gave with 4 stars.

Next up was Birthday by Meredith Russo, I’ve been looking forward to this, I loved Meredith’s previous book If I Was Your Girl so this was highly anticipated. This was an incredible read, so incredibly well written and such an emotional read. I would definitely recommend, a 5 star read from me.

The Truth About Alice is by Jennifer Mathieu who also wrote the amazing Moxie, which was my reason for picking this novel up. This tackles the impact of rumours and slut shaming and it’s another strong book by Mathieu. I gave this 4 stars, a strong read.

I received an ARC from the publisher of American Royals by Katherine McGee and wow, wow, wow! American royalty, a bit of scandal? I adored this book and gave it 4.5 stars – you can read my full review here.

Next up way another YALC purchase, I know I hit it hard in August. This novel was set in post WW2 Germany and looks at the secrets left behind after an international war. I learnt a lot from this novel and highly recommend it – you can read my full review here.

I picked up Can Everyone Please Calm Down? A Guide to 21st Century Sexuality by comedian Mae Martin and it was an interesting and informative read probably aimed at teenage readers but I gave it 4 stars and would recommend.

I was sent an ARC of Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer, a poetry collection that had some promise but overall wasn’t for me. That said I would you like to read more to get a better opinion.

My last 2 books were both audiobooks and thank goodness because I was a so busy with work I barely had the option to pick up a physical book! First up was The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla – I wanted to read this a while back and finally got to it, this was worth the wait. Listening to these stories of what it means to be a BAME person in UK today was something I think everyone should read/listen to. A 4.5 star read for me.

My final read of the month was another audiobook, this time narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher who’s voice I love! The Flat Share blew me away, it’s not something I would normally pick up but I was intrigued by the premise. Tiffy and Leon share a bed but they have never met. I couldn’t stop listening and absolutely adored it. I won’t spoil the plot but I was trying not to cry happy tears at the end.

A super strong month in terms of reading, more so at the beginning but I’ll take it. I read some excellent books and while September might not have as many reads I hope that I get to some good ones!

Book Review: The Stolen Ones - Vanessa Curtis

Book Review: The Stolen Ones – Vanessa Curtis

My name is Inge. I am sixteen. I live in Munich. Food is rationed, though the war ended years ago. My boyfriend is Jewish. My parents would not approve, so I hide this from them. I think they are hiding something from me, too. Letters arrive on my birthday, but they are not addressed to me. They are for a girl named Kasia. This is her story.

After picking this up at YALC I thought I knew what this book would be about and I was pleasantly proved wrong while reading The Stolen One. This has a lot of twists and turns throughout which I didn’t expect – it’s kind of part historical fiction, part mystery. Different, but I like it.

What stood out for me about this book is that it focused on the wider Nazi horrors and what they did to a large number of communities as well as the Jewish population. A lot of WW2 and post war fiction focuses on the Holocaust – and rightfully so! But, it means that I haven’t read much about others who were impacted by the Nazi regime.

I really liked Inge, I found her to be intelligent and headstrong but also realistic for a 16 year old who’s surrounded by secrets. It shows both the good and bad in people and that just because a war ends, doesn’t mean that things go back to normal. There is a lot of confusion, hurt and pain after such an event.

The relationships Inge have are vital to the plot and it was clear there was both planning and care that went into writing them. At times I felt the her conflict and confusion. The novel did a great job of capturing that age where you realise the adults around you are humans with their own flaws, thoughts and feelings that might not match yours.

I do wish that the book had been longer, I felt that there could have been even more to the novel and get into some more depth – I can’t pinpoint where I would have liked it because it would be a massive spoiler!

Last but not least, I learned a great deal from this book about parts of the war I knew nothing about and after reading I definitely want to do some of my own research. This was so well told – I really want to have a read of other novels by Vanessa Curtis at some point.

I gave this 4 stars, I thought this book was interesting and there were quite a few twists that I didn’t see coming which was really appreciated. If you enjoy fiction about WW2 this will be a good read for you even though it is set after the end of the war. I’d really love to know more about what happens to the characters after the end of the novel as well which is a sign they were well written.

