Book Recommendations: July 2021

The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray! I’m writing this on a particularly warm and sunny July under our umbrella in the garden, and so far it’s been glorious. Ok, I may have a jumper on but that’s only because we do get a bit of a breeze off the ocean.

But besides that, let’s talk about books! I’ve chosen books this month with a particular nautical theme going on. Or at least something to do with water… yes, ok, the non-fiction one doesn’t really fit in with the theme, but I don’t really have any non-fiction books about water as yet. But let’s get on with the books at hand.

Fiction: PopCo by Scarlett Thomas

Synopsis

Alice Butler has been receiving some odd messages – all anonymous, all written in code. Are they from someone at PopCo, the profit-hungry corporation she works for? Or from Alice’s long-lost father? Is someone else on her trail?

The solution, she is sure, will involve the code-breaking skills she learned from her grandparents and the key she’s been wearing around her neck since she was ten.

PopCo is a grown-up adventure of family secrets, puzzles, and the power of numbers.

Why I Recommend

I wanted to recommend this book for May, but actually I think it leans nicely into this month’s theme of water. The name might not, but that’s because the name of it is the place the main character, Alice Butler, works for – a toy manufacturer, decidedly determined to spark up its toy production line and get its staff on a team building exercise to design the next big thing on the toy market.

Alice Butler specialises in code-breaking toys and her skills lend in nicely with some of the other themes in the book. While on the team building excursion, she starts to receive coded messages and she’s not sure who they’re from. They remind her of the family secret she’s been hiding close to her chest for so many years – the hunt for a treasure her father disappeared on. 

I loved this book to bits. It has so many themes built into it, you honestly won’t get bored. From code-breaking to treasure hunts, mathematics to economics, it truly keeps you enthralled as to what happens next. I loved the character of Alice too, she was very personable and believable, but there again all Scarlett Thomas’ characters are brilliant.

I recommend it if you’re looking for a good book to settle down with over a hot summer by the beach. You won’t be disappointed.

Purchase at Waterstones UK

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Non-Fiction: The Kindness Pact by Domonique Bertolucci

Synopsis

Most people are terribly unkind to themselves. They make harsh judgments, engage in endless self-criticism and are unforgiving of even the smallest of failings… and then wonder why they don’t feel so great about themselves.

From the best-selling author of The Happiness Code comes The Kindness Pact: the answer to feeling good about who you are and the life you live.

Its eight promises will show you how to be as kind to yourself as you are to the other important people in your life. When you keep the Pact, you will build your confidence, nurture your self-esteem and have more energy to do what you want to do and be who you want to be.

Why I Recommend

Like many non-fiction self-help books, I’ve dipped into this book more than once, but it isn’t something I’ve read all in one go. 

I really like how this book is set-up. It’s got an introduction to eight promises, and then each chapter details more about those promises:

  1. The First Promise: Accept Your Imperfections
  2. The Second Promise: Always Do Your Best
  3. The Third Promise: Stop Comparing Yourself
  4. The Fourth Promise: Believe in Your Potential
  5. The Fifth Promise: Silence Your Inner Critic
  6. The Sixth Promise: Challenge Yourself
  7. The Seventh Promise: Stop Making Excuses
  8. The Eighth Promise: Love Yourself

Each chapter offers you useful tips and insightful stories backing up the evidence. There’s cute little quotes throughout, and practical advice from the author. So if you’re feeling like you could be kinder to yourself, this is a great little book to pick up.

Purchase at Waterstones UK

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Fantasy: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Synopsis

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is a primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

Why I Recommend

I could just start with the fact that this book is by Neil Gaiman and leave it at that. If you haven’t heard of his books yet I thoroughly recommend all of them – and have been doing so in some of my previous monthly book recommendations.

This book is one of his newer books, well it was published in 2013, so only eight years ago. I think that’s when I first read this book, eight years ago. It seems like no time at all, and yet an age.

The book begins with the narrator all grown up and visiting his family home, and by doing so, meeting again the three women who were so important to a particular event in his childhood. And upon meeting them again, he remembers that event, and so the story begins.

The story tells of a boy and his explorations, of meeting a girl called Lettie, her mother, and grandmother, and discovering there are strange creatures appearing that should not appear. It’s a true fantasy, but could not be classed as a children’s book. I really liked the characters. The narrator and Lettie are believable as children, and their games are both magical and dangerous.

I recommend it if you’re up for a Neil Gaiman fantasy book, enchanting and incredibly ingenious as always.

Purchase at Waterstones UK

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Young Adult/Children’s: The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

Synopsis

Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.

But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

Why I Recommend

I’ve already written a full review of this book, which you can read here.

I absolutely loved this book, and thoroughly recommend it as an exciting, magical book for 9-12 year-olds. It begins with a boy called Fionn who, unbeknownst to him at the beginning, is set to become the next Stormkeeper – that is, if he can overcome his fear of water, especially daunting considering he goes to live on an island.

I thought this book was lovely, magical, and delightful. If you’re looking for an easy read about a boy who inherits strange new powers, a tale that’s beautiful and bold, a story that brings forth brilliant characters and mythical beings, this is the book for you.

Fionn and his sister are skillfully written by Catherine Doyle, very believable as siblings in their rivalry, and Fionn’s journey with the stormkeeper candles as well as handling his own fears is lovely to watch.

Purchase at Waterstones UK

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Those are all my recommended books for this month! Happy reading!

Kate @ Kandid Chronicles x


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