What I read in August 2020 (Part 5)

The last two books I read in August were on Borrowbox.

I was looking for some light reading, so I searched for Phaedra Patrick and found a book which had WWishes under the Willow Tree coverishes under the Willow Tree: A season of second chances on the cover, but the title of Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone. I enjoyed reading it, although I couldn’t work out how the main character was managing to keep paying with cash, while he had few customers in his jewellery shop! The chapter headings are semiprecious stones with their attributes. One of the questions for readers groups is about belief in the attributes of stones to affect people’s lives. I do not believe this, but it made a good story. The characters are well-drawn and there are unexpected events and plenty of suspense to keep the pages turning. I read it in a day.

The book has different titles in the UK and the US: Wishes under the Willow Tree in the UK and Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone in the US.

I looked for The Handmaid’s Tale, but it was out on loan. However, my search term of Atwood also brought up Atwater. Mr Popper’s Penguins, which I thoroughly enjoyed as a stage play with puppets last year, was originally a children’s book written by an American couple, Richard and Florence Atwater. I borrowed it and read it in an afternoon. It was very interesting to notice how the book had been adapted for the stage. The book was illustrated by Robert Lawson and the e-book published by Open Road Media. There were a few chapters in the book, which were impossible to transfer to a stage production with a tiny cast. However, the play was true to the book with minor adaptations. Mr Popper was absent-minded in the book. In the play this appeared as clumsiness, which worked well. Either way his mind was not on his work! There are several American words, which British children might find difficult, but it is a very funny book. The biographical details of the authors were interesting. They were born in the 19th century. Florence, who edited the book into a form accepted for publication in 1938, lived until 1979.

What I read in February 2020 (Part 2)

I read two more library books and one from my own shelves in February.

The Curious Charms of Mr Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is a lovely story. I finished reading it the day after I began! The description on the front cover is longer than a normal strap-line: Forty Years of Marriage Eight Golden Charms One Man’s Journey of Discovery.

This is Phaedra Patrick’s debut novel. I recently reviewed another of her books – The Library of Lost and Found.

There are reading group questions, one of which is about the genre. Is it a romance a mystery or an adventure story? It has elements of all three.

The next book I read was Good Wives by Louisa M Alcott, which I enjoyed more than Little Women. I found it really interesting to compare reading this book for the first time as a youngster and now looking through the lens of experience.

Far from the Tree: When life falls apart, family sticks together by Robin Benway is a prize-winning young adult novel. It was on the New Books display. It is an American book and some aspects of school-life in the USA were unfamiliar to me. It does not pull any punches, dealing with teenage pregnancy, bullying, racism, identity and more. A coming of age book with a difference. I enjoyed it. It may be worth mentioning for UK readers that Robin can be a girl’s name as in this case.

What I read in December 2019 (Part 2)

Happy New Year to all my readers!

The two books I am reviewing in this post were library books I returned before completing this post.

The Library of Lost and Found: Sometimes you have to write your own happy ending by Phaedra Patrick

This book was on a display about the Great North West Read 2019, a library project promoting books with a regional connection. Phaedra Patrick lives near Manchester.

I enjoyed this book very much, finding it hard to put down. The characters are very interesting and different from each other. There are twists and turns in the plot with the characters reacting in ways which are true to life. One view put forward by a character, which particularly resonated with me was: ‘It is impossible to remember everything about a person from the past. You formed your own idealised picture of them…’ * There are reading group questions.

I read this book as light relief from the other book in this post. (I often read fiction  while I am in the process of reading a nonfiction book.) *I may have paraphrased this from page 150.

What Dementia Teaches Us About Love by Nicci Gerrard

This is a nonfiction book by Nicci Gerrard, who is a journalist as well as writing fiction with Sean French under the pen-name Nicci French. I have not yet read any of their books, although I know people who enjoy them.

What Dementia Teaches Us About Love is a well-researched and well-written book inspired by the author’s experience of having family members with dementia. She has made a difference to the experience of patients and their carers during stays in hospital through John’s Law. This is a book, which would be useful to anyone with friends or relatives with dementia, whether diagnosed or not, and also to those working in the caring professions. It is not a depressing book.

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