The other day, when reading the lovely Mama Owl blog I came across her 50 book challenge and straight away I wanted to become a part of this. I am not sure I will make the 50 books grand total, but as Mama Owl says "It's not a race or a competition, just a gentle personal reminder to make time for ourselves to enjoy reading". So do take a look at her #50Books2013 and join in if you would like to.
I promise I won't give away any plot lines in my brief reviews, I'm just going to share my thoughts on the books.
So far this year (and thanks to a good dose of flu over Christmas, rendering me unable to do anything much other than read!) I have read three books.
#1. Is it just me? Miranda Hart
If you love Miranda, you will love this book. It is an honest, down to earth, witty series of observations on every day experiences. She writes as she talks, with numerous 'amaze-balls' and 'gorge's thrown in. So much so that they have crept into my day-to-day language now, leaving colleagues in meetings with me at work looking slightly puzzled when I talk about our latest amaze-balls bid!
While it is easy to laugh along with Miranda, there is in the book a kind of sadness at times, when you realise that her applaudable ability to laugh at herself also stems from her awkwardness and self-consciousness. Her approach seems to be to laugh at herself so that when others do it isn't so hurtful. Something I can definitely relate to.
One of the things I love about this book is how she makes the reader feel very valued and appreciated. There is no showbiz/celebrity edge or one-upmanship. And it is her ability to notice the small stuff in every day routines, that led me to start writing my blog and appreciating and noticing the little things in life.
#2. The Kingmaker's Daughter Philippa Gregory
I'm a bit of a Philippa Gregory fan, so prepare for a slightly biased review! This is the latest in her Cousins' War series, which chart the period of the Wars of the Roses leading up to the rise of the Tudors. This book focuses on Earl of Warwick's (aka the Kingmaker) daughter, Ann Neville.
As usual Gregory tells the story from the woman's perspective. Given these were times where the men called the shots, and women were merely vessels bringing conflicting houses together through marriage or for producing male heirs, it is so interesting to see how the women of the time had perhaps more control than it would first appear.
Ann Neville married King Richard III, making this an even more fascinating read in light of the recent discovery of his skeleton in a car park in Leicester. Unlike the popular, Shakespearean, profile of Richard as a hunch-backed tyrant, Gregory portrays him as a strong, loyal man, and she makes it easy to believe him to be so.
These were gruesome times, there is no doubt, and the lot of a woman was a hard one, especially the accounts of child-birth. But the book also shows in contrast how strong the women were.
I have read the other books in this series first, and whilst it would be possible to read this as a stand-alone book I know I got more from it having first read 'The White Queen' and 'The Red Queen'.
#3 Explosive Eighteen Janet Evanovich
This is book number 18 in the series of Stephanie Plum novels, and believe me when I say that they just keep on getting better! I know, how mad is that? I mean 18??
You could read this without having read the other 17 books, but you probably wouldn't get as much from the threads that run through all the books - especially the love triangle the heroine finds herself in with hunky cop Morelli, and the tall, dark, handsome and mysterious Ranger.
Set in New Jersey, Stephanie is a bounty hunter, and a not so great one at that, but she has amazing instincts and a fantastic side-kick in Lula (not to mention her hilarious grandma). There are so many laugh-out-loud moments, you will get strange looks from those near you!
Plum is accident-prone, eats junk food, struggles to make enough money to pay the rent - so in essence is 'real' and the type of girl you can imagine being friends with! She somehow bumbles through her job, and solves many a crime puzzle en route.
It really is well-worth a read - it is easy-going and fun...and has two hot guys in it...what more can I say?!
I am now reading 'Winter in Madrid' by C J Sansom, which is challenging me as I know very very little about the Spanish civil war and Franco! I will post about that when I have finished, but I may be some time....
I am always looking for good recommendations so if you have any to add my reading list, please do comment below.
As always, thank you for reading.