Sunday, 24 July 2016

New books!

I had my 9th. blogging anniversay this week... Tuesday to be exact. Nine years! I never thought I would be able to keep yakking on about books for that long. LOL! And it seems that this is post 666. Now that really should have occurred during the R.I.P challenge. Bad timing.

Anyway, enough prevaricating. Onwards. I really thought I hadn't acquired many books since Christmas. Ha! Right. It seems that might not be quite accurate. In my defense I had a bookish birthday and was given half a dozen books (I know, I know... excuses.) What I certainly haven't done in a very long time is a 'new books' post and as I love looking at other people's new bookish buys I thought some might like to see mine. As always, click on the photo for a larger view.

First up, a few birthday books:

The Natural History of Dragons - Marie Brennan (Fantasy)
Weatherland - Alexandra Harris (Non-Fiction about the weather)
Dancing on Ice - Jeremy Scott (Non-Fiction, polar exploration)
Sacred Sierra - Jason Weber (Non-Fiction, mountains)
Winter Tales - George Mackay Brown (short stories, maybe weird)
The Boat Who Wouldn't Float - Farley Mowat (Non-Fiction, Canadian travel)

Some new buys with lovely covers:

Uprooted - Naomi Novik (Fantasy)
The Essex Serpent - Sarah Perry (Historical weirdness, an RIP read perhaps?)
Fair and Tender Ladies - Lee Smith (American historical fiction)

Lastly, a few odd purchases:

There's a Seal in My Sleeping Bag - Lyn Hancock (Non-fiction, found in a charity shop)
Bill Oddie Unplucked - Bill Oddie (Bits & pieces by the famous bird watcher... a couple of quid from The Works... newly arrived in my town, which is dangerous as they sell jigsaw puzzles as well as cheap books.)
The Olive Tree - Carol Drinkwater (Non-fic, sequel to The Olive Route)
The Dream of Rome - Boris Johnson (Non-fiction, history)
Pompeii - Mary Beard (Non-fiction, history)

I think that's fourteen in all and I may have missed a couple. So much for doing the Mount TBR challenge and getting books OFF the reading pile! Hopeless, Lost Cause... fully paid up member of.


Friday, 22 July 2016

Catching up with several crime titles

I haven't had a lot of reading time recently and am behind on reviews of the books I have read. So this is very much a catch-up post... a few brief reviews of several crime novels.

First up, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. This is my book 17 for Bev's Mount TBR 2016 challenge and also qualifies for Bev's Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt under the category, 'Jewellry of any sort'.

Inspector Alan Grant is in hospital after some kind of accident. He's flat on his back and likely to be for weeks. And he's bored. Various people bring him books, none of which are to his liking. His actress friend, Marta, brings him some pictures of various people from history with interesting faces, so he can decide whether or not they were criminally minded. From them Grant eventually chooses Richard III and embarks on a reading investigation, from his sickbed, the aim of which is to discover whether or not he really did kill the princes in the tower.

No real need to say any more about the plot of this book because that's it really. The story is much more of a history lesson than it is a traditional whodunnit crime yarn. I thought it was all fascinating to be honest. I knew there had been a lot of doubt about whether or not Richard III was guilty of the double murder but in this book Josephine Tey sets out the evidence for and against by having Alan Grant read up about it and also giving him an assistant researcher. I learnt much that I didn't know about that time period but there is also the usual wry humour running through the book. I loved Grant's housekeeper, Mrs. Tinker, and her outfit that she refers to as 'me blue' by which she gauges the importance of any event she has to go to... ie. 'It wasn't good enough for 'me blue''. Hilarious. And there is much more gentle humour in this vein. Sadly, I think I now only have two more Josephine Tey books left to read. What a shame.

Next, The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths.

A World War Two plane is unearthed by a digger in a field in Norfolk, the body of the airman is still inside. Forensic archaeologist, Ruth Galloway, is called in and she discovers immediately that there's a bullethole through the pilot's skull. The body is identified as Fred Blackstock, whose family own a large house on the marshes. The problem is, the body doesn't belong to the plane. Someone has dug the body up from elsewhere and planted it in the WW2 bomber. DCI Nelson sets about solving this mystery with Ruth's help. Ruth is glad to be working with Nelson again but wishes her life was just a bit less complicated emotionally.

Loved it. But then I always love Elly Griffiths's Ruth Galloway books. They're not for everyone I know that, but I love how Griffiths manages to get inside the head of all her regular characters amd make it all so real and amusing. Ruth with her lack of tolerance for attention seeking colleagues or impatience with stupidity or prats, is at times hilarious. I also the love the back story of Ruth and Harry Nelson and their daughter... though this instalment was a bit of a tease in that department I thought, but still very good. The mystery element was also excellent, involving as it did the WW2 airfields of Norfolk. Interesting stuff. And of course always, always a terrific sense of place. Definitely one of my favourite series at the moment.

Lastly, Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn. This is my book 18 for Bev's Mount TBR 2016 challenge.

Daisy Dalrymple is asked by her cousin Edgar, the present Lord Dalrymple, to help find an heir to the title and estate... he and his wife being childless. Various contenders are found, a diamond magnate from South Africa, a sailor from Jamaica, a young boy from Trinidad and a hotelier from Scarborough. A mixed bunch, no question. And are they all who they say they are? A lawyer friend has the task of finding out and meanwhile they are all invited the family estate, Fairacres, for Edgar's birthday celebrations and to get to know them all. Daisy and Alec also attend. And then the accidents begin. First minor things to the children, but then one of the claimants narrowly misses being killed by a tram and Daisy and Alec realise that things are more serious than they thought. Alec is instructed to investigate... with Daisy's 'help', naturally.

This is a huge series now... Heirs of the Body is book 21 I think. It must be very hard with a series of this length to keep up the quality and all power to the author's elbow for managing it. This isn't my favourite, I will admit, but Daisy Dalrymple books are never anything less than readable and I enjoyed this very family orientated instalment as Daisy's relations take centre stage. It sort of reminded me of Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire books to be honest, which is never a bad thing, and Enid Blyton! After the interesting ending I look forward to seeing what happens to these new members of Daisy's family, so I hope Carola Dunn tells us. I'm sure she will.


Friday, 1 July 2016

Books read in June

Yet another month has come and gone. Is time speeding up or what? June for me has been a month of looking after my husband after his knee replacement surgery. All is going well although the first week home was a bit rough: I have to admit that I underestimated how exhausting it would all be. Thank goodness he's now well on the road to recovery... and then in September we get to do it all again.

With all that was going on I still managed to read six books. These are they:

31. The Olive Route - Carol Drinkwater

32. The Judge's House - Georges Simenon

33. Resorting to Murder edited by Martin Edwards

34. The Serpent Pool - Martin Edwards

35. The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey (To be reviewed.)

36. The Illustrated Olive Farm - Carol Drinkwater. A companion piece to the author's Olive Farm trilogy (which I haven't read yet). Very nicely written and beautiful photography of the region in Southern France where the farm is.

And so.... four crime books and two non-fiction, all very enjoyable indeed. I don't need difficult reading at the moment and none of these were. Of the 'crime' books two books came out equal as being the most enjoyable and those were, Daughter of Time and The Serpent Pool. But 'overall' my favourite book was this:

Carol Drinkwater's The Olive Route. It deals with the origins and history of the olive tree and I thoroughly enjoyed the author's travels around the countries of the Mediterranean Sea. A truly excellent book.