This month has been an interesting one in terms of considering how much my reading choices have changed over the last few years. As I said last month, my goal this year is simply to reduce the number of books I have waiting to be read, so this month was about tackling the #KindleUnlimited pile. Most of the books on there are books that I've had on my wishlist for years and just hadn't got around to reading. Most of them, I can't even remember why I put them on there in the first place, but they are very much reflective of what I was reading at the time.
February also saw the arrival of the #FebruarySheWrote event, which aims to encourage people to read female authors. As I wanted to join in with this, I also had to look at the authors of the books on the list to make my choices for this month. The month has been one of two halves - the first half saw mostly #cosycrime books on the list, the second half has been all about the #romance. Although I've been busy promoting my own book (my book.to/LotenUnforgettable) which has been on its #BlogTour I've read a lot this month - partly because I always read more in the holidays and partly because the books I've been reading are by and large, easy reads and consequently don't take long!
Books Read This Month: 21
Annual Total: 37
Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan (Book Group pick. Short but not sweet. Quite a grim look at the realities of the Magdalene homes. I was surprised it was set in the 80s as I hadn’t realised they were still going then. I didn’t ‘enjoy’ it, but it was an excellent book and well worth reading.)
The Amber Fury – Natalie Haynes (very different to what I’d expected. Put this on my list ages ago and only remembered that it was about Greek tragedy. Actually was set in modern times and only drew on the tragedies as a plot device. Was an excellent book though and knowledge of the Greek plays it refers to is definitely not necessary in order to enjoy it!)
Nancy Mitford – Selina Hastings (Interesting insight into the lives of the Mitfords and particularly, Nancy. Such polarised political views within one family were always going to make for interesting reading. I knew her Love In A Cold Climate series was based on her own life, but I didn’t realise quite how closely it was mirrored, not did I know that she’d parodied her sister and Mosely in another book.)
My Last Duchess – Selina Hastings (much of this was clearly a fictionalised version of the life and wedding of Consuelo Vanderbilt, which I’ve read a lot about when I was researching my own ‘Gilded Age’ novel. Where it differed and became pure fiction, it was more interesting.)
Innocent Blood – P.D. James (started off well and then petered out a bit. I thought it was going to be a thrilling page turner but by about halfway through I’d started to lose interest. None of the characters are especially likeable and I almost didn’t care what happened to any of them by the end. There was obviously a reason this was on my list – I suspect it was to do with the MA, but I won’t be rushing to add more of hers to it.)
Murder In The Snow – Verity Bright (the Lady Eleanor Swift books are definitely becoming darker as the series progresses and although they’re not as serious as Maisie Dobbs, they don’t fit comfortably into ‘cosy crime’ either. For me, this makes them the perfect blend and they get better with each book.)
Mystery By The Sea – Verity Bright (this time Lady Eleanor is confronting her own past and I think this makes her a more rounded person – we see why she is such an odd mix of independence and vulnerability. There’s also less of Seddon in this one, but what there is, is delightful!)
Murder At The Fair – Verity Bright (the death this time is a likeable character, which makes a big difference to how badly you want the crime solved. A more complicated plot this time, woven together very well.)
A Lesson In Murder – Verity Bright (Lady Eleanor goes into her own past and discovers more about herself and her family.)
Death On A Winter’s Day – Verity Bright (not happy that this was the last one that was currently available. Much higher tension levels in this one, everyone is out of their comfort zone and it shows. Event I’ve been waiting for finally happened though. Woohoo!)
Murder In First Class – Helena Dixon (latest in the Miss Underhay series. Matt’s past rears its head again, there are social issues to consider and Kitty’s mother’s murderer is still causing trouble for her. Easy read to keep the series ticking over.)
On Oakham Mount – Sophia Meredith (Pride and Prejudice variation. Comfortable read, but nothing out of the ordinary.)
Safekeeping – Wendi Sotis (Wasn’t terribly keen on this one, which was a shame as I LOVE her other books.)
The Price of Pride – Abigail Reynolds (My favourite P&P variation author. My main criticism of this one is that it took too long for Darcy and Lizzie to get together and even then it didn’t feel like they were properly together. Much preferred her other books.)
Second Chance Summer – Katherine E. Smith (Unusually for the first in a series, this book feels complete in itself. Enjoyed it well enough, but don’t feel compelled to read the rest of the series.)
Castle Dor – Daphne Du Maurier (a ‘modern’ version of the story of Tristan and Iseult. Very cleverly drawn parallels but the story stands on its own and prior knowledge of the original story isn’t needed, though it enhances it if you do know it.)
The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang (this began as a romcom, reminiscent of Eleanor Oliphant style books, but about fifty pages in it suddenly turned into more of an erotica novel. I went back to check if there was any indication of this in the description – there isn’t! An interesting and sweet story with a thoroughly likeable heroine but not one if you don’t like reading descriptions of sex.)
The House By The Sea – Louise Douglas (thoroughly enjoyed this. Some chilling parts but not the kind of thriller that makes you lose sleep. Enough genuine tension though to keep you reading.)
The Mystery of the Lost Husbands - Gina Cheyne (full review coming on 4th March.)
Run Rose Run - Dolly Parton & James Patterson (full review coming on 7th March)
The Heart of the Sea – Chesney Infalt (a retelling of The Little Mermaid. Original, beautifully written role-reversal and far less sexist in outlook than the original. Thoroughly enjoyed this.)
Book of the Month?
The Heart of the Sea by Chesney Infalt. I really enjoyed this - it's not a genre I'd normally choose to read, but I picked it up as part of a #writerslift thread on #Twitter and thought it sounded interesting. I'm so glad I did. I'm not a huge fan of Disney's version of The Little Mermaid and the original story is quite gruesome, but also I don't like the idea that in order to be 'successful' Ariel has to change in order to get her man. In this version, the roles are reversed - the mermaid is a merman and the prince becomes a princess - and rather than the woman changing to please the man, ultimately the story allows her to become fully herself and take on the role she was always meant to play. The female lead, far from the empty-headed Ariel, put me more in mind of Moana, with her determination to follow her own path and do right by her people. That's never a bad thing!