Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

August 2019 Reading Round Up

This month I finished two books and began two more. In terms of available reading time, I’m calling this a success. I also went back to using the library which I had effectively forgotten due to having lists of other books; I started a new book yesterday and it’ll be on September’s list. One book-related thing I did this month was visit the grave of Alice Liddell, the (likely, if you go by the amount of evidence) muse of Lewis Carroll for Wonderland – it’s in a church graveyard in Lyndhurst, New Forest. It’s a bit of an ‘icky’ story as Carroll was quite taken by Alice and later asked her parents for her hand, but it’s still interesting for its literary value. I decided to go inside the church, too, which proved a good idea; they’ve a lot of information currently on stands and there was a lady there who welcomed me and told me even more. (I wouldn’t say to go out of your way to visit, but if you’re passing Lyndhurst it’s worth it, and I recommend stopping for a cream tea at the Mad Hatter’s cafe, too. I’ll see about writing a slightly longer report and including photos.)

Both books are works of fiction.

The Books

Book cover

Anne Melville: The Daughter Of Hardie – continuing the saga that begun with two pairs of siblings, book two follows the children of the one marriage that resulted, with a fair-sized focus on the youngest child of the house who, with the onset of the First World War, finds more options available to her than the women of the previous generation. A solid continuation: a few bumps but well worth reading.

Book cover

Elizabeth Chadwick: The Irish Princess – A fictionisation of the life of medieval royal, Aoife McMurchada/MacMurrough, this story looks the Irish politics of the day, the constant warring between rival rulers, the Norman-British influence, and Aoife’s relationship with Richard de Clare of Chepstow (then Striguil). The history, where factual, is interesting and well accounted for but the book drags a lot.

I enjoyed reading the Melville a lot – I was worried for a while that it wouldn’t at all match the previous book but given a bit of time it really did. In terms of the Chadwick I enjoyed the history lesson but it took me a while to get through it all; I tend to find her books either excellent or not so good and this is one of the latter, more developmental editing needed.

For September I’m continuing the two books already begun. I’ll then work from there; I want to keep my options open.

Do you have any authors you find hit or miss?

 
July 2019 Reading Round Up

This summer is getting away from me… The rain was too much, the heat has been on occasion too much which is saying something – it went down to 27 degrees celsius here one evening and felt very cool. I’ve not been reading as much as I ‘should’ because of various marketing areas needing to be covered but those are paying off, and there were family events aplenty; I’m looking forward to more time later this month. The one thing I have done a lot of in the context of this blog is watching films. I’ve watched more already in July than the entirety of the first half of the year, it is objectively ‘easier’ to watch films than read books. (I highly recommend the new Aladdin.)

The Books
Non-Fiction

Book cover

Michelle Obama: Becoming – The former First Lady looks back on her life, from birth to the White House, discussing her time in general as well as her career in light of social issues. Not perfect but pretty good.

Fiction

Book cover

Ali McNamara: Secrets And Seashells At Rainbow Bay – A woman is approached by a person looking for the next person in line to inherit a castle; he’s finally found her, a single mother whose luck has flown. This starts off very well and the basic idea is solid but it starts to get a bit silly as it continues.

Book cover

Louisa May Alcott: Good Wives – Continuing the story, Meg gets married and life changes for everyone as Amy goes away and Jo seeks a career in writing. Very good, most especially in context.

My favourite was the Alcott for all reasons – the way it mirrored her life and the teachings she included it due to the way she seems to have felt judged is highly interesting to read. I’ve a few posts in planning to write about this book further to the review posted last month. The research so far has been fascinating and I look forward to continuing it.

Quotation Report

I’m going to leave this as is. From Good Wives:

Gentlemen, which means boys, be courteous to the old maids, no matter how poor and plain and prim, for the only chivalry worth having is that which is readiest to pay deference to the old, protect the feeble, and serve womankind regardless of rank, age, or color.

This month I want to finish a couple of books I’ve had languishing not on my to-be-read exactly but my… non-dusty stack? I’ve been reading a few pages every few days. And I want to get back to the classics phase I started. I’ve also got a review copy ahead that I’m really looking forward to, the sequel to the reprinted in early May of The House Of Hardie.

Forget the books this time around – how has the weather been treating you?

 
June 2019 Reading Round Up

The past month has been pretty topsy-turvy. Whilst I still read a fair amount it was with the use of the lots-of-books-at-once method; I’ve two books not quite finished, and I read half of another that, in a rare show of defiance for my usual sunk cost reading fallacy I decided not to complete. At the tail end of last week, summer finally begun in Britain after weeks of rain, which led to some evenings outside. I have also given time to the Womens’ World Cup, switching reading for knitting as I cheer on England (next match is against the USA, tomorrow evening).

All books are works of fiction.

The Books

Book cover

Birgit Vanderbeke: You Would Have Missed Me – A young girl moves from East to West Germany with her parents, who look forward to the luxury to come whilst neglecting their child; she struggles to work out her life. A difficult but very good read.

Book cover

Louisa May Alcott: Little Women – Four girls learn to live with their mother in relative poverty following their father’s losses in investments and his leaving to serve in the American Civil War. Very good, but sugary sweet at times; the morality is strong, suited to the era and target audience.

