Monday, 2 April 2012

Books read in March

Well, that was March and now we're into April and I hope we haven't just had our summer. LOL. We had a couple of weeks last month which could easily have been summer but now we're back to more normal temps. and thank goodness for that. Rain is still in short supply though. We're okay in the SW at the moment but that might not last once the summer visitors start to arrive. Unusual for the UK to be short of water... I saw a doc. last week about the odd weather all over the world - I gather the scientists are calling it Global Weirding. Very apt.

Anyway, books. I had a fairly quiet month personally, and subsequently a good reading month. Here's what I read:

At Home in Thrush Green - Miss Read. I still have a few more Thrush Green books left to read, five I think, I shall miss them when I'm done.

Down Under - Bill Bryson. This one will definitely be in the running for best non-fiction of the year.

The Ship Who Sang - Anne McCaffrey. A reread which I enjoyed as much now as I did in my late teens.

Stories - edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sorrantonio. Some good stories, some not so good. Slightly underwhelmed. The best story was by Lawrence Block, so I plan to find some of his books to try at some stage... I own one, The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling.

All in One Basket - Deborah Devonshire. I've been reading this over a couple of months as a bedtime read. I thought it was just perfect.

West of the Moon - Katherine Langrish. YA fantasy at its best. Loved it.

Partnership - Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball. Book two in the 'Ship who...' sci-fi series. Slow start but it picked up and I ended up quite enjoying it.

Dark Hollow - John Connolly. I'll say a few words about this one underneath.

I think that's eight books, with my usual mixture... 2 non-fictions, 4 sci-fi/fantasy, 1 crime and 1 novel. I enjoyed them all, some more than others obviously. I'm not going to pick a favourite. I tend to review my favourite reads so folk will be aware that I loved Down Under, All in One Basket (no proper review but I've banged on about it several times) and West of the Moon.

And before I finish this post I ought to say a few words about my last read of March, Dark Hollow by John Connolly.

Ex-cop, Charlie Parker, is back in his home state of Maine after the events of the last year. I haven't actually read the first book but have gathered that his wife and little girl were murdered and Parker went after and killed the culprits. He's doing PI work in Maine and is after Billy Purdue who owes his wife some child support money. Charie catches up with him and obtains $500. He doesn't ask where the money came from and this turns out to be his first big mistake. Next thing, Billy's wife and child are brutally murdered and Billy is on the run. Charlie doesn't believe him capable of the murder, so who did it? There are many suspects including Tony Celli, a gangland boss, and a freakish individual who keeps appearing that Charlie doesn't know but fears instinctively. Deep-down though, Charlie feels the whole mess is connected to a serial killer his grandfather had dealings with, Caleb Kyle. And if that is the case no one will be able rest easy in their beds until the sadistic killer is apprehended.

My husband's been on at me to read John Connolly's Charlie Parker books for ages. I've also seen many mentions on various blogs, so I knew that this was a series that might appeal to me. I started on book 2, probably not the best place, but it was fine, a lot of the events in book one are explained as you go along.

I'm not a huge fan of the gangland, organised crime, sort of crime yarn, and there is quite a bit of that kind of thing in the book. Thus, I wasn't at all sure I was going to like it as I moved through the first few chapters and, to be honest, those were the bits I liked the least. But what I am a fan of is the kind of psychological crime yarn that Tess Gerristsen writes so well, and this reminded me quite a lot of her books, especially the Rizzoli and Isles story, Body Double. It's creepy and frightening quite frankly, with a large smattering of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. It seems this book is really a sort of crime/horror hybrid and I've decided I really like the mix.

The wilderness in Maine plays a huge part, the forests particularly, and Connolly is not afraid to give plenty of factual information about the state, its history, the logging and so on. It might seem like an odd thing to do in a work of fiction but, for this reader anyway, it worked like a dream. I was amazed to discover that Connolly - author of The Book of Lost Things and a favourite supernatural anthology, Nocturnes - is Irish and lives in Ireland. How he writes books set in the US so well I don't know, it could be of course that Americans can tell he's not American, but I certainly could not. I thought the book excellent and already have book three, The Killing Kind, on my library pile. I will also be adding it to my American states challenge list as I came away from it with a real sense of the state of Maine... and also wanting to visit one day.


