40. Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men – Molly Harper.
This is the sequel to the last book I read about Jane Jameson, and although I didn’t give the first book rave reviews I actually liked this one better. I think the storyline about her friend Zeb’s wedding to Jolene the werewolf (more Sookie Stackhouse similarities!) just appealed to me more than the murder mystery element of the first book.
Anyway, if you liked the first book you’ll probably like this one, if not it’s probably not that much better than it could change your mind!
39. Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs – Molly Harper.
Jane Jameson is an ordinary librarian until the day she loses her job and is turned into a vampire. That’s the basis for this book, Jane’s transition to her newly undead lifestyle.
This book was light and fluffy and entertaining, so I would recommend it if that’s what someone was after. The whole vampire life is basically a direct lift of the vampire life written about in the Sookie Stackhouse books (True Blood tv show) – vampires reveal themselves, fake blood available etc which raised my eyebrows, but if unoriginality doesn’t bother you then you won’t mind. After all, it’s a very comprehensive, logical and well thought out explanation for vampires, even if someone else wrote it first!
This book was saved from banality by the main character, Jane, who was bright and funny and very likeable. I also liked the character of her best friend Zeb, but felt that the main vampire character of Gabriel (who turned Jane) was really not well rounded or appealing at all and let the book down.
38. The Girls Of Room 28 – Hannelore Brenner-Wonschick
This was the story of the Theresienstadt ghetto/concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, told with a particular focus on Room 28 in the girls’ house and the girls that lived there.
It was a fascinating story. The Theresienstadt camp was a Jewish ghetto (actually used by the Nazis in propaganda pieces about the ‘model Jewish villages’ they were supposedly providing) that was also a collecting and despatch point for many Jews on their ultimately deadly journeys to the death camps in the east. Although there were no gas chambers or mass shootings there, people died by the thousands of starvation, disease and violence or else were assigned to transports that took them on to the camps set up for their extermination.
And yet despite that, the girls of Room 28 and the adults responsible for them had a life full of education and culture. The children were taught by highly qualified professionals, there was music and concerts and even a children’s opera- rehearsed and directed by professional musicians and theatre people. Even as death was an ever present, looming shadow and very real threat, people tried to live as much as they could in the constraints of their prison. I find it such an extraordinary era to read about- all the terrible things and horrors going on, and alongside that such a fierce determination to live.
37. A Rural Affair – Catherine Alliot.
This book centres around Poppy, a widowed mother of two, and the happenings and intrigues in her life and the small village in which she lives.
This book was funny and enjoyable beyond my expectations. It contains a lot of elements of formulaic chick lit- the cute protagonist, a few good looking romantic options, some whacky friends and quirky villagers- but for me it was written in such a way that it felt fresh and uncontrived. The characters were well rounded and likeable and didn’t stretch the limits of credibility. In fact, they were very sweet and I wanted them to be happy in the end! I also liked that unlike a lot of chick lit this book didn’t feel like it dragged on, as there were always things happening and even the romance moved fast, without the characters mooning around for chapters and chapters!
36. The Midwife – Jennifer Worth.
This was the non fiction account of a midwife working in the East End of London in the 1950. As well as her own personal memories it also included a lot of information about the history of midwifery as a licenced/ qualified profession. I thought it was pretty amazing to realise that it is only since the early 1900s that women began having qualified midwives. It’s also incredible when you consider the turnaround from being attended by family or neighbourhood women, to qualified midwives for homebirths, to doctor attended hospital births that has happened in the past hundred years.
I really enjoyed this book. I love reading about birth and babies and history, and this was all of that! Anyone with an interest in the topic would appreciate this book. It was also interesting because the midwife writing the book did her training by living and working with an order of nurse/ midwife nuns which is quite unusual in itself. Even more so was the fact that they rode to all their appointments and births on bicycles- can you imagine a nun in a full habit riding off to attend a birth on a bike?
35. Look Again – Lisa Scottoline.
When Ellen, a journalist, finds a flier about missing and abducted children in her mailbox she is struck by how much one of the photographs looks like her adopted son Will. This starts her off on a search for the truth about the child she calls hers, and how he came to be with her.
I liked this book. It was well paced, and the emotional elements were nicely explored. The ending was a little too neatly put together, but not so much so that it spoiled the rest of the book.
I have to admit though, and maybe I’m a terrible person for this, but I don’t think I would have the moral strength to do what Ellen did and keep digging if I thought my child might belong to someone else. I think if I had nothing to gain and everything to lose, I would have just tossed that flier right in the rubbish bin and gone on with my life.
34. Intrusion – Ken Macleod.
This book is set in the future, where science has advanced to the point that a single pill, taken during pregnancy, corrects any genetic defects of the foetus and offers it greater immunity to illness. In this book one mother-to-be, Hope, refuses to take ‘the fix’, and opinions on this divides her family and community, and also leads to reactions from those in charge.
