This is a book I am ashamed to say has been on my shelf for quite some time. I had meant to pick it up for ages, but I just never got the chance. However, 2021 was the year – and what a fantastic read it was.
Michelle Obama is a woman who I have admired for a long time. She has always just seemed to present herself in such a calm, professional but determined manner. Someone who appears as truly supportive of her husband and, of course, loves her family. I am so pleased that, as I read this memoir, that is exactly who Michelle Obama is.
This book tells us about Michelle Obama’s childhood in Chicago and the determination she had to go to university and gain a career for herself. It is clear how her early life influenced her values and attitudes as she met her future husband and started a family of her own.
We learn about her life as First Lady, as her husband Barack Obama takes the role of American President for two terms. It is clear that she keeps her values at the front of everything she does and always works to contribute as positively as she can to a country she loves.
As a teacher, it really struck me how highly Michelle Obama regards education of all kinds, but especially education of girls all around the world, to ensure that they reach their full potential.
This book is a really inspirational read. Michelle Obama writes in an engaging manner with warmth, emotion and charm. I really don’t know why I waited so long to read this book – so, if you have ‘Becoming’ on your shelves, pick it up because it really will be a highlight.
Yesterday, my little book blog was four years old. I should really have posted yesterday, but I got a little caught up in the Inauguration.
So, why did I start my book blog? That is a very simple answer: I absolutely love books. Ever since I was a child, collecting books was one of my favourite hobbies. I just loved reading and having bookshelves full of pretty books. One of my favourite places to visit was pretty much any bookshop – especially if I was lucky enough to have a book token to spend, too.
And, as I have got older, not a lot – well, let’s be honest – absolutely nothing has changed. I love books, and I simply want to share my love of books with others. I don’t claim to be an expert blogger, or a particularly good book reviewer. However, if I can share a book that others might be inspired to read, then that is a win.
I do also make a decision to only share books I have enjoyed, and that is because if I do not enjoy a book, I probably ‘do not finish’ it.
If you have something that you are passionate about, why not share your thoughts with others? You never know – you may inspire someone to try something new.
This month’s choice from ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club’ was ‘I Give It A Year’ by Helen Whitaker.
This was a beautiful read in January. Iris has discovered that her husband has been having an affair and, as a result, they decided that they will give the relationship a year before making any final decisions. Now, I realise that may sound like a strange concept to be a perfect January read; however, it really is. As Iris works her way through the year, she goes on a real journey of self-discovery. She finds out a lot about who she has become and how her different realtionships have developed – even though she may have missed it or did not realise it. After Iris’ challenging year, she comes out with a new-found confidence but also a better understanding of the world around her and the people she shares it with.
It is quite an emotional read at points, and I think it will be a different emotional read for each reader, as it tackles quite a range of subjects. For me, personally, I found the dementia stroyline a real tear-jerker. However, for others, it may be one of the different relationship threads.
Yet, this is a really enjoyable book that presents a wonderful study of relationships and character, with a wonderfully strong female lead. It has been a joy to discover a new author at the start of a new year – and can not wait until book club.
I have been lucky enough to be gifted a copy of ‘Your Neighbour’s Wife’ as part of a Tandem Collective UK readalong. What a gift it has been to read this novel at the start of a second very strange year.
One of my absolutely favourite novels is ‘Man and Boy’ by Tony Parsons, but I had never read any of his thrillers. And it is fair to say that I have been missing out, as Parsons can pen an excellent thriller.
As I always mention, writing about thriller novels can be difficult because I never want to risk letting any spoilers slip out. So, what I am going to say is that this is a real page-turner. I genuinely struggled to put this down, as it builds so many fascinating mysteries as the story unfolds. Secrets, lies and mysteries relating to every single character (other than the lovely and innocent Marlon and Buddy the dog) have you drawing all sorts of conclusions, rightly or wrongly. And you really are surprised as some of these are revealed to you.
Also, as Tony Parsons does so well, there is an interesting study of relationships throughout this book. Romantic relationships, family relationships and friendships all come under the microscopeas we follow the thrilling tale from start to finish.
So, in conclusion of you are looking for a new, tense thriller for 2021, then this is the book for you.
The second book second book of 2021 was one that caught my attention on that lovely bookish TV show ‘Between the Covers’. It just sounded like a fascinating crime thriller. And it was!
To begin with, I thought this tale was a little slow. Two sisters, each blaming the other for the murder of their father – and each having called 911. Yet, as the tale progressed, the pace and tension picked up dramatically as Eddie Flynn and his team investigate their defense of Sofia Avellino and new kid on the block Kate investigates her defense of Alexandra Avellino. I really can not talk much about the story, as I do not want to give away any spoilers, other than to say it’s a very well-crafted thriller that becomes a real page-turner. There is quite a collection of characters who you do become quite invested in. And Cavanagh really does manage to manipulate your beliefs about some of the key characters – even if you do not realise it.
