What's on your bookshelp

What’s on your bookshelf – December Book reviews

This post is part of the #What’sonyourBookshelfchallenge

Habits – we all have them – good and bad.  Often we focus on the bad habits that we want to change, and changing habits is hard work.

One habit I really wanted to work on this year was my blogging, but to be honest I feel I’ve failed big time!.  I’ve allowed the busyness of life to distract me and a desire for perfection to lead to procrastination.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Have you got a habit you wanted to work on this year that you feel you haven’t fulfilled?

To help solve the problem it sometimes helps to find like minded people to help motivate and guide you to achieve your goal.

In the last few months I’ve started following four wonderful Midlife bloggers who have inspired me to get motivated with my blog again:-

Deb from Deb’s World

Jo from AndAnyways

Donna from Retirement Reflections

Sue from Women Living Well after 50

So, in an attempt to get started again on my blogging, I thought I would take part in the #What’s on your bookshelf Challenge.

One good habit I have is a love of reading.  However, I usually only find time to read for about a 1/2 hour to an hour in bed before I go to sleep.  I think I’m quite a slow reader so I only have a few books on my December bookshelf to review but here goes:-

The Last Correspondent – Soraya M. Lane (fiction)

The Last correspondent - Soraya M Lane

This is the first book I have attempted to read on Kindle.  I have a new Ipad which I’ve down loaded the Kindle app onto.  My Amazon prime membership provides a free Kindle book each month so I thought I would give it a go.

To be honest, I haven’t been won over by digital book reading.  I still much prefer a physical book.  There is something far more relaxing about turning over a paper page, and the smell of a book whether old or new.  I also like that I can easily see my progress via my trusted bookmark, many of which were made for me by my children and hold special memories.  I know books are harder to cart around when travelling, but then you don’t have to worry about charging batteries and electric travel adaptors.  Plus, if you finish your book whilst away, it’s always intriguing what book you might find on a hotel or holiday house bookshelf, left by a previous visitor.  On a health and wellness side, the light exposure to the eye at night from a Kindle is not conducive for preparing our brains ready for sleep, although I did find myself nodding off a few times and then worried I was going to drop my Ipad off the bed or whack myself in the face!

On the plus side of digital reading, it did enable me to read far later into the night without disturbing my husband as I could turn off my bedside table light.  Plus in countries where books are expensive, digital books can be an inexpensive alternative.

Anyhow, back to the book.  The story is set during World War II and covers how female journalists and photographers were discriminated against, compared to their male counterparts.  Many were told that Press Agencies would not hire women to cover war stories.
The book follows three main characters, Danni, Ella and Chloe.  It took me a few chapters to get into the characters but that may have been due more to getting used to reading in a digital format, rather than the author’s writing style.  I loved that much of the action was set on the Normandy Beaches of France, which reminded me of trips with the kids to teach them some history.  I have always found the Normandy beaches very poignant and evocative of the terrible loss of life that occurred there.

Overall, the story of the three characters was neatly woven together.  It certainly gave an insight into the possible discrimination that women may have faced at this time.  Not being familiar with the author I was unsure whether she was just jumping on the ‘band wagon’ of female discrimination but at the end of the book she does explain that her stories are based on historical research.  She provides details on how this research connects with her fictional storyline.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, some parts were a little repetitive and clunky in the writing style but it flowed along nicely and kept me interested to the end.

Think like a Monk – Jay Shetty (non-fiction)

Think Like a Monk - Jay Shetty

It’s taken me an absolute age to get through the 287 pages of this book.  I much prefer reading fiction for it’s pure escapism but I was conscious that there is much to be learnt from reading a few non-fiction books once in a while.

Jay Shetty grew up in the UK and whilst at business college his friend dragged him to a talk by a visiting monk.  Shetty explains he immediately ‘fell in love’ and his journey with spirituality began. He went on to a career in finance but kept finding himself called to the teachings of various Ashrams.  He eventually committed to becoming a monk for three years before leaving to spread his message on finding peace and purpose in society.

