July ‘20 Wrap Up

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today, I’m here to talk about all the books I managed to read this month. I felt really good about the amount I read, which was a whopping 12! Obviously, this doesn’t include my Reading Rush wrap up, which is already live. So what other books did I read in July? So without further do, let’s begin, and fair warning, there may be spoilers.

The first book I read this month was on Kindle, and that was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach, which is an adult contemporary. This follows a group of older people who are enticed to a retirement home in India… This was adapted into a film, which I loved! The book, however, was a real disappointment. I found there was a lot of racist and sexist remarks from the characters, which I had expected to some degree, but this was quite crude. These characters tended to blend together, and weren’t really distinguished. It’s marketed at times as a comedy, yet I never laughed. I don’t know a lot about Indian culture, but Moggach is not compassionate or witty in her descriptions. The majority of this comes across racist too – there is often remarks about Indian products like plasters and pens being inferior to British – yet in reality, are probably made abroad! I did find this a quite fast read, and there were some pleasant changes towards the end of the novel. Sadly, this came too late, and I rated this 2 stars.

the best exotic marigold hotel

The next book I read was sent to me for an honest review, and that was The Book of Snow & Silence by Zoë Marriott, which is a YA fantasy. This was a feminist, LGBT retelling of the classic fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. This follows disgraced, exiled princess Theoai, who is sent across the sea to marry a man she has never met. Siligna is nothing like she’s ever seen, and it isn’t long before a romantic rivalry begins with Shell – a beautiful mute, rescued from the sea. The kingdom is bitter and treacherous, and when Theoai’s rivalry becomes a friendship, she finds herself drawing ever closer to Shell… I’m going to keep this brief because I reviewed this earlier this month. If you like fairy tales, feminism and romance, then you will love this. You can check out my review here, and it’ll be no surprise to hear that I rated this 5 stars.

the book of snow and silence

The next book I read was The Dead Zone by Stephen King, which is an adult horror. This follows Johnny, who comes out of a coma and discovers he has the ability to see people’s past and futures. When he meets a political candidate, he needs to make a decision that could affect everyone… This was an interesting King novel that still manages to feel contemporary with its political elements. Whilst it is set in the 1970s, there is political unrest and unease, which can be felt through the world over. Johnny was an interesting character – he is dealing with so many problems, physically and mentally, with a longing for someone he can never have. I loved his interactions with his parents, with medical professionals, with colleagues. There was also a distinct lack of derogatory comments, which was very pleasant. Whilst it does sometimes go on a tangent,  as I find a lot of King novels do, it does come back to the plot. Entwined in this is a murderer, but I felt there could have been more to this, or even connections to the political side of things. This being said, I did enjoy this, and rated it 4 stars.

the dead zobe

I then read Batman: Dark Victory Part 1 and 2 by Jeph Loeb, which are graphic novels. These are the sixth and seventh books chronologically in the DC Comics – The Legend of Batman series. These follow Bruce and the Gotham City PD as they investigate a series of murders occurring to police officers. Bruce is soon up against the Hangman, whilst trying to figure out the turf war between villainous Two-Face and the crime families of Gotham… I wasn’t too impressed with these. Whilst I did enjoy the investigation into the Hangman, I did find the plot of the crime families to be confusing and bland. I did prefer Part 2, as it did show the introduction of side character, Robin. The art is dark and edgy, quite spiky in places, but is appropriate for the story. I rated Part 1 as 2 stars, and Part 2 as 3 stars.

dark victory

The next book was a reread for me, and that was Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, which is an adult fantasy. This is the first book in The Wicked Years, which follows characters and events from Frank L. Baum’s original novel, The Wizard of Oz. Wicked follows the birth of the Elphaba, her journey through life, and how she became the Wicked Witch of the West… This might sound familiar, as there has been West End and Broadway adaptations of this, however, there are lots of changes. This novel has a lot of political, social and ethical unrest, religious undertones, and sexual situations. Somehow all of this combines to a be a book I utterly loved. Everything works and whilst the characters are familiar, this gives a background that explains so much. There’s power, there’s strength, there’s overcoming of adversity – there’s a lot in this. I highly recommend this, and of course, urge you to seek out the soundtrack. I rated this 5 stars.

