Ten April Reads

 

 

April started as a slow reading month and then I had a week’s holiday and before I knew it had read a total of ten books taking me to 39 books for the year so far.

1. Academy Street – Mary Costello

This book caught my attention as it had won quite a few awards and I read some great reviews.  For me it was undeserving.  Yes the writing was good but I found it the most depressing book I have read all year.  The main character in the book is so repressed and unable to share her feelings that she never really lives.  From the start to the finish I got so frustrated with her inability not just to show her emotions but also to stand up for herself.  A lesson certainly not to live life like this but not a book I enjoyed and in fact it probably accounted for my slow start to the month as I didn’t rush to read this one.

2. Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Didn’t really have much luck with reading at the start of this month as this book was in a similar vein.  It’s about a family from Hungary who live on top of one another in a small flat in London.   The two main characters being a mother and her teenage daughter.  The husband and father whose relatives they live with left shortly after his daughter is born.  It’s really a story about the relationships between the mother and daughter and growing up as a teenager.  But again I found that I wanted to kick both main characters and tell them to get a grip on life and not be walked over like they were.  So didn’t like this book either.

3. The Twilight Time by Karen Campbell

I have read her newer books so thought I would read her crime novels and this is the first one.  I didn’t enjoy this as much as the two books I have read previously but that said it was a good crime novel and the setting around the Charing Cross area of Glasgow is one that is well known to me so I could picture it all clearly.  Clever plot too which I didn’t see the ending for but yet again I hated the main character in this book too.

4. Return to 4 Winds by Elizabeth Gifford

Loved her previous book which was set on Harris so was keen to read another in a different location to see if it was the location I was biased to or I did indeed  like her writing.  This was a clever book which on paper looked as if it was about a family similar to the Harriet Evans book that I read in March.  But it was so much more flitting between the past and the present and I really enjoyed it and for the first time this month quite liked the characters in this book too and didn’t want to give them a kick up the backside and tell them to get on with things.  And it was a very clever ending.

5. Son-in-law by Charity Norman

I loved her book “After the Fall” which was set in New Zealand and leaves you reeling  and wondering how you would cope in the circumstance.  This book is set in York and again is about families and how nothing is always as straight forward as what people first believe.  The son-in-law in question is about to come out of prison for killing his wife the mother of three children who now live with her parents.  Seems simple enough he’s the baddie but is he?  Found myself in a rollercoaster with this family seeing things from all points of view and realising that it is just not as simple as you first think.  My favourite book of the month.

6. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

This was my book club book didn’t actually make it to book club but the adage I’d bought it so I will read it rang true.  As a non-fiction book knew if I didn’t read it straight away it wouldn’t get read.  I have heard mixed reviews for this book some seem to love it some to hate it.  Personally I was indifferent.  Read the book fairly quickly.  Helen Macdonald writes about the grief of losing her father and how that prompted her to buy a Gos Hawk and train it which then send her on an adventure.  For me it was ok wouldn’t rave about it but not huge things to criticise either.  I simply didn’t love it or loath it instead was fairly in different.

7. Set me Free by Daniela Sacerdotsi

Read a few of her books which are set in a Brigadoon type of Glen but in the current century.  It  sounds so wonderful you want to live there yourself.  It’s chick lit no doubt about it but I have enjoyed all of her books.  At the time of reading this book had the need to take myself out of my current world and this fitted the picture and gave me what I wanted an escape from day to day thoughts.

8. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

This has just come out as a film and I wanted to read the actual book first before watching the film.  Written by Irene Nemirovsky during the early part of the 2WW in France where she lived in the German occupation.  She wrote it on a series of notebooks which were found by her daughter.  Sadly she was sent to Auschwitz and died there as she had a loose Jewish connection.  (just wrote that and yet again reflecting how mad that actual sentence is why should that matter?).  As a history addict in a past life I found the book fascinating as it was an actual written account of someone who was there.  She also creates very funny characters and obviously understands humans our strengths and our weaknesses.  I think the book would have benefited from editing and it’s really two different books in one but that was not to be as the author was gassed for the crazy fact she was Jewish.  I will now watch the film but glad that I have read the book first.

