July Wrap Up: Mini reviews, bookish goodies and my overly large book haul!

So, July has been a funny old month for me. It started off in Chelsea, London, at a specialist hospital, being strapped to a table and tipped around like a medieval experiment to see how my heart responded.

july wrap up resize

Needless to say, that was quite a surreal experience, but on the plus side, my ongoing health issues (including everything from fainting to pretty much daily headaches especially when standing, migraines, chronic gallbladder pain, digestive issues, dizziness, vomiting, crazy fast heart rate – the list goes on!) have finally got a name – POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome!

POTS is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, and basically means that everything your body does automatically, from digestion to regulating blood pressure and heart rate, mine has an issue with, especially when standing up!

This means I’ve become obsessed with checking my heart rate on my Fitbit and being like “LOOK! I’m literally just standing here and my heart rate is at 124bpm when it was at 70 when I was sitting! Whew, I think I should go lie down and read a book!!” I have an intolerance to being away from a comfy chair, reading, obviously πŸ˜‰

freakshakesSo, then after that, I plodded along at work before going on annual leave for two weeks, during which time I did everything from see Dunkirk in 4DX (which was AMAZING, by the way) to design a plate at the Wedgwood factory, catch up with friends and family, have my first freakshake (the bad boy in the front of the photo on the left!), and celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. Β I was also planning to go to Young Adult Lit Con and meet two of my recent favourite authors, VE Schwab and Laini Taylor, and also my wonderful friend Amber (@foxentric), but I was ill. Typical! However, this does give me a great excuse to go see her in Belgium, so there’s that πŸ˜‰

So, onto the books! I was hoping to read a little more during my time off, but I spent a lot of it running after my energetic two-year-old nephew, so that didn’t happen!

Books I read this month

DOBASDays of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Rating:β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†

Themes: supernatural, romance, young adult, war

The first book I read this month was Days of Blood and Starlight, which is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor.

Now, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of those books that I stumbled on by chance and thought I’d give it a shot, then was majorly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I eagerly awaited this second installment, then in typical me style, managed to leave it in my TBR pile for about 64 years (okay, fine, maybe a little less time!)

By the time I got round to it, I think I’d hyped it up majorly in my head, so I kind of set myself up for a fall. The first book is fast-paced, vibrant, fun, and entrancing, and really endears you to a core of characters, giving the storyline itself that much more of an impact. Seriously, it feels like getting hit in the stomach at the end. In comparison, the second book feels like you’re recovering from that punch in the stomach, but you’re still winded, and you can’t quite catch your breath the whole way through. It’s much more intense and dark, and in some places, I found it a little slow. I did enjoy it, but it didn’t have the same “unputdownableness” of the first one. That said, I’ll definitely pick up the third one at some point.

test six storiesSix Stories by Matt Wesolowski

Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

Themes: crime, psychology, drugs/alcohol, murder, supernatural, mystery

This book was near perfect for me. It’s a crime thriller with psychological and supernatural elements, but they’re blended together so well that it all seems perfectly normal and plausible. If you listened to the SerialΒ podcast, you will devour this!Β I gave it 4 out of 5 just because I’m being a harsh critic and saying that the structure as a series of podcasts, whilst being a breath of fresh air, did get slightly repetitive at the very start and end of the chapters when it was a generic “Welcome to Six Stories with Scott King” or “thanks for listening to Six Stories with me, Scott King”. Don’t let that put you off though – it’s a great book and that’s the only fault I could find. Check out my full review here!

a history of britainA History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray

Rating:Β β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†

Themes: history, feminism, politics, gender equality

I listened to this one as an audio book from Audible, and it was a great one to have on in the background when you’re online shopping on your phone or scrolling through Facebook. I did find it interesting, and Jenni’s selection of inspirational women was great, but I feel I would have found it a bit dry and found myself skim reading if I’d had the physical book. When it comes to feminist commentary, my most recent favourite is Animal by Sara Pascoe, which covers everything from evolution to biology, politics, romance, sociology, cultures around the world and more. It’s woven together in a way that’s engaging and genuinely interesting in its debates and explorations. Sara’s book had what Jenni’s lacked for me!

ADSOM.pngA Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Rating:Β β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

Themes: magic, politics, dystopian/utopian (depending where we are in the book), crime. royalty

Okay, so Schwab’s my new fave. I gave this a 4 star rating instead of 5 just because I thought the ending was a little flat, but to be fair, it’s the first of a trilogy, so it can’t be tied up in too neat a bow.

