Call The Midwife – Jennifer Worth

This book is the true account of Jennifer Worth in the 1950’s when she was working as a midwife. She was working in appalling conditions in the East End of London, commonly known as the slums.

I first read this book in 2008 and having had a home birth earlier this year I thought it would be interesting to revisit this book to compare the differences from the 50’s to today’s modern world and what differences they are!!

Worth writes marvellously, on some stories I felt I was a fly on the wall they were so realistically written. Not all the stories are to do with midwifery but some involve general nursing. The other chrarcters in the book are fabulous and you will either love them or hate them.

I haven’t really got much more to say on this book, except it’s a fantastic book and for me it’s one to keep. A must read.

 

Chick Lit

I’ve always loved reading chick lit, I find there’s something satisfying about it, like meeting up with a friend for a cuppa and a natter. I’ve read chick lit for most of my reading years,  in fact it dominated the early years but now I tend to stick to old favourites like Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Sinead Moriarty. The plot tends to be the same, girl meets boy, they fall in love, they fall out (normally over somebody else), they make up and live happily ever after. While not the most exciting, edge of your seat stuff to read about, it’s still comforting.

I do think authors have sat up  and listened to the great reading public now and are differing their books, involving family things, children etc which can only make chick lit better. I’ve read some fabulous chick lit stories over the last couple of years where children play a main point in the story and I’ve loved it.

Another thing I love about chick  lit is the book covers, there’s something about them that excites me (sad I know!), I love the colour of the covers, they’re normally pink or pastel shades and the design is normally cartoony type pictures. Lately I’ve seen chick lit books using real life photographs and I’m really not fussy on them.

I love looking at my bookcase with all the pretty covers on there, it has to be the girly in me!!

The Initiation Of Ms Holly – K. D. Grace

Sex with a mysterious stranger aboard a train leads Rita Holly to an initiation into the exclusive and secretive Mount club. Sophisticated and deviant rituals await Rita, as do the endless intrigues and power struggles deep within the heart of the organisation.

I’ve never read Erotica before but I had this sent to me to review through goodreads.com. I enjoyed it, it’s not the type of book that can be read start to finish, for me it was more of a dip in, dip out book. I loved the characters, especially Rita and Edward but some of the characters infuriated me a bit.

Good sexy fun in the book with very explicit, descriptive acts going on, It felt quite naughty just reading it, I think the author must have a very vivid imagination to come up with some of the things. A perfect book to read with the other half in bed. I would recommend it.

My Sh*t Life So Far – Frankie Boyle

This book is basically as the title says, Frankie Boyle’s shit life so far. I only normally read biog’s about celebs I know of but my son said this was brilliant and I had to give it a go!! I’ve never seen Boyle on TV and only heard of him as he had caused a contraversy a few months ago that I saw on the news.

With some of the things he’s says I’m laughing but with some things I’m cringing, he’s quite a cynical fella isn’t he! He says in the introduction that he lies a lot in this book (and I could certainly see where he was lying!) so how can this be a memoir if you don’t know if it’s the truth or not, or is it just his sense of humour, I don’t know.

With that in mind a decided to read this book with a little scepticism and by doing that I enjoyed reading this book more than I thought I would. He’s quite an articulate and intelligent man. Very honest about his drinking and drug taking.

Some parts of the book though were crude, obscene even and made it slightly uncomfortable reading in parts. I’m not sure why he wrote this book, celebs lately seem to bring out an autobiography every few years detailing their lives and I thought that would have been everything Boyle stood against but maybe he’s just another ‘celeb’ out to make a buck or two.

Not sure if I would recommend this book, if your a big fan of Boyle then I would but if not then it might not interest you.

Historical Fiction

I’m discovering a passion for historical fiction. I have enjoyed one or two of Philippa Gregory’s books in the last year or two and I’m currently reading Claire Letemendia’s The Best Of Men and enjoying every second of it. It’s leaving me with a desire to read more of this genre and I’m not sure how I haven’t discovered it before in my years of reading.

The Best Of Men delves into civil war in the 1600’s (a review will be coming up as soon as I’ve finished reading it!!). It’s not really the war or government/parliament I enjoy about these books but I just adore reading about the social or domestic situations that people centuries ago had to live through. For instance, many moons ago a pregnant woman would be confined to her darkened bedroom for a month before the birth of her baby. Can you imagine that happening today? I have a 6 month old baby and while I was pregnant on him I would have enjoyed a nice 8 hour stretch in a darkened room (at night) towards the end of my pregnancy but I was in and out of bed with back ache/needing the loo/heartburn every 2 hours!!

I’m deflecting from the original idea of this post now. My recent discovery of my love for historical fiction. I don’t know the difference between the different periods in history, the Stuarts, the Edwardians or the Tudor period, I know they happened but don’t know when or in what chronological order, something I need to learn about I think.The difference in the language amazes me too, these days we have breakfast but then you had to break your fast. It really has changed a lot over the years.

I also think about the clothes and what houses were like in these different era’s. I wonder what people would think in bygone era’s of us watching our 50″ plasma screen tv’s with fridges full of food and drink. I know it’s just a sign of the times but can you imagine living without a toilet or having to wear the same clothes for weeks on end?

