At the end of last year I counted up the number of books I'd read and decided to try to beat that this year. I set myself a target of 150 books to read by the end of 2021. I had no thought of what I would read other than
a) I had to read the books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves before I bought any others
b) I would try to make sure that over the year I read a wide range of genres.
However, after reading my first book group pick of the year, I decided I also needed to ensure that I read books by BAME authors and particularly those which were set in other countries, times etc.
It quickly became clear this month that although I couldn't do much in the way of writing with the boys all being at home, I could read alongside home schooling the five year old. Reading was my focus this month to give my challenge a boost and I was quite pleased to make such a strong start. I've got the number of books on my Kindle to under 30 and with the ones on the shelves still to read I've probably got enough to at least get me through the rest of this Lockdown.
I've read far too many to do a proper review of them all, but I've written a sentence or two about each one below.
The Improbablity of Love - Hannah Rothschild (Not the usual kind of romance story, more of a thriller in places and some unusual perspectives given on the art world. Not what I expected, but an enjoyable read)
Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen (Again, not a typical romance novel. Set in the world of the circus and a perfect example of a book that delivers on its opening promise but in a way you don't expect. Enjoyed it more than I expected to)
The Duke and I/The Viscount Who Loved Me/An Offer From A Gentleman - Julia Quinn (The first 3 of the Bridgerton novels. Very silly, language and behaviour that doesn't always fit the time period but I absolutely loved them! Slightly different to the TV series, but if you enjoyed that you'll love the books. Will definitely be reading the rest and will probably return to these at some point)
Robin Hood - David Baldwin (Not the best book I've read on the subject, but interesting nonetheless)
Passchendaele: A New History - Nick Lloyd (Good if you want minute details about the campaign and information about which units were where at what time. Not the most accessible if you want an overall view of the campaign in layman terms)
To Marry An English Lord - Gail MacColl & Carol McD. Wallace (Very interesting overview of the Dollar Princesses. Easy to access format with text broken up by newspaper style reports)
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamande Ngozi Adichie (Book Group book. The book that started my quest to read more BAME authors. Found it difficult at times to engage with the characters but would definitely read more of her books. Beautifully written in places)
Why Mummy Doesn't Give A **** - Gill Sims (Book 2/4 in the series. Brilliant if you've got children of any age. Totally gets to the heart of the perils and pitfalls of parenting)
Why Mummy's Sloshed - Gill Sims (Book 4/4 in the series. Just superb. Had me actually laughing out loud in places. Nightmare toddler and moody teens - really recognised bits of my two in this one. A quick read, but superb! Will definitely buy book 3/4 when I'm allowed to buy again!)
Reluctant Adult - Katie Kirby (Quite hard to read on Kindle as the drawings were rather faint. Raises some interesting points in amusing ways. Actually made me think about my own instinctive behaviours and look at changes I could make to the way I react to situations. Not a self help book, but definitely could be!)
Panic Room - Robert Goddard (One of my all-time favourite authors and not quite sure why it took me so long to read this one. Not one of my favourites as it's a completely modern setting, but it's still a very good book and I didn't see the twist coming)
Where The Missing Go - Emma Rowley (Thoroughly interesting premise, excellently constructed. It really tapped into the terror of having a child go missing and had a compelling and chilling conclusion)
The Cuckoo's Calling/The Silkworm/Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith (Read Lethal White for book group last year, watched the TV series recently and wanted to try the books. Definitely worth it. Superb books, can't wait to read the last one when I'm allowed to buy books again)
The Shrouded Path - Sarah Ward (Genuinely suspenseful. Read it pretty much in one sitting. Old sins cast long shadows and although the original event wasn't particularly 'eventful' it just shows how far some people will go to prevent the truth coming out)
A God In Every Stone - Kamila Shamsie (Secret Santa from book group. Didn't enjoy it as much as Home Fires by the same author. However, a beautiful book in places and doesn't shy away from the realities of British behaviour during WW1 and the rule of the empire countries. Gives a different perspective from History lessons, which is rarely a bad thing)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (Had seen the film, wanted to read the book it was based on. Different to the film and told through a series of letters which means you get to know more about the characters than you do in the film. Not an unusual situation!)
Love After Love - Ingrid Persaud (Beautifully written book set in the West Indies and New York. Touches on many different forms of love, all of which are authentic and touching. Would definitely read more of her work)
To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Classic I'd been looking forward to reading. Well written but I didn't particularly enjoy it and found it an uncomfortable read, although I realise that this was the purpose of the book)
Go Set A Watchman - Harper Lee (Part sequel, part first draft of TKAM. Related more to the world this was set in and the frustrations of some of the characters, but hated the 'new' incarnation of Atticus Finch)
The Shadow King - Maaza Mengiste (Set in Ethiopia during the Italian invasion of 1935-6 but focusing on the female soldiers. Utterly compelling and didn't go the way I was expecting at all. Hard hitting and intriguing)
To Be Read At Dusk - Charles Dickens (Not particularly scary - no nightmares for me, so can't have been! Interesting stories though and I don't particularly like Dickens, but enjoyed these)
Murder on a Midsummer Night - Kerry Greenwood (the next on my list of Phryne Fisher books. 1920s female detective in Australia. Loved it, loved it, loved it, as always!)
Relative Fortunes - Marlowe Benn (Picked another in the series when it was on offer as it was another 1920s female detective. First in the Julia Kidd series. Slow and a bit frustrating in places, but would read more as it still kept my interest throughout)
Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear (First in the series of another 1920s female detective. Better than Julia Kydd but not quite Phryne. However, this is a much more psychological series and has the potential for interesting developments. Would definitely read more of these)
So there we are. 28/150 books read and not a bad one among the lot of them! I can't wait to see what next month's books bring.
Favourite book of this month?
Can't choose between these two. Both short and light and just what I needed to read at the time. There are worthier and better written books in this list, but these are definitely the books to choose if you need cheering up!