Top Ten Tuesdays: Books I bought in 2021 that I Didn’t Get Round To Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To but I decided to change it a bit and list ten of the books I bought in 2021 that I didn’t get round to reading. The only reason I haven’t read them yet is that I’ve been reading other books … I can only read one book at a time, regardless of how many I have on the go at once.

They are a mix of fiction and nonfiction:

  1. The Radium Girls: They paid with their lives. Their final fight was for justice by.Kate Moore
  2. Everyone Versus Racism: A Letter to My Children by Patrick Hutchinson
  3. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  4. Winds of Change: Britain in the Early Sixties by Peter Hennessy
  5. Philip: The Final Portrait by Gyles Brandreth
  6. The Hanging Tree: Book 6 in Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch
  7. Plenty: A Memoir of Food and Family by Hannah Howard
  8. Mrs England by Stacey Halls
  9. Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff
  10. Written In Bone: hidden stories in what we leave behind by Sue Black

Which one to read first? I can’t decide.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

3*

I bought a paperback copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four (its original title) in 2008, but have only just read it. It is George Orwell’s last novel, written in 1948 and presents his vision of a dystopian society, a totalitarian state complete with mass surveillance, where individuality is brutally suppressed.

Synopsis from the back cover:

In Orwell’s frightening vision of the future, society is under the control of Big Brother. Every aspect of life is closely monitored, whilst any hint of unorthodoxy is ruthlessly suppressed by the Thought Police. The Ministry of Truth, where Winston Smith works, is the Party’s Propaganda Machine. A secret rebel, Winston yearns for liberty and finds new hope when he falls in love with the earthy, uncomplicated Julia. Instead he discovers a nightmare world of terror where the price of freedom is betrayal.

Winston Smith’s attempt to find liberty and individuality plunges him into a truly horrific version of hell. The world is ravaged by war with three superstates, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia battling for total control. Winston lives in Airstrip One (Britain) in Oceania. His job is to rewrite history and destroy the old records, in accordance with the current circumstances. He secretly opposes the Party’s rule, led by the mysterious Big Brother, and dreams of rebellion. But faced with the Thought Police, the Hate Week sessions the surveillance through the television screens, cameras and hidden microphones monitoring his every move and thought, he realises it is a futile hope and that he is likely to be caught.

This really is the most depressing book and in places it is boring, especially in the middle section of the book devoted to Goldstein’s book. Goldstein, the leader of the Opposition Party to Big Brother, is always the subject of hatred at the Hate Week sessions. There are also passages that I could hardly bear to read – torture scenes that I did not want to visualise – it is a harrowing book. But it was interesting to see where the terms, Big Brother is Watching You, Room 101 (you do not want to be sent there!) Thought Police, Newspeak, Doublethink, holding two contradictory thoughts at the same time, and Thoughtcrime originated.

Nineteen Eighty -Four has received very many accolades and 94% of the people who have rated it on Goodreads ‘liked’ it – 79% giving it 5 or 4 stars .This is possibly the least enjoyable book I’ve read, horrific in content, lacking in convincing characterisation, and has a poor plot. It is depressing and dreary in the extreme, but I can see why it can be considered a brilliant book in its depiction of a dystopian society. It is seriously thought provoking!

‘George Orwell’ was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950). He ‘was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.’ (Goodreads)

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection. Mine are mainly e-books.

The Birds And Other Stories (Virago Modern Classics Book 10) by Daphne Du Maurier. I bought this because I enjoy her books and wanted to see if Hitchcock’s film version of The Birds was anything like du Maurier’s short story.

The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo – This extraordinary historical novel, set in Medieval Paris under the twin towers of its greatest structure and supreme symbol, the cathedral of Notre-Dame, is the haunting drama of Quasimodo, the hunchback; Esmeralda, the gypsy dancer; and Claude Frollo, the priest tortured by the specter of his own damnation.

Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison – she explores our relationship with the weather as she follows the course of four rain showers, in four seasons, across Wicken Fen, Shropshire, the Darent Valley and Dartmoor, and reveals how rain is not just an essential element of the world around us, but a key part of our own identity too.

The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles, translated by Robert Fagles – the story of the ill fated Theban royal family. Oedipus, a mythical king, accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, bringing disaster to his city and family. I have a vague memory that I read Oedipus the King at school – but maybe I didn’t. I definitely haven’t read the other two.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne – I bought this after watching the first episode of the TV adaptation with David Tenant as Phileas Fogg, who bet his friends in the Reform Club that he can travel across the globe in just eighty days.

