Five more books I read in December 2020

The first four of these books were from BorrowBox. As for my previous book review post I am working from memory, having returned all these books. The Art Fiasco was a Christmas present. While many of the links in this post are to Amazon, I urge you to support high street bookshops and libraries.

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I owe you one: Love means all debts are off by Sophie Kinsella

I owe you one was a light read. A chance meeting set the scene for lots of twists and turns. I raced through it, enjoying the description of the characters and development of the plot. It was the second of Sophie Kinsella’s books I have read.

A tale of two families by Dodie Smith is a story of its time. Long ago I had read two books by Dodie Smith: The Hundred and One Dalmations and I capture the castle, but I was unaware of A tale of two families. Like Josephine Tey and Margery Allingham, Dodie Smith was writing in the 20th century. This book is set in the 1970s. The families in the story become neighbours. I found the characters fascinating; some of them were decidedly eccentric. All the loose ends were tied up in the best possible way. I am unsure whether the number in the title refers to one extended family and another family nearby or two nuclear families from the extended family.

In search of a name: a novel Marjoliju van Heemstra

This book read like real-life. An expectant mother researches her family history to decide whether to honour the promise she had made about naming her son.Book cover There are a lot of medical details about her pregnancy as well as the story of her research. Events following WW2 are remembered in archived documents and by characters in the story. It is a very interesting book set in the Netherlands.

Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay’s memoir Red Dust Road has much in common with In search of a name. Jackie was adopted and decided as an adult to find her birth parents. The story is not told in chronological order. It flips from accounts retold by others of events in her childhood to her own accounts of more recent events. This could make it disjointed, but in fact it works very well. There is intercontinental  travel too.book cover


The Art Fiasco: Poppy Denby Investigates by Fiona Veitch Smith

The Art Fiasco is the fifth Poppy Denby book. It is set in the North East of England and includes a historical map of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. There are two mysteries, which Poppy finds herself drawn into while on a visit to relatives. There is also some romantic interest. The status of women in the early 20th century is important in this novel and indeed in all the Poppy Denby series. There is enough background that the books may be read as stand-alone historical novels.Book cover


Five books I read in December 2020

All the books in this post were eBooks from BorrowBox. I returned them before beginning to write this post, so I am relying on my memory. At the time of writing I have read five more books, so my memory is a little congested!

The Truth Pixie goes to School by Matt Haig illustrated by Chris Mould

Having read The Girl who saved Christmas in which the Truth Pixie is a character, I borrowed and enjoyed another of Matt Haig’s children’s books, The Truth Pixie goes to School. It is a delightful story with a serious message about dealing with bullies at a new school.




Cover The Watchmaker of Filigree StreetThe Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

This is a story mainly set in London early in the 20th century, but also partly in another country. There are several strands with lots of interesting characters: a female research scientist, a genius watch-maker, Irish activists, civil servants and more. It is quirky, mixing imagination with historical facts, and exciting. I could hardly put it down.


Born at the right time: A memoir by Ron McCallumCover photo

Ron McCallum’s very readable memoir tells how he overcame his lifelong disability (blindness) to become an eminent Australian academic. He tells of his faults as well as his achievements. I was particularly interested in the history of the technology, which helps people with visual impairment to read and to use computers. (I am aware of some people, who already use this sort of technology and others, who might find it useful.) He also talks about his spiritual beliefs: his Roman Catholic background has been influenced by Buddhism.

Cover - Mr MiracleMr Miracle: Will they give love a chance this Christmas? by Debbie Macomber

When I read that the angel, who is the main character in the book, had angel friends called Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, I knew I was in for a treat! Life as an earth-bound angel was not quite what he expected. This is a light read with a Christmas theme set in the USA.

The Christmas Train: It’ll take a miracle to get home by David Baldacci was another light read for the Christmas season. I had heard of the author, but not read any of his books. This page-turner is a mystery, a romance and a travel adventure. It is set in the USA and has US vocabulary.


Three more books I read in November 2020

The books reviewed here are all fiction. One is a children’s book.

Book cover The Tiger and the RubyThe Tiger and the Ruby by Kief Hillsbery is a book from BorrowBox. The tagline is A journey to the other side of British India. It is historical fiction set mainly in India in the time of the East India Company. There is a mystery, which a relative of the main character sets out to solve a long time afterwards. I found the book interesting, but there were many snippets of history, which I did not find memorable. I found it hard to remember that it was a work of fiction. It was interesting and well-written. The story jumped from the time of the mystery to the time of the narrator, who was of a later generation.


Dust coverThe Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham is one of the books I recently inherited. I had read it many years ago, but couldn’t remember anything about it until the very end. In the last few pages I realised that I had read it before. It has similarities to The Franchise Affair with its background in post-WWII Britain. The variety of characters and the effect of decisions made by some of them on the lives of others make a good novel. I didn’t understand all the language of the criminals apart from ‘slop’ being back-slang for police. The changes in everyday English from the 1950s to the present day are very noticeable.

The edition I read was from a book club – World Books. Its publications had a standard appearance, demonstrated in the photos. The second photo shows how a dust cover protects a book.
Spine of book with inside of dust cover

Book cover The Girl who saved ChristmasThe Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig is the second in a series, but stands alone. I had not read any of Matt Haig’s children’s books before. It is a mixture of fantasy and historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I found on BorrowBox.