#20BooksOfSummer2022 Books 3, 4 & 5! #BookReviews #MiniBookReviews

Had a little burst of 20 Books reading over the past couple of weekends so thought I’d do a quick review catch up in one post!

ANY HUMAN HEART by WILLIAM BOYD

This is book 3 of my 20 books of summer 2022.

A rather epic and captivating ‘diary’ of a man throughout the 20th century. The name dropping, the social events, moments in history all captured in this story of Logan Mountstuart and the way it is written makes it so easy to pick up and get addicted to! It feels like you’re reading the diary of a real person and you watch as the story takes you from his childhood to adulthood and this is a man who has a story to tell!!

his travels take him all over the world, in to the orbit of the great and the good, all while dealing with the failings of being a human with weaknesses. And I think that’s what makes this such an epic read – there are many good times but there are also those darker moments where life isn’t treating him so well and it makes for some heartbreaking reading at times! Absolutely brilliant!

★★★★★

FACES ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE by EMMANUELLE PAGANO

This is book 4 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

This was a nice little short story collection, linked by the characters being those on the edge of society. The forgotten, the quiet but their experiences of life made for some fascinating reading as it describes the little snapshots of humanity that make such a big impact on peoples’ lives.

From a tree in the neighbourhood impacting on a family, to lots of mentions of ‘blind spots’ which fit quite nicely with the ‘invisible’ feeling of some of the characters and how they felt. The stories are often short and snappy but with just enough detail to grab you quickly and pull you in to the essence of the character and situation.

My absolute favourite was the last story ‘Glitter’, which was all about a love of books and reading – a story I could really resonate with and would happily have read a whole book about that character on its’ own!!

★★★

ISABEL’S SKIN by PETER BENSON

This is book 5 of my 20 books of summer 2022.

Hello dark and twisted tale!! A gothic treat for you if you pick this one up and I’m so glad I have had the pleasure of picking this one up!

It all starts very quietly with the story of David, a solitary man who lives a very quiet life working as a book valuer, sticking to routines and shunning social situations But his quiet life in London is about to change with a trip to Somerset to value the collection of the late Lord Orpington. There he encounters a housekeeper, and the locals warn him of strange goings on in that house. He also meets the very strange Prof Hunt and the darkness level begins to ramp up!!

In the midst of his Somerset experiences, we get flashbacks to David’s youth, losing his mother at a young age, and the friend he made at University which explains a lot about the way he is now

Isabel is the young woman who becomes his focus and causes a big change in his outlook as he begins to take care of her, and dealing with the consequences of helping her escape her ‘prison’. This is one of those weird and wonderful stories that I lap up and the darkness was just perfect!! Not over the top, but dark enough to give you the chills!!

★★★★

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#BookReview GRACELAND by BETHAN ROBERTS #20BooksOfSummer2022

ABOUT THE BOOK

What happens when your only son becomes The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll?

From the moment she first holds him, after his twin brother is stillborn, Gladys Presley loves her son Elvis ferociously. She will be his greatest influence, the love of his life. She will be the one by his side, when Elvis is a boy and his father is in the jailhouse; as the family move from place to place, skirting poverty in Tupelo, Mississippi; as Elvis’s obsession with music grows; as they move to Memphis and he begins his whirlwind rise to never-before-seen success…

And he will love her back, even as his heart is turned by the blues, clothes and girls. But while he makes it big in Hollywood, brings audiences across the land to their knees and achieves unimagined wealth and fame, there is another story – of drinking and diet pills, loneliness and loss. While the heat and music of the American South in the 40s and 50s play in the background, a heartbreaking portrait of a mother’s love and a son’s devotion takes centre stage. When Elvis reaches the height of his power, he buys his family the ultimate mansion on the hill, Graceland, where he hopes his mother will be happy. The reality, though, is very different, and Elvis finds that even kings must go on alone.

‘Graceland is an astonishing literary achievement. Bethan Roberts somehow manages to unlock the mystery to that beautiful sadness in the voice of Elvis. Utterly heartbreaking.’ Jake Arnott 

PUBLISHED BY CHATTO & WINDUS

MY REVIEW

This is Book 2 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022

At the heart of this story is that of the love a mother has for her son, and in this case, that son just happens to be Elvis Presley. Having lost his twin at birth, his mother Gladys shared a special bond with Elvis and that continued throughout his life, and this book really captures their relationship brilliantly as it switches from his childhood, difficult family life, through to his success and all that brings with it.

While I loved the subject matter and seeing the bond between mother and son explored, I did feel a little detached at times from the characters and the storyline kept switching randomly so that made me lose a bit of connection and continuity.

What I loved was that she would do anything for her boy, and all he wanted to do was make her proud. That conflict of having nothing and then having everything felt weird, especially to Gladys, and it also explored the relationship between Elvis and his Dad which was very hit and miss. There were such contrasts in Elvis’ life that you can’t help but think that led to the tragedy that ended his story.