Good concept here and I was quite excited to read it, but it just didn’t quite work for me. My biggest problem was that we are never told why Hope doesn’t want to take the fix, and in fact she herself doesn’t seem to know. While I could understand hesitation based on religious reasons, or philosophical reasons, the fact that she pretty much had no reasons at all beyond “I don’t want to because you said so” that would push her to go through as much as she did really stretched plausibility for me. The characters were not particularly well drawn for me, and although the book was interesting in many ways it was ultimately a bit of a disappointment.
33. I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella.
I love Sophie Kinsella. She’s kind of like a Meg Cabot for grown ups. Her Shopaholic series has been my favourite, but this book was really funny. It’s about a girl named Poppy who, with a week to go to the wedding, loses her family heirloom engagement ring. This leads to her picking up a dumped phone from a bin (it makes sense in the book!) and then getting involved in the life of a business man whose PA was the original owner of the mobile phone. The characters were bright and engaging, and there were several funny scenes and moments, with a fabulous ending. If you like romances cheerful and fun, you’ll love this.
32. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies – Mick Cochrane.
This was a sweet coming of age story about a girl named Molly who comes to terms with the loss of her father and learns a lot about herself by trying out for, and making, the boys baseball team. It wasn’t all that exciting and had a lot more baseball in it than I cared for really, but it was a nice enough book. Although I do realise this is probably the most bland review I’ve written here! I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I was younger.
31. Auschwitz – Dr. Miklos Nyiszli.
This was the firsthand account of a Jewish doctor working right in the crematoriums of Auschwitz. He was experienced with pathology and forensics before being sent to the camps, and once there he was taken to work under Dr Mengele doing dissections and autopsies, as well as treating the members of the SS and the Jewish prisoners working in the crematoriums. This was a fascinating, grim and utterly compelling read- not comfortable by any means, but an amazing story of survival.
30. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
29. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins.
I read these two books straight through right after The Hunger Games and finished the lot in two and a half days. I don’t remember the last time I read like this, just ignoring everything else because I was so utterly absorbed in a fictional world, but these books were just…wow. That’s about it. Wow. The pace and tension and characters kept it up all through the trilogy, and I didn’t see the ending coming until it hit.
It was very, very well done. The action was obviously a big part of it, but I loved that it wasn’t all action and that she wrote the second Games in Catching Fire to be quite different to the first Hunger Games. It was all so neatly put together. I loved that the characters were so human and flawed and lovely that it was so easy to care about them and become invested in the heartbreak of their lives.
I’m actually so glad I didn’t read them until now though, because I got to gorge myself by reading all three in a row, and the movie comes out in just a couple more weeks!
28. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins.
I’m behind the times on this one, I know, but I’m so glad I jumped on the bandwagon and read it because it was worth all the hype! I really enjoyed it, it’s the kind of book that grabs me and makes me want to ignore all my responsibilities and just keep reading to find out what happens next. I’ll definitely be trying to go see the movie when it opens.
27. The Heart of the Matter – Emily Giffin.
This book is about two women, one of them married to the man, one of them having an affair with him.
It was well done and obviously I got invested enough in the story to have strong opinions about the characters, but overall this book was more annoying than enjoyable. The two female characters were likable (Tess the wife and Valerie the Other Woman) but the male character, Nick, just seemed to have no redeeming qualities to me. I thought both women were better off without him honestly.
I also get frustrated with the number of books I’ve read recently where a man will have an affair and yet the wife takes on so much of the blame herself…I understand that a man with a happy marriage is not as likely to look outside of it, but to ME the heart of the matter is that the man betrayed his vows without even trying to improve the marriage. It takes two people to make a marriage work, but I have no respect for a man whose first response to unhappiness at home is to go and find another woman.
26. How to be Popular – Meg Cabot.
Just in case anyone thought that maybe I wasn’t a total airhead…I really like reading books by Meg Cabot. I think they’re funny and a fun, quick read. I don’t think she’ll ever write anything that lives up to The Princess Diaries though, which I really do love.
Having said all that…this book was okay, but really nothing spectacular. The characters were cute, although I have to say I find spying on your neighbour through the bathroom window to be just plain creepy, rather than a sign of enduring love. The basic storyline of the girl trying to be popular was just pretty meh too, so this isn’t a Meg Cabot book I would recommend really.
25. The Illustrated Mum – Jacqueline Wilson.
Jacqueline Wilson is one of my favourite writers of children’s lit, which is perhaps interesting because I don’t think I ever read any of her books when I was a child. I’m pretty sure the first one I ever read was Amber, when I was in high school, which I loved. Since then I’ve collected a few from op shops (this one cost $1 the other day!). I especially love the Nick Sharratt illustrations too.
This book was a really touching story about a young girl, Dolphin, who lives with her sister Star and her mother Marigold, and what happens when Marigold’s (assumed) bipolar goes through a manic phase. I love the way Jacqueline Wilson writes the characters and their relationships, it makes me want to rush in and be friends with them and help them.