The book for March from ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club‘ was ‘All my Mothers’ by Joanna Glen. This was a book that I knew nothing about, other than that it had a stunning cover – which does reflect what a truly beautiful and heartbreaking book this is.
Eva is not sure that her Cherie is really her mother. She does not feel entirely like she belongs in London – and definitely feels more closely linked to her father’s Spanish roots. Her ‘pink’ mother just does not seem to be like other mothers – and their relationship does not quite seem to be as Eva imagines a mother and daughter relationship should be.
As she grows up, she starts to find out family secrets and embarks on a journey of self-discovery, looking for who she really is. Eva forms friendships and relationships that teach her so much along the way and, although it is not an easy journey to find her roots, it is an important one.
I do not want to give any spoilers in this review. However, I will confirm that it is beautifully written and its use of short, sharp chapters makes it very engaging as it breaks down Eva’s experiences. She is a wonderful lead character and you do feel very privileged to be part of her story.
I would probably not have read ‘All My Mothers’ without the brilliant ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club’, because it just would not be my usual kind of pick; however, I would certainly have missed out, which does encourage me again to start to read a little more out of my comfort zone. And Joanna Glen is certainly an author that I would love to read more from.
My lovely friend Mrs S has been trying to get me to read more fantasy books for a long time now. So, we agreed to buddy read ‘Sabriel’ by Garth Nix, which is a title that Mr Bookwormandtheatremouse has been trying to get me to read for a long time.
And, as usual, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I, in fact, have to admit that I really enjoyed it. I was worried as I started it that it may be a bit slow and just a lot of scene-setting (over-description is something that has often put me off fantasy as a genre) but once the action picked up, I was hooked. Sabriel is a fantastic lead character, I mean who does not love a strong female character who can use magic and fight dark magic? I do think I may have to return to the book to fully grasp everything that went on, but it was a brilliant read – and according to Mr Bookwormandtheatremouse my regular summaries were correct. Interestingly, for a book that is nearly 30 years old, it did feel like modern fantasy and does not appear to have aged (although, I am not an expert).
I will definitely be reading the next book, in a buddy read again, as I have to know what else goes on. This does mean that I seem to be gradually becoming more and more accepting of fantasy books – which is something that I never thought would have happened, as I have always been very anti-fantasy. But it seems to me that Mrs S may be getting her way and turning me into some kind of fantasy fan – well, YA fantasy; I am not sure I can go much more serious than that right now.
Has anyone managed to convince you to start to change your reading habits?
I was lucky enough to be selected for a readalong of ‘Reputation’, the new book from Sarah Vaughan, with a great collection of bookstagrammers. Tandem Collective UK kindly gifted me a copy of the book too, and what a great read it is.
Sarah Vaughan has brought us a chilling thriller for our time – in fact, rarely does a story feel quite as relevant as this one did as I was reading it. Emma is an MP, fighting for women’s rights and against the terrible treatment some women face at the hands of some men. However, once she appears on the cover of the Guardian magazine, it appears to give keyboard warriors the chance to tear into Emma and her reputation. And, that becomes just the start of the issues for Emma and her family…
This thriller is difficult to put down, especially as it sadly reflects so much we have seen in the news in recent years and months. Sarah Vaughan creates an incredible atmosphere in her writing which makes you feel you are with Emma, experiencing what she she is experiencing. You understand Flora’s fears and stresses, and a young teenager dealing with relationships – and navigating the world of social media. And you will be left thinking about your own actions – and the real importance of reputation, and the difference the simple act of kindness can make.
I have to admit that I read ‘Little Disasters‘ about a year ago, which was a reasonable story, but ‘Reputation’ is an incredible read. One that really will make you reflect on the society that we live in and actually if we can make a difference by showing some support to those around us every day – and remembering that everyone has feelings, even if you do not agree on everything.
I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ by Bonnie Garmus, and I was over the moon, as this is a book that I have seen all over bookstagram and was very keen to read. Oh, and Bonnie Garmus will be at the April ‘Tasting Notes Live’ from the Book Taster so I was even more excited to get stuck in.
This book is such a joy to read and brilliantly tackles social issues of the 1960s. Set in California, Elizabeth is a brilliant chemist with a passion for science, but her gender is holding her back, as those around her do not believe that women should be in science and academia – and that includes some of the women around her. As Elizabeth deals with the fact that she wants to break those social stereotypes, she falls in love, loses her love and discovers that she is pregnant, making her a unmarried single mother in a world where these things are just not done. However, her destiny takes another path as Elizabeth unashamedly continues to be just herself, inspiring many around her to do exactly the same.
This is not all that is in this book: there is also an element of mystery as Elizabeth’s daughter decides to try and find out about her father’s past. Oh, and ‘Half Past Six’ the dog has a voice too – which is not quite as strange as it sounds. In fact, it is perfection.
I am not sure I can do this book justice. I do have to confess that it was a little bit of a slow burn for me but, once it hooked me in, I could not put it down. I just wanted to make sure that Elizabeth, her family and friends got the stories they deserved. It will definitely have you cursing the constraints on women in the past and make you realise that we have come some way – but maybe not quite as far as we all hope we have.
So, if you want to read something with brilliant characters, a lovely story and an important message, then I really recommend that you pick up a copy of the lovely ‘Lessons in Chemistry’.
The February pick for ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club’ from The Book Taster was ‘Love Life’ by Nancy Peach. And this was a perfect book for the month of romance, especially if you are fan of a good old-fashioned love story – although with a little bit of a twist.
The setting of the story is a hospice, which may not be your usual setting for a romantic tale, but this is where Tess, a pallative care doctor, is reintroduced to Edward, the son of a patient and the one, you may say, who got away. As they both navigate the trials and tribulations of life and death, they are thrown together and may have a chance to rekindle a romance that never quite took off many years before.
Although this is a romance, it is also more than that. It tackles the ideas of grief (I may have shed a tear), identity and relationships, between friends and family as well as in a romantic sense. It is an enjoyable read – although the inner voices of Tess are a little ‘marmite’, so you may have to make your own mind up about them. And I bet you read one of them in the voice of a certain daytime TV host.
So, if you fancy a bit of escapism with a heart, grab a cuppa and a treat, and pick up ‘Love Life’.