Reading through Summer

I'm regularly asked - so what do you do with your days now that you're not working?

Answer: all the fun stuff.

One time-consuming and addictive hobby that is taking up most hours in my day (made all the more sweet with this luscious weather) is reading.

Gone (thankfully) are the days where reading was for study; scanning text for impactful quotes, taking the pleasure out of getting lost in a novel or short story.

Now, I can read the chick flicks, get lost in a rom com, laugh and cry at memoirs and get obsessed over autobiographies, and I'm loving it.

10 weeks in to lockdown and I'm on book number seven; life has never felt so full!

As i've been reading a range of interests, I thought I would use this post to give you a mini-review on what I've read so far during this time, a couple of gems that I've found along the way and what I want to read next.

I'm by no means a reviewer, but as I'm asked regularly what I read I thought this was the best way to share.

Book One

Still Me by JoJo Moyes

Rating: 7/10

Emotions experienced: Laughter, sadness and compassion.

The last in the best-selling trilogy of Louisa Clark and her mad, chaotic, selfless journey.

Many may remember 'Me Before You' which is the first of the series; whether it was the book or the award winning film where the lead was played by Emelia Clarke, the story captured millions of hearts.

'Still Me' begins exactly where 'After You' left us, with Louisa travelling to New York to start her new adventure.

The great thing about Louisa's character is that you can't not like her, and throughout this book you're drawn closer to her infectious personality.

It's a funny, compassionate and hopeful look at love, grief and turbulence of life; however I wouldn't say that I was overwhelmed with the story line and left rather deflated at the conclusion.

JoJo creates powerful female characters that you'll be rooting for on each page but I was disappointed we didn't get more into the character of Mrs Margot De'll see why.

An easy read and worth passing around the friendship circle for sure.

Book Two

The Book of Dust: Volume two, The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

Rating: 10/10

Emotions experienced: Fear, sadness, tension and laughter

Oh Lyra - you've got to love her.

The second volume in The Book Of Dust series sees us back at Oxford University witnessing the dwindling relationship between Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon (wouldn't you just love a daemon!)

The relationship between human and daemon spirals after Pan witnesses a murder and the pair are thrown into a complex and dangerous world they didn't know existed. Miss Silvertongue's adolescent character in this book is mildly irritating; she's no longer the fiery child we left behind, but I feel that's exactly how Pullman wants you to feel with Lyra- irritated.

Curious and ever theatrical; this doorstop of a book is a welcomed escape to a magical reflection of a darker today.

I highly recommend to all those who were consumed by His Dark Materials, or, like me, obsessed with Pullman throughout their childhood, as this definitely doesn't disappoint.

A third is surely on the way and I'll be one of the first to pre-order.

Tip: Maybe start with Volume One as you may be a little confused about a few characters...

Book Three

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Rating: 7/10

Emotions experienced: Confusion, adoration, and cynicism

Thinking back to when I initially refused to study it at University, I was rather sceptical at first to revisit this old classic.

Picking it up for pleasure however allowed me to read it in more of a relaxed manner; it did take me a few chapters to get fully into the swing of translating old english into new, but was so worth it!

Elizabeth's character is fascinating; she's very much the heroine of the novel and I was more obsessed with her character than that of Mr Darcy.

Trying to buck the trends of marrying for wealth and progression and opting for love, Elizabeth realises that she'll be getting all of those things if Mr Darcy has anything to do with it!

Many a bizarre and humouring character fill this novel making you giggle at their despair and poor luck.

A love story like no other, but maybe breeze over the jargon if you're hoping for more smiles and less furrowed brows.

Book Four

Flat Share by Beth O'Leary

Rating: 9/10

Emotions experienced: Heartache, joy and laughter

I was immediately consumed by the turbulent relationship of Leon and Tiffy.

The pair don't meet face to face for many months but share their one bedroom flat in shift work format - feel like I missed a trick in my renting days.

Due to a few incidents along the way they're suddenly thrown together and must work out if their relationship can work beyond text and written form.

Who knew that Post-it notes could be the modern love letter; mine usually hold reminders for Lewis like 'take out the prawns' or 'put away the laundry' - might have to spice them up.

It made me smile, laugh out loud and even got my Apple watch reminding me to 'Breathe' regularly in the rocky moments!

I don't want to say anymore, as I feel I may ruin the story - you need to read this and pass it around to your friends and hopefully you'll struggle to put it down like me!

Book Five

The Other Wife by Claire McGowan

Rating: 8/10

Emotions experienced: Fear, relief and anger

Oooo this was gritty.

Free on Amazon Kindle for Prime Members - it's definitely worth a read.

I loved the strong female characters within this book and how women can push aside any ill feelings to help one another in times of crisis.

Poisonous relationships are brought to light in a series of eventful 'who did it' murders as you learn that noone in this book knows anything about their other halves.

If you're sensitive to any form of abuse I'd shy away from picking this up; it's not fluffy around the edges.

I felt a mixture of emotions when working through this book but with all the twists and turns the plot takes it's one I struggled to put down.

I'm definitely going to re-visit McGowan's work and hopefully find another gripping tale.

Book Six

Educated by Tara Westover

Rating: 8/10

Emotions experienced: Shock, sadness, tension

A true story that will have you gasping each chapter.

Westover transports you into her life as a young mormon child growing up and trying to fit into the work her radical survivalist father has created for her.

We follow her journey as she struggles to find her place in society when she ventures from her junkyard repressed life within the mountains to her first experience of state education at college at the age of 17 and beyond.

Westover doesn't have an easy ride in the slightest; there are many family tragedies, we see her struggle to afford to live, and we witness her rejected by her family on multiple occasions due to her battling their radical beliefs.

She's a truly inspiring woman who overcame the harshest of environments, the deepest of emotional and physical abuse, and continuous prejudice.

I cried, shivered and winced but I'm so glad I saw it through.

It will certainly make you feel uncomfortable in parts, but it's essential to exemplify how we are all brought up so differently dependent on our culture and beliefs but one unites us all: education.

I can't wait to hug my mum so tight when I next can and thank her for every little bit of love she has given me since the day I was born thanks to Westover.

Book Seven

The Corner Shop by Nicola May

Rating: 6/10

Emotions experienced: Happiness and apprehension

So....this isn't the greatest...but it's a goodie.

I could go through the book with a highlighter and circle the grammar and punctuation mistakes, and it may be a little 'over the top', but it's a harmless read.

I was actually mildly obsessed with it.

Rosa is the lead character in the book and I fell in love with her instantly.

Rosa comes into good fortune when she's gifted a shop on the coast by a stranger in his will - but is he a stranger?

We see her try and find her feet in a new town, battle with the local Chinese whispers circles and somehow get involved in a hit-and-run; the book is far from boring.

I may not be a fan of the way that May writes but it's currently free for us Prime users on the Kindle - grab it whilst you can I say!

It's basically like the Twilight series - poorly written but a bloody great storyline.

So that's what I've been burrowed away reading to date.

On my 'to read' are the following:

Girl, Woman, Other Bernardine Evaristo

The Salt Path

Raynor Winn

I Let You Go

Clare Mackintosh