Book Review: Eat, Drink, Run How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad – Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. In April 2017, less than a year after she had weighed herself at over 16 stone but stepped off the scales and started training anyway, Bryony Gordon ran all 26 and 3/4 miles of the London Marathon.

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads you’ll know that I’ve adored every book I have read by Bryony Gordon – she’s funny, intelligent and just gets it. Although, this is the one I took longest to pick up. It was about running, something I can’t stand at all – would I really enjoy it? Read on friend, but I think you’ll work out pretty early on what the answer is.

One of the things I like most about Bryony is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to laugh at herself and it’s a relief, you feel like you can laugh along too. Calling Prince Harry Hazza? Classic Bryony. Signing up the London Marathon without knowing how long it was? I laughed a lot while reading this and I think most people will.

This is more than a story of just running a marathon, it’s about battling your mental health, finding comfort in others and not giving up. Bryony started something called Mental Health Mates (more about it here) where a bunch of ‘mad’ people could have a get together and walk which is a bloody brilliant idea.

Again, Bryony covers another section of her life and health with unflinching honesty. She talks about the toll that writing Mad Girl had on her mental health and how walking and running gave her a little bit of sanity. Also, if you’re a fan of her other books, there are plenty of Harry’s brilliant reactions to Bryony’s shenanigans too.

If you’re worried this will be a prechy and self righteous book about the power of exercise, don’t be. Yes, Bryony found a love for running but she doesn’t try and force it on the reader at all, she simply writes about the joy and the many challenges she faced.

I found this to be funny, relatable and because of that I gave it 5 stars. Another excellent and honest book by Bryony – she truly is a wonderful human and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. Also, I listened to this as an audiobook and can highly recommend!

Book Review – Vicious – V.E Schwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Well, this was a bit bloody brilliant wasn’t it? Vicious was the first V.E Schwab book I read and I’m more than a little bit in love with the novel and plot. Victor and Eli are both stand out characters and, more so, I was just knocked sideways by how smart the plot was.

When I first started reading the novel I did get a bit confused, there’s quite a few characters to start with quite early on, we’re going between modern day for the characters and 10 years ago. That took quite a bit of getting used to and I had to really concentrate at times to make sure I knew what was going on. However, once I got past that I was obsessed with this book.

Personally, I love Victor he was definitely my favourite character, even if he wasn’t always likeable. I feel that all of the characters were interesting but there was just something about Victor that I found so interesting, possibly in his way of thinking, his motives. I didn’t quite connect with Eli the same way but I might in the next novel, who knows?

This is a book that really kept me reading, I needed to know what what going to happen – how the ‘game’ was going to play out and more importantly who was going to survive. And I was completely hooked. I also had a huge soft soft for Sydney and needed to know what was going to happen to her.

Also, no spoilers but that ending, THAT ENDING. I absolutely loved it and I’m quite glad I picked up both novels after Vengeful was released because while I am taking time to process between books I can go to the next one without that much of a wait.

I gave this 5 stars, I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. I am kicking myself for not picking up a V.E Schwab novel sooner. She is clearly an incredible story teller and I can’t wait to see what happens in Vengeful.

Book Review: Heartstopper Volume 2

“Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie’s gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn’t. But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family … and himself.”

Heartstopper Volume 1 was one of my favourite reads of this year and then Volume 2 came along and cemented it. I’ve been a fan of Alice Oseman for a while – she’s a clearly a talented writer, but also seems like a lovely human being (I’m determined to get to a signing this year. Seeing as this is about Volume 2 it will contain some spoilers if you haven’t read the first book – so pop back once you have!

We start off with the aftermath of Charlie and Nick’s first kiss which I am ALL about and squealed when it happened, but was it the right thing to do? As both boys question what happened and how they feel about it I found myself rooting for them even harder than I had before.

Charlie and Nick are absolutely adorable but they also become real people and I feel in the second volume we get to know them much more. We meet their families, get to know their friends and how they feel about themselves and their sexuality.

I also appreciate the fact that Oseman doesn’t assume in this book. I’ve seen it before in novels were there is one kiss and suddenly the person is gay, there’s not thinking about it. For Nick especially there is a question mark, he does have to work himself out and there’s no pressure. Also there is fantastic representation of all those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Also we had a short story at the back about Tara and Darcey. Can we please have more of that? Because I also love them and I would love to see more cute stories about f/f romance as well as m/m romance.

