TL;DR July Review

Hello Bookworms!

Well, I may as well leave this review blank because I HAVEN’T PUBLISHED ANYTHING FOR A WHOLE MONTH! Life has just REALLY got in the way this month. Oops.

Sad news – the allotment has been RAVAGED by I-don’t-know-what; slugs, snails, naughty foxes having a dig around, caterpillars… you name it, we’ve been attacked by it. Even the strawberries have been rubbish! The only thing currently surviving is my celery. Sad times. I’ve got some half eaten kale, brussel sprouts and beetroot to plant out but I really don’t think they’re going to do very well. At the moment I’m avoiding even going to add to the compost pile because I know it’ll just be a weed ridden mess up there 😭

In better news, this month I’ve been out to a BBC West Midlands radio recording about Coventry 2021 (all very exciting, although slightly worrying that we don’t currently have nearly enough hotel rooms for the expected numbers of visitors to stay in). I visited Coughton Court which was really interesting and had some of the most beautiful garden borders that this picture really doesn’t do justice to:

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However, our main event this month was going for the full three days to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. We had a fantastic time, ended up accidentally sitting with the Orange Army of Max Verstappen fans (all crazy Dutch people) and – unusually for Silverstone – didn’t get rained on too much. All in all, a brilliant weekend and it was fantastic to see Lewis Hamilton bringing home the win.

The library is just as busy as always and the council have done several things this month to annoy us (which I won’t get into here) but we’re gearing up for a super-exciting refurb of the non fiction area – it’s going to be called the Reading Room and is now going to be a chill out/computer area by day and an events space by night. We have SO MANY ideas for what we could do in there and I’m really excited about what it’s going to look like.

Our other house has caused us many, many problems recently (when does it not) but the most recent one is the local neighbourhood moggies using my nice new gravelled areas as a big litter tray. The final straw came when we discovered a dead rat (!) had been killed by a cat and left in the middle of the patio. One heavy duty binbag and two bottles of bleach later, we’d cleaned the area up and have spent an inordinate amount of effort on cat proofing. We currently have two sonic cat alarms (which I can hear!), some rubber spikes nailed in to the top of all the fence panels (they’re pretty soft and are designed to prevent anything from jumping up on the fence in the first place rather than to cause any harm), a large metal mesh to block off access from the garden at the rear and a water squirter alarm that sends a jet of water out when something walks in front of it. My family have always had cats so I feel quite guilty but we desperately needed to do something. So far, it all seems to be working so we’ll probably get rid of the water squirter in a couple of weeks.

Overall, July was not a great month for me (especially for the blog) but there’s lots to get excited about in the near future.

So that’s July wrapped up! Are you slumping like me? Any tips for keeping cats at bay? Let me know in the comments!

TL;DR July Review 

​Hello Bookworms!

It seems like every monthly review post that I do starts with the same sentence but my God July has been HOT. Thankfully we FINALLY got some rain so my crops/garden plants are saved, if somewhat battered. There is honestly no better sound than rainwater trickling into my bone dry water butts ☺.

I snapped this picture with my phone, uploaded it to the BBC 4 Gardeners Question Time Facebook Group without thinking – and now they want to use it for their unofficial charity calender! I’m not sure if it will actually happen (I took the pic in portrait and they’ll only accept landscape images and I can’t squash it into landscape dimensions without ruining the composition) so we will see.

Even though it seems like ages ago now, July was the Month of Sport in our house, what with World Cup fever and our annual pilgrimage to Silverstone to watch the vroom vroom cars. For once the oven-like ground temperature made sitting in the usually freezing cold stands quite palatable and it was lovely to not have to drag 25 jumpers, a rain poncho, hat scarf and gloves and my winter coat round for three days (not even joking, that’s literally what I take). This year we stayed on for the Friday evening’s entertainment and watched Dodgy, Heather Small and Jo Wiley (doing a 90’s indie disco set) perform live. It makes me slightly sad that I’m clearly now within the target age range for F1 fans – when we first started going we would laugh at the dad rock musical offerings but it was a brilliant evening and gave a real festival/illegal rave atmosphere to what I refer to as “expensive picnic day” (the only F1 “racing” on Friday is free practice, so not much action on track).

There’s no more news about the potential closure of our allotment and to be honest, the lack of having water up there has been such a nightmare that we’ve seriously questioned whether we should move to a better run site anyway. Frustratingly, there is provision for running water but the committee have turned it off due to problems with kids leaving the taps running. There’s a few other sites that are closer to us and have more plotholders so it depends what happens.

The house renovation has stalled a bit – the non-hubs is still tiling the bathroom and I’ve been rubbing down exterior paintwork but it’s slow going. I can’t wait to get the tiles grouted, light fitting in, shower installed and windowsill in, then that’ll be one room finally finished! Unless we decide to put in a blind…we can sort that out later. 

We’ve been out for a few more meals this month with family and friends (to the same restaurant we went to last month – it’s become a favourite) and had more yummy Italian food. I’ve persevered with my morning yoga routine and I’m starting to notice a bit of a difference with previously tight jeans feeling a bit looser. I definitely feel stronger and I think it’s really helped my posture too 🙏.

In terms of my blog, I wrote an extremely uncharacteristic discussion post about re-reading books which got much more interaction than my usual review posts. I still feel like my discussion posts are usually rubbish but I’m going to try to write a few more and see how they go. You only get better at something with perseverance, right? I also wrote a “help me!” post asking for book recommendations and I’ve got some great new additions to my TBR, so thank you to everyone who made suggestions. 

My Les Mis read along has seriously gone by the wayside this month (I’m currently in a bit where the chapters are really long) so I’ll have to make a concerted effort in August to catch up. My ARC’s are in better shape (I’m even starting to clear out my backlog) so that’s good and I’m a bit further forward with #ReadHarder so I’m quite pleased with my progress there too. 

I wrote six book reviews this month which were mostly rated 4/5 so a pretty good reading month overall.  

The TL;DR overview for July is:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: I really struggled with this book. I found the whole thing slow, confusing and ultimately depressing – although lots of people love it. A possibly unpopular two and a half out of five.

After The Party by Cressida Connolly: A weird book – well written but I just couldn’t feel sorry for a member of the British Union of Fascists. Historically interesting but not for me, I’m afraid. Three and a half out of five. 

The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin: I love Armistead Maupin and this book did not disappoint. Touching, dark and beautifully written. Four out of five.

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks: Literally couldn’t put this down. Read it all in one go – highly recommended. Four out of five.

A Short Affair ed. Simon Oldfield: A fantastic anthology of short fiction, brought to you by the amazing Pin Drop project. Brilliant for dipping in and out of. Four out of five.

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi: A twisted love story about the mother/son bond. Absolutely loved it, even if it was slightly uncomfortable at times. Four and a half out of five.

So that’s July wrapped up! I hope you’re not too sunburnt!

How was your July? Have you read any of the books I read last month? What are your thoughts on re-reads? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

Much love,

Lucinda xxx