I’ve had a terrific reading month with sixteen books read and some absolute corkers amongst them. Looking back, one was ok but all the others were very good or better. Most were absolutely amazing. I seem to have gone from one superb book to another. There’s quite a range of genres and styles and I don’t think I could pick a favourite from them. If I started, I’d end up with a list of at least ten so probably best not to try.
Papillon – Henri Charriere
I thought this was going to take ages to read as not only is it 560 pages, but it’s also quite small print. I hadn’t taken into account the fact that it’s rather a page turner though and I demolished it over the weekend. It was an absolutely fascinating tale, and horrifying at the same time, although Papi stays upbeat the whole way through. The way it was written made it so easy to just keep on reading, even when you knew you really should be doing something else. I got up very late on Saturday morning. I’m not saying what time but it was much later than I usually stay in bed reading. Definitely recommended for a slightly different read.
Started early, took my dog – Kate Atkinson
I finished this about two hours ago and I’m feeling sad because it’s over. Don’t you get that way sometimes when you’ve really enjoyed a book and you wanted to stay in that world? I do hope she writes more about Jackson Brodie. Her writing style is wonderful anyway, but I just love these particular books. This one was a terrific story and mystery and had some great characters in it. Not all of the mysteries were solved, but then life’s like that, isn’t it. Great book and highly recommended, although if you haven’t read the series before and you like your books in order, you must start with Case Histories.
Silas Marner – George Eliot
Loved it. I’ve just read this straight through and closed it with a smile on my face. What a wonderful story, all full of ups and downs, and told in such an interesting way. I’m really glad I was tempted to pick this one up and that’s another one ticked off The Big Read list.
Magic bites – Ilona Andrews
I’ve had this one on my TBR pile for a few months. It’s the first in a series, it’s to do with magic, has a female lead character, and looked interesting. Today I felt like reading it. It was ok. I did get quite interested in it towards the last quarter but I’m not sure if I’d buy any more of the series. Maybe if I see them cheap in The Works, but I can’t see me paying full price for them.
Flirt – Laurell K. Hamilton
You know, I’m usually really careful to read series in order. Really, really careful as it annoys me beyond belief if I don’t. So how on earth have I managed to read the last two Anita Blakes out of order? I remember checking the publication dates when I picked up the last one, Bullet and deciding that Flirt must be the later of the two. I tell you, it was very disconcerting to have a new character introduced when I remember him quite clearly from the last book. Sigh.
But, all that aside, I did enjoy this one. It was an excellent story and I loved the extras at the end.
Small Gods – Terry Pratchett
This one was different. It was a Disc World book but set in unfamiliar territory and without any of the usual characters. Apart from Death of course. He popped up now and then. Oh, and that history monk from one of the other books that I read recently. Was it Thief of time? But despite it being different, I still enjoyed it. I liked Brutha and the tortoise was excellent. Lots of other interesting characters and a great story. Plenty of humour, as you’d expect and Pratchett really went to town on the subject matter.
That was the last of the Terry Pratchett books on the Big Read list but I’m definitely going to carry on reading the ones that I haven’t got to yet as I’ve been enjoying them so much. Who needs an excuse, eh?
Saint City sinners – Lilith Saintcrow
It’s been a while since I read the first three books in this series but it didn’t take as long as I expected to get up to speed on what was happening. The author reminds you just enough of what’s gone before but without the long pointless paragraphs you sometimes get that annoy me intensely. This was full of action, like the previous books, but with lots of angst. Dante is a well-rounded character and great to read about. I have book five on my shelf so I may not leave it quite so long before finding out what happens next.
Master & Commander – Patrick O’Brien
I planned to start this on Tuesday, it being my Teaser Tuesday book. When it came to it though, I just didn’t fancy it so I started a different one instead. The problem was that I was reading it for The Big Read challenge and it’s way out of my comfort zone. War, ships, men running about with swords and muskets? So not my style. Thing is though, I should know by now that there’s a reason why these books are on this list. People voted for them. Not the critics, the Great British Public. The people who actually go out and buy the books, read the books and enjoy them. And then vote for them as being their favourite books. So, these books must be quite good, you’d think. With only 25 books left to read out of the 200, you would think I’d have realised this by now.
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you. I finally started the book on Friday night. Didn’t put it down until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and was up at the crack of sparrowfart to finish it. It was absolutely marvellous.
I was actually about ten pages in before I realised that I was hooked. I was drawn in so quickly, from the first paragraph in fact, that I didn’t even notice. The characters were great, the whole thing was a terrific adventure from start to finish and I loved the realism. I could easily see myself reading the whole series. Highly recommended so if you’ve been thinking about reading these books – just do it!
Lean mean thirteen – Janet Evanovich
Stephen was asleep while I was reading most of this so I had to be quiet. This was just a little bit tricky as I really, really wanted to laugh out loud. This book was just so funny! The beaver. The groundhog. Ha ha ha. Ranger. Oh my goodness. The embroidered panties. This is just the funniest series ever. I love it.
