Wrap up

July 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

“Possibly because the French made it sound fancy and respectable, the wake-up call for the prisoners was called reveille.”

First line in The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley

Okay, so July was an experience. I’m sorry for all the sports enthusiasm you’re about to read but I can’t not talk about the cycling race Tour de France in a post about July 2022. You see, it so happened that the Tour de France began in Denmark at the start of the month, for the first time ever I might add! It meant I had the opportunity to go see it live, something I’ve dreamt of doing for the past ten years or so. Like, we’re talking bucket list type stuff and it was absolutely amazing!!! Then the rest of the three-week-long race turned out to be so entertaining and possibly my favorite one ever. And in the end, a guy from Denmark won (my reaction: kpkspfjsggohtuyuwtrgn). Something like that doesn’t happen, okay! But it did! 😍😍😍😍 (I’m sorry but sports results pretty much control my mood; there’s nothing I can do.)

However, July wasn’t all good because as you might have heard, there was a shooting at a shopping center in Copenhagen at the start of the month. I was nowhere near it but a colleague of mine that I talk to a lot was. She is fine, physically at least, but she has told me exactly what happened and I’ve never heard anything so scary. Stuff like that happens in movies, not in real life and definitely not in Denmark!

Let’s talk about something a bit more fun: Books!

Considering I spent most of my July watching men riding bikes, it’s actually not that bad. I did read one very long book that helped that page count go up, but I made the decision not to care that I wouldn’t read that much in July because the Tour de France was cutting into my normal reading hours. That I still read what I consider a normal amount is probably a testament to the fact that I actually read some great books in July. After a terrible start, I had an amazing month reading-wise as you’re about to see.

Fool’s Fate (The Tawny Man #3)

Author: Robin Hobb

Published: October 2003

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

My thoughts

Has anyone figured out how to give negative stars on Goodreads? Because this book gave me two hellish weeks and one star just feels like too much. I’ve already written my review and live commentary of it (if you care to witness my descent into depression as I read), so I don’t really have anything more to say. I also just want to start trying to forget that I ever read this book. ‘Hate’ isn’t a strong enough word to describe my feelings towards Fool’s Fate.

Young Mungo

Author: Douglas Stuart

Published: April 5th, 2022

Genre: Literary Fiction

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Glasgow, working-class family life

Synopsis: Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars–Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic–and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when several months later Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.


My thoughts

I READ A 5-STAR BOOK!! I had a feeling this would be good and it was so nice not to be disappointed for once. The book is set in Glasgow and you can really tell that the author wanted to emerge readers into the city to show them that this story is native to Glasgow. He does so especially in a way that might annoy some readers which is to have dialogue spelled like the characters with that kind of dialect would speak. It was a little hard to read at first but I think I got used to it and was able to see it as a genius way of creating the proper atmosphere. When you hear the Scottish in your head like that, it’s hard to imagine you’re somewhere else.

What I also really liked about it was its portrayal of a working-class family. I’ve often seen such a theme be dealt with in an almost fairytale-like way with authors being too scared to show the reality of that life but Douglas Stuart wasn’t. He showed all the ugliness and he didn’t try to make it pretty or digestible. He just showed it how it is. And it is sad. Very sad.

Finally, while I was reading I kept thinking the book had a few things in common with A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, and I do think that if you love that one, Young Mungo could be for you too.

UnSouled (Unwind Dystology #3)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: October 15th, 2013

Genre: YA Science Fiction

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My thoughts

I think I’m starting to accept that this series peaked with its first book. The two sequels I’ve read so far haven’t been able to replicate what the first one did so well. However, that doesn’t mean I hated this book. I do enjoy reading about most of the characters so even when the plot wasn’t super strong, I didn’t really mind it much. I do wish we would get more of the ethical dilemmas on a grander scale because we seem to focus more on the individual characters and their problems. With them being teenagers, their problems are very romance-related and I think it’s unfortunate because there is potential for more. But I also know it’s YA and I can’t really complain about a romance focus. I’m still very excited to see how it all ends because I definitely have characters who need to die 🤞

The Half Life of Valery K

Author: Natasha Pulley

Published: June 23rd, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: The Soviet Union, radiation science, so much science, the 1960s

Synopsis: In 1963, in a Siberian gulag, former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov has mastered what it takes to survive: the right connections to the guards for access to food and cigarettes, the right pair of warm boots to avoid frostbite, and the right attitude toward the small pleasures of life. But on one ordinary day, all that changes: Valery’s university mentor steps in and sweeps Valery from the frozen prison camp to a mysterious unnamed town hidden within a forest so damaged it looks like the trees have rusted from within.

