Thursday, 13 June 2013

Three reviews

I think the problem with me at the moment is that I just want to read and not do long reviews of said books I'm reading. I feel a bit guilty about that but can't help it, so a good compromise for me is to do these 'short review' posts. It doesn't help that I seem to be reading quite quickly at the moment - for me anyway - and literally cannot keep up with myself.

So, here's my latest 3 book post. First up, The Whisperers by John Connolly. I'm pinching Amazon's synopsis of this today:

The border between Maine and Canada is porous. Anything can be smuggled across it: drugs, cash, weapons, people. Now a group of disenchanted former soldiers has begun its own smuggling operation, and what is being moved is infinitely stranger and more terrifying than anyone can imagine. Anyone, that is, except private detective Charlie Parker, who has his own intimate knowledge of the darkness in men's hearts. But the soldiers' actions have attracted the attention of the reclusive Herod, a man with a taste for the strange. And where Herod goes, so too does the shadowy figure that he calls the Captain. To defeat them, Parker must form an uneasy alliance with a man he fears more than any other, the killer known as the Collector ...

The last Charlie Parker book I read, The Lovers, was concerned with his background and childhood. In The Whisperers we're back to crime solving and more weirdness than you can shake a stick at. I don't mind, I'll take anything when it comes to Parker, Connolly doesn't write a bad book 'ever' and this series just gets on getting better and better. There's detail about the Iraq war in this, some of it, such as details of torture methods, is hard to take, some of it deals with the way soldiers were treated when they got home. All of it I found imformative and interesting. This is one of the things I love about John Connolly's writing. It's a treat for people like me who love weird fiction but you never fail to learn all kinds of  fascinating facts and that suits someone as nerdy as me too. My only worry about this series is that The Whisperers is book 9 and I only have 2 more after that. Oh, heck. I just hope Connolly plans to write more in this series, I can't stand the thought of life without a Charlie Parker book to read.

Next up, Death Without Company by Craig Johnson:

The previous sheriff of Absaroka county, Lucian Connally, lives in the Durrant Home for Assisted Living. The suspicious death of one of his friends in the home brings the county's current sherriff, Walt Longmire, in to investigate. At first there's no certainty that Mari Baroja *was* murdered and Lucian is being tight-lipped about his past with the woman so Walt has nothing to go on. When it eventually comes to light that she was murdered, all kinds of questions need to be answered. Such as what happened to her husband fifty years ago, and how was Lucian involved? Walt has to try and keep Mari's unpleasant lawyer daughters happy but also remain sensitive to the feelings of the previous sherriff. All this while still suffering the after-shocks from his previous case (book 1) and trying to have some time with his lawyer daughter, Cady, who is visiting. Solving this complex and historical case is not going to be easy.

Oh, how much I love this new (to me) series. I read the first one several months ago, and enjoyed it very much once I got past a bit of a slow start. This one was like revisiting an old friend and I think that's because the various characters are so real with very human quirks and peculiarities. I love Henry Standing Bear, the dialogue between him and Walt is at times hilarious. But everyone in it, Vic the deputy, Ruby the secretary, Dorothy in the local café, and so on, all are very well drawn. I laughed a lot, the humour is dry and dialogue based and suits me down to the ground, (John Connolly's Charlie Parker books have the same knack). Add to that the superb descriptions of the area of Wyoming where this series is set and these books are onto a winner for me. There are loads more to read and I, happily, have 2 more on my tbr shelf.

Lastly, My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding:

Well what a charming book this was! It was so readable and so much fun I whipped through it in a day. For those that don't know, Clare Balding is a British sports commentator, working for the BBC here in the UK. A bit of a National Treasure if the truth be known, her Olympics coverage last year, focussing mainly on the horse events and swimming was hugely popular with the British public. I think most people, like me, love the fact that she's always herself, chatty, down-to-earth, not someone much interested in being glamorous or stick thin. It's unusual in this day and age and endears her to me an awful lot.

Anyway, this is her autobiogrpahy. Clare was born into a family that trains race horses, the Queen keeps her horses with them for instance. From the start she always felt herself to be rather a disappointment to her family, her grandmother especially, mostly because she was 'just a girl'. Basically, it seemed that in the minds of her parents it was the horses that came first, followed by the dogs, and then the children. This could've been a depressing book, given that Clare was perfectly aware of this, but it's not. She had her animals, various horses and dogs that she loved, an indomitable spirit, she accepted reality for what it was, and just got on with it. Her escapades make for fun reading, she was quite a handful as a girl... (and no wonder!) And always she's honest and straightforward about what she feels are her shortcomings. For the reader it's quite obvious why she was a bit naughty as a child and why she struggled at first at her private school. It's impossible not to read this and feel sad for her, but also to have huge admiration for her spirit and determination to succeed, ignoring the comments and actions of others. This book made me love her even more to be honest. It's very horsey and I'm not, but that didn't matter in the slightest, it's just a darn good autobiographical read.



