Top 5 Tuesday books with orange 🎃 or black 🧙‍♀️ covers from by book shelves

This week in a nod to Halloween 🎃 Meeghan has asked us for our top 5 orange or black books.

There was not many black and orange books on my shelf.

1. My favourite of these 5 books and indeed of many books therefore it appears on many Top 5 lists is One Day by David Nicholas.

2. It will come in Useful one day a book with little rhymes to remember things like order of UK prime ministers, Kings and Queens 👸 etc..

3. Sex and Lies is by the author of the book Lullaby. However this is non fiction profiles of Moroccan women.

4. A warlock in Whitby. The book on this type 5 that most appropriately links into the Halloween 🎃 theme.

5. Scraping barrel so a non fiction book that received as a child: rocks minerals and gemstones 💎

September 2020 Summary

Books

The Silent patient. Read for book club. Seemed mediocre until got to the twist! Not sure what people will say about it at book club!

Blood orange 🩸 🍊 slightly twisted book!

The Chain rather sickening concept is children are kidnapped and to get your child back as well as paying a ransom you have to kidnap someone else’s child and then they have to do the same to get their child back and do on.

Pandemic

My parent’s have been self isolating as in not leaving their garden, since the beginning of September and have another few weeks to go due to my Mum having surgery. To bake up for not being able to see my parents my sister and her kids did visit; this was the first time seen them since Christmas. Swing my nephew and niece and our relationship being unaffected by not seeing for 9 months and my Mum successfully getting through operation have been highlights. Finding life has ups and downs. Living alone and working remotely can get lonely.

Top 5 Tuesday the final instalment if the A-Z of character names

Over the last few weeks based upon prompt from https://meeghanreads.com/top-5-fave-characters-f-j/

I have been trying to remember a book character for each letter of the alphabet. It turns out the books I read as a child were more memorable / read more series like Postman Pat rather than one off books like now therefore can recall children’s book character’s better than adult books.

Here is the whole alphabet from A to Z.

A-J

K-O

P-T

Um…I have feeling read a book with a Ursula in but can not remember what. There is the Ugly sisters 👯‍♀️ in Cinderella.

Violet from Charlie and Choclate factory far better than Verruca.

Willy Wonka for more double points! This is another character from from Charlie and the Chocolate Factor.

X just a cross here. Amongst the 5 letters for this week.

Yao from 9 perfect strangers by Lianne Moriety from 9 perfect strangers,

Zoe as above from 9 perfect strangers.

Top 5 Tuesday Characters P-T

Continuing trying to remember a character’s name for every letter of the alphabet per the prompt fromhttps://meeghanreads.com/top-5-fave-characters-f-j/. This week is is P-T.

Postman Pat does that get double points? It has been a favourite for generations of children in the UK.

Queen Camilla by Sue Townsend.

Rosie from Rosie project series by Gramme Simison. Rosie Project series

Sarah from Specially Sarah. I bought this book as a child because it was close to my name (Sara) and have kept the book.

Topsy and Tim twins 👯‍♀️ more double points? These are twins from another children’s series. I seem to be able to remember names from children’s books better than adults!

Top 5 Tuesday Characters K-O

Following on with the prompt last week for A-J from https://meeghanreads.com/top-5-fave-characters-f-j/… it is K-O

Kate from my Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult. The book is mainly told from her younger sister’s Anna’s point of view but Kate is also central. In fact Anna was only conceived to supply bone marrow for Kate. The story is about what happens when Kate now needs a kidney.

Lisabeth Salender from the Millenuim magazine setries (i.e The Girl with Dragon tattoo etc..) a realy fierce female.

Maura Isles from Tess Gerritsen Rizzoli and Isles series. She is a pathologist.

Napoleon from 9 perfect strangers.