Here, Valery is Dr. Kolkhanov once more, and he’s expected to serve out his prison term studying the effect of radiation on local animals. But as Valery begins his work, he is struck by the questions his research raises: what, exactly, is being hidden from the thousands who live in the town? And if he keeps looking for answers, will he live to serve out his sentence?


My thoughts

There’s something about reading a book by Natasha Pulley that feels like coming home. She’s my favorite author and it’s just so satisfying to know that I can trust her to write a great book. Even if, as in this case, I was not super sold on the premise beforehand. What she did to win me over was to give me a broken man who cares too much and an octopus that just wants to play and watch TV. I’m in love!

That said, though, you probably shouldn’t read this book if you don’t enjoy a lot of science in your books. Valery, the main character, is a scientist and he spends a lot of the book in a lab so there’s just no way around it. And Pulley is not afraid to info-dump (which I personally love). However, I managed to follow along for most of it and could tell Pulley found it super interesting so some of that rubbed off on me. And I say this as someone with absolutely no interest in nuclear or radiation science before reading this. Although, I might just love Natasha Pulley so much that I will find anything she writes about interesting.

TWO 5-star reads in one month?? What is happening?? 🤯 Anyway, to anyone who might have noticed, I didn’t post this on a Saturday as I normally would. That’s because I’ve decided to post on Mondays instead. It suits me better and the only reason I didn’t do it before is that I also occasionally participate in Top Ten Tuesday. However, I don’t really do it that much anymore (I say as I have two planned for August 😅), so sometimes you’re just going to get a post two days in a row and that’s just how it’s going to be.

But let me know if you’ve read any of these books or plan to. I’d love to know your thoughts about them!

7 thoughts on “July 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

  1. This post was the balm my wounded soul needed after my disastrous sport-watching experience yesterday where a) I couldn’t watch the women’s Euros final live because the German train service cancelled the bus that was supposed to take us around the construction work on the railway, meaning I had to walk that distance (which took two hours in extreme heat and made me get home well past 8 p.m. 😤) and b) then we ended up losing against England, which was the most bitter defeat ever 😭😭😭 So yeah, I’m glad at least the Tour de France worked out for you – it’s so cool you actually got to see part of it in person!!

    And the shopping center shooting shocked me to the core when I saw it on the news! I can’t even imagine what your colleague is going through 😥

    But back to positives – I thought I had a good reading month, but apart from Fool’s Fate, yours sounds even more awesome! I’m glad those five-star reads are finally showing up for you 😄 And, OMG, despite hating The Bedlam Stacks, I think Valery K has serious potential of becoming my favorite Natasha Pulley book. I mean, it is set in Russia and has science in it. That alone is enough to make me want to read it without any other context whatsoever 🤣

    Also, Line, I just felt like I need to tell you this: I’m now about 150 pages into the Russian version of Philosopher’s Stone, and although they haven’t changed a lot, there are a few interesting names. Like Newt Salamander 😂 It’s very entertaining and kind of making up for the fact that it’s taking me about an hour to read a chapter…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I watched that final yesterday and by the end, I was also hoping you weren’t that into women’s football 😬 I had to turn it off at the end when it was clear England was going to win because I just couldn’t watch them cheer. And yes, I supported Germany, even after you annihilated us in the first game (ouch btw) 😅 But that train/bus chaos sounds like an unnecessary punishment! 😮

      But I’m glad you want to read Valery K because then we can avoid the situation where I have to force you 😂 That book just has Naemi written all over it and I was thinking that even when Pulley announced it. Since then I’ve just been hoping she could handle Russia and Russian well so that wouldn’t ruin it for you, you know? But I know she’s been learning Russian so I’m optimistic on that front 😄 And you’re probably going to understand the science better than me. I felt it was going really well but it lost me a little at the end so I’m very curious to know your thoughts on that!

