Read Any Good Books Lately?

I’ve been making a concerted effort to read more this year and I feel I’ve really benefited from it so far. I know a lot of perfume people love a good book so here’s a run-down of what I added to my Kindle during the first couple of months of 2017.


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

Big Magic is great for anyone who wants to inject more creativity into their life. It’s hugely motivating and not exclusively for those engaged in “The Arts”. It’s more about expressing yourself in whatever way excites you.

The Untethered Soul is a book I go back to whenever my negative thoughts are getting the better of me.




Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

January needed some humour and this collection of non-fiction writing is nothing but a hoot. Many of us have a compulsive streak and we can see that taken to comic extremes in Marian.

My Name is Markham by Jodi Taylor

The New Year saw the release of another fun short story from The Chronicles of St Mary’s series. These keep fans like me going between the release of the full length of books, which now number seven. I know most perfume lovers are thriller fans, but fantasy is my poison. I love to escape to another world, however, this isn’t “high fantasy” as it’s very much rooted in England as we know it.

St. Mary’s is an academic institution where historians time-travel in order to investigate past historic events as they happen, often with disastrous consequences. The short stories are more light-hearted escapades, like this one.

A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab and the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Both these fantasy trilogies exhibit writing that is a considerable cut above the norm for this genre. The series A Darker Shade of Magic centres around Kell who can travel between several very different Londons. It’s a suspenseful adventure and also features a younger female character, Lila, who for once is far from saintly.

The All Souls trilogy revolves around the relationship between two Oxford academics, Diana and Matthew, who just happen to be a witch and a vampire.  The plot centres on a mysterious lost manuscript and I found the historical aspects really interesting (Harkness is an historian). It was an enjoyable guilty pleasure which is definitely allowed in grim February.

Funnily enough, both Schwab and Harkness use olfactory signatures to help characterise people and places.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I’m not into Sci-Fi but 3,515 five-star reviews on Amazon can’t be wrong, can they? Hmmm. There were many passages working through solutions to problems faced by this astronaut stranded on Mars which involved a lot of science and maths.  While the humour lightened the mood, it was rather juvenile for someone who appeared to be a particularly ingenious genius. I generally found it kept my attention, but overall found it a bit odd. No doubt it’s perfect if you’re a science geek. I’d give it a solid three stars.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’m trying to inject more classic literature into my reading. I have a fondness for the 1920s Jazz Age so Gatsby was great from that point of view and the writing really made an impression on me.  I thought I’d struggle more with The Hobbit but it was a pleasant trip to a land of dwarves and other magical creatures, where I’m always at home. I’m steeling myself to attempt The Lord of The Rings series at some point this year.





What books have you been reading? Any you’d recommend? 






Filed under Book Review

48 responses to “Read Any Good Books Lately?

  1. I have been reading all six books by Tana French in the past couple of weeks, they are great. If you liked Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, these will appeal, since their writing is similar. They are crime novels set in Dublin.
    I’ve also read 1984 again (as does half of the planet right now 😉 ) and I re-read children’s fantasy books like A Wrinkle in Time, which I loved as a child, and the Overlander series since Pauli is reading them too.
    I will look into your recommendations for sure. 😘


    • Thanks for the recommendation, B.
      Yes, I heard 1984 is back in the book charts for depressingly understandable reasons. It shows how relevant it continues to be. Such an amazing book.
      I wish I read fantasy books as a child but perhaps it’s not too late.
      As I’ve said previously, you might find Big Magic inspiring.


  2. Good recommendations. I am a very, very slow reader (too easily distracted) and currently reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield. Sounds very technical, but this book about the history and evolution of fonts is a fascinating look at their history and evolution, from Garamond and Gill Sans to Helvetica.


  3. Ooh, The Secret History is one of my top ten reads of all-time, so the Tana French tip is noted, B!

    Fragroom – I have Just My Type – it is one of dozens of books in my many tsundokus…;)

    T, love the quote by Michael Singer! I am reading next to nothing these days – I just don’t seem to find the time – although I enjoyed The Girl on a Train recently as an easy page turning romp. The best books before that would have been Staying Alive by Dr Phil Hammond about the workings of the NHS (absolutely fascinating, as well as useful) and Karen Joy Fowler’s We are all completely beside ourselves, which was recommended by someone – can’t remember who!


  4. Have you tried the Rivers of London series by Ben Abramovich, Tara? }rban fantasy, not too dark, lots of humor, set in London. Then for a bit more lighthearted cup of tea type of fantasy there is Phil Rickmann’s merrily watkins series, made into an ITV mini series, I think.


    • You know, I tried the first Rivers of London book and couldn’t get into it. I don’t why because it should be just my thing. Maybe I should give it another try at some point.
      I’ll definitely check out the Merrily Watkins series, thanks.


  5. I just love your recommendations and am reading and enjoying every second of His Dark Materials. I do have to put my iToys far away so as to not be distracted ……… Bussis. Xxxx


    • LOL at iToys. So true. I read loads more now I don’t switch on the PC on in the evenings. Much better all around.
      His Dark Materials is just amazing. So intrigued about the sequel. I think we did the right thing waiting till now to read it 🙂


      • Sofia Madeen

        Hi everyone, Been reading this thread, as I followed a post from FFF (uhh it was ausperfjunkies review re Vero Kern’s newest offering, I guess) and was going to chime in with a recommend of Bill Pullman’s trilogy (soo much better than Potter, imo), But see you’ve already ‘discovered’ it 😉 I’m late to the game with Gaiman (read Anansi Boys years ago, and was underwhelmed), but just finished American Gods, ’cause the dramatization is being aired in the UK next month (and can the US airing be far behind?). And tho, I liked it far better than ‘Anansi Boys’, it left me wanting. ;-( How do you all feel about Clive Barker? His fantasy is superbe, imo. His ‘horror’ fiction (for lack of a better genre title) is stellar, if your tastes run catholic. Another fantastic writer — Blake Crouch. Also not for the faint-hearted, but if you’re liking dark, twisted, and well-crafted. He’s your man. Thanks for letting me ‘butt’ in …. 😉


        • Hi Sofia,
          I’m glad you found your way here and appreciate your comment.
          I love Neil Gaiman but some books are better than others. I’d recommend Neverwhere which I adored along with Stardust.
          Horror fantasy isn’t my thing but agree Clive Barker is as good as it gets. Such a fascinating guy too.


          • Sofia

            Thanks for the recommends, Tara. I will definitely look into Neverwhere. I saw the movie they made of Stardust… Emmm mildly entertaining. Maybe the book’s better 😉 I forgot to mention I’m currently reading Susan Orlean’s (The Orchid Thief), ‘Rin-Tin-Tin’ and it’s quite good. Also found Bill Bryson’s ‘At Home’ to be very entertaining. For sci-fi, Mary Doria Russell’s ‘The Sparrow’ held interest (haven’t read the sequel).


            • Sofia

              Forgot to mention, for fantasy (sci-fi) fans, I think Stranger in a Strange Land is still hard to beat. This one may bear a re-read for me. I haven’t sampled R R Martin, yet. I will be honest and say I could not stick with LOTR (read as an adult, had I encountered it as a youth… hard to say). If I’m going to read about the World War’s (which LOTR’s is an allegory of (and some will debate that…par for the course) I’d rather read Barbara Tuchman or Testament of Youth or Erich Remarque or any other historical and/or fictive accounts of those juggernauts — and prefer the authors were non-apologists (pacifists).


              • I’m not sure how I will get on with LoTR but I’ll give it a go.
                I enjoyed the first 5 Games of Thrones books and then stopped when the TV series caught up.


            • The book Stardust is a million times better than the film!
              I need to read some Bill Bryson so thanks for the tip.


  6. Judy Wadsworth

    Another great book to read is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.


  7. crikey

    So pleased that the next St Mary’s book is out in, what, a fortnight? Soon, anyway. (Did we talk before in comments about Jasper Fforde and the Thursday Next novels, thinking of the happy smart/silly sideways reality type fantasy novels?)

    It seems to be a bit of a bumper year for new novels by authors I favour–Amazon just brought me a very fat new Paul Auster novel, and a very slender but enticing tome from China Mieville. Something new from Neal Stephenson soon, too. And Pullman’s “Book of Dust” in October…


    • Oh my goodness Crikey, so excited about the next book. How she manages to keep the standard up over so many novels is amazing to me. Reading a new one is like sinking into a comforting warm bath. It’s the only series I can imagine re-reading when it’s all over.
      I must admit that I’ve heard of, but not read anything by, the other authors you mention so thanks.


  8. Since you’re into the 20s era, did you read Enchanted April. Such a lovely book for this time of year.
    I always wanted to read Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare book, so im currently doing that in between two or three others; Noise of our time by Barnes, thinking fast and slow, and a German book by Eugen Rüge, im too lazy to look up the translation. 😊


    • I’m guilty of having a few books on the go at once too.
      I will look up Enchanted April as it sounds perfect and I really must read some Bill Bryan, it’s embarrassing.


  9. BOOKS! I love them.
    Tara, I don’t understand why you’re steeling yourself for the Lord of the Rings. It will flash by in a moment. I’m on my third edition of the book because the first two fell apart in my hands after years of re-readings. Fantasy is my jam too.
    Just finished the new CHANEL novel, it’s a glossy, Hollywood version and paints her atrocious behaviours in the best possible light without glossing over all of them.
    Now I’m reading Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Copeland because a new book titles Now We Are 40 has been released as a follow up and I wanted to remind myself of the original premises.
    Portia xxx


    • Ah really Portia? That’s encouraging. I heard there were a lot of battles in LoTR.

      Interesting about the follow up Douglas Copeland book. I can’t say I related to the characters in the original at the time even though I’m part of Generation X, like you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it’s a funny book and now I’m pretty far removed from my age then. I was a pretty aimless party animal for decades so I suppose I was slightly the same but in a different way.
        Yeah, there are a few battles but they aren’t so blow by blow that you get mired in them. LoTRs is almost the perfect fantasy for me about adventure, friendships without prejudice and determination.
        Portia xx


  10. Hey Tara! Nice list. I’m not reading a lot at the moment but I agree, The Untethered Soul is wonderfully grounding. I want to get back to learning languages so I think that’s next on my reading list.
    xx Tina


    • Hey Tina!
      There’s no time to read when you’re an award-winning jam producer 🙂
      I so envy people like you who have the talent and determination to learn a language.


  11. Ha! I love this! Especially that I’m a bit late to the topic so there are already good ideas to add to the list. 🙂
    I completely forgot about Deborah Harkness, I see I read the first book in the trilogy and stopped there. So I’ll get back to it. And I’ll add the Secret History to the list as I see people like it a lot.
    I haven’t been reading much lately, mostly astrology books as I’m into that at the moment.
    I did try reading an old Stephen King novel (can’t remember the name at the moment 😀 ) but it was taking forever to get into the story so I lost interest.


  12. Lady Jane Grey

    Finally I got the time to come back to this properly – one has to write properly about books, right ? I read a lot during my frequent traveling, but that’s mostly crime, although I try to pick them carefully : I can recommend Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites or G.M.Burnet’s His Bloody Project – non of them a classical crime book, there’s more psychological happening and are written very well. I loved Hanya Yanagihara’s Little Life, a book I didn’t stop thinking about for long after finished. With the same reason I recently re-read one of my favorites again : The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. I like well written, historically exact biographies, and I found that true in Joanna Moorhead’s The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington and Ken Clarke’s Kind of Blue. Happy reading, my dear T. – a lovely thing to do even when the weather is turning warmer : sitting in a park with a sandwich and a good book… A blissss !


    • Thanks for your considered comment dear LJG. I know that time is a commodity you’re usually short of.

      I doubt I will ever have the nerve for crime fiction but I’m sure you find the best in the genre. However, I just looked up The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington and it sounds amazing.

      It’s a beautiful, warm weekend in London and hope it’s the same for you.


  13. Hamamelis

    Chiming in very late, because too too busy. Too busy to read, and sometimes to wear perfume…I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s the Signature of all Things so if you haven’t read it I recommend it. Nice to see Birgit commenting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much for taking time out to comment, Hamamelis.
      I really appreciate you recommending The Signature of All Things because I’ve been wondering about Elizabeth Gilbert’s fiction.
      Yes, it’s lovely to hear from B.


  14. Nemo

    This post was extremely timely for me, since I’m stuck at home recovering from a (very minor) surgical procedure. I’ve enjoyed noting the many books I haven’t read yet, since I am a big fan of urban fantasy, regular fantasy, and almost any historical fiction. In fact, I just checked out the All Souls triology from my library on your recommendation 🙂 Everyone has made some great recommendations so far, so the only books I can think to add are the Oxford time travel books by Connie Willis, which is about time travelling historians with a good dose of British-ish humor included 🙂 Thanks!!


    • Hi Nemo, I hope you are fully recovered soon. At least books are a good distraction. I really hope you enjoy the All Souls trilogy!
      Thanks for the recommendation. It sounds very like Jodi Taylor’s St. Mary’s Chronicles which I love


  15. I love classics. You can try Fitzgerald’s short stories too!


  16. thecorneroflaura

    I’d recommend Brave New Worlds by Aldous Huxley. It’s a surprisingly easy read and, for a dystopia, it’s not that depressing. Just very very weird.


    • Thanks for the recommendation. I owned the book for a long time but never read it, so gave it away in the end. I should try a sample on Kindle.


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