August in Review

August has been a very busy month here at 746 Books.

Well, not so much on the blog at 746 Books, but in the real life of 746 Books!

August was the final full month of 20 Books of Summer and I watched in envy as several participants tweeted details of their 20th review! What I’ve discovered this year about my summer challenge is, that the reading itself is not the problem. 20 books is a totally acceptable amount of books to read within that timescale.

So, it’s not the reading. It’s the reading and reviewing 20 books is the problem for me! Although I am just about to start book number 20 (with 3 days to go!!) my reviewing has stalled at 13. I will round up on the last 6 I have read here, but we are talking 2 or 3 line reviews rather than 2 or 3 paragraphs, which is disappointing to me as there are a few of these books that I would love to have looked at in a more in depth way.

Adobe Spark 14


I think I may have been able to dive in to this challenge better if I hadn’t started a new job in the middle of it. I am loving my new position as Arts Programmer at the new Seamus Heaney HomePlace Arts Centre, it’s challenging and exciting but it has also been all-consuming. The building opens to the public on 29 September and we are all working very hard to get everything ready for that. It has meant that after work, kids, dinner and anything else I have to do, I have had very little energy for posting on my blog. I am hoping that things settle down over the next few months and I will get back to my usual regular posting schedule, I mean it’s not as if I won’t be surrounded every day by amazing literary inspiration!

Quick plug – do check out the website for the HomePlace – if anyone is visiting, please do say hello!

I was also on holiday last week with the family to the beautiful Rathmullan in Donegal. We had a wonderful week, the kids made friends with a neighbouring cat and the weather was kind to us. No mobile coverage also meant it was a very relaxing week and I got a lot of reading done. Some of it outside at the picnic table no less – a phenomenon that is often unheard of in Donegal!

But today has an autumnal feel. The twins went back to school, starting in P2 and yet again there were tears. And yet again, they were mine and there is a distinct chill in the air here in Northern Ireland. I can’t deny that I’m an autumn kinda girl, so I’m looking forward to coats and tights and scarves and all things cosy!

And finally, I have just found out that 746 Books has made the finals of the Littlewoods Irish Blog Awards in the Books and Literature category. I am so delighted to have made the final 7, it’s such an honour and am currently frantically trying to source a babysitter so the hubbie and I can put on our glad rags and head down to Dublin for the ceremony on the 15 September! Thanks to all of you who voted for me, it was much appreciated.


So, back to books – here is a very quick run down of the last 6 of my 20 Books.

No 616 The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

As expected, Wharton didn’t disappoint. I loved The Age of Innocence, not as much as The House of Mirth, but it was still wonderful. I found this one to be more biting and often more funny in its dissection of New York society than the other works have read and it has a final scene that is poignant and perfect. Now to watch the movie!

Read on: Book
Number Read: 131
Number Remaining: 615

No 615 Small Island by Andrea Levy

This was another winner for me, with the multiple viewpoints bringing a depth and insight into the story. Perfectly formed with a range of incredibly authentic voices, I enjoyed it very much.


Read on: Kindle
Number Read: 132
Number Remaining: 614

No 614 I Am No One You Know by Joyce Carol Oates

I adore Joyce Carol Oates short stories as she usually veers towards the darker side of humanity in her shorter works. This collection is no exception, featuring some stunning stories that explore those moments when we do something impulsive, or make a small decision, with no idea of the often devastating consequences that might follow.

Read on: Book
Number Read: 133
Number Remaining: 613

No 613 Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

‘You must have wished a million times to be normal.’
‘I’ve wished I had two heads. Or that I was invisible. I’ve wished for a fish’s tale instead of legs. I’ve wished to be more special.’
‘Not normal?’

I loved this book, which I have been meaning to read for a long time. Telling the tale of the Binewski family, circus ‘freaks’ featuring the megalomaniac Arturo the Aqua Boy, telekinetic Chick and sometime prostitute Siamese twins, this is a dark, funny tale is narrated by bald, albino hunchback Olympia which explores sibling rivalry, family loyalty and how society judges between the beautiful and the ugly, the weird and the normal. A must read.

Read on Book
Number Read: 134
Number Remaining: 612

No 612 The Republic of Love by Carol Shields

This is the one occasion where I wish I had time to write a full review, as The Republic of Love is my book of the year so far. A smart, sprawling, witty and heartwarming exploration of love in all its forms, the story follows Fay McLeod and Tom Avery as they stumble through failed relationships, muse on the impossibility of finding a partner, meet, fall in love at first sight and try to navigate the pitfalls that great romance can bring. If this makes it sound slight, it’s not at all. It is a wonderful musing on all aspects of love and is one of the most charming, humane and entertaining books Ihave read in a long time.

