Monday, 30 November 2020

November 2020 Reading Roundup

 

 

As I sit at my desk writing this post with a cup of coffee by my side the weather is grey and wet outside. I do not dislike the rain, particularly when I am warm and toasty inside my home. However, I so much prefer the autumn sunshine which has been replaced with grey skies this past few days.

As I reflect on this last month which, somehow, has whizzed past again, my thoughts are those of being in lockdown once again. I am desperately missing my family and because of social distancing restrictions, even prior to this latest lockdown, I was not able to hug my children or grandchildren and have not done so since the first lockdown began on 23rd March. I am sure that many of you are in the same position so I am sending you all a virtual hug along with this post. 

So, what have you all been reading during November? Have you read a book this month that you would recommend? Here is my roundup of the books that I have read this month.


Books I have Read 

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman - although this was entertaining I did not think that he quite lived up to the hype surrounding it. If you enjoy this type of book then The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths is much better (only my opinion of course).

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - this was my book group read for this month and we all enjoyed it very much. It has been my favourite novel this month.

A History of Death in 17th Century England by Ben Norman - a well researched book on death and it's mourning practices during the seventeenth century. My review will be up in the next day or two.

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson - this did not live up to my expectation of the book but nice to read about a knitting shop.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - re-reading this it is easy to see why it has become an enduring classic and was well worth reading again.

Books I am Partway Through

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser



Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Costa Book Awards Shortlist 2020

 I was so excited to see the Costa Book Awards shortlist published yesterday. There are some great titles and I have not read any of them to date but I really hope to get at least a couple under my belt before the category winners are announced on the 4th of January. 

Have you read any of these titles? I would love to hear your thoughts.


First Novel Award

                                                              Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

All the Water in the World by Kanen Raney

 

Novel Award


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Peace Talks by Tim Finch

The Less Dead by Denise Mina

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

 

Biography Award


 The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes

Dear Life by Rachel Clarke

The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence

Ghost Town by Jeff Young

 

Poetry Award

 

The Air Year by Caroline Bird

The Historians by Eavan Boland

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long
Citadel by Martha Sprackland

Children's Book Award

 

Wranglestone by Darren Charlton

Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff


 ***


 Category Winners announced: Monday 4th January 2021

Costa Book of the Year announced: Tuesday 26th January 2021

Monday, 9 November 2020

Upcoming Read Along - Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

 


I am so excited to announce that we are going to be launching our very first Read Along next week. This book featured as my Tuesday Teaser a short while ago and if you would like to read that before deciding on whether or not to join us (I really hope you do) you can read about the book here.

It looks like it will be a fun, light-hearted and entertaining book to read. I do not know about you but with all that is going on in the world at the moment I am very much in need of something fun to cheer me up. 

We plan to start reading this next Monday 16th November over on the blog Facebook page which can be accessed here.

I do hope you will join us and feel free to leave a comment here if you will be joining us.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Unspoken by T. A. Belshaw - #BookBlitz

 


A heart-warming, dramatic family saga. Unspoken is a tale of secrets, love, betrayal and revenge.


Unspoken means something that cannot be uttered aloud. Unspoken is the dark secret a woman must keep, for life.


Alice is fast approaching her one hundredth birthday and she is dying. Her strange, graphic dreams of ghostly figures trying to pull her into a tunnel of blinding light are becoming more and more vivid and terrifying. Alice knows she only has a short time left and is desperate to unburden herself of a dark secret, one she has lived with for eighty years.


Jessica, a journalist, is her great granddaughter and a mirror image of a young Alice. They share dreadful luck in the types of men that come into their lives.


Alice decides to share her terrible secret with Jessica and sends her to the attic to retrieve a set of handwritten notebooks detailing her young life during the late 1930s. Following the death of her invalid mother and her father’s decline into depression and alcoholism, she is forced, at 18 to take control of the farm. On her birthday, she meets Frank, a man with a drink problem and a violent temper.

When Frank’s abusive behaviour steps up a level. Alice seeks solace in the arms of her smooth, ‘gangster lawyer’ Godfrey, and when Frank discovers the couple together, he vows to get his revenge.

Unspoken. A tale that spans two eras and binds two women, born eighty years apart.


Author Bio


T A Belshaw is from Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Trevor writes for both children and adults. He is the author of Tracy's Hot Mail, Tracy's Celebrity Hot Mail and the noir, suspense novella, Out Of Control. His new novel, The family saga, Unspoken, was released in July, 2020


His short stories have been published in various anthologies including 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, Another Haircut, Shambelurkling and Other Stories, Deck The Halls, 100 Stories for Queensland and The Cafe Lit anthology 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also has two pieces in Shambelurklers Return. 2014


Trevor is also the author of 15 children's books written under the name of Trevor Forest. The latest. Magic Molly The Curse of Cranberry Cottage was released in August 2015

His children's poem, Clicking Gran, was long-listed for the Plough prize (children's section ) in 2009 and his short poem, My Mistake, was rated Highly Commended and published in an anthology of the best entries in the Farringdon Poetry Competition.

Trevor's articles have been published in magazines as diverse as Ireland's Own, The Best of British and First Edition.

