Monday, 4 August 2014

the year in books - August

I am linking up with Laura over at Circle of Pines. On her beautiful blog Laura hosts The Year of Books 2014 where bloggers share their reads. I have found some great reading suggestions there and I am sure there is a book waiting for you, too.

If you remember my June post in this series, back then I couldn't make up my mind which of two books I wanted to read during July:


I have read "Unexploded" by Alison Macleod. Well, I haven't quite finished because I could not bring myself to read the last 50 odd pages. The story suddenly seemed unbearably sad. I blame the post holiday blues for this. The novel starts in 1940 Brighton, where Evelyn, Geoffrey and their young son Philip struggle to keep their life together amidst threats of invasion by the German army. It is a beautifully crafted story. All characters are drawn carefully and they feel like friends or acquaintances at the very least. I have only got a couple of chapters left and once my holiday blues is over, I shall finish the book.

Other books I have read or listened to:

Elly Griffiths "Janus Stone". I found this crime novel disappointing. The plot was shallow and predictable. The two main characters are annoying with no real depth to their personalities. Finally, I thought the writing was unimaginative, too. I was tempted by the idea of reading a crime novel about a forensic archaeologist because I do actually know one through my previous work. I like crime fiction but prefer it to be subtle and well crafted with a good deal of suspense. I like Christopher Fowlers "Peculiar Crimes Unit" series for example, featuring two ancient detectives, Bryant and May. Whilst the crimes committed are nearly as far fetched as those in Janus Stone, the stories are at least cleverly constructed and well written.

"The Universe vs Alex Wood" by Gavin Extence. I listened to the audio version narrated by Joe Thomas. This was a refreshing listening experience and I really liked Alex, and his mother, too, even Mr Peterson. The dry matter of factly story telling makes Alex particularly endearing. The story is about being different, friendship, love, and dying with dignity. I have tried to convince my teenager to listen with me but it is just not his kind of book. Sadly. Because sometimes, I recognised Sam in Alex. Oh well.

"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. This was also an audio version, narrated by Jenna Lamia. At first I was a little annoyed by the narrators voice but it grew on me and actually, she has a good voice for a teenage girl. The story is told by Lily who is 14 and has lived with the believe that she has accidentally killed her mother when she was four. The story is set in the 1960s in South Carolina, where racial discrimination is still very much an issue. I enjoyed the story very much, it was uplifting and optimistic despite the underlying sadness of Lily's and Rosaleen's story.

"The Casual Vacancy" by J.K. Rowlings. This book was on my pile for months and I now regret not reading it earlier because I liked the story very much. I enjoyed the writing, the description of the characters and their lives. It is a sad book dealing with terrible issues (for example drug addiction and domestic violence) but it didn't make me sad. If this makes any sense, all the better :). I wonder if J.K. Rowlings has read "King of the Badger" by Philip Hensher? Although both books are very different in content, both describe beautifully the life in a small community with a shiny fa├žade that looses the shine when you open the door and look in.

I just realise that I have read more than I thought I did!

For August I am going to read Sarah's Key by Tatiana the Rosnay. On my ipod I have "Elisabeth is missing" by Emma Healey.

What have you been reading/listening to?

21 comments:

  1. I've just published my post too! I like crime fiction and absolutely love Stephen Booth and James Oswald. Stephen Booth is a local-ish author and I love how each novel is very different and always very well written but across the series (12 books so far) the main characters are the same and their personal stories develop nicely in each book. James Oswald's series is quite similar, but very different as his are set in Edinburgh. I think both are worth a try if you like crime fiction, though I'd recommend reading in chronological order in the interests of following along with the character story lines.

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  2. I've been reading autobiographical books and novels for when school starts again. I teach English so there's no end to the novels I "have to" read (don't mind in the slightest!). In preparation for my exam class I'm re-reading Manhattan Transfer (1925), which I love.

