Summer 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

September 4, 2019 in Book Reviews
Summer Reading Wrap-Up 2019: Sunglasses on beach

We are so close to autumn that I can almost smell the sweet aroma of pumpkins and hear that soothing crunch of leaves. But alas, the end of summer also means the end of my 2019 summer reading challenge. Sad times!

I managed to read 12 books over the course of the summer:

  • 4 x non-fiction
  • 2 x young adult
  • 3 x mystery/thrillers
  • 2 x historical fiction
  • 1 x horror

The Prisoner of Heaven
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series is quite possibly my favourite book series, ever. So I kicked off my summer reading with the third book in the series – The Prisoner of Heaven.

It’s centred around the character of Fermin – one of the booksellers at Sempere & Sons. And honestly it’s more heavily focused on the historical side of things than I would have liked? So I was a teeny bit disappointed that it lacked the supernatural/magical realism elements that I’d loved so much about its predecessors. Still, it was a great read and an intriguing insight into what Spain looked like under Franco’s rule. It also weaves together the first three books; The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game and of course, The Prisoner of Heaven.

Leave Your Mark
by Aliza Licht

This career guide is a must-read! It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s the kind of book I could have done with circa 2014 as I was graduating from uni and heading out into the “real world”. But it still had a lot of value for me as a mum and newbie blogger! In fact, for the latter it was an invaluable resource. The lessons on social media and personal branding will stick with me forever.

A Whole New World
by Liz Braswell

As much as I love all things Disney, I just couldn’t bring myself to love this retelling of Aladdin. It was just way too dark for my liking. The murders were graphic and disturbing and yeah, it just wasn’t for me. I think I’ll be skipping the other titles in the Twisted Tales series after this which is a shame.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Perhaps one of the heaviest books I’ve ever read but equally, one of the best. As the final book in the beloved Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, this one gave me all the feels. The final pages were an explosion of emotion. So much so, that thinking back to them gives me chills and makes me want to cry the most bittersweet of tears. It was the perfect ending for a delightful series.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve never read any of Gilbert’s books before but now that I understand the ins and outs of her creative process, I just might. Reading Big Magic opened my eyes to the reasons why I choose to create. It gave me more confidence in my abilities and even allowed me to reflect on the times that I got scared and retreated, afraid to try again.

I blog because I love to write. Sure, I sometimes struggle with the limitations of my chronic illnesses but writing is what I love to do. When I’m not writing, I’m paying attention to the inspiration around me. That’s what creative living is. It’s not forcing yourself to be a slave to your craft, it’s about embracing the inspiration in life and working with it, not for it.

Just One Look
by Harlan Coben

Coben is known for delivering twisty crime fiction and this was no exception. It was so captivating in fact that I managed to finish it in one sitting. There was one twist that literally made my jaw drop and I’m so glad it did because it was a real genuine shock.

Don’t Look Back
by Harlan Coben

Unfortunately Don’t Look Back wasn’t nearly as gripping as some of Coben’s other novels that I’ve read. But I still enjoyed it! It was the first time that one of my early hunches ended up being the shock twist at the end which was equally great and disappointing. I think maybe the clues in this one were just a tad too obvious.

Kindred Spirits
by Rainbow Rowell

Fandom, fandom, fandom. The topic of fandom means a lot to me. It was something I studied at university, even to the point of writing my dissertation on it. So yeah, I loved this little novella. I can’t claim to be a huge Star Wars fan, I am a fan in general and I am a fan of Rowell’s work. She just gets the beauty of what fandom truly is: a connection. I love the way fandom unites people and loved the way that this story built on that.

The Last Night at Tremore Beach
by Mikel Santiago

Oh my goodness. This one was fantastic but also disturbed me so deeply that I jumped out of my skin and screamed when Matt started reciting Bee Movie quotes out of nowhere. I’ve never been so transfixed with a story before.

There were times while reading The Last Night at Tremore Beach that I was sure I was going to throw up. There were times when I had to hold my son so close to me because I was genuinely terrified and he soothes my anxious soul. (It probably didn’t help that the main character’s children were very much in danger throughout.) So yeah, a wild and intense thriller that was just so so good.

The Travelling Bag and Other Stories
by Susan Hill

I’m a big mood reader in the autumn so normally something as spooky as this collection of short stories would be read against a backdrop of falling orange and red leaves. But I couldn’t resist picking it up at the library so here we are!

Of the four stories, my favourite was Alice Baker. This short story left me feeling very disturbed and uncomfortable. Even now, thinking about this poltergeist-y tale gives me mega chills.

The Million Dollar Blog
by Natasha Courtenay-Smith

My thoughts on this non-fiction book about blogging are conflicted. On on the one hand, I loved that it was full of relevant and applicable tips and real-life experiences. I loved that it focuses on making the most of every post, connection and opportunity. So yeah, I learnt a lot from it however…

It did start to feel quite ableist towards the end. It’s not something I normally would have picked up on but my chronic illness has made blogging on a strict and consistent schedule a bit of a pipe dream. The idea that I was “making excuses” for not working on my blog when sometimes I can’t even string a sentence together didn’t sit right with me, at all. Regardless of whether you blog for a hobby or for a career, or even if you have a chronic illness or not, you are more than your blog. Your health (physical and/or mental) is more important than your blog. You don’t need to feel guilty about that.

Mumboss
by Vicki Psarias

I had quite high expectations for this that it sadly didn’t live up to which is a shame because I love the Honest Mum blog. Even though it wasn’t the best, I did learn from its content especially in regards to SEO so it is still a valuable resource for bloggers. But I’d argue it’s better suited to parenting bloggers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my mini reviews of the dozen books I read this summer! As I previously mentioned, I love a good spooky book in the autumn so make sure you check out my Autumn TBR to find out what I’m hoping to read over the next few months.

Featured Image: Marie33 from Getty Images

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I'm Hayley - a 30 year old book blogger from the UK. Also: chronic overthinker, introvert, homebody and mum.

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