challenge

20 Books Of Summer Review

So the summer is over, what a strange one. I’ve read 13/20 books one less than last year. I thought I’d read 14 but I’d written the same book down twice so I’m a little disappointed!

I started a new one a few days ago hoping to finish it in time to count it but I changed my mind. Reading shouldn’t be rushed, it should be enjoyed.

These are the books I read this summer:

The Strawberry Thiefwp-1591190280797.jpg

How to Be an AntiracistOpium and Absinthe

 

 

 

The Last RunawayGalloglassHard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story

 

The Wild SilenceAll the Words UnspokenThe Mermaid's CallDiary of a Young Naturalist

I did start one book and not finish it, it was The Mabinogion, an edition edited by Lady Charlotte Lucas. It wasn’t written very well, quite dull and the original Welsh names were too anglised for my liking so I decided not to torture myself anymore. I might pick it back up, sometimes we’re not in the mood for a certain book or I might get a better edition.

I really enjoyed the books I read this year and I think I might reread Diary Of A Young Naturalist (review to come) and The Wild Silence.

Looking at the books I read last year there are some similarities, last year I read another Joanne Harris and the other book in the series by Katerine Stansfield and also a book about being a junior doctor ‘This Is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay.  The majority of them were fantasy or set in Cornwall.

I’d hoped to read more but I did have a few weeks where I was too tired to read due to weather being very warm and this year I’ve been walking to work.

What’s Next?

This month there is no plan except to try not to buy more books and read what I already have. 🙂 And to reread The All Souls books by Deborah Harkness as part of the annual real-time read, it’s  my go-to comfort read and I can’t wait to start reading it again.

October is going to be a month for spooky/supernatural reads and maybe some festive reads later on the year. I have plenty of horror novels to read, not thinking too far ahead to decide on the festive books.

Have you read any of these books? What books have you enjoyed or hated? How did your summer challenge go?

review

The Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield

This is book 14 of the 20 Books Of Summer Challenge, there’s only a week left and I can’t see me reaching 20. Last year I read 14 so I’ll definitely beat that. I’ve been a bit slow reading lately and also blogging, so I’ll update at the beginning of September my final figure. 

I picked this book because I read The Magpie Tree which is the second book in this series last year. This book got my attention from the beginning, mainly because it’s set in Boscastle which is a place I love and miss visiting. 

Cornwall, 1845. Shilly has always felt a connection to happenings that are not of this world, a talent that has proved invaluable when investigating dark deeds with master of disguise, Anna Drake. The women opened a detective agency with help from their newest member and investor, Mathilda, but six long months have passed without a single case to solve and tensions are growing.

It is almost a relief when a man is found dead along the Morwenstow coast and the agency is sought out to investigate. There are suspicions that wreckers plague the shores, luring ships to their ruin with false lights – though nothing has ever been proved. Yet with the local talk of sirens calling victims to the sea to meet their end, could something other-worldly be responsible for the man’s death?

-from Goodreads

My Review

The Mermaid’s Call is book three, you can read it as a stand along but you will always benefit from reading them in order. 

I enjoyed this historical mystery, it was lovely to be back with Anna and Shilly again. Anna and Shilly have recently set up their detective business in Boscastle, they are approached with a strange case. A man has a dream that his brother has been killed, Shilly also has a strange dream and feels this pull of the siren. They go to Morwenstow to investigate. 

I don’t want to give too much away. I like the characters of Anna and Shilly, they are still mysteries themselves, or at least Anna is. The Parson was also an intriguing character and I learnt at the end in the author’s note that he was a real person.

I love the dark, coastal atmosphere of this book.  The mystery was interesting and there was a lot of reference to things from that era, the religion, the story of the wreckers. 

Although I did enjoy this book, SPOILER? it didn’t really follow through with the supernatural element like the previous book did. Unless my expectations were too high? 

However it was  interesting and a lovely dark read and I am definitely going to read the next to find out what happens next for Shilly and Anna. 

review

The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn

It’s been two years since I read and loved Raynor Winn’s first book The Salt Path and I was going to buy the follow up The Wild Silence this year. The publication date had to be changed later in the year, but then I seen it on Netgalley. So thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Wild Silence

Nature holds the answers for Raynor and her husband Moth. After walking 630 homeless miles along The Salt Path, living on the windswept and wild English coastline; the cliffs, the sky and the chalky earth now feel like their home.

