Posted in Reviewing Habit

Reading and Reviewing in 2015

Reading Reviewing 2015

Well here we are nearly at the end of 2015 and as usual I will soon be posting my top 10 books published this year – but here is a chance for those books not published this year to have their moment in the spotlight as well as indulging me in my love of facts and figures.

So far I have read, and reviewed 143 books in 2015 which add up to a total of 44,774 pages which tells me 2015 has been spent reading far shorter books but slightly more of them!  Once again I have read some fantastic books, and some that were not quite so good!

What Remains

The Life Projectdreads tells me that the longest book I read was What Remains by Tim Weaver with 562 pages, whilst I am the only person to have read The Life Project by Helen Pearson which will be published next year – it may be non-fiction but this is fascinating stuff and would have easily been the winner of the non-fiction read of the year if it had been published in 2015

The Girl On The Train

725,499 other Goodreads readers also read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins with me making it far an away the most popular book I read in 2015 and the fourth of the most popular review read by you guys!

Interestingly (for me anyway) the second most popular of my reviews was The Book of You  by Claire Kendal which I actually read in February 2014, a review that still gets a number of hits each week!
The Book of You

This House of GriefOnce again the split in my reading is crime heavy with 82 books equating to 57% falling squarely into the crime fiction or psychological thriller categories but of course they can crime also features in my historical fiction section as well as popping up in the non-fiction category too for example This House of Grief by Helen Garner which is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

 

Sadly despite my best intentions to cut down on the books I have for review and read more from my own (bulging) bookshelves, cupboards, tables…. I only read 34 of my own books in 2015 a mere 24% and not the 40% I was aiming for but I will do better in 2016! I read 10 of these (some belatedly) for Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer which provided some exceptional reading in the form of Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards Dancing for the Hangmanand The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, the adult novel that later became the successful Ballet Shoes.  And 2015 was the year I finally got around to reading the epistolary wonder which is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Anne Barrows. Not only is this a great read but it accurately portrays the history of the occupation of the Channel Isles.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel SocietyThe Whicharts

In 2015 I read 71 authors who were new to me, some of these were so good I read more than one book by the author in a year whereas others have simply added to the TBR mountain to be tackled in 2016 (and beyond) One of those authors I should have read way back as it probably is my top ten read of 2015 – The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley simply blew me away! The Go-Betweeen

So there’s a taste of what I’ve been reading and the reviews you’ve seemed to like the best – coming very soon are my chosen top ten reads published in 2015 – you can see all 143 books read and reviewed so far here or for a more compact view check out those books I chose for 2015 book bingo!

I’d like to thank all those authors and publishers who’ve given me a fantastic selection of books, the readers and commenters on this little blog and those who connect with my reviews via twitter, you have all made my world brighter in 2015.
Happy reading everyone and here’s to Happy a New Year full of new books!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Life Project – Helen Pearson

The Life Project
Non-Fiction 4*s

This is a book about long-term studies of people born into pre-defined parameters and followed through their lives, and touches on how those studies have helped and informed the medical professions as well testing social science theories. That all sounds a little dry, but fortunately this book is anything and although I’m not entirely sure who the target audience is, I found it fascinating.

The book starts by looking at maternity care, for the children born in April 1946 the (at that time one off study) concentrated on where the children were born, whether they survived the first month of life, how long their mothers were confined for and how much they cost. This was in before the creation of the NHS and these children were born at the start of the baby boon but the study had initially been planned by members of the eugenics society to discover why fewer babies were born to the middle classes which caused anxiety about the future of the country. Having dispatched midwives and health visitors to fill in questionnaires about the lives of the 5,000 plus children born in the week the scientists were then able to start writing their reports.

The book talks about the design of follow-up studies for this group of children and what they were trying to discover which leads to the make-up of the questions but also brings in later studies, one in 1956, another in 1970. Another study should have begun in 1982 but Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a big fan of social science and by this time the studies were costing a considerable amount of money so this never took place but a study in Bristol begun in 1991 where DNA was collected from blood and placentas and is still stored to this day. The last study began in 2000 and with those children having reached their teens the next is into the final stages of planning.

I actually knew about the 1991 study through a throw-away comment from my mother who knew one of the participants when he was still a young boy but I didn’t realise how big it was or how far these studies have actually gone towards defining policy. With studies on Grammar versus Comprehensive Schools, obesity, smoking and where it is best to give birth there is very little that hasn’t been plundered to make a case or in some instances to disprove a case.

