Recently Reading

Well, I’m sure this blog post is happy to be getting posted, finally!

We’ve had a marvellous weekend, and I’m feeling relaxed despite all we have to get on with this week. These books were read a few weeks ago, but personally that still counts as recent (because I said so and it’s my blog so I’ll be as demanding as I want).

On with the show! Please remember that I don’t like to give the plot to books away, so my critiques generally focus on whether I think a book is “readable” or not.


This week’s books had mediocre covers to say the least.

the other hand

“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.

Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it so we will just say this:

This is the story of two women.

Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice.

Two years later, they meet again – the story starts there…

Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.”

My lovely sister-in-law recommended this book to me. All she warned me was that it’s sad, because I hate sad books and like to be warned so I can steel myself. I was expecting the “terrible choice” to be more horrible, but I don’t know if that says more about me than about the blurb on the back… The story is intriguing and catches you up into itself, always wanting to know more, what happens next, how is it going to end? You can’t help but become emotionally involved in the characters, which gives the story progression even bigger impact. Chris Cleave has written a couple of other books that are on my “to read” list, but I keep putting them off because apparently they’re pretty miserable.

7/10: potentially unsatisfying

sweet tooth

“The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. Britain is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism. Serena Frome, in her final year at Cambridge, is being groomed for MI5.

Serena is sent on a secret mission – Operation Sweet Tooth – which brings her into the world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage – trust no one.”

This was one of those “If I buy this, I’ll get another one half price” purchases in Waterstones. You know, where you know that you’re going to buy it anyway but you spend 5-10 minutes talking yourself into why it’s a wise financial decision. Justifying yourself. I had been eyeing it up for a while after someone on Facebook said it was brilliant, so I bought it and got stuck in as soon as I got home. I read it in under 20 hours (mid-week, so work and a small amount of sleep were both in there somewhere). Ian McEwan has a habit of being quite depressing, but this book was surprisingly uplifting and has an ingenious plot. My only criticism would probably be that the blurb implies more of a James Bond-esque set-up, which isn’t the case, but I’m pretty sure it’s the editors who write the blurbs normally so I can’t really judge Monsieur McEwan on that. Serena is, despite some foolishness, a likable main character. I can imagine this book making a good film.

8/10: “unputdownable”

the big over easy

“Dead bodies never look like this.

It’s Easter in Reading – a bad time for eggs – and the shattered, tuxedo-clad corpse of local businessman Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found lying beneath a wall in a shabby part of town. Humpty was one of life’s good guys – so who would want him knocked off? And is it a coincidence that his ex-wife has just met with a sticky end down at the local biscuit factory?

A hardened cop on the mean streets of the Thames Valley’s most dangerous precinct, Jack Spratt has seen it all, and something tells him this is going to be a tough case to crack…”

This is the first book in a series of Jack Spratt “Nursery Crimes” books. I first discovered Jasper Fforde by reading The Eyre Affair, which is the first of the Thursday Next series, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Jasper Fforde is a literary genius, his books are full of the artfully crafted surreal and absurd. Puns layered upon puns, wordplay of every kind. If you love literature, his books are a wonderfully hilarious and playful escapist way to kill a few hours. In terms of how compelling this book was to read, this wasn’t as good as The Eyre Affair and other things of his I’ve read, hence the low score.

6/10: he’s written better

Check out Charlotte’s Web, where this review format was originally used :)

What’s on your Recently Reading list? What do you think I should read and review over the next few months?


2 thoughts on “Recently Reading

  1. Thanks for the reviews. I really enjoyed them and am now quite keen to read “The Eyre Affair”. I’d previously heard about the Nursery Crime series but I may as well read the better book first. :)

    Recently I’ve read “Outlaw” by Angus Donald based around the Robin Hood legend but from the point of view of Alan Dale. I’ve since passed it on and the rest of the series are wish-listed.

    Also, I recently finished “Labyrinth” by Kate Mosse which was excellently written. I knew going into it the story line was based on the Grail stories so was a little afraid that it might start to annoy me theologically but I didn’t find that aspect of the book too intrusive. In any case, I came away with a greater interest in finding out what the Cathars believed.

    Currently, I’m reading “Henry: Virtuous Prince” by David Starkey and finding it a very good read. It’s great to get a different side to Henry VIII than just his six wives. I’m just after watching “The White Queen” series and reading a few Wikipedia articles about the War of the Roses so it put me in the mood to fish out this book that I bought ages ago and kept putting off.

    Did you review “Bring up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel yet? I would definitely be interested in reading a review of it.

    • I have a couple of others in the Thursday Next series that I’m going to be reading soon. I haven’t actually read very much at all over the past couple of weeks due to being in the middle of a job change and trying to get decorating finished!

      Ahh I’ll have to check that out – we live in Robin Hood country so it’s probably mandatory for everyone round here to have read at least one Robin-related book!

      I’ve heard Kate Mosse is quite good, I think I picked up a couple of her books in a charity shop a while back. I read the Dan Brown/Robert Langdon series a few months ago and they were gripping but awfully written and the theological stuff really irritated me.

      I have a few of “The White Queen” books, purchased in a mad Amazon spree one irresponsible morning when I was bored at work; I haven’t started reading them yet.

      Ahh, Hilary Mantel. No, I haven’t reviewed them yet! I haven’t finished Wolf Hall because it all got a bit mad, I’ll blog about it when I review it. I’ll try and get both of them read and reviewed in October :)

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