July/August Reads & A New Reading Challenge

As per usual, the summer saw my books covered in a dusting of sand and suncream. I caught up slightly on some of my To Be Read pile, but as ever, it keeps on growing.

When God was a Rabbit review

When God Was A Rabbit – Sarah Winman

I’d had this book as a TBR for ages since winning it on ReadIt,SwapIt. For some reason, the title put me off slightly – I’m wondering if more people might have picked the book up if the title were different. I haven’t got a problem with reading religious books but I pick my time carefully. The book wasn’t about God btw – the main character actually owned a rabbit named ‘God’ – or maybe we were supposed to think deeper and associate the pet with being looked after by God?

The story itself was a sweet, a sister and brother growing-up and how their relationship and lives develop (I think the trendy term is ‘coming-of-age’) I’ve always been intrigued about the relationships between brother and sister – all I know is girls having 3 of my own and 2 sisters but no brothers. I can’t tell you if the book is a realistic snapshot of how a brother and sister communicate and love each other, but it felt real and pleasurable to read.

I really enjoyed the book, it got me through a pretty rough ferry crossing. I would love to read something else by Sarah Winman but cannot see that she has anything published or even soon to be published.

4 out of 5

  Police Crime 999 book review

Police, Crime and 999 – John Donoghue

This is a book I’ve seen around on Twitter for a while – with incredible reviews. I downloaded it on my Kindle and made the mistake of scanning the first few pages – before I knew it I was 3 chapters in and roaring. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a laugh out loud person when reading, unless something is REALLY funny – well, this book is!

I was doing that really annoying thing of reading excerpts out to Derm, they are never as funny unless you are reading the book but you have to try!

4 out of 5

red dust road jackie kay

Red Dust Road – Jackie Kay

I got this book as part of World Book Night and heard plenty of great reviews again. I saved it until my holidays actually wondering if it would be my sort of thing. The true story of a girl with a Scottish birth mother and a Nigerian birth father who is adopted. Jackie’s adoptive parents sound like right characters and I found myself wishing I could meet them as I read on. In the book, Jackie describes meeting both of her birth parents – Jackie’s experiences in Nigeria are incredible – I’m not going to spoil it but it is worth reading to find out.

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a 5 star rating was that around 3/4 of the way through I struggled to keep focussed. I wanted to finish the book and wanted to really love it, as by this point, I really liked Jackie, but it slowed down a little for me. I really wish I had been able to go to see Jackie Kay speak on World Book Night at St George’s Hall in Liverpool – I have the feeling she is fascinating to listen to.

4 out of 5

Clare Balding my animals and other family

My Animals and Other Family – Clare Balding

One of my very best friends, Paul, loved Clare Balding. He used to champion how great she is and what a fantastic TV presenter. I’m so sad that Paul is no longer with us to see a) how successful she has become and b) that we have finally had to agree with him and admit that Clare Balding is actually great.

I’m not a massive animal lover but I’m enough of a fan to want to see what her life was like growing up. Her Grandmother scared the wits out of me just in print. There were real laugh out loud bits (yes, again!) – Clare’s Grandmother certainly wasn’t the type to hold back on what she thought. I knew Clare was ‘posh’ but the accounts of being brought up around the stables and having The QueenMother for breakfast blew me away. There is even a brilliant photo of The Queen Mother and Clare’s family sitting around the family table, with The Queen Mother still with her hat on.

There is a lot in the book about animals but it still interesting to read. I have seen other reviews that criticise Clare for not writing enough about her tv career but I actually wasn’t surprised by how much was included in the book. The title spells out that the majority is going to be about her upbringing – Clare hardly appears the celebrity lifestyle chaser and so I could not expect too much name dropping. A great read.

4 out of 5

Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker

Everyone has to take a Richard & Judy on holiday with them, don’t they? This is my second of the 2013 Summer Reads and I wasn’t disappointed.

I am intrigued how an author comes up with an idea like making each day a little bit longer. I kept waiting for the story to lose impact and for me to become bored but it didn’t happen. I sped through the book and couldn’t wait to see how it ended. This was definitely a read that I wished I could talk about with someone else who had read it so perhaps it is a good book group choice? I have kept thinking about the concept afterwards – Highly Recommended!

5 out of 5

Kate Morton The Secret Keeper

Its been ages since I read any Kate Morton. I think enjoyed the last couple of her books that I read but found this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations. A saga and a book that I really hoped to get my teeth into. This was a book that took stamina though – Perhaps its me, I am finding that I get impatient with very long books at the moment as time seems so precious and there are so many other books that I want to read aswell. I am just sometimes feel that extra long books feel a little indulgent on the author’s part – they are expecting the reader to really commit to working their way through their offering. (Don’t get me started on my dilemma over whether to read The Luminaries or not!)

There were some really good elements of the book that kept me going – the historical elements were for me the best bits. I needed to find out what had happened between Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy and had a massive feeling that something awful was going to happen. I just wished the story kept my interest for longer – I had to keep pushing myself on to keep going.

I’m giving it a very generous 4 out of 5 stars – its probably more like 3.5 but this seems a bit mean considering the end was rather clever!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

This is a book that I’m really glad I have read. I am shocked that I knew nothing about Henrietta Lacks and how important her cells have been in changing history and our lives now. Every now and then a book comes along that as I reading it, tells me that I need to know this. This book was one of those times.

Its not an easy book to read – there is a lot of medical terminology particularly in the middle but Henrietta Lacks is not a name I’ll forget in a hurry after reading about her.

4 out of 5

the beach house jane green

The Beach House – Jane Green

You couldn’t get two more different books than these. I know that Jane Green is a worldwide best seller and incredibly popular. I’ve read tons of her books myself. I was so disappointed by this book though. I’m certain my reading tastes have changed and that perhaps I just need a little bit more out of a book but I’m also believe that this was certainly not one of her best. It felt very Danielle Steele like and I had a throwback to my uni years when I used to devour DS. The storyline felt so predictable and forced – are we really supposed to believe it when people accidentally meet at an airport with an incredible bond? And really, not everyone who endures heartache is truly beautiful – or maybe they are in Jane Green’s world?

3 out of 5 stars – again, maybe a little generous!

I mention in this post title about a new reading challenge. You may remember absolutely ages ago I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books before I was 40. Well, that milestone came and went … and I failed! I didn’t foresee how I would go ‘off’ reading books when I was having Tara and how difficult it would be to get back into reading. I am loving my books once again though and have started planning ahead … to my 50th! Yes, I know its 10 years away but you can never be too organised. I’m setting myself the challenge of reading 500 books by the time I am 50 – anyone care to join me in a challenge for the next 10 years?

Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads and see how I’m doing with the challenge.

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