Saturday, 11 March 2017

A reading holiday

A week doing nothing!

Mr Norfolkbookworm and I have just spent a week in Tenerife where the only thing on the agenda was relaxing. For me this meant a lot of sitting around reading with breaks taken for lovely food and drink.

Once more the week's break allowed me to read 13 books of my own choosing - I have several review projects on the go as usual but I didn't take any of them with me.

So again in no particular order here's what I read:
Call the Midwife - Jennifer Worth. I was intrigued by these books as so many people watch the TV series, and some that I wouldn't necessarily expect to be fans.  It has to be said I skipped some of the medical details but I loved the social history of the East End and I have ordered the next two from the library to see how things change as the years move on. 
The Smell of Other People's Houses - Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock.  I heard the author on the radio last year and thought the book sounded good. It is set in Alaska just as it became an American state and the treatment of the indigenous people is the underlying theme told through the eyes of a group of teenagers. I'd forgotten that this was a book aimed at the young adult audience and in truth I would have liked it to have had more details and been longer but it was a really nice insight into another America. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
Three Martini Lunch - Suzann Rindell.  This could easily be billed as a sort-of-sequel to Catcher in the Rye, none of the characters are particularly nice but the car crash of their lives made the book a real page turner. 
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden.  Fabulous. Set in a Russia pre the Tsars it blends history and folklore beautifully. It was odd to read a book set in such a cold location while being in the sun but this was the best fiction book I've read for ages. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
The Good People - Hannah Kent.  I didn't find this book quite as good as Burial Rites but the clash of traditional beliefs and religion made a gripping tale as played out in one Irish village. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
Once in a Blue Moon Lodge - Lorna Landvik.  Wonderful family saga from one of my favourite authors. Unashamed chick-lit which did move me to tears at several points. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
The Stars are Fire - Anita Shreve. Another chick-lit family saga. This one set around a real event in New England just post-war. I loved the first two thirds but found the ending a bit rushed and I'd have liked it to have been a bit longer to allow this part to match the bulk of the book. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
A Little in Love - Susan Fletcher. Eponine is one of my favourite characters in the musical Les Miserables and so finding a book all about her story was great. Sadly in this I found her to be a modern woman removed to the era of the book rather than a real character from Hugo's time. Fun but not the best fill in/ sequel to a classic. (This got a brief mention in my end of February review but I did read the majority of this while on holiday.) 
Idaho - Emily Ruskovich.  A nice idea for a book and the use of different characters to tell the story was good but the end left me confused. I had no idea of motives or what had actually happened. Subsequent reading about the book calls it experimental and for me the experiment didn't quiet work. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
Little Deaths - Emma Flint.  Another book set in New York in the mid twentieth century and this is a book with a crime at the heart of it so quite an unusual read for me.  Two children are dead and as the mother isn't behaving as society thinks a grieving mother should it is decided that she is guilty of their murder.  A fascinating study into preconceptions and stereotypes. This has gone on to be nominated for the Bailey's prize and I hope it does well. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
Mussolini's Island - Sarah Day.  A new to me tale set in Italy just before WW2 and all about the treatment of a group of gay men on Sicily under the fascist regime. It is hard to describe this book as again many of the characters are deeply unlikable but it was an interesting read and I want to know more about the trues story behind the novel. (Netgalley electronic proof) 
Greatest Hits - Laura Bennet. This is the life story of a successful musician told in snapshots as she is selecting her 'greatest hits' for a new album. This was a deceptively light weight book, on the surface it seemed like any novels about a person's life but Cass really worked her way under my skin and I was on the edge of my seat at some of the events and did have a huge lump in my throat at several points.  I really hope this does well. (Netgalley electronic proof) 

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson. Simonson's book The Summer Before the War was one of my top books last year so I was looking forward to reading her first book and while I did enjoy it to a certain extend I wasn't as bewitched as I'd hoped. The dry humour was fun and the challenging of long held views great but it did occasionally feel a little didactic.

Interestingly several of the books I read seemed to have connected themes. Two were about the clash of traditional beliefs and organised religion, two were about matricide, two included characters with eating disorders and several were all about challenging stereotypes/long held beliefs/prejudices.  Not all of these themes were clear from the book blurbs and so I found these connections intriguing.

Hopefully after this reading splurge I won't lose my reading mojo this year - however I think switching to reading some non-fiction will help this.

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