9.    Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPatlin

I have a bad habit when I have a hair appointment of going into WH Smith and getting sucked into one of their buy one book get another half price and if it’s a Richard and Judy list (yes corny I know but most of their books are really good) I tend to fall for that too.  This book was on my wish list so I bought it and read it in 24 hours.

It’s about a women who is facing death after fighting terminal cancer who wants to live particularly for the sake of her teenage daughter.  She’s not on her own as surrounding her is her larger than life mother, her father, sister and brother and other family members including of course the daughter.  It’s not an easy read and when I was reading it I had just lost a family member to cancer and was watching a similar family go through the utter desperate grief that this family did.  That said I admire the author for tackling it with the mixture of empathy, compassion and humour that she does.  For me who sometimes needs to let go of my emotions more this helped me cry some much needed emotions out whilst also realising that the fears that the dying women had I have too.  Not the easiest of reads but a book that I think I needed to read at a time I needed to read it.

10. One Small Act of Kindness by Lucy Dillon

Again this would be in the much maligned but let’s be honest what is wrong with it chick lit category?  And I loved it.  It’s about a couple who move to a rural town to take over the family business after the death of the man’s father.  They have a vision of turning the hotel into a boutique hotel transforming it from the dowdy place it is.  The widow fights back and then added to the mix is a women who is knocked down outside the hotel and loses her memory.

The author captures many issues facing us today including death, illness, debt and other  challenges.  It was an enjoyable read which made me chuckle on more than one occasion and also gave me food for thought that in life giving is better than receiving and learning from mistakes makes you the better person.

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March Books 20 -29

I have struggled this year with both blogging and writing.  Symptomatic of the fact perhaps that I have found this year to be a bit like trying to navigate a swimming pool filled with glue and I am still trying to get from the shallow end to the middle but keep getting drawn back.  Reading though has been my daily stress buster so I might not have been the world’s best blogger in 2015 but my record in book reading is greater than this time in 2014.

So a brief review of books that I read in March.

1. A War of Flowers by Jane Thynne

This book was lent to me by a friend from my Scottish Tourist Board days and is the third in the series.  It is about Clara a British/German (part Jewish) actress who is living in Berlin in the 1930’s.  As an actress and with a British father who is a Nazi sympathiser she is able to meet the elite of Nazi society and does so while being a spy for Britain.  Each book has been a great insight into the world of Nazi elite wives and this one shows life as seen through Hitler’s Girl friend Eva Braun.  Like the others I found it a fascinating fictional (but I suspect fairly accurate) look at life for them whilst also getting across how brutal life was for ordinary Germans at the time.

2. A Place for Us by Harriet Evans

Read this book while I was at Stobo Castle for a indulgent overnight stay.  Wanted a light hearted read and this fitted the bill.  It’s not a taxing read its a used formula about the secrets, love and hate of family life but it fitted the bill of being easy to read and enjoyable.

3. The Spring of Kasper Meir by Ben Ferguson

This book is set in post 2WW Berlin which I haven’t read much of.  It is a very black book holding no punches at how life was for Berliners in the period where the Russians and the West were fighting over the city and there was no food to be found.  The main character is gay and has suffered for that over the Nazi era and war and although often unlikeable his love for his dying father and his increased care for a girl he encounters who blackmails him makes the book compelling and makes you want to read on.

4. The Child in Time by Ian McEwan

Found this book a difficult read though not as difficult as the book below.  About a couple who lose their daughter when the father takes her to the supermarket and at the till the girl suddenly disappears.  The grief and story is mainly taken from the Father’s point of view and the narrative is good.  But as a mother I found the story line hard to read and was not sure in the same circumstance if I would have coped with the grief in the same way and I found the ending too much like tying up lose ends when the ending is the same as the beginning a child has been lost.

5. The girl in the read coat by Kate Hamer

This book was being hailed as one of the books to read for 2015.  So I read it and have to say hated the book.  Again it is about a missing child.  This time we see the story from both the missing child’s point of view and the mother’s.  That in itself is painful but the book is also about how religion can be used for evil which I am no fool I know it is but that does not make it easy to read.  Again the ending was tying up lose ends but again given what had taken place it was impossible to think that there was a happy ending only a holding of your own children close and praying that this does not happen to you.

