Books

The Burning Man – Christopher Fowler

The detective duo of Arthur Bryant and John May are back in this their twelfth book. If you have  never read any of the Bryant and May series before then you need to know – both Bryant and May are detectives in the PCU – that is the Peculiar Crimes Unit. A unit which is full of waifs and strays, people with eccentricities that no other unit within the police would put up with. And you are never quite sure how old Bryant and May actually are.

You can pick these books up in any part of the series, they read as standalone novels and this one is no different.

London seems to be caught up in unrest. There is rioting, buildings are being damaged and fires are being started. London is at risk of the mob taking control. The reason for this unrest – a banking scandal. Is it covering something else up when a man is killed during the riots?

Then other deaths occur, nothing seems to link them. It is just a tragic coincidence. But for Bryant and May they follow a simple ABC. “Assume nothing. Believe Nobody. Check Everything”.

And so what develops is a mystery to many but Bryant especially it has all the peculiarities of something long past and something that should perhaps not be forgotten.

The riots are an interesting background to use for the plot line for this book, and I think they give a good example of society today, which is perhaps a sad indication of the way society has moved…

“I hate what I see around me…The urban middle class destroyed, the working poor exploited, the vulgar rich elevated to eminence, the underclass demonized, the wasteland of celebrity held in veneration”.

The role of this unit is to find all the missing pieces however bizarre and whatever unorthodox methods are available and come to a conclusion…… “not for what we know but for what we don’t know, and that is why we are detectives, because we always want to finish the picture.”

And as the tale weaves the realistic and unbelievable moments together, as well as some rather graphic descriptions which are not for the squeamish, so seamlessly that you become involved in the case and start to care about all those who are in the unit. With probably the exception of Raymond Land, the Unit Chief who seems to be missing out on actual policing and the pleasure of teamwork and actually solving crimes.

If anything this book is so relevant of what is going on in the country now and although perhaps we have not got to the stage of such riots and fire the banking scandals struck a chord and it felt like I was reading newspapers about recent banking and expenses scandal or watching continual news feed of such events which seem to have fired a nation into wanting the truth. The Peculiar Crime Unit wants the truth and so did I as the book reached its conclusion.

Although the plot and background events are very much of a modern era, Bryant and May are not, they are detectives of a past age, ones who do things their way and get results, much to the chagrin Raymond Land, the City of London police and the Metropolitan police. This coupled with the wry observations which make you smile as well as the historical elements to the novel make this a definite read for 2015. If you want to experience Bryant and May then this is a good book to start with.

Thank you to Doubleday for providing me with a copy of this book. The Burning Man is out today in hardback. 

I have previously only read two Bryant and May novels and have always enjoyed them, especially the eccentricity and the historical elements of them. I must not wait so long before reading another! 

Books

Right Ho, Jeeves – P.G.Wodehouse

If you have never read a Wodehouse book before or a Jeeves and Wooster one, then I feel this is a good place to start, despite it being the sixth novel for these wonderful characters to feature.

I am a fan of these two and this actually stems from watching the television series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. I then much later on read the books and was hooked. This is actually a reread for me, because in a piece of zealous sorting I got rid of them all.

This is a full length novel and introduces you to a lot of familiar characters. We do not have just Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, but also there is Aunt Dahlia Bertie’s softer aunt compared to Aunt Agatha.

Aunt Dahlia needs some money for her publication Milday’s Boudoir and needs to make sure Tom Travers her husband is kept sweet and willing to provide. Trouble is they have a house full of lovebirds at Brinkley Court.

Tuppy Glossop is in love with Angela, Bertie’s cousin. Trouble is he is the jealous sort and is convinced there was someone else whilst she was away in the South of France. (It was only Bertie!) They bicker and fight and Angela takes great delight in pointing out Tuppy’s voracious appetite.

In a bid to avoid presenting awards at a school, Bertie sends an old school friend Gussie Fink-Nottle, a quiet sort of chap with an encyclopedic knowledge of newts. Who always happens to “find themselves treading upon Life’s banana skins”, especially when it comes to his choice of woman – one Madeline Bassett a friend of Angela.

There is much you need not know about dear Madeline Bassett but you do need to know that her head is full of fairy dust, she is not a female who takes your breath away from Bertie’s opinion. However, her conversational opening gambit normally starts with asking you “if you don’t sometimes feel that the stars are God’s daisy-chain”, she is a woman very suited to Gussie.

Trouble is when you stay at Brinkley Court you have to run the risk of becoming infatuated with Anatole the cook’s wonderful food. It is the only thing that keeps many a person going including Uncle Tom, Tuppy and even Bertie himself.

When the lovebirds in residence seem to have fallen out with each other and Bertie too, what better way to show their love than by not eating, it is of course all Bertie’s idea.

It is bound to cause trouble.

It is bound to be Jeeves who not only solves the problem of a temperamental cook such as Anatole but also the lovebirds as well.

It is bound to be poor old Bertie who is the buffoon who is readily saved by life’s problems by Jeeves, including wearing a white mess-jacket with brass buttons on and being seen in public.

Whilst it is quite clear “[we] Woosters are ingenious, Jeeves, exceedingly ingenious.” it is really the quiet well-mannered, shimmering magic of Jeeves that keeps Bertie on the straight and narrow away from marrying women such as Madeline and wearing white mess jacket’s in public.

A good read, no matter how many times you have read it or even seen the television adaptation – it is true Wodehouse, true Wooster and most of all true Jeeves!

Books

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

 

 

 

Books

Pomfret Towers – Angela Thirkell

Pomfret Towers is an ideal place for a House Party, you can imagine that most weekends being taken up by them. Alice Barton on the other hand is not your ideal guest for a house party. She has been a sickly delicate child and a cosseted youngster and rarely sets foot outside her own front door. She seeks solace in her painting and rarely speaks even when spoken to. She is described as ‘insignificant’ by Mrs Rivers and at the beginning of the book she is somewhat.

However, the house party throws together some interesting people, some interesting and humorous situations which bring Alice into another world and out of her shell. Giles Foster is the nephew of the current Lord Pomfret and is also the heir of Pomfret Towers. Although his own father stands in his way to this title, Lord Pomfret thinks it is time that Giles understood exactly what he is going to inherit. As a bachelor (and heir of course) he catches the eye of a number of young women (and their mothers) also attending the house party. He has his pick. But does he pick with his heart or his head?

There is of course the pushy mother Mrs Rivers, who spends her life defending her bohemian son, who was a most trying man and trying to force her daughter, who rather devilish into a marriage with money. Her own career as an author of rather soft and romantic novels for ladies of a certain age, gives Lord Pomfret something to groan about especially when he wants to talk to her publisher alone.

The Wicklows, Sally and Roddy are Alice Barton and her brother Guy’s friends.  They understand Alice and look after her as much as they can but they are rather more adventurous and spend a lot of time outdoors and with opinions of their own they rather leave Alice behind sometimes. Alice needs to catch up with them all.

This book is a gem, as it glimpses into a world full of those that frequent the big estates in the pre war period. I hate to say Downton Abbey but I can see the correlation of the thought of those that are invited to a house party and those that serve at them. A real mix of people who start the weekend in one way, with thoughts and feelings for one particular guest and come out the other side completely different, matches are made which you would never have considered and those who contrive to force romance on some are left disappointed. Whilst this book can be seen as perhaps Alice’s introduction to this world, it is all the wonderful characters that Thirkell has created in this book that tickled me.

If you like light fiction, something that resembles Wodehouse in parts I found, then this could be the book for you.

This is my first Angela Thirkell book that I have read. I am sure it will not be my last. I found the book a delight and really enjoyed the writing and the characters immensely and rather annoying in the case of Mrs Rivers at times. But that is what made it a good read for me. 

I also adore the cover of this new edition and think it will be a book that remains on my shelf as opposed to setting it out on its own journey to someone else. 

Can anyone recommend one I must read next? And do I need to read them in any particular order? 

 

Books

May Roundup

Apparently you should not ‘cast a clout ’til May is out’. Now whether that is May blossom or the month knows, but May has truly gone and whilst I have not quite succumbed to all things Summer, you can tell it is warming up around here! Reading wise I am still coasting two books behind schedule, but to that I stick my tongue out, especially as I have read some books this month simply because I needed the comfort that such reads bring.

Fern Britton’s new novel is currently out in hardback (I am awaiting the paperback version) but to catch up I read Hidden Treasures which was her second novel. These books are very much beach, easy reads and great for when you want to read and be caught by a story but not so you remain thinking about the book whilst not reading it and once finished.

Now Fern is not quite up to the standard of Veronica Henry – Honeycote* (getting there you could say?). This is Veronica Henry’s first novel and is the first in a trilogy around the village of Honeycote. It was racy and romantic without going overboard or even hinting at anything slightly Fifty Shades. For that it was all that more enjoyable and I do like reading these novels. Trouble when you start a trilogy is I have to read them in order and I have read book one, have got book three but will need to find book two!

Both these first two author’s I have read before and the only other author that is familiar to me in May was Sara Sheridan – London Calling*. This is the second book to feature Mirabelle Bevan and has been sat on my shelf for a very long time as it was originally an Amazon Vine choice.  Why I had not got round to reading it earlier, I don’t know but I knew her third book was out and then I realised  that I would be seeing Sara at the newbooks Readers Day at the end of June, so thought I had better remind myself what I was reading. It is January 1952 and London is full of smog and some rather unsavoury characters and it seems Mirabelle is the only one who can decode it all. A great read.

Crime is what Mirabelle Bevan helps solve, even if that is not her job. Cormoran Strike on the other hand in Robert Galbraith’s – A Cuckoo’s Calling* is a private detective and so he expects to solve cases. Trouble is, he his is broke with only one client and no permanent secretary, not really an auspicious start. However, this is very much a novel that reflects Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie and is well worth a look at. And yes I do know who *really* wrote it.

In any sort of crime novel you want justice, but sometimes that justice has to be taken into the hands of other people and the ending is very much not what you think or want. Phil Hogan – A Pleasure and A Calling is one such book which made stop think and look around my surroundings, if you read it it will make you do the same. Trust me.

Book staying with you can mean many different things to many different people and Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project is another book which makes you stop think and redress many ideas and also many acquaintances. A humorous book which was my book clubs choice for May and was a very popular one. There was such an innocence about a book which featured an adult man.

One thing that stays with many people when they are in school or well past that is the horror’s of war. We are shown on television daily of the battles and fights going on now across the globe. But back in the Second World War, these horrors were not so easily visualised for the masses to see. These images were kept amongst those who had suffered and those that had known so the next generation were never affected by them. But history teaches us something. In Kristin Harmel – The Sweetness of Forgetting we learn about one the main characters very different past and how through the power of baking, food and taste memories will always live on. So should their stories.

I do not read enough short stories, I read ‘teaser; type stories that are available on kindle, which I sometimes think is a bit of a cheat especially when I count them as a book read. However, Alison Moore – The Lighthouse* is a novel less than 200 pages and rather quirky and intriguing. The book has made me think so much can be told in such little space.

And so May is complete and it is the first time in a while that I have not got a book on the go. I actually finished Sara Sheridan on the 1st June, due to waking up in the night and finishing it off, but I felt that it really was a May book.

I now have the delicious choice of choosing my next book to read…..

Books

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

If only finding love was as simple as filling in a questionnaire – well for Don Tillman he thinks it is. For everyone else in his life, they know it is not. That does not stop Don.

If he can filter out all the time wasters, those who drink excessively, smoke heavily and can’t function without some sort of structure and timetable he thinks he might be onto the right person. In walks Rosie, who drinks, smokes and can just disrupt all plans at a moments notice. Rosie is everything that Don does not require but she does require some help.

Rosie wants to find out who her biological father is and to do so without them knowing, she needs DNA and she needs to get it tested. Don is a geneticist and can do such things. He is drawn to help Rosie and becomes involved in what he calls the Father Project and puts his so called Wife Project on hold.