The story follows Kell Maresh, a rare breed of magician known as an Antari. He can perform blood magic, and is one of only two people who can cross worlds, which are split into the vibrant, magical Red London; the dying White London; the dull, magicless Grey London, and the fallen Black London. The only other person who can do this is Holland, the second Antari, who lives in White London and is a slave to its tyrannous rulers, twins Astrid and Athos Dane. After a visit there, Kell ends up inadvertently smuggling a dangerous magical object back to his world; one that can change magic itself forever. Along the way, he (quite literally) runs into Lila Bard, a thief with a sharp tongue and even sharper knives lining her pockets. As their paths intertwine, they must overcome Holland and the Dane twins to avoid magic falling into the wrong hands forever. A fast-paced escapade combining everything from magic to thievery, this is an excellent book to kick off what looks to be a fantastic series.

A wrinkle in timeA Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Rating:Β β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

Themes: magic, science, time travel, science-fiction, family bonds, acceptance

Now, I won’t lie – whilst I’ve heardΒ A Wrinkle in TimeΒ is a very famous book, I had never heard of it until my boyfriend showed me the trailer for the Disney movie adaptation coming out next year.

However, fate’s a funny thing, as shortly after that, I received a book voucher as a late birthday present, went to the store, and there it was, with its shiny new cover. I read this in a day because a) well, it’s a kid’s book so the font was big and it’s only 200 pages or so, but mainly b) I just wanted to know what happened! It builds great momentum, and it made me feel nostalgic as it’s totally the kind of book I would have read growing up, tucked under a blanket in my pyjamas on my parents’ sofa.

It’s clever with how it weaves science into the narrative, and the characters really come to life through the fantastic way L’Engle develops their mannerisms, personalities, hopes and fears. It’s essentially about Meg, an underconfident little girl whose father mysteriously disappears. Despite the adults’ warnings that he’s run away and left her mother, she doesn’t give up on him, and ends up going through a “wrinkle in time” with her child prodigy younger brother and their friend, the popular kid at school. With the help of three strange and mysterious beings called Mrs Who, Mrs Which and Mrs Whatsit, Meg begins to learn that she is valued, even if she isn’t as clever as her brother or as popular as her friend. It’s a sweet story about love and the innocence of childhood with a little twist, and is a great palette cleanser before moving on to something more serious!

Books I bought this month

(Alternative title: Reasons Why My TBR Pile Never Shrinks)

I was also lucky enough to be gifted Sunwielder by D. Wallace Peach (check out her blog, she’s great!), and to receive a Book Voyage box, which contained Raised from the Ground by Jose Saramago. (Find out more about the awesome boxes Book Voyage do, plus get an exclusive discount code here!)

Bookish goodies I bought this month

  • Luna Lovegood and Harry and the Hogwarts Express Funko Pops
  • Shadowhunters, Parabatai and Weep candles from Book&Nook (they smell divine, but look too pretty to burn, so I’m in a quandry)
  • 5 bookmarks from Words by Jasmine (Daughter of Smoke and Bone and A Darker Shade of Magic themed)
  • A Lila Bard coaster and book-themed stickers from Fable and Black

Seriously, can someone just freeze my debit card for me?!

What’s been your favourite read this month? What would you recommend for me to try next?

I hope August is brilliant for you all!

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28 thoughts on “July Wrap Up: Mini reviews, bookish goodies and my overly large book haul!

    • rhiannacampbell says:

      Haha, I totally don’t blame you – they were amazing! Kinder Egg, Reese’s Cups, caramel, marshmallow, you name it! 😍 Ooh, that’s sounds interesting – I really enjoy it when authors read their own audio books; it feels more personal somehow! What’s your next read? 😊

      Like

  1. shar says:

    Those health problems sound really annoying! I finished the ADSOM and DoSaB trilogies this year, although I had kind of forgotten the plots of both books by the time I got around to the last one? Oh well…
    A Wrinkle in Time is such an amazing sic-fi classic. I’m super excited for the new movie. Also, that freak shake is making me hungry…
    Shar @ Virtually Read

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tsundoku Girl Reads says:

      They really are! Hopefully I can kick their asses now I have more idea why they’re happening!
      Yeah, I did have to refresh myself before starting DOBAS and even then, I did find small parts a bit confusing, as I’d forgotten that part in the previous book!
      I can see why, I loved it! Me too!
      Lol, sorry 😝

      Like

  2. Maraia says:

    We’ve already talked about health a lot, but I really am glad you have a diagnosis now!

    I’m still slightly perplexed by those freakshakes. Are you supposed to scrape the toppings off the side? πŸ˜‚ I had no interest in Dunkirk, but now I keep hearing how amazing it is…gaah. And I had no idea you didn’t make it to the Schwab and Taylor signing! Ughhhh. Are you going to try again for the signing this weekend?

    I’m still sad DoBaS didn’t work for you! I just love Ziri so much. ❀

    Thanks again for You! I'm almost halfway done now, but I'm not really sure what to think. I hate every single person in the book. πŸ˜‚ And I hope you like Final Girls! Are you planning to read it soon? Because I'm going to suggest you get The Fourth Monkey next, lol.

    Aww, Luna. Have you seen the picture of the new Luna Funko with her lion's head? So cute!

