Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Year in Books - July

Two posts in two days... what is the world coming to? Despite running about like a headless chicken for most of today getting ready for Open Studios (or at least that is what I was supposed to have been doing) I realised that I completely missed my Year in Books post at the beginning of the month, so as I am now collapsed on the sofa I thought I would get it done while I've got a chance... it could be a while before I'm back again!
June's choice Nora Webster was a bit of a disappointment. I really wanted to enjoy it. I liked the style and the prose (enough to make me willing to try more from Colm Toibin) but I just didn't care enough about Nora Webster, recently widowed and trying to come to terms with her life. It was just too slow and dreary and I couldn't help being more concerned about her two young sons who were also dealing with their bereavement at the loss of their father. I wanted to give Nora a shake and tell her to pay more attention to her boys!
The second book I read last month was The Secret Diary of a BBC Secretary, which was written by my friend Sarah. Although I had downloaded it to my Kindle a while ago I couldn't bring myself to read it. What if I didn't like it... what would I say to Sarah? But Sarah and I met for lunch last month and I decided that I really did need to bite the bullet and read it. I started that afternoon and two days later I'd finished it. I loved this book and by the time I got to the second half I couldn't put it down. It is the diary of 19 year old Sarah Shaw, written in 1971 when she was working as a secretary for the BBC and living in a run down hostel in London. Not only does it convey the era perfectly but it also tells of the blossoming but unlikely romance between Sarah and a lift operator at the BBC's old Langham building. It is written with great humour and honesty, with a brilliant eye for detail that took me right back to 1971.
Another unlikely read for me last month was An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield. You'll have heard of Chris because he was the astronaut who sang "Space Oddity" from the International Space Station and the resulting you tube video went viral. I was surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did. It was a bit repetitive and full of jargon at times but it still made for a fascinating read that I really enjoyed.

I also managed to fit in a thriller by Val McDermid, The Skeleton Road. I don't read that many thrillers finding them a bit formulaic but my Mum devours them one after another and often passes them my way... and this was one of those. It was entertaining enough telling the story of a skeleton found in the remains of an old school in Edinburgh and linking back to the war in Croatia but as often with thrillers it was a bit predictable and I'd guessed "Who Done It" pretty early on. A good holiday read though!
And so to my choice fo July... How to Catch a Frog by Heather Ross. A wonderful memoir of Ross's childhood in Vermont... that I'm already half way through! You'll notice that I've gone from tea and cake with last month's choice, to a rather necessary G & T in the garden this month... I'm under pressure guys... only two days to go until Open Studios and I'm nowhere near ready....

So what have I really been doing today...updating a tutorial for making these newspaper backgrounds and putting it into my Etsy shop, following some requests after last week's class in Bristol... of course. I know how to prioritise, me! You can find it here should you be interested.
Tomorrow it really will be action stations for Open Studios... full details of where and when to find me if you are anywhere near South Cambs can be found Here:
Joining in with Laura for The Year in Books


  1. Hope your Open Studios go well Gina, enjoy! :)
    V x

  2. Whoever do you manage to fit all those books in while still doing everything else you do?!?
    By the way, The Girl on the Train is serialised in Book at Bedtime on Radio 4 next week. I'll be listening xx

  3. I'm astounded that you managed to find the time to read at all and fit in so much. My appetite for reading seems to be in inverse proportion to the weather - the finer it is, the less likely I am to read, so there are many half-read books around. Ditto half-finished sewing projects. Tsk.

    Good luck with the open studios!

  4. I don't know how you manage to read books as well as fit in everything else on your agenda! I like the sound of your friend's book and will look out for it. Wishing you a very successful Open Studios and hopefully a day of rest afterwards.

  5. Oh Gina, still going like a train I see! Good luck with Open Studios. I know you will be ready in time..... belated birthday greetings (have only just read the last post). It looked like a good day out. Hope the dvd was worth watching or were you under the influence of the champagne by that point?
    Your collection of books seems like a real mixed bag this month. What an eclectic pair of readers we are!I just started reading Simon Armitage's Walking Away this morning and I am already hooked. If you enjoyed Walking Home I think you'd like this one too. As for that newspaper tutorial, I shall be heading over for a look now.

  6. I know what you mean about crime novels being formulaic, I feel the same with many current crime series. I still read them.... I do like the sound of your friends book, I find this period in time fascinating. Good luck with the Open Studios. x

  7. Gina, as always your energy amazes me.

    Now, about those books. I remember trying to read Colm Toibin's Brooklyn and having to give up on it. It was then a best selller, and I wondered why.

    Yes, often thriller novels can become a bit predictible. I read a couple of Val McDermid's novels and decided to give the rest a rest.

    Aside from Sherlock Holmes mysteries, my favorite detective tales are the Rebus novels by Ian Rankin. The retro detectives from way back when are also rather good.

    How to Catch a Frog sounds like a very different sort of mystery. Might have to give it a go.

    Today I picked up something very different from the library, recommended by Annie Cholewa. Landmarks, by Robert MacFarlane, filled with words that have had their roots in the landscape. More fodder for my country dreams.

    Best wishes to on this weekend's Open Studio. xo

  8. Good luck with the Open Studio ... it must all get a bit nerve-racking, I imagine the G&T is essential :o)

  9. Hi Gina

    I hope all went well with your open studio. No doubt a G & T or three were needed once it was over.

  10. Great reviews Gina, and hope your Open Studios day went well. That gin and tonic looks so refreshing! X


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