What I’ve Read – February 2020

February’s reading started strong and then sort of trailed off, I couldn’t find anything I was really interested in partly it’s because I’m really busy at work and partly because I’m waiting for The Mirror and the Light! Which should arrive today, I may just spend the weekend in the 1530’s as imagined by Hilary Mantel!

Good Husbandry: Growing a Family on a Community Farm – Kristin Kimball

I have read and really enjoyed ‘The Dirty Life’ which is her first book about her relationship with the husband and the farm. I’m not going to pretend I understand anything about the life she describes so unflichingly, I’m just romantic enough to think I could do it and just practical enough to know that it’s not my thing. The difference between when I read her first book and now, is that I have an allotment. An allotment is not the same as a farm but I have a better understanding of the effort and the worry of growing food even though I’m not dependent on it either as my sole source of food or income. There is an allotment joke about how one year we might grow two punnets of tomatoes which will take the overall cost down to £30 per tomato! So the effort it takes to wrestle a living from the land is not lost on me and Kimball is clear about the hardship and about her choosing of that hardship. She is also clear about how she finds grace and meaning from her way of life but at the same time completely open about the struggle that it takes to get there.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: Travels Through my Childhood – Bill Bryson

This was on the TBR shelf at home, I have a really bad habit (one I’m working on in 2020) of racing through the fiction TBR and leaving the non-fiction. So this has been on the shelf since the last time I was in Northumberland (it was part of a Barter Books haul). As ever with Bryson’s books, I found it informative and entertaining, it also confirmed my belief that the 1950’s (especially in the US) was completely insane…

Waking up with the Duke – Lorraine Heath

This was discussed on a recent episode of Fated Mates and they are really good at selling the books they like just through talking about them. I was sold and I pretty much agree with what they said. Everyone in the book is, not exactly lying but just not saying painful, truthful things. There is a lot that the heroine isn’t told to ‘protect her’ and there are no villains just imperfect people mucking up things. It’s a really lovely book, it does have some of the usual hand waving required to believe in the HEA but it was a lovely book.

Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman – Lorraine Heath

I’m reading this trilogy backwards, the trilogy is about the sons of a notorious Duchess and this is the book before Waking up with the Duke, and about the middle brother, Stephen, who has no title, and Mercy. We start the book with Mercy at the home of the Duke presenting the family with the son of the presumed dead (by Mercy), Stephen. Stephen was in the Light Brigade at the Crimea and was much injured, Mercy was one of Nightingale’s nurses which is where they met and he knocked her up. Except Stephen isn’t dead but he has amnesia and Mercy wasn’t the one he knocked up. She helped another nurse, Sarah, give birth and when Sarah abandoned the baby, Mercy took on motherhood and claimed it so that she’d be allowed to stay with the baby. There is a lot of work to do to give them a happy ending and most of it would have been resolved quicker if they’d used both their brains and their tongues to talk. 2 books in, I’m already tired of what marvelous lovers these brothers are but mostly because someone Stephen served with in the Crimea but doesn’t remember, tells him how amazing Mercy was, he believes the story she’s told him. Rather than take the word of the woman he says he’s in love with, he’ll believe a completely strange man. Ruined it. Is it believable, well that last bit is, but I was not convinced by the HEA because of that.

The Bright Beauty – Emily Cavannagh

This was an Amazon free book a while ago and I finally got around to it. It’s a story of twin sisters, Franci and Charlotte (Lottie) told by them. Lottie is bipolar (are you bipolar or do you have bipolar?) and it centres on Franci being called to come and help her sister in California because she’s been in an accident. It’s about how the disease changes you and changes the people looking after you.

I felt a huge amount of sympathy for Franci and a huge amount of frustration with Charlotte. Like an addict her disease tells her, that it’s everyone else, if they would just leave her to it, she’d be fine, but as the people around her point out, it’ll never be fine, she’ll always find a reason not to take her medication and with a child in the mix, you can never be left to it. I found Charlotte difficult because mental illness, is quite selfish and we see that as Charlotte resents Franci’s family and can’t understand why she can’t drop everything and come and look after her and her child indefinitely. It’s also in the very real irritation she feels and expresses when Franci asks her if she’s taking her meds, she’s not, Franci’s right but Charlotte just can’t see it, there is no real understanding of the consequences of her actions on other people.

Chasing Cassandra – Lisa Klepas

I’m almost at the point that a new Klepas is an auto buy for me and I really enjoyed this, it’s funny and simple. I quite like a story where the things that the characters need to overcome are in themselves and that this allows them to be fully loved. I did feel that the plot moppet was a bit much and the story I wanted was more of Tom and his family. His mother refusing to speak to him because when his father returned for money Tom didn’t make him stay and now his sisters don’t speak to him. I wanted to know about that, about whether some of this is the cause of much of his behaviour. It could have been more interesting but I was still very fond of it!

About nicdempsey

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