    Besides The Fourth Monkey, you can see the rest of the books I loved in July here! 😊

    Like

    • Tsundoku Girl Reads says:

      Thanks Maraia! I hope you get one soon!

      Haha, well, I don’t really know! They gave me like, a tall spoon to eat it with, and I kinda tried, then ended up covered in marshmallow fluff πŸ˜‚

      Yes, I actually had 0 interest in it but we went for Sean’s birthday, and it was actually really good! Though I won’t lie, I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it as much if it wasn’t in 4DX πŸ™Š

      Yeah, it sucked as I was supposed to meet Amber too! I’m not sure, I did notice Schwab is doing a signing this weekend, so maybe πŸ€”

      Haha, I still enjoyed it! Just not as much as the first. And I loved Ziri too, and I started to warm to Liraz, which I hadn’t previously.

      Haha, right?! There’s literally no likeable characters in the whole book, but I was found it so addictive πŸ˜‚ yes, I think next after my current read! I’ll definitely get The Fourth Monkey too!

      Yes, omg! I want it! And the Lupin Funko, I’ve wanted one for ages!! (Though there needs to be a Tonks one too!)

      Awesome, I’ll check it out!! πŸ’•

      Like

      • Maraia says:

        We still can’t decide if we want to see Dunkirk, which probably means we won’t, lol. We definitely want to see the Dark Tower movie and Planet of the Apes.

        Did you end up seeing Schwab?

        I haven’t seen the Lupin on yet! Tonks is a serious oversight. oO

        Like

      • Tsundoku Girl Reads says:

        To be honest, it was a good film but I think the 4DX kept me interested; it wouldn’t be my cup of tea otherwise. Yes, I really want to see The Gunslinger!

        No, I didn’t, caught a cold and been feeling gross! The odds are conspiring against me and Schwab πŸ˜‚

        It’s so cute! And right?!

        Like

      • Tsundoku Girl Reads says:

        You totally can; I only knew because my local cinema was like “HEY, LOOK WHAT WE’RE GONNA DO!” for like 6 months before they started doing 4DX movies! Haha!
        So basically, it’s supposed to be fully immersive, so it’s 3D, then the chairs are rigged to move with the movie, e.g. when I saw Dunkirk, it rocked with the boat when the characters were in boats, panned with the pilot’s vision in the aeroplane etc. It also does things like punch you (gently!) if a character gets hit, haha! Then there’s breezes and scents etc. too; so in the plane, there was a nice breeze, and also when the sea spray came up, little sprays of water would come up, and when there was a lot of water action (like choppy seas or frantic swimming), jets of water would shoot up between the seats so you could see the water out of the corner of your eye and hear it plopping down as you would if you were there! It’s really fun, but definitely depends on the movie – Dunkirk was the best one I’ve seen in terms of utilising 4DX effects. I also saw X-Men: Apocalypse and Wonder Woman in 4DX, and they were also good, but Dunkirk’s effects made you feel like you were there!

        Haha, yes, it seems that way! >:[

        Like

  3. Angelica R says:

    Hello from the Big Apple!! Happy to have found another Tsundoku girl! *waves*

    I just wrote a blog post about that too, and how I’m using a TBR Jar to help manage the “not reading” part. LOL http://www.littlebookishinkblots.com/2017/06/2017TBRJar.html

    Stumbled upon your blog as I was researching more on tsundoku tendencies πŸ™‚ Glad that you were able to finally have an answer to all the health questions, I can imagine how scary it gets not knowing.

    Also, they came out with some awesome new HP themed funko pops for the San Diego comic convention — and the Occamy (From FBaWTFT) is just beautiful.

    Xoxo
    Angelica

    Like

    • Tsundoku Girl Reads says:

      Hello from Blighty, my tsundoku sister! I just checked your latest blog post, and I am as guilty as you on all fronts, haha!

      I think I really should invest in a TBR jar of some sort! And put myself on a book ban, or I’ll just end up buried alive in books!

      Aww, thanks Angelica, yes, it was weirdly relieving to have a label put on it as at least now I know why and can hopefully manage it better!

      Oh I saw those, I’m SO jealous and totally need them! They’re so pricey though :(!

      Stay in touch! πŸ˜€

      Rhianna

      Like

    • Tsundoku Girl Reads says:

      Aww, thanks so much Mooni!

      Haha, thanks! It is a little scary, but it’s mostly manageable (for me at least, other people have it worse!) It’s kind of treatable – there are lifestyle adjustments, then if they don’t work and things get worse, there is medication for it, but hopefully it won’t come to that!

      Like

  4. theaugustclause says:

    I Hope your health improves and that it won’t be an ongoing struggle for you 😦 but at least you have some answers now. I haven’t read any of these books before, but will definitely be giving a few of them a go! ❀ Thank you for the lovely pos xx

    Liked by 1 person

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