My Year in Books and 5* Reads

2016

I haven’t read anywhere near the number of books this year that I wanted too.  I haven’t even managed to reach my revised revised revised target number.  I put this down to starting a new job which has been quite stressful and getting involved in an online business with a friend which will launch early 2017 so unfortunately my books and blogging took a back seat 😦

Out of the 54 books I read this year I gave six books a 5* rating on Goodreads….6!! I don’t know if this makes me a harsh marker or just plain disappointed.  Anyway, my six 5* books read this year were:

See How They Run by Tom Bale – read April 2016

The Storied Life of A.J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – read July 2016

The Racketeer by John Grisham – read August 2016

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – read September 2016

Recipe for Life; The Autobiography by Mary Berry – read September 2016

A Place called Winter by Patrick Gale – read November 2016 (review outstanding – bad blogger!)

Could you pick just ONE book as your standout read for 2016?

5

WWW Wednesday (October 5th)

Hi all, this is my first WWW in a while (again!) looking forward to catching up with you, your blogs and books later 🙂

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’m reading The Dinner by Herman Koch

This is my book club choice for this month and was recommended to me by my brother.  I’m hoping it pulls me out my book club reading slump as the last three have not been such great reads for me.

the-dinnerThe blurb

A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.


I recently finished The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

I was really enjoying this book until a significant event happened which I didn’t like or approve of which really changed how I felt about what I was reading.  I rated the book 4* because it is a really good twisty thriller but I didn’t like any of the characters, have any empathy for them so really didn’t mind who ended up dead!

the-kind-worth-killing

The blurb

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”

From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda’s demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse–one they both cannot survive–with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

I’ve also read Recipe for Life – The Autobiography by Mary Berry

If you’re a fan of the Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry or home cooking and baking in general then you’d probably enjoy this, as did I.  Interspersed with some of Mary’s recipes, we discover how Mary came to fame and be the well-loved household name she is now.  A heart-warming book with some very sad moments. Review here.

Recipe for LifeThe blurb

From the moment she came into the world – two weeks early, throwing her parents’ lives into disarray – Mary has gracefully but firmly done things her own way.

Born in 1935, in the city of Bath, Mary’s childhood was a curious mix of idyllic picnics and ramblings, and alarming air raids; of a spirited and outdoorsy home life and a dreaded school existence. All nearly cut horribly short by an almost fatal bout of polio when she was thirteen, which isolated Mary in hospital, away from beloved family and friends for months.

Recovery saw her turn to her one true passion – cookery. And so began a love affair that has – so far – spanned six remarkable decades; from demonstrating ovens in the early 1950s to producing glossy food magazines in the 60s and 70s, gradually becoming the country’s most prolific and – many would say – best loved cookery writer. Until her emergence in the 21st century as a TV sensation and style icon on the Great British Bake Off.

As a working mother, at the heart of a busy household, Mary became an expert at the art of juggling, even bringing her working life into her home with her Aga school. And there have been challenges, one terrible tragedy and many joys along the way.

I’ve also finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This was my fourth Picoult novel and is contention for the best one.  She always manages to pick subjects that will provoke a reader’s emotions and this is no exeception, it’s brilliant.  Incredibly raw, nothing held back and extremely on point topically.  A sure fire winner!

small-great-thingsThe blurb

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family especially her teenage son as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other s trust, and come to see that what they ve been taught their whole lives about others and themselves might be wrong.

I DNF All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage unfortunately; I’d read about 70 pages or so and it wasn’t holding my interest in any way, I was bored and had no motivation to read it.  I had a look at some other reviews on Goodreads to test whether it would be worth continuing and from what I read I decided to DNF.  You can see the blurb etc on my last WWW if you’re so inclined 😉


 What’s up next?

Number 11 by Jonathan Coe

I must admit I bought this book for the cover, I had no idea what it was about until I was prepping this blog post.  Now I know, I’m not entirely sure it’s my kind of read but I’ll give it a go.

number-11The blurb

This is a novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all.

It’s about the legacy of war and the end of innocence.

It’s about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have won.

It’s about how 140 characters can make fools of us all.

It’s about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street.

It is Jonathan Coe doing what he does best ­ – showing us how we live now.


Have you read any of this week’s choices?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…

Book Review: Recipe for Life; The Autobiography by Mary Berry

Recipe for LifeWhat’s it about?

From the moment she came into the world – two weeks early, throwing her parents’ lives into disarray – Mary has gracefully but firmly done things her own way.

