Books I read in January and February.

This year I am hoping to read 40 Books, a total I have set myself on Good Reads. I thought if I write a short description of each on my blog, this might encourage me to keep up with the challenge 🙂

The Black House ~ Peter May (2011). This is the first book in a bleak murder mystery trilogy set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. My other half came across the series after we holidayed on another Hebridean Island North Uist last year. Fin Macleod is a homicide detective who returns to his childhood home of Lewis to investigate a grisly murder. Bereft by a recent personal tragedy of his own, Fin jumps at the chance of spending some time on the island. But as the detective hunts for the murderer, he finds himself being hunted too. The Black House flits between the past and the present and paints a picture of a rugged island with troubling secrets. I’m eager to delve into the next instalment. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

How to Be an Urban Birder ~ David Lindo ( 2018). I love how enthusiastic the author of this informative birding guide is. After seeing him promoting the book on Breakfast telly, I was delighted when Wil bought it me for my birthday back in November. Lindo’s motto is ‘Look Up!’ and this is certainly as true of our towns and cities as anywhere in Britain when it comes to spotting birdlife. If you imagine that urban buildings are cliffs ( they could be homes to peregrines) and rooftops are viewing platforms ( excellent bases for watching migrating species) then you get the idea. This book covers the best locations to look for birds in towns and cities and is packed full of photos , illustrations and useful tips.⭐⭐⭐⭐

The prime of Miss Jean Brodie ~ Muriel Spark ( 1961). I picked this renowned Scottish Classic up whilst away for a weekend in Edinburgh. Jean Brodie is an unconventional school teacher in 1930s Edinburgh. In a subtle almost sinister way she sets about grooming six of her pupils to become almost mini clones of herself. The book was made into a 1969 film starring Maggie Smith. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dear Mrs Bird ~ A J Pearce ( 2018). Ahh I loved this story, set during blitz torn London in World War 2. Perhaps my favourite of the books I’ve read this year so far. Our heroine is Emmy who takes a job as a newspaper reporter , but due to a misunderstanding she is actually employed as lowly assistant to no nonsense ( and very unsympathetic ) Agony aunt Mrs Bird. Emmy takes it upon herself to answer the letters Mrs Bird discards. A light hearted but also sometimes heart breaking read. I hope there is a sequel. ❤️⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock ~ Imogen Hermes Gowar ( 2018). Who can resist a novel with mermaid in the title. Not me! A lonely childless widower and a high class ,but down on her luck courtesan’s paths become entwined, through the discovery of a mermaid. This is a discriptive historical novel set in 18th Century London , with a scaly touch of the supernatural. Although I was eager to see how the book would end, I did not find myself warming to the characters, some of whose stories seemed to end… unfinished. ⭐⭐⭐

Nightingale Wood ~ Stella Gibbons ( 1938). It seems that the esteemed writer of Cold Comfort Farm actually wrote shelve loads of books, most out of print until recent times. Nightingale Wood is billed as a modern version of Cinderella ~ modern in the thirties that is, when it was written. Viola is our Cinderella, a young widow now living with her stuffy in-laws. Her father in law rules the roost and his two daughters are dying of boredom. One wants a dog and the other wants the chauffeur. Viola herself falls for a dashing young man who lives in the big house through the woods, but his intentions arent exactly honourable. This book isn’t just a fluffy love story, it’s an observation of how the restrictions of sex and class in the thirties shaped everyday life. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

26 thoughts on “Books I read in January and February.”

  1. Interesting reads Sharon & I like how some of the books were written so long ago and others only last year, I’ve never read any of them myself, though I’ve heard of a few, so well done we’ll look forward to hearing about the next lot.. Take care.

    1. Thanks Susan. I sometimes find oldish books in a charity book sale at work. I’ve just purchased another oldie ‘Toms Midnight Garden’ which is a kid’s book I never got round to reading as a child. X

  2. Like you I didn’t know about Stella Gibbons, so I shall look out for her books. I read Miss Jean Brodie years ago, time for re read. The one about bird watching in urban environments sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I do like the Urban Birding one. I do look around me a bit to much for birds though, then realise the dog is doing something naughty whilst I haven’t got a proper eye on him..x

  3. I like the sound of Nightingale Wood, I didn’t Stella Gibbons had written lots of other books, I only knew of the two cold comfort ones!

  4. Thanks for sharing. Always good to see what other people are reading and get recommendations. Hubby read the Peter May one years ago and hated it, so I didn’t try it. Maybe I’ll see if we’ve still got it and give it a go.

    1. Wil was drawn to his Lewis books because we stayed in the outer Hebrides last year ( a different island) , they are actually pretty good. X

      1. Earlier in the year Hubby was on about hiring a camper van and doing a bit of touring, but then that got shelved, but I can’t remember why. Think it might have been because of Harry’s car sick issues, but they don’t really seem to be a problem after all. Presume you travel between islands on a ferry, so we could take a van?

      2. Yes we stayed on Skye and got a ferry over to North Uist. A few of its neighbouring islands are connected by causeway roads. X

  5. I started logging my books in 2015 when I read 19. Last year it was 47 so I’m going in the right direction. The only one of these I’ve read is Jean Brodie. I think Maggie Smith was absolutely brilliant in the film. I’ve read Cold Comfort Farm, which I also enjoyed, but no other Stella Gibbons. I’ll need to look out for them. My current read is Michelle Obama’s autobiography. I’m getting through it very slowly – not because I’m not enjoying it, but because it’s so big and heavy it makes my wrists hurt holding it up!

    1. Wow, it sounds like it will take some getting through. 😉
      I think I read about 32 last year so hopefully 40 will be achievable. Well done on 47. X

      1. I also meant to comment on Tom’s Midnight Garden which you mentioned to someone else. I didn’t read that as a child either, but got to love it as an adult when I came across it in one of the libraries I was working in. I once went to an event with children’s authors and met Philippa Pearce (also Shirley Hughes – star struck!) I’ve read the book several times now and I always well up at the end even though I know what’s coming. No spoilers other than that!

      2. Oooh! I’ve just started reading it. I think I may have read something by Phillipa Pearce as a child. Her name does seem familiar. X

  6. It was reading Peter May’s Hebridean trilogy that drew me to visit the Outer Hebrides for the first time a couple of years ago. I found his descriptions so dark, brooding and accurate. I’ve never been able to warm to his French and Chinese novels in the same way.

    1. I don’t know of his others. I would definitely like to visit Lewis and Harris now that we have been North and South Uist. In fact I would go back to where we stayed on North Uist definitely.

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