That Was The Month That Was… June 2020!

June was one of those strange months that has sped by whilst also going really slowly. Does that even make sense?!

I’m still shielding and it looks like I will be until 1 August so nothing has really changed for me even though from what I see on the news a lot of the country is slowly returning to some kind of normality. I haven’t left the house yet, mainly because my asthma is really bad at the moment and it’s impossible to wear a mask when my breathing is already bad. My husband is still on furlough and we still don’t know when he’ll be returning to work, we’re waiting to hear.

Football is back so we’re enjoying watching that. It’s great having all of the matches televised although it does mean that some days we’re in danger of having square eyes! The waiting to see what’s happening with Newcastle United is getting endless now but what can you do?! At least it looks like we’re not going to be relegated!

My reading mojo is back in full swing and I read 30 books in June! It was helped by some sunny days in the garden where I only take a book out with me (no phone or laptop!) so I’m not distracted by anything. I also treated myself to some new wireless headphones so that I can listen to more of my audio books.

The Books I Read

The Posts I Blogged

Mini Book Reviews: The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper, The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel, His and Hers by Alice Feeney, and Funny Weather by Olivia Laing

Monthly Wrap-Up: That Was The Month That Was… May 2020

Mini Book Reviews: The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan, One Split Second by Caroline Bond, Living My Best Life by Claire Frost, and In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Mini Book Reviews: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell, When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill, Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa, and Born Lippy by Jo Brand

Review: Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

Mini Book Reviews: The Old You by Louise Voss, Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan, While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins, and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Review: Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

Mini Book Reviews: Heatstoke by Hazel Barkworth, Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie, All The Lonely People by David Owen, The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

Review: The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

How was June for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that June has been okay. What was your favourite book from June? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 🙂

#BookReview: Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee @sjhigbee

About the Book

Castellan the Black, now better known as Casta the Grey, has led an eventful life, but these days he’s content to live alone in his mountaintop lair, fending off occasional attacks from the food and waiting to die. At least, that’s what he tells himself.

Babysitting his young grandchildren is definitely not on his to do list. Sammy Jo doesn’t care that the world used to cower before Casta’s wrath. She doesn’t want barbecued knight in armour – it’s tinned food – and that’s that. Sadly, her little brother Billy Bob is more inclined to follow her lead than his grandfather’s, and what’s a grumpy old dragon to do with two such intransigent youngsters?

Things go from bad to worse when he wakes up from a nap to find they’ve been hunting for more appealing treats. Organic, free-range lunch was exactly what they needed, according to a very proud Sammy Jo. He’s never seen the food so upset, and now it’s coming up the hill, armed with spears and bows, hell bent on revenge.

Things go from bad to worse when he has to move in with the rest of the family. Whoever said family life was boring hasn’t lived alongside these two pesky lizards. Keeping his grandkids out of trouble might be more of a challenge than this over the mountain warrior can handle.

My Thoughts

I wanted to read this short story as soon as I read the blurb on the author S J Higbee’s blog, it sounded like wonderful fun and escapism. I’m so glad I picked it up because it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Casta is a cantankerous old dragon so when he’s put in charge of his two grandchildren – Sammy Jo and Billy Bob – for the day he’s not best pleased about it. His young charges run rings around him wanting different food to what he has provided and wanting freedom. As a result of the dragonets actions he has to move in with his daughter and son-in-law and the children and this makes him ever more grumpy!

I loved Casta the Grey, he’s one of those grandads that is genuinely grumpy and easily annoyed but from very early on there are moments where you can see his love for the dragonets, even if he’s determined not to let anyone see. I adored seeing his character growth and in particular the fondness he really develops for Sammy Jo. He begins to see more in her than he’d realised was there and their bond was just gorgeous. It made me nostalgic for my Grandparents and reminded me of some very happy memories.

I don’t normally read fantasy but this short story is so lovely. The descriptions of the dragons are fab and it reminded me of books I loved when I was a child and made me wonder why I never reach for the genre anymore. I think I may widen my horizons in future as a result of reading this. At its heart this is a story about family, about appreciating what you have and learning to accept that no one is perfect but you can love them anyway. This story will warm your heart, it’s really wonderful and I highly recommend it!