Olive Kitteridge by Emma Strout. https://wonderwall360blog.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/__trashed/

Who I suspected in The Unwanted Guest (Major spoiler 🚨)

This book by Shari Lapena was a Richard and Judy book club book. Richard described it as a locked room Murder mystery. It was set in a remote hotel that gets isolated when snow and ice cuts power and phone lines. The hotel has no Wi-Fi or mobile reception. I got through the book in a couple of days. I did suspect different people at different times but ultimately narrowed it down. These were my thoughts as I read…SPOILERS AHEAD 🚨

When Dana was killed wondered if was going to end up being her fiancé or otherwise not knowing enough it could be almost anyone else. Wondered about Riley as she was alone for part of the night whilst Gwen with David.

Then when Candice was killed the possibility of unknown killer roaming hotel was raised due to the messed up room.

Then there is a while when all together without a murder. During this time there are various pointers to Ian. Thought he could have slipped out and killed Dana as Lauren had taken sleeping pills. Then Bradley is killed and he is still in the frame. He is implicated further by Lauren saying they were apart for part of the afternoon. But then I also started getting an inkling it could have been Lauren as she could have slipped Ian her sleeping pills, they were not together when Candice or Bradley murdered. She then of course tried to direct blame on Ian. There was a clue about her not wanting to reveal her secrets.

Suspicion that it was Lauren was confirmed when the earring was found; indeed it was confirmed as her then the reasons for the murders disclosed. When Henry found dead I straight away thought Beverley had done it thinking it would be covered by the other murders.

So the book did have me guessing but ultimately I guessed correctly.

I have previously read by the same author the Couple Next Door. I probably enjoyed the Couple Next Door more as it was a less twee setting but it also had me guessing! It centres round a baby going missing when the parents are at a dinner party next door.

The Good Father Book Club Discussion

This is not really a spoiler as very early in the book learn that the premise of the books that the son in the book at 27 years old has assinated (shot) in the US, a politician who was on course to be president of the US. The book is about what lead him to pull that trigger? Was it something in his genetics, his childhood, early adultlife experiences and influences or mental health?

The book flips between narratives of the son and the Father. The Father is trying to establish whether the assianation is his fault, is he a Good Father?

I read this book for book club. It was a book that I enjoyed the book club more than the book itself. The book is is thought provoking about nurture vs nature, gun regulation in the US and how crimes are punished in the states. I like that the book does not provide an exact reason why the son did what he did. As that is true to life that for someone to do something like that, would be a combination of reasons not just one. What I did not like is that the Father research previous assinations / attempts to try and understand., I felt these chapters were too much detail. It felt like the author had researched assinations then chucked all his research into the book. The detail made me want to skip but part from that enjoyed reading then the book club enhanced therefore I wanted to document some of our discussions. Be ware the may be some small spoilers ahead if not read the book.

As the Father is a Dr, he wants to understand his son’s motives. Therefore he considers his family history, events from his son’s childhood and early adulthood and copmplares to his research of assassins. As a Dr he knows that there can be many factors and sometimes when sympom is actually not related to the others and confuses the picture. The Father moved across States for work when his son was young. He had only intended to stay a year but due to the work situation and meeting his second wife a nnd having twins his stay became permanent; he wonders how much of an impact that had on his son; did it make him a bad Father to his eldest buyt good to his youngest?

A key event that is mentioned in the book is that the son had a near death experience as a child because a plane the was on in transit between parents nearly crashed. if he had of died people would have wept that so much potential lost but actually would him dying in the plane crash have saved the poltician’s lives. or if the son had not had that experience on the plane would he not have performed the assassination?

The book is slightly vague about the timing of it’s events. When dates such as the son’s date of birth mentioned the year is xx. Not sure if it was to suggest censorship or author wanted timing of assination to be vague to not confuse the assination with real life political events.

Other participants interesting observations were that if the Father’s first wife and Mother to his son had taken his surname she would have has a near rhyming name of Ellen Allen. Also there was an episode where the Father has a stange chance meeting with someone his son had known. But some participants suggested this was a figment off his imagination especially as when security caught up with the man he was genuinluy a cleaner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are there too many characters in Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine E?