★★★

#20BooksOfSummer2022 BLONDE by JOYCE CAROL OATES

What a way for me to start off my 20 Books Journey!!  It was worth the effort and all 939 pages were a masterpiece!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Who was Norma Jeane Baker?

In ‘Blonde’ we are given an intimate, unsparing vision of the woman who became Marilyn Monroe like no other: the child who visits the cinema with her mother; the orphan whose mother is declared mad; the woman who changes her name to become an actress; the fated celebrity, lover, comedienne, muse and icon. Joyce Carol Oates tells an epic American story of how a fragile, gifted young woman makes and remakes her identity, surviving against crushing odds, perpetually in conflict and intensely driven. Here is the very essence of the individual hungry and needy for love: from an elusive mother; from a mysterious, distant father and from a succession of lovers and husbands. Joyce Carol Oates sympathetically explores the inner life of the woman destined to become Hollywood’s most compelling legend. ‘Blonde’ is a brilliant and deeply moving portrait of a culture hypnotised by its own myths and the shattering reality of the personal effects it had on the woman who became Marilyn Monroe.

MY REVIEW

This is book 1 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

Wow! Wow! Wow!! I knew I was in for an epic read but I didn’t think it was going to consume me in the way that it did! I love Marilyn, and have read numerous non fiction books about it, so was unsure how to feel about this ‘novel’, but Joyce Carol Oates has worked her magic in an extraordinary way! Blending fact with fiction and taking you behind the legend that Marilyn became, and showing you the real person – the sadness and the tragedy behind this woman who was always searching for a feeling of contentment and peace, even from an early age, but finding herself being used.

The novel portrays her as extremely fragile, looking for happiness from her childhood through to adulthood and how her career gave her momentary glimpses of how wonderful life could be, alongside the dismal reality of how men in her life couldn’t cope with her fame and wanted control over her. I just wanted to time travel and go back and give her a big hug!! She craved stability and acceptance and over the 900+ pages we saw how that need was there throughout her life.

If I could give this book 6 stars I would! Just amazing!!

★★★★★

It’s back!!! My 20 Books of Summer 2022 list! #20BooksOfSummer22 #ReadingChallenge

I can’t believe it is that time of year already!! The wonderful reading challenge hosted by the lovely Cathy over at 746 Books is back for the 2022 version!!  And it’s just as relaxed as every other year!!  Choose your own target – be it 10,15 or the full monty of 20 – and then from 1st June to the 1st September is the time frame allowed to complete your challenge!

And it’s that chill that you can change your target if needs be, and even the list of books you initially choose can be changed if they’re not working out for you!! And that’s why I love this challenge!! It’s a great way for me to attack the out of control TBR mountain and I’ve had lots of fun this year deciding which plan of attack to take….. should I read lots off the Netgalley shelf?  Or go for all the real life books I have??!!

And I’ve come to the decision to attack the paperbacks that are clogging up my bookshelves! They’ve been sat there for years and I keep meaning to get round to them but failing miserably!! But I’ve also grouped them in pairs under very tenuous links……it made sense to me when I was coming up with the list so forgive me for the madness!!

So here it is…..the book stack for Summer 2022!

Now sit back and enjoy my silly links! Click on the book title to take you to the GoodReads page if you want to know more about each book!!

GIRLS’ NAMES

ISABEL’S SKIN by PETER BENSON

SAVING LUCIA by ANNA VAUGHT

BIRDS

THE DOVES IN THE DINING ROOM by LAURA LAAKSO

MAGPIE LANE by LUCY ATKINS

BEGINNING WITH S!

SOULJOURNER by PAUL STEVEN STONE

SNEGUROCHKA by JUDITH HENEGHAN

BODY PARTS!

FACES ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE by EMANUELLE PAGANO

ANY HUMAN HEART by WILLIAM BOYD

CELEBRITY ICONS

GRACELAND by BETHAN ROBERTS

BLONDE by JOYCE CAROL OATES

GIRL IN THE TITLE!

THE GIRL FROM THE HERMITAGE by MOLLY GARTLAND

THE EIGHTH GIRL by MAXINE MEI-FUNG CHUNG

WILDLIFE

THE CHAMELEON by SAMUEL FISHER

WE ARE ANIMALS by TIM EWINS

FLOWERS

TULIP FEVER by DEBORAH MOGGACH

STEALING ROSES by HEATHER COOPER

THINGS IN THE TITLE!

FINER THINGS by DAVID WHARTON

THE TYRANNY OF LOST THINGS by RHIANNON LUCY COSSLET

WATER ACTIVITIES!

THE SECRET TO NOT DROWNING by COLETTE SNOWDEN

SWIMMING HOME by MARY-ROSE MACCOLL

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So there we have it! I am hoping to complete the full monty of 20 but I already have my doubts!! But I will try my best and have a blooming good time taking part in it all with everyone!! Bring on those hot sunny days so that we can all devote as many hours as possible to completing our challenge!!!

Good luck everyone!! And if you’re not signed up already, come join in the fun!!