A couple of books this month took quite a while to read. Combine that with the amount of time that I spent stitching and you see why I only read thirteen books. It wasn't a bad month, but not one of the best either. I seem to have saved the best for last with that Val McDermid which kept me glued to the pages for hours, although there were some other rather good books in there besides that one.
Novel with cocaine – M. Ageyev
A short but interesting novel to start the month with. I got this via a bookring and thought it sounded quite good. It contained one of the most obnoxious characters that I've ever encountered in a book. I really hated him and was happy to see him get a bad ending. That's probably not very nice of me, is it, even if it is fiction.
(country hopping challenge – Russian Federation, 1001 list)
Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris
Loved this one although it's a bit surreal reading one version of True Blood when you're also watching another version. The TV series may be based on the books but although you can spot bits that are based on the books, it seems to be veering further and further away. It's still good though.
Thai Die – Monica Ferris
I realised that I hadn't read any cosy mysteries for a couple of weeks so I grabbed a pair of Monica Ferris novels and settled down. This one was a great read keeping you guessing almost to the end, although I did have a sneaking suspicion about what was going on.
Blackwork – Monica Ferris
This is the last of the Ferris books that I had in my stash so I'm a bit sad now. It was another good one too. I've really enjoyed this series. Must try and get more.
The Afterparty – Leo Benedictus
This was interesting. And odd. I read about it in an email from the publisher and thought it sounded offbeat enough to make it worth getting from the library. It was mostly about one night at a party and the afterparty at a house. It's the way it was written that made it different. It was as if the author was submitting chapters of this book to an agent, who was trying to get it published but the author wanted to remain anonymous. All the correspondence between the author and agent was included, as well as the chapters of the actual novel. Then it started to get really weird. Worth reading, I'd say.
The Penal Colony – Richard Herley
A freebie download for the Kindle, and quite good considering that. The government takes some islands around the British Isles and uses them as Penal colonys for the worst offenders. No supervision on the island, but there are prison ships watching them from offshore and there is also satellite monitoring. The prisoners are dropped basic supplies by helicopter once a week and then left to their own devices. The strongest would survive if not for one group that have banded together to live by a code on the island on which the story is set.
In memory of greed – Al Boudreau
Spies, corrupt politicians, industrial espionage, and lots of intrigue across the globe. Set mostly in Kenya, this was another Kindle freebie and was really rather good.
(country hopping challenge – Kenya)
Last Breath – Rachel Caine
I finally got around to reading the latest in the Morganville Vampires series and it was great. The author does the unthinkable in the middle of the book and for a while there I was wondering where on earth the book could go from there. Must have got something in my eye too, which made it all tear up. Of course it all ends leaving you wanting more and luckily the next book is out very soon. I don't think that one will be lingering on my shelves for too long. In the meantime, I may just read a couple more of the author's Weather Warden books.
High Rise – J. G. Ballard
This was a fairly short book but was excellent. It was about a large high rise development and the events that follow the last owner moving in. Small irritations build into larger ones leading to civilisation breaking down altogether within the building. Eventually people stop leaving the building altogether, they gather into cliques, form raiding parties and build barricades. It's quite chilling. The viewpoint changes often so you get a good picture of what is happening on the different floors. Well worth reading.
To have and have not – Ernest Hemingway
This was set partly in Cuba, partly in Key West and was the tale of Harry Morgan, a rum-runner during the depression. Harry's luck goes from bad to worse and throughout the book you get the feel of life at that time. I love Hemingway's style of writing. This wasn't my favourite of his books. That still has to be The old man and the sea, but I liked it a lot.
(1001 list, country hopping challenge – Cuba)
Troubles – J. G. Farrell
I quite liked this one. It was very witty. Some of those old ladies were priceless and the hotel was a character all by itself. It did deal with serious subjects though and the violence of the ending did catch me by surprise. Not a bad read at all.
Group portrait with lady – Heinrich Boll
This was quite a long read for something that was only 400 pages. I did quite enjoy it but I'm not sure I got it. It was a fictitous author conducting interviews with anyone who could tell him anything about one particular character, and in that way building up a picture, not only of that character, but of the times and surroundings she lived in. It was set in Germany from just before WW2 to a couple of decades after. Parts of it were fascinating, as were some of the characters in it, but very occasionally I lost the plot a bit and had to put it down. I didn't enjoy it as much as The lost honour of Katharina Blum, which I loved, but it was still worth reading.
(1001 list, country hopping challenge – Germany)
The Retribution – Val McDermid
I had another library book lined up but after the Heinrich Boll, I fancied something lighter and this had caught my eye on the shelf the night before. I love the Tony Hill/ Carol Jordan books and can so easily visualise Robson Green as Tony Hill since watching the televised version.
This was a 500 page book so when I started it at 6am today, after taking it back to bed with a cup of coffee, I thought I might get about halfway before reluctantly getting up. I'm off work this week so that's my idea of bliss. I should have remembered that once you get stuck into one of Val McDermid's books, you can't actually put it down until you've found out how it ends. At least, I can't. I finally got up around noon. I know, I know, the height of indulgence, but it was a really, really good book. Maybe I'll read something a bit thinner tomorrow though.