Moth has a terminal diagnosis, but against all medical odds, he seems revitalized in nature. Together on the wild coastal path, with their feet firmly rooted outdoors, they discover that anything is possible.

Now, life beyond The Salt Path awaits and they come back to four walls, but the sense of home is illusive and returning to normality is proving difficult – until an incredible gesture by someone who reads their story changes everything.

A chance to breathe life back into a beautiful farmhouse nestled deep in the Cornish hills; rewilding the land and returning nature to its hedgerows becomes their saving grace and their new path to follow.

The Wild Silence is a story of hope triumphing over despair, of lifelong love prevailing over everything. It is a luminous account of the human spirit’s instinctive connection to nature, and how vital it is for us all.”- GoodReads

My Review

This book starts by telling us what happened after Mo and Ray left the coast path, Moth is doing a degree and Ray’s mother is ill. She’s not doing too great being back in the normal world and things are starting to go back to the way they were before they went: Mo’s health is deteriorating and Ray feels she’s lost what she gained on the path.

Ray starts to think about her childhood and then we’re right there with her as she remembers how she’s always felt this tie to the land, this longing to be outside and to be connected to everything. The style is as exquisite as the first book. Her story is heart-breakingly sad and it’s hard to find the right words when it’s someone’s life. 

 I found some of Ray’s feelings about nature and her reticence towards people striking a chord within me. Feeling raw from the sad events in her life it all cut me to the quick. Things are difficult for them, Ray trying to get a job and then she realises Moth has forgotten their time on the coast path. So she has an idea to start writing a book about their experiences to help Moth remember and starts telling us how The Salt Path came to be written. 

The Salt Path is a beautiful book that was written especially for Moth so he wouldn’t forget, a way of keeping that time frozen for them. The story was so wonderful it had to be published. 

 I enjoyed this book but I read it too quickly. I should’ve waited to read it when the hardback became released, some books are enjoyed better when their actually in your hands. It was good to read what happened next and also read about how The Salt Path came to be. 

 

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This book is expected to be published 3rd September 2020 but you can get The Salt Path now, I recommend it. 

challenge

20 Books Of Summer Update

I’ve read 6/20 so far. I think I’m finishing a book a week. Which isn’t so bad. I usually read a lot of books at once but I’ve been happy to focus on one at a time. Mainly because the one book has been too good to put down in most cases.

And I forget to finish the others I’ve started (I’ve forgotten the books I started before this challenge so I’ll finish them when the challenge is over).

I read these books since my last post:

The Stranger From The Sea By Winston Graham

I started reading the Poldark books when the series started and read one a year, watching a series then reading the book. I loved going back to the Poldark world so much I started the next book in the series straight away. I love Winston’s Graham’s atmosphere of Cornwall and the sea. The story is full of history but the lives of the characters are so riveting and I had to find out what happened next.

How to Be an Antiracist

This is something I’ve never really read before but I felt it was important to read. And I’m glad did. Review here.

I couldn’t resist reading the next Poldark book. I had to know what happened next. But I think that’s enough for now, I have three books left and I’ll keep doing what I usually do and keep the next book for next summer.

Opium and Absinthe

This was an impulse read from Netgalley. I was intrigued by the idea of a historical mystery involving a vampire. I had to read it and I’m so glad I did. Review here.

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So far that’s two trips to Cornwall, an educational read and a trip to the past. I did buy quite a few books to read recently but then started browsing on Netgalley. Whoops. Need to stop looking on there and get around to reading the books on my shelves. But anyone else who uses Netgalley will understand the guilt of not finishing and reviewing the books. (Ummm the guilt of not finishing the books I own 🙂 )

My next read is a book I’ve been itching to read, the publication date has been moved forward but I’ve been so fortunate to get an ARC from Netgalley.  (of course I’m still buying the hardback). I loved The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and now I am reading her second book!

🙂

Netgalley, review

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

I haven’t read a vampire book for a long time, there’s just so many that are the same these days. But  I seen this on Netgalley and I had to read it. 

Opium and Absinthe

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke’s sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie’s imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can’t be—can it?

A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won’t rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister’s death. Unfortunately, Tillie’s addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she’s taking more and more laudanum…and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.”

Review

The first few pages of this novel drew me in and wouldn’t let go. I liked Tillie, she lives in a world where women are meant to go to parties, socialise and marry. But she spends the party in the host’s library. She has a passion for knowledge and enjoys reading the dictionary.

