Book Reviews March 2024 blog post

Book Reviews March 2024

Hello Everybody,

I hope you have had a good book reading month.

I saw a post this month on Age Well Project’s instagram feed (agewellproject) that a recent Yale study of 3,635 over 50’s found reading increased longevity by almost TWO years!  

They also found that what you read counts too.  Readers of books outlived both non-readers and readers of newspapers and magazines.  The researchers speculated that reading fiction provides the most benefits. 

How long you read for also matters – 12 years after the study was conducted, those who read for more than 3.5 hours per week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for less time were 17% less likely to die. 

The researchers believe that the reasons for this is:

  • Reading involves a ‘slow, immersive process’ where the brain makes imaginative connections, ask questions and absorbs new vocabulary.
  • Books ‘promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence’
  • Reading also helps alleviate stress.  We can escape to a different world which makes us feel happy, engaged and grateful in a way that flicking through a magazine or newspaper doesn’t.
  • Reading can help us sleep.  Every sleep expert recommends reading as a means of falling asleep.

So, now you can read to your heart’s delight, safe in the knowledge you are partaking in a healthy activity that promotes longevity!

So, here’s my Book Reviews March 2024 to help get you inspired! 

The Running Grave – Robert Galbraith (fiction)

The Running Grave Robert Galbraith

This is the latest instalment in the Cormoran Strike detective series.  I was disappointed with the last book but I found this story absolutely brilliant, perhaps the best in the series.  Certainly, my best book read so far this year.

The book centres around the uncovering of a regligious cult.  Galbraith does a fantastic job of highlighting how a cult can isolate and brainwash individuals so that they perceive their whole world in a different way, making them turn against their families and friends. 

It’s a very hefty book but I still seemed to whip through it as I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  However, it’s also one of those books that you don’t want to get to the end too quickly and finish.  

All of Galbraith’s books have a theme of starting each chapter with a quote.  In this book the quotes were from The I Ching or Book of Changes.  At first I thought this was just a made up source to tie in with the theme of the book.  However after a quick Google it turns out there is a book of that name.  Apparently, it is an ancient Chinese divination text that is among the oldest of the Chinese Classics.  

Anyhow, I absolutely loved this book so if you are a fellow Cormoran Strike lover,  I highly recommend it. 

The Blurb:

A worried father employs Cormoran Strike to contact his son Will, who has joined a religious cult in the depths of the Norfolk countryside.

The Universal Humanitarian Church appears to be a peaceable organisation that campaigns for a better world.  As the investigation progresses though,  Strike and Robin begin to unearth a sinister undertone, with far too many unexplained deaths and disappearances.

In order to rescue Will, Strike’s business partner, Robin Ellacott goes undercover to infiltrate the cult, joining their ‘farm’ in Norfolk.  She soon faces unprecedented dangers completely isolated from Strike and their team.

Absolutely gripping and immersive! 

P.S. for those of you who don’t know, Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym for J K Rowling. 

How not to murder your Ex – Katie Marsh (fiction)

how not to murder your ex Katie Marsh

Katie Marsh is a new author to me.  She started her writing career with romance fiction but has now added crime to her catalogue.  I discovered her via the free first reads offer on Amazon Prime.

This book is a great cosy crime set on the English Coast full of British humour about life, friendship and the trials of midlife.  I enjoyed the trio of characters and shall be looking out for the next books in the series.   It would make a great holiday read or rainy afternoon by the fire! 

The blurb:

It’s 5.30 am on Clio’s 45th birthday and her ex is lying dead on the doorstep of her caravan – the one she had to move to when he stole all her money.  It’s obvious his death is not an accident but Clio can’t remember what happened in the night when she left her caravan after drinking too many cocktails with her friends.  Did she kill him?  She knows she didn’t but the police view her as the prime suspect.  How can she prove her innocence before she is arrested for the crime? 

Fun read full of humour and observations on midlife. 

 

The Way of the Fearless Writer – Beth Kempton (non-fiction)

The Way of the Fearless Writer Beth Kempton
 
I’ve been following Beth Kempton for a while now.  She has a beautiful ‘Calm Christmas’ podcast (Calm Christmas Podcast) together with ‘The Fearless Writer’ podcast which was released to complement the book.  I listened to the podcast and then decided to treat myself to the book on Amazon kindle when it was on special offer. 
 
Kempton is a ‘self help’ author and Japanologist.  She set off to study the Japanese language as a young teenager and has had a love affair with Japan ever since.  
 
I love her style of writing.  I feel it immediately calms me down, immersing me in the sights, smells and sounds of nature and the environment.  
 
The Way of the Fearless Writer is not about writing technique but about discovering your voice as a writer and allowing yourself to find the freedom to express yourself without fear.  It links throughout the book to ancient Japanese wisdoms and Kempton’s own travels throughout Japan, and how these have influenced her. 
 
I really enjoyed dipping in and out of this book and will be re-reading it numerous times.  I wish now that I had bought a physical copy (I might still treat myself 😉 ) so that I can make notes and bookmark pages to refer to in the future.  
 
The end of each chapter has writing exercises and prompts for further thinking and journaling.  As a creative source, I much preferred this book to The Artist’s Way.  
 
I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested in the writing process.    I shall also be checking out her other books.  
 

Night Ride into Danger – Jackie French (children’s middle grade fiction)

Night Ride into Danger Jackie French
 
I won this book in the raffle at my local Writers Association meeting so, whilst it is a children’s book, I thought I would still give it a read as it centres around the Cobb and Co mail coach run of early 1900’s Australia.
 

The author Jackie French was the Australian Children’s Laureate in 2014-2015 and the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year.  She also became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2016 for her contribution to children’s literature.  

Needless to say, the book was excellently written, full of historical details.  I really felt immersed in the life of the characters and how it may have felt living in the early settlement days of Australia.  This is a great read for adults and middle grade children. 
 
The blurb:
 
The Cobb and Co night mail coach journey is dark and dangerous, but when the coach driver becomes injured, his young son Jem Donovan must take the reins.
 
Can Jem handle a team of four horses and guide the coach over rough bush tracks, through fog and untold dangers?
 
And who are the six passengers on the coach tonight who all seem to be clutching their own secrets?
 
 

Well, that’s it for this month.  Drop me a comment below, and do let me know what you’ve been reading this month. I love hearing about good books!

If you missed my last book review you can catch up HERE

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book reviews March 2024

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