Girl, Woman, Other was the joint winner of the Booker in 2019 (shared with Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments).  It is my book club book for December. As it was recently serialised on Radio 4, I listened to it now. this means I have to remember it until December (it is now July)  and it is a complicated book to remember!

A big complication. Is the amount of characters! The book centres around about a dozen main characters from, whom each branch out a network of other characters; lovers, children , friends, and colleagues. Apparently the book is a flow of consciousness with no full stops! This is not so obvious from the radio where can not see the lack of punctuation, but you did get impression of being told expansive stories in just a few lines hence means get a lot of information to take in.

The book is not in chronological order. The book starts with the story of Amma who is a playwright who is preparing for the opening of her play the Last Amazon of Dohomay. The last chapter is the opening of the play when Amma is in her 50s. In between the story, characters are told. This means it is not a book that read to find out what happens in the end.  It is in some ways more like a collection of short stories of different characters. That being said however characters, lives do intersect due to them being related to being friends or working together. This means some of the characters do end up at the opening night together therefore it could be said a central theme is about why the different characters are there together at the opening night. However I think this story hides the better story in the book. The story that I’m referring to is so good that before outlining it, I have to warn that the outline contains spoilers!

Major spoilers ahead!!!

Grace and Hattie

Here to remind me for book club is the story rearranged chronologically that I regard as the most interesting of the book which is the story Hattie and her ancestory and descendants.

In the present of the book Hattie is 93 years old, therefore she has children, grandchildren and great Grandchildren. Therefore this could have been a family saga; I have enjoyed family sagas such as those by Penny Vincenzi. Whereas this family broadens my horizons from previous sagas within white families as Hattie is a mixed race woman. Her Grandmother Daisy was white and was impregnated by a seaman from Abysinna when she lived in South Sheilds.

When Grace was eight her Mother Daisy died died to tuberclous subsequently Grace brought up in a girls’s home.

Grace became a maid. She met husband Joe with ginger hair when shopping. Joe had a family farm. This was after first world war so locals shocked by Grace’s looks but warmed to her seen as she had local accent. Grace had several miscarriages / infant deaths before finally having Harriet . Due to trauma having children Grace did not bond with Harriet due to what we would now probably call post partum depression. Finally when Grace’s depression resolves she does bond with Harriet and shortens her name affectionately to Hattie..

Hattie has a baby at 14 years old which she calls Barbara. She is forced to give away Barbara and not tell anyone about her.

Hattie marries Slim in 1945 after meeting him at a dance he was an Americain who had been demobbed from military service. Slim then works on Hattie’s farm. Slim is furious when he finds out that Hattie’s family were descended from slave runners.

Hattie and Slim  has a daughter Ada Mary and a son Sonny who are 70 in the book and married white partners therefore subsequently descendants became more ‘white’.

Pennople

Barbara is left on church steps and later adopted. Barbara is brought up as Penelope

Penelope’shas white skin and unware of her Africain origins, in fact she looks down on Africains.

Penelope’s is only told on 16th birthday adopted and left on the church steps, although there was no way of being aware from the audio of missing punctuation I did get that her story from being found on church steps to marriages and becoming a Grandmother is told in just a few lines. When actually her life is complex and her story is my favourite because so much going on with marriages, children then this mysterious adoption and her growing up unaware of African heritage then finding out and being ashamed this alone could have been such an interesting story but it is squashed between everything else!

Penelope completes teacher training but before gets started on her career marries Giles then soon has a son Adam followed by a daughter Sarah. I jotted down about her divorcing Giles due to physical abuse and think it was only briefly mentioned because as said her lives story told within just a few lines. Follwing  her divorce she starts a job as a teacher but only work for 6 weeks before meeting next husband Philip. Again the story of this marriage is rushed over but it ends because he finds younger model.

Penelope’s next lover is Jeramy who I did not really make a note about when I was listening so that did not have much impression on me.