I had a brilliant first impression of this book, I loved the unique similes that the author used “her heart was quivering like a cold chicken jelly” and I was intrigued by the mystery. Tillie’s sister is murdered by what looks like a vampire and she’s determined to find out what happened, since nobody else seems to be bothered. Oddly.

Tillie’s  grandmother is a formidable lady, she is very harsh on Tillie and at one point refuses her to leave the house for her safety. Tillie feels trapped but not just in the house, in this life all planned out for her. Since her sister’s death they want her to  fit neatly into her sisters role. She tries to figure out what happened to her sister, meeting people who can help along the way.

The authors love of Dracula is shown by the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and the novel features in the story. So if you haven’t read it, expect spoilers. This was perfect: Tillie is reading the novel and asking questions, she researches the science behind vampires and tries to figure out if the killer is really a vampire. I don’t think I’ve ever read a vampire book or seen a film/series that looks at the science, that looks at how their teeth would have to be or how they could drink blood from two tiny holes, leaving only small puncture wounds. Very interesting and a refreshing change. 

All the while I wonder if it’s really a vampire, or if someone she knows is to blame. I couldn’t figure it out, as the story progresses and Tillie tries to unravel the mystery, putting herself in danger and risking the anger of her family, I was riveted. And I didn’t guess the culprit in the end. But I enjoyed every moment of it. 

 It was interesting to read Tillie’s story, showing the attitudes to women during this time. And how she easily became addicted to opiates after an injury. Also her enthusiasm for writing made me remember myself when I getting into writing for the first time.

There is one glaring error in this book where the author keeps referring to the millennium being in 1900. Strange how this wasn’t corrected, not sure if it has been in the final proof as I read an ARC. But it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story.

I loved everything about this book: the facts, the story, the characters. It’s a riveting, historical mystery that you won’t be able to put down. 

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I’ve counted this in my 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge, an update will be posted soon…. 🙂

review

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. This is the first book I’ve ever read about racism, I was one of those people that didn’t think that racism was predominate in my country. Wales, U.K.  I’ve never been told otherwise until after recent events made me really look and want to educate myself. This book taught me a lot.

Synopsis from Netgalley:

Not being racist is not enough. We have to be antiracist.

In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option: until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem.

Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and story-teller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good. Along the way, Kendi punctures all the myths and taboos that so often cloud our understanding, from arguments about what race is and whether racial differences exist to the complications that arise when race intersects with ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.

In the process he demolishes the myth of the post-racial society and builds from the ground up a vital new understanding of racism – what it is, where it is hidden, how to identify it and what to do about it.

My Review

This book is a mix of biography, history and essays about being racist or anti-racist. It gives a very in depth and well researched look at racism and it really is eye opening. 

This books suggests the idea that you may be racist because of the racist ideas that are in our society but we don’t become racist and we can change through “persistent self awareness, constant self criticism and regular self examination.” People may not realise they’re racist because it’s how the world is, it’s the norm but they can change. “Racist ideas define society.”

Each chapter presents a different aspect of racism and how it can be divided by things like gender and class. The personal story is interesting and engaging, exploring how the writer himself considered himself racist and wants to be anti racist.

This book made me look at things differently. It helped me to understand “privilege”  privilege means that you are not judged by the colour of your skin.  Another thing that made me think was his explanation about black living spaces that they are not full of crime, racism has built up this image of fear in these communities and you see it on tv and films often. 

Although this book taught me a lot I did find it hard to follow at times, so many quotes and facts. It could be very wordy and the narrative went off on tangents. It’s about America and I don’t know enough about American history and past events to be able to understand some of this book. 

Sometimes the repetition  was off putting, just the repetition of a word or a certain sentence structure. I think that the author was trying to get his point across using repetition but I am of the opinion that less is more. I think that this book might not be accessible to everyone because the ideas are in a round about way. I think it would be a lot more influential if it was presented plainly.  However this is the author’s style and helps shows his enthusiasm and main messages do get across. 

I think the ideas are very important and it’s an educational book that is well worth taking the time to read if you’re looking for a book to learn more about racism. 

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Coming Soon…. Update on My Summer Reading Challenge, this book is included. 

 

 

challenge

20 Books Of Summer Update

Well, I’ve only read 2 out of 20 books so far. The Strawberry Thief took me to France and My Family And Other Animals took me to Corfu.

