Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Well I don't know where yesterday went! It seemed like one minute it was morning and I was mucking out the donkeys, and the next minute it was late evening and I was getting my stuff ready and getting to bed in time for an early wake up, ready for my photography course today!

Obviously I will upload my photos from today and write about the course, but last night before bed I started writing up something a little different to usual, so I wanted to finish that off and give it a go first...

When I first started this blog, I intended that one of the topics I would regularly come back to would be books.

I love books – I love looking through books, I love choosing new books, I love seeing lots of books on my shelves, I love everything about books! I tend to have phases where I’ll read, and during those phases I will read a lot, I will want to spend every spare moment reading, and I will become totally absorbed in that book. The characters in that book will be my friends and I will miss them when the book is over…

I had wanted to share this love of books, just as I share my love of crochet, and my love of travel etc. There was a fly in the ointment though: I’m not good at writing about books. I have tried a few times in the past, been really unhappy with what I’ve written, and then given up… [I don’t think I’m very good at travel writing either, since I brought that up – I really do try, but I think I just lack something when I write. And I am very behind on it too! I still have another post from Romania in draft form, and I haven’t finished half of the stuff from South America!]

Since I got back from South America, I haven’t read much. I took a Kindle with me and read about 20 books while I was away – everything from light-hearted modern stuff like Alexander McCall-Smith to classic literature by Thomas Hardy, and on to non-fiction such as a biography of H M Stanley (of “Dr Livingstone, I presume” fame) and Victorian Travel Writing by Isabella Bird. (I must tell you more about her sometime, she’s awesome!)

But since I got back, crochet has overtaken reading in my priorities. The other day however I did start a new book. I had been craving a read of some Kathy Reichs – I wanted the drama and the sciencey bits and I like the characters – and I decided I would sacrifice a little crochet time for a reading fix. I even managed to read while crocheting for a bit, when I was doing part of my pattern that I knew really well!!

The only Kathy Reichs book I own that I haven’t read yet is ‘Bare Bones’, so that’s the one I picked and I’m really enjoying it. As I enjoy the same things in all the Kathy Reichs books I’ve read, then I thought I would have another go at writing about books, but without pressuring myself to try and write any amazing review or analysis or anything, I would just explain what I think of these books as a series :)

First up, the Kathy Reichs books about Temperance Brennan are the only ones I have read, and I’ve read several now. Temperance Brennan is the main protagonist in the TV series Bones, which I also like, but the books are very different.

The stories focus around the life and work of Temperance Brennan, who is a forensic anthropologist. She examines remains of bodies to assist in investigations to do with identifying the deceased and their causes of death, so these are basically crime stories from the point of view of the forensic anthropologist.

The books are written in the first person from Temperance Brennan’s point of view, which allows you to follow the story with all of her insights, and which also helps to build tension – if she doesn’t know something, you don’t know either! It also means that the books are written in pretty colloquial language, very Americanised for us Britishers, but we have enough exposure to American culture for this not to be an issue. The colloquial language makes for a fast-paced read, and a good connection with the characters in the books. The only thing I find a little awkward is the way that race is mentioned in descriptions of people, but I do get the impression that this is a reflection of the different culture in the south of the US versus the UK culture that I know. I also think that this 1st person view point would make these books an easier read for women than men, but I could well be wrong about that – I’m sure that I must have read books from the point of view of men lots of times in the past.

The Temperance Brennan of the books is a woman in her 40s, separated from her husband and with an almost-grown-up daughter and a pet cat. If you’ve seen the TV series, she is also emotionally much more ‘normal’, and while she is brilliant at what she does, she is a much more grounded and realistic character, who is much easier to relate to than the TV character. Important if you are reading the stories from her perspective.

The lab settings for the book are much more realistic too – not least because in a book you can afford to take time to explain things more thoroughly, and things that work when you’re reading don’t necessarily translate directly to good TV. Therefore she uses autopsy rooms in morgues, liaises with local police and coroners, and there is no super-technology that can find things out the way it happens on TV. All of the forensic techniques that are used in the books are explained really well, also explaining margins for error etc, making the storylines much more plausible (don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the TV series too – it’s just a different beast). This greater realism also builds the tension in places, as you follow the frustrations of not having all the evidence needed, not having concrete answers, having to wait for results etc etc.

This realism and the degree of detail is possible because the books are based on Kathy Reichs’ real-life experience in the same role as Brennan, and at the start of the books her impressive professional history is summarised. At the end of the books, something I think is particularly good is that Kathy Reichs summarises the actual experiences that have inspired elements of the plot, also explaining where the inspiration ended and her imagination of a plot line began. I find this really enhances the feel of the story itself, to know it is so grounded in plausibility and even based to an extent in reality.

Besides being easy to read, intelligent and mainly plausible books (you would hope that not everything that happens to Tempe Brennan would happen to a real person!), I think that the books are also really well paced, and each chapter finishes with a mini cliff hanger, demanding you to read on. I’ve certainly been well and truly hooked on the storylines in the past, having to read ‘just one more chapter…’ every time one finishes! 

Source, with other reviews of these books

So there we have it, my best attempt at a book review – or a book series review really! If you haven’t already read any of these but feel inspired to give them a go, I’d love to hear what you think of them - I find that there are normally some of these books on sale in charity shops, so you don't have to spend lots to try them out. And if you have any recommendations of your own I’d love that too – I love finding new authors to enjoy! :)


  1. That was a good review :) I have read quite a few of her books and loved them, but, not very keen on the tv show. I am currently devouring Lee Child books, love his character Jack Reacher...give one a go xx

    1. Oooh thank you - my father-in-law likes Jack Reacher so that should be easy to arrange :) I'll try one after I finish this book... I saw the Bones TV show first, and that led me to read the books - I do enjoy the TV show, but the books are better by far (as is often the case!) xx

    2. I just asked the F-i-L, he said he'll dig out the books for me tomorrow :)

    3. Brilliant, let me know how you find them :) x

    4. Will do - in fact I just finished Kathy today, so I'm free to start a Jack Reacher book as soon I can put the crochet hook down! (I'm having to count for this bit so I can't read at the same time ;P ) x