Although a predictable outcome can be foretold, by simply reading the blurb on the back of the book. How we get there is the most amusing tale I have read for a long time. I could so relate to Don’s logic in some matters and at the same time, could find some of his actions amusing. I never felt as I was reading this book, that I was laughing at Don more with him. The author must be laughing with us, as to call a professor ‘Don’ and his friend in the same field ‘Gene’ must mean something on a very different level. Don’t try too hard and wonder what it is, that is not the point. Accept it all when reading this book.

The author is  hoping that readers can see the funny side of how ordinary life is. The situations are not complicated or uncommon, they are simply happening all around us and are everyday in fact. However to Don they are a challenge.

All the supporting characters were well rounded and played an important part. Claudia and Gene were the couple that Don was perhaps aspiring to be in without all the issues that he could see were challenging their relationship. The situation that Don and Rosie get themselves into whilst serving cocktails was funny as is the insight into Don’s brain as he meets people and assess them;

“At Yankee Stadium we got beer and hot dogs. A man in a cap, estimated age thirty-five, estimated BMI forty (i.e. dangerously fat), sat beside me. He had three hot dogs! The source of the obesity was obvious”.

I think we should be grateful that Don ever vocalised these thoughts.

There are so many ‘moments’ of clarity for the reader and the characters that this really is a great novel and one to enjoy. It does sometimes come across as a screenplay, but it was written originally for the screen, but then adapted into the novel. And for all Don and Rosie fans, of which I am now one, a sequel is out towards the end of 2014.

This was May’s book club choice and it went down an absolute storm with everyone. Everyone had read it, loved it and were very much impressed. It  was interesting to see what two of our group thought, as they both have children with very similar autistic problems such as Don had. They both could relate to it in a very different way and could see the laughter on very different levels. It made for interesting discussion and I know we will all be clamouring to read The Rosie Effect out September 2014.

 

Books

One Pair of Feet – Monica Dickens

Have you met Monica before? If you have then you will know she is rather flighty and not inclined to stick to anything in particular for very long as her tales of life in service are recounted in One Pair of Hands.

In this volume of memoirs, Monica decides that she must do something to contribute to the war effort. Trouble is there is a fair amount she could do, but is there anything she could actually stick at. So after crossing the Services, WRVS, AFS, Land Army and bus conductress, it seems that nursing might be a preferred and considered option.

But what about the poor patients who were going to encounter Monica, never mind Monica herself.

Taken out of the comfort of London and place in the countryside at a hospital, Monica goes from each ward and department, dealing with the wrath that the Matron and the Sisters seem to dispense at every turn to the young nurses as well as the patients. It feels like Monica Dickens is sitting down with us over a cup of tea and telling us all the gossip that is going on within the hospital walls. World War Two is very much in the background of this book, and you are only aware of it from the surplus of servicemen wanting to take the nurses out and the occasional patients.

We get to hear about the rather dire food, the constant cleaning, the patients who are characters that make the time pass quickly, what happens when your life is turned upside down and you start working nights and all the hospital rules which seem to archaic compared to todays NHS. (The NHS had yet to exist until 1948) However the basic element of nursing is here in this book and is certainly a great reflection on how much has changed as well as how little has changed. I do wonder if we went back to these days, whether hospitals would be better than they are currently portrayed.

This Virago Modern Classic reissue of this book, is lovely and a great companion to One Pair of Hands. I much enjoyed the introduction which gives you more of an insight into the social structure of the book, though read it afterwards as it may spoil your enjoyment of the book.

I do hope that Virago perhaps look at republishing some of her other semi-autobiographical novels in the future. I understand My Turn to Make the Tea is about her life as a journalist. 

If there are any other Monica Dickens novels you think I should look at reading please let me know. 

Books

Carrot Cake Murder – Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen, is cooking up carrot cake this time in her tenth cosy mystery. For a change it is a warm summer and everyone has gathered for a family reunion – not Hannah’s family but her assistant and partner in the bakery Lisa and her husband Herb. Family have come far and wide for this get together, with dancing, catching up and plenty of eating too.