      Newt Salamander 😂😂😂 Honestly, I’m surprised the Danish edition didn’t go for that name too. A guy working with animals not getting an animal name seems wrong 😂

      (Also, if you had any worries I might not like The Darkness Outside Us, I don’t understand where those worries came from when this book is basically Piranesi in space and why would I not love that??? 😍😍😍😍 I might have to finish it tonight because I just need to know how it ends!!!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As long as it’s soccer, I will be interested! 😂 (Although I also think men’s soccer is more exciting because there’s way more hype around it, so yeah, I guess I’m a bit sexist 😅) But I guess I should thank the train service for sparing me the actual experience of having to see that defeat – I did listen to the game on the radio and that was already beyond brutal! 😭

        I am pretty hard to please when it comes to Russian correctness, so I guess that’s fair 🤣 But the fact that all of Natasha Pulley’s books have seemed really well researched so far and you telling me that she’s been learning Russian is making my hopes skyrocket!

        I’m so curious about how that Salamander translation came about, though 🤔 Basically all other names in the book are taken directly from English and just transcribed into Cyrillic, so part of me is tempted to say the translator just didn’t read that name properly or overlooked autocorrect changing it… Because, yeah, an animal name makes sense, but an Ancient Greek river god is so much cooler! Newt was robbed! 😂😂😂

        Also, while I am extremely offended that you would compare the greatness that is The Darkness Outside us to a mediocre book like Piranesi, I AM SO THRILLED YOU LOVED IT!!! 🤗🥰🤗 I was worried, okay? You have an irrational dislike of anything spacey and sciency 😜 Seeing those five stars on StoryGraph just made my morning, and now I finally have someone to talk about it with!! Like, the whole mystery of WTF was going on aboard that ship had me engrossed, potentially evil AIs are an extreme literary weakness of mine, and then the clone thing and how your surroundings and opportunities shape the person you become was soooo fascinating!! And I couldn’t talk about any of it in my wrap-up because it would have been a tremendous spoiler, so now we have some catching up to do! 😁 (Also, I hope you appreciate the grumpy cinnamon-rolliness that is Kodiak, because he is quite possibly my favorite character of the year, together with Paragon 🥰 And fine, I’ll shut up now 😂)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I get what you mean. The hype around a sport makes a difference in how exciting I find it too.

        I have probably also mistaken Scamander for Salamander at some point in my early days of reading Harry Potter but I would hope a translator was a little more professional 😂

        How could I not compare the two?!? They’re the only two books I’ve read that are based around the scenario of Plato’s Cave – It’s the main thing about both books that I love! 😍 Like with Piranesi, I also liked the first half of The Darkness Outside Us more because I love being in that WTF state 😄 (Also maybe a teeny tiny bit disappointed that the ending was rather simple).
        And I will defend my dislike of spacey books by saying that I often find them very restrictive to the story because characters have to travel somewhere for stuff to happen or for them to meet some other characters that are going to mess everything up. But The Darkness Outside Us wasn’t particularly spacey and every single character in the book is already on the ship. I mean, the twist could have been that they were still on Earth or something so I didn’t mind. And I’ve just read Valery K so this book wasn’t sciency either in comparison 😅
        I did like Kodiak but Ambrose qualifies are more cinnamonroll-y to me so he was my favorite and I was very glad that we stuck with him all the way through 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I also thought the ending could’ve packed a bit more of a punch, but honestly, at that point I was so in love with the book that I just didn’t care 🥰😂 Like you, I loved the mysteriousness of the first half, but I also found it super fascinating how the different clones reacted so differently to their situation just because of a slight change in how things played out. I couldn’t get enough of that and it made me reflect so much on how choices and chance encounters can shape your future. So I loved the second half at least as much as the first one!! 😍😍😍

        And I also liked Ambrose and loved having him as a narrator, but he just can’t compete with Kodiak 😇 Kodiak’s initial standoffishness and more reserved manner instantly won me over, and Ambrose’s constant horny and self-absorbed comments just gave him too many annoying puppy-dog frat-boy traits to make me love him equally 😁 But I do like that he had those traits because it made him seem like so much more of a real person! 🥰 (And it was kind of adorable, too.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Valery!! i love that book and love him, he’s my new favorite pulley hero (tho The Kingdoms is still my favorite pulley book overall). i know Valery just came out but i can’t wait for Pulley’s next book!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it’s great to hear from another Pulley fan! Valery is such a precious being and I love him so much! It’s really hard for me to rank the books and the characters because I still also really love The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and Thaniel but this book is definitely up there. And I also keep checking if she has announced a new book because I need one now!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.