The Lasses take on the Summer Reading Challenge

Six books in six weeks? We can totally do that! Or can we…? Turns out it’s not as easy as it seems, especially when you add in an extra challenge that involves reading a favourite book from each of the other Lasses (just in case you’d forgotten what they were, you can remind yourself all over again by reading our Top 5 books).

So did we complete the challenge? You’ll have to keep on reading to find out! Pun totally intended…😂

Claire 🐘
It’s fair to say that the two books I had were so different you couldn’t make it up. The first was a historical book about a maid working at a big house, and the second was young adult (YA) fiction about vampires in a college town! Luckily, I’ll generally read absolutely anything so wasn’t phased and approached the challenge with total relish – who doesn’t love a challenge?! I’ve finished both books now (yay, challenge completed!) and here’s what I have to say about the books. 

The Observations by Jane Harris
Historical? Maids? Big fancy houses? Even though I stick by my above point that I’ll read absolutely anything, I definitely never pick up books of this kind. They just never seem that appealing and so I have to say I was totally surprised when I really got into this book! The maid, Bessy, was an incredibly entertaining voice and the whole premise behind the book had me so intrigued that I had to keep turning the pages to find out how it all ended! At 521 pages it was no light read either, plus of course, feeling all the fear when you borrow a book from someone and you want to return it in the same state it arrived in…however I digress. I would absolutely recommend this book, maybe even more so as it took me by surprise how good it was. Give it a try. It might just be your ideal late summer/early autumn read. 

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Vampires? ✔️
Teenagers? ✔️
Angsty teenager versus popular girls? ✔️
Angsty teenager falls for hot boy with deep rooted issues? ✔️
Other hot boy turns out to be a ghost who can’t leave the house as it’s providing protection against the vampires…ohhh-kay, now I’m interested! 

If I had to sum up Glass Houses I’d say it’s a cross between Twilight, Mean Girls (if Mean Girls were vampires who ruled the town) and a wannabe True Blood (but not full on True Blood as hello?! YA fiction alert). I’m not mocking, as I actually kind of love all of those things – no shame. I raced through this in a couple of days and because it ends on a massive cliffhanger, I’m now going to have to find the next in the series so that I know what happens next! 

My thoughts about the reading challenge? Turned out to be fun and I’d definitely be up for doing it again. Just as long as there are no classics involved… *shudders*

Emma 🍫

Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Before I start on my thoughts, I would like to remind everyone that I have a rather short attention span for books that are more based on real life that anything else, keep that in mind when reading this.

I have to say, this was a very well written book with a good plot and a lot of plot twists – imagine a country road and that’s how many plot twists you have. I also learnt a lot from this book – there was a Spanish Civil War? – and it showed parts of historical life that I never even thought of. At the same time, I wasn’t quite invested enough in the book and the plot to be able to enjoy it, it just seemed like I was reading for no real reason. I still finished the book, but I didn’t personally enjoy it – each to their own. However, for those of you into biography style books, or books based more on real life, this is perfect for you and I would reccomend you read it; it’s just not for those who are more into sci-fi/fantasy style books.

Carrie by Stephen King (warning – possible spoilers)
I am not very good with horror, so this was a leap of faith for me. Luckily it’s quite difficult to be scared when reading on a bus in broad daylight.

I have to say, Stephen King is very invested in clothing for a horror author – I guess it’s all in the detail.

It didn’t take me all that long to read Carrie, I feel like I could have done it over a weekend solidly. I think my favourite part of this book is how real it is – even with the supernatural aspect – it really tackles the problem of bullying and shows how it make the victim feel, rather than more recent books showing strong female characters in dystopian universes fighting ‘The Man’.

It was refreshing to read about a vunerable, young, and clueless girl being bullied and eventually just breaking, because that is real and relatable.

King – you did a good job with this book and writing its themes in a true and honest fashion. Recommended to those who aren’t squeamish – or those who read on the bus.

Rachel 🐱

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley (spoilers below)

Apparently this is a book for children/young adults, which unnerves me a little bit, because it really is quite scary, although I’ve definitely got less able to cope with scary things as I’ve got older. Aside from that, I definitely enjoyed reading it!

I loved how inventive it was; the stories weren’t your typical demons or zombies or whatever else people generally tend to find scary. I found they were more stories to mess with your mind and make you think ‘what if’, rather than just straight up blood and guts and gore, but they’re the kind of stories that stick with you (trying not to think about them right now tbh because chills 😳). I was particularly unsettled by the story of the boy who was chased across a mountain by a horrible, mangled figure until he fell to his grisly death…whereupon we realise that the figure was his body after death. Massive shudder. 😱😱

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Let me start by saying that this book is a pretty long way from my comfort zone; ‘laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, and Jockey Shorts dance contests’ are unlikely to ever be my thing, but I wanted to give it a fair chance – especially since Claire did the same with my book, The Observations.

It’s hard to describe how I actually feel about it, mostly because I haven’t finished it yet. I must admit, I got a bit demotivated when I realised that there were a lot of books in the series, and even if I got through this one, I wouldn’t have any closure on what happened to the characters! I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, per se, but I still wanted to know what happened to the characters and how their stories played out. I guess that means that although it wouldn’t be my choice of topic, it was well written and engaging enough to make me want to carry on reading. And who knows, if I finish it, it might turn out that I liked it after all!

So there you go – 6 books in 6 weeks (kinda) for the Love Middlesbrough Lasses Summer Reading Challenge! 📚📚

We hope you enjoyed our thoughts, and now we’ve got the reading bug, we’ll be reviewing some fab Boro books in the near future (Claire has already started with The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper). Stay tuned!

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