Book 59 – The Critic Peter May

Couldn’t resist and bought the second of the Enzo Books set in France in this Peter May series. Well I needed a book for the last day and ferry trip and one that could make me forget the pain of leaving the Hebrides.

This book was set in South West France. Another unsolved murder of an American wine critic. Though before long there are more murders can Enzo solve the crime before someone else ends up in a wine vault?

Glad to see all the main characters were back and Enzo is a character you love but despise often too. I’m learning that he’s not always a good judge of character. And if you go with his first views of people you are lead down the wrong route.

I loved Peter May’ s Lewis books in fact helped sell The Black House at Tarbert Visitor Information Centre yesterday. These are for me not quite as good but that’s to do with the setting more than anything. I love the Hebrides. But I also love Peter May’ s writing and as soon as I’m paid will be buying the third in the series.

Did it help the pain? No not quite. Tears flowed as MV Hebrides left Tarbert. But they were happy tears for a wonderful holiday. Will be back in 49 weeks. And once out on the Minch. Peter May and Enzo pulled me in as the best books always do.

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Book 57 and 58 The Vacationers and Shop Aholic’ s Sister

The Vacationers is top of the New York Times list. It’s about a family and friends who go on holiday to Mallorca. Outwardly for appearances it’s a happy family group. But in the villa things quickly unwrap  living in such close proximity to one another reveals everyone’s secrets.

I really enjoyed it. Characters were well written and developed. It was very funny in parts. It was very realistic. It didn’t try to give everyone happy endings and it didn’t tie up all the ends so left you making your mind up about what happened to each of the characters. I have holidayed in Mallorca so recognised many of the beaches and locations which I always enjoy. But best of all it was so hot in Harris when I read it I thought for one fleeting minute that I was in Spain as well.

The Shop Aholic’ s sister was a book in the holiday cottage. I’ve read some of them before as I was given one in a secret Santa present one Christmas!! The giver was giving me a hint about my clothes addiction. They are funny reads and I can see bits of myself so it’s a salient lesson for me. This one was very funny. The long lost sister she discovers is the complete reverse of herself and she doesn’t like shopping. Can they learn from one another?

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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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