Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

December Books- 2018

Another good month in books for me, here’s my December list, enjoy.

Christopher Brookmyre- Quite Ugly One Morning- A crime novel set in Edinburgh. A lot of humour, some of the toilet and gallows variety, and  some rather gruesome scenes, treated to a bit of Lock Stock type humour. It made me laugh, but not sure I want more.

Erin Morgenstern- The Night Circus- Thank you everyone who gave this book the heads up. Well outside my usual taste in books and very enjoyable. Proper magic, a deadly contest, a love story, and a wonderful circus we would all adore to see. Pity it had animals but never mind. I loved it but I did think it a tad overlong, maybe some of the tents could have been missed out. Maybe not.

Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid’s Tale- Gosh. I didn’t watch the TV series, so I came to this fresh not really knowing what to expect. Not knowing now what to think. Kept having to remind myself that it was written in 1985. Almost believable that it could happen. Clamp down on society under the pretext of protecting us from radical Islam, believable. Preventing access to books and not letting women have access to education and books, believable. Infertility caused by nuclear accidents, chemicals, earthquakes, believable. Women behaving as the Aunts do towards other women, thinking of the Nuns and the Magdalene laundries, believable. A cashless society that enables women to have their bank accounts forcibly frozen, believable. This will take a lot of digesting I can see. I have also found out that Margaret Atwood is publishing a follow-up book next year. Well constructed and since the blurb on the back calls it a modern classic from the start, I am not arguing. Certainly one of my top five books read this year, and one from my 109 authors list ( see page).

Patricia Highsmith- Edith’s Diary- Patricia Highsmith is an author I had heard of, one I knew was  said to be good, and one I associated with crime. I came across this book whilst shelving books at the library, and it wasn’t categorised as a crime novel. I really enjoyed the book which written n the 1970s, but the action takes place from the 50’s to the 70’s. Edith does keep a diary, but maybe her written version of life takes on too rosy a glow. I don’t want to give you any spoilers as this is well written and thought-provoking. People don’t write quite so many diaries, but in these days of social media, there is a tendency to over emphasise the positive. I like that the book takes time to develop characters, it’s well written and highly enjoyable for what is actually quite a sad book.

Benjamin Markovits- You Don’t Have To Live Like This- This is set in Detroit. In case you didn’t know this city has become very rundown, the epitome of the malaise in the US that enabled the election of the President. Whole neighbourhoods have become derelict. The Snail of Happiness in her comment on my post regarding nature and the Nissan Hut left me a wonderful link to show how nature can reclaim buildings-here. They are worth looking at and made useful background for this novel. Greg Marnier is goes to a college reunion and meets an old friend Robert James. Robert James has made a fortune from his hedge fund and wants to get into politics as a democrat. He has a brilliant scheme to buy up properties in Detroit , and rent them out to companies for business, and individuals to regenerate the city, artists, academics, medics, restaurant owners. He holds fund-raising events and Obama attends one. But the scheme ignores the people who remained and the incomers were not really welcome. The book is interesting and takes a nice steady pace, which I realise now that I like care taken by an author to build a plot. My only slightly negative comment is that there are a lot of characters and I did lose track of  who everyone was. It was a good read.

David Nicholls- One Day. Emma and Dexter spend the night of their graduation ceremony together, having been mere friends throughout their years of studies. They go their separate ways. We catch up with them on the  same day- 15 July- for the next twenty years. Sometimes they spend the day together, sometimes we read a letter one or other wrote, sometimes it’s just a phone call, and occasionally they are too busy leading their own life to bother with the other. About 2/3rds of the way through the ending seemed inevitable to me, and it was. However, it was handled rather well I felt, and so I didn’t feel let down. It was a good, but not a great read.

And that I think is my last book for 2018. Have you read any of these, what did you think to them? I’m not certain yet how many I have read this year but I think it is marginally less than the last two years. Not that quantity matters a fig. I’ll review my top five books of this year in another post.

Meantime I hope you all had a peaceful and contented Christmas break. Were you gifted any books, if so do tell, were they surprises or ones you asked for and are itching to read. I reserved rather a lot of library books to tide me over the Winter and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on them over 2019.

Comments on: "December Books- 2018" (23)

  1. I began The Night Circus a few yeas ago! I found it beautifully written but maybe long-winded? I gave up halfway through. Cathy, you’ve made me want to read the Handmaid’s Tale. I do like a dystopian story. I’m always wary of people raving about the ‘latest book’ so I wasn’t interested earlier.

    At the moment I’m reading a steampunk book, The Alchemy of Stone, which I am enjoying.

