Sunday, 3 July 2016

Year in books: July 2016

This year I'm taking part in the Year in Books organised by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees, with the aim of reading at least one book per month. I didn't get around to posting last month because of holidays and 30 Days Wild so this is for two months. In May I managed two books, as well as one I'm reading month by month. In June, I managed none! Oh well, I'm hoping to get back on track in July but, before I reveal my picks, here's what I read in May.

My first was Julie & Julia: my year of cooking dangerously. This is the true story of Julie Powell who sets out to cook, in one year, all of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. At the suggestion of her husband, Eric, she chronicles the year in a blog, which you can still read here.

I did enjoy the book but I think I enjoyed the film more. What was missing for me was how the film interweaves the life of Julia Child, why she learned to cook and how she came to write her cookery classic - or maybe I just missed Meryl Streep! The real Julie is much more acerbic than the Amy Adams' Julie too, though I did warm to her as the book went on. Instead, you get much more about the real Julie's life, her back story and her family and friends, cleverly interwoven with her experience of making particular recipes (though only a handful are mentioned). If you loved the film, read the book too as it will enrich what you saw.

Bomb by Sarah Mussi is the fourth of the books I've read which had been shortlisted for the Lancashire Book of the Year award and the best so far.

Genesis wakes up in a dark room to find herself strapped to a suicide bomb: she has become the latest victim and weapon of a terrorist group. As they send her on a journey through the tourist hotspots of the south of England, Gen must race against time to work out their intentions and try to save both herself and thousands of innocent people.

My heart pounded almost from the first page of this tense and exciting story. I loved how the plot and revelations gradually unfold as Gen pieces together what the terrorists are planning. Sarah Mussi won last year's award but wasn't lucky this time. The winner was Am I normal yet? by Holly Bourne.

As a reminder, this is the book I'm reading each month: Island: Diary of a Year on Easdale. It's the nature diary of Garth Waite (who does the writing) and his wife, Vicky (who does the illustrations). The illustrations are probably my favourite part even if this squirrel does look on the evil side!

And now for my July picks. Well, actually they were my June picks but I'm carrying them over! I've chosen a couple of lighter ones for the summer, both by authors I've read before. I was telling a colleague about When God was a Rabbit which I read in April and she's loaned me Sarah Winman's latest: hopefully it'll be just as good. The other is by the author of the Great Christmas Knit-Off which I also enjoyed.

Who knows, I might even read another. I've been scouring the local charity shops and have built up quite a pile so I've got plenty to choose from!

In case any of you are wondering how the grebes are getting along, the two babies are still doing well and growing fast. As you can see, they're almost too big to be hitching a ride now (though this is dad who is slightly smaller than mum).

More exciting news on the waterfront is that we also now have ducklings: seven of them :) This is the first and only brood of the year so far. Hopefully, there's still time for more.

I've also been watching the damsel and dragonflies. Despite the lake, they're not very common so it's been thrilling to see a lot of them milling around and laying eggs in the pondweed. As well as this blue-tailed damselfly, there were plentiful common blues. I also saw what I think was a keeled skimmer but could have been a black-tailed skimmer - the only difference is the black tail but I didn't get a photo and haven't been able to find them since. Either way, it's a new species for me!

Hope you've had a good weekend and have been able to enjoy some sunshine. x


  1. Im glad the other grebe has turned up. The book the Bomb sounds like a good read, I will be putting it on my list.

  2. That was a quite a cookery challenge to take on, 524 recipes in a year! I managed to read 3 books in June which I was pleased with as last June I didn't read anything as 30 Days Wild took up lots of my time!

    The grebes are growing fast!