July 2022 was the month of many changes for me. From getting news of having to move countries to yet again coming down with COVID to packing up in 3 days for the move to having a cracker of a reading month as I went through all of this – this is just a gist of how July 2022 went. There’s so much I want to share with you – videos I have in the works, blog posts I am planning to write, plans I have for my channel, the books I brought with me in the move – but all in good time. They are brewing but meanwhile, I’m here to talk about my July 2022 reading wrap up.
In July 2022, I read 15 books. Of the books I read in July 2022, many of them were ebooks, some were review copies, and yet others physical copies. It might seem like an eclectic mix at first sight, but I’m not satisfied with how diverse they are or how different they are from each other. Here’s hoping things get better in August, and given how it’s going so far, the hope remains because it isn’t becoming reality yet. 😛
But since that is what keeps the world running, let’s stay on this track and let me share with you the 15 books I read in July 2022 i.e. my July 2022 reading wrap up!
1. Steven Johnson and the Mission 2 by Yashesh Rathod
This is the story of Steven Johnson, who, along with his associate is walking along the streets of Hong Kong, wearing gas masks because a bioweapon has been let loose on the city, leveling it. A scientist called Serizawa is behind it and now Steven Johnson has to find this scientist before he can do any further damage and before it can fall into the wrong hands again.
I’ve always maintained that Yashesh Rathod’s books have good premises but bad execution, and this was no different. Even though it was a quick read that I gobbled up in one sitting, it just had those elements missing with action-packed sequences that are explained in excruciating detail. It’s still a fun, fast-paced read, though.
2. The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
Oh boy, this book just makes me want to jump off a cliff! Okay, listen, I see why people love it, but there was one point where I just wanted to chuck the book across the room and I began to wonder why I even bought it. The guy is sighing on every page, his ocean blue eyes and deep blue eyes and lakewater eyes and river eyes are mentioned so many times, I think I’ve begun to hate blue eyes now. Well, not really, but you get my point.
So this is the story of Catalina Martin, who doesn’t have a date to her sister’s wedding. And we all know what a shame that is, no? *facepalm* But her enemy at office, Aaron Blackford, offers to be her date and she cannot believe it. He is her enemy because months and months ago, when she extended a hand of friendship to him, he rebuffed her, and ever since, they have been playing this cat-and-mouse game. Yup. That’s the flimsy reason she has to despise this man. Anyway, that’s none of my business, so I moved on. Aaron goes to her sister’s wedding with her as her date and over the weekened, you know what happens? Aha! You guessed right!
I just noped out of this book so hard. Well, that’s not true, because I had to finish it for a video, but I wish I had! No offense to the author because her Bookstagram account is one I’ve followed and fawned over for years. But nah, man. Just. Nah.
3. Death of a Seeker and Other Stories by Abhaidev
Death of a Seeker is a collection of short stories in which the author asks some very pertinent philosophical questions, be it exploring a child’s fears or the very important, ‘Do you know who I am?’ It’s a quick read that you can fly through in about an hour or so and the whole ‘live and let live’ vibes resonated with me to no end. The only problem I had was that it felt a little repetitive and awkward in places. Otherwise, this is a great short story collection to get into!
4. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
After a meh start to the video for which I picked this, this book was a refresher! I loved reading The Love Hypothesis and even though a couple of elements in here were a little too weird for me to digest, I found it to be a delight on the whole.
Olive Smith is a third year PhD candidate who doesn’t believe in relationships but to convince her best friend that she is in a loving relationship (because said best friend has a crush on a guy that Olive went on two dates with and is insistent that she won’t make a move because of the best friend code), Olive kisses the first man she comes across in the college hallway. Unfortunately, this man is Adam Carlsen, the handsome young professor known for being a tyrant to his students. But Carlsen surprisingly agrees to keep up the charade. What lies on the road that Olive and Adam have started upon forms the entire story.
I felt warmth as I read this book, although the age difference because of their student-professor relationship made me feel a little icky. I don’t know what the workaround is for this, but it’s a well-written story on the whole. Video coming soon!
5. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
This was a book that I got as a gift and oh boy, what a gift it is! Told in the format of a screenplay, this is the story of Willis Wu, who is trying to make it in Hollywood. But Hollywood itself has placed limitations on how their careers pan out – from Generic Asian Man to Kung Fu Guy, which is the pinnacle of ‘making it in Hollywood’ for Asian men. Told in anecdotes, what Willis goes through, what the people around him go through as they are trying to make it, is what this book is about.
Some books just want to eat you up with the amount of reality they throw at you. This is one of those books. The way I furiously highlighted parts of this book meant that my highlighter soon ran out of ink. It’s gritty, it is metaphorical, it is unapologetic, and it shows the different ways in which marginalized communities can be racist towards each other. It isn’t an uncommon occurrence and to see it laid out in this manner sent pang after pang twanging through my heart. Highly recommend!
6. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
With this book, I understood that it is possible to hate a book by an author, one of whose other books you’ve loved before. This is just so condescending and icky in so many ways! The main character is an uppity and self-righteous woman who thinks people who escape domestic abuse are not strong because they ‘give up’. Apparently she is a strong woman because she would give her love, her relationship a chance. Oh, the way I wanted to hug her for being in this situation and smack her at the same time for being a condescending twit!
Phew, I got ahead of myself again!
It Ends With Us follows Lily Blossom Bloom (yep, that’s her full name), who meets Ryle Kincaid on a rooftop the night of her father’s funeral. He is obviously going through something, too. But right off the bat, he tells her he wants to sleep with her. And continues. And begs her. At this point, I’m like… WOMAN! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? But then, love is a weird thing to stand up against, so I just plodded on. This chemistry-less, weirdass relationship goes on and when it becomes toxic, we see Lily’s toxicity bubble up too. I will not take any objections to this because she IS toxic AF, as I’ve already mentioned.
Gah. The very memory of this book makes me go red with anger. Especially this quote from Ryle:
There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.
No, you twat. You can’t explain away your misdemeanours with this crap. Bye.
7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
THIS is how you do an enemies-to-lovers right! THIS is how you build chemistry! THIS is how you turn the wheels – gently, easily, beautifully!
The Hating Game is the story of Lucy and Joshua, who work in publishing and both sworn enemies of the other as a consequence of their bosses being enemies. They sit across from each other at work and their mind games are designed to pull the other down – a competition that they seem to thrive on. When a top spot opens up and both of them are now in the running, things heat up and their rivalry takes on a whole new level altogether. To what extent will they go to win that top spot? And to what extent will they go to show each other down?
First of all, this one is STEAMY. I think this is what makes it such a great book, because the undertones are there. You know it’s going to be one big cracker when the shift finally happens. Of course, as readers, we have the privilege of watching from the outside as they make mistakes and breaking our heads over them instead. But what I loved, as a reader, was Lucy actually giving Joshua a dressing down when he flouted the rules and crossed the line insulting her. All in all, I was so relieved to read this and find that okay, I don’t hate ALL popular romance books. *wink wink*
8. Hellfire by Leesa Gazi
Okay, this one hurts to talk about. This was a book that I thought I would love – I even included it in my 5 star predictions list. But alas! What a disappointment!
This is a story set in Dhaka, of Lovely and Beauty, two sisters whose mother has kept them on a short leash, not allowing them outside the house and making them adhere to some strict rules. But on Lovely’s 40th birthday, her mother lets her go to Gausia market on her own. Lovely is thrilled, Beauty is jealous, but the point is that Lovely learns a lot about the real world. You don’t see these lessons outright. Instead, they are in the undertones and the ways in which she reacts to the people who are trying to interact with her.
Hellfire is a study in mental health, especially of people who are held in captivity. But it doesn’t make its point very well. It is vague, which is not really a complaint but combined with the other staggered elements, becomes something that we can’t really ignore. The perspectives switch up unclearly – you’ll be deep into a different perspective when you realize that oh, this is not Lovely talking anymore! All of this just dampened the experience of reading this book for me. A huge MEH.
9. Sadie by Courtney Summers
I paused for a long minute before starting to write about Sadie because of how twisted it is! Listen to the audiobook while reading the physical copy and it’s a whole other experience altogether. If you’re planning to pick this book, then please, please try the audiobook. It’s a fantastic production and will give you a spine-chilling experience.
Sadie is the story of Sadie, obviously, whose sister has disappeared. She is sure that she has been murdered and she is sure of who has done it, and so, she sets out on a journey to find her sister’s killer. We follow all of this through her perspective as well as that of a documentary podcast’s – something that overlaps and brings layers to how we see the story as a whole. It is bloody, gory, and talks about topics ranging from predatory behavior to abuse and rape. This is why I maintain that even though I will implore you to read this book, I will also beg you to look at the trigger warnings before you do. Because it can get heavily gory, bloody, and violent.
Still, it’s a fantastic book, made even better by the audiobook and the narration. I can still feel the tingles up my spine, good God.
10. heft by Doyali Islam
Doyali Islam was kind enough to send me her poetry collection a while ago, and in July, I had this urge to read this book. And how glad am I to have picked it up! The poems in here have a different format and though I wasn’t a fan of the parallel poetry – a matter of taste and understanding, really – the others were such powerful punches to the gut that I had to sit back, take a deep breath, go over the words in my mind again as I stared at the wall across from me, and then go back to the book. Loved this collection and I know that once I go back to India, I will revisit it again.
11. Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Aha! Finally an Emily Henry book that I LOVED! Okay, I wasn’t reading her books desperate to find one I love, but somehow, loving this book was a relief. And I can’t explain why.
Nora Stephens is a literary agent, known as the Shark for her ruthlessness. But her life has also turned into a trope, for she can’t seem to find a relationship in which she DOESN’T get dumped for a small town girl. It all starts one afternoon when she is on her way to meet Charlie Lastra, a well-known, equally ruthless editor, when she gets dumped over the phone this way for the first time. And then the saga continues.
Two years later, her sister, Libby, takes it upon herself to organize a getaway of sorts to a small village called Sunshine Falls. Libby is pregnant with her third child and she wants to spend as much time as possible with her sister before her life becomes busy again. Nora, a city girl through and through, is a little skeptical at first but Libby is the apple of her eye and she will do anything to make her happy. When they arrive in Sunshine Falls, who should Nora bump into but Charlie Lastra himself. Now, is Nora’s life about to turn into one of those small town/village romances? Or is she about to receive a life lesson or ten of her own? That remains to be seen.
Okay, I spent way too much time and space explaining what this book is about and I’m not sorry at all. Because this book not only focuses on the romantic side of the story, but also the familial equations that run through the main characters’ lives. It’s emotional, it’s lovely, it’s angering, it fills you with warmth, and it just makes you want to hug Nora and Libby – although you do feel like smacking Libby sometimes but you’ll get past that, really. But aaah, I love this book! Love love love!
12. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
If I were to describe this book in a sentence, it would be this: If you thought Marvel’s multiverse was the best, think again. And with that, I have probably told you more than you should know, even encroaching into spoiler territory.
Jason Dessen is abducted when returning home one day, his kidnapper asking him if he was happy before knocking him out. When he comes to, he is surrounded by people smiling down at him, one of whom says, “Welcome back!” much to his confusion. But in this life, even though he is Jason Dessen, his life is no longer the life he knows. His family is no longer his family and he isn’t who he is. He feels like he is in a dream but as he discovers the truth, slowly and steadily, he is horrified at what has happened. And now, he sets out on a journey to find his family. How he will do that with a very unexpected enemy remains to be seen.
A snappy thriller that will keep your attention from beginning to end, Dark Matter is a twisted journey into the unknown that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s fast-paced and fun – for lack of a better word – for you greedily gobble up the concepts that the author is flinging at you. There are Physics terms that will flummox you now and then but the meanings aren’t insurmountable. This, coming from someone who despises Physics with a vengeance. 😛 Love this book and I can’t wait to read more from Blake Crouch!
13. Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman
Alice Oseman is one of my favorite authors of all time. I loved their Heartstopper graphic novels and Loveless, and so I decided to randomly pick up this novella. Nick and Charlie is about Nick and Charlie going through a rough patch in their relationship. It’s sweet, easy to read, and has you rooting for them – like in Heartstopper – right from the very beginning. You want to jump in and do one of two things: hug them or smack their heads together for behaving the way they behave in here. The narrative also gets a leeeeeetle repetitive and talks in circles sometimes but aaaaahh they are so cute!
14. Warlord of Ayodhya: Rebellion by Shatrujeet Nath
You’ve seen me rave about this book here on the blog as well as on Instagram, so I won’t take much space to talk about it. But I must say that although I read a chunk of it in July, I only finished the book in August. I’ll still consider it a part of July since I read a majority of it in that month.
Warlord of Ayodhya: Rebellion is about Bharat, Rama’s brother who refused to be known as King in Rama’s absence, but instead, promised to look after the kingdom until (according to him) the rightful king returned. We see him as King, husband, father, brother, nephew, courtier, warrior, and a begrudging son. And what a fantastic book this is! It would have been easy to go awry, given the number of characters in there. But Shatrujeet Nath weaves this story with much ease and panache.
I did a full review of this book here. If you’d like to read it, here’s the link: Review – Warlord of Ayodhya: Rebellion.
15. Teen Machine by Ishita Agarwal
Forgot to add this up there but I finished it sometime in the middle of the month and it was another that I enjoyed reading.
Teen Machine is about Avani, a tenth-grade student who has to make the important decision of what she wants to do with her life. Which stream should she choose? And will she be able to keep up with the race that she is about to join? Will her determination to prove herself to her family and to herself drain her or propel her forward like she wants it to?
I enjoyed reading this book because I identify with it to a certain extent. Being a teenager and figuring out how to live is in itself a test, but to be asked to make such a huge decision that usually sets the tone for the rest of your life at such a young age is a different level of stress altogether. Here is a little excerpt from my Goodreads review of the book:
“I saw myself in these pages because I was awkward with friendships too. I still am, to a large extent, my social awkwardness shooting up alongside panic when I have to talk. Even though I was sure I wanted to be one thing ever since I was 10 and worked towards it, I was always scared I wasn’t good enough. And sometimes it was proved over and over again. To see this reflected in this book was a validating one for me because the fact that I am not alone reiterated itself to me yet again.
The teenage angst, the longing to be accepted by peers, the feeling of missing out on so many experiences in life, and wanting some time by oneself to figure one’s life and mind out is something that is a huge plus for this book.
The only thing I didn’t like was that it was way too repetitive. Avani kept saying that she would do something, but ended up doing the exact opposite. It’s a reflection of reality but to read it in a book seemed a little off-key. If this was taken away and the book turned into a crisper version of it, it would be so much more impactful.”
So that was my July 2022 reading wrap up. What did you think of the books I read in July 2022? Which of these have you read? Which ones do you want to read? Which books did you read in July 2022? Which were your favorites? Which were your least favorites? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! 😊
I’ll see you in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! 😊