DesLily said...

holy cow! you read a lot of books!
Does that connelly book also count as another "state" ? Sound like it should count!

oh glad you see you finished and liked the Deborah Devonshire book!

even in the best of months I would never read that many books lol... at least it doesn't sound like there was a bad one in the lot!!

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

You've had a good month. The only one of your books I've read is the Miss Read one - I read lots of hers some years ago and loved them. It could be time for a re-read.

I'vd had The Book of Lost Things for a couple of years now and still haven't read it - is it good? I'm not sure I'd like Dark Hollow - it sounds a bit too horrific!

The 'summer' has gone here too and we had some rain today - can't remember when it last rained!!

Anonymous said...

I've had several people tell me I should read John Connolly's books. I just took a look to see if the first one, EVERY DEAD THING, was available at my library. And it was. On the hold list it goes.

Cath said...

Pat: It didn't feel like I was reading a lot last month but it seems I was. Yep... I put the book down under, 'Maine'. I've read two books for that state now.

The Deborah Devonshire book was a real gem. Now I need to read something about the other sisters.

None of the books were bad but the anthology 'Stories' was a bit average.

Margaret: The gentleness of the Miss Read appeals to me now that I'm older.

The Book of Lost Things is not bad, but not his best, imo. I like his short stort collection, Nocturnes. Dark Hollow is a bit horrific, I admit... in that frightening 'serial killer who is invincible and no one can stop him' sort of way. The supernatural stuff was not as scary as the serial killer aspect, imo.

It'll probably rain all through the children's summer holidays!

Kay: I'll be interested to hear what you think of Every Dead Thing as I've not read it. I tend to prefer to start at the beginning but my husband never does and persuaded me it wasn't necessary. Book two was certainly very intense - a serious crime story but it does have some humour to lighten the mood, I laughed quite a few times.

Nan said...

I do so love reading these monthly roundups. My scheme is to read a Thrush Green book every few weeks or months until I've gone through the set given to me a while ago. I do so love them. I think I first read her work when my kids were babies.
Do you read D.E. Stevenson? Have we talked about her before? I've read a few- but am beginning the process of reading as many as I can. Happily the library has a slew of titles I haven't read. I just began The Blue Sapphire.

lifeonthecutoff said...

You've had a very good month, Cath. I've been reading the same book all of March - and it's now April. Hope to pick up some steam soon and maybe read of few of these. I'd really like to get into the Charlie Parker series at some point.

Cath said...

Nan: Sounds like a really good scheme to me. I shall feel bereft when I've finished them, will probably go back to her other series then.

No, I haven't read D.E. Stevenson and am not not sure if we've talked about her. I remember seeing her mentioned somewhere but thought it was on Random Jottings, but maybe not. I'll give her a try at some stage and check the list on Fantastic Fiction too.

Penny: Yes, not a bad month but I know for a fact I won't read 8 books this month. Too much going on this past week or two.

It must be a biggish book you're reading, or a classic. They can take ages. Look forward to hearing what it is and what you thought.

Susan said...

I have Every Dead Thing, and I know it sounds good and gripping and fearful, everything I love, it's just it's a bit horrific too. I need to gird my loins to read it! I'm glad you enjoyed the second one so much, it is a series that has lots of good reviews.

I read The Book of Lost Things too, and I really enjoyed it. It has a darker edge like it looks like the mysteries go fully into the dark side.

You had a great reading month again!!

Cath said...

Susan: I'm not sure how horrific Every Dead Thing is and it's no good asking Peter, he can never remember. LOL. I would think it's fairly scary to be honest. Dark Hollow certainly was. I'm not sure if you read Tess Gerritsen but if you do, and you can deal with hers, then you can handle Connolly.

Yes, a good reading month last month, but hugely slower this.