Book 56 – The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

This book broke my kindle rule only broken for my favourite writers of not buying a kindle book over  £5. I’ve also kept it for the last week of the holiday. I loved the Cormoron Strike first crime novel and was looking forward to the second.

It did not disappoint. It was just as well written as the first. This time I didn’t guess who had done it in fact my jaw dropped in the final pages.

Cormoran detective agency is now on the map. Though this seems to involve lots of suspicious partners having their respective other halfs being followed. When in walks Lenora a badly dressed under heel women who asks him to find her author husband as she and her daughter need him. Cormoran knows she can’t afford him but there is something about her that makes him take the case.

This opens up the book world which JK Rowling writes about with surely known knowledge. She obviously enjoyed making up names for children’s books and creates hideous characters. In a dog eat dog world.

Corcoran finds the author but he’s very dead in a macabre replica of his last book. So he and Robin his wonderful assistant have to find the killer as the Met yet again have got it wrong.

What can I say I loved this book. It’s true there is not a book that JK Rowling has written that I haven’t loved. This is no exception roll on the third.

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Book 55- Meeting the English Kate Clanchy

This has been the best book of the holidays so far. It was a clever, observant, intelligent beautifully written read.

I assumed from the title and from my memory of why I bought the book. That it was about someone who comes to the UK and is obsessed by being English then finds us totally eccentric. It’s not though there is perhaps a novel in its own right there.

It’s about a 18 year old boy who lives with his Grannie in a small mining village in central Scotland who answers an advert to look after a London man who has suffered a stroke.

He arrives to find himself in a parallel universe. The stroke victim who he quickly bonds with and is the only one to realise that despite the stroke there is still a human being inside and seeks ways to communicate with him. The huge challenge is dealing with the dysfunctional family.

There is Laura Ashley obsessed wife number one. Who seizes the chance to try and get back her former home and as much of her ex husband’s fortune as possible. There is her daughter with a weight problem and low self esteem who wants a boyfriend. Her friend who is anorexic and in love with the brother of the family. The wayward brother expelled from Oxford who causes chaos. And the second Iranian born wife who uses her ensuite bathroom to paint in and is well able to match wife number one. It’s about the 1980′s. Pot Noodles. 501′s jeans.

It’s about the wisdom of an 18 year old boy who sorts them all out. It’s insightful. It’s funny. I loved it.

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Book 54 – Fly Away Home Jennifer Weiner

This was a book in the cottage we are staying in which I picked up as my beach read. I don’t like reading my kindle at the beach. One I can’t see very well and two I’m scared I will get it covered in sand.

So in between books on the hottest day yet. I took this book to the beach expecting it would take me to the end of the holiday to read. I came back from the beach hours later and couldn’t put it down. So finished it on the deck here. Book done in a day.

On the cover its about a Senator who had an affair and the impact this has on his family. But why I liked it is the senator is really immaterial to the book. It’s about a woman in her 50′s who suddenly realises her life has been about her husband. And she has put his concerns before everything. Her own career prospects. Her family. Her. All so he can the best but he’s let her down.

It’s about how she escapes to discover what she wants out of life and who she wants to be. And it’s about the lives of her daughter’s which for different reasons are also at a crossroads. She invites them up to her retreat. It’s a turning point for all of them. As they all find there is more to life than careers, politics and riches. You need to grasp it when you find it.

It was a great book for a sunny day but it was also a good book to just make you think if you’ve got your own priorities right.

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52 and 53: Spare Brides and Third Wife

Spare Brides was what I thought the Unknown Bridesmaid was. Actually I didn’t really enjoy this either. It was Downtown Abbey in a book. 1920′s upper classes bemoaning the fact that there are no men and how that affects their over indulged lives. Without much thought of the millions of dead on the battlefields and the survivors scarred with nightmares that will never leave them. I read it but failed to warm to any of the characters. It just seemed wrong. What about the real families left with no Daddy? The daughters who wouldn’t marry and how did they survive in a new world with the vote but not real equality?

The third wife I did enjoy. Lisa Jewell does create some compelling characters. Though that said didn’t warm to the main character who was a self obsessed middle aged man mourning his third wife who it then transpired had wanted to leave him. There are a few mysteries though that keep you reading. Who is the mysterious stalker? Is she to be the fourth wife? And who was sending the vicious emails?

Books 52 & 53 I am at the mid point of the holiday was in the mood for a lighter read. One I enjoyed the other not. But that’s what reading is about. Not one book suits all.

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Book 51- Extraordinary People -Peter May

I am a huge Peter May fan. I’ve read his Lewis trilogy at least three times. Bought his books full price on Kindle (which I never do) then bought the paper back when it come out and read it too. I loved Entry Island too. I have given the books as presents to friends and family and recommended far and wide.  But I hadn’t yet read his Enzo series set in France. So I bought it for the holidays.

