Design: February Reading Review

Design: February Reading Review

Still making the best of my Kindle Unlimited subscription, I have continued with my reading challenge this month. As a result I have a number of books to review and recommend!

I’ve always enjoyed reading and am aware that I have probably read a fair number of books over the years – but I’ve never actually kept track of how many. After seeing ‘Good reads’ popping up on my Facebook page, I thought it would be fun to set a challenge of reading 52 books over the year.

I have no idea if this is more or less than I usually read but I thought it a reasonable number to help me get good value from Kindle Unlimited!

With a hectic half term with all three kids, and a poorly Thomas I’ve found my reading time a little restricted this month. I’ve managed to read eight books, two however being Short Stories. This isn’t a genre that I’ve opted for before but I find it difficult to shop on the Kindle, so have often picked books a little randomly! It’s certainly made for some interesting reading:

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The Letter Promised by Kevin Wignall (Kindle Unlimited)

This was the first short story I’ve read in a long time and honestly, I didn’t realise it was one until it occurred to me that the story was moving very quickly. If you’ve only got a hour or so spare – or not a lot of time to read – I would recommend this as a book for you.

The central character, Nick Walker, is wanted for a series of crimes in the US and has fled to Paris in an effort to escape. Knowing that his marriage is over, he contemplates suicide – but his efforts are thwarted by a chance encounter with a Russian who leaves him with an obligation to fulfil…

I won’t say anything else for fear of ruining the story but I found this a quick blast of love, hope, loss and redemption. At the end of the story I felt a little bereft as I wanted there to be more. I was left in the end to my own imagination – but maybe that’s more fun?

Amid the Shadows by Michael C. Grumley (Kindle Unlimited)

The description for this book reads:

After her mother is violently murdered, young Sarah Baxter ends up in the care of a new and inexperienced social worker with problems of her own. But when Christine Rose and Sarah both get thrown into a terrifying conspiracy, Christine discovers that someone will stop at nothing to rid the world of Sarah’s ability. Now the only thing that really matters is keeping Sarah alive!

Can we be clear that nowhere in this description do we get a mention that the main premise of the book is that the earth is in the grips of a deadly battle between God and Satan? Is there any mention of angel- type creatures here to fulfil key roles in order to gain souls? Any clue about a winding narrative about Biblical exegesis? No?? Not just me then!

This book was nothing like the book I was expecting to read. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the inaccuracy didn’t stop there. Little things throughout the book rankled a little bit – like Madison Avenue in New York becoming ‘Madison Street.’ It’s not really a huge problem but I’ve stopped reading books for lesser crimes before!

Overall, I thought the story was quite compelling. The ideas were certainly intriguing but I found that some passages in the book were like something from a James Bond movie whilst others were better placed in a pamphlet from an evangelical Church. It was odd and I’m not sure I’d be searching for a sequel!

Owen (The Tudor Trilogy) by Tony Riches (Kindle Unlimited)

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

Tudor history is easily my favourite period of history, so I’ve read a lot of books set around Henry VIII’s time. Branching out a little has been interesting as I had only read a couple of books about his earlier dynasty.

This book was written in the present tense, which whilst a little unusual, made for very easy reading. I found that the story really flowed and that I couldn’t easily put it down.

The Photographer’s Wife by Nick Alexander (Kindle Unlimited)

Last month, I had pointed to Nick Alexander’s book ‘The Other Son’ as one of the most beautiful books I had read. Since I enjoyed it so much I thought it would be good to look at other things he had written – and I wasn’t disappointed.

‘The Photographer’s Wife’ was set in two different time periods, with the stories from each eventually merging. There were so many secrets and unknowns, I was desperate to keep reading to find out how much of the truth would eventually be known – and what the consequences would be!

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this book really is beautifully written and is such a compelling tale. Not one part of the plot was pointless – I just wanted to soak up the story as found myself tied up in the emotion of the characters. I found myself sorrowful, angry, amused… in short, thoroughly entertained. I would really recommend this as a good read!

I Need a Hero by Emma Bennet (Kindle Unlimited)

After the emotion of ‘The Photographer’s Wife’, I really was looking for something light and fluffy – this certainly fit the bill:

This is a romance book, about a Romance writer. She lives in a small cottage next to an empty cottage. One day a rather handsome dentist moves in to the empty cottage… he’s not quite her type but she wants to be friends. Along comes very good looking man, who is her type (but is a bit of an arse).

Can anyone guess how the story goes? (Yes, it was that predictable).

The Twilight Child by Elizabeth Harris (Kindle Unlimited)

The Twilight Child is the story of Claire, a World War Two bride, whose husband has gone off to fight and left her in their new home in Firlebury, a little village in Sussex to await his return. Claire is pregnant with her first child and seeks to settle down in the village, but soon she starts to have visions of the past and the terror of ritualistic happenings.

Unlike ‘Amid the Shadows’, I knew this book was going to be a little bit different. Full of unseen forces and strange occurrences, the story really carries you through Claire’s experience of protecting her newborn son.  Set during World War Two the uncertainty Claire felt waiting for her husband Will to return home was palpable. Combined with the fear invoked by some of the visions and discoveries made? It’s actually quite a scary book!

