Saturday 18 June 2016

Recent Reads

Well, I'm using the phrase "recent" incredibly loosely here; some of these reads date back to last summer. I read a few 'pregnancy and baby' books too last year but I'll include them in a different pregnancy-themed post. I'll also try and keep these reviews short and snappy!

Fiction Books

Shoes for Anthony by Emma Kennedy
A tale of boyhood adventures, Nazis and village life set in a South Wales mining town. A really enjoyable read with very believable characters. 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Goose by Dawn O'Porter
The second in the Paper Aeroplanes series following the lives of teenagers Renee and Flo set against a late 1990's backdrop. To be honest, I can't remember much about the storyline but I did give it 3/5 stars on Goodreads so it must have been okay.

The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman
Two sisters with different interests, an artist who likes both girls and two auctioneer-type people on the hunt for a lost painting. I was reading this during the morning sickness and tiredness bit of pregnancy which may have clouded my judgement because I remember finding this hard-going with bits of the storyline where I got lost. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
A tale set after the end of civilisation where nomadic tribes roam the land and rogue groups rule towns and cities. I really enjoyed this one, there was lots of bits to the storyline but it all made sense and made you want to keep on reading. 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
I'm sure most of you have read this by now - husband and wife having trouble, husband goes away and wife rings him up only to find herself talking to the past, back before she was married. A quick and easy read with an interesting idea. 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Moment by Claire Dyer
Two ex-lovers meet at Paddington train station; they haven't seen each other for 25 years and their lives have moved on, what will they do? A quick read but one that seemed a bit uneventful, I kept expecting more from the story but nothing really happened or developed. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St John Mandel
The author's debut novel about Lilia, a traveller who's used to leaving places and people behind. Not as good as her later book, Station Eleven but still an okay read. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Mabinogion translated by Lady Charlotte Guest
The classic medieval book of Welsh mythical tales, translated by Lady Charlotte Guest. It took me a long time to read this as it's written in an older style of English but I did get a smug sense of satisfaction after I finished it. 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow
The story of two young women, one dealing with the aftermath of the First World War and one returning home in from a tour of duty in 2012, and the Poppy Factory which helped save both of them. A good story, based on a real factory and charity which was fascinating to read about. 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
A long novel set in the 1920's telling the tale of a young woman and her mum who take in lodgers and the resulting relationships between couples. A Blogger Book Club read which I enjoyed, but not as much as Sarah Waters' earlier novels (I think she gets on better writing about the Victorian times). 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson
A love story between the flashy executive and the charity-worker girl. A quick and easy read with some nice twists and turns. 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis
A young adult tale about James who discovers Webster hiding in the House on the Hill. But what or who exactly is Webster? It was okay, not the greatest of YA books I've read but hey ho. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Rev Diaries by Adam Smallbone
The book of the TV show (which I thought was fab), it follows all the trials and tribulations the Reverend and his wife go through. Excellent stories and written very well with lots of very funny moments. 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Non-fiction Books

Tiny Islands by Dixe Wills
A list of 60 remarkable little islands in and around the United Kingdom. An interesting compilation with info about each island and how to access them. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie
The one everyone was going on about last year, Marie Condo claims to change the way you organise your life. A very interesting read but I didn't put any of it into practice due to being pregnant. 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

Fashion on the Ration: Style in the Second World War by Julie Summers
The book that accompanied the Imperial War Museum exhibition; we saw the author do a talk at the Bath Literature Festival last year. A really fascinating book showing that society's attitude to consumerism and clothing during the Second World War wasn't too much different to today. 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

100 Acts of Minor Dissent by Mark Thomas
An account of Mark Thomas' year spent undertaking 100 acts of political dissent. Me and Andrew are Mark Thomas fans anyway and saw his show about the 100 acts a few years ago so we're a bit biased but it is a fabulous book with lots of excellent ideas that anyone could do. 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Stuffocation by James Wallman
An author's look at people with lots of stuff and people with not much stuff. Can't really remember too much about it other than it didn't teach me anything new. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It by Owen Jones
A look at the shadowy world of the Establishment. This is a really interesting book; it kind of confirms everything you already thought you knew but there's also lots of real life dodgy examples as well. 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Shop Girl by Mary Portas
The story of Mary's early years in the retail industry. I saw her talk about this book at Bath Literature Festival last year and although the book was quite good, I felt it was a bit light and didn't really delve deeply enough into her life. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

The English: A Field Guide by Matt Rudd
A wry look at the English and all our eccentricities. Only mildly amusing but an easy read anyway. 2/5 stars on Goodreads.

Jambusters: The Story of the Women's Institute in the Second World War by Julie Summers
A history of the WI during WW2 with lots of archive material and quotes from people who were there at the time. I've always fancied joining the WI and this book showed what a huge role they've had throughout history. 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

Our Zoo by June Mottershead
The story of how Chester Zoo came to be - which inspired the TV series of the same name. My grandparents lived near the zoo and we visited it several times when I was young so this was a really good read. 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

So what's everyone reading at the moment? Any bestsellers I need to read?

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