6. A perfect heritage by Penny Vincenzi

One of my guilty secrets is Penny I have read all of her books.  The last two I didn’t enjoy as much but the majority of them I have loved and happily this one was in this category.  About a failing cosmetics company managed by the female founder whose word is law and her children and staff suffer for this as does the company as what suited the company in post 2WW does not work now.  The company is bought over by financiers who bring in a female chief executive also used to getting her own way.  I enjoyed the conflict between the two women and the men who get in the way.  It was one of those books that I enjoyed from the first page to the last.

7. Rise by Karen Campbell

Karen came along to the book shop at Main Street St Boswells which gave me the perfect excuse to read her new novel.  I just loved her book “This is where I am.”  Rise is different in location set in rural Argyllshire but themes remain the same such as the sense of needing to belong, the human urge to run when we face challenges and the fact that although we do so we cannot run away from problems and our greatest issues until we meet them head on.  “This is where I am” still remains my favourite as it was one of the best books I have read giving me an insight into the world of the refugee and making me think.  But this is also a good read and by the end you are turning the pages to find out if the main character makes it to the end of the book.

8. The Ship Brides by Jojo Moyes

Love this author this is not my favourite of her book but I did enjoy it .  It is about Australian war brides and their journey over to the UK after the 2WW like all her books she has a way of getting beneath the skin of all of her characters so that even in the less likeable ones you get to see the core of why they are the way they are and compels you to read on.

9. Archie’s War by Margi McAllister

A book that my son picked for me to read him.  About a wee boy at the start of the 1WW who with his family work for a landed family very like Downtown Abbey.  The boy in particular has a close relationship to the youngest son of the landed family Ted and his dog Archie.  Sir Ted goes off to war and the story is about the outcome of this for the boy left behind.  I enjoyed this book it set the tone right for reading to an 11 year old in that it didn’t sugar coat the 1WW and showed how awful it was without spelling it out but by telling the story in words  suitable for a child of that age.  By telling the story through a boy of the same age it gave an insight into how life was at that time.  Though said son was not impressed by his Mum’s tears at the end of the book.  But we both learnt something of the 1WW and it gave us the opportunity to discuss it.  As a history graduate I know you only get history if it inspires your imagination and my dad did that for me as I was growing up and I hope by reading books like this to both my children I too can show them that history is not boring but a lesson for us all that we continually fail to learn.

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 It is not my Grief

On Wednesday night I composed an email to my friend in Canada updating her with my Easter news and asking about her holiday in Florida.  I sent it and thought nothing of it when an hour later I had a response, till I read the response.  Her dear son Fergus had lost his battle to cancer gone aged only 36 leaving his two-year old daughter, his wife and his heartbroken family.

But it is not my grief it is their’s.  Yet I feel as if I want to punch something hard.  I want to kick out and I want to scream.  I love spring time.   Yet the last few days full of sun and blue skies just seem wrong.  How can new life begin when one that offered so much has been taken away?  I am sitting here in St Boswells and out there in Canada,  Fergus little Fergus ,who I babysat for when he was the same age that my son is now,  is lying in a coffin as his family and many friends visit and prepare for his funeral on Monday.

The Blairs have always played a huge part in my life.  From an early age I knew about Stella and Ron and their boys Cameron and Graham who lived in Toronto Canada and always sent such glamorous presents through the post.  They were later joined by Fraser and Fergus and after a few visits to Scotland we made the journey to Toronto to see them.  In truth I didn’t want to go.   At the time all I wanted to do was visit the USA and Canada seemed boring in comparison.  I didn’t particularly like the USA it proved a huge disappointment to me but I fell in love with Canada and the Blair family home.

