A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books

1 Comment

Books read in May

Doughnut – Tom Holt
This is the third of the three Tom Holt books that I bought recently and it was very enjoyable indeed. This one had multi universes, a twisted and complicated plot and a very confused physicist. Oh and a Very, Very large Hadron collider. Which blew up. Chaos galore and all of it great fun. I must check which of the author’s other books I haven’t read yet. I’m sure there are a couple more.

Fall of night – Rachel Caine
There aren’t many books that end with my saying “Whoa” out loud, but this was one of them. I do love this series and this, the fourteenth book, was excellent. It was set mostly outside Morganville, at MIT, where Claire has gone to study. At first she’s on her own but gradually the familiar characters creep back into the story. I loved the direction the story takes. It’s an obvious one, all things considered, and done brilliantly. Especially the ending. These are such great books for a light read. I’ll be sad when the series ends, and I believe there’s just one book left.

Skios – Michael Frayn
I fancied this as soon as I saw it in the book charts, as I’ve read another one by the author and really enjoyed it. I also liked the blurb on the back cover so as soon as I saw it going cheap, I grabbed it. It’s about a chap who flies to Skios for a holiday and when he sees a woman holding up a sign for another man, decides to become him instead. Of course, it gets a lot more complicated than just that with people getting taxis all over the place and lots of misunderstandings. It was brilliant! I loved the ending too. I’ll definitely look out for more by Frayn.

House rules – Jodi Picoult
I’m gradually tidying up my TBR bookshelves by reading the ones that are just sitting on top of the neatly shelved ones. There are still over 30 to go before the bookcase looks tidy again, but I’m getting there. House rules has been sitting there for some time so I thought I’d read it next. I haven’t read a Picoult for a while and I’ve pretty much enjoyed all the ones that I’ve read so far. This one was an excellent read. I saw the twist coming from fairly early on, but I think you were meant to. It makes it all the more interesting that you can see all the misunderstandings that are happening due to Jacob’s Asperger’s. It’s a thick book at over 600 pages but I’ve gone through it in two mornings just because it was so hard to put down. I think I’d forgotten just how much her books pull you in.

A cold blooded business – Dana Stabenow
Book four of the Kate Shugak series and read on my Kindle. This was one of the books bought in the great Alaska download last month. After my initial, slightly negative impression of this author’s books, I’m really getting into the Kate Shugak books. She’s a great character and her investigations and her life feel so authentic because of the author’s background. This one was set on the North Slope and was about oil production and the people who work in it. There was an investigation by Kate, lots of interesting detail and plenty of action and adventure. I really enjoyed it.

Chocolate wishes – Trisha Ashley
I started this while only half way through the previous book, as my Kindle was upstairs, I was downstairs, and I couldn’t get upstairs while the builders were working. So, as I wanted to read something, I had to have a rummage on the shelves and came up with this one. It sort of leapt out at me as I thought it was one that Jackie might like so it needed to be read. I quite liked it. It didn’t pull the usual clichés, with the characters actually talking to each other instead of having lots of misunderstandings. The chocolate sounded delicious and made me want to raid the fridge. It was a fun, and sweet read (pun intended) and a nice change from some of the murder and mayhem I like to relax with. (in a book-ish way only, I hasten to add)

Play with fire – Dana Stabenow
Back on the Kate Shugak books, with book five of the series. This one was a bit different with the setting and the way the story resolved. There was some more of Kate’s and Bobby’s back story, which all adds to the interest of these books, and once again there were some lovely descriptions of Alaska. Another very enjoyable read. Must resist diving straight into book six though. The TBR shelves are still overflowing.

Surface detail – Iain M. Banks
I loved this. I always enjoy the Culture novels but haven’t read any of the author’s sci-fi for a while. I’d forgotten just how detailed and interesting the stories are. The characters are so real, including the ship minds. I loved the idea behind this book, with the virtual hells and the various factions that were for and against them.

Sourcery – Terry Pratchett
I fancied something lighter after the excellent , but quite dense, Surface detail. There was an odd Terry Pratchett lying on top of some other books on the TBR pile so I chose that. It is a reread, but from about 15 years ago so I’d mostly forgotten what happened. It seemed familiar and I was remembering the plot as I went along. It was still funny though, even with that slight sense of déjà vu. I was a bit impatient to finish it, as I bought a new book halfway through this one, and was very, very keen to get into it. An enjoyable read, and I may check which books by the author I still have to read and see if they’re available at the library.

A wanted man – Lee Child
Brilliant! This followed on straight from the last book and was compulsive reading. I love the Jack Reacher books. I love the style of writing, I love the characters and I really love the plots. In this one, Reacher’s objective for lack of a better word, kept changing as he got more information and the situation changed. It was exciting and thrilling and full of action. Loved it!

The Chessmen – Peter May
This is the third in the Lewis trilogy and was just as good as the first two. There were more revelations about Fin’s past and that of his old friends. There was intrigue and action and an absolutely brilliant ending – which I didn’t see coming. An excellent trilogy.

Blood will tell – Dana Stabenow
The Kindle was handy when I was looking for my next read and once again I picked a Kate Shugak. They really are very good. This one was a bit slower than the others, but still fascinating as there are some fascinating descriptions of Alaska and its political situation. This was in a collection containing books four to six plus two short stories. As this was book six, it seemed a shame not to dive straight into the short stories.

Wreck rights – Dana Stabenow
Cherchez la femme – Dana Stabenow
These were both very short but still good. I like that you get an insight into Kate’s life away from the longer books. It all gives you more of a look into what her life is like, and what she is like. I really enjoyed these.

Gone – Mo Hayder
This is one of the author’s Jack Caffery books. I’ve read a few of the others, although probably not in order, and enjoyed them all. I haven’t read one for ages though and I’d forgotten just how good they are. I’ve had this on my TBR pile for a while, having found it at a charity shop, but it caught my eye last night. It starts with a car jacking, but as there was a child in the car, Jack Caffery is called in along with his team. The investigation gets more and more complex and interesting as they eventually find a suspect and chase him down. Not everything is as it seems though and the ending is very tense and exciting. I did guess who the kidnapper was and his motive, but then changed my mind. Then changed it back, and back again. The clues were all there, but there were also a lot of red herrings which made this one that I couldn’t put down. I wonder if there are any Jack Cafferys that I haven’t read yet…



Books read in April

The case of the flashing fashion queen – Heather Doherty
I needed something to read at 5am this morning and couldn’t be bothered to go downstairs to rummage through the TBR shelves. All I had in my bedside drawer was my trusty Kindle and as I couldn’t really be bothered to rummage through everything on that, I picked one of the first books to leap out at me. I think I downloaded this one as the author also wrote Ashlyn’s radio, which I enjoyed a few months ago, but also because it was cheap, and sounded amusing. It was quite a decent read. Funny, a good plot, and some good characters. The main character is a female P.I. which could lead to some interesting tales in the next books. I may look out for an offer on the next one to see if it’s as diverting.

Rubbernecker – Belinda Bauer
I picked this up from the library yesterday afternoon and started it this morning. I seem to have finished it too. It was so good that I just kept reading, and reading, and reading. I had an inkling that I’d enjoy it as I loved the author’s previous three books, but I’m so pleased that she’s pulled it off again with a completely different set of characters, plot, setting etc. The main character in this one has Asperger’s and the story follows him as he stumbles onto a situation that makes him suspicious. That’s all I’m saying as I don’t want to give anything away for anyone thinking of reading it. Definitely recommended for an interesting and easy read.

Dead Case in Deadwood – Ann Charles
This is the third book in the Deadwood humorous mystery series and it was read on my Kindle. I quite liked it, but unfortunately not as much as the previous two. It’s gone just a bit too much to the paranormal side when what I wanted was a nice mystery read. I do like a bit of paranormal but not when it’s not what I want in a book, if you know what I mean. Despite this one ending on a bit of a cliffhanger, I doubt I’ll be getting any more of the series.

A fatal thaw – Dana Stabenow
Book 2 of the Kate Shugak series and bought as part of my Kindle download binge a few weeks ago. I loved this. It was even better than the first book. I love the main character. You can imagine her as a real person so easily. I love the way you feel like you’re there in Alaska. You can visualise it easily because of the way it’s so well written. I got to the end of this one and as it was in an omnibus edition, it was so easy, and so tempting to just start reading book 3. So I did.

Dead in the water – Dana Stabenow
In this one Kate is working on a crab fishing vessel in the Bering sea, while investigating the mysterious disappearance of two of its deck hands. It was a great read. I almost felt that I was there on that boat at times, although I’m really glad that I wasn’t. I loved the way the tension gradually increased. You knew something was coming, but when it did it was so tense and exciting. I loved this book. So much so that I’ve started on the short story at the end of the omnibus.

Nooses Give – Dana Stabenow
This was only a short one at around 30 pages but it was excellent. It was about a bootlegger, the deaths of some teenagers and Kate doing something about it. I’ll take a break from Kate now while I read my library book but I may be back soon.

Heat rises – Richard Castle
This was easily the best one in this series so far. The writing was good and the plot was excellent. There were twists and turns with suspects galore. There’s a scene in Central Park which is definitely larger than life, but such good fun to read. There is intrigue and romance, murder and bad guys, and a brilliant ending – in more ways than one. I’ve got the next book reserved at the library, but sadly so have several other people so I’m in a queue. I do hope the other people read fast as I really need to know what happens next.

Grave memory – Kalayna Price
I was looking for something else on my Kindle and stumbled across this. I’d completely forgotten that I’d downloaded it. Once I’d spotted it though, I felt the urge to read it. It was quite enjoyable, although not quite as good as the first two, I thought. The whole planeweaver thing complicates things too much in my opinion. I did enjoy most of it though and I loved the ending, which is going to force me to get the next book.

Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris
I pre-ordered this from Amazon and it’s been sitting on my shelves for a while now, which is unusual as normally I read the Sookie books as soon as I get my hands on them. I don’t think I’m as excited by these books as I used to be though. The more recent ones just aren’t as good. I think perhaps the author is running out of ideas. This book was ok but didn’t hold my attention as much as the earlier books did. I didn’t like the ending much. I felt that the reason the murder was done didn’t seem right and several things seemed to be wrapped up very conveniently as if they were plot points that weren’t going to be used again. I’m not sure if I want to read any more of these now. I’ll see how I feel when the next one comes out.

The loveliest chocolate shop in Paris – Jenny Colgan
This was rather good. I don’t read a lot of chicklit but I just fancied this one, perhaps because it had Chocolate in the title. I’m not sure that I’ve read any Jenny Colgan before but I might just do so now. It wasn’t too slushy, and the descriptions of Paris, and more importantly the chocolate were excellent. I wasn’t quite sure if I liked part of the ending or not, but otherwise it was a very nice read.

Did you miss me? – Karen Rose
This is one of my more recent acquisitions and was much to chunky to slip into the Rs on my bookshelf. My very overstuffed bookshelf. So, I thought I’d read it. There’s something about Rose’s books that I like. I don’t read them all as they come out, as I do with some authors, but I will pick the odd one up when I see it and I’m always confident that I’ll enjoy it.
This was full of detail and interesting characters. There was a lot going on, with the narrative following both the good guys and the villain of the piece. The information in it was doled out a bit at a time to keep you interested and it had a great ending. I really liked it, as I thought I would.

The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
I picked this up at Costco recently. I’ve seen it everywhere and I was intrigued by the blurb so I thought I’d give it a try. I was pretty much hooked from the first page and read it in one gulp. Time just sort of got away from me. It’s about a chap called Harold who goes out to post a letter and just keeps walking. It’s about the people he meets on his journey and his personal journey as he walks. It’s also about his wife and his past life. It was excellent and a little bit different. I really enjoyed it.

Two weeks’  notice – Rachel Caine
This is the second book in the revivalist series and follows on more or less straight on from the first one. It starts off fairly normally but quickly descends into chaos, violence and intrigue. Great stuff! I rather enjoyed it, especially the way it escalated right up to that shock discovery near the end. I’m quite looking forward to the next one.

