First up is Shards of Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold.
This is the second book by Lois McMaster Bujold that I've read recently, the first being The Warrior's Apprentice which is the first book about Miles Vorkosigan, Cordelia and Aral's son. Shards of Honour tells the story of how his parents met and is continued in Barrayar. This was altogether an excellent read. Cordelia is the sort of strong, resourceful female character I like to read about... every bit Aral Vorkosigan's equal and complementing him well with her more thoughtful approach to problems. There're quite a few plot twists, as the book progresses you can never quite guess what's going to happen and that for me was the joy of the book. I plan to read Barrayar next as I believe this deals with the problems of Miles's birth, plus the aftermath of a huge plot twist at the end of Shards of Honour. The series is about 16 books long and I'm hoping to get through quite a few of those this year.
Shards of Honour is my 5th. book for Carl's Sci-Fi Experience and my 3rd. book for Bev's 2014 Mount TBR Challenge.
Next, Darke by Angie Sage.
This is my grand-daughter's book, she's a big fan of the Septimus Heap books and owns them all. I've been borrowing them from her over the last few years and have read them all except the last two, books 6 and 7. I find it odd that this excellent series by Angie Sage doesn't get more publicity than it does. It's a terrific series, has a lot of imagination, a lot of humour, a lot of 'soul', and a really convincing world has been created. The early books are aimed at readers of around 9 to 12 but these later books, because Septimus and Jenna are now older, are longer with more depth and can be enjoyed by anyone. I thought this one was terrific and am sorry I now only have one book left to read. Of course the answer is to go back and read them all again and that idea appeals a lot. In the meantime, if you have kids and they like YA fantasy and haven't tried this series... well a treat is being well and truly missed.
Lastly, Strictly Ann by Ann Widdecombe.
I enjoyed much of this book but found it dragging slightly from time to time. Her childhood was interesting, unlike many you read about it was happy and unblighted by anything nasty. I enjoyed descriptions of her life in Singapore and of her school-life in the convent. Where it dragged a bit was in the amount of politcal detail. I knew it would be there because, after all, if you're going to read a book about a political animal that's what you're going to get! So it was fine and much of time also quite revealing. Things are never as they seem and Ann often gives famous events a different slant, which makes you realise that reporting in newspapers and on TV often gives the reader or viewer an entirely wrong impression about what is going on. A little alarming sometimes. I don't always agree with her opinions (she was anti female priests for instance) but I like her forthrightness in expressing them. My favourite chapter, shallow as I am, is the last one where she tells of her experiences on Strictly Come Dancing. She clearly had huge fun and gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure. All in all, not a bad autobiography at all.