November Book Reviews and 20 for 20 update

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Good morning and welcome to this month’s book reviews! Last month you may have remembered I decided to take on Jo from Tea & Cake For The Soul’s 20 For 20 Book Challenge. You can find out more about this on my introduction post here. So far I feel pretty on track with this although the last week I have had a bit of a wobble and don’t seem to be able to concentrate properly, so have had to do a lot of re-reading! I am really enjoying the book I am reading though, so hopefully that will help get me back on track.

Call Me Mummy*

by Tina Baker

The Blurb

Brilliantly written and emotionally compulsive’ – HARRIET TYCE ‘

A powerful and thought-provoking page turner’ – KATERINA DIAMOND

‘Disturbing and distinctive, this is a book I couldn’t put down’ – AMANDA JENNINGS

THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But little foul-mouthed Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for. As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her. Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle… CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

What I Thought

I read The Doll Collector last year and I said that Gloria in that was one of the most vile book characters I had ever read about, fiction wise! Well, ‘Mummy’ definitely challenges for this crown!

As a parent, these types of thrillers that involve child abduction obviously hit hard. While a harrowing tale, this author did a fabulous job with this one. It was powerful and evoked all the different emotions and kept you wanting to read more. It explores many different areas of mental health including infertility and postnatal depression. I loved the way the book flipped to explore the two main characters thoughts and points of view, as well as hearing occasionally from Tonya and other characters.

This won’t be for everyone due tot he themes, but if you are a thriller fan you need to read this! The book gets right under your skin and you will have to read on to find out what happens! I am very impressed with this debut from Tina Baker and will de finitely be looking out for more from her.

Where To Buy

Buy Call Me Mummy on Amazon

The Midnight Library (Audible)

by Matt Haig

The Blurb

THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A BBC TWO BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOK CLUB PICK

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

What I Thought

Wow, wow, wow. This has shot straight into my top ten of the year shortlist, I loved it! I completely understand why it has been given all the plaudits it has and why it has been a bestseller.

I am not sure I could do the book justice in a couple of paragraphs but what I will say is EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS! Matt Haig is known for being a mental health advocate and author, and I love that his fiction books also contain so much about mental health too.

Nora was a brilliant character and I think this really helped, as you so want her to succeed and choose to live – not that it is quite that simple. I found the whole premise of the book super interesting and it did not disappoint, even Ste ended up listening in as I bought the Audible version. I also want to add that the narrator of the Audible version was fab, a great choice.

I found the book has really stayed with me and gives you a lot of things to think about Powerful, thought provoking and life affirming, I felt so uplifted at the end of this book without it feeling cheesy! Highly, highly recommended!

Where To Buy

Buy The Midnight Library on Amazon

Notes on an Anxious Planet

by Matt Haig

The Blurb

THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

The world is messing with our minds. What if there was something we could do about it?

Looking at sleep, news, social media, addiction, work and play, Matt Haig invites us to feel calmer, happier and to question the habits of the digital age. This book might even change the way you spend your precious time on earth.

What I Thought

Another Audible listen from this month, Matt Haig actually reads this one himself which is great, as it seems much more personal from him.

Matt takes a range of different, everyday situations and talks about how we can help ourselves to question the thoughts and habits we have, which can exacerbate our anxieties and have a detrimental effect on our lives.

As someone who has gone through therapy and studies psychology, there were no major revelations in this book but it was fab food for thought. I found it an easy and interesting listen and I think it would be perfect for people who may be having issues with anxiety and their wellbeing and may want to try reading something to help them adjust their way of thinking. It was not a long book and I think this helps make it so much more precise and helpful.

Anyone struggling with anxiety should have a read of this. Matt is a ‘normal’ guy with a no nonsense, common sense approach which will appeal to most people.

Where To Buy

Buy Notes on a Nervous Planet on Amazon

Unsolved London Murders: The 1920s & 1930s*

by Dr Jonathan Oates

The Blurb

Unsolved crimes have a special fascination, none more so than unsolved murders. The shock of the crime itself and the mystery surrounding it, the fear generated by the awareness a killer on the loose, the insight the cases give into outdated police methods, and the chance to speculate about the identity of the killer after so many years have passed – all these aspects of unsolved murder cases make them compelling reading.

In this companion volume to his bestselling Unsolved Murders of Victorian and Edwardian London, Jonathan Oates has selected over 20 haunting, sometimes shocking cases from the period between the two world wars. Included are the shooting of PC James Kelly in Gunnersbury, violent deaths associated with Fenian Conspiracies, the stabbing of the French acrobat Martial Lechevalier in Piccadilly, the strychnine poisoning of egg-seller Kusel Behr, the killing by arsenic of three members of a Croydon family, and, perhaps most gruesome of all, the case of the unidentified body parts found at Waterloo Station.

