I’m been too busy enjoying summer to do any blogging over the past week! It was Josh’s birthday so we went out for a meal and had a day off work, which we used to walk round Exbury Gardens, with Scully in tow.

I’d been before but not when the Rhododendrons were in flower and they also have a lovely iris garden in bloom right now. It was surprisingly busy but easy to lose people down the winding paths.

Pale blue iris flower

Scully started acting a bit oddly after walking through the pet graveyard so we’ve decided the gardens are haunted by ghost dogs.

Gravestone with the text - Scott who really smiled when pleased, faithful friend, guard of Anne.

On top of that we also hung out at our local beach for a bit and went to the pub on the way back, which we haven’t done in so long. We never really knew what they system was to sit in their beer garden as you couldn’t book it, but we just went and asked as it looked quiet and we were fine just to check in there and then. Was just like old times, only they don’t have the jar of dog biscuits out so the staff gave them straight to Scully which she thought was the most amazing thing ever. She’d stopped trying to veer into pubs since it’s been so long, but I can guarantee she’ll be back at it now.

I also read some books! I finished Ariadne by Jennifer Saint on audio. This is a pretty straight retelling of Ariadne and her sister Phaedra’s stories. It was just lacking a little oompf, maybe because Ariadne always seems on the edge of the myths, some of them just being relayed to her by others. This isn’t one of my 20 Books of Summer so we’ll see if I get round to reviewing it before I forget all the details.

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid has been my favourite of the two wolf-based myth fantasy books out this summer! I loved the mythology in it, supposedly based on Hungarian folklore. There is a lot of religious persecution, but I liked how each religion gave its worshippers magic of a kind, so none of them weren’t real, they were just different. I loved all the dark monsters and sacrifice based magic, but there is also a serious element, with the villain wanting to rid the world of a faith representing Judaism, as well as the pagans. This was a review copy so full review coming this week!

Talking about books with similar themes, the two contemporary young adult novels I read over the weekend had some plot elements in common but completely different tones. The first was Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, where an anonymous texter called Aces starts sharing the secrets of the only two black kids in a prestigious private school. The second was Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney where a black girl is blackmailed after her journal goes missing, the bully leaking her secrets to the whole school, which is mostly white.

Both were excellent, but Ace of Spades was darker a with a definite feeling of dread encroaching into the pages as things get more serious. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry was much more fun, with friendships, romance and lots of lists, even though it did tackle issues around racism as well. In my current mood, I did prefer the more upbeat book, but would recommend both. Keep your eyes peeled for full reviews soonish.

New books acquired:

[GIFTED] A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (Tor)
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé