Reflection: June & July 2019 | Space Junkyards and Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam

In June and July, I was finally able to delve into the books that I wanted to read because my exams were over and almost four months of summer were beginning to stretch out in front of me. Here’s everything that I read!


Book #17: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

What I really wasn’t expecting was just how fun this book would be from the outset. TLWTASAAP is one of those books that you find genuine enjoyment in reading: the cast of characters is like one big eclectic family and their adventures to seemingly-abandoned moon colonies and space junkyards were something I didn’t really know I needed but loved!

The standout features for me, though, were the often-poignant reflections that Chambers weaves in to an otherwise light-hearted read. This book isn’t without its commentary on our world today, and it’s all the better for it.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Book #18: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Reading this was largely a result of wanting to understand where dystopia stemmed from, and I truly appreciated the scope of this book. Down to the most minute details, Orwell creates a society that functions in a way that is not at all alien to us. His creation of behavioural and language customs (especially language – I find etymology fascinating) are so thorough that they feel so completely feasible, which makes the impact of them all the greater.

I didn’t rate this one five stars because I didn’t have any strong feelings towards the characters; it was more the premise in general that I was impressed by, and I am still so glad to have read this book.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Book #19: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I don’t know why I keep picking up retellings of The Iliad, because EVERY TIME I KNOW THEY’RE GOING TO HURT. The Song of Achilles was no different and as with Circe, which I read last year, Miller’s stunning prose came through in full force, so I truly felt immersed in all of the landscapes and emotions that she describes. Patroclus and Achilles’ relationship was described with such grace, and it’s not often that I shed a tear at a book… but this one got me.

I reserved the five stars because I felt as though the second half of the novel was not as strong on the development as the first, but I would definitely recommend this book if you want a historical love story amidst the surrounding chaos of war.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Book #20: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Part of me wishes that I’d picked up this book around Christmas time because of the aesthetic it has, but I don’t know if I’d ever have gotten around to it if I didn’t read it when I did! It was immediately clear that this book is very slow-paced, and although I enjoyed the first fifty or so pages, around the middle it slowed to such a point that I considered DNFing it. Looking back, my rating was probably a little high, but I did love the intricate picture that Burton creates of what a woman’s life in seventeenth-century Amsterdam looked like, and the slow pace is undoubtedly reflective of that.

My rating: 4/5 stars (3.5 on reflection)

Book #21: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I picked this up upon recommendation from my lovely friend Georgie, and from the numerous fan arts that I seem to see everywhere on Bookstagram of these characters. Holly Black creates such a richly magical world, and every setting in Faerie feels like it is enveloping you in enchantment. I also thought Jude was a wonderful protagonist who very interestingly walks the line between good and… not so good. My main complaint was that I felt like there were a couple of plot holes that I couldn’t get my head around, but still I am very much looking forward to The Wicked King.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Book #22: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

I’ve got a full review to come for this book because I have far too many thoughts about it to be able to convey them in a tiny summary here. I think it’s important to go into depth about books that you both loved and disliked, and unfortunately for this one, it fell into the latter category for me.

My rating: 2/5 stars

Book #23: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

I picked this play up largely because it was useful for my dissertation research, but also because I soon realised that I would be able to see where Holly Black drew a lot of her inspiration from for The Cruel Prince. Overall, this wasn’t my favourite Shakespeare play by any means, although I do typically find that comedic plays aren’t for me. I really enjoyed the faerie-related sections, but the other storylines interested me less. I would definitely recommend BBC Radio Three’s audio version to read alongside however, because the readers were wonderful, and it definitely enhanced my experience of the play!

My rating: 3/5 stars

And those are all of the books that I read in the months of June and July! I’m hoping that August is going to be another good reading month for me, because when September begins, I will be diving back into the good ol’ assigned reading list for uni.

Have you read any of the books I discussed? Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Bex ♥

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