What I read in July 2023

In July, I read 11 books (might’ve been more if one hadn’t been a humungous Stephen King book!) and did very little creative writing.

However, I do very much need to get my writing arse into gear, as the next Emotional Madness is on 29 August. Luckily, I know roughly what I want to write, and I’m still buzzing from the Primadonna Festival last weekend.

Five women pose for a selfie in a camping field

I had a brilliant time – better than last year, because 1) I didn’t have toothache; and 2) I had a better idea of what to expect, including what camping would be like, so I felt more chilled-out.

My personal highlights were:

  • The evening performances from Brigitte Aphrodite, Brenda Read Brown, and Cally Beaton.
  • Sheela Banerjee and Pretti Dhillon talking about their amazing-sounding new history books.
  • Polly Crosby, Leone Ross, and Maryam Ebrahim talking about writing with chronic illness and disability.
  • Polly Crosby’s historical fiction masterclass (I wrote something! And read it out to the class!).
  • Going for a walk in the woods and seeing animals (both live and model) with my friend Olga (not pictured below).

A woman standing next to a chest-height model deer made out of sticks, in woodland

All in all, I had a very inspiring and memorable weekend.

I did feel a twinge of ‘that could have been me on the stage, if carrying on in academia had been a viable option/I’d stayed as committed to writing as I was before the age of 11/I could bear uncertainty and instability’. At least I have a platform with Emotional Madness :)

Anyway, books!

The House of Fortune, Salt & Skin, The Water Child, One

The House of Fortune, by Jessie Burton - 4*

Salt & Skin, by Eliza Henry-Jones - 4.5*

The Water Child, by Mathew West - 3.5*

One, by Eve Smith - 4.5*

Fairy Tale, Scrap, 13 Doors, The Polite Act of Drowning

Fairy Tale, by Stephen King - 4.5*

Scrap, by Kathy Biggs - 4*

13 Doors, by G J Phelps - 4.5*

The Polite Act of Drowning, by Charleen Hurtubise - 5*

The Apartment Upstairs, Little Sister, Life Among the Savages

The Apartment Upstairs, by Lesley Kara - can’t believe this took me more than a year to get round to, after I went to the launch and everything. Her best book yet. 5*

Little Sister, by Gytha Lodge - 3.5*

Life Among the Savages, by Shirley Jackson - snort-out-loud funny. 5*

Looking ahead…

Do Not Go Quietly, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Vita and the Birds, The Lost Archive, Raising Demons

Feeling especially pumped up about this month’s reading – possibly another festival after-effect!

As I particularly enjoyed not just one, but two Primadonna sessions with Polly Crosby, it would be remiss of me not to actually read one of her books (plus, Vita and the Birds sounds fantastic!).

I picked up Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin, because it was in a ‘buy one get one half price’ promotion, and there’s been so much positive hype about it, I want to see what I think.

On the short story side, I’ll be reading Do Not Go Quietly, edited by Lesley Conner and Jason Sizemore, and The Lost Archive, by Lynn C. Miller, for review. I’ve ordered Raising Demons, by Shirley Jackson, because I loved Life Among the Savages so much.

Alice Violett's Picture

About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK https://www.draliceviolett.com