Helen Pearson is obviously a big supporter of these studies and as the UK is the only country to have so many lives monitored and for so far back, for the ‘better good’, I’m with her although the costs are immense of course as the way we live has changed at such a fast rate continual studies are needed to reflect this. Although a supporter, the author is good at balancing the good done with the misrepresentation of some of the facts and pointing out where the facts themselves could be found wanting – one example of this is a study from the first two birth cohorts which states that children with interested parents do far better than those without at school, and life in general. However as it was teachers who were judging the ‘interest’ levels of parents in their child’s education at a time when these very parents rarely set foot in a school, it may well be that the teachers stated that the parents were interested in the education of their offspring more often if the child was doing well at school.

There are so many interesting facts and a few small insights into the lives of a couple of the earlier candidates, who are still being monitored, that I think there is something to interest many people. I even enjoyed some of the walk through the politics of funding the next phase and next study although the tales of how exhausted those in charge were became a little wearisome at times.

I’m very grateful to Amazon Vine for giving me a copy of this book which gave me a lot to think about on so many different levels. Despite being a book with an academic subject the author has made it incredibly accessible to those with no knowledge of the subject at all. The Life Project will be published on 3 March 2016.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 16)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey, one of the books I bought on my relatively recent trip to Bath.

The Secret Rooms

You can read the synopsis and a taster from this book in yesterday’s post

I have recently finished The Life ProjectThe Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Livesby Helen Pearson, a fascinating non-fiction book that delves into four ongoing-projects that follow a selection of people’s lives from birth onwards

The Life Project

Blurb

On 5th March 1946 a survey began that is, today, the longest-running study of human development in the world, and has grown to encompass six generations of children and over 70,000 people. They have become some of the best-studied people on the planet. The simple act of observing human life has changed the way we are born, schooled, parent and die, and irrevocably altered our understanding of inequality and health. This is the tale of these studies, the scientists who created and sustain them, the discoveries that have come from them. The envy of scientists around the world, they are one of Britain’s best-kept secrets.

The Life Project will be published on 3 March 2016,

My review will follow soon.

Next up has to be And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie after I finally found a decent second-hand copy I now need to re-read it before the TV adaption on Boxing Day.

And then there were none

Blurb

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide.
The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again… Amazon

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (December 5)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

Mindful of the TBR, and you can see quite how bad this is in this post, I have only added a few books to my pile in the last two weeks but I think they are good ones, what do you think?

First I have a non-fiction book, The Life Project by Helen Pearsons, I’ve had a peek inside and it seems to be an immensely readable study of how our lives have changed, and how they’ve stayed the same.

The Life Project

Blurb

On March 3, 1946, a survey began that is, today, the longest-running study of human development in the world, growing to encompass six generations of children, 150,000 people, and some of the best-studied people on the planed. The simple act of observing human life has changed the way we are born, schooled, parent and die, irrevocably altering our understanding of inequality and health. This is the tale of these studies, the scientists who created them, sustained them, and perhaps most importantly, the remarkable discoveries that have come from them. The envy of scientists around the world, The Life Project is one of Britain’s best-kept secrets. Goodreads

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner for review for Lovereading.  Missing Presumed will be published on 26 February 2016

Missing Presumed

Blurb

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.
Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.
As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.
A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her. Goodreads

From NetGalley I requested a copy of The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith. I simply couldn’t resist the 1920s setting!

The Jazz Files

Blurb

“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove useful.”
Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…
Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die? NetGalley

I have a copy of The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton from the publishers twenty7 who concentrate on debut authors. The Exclusives will be published in e-book format on 10 December 2015.

The Exclusives

Blurb

1996. Freya Seymour and Josephine Grey are invincible – beautiful and brilliant, the two best friends are on the cusp of Oxbridge, and the success they always dreamed they’d share.
2014. Josephine hasn’t heard from Freya for eighteen long and tortured years. And then Freya gets in touch, wanting to meet.
Beginning with one ill-fated night, The Exclusives charts the agonising spiral of friendship gone wrong, the heartache and betrayal of letting down those closest to you and the poisonous possibilities of what we wouldn’t do when everything we prize is placed under threat.
And in the end, as she realises she cannot run for ever, Josephine must answer one question: can she face the woman that she used to know?
The Exclusives is Rebecca Thornton’s powerful debut novel about the pressures of life in an exclusive boarding school. Goodreads

Lastly I am exceptionally grateful for a copy of The Ballroom by Anna Hope, whose debut novel Wake was a huge favourite of mine. The Ballroom will be published on 16 February 2016

The Ballroom

Blurb

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.
Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which. NetGalley

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PicMonkey Collage TBR

So since the 6 November when I counted up the TBR disappointedly I found 2 books I’d missed from the originally cataloguing so my total then should have been 175.
Since my last count I have read 7 books, and gained 5, leading to a grand total of 170 books, so the figures are inching slowly in the right direction – aren’t they?

85 physical books
70 e-books
15 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?