My World Book Night Reading Challenge

2012 WBN Logo

So, yes, I know that World Book Night was a few weeks ago now (ahem actually 2 months – oops!) but I didn’t manage to read all the books on the list by the 23rd April however I did want to finish my challenge.

Back in January I started my challenge to read all the books on this year’s World Book Night reading list. Well I’m pleased to say that on June 21st I completed my first reading challenge for this year – later than hoped and anticipated, next year I must either start earlier or plan better.

It’s been an interesting challenge and I’ve read some books that I wouldn’t normally have considered. These are the books that I’ve read and you can click the titles to go straight to my review.

Ben-Aaronovitch-Rivers-of-LondonFour-Warned-Jeffrey-Archerboy-in-the-striped-pyjamasAfter the FuneralA Roald Dahl Selection





Confessions of a GPHello MumGetting Rid of MatthewTheodore BooneThe Humans





The Perfect MurderTales of the CityToday-Everything-changesGeezer GirlsThe Recruit





Whatever It TakesBlack HillsThe Boy With the Topknotgorky_park59 Seconds





13 of these books I had on loan from my local library – this is the most I’ve used my library in years 🙂

My favourite read of all the books was actually The Boy with the Topknot which I surprisingly enjoyed and didn’t expect too.

Have you read and enjoyed any of these?

Book Review: The Boy with the Topknot by Sathnam Sanghera

The Boy With the TopknotWhat’s it about?2012 WBN LogoBBC 2014

For Sathnam Sanghera, growing up in Wolverhampton in the eighties was a confusing business. On the one hand, these were the heady days of George Michael mix-tapes, Dallas on TV and, if he was lucky, the occasional Bounty Bar. On the other, there was his wardrobe of tartan smocks, his 30p-an-hour job at the local sewing factory and the ongoing challenge of how to tie the perfect top-knot.

And then there was his family, whose strange and often difficult behaviour he took for granted until, at the age of twenty-four, Sathnam made a discovery that changed everything he ever thought he knew about them. Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into their extraordinary past – from his father’s harsh life in rural Punjab to the steps of the Wolverhampton Tourist Office – trying to make sense of a life lived among secrets.

My thoughts

This book was next up for my World Book Night reading challenge and if I’m being perfectly honest it was one of a couple I was least looking forward too. I mean, a young Sikh boy growing up in eighties Wolverhampton, how was this going to interest me but I couldn’t have been more wrong I thoroughly enjoyed it. Another case of never judge a book by its cover!

In a nutshell the story is about a man who wants to tell his mother that he wants to live his own life and marry who he chooses and loves and not someone that is expected or arranged but he just can’t find the right words so he wants to put it all in a letter to his mother which will then be translated for her. He starts to write the letter and whilst he’s dealing with his own emotions he delves into his family’s history and parents marriage. This is a real insight into Indian culture and the Sikh religion in an everyday context and its integration (or not) into a modern day England.

His father and elder sister both struggled with mental health issues  that were not very well diagnosed (eventually as Schizophrenia) and there seemed to be a lack of support from any health care agencies. The following investigations that Sathnam carried out int0 his father’s illnesses history was just incredible that people could be so unhelpful!

I loved the eighties references, they reminded me of my own childhood and growing up like the tape to tape recording and DJs talking over the music, the fashion and the George Michael posters.

Wolverhampton is relatively local to me, only being about 12 miles away, so I know a lot of the places mentioned and so could quite vividly picture them.

This is a really witty memoir with all the chapters having appropriate song titles; I particularly liked chapter 11 – You Got It (The Right Stuff) as I was a massive fan of New Kids on the Block!  There are some very funny scenes but also quite humbling and very often sad. There’s a particualar paragraph on Sathnam’s interpretation of what it would mean to be illiterate which almost had me in tears; what it means to not be able to read; what his parents were missing out on and things you don’t necessarily think of but must have and obviously did affect their standard of living.

“…not being able to work out the best-before date on groceries, …not daring to travel anywhere you haven’t travelled before, in case you get lost, …staring into the distance in waiting rooms because there is nothing else to do, sending your son a ‘for my husband’ birthday card because the newsagent misunderstands your request, …not being able to read what your son writes in a newspaper”

Overall, a very interesting and enjoyable read that surprised me!

Mental Health Week 12th – 18th May

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Book Review: Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Black HillsWhat’s it about?2012 WBN Logo

Cooper Sullivan and Lil Chance were unlikely childhood friends – thrown together each summer when Coop visited his grandparents’ South Dakota ranch. But with every year, their friendship deepened from innocent games to stolen kisses and the promise of something special…until fate, and a terrible tragedy, pulled them apart.

Twelve years later Coop – now a private investigator in New York – returns to the ranch to care for his grandparents. Though the memory of Coop’s touch still haunts her, Lil has let nothing stop her dream of opening a Wildlife Refuge on her family’s land. But someone else has been keeping a close watch on Lil Chance, and Coop’s return has unleashed more than just old passions.

There’s a hunter lurking out in the Black Hills, and Lil and Coop have been singled out as prey…

My thoughts

This book was next up as part of my World Book Night reading challenge and was my first experience of Nora Roberts.

The book is a thriller/romance novel which is split into 3 parts: Heart, Head and Spirit. Heart introduces us to a young Cooper and Lil during their teen and college years, their ensuing friendship, the discovery and as Lil becomes a target.

