Thursday 30 April 2020

Books read and jigsaws completed in April

Well, the first complete month of lockdown is behind us. I'm rather assuming that May will be another complete lockdown month but that's fine. Better indoors than six foot under, difficult and strange though it is.

Anyway, books read this month by me number seven. That's a fairly average month because books have to share my spare time with jigsaw puzzles, knitting, baking, gardening and so on.

These are the books:

25. Iron Lake - William Kent Krueger

26. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax - Dorothy Gilman

27. The Malice of Waves - Mark Douglas-Home

28. Pole too Pole - Michael Palin

29. The Provincial Lady Goes Further - E.M. Delafield

30. A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie (to be reviewed, very good book)

31. The Only Survivor - Katherine Pathak (to be reviewed, very good book)

Goodness, I really did major on the crime fic this month... five out of seven were murder mysteries! No apologies for that though, they were all excellent reads, three being the start of new series and two continuing on with series already started. Only one non-fiction this month but am halfway through another which will count for May.

I did what I often do and picked out a few books for May. Sometimes these books get read, sometimes they don't. I tend to be happy if I get two or three off the pile as I can change my mind within two or three days about what I fancy reading! But these are the books that appeal at the moment. Click for a larger view.

And I mentioned that I've also been doing jigsaws, here're two I did this month.

This is 'Antiquity' by Giovanni Panini, 3000 pieces, puzzle by Trefl.

And this is a one thousand piece puzzle by Ravensburger, entitled Bizarre Bookshp 2 the artwork is by Colin Thompson.

I hope May is a good month for you and that you find some good books to read.

Stay safe.


Saturday 25 April 2020

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

So what's this, week five of lockdown? Not only am I losing track of what day it is I've also not much clue how long we've actually been in lockdown!

Well never mind, chin up, it's time for another round of Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times which is being hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness.

The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun.

Today's Insane posted was inspired by Cathy at Kittling Books. She posted a review of Gerald Durrell's The Stationary Ark, written by him in 1976 and it reminded me that I have these:

Like a lot of people of a certain age, I grew up with Gerald Durrell. He was on TV collecting animals in documentaries, a larger than life sort of chap with very decided opinions about what was happening to the planet's wildlife. But as well as that, if you were a keen reader, perhaps aged 13 to 16, and had either grown out of children's books or had read all the library had to offer then Gerald Durrell was often what you were coaxed into. (Not to mention Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Hammond Innes and John Wyndham, in those days there really wasn't any such thing as Young Adult fiction.)

Anyway, the first three books are known as The Corfu Trilogy, portraying life with the Durrell family when they moved to Corfu in the 1930s.

I've read two, My Family and Other Animals and Birds, Beasts and Relatives. Loved them both so I must get around to The Garden of the Gods. And of course there is now a TV series called, The Durrells.

Of the other three books I've read two. The Overloaded Ark and The Whispering Land. As will be seen from my review the latter is beautifully illustrated. The Overloaded Ark charts Durrell's first animal collecting expedition to the Cameroons in Africa and The Whispering Land concerns his trip to Argentina. The third book, The Drunken Forest, which I've yet to read, covers a trip to Northern Argentina and Paraguay. As a teenager I read various other titles too, A Zoo in my Luggage spring readily to mind and also as an adult I've read one or two titles from the library.

Of course, after a while Durrell opened his own zoo on the island of Jersey and collected for this rather than for other people's zoos. His became more about conservation and he pioneered a different, more animal-centric, kind of zoo which still exists today.


Tuesday 21 April 2020

Catching up and currently reading

Well, I'm several books behind when it comes to reviewing. The lockdown hasn't slowed my reading very much but this time of year there are other things that need attending to, like the garden, plus I seem to be nattering more on the phone or using Google Duo. In other words I seem to have a little 'less' time to read that usual.

Anyway, first up, The Malice of Waves by Mark Douglas-Home, this is book three in the author's 'Sea Detective' series.

Thirteen year old Max Wheeler was on a yachting holiday in Scotland with his father and sisters when he disappeared. He had decided to camp alone on Priest's Island just off the island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. When the family awoke the next morning he was gone. Since then the father has hired someone to investigate every year on the aniversary of the disappearance, not one of them has been able to discover the fate of young Max. This year it's the turn of Cal McGill, the so-called 'sea detective', whose knowledge of tides and of the ways of the ocean mean he's probably the number one expert. But number one expert or no, Cal has his work cut out dealing with the alienated population of the nearby village and the unexplained antagonistic attitude of the family themselves. This was excellent. Such good writing and a beautiful sense of island living and of the moods of the Atlantic ocean. I find Cal a bit difficult to identify with as he's rather odd, almost itinerant in his lifestyle, but that's fine, I don't need to actually love a detective in order to appreciate a series. The author does 'Scotland' very well indeed and that will keep me coming back for more.

Next, Pole to Pole by Michael Palin. This is my 5th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020.

Pole to Pole, which he did in 1991, was Michael Palin's 2nd. TV series after the massively popular Around the World in 80 Days (1988). On this journey Palin travels from the North Pole to the South following as closely as possible the 30 degree line of longitude. This takes him through Norway, Russia, on down into the Balkans and thus through Turkey and the Middle East into Africa. For me this was a book about Africa more than anything else. The trials and tribulations of travelling across that continent made for fascinating reading. He sails down the Nile to the Sudan which was an incredibly dangerous country (and still is) and had to divert into Ethiopia in order to get across any border at all and get back on track to Tanzania. Beautiful descriptions of the National Parks follow, the people who run them, and how they look after the animals and deal with the massive influx of tourists. Really fascinating stuff. Oddly enough, I didn't find his actual arrival at the South Pole as interesting as Africa. Bit of an anti-climax I suppose. But overall, if you enjoy reading about Africa, this would be a good book to read.

Last but not least, The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield.

It's many years since I read the first book in the Provincial Lady series, The Diary of a Provincial Lady. It was such an enjoyable read, quite funny in the manner in which you could easily identify with her and her troubles despite the fact that it was written in the 1930s. The books are written in diary form and in the first one she describes how writes a book about her day to day life. This turns out to be massively and unexpectedly successful and her publisher, naturally, wants a second. But the writer is more inclined to enjoy the fruits of her labour and buys a flat in London (an alternative title for this book is, The Provincial Lady in London) and sets about enjoying a literary, social whirl. It's huge fun, I laughed a lot as the writing style is sarcastically funny, mainly at her own expense. The omnibus I own has two more titles in it, The Provincial Lady in America and 'In Wartime' and I will happily read both soon.

So, I'm currently reading these two:

A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie is the first book in the 'Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James' series. I've had this on my Kindle for a while and not got to it, then recently several bloggers have mentioned this series as being one of their favourites so I thought I'd give it a go. Enjoying it very much so far.

Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers by Peter Fiennes charts the writer's journeys around the country in the footsteps of the likes of Wilkie Collins, Enid Blyton, Dickens, Beryl Bainbridge, Celia Fiennes etc. What I'm enjoying most of all in this is Fiennes's commentary as he covers all kinds of bits of history, current opinions, biographical material and descriptions of the countryside and coast. It really is a complete gem.

So that's me up to date... for five minutes anyway. I hope you're all finding something satisfying to read in these strange days.


Friday 17 April 2020

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Time for another round of Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times which is being hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness. And wow, I've managed it on a Friday this time (it did involve getting it ready on Thursday, who knew 'thinking ahead' actually worked...)

The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun.

So, here's my shelf for today:

I seem to specialise in random books on my shelves because here's another one. These inhabit a shelf in the lounge for no reason I can think of other than they have obviously gravitated there. Perhaps the company is interesting.

From the left, next to the duck, are two books by the TV cook, Nigel Slater, Tender, volumes one and two. I've got three or four, maybe more by him and they are always gorgeous things that you can read like non-fiction books.

Next to that, another cookbook, this one from The Hairy Bikers, who are also TV cooks. This one's full of recipes based on chicken and eggs. I'm not at all sure why these cookbooks are not in the kitchen, suspect wanderings in the night (them not me).

Next are three autobiographical books. The Fry Chronicles is the third of Stephen Fry's autobiographies, I've read the first two but not this. The Necessary Aptitude is by poet, Pam Ayres, love her hilarious poetry, and My Spiritual Autobiography is by the Dalai Lama. I haven't read these two either.

The two Tom Holt books belong to my husband, he's not an author I've tried but I probably should.

