Monday, 2 February 2015

The Year in Books - February

I'm not sorry to see the end of January. It feels like such a long month! On the plus side, the long dark mornings mean plenty of reading time. I tend to wake early and if I'm really lucky, I get a cup of tea in bed and that's when I'll get half an hour or so reading time before I get up. I'm hopeless if I read at bedtime and can't remember a thing I've read!

My Year in Books choice for January was The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I really enjoyed this book and felt transported to 17th century Amsterdam. It had a strong story that was well told, but by the end I couldn't really see the point of the miniaturist. Hard to say more without giving too much away but I didn't think the dolls house etc added anything to the story other than add an element of intrigue and mystery that never was solved or revealed to any degree of satisfaction. Or maybe I'm missing something? If you've read it I'd be interested to know what you thought. But that said it didn't detract from what I thought was an excellent read.


Prompted by the wonderful alchemy of mixing pigments with egg yolk for my egg tempera painting, I have also started to re- read  Colour, Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay. This is part travelogue, part memoir and part story telling as it charts the history of the various different colour pigments used by artists and dyers over the centuries. An easy, informative read that I'm enjoying all over again.


I also read in January Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy. I picked it up in the bookshop on a whim and end up reading it in just four days it was so hard to put down. It is a sort of mystery story but the narrator is an elderly woman with dementia which sounds depressing but it's not. It's clever, funny and sad in equal measures but compulsive reading. I loved it.


I'm trying to finish the Colour book before I start anything new but my choice for February's Year in Books is H is for Hawk, a memoir by Helen Macdonald, which I'm very much looking forward to reading.


I better hurry up though... February always whizzes by after the long days of January. Are you reading anything good this month?
 
Linking with The Year in Books by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees

19 comments:

  1. I haven't read the miniaturist, but I know others who've enjoyed it. Colour intrigues me more, given the fact that it is your second read. I always think that taking the time to read book twice says something about the book.

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  2. These all sound so interesting. Gonna look for them on my Kindle. Thanks!

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  3. I shall have to see if I can get any of them in audio books, they sound so interesting. Cheers

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  4. interesting! There a couple in there I fancy reading so I think I'll go ahead.Thanks

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  5. A nice collection of books. I am still trying to finish my textile book - no time for reading at present.

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  6. I re-read all my E M Delafield at the beginning of January and have since read a Neil Gaiman and a Peter May; Started A Blackbird's Year recently but am finding it a bit hard going to be honest. Awaiting delivery of Period Piece - A Cambridge Childhood by Gwen Raverat, Darwin's granddaughter I think.

    I have had the book Colour for many years and love it so much that I frequently re-read it.

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  7. I too very much enjoyed The Miniaturist. I thought the doll's house strengthened the pervasiveness of acquisition and wealth in Amsterdam as well as reminding us that the future is about observation and attention to detail rather than being able to 'see" the future.

    I seem to have been reading too much about death! Burial Ritesby Hannah Kent was a bleak but compelling read for January, and The Iceberg by Marion Coutts was beautifully composed and painful in equal measure. Not to be read if you suffer from SADS I'd think.

    Looking forward to hearing about February.

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  8. Looks like some great reads Gina. I've read similar reviews of The Miniaturist too.

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  9. I really like Elizabeth is missing. I found it haunting in places, imagining loosing myself in dementia one day. I look forward to hearing about your new book, I am not tempted so far but I am collecting opinions. x

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  10. I have the miniaturist in my pile of books to read, sounds as though it isn't going to be what I thought it would be about! I have just noted Elizabeth is Missing, as that sounds a very intriguing read too. Glad you enjoyed your choices, I hope that February is a good month for you. xx

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  11. Try 'the invention of wings' by Sue Monk Kidd. I am working my way through Gone Girl, The Miniaturist is next for me!

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  12. I did enjoy The Miniaturist but, after reading all the hype, I was expecting to be bowled over by it and I wasn't. I agree that some themes just didn't go anywhere, leaving lots of question marks. I've been avoiding Elizabeth is Missing and H is for Hawk as I just know they'll have me blubbing!

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  13. Gina, I bought H for Hawk for myself for Christmas and read it all over the holiday. I love birds anyway so I was already hooked by the title but it is an emotive read, beautifully told in lyrical language. I do so hope you enjoy it as much as me. I'd even go as far as to say it was the best book I read all year last year! I've read the Colour book too so enjoy your re-reading of it. I'm still reading Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways in fits and starts and have Girl Reading by Katie Ward from the library to start; a foray into fiction at last this year. Must look out for the book about Elizabeth. That sounds like the type of book I could enjoy.

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  14. You always seems to pick books with intriguing titles. Do you browse shops or buy online?

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  15. You've convinced me to get Elizabeth is Missing for my Kindle. Thank you for the recommendation.

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  16. You have done well to read all that during January if you only get half an hour in the morning. I'm a slow reader but that is because I often re-read over and over the best bits and each time I pick up a book I have to go back and re-read the last few pages. I don't have a book on the go at the moment ... only textile books and magazines

    You would be proud of me this week though ... I've made three big cakes to keep my workmen and neighbours happy and this week's journal pages have painted buns!!

    Sending lots of love always and hope your frustrating moments in life disappear very soon xxxx

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  17. I still haven't finished H is for Hawk, but I can tell you that you should love it.

    I just can't seem to find enough reading time lately. I've rather let A Year in Books go.

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  18. I thought the Miniaturist was a huge let-down... If, as a writer, you introduce a fantastic, intrigueing pivot for the whole book, you really should have some sort of satisfying explanation for it. As it was, it was the equivalent of 'so we all went home for tea', leaving me wondering what on earth some editor hadn't said 'Well what's the explanation, then?'

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  19. Thank you for all these lovely reviews. I have heard of all of these books, which is unusual and am now wanting to read some of them, especially Elizabeth is Missing.

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