 

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

The Strawberry Thief

*Some Spoilers Ahead*

The Strawberry thief is the latest in the Chocolat books which I love. We go back to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, and this time Rosette has grown up, Anouk has gone to Paris and Vianne doesn’t seem like herself anymore. I enjoyed the story, although it didn’t seem to have the same sensory magic as the others. It was great to revisit the characters even if Vianne is disappointing. She ends up becoming like the people she hates the most and treats a fellow traveller/witch like she was once treated.  I was engrossed by the story, although there were quite a few different viewpoints this time around, you don’t get to see much of Anouk or Roux either. I also didn’t like how the story ended, how Rosette’s character changed. Debating whether or not to explain this but I think I’ve given enough spoilers. 

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

(Book one of the trilogy, my copy is this big thick book. I decided to read the one novel for the moment, regretted not having a separate copy as this thick book kept slipping out of my hands and it was awkward to hold the book and a cup of tea)

This was a reread, I read part of it when I was in school and then must’ve had a copy from the library to read years later. Since the tv series on ITV started I’ve been meaning to buy my own copy and read it again, the series finished and finally I bought one. It’s a memoir about the time in his childhood when Naturalist Gerald Durrell and his family left their home in England and moved to Corfu. 

It’s a fun and engrossing story, you never know what funny thing is going to happen next. It’s also very interesting to read about different animals and the people are such characters too. This time around I was a bit annoyed with Gerry stealing a birds egg and did think that he shouldn’t capture some Magpie chicks from their nest. But in the time all this was happening it was normal. Today we want to leave animals alone and not put them in cages. That aside it’s a lovely book. Gerald Durrell captures the magic of Corfu, his descriptive skills are beautiful. I felt that this book was the perfect choice for this moment, a bit of escapism and humour.

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And now I get to pick my next book. After reading My Family And Other Animals I want to read something completely different, a fictional story. Where shall I go next?

Uncategorized

20 Books Of Summer

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So because I don’t blog much these days I was wondering whether to do this but I enjoyed it so much last year. I have so many books  and so many I keep adding to my list.

I need to thank Shayney for posting about this on her blog here and reminding me about this reading challenge.

About the challenge

This challenge is run every year by Cathy at 746 books you just pick how many books you want to read 10, 15 or 20 from now until September. It’s completely flexible too. Last year I managed to read 14/20. I was mainly trying to get through my tbr last year, but I’ve bought so many books since lockdown began that I’m not really bothered about my tbr too much. I’m aiming for 20 and I’ve already started reading (and will soon finish) my first choice.

Currently Reading

The Strawberry Thief: The new novel from the bestselling author of Chocolat (Chocolat 4)

My choices so far

The books I’m definitely going to read are:

Love After Love I bought about a week or so ago after signing up to a Hay Festival session that the author Ingrid Persaud was doing. I read a sample of the book on Amazon and I was just hooked, so I bought it from an indie bookseller straight away (sorry Amazon).

Gallowglass has been on my tbr for a while, it’s a trilogy I’m finally finishing (I never seem to get through trilogies) .

My Family And Other Animals I read this book in school and loved it, every since the tv series started years ago I’ve been meaning to reread it, so I finally bought the trilogy (not sure if there’s more books) this year. I almost forgot about the next Poldark book,

The Stranger From The Sea, I’ve been reading one book a year, usually in the summer, to coincide with the events of the tv series. It’s finished now but I still have the book series to finish.

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I love reading books set in Wales, I bought The South Westerlies a story collection, last year. The other three books are on my tbr, The Maginogion I’ve had for years, don’t think I ever finished it, but I love folklore.

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And these are must reads: the next Witcher book, The Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield out this year, indie author/publisher. I read the second book The Magpie Tree last year for my 20 Books Of Summer Reading Challenge so it’s worked out well that I’ve got this one now.

Stim, an Autistic anthology is a crowdfunded book I backed, wanting to learn more about Autism, where better than from those who are on the spectrum?

I have a few books on my Kindle and I’ve picked this one as a definite to read:

Once Upon a River: The dazzling Sunday Times Bestseller Kindle EditionI’ve read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and got this on offer recently.

A book I need to buy:

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty (author) (9781908213792)

I missed the Hay Festival session but I’ve heard a few of the extracts on Radio 4 and I need to read this book. I love reading books about people travelling and nature books (I read The Salt Path last year, was tempted to reread it loved it so much, sequel out in September I recommend it!).

