I think I managed to make up for May’s abysmal count, which was 5 books. I managed to get 10 this month! Well, 9.5 really as one was a mini book but considering I’m half way through another book that won’t show up until next month’s roundup, I’m saying 10!
The Disengagement Ring by Clodagh Murphy
I first read Clodagh Murphy back in March when I was doing my Irish authors month. I enjoyed it, I like sometimes reading books like that to break things up, so I decided to try another. This one is about Kate, who’s commitment-phobic boyfriend finally proposing. But Kate’s tightly knit family hate him and her mother and sister decide to try break them up because they figure, since he didn’t produce a ring it’s all fair game! So they recruit Will, a very close friend of the family who’s practically family himself to try and help this break along. Kate’s always had a crush on Will so Kate’s mother uses this to her advantage to get Will to hire Kate to be the chef for the cool band he manages while they record their new album in Italy. It was a fun book, of course you know books like this will be predictable but that certainly doesn’t make me enjoy them any less. I like how Murphy writes the characters and I will be checking out more of her books for sure!
Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes
I already wrote a big review for this in a separate post, if you want to check that out click HERE. Basically, Hitler awakes to find himself in 2011, having not aged since 1945. He decides he wants to continue on with his mission of bettering Germany and sets about doing so. He lands himself a role on TV playing a Hitler impersonator (they think him telling them that he really IS Hitler is all part of the act and that he really likes to stay in character) and after a video goes viral on YouTube, he finds himself back in the limelight. I laughed out loud at parts, I really thought this was a clever, funny satire.
Goose by Dawn O’Porter
This is the sequel to Paper Aeroplanes which I read back in April. It contines the story of Renee and Flo, now in a new school studying for their A Levels. Flo is excited to get off Jersey and go live on the mainland with Renee for university. Renee however doesn’t want to study anymore and this causes Flo and Renee to drift apart a bit and mix with different groups. Flo rediscovers her faith in God, while Renee is put off by this and ends up having a fling with an older playright. There’s some drama of course which I’m not going to mention and ruin for you though. Overall I liked this book more, it was nice to see how the girls’ lives have improved (Flo not being bullied by her ‘best friend’ and being taken advantage of at home as a glorified babysitter for her younger sister; Renee having a better home life) and I think it’s the fact I was getting to know them more, that I was always familiar with them from Paper Aeroplanes, that made me like it more than PA. If there is a 3rd book, I’d be interested in reading it!
Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
This has been on my to-read list for a while, I was a bit hesitant to read it because I thought it would be really heavy but it’s not! Yes, there are some sciencey views on things but overall it’s very easy to read and understand. The author takes 10 different everyday materials and analyses them, how they’re made and what they’re used for, how they’ve impacted our lives. These include chocolate, steel (and other metals), concrete and paper, to name a few. I found this very interesting and actually amusing and funny in parts. While worth a read if you’ve ever found yourself curious about everyday items in your life.
A Brief History of Chocolate by Steve Berry & Phil Norman
This is the mini-book I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It’s taken from The Great British Tuckshop, by the same authors. I did a full review post, click HERE if you’re interested in that. It’s a trip down memory lane, all those brands that no longer exist but that you fondly remember from your childhood. And how current brands were first packaged and named (Marathon/Snickers anyone?). It’s probably better for someone who’s in their mid 30s up, while I did recognize a lot of products, some of them were just before my time. Still an interesting and fun read though regardless.
The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland
I’ll admit, I was originally drawn to this because it’s set in Victorian London and features a circus! Well, it’s not so much a circus but a freak show. The story follows Eve, The Lion-Faced Girl, who is covered in fur and looks like a lion. One day, a man calls to the door, intending on wooing Eve. Her mother is relieved as she thought Eve would never marry. Eve eventually marries Josiah Arroner and is excited to be his wife, until she discovers he’s only married her so he can ‘own’ her and make money by showing her off to the public. When Eve complains she’s bored, Arroner has the idea to get her friends (which basically translates to hiring more freaks). This leads Eve to meeting Abel, The Flayed Man, who’s story we’ve also been following in this duel point of view book. Abel wakes up every morning, not knowing who he is, where he is or what he is. He discovers he has all these hidden talents, like fixing watches, that he has no recollection of learning, except during nightmares (which are actually flashbacks). Abel can cut himself but not bleed, he is a man who can’t die. I did enjoy this book, at first I wasn’t sure if I was liking it because it was a bit strange but it did turn out to be a good read, I was curious about everything and really felt sorry for Eve. While I liked the writing and descriptions, it was very vivid and beautifully written at times, I didn’t find myself overwhelmed by it, in the sense that I couldn’t see myself reading again. Not necessarily a bad thing, there’s plenty of books I’ve enjoyed and wouldn’t read again. I just felt like it was missing ‘something’, just that little bit extra to make it really memorable. Still worth a read if you like Victorian times and circus stories!
