Tuesday, 9 May 2017

the year in books so far - May update

Thanks for your Birthday wishes. You are all so kind! It is good to be celebrated in style. The meal out was a success and the birthday BBQ with friends was great, too. It's a long wait to the next birthday now, such a shame. 

How is your reading going? My own reading is slow, partly because I seem to have less time, partly because I can't find anything that I really really want to read. I go through phases like that when I just don't feel inspired. I last posted about my reading in February!

I have read two more Neil Gaiman books, both of which I loved. 'Stardust' was a beautiful tale of love and perseverance. It is a good for the soul, nothing beats a good story with a heartwarming ending. The story is set somewhere and sometime in England. Tristram Thorn sets out on an adventure to find a fallen star that is sure to win him a beautiful young woman's heart. His travels take him over the wall behind his village into and all across Fairie, where nothing is how he ever imagined it would be, least of all the fallen star.

'The Graveyard Book' is written for children but is also worthwhile to read for grown-ups. A toddler accidentally/luckily escapes the murder of his entire family by toddling off into the night (as they do). He ends up in the local graveyard, where he is adopted by a long dead couple. They name him Bod, short for Nobody. I was never quite clear why Bod's family was murdered and why the killer is still looking for Bod, which makes it impossible for him to leave the graveyard. Fear not, plenty of adventures are to be had amongst the ghosts and Bod's schooling includes all sorts of interesting things and is quaintly outdated for he is taught by long dead people (the graveyard has not been used in modern times).

I read another children's book, Beetle Boy by MG Leonard. It is really entertaining if you like children stories. At the beginning of the book, we meet Darkus Cuttle, a boy whose father has mysteriously disappeared from the Natural History Museum in London. The story is a tale of supernatant beetles, creepy neighbours with a beetle infestation, a monstrous beetle collector, friendship and of course a rescue mission. I really enjoyed this quick read. I suggest you stay clear of the book if you happen to be a molecular biologist, fact checking science is not the author's forte.

I did read some adult fiction, too. I enjoyed 'Four letters of Love'by Niall Williams. It is beautifully written tale of love. Here is the blurb:
Nicholas is 12, living with his parents, when his father gives up his job and throws the household into disarray. Across the country, Isabel is sent to convent school but runs away. Isabel and Nicholas are made for each other, but how will they know?
You'll just have to find out yourselves! It is strange really, I didn't particularly like any of the characters, except maybe Isabel, but I greatly enjoyed the story. Niall Williams has a beautiful way with words, that's for sure.

I have not quite finished Nutshell by Ian McEwan. I don't like it much. I can't identify with any of the characters and most definitely not with the talking (but rather witty) foetus. The blurb sells it as 'told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world's master storytellers.' Trudi, the mother of the talking foetus is an unpleasant character, engaged in an affair with her husbands brother Claude, who must be one of the dullest people ever described in literary history. She drinks far too much, both are greedy and ruthless. The foetus' description of their lovemaking makes me shudder still. Trudi lives in the marital home, a priceless if rather run down property somewhere in London, which she and Claude are desperate to own. Do you need to know more? I'll post you my copy if you like.

I  listened to the two latest instalments of James Oswald's crime fiction series featuring inspector McLean, 'The damage done' and 'Written in bones'. The McLean books are always quite entertaining although the picture the author draws of Police Scotland is far from comforting. Lets just hope that the real Police Scotland is not governed by irascible, unreasonable, potentially corruptible individuals deeply entwined with big business and politics. I don't care much for the hint of the supernatural but it doesn't bother me too much. After all, it is all happening in Edinburgh, a safe distance from my home in Glasgow 😉

Finally, I enjoyed a non fiction read: 'Zoobiquity - The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health' by 

I am planning to read the two books on the photo next - whenever this may be! The Neil Gaiman book is called 'Smoke and Mirrors', a collection of non-fiction essays that I have been wanting to read for a long time. The book with the rather too shouty cover is 'Power' by Naomi Alderman. Its central premise is women developing the ability to release electrical jolts from their fingers, thus leading them rather than men to become the dominant gender. Dystopian science fiction - a favourite of mine. I am also looking to download a couple of easy-to-listen-to audiobooks as my Audible credits are stacking up. Any suggestions are welcome. 