So much so that I spent two summers out there staying with them and if I hadn’t fallen in love with my husband there is a strong possibility I would have gone and lived there.  Those summers brought me into the heart of another family and I loved and cherished them all as they were so different from us from a family of girls to a family of boys.   It was so big and punchier but I loved it.  And there the life long friendship with Stella began which has never left me.  At first we kept in touch with letters and phone calls and holidays over there with Andy my husband.  Now email allows us to keep in more regular contact though physically its been a few years since I saw Stella and many years since I saw the rest of the family.

I have known of Fergus’s illness since August last year a comment from one of the boys making me realise all was not well.  And then Stella told me the news.   It was the illness we all dread Cancer and the outlook wasn’t good.  But Fergus just as he had when he was a boy was fighting hard and was as positive as he could be .  He had a lot to fight for his beloved daughter and wife, a family and his teaching career which had made such a difference to the lives he touched.  He talked of coming to Scotland with his wee family and seeing the Scottish islands.

And as time went on the news got better his scans showed improvement but Cancer is a cruel evil disease and it creeps up when you are not expecting it to devastate and destroy.  Their grief is not my grief their grief is so much more than mine and much deeper and profound and I want to reach out and help but I know I can’t.   Nothing can.  Life will never be the same again.

Nothing makes sense other than we have one life and we don’t know any of us how long that will be.  Fergus packed plenty into his and made a difference and in that there is a lesson for us all.

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Books 17-20 February Reads 2015

Book 17 In the Light of What we Know – Zia Haider Rahman

This started well and looked as if it was going to be an amazing read.  Zafar arrives at his friends house after disappearing for a few years in 2008.  He’s been in Afghanistan.  His friend is a banker in London.  2008 is the year of the crash.  Thought it would be a topial book of our time mixing politics and the economy and world events.  

It did start like that and I was expecting a really fascinating contemporarry fiction book but…….its 554 pages long and it just went on too long with for me  with the story increasingly repetitive.  And the author is a mathematician and there is lots of maths theory through the book which I am sure if you are clever enough to understand it would be fascinating but for someone who struggled to get their o’grade maths it was beyond me as was the book really.  Promised so much and started so well but then did not deliver.  I did finish it but only as I felt obliged just in case it improved but it didn’t.

Book 18 Stonemouth By Iain Banks

I had downloaded this book early doors in 2014 but hadn’t quite got round to reading it.  Know that its been turned into a TV drama which is out shortly.  Also knew that if I watched it on TV highly unlikley to read the book.  So read it feel awful as Iain Banks is a legend but I really didn’t enjoy it.  I did read to the end to find if he got his girl in the end.  I could apprecaite the writing was superb and he captured a small Scottish coastal town to a tee and I could picture it but it just didn’t do it for me.  Sorry Banks fans not for me.

Book 19 Ice Twins by SK Tremayne

Saw this twice in book reviews in two papers.  I am a book addict and though I know I need to stop buying and read what I have  before buying new books I can’t help myself and book reviews are a key place for me to get ideas for new books to buy.   When I saw this one and  read it was set in the Hebrides I knew despite it just being out I was going to buy it as they say it had my name on it.

It’s a disturbing book in many ways due to the nature of the topic which is about twins one of which has died and the impact that this has on the remaining twin and the parents.  They move to a remote island off Skye to take stock and re build their lives.  But the living twin claims to be her dead sister and acts like her dead sister and even the dog reacts to her in the way he used to with the other twin.  And you know from the start that one of the parents has a guilty secret and in some way is implicit in the dead childs accident but you don’t know which one or why.  And as the book goes on their lives unravel as the santity of their living child unravels too.

This was one of these books that I read very quickly desite wanting to take it slowly especially just to enjoy the setting of Skye but I had to know which twin was alive and who was hiding a secret….well worth a read.

Book 20 Second Life by SJ Watson

Before I go to sleep was a page turner from memory I lost a day to reading it at the start of 2013.  Days lots like these are perfect days for me.   I was delighted to find that the author was coming to my local book bookshop Mainstreet Trading.  I booked by return email and then realised it was parents night at the high school!  So regretfully ordered a signed copy instead.  Although I would have loved to meet the author who I still think of as female though I do know and have known for some time that he is male.  When I picked up my signed copy the next day I was just excited that I had a copy of what Ros the book shop owner had told me was another page turner.