1 Comment

Books read in March

11.22.63 – Stephen King
This was amazing! It’s a huge book but I’ve got through it in three days. I could so easily have read it more quickly, but I thought it might be an idea to spend some of the day not reading. I love time travel books in general, and King mentions one of my favourites in his notes at the end – Time and again by Jack Finney. The thing that I loved the most about 11.22.63 was the scale of it, the exploration of the consequences and the fantastic ending. Which made me tear up a little. This is definitely one of King’s best, along with The Stand and is going on my Keeper bookshelves.

The Vanishing Point – Val McDermid
I picked this up last week along with the new Karen Rose. I was in Asda and spotted them in the 2 for £7. This is why I shouldn’t be allowed in supermarkets. I love Val McDermid’s books so this got bumped right to the top of Mount TBR. I started reading it this morning while I was waiting for the washing machine repair man to come. He had excellent timing and arrived ten minutes after I finished the book.
I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the Tony Hill books that she writes, but I did like it a lot. It was very obvious who the celeb character was based on, which I wasn’t that keen on, but the story itself was very good. I was a bit perplexed at the ending though. It didn’t seem quite finished and it just didn’t seem in character for it to happen as it did. I had lots of questions going round and round in my head after I closed the book.

Cold Days – Jim Butcher
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! I’ve been waiting to read this since I finished Ghost Story and although I tried to make it last a few days, I read it almost in one sitting. How can I possibly manage until the next one comes out? This was full of action with lots of familiar characters and plenty of new ones too. There were twists and turns as it led to the final showdown, but you just couldn’t imagine how Dresden would pull it off this time. The ending was magnificent with an ending that I could never  have predicted. Never. Now I really, really need to know what happens next. There are so many possibilities now.

Dangerous Alterations – Elizabeth Lynn Casey
This is another of the Southern Sewing Circle mysteries and the last one that I had on my TBR pile. I’m quite pleased that I’ve read all that I had now as they were getting a bit samey. A bit boring too, if I’m honest. The plot was telegraphed very loudly almost at the beginning of the book so how it turned out was no surprise at all. The characters are just too perfect and sickly sweet, especially Tori, and especially as the author keeps banging on about how wonderful Tori’s friends are. Having said that, this book was an ok read. It’s one of those books that takes no effort to read and was amusing in places, although the banter and bickering that is in every book is getting slightly tedious now. I’ve mostly enjoyed these books but I don’t think I’ll be getting any more

Slow man – J. M. Coetzee
I decided to give Coetzee another chance and reserved this one at the library. I rather enjoyed it. It’s the story of an old man who is knocked down by a car while he’s on his bicycle. The book describes what happens to him from there on. It’s a fascinating tale. I’m glad I decided to read it.

Very Valentine – Adriana Trigiani
I bought this when I was out with Jackie. We got three books between us with the plan of swapping them with each other once they were read. This one is now heading Jackie’s way. It was a lovely read, set in recent New York and was about an Italian family, specifically Valentine who makes shoes. I really enjoyed it, so much so that I’ve just reserved the sequel at the library.

The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
This was a nice chunky book by an author that I generally like, and sometimes love. This book fell somewhere between. It was rather offbeat, which I loved, and one of those books that you have to keep reading just to find out what’s going on. I have no idea how to describe the plot of it though, so I’m going to leave it at that.

Blonde bombshell – Tom Holt
It’s been a while since I read any Tom Holt. I’ve got quite a collection of his books, all of which I’ve enjoyed, but because I got out of the habit of checking to see if he had anything new out, I don’t have his latest ones. I put that right last week by ordering three of the ones that I was missing from Amazon Marketplace.
I loved Blonde bombshell. The style of writing was just as I remembered – on the surface they’re simple but very, very good. And funny, lets not forget that his books are laugh out loud funny. This one was about bombs that become human and is partly set on a planet where the dominant species is the dog. They keep humans for pets, and are trying to blow up Earth. That doesn’t even begin to describe the book. It’s got so much going on. Barbie and the Skywalkers were so funny. At the end was the first chapter of another of his books, which I accidentally read, so I’m now going to have to dive into the rest of that book.What a shame.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of sausages – Tom Holt
This was a great read. It got more and more convoluted until I almost wanted to cross my eyes, but it was still very, very funny. I laughed out loud several times, just like with the previous book. It starts with a pig who is trying to work out where her piglets go to, by applying the laws of physics, before moving onto a puzzled lawyer and her musical brother, along with the disappearing dry cleaners. When you find out what became of the pig, it seems so logical yet so amusing.
I have another Holt to read but I’m going to save it for later as I’ve just picked up the sequel to Very Valentine from the library.

Encore Valentine – Adriana Trigiani
I really enjoyed this! It followed straight on from Very Valentine and was just as lovely to read. It was humorous in parts, romantic in others, and some of it was so sad. Valentine has to work with her brother, who she doesn’t get on with, in order to build the shoe making business. On top of this she is trying to work out how she feels about Gianlucca, while trying to help with family problems. There’s an old family secret that gets unearthed by Valentine, which causes upset with some family members, but which may be the answer to some of her problems. My only issue was that a couple of things got skipped over at the end. Things that I’d really have liked to know. It didn’t spoil the book, just left me with questions.
This was the first Trigiani that I’ve read in years. I’d forgotten how much I like her style so I may have to get a couple more out of the library at some point. I must try to get Mt TBR under control a bit more first though.



Books read in February

Girls in love – Jacqueline Wilson
I felt the need for something really easy to read while I was recovering from a migraine and this was it. I quite enjoyed it. I don’t mind a bit of Jacqueline Wilson now and then, especially when it gets me a bit closer to my target of completing The Big Read list.

The Collector – John Fowles
This was excellent. A man who is obsessed with a girl wins the pools and then puts into action a plot to kidnap her. He seems to have the plan of making her love him over time. I liked the way you first heard his version of events and then hers before getting to the conclusion. It was creepy in parts and sad in others. He was an odd chap, with his butterfly collection and the way he took that a huge step further by collecting a girl. I really liked this.
(1001 books)

Death threads – Elizabeth Lynn Casey
This is the second in the Southern Sewing Circle mysteries and I was hoping that it would be as enjoyable as the first book. It was. It picked up a few months after the last story finished and continued to develop the characters nicely. I do love some of the people who populate this book. Originally we started with the main cast, but now a few more people from the town have appeared and/or been fleshed out. There were a few different things going on in this story and several of them came together at the end. I like how there’s some sleuthing in these books but it’s not the main part of it. There’s so much about the characters, their lives and their interactions. I love reading about the goings on in the town and the eccentricities of some of the people. I’ve already got book three to read but I think I may have to pay another visit to Amazon for more of these.

Operation Shylock – Philip Roth
I didn’t like this one as much as all the other books by the author that I’ve read. It seemed a lot more dense, and maybe a bit too political for my taste. That said, it did engage me for most of the book and there were only a few sections where I felt the need to skim a bit. His books can vary so much in their style that maybe I need to be more careful in which ones I select in future. The plot against America and Nemesis remain my favourites by him.
(1001 books)

Song of the Quarkbeast – Jasper Fforde
I’ve been wanting to read this for a while as not only do I love pretty much everything that Mr. Fforde writes, but I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Last Dragonslayer. Unfortunately, the library didn’t get this in until it came out in paperback so I’ve had to wait. Not that I’m complaining about our library system. There’s very little that I want to read that they don’t have.
So, having finally got my hands on it, I read it straight away, and all in one go. It’s classed as YA so is a fairly quick read, and was terrific fun. I love Fforde’s sense of humour and his way with words. It was so easy to get back into the story and the characters, in this alternative UK, or unUK, as it is in the book. Now I can’t wait to read the next book so I do hope it comes out soon. Or maybe there’ll be another Thursday Next book first. I’d love that.

Stranger in a strange land – Robert Heinlein
I had no idea what this was going to be like, or indeed just how chunky a book it was. My library had the unabridged edition which comes in at around 650 pages and it was superb. It’s about a young man who is born on Mars and raised by Martians, before being brought home to Earth. The book follows what happens to him and as well as being a brilliant story, has some very interesting concepts in it. So much so, that it caused some outrage when it was originally released. I really enjoyed it. It was something a bit different and was so well written that it was hard to put down at times. I’m not sure if I’ve read anything else by Heinlein so I may look for more now that I’ve read this one.
(1001 books)

The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making – Catherynne M. Valente
I loved this! It was so whimsical with a lovely story and absolutely fabulous characters. Fairyland was cute and quirky and definitely had echoes of Oz, as did parts of the storyline. This was no bad thing as I enjoyed spotting the similarities and loved how they’d been taken somewhere new. The way the book ended wrapped the story up nicely, apart from one minor detail, so I’m hoping that there might just be a sequel. September will be having more adventures and it would be lovely to hear about them. I did so like the way this story was narrated.

Steamed – Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant
This is book one in the Gourmet Girl mysteries. I found it in my wishlist on Amazon and bought it from the Marketplace a couple of weeks ago. I have a vague recollection that it was recommended by Stacey over on Havoc and Mayhem at the same time as another series that I enjoyed, so I had high hopes.
From the blurb I expected it to be a bit more chick-lit and a bit more ‘fluffy’ than it actually was. Not that I’m complaining, as I rather enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite what I’d expected. I did love all the food descriptions, which made my mouth water, but there wasn’t as much detective action going on as you usually get in cosy mysteries. It was quite funny in places, and I’d like to get the next book to see how the series develops. I may see if I can get it cheap on the Marketplace. So, a promising start and I’m still hopeful that this series will turn out to be a winner.

Recipe for love –  Katie Fforde
I was only going into the library to drop off a couple of books that I’d finished with. That’s all. I had no intention of picking up anything else. That lasted as far as the library entrance which is where I spotted the latest Katie Fforde on the Rapid Reads table. These are books that have a loan period of just one week and usually I walk straight past them as I prefer to reserve the books that I want, but somehow that Katie Fforde leapt into my arms and refused to be put down again. Once I got home, it refused to be ignored and demanded to be read the same evening. It was very, very good. I don’t read much chick-lit, but I do like anything by this author. She strikes just the right note. Not too slushy or romantic, just a nice read. This one had characters in it from earlier books, which was lovely as it felt familiar, and was about Zoe who was in a cookery competition. There were some nice descriptions of food, and the storyline, although slightly predictable, was good. Mostly I just like the style of writing and the characters in Fforde’s books.

Pinned for murder – Elizabeth Lynn Casey
The third book in the Southern Sewing Circle mysteries, and a nice light read, which was just what I needed yesterday. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first two as I could see quite early on whodunnit. It was just that little bit too obvious. It was still a nice read though and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Moonlighting in Vermont – Kate George
I got this for the Kindle in the Christmas sale and thought I’d see what it was like. I didn’t think I was going to be able to read it at first as there were so many typos in it. Lots of spelling mistakes and it was badly formatted. It improved slightly as it went on though, and I got interested enough in the story that I could almost ignore the errors. I rather liked it in the end, although I’d be wary of getting any more by the author simply because typos annoyed me so much.

The hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
I loved this! It grabbed me from the very first page. It was charming and funny and a joy to read. You see the last hundred years of history through the eyes of one man as he has several adventures, mostly through being in the right place at the right time. I’d recommend this to anyone. It’s just something a bit different and a lovely read, with one of the best titles I’ve come across.

The Water Room – Christopher Fowler
This is one of the books that Tree sent me last year, and the second in the Bryant & May mystery series. I rather enjoyed it, just as I did the first one in the series. Bryant is great to read about, he’s such a character, and the other detectives are just as much fun. I loved all the snippets about London, true or not, and it was an excellent story with a good ending.

Between the lines – Victoria Pendleton & Donald McRae
I wanted to read this when it first came out, as I was still fascinated by the Olympics. As the library didn’t add this title until recently, and there was a queue for it, I only picked it up yesterday. I was going to read about half of it this morning and save the rest for tomorrow, but I just couldn’t put it down. It was extremely well written and took you from Victoria’s childhood, when she would cycle with her father, right up to her final competition at the 2012 Olympics. I loved reading about her path to the British team and what she endured to get to the top of her chosen sport. There has been a lot written about her in the press, but you so often get a one-sided version so it was good to read a chronological description of events from her perspective.
I’m quite getting into bios lately. I may read more.