Penelope’s daughter Sarah marries Craig. Has twins Matty and Molly and moves to Sydney.

Sarah does a DNA test for Pennople

Meghan and Bibi

In the book hear Megan’s story before Hattie’s hence do not appreciate at the time her heritage. Her Mother is Julie,I’m not sure whether Julie was Hattie’s  daughter Ada-May or son Sonny’s daughter even after relistoning to both Megan’s and Hattie’s story. In this story Hattie is called GG (great gran?). Megan skin looks white.

Thje way Megan is described as a child is basically as a tomboy.  As a teenager women she is promiscuous and unhappy with her body. She gets a tattoo at 18. At 18moves out of home to a hostel and starts to ‘find herself’ by researching on the internet. Therefore though social media she meets Bibi who was born a Hindu male, but identified as female. They start a relationship and Meghan becomes genderless by changing name to Morgan.

Morgan does a DNA test for Hattie.

Characters not needed?

My chronological story above omits many characters from the book including:

Amma

Yazz

Shirley

Carole

La Tisha

I do wonder whether the book has too many characters. It feels a bit like there was a box ticking exercise to include diverse range of characters born female or who identified as female i.e white ✔️ black ✔️ mixed race tick ✔️ lesbian ✔️ non binary ✔️ heterosexual ✔️.

In the chronological version without these characters though the reveal that Pennelope is Barbara May not have been so big? With so much information you are not focusing on what happened to Barbara.

Book conclusion

Supporting my theory that the centeral story was of Hattie’s family rather than Anna’s play although last chapter is of Anna’s play’s opening night the final words in the epilogue goes to Hattie’s family story. The epilogue segways from the opening night because  Penelope is reading g a review of Anna’s plays she thinks it is not for her as she is white and looks down on Africans. In the epilogue Pennople discovers from the DNA test that she has African origins and ultimately Hattie is her Mother and therefore her attitudes to Africans changes.

I would say this book is about who you think you are may not be the same to how you appear to the outside world. You may appear male but feel female or appear white but be mixed race.

 

 

 

 

 

June 2020 Summary

Other

At the start of June I created a mood board which I posted on Instragram Wonderwall360, I’m posting on Instragram again to go with this post, as I added to it since I last posted. My mood board centred around the words and numbers June 2020. It featured plants and animal as it was the wildlife trust’s 30days wild. At the beginning of the month I was actively jotting down wildlife related activities. I even created a nature table with labels to engage with my nephew and eldest niece.

June went downhill. By the second half of the month I was just passively observing the birds baby birds on the lake in my local park. On the last day of May I first saw the cygnets 🦢 and have watched them grow. The last day of May was the day for babies as my second niece was born. She is only an hour away but, I have not seen her due to present circumstances.

I got really stressed about work. The pandemic meaning spending a lot of time alone intensified what was going on and it spilled over in to entire life. My mood board had included pictures of Glastonbury as I was going to do virtual Glastonbury. But as I was down I only watched about 15minutes of a BBC Glastonbury festival. By the way Glastonbury which I have been to once counts as the best festival for me.

Technically the lockdown is easing but it is easing for economic reasons not because it is fully safe. Therefore I have not stopped trying to be 2 metres from anyone. Sometimes in shops you are briefly closer to the cashier. I have not been touched by anyone since I went to the dr in April. Technically single person households like mine have been able to form a bubble with another household for much of June. But only 1 household. I saw my parents but still socially distanced from them to protect them. Anyway as only seen once there would not have been much point being in a bubble with them.

Books

The Invitation by Lucy Foley. Having read the Hunting Party by the same author I was disappointed by this. It is a very different genre. Hunting party was a similar style to Gone Girl / Girl on the train set in modern times and with a mystery; what would you call that genre? This one was historical set in 1950s without a mystery. For that genre it was mediocre.