    For Christmas I bought myself a new stumpwork book, Stumpwork Embroidery: Techniques and projects by Helen Richman. It is beautiful! A large softback book with photos and good explanations of needlelace etc. I’d been drooling over this book for a year, first waiting for its release and then awaiting for a slight price drop (I live on a strict budget due to health reasons). If you like stumpwork I’d recommend getting a copy or reading one from the library. xo

  2. Sounds like a good reading month. I read The Handmaid’s Tale when I was in my late teens and I remember being freaked out by it but loving it at the same time. I seem to remember I shed a few tears when I read One Day so much so that I totally avoided the film when it came out a few years ago! I was very lucky and got a few books in the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. They are such good stories and always make me smile. I’ve also got a book token so I think I will pick up the 4th book in the Outlander series with that. I hope you had a lovely Christmas 🙂

  3. I’m glad you liked ‘The Night Circus’, I was quite enchanted by it.
    I re-read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ recently but bought the paperback from a charity shop when I was over in the U.K. Somebody must have broken the spine at some stage so, every time i turned a page, it came out of the book in my hand.
    Kate Atkinson and William Boyd are two of my favourite authors and both published new novels recently. I couldn’t wait for them to come out in paperback so got Mr. T. to get the special editions they do at the airport. ‘Transcriptions’ by Kate Atkinson is about a young woman who was recruited by MI5 in WWII and, although it’s not my favourite of her novels, she is such an excellent writer, it’s still brilliant.
    ‘Love is Blind’ by William Boyd has a piano tuner as its central character – I’m not quite finished reading it but the journey has been excellent so far.
    As for gifts – I got one of those jokey Ladybird books about Brexit which is probably about as accurate as anything you read in the papers and a Dog Cookery book which I haven’t looked at yet but I assume means cooking for dogs rather than the unthinkable alternative.

    • I don’t think you would like to be making dog curry, but food for dogs sounds interesting. We had a Five escape from Brexit island last year, I don’t think either of us made it to the end. Some of Kate Atkinson’s books I have loved but others left me cold. The William Boyd sounds good.

      • Really?? Which ones left you cold – I can’t imagine it.
        The Ladybird Brexit is literally the size of the old hardback Ladybird books so, although the humour ran out of steam towards the end, it did only take about 5 minutes to read cover to cover. I like the bit that tells how Europe is so very different from Britain because, ‘for instance, their windows open inwards rather than outwards and it is almost impossible to buy Monster Munch in Bulgaria. No wonder we could not get along.’

        • I loved her first “Behind the scenes of the museum”, I think I then read Human Croquet which I was disappointed with, and I didn’t take to Jackson Brodie. I did like A God in Ruins and Life after Life.

  4. Lovely reviews, thank you! Yes, absolutely!, to answer your question. There are about five newbies and I’ll be reporting as they’re read. 😉

  5. I read The Handmaid’s Tale shortly after it was published, and told myself that it simply wasn’t possible in this bright and hopeful world. Now, 20+ years later, I find it all too believable since it seems to me the world’s treatment of women is going backwards instead of forwards, people are electing rabid bigots to high office and we continue to pollute our world to the point where it’s going to fight back very soon…
    I hope you had a good Christmas and that the New Year will be peaceful and hopeful 🙂

    • There was one page in the book that stated three new things for the reader, I think it was the one about governments trading on fear of Islam to restrict freedoms, and the cashless society, and freezing accounts, and I thought OMG that is now. I imagine that 20 years ago all that sounded unbelievable.

  6. Murtagh's Meadow said:

    You always read such a great range of books, very impressive. Have you read any other Margaret Atwood books? The most recent ones i read where the Orynx and crake series which appear to be set in the future. Her writing is amazing and her imagination fascinating. I must put handmaids tale on my list to read for 2019. Hope you had lovely Christmas.

  7. I read The Handmaids Tale back in the early nineties and was horrified with it. I didn’t realise at the time how prophetic she was being with her dystopian theme. It horrified me so much I couldn’t/wouldn’t read another Atwood book for many years. Then I watched the Tale on Netflix and saw how in less than three decades her vision has become all but true. And maybe the ‘true’ bit is just a matter of another decade or two.

  8. I think I will give the Handmaid’s Tale a whirl after I decrease the size of my wish list just a bit. I have two checked out right now, and have started one. I need to improve my knitting so that I can read and knit at the same time, like my Grandma Jacobson did!

  9. Thanks, Bookworm Cathy! Brookmyre absorbed me immediately, I’ve read all his books. Stumbled over him one day in the library and never looked back. I haven’t read THT but watched a few episodes of the tv series, which put me off entirely. Also, it doesn’t help that I can’t stand Elizabeth Moss. Atwood, however, is such a brilliant and innovative novelist that I think I should give the book a chance, after reading your comments.
    I hope you had a lovely Christmas xxx

    • THT was very good indeed. I kept thinking , yes this could really happen . Maybe I should try Brookmyre again, the opening scene of this book was just a bit too gory!
      Christmas was lovely, very calm and peaceful. I have been a good walk today and feel pleasantly relaxed and sleepy!

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