Deadly Notions – Elizabeth Lynn Casey
I was a bit wary of reading this as I feared that I was going off this series after book three wasn’t such fun to read as the first two. This one was much better though and I quite enjoyed it. I was certain I’d figured out whodunnit quite early on, but I was wrong. The plot twisted just a little more than I anticipated and kept me interested right to the very sweet ending. Life does seem a little too perfect in this town, apart from the murders, but I do enjoy all the Southern expressions that keep popping up as Leona attempts to educate Tori in the way of Southern Belles.


Books read in January

Under the dome – Stephen King
I thought I’d start the year with one that’s been sitting on my shelves for a while now, just begging to be read. I have to be in the right mood for chunky books though, and this is one of King’s heftier efforts at 880 pages. I thought it’d take a while to read. It didn’t. I’d forgotten just how well he draws you in and this book was one chapter of action after another. There were some unpleasant characters in this book, and King does them so well. You really wouldn’t want to meet any of them face to face. There were a few aspects of the book that reminded me slightly of The Stand, which is one of my all time favourite books. I don’t think this was as good as The Stand, but it kept me riveted for almost nine hundred pages, which is saying a lot. I have another of his on the shelves, another monster of a book. Maybe I won’t wait so long to read that one.

Children of the fog – Cheryl Kaye Tardif
This was a Kindle freebie that I downloaded in March of last year. I thought it sounded interesting enough to be worth a try and I rather enjoyed it. Sometimes these freebies are definitely worth getting. This was about a woman whose son is abducted and what follows from there. There’s a lot going on in the book and plenty of tension. There’s a touch of the supernatural about it, but mostly it’s a story about a bad man who abducts kids. I’d read more by this author if I came across them while accidentally surfing on Amazon.

Children of the night – Mercedes Lackey
I picked this one to read as Plum’s challenge this month is anything to do with schools and you do tend to get children in schools. It’s the second book in the Diana Tregarde series and it’s been quite a while since I read book one. I was plodding through it for the first third and not loving it to be honest, but then I starting getting more and more interested in it and in the end I rather enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll read the third one, which is on my shelves, before the glow wears off.

Grave witch – Kalayna Price
This was one of my purchases from the Twelve days of Kindle sale. I really liked the sound of it and after Tree recommended it too, I thought I’d read it straight away. It was excellent. The descriptions of what happened when Alex was working were creepy and eerie and so easy to visualise. I loved the characters in it, especially Alex and I enjoyed the way the action and the tension built up to a fantastic ending. I got it for 99p in the sale, but I liked it so much that I followed the link at the end to get book two. For £3.99. Hope it’s as good.

The Lewis Man – Peter May
The first book in this trilogy was one of my favourite reads of last year so I was looking forward to this, which I’d downloaded to my Kindle. It was excellent – just as good as the first installment. There were enough of the same characters in it to make it familiar, and the landscape of the islands was just as well described. There were new characters, and new settings to keep it fresh and a cracking storyline. At one point it dawned one me what had happened and what the inevitable conclusion would be, but it only heightened the tension, and the way it resolved was still a shock. An excellent book. I can’t wait for the last one in the series.

Mistress of the art of death – Ariana Franklin
I’ve had this on my shelf for a while, courtesy of one of the boxes of books sent to me by Tree. Much as I fancied reading it at the time, it kept getting ignored in favour of other books, just because it was ‘historical’ and that’s a genre that I don’t often read. Yesterday though, it caught my eye, and as it fits the Plum challenge for this month, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad that I did as it was excellent. It was set in the time of King Henry II and featured a female doctor who specialises in post-mortems. I loved the murder/mystery aspect and the descriptions of life in Cambridge. I’m very tempted to get the next book in the series.

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie – Alan Bradley
This is one of my recent Amazon Marketplace purchases and a series that I hadn’t heard of before stumbling across it on another blog. It features an eleven year old girl who loves chemistry, has two older sisters and lives in a large house in a small village. It’s set in the fifties and is absolutely brilliant. Just that little bit quirky and offbeat. Flavia, our young heroine, is marvellous. Her father is suspected of murder in this book, so she sets out to uncover the real murderer. The writing is excellent, the characters are priceless and the plot was wonderful. I know I’m supposed to be reducing my TBR pile, but I absolutely must get the next couple of books in this series.

Sew deadly -Elizabeth Lynn Casey
I’ve been looking for another craft-related cosy mystery series for a while and eventually decided on this one. It’s the Southern Sewing Circle series and as the main character is also a librarian, I thought it might be interesting. I managed to get the first three in the series on Amazon Marketplace and have been waiting for them to arrive. Of course, book one was the last to pop through the letterbox, but when it did finally get here I started it the same day. I rather liked it. I liked the Southern aspect of it. Tori, the librarian, moves to Sweet Briar and is a bit of an outsider for several reasons. She’s now in a small town in the deep South and needs to learn its ways. Then, inevitably, someone is murdered, and Tori needs to find out why. I did find the ending quite refreshing as Tori acted in a very sensible way, unlike some amateur investigators. I think I may enjoy this series if it carries on like this.

No Angel – The secret life of Bernie Ecclestone – Tom Bower
This is exactly what the title says, making it one of my rare non-fiction reads. I only like non-fic if it’s about a subject that really interests me, and this being about one of the key players in Formula One sounded very interesting indeed. I found it absolutely fascinating. Not just all the background info on F1 over the years, but learning about Bernie and how he came up from nothing to be a very wealthy and powerful man. Once it got to the eighties, which is when I started watching the races, it was even more interesting as the book told of what was happening behind the scenes of the events that I’d seen on TV. I have another F1 related bio to read. I  may tackle that soon.

Grave Dance – Kalayna Price
I really liked the first book in this series so I decided to read the second one fairly quickly rather than just storing it on my Kindle. This book was just as good and I enjoyed it even more. The story in this one is just as exciting and you learn some new things about Alex’s life and about her gifts. I liked it so much, that I splurged £4.99 on the next book as soon as I finished it.