As is the way in small towns, Hannah is called in along with regular characters to help with the organising and cooking of course. This comes in handy because you know it is not going to be a normal family reunion. When a long-lost uncle, Gus turns up after more than  twenty years in the town where he disappeared mysteriously one night and left a lot of trouble behind, it seems he might be bringing a lot of trouble with him too when he turns up dead.

Hannah starts to wonder about the real reason he disappeared all them years ago and it seems that Mike the local police detective thinks Hannah might be better working with him on this investigation than not. It seems though it is only a one way communication.

This and like all previous Hannah Swensen stories is filled with recipes for you to try and actually once you flick past them, the book is probably cut down by about 50 pages or so. Nonetheless for escapism easy reading this or any of this series of books is just the right recipe.

I tend to pick these reads in the middle of the night, when I wake up and need something to go back to sleep with. They are cosy mysteries, with simply stories, probably saccharine sweet characters and all a bit too American schmaltzy for my liking. However they provide a diversion and are easy reads and sometimes that is all you need in a book. 

Trouble is now I have read 10 of them, do I need to carry on and read more as a small part of me hopes that eventually she will decide which one of her male admirers she is going to actually choose!

Part of me wonders if perhaps I should just read them and record them but not actually review them. They are basically the same, following the same formula but then I should then apply that logic to reading Agatha Raisin books as well surely? One to ponder………

Books

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells – Sebastian Faulks

Times have changed, and roles have been reversed. It is Bertie Wooster who is up with the larks and having to arrange tea and such for Lord Etringham. To any fan, do not fear, the whole world of Wodehouse has not been turned upon its head. It is just Bertie getting himself into another pickle and needing Jeeves to ascertain all the right facts and get him out of the situation in only the way that Jeeves can.

There are wonderful passages of conversation between Bertie and Jeeves as we discover that maybe Bertie has finally found the woman who has made his heart flutter more continuously. Whilst dreaming away the days Bertie meets Georgiana in Cannes, she is a woman with spark and vitality and has none of the lesser qualities that have dogged past loves like Madeline Bassett and Honoria Glossop. There is only one small problem her guardian has other ideas on who she should marry based on the fact that his stately home. Can Bertie make the right impression when he is in fact doing an impression of Jeeves? There is plenty of mishaps and misunderstandings along the way in true style and whilst perhaps there is a slight overtone of too contemporary now and again these glimpses are momentarily and you are drawn back into the story.

Sebastian Faulks rightly acknowledges that this book is a tribute to Wodehouse and the wonderful characters of Jeeves and Wooster and I know some myself included were probably sceptical about an author taking up the mantle of another work. I think Faulks has hit the right spot, it reminds me of all the stories I have read in the past and makes me want to pick up these books and read more of them. I hope those who discover this book without reading any Wodehouse also discover his back catalogue and know that there is much joy and humour held within the pages whether it be a short story or a novel.

Sebastian Faulks is an author I have read before, the wonderful and moving Birdsong as well as Charlotte Gray and then his reworking of another famous author Ian Fleming and his most famous hero; James Bond. I was surprised that he wanted to pick up that mantle again with Wodehouse. But it turns out he is a fan and has read the stories as a boy, as I did as a young girl. I was keen to read the book and I was even prepared to pay for a hardback copy! It only took a couple of days to devour. 

I recommend reading this book and I am going to endeavour to go back and reread some more Jeeves and Wooster in particular. I can reread these books with no apparent boredom. Even watching the tv series starring Fry and Laurie countless times has not dented the enjoyment. This book will stay on my shelf and it will be worthy of a reread for that I am sure. 

What has sparked an interest is the fact that I have not read anymore Bond novels by other authors such as William Boyd and Jeffrey Deaver when I enjoyed the reworking of Faulks version. And with Sophie Hannah writing a novel in the style of Christie and the eponymous Belgian detective Poirot it seems there is a taste for such things. Or if I have my cynical hat on is it these authors estates needing money? Well if it is and the output is as good then so what. 

Books · Jottings

Books in 2013

How do you sum up a whole year of reading? It is so difficult with moods and whims taking my reading one way and book club choices taking me another. Then there are all the lovely copies of books which arrive from publishers and I have discovered authors who I would not have even considered before. Oh the beauty of reading.

So time to deliver what I think was my year of reading, what I enjoyed and what I did not.

So for some facts and figures if you will:

100 was the aim.

105 was the final tally.

Less than last year, more than previous but actually it is about the books read (though I admit the number does become a problem when Goodreads tells you how many you are behind!)

25 read on my kindle, which is about a quarter of the reading. (Less than the year before; 29) I would have said it was more but there you are, and as I harp on about Kindles and ‘actual’ books have a place together, certainly in my reading world.

5 books were borrowed from the library, the same as 2012. Mainly when I have wanted to find a particular title the library has been very useful. I know I should use it more but I have a lot of books on my shelf!

This was the first year that I gave up on some books and did not record them on my list of 2013 reads as unfinished. It was a cathartic process and one I will be taking into 2014.

So down to some books that stood out for me:

Kate Atkinson – Life after Life, it seems years ago I devoured and immersed myself in this book. So different from her Jackson Brodie novels but one you need to read to understand the complex nature of life. It does not give you any answers just merely options.

Whilst this book did surprise me I was even more surprised by Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games. Books that are science fiction, fantasy and future themed novels are certainly not my cup of tea. It being a book club choice I gave it ago and was blown away by how good it was. It has led me to reading the second Catching Fire and I have the third Mockingjay waiting to go, now that I have seen the film.

Other surprises in the year were ; Lisa O’Donnell – The Death of Bees which just proves that quirky novels work. Maeve Binchy sadly passed away in 2012 and I had never read any of her books until I picked up Minding Frankie. Plenty for me to read now. Jo Baker – Longbourn. I have never read Pride and Prejudice but this did not stop me reading this wonderful novel about the ‘downstairs’ staff of the Bennet household. Delighted to see it has been picked as a Richard and Judy read and somewhat smug that I have already read it! Sebastian Faulks – Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, it could have failed miserably, another author takes on one two of the most classic comic characters in literature. It did not just pass, it exceed expectation, I loved it.

books 2013

Enough surprises what about classic comfort reads? Well I think the following authors that I have read this year, Joanne Fluke, Debbie Macomber, Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley by the number that I read means I enjoy going back to their work again and again. Discovering Rosie Goodwin and Carole Matthews means I can see their work being books I go to when feeling I need to escape and cheer myself up.

queen

Historical fiction has played a better part this year, The White Queen and The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory were both excellent and I endeavour to read more of this series. Louise Levene – Ghastly Business, Elizabeth Gill – Miss Appleby’s Academy, Maggie Joel – The Second Last Woman in England and Wendy Jones in The Thoughts & Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals all were based in times gone past and these particular books stood out for me in 2013.

I had some thrilling reads with Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl and S.J Watson – Before I Go to Sleep, both read after the hype had died down, sometimes the best way to discover a book. I don’t think 2013 was as crime heavy as 2012, if it was then it was of the gentle cosy variety and I could have sworn I read more than two Agatha Christie. No matter I have 2014 to get on with reading some more.

I think if anything 2013 was the year I embraced the short story. I read eight books, and was surprised by the quality and depth of them, so much packed in to so few pages, I wanted nearly all of them to be full novels I could lose myself in.

As for books that left me feeling a bit bleurgh: Nick Alexander – The French House could have been so much more than it was and Mary Simses – The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe the title was only relevant for the last couple of pages and then was not the interesting. I finished them so they could not have been that bad?

Going back over my list, I have not mentioned Rachel Joyce – Perfect or Judith Kinghorn – The Memory of Lost Senses. I just know I should have done but there are so many books to mention, I am trying not to just simply regurgitate back all my monthly round-up posts. Which is probably why I do not have a runaway favourite. So many are just so good!

Happy New Year, readers. Thank you very much for stopping by in 2013 and I hope you continue to do so in 2014, please comment, even if I do not reply (due to commitments) to all of them, I do read them all and appreciate them.

Who knows where my 2014 reading is going to take me?