The 'Fireside' book is a compendium of bits about open fires, fireplaces, sitting by the fire, that sort of thing. I have read that and it's charming.

After that comes a collection of Harlan Coben books also belonging to my husband. I have read one of his, The Woods... it was very good.

Perched on top of Harlan Coben (that can't be very comfortable) are two hardbacks. One is a book of Jack Reacher short stories by Lee Childs, belonging to my husband, he's read it (twice actually, he got this one for Christmas a year or two ago, read it, then took it out of the library last summer and was merrily halfway through before I pointed out that he had that book on the shelf and had already read it...) I haven't read it but might someday. And Books to Die For edited by John Connolly, a non-fiction book of essays by famous crime writers about the crime fiction they love. I got halfway through this and ground slowly to a halt. Not sure why.

So that's my bookshelf for this fourth week of lockdown. The dry spell has broken today, after several sunny, warm weeks, and it's raining. It's nice actually, I'm not a wall-to-wall sunshine sort of a person and anyway the garden needs the rain.

Happy reading and stay safe.


Tuesday 14 April 2020

Annual update on the series I read

I'm trying to get into the habit of doing an annual update post on the series I read and while we're in coronavirus lockdown seems like an ideal time to take a look at the list. It's not really for anything other than my own records and use but I always love it when someone comments with new recommendations for series to try. Also it's extremely useful to remind me that I haven't read a book from a certain series in a while. I notice it's been a year since I read a Kate Shugak book (Alaska based). Longer than that in the case of the Adamsberg books but I'll have to wait for the libraries to reopen before I can get the next one of those.

I've added two new series too, Mrs. Pollifax and Cork O'Connor, both seem very promising. And I have a couple of new ones to start, the Wiki Coffin series by Joan Druett and the Bell Elkins series by Julia Keller.

The 'I'll get back to them at some stage' list is still there too, and sometimes a series will shift off that and come back into circulation as in the case of the Sea Detective series by Mark Douglas-Home... I've just read book three in that series and it was 'excellent'.

So, series I read from on a regular basis:

Crime - currently reading:

Charlie Parker - John Connolly - (read 12... up to book 13)
Ruth Galloway - Elly Griffiths (read 11)
Lord Peter Wimsey - (read 11)
Bruno, Chief of Police - Martin Walker (Read 6)
Comm. Adamsberg - Fred Vargas (Read books 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9)
Kate Shugak - Dana Stabenow (read 9)
Armande Gamache - Louise Penny (read 9)
Simon Serailler - Susan Hill (read 3)
Rabbi Small - Harry Kemelman (read 2)
Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear (read 7)
Nick Dixon - Damien Boyd (read 3)
Romney Marsh - A.J. MacKenzie (read 2)
Sea Detective - Mark Douglas Home (read 3)
Cadfael - Ellis Peters (reread 5)
DCI Dani Bevan - Katherine Pathak (read 1)
Imogen & Hugh Croft - Katherine Pathak (read 1)
Cork O'Connor - William Kent Krueger (read 1)
Mrs. Pollifax - Dorothy Gilman (read 1)

Also crime, but series I haven't read in a while but will get back to at some stage:

Montalbano - Andrea Camilleri (read 5)
Matthew Shardlake – C.J. Sansom (read 3)
Flavia de Luce - Alan Bradley (read 7)
Daisy Dalrymple - Carola Dunn (read 22)
Rizzoli and Isles - Tess Gerritsen (read 8)
Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes – Laurie R. King (read 5)
The Lewis trilogy - Peter May (read 2)
Gordianus the Finder - Steven Saylor (read 2)
Medicus - Ruth Downie (read 2)
Kate Burkholder - Linda Castillo (read 2)
Reverand Clare Fergusson - Julia Spencer-Fleming (read 3)
No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency - A. McCall-Smith (read 11)
Hannah Scarlett - Martin Edwards (read 6)
Jacquot - Martin O'Brien (read 5)
Enzo McLeod - Peter May (read 2)
Inspector Wexford - Ruth Rendall (read 2)

Where the next genre is concerned the problem is a different one. This genre just does not interest me as much any more. And yet when I do read something from it, I usually enjoy it and find it a refreshing change. So this list will remain and I'm not going to put stress on myself over it, just read from it as and when I fancy.

