Happy Friday, firstly, yes, I’ve had an unexpected hiatus.
I haven’t posted in two weeks. In truth, I’ve struggled to find the time.
My God, I had forgotten how busy life can be, I also hadn’t anticipated just quite how exhausting having a social life can be especially on top of work. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like an exhausted pigeon over the past month, don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved seeing friends and family and generally being able to go places but I’m looking forward to a quieter weekend.
It has meant that the I spend on here has suffered, I’ve tried not to feel too guilty about it but I do hate the fact that I’m struggling to find the time and energy to write, something I love doing and need to make time for.
I am starting to accept that I am going to have to come up with some kind of writing and posting schedule. For someone who generally flits about without a plan in most aspects of life, with a general air of seeing what happens, this is a big admission (any tips on putting a schedule together will be gratefully received).
Anyway, let’s get back to the main point of this post, how the hell are we half-way through the year? Time flies when you’re coming out of pandemic.
I hadn’t set myself a reading target for the year, obviously I’d like to equal or better last year’s total of 53. As it stands, I’m behind, if my calculations are right….I’m five books behind. I’m not overly worried, I’ll be able to make them up at other points during the year.
The books I’ve read this year have been very different, some of them quite dark, the majority of them thrillers, I can’t pick a favourite one there are too many contenders here’s the highlights so far….
Do They Know It’s Christmas Yet?
I enjoyed reading this book so much.
It was funny, it was slapstick, it was not a Christmas book.
If you like the 80s, love nostalgia, miss woollies and just want to relax, laugh and smile at the end of a tough day then you will not go wrong with this book – loved it and loved the characters. I also think there could be a sequel and I’m here for it.
Best cliff hanger….
The Push. I have spoken to so many people about this book.
It’s about the darker side of motherhood.
Ashley Audrain takes us through three generations of women who can’t bond with their daughters. Blythe is convinced there’s something wrong with Violet. She’s convinced she’s evil and responsible for the ‘push’ at the centre of this book.
I wasn’t sure throughout if it was in Blythe’s head or if Violet was evil until that final sentence that left my jaw on the floor.
The book I couldn’t put down….
I have two here
The One and The End of Men.
The structure of these two and how they were written meant they were very difficult to put down.
The One is all about a simple DNA test that sees you matched with your perfect partner. It it follows five characters who have taken that quick swab test and looks at the questions it throws up and the potential problems it causes.
Each chapter focuses on one of the characters, each chapter usually ends on a cliff hanger meaning you’ve to tear through the next four chapters to get back to that particular story. Read my full review here
The End of Men is written in a similar way, each chapter focuses on one character, it’s about a global pandemic (I know) this virus kills men, women are carriers but aren’t affected.
Christina Sweeney-Baird wrote this long before Covid was a thing and to be honest she’s got amazing foresight; it was pretty accurate.
I loved how she examined the long-term effects on society and how do you rebuild when one gender has more or less been wiped out?
Book that made say “I never knew that”…..
It has to be Emprireland by Sathnam Sanghera.
This one taught me so much about the British Empire, stuff that I should really have been taught about at school.
From the theft of artifacts from other countries (artifacts we still haven’t returned) to Britain’s involvement in the slave trade (lads, we can’t take credit for helping end slavery without recognising how big a role played in it), Sanghera looks at the legacy of Empire, and the hangover of British exceptionalism – something that is on display today; all these people who say they won’t visit countries if they have to show a vaccine passport being a prime example….
News Flash a country’s government has the right to protect it’s people however it sees fit and if that is vaccine passport then so be it. Your need for a holiday does not trump the safety of others…..sorry to burst your bubble.
You’ll learn so much from this book about how we got to where we are today highly recommend.
Book that made me want to travel…
I have to be honest, I ALWAYS want to travel, I am not enjoying being stuck on this rock, for the time being books are the only way I can travel.
We are all birds of Uganda took me straight back to the sights, smells and noise of Uganda.
I love that country and Hafsa Zayyan captured it beautifully. It was also a really interesting story. It follows two timelines. In 1960s Uganda Hassan is struggling to keep his family business afloat in the climate of regime change, boycotts of Asian businesses and Idi Amin’s rise to power.
In modern day London Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a heritage he never knew.
It’s a story about racism, prejudice and loss of identity and it’s great.
The Great Believers. I mean just look at the colours, it’s beautiful.
I’m often drawn in by a bright colourful front page.
Again it’s got a great story to match.
In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.
Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter.
The book I keep telling everyone else to read
Girl A by Abigail Dean. There was so much hype around this book, and I was a bit concerned about whether or not it would actually live up to the hype, it did and more.
I was also surprised that it was set in the North West. It’s about Lex – Girl A – she’s known as the girl who escaped her parent’s house of horrors and saved her siblings. They’d spent years being tortured and abused.
As an adult, Lex is told her mother has died and she’s been made executor of her will. It means she’s going to have to reconnect with her brothers and sisters and face what happened to them.
There is a twist that I didn’t see coming, I was gripped by this throughout and keep telling EVERYONE to read it.
Those are my highlights, a successful reading list so far with only one book I hated (really hated). Would love to know if you’ve read any of them and what your thoughts are. Here’s to the second half of 2021 – hopefully I’ll be more organised and be able to catch up with my reading.
Thanks for reading and happy weekend
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm