Reading Diary – Summer 2018


I never thought I liked Science Fiction but then I found out last month that my favourite book series The Chronicles of St. Mary’s is classed as Sci-Fi. Hilarious. You live and learn.




The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I’ve just started getting back into historical fiction and this was a great example of the genre. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about life in Victorian London/Essex and especially how it portrayed a more informal version than what we’re used to. The mythical Essex Serpent seemingly returned to the Blackwater estuary made for a compelling thread of intrigue. The characters were wonderful and I loved the relationship between Cora and the vicar, Will. The tension between the two regarding how they viewed the serpent – and each other – drew me in more and more. Sarah Perry’s writing was superb and never too slow or heavy on detail. I especially enjoyed the various letters between characters. 4.8

essex serpent


An Argumentation of Historians by Jodi Taylor

This is the ninth book in The Chronicles of St. Mary’s about my beloved bunch of haphazard historians. We visit Persepolis as it’s about to go up in flames and rural 14th Century England. It seemed like it would be a rather relaxing read after the harrowing rollercoaster of book eight. However, towards the end there’s a twist and things rapidly ramp up, leaving us on a bit of a cliff-hanger. I guess it will have to happen one day if Jodi Taylor keeps writing this series but I find it hard to believe any of them will every be less than five stars for me. 5/5

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I always steered away from reading this clssic because it sounded like a gloomy ghost story. However, recently I kept hearing people compare it to Jane Eyre, so I finally picked it up. I find it really amusing that for a good portion of the book I was wondering what all the fuss was about. It all seemed very transparent and I was lulled into a sense of complacency. Then the rug was pulled from under me so brilliantly I gasped. Very quickly, I could see why people adore this book and why Daphne du Maurier was such a clever writer.  It’s such an evocative book and Rebecca is such a shocking and vivid character. I didn’t see much of a resemblance to Jane Eyre (who is still my favourite female literary character of all-time despite Millennials apparent dislike of the book).  5/5




Lost Connections by Johann Hari

This investigation into the causes of depression and the effectiveness of antidepressants was pretty confusing for me. I know my life changed when I started taking SSRI medication but I also had to try several different types before I found one that worked. This makes me conclude that it wasn’t a placebo effect and there was a chemical component. They don’t help everyone but even if they don’t help most people they can be life-changing (indeed life-saving) for some people. I also know there are people with great lives who get hit with depression out of a clear blue sky. The book did however make me want to check I still need them.  Consequently I’ve weened myself off and will see where I go from there. Please consult your doctor if you are considering coming off medication yourself.


Have you read any of these books or have another to recommend?






Filed under Book Review

23 responses to “Reading Diary – Summer 2018

  1. tfk31


    I’m generally more of a lurker than a commenter, but I am disturbed by linking reading one book with your decision to wean yourself off of antidepressants.

    Weaning off of medication should be done under the care of an MD, and suggesting to your readers that they too can just decide to stop taking their antidepressant medication, based on one book by someone with no medical background looking to sell books may well be doing them a disservice.


    • Hi tfk31,

      Thanks for your comment. I absolutely agree that people should discuss coming off their meds with their doctor. I’m definitely not suggesting that anyone do otherwise and will go back and amend the post to make this clear.


  2. Hey Tara,
    If you ever get a chance grab the du Mauriers biography. Their story is full of twists and curls, excellent reading. So glad you loved Rebecca, I need to go back and reread it again, you’ve inspired me.
    Sci-Fi/Fantasy rules the world.
    Portia x


  3. Oooh Rebecca, love it so much. And the spooky film is all kinds of wonderful. I bought a copy recently meaning to re-read it, ditto My Cousin Rachel.

    I love the cover of The Essex Serpent in particular. I am not sure where I stand on historical fiction, but have several such volumes in my tottering tsundoku, and will let you know!


    • Hi V,
      Rebecca is right up there as one of the best classics I’ve ever read. I’m intrigued about the film now.
      Will look up My Cousin Rachel.
      Do let me know if you read any grest historical fiction. That really is a great cover.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca, I think it was a BBC series, disturbed me totally as a teenager. Scary stuff. I loved the Hari Lost Connections book. A lot of food for thought. Antidepressants is a huuuuuuuge business, and a caring doctor who understands is crucial. Hari has an easy to read style, and if nothing else makes it very clear that it is not simply a brain malfunction. Plus, any book that inspires me to do something, change something, or try something totally new is wonderful. Inspiration comes from many different sources. One can always try something new, whatever it is, because if it sucks you can stop. But to never try is to stunt the possibility of growth within our selves. You know my thoughts on it – Be scared, have anxiety, but do it any way. Always. xxxxxx


    • Hi CQ
      I also read non fiction largely so that I can learn something and/or improve the way I live my life. Books that make you question how you’ve been living can be life-changing . After taking the pills for 10 years I’m glad the book came along and made me think whether it was time to see how I am without them. So far so good but I can always go back, as you say.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love your book reviews– Rebecca is at the top and now I’ve got to read The Essex Serpent. I was totally intrigued by The Lost Collection. I took SSRIs for 9 months. I was thankful at the time. I was told by my doctor that they often altered the brain permanently, but slowly. When I went off, I questioned how much “good” they had done. He agreed it wasn’t measurable, didn’t know, etc., but there might very likely be a benefit for short term use. Just a thought. My husband who had a TBI went on them afterward his accident for about a year, then didn’t use them for three years, and is now back on. We’ll see how it goes. Just my musings… I’m off to check that book out! Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Really nice to hear you like the book reviews, Shiva-woman. I highly recommend Rebecca and The Essex Serpent if they sound appealing.
          Lost Connections is clearly a controversial book and as I said, I don’t go along with everything it posits but I think questioning whether something is still working for you after a while is no bad thing. SSRIs definitely have a their place – and a vital one at that – but the effects vary so widely and over time with each individual.
          I really hope they help your husband and wish him all the best for his continued recovery.


  5. Lady Jane Grey

    Hi Tara !
    I love your book „chat“ !
    Hah, the Serpent, what an,original and well written book, I enjoyed it a lot.
    Probably not exactly the easy-peasy vacation read, but I learned a lot from Wendy Mitchell‘s Somebody I Used to Know – a book about living with early onset Alzheimer.
    Currently I‘m reading Beck Dorey-Stein‘s From the Corner of the Oval Office – she worked at the White House during Obama‘s presidency (I‘m longing for the times when the president of the US of A was able to express himself otherwise than a twitter limited inarticulate blurb …)


    • Hi LJG,
      It makes me happy when we share a love of the same book. The Essex Serpent was indeed original and well-written.
      I do admire you for reading something challenging on holiday. I wouldn’t have the nerves to read a book like that at any time, sadly.
      Oh for the Halcyon days of Obama’s presidency.


  6. Hayley

    Hi Tara I love the book posts and am now very keen to read the Essex serpent. I’ve just finished Emily of new moon series by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of green gables author). My friend lent them me and I’ve loved them, I don’t think I would have come across them otherwise, just nice light reading.


    • Hi Hayley, it’s lovely to get positive feedback about the book posts. Thanks!
      I haven’t heard of that series. Sounds like a nice relaxing read. (Anne of Green Gables is such a great character).


  7. Daphne du Maurier yes, must read more by her actually. Her ‘Don’t Look Now’ is such a strong story too.
    I’ve been reading quite a lot of Colette this summer, and I also finally got around to reading ‘Vol de Nuit’ by Saint Exupery, what an evocative book. It made me go out and buy another of his flying books, that I haven’t read yet though.
    Did you come off meds?


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