No, neither can I…….

The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton

On the eve of the First World War, a little girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia. A mysterious woman called the Authoress had promised to look after her, but has disappeared without a trace.  On the night of her twenty first birthday, Nell Andrews learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family. On Nell’s death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold, secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost.

Kate Morton, winner of the Richard and Judy’s Summer Read 2007 with The House At Riverton, has written a fabulous book in The Forgotten Garden. It’s told in the third person narrative and set across two continents. Each chapter goes back and forth in time (1913, 1975 and 2005) depending on which character your reading about, either Nell, Cassandra or Eliza. I loved these 3 characters, they were all regarded as wonderfully strong women but each had suffered tradegy in their lives which made them stronger still. I enjoyed the other characters as well, even Mrs Swindell and her bad traits.

I was totally gripped by this book, the story is enchanting. It’s 645 pages long and I thought it might be too long for such a story but everything was unravelled brilliantly. Each chapter would give a fabulous cryptic clue as too what was coming next, just enough to guarantee you to want to turn the page. Near the end of the book, all the loose ends I was questioning are cleverly tied together.

I couldn’t put this book down, I was totally gripped by it. This book will definitely be on my Top 5 of 2010 list. I couldn’t find a fault with it. She captured the language perfectly within each timescale. I can’t wait to read her other works.

Highly recommended.

Sh*t My Dad Says – Justin Halpern

Justin Halpern is 28 years old and has moved back home with his parents after splitting up with his girlfriend. This is a hilarious collection of gems his father blunty comes out with, such as…

ON SHOWERING WITH REGULARITY   “You’re ten years old now, you have to take a shower everyday….I don’t give a shit if you hate it. People hate smelly fuckers. I will not have a smelly fucker for a son”

and…

ON UNDERSTANDING ONE’S PLACE IN THE FOOD CHAIN   “Your mother made a batch of meatballs last night. Some are for you, some are for me, but more are for me. Remember that. More. Me.

A fabulous assortment of anecdotes. I dare you not to laugh while reading it.

 

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey

 

Late on a hot summer night at the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by a knock on his window. His visitor is Jasper Jones. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie.

This story is based in Australia and told from Charlie Bucktin’s point of view. It started off slow and I felt the pace didn’t pick up much. It had pages of descriptive details that had no significance to the story and it got slightly tedious reading them.

Charlie was a character that was older than his years, I have a 15 year old, an intelligent 15 year old but even she wouldn’t use the words chose by Charlie, they were just to advanced for his age of 13 years. He looked up to Jasper Jones, saw him as a ‘cool guy’.

Some of the romantic scenes were quite touching in a schoolboy meets schoolgirl kind of way. More of the story came out in the last few pages than in the whole of the book.

So to sum up, I didn’t really enjoy this, felt it was too young for me but the dialogue chosen would be too difficult for my 11 year old as it was too advanced.

The Three Weissmanns Of Westport is a story about Joseph and Betty Weissmann. Joseph announces at the age of 78 that he wants to divorce Betty. It’s a tale of love (or lack of it!) and relationships.

The story was excellent and I found myself being drawn in. It flowed beautifully, effortlessly even.  I loved Betty’s character, I thought she was fabulous, her sarcasm and wit had me laughing out loud and for me it made the book. Along with Mr Shpuntov who was hysterical, if these two had gotten together then that would have been a different book entirely!!  Also in this book were Joseph and Betty’s daughter’s, Annie and Miranda although the story seemed to focus on them more rather than Jospeh and Betty. I wasn’t too keen on Miranda, some of the things she done made me think her character wasn’t as old as it was supposed to be. She is meant to be a woman in her 50’s but acted far younger and discovered things about herself that I’m sure she would have found out about by now.

All in all, an enjoyable read but I would have preferred the author to have focused more on Betty rather than the daughters as they seemed to be the main characters. This was also a ‘playful homage’ to Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility but as I haven’t read that, I couldn’t draw any comparisons.

Red Leaves by Paullina Simons

A college girl has been found dead in snow near a New England college campus.

Why have none of her friends reported her missing? What are they holding back from Detective Spencer O’Malley who is assigned to the case? He delves into their secrets, their lies and the mystery of the complex relationships between them all, Jim, Conni, Albert and Kristina.

I couldn’t wait to start this book as my reading hasn’t been very ‘on the edge’ lately and needed something to sink my teeth into and this book didn’t disappoint. A rapid start to the book but the pace slowed down until the dialogue between certain characters got a bit tedious, however it wasn’t until later in the book I could see that character communication was essential to the story. I thought the story was slightly predictable in places in a ‘whodunnit’ kind of way. There’s always a character who’s not quite telling the truth or some evidence has been overlooked. It didn’t deflect from the story though, it was interesting how the story unfolded with a few surprises along the way.

The characters Jim, Kristina, Connie and Albert all had traits which annoyed me slightly, I loved Spencer O’Malley though, a tough guy who’s been through tradegy himself, a character who I found intruiging and who I felt comfortable reading about.

Highly recommended.

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