January 2019 books

Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and BodyAltered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body by Daniel Goleman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting book about the science of meditation. It goes into how research was started and how it initially wasn’t very accurate because the scientists weren’t distinguishing between types of meditation and how the technology that they had available was not that advanced. These days, experimental design is a lot more thorough and they have better technology, and they’ve discovered some really interesting things about meditation and its benefits. As someone interested in meditation and who has a scientific background, this book has definitely made me want to persist with the technique.

Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire (Betty Church Mystery #1)Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire by M.R.C. Kasasian

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had mixed feelings about Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire; set in Suffolk (funnily enough) at the beginning of the Second World War, Betty Church is a newly arrived police inspector to the Suffolk backwater of Slackwater. A spin-off of sorts, from the Gower Street series. The beginning of the book is rather twee, with some extremely annoying characters but then they throw in a gruesomely detailed autopsy and the plot started to grow on me, as a number of Slackwater residents got murdered by the Suffolk Vampire. There’s also some quite touching bits about the transition into war and there’s a genuinely creepy scene at an abandoned haunted house attraction. However the characters are still OTT and in two cases bordering on offensively cliched. Also, the ending, the big reveal of the murderer and it was like ?????, really ?????, it was a bit of a let down.

A House of GhostsA House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A House of Ghosts takes the comforting old format of big, isolated country house filled with early 20th century posh people bumping each other off and adds three twists; ghosts, espionage and uncertainty about what happened during a particular event at the Front. The hosts and most of the house guests have lost loved ones due to the war and so they reach out to spiritualists to contact the dead. Meanwhile, the host, a weapons manufacturer, responsibility in the deaths is questioned.

I liked this because it took an old format and played with it cleverly, I also liked the lead character (if I’d been the heroine I would have been swooning too), however, I don’t know, I didn’t fall as enthusiastically into this book as much as I thought I would, considering the synopsis.

The LingeringThe Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One for fans of psychological thrillers; Jack and Ali are a newly arrived couple at a commune in an ex psychiatric hospital in the Fens, a building with a dodgy past. Jack and Ali are hiding something, will the ghost hunting fellow commune resident, Fairy Angela, find out what it is? It’s got ghosts, a back story set in the 1950s hospital and a truly evil bad guy. I enjoyed this and sped through it more quickly than I have been reading books lately, I don’t think it will make my favourite books of the year list though.

SourdoughSourdough by Robin Sloan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked Sourdough, it tells the tale of Lois, a programmer of robotic arms, who gets gifted a magical sourdough starter. She learns to bake (the many, many pages about sourdough bread will guaranteed make you crave it) and ends up selling her sourdough in a rather unusual market. This book is about doing what you love, appreciating food, microbiology, it’s about where food comes from and evolving technology and traditions and ultimately, it’s a rather fun story.

View all my reviews

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