In Head, the tension rises with more stalking and death and Coop goes back to his detective roots and learns more about who they’re dealing with. This theme carries on through the Spirit part also. Coop is determined to protect Lil but actually she’s strong and independent and she actually doesn’t really need saving. There’s a bit where he picks her up and carries her off which I thought was a bit cheesey and patronising. However, the events do reach a climatic ending if not a little predictable.

The perpertrator is revealed quite early on which I didn’t really like, I prefer them to be revealed much later in the story – almost at the end. I didn’t think that it really added anything to the tension, anticipation or expectation by knowing early on. In parts, the predator has his own voice as we’re let into his head and his motivation. This I thought was on the weak side, the link between him and Lil and what drives him to do what he does.

I did feel that it got a little repetitive on occasion – Lil’s feelings and her issues with Coop, she kept banging on about them, and I just kept thinking yeah yeah we know, let’s move on now.

The relationship between Tansy and Farley as a secondary romance is really rather sweet if not a little nauseous in places.

Overall, quite a good thriller without being too gruesome which suited me as I don’t like reading books that scare me and or play on my mind. Coop reminded me of Jack Reacher…elements of vigilantism in him!

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Book Review: Whatever It Takes by Adele Parks

Whatever It TakesWhat’s it about?2012 WBN LogoBBC 2014

Eloise Hamilton is a Londoner born and bred, so it is a momentous day when she reluctantly agrees to uproot to Dartmouth, leaving behind her perfect world so her husband can finally live in his. There are compensations, however. Her mother-in-law Margaret will welcome her with open arms, and besides, she can still rely on best friend Sara to be her lifeline to London.

But both Margaret and Sara are facing their own difficulties, and thrust into unexpected turmoil, Eloise finds she is the one holding everything together for her loved ones – and by an ever-weakening thread. As her world implodes with the strain of being responsible for all around her, someone is bound to be overlooked. And the damage might be irreparable…

My thoughts

This book was next up on my World Book Night reading challenge. I’d not read any Adele Parks before so to be honest was just expecting fluffy chick-lit boy meets girl but this wasn’t like that. It was more grown up if that makes sense?

Having moved her family from to Dartmouth, her husband’s home town, Eloise tries to make a new life for them and is desperately wanting to fit in to the Dartmouth scene but leaving her beloved London behind and her best friend is harder than she thought.

Eloise is a bit of a Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way but if I’m honest I think it’s Margaret’s character that actually steals the show. As Margaret’s Alzheimer’s becomes more apparent we get an insight into what it’s like for her living with this ‘smudge’ as she calls it and how it affects not only her but her family too. Alzheimer’s is such a wicked condition!

As she doesn’t seem to have any real grasp any more of the consequences of the things she says Margaret’s revelation  had the potential to rip her family apart…but then really she was the only one that did see beneath the cracks in her own fuddled way. One of my favourite scenes was the Apple Tart and Lavender Cream – I can honestly imagine this happening and I loved how well Eloise wanted to care for Margaret, they had a special relationship that made me feel warm inside.

On the flip side, I’ve no idea how Sara came to be Eloise’s best friend. What an incredibly horrible self obsessed woman; to be that deceitful and disrespectful to someone who had only ever helped you just shows the desperation she felt at not being able to have a baby. I was surprised at how both Eloise and Sara were able to let their friendship slide so easily but then I guess we’ve all been there. And..considering Charlie and Sara had money worries I was surprised how they managed to just up sticks and leave but hey probably for the best….

There’s a brilliant twist at end that really surprised me and I didn’t see coming, I thought that it was all sewn up rather nicely and then boom! That one left me reeling!

With deep issues of infertility and Alzheimer’s it’s not a light read but Parks hasn’t made it a dreary read either but one that’s very emotive and engaging and one that would make a good read for a book club it could provoke a really good discussion.

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**Als0 – I’m running a giveaway for The State We’re In, also by Adele Parks – enter here a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: The Recruit (Cherub #1) by Robert Muchamore

As part of the 10th anniversary new cover re-launch, here’s my review on the first in the CHERUB series:

The RecruitWhat’s it about?BBC 20142012 WBN Logo

A terrorist doesn’t let strangers in her flat because they might be undercover police or intelligence agents, but her children bring their mates home and they run all over the place. The terrorist doesn’t know that one of these kids has bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address book. The kid works for CHERUB.

CHERUB agents are aged between ten and seventeen. They live in the real world, slipping under adult radar and getting information that sends criminals and terrorists to jail.

For official purposes, these children do not exist.

And now: a new cover look for this number one bestselling series!

My thoughts

This was my next read up as part of my World Book Night reading challenge and although primarily aimed at the young adult age range was an enjoyable read so many thanks to Netgalley for the review copy.

The Recruit is the first in the CHERUB series and is the story of James and how he becomes a CHERUB recruit – the child spies that work with MI5. We follow James through his recruitment, the training, the relationships and friendships he forms with his trainers and the other recruits and then onto his first mission. James’ relationship with Joanna was actually really sweet and incredibly sad that things worked out the way they did.

There were elements of unbelievability such as the extreme training and the fact that these orphan kids are just taken and recruited but let’s face it, this is like a book of mini James Bonds so all sense and reason goes out the window.  Some of the more adult scenes came with explanations which felt a little which condescending but then this was probably because of the target audience age range – I should have expected that.

As I had a Netgalley copy the formatting was a little out of sync but I could get past that (not the author’s fault).

Overall, an easy, quick read that I would recommend for younger readers who are fans of James Bond, Police Academy and Spy Kids – this is for you!

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