Wishing you a good day. I hope you find some time to read your favourite book, or maybe listen to a great storyteller. x


  1. What are the odds - I've just finished reading The Graveyard Book to the children and now we're on to Beetle Boy. Loving both of them. I almost always enjoy the things I read to them. I pick quite carefully, and although they sometimes protest (before the book has even been opened) they always enjoy them too once we're a few pages in. The littlest boy was a bit freaked out by the opening to The Graveyard Book but all was fine once we got past the scary bit. We'll definitely be on the look out for Beetle Queen at some stage too. I've been looking for something good to read lately as well. It's a great feeling when there's an excellent book on the shelf waiting to be picked up. CJ xx

  2. Glad you had a nice birthday and celebration time. We (my home) seem to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays over a good few days now I've noticed. I think the years go by too quick so it's nice to take some extra time. That's my excuse anyway.
    I've not read any of the books you mention. For a 3rd level course with The Open University I did 'Children's Literature'. Apart from the fact that it was hard and lots of reading - 12 books, it was surprising all the books seemed to have elements of sex in them. My MIL proof read a couple of essays ready for assignment and she is still shocked about Little Red Riding Hood. A story is never just a story, there's always a message - or so it would seem.
    The whole history of fairy tales is very interesting, starting in folk stories for adults told around the fire often by passing travelers. As time passed becoming 'Christianized' with a moral message to be offered to children as fairy tales. There was a dystopian noval on the list called Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner. Don't know if you've read it but I can't say I liked it, but I suppose we're not meant to like it but to 'think'. I didn't like Junk either by Melvin Burgess.
    For the bookclub at the moment I'm reading Mercy by Jodi Picoult. I need to get a move on as we're meeting a week earlier and I do the question/new sheet. Enjoy your reading. Cathy x

  3. I haven't read The Graveyard book, but it's on my list, loved Stardust, have you seen the movie, it was quite good.

  4. Glad to hear you had such a good time to celebrate your birthday. Sadly I have not been reading a lot lately, but I have plenty ready.

  5. I too am glad you had a good birthday celebration. Thanks for your encouragement to read...I do every day but not a storybook for myself although I have started several and will stop typing to you so that perhaps I can go read another page ! xx

  6. Hey Christina,
    I read The Graveyard Book a few years ago. I'm thinking there's another in the series, but not sure. Hated 'Nutshell' I find McKewen really hit and miss. Literally just finished 'Big Little Lies' by Liane Moriarty. I think you'd enjoy it.
    Leanne xx

  7. Wow, you've read a lot! I was on a roll with the reading and then the last several months I've been uninspired.. the last book was so good I didn't know what to read next. The Light Between Oceans was great! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  8. I do enjoy your book round ups as you have such a varied and eclectic reading list. I read Four Letter of Love years ago and remember liking it but not much else. I may still have it on the bookshelf somewhere! I have recently read A List of My Desires which was short but very thought provoking.

  9. Hmmm, a talking foetus describing lovemaking? I think I'll give that one a miss. I always find your book posts really interesting as your read such a wide variety of topics. There's some great children's and your adult books out there, The Graveyard Book sounds like one to put on the list.

  10. Wow, I have enjoyed Ian McEwan in the past, but your description of that book has put me off somewhat! I haven't read Neil Gaiman but have a few on the shelf yet to be opened!x

  11. I have the graveyard book on my June pile! I'm struggling with reading time at the moment though so not even sure I'm going to finish the May pile yet! I love Beetle Boy last year and recently read Beetle Queen!

  12. I love finding out which titles other people are reading/recommending. The Power sounds interesting. I'd quite like to develop that particular ability. I'm still immersed in Scandi noir, some of it a bit too noir at times.

  13. I always struggle with Ian McEwan and will definately give this one a big miss! I read 'A Little Life' a month or so ago and still cant get it out of my head, absolutely brilliant. Reading 'A Reunion of Ghosts' for this month's book group, it hasnt grabbed my attention so far, but I think I need an uninterrupted hour or two to get into it- very hard to get that time! X


Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx