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2022 Review Of Books 9/12


This month has involve a lot of editing, a fair amount of paid work and multiple books to be read for review, so the round up is quite the mixed bag. For the first time in years, I've had multiple books on the go at once and I'm not sure quite how I managed to read so many at once when I was younger! Next month is also quite a busy one for reviews so I've been trying to knock a few more off my TBR pile. I also finally got around to making a list of all the ones on my shelf that I wanted to read, although I did realise that some of the ones I'd earmarked to read, actually no longer hold the same appeal. And that's OK. I just took them off the list. It felt a bit like cheating, but I figure there's no point reading them just because two years ago, I thought I might like them!


I was watching the Queen's lying in state recently and my husband was laughing about the fact that when the queue was temporarily closed, there was a queue to join the queue. And then they formed a queue to join the queue to join the queue. It was the most British thing ever, he said. I kept quiet as I realised that was essentially what I'd started doing with my books. Because people don't stop recommending books to a book-lover, just because said book-lover is trying to reduce the size of their TBR pile, I now have a list on paper of books I'd like to read next year. After all, if it's not on my 'official' TBR list, it doesn't count. Does it?


I am now adjusting my goal for this year from 'reduce the books on my TBR list' to 'Read everything you put on there before 2020'! (Not really, but I'm not adding any books officially until the end of the year...)


Books Read This Month: 15

Annual Total: 120


TBR Pile Checklist:

Kindle Unlimited List: 1

On Library List: 48

Not In Library/On Kindle already/On bookshelf: 79

Total: 128 (down from 163 in June) It's coming down slowly and I think there's now only a handful of pre-pandemic recommendations left now.


Reviews


Creative Non-Fiction


Miss Willmott’s Ghosts – Sandra Lawrence (I fell in love with Warley Place when I took my eldest son there on a school trip. I had an idea for a story set in the house – the original attempt morphed into something different, but a Warley Place story is still there waiting to be written. I’ve been desperate to know more about the house and its owner for years and have never been able to find out very much about either, but now I have and I’m even more in love with them both than I was before. This book is a brilliant telling of Ellen Willmott’s story and I love that it treats her as a human being rather than as the grumpy old lady she’s more commonly portrayed as.)


Contemporary


Best Of Friends – Kamila Shamsie (Another fantastic book from this author. Full review can be found here.)


A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman (Ove is not a nice man initially. When I first started the book, I decided I would find him incredibly annoying in real life. BUT within a few pages I found myself reluctantly quite liking him. By the end, I was utterly and completely in love with him. I have a sneaking suspicion that both of these emotions were because I could see traits of my own character in his. The things he does are sometimes the things I imagine doing but don’t have the guts to follow through with – partly because I know they’re petty and would make me somehow ‘less’ but also partly because I don’t like confrontation. However, he is actually a pretty wonderful human being underneath the bluff and bluster.)


Historical


The Flight Girls – Noelle Salazar (not one I’d have picked up myself but one from the pile of books I was given at a time when I was desperate for things to read – the libraries were closed – I finally got around to reading it and it’s a decent book of its type. What I loved about it though, was that it gave a voice to the many women whose contributions to the American war effort went unrecognised for so many years.)


The Return Of Captain John Emmett – Elizabeth Speller (A compelling story which examines the fallout – both physical and mental – of the First World War. Although the main focus is on the men who returned and the stories of those who didn’t, it also examines the effects of the war on the women they came home to. Speller creates women who are ‘of their time’ but manages to make them feel contemporary in both attitude and behaviour, without either ever appearing anachronistic. It’s an interesting story on so many levels and sheds some light on a military practice that modern audiences consider to be a shameful aspect of the Great War.)


The Ballroom Blitz – Anton du Beke (latest in The Buckingham Hotel series. Loved it as much as I did the rest and the full review can be found here.)


Summer In February – Jonathan Smith (another Cornwall inspired choice. Had heard about the Lamorna art school and this was an interesting insight into an artist community. The characters aren’t particularly sympathetic and having read a little bit about them before reading the book, I wasn’t disposed to like them to begin with. It’s one I’m glad I read, rather than one I really enjoyed. It’s worth reading if you have a passing interest in Cornwall’s art scene though.)


Crime


Marple – Various Authors (A new set of Miss Marple stories from a variety of authors. Full review is here.)


Women's


Lessons In Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus (Book group pick. Absolutely loved this. Elizabeth Zott is an absolute gem of a woman – no nonsense, uncompromising in both work and life. She is definitely a woman out of her time and would fit into the 21st century without a murmur. Unfortunately for her, she lives in the 1950s and 60s and most people just don’t understand her. Utterly brilliant book and I want to be Elizabeth’s friend.)


Horror


The Last House On Needless Street – Catriona Ward (I think this was a Between The Covers recommendation and unusually for these, I found it quite hard to get into. It’s a psychological book – but I wouldn’t describe it really as either a thriller or a horror, it’s just incredibly dark and very hard to read in places. I found myself struggling to keep hold of all the different threads and there were several points at which I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on and what was real and what was in the minds of the protagonists. But then, I guess that was kind of the point of the book. It was certainly well written and a cleverly conceived book, I’m just not sure it was for me.)


Children's


The Wizard In My Shed – Simon Farnaby (I read this because the 6yo is obsessed with Merdyn and I wanted to understand what on earth he was going on about. It took me a little while to get into it – the story moves quite slowly to begin with – but after a few chapters it started to get really interesting. The opening is actually incredibly important as it’s setting up the whole series, not just the book and therefore it’s right that it takes the time to explain everything properly. The style of writing also takes a little bit of getting used to as an adult, but I imagine it would appeal immediately to its target audience!)


Classic


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes

The Hound Of The Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle (audiobooks. Stephen Fry narrates these stories with flair. I loved reading them in my twenties and am thoroughly enjoying re-‘reading’ them now. With classic stories like these it’s often easy to forget quite how unique they were at the time of publication and listening to The Final Problem I can see why it caused such a furore. Knowing that Holmes eventually returns means that it loses some of its impact, but it is, nonetheless, a beautiful and suitable ‘ending’ for such an iconic character.)


Non-Fiction


The Book Lovers’ Bucket List – Caroline Taggart (a birthday present and brilliant book for any book lover. It winds its way through Britain and Northern Ireland, highlighting some of the best books written in each area. Many I’d read, but there were a fair few that got added to my reading list for next year, which I’m thinking might be county or region based.)


Book of the month?


I loved Lessons In Chemistry so much, but I think it was just slightly edged out of top spot by Miss Willmott's Ghosts, because not only was it a fascinating read, but it also gave me an idea for a novel and it's about one of my favourite places in the world.




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