Updated: Aug 21, 2022
Has another month gone by? This has been such a busy time for me. This September I've been organising myself for moving to do my Masters. Thankfully, I've still had time to fit in a few titles. Here's a little collection of all my book reviews for this month. If you'd like to stay up to date with my current reads, feel free to follow my Instagram!
If you want to grab a copy of any of these titles, I recommend going to Bookshop
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Literary Fiction | Humour | Adult
I think I'm going to do another 'Where to Start' post with Backman. He's one of my favourite go-to authors at the moment. I don't think I've read a single book that's been disappointing. Like with A Man Called Ove, I found myself very attached to Britt-Marie from the first few pages. It's brilliant when an author sparks such love for a fictional character in just a couple of chapters. That shows incredible talent. I just want to buy Britt-Marie a lifetime supply of bicarbonate of soda! I think the last Backman book I haven't read is Us Against You which I need to fix ASAP!
Soon by Lois Murphy
Horror | Thriller | Fiction
So, I think we can all agree that the cover of this book is simply awesome. As it's autumn, I did want to ease myself into the spooky season.
There were patches of this book that I preferred more than others. I was not consistently engaged - there were moments where I was slightly losing interest. However, there certainly was an eerie atmosphere. The author's original idea for this book was brilliant and I would have preferred a stronger focus on what happened during the night in this small town. Overall, it was a perfectly solid read but I just think it had a lot more potential. I think it's still worth checking out for Halloween!
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Fantasy | Magical Realism | Sci-Fi
Despite my slight disappointment with Norwegian Wood, I was adamant to read more of Murakami's work. 1Q84 was an ambitious choice, as usual, I get a bit intimidated by long books (500+ pages).
I did strongly prefer this book. I found the character Aomame very interesting. To be honest, I did get slightly impatient whenever the chapter changed to focus on Tengo. However, that did make me want to read more because I just wanted to know more about Aomame. The writing style was also up my street - it was beautiful and elegantly written.
I'm going to try to read more of Murakami's work before the end of the year. If not, you can certainly expect more reviews in 2022!
The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
Mythology | Literary Fiction | Retellings
I think my love for Greek Mythology Retellings is pretty apparent. I've done a post specifically about book recs for this genre if you'd like to check it out!
After reading The Silence of the Girls, I knew I had to keep an eye out for more books by Barker. I would recommend reading the first book before this one. The Women of Troy follows the events after the Fall of Troy from the perspectives of the women.
I think it's awesome that more retellings are focusing on women. Often, these women play very significant roles in mythology yet they are consistently overlooked. If you are interested in Greek Mythology and want to learn more, I recommend checking out the podcast, Let's Talk About Myths, Baby! I recently purchased a book called Zeus Is A Dick and I'm honestly so excited to read and review that one!
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Japanese Literature | Fiction | Romance
I usually love grabbing a short fiction if I'm finding myself in a reading slump. The bold colours attracted me to this book straight away. However, what I struggled with within this book is that I just was not convinced at all by the "chemistry" between the two main characters. I didn't pick up on any romance and I thought the relationship between Tsukiko and her former teacher was a bit creepy. Naturally, once I wasn't interested in this relationship, I struggled to stay engaged with this title.
However, as this is a really short book, there's no harm in giving it a go! It just wasn't my cup of tea. Despite this, I'm still open to trying out more of Kawakami's work. I'm still really a romance reader - it's not the genre I'm typically drawn to.
The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
Historical Fic | Mythology | Lit Fic
Harper certainly delivered. Within the first couple of chapters, I found myself engulfed in the protagonist’s world. Harper did a wonderful job of bringing characters like Amara to life and I found myself extremely curious about the other “she-wolves” such as Victoria. Each character had a very different attitude to their shared circumstances. Each woman had their unique way of processing their life in Pompeii and I was very intrigued reading about each woman.
I loved the brief notes of graffiti found in Pompeii at the start of each chapter. Although the women in The Wolf Den are fictional, the graffiti reminded me that many women did have these similar experiences.
Furthermore, the writing style allowed the story to flow more elegantly. I was always tempted to finish one more chapter. I believe this book is the first of a trilogy with the second book being released next year which is very exciting for fans.
If you enjoyed books such as Ariadne, The Silence of the Girls and A Thousand Ships, then this title is certainly one you’ll likely enjoy. This is a story that reflects on the lives of women that are too often overlooked. The level of strength displayed by these women is simply inspiring. The Wolf Den is a superb piece of work that historical fiction fans should add to their To-Be-Read pile.
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Historical Fic | War | Literary Fic
Here we are with the first five-star review of the month! This book deserves all the praise and hypes it's already received. I couldn't fault this title as it was exceptionally well written and deeply moving from the first few pages.