Nine perfect strangers by Liane Moriarty. It was sent in a spa. I would like to go to a spa at the moment with a pool and massage therapist as pools and massage therapy businesses are both still closed and have no date for reopening. This spa turned out a little differently but, still I think right now I would go for it as long as could be confident through out that was going to survive experience. In the book 9 strangers are clients at the residential spa at the same time. Technically not all strangers to each other as the 9 included a couple, a family of three and at least one character known as a celebrity by others. Not to give too much away the 9 certainly have a journey and get better acquainted. Enjoyable read.

My Husbands Son by Deborah O’Connor. Centred couple who met at a conference for parents who’s children had been abducted, an interesting feature on it’s own. The interest enhanced by the wife spotting a boy she thought was her husband’s son. An interesting journey unravelling that mystery throwing up thought provoking dilemmas. For a spoiler discussion point, scroll right to bottom of the post or conversely avoid it.

Beekeeper of Allepo by Christie Leftari. This is July book club book. It is about refuges from Aleppo, it does not go that deep into the horror of that situation.

Spoiler alert 🚨 for Husband’s Son. Stop 🛑 looking or scroll. Quickly if want to avoid … there is no other substance left but the spoiler.

……

Spoiler 🚨: my Husband’s Son. She briefly recovers the son but decides to let the only family know keep him; without letting her husband reunite. How could she keep it forever from her husband that his son was alive and well when he has to live with daily torment or not knowing and ongoing police investigation. Also police budget still being spent on investigating when she knows answer.

The Dolls House Discussion Post Contains BIG SPOILERS by Phoebe Morgan

This story is told from multiple points of views. There are points of views from three named points of views. There is Ashley a Mother of three with the chaos that involves. Ashley’s sister Corrine. Corinne is undergoing IVF with her partner Dominic who provides third point of view. The family issues of these three provide a rich tapestry alone but the other dimension is that the sister’s have been observed for years by a illegitimate daughter of their Father and herMother his former liver. I don’t think there is lover much mystery that it is the Father’s former lover and illegitimate daughter who is the watcher? Or do you disagree? This point of view is told with short italicised sections of prose between chapters. I hate italics it makes me just skim read. Is it just me that has this problem with italics?

Where the mystery is as the illegitimate daughter and Mother are not named is who they are, you are sure it is one of the names non narrators in the book. However there seems to be do many female characters in the book that is could be. Who did you suspect?

The biggest pointers point to the new neighbour Gill so of course that is a red herring and it is not her.

The shady Instagram contact of Ashley’s daughter emerges. There is also the female colleague of Dominic. Of course they turn out to be the same person; the illegitimate daughter.

Thinking about female characters included in the story I wondered about the female gallery owner; Corrine’s boss.

Of course I suspected the neighbourhood babysitter June. I had wondered what the deal was about the house that Dominic as a journalist had to write a story about, but I kind of parked those thoughts. I also did not make the connection that the woman who owned it was June like the neighbour babysitter. That should have been a big clue; June is hardly a common name. Of course June turns out to be the illegitimate daughter’s Mother.

The last chapters when draw nearer to the reveal of these two characters were true page turners. Lots of drama as Erin attempted to kill (?) the whole family; both sister’s, their Mother and Ashley’s daughter. Would the rest of Ashley’s family have been next? Of course she was stopped in her tracks or rather her life ended on the tracks. When over the police radio with Dominic in the car, the news came in of a fatality on the lines it was predictable it was Erin rather than Corinne.

Following Erin’s death the book seemed to be wrapping up in more gentle tone. But then it ends with June re-emerging. Finally the book finishes on a dramatic cliffhanger of the gallery door handle moving whilst June is near …if this was audible at this point the Eastenders dramatic closing drums dum de dum dum would kick in.

In summary I definitely enjoyed the intricacies of this book; the numerous potential suspects. There were numerous narrative strands; ill children, IVF and James’s work troubles made the characters believable living the busy lives of many. To reiterate I found the final chapters to be page turners!