Alright, here we go again with another of my very late wrap-up posts! June was a very busy month for me, with music tours to Amsterdam and Berlin (with separate ensembles so I still had to fly back to Edinburgh for a few days between) – to be honest, I should probably blog about them because I did so many cool things! Anyway, I still managed to cram in a few books…
1. Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill – ★★
I binge-watched the TV series from many, many years ago in May, and while I didn’t love it, it was still fun and made me curious to pick up the book. There was only one problem: Julie Burchill. I hadn’t really come across her before watching Sugar Rush, but when looking up the book, I became aware of all the (rightful) bad press about her. Namely, her proclamations of being a radical feminist yet still being hugely anti-intersectional feminism – especially against trans women. So basically, I wanted to read the book, but I didn’t want to give this woman my money. Thankfully, Ashleigh had a copy, so she sent it up to me and I got reading! And…yeah, it was fine. It didn’t “wow” me in any way, and to be honest, I found the characters really quite unsympathetic. I think it was worth reading to draw comparison between the book and TV series – and unfortunately, the TV series was much more fleshed out.
2. Terminally Beautiful by Christy Leigh Stewart – ★★
This is a short story more than anything – if I remember correctly, it’s about 30 pages, so I read it all over breakfast one morning. While I liked the concept of this – it’s set in a form of rehab for girls who are deemed “too ugly”, where they are given hormones, plastic surgery, lessons in etiquette etc. in order to become more attractive and able to be released into the “beautiful” world – it really did not work in such a short format. It could have easily been spun out into a full-length novel, especially given the dystopian setting and topical, feminist undertones, but instead it was merely a snapshot that didn’t reveal too many details. This lack of detail meant I often felt no sympathy for the characters, because I just didn’t know them. Meh.
3. Hallelujah for 50ft Women: Poems About Women’s Relationships with Their Bodies by various, edited by Raving Beauties – ★★★★
I really, really loved this poetry collection, and I’m so glad I found it. I bought it on my first ever trip to Looking Glass Books, and I’ll definitely be returning; it’s just one of those bookshops where you won’t necessarily find everything on your TBR, but you’ll stumble upon lots of wonderful indie publications you might not even know existed otherwise. This was one of those stumblings. I found this so profound that I actually found myself turning down the pages of all my favourite poems and it ended up being about half the book. While the feminist poetry/theatre troupe Raving Beauties compiled this collection, the poems themselves come from a range of sources – some from well-established poets, others from women who had never been published before and simply submitted their poems to Raving Beauties online. All I can say is – BUY IT. THIS BOOK MEANS SO MUCH.
4. Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach – ★★★★
Oh, I do love a good thriller. This was a really quick read, partly because of the relatively simple language, but mostly because it was just. So. Addictive. I remember being out with friends in Berlin, and pulling my tablet out on the tram just so I could read this, when I could have been being social! It poses a lot of moral questions, primarily on ethics, but also on the use of technology in our lives and how it influences out relationships. I also thought the narrator was a very interesting character – her mother has recently died, and after being her carer for most of her childhood, she doesn’t really have much of a social life and therefore is very, very naive. This led to a fantastic unreliable narrator perspective. It makes me sad that this book only has a an average rating of 3.38 on Goodreads – yes, it’s not the most literary book ever, but it was a really fun, thought-provoking ride while it lasted (for all of three days).
5. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – ★★★
I’d heard mixed reviews about The Miniaturist, but having heard more good than bad, and with my mother insisting that it was a must-read, I decided to give it a go. I’ve always been a bit dollhouse-obsessed (not necessarily in terms of owning a dollhouse, but rather the painstaking detail that goes into creating these perfect representations of real life), and one of my favourite short stories (I think it might have been by Enid Blyton?) as a child was about a little girl who had her dollhouse’s furniture (her birthday present) broken and then replaced with items crafted from leaves and sticks by the animals in her garden. That story always made me so gosh darn happy. Anyway, I digress. I did enjoy The Miniaturist, but at times I found myself skimming – I loved the whole magical realist, psychic element to it, but I lost interest when it was merely discussing business deals. I also really liked the character of Marin, who was painted as an antagonist from the outset, but whom turned out to be a really complex, strong yet vulnerable woman. I found it really interesting to see her development as she gradually let her guard down, and I had a lot of sympathy for her. I think this might be worth a re-read at some point!
6. The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell – ★★★
This was another of my Penguin Little Black Classics. I did enjoy these stories, and it was a nice introduction to Gaskell’s writing – I don’t think the likes of North and South is really up my street, but this creepy little collection definitely was. Like The Miniaturist, it loses some marks for the fact that I found myself skimming at times, but on the whole, it was pretty good. I really liked both The Old Nurse’s Story and Curious, If True, but I think I preferred the former slightly more. The latter had really interesting characters, and I loved the fairy tale element to it, but it lacked in plot. The former, however, took a while to get started, but once it did, was a fantastically eerie little story. If anyone has any other Gaskell recommendations, do let me know!
7. The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh – ★★★
Again, another good thriller that I sunk my teeth into this month! I really enjoyed the premise here, because I bloody love the macabre and creepy things like snuff films, and for the most part, it was executed well. The build-up was good (if a little rambly in places), and I loved the suspense that Welsh created. However, the ending let me down, and ultimately is what pushed it down from four stars to three. There was a big revelation that felt like a bit of a cop-out to me, and then after that, it all just kind of…petered out. I did like Welsh’s writing though, and I like the sound of The Girl on the Stairs, so I will definitely be picking that up in the near future. I hope it doesn’t let me down like the ending of The Cutting Room did.
So there you go, there’s my June wrap-up! One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is whether I should start a BookTube channel – what do you think? I’m a bit addicted to BookTube, and would love to be a part of the community. The question is, do I keep writing this as well? Hmmm. I shall have a ponder, but opinions are welcome (and encouraged)!