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I’ve decided I’m going to pick out some of the books I’ve read each season and do a short review. I tend to buy whatever book deals are on Amazon to read on my Kindle, but also see what others are reading from instagram reviews or recommendations. Hopefully if you’re looking for books to read or want to share your thoughts on a specific book, these regular posts may provide those opportunities.
Books read in Spring 2022
- March – 9
- April – 9
- May – 8
The Turnout by Megan Abbott
I chose this book because of the ballet theme, and it ended up being more complex and dark than I expected. I really should read the blurbs more!. Set in a ballet school run by 2 sisters and one’s husband, the book travels through the run up and pressures of putting on a Nutcracker run of performances by their students. We hear and feel all the pain, jealous, bullying, and mental issues everyone involved goes through for this annual performance.
Behind this is the tangled bitter and disturbed web of relationships in the Durant family. Abuse, mental health, physical pain, and past psychological issues in their family going back to childhood. Coupled with the increase pressures in the ballet school not helped by building and contractor issues who seems to be taking advantage of one sister drawing her into a disturbing relationship. Before everything culminates in a terrible crescendo, destroying what had been a workable but not totally happy life.
I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the book, but it got the mind working trying to work out who was the person or people inflicting the hurt and confusion past or present, and who were actually the victims. It definitely isn’t a book about happy, pretty ballet, and putting this plot inside this incongruous setting, made it seem more disturbing. I felt sad for the life they thought was ‘normal’.
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez
A book that all men and women should read.
For me as a women I think I’ve been quite lucky to have avoided the worst of being female, working in relatively female heavy companies, having a fair ride through school life. Probably the most I’ve experienced being cat-calling on the streets which didn’t really impact me. But reading Invisible Women makes you realise that there’s so much more to the world and how ever
My son isn’t a big reader, but I hope to share some of my learnings from this book with him as he grows up, so it can open his eyes and understand how all men need to make changes in understanding and support for the women in society and at home.
The Swimming Pool by Louise Candish
weak she was being so easily led into poor friendships. This is a story of growing up, reminscing on summers from teenage years past, parenting, relationships, and manipulation all set against the background of a lazy summer off work spent largely around a newly opened Lido and Natalie being drawn to the more exciting Lara. It was interesting to try and work out who was trustworthy, which characters were actually the ones leading others into trouble. There were several twists, which tidied everything up at the end.
The Audacity by Katherine Ryan
I find Katherine Ryan quite funny in her matter of factness and not seeming to care what others think which I admire. I speed read the book, just spending more time on the bits that jumped out as being particularly amusing. I could imagine her voice reading the book, but on the whole I wasn’t kept engaged enough throughout to say I enjoyed it overall.
Posh Boys: How English Public Schools Ruin Britain by Robert Verkaik
Posh Boys takes you through the setting up and original aim of the public school system in the UK, how they changed to be drivers of power and network through the year, limited upward mobility for the poor. As you read, it makes you realise why politicians are generally the way they are, and the power public school boys end up with when they’ve gone through the top end public school system. There’s a lot of information, a lot of evidence, and it is concerning to see how well some people do who shouldn’t have done if based purely on ability.
As someone who went to a public boys school (for 6th form, where they took in girls too), I struggled to match this reflected in the school I went to. One of the more down to earth, smaller public and independent schools outside of the ‘posh’ famous schools. Maybe it was me having seen it from a female angle. Someone coming from a single parent family who benefitted from the assisted places scheme which was ridiculed in the book as not actually helping those who come from families who really couldn’t afford private schools. Or maybe the book lumps in every private school into the same category as being ruinous. It made me feel guilty for choosing to go to public school, getting myself through the scholarship exams and getting myself a place pretty much paid for me.
It would have been nice to have heard more about the private girls school aspect and how that differs and it be more obvious that it’s the extreme look at the system.
The Club by Ellery Lloyd
If you’re a fan of celebrity lives and gossip and want to imagine what kind of lives they lead, then The Club will take normal gossip much further with the tangled web of crime and appalling behaviour that happens at the exclusive Home clubs created and run by the awful Neil Groom. He preys on insecurities from his staff closest to him and those of the celebrities who stay in his clubs, and it’s quite horrific when the reader realises how he’s been running the clubs.
There weren’t many characters who were particularly likeable, although Jess, Nikki and Annie have some redeeming qualities showing ambition and work ethic and respect. I was surprised at how the murders ended up happening, although one I seemed to miss with a jump in the story from one bit to another.
I like the way the telling of the story is interspersed with the newspaper articles about the murders.
It was a satisfying ending, with wrongs righted, and women able to get closure on their problems from earlier life.
Lost Property by Helen Paris
I sobbed my way through this book. Dot works in Lost Property, a precise ordered person with chaos of family in the background, a lost father with his own demons, a sister who’s very different to her, and a mother with dementia. It’s a story of loss, a journey to finding herself and what might have been, building relationships that she’s always struggled with, and realising her place in the world while putting to bed some of the issues she always believed from the past.
It’s a bit more sombre than the books I usually read, but I really enjoyed it.
Virgin River by Robyn Carr
I hadn’t realised the series was from the Mills and Boon range. A gentle love story set in the countryside backwater of Virgin River with flashbacks to Mel’s former life, and the shedding her former traumas as she falls in love with man and place.
The first in the series is a nice enough read, but having seen the Netflix adaptation before reading, the tv series slightly amend the story and cover more than one book’s story.
For me the tv show feels more modern and indepth than the book which felt like it was over too soon. Probably reading the book first wouldn’t have made me feel like that so much.
I also read books 1-6, and I’ll probably continue reading the rest of the books if only to find out what’s next for other characters in the books.
Behind the Sequins: My Life by Shirley Ballas
For fans of Strictly Come Dancing or dance in general, Shirley Ballas’ autobiography is worth a read. From a humble start in life she recalls her start in dance, the ambition and achievements, family trauma and relationship failures alongside rising to the top of her dancing career.
It’s an easy read, just straightforward and straight talking like she seems to come across on Strictly.
It was interesting to see the links to Derek and Julianne Hough which I’d not realised (his is another autobiography I enjoyed reading). I don’t generally read a lot of autobiographies, but if it’s about dance, I’m there
Back to School by Jack Sheffield
A nice easy read, the story of Jack Sheffield’s year spent at one school in Yorkshire earliy in his teaching career. Some funny moments amongst the more serious experiences with bad and good teaching staff, parents and trying to improve the prospects of his year 6 class.
View all of my Goodreads reviews.
I think it’s nearly time to replace my Kindle. It’s one of the original Paperwhites and it loses its charge really fast. But first it’s onto my next reads for June.
What are you reading at the moment?