There’s no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. Alice Oseman knows how to write not only a love story but also a story about friendship which is rare. A truly wonderful and uplifting book and I can’t wait for Volume 3!

Have you read and of Alice Oseman’s books? Let me know what your favourites are in the comments below!

Book Review – Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

Are you ready for one of your favourite books of the year? You might have seen this book all over social media and rightfully so. I heard about this earlier in the year and so I pre-ordered it and then it went to sold out on the day of release, my local bookshop was also meant to have it on order (I covered my bases) and it had run into issues with the publisher. I waited 2 agonising weeks before I finally got it in my hands. It was SO worth it.

Our protagonist is Alex, the first son of the United States after his mother becomes president he meets all kinds of people along with his sister June and their best friend Nora. One of those is Prince Henry of Wales and the two instantly hate each other. So when they both cause a scandal at a royal wedding it’s time for damage control, but no one intends for it to become more.

To me, and a lot of other people on the internet, this book is perfection and as it’s a debut I can’t believe how well written it is. I fell in love with Alex and Henry equally as an enemies to friends to lovers situation unfolds. They really came alive to me as did the other characters. I adored all of the other characters too June and Nora were amazing and the book has so much representation I could write a whole post on just that.

It’s also told in a mix of Alex’s perspective and emails between the two which I absolutely loved and adds to the humor and romance of the two. These are two guys trying to work out their feelings and falling in love. They make mistakes, they try and navigate whether they can make it work with such public lives – all in all they just feel like real people.

It is worth noting that this is very much a New Adult novel meaning, yes, there are sex scenes and they are excellent. The author doesn’t shy away from the fact that two young people in love will have sex *shocker*. But it’s definitely done in a natural way, there’s no scandal about sex and it happens when it happens. It was quite refreshing to read about characters having a sex life not just ‘and then we went to the bedroom..’ because sex actually happens.

What makes this book so worthy of all the praise it is getting is that this is a genuine love story that many of us would love to see in the world. The sons of two of the most powerful families in the world falling in love? I’d love to see that and maybe one day we will see more LGBT representation in powerful positions. My heart melted for these characters and I loved getting to know their lives, their friends and you can bet I carried on thinking about this book long after I finished it.

Is there any other rating I could have given this book other than 5 stars? I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I think would enjoy it. It’s a truly wonderful novel and definitely a contender for my favourite book of the year.

Book Review: The Hormone Diaries: The Bloody Truth About Our Periods – Hannah Witton

If you haven’t noticed, I think Hannah Witton is a great YouTuber and also seems like a lovely person. I’ve watched her channel for a few years now and loved her first book, Doing It so when she announced a book tied to her series The Hormone Diaries, I was in.

The book is a great mix of informative and funny with some great notes from Hannah around the edges. While this is definitely aimed at an older audience (hooray!) I still learnt so much, and this is from someone who’s been having periods for about 12 years at this point. There was so much I didn’t know!

Covering letters from Hannah’s followers around the world they addressed to things you might not expect like, ‘Dear my period’, ‘Dear my pill’ and ‘Dear menstrual cup’ . While it is amusing it’s also great to see so many experiences of hormones, contraception and the like. I found myself laughing, sympathising and nodding along the whole way through this book.

What I didn’t expect to feel when reading was powerful. I wanted to get up and shout I AM A MENSTRATOR because, if you think about it, we’re pretty badass. And although, in my opinion, periods are shit, most contraception is a nightmare and the thought of giving birth makes my vagina scream in protest – our bodies are bloody marvelous.

This is probably the most inviting book I’ve read in a long time in regards to the gender spectrum. Hannah doesn’t just assume that everyone who has a period identifies as a woman. She has used inclusive language throughout which is definitely the way forward. While I’m a cis female I can understand how this can be a big thing for others. Go Hannah!

It’s worth pointing out that thanks to Hannah and her book I’m now part of a wonderful group on Facebook where we all talk about hormones and periods. It’s fantastic and I’m so glad so much conversation has come out of this book – and will continue to!

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. A great book and, once again, Hannah has pulled it out of the bag. I highly recommend this to anyone who gets a period or has to battle with estrogen on a regular basis.