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
The 3rd ever King novel! I read two last year. I mentioned this one in my 2014 books I was looking forward to. After reading The Cuckoo’s Calling and finding myself enjoy the whole detective and mystery element of it, I decided I wanted to give other detective books a go and this one sounded great. Retired, depressed detective Bill Hodges gets an anonymous letter in the mail, claiming to be ‘The Mercedes Killer’, the man who stole a Mercedes and deliberately drove into a crowd of unemployed people queuing outside a jobsfair in the early hours of the morning. The Mercedes Killer was the main unsolved crime before Hodges left the force, ‘The One Who Got Away’. Hodges is spurred on by this letter, determined to finally find who this man is and stop him from committing another heinous crime. What I liked about this story was it’s another duel point of view, from Hodges to the actual killer, who’s secretly watching Hodges. It really built the suspense and I thought King did a really good job of portraying Mr.Mercedes as a stereotypical psychopath. It is dark in places but nothing too scary or gory, it’s just mainly a really good thriller.
The Kitchen Magpie by James Steen
Another book I did a full review of, which you can check out HERE. I read The Science Magpie back in January 2013 so when I saw this book, I leapt at the chance of reading it as I love cooking and baking. The book is divided into different sections and there’s a great mix of stories, recipes, tips and tricks, and facts,as well contributions from names you’ll know like Mary Berry, Ken Hom and Marco Pierre White. What I like this of this series of books is that they’re the adult equivalent of annuals we used to get at school around Christmas time, which had a mix of plenty of things to keep you entertained. Now I must read The Antiques Magpie and The Nature Magpie.
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Another book that was on my 2014 Watch List! The sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling, follows up on ex-military now detective Cormoran Strike, along with his assistant and secretary Robin. Novelist Owen Quine has gone missing and his wife asks Cormoran to help find him. At first Strike thinks this will be an easy case, Quine often goes missing and it should be a case of simply tracking him down. However things take a turn, when Strike discovers Quine has written a poisonous novel, which not to subtly tells stories about people in his life and all the bad they’ve done. Strike thinks there could be something more to Quine’s disappearance and decides to start digging, starting with the people who stand to lose the most if the novel is published. I did enjoy this book, I can’t say if I enjoyed it more than The Cuckoo’s Calling, I’d have to read them both again to make up my mind! I didn’t guess who it was this time, so I enjoyed that, it kept me guessing until the end. I’m already looking forward to the next instalment (And yes, you do find out what the title means!).
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
I got this as an audiobook for Audible, narrated by Stibbe herself. I had seen this book in shops around Christmas and was intrigued by the cover, it’s so pretty. It’s the story of 20 year old Nina, who moves from Leicestershire to London in the early 80s to be the nanny for two boys, Sam (10) and Will (9). Their mother is Mary-Kay Wilmers, now editor of the London Review of Books (their father director Stephen Frears, though he’s rarely mentioned as he and MK are divorced), as well as other arty, literary types, the most significant being Alan Bennett, who spends most evenings having dinner with the family. The family has a slightly bohemian feeling to it, the kids are allowed to curse, they sit around after dinner discussing their favourite words and reading out of the dictionary. The book is actually a series of letters that Nina wrote to her sister Victoria, who was living back home and didn’t have frequent access to a telephone, so they wrote to each other instead. Victoria found the letters one day and years later they were published into this book. I absolutely loved this book. I’ve seen many reviews where people complain about how boring and mundane it is, I can understand why people don’t like it because of that but honestly it didn’t bother me. I didn’t mind hearing what they had for dinner or other things like that, because the best thing for me was the conversations they had. The children are so clever and witty, I found myself laughing out loud.. I definitely think listening to the ebook helped, Nina did a good job at conveying things like when the delivery of an ordinary line like ‘oh right’ that showed, say, Mary-Kay’s meaning behind it was really ‘you’re an idiot’. The book made me sad in two parts, the big one was when people where discussing that babies used to be bundled up and left on the steps of Great Ormond Street hospital and Sam said that that should have happened to him because of his illness, it broke my heart that a small boy thought like that. But overall I really enjoyed it, I couldn’t stop laughing and I think I’ll buy a physical copy of this, so I can reread my favourite lines!
Number of books read- 10
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 6:4
Number of eBooks- 5 (Look Who’s Back, A Brief History of Chocolate, Mr. Mercedes, The Silkworm and The Kitchen Magpie)
Number of audiobooks- 1 (Love, Nina)
Number of books borrowed from library- 4
Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 0
That wraps up June! Definitely an improvement on May, and this seems to be the month of lovely and interesting covers! Look Who’s Back, A Brief History of Chocolate, Mr. Mercedes, The Kitchen Magpie, Stuff Matters, The Palace of Curiosities and Love, Nina, I really liked all those covers. I don’t even think I could pick a favourite!