Picky Eaters is due to be published as an ebook on 22 June and can be pre-ordered here now. All proceeds from the book are going to mental health charities.

I received a copy of this story from BookSprout. All thoughts are my own.

WWW Wednesdays (17 Jun 20)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

The Old You by Louise Voss

I’ve only read the first couple of chapters of this novel but I’m already gripped. This is about a married couple – Lynn and Ed. Lynn gave up her career when she married Ed and now he’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia. But as strange things begin to happen, she wonders if it’s her mind playing tricks rather than Ed’s. I can’t wait to read more!

All the Lonely People by David Owen

This book has been on my NetGalley shelf for a lot longer than it should have been but I finally picked it up a couple of days ago and am enjoying it. It is following two teenagers – Kat who has been the victim of a horrible campaign to get her to delete her blog and all of her social media, and Wesley who played his part in the campaign but is already feeling guilty about it. Kat suddenly begins to literally fade and become translucent and I’m so intrigued about what is going on!

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

This is a fascinating social history of black people in Britain. The author has researched all the way back to roman times and it’s such an eye-opening and interesting book. It’s a book that I’m learning a lot from but at the same time it’s incredibly readable. I highly recommend this one and I’m keen to keep picking it up.

Recent Reads

While I was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

I picked this book up from my 20 Books of Summer TBR yesterday and read the first couple of hundred pages while sitting out in the garden. By then I was too gripped to put it down so I read the rest last night! This book follows Maddie as she wakes from a come after being hit by a car. Life has change quite a bit for her and she has a lot to get used to. It also follows Chloe who is a hospital volunteer who gets to know Maddie’s fiance Ryan. This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be and I very much enjoyed it.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I enjoyed this book, which I picked from my NetGalley shelf last week. It’s about Liam who moves back into his ex-wife’s home when she’s diagnosed with a terminal illness. When Jennifer dies Liam is convinced it’s suicide but the police think it’s murder. I’m intrigued to read more and to find out what did happen to Jennifer and who, if anyone, is involved. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find out more here.

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

This was another pick from my 20 Books of Summer TBR and is another book that I read in one sitting. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking read that I utterly adored. It follows a couple who have been married for over 40 years but Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for the last 6 months. The novel opens with Maggie attempting suicide and what follows is the story of their lives, of why Frank stopped speaking and why Maggie took those pills. This book is stunning, I was enthralled the whole way through it and I still keep thinking of Frank and Maggie. I highly recommend this one.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

I’ve had a copy of this book on my TBR for around a year but I’ve seen so many recommendations of it that I picked it up this week and I read it all in one go. It follows Justyce, a black teenager who one night finds himself wrongly arrested because of the colour of his skin. He then begins writing letters to Martin Luther King and he tries to live more as Martin did. This novel explores so many aspects of racism, and of how insidious it is. This is a book that will smash your heart into a million pieces but it does leave room for hope. I can’t put into words how brilliant this novel is and I’m so glad I read it.

Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

This is a short story that is being published this week (my review will be posted in the coming days!) and all proceeds are being donated to NHS charities. This is a story about grumpy grandfather dragon who just wants a quiet life but now he has to look after his grandchildren, and they want to do their own thing. It’s a great escape of a read and I recommend it!

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I listened to this book on audio and I definitely recommend this medium as it follows Bri who wants to become a top rapper and throughout the audiobook you hear the raps she has written and performed. Bri is such a great character, she truly believes in herself and her music and doesn’t want to let anyone stand in her way. She faces a battle when people assume her lyrics are saying things she didn’t mean and then is judged as being an another angry black girl. She continues to fight her corner and to stand up for herself and her music. I recommend this one!

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is an incredible novella that explores xenophobia through the viewpoint of Masechaba, a young doctor in South Africa. This book packs so much into its few pages and I was spellbound by it. Masechaba’s struggles with her own body through her periods was so visceral and relatable, and later the horrific thing that happens to her along with the aftermath was so hard to read and yet I couldn’t look away. I very much recommend this one!

What I Might Read Next

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

On the morning of Monday 23rd December, Jamie Buckby takes the commuter riverboat from his home in St Mary’s, southeast London, to work in Central London, noting that his good friend and neighbour Kit Roper has not turned up for the 7.30am service they usually catch together. At the London Eye, where he disembarks for his job in a café behind the South Bank Centre, Jamie is met by the police. Kit has been reported missing by his wife. As Jamie is taken in for questioning, he discovers someone saw him arguing with Kit on the boat home late on Friday night. The other passenger believes Jamie committed murder. But what really happened? 

