five books I've read recently

31 Aug 2022

Hi again, It's been a while since I last did a bookish update. It's actually been a while since any update but I'm back to reading and I'm back to blogging so I thought, what better way to catch you up than with some of the things I've been reading lately! Almost all of these are from August but I find that when I did my monthly wrap-ups before, I ended up reading just so I had something to post about rather than because I wanted to and I don't want to fall into that trap again so for now here are some recent reads. I enjoyed all of them but nothing has been a five-star read for me yet this year so hopefully, I'll land on one soon.

The Shadow Of The Wind

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

When Daniel Sempere turns 12 he is brought to the cemetery of forgotten books where he is allowed to choose one book. Here he discovers The Shadow of The Wind by Julian Carax which leads him to discover that someone has been destroying every last one of Carax's novels and he may just have the last one in existence. Soon Daniel's innocent quest to find out more about Carax ends up with him embroiled in one of Barcelona's darkest secrets and he enters a world where fictional villains aren't as fictional as they appear.

I was chatting to one of my fellow bookish friends about my favourite genre being historical urban fantasy and in turn, she bought me this book for my birthday! I wasn't aware of the hype surrounding this book when I started it which I think helped a little because I didn't have through-the-roof expectations. I actually read this just before heading to Barcelona to get myself in the mood. Overall I really enjoyed it and I can see why it's so beloved, it really made me wish I could read a Julian Carax novel and visit the Cemetary of Forgotten Books. A true must-read for book lovers everywhere.

Book Lovers

Emily Henry

Nora is a big-time literary agent from New York, she's the ex-girlfriend that the men leave in order to pursue small-town romances in Hallmark movies, she's known in the industry as 'The Shark'. When her sister sweeps her away to one of these small towns she expects to run into her own small-town guy but instead she becomes confronted by none other than her business rival, editor Charlie. As Nora and Charlie work together they grow closer and what was once a bitter rivalry becomes something else entirely. 

I have read both Beach Read and You And Me On Vacation in the past and with the latter being one of my top books of 2021, it was only a matter of time before I picked up Emily Henry's newest release and I was not disappointed at all. Emily Henry never misses. I think I personally loved You and Me on Vacation more because I could relate more to the characters but Book Lovers is incredible in its own way and I absolutely flew through this and smiled the whole way through. Emily Henry is the undisputed queen of romance at the moment in my humble opinion and I can't wait to see what she does next.

If I Had Your Face

Frances Cha

Set in contemporary Seoul where there are strict social hierarchies, plastic surgery is as routine as haircuts and k-pop idols shape the culture. Four young women living in an apartment complex navigate the bustling city and its problems. Ara a mute hairdresser with a dark past obsesses over her favourite idol, while Kyuri works in an exclusive room salon tending to wealthy men, Wonna is pregnant and struggling to come to terms with how she's going to be able to raise a baby, and Miho, an orphaned artist is mingling with one of Korea's most elite families.

This is generally not the sort of book I would ever go near but I remembered that Kate Spiers raved about this and piqued my interest in it. So then when I saw it in a second-hand book shop while I was in Sligo earlier this summer it seemed silly not to pick it up. I ended up absolutely loving this, I read it mainly on the bus to and from Andorra and I was truly living the lives of these characters. Sometimes an issue I have with multiple perspective books is that I care more about one particular storyline than others which was definitely the case here. I loved Miho's story the most so I was definitely more invested in her chapters than the other three. It is a fascinating insight into life in Korea and Frances Cha writes such beautiful prose to really make you care for these characters. Definitely recommend if you're looking for a foray into literary fiction.

Last Night At The Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo

In 1950s San Francisco, Lily Hu knows that she's different. All she wants to do is go to space but that's not the only thing making her feel like an outcast in her Chinatown community. Everything starts to make sense when she befriends another girl at school called Kath who introduces her to a whole new world, a world involving a top-secret lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. As red-scare paranoia sweeps the country America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. 
I liked a lot about this book, I especially loved that the author's note at the end included a whole load of context and research into the time period to make it feel authentic. It did. I think on the whole it just felt a little 2 dimensional. All of the side characters - including the love interest - felt underdeveloped. I loved learning about the Chinese-American relationships at the time as well as seeing scientific perspectives from the pre-space age. I was just rooting for Lily the whole way through and it piqued my interest enough for me to continue reading it on my phone on the plane home which is a time usually reserved for physical books.

The Kingdoms

Natasha Pulley

Joe Tournier is discovered wandering around Gare de Roi station in the year 1901 in an alternate London where France won the Napoleonic Wars with absolutely no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. When he receives a postcard addressed to him from a lighthouse in the Scottish Hebrides which was built just six months ago but dated almost 100 years ago. This starts him on a journey to uncover the truth about who sent it to him and maybe find out what happened before he lost his memory.

Every fibre of my being was convinced that this was going to be my new all-time favourite book and it just wasn't and I am very sad about that. I didn't hate it by any stretch but you know when you've hyped something up so much and then it doesn't meet that hype - it's soul-crushing.  I still gave it 4.5 stars so don't get me wrong I still loved it. I cried at the end and I would DIE for Missouri Kite but unfortunately, there was just a little something missing for me to give it the full 5. I think my biggest issues were that I really couldn't connect to Joe as a character, I genuinely hated him at times and I also struggled a bit with connecting to the time period. I also found that I worked out one of the twists very early on so I'd definitely recommend going into this as blind as possible to get the best experience.

So that's everything I've read recently, I've enjoyed my reading lately and writing about books again. I'm already getting stuck into a few more so I can't wait to update you on how those go. You can follow me on Goodreads and The Storygraph to see what I'm reading at the moment because I'm always very good at updating over there. What have you been reading this summer and should I add them to my ever-increasing tbr? 

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