This book is packed full of insights.  I shall certainly be re-reading and dipping into it regularly.  I’m sure each time I will find new things to resonate with.

Here’s a few quotes that caught my attention on this first reading:-

“I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am.  I am what I think you think I am” Charles Horton Cooley 1902

Read that a few times!

Most of us live our lives to fit what we think others think of us. I feel it could be argued that the whole construct of social media is built around this human behaviour.

”How can we recognise who we are and what makes us happy when we’re chasing the distorted reflection of someone else’s dreams?”

How many of us have chosen a career path or made decisions about our lives to please someone else?

There’s many more insights I could share but it’s probably better that you read the book yourself and find what resonates with you the most.  We all need different things at different stages in our lives.  I’m sure some of the chapters that I found slightly less insightful on first reading, will resonate more at a later stage of my life.

Hidden in Plain Sight – Jeffrey Archer (fiction)

Hidden in plain sight - Jeffrey Archer

This book was a fail for me. I know many readers criticise Archer’s writing style but, notwithstanding that, I always thought he could write a good story.  I have to say that I’ve found his more recent books pretty disappointing. This book is supposed to be centred around Detective Inspector Warwick, and follows on the characters from the Clifton Chronicles series.  This book is actually the second book in the Warwick series but as I was familiar with the characters from the Clifton Chronicles it didn’t seem to matter.  However, I just couldn’t get into the book.  The storyline didn’t really seem to be going anywhere, with a lack of focus on the detective element in my view.   In the past I would have persevered and committed to finishing the book, but not anymore!  There are far too many good books to read in the world without wasting time on ones we don’t enjoy.

Do you persevere with books you don’t like and finish them?  Drop me a comment below, and feel free to let me know what you have been reading this month. I love hearing about good books! 

Don’t forget to check out all the other great book reviews in the link party here

Have a wonderful Christmas and I hope Father Christmas/Santa brings you a ton of books!

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5 thoughts on “What’s on your bookshelf – December Book reviews”

  1. Thanks for joining in with us Janine and your reviews were very insightful. That quote about being who you think I am is very interesting and would make a great conversation starter around the table! To answer your question, it has to be a good reason why I won’t finish a book but it does happen from time to time.
    I listen to books at times but prefer a ‘real’ book or an ebook through my Kindle or the free library app called BorrowBox. Wishing you well for Christmas and hope to see you again in 2022.

  2. I’ve been tempted to pick up both of these so appreciate your reviews. I do tend to finish most books that I start – although there have been times I’ve abandoned them. Like Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers. I was struggling with it in an Air BNB in The Cotswolds & on the shelf was another book I really wanted badly to read. I ended up asking our host if I could do a swap – Nine Perfect Strangers (which I didn’t end up finishing) for John Baxter’s The Most Beautiful Walk in the World. Thanks for linking up and happy Christmas.

    1. Hi Joanne, Thank you for reading my reviews and for your kind comments. You’re blogs have really helped to inspire me to get writing again! I shall look forward to reading all about your walks, travels and baking over the forthcoming year. Thanking you for allowing me to join in the link party! Merry Christmas

  3. “I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.” That is such a great line and after spending years in Middle School Education, I can verify the truth behind this sentence.

    I sadly am a reader that finishes to a book to the end. I wish that I wasn’t. I always think that it will get better. In my experience, it often doesn’t.

    Thank you for joining us at What’s On Your Bookshelf. And thank you for the shoutout. It is greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Donna, Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for commenting. I really loved that quote as it digs deep into why we make some of the choices in our lives. I spent so many years finishing books just like you, hoping/anticipating that they would get better but usually they don’t. It’s been quite freeing to let go and ditch a book if it’s not keeping my interest. I look forward to following your blog in 2022 and wish you a very Merry Christmas.

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