Friday 1 December 2023

Books read in November

Well, the forecast snow amounted to several small flurries as we set off on our short journey to the hospital, yesterday afternoon, so I was glad about that as the M5 in a blizzard did not particularly appeal for some reason.  I think we were on the edge of the couple of inches that got dumped on Cornwall, so it was bitterly cold with a biting wind, but little to no snow.

So anyway, that's the weather report for today (which is a cold, crisp, sunny day for those interested in that kind of thing, ie. me.) So... books. I read seven in November. It was a nice varied month with three crime stories read, a couple of autobiographies, and a couple of paranormal/horror books. These are they:

89. Behind the Sequins by Shirley Ballas. This is an autobiography by the head judge on the iconic British show, Strictly Come Dancing. It was a rags to riches story of one very determined woman and how she became a world ballroom/latin dancing champion.  It was quite simple really, she worked her backside off to succeed and all power to her. I enjoyed her book. 

90. Murder While You Work - Susan Scarlett

91. Journey to Munich - Jacqueline Winspear

92. Doorway to Dilemma - edited by Mike Ashley 

93. Rotten to the Core - T.E. Kinsey

94. A Game of Ghosts - John Connolly 

95. A Spoonful of Sugar - Brenda Ashford. The author became a Norland Nanny in the late 1930s and had only been qualified a short time before war broke out. She then ended up looking after nursery children while their mothers worked in munitions factories, plus there were also a lot evacuees. This was a gentle book but quite important in that it reminded the reader that even nannies did their bit in the war and that the women who worked in the war effort could not have done so without the likes of Brenda Ashford to look after the children. I learnt quite a lot from this one. There was sadness of course but Brenda had the wonderful, 'Keep calm and carry on' attitude of the day and I admired her greatly.

So, a decent reading month all in all. I seem to have majored on the theme of WW2, which is appropriate for November, but I found it quite inspiring and one of my personal challenges for 2024 will be to read more. There's so much I don't know about that conflict. 

I'm not sure that I have a favourite November book as the seven ranged from good to excellent so no duds. But if forced, it would be this:

For me there is no author like John Connolly and no hero (anti-hero?) like Charlie Parker. I hope he never stops writing this creepy, very thought-provoking series. If he does I think I'll just have to go back to the beginning and start again. 

My current reads number two:



A Closed and Common Orbit is book two in Becky Chambers' 'Wayfarers' sci-fi series. I liked book one a lot and, although I've just started book two, I think it has a lot of potential.

And this:

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald is a book of nature writing essays majoring on birds. The writing is just beautiful. 

So, onwards into December. It tends not to be a major reading month for me because it gets busy, but I have a few Christmassy books I'd like to read and some short stories... we'll just see how it goes. Happy December reading and I hope everyone is avoiding all the nasty colds and bugs that seem to be rife at the moment.


Kay said...

Cath, glad you guys didn't get a huge 'snow event'. Good luck with your December reading. I say, just read whatever speaks to you and relax. Such a busy time for most of us. Take care and I really, really want to try that Connolly series in 2024. Maybe I need to set a reminder on my phone - ha!

Cath said...

Kay: Yes, I plan to do just that... read what speaks to me and relax. December is bad enough without putting reading pressure on myself. To be honest, I plan to carry that on through 2024, mood reading that is... and relaxing. LOL!

TracyK said...

I think there is more about World War II to learn than any one person can take in. I do keep reading about it as much as I can because there is always something new to learn. And I enjoy it as a setting for fiction because you can learn and be immerse in a story at the same time. Some of it is pretty overwhelming though. Glen has been reading lots of nonfiction about World War II lately.

I have been reading Vesper Flights for a couple of months off and on. I am very impressed with it although initially I had some quibbles. I just realized I have read about 3/4 of it so maybe I will finish it before the end of the year.

I plan to read A Closed and Common Orbit soon.

Lark@LarkWrites said...

Happy December! I hope all is well in your corner of the world. I'm counting down the days until my Christmas break...18 to go...and it cannot come fast enough. I really need a break from everything. Hope you manage to fit in a few fun books this busy month. :D

Margot Kinberg said...