Burmese days – George Orwell
My first 1001 book of the year. I’m off to a bit of a slow start, but I just fancied some lighter reads earlier this month. This arrived at the library a couple of days ago, after being on reserve for a while so it pushed me to make a start. Like all the other books by Orwell that I’ve read, I rather enjoyed it. This one is set in the Burmese Jungle during British rule and gives you a taste of what life and the attitude of the Brits was like. It was an interesting read as well as a great story. And, as it was the inaugural George Orwell day on Monday, I think it was quite well-timed.
(1001 list)

Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
I liked this one. It was a brilliant story and told in great style. You know pretty much what is going to happen from the start but that only makes it more interesting. One of the more enjoyable authors that I’ve found via the 1001 list.
(1001 list)


Books read in December

Fifteen books read this month taking me to a total of two hundred and five for the year. I’d like to say that I’ve made a dent in my To Be Read pile, but only around half of those books came from there. About a hundred books were either on the Kindle or from the library, and I may have added quite a few to the pile to balance out those that I did read.

I’ve read some excellent books over the year. I’ve continued my addiction to cosy mysteries and have squeezed plenty of those in between the more serious books. I seem to have read fewer supernatural books, although there have been a few.
Some of my favourites from the year:

In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
Affinity – Sarah Waters
Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut
The Night Strangers – Chris Bohjalian
For whom the bell tolls – Ernest Hemingway
Mrs Harris goes to Paris – Paul Gallico
Under the skin – Michael Faber
The black house – Peter May
The mystery of Mercy Close – Marion Keyes
The plot against America – Philip Roth

This month I read one of my favourites of the year, several on the Kindle, and some by favourite authors. It was quite a good mixture and all of them enjoyable. A great way to end the year.

The Human Stain – Philip Roth
I found this to be a rather denser read than Nemesis, which is the book by Roth that I loved so much last month. I enjoyed it, but found my attention wandering a couple of times. Not my favourite by the author but still a good enough read.
(1001 list)

Insurgent – Veronica Roth
This is the sequel to Divergent, which I read a few months ago. I’ve had this on reserve at the library since then, and have been waiting impatiently. I was hoping this would be as good as the first book and it definitely was. I think I like this series more than The Hunger Games. It’d certainly make an interesting film.

The mystery of Mercy Close – Marion Keyes
I’ve got two books by Marion Keyes on my TBR pile. I would read her books as soon as they came out at one time, but I’ve got to the point now where I just buy them. This book reminded me just why I used to devour them as soon as they were released. It was Brilliant! Ok, so a book featuring Helen Walsh, the youngest of Mammy Walsh’s daughters, was always going to be good, but this was just superb. There’s some serious stuff in there, but at no time does the book actually get that serious. One thing that I’m taking away from this book is a Shovel List. I loved Helen’s Shovel List and I’m now mentally adding a few things to my own. Near the top is people who don’t return their library books, especially if I’m waiting to read them.

The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
I had a good chunter about this earlier in the month so I’ll just link to the post here.

The Wild Ways – Tanya Huff
This is a sequel to a book that I read about a year ago. I bought the other one as it was set in Calgary, and as I was passing through there, even though very briefly, I fancied reading it. Also, I’ve read some of the author’s other books and enjoyed them. I really liked the first book so I ordered this one as soon as it became available. This book followed Charlie and is set over on the coast of Canada more than in Calgary, but features the same cast of characters that I loved reading about before. There’s plenty of adventure in it, lots about music and a great ending. Here’s hoping there’s another book to come, or maybe several.

Sunshine and shadow – Earlene Fowler
This was the last one in my stash of Benni Harper books. This makes me sad as I fear I may have got rather attached to them. The characters are just so real compared to some other series that I’ve read in the past. And I love the bits about quilting and ranching, and all the daily life in the small town of San Celina. This one had flashbacks to when Benni was twenty and just married to Jack, as this related to what was happening in the present. The ending was particularly good, I thought. The good news is that I’ll be getting some more of these books soon, courtesy of my good friend Tree.

Home and the world – Rabindra Nath Tagore
A short read on the Kindle. This was interesting and I quite enjoyed it. I particularly liked the way the viewpoint moved between the three main characters. Something a bit different.
(1001 list)

Devil’s bargain – Rachel Caine
The first book in a new series by one of my favourite authors. At least I hope it’s the first in a series, as I let out a squeal of frustration when I read the last few lines. I don’t mind cliffhangers, but I really needed there to be more of this book. There’s just something about Rachel Caine’s books that make them so easy to get lost in, and finishing one is usually a bit of a wrench. It’s difficult to describe what this book was about in a few sentences. From the blurb on the back you’d think it’s about a woman who makes a deal with the Devil, but it isn’t. The idea behind it is rather interesting. It’s something that I’ve come across before but in a different form and I love the way it’s been used here. I’m not giving anything away here as I hate spoilers, but if you like Caine’s books and like books with strong female characters, then this is for you.

The good, the bad, and the undead – Kim Harrison
This is the second book in The Hollows series, and I read it on my Kindle. I read the first book a few months ago and liked it so much that I got the next few. It just took me a while to get around to reading the next one. There are a few annoying typos in this, which I thought was surprising for a book from one of the bigger publishers, rather than a self-published. That was my only niggle though as once again I loved the story and the characters. It carries on from the first book, with Rachel struggling to find enough work to pay her way. The book takes an interesting twist halfway through and there’s no shortage of action. There’s a very interesting development at the end too. I’m quite tempted to start book three to see what happens next.

Ashlyn’s Radio – Heather Doherty & Norah Wilson
The great thing about having a Kindle is that when none of the books on your bedside table is just what you fancy reading, and you can’t be bothered to go downstairs to fetch something else, you can be sure of finding something that you’ve downloaded. At least you can when you have a couple of  hundred books on there. So, as none of the pile by the bed suited yesterday morning, I browsed through the Kindle and found this one that was a freebie a few months ago. It’s about a ghost train and a haunted/supernatural radio and wasn’t bad at all. It read like a YA novel, which I don’t  mind, and although predictable in parts, was rather enjoyable.

Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo – Heather Wardell
Another one on the Kindle, this one I downloaded fairly recently. The title caught my eye and although I don’t read that much chick lit, it was free so I thought I’d give it a try. Also, I like reading books set in places that I’ve been. This one is set in Toronto. I quite liked it. As chick lit goes, it was quite readable. Slightly too much shall I/shan’t I for my taste, but otherwise ok. Husband goes off working for four weeks. Ex shows up. Chaos ensues.

The life of Lazarillo of Tormes – Anonymous
This was free for the Kindle as it’s long out of copyright. It’s only short, around 120 pages for the print edition, so I thought I’d try it. It was quite interesting and I rather enjoyed it. It tells of the life and hardships of Lazaro. He has a lot of bad luck and his tales are sometimes quite funny, unless you’re him of course.
(1001 list)

The death of Ivan Ilych – Leo Tolstoy
Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m looking for shorter books on the 1001 list so that I can reach a nice round figure by the end of the year. This one fitted the bill nicely at under 150 pages for the print version. I had a copy on my Kindle so thought I’d see what I thought of it. I rather enjoyed it. I find reading about that period in Russia quite fascinating and I like Tolstoy’s style of writing.
(1001 list)

The talk of the town – Ardal O’Hanlon
Another 1001 list book, this time one that’s been sitting on my shelves for a few months. It’s under 300 pages though, so did nicely to get me further towards that landmark number. I liked this book. It was set partly in Dublin and partly in a small town. Lots of Irish slang and it was quite amusing in some parts, horrifying in others. A good read.
(1001 list)

Out of Africa – Karen Blixen
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading this. I’d wanted to read it for a while but once it was on my shelves, it kept getting bumped down the reading order by newer, shinier books. Once I finally picked it up though, I really enjoyed it, apart from the shooting of the poor animals and the talk about furs. I managed to ignore that though as the events in the book did take place a while ago.
I liked the way it was written as a series of anecdotes. Her love of Africa really shone through and you felt her sadness when she finally had to leave. I’m glad that it did finally make it to the top of my reading pile.
(1001 list, country hopping challenge – Kenya)


Books read in November

I’ve only read ten books this month but most of them were excellent. I managed to get two of the additions to the latest 1001 list from the library and loved them both. I also read two by George Orwell. Both predated 1984 and Animal Farm so I was curious to see what they would be like. While they didn’t have the same impact that the two more famous books did, I enjoyed them very much. After waiting months, the second Richard Castle turned up. I read it while picturing Nathan Fillion as the main character. Of course 😉

Naked Heat – Richard Castle
I’ve had this on reserve at the library for months! It’s very much in demand, but finally I got my hands on it. It’s the second in the series of books that are supposedly written by Rick Castle, the author in the TV series. I just love the series so I had to read the books by the fictional author too, just to tide me over while the series is off air. This one was just as much fun as the first one. It’s not necessarily the best written book that I’ve ever read, but it was a light and easy read and I enjoyed it.

Steps to the Altar – Earlene Fowler
I shall have to think about getting my hands on some more of these soon as I only have one more left to read now. In this one there was a lot going on, with a cold case, marital problems and a wedding or two to plan. An excellent book, and I’m now trying very hard to resist reading the last one on my shelf. Must save it for a while and read some of my other books.

Coming up for air – George Orwell
I loved the way this was written. The best way I can think to describe it is chatty. It’s as if the narrator is just telling you about his week over a pint, for most of the book. It’s set a couple of years before WWII and the looming war is what is on most people’s minds. It was written just before war broke out so Orwell’s perception of the war and what might come after it is interesting. Shades of 1984 and Animal Farm, which were yet to be written. Very enjoyable, and well worth reading.
(1001 list)

Memento Mori – Muriel Spark
This was quite amusing, in a wicked dark sort of way. It was set in late 50’s London and was about a group of elderly acquaintances and relatives. They start to get mysterious phone calls all saying exactly the same thing, “Remember you must die”. They all react differently, and secrets start to emerge. I don’t think it’s my favourite by the author but I did enjoy it.

There but for the – Ali Smith
I liked this one. It was just a little on the quirky side. There’s a dinner party. One of the guests, who is a stranger to the hosts, shuts himself into the spare room. The hosts discover this in the morning when they discover that the door is locked and there is a note requesting food, but giving no explanation. The book follows several of the characters in the book, all of whom are connected with the man in the room in some way. I loved the style of writing, with the puns and the word play, and I enjoyed the varied characters, especially Brooke. Something slightly different.
(1001 list)

Bitter Blood – Rachel Caine
Fantastic! This was book thirteen in the Morganville Vampire series. I’ve really enjoyed these books and have looked forward to this one to see what would happen after the threat to the vampires was eliminated in the last book. Could it possibly settle down and get a bit boring. Oh no, not in the slightest. Tension, danger and thrills all the way. Can’t wait for the next one, especially after the way this one ended.

Waiting for the barbarians – J. M. Coetzee
For decades the Magistrate has run the affairs of a tiny frontier settlement, ignoring the impending war between the barbarians and the Empire, whose servant  he is. But when the interrogation experts arrive, he is jolted into sympathy with the victims and into a quixotic act of rebellion which lands him in prison, branded as an enemy of the state. So says the blurb on the back, and that sums it up better than I could to be honest. It’s told by the Magistrate and seems to be about a man who won’t or can’t ignore what is happening around him, and everything else follows from there. Mostly I enjoyed it, but there were parts where my attention wandered because the style of writing didn’t capture me as much as some authors’ books do.
(1001 list)

Nemesis – Philip Roth
This was superb. I read it in one sitting. It was set partly in Newark and partly in a summer camp in the mountains, during WWII. The Newark setting was familiar from at least one other of Roth’s books, but the topic was something completely new to me. Polio. Specifically, a polio outbreak during the hot summer. I had absolutely no idea that polio was still such a killer then. The book was about a particular character and how the outbreak affected him, his family and his friends. It was compulsive reading and I enjoyed every moment of it. I was straight onto Google once I’d finished to find out more as it was one of those books that leave you curious.
(1001 list)

The cat manual – Michael Ray Taylor
A fairly short read on the Kindle. It was very similar to a book that I read some time ago, which claims to have been typed by a cat and gives instructions to cats on how to train humans to be subservient to cats. It wasn’t as good as the one that I read before but it was diverting enough for the hour it took to read it.

