Thursday, 3 September 2020

My summer of reading

At the start of the year I started logging what I was reading on Goodreads, and set myself a target to read 20 books in 2020. I used to be an avid reader, but that had dropped by the wayside as life became busier with children, work and general life stuff. I started the year well, then the pandemic hit, and my reading slowed back to almost nothing as I go distracted by what was happening in the news. At some point a few months ago, I made the conscious decision to spend less time scrolling on my phone, and more time reading. At the minute I have four books on the go at a time: one ebook, one paperback, one hardback and one audiobook, which seems to cover all eventualities! I am lucky that I can read at the same time as knit, so if I'm knitting a large stretch of stocking stitch, I'll have a hardback or ebook on the go at the same time. If the knitting is a bit more complicated, I'll listen to an audiobook. The paperback is saved for when I go to bed, so that book will often take me ages to read!

Here's what I've been reading for the past few months.

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Pretending by Holly Bourne


I listened to this on Audible while doing chores and it was fantastic!

Story review:
Holly Bourne has a reputation for tackling challenging issues in a really engaging way, and Pretending is no exception. April has been hurt in a previous relationship and convinced herself that men only want perfect women, women like Gretel, who April creates as an alter ego.

April sets up an online dating profile as Gretel and soon meets someone who seems to really like ‘Gretel’. But is Gretel what men really want? Or is it April?

Bourne investigates how it is possible to recover from an abusive relationship and regain trust in others. This book was sensitively written and offered several interesting points of view.

Audible review:
The narrator has a fantastically charismatic voice that was really engaging. Some of the production was poor, which the odd short repeated section that was distracting. Overall a good listen though. 4.5 stars 
 
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Sunny Side Up: A Story of Kindness and Joy by Susan Calman

I enjoyed Calman’s first book, so picked this up on a whim when I saw it on sale. This book is about finding joy in the little things, and I can definitely get on board with that, but the book was far too long and rambling for my liking, and was mostly directionless. 2.5 stars. 

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman* 

The Thursday Murder Club centres on a luxury retirement home, where a group of residents get together once a week to solve unsolved crimes. One day, a real crime happens in the area and the group set about solving it.

I’m familiar with Richard Osman from Pointless and comedy panel shows, and I feel this book was written in a style that is in keeping with his voice (warm, with wit and sarcasm). The style makes the book a real page-turner, and the characters were all interesting.

I was engaged throughout, and was desperate to know whodunnit! I didn’t predict the final outcome, but it was sufficiently plausible, and overall this was an enjoyable, easy to read, murder mystery. 4 stars.

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I listened to this in the car on a long journey, and it really kept me going.

Where do you go when you die? Maybe you go to The Midnight Library, where every possible life is lined up as books on the shelves. If you open a book, you get to live that life, if you are not disappointed by it, you can stay forever, but if you are, you can go back and choose another life.

Nora hasn’t done well in life, as a child and a teenager, she was full of potential, but none of it came to anything, and after a particularly bad day in her thirties she decides it is time to die. She finds herself in The Midnight Library and is excited to try out some of her new lives.

This book has an interesting idea at its heart: how do each of our decisions change where we end up, and if we could change any one of those decisions, would we be happier? I did, however, work out quite quickly what the final conclusion would be, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the story, however, I feel this is probably a book to read in as few sittings as possible so it doesn’t lose momentum.

Audible note: Carey Mulligan has a gorgeous soft voice. I got annoyed that she didn’t pronounce ‘Marcello’ consistently, she called tacos ‘tar-coes’ and read Caius College phonetically, rather than as ‘Keys College’. 4 stars.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman

The paperback version of this book has been sat on my bedside table for ages, but I didn't get more than a couple of chapters in as the font is tiny! I picked this up on Audible for a long car journey, and got on much better with it.

The idea behind this book is simple: one day women around the world wake up with the ability to create electricty within their bodies and harness this power to their advantage. Men suddenly become  second-class citizens. The book is written as a historical document, telling the story of the origins of The Cataclysm, interspersed with the labels on museum exhibits.

The book is a clear critique of modern society, and was a brilliant listen, even if the histrical document format was a little odd, and I don't think added anything to the story. 4.5 stars.

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Blanket the books are resting on is Fluffy White Clouds by me, available on Ravelry** and LoveCrafts.

*Book supplied for review purposes via NET Galley. All opinions are my own.

**Ravelry may cause issues for people with photosensitivity. Proceed with caution.

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