Books I’ve Been Reading Lately

The last couple of months have contained two books with harrowing but ultimately feminist themes.  I read both because they are so well known and each had its own impetus, as you will see. I also checked in with a couple of my favourite authors. I feel like I’m on a roll and I hope it continues. Having a good supply of new reading material is important but not always possible. If I were scoring the books, all of these would get a solid four starts.





The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I have always meant to read this dystopian classic but never got round to it. The excellent TV adaptation gave me the push I needed. It’s different in a few notable ways to the TV show and much slower paced, but it was good to get extra insights and read the original book. Like a feminist 1984, it resonates decades after it was written in 1985.  I’m intrigued to see where the next season of the TV show takes it from here.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber

After something so dark it was good to dive into a easy-to-read fantasy. I got Caraval for 99p in a Kindle Daily Deal. It’s fast-paced and full of magic, which I love. If you liked the premise of The Night Circus but found it a bit heavy-going you might like this. Caraval is an immersive game that’s a cross between a circus performance and a treasure hunt, but with much higher stakes. The two sisters at the centre of the tale irritated me at times but didn’t spoil my enjoyment.




A Perfect Storm by Jodi Taylor

Another riotous short story e-book from the time-travelling series, The Chronicles of St. Mary’s. It was like catching up with old friends and I read it in one sitting. Can’t wait for the next (10th?) full length novel.

I never re-read books but when Jodi stops writing these – *shudders* – I shall start again from Book 1, Just One Damned Thing After Another.


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I got this free in an Amazon offer which was great as it’s another book I’ve been meaning to read forever but never did because I’m not a fan of thrillers. At first I wondered what all the fuss was about after wading through pages of financial double-dealing. Then Lisbeth, the troubled girl with the titular tattoo, came on the scene and l was hooked.

As the mystery at the centre of the book developed, I got more and more engrossed. With one big reveal I even exclaimed out loud and that doesn’t happen often. However, I don’t feel compelled to read the rest of the series. Let me know if you think I should.




The Break by Marian Keyes

I know a new book from Marian is going to be a treat and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this after the grim storyline of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. In The Break, Amy’s lovely husband reacts badly to two bereavements and decides the only solution is to put their marriage on hold while he goes travelling for six months as a single man.

It’s an enticing premise and waiting to see how Amy will cope and how she might even take advantage of the situation herself, makes it a great read. Not to mention the array of often comical supporting characters you always get in a Marian Keyes novel. Loved it.




What have you been reading lately? Anything you’d recommend?


Filed under Book Review

22 responses to “Books I’ve Been Reading Lately

  1. Em @ A Pretty Lil Book Blog

    I read the Handmaid’s Tale recently too! I loved it, but it was definitely disturbing too.


  2. I just read The Handmaid’s Tale too. Was very good! Yes, Caraval looks a bit irritating… I’m not sure I’ll read it!


  3. Hey Tara,
    Handmaid’s Tale, sorry it didn’t move me. Though it was disturbing to think about afterwards the book moved with the same turgid monotony as The Grapes Of Wrath for me. I’m pretty sure the lack is completely in me and my inability to grasp it.
    Afterwards The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter which really played with my mind. Interesting and bewildering. I was engrossed.
    Then I read Phillip K Dick’s short stories, it was good.
    Now I’m reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. An Indian story about arranged marriages, i think. Only on page 49.
    LOVE books, glad to be reading again.
    Portia xx


    • Hey Portia,
      Thanks SO much for sharing what you’ve been reading. For once, I’m glad I saw the TV show first. OMG The Grapes of Wrath was such a slog and a big book too.
      I’ve been meaning to try Angela Carter again. I read a little known novel of hers years ago that I can’t recall the name of.
      Isn’t it great when you get going again after a slump? You fall in love with reading all over again. I’ve just started Harry Potter, at last…


  4. I remember reading “A Handmaids Tale” when it first came out in the mid-70s (?), and it shook me to my very core. It also introduced me to the books of Margaret Atwood whom I love. Currently starting the new Ken Follet called “Column Of Fire”, 1000 pages but he such a great storyteller I suspect it’ll go really fast. Just finished a Newly discovered and published “lost” novel by M.F.K. Fisher one of my all-time favorite authors, called “The Theoretical Foot”. Off to order “Caraval right now.


    • Hi Robert,
      I do wonder how The Handmaid’s Tale would have affected me if I hadn’t seen the TV show first. I usually try to read the book before watching the adaptation, but the topic was too off-putting. I’m easily spooked!
      Isn’t it funny how long books by a much loved author just seem to fly by?
      How nice to find a long lost novel from a favourite author.
      I really hope you like Caraval. It’s a fun read but no exactly high-brow.


  5. Sandra

    Hi Tara, Wow – great list of books you have there. I read all the Stieg Larsson books and then the fourth installment written after his death. All worth the read. I will check our Caraval. Have a wonderful weekend. Sandra xo


  6. Oh funny – I didn’t see any Facebook notifications of this post and decided to come on over and look this morning to see if you had blogged again, and there it was! I thoroughly enjoyed ‘titular tattoo’.

    I am currently reading the first book (of many!) by a local crime writer called Maureen Carter, whom I have recently got to know. Called ‘Working Girls’, it is slap bang in the genre ex-Mr Bonkers used to call ‘forensic prostitutes’. (‘Slap bang’ sadly being two of the operative words.)

    Before that I devoured Sex and Stravinsky by Barbara Trapido, whose characters jump off the page. Not my favourite of hers but still a great read.


    • Ah, that’s was nice of you to drop by on spec, V.
      Crime fiction is something I know so little about and was fascinated to hear that ‘forensic prostitutes’ is a sub genre of sorts.
      I’ll never have the stomach for them sadly but are envious of how gripping they clearly are.
      I’ve heard of Barbara Trepudo so much check out her work. Maybe after Harrods Potter 🙂


  7. Hi Tara, I watched The Handmaids Tale series, oh boy, there is no way I want to read it though. I read Monkey Grip by Helen Garner recently which I thought was very good. Right now am obsessed with Madame du Pompadour by Nancy Mitford, a mixture of history and autobiography. I love the film Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola that got me back into the 1700’s.
    I will check out the short stories you mentioned. Take care xx Anna Maria


    • I love to know what other people have been reading so thanks for sharing Anna Maria. The Handmaid’s Tale was harrowing wasn’t it? I nearly didn’t watch the second episode.
      The Mitford sisters fascinate me.


  8. crikey

    A little late in…but, oh my! Philip Pullman’s new novel is so very good. (Am I remembering correctly you had liked the His Dark Materials trilogy?)

    Otherwise, nothing special recently. Though Chris Anderson’s TED Talks guide to public speaking is being very helpful as I prepare to give a talk this weekend (down in Oxford, so extra time to fret about it on the way.)


    • You are dead right. I adored His DarkMaterials and have the new book on my Kindle but haven’t started it yet. Great to know you’re enjoying it.

      All the best for your talk! I’m sure it will be a positive experience all round.


      • crikey

        Oh good, you do have a treat in store for you! I’m a little sad that I’ve already finished it.

        (Have you seen the rather entertaining row in which people are madly offended that some of his child characters swear? It’s bizarre, it’s like they have never met actual children, or even sat on a bus and listened.)

        Thank you! I’m looking forward to it, though a little nervous. (I enjoy doing things like this, though, once I get going. It’s the anticipation that makes me twitchy.)


        • Oh people can be so silly about the things they get offended by..

          At least you are seeing the nerves as anticipation. It’s a great opportunity you should feel excited about.


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