I did question if it could be as much a page turner as his first book and at first was doubtful as though enjoyable from the start I didn’t see how it was going to get me turning these pages fast.  But boy it did and by the end I sat and read to the end determined that no matter what I was finishing the book that night.

It’s about a women whose estranged sister is murdered in Paris and the sister is compelled to find her killer partly due to the love she had for her sister but partly as she had brought up the sister’s child and wouldn’t let her sister re gain custody of the boy.  Like “The Girl on the Train” I did guess the identity of the killer fairly early on but did not guess the why which totally had my jaw dropping.  And a few red herring characters also helped confuse me.

Another page turner which I really enjoyed though like his first book read far too fast.

We are almost In March and so far 2015 is proving to be another great reading year.  In other respects 2015 has been a challenge and when the going gets tough you need a de stresser and for me its been reading.  Hoping for a change in fortunes in March but the good reading can continue…

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February Books 13-16 of 2015

So far February has been a bookie month. Having been very restrained in my book buying in December and January I have been the opposite in February. I always find the period round Christmas fairly safe as so many book are published in hardback. But this starts to change as the Christmas buying frenzy finishes. The month started with me by some miracle especially if you know me having money left at the end of the month just enough for a paperback so I bought it. The next day I arrived at the hairdressers book less how I manage to do this quite so often I don’t know but if I go straight from the office it seems to happen so a book I had had my eye on was purchased. This started the pattern for the month. Found myself at Ocean Point terminal after a meeting congratulated myself on my restraint avoiding all clothes shops and the many sales. Then saw Waterstones had a peep in and before I knew it was at the counter with two books for the price of one offer! Son had book vouchers for Christmas so very soon after this we were in our local bookshop and yes came out with not just books for him. I have also added considerably to my wish list over the month as I read book reviews I add to the list. Then today saw a review for a thriller set in the Hebrides I did add to my wish list but couldn’t resist and ordered it from the bookshop. So the bad news is that I have yet a new book pile plus an ever growing wish list and not enough time to read. My ideal job would be as a reader if there is such a thing. The good news is that I have greatly enjoyed my reading choices and as I can’t possibly read them all this month March is set to be good too. But I must try and catch up before new purchases.

Book 13 Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
This is the hairdressing purchase that in all honesty I had had an eye on since the start of the year. It is arguably one of the most unique books I have ever read. The main narrator is an old lady with dementia and you see life through her eyes which gives a insight into how terrible this disease is. Her daughter also is a key player and although she is not the narrator and the old lady can’t understand why her daughter is so frustrated with her. You as the reader can see why. All this would be an interesting book anyway but it is actually about two missing people cases. One in the older lady’s mind set in the present and the other her sister 70 years ago.
This is an innovative and novel book which I loved which gave me an insight into a disease that is all too common whilst also having you turn the pages to find out what had happened to Elizabeth and the sister. Highly recommended.

Book 14 How to Break a Dragon’s Heart by Cressida Cowell
A book that I have been reading for some months to my son part of a series of books. I must admit I had started to feel that the formula of these books was quite formulaic and they were not my preferred read. But my son loves them so we started this one and surprisingly I really enjoyed this one where Hiccup and Fishlegs seem to be totally out of their depth. And Alvin the terrible’s mother makes a frightening appearance. Some laugh out loud moments and I did cheer for the heroes as you do at the end.

Book 15 Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This is the most rated book that I have seen of the year so far. After a radio book review I decided that I needed to know if the hype was justified. My verdict is that it wasn’t. Not that this isn’t a good read it is but just not quite as good as the critics made it out to be and if I compare it to Elizabeth is missing its not in the same league. I also realised who the killer was well before the end of the book so although I wanted to know that I was right the fact that I was disappointed me. There were also parts of the books and characters I could not quite see acting the way the author has them act particularly wife number two and by the end could not believe anyone would act the way she did.

That said it is a good read I am sure we have all sat on a train and wondered about the lives of the people whose houses and flats we pass by. It was also a scary look at an alcoholic . You started the book feeling her wish for a glass of wine on the train home on a Friday was perfectly justifiable and then quite quickly dreaded her next drink. The writer describes the first drink each day creating a desirable picture that the reader wants one too and then you see what happens after the third and fourth.