The girl who kicked the hornets’ nest – Stieg Larsson
I was slightly daunted by the size of this, which is why it’s taken me so long to read it after loving the previous two in the series. It was a whopping 750 pages long and a fair bit of it was taken up with explanations of Sapo, the state security police. This could have been a bit dry but it was necessary to read it in order to understand how all the characters slotted in and also to understand how the situation had developed over the decades. The way the book was written though, those bits were slotted in between the other parts of the story so you learnt what you needed to know as you needed to know it. It never got dry.
With some books where you follow first one character, then another, and another, I sometimes find that I want to stay with a particular thread and get annoyed when it keeps going away from it. With this book, all the different parts of the story were so interesting, and compelling that this was never the case. I was always eager to get back to each different part of the story and find out what was happening to each of the characters.
There was a lot going on throughout the book, and at first I was having difficulty keeping some of the names straight in my head. There were so many different police involved, some good, some not but I got there fairly quickly.
So, back to the size of this book. I’m not sure now why I was so daunted. I read a hundred pages one night, and a hundred pages the next. The next day was my day off so I followed my usual habit of waking early, fetching coffee and reading for a couple of hours. And, then a couple more. And then a couple more. I got a bad case of Just one more chapter-itis and managed to finish the book before getting out of bed at lunchtime. Yes, I know. Lazy mare. Blame the book. It was just that good.
The Pigeon – Patrick Suskind
I’d been looking forward to this as I’d really enjoyed Perfume by the same author. This was very short but was equally good in my opinion. The basis of the story is that a man, who is very set in his ways, sees a pigeon one morning and it sends his day into a complete downward spiral. Although on the surface you might think it a complete over reaction, when I think how I behave when I see a tiny spider, I can actually relate to an extent. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Awakened – P.C. and Kristin Cast
The next installment in the House of Night series. I’ve become strangely addicted to these young adult vampire books. I do like the different take on the vampire mythology in this series. The writing isn’t bad and I like how the storyline is progressing. Plus they’re a quick and light read. Great fun, if you can call death, destruction and darkness fun.
Afterwards – Rosamund Lupton
Wow. This was another one that I’d been looking forward to as I’d loved the author’s previous book – Sister. I read that one in one sitting on a long flight last year and it kept me very happily occupied for several hours. I liked Sister as it was slightly different, but still a good murder/mystery. I’d had Afterwards on pre-order from the library for a while and picked it up on Saturday. I had a shiny new copy that no-one else had read yet so it was a treat to start with. Once again the storyline was deliciously different, not just from other mysteries, but from Sister. It really was superb. I polished it off in chunks over the weekend. There were so many possible suspects and I hadn’t a clue whodunnit, but it was the whole way the story was told that was genius. Ok, so the ending was really only going to go one way but it was nicely done and was my only niggle. I can see Lupton is going to be one of my ‘must read’ authors. Highly recommended.
Agent 6 – Tom Rob Smith
I read the first book in the trilogy before it came out as I was lucky enough to be loaned an early reading copy. I loved it. And then I was given an early reader of the sequel. It followed on from the first book and was just as good a story, although it lost something in that it didn’t have the same impact as the first book. I think that was because the first one blew me away with its originality and intelligent writing. I was expecting this with the second book so although that was there, it didn’t wow me quite as much. I was, however expecting great things from this final book in the series and I wasn’t disappointed. It takes you to places that the first books didn’t, and couldn’t have. It has a different feel to the others but once you see how it starts you see that is how it has to be. It really is quite compulsive writing and I was glued to the pages until it was finished. And now the trilogy is finished, I really can’t wait to see what the author is going to write next.
Girl Friday – Jane Green
This had been sitting on my shelf for ages with two other books by the author. I used to read her books as soon as they came out but she’s been off my radar for a while. That hasn’t stopped me buying the books, obviously as I knew they’d be just what I fancied one day. Looks like she’s back in favour as I rather enjoyed this one. It was a pleasant and easy read. I think I’ll pop one of the remaining ones into my holiday bag.
Transition – Iain Banks
I’m not quite sure why this one has been sitting on Mt TBR for so long as this is one of my favourite authors. I suspect that with so many book challenges, and so many books to choose from, there are a lot of good books that I’m just not getting time to read. Sigh. Or maybe there’s a perfect time for every book and this weekend was this book’s time. I quite like that idea.
The book was nicely bizarre, just as Bank’s best novels are. The first one of his that I read was The Wasp Factory and that remains one of my all time favourite books. This wasn’t quite as good, but then few books are in my opinion, but it was still very good indeed. Some of the ideas in it were breathtaking, not just for their originality but for the way the way they were presented. I loved Mrs Mulverhill. And Tem, of course. There was so much to think about, but there was a great story going on too. And a terrific ending. This was just the perfect book to end the month with before diving back into the book challenges.