Sci Fi, Fantasy and horror - both adult and young adult:

Mercy Thompson - Patricia Briggs (read 6)
Jackelian - Stephen Hunt (read 2)
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch (read 4)
Liveship Trader - Robin Hobb (read 1)
Astreiant - Melissa Scott - (read 2 1/2)
Hyperion - Dan Simmons (read 1)
Lady Trent - Marie Brennan (read 3)
Cloud Roads - Martha Wells (read 1)
St. Marys - Jodi Taylor (read 1)
Pern - Anne McCaffrey (read loads... ongoing)

My tastes have changed so much over the years it's incredible. Even over the last three or four years I've developed a taste for vintage crime that wasn't there before, suddenly wanted to know more about WW2, I'm reading much more in the way of non-fiction travel writing, and am just starting to dip my toe into the modern fiction genre that tends to involve family secrets and a lot of history. It's all great fun and let's face it... we all really need that at the moment.

Keep reading and stay safe.


Saturday 11 April 2020

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Today I'm featuring my library pile for my Bookshelf Travelling post. My library stack inhabits a space on the bookshelves in the lounge next to the fireplace. I'll confess I don't always read every book that comes home from the library. I am of course full of good intentions. But then a week or two after they come home with me I suddenly don't fancy a plot that vastly appealed that moment when I picked it up in the library. Or I start to read a particular book and I don't like the way it's written or it's a book from a series I haven't read any of for three years and suddenly I can see *why* I haven't bothered with it for three years. Such is the life of those who borrow books from the library.

Anyway, my current pile consists of these books:

From the bottom:

A Killing in the Hills - Julia Keller. A series recommendation from Kay at Kay's Reading Life I think, in connection with my United States Challenge. It's a crime series set in West Virginia

The Farm at the Edge of the World - Sarah Vaughan. Passed on to me by my eldest daughter before the lockdown. This is one of those double timeline stories, WW2 and present day, set in Cornwall and involving secrets I suspect.

I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh. A psychological thriller set in Wales, recommended by a friend.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughters - Jean Pendziwoe. Set on the Canadian shores of Lake Superior this is another book delving into past family secrets. A random grab from the library.

Elegy for Eddie - Jacqueline Winspear. Book nine in the Maisie Dobbs series, I have book eight to read too, on my Kindle.

The Rhine: Following Europe's Greatest River from Amsterdam to the Alps - Ben Coates. Non-fiction. Reserved from the library because I'd enjoyed The Rhine aspect of Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr.

The Prester Quest - Nicholas Jubber. Non-fiction. In 1177 a physician is given a letter by Pope Alexander III to deliver to the King of the Indies, Prester John. The messenger disappears and the letter is lost. Nicholas Jubber sets out to retrace his steps from The Vatican to Ethiopia. This has got one of the lowest ratings I've ever seen on Goodreads, 2.84, so I'm not expecting much from it, but we shall see.

So this lot will be with me now until June, possibly longer. Naturally, we have no idea when our libraries will be open again and although most of us book bloggers have large personal libraries at home, it will still be nice when ours reopens as a trip to the library is one of life's little pleasures for me.


Wednesday 8 April 2020

Catching up

I thought we were supposed to have more time! They lied! I'm struggling to keep up with everyone's lovely bookish posts so if I've missed something interesting please do tell me.

I'm also struggling to keep up with book reviews. Not that I'm reading heaps (gardening, 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, knitting, chatting to family on Google Duo) but I'm still two reviews behind so I will briefly do those now.

First up, Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger, book one of his 'Cork O'Connor' series set in Northern Minnesota.

This novel begins with a paper boy making some kind of horrific discovery when he delivers the paper to a local judge. We're not told what or where said paper boy subsequently disappears to. Cork O'Connor is a former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, again we're not told why he's the 'former' sheriff but the truth emerges eventually. The Judge is found murdered in his home and Cork gets involved in the investigation, partly because he is part Anishinaabe Indian and so is the missing boy. Cork has himself a lot of personal problems, mainly involving his broken marriage but also connected with the reason why he's no longer the sheriff. The story itself is rather complicated with many different storylines going on but it was not at all hard to follow. It's set beside a lake in Northern Minnesota and involves the many issues the local Native American Indians have with inequality, prejudice, the casino they run on the reservation and more. I thought this book was 'excellent'. Superb writing, fantastic sense of place, very thought provoking, quite a page-turner. I'll certainly be continuing with this series and have the second book, Boundary Waters, already on my Kindle. I gather it's an 'expedition into the snowy wilderness to find someone' storyline. Can't wait.