I’ve enjoyed Louise Candlish’s previous novels and the blurb of this one sounds so good and I can’t wait to read it!

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

Lottie is always in a hurry, rushing through her days ticking tasks off her to-do lists. Teddy is worried about his granddaughter – and he knows that his late wife, Lily, would have known exactly what to say to make things better. Now that Lily has gone, it’s up to Teddy to talk some sense into Lottie. With the help of Arjun, Geoffrey and Howard, the elderly reprobates who make up his Gin O’Clock Club, Teddy makes a plan to help Lottie find her way back to the things that really matter – family, friendship and love. But as Lottie balances a high-powered job with her reluctant attendance at whist drives, ballroom dances and bingo, Teddy wonders if she’s really ready to open up her heart to the possibility of true happiness…

This sounds like a fun summer read so I’m adding it the TBR of books I hope to read in the coming week.

How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister

You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good? Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back. The only choice is to disappear. From their family, their friends, even from Lauren’s husband. No goodbyes. Just new names, new home, new lives. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new. As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is much harder . . .

The blurb of this book sounds so good and so intriguing so I’m keen to get to it as soon as I can.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. 

I was very lucky to receive an ARC of this book and have been so looking forward to reading it as I’m a massive Maggie O’Farrell fan. I didn’t want to pick it up in the midst of my reading slump so I’ve been waiting until I was back on track and now I simply can’t wait any longer to read it!

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (13 Jun 20)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Purchased eBooks

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele

In my continued attempt to better understand the Black Lives Matter movement I discovered this book this week and it seems like a good book to read soon after They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery, which I read over the last couple of weeks. This is a memoir of two of the women who co-founded the movement and the found themselves being called terrorists as a result. I plan on reading this one very soon.

Things I learnt from Falling by Claire Nelson

I added this to my wish list recently and soon after went ahead and bought the book. I’m always drawn to books about people who’ve had immense struggle and come out the other side. This is Claire’s memoir of deciding to go hiking in order to try and help her anxiety but while alone on the trail she had an horrendous fall and became trapped with no way of contacting anyone. This is the story of how she survived. I’m keen to get to this one soon too.

Review Books

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

I requested this book on NetGalley as the blurb sounded like my kind of book. A baby is abducted from outside a supermarket and then fifteen years later a tiny hand is spotted on a building site. The baby’s mother was accused of being distant when her baby was stolen but she has never got over losing her child. Now the case is to be re-opened. I’m so intrigued to know what happened to the baby and who’s invovled.

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve been looking for books on race to help me be a better ally and this book keeps coming up. I already own another book by this author (Stamped from the Beginning) but I think I’m going to read this one first. I understand that it’s not enough to not be racist, we need to understand how to be anti-racist. I think this might be the non-fiction book I read after my current one.

Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

I got a copy of this short story last Saturday afternoon and I’ve already read it. It follows a cantankerous old dragon who is left in charge of his grand-dragonets for the day and things don’t go well. Over the course of the story he sees a spark in his grand-daughter Sammy-Jo and he begins to change his ways. I adored this story, it was perfect escapism and I highly recommend it. It’s due to be published later this month so I’ll be reviewing it very soon!

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (10 Jun 20)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

Picky Eaters (part 1) by S. J. Higbee

I’m cheating slightly putting this one on my currently reading as I haven’t started it yet but it’s a short story that I’m planning on reading today so I’m counting it here. This is a story about grumpy grandfather dragon who just wants a quiet life but now he has to look after his grandchildren, and they want to do their own thing. It sounds like the escapist read a lot of us need and I can’t wait to read this one this afternoon. All proceeds from the sale of this short story are going to mental health charities so it’s for a great cause. You can find out more about this short story here.

