August Roundup

August is alway a bumper month for reading. I have three weeks off work and it means I can indulge even more. And I was not just indulging in the reading, the food got quite a large look in as the scales have shown.

But you are not here to hear about that, you are here because it is all about the books. First of all I must mention the Books About Town post that I did, only so it draws your attention to this wonderful idea. It really was a great fun way of looking at art and thinking of literature and I hope the benches when sold are put somewhere for others to continue to enjoy. There are more I would like to have seen and if money allowed I would have made a return visit.

From the seeing the benches, it led to me reading Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly* and what I loved about this short story was all the essays which were included in the book and is a must for all Christie Fans.

Crime has not featured heavily for a while on this blog for no real reason than I can say. If it has been crime then it has been of the cosy variety. Which is where two series of books that I am reading come into this category. Carola Dunn – To Davy Jones Below finds Daisy finally married to dear Alec and on a ship to America, it is bound not to be a smooth crossing in more ways than one for them. I am interested in how a marriage is going to now feature in these stories.

Marriage is something Agatha Raisin is not much good at or anything to do with love it seems. In the latest of my reading adventures with her in M.C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House* it seems she really is at rock bottom and cannot find a way to find something to do with her life as well as what to do about not having a man. Agatha simply wants to be loved.

I know you cannot sometimes beat a bit of ‘chick-lit’, women’s fiction or whatever you want to call it. It is pure balm for the soul, especially when you have read some rather harrowing novels (more of that further down the page). When you have previously read works by this author it is like going out with a friend for a cup of tea and a good old gossip. Katie Fforde – Flora’s Lot* was a book I just devoured, it has everything in it and that bit of escapism which makes these books a must read for me. Same can be said of Veronica Henry – Love on the Rocks*, which brings a holiday dream into a reality and taps into something I am sure many of us have wanted to do. Maybe without all the added twists and turns though! I know I can rely on these authors, just like my friends.

Santa Montefiore – The French Gardener is another author I have gone back to. Her books I have found are a bit hit and miss, but there is something about her prose when she is trying to set a scene which does actually work wonders, in this case rejuvenating a lost garden. She has written a fair few books and it was with some surprise that whilst away on my spa break, i noticed about half a dozen women reading her books. There may have been more but they had kindles and you cannot see what they are reading. Though to be fair books outnumbered the kindles greatly! She seemed to be the author to be seen reading.

I think an author that is going to come on leaps and bounds and one no one would know I was reading as it was Vanessa Greene – Summer Evenings at the Seafront Hotel which is exclusively only on kindle. I have had a binge of reading with this author and now am coveting her latest novel.

Hotel’s in many different ways have been a theme in August, not through choice as it is the main summer season and holiday period for many people but all by default. Ellen Sussman – The Paradise Guest House was a very moving book which dealt with the bombings in Bali and how you have to heal as much emotionally as physically. A very different sort of book.

Another hotel which suffered is in the latest novel by Victoria Hislop – The Sunrise*. We are taken to Cyprus, yet again to somewhere meant to be paradise, only to have conflict thrust up on us in a rather ugly way, dividing families and friends. It is a while since I have read any of Hislop and I had forgotten what a great storyteller she can be about real events and places.

Another ‘summer’ book is Helen Walsh – The Lemon Grove,  in the main because it is set in the heat of the summer in Mallorca. But a sizzling novel because it has so many layers and is very much the book to have read. It is dividing people I can see.

War divides people in many ways. This month I have read two books one set in the First World War and one set in the Second World War. Ben Elton – The First Casualty is September’s book club choice and was a book I picked at random because we were wanting to commemorate the First World War in our own way. I had never read any Ben Elton before and was not sure what I was expecting. Not much if I am to be honest. But this was a book which was well written and very well researched and I found it quite harrowing and gruesome, not violence for the sake of it in a book to sensationalise but because it happened. It is real and people were there. It brings up some interesting points and I look forward to discussing it with everyone.

Another book I was not holding much hope out for was Richard Madeley – Some Day I’ll Find You*. Another ‘famous’ person picking up a pen and creating something just for notoriety and money. Again I was taken aback by how good it was and how it dealt with the Second World War and this need to fight, especially be seen to be a pilot as if it was a glorious job. To die was a mere inconvenience. It was good enough that I have gone and bought his second novel which carries some of the character’s lives on.

It is always good to try something new even if you are a bit skeptical about the writing, like the two previous mentioned books. On many blogs I keep seeing one particular author keep popping up. I thought it was about time I actually read one Angela Thirkell – Pomfret Towers. It was like reading a P.G.Wodehouse book and it was a delight. So much so I think I am going to get some more to read.

What is a delight with reading and blogging is the ability to be able to get books long before they hit the shelves. I spotted Marian Keyes – The Woman Who Stole My Life* on netgalley and was lucky enough to read it. This is very much a departure from the normal Marian Keyes novel and put me in mind of Dawn French’s novel Oh Dear Silvia and Sue Townsend – The Woman who went to Bed For a Year. I look forward to seeing what fans of Keyes think.

If you have been reading this blog for the last couple of months you may well have spotted I have also been lucky enough to get hold of Harriet Evans new novel A Place For Us* the difference being it is in four parts and is being serialised through release digitally first before being published as a complete novel in January 2015. I have only one thing to say about it – I read Part 2 all in one go! And I so want to read Part 3 now!!! (Stamps foot and sulks)

I told you it was a bumper month. And as it closes I have a P.G.Wodehouse on the go as well as reading Marika Cobbold. There is a link here, which Marika will know all about! I wonder what September will bring – more great books I hope.

*Review yet to appear on blog