My Gallery of Worlds said...

I'd probably enjoy the Clare Balding book. It sounds like quite a lot of fun :D

Peggy Ann said...

I might just have to try John Connolly with such a raving review of him, Cath! and I think I would like the Craig Johnson as I like quirky and peculiar! Very nice reviews

DesLily said...

well one thing is for sure.. I will never read as fast as you! lol.. but kelly is right ..the Clare Balding books sounds like a realy enjoyable read..but "animal people" are always interesting lol.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I think your 'short review' posts are excellent, Cath. They tell me what I want to know about a book and why you like it and get me thinking I'm going to check it out - in this case the Clare Balding book appeals to me, especially (I'm a big fan of hers). And I think I'll see if the library has Death Without Company - I could do with a good laugh.

Like you, I'm not wanting to write much about the books I've read recently - and some of them I don't fancy writing about at all. There are times when it's good to just read ... and read ...

Nan said...

My only lifelong wish was to have been born into a 'horsey' family. Even if my folks loved the horses best, I probably would have as well. :<)
I haven't begun the Longmire series yet but do enjoy it on tv.
I'm not a fan of 'weird fiction' so probably won't try Connolly.
But even if I am not interested in a book, I do so love reading what you write. And I am a big fan of shorter reviews.
Love the notion of not being able to keep up with yourself. Delightful.

Jo said...

I am at the stage of reading and then having to catch up with reviews and therefore get behind.

Short reviews are a good way of catching up. Glad to hear you like the Clare Balding book, I have been dithering with that one for a while.

Cath said...

Kelly: I think you would enjoy Clare Balding's book, focussing as it does on animals.

Peggy Ann: Not sure about the Charlie Parker books, as they're not for everyone, best thing would be to try one first. Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire books though I have no hesitation in recommending as they're excellent.

Pat: As with Kelly, I really think you would love Clare Balding's book... not just because of the animals but it also says a lot about how our upper classes treat their children. I know you love learning about the UK.

Margaret: Thank you. The Clare Balding is a quick, interesting and informative read... I now know a lot more about horse racing and other horsey pursuits!

Annoyingly, Devon libraries has none of the Craig Johnson, 'Walt Longmire' books at all. I have the first 4 which were reasonably priced but the rest seem to have doubled in price on Amazon and that's very annoying. I hope you have better luck than me!

You're so right, there are times when you just want to read and read and I'm currently going through one of those phases. Of course, the lack of fare on the TV partly accounts for this.

Nan: I love that you would like to have been born into a horsey family. Me, I would like to have been born into a bookish family. I sometimes wonder who has control of these things...

I think I'll be buying the Longmire dvds when they become available on region 2.

I too am rapidly becoming a fan of shorter reviews, even finding myself not finishing the ones I come across that are over-long and a bit too academic.

I'm not sure that not being able to keep up with yourself is to be recommended but I'm glad it made you smile.

Jo: Yes, so easy to get behind. Summer TV is mostly (not all) pretty dull so what happens to me is that I read through the evening instead of watching TV.

I can highly recommend the Clare Balding book. I read the whole thing in her lovely chatty voice.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

John Connolly is another of those autors I haven't read for some time and I really need to catch up with.

The book which caught my eye though, was 'Death Without Company'. Walt Longmire sounds like quite a character, as does the author Craig Johnson. I guess that these books would benefit from being read in series order and you know just how bad I am at managing that, however I may make an exception in this particular case.

I sometimes wish that I didn't ramble on quite so much in my reviews. I love this short review style you seem to have adopted.


Cath said...

Yvonne: The Walt Longmire books really are excellent and best read in order as the books often refer back to what happened in the last book. In fact they seem to carry on from where the last book left off.

I do think that some books call for a longer review, but others - parts of a long series etc. - really do benefit from a shorter style review. And I seem to be reading from several long series at the moment so doing short reviews is suiting me better. Better that than nothing at all anyway. LOL.

Thanks for dropping by. Have a nice weekend!