June Reads 2021


This month I’ve highlighted my favourites below. There were a few books that I didn't finish for some reason or another so I haven't included them. They aren't bad, just not for me right now. As I've mentioned before the context (ie.what I've just read beforehand) matters a great deal I find.


In the order that I read them, this months books are:

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

A Quiet Death in Italy by Tom Benjamin

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Feu

The Midnight Library Matt Haig


The book of the month is definitely Carmilla.


Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

Published 2 Sept 2021 by Harper Collins


Official Blurb

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city

But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin.

Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.


My Review

This was a slow burn and I abandoned it several times but ultimately came to enjoy it. Allegra herself is at first prickly and hard to relate to but the more you come to learn about her, the more you root for her. This ended up becoming a thought-provoking and satisfying read.


My Rating

4 stars




The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Published Sept 2019 by Zaffre


Official Blurb

In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all...

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir.

When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn't supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy. Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Soon the two women's lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood's stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.


My Review

I read and enjoyed Stacey Halls' second novel The Foundling in January rating it 4 stars. Someone recommended this as being the superior of her two novels so far.

I agree. The Familiars is better constructed and with richer characters and the relationship between Alice and Fleetwood has been well thought out. The 'less is more' approach works well as part of the beauty is that so much is unexplained. I love it when nature and natural forces are woven into stories and enjoyed this one tremendously.


My Rating

5 stars





A Quiet Death in Italy by Tom Benjamin

Published May 2020, Little, Brown Book Group

Official Blurb

When the body of a radical protestor is found floating in one of Bologna's underground canals, it seems that most of the city is ready to blame the usual suspects: the police. But when private investigator Daniel Leicester, son-in-law to the former chief of police, receives a call from the dead man's lover, he follows a trail that begins in the 1970s and leads all the way to the rotten heart of the present-day political establishment. Beneath the beauty of the city, Bologna has a dark underside, and English detective Daniel must unravel a web of secrets, deceit and corruption - before he is caught in it himself.


My Rating

This caught my eye mainly because I adore Bologna. I wanted to re-visit even if only through the eyes of a fictional character. I felt well rewarded for Bologna is the star of this novel. I’m not a huge fan of crime usually, because the plots are complicated and I’m a bit thick, but I managed to keep up with this one. A gentle burn, not on the edge of your seat exciting, but intriguing enough to keep me reading.


My Rating

4 stars





Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Feu

First published in 1872


Official Blurb

In an isolated castle deep in the Austrian forest, Laura leads a solitary life with only her ailing father for company. Until one moonlit night, a horse-drawn carriage crashes into view, carrying an unexpected guest - the beautiful Carmilla. So begins a feverish friendship between Laura and her mysterious, entrancing companion. But as Carmilla becomes increasingly strange and volatile, prone to eerie nocturnal wanderings, Laura finds herself tormented by nightmares and growing weaker by the day... Pre-dating Dracula by twenty-six years, Carmilla is the original vampire story, steeped in sexual tension and gothic romance.


My Review

I kept having to check the date that this was written because it felt as if it could be contemporary. I’ve read Conan-Doyle and Austen fan fiction and they often have stylised language of a similar feel.

Regardless of its time period this is quite unique. The friend who recommended it explained that it’s a great example of queer coding which is when LGBTQ+ attributes can be given to something without them being explicitly stated. The story itself is quite tense, with great sadness and mystery surrounding the key female characters. Altogether, quite extraordinary. Read it.


My Rating

5 stars.




The Midnight Library Matt Haig

Published Feb 2021 Canongate


Official Blurb

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren't always what she imagined they'd be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?


My Review

I have heard so many great things about this book and I think that’s partly the trouble. I ended up rather underwhelmed. It was the same for Hamnett that I reviewed back in sept 2020.

I was so ready to be moved that it just didn’t happen. If you asked me about it I can’t remember much except it has a 'sliding doors' concept. That I did enjoy, although when the film Sliding Doors came out in 1998 the concept felt very new, the same with Inception. However, the premise is always something worth thinking about and powerful when applied to a character like Nora. The ultimate message is one of hope and that’s why, I think, this novel has had such success.


My Rating

4 stars

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