Keep the Aspidistra flying – George Orwell
I rather liked this, despite wanting to give Gordon a good shaking now and then. He wants to get away from money, you see. He thinks that if he can avoid getting a ‘good job’ and not fall into submission to the money-god, he can write his poetry and maybe live off that. He finds that the slide into the edge of poverty destroys his ability to write and he loses all self-respect. I thought the people who stood by him showed amazing amounts of tolerance.
I have another Orwell on reserve at the library, which I’m looking forward to. I’m finding his early books to be very readable.
(1001 list)

Leave a comment

Books read in June

Thirteen books read this month, several new authors and some familiar ones. I’ve read some more from The Big Read list and at the halfway point of the year am just over halfway through my challenge with 31 of the 60 books read. I’d also challenged myself to read 40 books from the 1001 list and have read 20 so that’s going nicely too. With only 88 books read in total so far this year, I’m obviously reading a lot less than I did last year but then I am doing rather more sewing.

Magician – Raymond E. Feist
I used to read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy so I’m surprised that I haven’t read this before but I’m really glad that its inclusion on The Big Read list meant that I’ve finally got around to it. It was excellent and I have every intention of reading the next two books in the series once I’ve completed The Big Read challenge.

Mia goes forth – Meg Cabot
Yup, another Princess Diaries. I’ve got all ten so expect to see more of these over the next few months. This was as amusing and entertaining as the previous three.

Six geese a-slaying – Donna Andrews
The last of my Meg Langslow mysteries stash. Now I need to buy more, but I just couldn’t resist the call of this one any longer. I did enjoy it though as it was just as good as all the others. I love this series.

The far pavilions – M. M. Kay
Teaser Tuesday
A whopping great 960 page story that I had the greatest difficulty in putting down. It was absolutely superb. I particularly liked the touch at the end. There was a short piece to tell you where the historical fact came from, which parts were true and which were fiction and which characters were real people. It saved me having to Google it to check for myself as I’m always curious when I’ve enjoyed a novel that much and have got that involved with the characters. I was surprised at how much of it was true and it made the book even more fascinating looking back. I’d really recommend this. Yes it’s long but it’s so easy to get drawn in to it that you won’t notice the pages whizzing by. (or the family clamouring for food, or the dust piling up – but we won’t mention that, eh?)

Witches abroad – Terry Pratchett
Teaser Tuesday
I enjoyed this one rather more than I expected. I usually prefer the Discworld books that are set in familiar territory and with my favourite characters in but this was a lot of fun and had loads of sly references to be picked up on. I loved the nod to Lord of the Rings. Greebo the cat was marvellous, especially towards the end of the book. I still like the ones with Death or The Guards in most of all but this was definitely a good one.

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
This was far more readable than I expected and was even rather good considering the subject matter. It was more tasteful than I thought it would be but even so was a tale of something that the majority would find distasteful. There are three more books by Nabokov on the 1001 list and I’m quite looking forward to hunting them down now that I’ve tackled the most notorious and found it to be ok.

The last dragonslayer – Jasper Fforde
I enjoyed this one. This was a teen book and I Iiked it much better than Shades of Grey. It was a smashing story, very well told and showed Fforde back on top form. Thanks Tree for recommending it on your Books read in May post, otherwise I might not have bothered with it. I read it in one gulp too.

Plum lovin’ – Janet Evanovich
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this as I didn’t like the first Diesel book as much as I have done the other Stephanie Plum books. I’m glad I did though as I really enjoyed this one so either it was much better or I was just in the right mood for it. It was a lot of fun and a quick read as it’s only a thin book. Happily I got it from the library as I’d hate to pay full price for a book of only 160 pages.

River God – Wilbur Smith
Teaser Tuesday
This wasn’t bad for something that was a bit out of my comfort zone. It was a fairly quick and easy read for a 550 page novel and was fairly interesting as far as the bits about Egyptian culture went. Of course you can never be too sure exactly how accurate fiction is and as this isn’t one of my regular authors, I didn’t know how well he did his research, but on checking the internet afterwards it seems it was reasonably accurate, although not datewise. If you don’t mind a few liberties being taken with your history, and this was an awfully long time ago, then it’s not a bad adventure to read.

Give me five – Meg Cabot
Another migraine, another round of The Princess diaries. What on earth will I do when I’ve run out of these? There’s not much you can say about it really except that it was light and fun and pleasant to read.

Sixsational – Meg Cabot
I did like the bit about the snails. Other than that – light, fun etc.

Bullet – Laurell K. Hamilton
I really liked this series when I started reading it many years ago. It’s evolved a lot since those early books and it seems to be a lot more about the adult themes than anything else now. That’s probably why I’ve had not one, but two of them on my shelf for a while, when before I’d have read them as soon as they popped through my letterbox. Not that I mind a bit of hot and spicy, but when the book is nothing but that, it can get a bit tedious. Once I did get around to picking this one up though, I found that it had a bit more substance to it than some of the previous ones and I’m quite keen to pick up the other one that I have waiting now as well. There was still lots of the raunchy stuff too, mind…

The last concubine – Lesley Downer
Teaser Tuesday
I enjoyed this one, the more so as it wasn’t one that I’d intended to read. It was very much an impulse pick up at the library thanks to a recommendation by the librarian who took back my returns. I think what made it an even more interesting book for me was having read Shogun earlier this year. Shogun was set in an earlier period and you saw the events through the eyes of a foreigner to Japanese culture, which made a lot of the customs very familiar. I knew what the Black ships were, and why it was repugnant that the foreigners smelt of meat. Little things like that all help you to feel at home in the book. It described a fascinating period of history and made it all come alive thanks to using fictional characters woven in with the real people and the factual events. Definitely worth reading.