What I've been reading: May and June

My reading seems to go through peaks and troughs, runs of lots of good books and then some books I enjoyed less.  These past two months have seen significantly more of the former than the latter, which is good!

I didn't realise when I requested The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse* via NetGalley that it's the first in a trilogy, and the other books aren't yet available (this one has only been out a matter of weeks).  Normally, I try to leave a series until I can read the whole thing, as it annoys me when I can't read the end first (bad habit I've always had).  So the ending of this book isn't the end of the trilogy (unless there are some massive twists and turns to come!) and I was left a bit confused.  But if we ignore that bit, the rest is pretty good.  Set in 16th century France, there are some strong female characters who try to make sense of, and survive, the religious arguments and clashes throughout the country.  If you liked other books Mosse has written you'll probably like this one - I'll definitely be reading the other books when they are released as I want to know what happens next!

Back in April, I signed up to Send Someone Awesome A Book Day - you were paired up with someone and you sent each other two or three books based on reading preferences.  One of the books I received was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which was excellent.  Absolutely excellent.  I have a love-hate relationship with YA books, I seem to find them either brilliant, or terrible, and I haven't yet quite worked out how I know which category a book will fall into.  When I posted a photo of this book on social media I got lots of comments from people saying how much they'd enjoyed it too, and it really is.  The Sinclairs are seemingly perfect, very wealthy, and spend their summers on their own island.  Something happens to Cadence during her 15th summer on the island, and the book is set mainly during the 17th summer when friends and relatives 'help' her to remember and talk about what happened.  Which doesn't sound like much, but it's definitely a page turner!

Vikki read How Not To Be a Boy by Robert Webb earlier this year and loved it, so when I saw a copy at Mum's, I pounced.  Vikki was right to love it, as it's an excellent read.  Covering his childhood and years at university, he recounts some memories and experiences whilst reflecting on what it means/meant to be a boy.  Some very interesting ideas, and some very funny stories!

Earlier this year I was helping Mum sort through some books that belonged to my grandparents.  Some we gave away but some we've kept.  This copy of A Daughter of Adam by Corra Harris has my mum's grandmother's name written in the front and dated 1920.  For some reason, this book doesn't exist on GoodReads.  A land owner's daughter moved to New York to write, but has to return home to look after her poorly father, and tries to make a new life for herself.  Lost my attention, but I can be a fussy reader.  I wonder whether my relatives had read and enjoyed it, or not?

In June I met up with a friend for lunch in London.  She gave me The Lido by Libby Page which she had read and loved.  She'd been given it from Char, who also loved it, so I had high hopes!  It is such a great book, I read it in a day.  In essence, a lido (open-air swimming pool) is threatened with closure, and the community join together to try and save it.  I grew up in Cambridge, one of the few places left with a lido and I spent many happy sunny days there. 

Genesis by Will Trent was a Christmas present from Ben, part of the '3 for £1' deal at our favourite charity shop.  He admits this was a bit of a gamble, and he was right to think like that - I didn't enjoy it. Not helped by it being I think the third book in a series so I didn't particularly understand some of the characters' relationships.

The Understudy by David Nicholls was another Christmas book from Ben.  He remembered I'd enjoyed One Day and he thought I might like this.  Which I did!  Not sure it was quite as laugh out loud funny as the cover suggests, but it is funny in places.  Unsurprisingly, judging from the title, the story follows an understudy whose family life is a bit chaotic.  Understated and enjoyable and has already been requested by a friend to pass on to her!

When I was last in Cambridge I had a wander round the charity shops - I find some of these shops a bit too expensive.   Some have a great selection but I don't want to pay £2.99 for a second hand paperback.  I was delighted when I went into Mind and saw they had 3 for 2 on all their books, and an excellent selection.  Usually I find two books I like straightaway but take some time choosing a third.  This time, I found three I wanted immediately, and went out of the shop to go and get some cash out so I could purchase them!  I've wanted to read This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay for ages, and it didn't disappoint.  He used to be a doctor (mainly obstetrics and gynaecology) and has quite a few stories to tell.  It's both sad and heartwarming, and he handily explains medical terminology so you understand what's happening.  It's also laugh out loud funny (especially at places when you think it really shouldn't be!).  I saw on Twitter that's it's been commissioned for a BBC programme and I'm looking forward to that!

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult was another book from Mind - she's one of my favourite authors and you know what you're getting with her books: a good plot, great characters, and thought-provoking ideas and ethics.  This one features a missing mother, a psychic, and a lot of elephants, which may sound odd, but I think worked quite well.  Not my favourite book of hers (I think that would have to be The Pact) but enjoyable nonetheless.  I also learned a lot about elephants.

So, that was May and June.  Onwards!


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