Evening Primrose by Kopana Matlwa

This is the next book I’ve picked from my 20 Books of Summer TBR. I’ve had this one my TBR for around three years and I finally picked it up yesterday and am very much engrossed in this novel. It’s exploring race and gender from the perspective of a junior doctor in South Africa. The protagonist is having to deal with increasingly xenophobic attitudes and has to decide how to handle this in the wake of the life she is building for herself.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I only read a few pages of this one before I went to bed last night but it’s definitely caught my interest already. It’s about Liam who moves back into his ex-wife’s home when she’s diagnosed with a terminal illness. When Jennifer dies Liam is convinced it’s suicide but the police think it’s murder. I’m intrigued to read more and to find out what did happen to Jennifer and who, if anyone, is involved.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I’m listening to this on audio and it’s brilliant. I definitely recommend the audio as it follows Bri who wants to become a top rapper and throughout the audiobook you hear the raps she has written and performed. Bri is such a great character, she truly believes in herself and her music and doesn’t want to let anyone stand in her way. She faces a battle when people assume her lyrics are saying things she didn’t mean and then is judged as being an another angry black girl. She continues to fight her corner though and I’m hoping she makes it to the top. This is such a good read and I definitely recommend.

Recent Reads

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

This was my second pick from my 20 Books of Summer and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t the book I thought it was going to be but I enjoyed it all the same. It follows Lily as she opens the last letter her late mum left for her, and she discovers the full name of her mum’s one true love. On the same day she finds a move star hiding out in her best friend’s house and develops a crush! The novel follows what happens next. It’s a lovely, feel-good read and I recommend it for perfect summer escapist reading!

Born Lippy: How To Do Female by Jo Brand

This was the first book I picked from my 20 Books of Summer stack and I’m so glad I finally got to this one. Jo Brand gives her no nonsense perspective and advice on life and being a woman. Some parts of this book made me laugh, and others were exactly the to the point advice I need at the moment. I recommend this one!

They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery

I picked this book off my Kindle in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and I’m so pleased that I read it. It’s a good introduction to the Black Lives Matter movement – how it began and how it has evolved. I felt I knew a lot of what happened in the timeframe this book spans but there was still a lot for me to learn. It’s a heartbreaking read. My cousin is mixed race and lives in America and I fear for him every single time I hear of another murder of an unarmed black man. I know his struggle but I also know I need to educate myself more.

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

I listened to this book on audio this week and it broke my heart. Lemn Sissay is a black man who was brought up with a white foster family. The book tells the story he was told, the story of what the social workers said happened and Lemn’s own truth. It’s a really tough read, to know of the lies and harm that was caused to one boy through so many people in positions of power relative to him is disturbing. It’s a book I recommend to everyone though, it’s one that really stays with you and makes you think.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

This is a stunning book. I read it in just two sittings and was completely engrossed in the story being told. The novel is set in 2001 and it’s Melody’s coming of age graduation. The story is told from multiple points of view and goes back and forth in time between the present and 16 years ago when Melody’s mum got pregnant with her. This is a novel that weaved it’s way through me and I keep finding myself thinking about these characters, they felt so real to me. The writing is stunning, and to tell such a powerful and poignant story that has such impact in 200 pages is incredible. I already want to go back and read this again and I’m sure I’ll come back to it in the future.

What I Might Read Next

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

I’ve had a hardback copy of this book on my bookcase for a while now but it’s physically too heavy for me to hold it so I’ve bought the ebook so I can read it now. I want to understand more about the roots of racism in this country and this seems like an excellent place to start.

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

This is the next book I’m picking from my NetGalley shelf and I’ve been so looking forward to this one. It follows a group of friends who meet up the for the weekend after one of their number has died. I think secrets are revealed and the past has to be confronted! I love books about the complexities of female friendship, and also any books full of secrets and lies so I think I’m going to really enjoy this one.

Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

I was thrilled when the author offered me a copy of this book as I’d seen it online and thought it looked like a good summer read. It’s about a woman on a dating site looking for a man and she finds one but then it doesn’t work out. It’s a novel about the perils of online dating and trying to find Mr Right. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

The Old You by Louise Voss

This is my next pick from my 20 Books of Summer TBR and is one I really want to get to this week if I can. I love Louise Voss’ writing and this has been on my shelf unread for longer than it should have been. This is about a married couple- Lynn and Ed. Lynn gave up her career when she married Ed and now he’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia. But as strange things begin to happen, she wonders if it’s her mind playing tricks rather than Ed’s. This sounds so goos and I can’t wait to read it!

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