Wednesday 22 August 2018

What I've been reading so far this month

I'm really behind with reviews at the moment, due to being quite busy, so I thought I'd just do a quick post about the three books I've read since the start of the month.

First up, Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan:

This is book 3 in the author's Lady Trent series.It's a kind of alernate reality, Victorian, type setting wherein women are not supposed to have an intelligent interest in dragons or anything else really. In fact, the books are as much about Isabella's struggles against the restrictions on women as they are about dragons. In this one she goes off to an archipeligo on a ship called The Basilisk to look for dragons, accompanied by her young son and the usual suspects. All kinds of adventures ensue and I really enjoyed the sea-voyage, 'try to blend in with the natives', travelogue-ish, theme to this story. If you're looking for books about dragons where they feature a lot, this series is probably not for you, try Anne McCaffrey, Naomi Novik, Robin Hobb. But if you're a fan of Victorian female travel writing and think you might like a touch of fantasy thrown in, you could do worse than this series. At the very least the covers are just gorgeous.

Next, Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz:

This book is a one-off - the first I've come across where you have two books, not one, in one complete story. Editor, Susan Ryeland, is given a manuscript to read, the latest by her publisher's star writer, Alan Conway. He writes a crime series about a German detective, Atticus Pund, who lives in England. Susan reads the latest instalment but finds, to her horror, that the last chapter of the manuscript is missing. Where is it? And more to the point, whodunnit? I'm a bit worried about spoilers here so I'm not going to say any more but seasoned crime fic readers will guess that there will be deaths and all kinds of Rum Goings On, and it's all very engrossing. And almost as soon as the book begins the reader has the manuscript of the new book to read... when that finishes Susan's investigations begin, so really it is two books in one. I won't pretend I didn't get confused, because I did. I occasionally had to stop and remember which characters belonged in which book, which were fictional and which... well... they're all fictional so you can see where the confusion comes in. It's beautifully written by the creator of the wonderful TV series, Foyle's War, very clever and enjoyable.

Lastly, a non-fiction, The Olive Tree by Carol Drinkwater. This is my third book for my What's in a Name? challenge, covering the category, 'A fruit or a veg'.

In her book, The Olive Route, which I read two years ago, Carol Drinkwater went looking for the origins of the olive tree. In that book she travelled to the eastern Mediterranean, covering The Lebonan, Irael, Palestine, Libya and so on. In its successor she tours the western Med starting by touring Spain, mainly by bus. Morroco follows Spain and then Algeria, two countries where it can be difficult for western women travelling alone. In fact in Algeria it's arranged for her to be escorted by a network of bee keepers, who take her safety very seriously; despite that, it's not a country that she felt comfortable in. From there Carol is back in Europe, touring Italy. This was my favourite section and she clearly adored it too... I thoroughly enjoyed all the island hopping. I think I probably enjoyed the first book more than this, but only slightly. The olive is not as centre stage as it was in book one and I have to admit that her experiences in Morroco and Algeria took up more of the book than I would have liked. That said, Carol Drinkwater is a superb writer, lovely observations of simple things, of people, of quirky happenings and stunning landscapes. She may not think of herself as a travel writer but she surely is.



DesLily said...

wow.. gee you are 17 books ahead of me! lol... I never did read the other two books by Brennan..and if I remember right I did like book one, so don't know why I didn't get the others.. unless they took way to long for second hand ones to get cheap! Sigh. I am glad you enjoyed them though. You really have a good variety of different types of books!! I think I need a Biography soon or I will get "Monked out" before I read all the books I have about Monk! lol

Cath said...

Pat: Those Brennan books were not cheap for a lonnng time, and still aren't really but not as bad as they were. And if you don't love a book to bits it can be a hard decision whether or not spend your money on more. Yes, it is possible to overdose on some books. And I need something non-fiction now too. What to choose...

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Do you know, I have never read an Anthony Horowitz book and I have no idea why, as I have watched and hugely enjoyed the television series he has written, especially 'Midsomer Murders'.

I might actually have to discover what I have been missing out on all this time, although at this stage, I shall probably stick to the stand alone novels and 'Magpie Murders' does sound good.

Enjoy your Welsh break and have a fun time with your grand-daughter :)


Cath said...

Yvonne: I know, it's very odd the way we have these reading gaps... the trouble is, you just can't read everything. I've only read one other by AH which was his first Sherlock Holmes book, the title of which eludes me at this moment... something about Silk, and that wasn't bad.

Thank you, looking forward to it tremendously. Hoping to pay my first visit to the Hobby Craft place at Cribb's Causeway on the way up.