Saturday, November 8, 2014

October Reads

I am pretty darn late with this post but better late than never right? At least October yielded a better book tally than September’s 2 books.

October Reads

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe

man at the helm

This is my second Stibbe book this year, the first being Love, Nina which I read in June. This book however is Stibbe’s first fiction book, albeit semi-autobiographical. It follows Lizzie and her siblings (old sister and younger brother), who end up living in the countryside with their mother after their parents divorce. In a bid to fit in and not be outsiders in the village, Lizzie and her siblings try to find a man for their not quite their playwright mother. I wrote a full review here if you’re interested but I loved the book, I thought it was a nice mixture of easy to read but not too fluffy. The book can swing from being hilarious to being serious and tender and I thought Lizzie was a great narrator, with her childishness coming through amongst her forced to be older outlook in life.


Too Much Information by Dave Gorman


I’m a big fan of Dave Gorman’s, every since I read Are You Dave Gorman? years ago. So I was looking forward to this book. The chapters are short and focus on aspects of modern life. I found myself laughing out loud quite often, as well as pestering my boyfriend saying ‘Oh oh, you have to listen to this one!’. What sticks out for me from the book was the supermarket game (not putting down the shopping dividers on the conveyor belt and seeing if the people after  you will do it or not), as well as the massive lie we’ve all been sold about Cillit Bang’s Barry Scott. If you’ve read any of Gorman’s previous books or his TV show Modern Life is Goodish and enjoyed them, then you’ll most definitely enjoy this book too. The fact the chapters are short as well means it’s perfect if you like dipping in and out of books.


The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

the rosie effect

I read The Rosie Project in February and really enjoyed it, you can read my review here. This is the follow up book, picking up from where the last book ended. I’m not going to go into the plot of this as it might spoil the first book, but I wasn’t overly keen on this one as I was the first. I still liked Don’s character, I guess I just didn’t like the way things played out with Rosie in this. It felt like a step backwards or something from the first book. I think the book fell into the same anxiety as I felt while reading Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe, another second book in a series. I think if you enjoyed The Rosie Project you will probable enjoy this too, I just wouldn’t go into it expecting the same results as first book.


The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

the handsome man's deluxe cafe

The next book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. This one deals with Precious and Grace trying to solve the mystery of a woman who claims to not remember who she is or where she is from. Grace has also decided to open a new cafe, but of course there are problems there! These books are always light, quick reads, I think they are my equivalent to chick lit. The mysteries are never massive or hard hitting, so this series is not for you if you love detective novels! Instead it’s a lot more character driven and about the ways of life in Botswana.



The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum

the poisoner's handbook

This is a non-fiction book, set in New York in the 1920s and follows the first forensic scientists and all their work in establishing methods for poison identification in cadavers. I think going into this book I expected a lot of stories about different cases of types of poisoning and while the book IS about that, there is a bit more to it as well. While each chapter does focus on a different poison, the overall story of the actual scientists is told from chapter to chapter, starting just before Prohibition and ending just after Prohibition is overturned in the 1930s. Along with stories and major cases of the poisons, the book tells us the obstacles the scientists had to overcome and all the hard work and effort they put in. What I loved about this book is that it tied in with One Summer by Bill Bryson, which was fun for me as I loved that Bryson book. Blum also does a good job just portraying the atmosphere of New York in this era, with the speakeasies of the 1920s and the Depression in the 30s. There’s nothing too technical in this book so don’t let that put you off if you think it will be too much for you! Blum does a nice job of explaining the facts through a very narrative style of writing.


The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes


This is the latest book by Keyes and it follows the story of Stella, a mother of two in her early 40s who has returned home from America some bit of a failure. The story is told in two timelines, the present and the past leading up to how she ended up in America and the story slowly unfurls.

I wrote a full review here if you’re interested. The book did make me laugh out loud at times, as has most Keyes books. Keyes, as per usual, does a great job at portraying serious issues (this time a long term stay in a hospital with a mystery illness) without the book being too much of a downer. The main issue I had with the book was some of the characters annoyed me a bit too much. I felt the book was a bit slow to get going but it is still a quick read overall.


More Fool Me by Stephen Fry

more fool me

I am a fan of Stephen Fry, so I was looking forward to reading this when I heard he had a new memoir coming out. Unfortunately I just felt it was a tiny bit of a let down. The story picks up from late Eighties until early Nineties. The first part of the book is a bit of a rehash of his two earlier memoirs (which is fully admits in the book anyway). The last third of the book is old diary entries from early 1990s as Fry tries to finish his second novel The Hippopotamus. While it was interesting to see first hand accounts of that time, I felt it dragged on a bit. I thought there would be a chunk of diary entries and he’d go back to the way the rest of the book was done, which I think would have been much more interesting. Should Fry write another memoirs, I would read it, I just hope it would be an improvement on this. I felt it was all style and no substance.


The Shining by Stephen King

the shining

Only my third ever King book, I chose to read this around Halloween time to be a bit festive! Most people will have an idea of the story. It follows Jack Torrance, who takes a job as the winter caretaker in the Overlook Hotel, after losing his previous job in a disgraceful fashion. Along with his wife Wendy and their 5 year old son Danny, they attempt to brave out the winter at the hotel. But the hotel is not what it seems. Danny, having the gift of ‘the shining’, can see future events and know what people are thinking. The hotel itself is filled with all sorts of spirits thanks to it’s rich history and the hotel wants Danny and his gift for himself. In order to get him, they latch onto Jack Torrance and his weaknesses (abusive father, drinking problems, anger issues). The book is definitely creepy, it builds a great atmosphere and small things amp up the creepiness (like the hedge animals). It does take a bit of time leading to the build up but that time does show how Jack gradually starts loses himself. Read with the lights on!

October Stats

Number of books read- 8

Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 5:3

Number of eBooks- 3 (Man at the Helm, The Woman Who Stole My Life, The Shining)

Number of books borrowed from library- 6 (Man at the Helm, Too Much Information, More Fool Me, The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe, The Poisoner’s Handbook, The Rosie Effect)

Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 0

And that’s October. A bit up and down, I hope I can keep it up in November. I’ve only completed one at the moment, I feel like I’ve lost my interest a bit. If you have any suggestions for me, let me know below!

1 comment:

  1. I have man at the helm but haven't read it yet. I liked the Rosie project and was thinking about reading the sequel but I'm not sure!!


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