Steve Cavanagh has become an author who I would like to read more from. I did not realise that there had been a number of adventures for Eddie Flynn before this one. I guess that is always the joy of reading – you can always make new discoveries of new stories.
This also allowed me to tick off a little bonus prompt from ‘The Unread Shelf Project’, as ‘the unread book most recently acquired’.
The Unread Shelf Project 2021 has influenced my choices for my reads this year. The January prompt ‘A Book with High Expectations’, so I decided to take ‘The Nickel Boys’ from my shelf.
This is a book that I have seen around a lot and, obviously, is one that I had wanted to read. However, I did not expect it to be a book that could become one of my favourite reads, but part of the joy of ‘The Unread Shelf Project’.
With a book like this, I am not sure that I can do it justice in my blog posts. ‘The Nickel Boys’ is inspired by the story of the Dozier School, a reform school in Flroida – and the reality of the experience of those who had to attend. I was concerned that this would be a difficult read; however, Whitehead’s handling of this tale is sensitive and thought-provoking. It is shocking that events described in the book were ever allowed to take place and be a part of America’s social history, but Colson Whitehead wants you to learn from this tale. His wonderful narrative style makes this a page-turner. Especially, as it becomes all too clear the part twists of fate really do play on the path some people have to follow.
This is a book that carries very high expectations, it is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and understandably so. Yet, it lives up to all of these expectations, as it is a truly fantastic novel and has been a great start to ‘The Unread Shelf Project, 2021’.
So, as this Ney Year was all about a big night in, we decided to share it with the ‘Mischief Movie Night In’. A night in brought to you by those wonderful people who bring us so many of those shows that go wrong – which are so right.
This is an online tickted show (of course) and is slightly different, as the wonderful ensemble bring you an improvised ‘movie’. They use ideas from the audience and Twitter to help them form their ‘movie’.
We were treated to the epic ‘Cat in the Habit’, a period romance set in a convent (had the audience been watching the latest BBC adaptation of ‘Black Narcissus’?) I could not possibly share the full story as I am not sure that I could put it all into words. However, I can tell you that the ensemble of the Mischief Theatre Company clearly have so much fun improvising these tales for the audience. It leads to all sorts of giggles throughout – especially when the director throws in the odd additional support, like a surprise musical number.
This was honestly such a charming and entertaining way to spend New Year’s Eve. It brought so much joy and happiness to the end of 2020 and definitely set the tone for a rather better 2021 (fingers crossed – I know it may not have started quite as we all hoped). And, really, hats off to all of those in the theatre and arts who have found new ways to bring joy to their audiences.
Even better news – there are more ‘Movie Night Ins’ heading online for us this January.
‘The Thursday Murder Club’ was my last read of 2020 – and one I had been really looking forward to – it was a joy to find under the Christmas tree.
There is always a fear that, when a book has been surronded by hype, it may not be what you expect. However, this fear was not realised with this book. ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ is a perfect piece of cosy crime fiction from start to finish. A joy to read and quite a page-turner.
You may have heard Richard Osman speak about a retirement village would be the place to find ‘The Thursday Murder Club’, as there is such a variety of skills and people in the place. Ande that is certainly true of his four key characters: Ibriham, Ron, Joyce and Elizabeth. Possibly not a quartet who would usually spend time together, but their love of cold case crime solving leads them to become quite the powerhouse when there are not one but two murders on their door step.
I found this such a joy to read. You feel as though you are on an adventure with the characters. The style of writing is like a soothing voice to bring that cosy crime genre to life.
This novel is a wonderful piece of escapism – and could well the equivalent of a warm hug in the form of a book.
Possibly my proudest moment of 2020 reading, or possibly of my reading ever, is the fact that I have read ‘Les Miserables’ (along with a lovely group of bookstagrammers).
This is a story that I am sure so many of us think we know thanks to the wonderful musical, or maybe more recently the BBC dramatisation. I certainly thought that I knew and loved the story. However, I was wrong. For obvious reasons (mainly the length of the book), the musical is an adaptation of the tale and excludes parts of the story. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that but I would now certainly recommend that you take the chance to read the book to enrich your understanding of the tale.
This book holds a beautiful story; a chance Victor Hugo has taken to pass comment on the France he was exiled from and the society it was becoming. There are some chunks of history used to contextualise some of the characters and events – however, if they are not for you, it is possible to skim-read those sections. Yet, for me they were part of the rich tapestry of the book.
Jean Valjean has become one of my favourite characters in literature. Quite a complex character but demonstrating some of the best characteristics of human nature, yet he is considered (by true identity) to be one of the worst members of society. Overall, I found him a hero who Hugo seems to think is a victim of the society he has the unfortunate luck to be part of.
All the characters Hugo creates are so alive on every page. They have so much about them – they are all fascinating characters.
This book is simply beautiful. Please do not be put off because it is rather large. It is a story that we can all enjoy and possibly learn a little about ourselves from. So, if you can, pick up ‘Les Miserables’, because it could well become one of your favourite reads – as it has for me.