How to Catch a Mole: and Find Yourself in Nature by Marc Hamer – A calming, life-affirming book about the British countryside, the cycle of nature, solitude and contentment, by a brilliant new nature writer who spent time homeless as a young man, sleeping in the hedgerows he now knows so well. I’m currently reading this and enjoying it very much.

The Dark Remains by Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney – In this scorching crime prequel, New York Times best-selling author Ian Rankin and Scottish crime-writing legend William McIlvanney join forces for the first ever case of D.I. Laidlaw, Glasgow’s original gritty detective.

Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World by Michelle Scott Tucker, a biography. After reading Kate Grenville’s novel, A Room Made of Leaves I wanted to know more about the Macarthurs who settled in Australia in the late 1700s.

The Raven Spell: A Novel (A Conspiracy of Magic Book 1) by Luanne G. Smith – In Victorian England a witch and a detective are on the hunt for a serial killer in an enthralling novel of magic and murder. It’s my Amazon First Reads choice for January.

The Night Hawks: Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 13 (The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries) by Elly Griffiths. I still have books 10 – 12 to read before I can read this one! The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk. At first Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons.

Classics Club II

The Classics Club

The Classics Club is a club created to inspire people to read and blog about classic books. There’s no time limit to join. You simply sign up to read and write on your blog about at least 50 classic books in at most five years

This is my second list of books to read for the Classics Club. I’ve been hesitating about making a second list as it has taken me almost 10 years to read through my first list! So I hope this second list won’t take me that long. It doesn’t have to be a fixed list as you can alter it at any time. I’ll be using this list once I’ve finished reading the last book on my first list.

I’ve listed the books in a-z author order. 

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – I’m not sure that I’ve read this before, so it may turn out to be a re-read.
  2. Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge
  3. Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton
  4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  6. The Mousetrap and Selected Plays by Agatha Christie
  7. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  8. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  9. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
  10.  Buried for Pleasure by Edmund Crispin
  11. The Stars Look Down by A J Cronin
  12. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  13. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  14. Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens
  15. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
  16. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  17. The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
  18. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
  19. Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford
  20. A Room with a View by E M Forster
  21. The Man of Property by John Galsworthy Forsyte Saga (1)
  22. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  23. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  24. Daisy Miller by Henry James
  25. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  26. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  27. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  28. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  29. The Night Manager by John le Carre
  30. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  31. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay – read
  32. How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  33. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence
  34. Friends and Heroes by Olivia Manning
  35. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
  36. The Birds and other short stories by Daphne du Maurier
  37. I’ll Never Be Young Again by Daphne du Maurier
  38. The Time of Angels by Iris Murdoch
  39. Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault
  40. Waverley by Walter Scott
  41. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute
  42. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
  43. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
  44. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
  45. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
  46. The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
  47. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  48. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  49. The Invisible Man by H G Wells
  50. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: 1984 by George Orwell

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

1984 is one of the books I’m currently reading. It’s one of those books I’ve had for years and never read.

The Book Begins:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

‘By 2050 – earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron – they’ll exist only in Newspwak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be.

Summary:

