Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Year in Books | March 2015

I read seven very different books in February. Well, I didn't finish Wolf Hall until late last night, but I'm counting it as a February read!
I wanted to start reading biographies again so chose two at random from the library.  A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard was a traumatic read, more explicit in places than I was expecting and not my usual choice.  It is the story of the life lived by the author after she was abducted at the age of 11 and held captive for 18 years.  Lion's Head, Four Happiness by Xiaomei Martell told of the author's childhood, growing up in China during the cultural revolution.  It was mostly told through her memories of food and gave the reader some idea of the culture, but frustratingly little real detail.  It was full of long descriptions of the food, but not enough information to allow you to make the meals yourself and the narration remained quite dispassionate throughout the book;  you didn't get a real feel of any of her feelings for her family or friends.  I don't think I will be recommending either of these to anyone.
On next to the Angie Sage books - I read three of the Septimus Heap series, Magyk, Flyte and Physik, and have the remaining four to read in March.  They are written for children and I read them because I promised some of the children I teach that I would.  They've been nagging me to read them for some time, and as they are leaving the school in the summer, I thought it was time to get them read.  According to the children, they are better than the Harry Potter books!  Having read three of them I can't say I agree with that statement but they are well written and, as with lots of well written children's literature, can also be enjoyed by adults.  I will finish the series but admit that, enjoyable as each book is, I probably wouldn't have bothered to read these if I hadn't made that rash promise! 
One book I will recommend is The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall, which tells the story of Beth's childhood and teenage years.  The reader learns her story through the memories of the seven wonderful summers Beth spent in Hungary with her mother, following the breakdown of her parent's relationship. I can't really say too much more without spoiling it for anyone else, except to say that the twist at the end was not at all what I expected, but was very believable.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will look for other's by the author.
My final book was Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I'm not sure what to say about it!  I love this period of history; I studied it for my A level and at university, and over the years have read many history books which dealt with the events mentioned in this book.  This book was a demanding read - at first I thought it was because it was strange for me to be reading a fictional version of the events where the characters I'd studied were brought to life through the author's imagination, but quickly decided that it was the style of writing that bothered me.  It's written in the present tense and events are seen through Thomas Cromwell's eyes, which I didn't particularly enjoy.  The reader has to realise that the 'he' being referred to is usually Cromwell but there was often more than one male in a scene, and I had to keep re-reading paragraphs to work out which 'he' was which.  After reading some of the reviews on Goodreads I can see that others have the same complaints about the book.  However, despite the style of writing, I did enjoy the insight into the details of Tudor life and will probably read the other books in this series.
In March I'll be reading Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey,  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August  by Claire North, and the rest of the Angie Sage books.

Linking with The Year in Books, organised by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees.


  1. an interesting mix. I gave up on WolfHall after a few chapters as I found it such hard work and already knew what happened to the characters. I'll add The Book of Summers to my list, thanks

  2. Ooh I read the Angie Sage ones a few years ago, I remember quite enjoying them but I don't think I've actually read the most recent ones (think it's Darke and Fyre I'm missing). I really enjoyed the Harry August one as well, an intriguing plotline and science-y but not too much (if that makes any sense) :-) xx

  3. A very eclectic mix of reads. I've heard so much about Wolf Hall both as series and the books I may just have to add them to the wish list.

  4. I like the diversity of your reading list! I am not a big fan of biographies but every now and then I choose to read one. I won't be going for the two you read, I don't think. I really enjoyed both your March books, they are very different. I did feel a bit haunted by 'Elizabeth is missing', Maud's first person narrative seemed so real. I enjoyed Claire North book, it was a good mix of fantasy and reality. I just finished her new book, 'Touch'. x