My knowledge about the Vietnam War was very limited and one dimensional from what I was taught in school. The author delivered the fresh and hard reality of the toll conflict takes on ordinary people. I would argue this book to be a necessary addition to everyone's TBRs. Given that I also loved Pachinko and Homegoing, I did have high expectations for this title and it was indeed phenomenal. I would highly recommend checking out more of the author's work here.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Fantasy | Magical Realism | Mystery
When I saw that everyone was giving this book five stars, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. I even tried getting into annotating with this title. However, my notes weren't really very coherent and more of "I fucking knew it!"
I struggled with the first hundred pages of this book. I was just so bored and I kind of figured out most of the mystery before the end. That said, I can appreciate why so many people loved this book. It's an original piece of work but was probably just not the right kind of read for me. Even though I found it a bit of an anticlimax, I would still recommend you check out the book for yourselves. It is objectively a solid read but was just not to my taste.
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins
Thriller | Mystery | Fiction
Confession Time! I've never read The Girl on the Train...
This is a little bit embarrassing for someone who loves thrillers but I've just never really gotten round to it. Naturally, when I saw this book whilst I was out in the supermarket, I quickly added it to the shopping cart before my mum noticed.
Don't get me wrong, this was a perfectly solid read. However, once again I wasn't surprised by the overall ending. I think I was expecting a big reveal or twist like you usually get with Agatha Christie books but instead the obvious culprit was revealed. I guess I felt a little be deflated afterwards. The whole story was just going in one clear direction. The best way to describe to book is: fine. It's not something I'm going to be nagging all of my friends to read but at the same time, I didn't hate it.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Classics | Horror | Dystopian
I can't get enough of these minimalist covers! Sometimes I think less is more when it comes to booking cover designs but that's just a separate thought.
This book does get very graphic so if you have a weak stomach, it is probably worth giving this book a pass. However, if you do enjoy creepy reads, it's worth saving this book for October. McCarthy did a brilliant job at setting an eerie atmosphere from the first few pages. I did genuinely feel on edge at certain points in this book which strongly reflects how much of a talented writer McCarthy is. I'm going to try to check out more of his books in the future as this one was extraordinary. Many dystopian books cover the post-apocalyptic world but I guess the reason why this is regarded as a modern classic is because of how McCarthy uses very few words to make the reader feel disturbed.
The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Translated by Louise Heal Kawai
Mystery | Crime | Detective
I've recently been reading a lot more Japanese literature and I was able to combine this with one of my favourite genres: detective fiction. If you also love the classic whodunnit, it's worth adding this one to your TBR as it was fun, to the point and intriguing. The reason why I didn't give this one 4/5 is that there were patches of the book that I found a bit too confusing. However, that was likely just my fault.
What's unique about this particular book is that the motive of the murder is more disturbing than the act itself. Yokomizo carries out the famous locked room phenomenon that all crime writers usually attempt at least once in their career. If you aren't already familiar with this, it's basically when the murder is conducted in a room where there is no obvious or clear way the killer could have escaped. I'd love to know if you were able to solve this mystery by yourself!
The Woman In The Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura
Translated by Lucy North
Japanese Lit | Contemporary | Thriller
I found this book when I was visiting Topping & Company Booksellers. The ominous title and cover really grabbed my attention! As it was a relatively short read, I was able to finish it in a day. The writing style was easy to follow and more up my street. There were little patches in the book where I was struggling to stay hooked however, I'm glad I reached the ending. The Woman in Purple was a very fascinating character - I wanted to know more about her and why The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan was so fixated on her. Even though there were moments of the book I preferred more than others, I think the synopsis itself is certainly unique and worth checking out for yourselves.
I'll be on the lookout for more of Imamura's work as I think there's so much potential in future works.
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Mystery | Literary Fic | Thriller
I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Tartt's books. I absolutely adored The Secret History but could not stand The Goldfinch. Naturally, I was a little bit worried about starting this one...
However, I found The Little Friend to be a solid, well written mystery. The prologue certainly grabbed my attention straight away. If I had to be super picky, I found the chapter lengths a bit excessive (roughly 100 pages). I know this doesn't impact the actually story but I'm someone who usually gets a bit intimidated by large chapter lengths. However, I found characters such as Edie and Libby really interesting - the last chapter was for sure my favourite.
Why the 3/5? This amount of stars is what I usually give books that I found to be strong reads where I can objectively appreciate why other readers may love or hate them. It wouldn't be an all-time favourite or something I would nag others to read. However, I did enjoy The Little Friend a lot more than I thought I would.
So far, my favourite Tartt books goes as follows:
1) The Secret History
2) The Little Friend
3) The Goldfinch