You did have an interesting variety of reads this month, Cath. I like the idea of reading different sorts of books, including non-fiction, so it's been good to learn about the ones you read: autobiography, crime fiction, non-fiction, and more. Impressive! I know what you mean, too, about authors you hope will never stop creating stories about a main character you love. We do get quite attached, don't we? Glad your weather held.

Cath said...

Tracy: You're so right when you say there's more history about WW2 than one person can take in. I expect even experts have their specialist bits and are not experts on all of it. Next year I want read a bit about the war in the Atlantic, convoys, u-boats, that kind of thing. Also on The Home Front - ecacuees, land girls. And maybe read more on the war in France and Italy. We'll see where it leads me.

I didn't know you too were reading Vesper Flights. It's one to read slowly I think and I probably will not finish it before Christmas.

I'm 35% through A Closed and Common Orbit and enjoying but it's very much not the same as book 1.

Cath said...

Lark: I hope your Christmas break comes soon but am guessing you'll be working hard until then. My daughter is a teaching assistant in a primary school and Christmas is always very busy.

Oh yes, I'll be reading but fitting it in as and when and being fairly casual about it.

Cath said...

Margot: Yes, I do like to ring the changes with my reading but I also like to read a solid core of crime fiction. We do indeed get attached to our favourite detectives or other leading characters. It must be difficult for authors to keep up with expectations sometimes. LOL

Kathy's Corner said...

Helen Macdonald is such a beautiful writer. I read H Is For Hawk and it was excellent I read it in audio and Helen Macdonald is a very good at reading her work. Have a great December and I look forward to your Christmas choices.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Another good mixed crop of reads last month!

There are only a couple of your November reads which probably won't hit my wish list and those are the Mike Ashley and the Shirley Ballas. But then, predictable as I am, you probably know that about me without me saying!

Neither of your two current reads would be top of my picks either, so I shall wait and see what else you manage to add to your tally by the end of the year. Taking bets on whether you will up your tally to top the 100 mark!

Can't believe we are contemplating the beginning of another New Year already, I guess you will already be considering your 2024 challenge choices, or are you going to be more relaxed about your reading this time!

Hope that all is well with you :)

Sam said...

Glad the snow didn't affect your drive to the hospital, Cath. That's just about the last thing you needed to happen. I hope everything is OK, healthwise, for you guys these days.

It's really been a busy month, and December is usually so hectic that I can barely find time to read. Some days I just feel like finding something interesting on TV that I can fall asleep in front that's what I do. I'm starting to think that having so many choices of "entertainment" media is not necessarily a good thing.

It's been so long since I've read a John Connolly book that I don't remember the details anymore. I do remember being impressed by how well written the books were in a genre that doesn't usually worry so much about the prose being well executed. I need to find one of his recent books for a revisit to him.

Cath said...

Kathy: You're right Helen MacDonald really is a beautiful writer. And every essay I've read so far has been so interesting and atmospheric. I loved her bird watching from the top of The Empire State Building.

Cath said...

Yvonne: Thank you, yes another good mix this month. I like to ring the changes.

Oh yes, I have a fairly good idea these days which of the books I read you would like. :-) I expect to hit 100 as I'm at 96 now but am not too bothered if I don't. Next year I plan to try and get a few chunky books off my tbr mountain so it's likely I won't get anywhere near 100! And that's fine, it's not all about numbers.

Next year I have the Wanderlust Bingo challenge to finish off as that covers 2 years. Apart from that I don't think I will do any official challenges. What I plan to do is set myself some personal ones, read some books about the world wars, read around Europe, read more sci-fi. That sort of thing.

We're fine thanks... I hope you and Dave are too?

Cath said...

Sam: Thanks re the snow. Yes, we're all fine. This was the last apt. at the hospital - for dressing changes - for my youngest daughter, after her spinal surgery. She's doing well. Thanks for asking.

I don't blame you in the slightest for collapsing in front of the TV and falling asleep! We're really good at that too after busy days. LOL

I hope you manage to revisit Charlie Parker. The books vary a little, some superb, others a bit less so, but never less than very good in my opinion. And, like you said, the writing is good in a genre that normally doesn't worry overly about that sort of thing.

thecuecard said...

Yeah I still want to get to Vesper Flights sometime. It looked like it has numerous small chapters about a variety of wildlife & birds. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on it. Cheers.

Cath said...

Thecuecard: Vesper Flights is well worth getting to. Her writing is sublime.