Trevor is currently working on the sequel to Unspoken and the third book in the Tracy series; Tracy's Euro Hot Mail.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Reading for November 2020

 


As we begin the new month of November those of us in England are facing a new national lockdown situation from Thursday. It is hard to say anything positive or cheerful about it knowing that I will not be able to see my family and friends again for a while but we all need to do whatever we can to keep ourselves and others safe and well. 

If that means another lockdown then so be it and I will hunker down with a pile of books and just make the best of the situation. Keep well, my friends, and do let me know what you are planning to read this month.

***

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson (you are welcome to join us in reading this book over on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/leftontheshelf1) This book featured as the Tuesday Teaser a short while ago and you can read that here if you would like a little taste of the book.

The Warden by Anthony Trollope

The Snow Song by Sally Gardner

The Art of Figure Drawing for Beginners by Gecko Keck

Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

The Last Secret of the Deverills by Santa Montefiore

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

Books to Finish

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

A History of Death in 17th Century England by Ben Norman

Monday, 2 November 2020

October 2020 Roundup


 

Here in the UK Halloween is not celebrated on the same scale as it is in the US. However, I really missed seeing the children all dressed up in their costumes this year and knocking on the door for their treats. There did seem to be several people letting off fireworks though which was nice to watch from the warmth and comfort of home. However, my dog was singularly unimpressed and I did not quite have the heart to explain to him that fireworks will probably be a feature now until after 5th November. He did settle down for a biscuit and a tummy rub so it was all good.

I suppose I could have celebrated Halloween by reading scary books. It's confession time - horror is probably the only genre that I do not read. Neither do I watch scary films. I am a complete coward when it comes to reading or watching anything that will scare me.

Instead, I read books that I found I could absorb myself in. Goodness knows, we certainly need some distraction at the moment. How about you, did you read anything scary this month?

I would love to hear which books have been reading this month.


Books I Have Read This Month

The Weaker Vessel, Woman's Lot in Seventeenth Century England: Part One by Antonia Fraser - This book took me ages to read but was extremely good. I have Part Two sitting on my shelf which I will progress to quite soon.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri - I enjoyed this very much.

The Power by Naomi Alderman - I read this book with my book group and opinions were polarised. For me, it was a brilliant book and I highly recommend it.

A Village Vacancy by Julie Houston - I love this author's books and this one was no exception. My reviews of her previous novels Goodness, Grace and Me can be found here and Sing Me a Secret here.

The Night of the Burning: Devorah's Story by Linda Press Wulf - This Young Adult novel was well worth reading.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - This was my favourite novel this month. Every word had meaning and it was beautifully written.

Surgeon's Hall  by E. S. Thomson - This is part four of the Jem Flockhart series. I have read the previous three novels in the series, all of which have been good. My review of Beloved Poison which is the first in the series (and worth reading as it explains the background of Jem) can be found here.

Books I Did Not Finish

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - I have been wanting to read this for such a long time and finally got to it. However, I just could not get into it and I may well give it another try sometime.

Books I Am Part Way Through

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

A History of Death in 17th Century England by Ben Norman

Friday, 30 October 2020

How's the Pain? by Pascal Garnier - Translated by Emily Boyce - #BookReview

 

"The sound coming from somewhere in the darkness was barely audible, but it was enough to shatter his sleep. The drone of the moped grew louder until it was directly beneath his window, grating on his nerves like a dentist's drill boring into a decayed tooth. Then it faded into the distance, leaving nothing behind but a long rip through the fabric of the sleeping city. He hadn't opened his eyes or moved except to twitch his mouth in annoyance at the buzzing mechanical insect."

My past is a joke, my present's a disaster, thank goodness I have no future

Death is Simon's business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die. But he still has one last job down on the coast, and he needs a driver.

Bernard is twenty-one. He can drive and he's never seen the sea. He can't pass up the chance to chauffeur for Simon, whatever his mother may say.

As the unlikely pair set off on their journey, Bernard soon finds that Simon's definition of vermin is broader than he'd expected...

Veering from the hilarious to the horrific, this offbeat story from master stylist Pascal Garnier is at heart an affecting study of human frailty.

***
This book was a detour from my usual reading fare and I really enjoyed it. It is rather bizarre at times and the characters were eccentric but the story really drew me in from the very beginning.

It is a short novel with only just over 170 pages but it has much to commend it within it's covers. It is a gloomy and unconventional story and brings together characters who are very much at odds with one another which I think brings a unique quality to this story. Simon, Bernard and Fiona are far from characters who sit comfortably on the page with one another but it is this that gives the novel a real spark.

It is a novel which is simultaneously dark and humorous and is very cleverly written.

First published in France in 2006 and then in the UK six years later, this short novel has much to offer the reader. 

Have you read any of Garnier's books. I am very tempted to read more of this author's work in the near future.

ISBN: 978 1910477922

Publisher: Gallic Books

About the Author:

Pascal Garnier was born in Paris in 1949. The prize-winning author of over sixty books, he remains a leading figure in contemporary French literature, in the tradition of Georges Simenon. He died in 2010.









About the Translator:

Emily Boyce is an editor and in-house translator at Gallic Books. She lives in London.