The Girl In Room Fourteen by Carol Drinkwater (Kindle Unlimited)

As I mentioned before, short stories aren’t really a realm I had dipped into before – I guess because I really like a story I can get lost in! However, with time at a premium it’s been nice to pick up a couple of super quick reads and not be left waiting to know what happens next!

This story is largely set in Cannes and focuses on the life of Cecile, a lemon seller at the market. She keeps herself apart from people there, focusing on her business and life with her daughter. However as the story unravels, you learn of a back story, of a love lost.

I’m not going to give the game away but the story does not quite go as expected. It was billed as a love story – but I’m not convinced. If you have a spare hour, give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

A Real Boy by Christopher Stevens and Nicola Stevens (Kindle Unlimited)

The tagline of this book – How Autism Shattered Our Lives and Made a Family from the Pieces – sums it up pretty effectively:

David is a happy, healthy, and affectionate child, but he is also profoundly autistic. He is unable to speak more than a few words, barely capable of expressing his most basic needs, oblivious to danger and blind to other people’s emotions. This is the heart-wrenching story of bringing up a child who will always be a little boy and an account of both the heartbreak and the unexpected joy of autism.

I’m not usually one to seek out non-fiction, but as I was browsing the parenting section of Kindle Unlimited, this really stood out. This book is a very raw account of the Stevens family and their journey with David. At times the book is completely heartbreaking but at other points – entirely heart warming. I found myself in complete awe of the love the Stevens have for their son and their ability to cope in the face of many mountains.

I found the account of how much they had to really fight for support just unbelievable. They had to jump through so many hoops to get what they needed for their son. Faced with an already difficult situation, the ‘system’ just seemed to take that difficulty and increase it tenfold.

I’ve had the privilege of watching an old friend parent her autistic son over the last few years and have no end of admiration for her. Whilst I don’t think you can ever say that one person’s experience is ever like another – this book has just increased my appreciation of parents with a autistic children tenfold.

I would really recommend this as a read for everyone and anyone keen to understand a bit more about autism and the challenges families may face. If nothing else, it will make you appreciate how easy it really is to deal with a ‘regular’ toddler tantrum.

Have you been reading much this month? I’d love to hear if you have any recommendations!

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16 Comments

  1. February 29, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    Oh I’m envious! I’ve neglected my reading ever since I’ve joined the FB groups 😉 But I’m desperate to finish the book I’m currently reading now 🙁 I’ve always liked short stories, so The Letter Promised appeals to me. Though admittedly not a kindle reader, I prefer actual books I can hold and smell (love the smell of books and its pages, I’m not really weird, promise 😉 x

    • March 1, 2016 / 3:05 pm

      Totally understand this. I got a kindle after my husband got a bit fed up with the volume of books in our house! There’s just too many for a house this small. But the smell of books is beautiful 🙂

  2. February 29, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    How bad is it that I never get the chance to read anymore! I can’t believe you’ve got through all these!

    • March 1, 2016 / 3:04 pm

      I’ve purposely been making time after realising all I read is blogs! That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I really do like to read fiction too.

  3. February 29, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    Some good reads I would like to read the Owen trilogy as I am a huge fan of historical fiction and Tudor is my favourite era. I like the sound of the Photographer’s wife too!

    • March 1, 2016 / 3:03 pm

      Sounds like we’d be book buddies 🙂 I’d love to hear any recommendations set in the Tudor era!

  4. March 1, 2016 / 7:37 am

    I still think 8 books is a real achievement! I like the sound of th photographers wife the most, we have brought a kindle fire for Monkey and I am hoping that I may get the chance to download some bits onto it too! This could well make it onto the list!

    • March 1, 2016 / 3:03 pm

      I haven’t really downloaded many children’s books as I’m kind of addicted to buying them for the kids – so many good kids books out there! But maybe should do a post on unlimited ones for kids… 🙂

  5. March 1, 2016 / 5:43 pm

    Wow that’s quite the list to get through. Sounds like some great reads. I love reading – I’m an English teacher but with a teaching job, a 3yo and a 1yo and the blog I am ashamed to say I haven’t read a full book that isn’t related to something I am teaching since last summer. Must be more proactive like you!

    • March 1, 2016 / 8:20 pm

      I’m a teacher with a 3yo, 7mo and a blog… but I’m on Mat leave – lol! Definitely gives some perks!

  6. March 2, 2016 / 12:02 pm

    The twilight child looks like the kind of book I would enjoy, am going to look it up. Love reading

    • March 2, 2016 / 6:03 pm

      Hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think! x

  7. March 2, 2016 / 1:17 pm

    Lovely choices of books here. I’ve heard of The Twilight Child and it looks like a good book to read x

    • March 2, 2016 / 6:02 pm

      I hadn’t heard of it before but definitely enjoyed it!

  8. March 4, 2016 / 12:06 pm

    I told myself that this year I would read more books than last year and honestly I have not. I have read one and one I am almost half way through, I need to get back into the swing of things as I really love reading.

    • March 5, 2016 / 9:52 am

      Why not sign up to Good Reads? I love a good challenge and I’m being motivated by the fact I know I’ve committed to reading 52 books!

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