Book cover

Nicola Cornick: The Woman In The Lake – A Lady is given a gown that, when asked, her maid does not destroy, instead hiding it away; centuries later a girl on a school trip takes a gown from a room (that suddenly looks nothing like the one she’d been viewing), and for the next several years finds the thrill from stealing things too attractive to ignore, and the gown a scary reminder of a strange time few know about. Pretty good, but not quite as good as Cornick’s previous two books.

It has been a month for literary satisfaction. Apart from the three above which were all enjoyable (the Vanderbeke wins) I’ve about 150 pages left of Michelle Obama’s Becoming and am a good way through Little Women part two, which I’ll be referring to as Good Wives and reviewing separately. (This two book set up seems to be the standard in the UK and is how I’ve always seen the series; it also means it’s easier to review as I’ve found part two very different and, for all the domesticity, the – spoilers until the end of this sentence – seeming kow-towing to anger-prone husbands, and Amy’s future that I know is coming up soon, it’s been enjoyable.) I’ve realised how silly it was to define it as something that should be read at Christmas – it certainly suits, but with the narrative taking place over a whole year it’s not really all that festive.

I’m going into July with a plan to continue reading as I have been; I’ve a couple of obligations but mostly it’ll be whimsical.

How is your summer (or winter) going? Are you watching the World Cup? And is it worth reading all 4 (3) books of Alcott’s series?

 
May 2019 Reading Round Up

Other than May being the month when I finished books – discussed last week – this month also marked my first non-fiction book of the year; I read two, in fact. (The scary thing to discover was that I haven’t read non-fiction since last February.) May was a very long month, cold and wet – it’s been pretty wintry here – but full of goings on. There have been book awards and interesting new releases, concerts, days out, and time with family.

The Books
Non-Fiction

Book cover

Dolly Alderton: Everything I Know About Love – Alderton looks back on her twenties, her previous decade that was full of parties, drinking, and spending time with friends. An okay read.

Book cover

Guy Stagg: The Crossway – Hoping to heal from depression, Stagg embarks on a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Jerusalem, following ancient roads, staying in religious guesthouses along the way, and learning more about himself and the famous religious people of the various regions he passes through. A good book, but it could have done with more information about the journey itself and more positive descriptions of those Stagg meets on the road and stays with.

Fiction

Book cover

Maria Edgeworth: Belinda – A young woman, the last of several nieces to be taken under the wing of a notorious match-making aunt, enters society and surprises everyone with her differing personality. Worth reading – I believe – if you find a copy of the first or second edition, those that talk about interracial marriage.

It’s hard to choose a favourite here because I don’t really have one; the reading experience of the books above was good, but in terms of enjoyment the one in my mind is Michelle Obama’s memoir which I haven’t finished yet.

For June I’ve a rough plan to spend half my reading time on two books – Obama’s included – that I started in May, and half on ‘new’ books, which includes a reprint of an early 2000s novel and the Nicola Cornick I haven’t yet got to.

How many books have you read so far this year? (I’m on 19.)

 
April 2019 Reading Round Up

I did fairly well this month, all told. I’ve still got a number of books ongoing but I finished the two below and am not too far from finishing two more. In related news, my sister asked me if I’d like to look through her historical fiction before she unloaded a number of boxes to the charity shop and it was very exciting to see her collection included old Anya Setons and Jean Plaidys (she also had an unopened bundle of Maggie Stiefvater. I’m considering a special acquisitions post. (On this note, she had a copy of Castle Dor attributed to Daphne Du Maurier, and whilst I didn’t take it has an interesting backstory. It seems to be news to most people – it’s actually the completion of a draft by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (‘Q’); Du Maurier was given it by his daughter. Although it’s based on an interesting story – Tristan and Isolde – readers have stated that due to a seemingly hands-off approach to the initial draft, it’s very noticeable where Du Maurier comes into the picture, and unfortunately this leads to a disjointed text with a beginning that’s very much at odds with the values suggested in Du Maurier’s own books.) Books aside, April has otherwise been good, a busy but fun Easter, and many days without rain – being able to have breakfast outdoors has been wonderful.

All books are works of fiction.

The Books

Book cover

Anne Melville: The House Of Hardie – Two sets of siblings in late 1800s England work towards their wishes for life which mostly go against the norms of the day. It feels repetitive considering my last post was the review, but ‘fantastic’.

Book cover

Orlando Ortega-Medina: The Death Of Baseball – The night of Marilyn Monroe’s death, a Japanese American boy is born and as he grows older he finds a particular kind of kinship with her; meanwhile a devout Syrian American Jewish boy is struggling with extreme, dangerous, compulsions. This is out in June and I’m reviewing it then so for now I’ll just say if you like psychological thrillers and films from Hollywood’s golden age, you’ll appreciate it.

Quotation Report

In The House Of Hardie the irony of women having the strength to get through multiple births is noted alongside the expectation that they also be completely afraid of mice. Noted also is the fact an education is important in moving up in the world, and that novels ending with wedding ceremonies doesn’t account for the wedding being a beginning.

May will be about finishing more of my current reads, and I’m likely to choose one of my sister’s books to add to the list.

What are you currently reading?

 

Older Entries