Jonathan Oates describes each of these crimes in precise, forensic detail. His case studies shed light on the lives of the victims and summon up the ruthless, sometimes lethal character of London itself.

What I Thought

This was well researched and a good, easy read. As you know, I am huge fan of true crime, which is why this appealed to me. Ste asked if I was frustrated by the fact that each murder was left unsolved, but that didn’t bother me.

Most of the murders had almost certainly been solved, but lack of evidence meant the police were unable to prosecute people. I think knowing how we have much more powerful tools at our disposal now – for instance DNA testing – shows how very important these developments are when reading something like this.

I found this an easy read and I think other true crime fans will enjoy it too.

Where To Buy

Buy Unsolved London Murders: The 1920’s & 1930’s on Amazon

Olive (Audible)

by Emma Gannon

The Blurb

The debut novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author, Emma Gannon.

‘Thoughtful, searching, funny, and (most importantly) honest’ Elizabeth Gilbert
‘Brilliantly observed’ Sophie Kinsella
‘It’ll give a voice to countless women’ Marian Keyes
‘Utterly distinctive’ Emma Jane Unsworth

OLIVE is many things.

Independent.
Adrift.
Anxious.
Loyal.
Kind.
She knows her own mind.

And it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. So when her best friends’ lives branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, she starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.

Moving, memorable and a mirror for anyone at a crossroads, OLIVE has a little bit of all of us. Told with great warmth and nostalgia, this is a modern tale about the obstacle course of adulthood, milestone decisions and the ‘taboo’ about choosing not to have children.

What I Thought

I really loved that this book was not going to be the traditional chick lit and tackled a subject that not many people talk about.

I loved that Emma tackled the topic of choosing to remain childfree and I think she did it well. The traditional view that to be happy and have made a success of your life, you have to have a man and babies, needs to be tackled. I found Olive a real character – I didn’t always like her but this seemed much more realistic. I found the same with the group of friends and thought this really did represent the normality of many women’s lives and relationships.

I enjoyed the book and felt it was a realistic interpretation of life. I have read a lot of reviews which did not feel that this represented a real life situation of a woman who chooses to remain childfree. However, I think that there are endless reasons why women choose not to have children and this is a story about just one person, a fictional one at that.

I enjoyed the book and am glad that Emma has bought this subject to the masses. I also loved the interview at the end of the book with Dawn O’Porter which was a good addition. It wasn’t perfect but was an enjoyable listen and I would recommend to other fans of chick lit who might want something a little different to the norm.

Where To Buy

Buy Olive on Amazon

The Year of Living Danishly (Audible)

by Helen Russell

The Blurb

‘A hugely enjoyable romp through the pleasures and pitfalls of setting up home in a foreign land’ PD Smith, Guardian

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.
What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made?

Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. From childcare, education, food and interior design (not to mention ‘hygge’) to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.

What I Thought

Another Audible purchase (can you tell there was a sale on?) that I thoroughly enjoyed. This books describes Helen’s experience of moving to Denmark for a year with her husband, who scores a job with Lego (who legit sound like the best company to work for ever).

I loved this introduction to Danish culture and traditions with Helen’s witty writing making it an easy listen. She talks us through everything from the relocation, to learning the language and about ‘flag rules’ in this first hand account.

The book was uplifting, light-hearted and entertaining and I would definitely recommend it. I would also love to find out who else thinks relocating to Denmark after reading this is a good idea? Sign me up!

Where To Buy

Buy The Year of Living Danishly on Amazon

20 For 20 Update

Books read this month (from list) – 4

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet  by Matt Haig

Unsolved London Murders: The 1920s & 1930s by Dr Jonathan Oates

Books still to read before the end of the year – 16

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Perfectly Imperfect Mum by Sheena Tanna-Shah

A Snowflake’s Guide to Christmas: How to survive a deeply problematic holiday by Dave Skinner

The Christmas Menagerie by Minna Howard

Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims

Great Family Days In: Over 75 Ideas for Rainy Days, School Holidays and Everything in Between by Claire Balkind

Postscript: The sequel to PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism by Tom Durwood

The Book Club by C. J. Cooper

Sh**ged. Married. Annoyed. by Chris and Rosie Ramsey

One Family Christmas by Bella Osborne

The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Late Love by Scarlett Hopper

Well I hope I have managed to entice you to your next read – which one do you like the sound of most? Do you have nay recommendations from the last month? Please let me know in the comments below! As always, take care and keep safe,

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