Chapter: July & August Book Reviews

A new routine means lots of time for reading! I’ve been really powering through the books, even if some of them aren’t so great!

I missed book reviews last month, the main reason is because I made some average reading choices. Instead I decided to combine July and August into one post.

The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery – Catherine Bailey

Synopsis from Book Depository

July August Book Reviews | Serensays.comAt 6 am on 21 April 1940 John the 9th Duke of Rutland, and one of Britain’s wealthiest men, ended his days, virtually alone, lying on a makeshift bed in a dank cramped suite of rooms in the servants’ quarters of his own home, Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire. For weeks, as his health deteriorated, his family, his servants – even the King’s doctor – pleaded with him to come out, but he refused. After his death, his son and heir, Charles, the 10th Duke of Rutland, ordered that the rooms be locked up and they remained untouched for sixty years. What lay behind this extraordinary set of circumstances?

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. The rooms are hardly secret and it’s not exactly a Gothic mystery. I kept reading it as the writer’s style kept me engaged, but I felt like the ending was rather rushed. It’s a bit of a disappointment and at times a bit of a hike to get through. It’s got a lot of World War One information which can mean it’s tedious. The main person that it’s centered around is a bit of a bore. I wanted to know more about his family but I was kept waiting. This book is certainly for a very niche reader, even as a history fan I wouldn’t rate this.

Buy now for $17.69

The Widow – Fiona Barton

Synopsis from Book Depository

July August Book Reviews | Serensays.comWe’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him? Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

If you are easily disturbed then don’t read this book. The fact is horrible crimes happen, and this book is about exactly that. However it’s the story of the person left behind, his wife. If you like thrillers, then this book should be on your to-read list. It isn’t easy to stomach in places but if you can put that to a side then I highly recommend this.

Buy now for $13.49

Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Synopsis from Book Depository

July August Book Reviews | Serensays.com In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed. 

This book has been on my to-read list for a long time, after reading it I am bitterly disappointed. Thank god I didn’t actually buy it, because it is one of the most boring books I have ever read. It’s meant to be this lost story of a historical murderess who is sentenced to death in Iceland. You’re meant to fall in love with the descriptions of the landscapes and the sadness of her story but, it’s just dull. She isn’t interesting, her story isn’t interesting and being a servant or farmer in rural Iceland in the 1830s sounds awful (as if it was going to be anything else). Spoiler alert, she dies. There I saved you from the mind numbing tedium that is this book. I feel like people say they like this book in an attempt to appear artistic and deep.

Buy now for $13.31

Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

Synopsis from Book Depository

July August Book Reviews | Serensays.comHer perfect life is a perfect lie …Ani FaNelli is the woman who has it all: the glamorous job, the designer wardrobe, the handsome and rich fiance. But behind her sharp edges and meticulously crafted facade lies the darkest of pasts …When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling and violent incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley school, she hopes it will be an opportunity to prove how far she’s turned her life around since then. 

Whilst this book gets very average reviews on Goodreads I actually really enjoyed it. It addresses the agony of being a teenage girl and the dangers that go along with it. The main character is the reason why I think this book gets average reviews. She does have an awful personality however as you read it, you’ll understand why. If you like Pretty Little Lies then you’ll like this book too.

 Buy now for $12.49

Rain Girl – Gabi Kreslehner

Synopsis from Book Depository

July August Book Reviews | Serensays.comVeteran homicide detective Franza Oberwieser prefers her job in the winter. Summer is for growing, not for dying. So when the body of a beautiful young woman is found on the autobahn, dressed in a glittering party dress and bathed in June rain, Franza is determined to give her justice. Revealing victims’ hidden lives is part of the job, but as Franza and her partner, Felix, peel back the layers shrouding the girl’s disturbing past, darker mysteries emerge.

The biggest issue I think this book has it that the translation is chunky. At times you think “what the f–k did I just read?” I’m guessing that some German sayings simply don’t have an English meaning so the result is bizarre. Despite this, it is an easy read, I finished it in two days, but that’s about all it has going for it. If you like not very challenging plot lines then this is for you! Also if you hate surprises this is for you, because it doesn’t have any. The most irritating aspect is that the victim is pitched as one of those girls whose so beautiful and mysterious. My guess is that the author was trying to give legs to the passion and jealousy angle by selling her as this broken yet alluring woman. Anyway the whole thing was a total meh for me. This genre has been dominated by heavy weight bestsellers for a few years now. If you’re going to contribute then you’d better be an artist at the thrill.

Buy now for $18.75

The Mystery of Mercy Close – Marian Keyes

Synopsis from Book Depository

July August Book Reviews | Serensays.com ‘I have a habit of taking instant dislikes to people. Simply because it saves time . . .’ Wasp-tongued private investigator Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in love, fear, depression or hot drinks. But when a missing persons case takes her into the dark, glamorous world of her dodgy ex, Jay Parker, she is drawn away from Artie Devlin, her distinctly unglamorous detective boyfriend.Caught between smart, stable Artie and chaotic, up-for-anything Jay – two different, but equally enticing men – and plagued by her own black doubts, Helen finds she’s beginning to believe in something.But is it fear, or is it love?

Oh my gosh I forgot how much I love Marian Keyes! After weeks of incredibly average books, it was a delight to end on this. She has such a great sense of humour that she manages to weave into her characters so that you can actually relate to them. This book is such a joy to read but it also has the undertow of depression weaving though it. As ,my regular readers know, I have depression, but it’s nice to read a book that includes it as an issue but doesn’t make it heavy. She’s done a fantastic job at building an understanding whilst being funny and not taking away from the main story. The main story is intriguing yet also laugh out loud enjoyable. I’d say this is easily one of her best books, if you haven’t read any of her work then start with this!

Buy now for $15.55

Have you read any of these books? What are you currently reading?

Avoid any dud books and find the great ones by reading the latest reviews on Seren Says!

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