What I’ve Been Reading Lately: July 31

Welcome to What I’ve Been Reading Lately, a feature where I’ll be giving short reviews of what I’m currently reading:

I have been in reading slump lately so you are going to see a lot of the same titles that were mentioned in pervious posts. But hopefully with this vacation coming up, I’ll finally get some reading done!

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and ready to serve society.”

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie: a 26-year-old Classics teacher, Caldonbrae’s new head of the department, and the first hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose is overwhelmed to be invited into this institution, whose prestige is unrivaled. But she quickly discovers that behind the school’s elitist veneer lies an impenetrable, starkly traditional culture that she struggles to reconcile with her modernist beliefs–not to mention her commitment to educating “girls for the future.”

It also doesn’t take long for Rose to suspect that there’s more to the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor–a woman whose ghost lingers everywhere–than anyone is willing to let on. In her search for this mysterious former teacher, Rose instead uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, forcing her to confront the true extent of the school’s nefarious purpose, and her own role in perpetuating it.

I have a feeling that this will be a slow book but I am willing to give this one a try! I’m a couple pages in and it sounds interesting so far.

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

The Comfort Book is a collection of consolations learned in hard times and suggestions for making the bad days better. Drawing on maxims, memoir and the inspirational lives of others, these meditations celebrate the ever-changing wonder of living. This is for when we need the wisdom of a friend or a reminder we can always nurture inner strength and hope, even in our busy world. A book of timeless comfort for modern minds. (Credit: Canongate)

This book has been a real treat to me that last couple of weeks. This is another winner from the inspirational Matt Haig!

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…(Credit: Bloomsbury)

Purcell has another great gothic novel that pulls you into the beautiful atmospheric world she has created! Fans of gothic fiction should definitely pick this up!

The Frozen Deep and Mr. Wray’s Cash-Box by Wilkie Collins

A volume of two stories, from the POCKET CLASSICS series, in which a young girl dreads the return of a spurned lover, and the interest of two bankers is aroused by a man carrying a large cash-box around town. (Credit: Sutton Publishing)

What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition by Emma Dabiri

We need to talk about racial injustice in a different way: one that builds on the revolutionary ideas of the past and forges new connections.

In this incisive, radical and practical essay, Emma Dabiri – acclaimed author of Don’t Touch My Hair – draws on years of research and personal experience to challenge us to create meaningful, lasting change. (Credit: Penguin)

A thought-provoking and well-researched essay that I has me already nodding along with agreement and underlining important statements.


What I Plan to Read Next:

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.

He says his wife couldn’t be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.

Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.

All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way.

It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost. (Credit: Berkley)

Northern Spy by Flynn Berry

A producer at the Belfast bureau of the BBC, Tessa is at work one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground after the Good Friday agreement, but they never really went away, and lately, bomb threats, arms drops, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the anchor requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for this latest raid – a robbery at a gas station – Tessa’s sister appears on the screen. Tessa watches in shock as Marian pulls a black mask over her face.

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa knows this is impossible. They were raised to oppose Republicanism, and the violence enacted in its name. They’ve attended peace vigils together. And besides, Marian is vacationing by the sea. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.

When the truth of what has happened to Marian reveals itself, Tessa will be forced to choose: between her ideals and her family, between bystanderism and action. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she fears nothing more than endangering the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son. (Credit: Viking)

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

In The Woman of Colour, Olivia Fairfield, the biracial heroine and orphaned daughter of an English slaveholder and an African princess, must travel to England, and as a condition of her father’s will, either marry her Caucasian first cousin, Augustus Merton, or become dependent on his mercenary elder brother and sister-in-law. As Olivia decides between these two conflicting possibilities, her letters recount her impressions of Britain and its inhabitants as only a black woman could record them. She gives scathing descriptions of London, Bristol, and the British, as well as progressive critiques of race, racism, and slavery. The narrative follows her life from the heights of her arranged marriage to its swift descent into annulment, destitution, and potential debauchery, only to culminate in her resurrection as a self-proclaimed “widow” who flouts the conventional marriage plot. (Credit: Broadview Press)

The Yearbook by Holly Bourne

Paige is used to staying quiet in the face of lies. Like how popular girl Grace is a such an amazing person (lie). How Laura steals people’s boyfriends (lie). How her own family are so perfect (lie).

Now Grace and friends have picked their “best” high-school moments for Paige to put in the all-important Yearbook. And they’re not just lies. They’re poison.

But Paige has finally had enough. And as she starts to find love through the pages of a book, she finds her voice too. Now she is going to rewrite her story – and the Yearbook is the perfect place to do it. (Credit: Usborne Publishing)



2 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately: July 31

  1. great round-up! I really enjoyed the silent companions so would definitely read more from Purcell and same goes for Emma Dabiri’s Don’t touch my hair, would love to read this new essay collection.

    Liked by 1 person

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