Stack of July books - Seven Signs of Life by Aoife Abbey and We Just Clicked by Anna Bell
Books

July 2021 Reading Wrap Up

What the actual F is going on? How are we in August already? It’s insane. Anyway, with another month comes another reading wrap up. July was a pretty hectic month, so it may not come as a shock when I tell you that I didn’t cross many books off my list. It feels like so much happened – I left one job, I started another, and then the start of a new routine meant that I was completely thrown from the original one I had, so I’ve been struggling to manage my time. Thankfully, I’m getting there. I’ve already got one under my belt for August, and, after the Waterstones haul I had at the weekend, I definitely should be keeping up the momentum. Anyway, here’s what was in my reading stack (albeit a very small one) for July.

We Just Clicked – Anna Bell (HQ, HarperCollins, 2020) ★★★★

From the Back:
“‘Izzy’s always played by the rules. But now it’s time to break them…

When would-be Instagram-influencer Izzy Brown agrees to ‘fake-date’ her colleague Luke to boost their profiles, it’s against her better judgement. But everyone tells fibs on social media, right? And suddenly Izzy’s follower numbers are sky-rocketing, and she’s finally living the glamorous online life she’s always dreamed of – with the perfect boyfriend by her side.

But when Izzy runs into Aidan, the mysterious stranger who saved her the day her world fell apart two years ago, major sparks fly. Izzy’s sure she can have the online success she’s always dreamed of, whilst falling in love in real life. After all, Aidan doesn’t use social media…what could possibly go wrong?”

We Just Clicked by Anna Bell cover artwork

The set up of this is your typical cheesy rom-com – two people start a fake relationship for one reason or another, and in this case, it’s to gain more of a following on social media. Izzy is desperate to make it on Instagram as an influencer following the death of her brother, and when she’s approached by her colleague, Luke, he makes her an offer that she can’t refuse. The two stage a fake relationship for the ‘Gram that their followers LOVE, but it’s exactly that – it’s fake. Luke in real life is a total asshole, and it becomes even more apparent as the novel progresses. Their plan appears to be working, until Izzy runs into Aidan, who happened to be there to rescue her the day she found out about her brother. While Izzy and Luke’s fake relationship often causes hilarity to ensue, you find yourself rooting for her and Aidan the second he reappears.

This came up in my suggestions as a result of me purchasing books like The Flat Share and Our Stop, and I think if you liked those books, you’ll really enjoy this one. It’s weird to think 10 years ago, when influencers weren’t so much of a thing, this sort of novel probably wouldn’t have existed. It’s well and truly a rom-com for this day and age. Alongside that, the novel also explores the theme of social media and how we can be so easily sucked into “love stories” and how it’s so easy to ignore everything going on behind the Instagram filter.

Despite being a little predictable in places, I really enjoyed We Just Clicked. It was funny and lighthearted, but at the same time, Izzy’s back story brought a serious side to the novel too. Admittedly, at first, she wasn’t a very likeable character, but the second we’re introduced to Luke, who is a full-on bell-end, you start to warm to her and towards the end of the book you’ll be rooting for her. If you’re looking for something easy to read that will keep you entertained and will make you laugh, I would certainly recommend giving this a try.

Seven Signs of Life: Stories From an Intensive Care Doctor – Aoife Abbey (Vintage, 2020) ★★★

From the Back:
“Grief. Anger. Joy. Fear. Distraction. Disgust. Hope.

All emotions we expect to encounter over our lifetime. But what if this was every day? And what if your ability to manage them was the difference between life and death? 

For Aoife Abbey, a doctor in Intensive Care, these experiences are part of the job – from grief when you make a potentially fatal mistake to joy when the ward unexpectedly breaks into song. Seven Signs of Life is Abbey’s extraordinary account of what it means to be alive and how it feels to care for a living.”

Seven Signs of Life by Aoife Abbey cover artwork

This had been on my reading list for a while, and I was excited when it came up next in my TBR pile. However, despite my best efforts, I really didn’t feel for this as much as I thought I would. Perhaps it was because where it had been on my list for so long and I’d read so many good reviews, I hyped it up too much in my head. The main thing I struggled with was that there was a bit too much medical terminology – almost as though the author was talking to another doctor – as a result, it made me feel as though the book was addressing someone who was far more intelligent than I was, so there immediately felt like there was a barrier between the author and the reader.

There were still a few moments that were pretty powerful – one being the fact that in medical situations like intensive care and A&E, when doctors break the news that they can’t do anything else for the patient, the families stop seeing the doctor as the person trying to save their loved one’s life, but the person who is going to kill them instead. While you can appreciate all of the emotions that the families are dealing with, you also can’t help feeling for the doctor in that situation as well who is doing everything in their power to save that person’s life. It instantly goes to show the immense bravery and strength endured by those working in the NHS.

There was also a story about an elderly patient who was about to die, and her family made the decision to simply make sure she was comfortable in the final few hours of her life, rather than taking uncomfortable measures to prolong it. Over the last few weeks, since starting my new job at my local hospice charity, I’ve learned so much about the importance of changing perceptions around death and dying, and how death should be seen as a part of life. I remember reading this particular chapter during the first few weeks of starting my role, and it almost felt as though it was cementing what I had been learning over the past few days, and it made it so much more powerful.

Did I love Seven Signs of Life? Honestly, no. However, it was still a very interesting read and highlighted one of the millions of reasons why we’re so lucky here in the UK to have the NHS, and for that, I think it should be something that everyone reads at some point in their lives.

Well, that wraps things up for my July reading stack. Like I said, hopefully, I’ll have a much more meaty post for you this time next month. I’m also hoping that for my sake too, as I have a big-ass TBR list to get through. 

Have you read either of these? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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