The Power – Naomi Alderman

Over February and March, I’ve been participating in the #readforwomen hashtag on Instagram, set up by sarasreadingdiary to celebrate the 100th anniversary of some women getting the right to vote in the UK. This means reading only women writers for two months, which hasn’t been a struggle as I read a lot by women anyway. However, I have been more mindful than usual, trying to find books that might fit into the theme of feminism.

I kicked off with The Power, the book on everyone’s lips at the moment. And what a powerful start to the challenge! The novel explores a grim world where gender roles have been reversed Continue reading

Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

I grew up watching the 1968 film Oliver! but for some reason only bought a copy of the book last year. The magic of the film has stayed with me throughout my life. When I was little I loved the fact that it was both frightening and funny, and I still can’t get enough of the wonderful songs!

Perhaps because of the music and singing, I was always under the impression that Oliver Twist was a children’s book. However it’s much grittier and at times downright gruesome. There’s also less laugh-out-loud humour, which is replaced by sharp and dark satire. In fact, the book is simply dripping with sarcasm, showing Dickens’ total disgust of the workhouse and justice systems of the time. Continue reading

The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

I bought this book purely for its prettiness, but it turned out to be a situation of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.

I read it in November on my mini honeymoon to Český Krumlov, a fairytale-like town in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. I often crave dark, mysterious novels in the autumn and The Silent Companions sounded like just the thing, with reviews promising a haunting Gothic tale.

At first I thought I was in luck. The book was easy to get into with a sinister plot and an atmospheric setting. In fact, it kept my attention all through the train journey. However, after the scene had been set, I was disappointed to find the book was full of clichés and obvious plot twists. Continue reading

The Course of Love – Alain de Botton

This time last year, after popping the question to my boyfriend, a couple of family members recommended The Course of Love, telling me it was a must-read for all newlyweds. And in October this year, I finally picked it up, just in time for my wedding.

Although having previously never read any of his books, I’ve been a fan of Alain de Botton for a while, first discovering him through YouTube videos and articles on The Book of Life website. I like how he can open my mind up to new and different ways of thinking. He makes me want to learn and understand more about philosophy, but I can also really struggle with non-fiction, which is why this novel appealed to me. Continue reading

Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes

Have you ever wanted to simply drop everything and move to Tuscany? Well I have, many times! Reading Under the Tuscan Sun brought all those feelings back to me.

This book is a mixture of memoir, travel guide, recipe book and there’s also a good deal about house renovation, all told with the beautiful backdrop of Bramasole, the impressive house Mayes and her partner have taken on.

It was so easy to slip into the relaxed pace of this book and it’s exactly what I needed  a few months ago, during a particularly busy spell at work. Continue reading

Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson

The acorns and conkers decorating the cover of this book led me to believe it would be a perfect read to kick-off  the autumn. Human Croquet certainly had that fairy-tale quality that I crave when the weather turns, but I did feel that something was missing.

I’d hoped that Human Croquet would live up to the brilliance of Kate Atkinson’s more recent novel, Life After Life. Unfortunately I didn’t get off to a good start. In fact, it took about 90 pages to get into the book, even though I could see it had lots of promise. There was just about enough to intrigue me and keep me turning the pages, but it’s hard to ignore such a slow start. Continue reading

Further Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

The Tales of the City series makes for perfect summer reading, and my copy of the third installment got a lot of sun this year!

Further Tales takes us back to beloved 28 Barbary Lane and its inhabitants. Some time has passed since More Tales of the City, and there have been changes. The characters are moving on in their lives or careers. Most notably, Mary Ann, now a local shopping channel celebrity, is on a mission to become an investigative reporter. Loveable Michael is once again on the lookout for love and Brian is no longer flitting from girl to girl, but has ideas of settling down.

Of course, Barbary Lane would not be complete without the wonderful Mrs Madrigal who is ever the guardian angel looking out for her ‘children’. She has some brilliant scenes in this book, I only wish she could have featured a bit more! Continue reading