Born in 1935, in the city of Bath, Mary’s childhood was a curious mix of idyllic picnics and ramblings, and alarming air raids; of a spirited and outdoorsy home life and a dreaded school existence. All nearly cut horribly short by an almost fatal bout of polio when she was thirteen, which isolated Mary in hospital, away from beloved family and friends for months.

Recovery saw her turn to her one true passion – cookery. And so began a love affair that has – so far – spanned six remarkable decades; from demonstrating ovens in the early 1950s to producing glossy food magazines in the 60s and 70s, gradually becoming the country’s most prolific and – many would say – best loved cookery writer. Until her emergence in the 21st century as a TV sensation and style icon on the Great British Bake Off.

As a working mother, at the heart of a busy household, Mary became an expert at the art of juggling, even bringing her working life into her home with her Aga school. And there have been challenges, one terrible tragedy and many joys along the way.

My thoughts

As a fan of the Great British Bake Off and the charms of Mary Berry I’d had her autobiography on my book shelf since a couple of Christmasses ago but with the show starting this month I decided now was a good time to read it.  I noticed from the first few pages that Mary’s voice just comes out of the pages so definitely feels that she properly wrote the book 😉

If you’ve ever wondered how Mary grew to fame and why she’s considered the baking authority she is then this will give you all that and much more.  Marking or grading how interesting someone’s life is seems quite harsh  but for me this was a 5*.  I suppose you read an autobiography because you like that person and already have an interest in them and I know I’m bias because I am a Mary fan, and yes this book is quite twee, very middle class and fortunate and some of it comes across as very jolly hockey sticks but it’s also her life laid bare; wonderfully inspirational with some very sad and touching memories which endears her all the more to me.

And I just like her a little bit more for this quote on walking….

I was young, walking for walking’s own sake was to be avoided if at all possible.

Interspersed with Mary’s memories are lots of photos and some of her recipes, my favourite was right at the end of the book – Wonderful Apple Cake, I’ll have a go at baking that soon as it would be the perfect Autumnal bake.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Visit Mary’s website


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Talk of the Town

WWW Wednesday (September 7th)

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’m reading…

Recipe for Life – The Autobiography by Mary Berry

I love Mary Berry and the Great British Bake Off and now that it’s back on our (UK) tv screens there’s no better time to be reading this.  It’s also my second non-fiction in as many months – go me! 🙂

Recipe for LifeThe blurb

From the moment she came into the world – two weeks early, throwing her parents’ lives into disarray – Mary has gracefully but firmly done things her own way.

Born in 1935, in the city of Bath, Mary’s childhood was a curious mix of idyllic picnics and ramblings, and alarming air raids; of a spirited and outdoorsy home life and a dreaded school existence. All nearly cut horribly short by an almost fatal bout of polio when she was thirteen, which isolated Mary in hospital, away from beloved family and friends for months.

Recovery saw her turn to her one true passion – cookery. And so began a love affair that has – so far – spanned six remarkable decades; from demonstrating ovens in the early 1950s to producing glossy food magazines in the 60s and 70s, gradually becoming the country’s most prolific and – many would say – best loved cookery writer. Until her emergence in the 21st century as a TV sensation and style icon on the Great British Bake Off.

As a working mother, at the heart of a busy household, Mary became an expert at the art of juggling, even bringing her working life into her home with her Aga school. And there have been challenges, one terrible tragedy and many joys along the way.


I recently finished

The Past by Tessa Hadley

This was our book club read for August and despite being well written it was thoroughly and utterly boring! Review to follow at some point.

The PastThe blurb

Four siblings meet up in their grandparents’ old house for three long, hot summer weeks. But under the idyllic surface lie shattering tensions.

Roland has come with his new wife, and his sisters don’t like her. Fran has brought her children, who soon uncover an ugly secret in a ruined cottage in the woods. Alice has invited Kasim, an outsider, who makes plans to seduce Roland’s teenage daughter. And Harriet, the eldest, finds her quiet self-possession ripped apart when passion erupts unexpectedly.

Over the course of the holiday, a familiar way of life falls apart forever.


 What’s up next?

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

This book was offered to me back in March by the publisher and for one reason and another I had to put it aside.  It’s quite a thick book  with small text so I wonder how long it’ll take me to get through.

All Things Cease to AppearThe blurb

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone–for how many hours?–in her room down the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at the private college nearby teaching art history, and moved his family into this tight-knit, impoverished town. And he is the immediate suspect–the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional. While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. The pall of death is on-going, and relentless; behind one crime are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.


Have you read any of this week’s choices?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…