    I have never tried audio books - must give them a go. xxx

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  3. Oh dear, you are all putting me to shame, I haven't managed to read one book! I must try harder! The J. K. Rowlings sounds interesting, I will put that on my reading list.

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  4. Isn't the Year In Books link up great? I love it. I'd be interested to listen to the audiobook of The Secret Life of Bees as I read the book for my Year In Books read last month and really loved it. Will he interested to hear what you think of Sarah's Key; I read it a couple of years ago & enjoyed it X

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  5. You have had a very busy reading month. I hope that you enjoy your August reads. xx

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  6. I'm glad you enjoyed Alex Wood Christina - I always feel responsible for my recommendations. Lots of people have talked to me about 'The Secret Life of Bees' recently so must get that one to add to my holiday reading pile. I also would like to read 'Elizabeth is Missing'.

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  7. Enjoy your August reads. I am not a reader at the moment but have been in the past, I will return to it in the future. Jo x

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  8. I loved The Secret Life of Bees, glad other people have too.

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  9. Unexploded sounds like a book I would enjoy - I tend to go for the downers - and I enjoy reading about the WW2 time period. It is going on my library list.

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  10. I loved Alex Wood. I read it on holiday last year, and passed it on to my Sam. He really enjoyed it too. I also see elements of my Sam in Alex. I am so behind with blog posts. I must do my monthly read, and July review.
    Leanne xx

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  11. I'm adding The Universe vs. Alex Wood to my reading queue. I laughed when I read that you were sorry you hadn't read The Casual Vacancy earlier. I had the opposite reaction and was sorry I had read it ever. Somehow that book made me feel a despair no other book ever has.

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  12. I think Unexploded sounds great, thanks for the suggestion. I haven't read the others myself but I've heard a lot about The Secret Life of Bees and have been planning to read it. Thanks for the excellent synopses.

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  13. You do so well with you reading and you put me to shame, Christina! Can you believe I am still reading The Hunger Games! I will never finish it....sigh. But I least I know where I can find some good recommendations if I ever do! :)

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  14. I read Sarah's Key last year and will never forget it. I also enjoyed the movie version of it as they did a really good job. Hope you enjoy it!

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  15. I've read all Elly Griffiths books and this one was my least favourite. Maybe try one of her other works - The House at Seas End is good, or The Crossing Places. However, I think it is easy to know whether you like a book or not when you first start reading it! I must try some of your other reads, particularly The Casual Vacancy. cheers Wendy

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  16. I must get Sarah's Key to take on holiday with me.

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  17. You've had a very busy reading month! Even more books to add to my ever growing list. I'm yet to read 'The Casual Vacancy' but have read both of her Robert Galbraith novels and loved them!

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  18. Gosh you have read a lot Christina! The only one of those which I've read is The Secret Life of Bees, which I enjoyed; I've heard of the Casual Vacancy but not read it and I've not heard of the others. I'm nearing the end of The Book Thief which has taken a bit of concentration but I am enjoying it, I've had a little extra time to read as this months book club choice I'd already read. Not sure what's next on my list although my pile of unread books is enormous!

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  19. Lots of lovely recommendations there. I always look forward to these Year in Books posts. The film of Secret Life of Bees was excellent but I haven't read the book. Think I might like to though.

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  20. That's too bad that the crime thriller, "Janus Stone" turned out to be a dud. I had it on my list of books to read. I have been reading a lot of Ann Rule's true crime books lately since discovering that all of her books have been updated to ebook format- you can find them all on her updated website- http://www.planetannrule.com/. "A Rose For Her Grave" is one of my favorites, it is a chilling account of several cold-blooded killers including one man who would marry women for their Social Security benefits and then ruthlessly kill them. Although I am definitely in true crime mode right now, but will have to check out "The Secret Life Of Bees" when I have a chance. I have heard a lot of great stuff about it.

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    1. The Secret Life of Bees is excellent, Betty. You should check that one out! Thanks for sharing Ann's website - I did not know her books were now digital. That's fantastic :-).

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