It is worth reading but for me like Gone Girl which I also found over hyped not quite the masterpiece that the marketing folks are communicating.

Book 16 Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
Love his books and had been waiting for this one to come out in paperback. It did not fail to disappoint in many ways this is a simple story that shouldn’t be as magical a read as it is. Which shows the quality of Toibin’s writing and the strength of the characters in the book. It is essentially about the grief of a women in rural Southern Ireland just before the troubles whose husband dies leaving her to bring up her 4 children on her own. It is about the intensity of her grief inter mingled with her mothering instinct that she needs to go on with a family on both sides who support and also annoy her. It was quite simply a joy to read and I loved it.

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January Book Review Part Two Books 7-12

7. Monsieur Linn and His Child Phillipe Claudel
In life it’s the very unexpected acts of kindness that really touch you, warm your heart and make you smile. Book number seven and eight reflect this. These books were given to me by a Twitter friend in St Boswells who on Christmas Eve popped three of her favourite books through my door with a lovely note.
This is the first one I read. It’s a Quercus book translated from French and like book eight fairly short. But so beautifully written and a poignant story about an old man who is a refugee who comes with the only member of his family who is still alive his baby grandchild. She is the centre of his life and all that he has left of his family and old life. He struggles with his new life then makes a friend but he’s moved from his initial hostel to an old folks home. Can he find his friend? And how will his grandchild survive in a old folks home?
A book that makes you think how you would feel in the same situation and realise how fortunate you are to have certainty in your life of where you live, who you love and who you are.

8. The Library Of Unrequited Love Sophie Divry
Also translated from French to English this is a hilarious book and really made me laugh from start to finish. It’s a short, funny and observant about how a frustrated librarian sees life. She vents her views on a poor member of the public who is locked in the library overnight.
Many of her vents I agreed with, many I had sympathy with and her love for the elusive Marcus made me smile though in a sad way.

I loved both of these books maybe as they were a kind gift and also I probably wouldn’t have bought or read them otherwise but I am glad I did. They made perfect January night time bed reading with a cup of tea and a hot water bottle.

9 and 10. Awful Aunty and Billionaire Boy David Walliams
I haven’t listened to an audio book since I was young and my dad went through a phase of listening to them in the car which is why I can claim to have read Victor Hugo’s “A Tale of Two Cities”. My son though loves them and goes to sleep most nights listening to one.
I have read all of the David Walliams books to him to date bar Billionaire Boy and was looking forward to reading Awful Aunty with him too. But there comes a stage when a child is ready to enjoy that moment by himself and a parent has to step back and let them. So I was intending to read Awful Aunty myself. But then the audio book was bought and I thought I would borrow it and read it that way.
Well it was a revelation. Journey to work was too short I wanted to stay in the car yes even on the way back. David Walliam reads his own books which I think is special as he reads them as he wants them to be read. I love all of his books to date Mr Stink and Gangsta Granny are my favourites but Awful Aunty may be up there too. I think David Walliam is deservedly one of the current best authors. You live his books. You laugh but cry also and it makes you think about how you treat people and your own values. Awful Aunty well she’s worse than a tyrant and I’m glad she wasn’t softened from start to finish. Another superb book as was Billionaire Boy which went to prove that money doesn’t buy you happiness however much we all think it might especially when you are broke and fed up in January.

11. The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd
Read her previous book the life of bees and watched the film. This is about a slave girl and her young mistress who doesn’t want to own her but comes from a Southern family immersed with superiority and a house of slaves.
I loved this book seeing the perspectives of the slave girl and her owner both who fought their circumstances in the way they thought right though not always to the others agreement. This book takes you through both their lives and this period of American history. It’s a story of strong women, of a fight against wrong. That women are not beneath men and neither is another colour or religion.
I assumed this book was fiction and it wasn’t to the end that I realised it was based on a true story. I salute these brave women and the author for telling the story.

