Arnold on books

Hello! What books have you been reading in June? If you saw my Penguins choose my June TBR video you’ll have seen that I was taking part in Whateverthon, a competitive readathon – sadly I actually didn’t do all that well with my TBR and read less books than I have been doing in recent months – I certainly don’t think I was the biggest point-winner for my team. But anyway, let’s get into the books!

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Noah and the Very Big Boat by Tim Thornborough (illustrated by Jennifer Davison)

Christian Non-Fiction, 4/5 stars

If you’ve been around here for a little while, you’ll already know that I love the ‘Very Best Stories’ series by Tim Thornborough. This is a series of Bible storybooks with beautiful illustrations by Jennifer Davison. Noah’s Ark is a pretty well-known story, but they also have books about Deborah, Moses and Esther is coming soon too! These are really perfect for reading too or with kids as there’s lots of repetition and onomatopoeia for them to join in with.

Find this book here.

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams

Contemporary Romance – 3/5 stars

This would be the perfect beach read – super quick, so easy to read, and just makes you want to keep reading. I was continually surprised by how much I wanted to keep reading this book despite the things that irritated me about it. The writing style was really fun and I would love to read more from Laura Jane Williams.

Personally, I did find the storyline a bit lacking. We follow Annie who has just been left at the altar and is trying to get her life back together. When her ex-fiance’s mother insists she still takes the honeymoon, she ends up going with a long-lost friend she bumped into at a fitness bootcamp. So many elements of this story were just a bit too obvious and kind of just made me want to roll my eyes a little. I found both the ex-fiance and the love interest really under-developed as characters which meant that I really didn’t understand a lot of decisions that people were making, particularly towards the end of the book.

Thank you to NetGalley & Avon Books UK for letting me read this book.

Find this book here.

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

Thriller – 4/5 stars

I really loved this audiobook! In this psychological thriller we follow Chrissie, a young girl who has just killed a little boy; and Julia, the new identity that Chrissie has been given 20-years later as she navigates adulthood as a single mother.

The depth to this book was stunning, and the writing style so intriguing. It really digs into the impact of parents upon their children, particularly mothers; the impact of incarceration of children and how they deal with returning back into the world. Jumping between the two time periods allows us to uncover what has happened bit by bit, and get to understand Chrissie better, but it never felt too slow or lost my interest.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Audio for letting me read this book.

Find this book here.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Literary Fiction – 3/5 stars

A Woman is No Man is a literary book split between two perspectives – a young woman born in Palestine who has just got married and moved to America, and her daughter many years later after her mother has died and her grandmother is looking for her to get married. I really loved the concept of this book, the plot, the characters, and the topics that it was exploring of family and tradition, and taking your culture to a new place, and so much more.

However, I just found the writing style really difficult to get into. It was very repetitive and forceful around some of the points that it was trying to make, and I think those aspects could’ve been done with a lot more subtlety and nuance. There were also a couple of times towards the ends where people just changed their minds or thought patterns very suddenly which seemed unrealistic, rather than seeing growth in their character.

Find this book here.

You’re Not Enough (And That’s Okay) by Allie Beth Stuckey

Christian Non-Fiction – 5/5 stars

I’ve had a real love-hate relationship with Christian Non-Fiction books recently so I’m SO glad that I loved this book!

The title might be a little jarring to read, especially in a world of social media that is constantly telling us that we are enough, that we can do anything we want and be anything we want, that we can decide our own truths. But is any of that biblical? This book takes a good hard look at what the self-love movement teaches us and compares it to what the Bible teaches us. It’s bold and honest and calls us out for our selfishness and pride, but it’s also uplifting, encouraging and so so freeing.

This book is really lovely and easy to read, I flew through it in just a few days & I couldn’t recommend it more – especially to anyone who is finding themselves hearing these messages more and more.

Find this book here.

Final Assignment by Linwood Barclay

Mystery (Novella) – 3/5 stars

Final Assignment is book 1.5 in the Broken Promise series by Linwood Barclay. It’s incredibly short and follows a Private Investigator as he is initially called in to help a boy who has been suspended for a very violent short story he wrote. However, when his friend is found murdered in the same way as described in the story, things get a little more complicated.

I have never read a novella thriller before and I just don’t think this format worked very well for me. Everything has to happen so quickly and there’s no time for the reader to work anything out for themselves, so you spend the whole time just being told what’s going on which I found kind of boring. Excited to continue with the rest of the series now though as I believe Cal (the PI) will be involved now.

Find this book here.

Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain

Contemporary Mystery – 5/5 stars

This is the sequel to Before the Storm, my all time favourite book which I included a review of in last months blog here. I can’t say much about this book without spoiling Before the Storm, but I absolutely love these books and these characters. We’re with the same people but hear much more of Sara’s story and Keith’s perspective too. This book deals with the aftermath of crime and prison, about one-year on from the events of the first book, and I feel like it did a really good job of exploring both the impact of a prisoners release on the families of the victims, and on the prisoner themselves.

Find this book here (and Before the Storm here).

Flora and Grace by Maureen Lee

Historical Fiction – 3/5 stars

Flora and Grace is the story of a young woman, Flora, who is stood at a train station near to her boarding school in Switzerland, when a train comes past holding carriages full of Jewish people being taken to concentration camps. As she runs alongside the train, she is passed a baby boy and asked to look after him. From here we follow Flora as she cares for the child, as well as following the father and husband of Grace (the woman who gave her son to Flora) as they try to discover what happened to Grace after the war.

Whilst I found this book really easy to read, the pacing was super odd and did make it really drag. There were long periods of not a lot happening, but every time the characters faced an obstacle they overcame it incredibly quickly and weirdly easily. It just made sure the stakes were really low all the time.

Find this book here.

Currently reading: Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

June Statistics

  • Books Read: 8
  • Pages Read: 2238
  • Average Rating: 3.75

To see which books I will be reading in July, check out my latest Penguins choose my TBR video here:

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