Monthly Roundup – July 2020

July has had its highs and lows. The early part of the month brought with it some welcome client work, thereby adding a structure to our weeks that has been missed. Work is still entirely from home, for the time being, but is a step in the right direction.

Elder son changed jobs, moving to a trainee position in his profession of choice, a year after graduating. In the interim he has worked in a local factory and then a supermarket – real life experience that will, I hope, result in greater appreciation of how privileged he is in so many ways. Daughter passed her end of year exams and has now returned to London to complete her final year at medical school. Our little household will remain at four as younger son’s university informed him learning will be online until at least January. His expensive student accommodation lies empty but must still be paid for.

It had begun to feel that we were moving forward after the stasis of the lockdown months. We watched as shops, pubs and restaurants started to reopen, albeit with restrictions. A lovely hairdresser visited our home, cutting my and daughter’s hair while wearing rather offputting PPE. News that gyms and swimming pools were to grant access to their facilities was welcomed.

And then came the announcement that mask wearing was to be made mandatory in shops as well as on public transport. The polarisation of opinion this created caused a massive spike in my stress levels that has still to abate. I wrote about my reaction in a personal post: Mask wearing and other plague related issues. I will now be avoiding enclosed public spaces for the foreseeable future: On not wearing a face mask.

I continue to try to manage my anxiety with exercise – long walks and bike rides in the still beautiful countryside, plus regular runs that push me to my physical limits. I miss the strength training gym membership offered and await news on restrictions these establishments will be forced to work to. Elder son returned to training on opening day and I may join his town centre gym. The little local facility I have been a member of for years cannot yet know when it will be permitted to open fully and freely.

I hurt for the small businesses that will not survive mandated restrictions, the employees facing redundancy and the stress this brings. It feels to me at times that a section of society is so concerned with not dying that they have forgotten how to live. Risk exists in many chosen activities.

In amongst all else that has been happening, I still turn to my books. Reading cannot offer the relaxation and escapism I crave in these times of uncertainty – I struggle to concentrate for long periods – but I still gain pleasure from appreciation of fine writing.

I reviewed 9 titles in July: 7 fiction (1 translated) and 2 non fiction. In addition, Robyn contributed 9 reviews.

You may click on the title below to read the review, and on the cover to find out more about each book.



Patience by Toby Litt, published by Galley Beggar Press
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce, published by Doubleday

The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams, published by William Heinemann
The Silken Rose by Carol McGrath, published by Headline Accent

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, published by Picador
The Blackbird by Claire Allen, published by Henningham Family Press

I am running a Twitter giveaway of The Blackbird that will close at 5pm on 31/7/2020. Do consider entering for the chance to win a copy of this truly beautifully bound and illustrated book – it is well worth reading.


Translated Fiction

A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti (translated by Fionn Petch), published by Charco Press


Non fiction

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker, published by Quercus
Not Far From The Junction by Will Ashon, published by Open Pen


Robyn Reviews

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, published by Jo Fletcher Books
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, published by Hodder & Stoughton

The Story of Silence by Alex Myers, published by Harper Voyager
The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune, published by Hodder & Stoughton

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant, published by Harper Collins
The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi, published by Mantle

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
The Year of Witching by Alexis Henderson, published by Bantam Press

Circe by Madeline Miller, published by Bloomsbury


Sourcing the books

Robyn is on Netgalley and is grateful for all approvals of titles requested. She received her first physical ARC this month as well as making a couple of hefty purchases.


I took delivery of some intriguing sounding books, many of which I couldn’t help but read immediately.

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health, speedy recovery from any illness, and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx


4 comments on “Monthly Roundup – July 2020

  1. I’m so sorry you’re feeling stressed Jackie. I have found recent events alarming too with a seeming breakdown in the fabric of society. Thankfully, we have a home gum to use but I have missed walks. It feels too crowded here. Great post.

  2. jenanita01 says:

    Like you, I am so stressed out these days and cannot read, or write for that matter. But my garden is showing signs of improvement!

  3. heavenali says:

    Things are definitely stressful at the moment. I have my hair appointment tomorrow. You read a good pile there though. I have just started reading Miss Benson’s Beetle this afternoon.

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