Estelle Reviews..

What I Read Last Month – February

It’s the end of the month so it’s time to recap what I’ve been reading this month. I felt like February was a pretty slow month for me in terms of how much I read, but as I come to write this post I realise I did manage to read 5 books this month, plus I finished a January book (read about January’s book treats here) so that probably isn’t too bad going.

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My first read of the month was The Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney.

1920s Oxford: home to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein.. and Anna Francis, a young Greek refugee looking to escape the grim reality of her new life. The night they cross paths, none suspect the fantastic world at work around them.

Anna Francis lives in a tall old house with her father and her doll Penelope. She is a refugee, a piece of flotsam washed up in England by the tides of the Great War and the chaos that trailed in its wake. Once upon a time, she had a mother and brother, and they all lived together in the most beautiful city in the world, by the shores of Homer’s wine-dark sea.

But that is all gone now, and only to her doll does she ever speak of it, because her father cannot bear to hear. She sits in the shadows of the tall house and watches the rain on the windows, creating worlds for herself to fill out the loneliness. The house becomes her own little kingdom, an island full of dreams and half-forgotten memories. And then one winter day, she finds an interloper in the topmost, dustiest attic of the house. A boy named Luca with yellow eyes, who is as alone in the world as she is.

That day, she’ll lose everything in her life, and find the only real friend she may ever know.

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For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. It was a good story, it had some good twists and turns and I really liked Anna as a character. Lewis and Tolkein’s arrival to the story were subtle and charming and certainly weren’t forced across for the sake of it. Two such magical writers made the book feel that bit more magical and I really liked that. As the book neared its end and you started the see the fates and paths of Anna and Luca start to cross and I was really enjoying it.

Unfortunately, it then ended. The book felt like it needed a whole other book to complete the story and I was left feeling like I’d missed something or hadn’t read all of the story.

Non-ending aside, I really enjoyed The Wolf in the Attic. It flowed nicely and the story was good. If you like a bit of fantasy, wolves and witchcraft then this little story is for you.

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I took Disclaimer by Renee Knight to the hairdressers the other week. It was a good job I did as I was there for 5 and a half hours having the colour of my hair changed!

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages, she is horrified to realise she is a key character, a main player.

This story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew.

I found Disclaimer a little hard to follow at times as it jumped between different people’s perspectives and timelines and sometimes I found myself a few sentences in before I realised.

It was written to the same sort of structure as your standard Thriller and if you like Jo Nesbo, James Patterson etc. then I suspect you will really like this book. Personally I found the main character – Catherine, damp and slightly irritating. Also, how the novel she has written about her comes about is slightly farsical, although to be fair it isn’t in the slightest bit clear what and when and how long the timelines are. The twist was pretty impressive though and I was pleased with how it was written and handled.

The ending was massively annoying. I felt a bit let down by it all to be honest.

If you are looking for a quick and easy read then this book is ideal. Despite my occassional confusion the story kept me interested and I certainly wasn’t expecting the twist (I mean, I knew there’d be one as I get the impression that Renee Knight read ALOT of James Patterson before writing her own book). It had all the great markers of a good thriller and if you are looking for a holiday read for your next beach holiday then you should definitely pop Disclaimer in your suitcase.

The Wartime House, Home Life in Wartime Britain 1939-1945 by Mike Brown and Carol Harris was my next read. I’ve been reading a few non-fiction books lately so I was quite looking forward to this book.

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The demands of a nation at war had many far-reaching effects on the average home. How did women cope with bringing up a family single-handed after their husbands were conscripted for military service? How did they use the rations and keep up their family’s spirits? What was it like to ‘Make Do and Mend’ or ‘Dig for Victory’, or to sleep in an Anderson shelter?

By looking at the lives of ordinary people who inhabited the semi-detached world of suburbia, Mike Brown and Carol Harris have painted a vivid picture of daily life on the Home Front in wartime Britain. Chapters include: The Suburban Dream, House Beautiful, Furniture and Furnishings, Housework and DIY, Rationing, The Wartime Kitchen, ‘If The Invader Comes’, Fashion, Entertainment and Reconstruction. With a wealth of illustrations and ephemera, this book brings the wartime experience to life.

Oh my God. This book was beyond dull. It was written with so little charm, personality and compassion I wonder how anyone can bare to read past the first incredibly dull chapter.

I did actually learn a few things from this book, such as furniture rationing which I didn’t really realise was a thing alongside food and clothing rations.

The book is full of pictures, adverts and illustrations which help to show what things were like, in fact, if it hadn’t had the pictures and illustrations I’m not sure I would have bothered to finish it.

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I did check about half way through to see that date that the book had been published as I found the language pretty sexist and outdated. I was very suprised to find it was published in 2011 and not the 1970’s! For the most part despite this book supposedly being about the war, it barely mentioned it and was more a social history of the home throughout the period with none of the history of how the war was fought at home which is what I was expecting to read.

If you are studying this period of history for homework, essays, lectures, exams etc. then I would say that it is a pretty good factual reference. If you are looking to expand your knowledge in a mind numbingly dull way then definitely read this book.

Stallo  – Here Be Monsters by Stefan Spjut (translated by Susan Beard) was next. I started this last week, whilst I was at the hospital having another small operation.

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In the late 1970’s, a young boy disappears from a summer cabin in the Swedish woods. His mother claims that he was abducted by a giant. The boy is never found.

Twenty-five years later, an old woman claims that a creature has been standing outside her house, observing her and her five year old grandson for hours.

When Susso – who’s dedicated her life to the search for creatures who existences have not been proved – hears of this and sees a possible link between the two incidents, she takes to the road on a terrifying adventure into the unknown..

Originally written in Swedish, you should probably check this book out if you’ve enjoyed anything by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let The Right One In). It is a pretty decent, slow burning crime thriller. I found it hard to get into the book and fully concentrate on it, I think partly because I started it in the hospital where I was repeatedly interrupted and feeling anxious. The story jumped around alot between different characters and I found tht really hard to follow as well, there were a lot of different characters often arriving with no explanation or description and I did wonder if maybe the book had lost a little something of its magic in translation.

It’s a good story full of suspence and tension. Following the myths and supernatural charms of Sweden, Lapland and Norway this novel full of giants, trolls and shapeshifters kept me interested to the last page. If you are a fan of thrillers full of horror and suspense then you will love Stallo – Here Be Monsters.

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I got a full set of the Famous Five for Adults books for Christmas. I grew up on Enid Blyton and went along on the adventures of the Famous Five, Secret Seven and many others many a time.

Five Go On A Strategy Away Day by Bruno Vincent was a joy to read.

Join Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy the dog as they embark on a day of activities designed to bring them closer together. But will it work, or will it tear them apart? And is that the Secret Seven in the adjacent conference room.

I think what I like about the Famous Five for Adults is that Bruno Vincent has kept all of the original Enid Blyton charm and wimsy but added something new and wonderful.

Who doesn’t hate team building? Plunging the Famous Five into this very modern activity is genius and I really love how the original book illustrations are used alongside new quotes from the story.

If you read the Famous Five as a kid then you will love this new offering as it will bring back your memories of the gang, their adventures and will really portray those tensions and childhood resentments you know they all really had for each other!

What have you read this month? What are you reading next? Get in touch below.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “What I Read Last Month – February

  1. Stallo sounds good. I Hate it with the others when you read most of the book then it just ends out of the blue. Is so annoying. I am getting there with The Night Circus, just a bit of flitting between years confused me at first

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