2022 Review of Books 10/12
This hasn't been the easiest of months. Far from completing the big edit I was doing, I've accomplished very little. The main reason for this was contracting pneumonia, which wiped me out for a couple of weeks. For much of that time I didn't even have the energy to read - I'd get through a couple of pages and fall asleep. It wasn't a massive amount of fun, but I'm on the mend now thankfully.
My good news this month is that my youngest is showing every sign of taking after me on the reading front. His school recently introduced a new reading scheme which counts the number of words they read and he's been really motivated to read more as a result. At one point last week, he'd actually read one book more than I had. I did eventually overtake him, but he was so delighted that he was ahead! When we worked out what he'd read over 1/2 term, it came out at over 60,000 words. The eldest also came to speak to me yesterday looking really worried. 'Mum, I'm a bit concerned. I only have 3 books left to read and then I've run out. Can we order some more please?'
My job is (almost) done...
Books read this month: 18
Annual Total: 138
The Empire – Michael Ball (debut novel from the popular entertainer. A solid start to a series. Full review can be found here.)
A Terrible Kindness – Jo Browning Wroe (The book begins and ends in Aberfan and like the location, the many strands of the book are circular in nature. It was an interesting perspective on this tragedy, particularly as it’s such an unusual take. Most books about the disaster focus, quite rightly, on those directly affected by it. However, this does nothing to detract from the families, but rather, it looks at the wider impact it had on others who were less directly involved. Not always the easiest of reads, but well worth a few hours of your time.)
Zennor In Darkness – Helen Dunmore (Got this because it was set in Cornwall and claimed to be about DH Lawrence, who is an author I love. Bit disappointed with it to be honest. Lawrence and his wife were almost on the periphery of the story and it was written in stream of consciousness, which I loathe with a passion. I found it quite hard to follow the switches between the perspectives of the different character and never really emotionally engaged with any of them, which was a shame. It wasn’t badly written by any means, it just wasn’t to my taste.)
Any Human Heart – William Boyd (A beautiful examination of the human condition – a thoroughly flawed narrator, but I fell in love with him within a handful of pages. An utterly brilliant book. Not an author I’ve read before, but one I’d definitely read again. It reminded me a little of Isabelle Allende’s Violetta.)
Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries – Kate Mosse (I’m a huge fan of Kate Mosse and even though this was non-fiction it didn’t disappoint. Full review can be found here.)
Hannibal Enemy Of Rome – Leonard Cottrell (read this to support 17yo with his EPQ essay. Not the most academic of history books, but enough for what I needed and it was really interesting. I learnt huge amounts about both Hannibal and the Romans he faced in battle.)
The Lost Gardens of Heligan – Tim Smit (written by one of the men who rediscovered the Cornish gardens. Fascinating insight into the process of restoring the garden to its current state. I was halfway through it when we visited the gardens and it certainly enhanced the visitor experience. I was gutted we couldn’t explore all of it, but we’ll definitely be going back to do the rest. The book is well worth reading too.)
Black and British - David Olusoga (looking at the history of black people in Britain. Fascinating book, particularly as it comes in 3 different formats, for different age groups and I'm reading the children's version with the 7yo. Obviously I was aware of a lot of the names because of programmes ike Horrible Histories and other reading I've done, but there's so much I didn't know and it's made me very aware of how limited the history we were taught at school is, compared to what could have been taught.)
Sorrow and Bliss – Meg Malone (Suspect this was a Between The Covers recommendation. Really interesting book about the effect poor mental health can have on someone’s life and the power of love to help the healing process. Found it quite difficult that it wasn’t based on any particularly mental illness though, as it made it feel less authentic.)
Another Life – Jodie Chapman (a Between The Covers recommendation. As interesting as they promised. Two teenagers fall in love and then the realities of life get in the way. The ending was not what I was expecting, given the way the book was marketed, but it was a compelling story which I suspect, may speak for many people who have restrictions placed on their interactions with others, regardless of what the reasons for that are.)
Middle England – Jonathan Coe (hard-hitting commentary on Middle Class England during the last ten years or so, wrapped up in a deceptively entertaining package. It gets right to the heart of all varieties of middle class life in this country and I found myself recognising so many of the characters and their views in people I know. This was one that was recommended when I was looking for something different and it ticks all the boxes for me. Well worth a read.)
The Return Of Sherlock Holmes (Audiobook. I was surprised by how many of these I’d completely forgotten, even though I’d read them before. It was really nice to feel like I was reading new Holmes stories.)
The Valley Of Fear – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Audiobook. Don’t remember this one at all and Holmes is only in half the story, but it was such a well written book and I loved the unusual structure of it, which is very different to all the other Holmes books.)
His Last Bow - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Audiobook. Some of these stories showcase Holmes at his classic, devious best. However, I wasn't sure how I felt about Holmes being active during WW1. To me, Holmes is Victorian through and through and it felt odd hearing that Watson was driving him around in a car.)
Before Green Gables – Budge Wilson (a prequel to Anne of Green Gables. Not as good as the originals, but definitely worth reading for any Anne-lover. I felt it captured perfectly Anne’s spirit & gives valuable background to her story and character. It gives well thought out reasons for her quixotic mix of dreamy brilliance and short temper and made me love Anne all the more.)
Pepper River Inn – KT Dady (read for review. Enjoyed it. Full review coming 5th November.)
Murder Most Royal – SJ Bennett (3rd in the Queen as a detective series. Loved every word of it. Full review coming 10th November.)
Chaos at Carnegie Hall – Kelly Oliver (enjoyed it, but felt a bit disingenuous describing it as the first in a new series, when the character has already been in 3 books, presumably with a different pubisher. Full review coming 18th November.)
Book of the month?
I'm going to pick two this month. The reason for this is because one of them I can't write about properly until it's published. Murder Most Royal was exactly the kind of book I needed this month - light and funny, but extremely well written. However, because I can't comment on it yet, I'm also going for Any Human Heart. It captured me in the first couple of pages and drew me into its world brilliantly.