One of the best reading months ever!
Hunter’s Moon – Dana Stabenow
Book nine in the Kate Shugak series. Wow. What can I say. Just when you’re starting to settle into a series, getting nicely comfortable with the characters and their relationships to each other, the author pulls a stunt like the one in this book. I did not see that one coming. What. An. Ending.
Kate and three other guides are working for the season up at a camp, giving hunters the full-on Alaskan experience. This particular set of hunters prove to be a bit more than they bargained for. The book is dark and leaves you uncertain who is going to survive and who isn’t. Even at the end, the very spine-tingling end, I felt I needed to know more so I’ve dived straight into book ten to see just how Kate is going to deal with the events of this book. It was certainly a series changer, and a life changer for Kate. Excellent writing.
Midnight come again – Dana Stabenow
Book ten in the Kate Shugak series. As I said, I dived straight into this one as the last one was such a shocker and I couldn’t leave it at that point. I felt that this book did a great job of dealing with the events in book nine while at the same time giving you the usual thrills and adventure. I really enjoyed this one and had a hard time not going straight for book eleven. I have a couple of other books that are quite vocal in their need to be read though so I’m leaving Kate for a little while.
Lost and Found – Tom Winter
This is the book that was so kindly sent to me by Constable & Robinson. I’ve already rambled about it a bit here.
The short version is that I liked it a lot.
Life after life – Kate Atkinson
Wow. Just wow. I’ve been waiting to read this for months and it was well worth the wait. In the blurb for the book it says, “What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?” That sort of sums up the book but it’s so much more. You follow Ursula and her family through the early part of last century, again, and again. Through the London Blitz. From different perspectives. Starting from different points. It all hinges on small decisions, different paths taken through her lives. It was amazing. I want to read it all over again, but as there’s still a huge waiting list for it at the library I’ll be good and take it back tomorrow.
(I reserve the right to buy my own copy when it comes out in paperback though)
The singing of the dead – Dana Stabenow
As you see, I didn’t manage to stay away from the Kate Shugaks for very long. She’s just so handy, sitting there on my Kindle. She calls to me too, wanting me to know what she’s getting up to. I know, I’m addicted, aren’t I?
This one was another great read. There are two stories going on. One is set about a hundred years ago and tells of the Dawson Darling and what happened to her, or rather the mystery surrounding that. Then you have the present where Kate joins a political campaign to protect the candidate who has been receiving threats. The old mystery is the cause of the present day problems and murder is the result. I loved this one, with the two mysteries unfolding at the same time.
High heat – Lee Child
Hooray! A new Jack Reacher to tide me over until the latest novel comes out in paperback. Ok, so this one was only a novella but it was 79 pages of thrilling escapism of the kind that I enjoy. I did intend to save it in my holiday folder but somehow it never made it there. Ooops.
Daisy Fay and the miracle man – Fannie Flagg
This has been on my To Be Read shelf for a few years. I bought it because I knew in the past I’d read Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle stop café and loved it. So, when I saw this in a second-hand book shop, in Hay-on-Wye I think, I grabbed it. Then it got forgotten amidst all the other books that I’ve been meaning to read. Yesterday it leapt out at me and demanded to be read. They do that sometimes. I don’t know why.
Now I need to find more to read by Flagg as this one was just brilliant. It’s written as if it’s the secret diary of a girl from the Southern USA and starts when she’s about 11. It’s funny. From the very first paragraph you’re smiling at the phrases she uses, and the things she says and gets up to. Because she’s talking to her diary, she tells you everything in her own style. Some parts are sad, but mostly it’s a happy book, full of fascinating characters. I loved it to bits.
Perfect – Rachel Joyce
I read The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry recently as it was getting a fair bit of publicity, was selling quite well and I’m curious. Ok, nosy. I liked it. So, when I saw the author had a second book out, I put in a reserve at the library. It’s nothing like Harold Fry, but I actually liked it even more. There’s a lot of misdirection in it which I found intriguing. There are hints and you gradually come to realise that what you thought you knew, was wrong. Also, you know something happened, but you don’t know what so you need to keep reading to find out. I loved the ending, especially when the two boys meet up again by chance, this time as men. I found that to be incredibly touching. I’ll definitely be looking out for the author’s next book.
The fourth hand – John Irving
I’ve read a few by this author, mostly for the 1001 books challenge, but had a couple on my TBR pile that I’d spotted in the shops and fancied. This one finally made it to the top of the pile and proved to be as enjoyable as the others that I’ve read. It wasn’t in the same league as Owen Meany, but that one was a pretty amazing read. I did like this one very much though. Irving always has great characters in his books and ‘Lion Guy’ was one of his best I thought, along with Mrs Clausen.
Terminated – Rachel Caine
The third and last in the Revivalist series. Hmm, it was ok. I enjoyed it but I was a bit bemused by the ending. Overall I liked the series but didn’t think it was up to the same standard as her other books. I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next though.
Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein
I got this in a Kindle sale last year for just 99p. Bargain of the decade, I reckon as it was a brilliant, brilliant book. If you have a Kindle, go and download it now. It’s still only £1.09. It may be a YA novel, but it pulls no punches and if you didn’t know it was YA, you wouldn’t guess. It’s the story of two women in WWII. They’re unlikely best friends, one a pilot and the other a wireless operator. They come from different worlds away from the war. As the story starts one of them has been taken prisoner by the Gestapo and is telling her story. You feel terrible for her and what she’s going through, even though she’s talking and giving up secrets. Who wouldn’t under that sort of torture? I doubt I’d hold out for long, if at all. She knows how it’s going to end for her too, when she’s finished writing out her ‘confession’.
The second part of the book is told by her friend. This is where the book moves from ‘very good’ to ‘brilliant’. I’m an emotional reader in that I don’t just read a book – I live it. I was completely immersed in the book by this point. I was talking back to it. You know those little exclamations that you can’t help?
Then there was ‘that part’ and I started crying. I don’t mean that I got a bit misty-eyed. I mean sobbing out loud with actual tears. I had to stop reading for a couple of minutes as I couldn’t see the screen. I’m getting a bit choked up now just thinking about it. For the rest of the book there was the odd strangled sob, and a few tears. And still, I could not stop reading. Does it sound mad to say how much I enjoyed it after that? Because I did.
I don’t want to say anything about the plot other than to say that it’s a great story and rather clever in the way that it’s written, because I think you should read it yourself. It’s only a quid! What have you got to lose? Just don’t read it in public if like me, you’re prone to identifying too much with the characters.
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
I’ve thought about reading this for a while but never quite got around to it. When I took Life after Life back to the library though, and was telling the lovely staff there how good it was, one of them told me that I should read The Help and popped it onto reserve for me there and then. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I must say now that Birmingham Library services are brilliant especially my local branch.
I’ve just finished reading the book, as it didn’t take long to arrive, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t quite what I expected. I’d assumed it would be slightly dry but it was written in a way that was so easy to just sink into. I can see why it was such a success. You can’t help but fall in love with the characters and you’re rooting for them the whole way. Definitely recommended.
This Charming Man – Marion Keyes
This was a doorstop of a book at 884 pages which is why it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. I do have a tendency to bypass the chunkier ones sometimes in favour of ones that I know I can read in a couple of days. Having said that, I’ve just read this in two days. It was just that good. Ok, so it was a Marion Keyes – what did I expect?
She usually tackles issues of some sort and rolls them up inside a good story. This one had a couple of serious issue in it – battered women and alcoholism. The story is told by four different women and each have their own voice. Three of them know each other and the other is linked in another way. The real story isn’t obvious straight away and there is much humour in the book as you’d expect from Keyes. I loved reading Lola’s story as her ‘voice’ was so funny. Grace was cool, Marnie was tragic and pitiful and I didn’t like Alicia. Although I did pity her a little.
I just know I’m going to have all of them in my head for days now.
Eiger Dreams – Jon Krakauer
This is a book of short stories about mountain climbing. Why, you may ask, would I want to read such a thing? I’ve never climbed a mountain in my life and am scared of heights. The short answer is that I’ve no idea. Some things just fascinate me and people risking their life to get to the top of a mountain, “just because it’s there”, is one of those things. I’ve read another of Krakauer’s books, the one about the Everest disaster and that was very good. When I spotted this one in a second-hand bookstore, I just fancied it. It was rather good too. Each story dealt with either a different mountain, or mountain climber or technique and it was really interesting. Probably not of much interest to most people, but I enjoyed it.