12. Entry Island Peter May
I read this on my Kindle when it was first released in December 2013 and I loved it as I do all Peter May novels. But although I read a lot on my Kindle for me it’s not the same as reading a book and I wanted to read it again in paperback form.
I was lucky to be chosen as one of 100 Peter May super fans so was able to chose a book to give away to five friends. I chose this one as I knew that it was just out in paperback and I hadn’t yet given it as a present as I had with the Lewis Trilogy. One of the books was for my husband who refuses to read books on a Kindle or in hardback but is also a fan. But knowing I would read it before he’d picked it up I decided to treat myself.
Some books are better second time round and for me Peter Mays books always are. Why? Because they hook you so much first time round that you start to really appreciate the quality of the writing and characters and settings more on second reading.
This book is a crime book about a murder on an isolated island in Quebec Canada but it also takes you back to Harris and the clearances. Although I did know the ending it didn’t stop me from turning the pages and I had a few early nights and long baths so I could read. By chance my dad was reading the book too on his holiday and on arrival home phoned me to say it was Peter Mays best book yet. I smiled and agreed and thought but just you wait till you read his latest book “Runaway.”

January is at an end which for me is a relief. That said its a great month for reading and for choosing bed in preference to the TV. A good start to the 2015 reading year lets see how February is…….

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January Book Review Part One 1-6.

January has seen one of the best reading months for awhile with a grand total of 12 books read or listened to as two were audio books.
1. The Italian Girl by Lucinda Riley
A light hearted start to the year. But it did make me ask the question can you love someone too much and put them before everyone including your child? And what kind of man is it that lets you do this in fact expects it? Not her best book but wiled away a day or two over festive break.

2.Coming Home for Christmas by Patricia Scanlan
My mum bought this book to cheer herself up during a stay in a miserable hotel and handed it to me. As she said it’s not the greatest book you will ever read but it’s enjoyable none the less. I couldn’t sleep night before normal routine started post holiday and read it in one go then slept all night mulling it over in my dreams. So appreciate it just for that.

3. TheUndertaking Audrey Magee
My bookshop/club book for January along with a Meal in Winter. Both set in Nazi Germany. Both books look at the war through the eyes of Germans. I have never read any books from this perspective before so found it thought provoking. I understand from a historic point of view why the Nazis came to power but fail to see how the German nation didn’t see through The madness of national socialism. This book is about a soldier at the Russian front who marries a German back home to get leave home having only seen her photo. The couple meet only twice. Once during their honeymoon and at the end of the war. For a time they write to one another and then both of them face challenges of war that we can only read about but I suspect until you’ve lived it you don’t know how you would cope. This book holds no punches. You see antisemitism. You see the severity of food shortages even early in the war. You wonder how they can cope one at the Russian front the other in Berlin. This is not a book you will like but it does make you think and I appreciated that it could have ended well Holywood style but it didn’t as really how could it? And be true to that time in history?

4. Off Shore Ann Cleeves
I am not a short story reader I never have been and at this stage in my life suspect it won’t change. But I love Anne Cleeve’s Shetland books and I love islands especially the Hebrides and this book included both so I read them. A review I read said although enjoyable would have been better as novels rather than short stories. I have to say I agree but that in itself is a compliment as almost every story led me in wanting to know more about the story and its characters.

5. Daughter Of Catalonia Jane Mackenzie
Escapism to a degree set in the South of France in the 1950’s. About a English girl born to a Spanish father and an English mother in France. She can barely remember her father who died as part of the resistance after she and her mother and brother escaped to England. With her mother dead she now wants to know what happened to her father and who betrayed him so she returns to the small fishing village and learns the truth. Not the greatest historic novel and very wooly in parts and tried too hard to end it well but enjoyable.

6. A Hidden Affair Pamela Jenoff
I have read previous books by this author and handed them on to my dad. We both agreed they were good. I found this one in the book shelf bought a couple of years ago and never read. Set as a spy book in fairly recent times. I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was shallow and read like a very third rate James Bond book. Such a disappointment after her very good novels set in the Second World War.

Books 7-12 of 2015 to follow in next blog article. Looking at my book review book the second half of January was the superior read as not a bad one among them.

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