I’ve just read the first one in the series. And I have a problem. I want to read them all now. So now trying very hard not to download them. As I’ve got plenty of books still to read before the end of the holiday. But it’s tempting.

I love Peter May’ s style of writing. The research he puts into every book. This one was a slow starter for me maybe as I adapted from Lewis to France. I was the same with Entry Island when it was initially in Canada. But I was very soon drawn in. From teenage years on we had our holidays in France and always ended in Paris. It was areas I knew but even if I hadn’t the plot of an unsolved murder intrigued me. The main character has to firstly work out if he is dealing with a missing person case or murder. This is done in the first 20% of the book. This left me wondering how it was going to unfold. But it unfolds in a macbre way. The body is not in one place it’s cut into several pieces and buried in various locations across France. Why?

Another great book by Peter May my only issue is trying not to download the second. It’s set in the wine region of France….

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Book 50 -The House We Grew Up In -Lisa Jewell

In true Kindle style I saw this book as a suggestion when I was buying another book. I was drawn to it as currently my mum and dad are selling the house that I was brought up in. My childhood home from the age of seven. Even now when I sleep in what was my room I always sleep well as if a deep part of me knows I’m home. I’m currently dealing with emotions I didn’t think I’d have. I left my family home aged 18 but it’s always been there. Like my parents solid as a rock for me to return to when I need to.

I was also drawn to the book as I like Lisa Jewell books she’s very insightful and current.

This book was no exception. It was about a house a family had been brought up in. Sadly they were all returning due to the death of their mother. A family of four that had been a family of six. Who for various reasons were all returning home. But they can’t get through the door as its full of stuff. No one had visited their mother in years and her hoarding habit had just got worse and worse. To the point it was impossible to move, cook or sleep anywhere in a four bedroom house.

Lisa Jewell tackles the issue of hoarding in a very sympathetic way. She’s obviously researched the subject thoroughly. To the point you understand why the mother is hoarding whilst desperately wanting her to stop. As well as seeing the situation from each of the views of the living children. But the most fascinating part is the emails that the mother sends leading up to her death which really allow you to understand her more.

I enjoyed this book. I’ve watched programmes about hoarders and if I’m honest been appalled by it. How people could choose to live like that. But of course they don’t choose to hoard its a mental disease which this book shows is horrific for the person suffering from it. I have too much clutter myself if I’m honest. I sometimes think how it would be great to step away from it and start again clutter free. So how much more would you feel this if you hoarded stuff?

This book also reminded me of the power of families to hurt one another but also to love one another. All families are dysfunctional in one way or another. We hide it from the world most of the time but it’s there. What’s important is when the tough times come how you deal with them as a family. Love and forgiveness is the key and the knowledge that family is where you come from.

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48 & 49 -A marathon read of Scottish Crime

I started off my weekend of Scottish Crime reading with James Oswalds new book “Dead Mens Bones”. I first read him here last year. This is now the fourth book in the series and I think my favourite. It’s about a police detective in Edinburgh. Similar to Ian Rankin and Quentin Jardine a detective who doesn’t quite do things by the book. I wasn’t keen on his third book and only ordered this one out of concern for one of the main characters.

A sad or maybe a good thing about reading is if you read a series of books you do genuinely feel these characters are real. Ironically Emma hardly features in this book. But the story had me from the start. A prominent MSP with all to live for kills his two daughters and his wife before killing himself. Why? It had me hooked from page one till the end.

As I was reading the book each time I opened it the Kindle threw up that there was a new Quentin Jardine book out. I couldn’t resist. I have read all of his Skinner books and usually do so in a matter of hours. This one was no exception. The reviews for it weren’t flattering. So I started with some doubts in my mind. As I wouldn’t say Jardine is the best writer I favour. But I do love his books despite some outlandish plots in some of them. This one had me laughing from the start. Skinner in chapter one is on holiday in Spain reading Ian Rankin. Rebus he describes as a good cop one he’d have had on his team any day. There are two plots here. One a missing cop and his wife. And two a murdered for want of a better word gangster Grannie.

I was woken at 6am by the dog. The wind was howling round the cottage and he wasn’t happy being alone in his cage in the kitchen. I couldn’t get back to sleep. So having read 20% last night I finished it. Another great Skinner book.

I love crime books. Don’t know why. I always have. I am the same with drama if it’s a police drama I’m watching. It really amuses my daughter. Though she watches them too. I particularly love crime drama set in Scotland. There aren’t many episodes of Taggart I haven’t watched. I am therefore the same with Scottish Crime. James Oswald is a new find. Quentin Jardine another pair of old slippers I just sit back and happily whisper “Skinner welcome back old friend”. So maybe the dog did me a favour he knew I was dreaming of what happens next. So he got me up early to look out on a Hebridean Sabbath and finish my Scottish Crime Marathon. As he slept and snored at my feet.

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