What I’ve Been Reading: July Book Reviews

Just in time for this weekend, this month I managed to cross a couple of books off my YALC reading list, caught up with some Robin Hobb and read an anthology of non-fiction stories about geek girls and love.

One of Us is Lying

Karen M. McManus

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Full Review | Goodreads

“Let’s face it: everyone at Bayview High hated Simon. I was just the only one with enough guts to do something about it.”

Described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One Of Us Is Lying is a young adult book about four teenagers – a geek, a jock, a criminal, and a princess – who become suspects in a murder case. When the school’s most notorious gossip blogger dies, these four characters form unlikely alliances to solve the mystery and protect their names, all while the investigation unearths dark truths that threaten to unravel their lives.

I really liked this book, and found myself easily progressing through the story. Although some of the characters didn’t feel much more fleshed-out than their stereotypes, others were more complicated than they appeared, and underwent some impressive character development. I found the mystery intriguing, and while I would have liked a little more danger, I really liked the combination of romance, crime and contemporary.

Rating: 4/5

Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Full Review | Goodreads

“And all around us, our missing diary pages covered the ground like a blanket of snow. In the field in the distance, the bonfire was still burning.”

This is a young adult fantasy story that begins when belongings start disappearing during a summer party. When a group of girls find a spellbook and cast the charm within, dark and strange events become to occur, and each of the characters suffers losses, both material and metaphorical. Told from multiple viewpoints, this is a coming-of-age novel told against a supernatural backdrop.

I loved the magic in this book – it felt subtle, enchanting, mysterious, and at times, surprisingly dark. I particularly loved how this acted as a backdrop against which to explore real-life themes such as loss, sexuality, grief, and violence. My main complaint about this book is that there were too many characters, and not enough was done to distinguish some of these. Despite this, there was a lot I loved about this book.

Rating: 4/5

The Golden Fool (The Tawny Man #2)

Robin Hobb

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“Perhaps the gods punish us by bringing us face to face with our own foolish mistakes, condemning us to watch our children fall into the same traps that crippled us.”

It’s very hard to say anything about this book without giving spoilers to any of Robin Hobb’s other books – so while I’ve tried to be vague, you might want to avoid this section if you haven’t read the previous books. This is the second book in Robin Hobb’s The Tawny Man trilogy and sees the pressures on the Six Duchies rise, as the Outislanders make their demands and the Witted folk continue to be persecuted. This book also sees Fitz dealing with grief, and learning adjusting to the changed dynamics of his relationships with other characters.

Robin Hobb’s writing has never failed to capture my imagination, and this was no exception. Highlights in this book included plenty of clever references to Hobb’s previous books, and some truly heart-wrenching moments of character development. This book is a slow-paced one, and while there isn’t any one major conflict, it’s definitely setting the scene for an exciting final book in the trilogy.

Rating: 4.5/5

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

V. E. Schwab

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“I’m willing to walk in darkness if it keeps humans in the light.”

The second (and final) book in V. E. Schwab’s Monsters of Verity series, Our Dark Duet reunites the main characters from This Savage Song to face a new threat that approaches Verity, a city in which violent crimes spawn monsters.

I really liked this book, and thought it was a great conclusion to the series. I particularly liked August’s character development, as it was obvious that the events of the previous book had affected his character deeply. The biggest highlight of this series is the setting, which is dark, dangerous, and atmospheric. Whilst this series hasn’t had quite the same impact on me as V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic, it’s definitely a well-crafted and exciting fantasy series that is worth a read.

Rating: 4/5

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls

Edited by Hope Nicholson

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“If you’ve ever felt confused about love and affection, I know that one of these stories will reach out to you. And just know that if we’re all weird and we’re okay, no matter what your weirdness is, you’ll be okay too.”

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is an anthology of non-fiction essays and illustrations on romance, sexuality, sex and geek culture, with contributions from nerdy women including Hope Nicholson, Marguerite Bennett, Margaret Atwood and Marjorie Liu.

When I saw the title of this collection, I was instantly sold, and it more than lived up to my expectations. This book gathers together a collection of diverse creators, each with a unique story to tell. Many of these were beautifully written and illustrated, and a number of them familiar, moving, and uplifting. I usually have very little interest in romance, but I absolutely loved reading about the real-life experiences of real women (particularly women who are geeky like me).

Rating: 5/5 – Book of the Month!

On my TBR for next month are A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas and Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, plus whatever else I feel like reading. What have you been reading this month?

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