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia”—a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time. (Goodreads)

~~~

What have you been reading lately?

Back to the Classics Challenge 2022

It’s back! This is the 9th year that Karen at Books and Chocolate has hosted the Back to the Classics Challenge and this is the second time I’ll be joining in. Last year I completed 6 of the categories and this year I’m hoping to do more,

See Karen’s sign-up post on Books and Chocolate for more details about the challenge.

There are twelve categories and these are the books I’ve initially chosen for some of the categories – but there are others I could choose, so this list may/probably will change.

  1. A 19th century classic. Any book first published from 1800 to 1899 – David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  2. A 20th century classic. Any book first published from 1900 to 1972. All books must have been published at least 50 years ago; the only exceptions are books which were written by 1972 and posthumously published. Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge
  3. A classic by a woman author. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  4. A classic in translation.  Any book first published in a language that is not your primary language. You may read it in translation or in its original language, if you prefer. 
  5. A classic by BIPOC author. Any book published by a non-white author. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
  6. Mystery/Detective/Crime Classic. It can be fiction or non-fiction (true crime). The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
  7. A Classic Short Story Collection. Any single volume that contains at least six short stories. The book can have a single author or can be an anthology of multiple authors. The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier
  8. A Pre-1800 Classic. Anything written before 1800. Plays and epic poems, such as the Odyssey, are acceptable in this category. 
  9. A Nonfiction Classic. Travel, memoirs, and biographies are great choices for this category. In Cold Blood. by Truman Capote
  10. A Classic That’s Been on Your TBR List the Longest. Find the classic book that’s been hanging around unread the longest, and finally cross it off your list!  
  11. A Classic Set in a Place You’d Like to Visit. Can be real or imaginary — Paris, Tokyo, the moon, Middle Earth, etc. It can be someplace you’ve never been, or someplace you’d like to visit again.
  12. A Wild Card Classic. Any classic you like, any category, as long as it’s at least 50 years old!

Historical Fiction Challenge 2022

Marg at The Intrepid Reader hosts the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created where you can add the links for the books you have read.

Everyone can participate! If you don’t have a blog you can post a link to your review if it’s posted on Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon, or you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish.

Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)

During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

I love historical fiction so in 2022 I’m hoping to reach the Medieval level, that is read 15 books.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the First Half of 2022.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the First Half of 2022. I’ve listed these in the order they are to be released. Some of them are review copies from NetGalley. The descriptions are from NetGalley or Amazon.

13 January: The Key In The Lock by Beth Underdown – By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the death of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose murder decades ago haunts her still. For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

20 January: The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements – In the gripping new spy thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Hitler’s Secret, a Cambridge spy must find the truth behind Hitler’s death. But exactly who is the man in the bunker?

27 January: The Second Cut by Louise Welsh – – Thrilling and atmospheric, The Second Cut delves into the dark side of twenty-first century Glasgow. Twenty years on from his appearance in The Cutting Room, Rilke is still walking a moral tightrope between good and bad, saint and sinner.

3 February: The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths – Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are on the hunt for a murderer when Covid rears its ugly head. But can they find the killer despite lockdown?

3 February: A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham – Chloe Davis’ father is a serial killer. He was convicted and jailed when she was twelve but the bodies of the girls were never found, seemingly lost in the surrounding Louisiana swamps. The case became notorious and Chloe’s family was destroyed.

10 February: I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomens – Listen to my history. My adventures are worth hearing. I have lived many lifetimes and been loved by emperors, kings and thieves. I have survived kidnap and assault. Revolution and two world wars. But this is also a love story. And the story of what we will do for those we love.

1 March: The Chapel in the Woods by Dolores Gordon-Smith – Jack and Betty Haldean’s weekend in the country is disrupted by sudden, violent death in this intricately-plotted 1920s mystery. This is the 11th Jack Haldean Murder Mystery.

3 March: Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook – 1886, Bannin Bay, Australia. The Brightwell family has sailed from England to make their new home in Western Australia. Ten-year-old Eliza knows little of what awaits them on these shores beyond shining pearls and shells like soup plates – the things her father has promised will make their fortune.

5 May: The Hiding Place by Simon Lelic – Four Friends. One Murder. A Game They Can’t Escape. DI Fleet is up against some of the most powerful people in the country as he attempts to discover the truth about what happened on the day of the game…

2 June: The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley by Sean Lusk – A beautifully crafted historical mystery bursting with wonderfully realised characters, a sense of fizzing energy that brims over every page and immersive storytelling that will take the reader from 18th century London, across Europe and, finally, to the bustling city of Constantinople.

Just Like the Other Girls

I read Just Like the Other Girls, a psychological thriller, by Claire Douglas in November. My copy is a NetGalley review copy that I’ve had for over a year! I really should have read it earlier. It was published in August 2020 by Penguin.

Synopsis

Una Richardson is devastated after the death of her mother. Hoping for a fresh start, she responds to an advertisement and steps into the rich, comforting world of elderly Mrs Elspeth McKenzie. But Elspeth’s home is not as safe as it seems. Kathryn, her cold and bitter daughter, resents Una’s presence. More disturbing is the evidence suggesting two girls lived here before.

What happened to the girls? Why will the McKenzies not talk about them? As the walls close in around her, Una fears she’ll end up just like the other girls . . .

My thoughts:

Like the other books I’ve read by Claire Douglas this revolves round family secrets and mother/daughter/sister relationships and there are enough twists and turns that at first puzzled me, but it didn’t grip me as her earlier books did. Although it begins well and at first I was intrigued by the mystery, I thought there were too many coincidences to be credible and it was just too far-fetched. This means that the chilling atmosphere that had been built up at first faded away. Having said that I did want to know how it would end so I read on but was not surprised by the final reveal.

  • ASIN: B081RBYHJQ
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 Aug. 2020)
  • Language:‎ English
  • Print length: 388 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN: ‎0063138115
  • My rating: 3*

My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin, the publishers for a review copy.

What’s in a Name 2022

This challenge, hosted by Andrea at Carolina Book Nook runs from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022.

Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category. Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

Click on the links below for more examples and info about the categories.

It’s a challenge that looks deceptively simple because ‘all’ you have to do is read six books from six categories – but each year there is at least one that that takes me nearly all the year to find. This year it looks like there are two – the first two! I have plenty of titles to choose from for the other categories, but not for the first two.