There are two book reviews in this post.
The story of Taizé by JLG Balado
A very old copy of this book was destined for recycling, but I decided to read it. The Taizé community has had a huge effect on worship in many Churches. I didn’t know much about the early history of the community. This book filled in many gaps in my knowledge. First published in 1976, the copy I read was updated in 1981. Of course I was aware of the tragic way in which Brother Roger’s life ended and every mention of Notre Dame Cathedral reminded me of the devastating fire there. It was interesting to read about events of the 20th century and to reflect on the changes which have occurred in society and in the Church since those days.
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Tears of the Giraffe is the second book in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I bought a second-hand copy at a charity book-sale. It is a delightful book. My pile of books to read is rather taller than I like at present, but this light read was just what I needed after the non-fiction books I have been reading recently. I have read and enjoyed other books by this author, but this one seemed to be particularly good. The themes woven into the story involved lies and the morality of not always telling the (whole) truth. There was an unexpected revelation at the end, which I found very amusing.
I read four more books in December. In fact I was too busy reading to post anything on this blog last week! I thoroughly enjoyed all these books.
The trouble with goats and sheep by Joanna Cannon
I was really looking in the library for the very popular new book by the same author – Three things about Elsie, but it was out on loan. The book I borrowed was a well-worn hardback. Although it is quite a thick book (over 450 pages), it caught my interest so that I had read it from cover to cover in five days. Most of the action is set in the very hot summer of 1976, but events of 1967 haunt the unusual story. I really enjoyed it and will continue to track down Three things about Elsie.
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith
This book was an American edition I picked up from a second hand book sale. It is a good read with interesting twists in the tale. I have reviewed other books by Alexander McCall Smith.
Merry Christmas Everyone Edited by Wendy H. Jones, Amy Robinson and Jane Clamp
This is the second book which has been published this year by the Association of Christian Writers (ACW). The first one is a Lent book, which I am saving until spring. I began reading Merry Christmas Everyone at the beginning of Advent. The early items in it are relevant to the season. There is a wide variety of writing from many members of ACW. There are unusual retellings of parts of the Christmas story, poems, tales from other lands and more besides. This would make a good Christmas present for next year (if it isn’t too early to be considering your present list!). Both these books from ACW are available in Kindle and paperback editions.
News from Nowhere by Jane Austin
In 2018 New Writing North had a project with libraries for selected local authors to speak about their new books. News from Nowhere was one of the Read Regional books. I found it on the New Books shelf at the library as Read Regional had been superseded by a newer display. It is a work of fiction set in WW1. The first few chapters were so convincing that I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction (especially after reading a WW1 biography earlier this month).
The reason that it is so authentic is that it is based on letters from the author’s family members serving in the trenches. Austin has woven a very satisfactory story around these and brings out the changes in society which resulted from the men being away and women taking on unfamiliar roles. I found it hard to put this book down. The story is mainly set in Wales, but the author lives in the north of England.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a book I borrowed from the library. I had seen a lot of posts about it on social media around the time it was published. Reading library books often means that I am behind the latest trends!
I found this prize-winning book well-written and very interesting. Apart from being autobiographical and about falconry, it is a book about grief and about TH White both as an author and a person. I read several of his books in my youth and have reread The Once and Future King as an adult. I liked some of his books very much, while others left me feeling that I had missed something. Learning about his struggles helped me to understand how his writing could vary so much.
Eye Can Write: A memoir of a child’s silent soul emerging by Jonathan Bryan
I was having a conversation with a small group of people, when one of them put a book into my hand without saying anything. I had heard of the book and thought I’d like to read it. It didn’t take long, because the print was a good size and the story was gripping. It is a truly inspirational book. I recommended it to hubby, who was more reluctant to read it because of the subject-matter. However, he is also finding it very interesting. Profits from the book go to a charity (Teach us too) to help youngsters with special needs to access a proper education. This book could be described as an antidote to Me Before You, which I wrote about in my previous post in this series.
Cousins by Salley Vickers is a book I found in the library. I have enjoyed other books by this author. I hadn’t heard about her latest titles. Strangely Cousins has some back-stories, which are similar to some in my own family. Also there are aspects of the story, which are not dissimilar to some other books I read recently. It was a good read. (I have read at least 6 of Salley Vickers’ books and am looking out for the ones I have missed.)
The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith was a book I bought second-hand at a coffee morning. Readers of this blog may remember that I have read many other books by this prolific author. I particularly like the Isabel Dalhousie series, to which this belongs. It is set in Edinburgh and I was part way through it when Hubby and I travelled to Edinburgh for a day. As I read the rest later, I could envisage some of the places where it was set. Recognising a place adds to the enjoyment in my opinion. It was a light-hearted read after some more serious books. As usual all the loose ends were tied up satisfactorily, while leaving scope for the story to continue unfolding.