A worry I had on holiday was that I would read so much that when I got home I would have so many book reviews to do it would defeat my goal of 2014 to write a review on every book that I read and read 100 books over the year. Actually with the help of my Kindle and lots of free time I can home from Harris right up to date with book reviews and well on target to reach my goal of reading 100 books.
It’s now December and despite my best efforts I have 10 books to read if I am to reach my 100 goal and time is running out fast on 2014. And I have a huge backlog of book reviews to complete. In order to attempt at least the goal of commenting on each book I have read a review of the books that I have been reading since my last review in early Nov.
Book 79 Black Roses and Book 80 The Winter Garden by Jane Thynne
As you may have gathered and if not are about to gather. I love historical fiction particularly of the 20th century. So was drawn to Black Roses set in 1930’s Germany just before the 2WW. Black Roses is about a British actress with a German (Jewish) mother who goes to work as an actress in Germany and becomes a British spy as she infiltrates the top elite of Nazi Germany and in particular the Goebbels Family. Found this book and its sequel fascinating on many levels. Firstly I had forgotten that Magda Goebbels had a Jewish lover in her past and you realise how close many of the Nazi’s were to being found to be traitors themselves. Secondly I could never understand why Magda Goebbels consented to her children being killed at the end of the war but an insight into their life shows how much they actually seemed to believe in this utopia world they were living in. Even when there is actually photographic evidence in the second book that Hitler was at the very least bi-sexual if not gay. Thirdly it shows how tough life was in Nazi Germany and that food rationing started for them years before the 2WW started and what it was like living under a dictatorship. Finally the book doesn’t always show the UK in a good light showing that we weren’t as totally opposed to Nazi Germany as we now like to believe we were. If you are interested in the 2WW and why it came about would recommend these books and looking forward to reading the third which has just been published.
Book 81 – The miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Saw Jessie at our local bookshop Mainstreet Trading and she kept me and the audience mesmerised for the 45 minutes that she spoke. I bought the book in hardback something I try not to do on the strength of her enthusiasm and also the cover of the book is beautiful. If you read top book reviews for 2014 the Minaturist is likely to be on it and with good reason. It is set in 16th Century Holland and a fascinating insight into society there on the one hand very liberal with regard to the rights of women and on the other repressed by the Church. The book is about a very young bride who comes from the countryside to marry an older man who gives her a gift of a miniature replica of their home as a wedding gift. If I am honest found the first quarter of the book took time and I was beginning to wonder what the fuss was all about then the book came alive for me and I sped through the rest of the book. Ideal festive reading curled up by the fire.
Book 82 – The Bone Seeker MJ McGrath
This was a free book I got at Mainstreet for books are my bag day to promote local bookshops and why we need to support them. The book is number two of a crime drama set in Alaska. I really enjoyed it principally as I have no real knowledge of the culture of this part of the world and it was a great insight into their lives. It was also a good who dunnit crime book as well and I will now read the first book in the series and hopefully read more of them as they come along.
Book 83 – Tully Paullina Simons
During the October holidays we finally went to Barter Books in Alwnick which we had heard about but had never been. It is a massive second hand bookshop situated in an old station with a wonderful café in the waiting room. We took a bag or two of books and with the money we got for them bought some more. My idea of heaven though my husband who thought the idea was to declutter was less amused. This was one of the books that I got by a new author new to me. Though have now spent much of Nov and early Dec reading her books. This book is about a girl from a broken home in mid west USA whose best friend commits suicide and the way these events impact on her subsequent life. This book is about every day living and could be a so what book. But the writing and the way the story enfolds makes it so much more and I really enjoyed this book immersing myself in Tully’s life and rooting for her despite the mistakes she makes. Worth reading in and Barter Books is worth visiting.
Book 84 – A single breath – Lucy Clarke
New book by the author of the Sea Sisters. About a women whose new husband is lost at sea so she goes to his home to Tasmania to meet his family and learn about his life. I enjoyed this book as I did the Sea Sisters but counter this with the fact that I found aspects of the storyline far-fetched in both books. That said it does a great job for selling Tasmania and reading in the midst of a Scottish Winter had me wanting to go there and swim in the sea and find the sun on my back. A easy read but I did read parts by the end with a raised brow thinking really!!!!
Book 85 – Greenfinch – Donna Tartt
Finally read this book that I had heard great things about from my sister-in-law and my book club. I have never read the highly acclaimed Donna Tartt before but will do again. Loved the contemporary story line of a boy losing his mother in a terrorist plot in an art gallery in New York. Loved how dark many aspects of the book were. How it was an insight into the first decade of this century and life in the USA. It showed the worst and the best of human characters and for that I applauded it and despite being an epic read a train journey to London had me sadly finishing the book just as we reached Kingscross Station. Another Book like the Minaturist that has been much talked about in the book world in 2014 and rightly so.
Book 86 – A week in Paris Rachel Hore
Read this book on the way back from London and unlike Greenfinch this book only took me a few hours the next day to complete. Set in Paris in the second world and thirty years later a women goes to play with her Orchestra and realises that she has been in Paris before. Why and with whom and how can she not remember it? You will be soon drawn in to find out.
Book 87, 88 and 89 – The Bronze Horseman, Tatania and Alexander and the Summer Garden Paulina Simons
A trilogy set across Soviet and USA 20th Century showing the evil in both countries in believing that you have got politics right. Alexander’s parents in the first book defect to the Soviet Union from the USA and find that life in the USSR is maybe not what they thought it was. Arrested under Stalin they leave their son to try to find a way back to the USA but meeting the love of his life Tatania during the 2WW and the siege of Leningrad. The story in graphic details takes you through the siege and doesn’t do so in a romanticized fashion but depicts an insight into how horrific it actually was. To Tatania’s escape to the west at the end of the Bronze Horseman believing Alexander to be dead. In book two Tatania is in New York with their baby but gives up everything to find Alexander taking you through the brutality of the end of the 2ww. Then the story finishes in book three with life for the two of them in the USA but is America the ideal life they think it is? And can a couple from the Soviet Union survive in 1950’s USA?
Paulina Simons is Russian and now lives in the USA and her knowledge of the good and bad of both countries shows in the books. If you want an insight into either country this trilogy is well worth a read.
Book 90 – The Midnight Rose Lucinda Riley
Downtown Abbey type novel set in India and England before, during and after IWW with parts set in the present day as the key current day characters are drawn into a story set in the house they have separately come to. One to act in a film and the other to find out if his great-grandmother was delusional or if her story was indeed true. I enjoyed this book parts of it reminded me of Enid Blyton with the boarding school story, of Downtown yet I also learnt a lot about India both in the current day and pre 1WW. An easy read but an informative one which I enjoyed curled up by the fire in the lake district last weekend as the snow fell outside.
14th December 17 days to go till the end of 2014 and ten books to read? Can I achieve it? I don’t know feeling doubtful but does give me a good excuse to spend as much time as I can trying to achieve the goal? What is life without a challenge? Do Katie Morag books count?