I’ve picked 13 books I’m definitely going to read, I should really add the ones I’ve got on my Netgalley which would take it up to 16.

Hmmm I could easily add another pile to this list. Finding 20 books is not a problem, will I manage to read 20 books by September? And will I stick to this list?

Are you doing the challenge? Comment below, links appreciated 🙂

Happy Reading 🙂

review

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

This is a belated review, sometimes you just can’t find the words and need to be in the right headspace to really do a book justice in a review. So I’ve tried. 

Wild Spinning Girls

“If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.

And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it. Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left..

It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.” – from GoodReads

My Review 

“I’m a bit Welsh myself as it happens.”

Ida inherits a house and goes to Wales, after losing her job and her parents, intending to take a look and get it ready to be sold. I am always looking for books set in Wales and this is another such book by Carol Lovekin.

It’s not just the place it’s set in that attracts my interest but the atmosphere of the book. Reminiscent of folklore with superstition and magic, nothing I write can really do justice, this book seems to mirror that mystical image of Wales/Welsh folklore. I don’t know if that was intended, or whether the magic and superstition is just part of describing the magic of the characters’ worlds.

This same atmosphere was prevalent in GhostBird and I just can’t get enough of it. The house with it’s haunting feeling, the wildness of the land it sits on, the poetical writing style…Everything just ties together to create this wonderful place and story. 

The plot of the novel is intriguing and I felt bad for Ida, I thought that the characters were brilliant personalities (Roni’s a fun character), all different.

“What was it with all the tea?” 

(Loved this quote, it’s so accurate, a lot of Welsh people drink a lot of tea)

The book is never dull, the story always moving on at an addictive pace. I liked Heather (the girl who Ida can’t get rid of) and I found the relationship between her and Ida interesting. At times I wanted to scream at her which I guess it how most people feel about teenagers. I was eager for them to find a solution to their problems but like in reality problems take time to solve sometimes. I enjoyed the story and Ida’s journey to solve her problems, the way it ended was perfect. 

Sometimes when you’re reviewing a book, it’s hard to really explain what makes it special. I hope I’ve managed to. What always stands out about Carol Lovekin’s books is the beautiful sense of place that stays with you, the realistic characters and that poetic style that is just so hard to describe and do justice to. 

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If you’d like to know more about Carol Lovekin’s books you can find out more here and also discover more books by Welsh authors from indie publisher Honno. 

My next post will be about this years Summer Reading Challenge.

Happy Reading 🙂 Hwyl am nawr. 

 

review

Am Ddiwrnod! Gan Margaret Johnson

Am Ddiwrnod! is one book in a series called Cyfres Amdani that’s been written especially for Welsh learners, if you’d like more information about this series click the link here

This book has been written for anyone who is doing entry level (Mynediad) it’s written specifically to reflect what’s been taught at that level.

This is my first review for a book in Welsh, if you’d like to see more please comment so I know to continue with this idea. (I’m writing in English though).

Am Ddiwrnod: Nofel i Ddysgwyr Lefel Mynediad

This book is about 32 pages long. There are a few pictures and there’s some information about the characters and where the story is set at the beginning. There are definitions of some words at the bottom of the page. It’s a very short story and I finished it rather quickly.

I enjoyed the story, it had drama and humour and kept my interest. I’d definitely recommend it, I found it fairly easy to follow. I looked up the odd word that I wasn’t sure of and did refer to the definitions at the bottom of the page. I found it really helpful that some of the words were repeated, you might forget the meaning of a word if you only see it once or twice but the repetition helped me to remember the word.

This is the first time I’ve read a book from this Cyfres Amdani series, and so far I am happy with it. It’s very short which is great because I could read in one sitting. I’m not learning Welsh in a classroom so I’m unsure what my level is, probably close to intermediate (Say Something In Welsh level 3?).

I’d definitely recommend this book if you want to start reading books in cymraeg, it’s a good start, learn a few new words and build your confidence.

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I’ve tried reading a few other books which I didn’t finish due to finding them difficult and being frustrated at having to look up every other word. So I am so happy to finally finish something in cymraeg!

If you found this review useful and would like me to review more books yn gymraeg (or any other Welsh language related posts) please drop me a line in the comments so I know to keep reviewing books in Welsh.

Don’t be shy, say shw mae 🙂

Pob lwc a dal ati!