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March Roundup

A quarter of a year done, and despite the plethora of daffodils and carnations I have had in my vases on windowsills at home. It does not feel like spring in the air – it simply feels cold! So there has been plenty of books read whilst curled up on the sofa drinking tea and under a blanket!!

It has been a mixed bag of books this month, although that can be said of most months to be honest! I have had some familiar comfort in there with M.C. Beaton and Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden. You cannot go wrong with some good old Agatha! And that can now be said I think about Hannah Swensen for when I want some American type cosy crime in Joanne Fluke – Sugar Cookie Murder.* A new comfort author for me was Maeve Binchy – Minding Frankie. I have no idea why I have never read any of her books before, but I haven’t. This was rectified this month and I am pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed her work and will be back for more.

Authors I have read before have come in the form of Belinda Bauer – Rubbernecker her new novel and very much different from her last three, and interesting. You had to keep reading, just like people have to rubberneck at accidents and incidents. It was an interesting twist. Then there is Judith Kinghorn – The Memory of Lost Senses* the second novel from this author gives way to the idea of memory and the past it creates not just for ourselves but also those who are left behind once we are long gone. It was a good book and a really challenging review to write as it would have been very easy to give away so much in a few short paragraphs. I think my interaction with Judith and the lovely Helena means I have done the book justice. As I was reading it, I was using the medium of twitter to connect with Judith about what I was discovering as I read, how I felt about the characters and how the story developed. It was a different approach for me.

Another approach is the wonderful Quick Reads books which are available to all those who are perhaps a bit wary of picking up a rather chunky book if they have not read for a while. Or perhaps those that have never read anything before and want to start. This month I read Minette Walters – A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline Luard. A great bit of historical crime, fictionalised and brought to life that I was hooked in finding out more about Caroline but then I stumbled across unsolved murders in the United Kingdom thanks to Wikipedia and an hour was lost as I recognised names that I have read about in newspapers. I wonder if there will ever be a time when there is no unsolved murders? That may just be a dream.

Another dream I had in reading this month was William Kuhn – Mrs. Queen Takes the Train. A sweet novel that gives us the fictionalise idea that perhaps The Queen is not feeling quite chipper and decides to just walk out the palace gates and mingle themselves into society. Of course we have no idea if this has ever happened, but I would like to think we would pay little or no attention. It is always the entourage that give the game away I feel. In this novel it is the entourage, helpers, dressers and advisers that rush around trying to locate The Queen, whilst she simply steps on a train and takes a trip. Great stuff and recommended.

With 2012 being a jubilee year, it was also an Olympic year and it is that which is a continuing theme in Chris Cleave – Gold. This was my book club choice for March (although meeting postponed due to weather). I enjoyed the book but hated one of the characters, so much, even now she still makes me seethe! I look forward to talking about it with the rest of my group. I wonder if anyone felt as passionate about it as I did? Cleave did a clever thing in tapping into a book which is very much of its time and one that could have taken, the easy way out and focused on drugs in sport and not the sheer competition and fight to win that exists.

The final completed book of this month was Morgan McCarthy – The Other Half of Me* and I am not sure where it fits in the pigeon holing of books. To be honest it doesn’t. This is a début novel from an author I heard speak last year at Portsmouth BookFest and I would say that this seems to have come from the pen of an established storyteller. It is part romance, part mystery and all about relationships between parents, grandparents, siblings and outsiders. One of the best books I have read for a long time.

As the month closes, I have picked up the latest instalment of Paul O’Grady’s autobiography. I have to say very much bleaker and not quiet so funny as the previous two but very interesting and shows so far a man with some sheer grit and determination in some not very nice places. But that is all for another review and another month!

* Book review yet to appear on this blog

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