Read on: Kindle
Number Read: 135
Number Remaining: 611

No 611 Solace by Belinda McKeon


The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that Solace was not on my original 20 Books of Summer list. I should have read Moon Tiger, but it was on my iPad, which I hadn’t brought on holiday, so I turned to Solace instead. I’m glad I did. I adored Tender, Belinda McKeon’s second novel, which was my favourite book of the year last year. Solace is like Tender’s quieter little sister – not so showy or attention grabbing, but a book with real depth and beauty. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but Solace starts slowly, exploring the relationship between Mark and Joanne as they deal with a pregnancy not long after they have started dating. It changes pace halfway through following an unforeseen tragedy and excels in exploring familial bonds and the relationship between fathers and sons against the backdrop of agricultural Ireland before the financial crash.

Read On: Kindle
Number Read: 136
Number Remaining: 610

So there we have it. 19 books of my 20 books of Summer read, with just Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon left to read and I am determined to finish it by Monday – although I doubt I will manage a review before then! Plus, I’m a little excited that I am only 10 books away from getting in to the 500s of the 746!

So, how are the rest of you doing with your challenge? Are you looking forward to Autumn or pining for the last few days of summer?

Reading Challenge The 746

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

53 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Small Island is great, isn’t it? So much bigger than the sum of its parts somehow. And you’ve got me excited again about Solace – I loved Tender too and was worried that her first one wouldn’t be the same, but it seems that its differences are good ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure I’m going to do it, as the current book is large and I have SO MUCH WORk to do, but you never know! I’m reading 18, still working on 20, my book in Icelandic, and 19 is a smallish one. Do we have until the start of Monday, or the end of Monday??

    And well done on the nomination and reaching the finals, that’s fab! And don’t beat yourself up about the reviews – you’re busy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have been busy, sometimes life gets in the way of reading and blogging. Glad you enjoyed The Age of Innocence- I liked it very much but like you preferred The House of Mirth. Well done for making it to the final of the Irish blog awards – very well deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations, Cathy, and I agree with the above comment; this is a truly outstanding blog ( one of my favorites). I always wanted twins ( I have Irish twins, though, but all grown up and away). You have certainly been busily productive, too, and your job sounds incredible. I adore Edith Wharton and Joyce Carol Oates; in fact, at one time, she taught writing courses in a college not far from me. Yes, her stories and novels are often dark and darker when she uses her pen name; she also had a penchant for boxers. I have never come across Solace; sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Her topics are most extraordinary; make certain to read “Where Have you Gone and Where Have you Been.” And yes, my Irish twins were a challenge, but one I enjoyed until they hit puberty, and then ( sob) left home.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 1. Your new place of work looks wonderful! If I’m ever in Ireland, I’ll be sure to visit (but don’t hold your breath…)
    2. Yay for finishing all 20 books this year! And, I’m having the same problem as you – the reading is no problem, but the reviewing takes extra time. I’ve read the 10, but you wouldn’t know it based on what I’ve posted. My last ones might be after the September 5th cut-off mark, but I’m not going to worry about that. School here doesn’t start until the 8th, so until then I don’t know what I’ll be able to manage.
    3. All of these books sound like winners! You’ve had a nice streak. Glad to hear you loved Carol Shield’s book so much! I also read one of her books this summer (Unless), but haven’t reviewed it yet. I had originally dithered between Unless and The Republic of Love, but now I have TRoL to look forward to!
    4. Looking forward to Autumn. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Repubic of Love is one of my favourite favourites. She packs so much in (and is also the genesis of my BuriedInPrint quote!) and I took soooo many notes from TRoL in particular. There is also a Canadian-made film of it which is obviously a little different but captures the same quiet magic (IMO). Geek Love is also one that i loved: such an outstanding voice and so bizarrely mesmerizing along the way. I was sorry when it was done.

    Happy autumning to you! We’re not quite there yet, maybe two more weeks, but it’s coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like you, I am looking forward to Autumn with the golden leaves, cooler weather, scarves, tights, hot chocolate and darker evenings. I am already signed up for the R.I.P XI reading event which indulges my inclination to read mysteries, thrillers and gothic literature this time of year.

    As for my 10 Books of Summer list I have finished 8 books and I am currently reading my 9th – I am really pleased with that amount and it is up on last year. Here is my round up post: 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know just what you mean: it’s easy to race through the books, but then finding the time to sit down with them and put their essence across in words is a big challenge. You’ve managed to really encapsulate these in just a few sentences — well done!

    I’ve meant to read Geek Love, in particular, for quite a long time. I also read The Republic of Love this summer but didn’t take to it as much as you did; I think The Stone Diaries remains my favourite Shields.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so glad to see love for Carol Shields! She is one of my favorite authors and terribly underrated in my opinion. The Republic of Love is just a gem. She just had a way of writing about people and emotions and relationships that is just so insightful and right on.

    Also, I just loved the pictures of your kiddos – and the cat!

    Congrats on getting to the finals of the awards! Hope you have fun at the ceremony!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations on making the blog awards shortlist, Cathy. Very well deserved.

    I’m so pleased you loved Geek Love. As you know, I’m a big fan. And also, Solace. I read it almost by accident – I picked it up in a book shop because some one had mentioned it and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Great debut.

    Liked by 1 person

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