Anyone else have this issue? I wonder if it’s historical fiction specific issue or applies to other genres too.

I now have research books for at least 2 future books that I haven’t even begun to write yet 🙈.


Found messages

I love second hand books. I’ve found a few lately with dedications inside and they always move me. I think a books a lovely gift. Although I don’t think I have ever written a note in a book before.

This is the latest one I have found:

Do you gift books and if so do you write inside them?

Have you ever found someones treasured message?

Review of Music To Make Friends By

Music To Make Friends By: Quick Reads 2019 by Hayley Long

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover – Music to Make Friends By

📖 This is a really intriguing little book. I initially purchased it as I enjoy the quick-reads series to which it belongs to. I don’t think there are many autobiographies amongst it (that I am aware of) so this seemed fun and a little different and at £1 worth a go.

✍️Well I wasn’t disappointed. This is a sweet little book about a woman going through life, told through music. The excitement of buying her first album, the sharing of common music with friends, joining your first fan club, getting a first job, having a boyfriend (who is sweet enough to create her a mixtape), travelling Europe, becoming a teacher and attending school dances. Quite a lot of life story in 99 pages, mostly told through the medium of song.

👓 This little book brought back quite a lot of memories for me too (who doesn’t remember the exciting times of visiting a woolies store with your eagerly saved pocket money). Everyone has special songs that can instantly bring back memories (good or bad) and that’s what this little book captures.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘The music?’ I crossed my fingers. ‘Can I choose it this time?’
Jeanie was silent for a moment and then she gave a snort of laughter. ‘Of course you can, love. You can choose anything you like as long as it’s Elton John.’

💭 Overall View: A light-hearted, funny, sweet little book. Full of nostalgia (particularly around how music shapes and inspires us). I’ve now added Marlena Shaw’s – Let’s Wade in the Water to my playlist too, such a brilliant little song to much this fun little book.

👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

At the time of reviewing this book it is on sale for £1.00 at Amazon (affiliate link):

Review of The Library Paradox

The Library Paradox by Catherine Shaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cover – The library paradox

📖 In Cambridge 1896, a professor is shot dead in his study. The only suspect was seen leaving the building a number of seconds before the shot was fired, and the witnesses testify no one else left the building after the shot. How could the killer have escaped? Venessa Weatherburn is asked to look into the case.

✍️ Firstly, I had not realised this was book 3 in a series so perhaps may have enjoyed it a little more being armed with that info. The book intrigued me from the offset. A historical murder mystery with the detective not being a middle-aged man (or older widow) but a young married mother with two young children of her own. It seemed intriguing. The reality of the story is she drops the kids off at her sister’s and then pretty much forgets about them.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘I don’t know, though,’ he said. ‘People tell stories around here all the time, and Peretz’s latest can always be counted upon to get a lot of appreciation. Peretz is one of our great Yiddish authors,’ he added, turning to me. Reaching up to a shelf, which held a pile of papers and well-thumbed tomes, he took down some old newspapers and glanced through them. I looked eagerly over his shoulder, but found myself confronted with Hebrew characters, as illegible to me as if I were staring at a blank wall.
‘You won’t be able to read this,’ he said, smiling. ‘Anyway, I don’t think I have the story here, as it only just came out. Listen, I’ll find it and translate it for you, and send one of my brothers to bring it over to you tomorrow. I don’t know what conclusions you’ll be able to draw from it; probably none.’
‘I would very much like to read the story, nevertheless,’ I said.

👓 The story is all told from Vanessa’s viewpoint (written as a memoir/diary style) and whilst at times she is an interesting character, strong-willed, questioning but approachable, the book tends to drift off into large amounts of mathematical theory. Some of which is relevant to the story but the majority just seemed to be page fillers and I found myself glossing over to try to get to the next part of the book that contained actual story content.

👫 Quite early in the book we find out that the murdered professor was an anti-Semite, who made no secret of his views and had a clear stance on the famous Dreyfus affair in France. Vanessa slowly ends up in the Jewish community in London. This then meant the book went on to explain a lot about the Hassidic sect of Judaism. Some of this was interesting ( I did enjoy learning about the families and the customs within the Jewish community and the comparisons made by the Christian Vanessa). However, again the author seemed to put in every possible bit of information about Jewish culture from that time and for me, it really began to detract from the story.

🗺 I enjoyed the historical setting and the descriptions of the buildings in and around Cambridge and sections of London were very visual.

💔 Any Negatives: The story itself, for me, had real potential a murdered professor and a real puzzle of how a murderer could get in and out unseen – brilliant stuff. However, I found myself enjoying the book less and less as the author repeatedly went into more and more mathematical theories. I also feel a lot of the religious elements were unnecessary and again slowed the book and story down. There were also a few too many characters I felt, I understand Jewish communities are large, and also scholarly circles at the university, but the number of new character introductions felt too much for a fiction novel.

💭 Overall View: The setting, the mystery and the main character were all great. However, the book was too focused on mathematics, Jewish religion, and antisemitism which ultimately detracted from the story. A bit of knowledge is very interesting but the author went too far.

👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.


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