wicked

The next book I read was Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki, which is a graphic novel. This is aimed at a middle grade/YA audience, but older readers can definitely read this. It follows Harley as moves to Gotham, and is taken in by Mama, a drag queen. Harley finds family in the queens’ and her new friend, politically minded Ivy, however it isn’t long before something threatens her happiness. A corporation is set on building a little too close to home, and Harley needs to decide – peaceful protest or anarchy… This was such a joy to read. There were so many elements to this that I loved – the drag and queer scene was utterly fantastic, and was a real insight into that life. Harley as a teenager is fun and wacky, reminiscent of girls at school I used to know. Amongst this, there are discussions of feminism, gender, justice and race. There’s a lot to unpack, but it packs a punch in such a short space of time. The art is gorgeous – there’s a lot of Japanese influence, and the muted colour palette works really well. It should be no surprise to hear that I rated this 5 stars.

breaking glass

The next book I read was The Man Who Laughs and The Killing Joke by Ed Brubaker and Alan Moore, which is a graphic novel. This is the eighth book chronologically in the DC Comics – The Legend of Batman series. This combines two short Joker-centric stories into one collection. The Man Who Laughs follows Batman as he investigates mutilated bodies in a warehouse. A green haired man with a white face and red smile appears on television, threatening to kill wealthy men. He is soon nicknamed The Joker… The Killing Joke follows Joker as he intends to prove that it only takes one bad day to turn someone to madness… Both of these stories were amazing – I had already read The Killing Joke before. I loved the prequel elements to these stories, and like Joker says, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!” The art was detailed, highlighting the darkness of the stories, and also the insanity of the Joker. These are definitely short graphic novels that I’d recommend, and I rated this collection as 5 stars.

joker shorts

The next book I read was Harley Quinn Vol 5: Vote Harley by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, which is a graphic novel. This is part of the DC Universe Rebirth series, and follows Harley as she prepares to run for an election, whilst struggling with ongoing problems. This was a fun graphic novel, but I feel quite indifferent to it. Whilst the art is fantastic as usual, the political element of the plot was somehow lacking. Harley was just her usual effervescent self, but she goes through a lot of gut punches. Side characters get swapped about a lot, and things are sometimes a little bit bland. There’s not much more I can say, and I rated this 3 stars.

vote harley

The next book I read was on Kindle, and that was Sea Foam by Zoë Marriott, which is a YA fantasy. This contains a short story that is a prequel to The Book of Snow & Silence, deleted scenes from previous books, and ideas that Marriott never completed. This was an interesting, quick read. The short story was so sweet and I loved being back in this world. The rest of the deleted scenes were equally good, however, I feel like I needed a refresher of the novels beforehand. The poetry was an insight into Mariott’s mind, which was lovely. And if she’s reading this – I need more of Twiglet ASAP! I enjoyed my time with this and rated it 4 stars.

sea foam

The next book I read was The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is a classic compendium of short stories and novellas about the infamous detective. This was a really interesting read – the writing style instantly pulled me in, and I loved the characters of Holmes, Watson and Irene Adler. I’ve had a real sense of accomplishment finishing this as its huge – over 1000 pages, and it took over a month to read! This being said though, I didn’t enjoy some of the stories, and found them a little lacklustre. I was also able to solve a few of them, which really surprised and disappointed me. This being said, if you have an interest in Holmes in any way, I recommend you pick up the stories – whether on Kindle or in smaller paperback volumes, or even in a giant collection like this to dip in and out of.  I rated this 4 stars.

sherlock

The final book I read was Batman: Last Knight on Earth by Scott Synder, which is a graphic novel. This is part of the DC Black Label collection, which are darker and grittier stories. This follows Bruce, who wakes up twenty years in the future as a young man, and in a mental institution. He is sane and has never been Batman. This sets in motion a giant quest through the DC landscape, all the while accompanied by the talking head of Joker… This was a really interesting premise, however, I did have to Google a few things afterwards to understand it more. I loved the art style – the young Bruce, and many characters in the DC Universe, including Wonder Woman, look amazing – they’ve seen some stuff and aren’t afraid to be brutal nowadays. Joker’s talking head was such a highlight! This being said, I’d have loved to have seen more of Bruce in the institution, and would love to see this extended in another graphic novel. I borrowed this from my boyfriend, and read this in one sitting. If you like alternative universes, then I think you’d like this. I rated this 4 stars.

batman last knight

So that completes my wrap up! Let me know what book/books you have read in the month of July – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga. They all count! If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

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