Last up, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman. This is my fourth book for the European Reading Challenge 2020 which is being hosted by Rose City Reader. This book covers the country of 'Albania'.

Mrs. Pollifax, a widow in her sixties with two adult children, is bored. She does good works and her weeks are full, but none of it seems to mean very much. She needs purpose in her life so she travels to Washington DC to offer her services to the CIA. They are, naturally, rather shocked and amused, but despite that she turns out to be perfect for a simple 'pick-up a package' assignment in Mexico City, posing as a tourist. Unfortunately things never are simple and this proves to be the case. Mrs. Pollifax ends up being abducted with another operative, Farrell, and taken to a fortress in Albania. It soon becomes apparent that they will not survive this experience, but Farrell has a broken leg, so what can they do? Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I have to thank Nan at Letters from a Hillfarm for putting me on to this series. Mrs. Pollifax is wonderful, completely undaunted by any challenge that presents itself... and there are plenty in this story... she ploughs on regardless and never gives in. The setting of Albania is extremely well portrayed. I did wonder, it having been a closed country for decades, whether the author would just pay lip-service to it, you know, that thing where a setting could be anywhere. But not a bit of it, the mountainous, isolated, bleak terrain is very real and the reality of traversing it, or trying to, nicely portrayed. Another series I'll continue with and I particularly liked the wittiness of the writing, I laughed rather a lot and that's a good thing at the moment.

So I'm currently reading these two:

I've been meaning to catch up with Mark Douglas Home's Sea Detective series for years and luckily was able to grab The Malice of Waves before the lockdown. And Michael Palin never fails to make me giggle with his delightful stories about his travels.

A to finish, here are a few cheery daffs and primroses. (Click for a better pic. Sorry it's a bit dark.)

Happy reading and please stay safe.


Monday 6 April 2020

Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Books are my Favourite and Best.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

This month's chain begins with Stasiland by Anna Funder.

This is a book about the former East Germany, a country that was a communist state from the mid 1940s until 1991. The stories of people who lived there during its existance and what happened when the wall came down are recounted in it. I haven't read it but would actually be interested in doing so.

East Germany also features in a book I've just finished.

Outsider: My Life in Intrigue by Frederick Forsyth is not exactly an autobiography of the famous author, more a series of essays about things that happened to him. And one thing that happened is that he was sent to East Germany as a journalist in the mid 1960s, which was of course at the height of The Cold War. It was fascinating.

One of the fictional books Frederick Forsyth wrote is The Odessa File.

This one involves the search for the overseer of a Nazi concentration camp who, it's believed, is alive and prospering in 1960s Germany. I haven't read this but bought it recently for my Kindle.

Also about Germany and the war is Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd.

This book charts how people visiting and holidaying in Germany in the 1930s experienced the rise of Nazism. I found it absolutely fascinating and it was one of my favourite books of 2018.

Another book with 'Travellers' in its title is The Virago Book of Women Travellers edited by Mary Morris and Larry O'Connor.

I can see from my review that I thought this was a brilliant volume of travel stories by women travellers. One of the writers included is Amelia Edwards, a Victorian lady, who started travelling in her forties. The book includes an exerpt from her book, Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys.

I read this in the same year as the previous book and found a wonderful account of her walks in the mountains of The Italian Dolomites and Austrian Tyrol during the 1870s. I'm reminded that I planned to search out the book she wrote about travelling up the Nile.

So my journey this month has taken me from East Germany to er... Germany with a brief foray across the border into the Italian and Austrian Alps. Not a huge journey in miles this time, but a bit further if you look at 'years', covering a timespan of 100 years or more. Tumultuous years at that...

Next month's Six Degrees will begin with The Road by Cormac McCarthy.


Saturday 4 April 2020

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Well the plan was to get my Insane post out on Friday but that didn't happen so Saturday it is. What's a day late between friends?

Anyway, time for another round of Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times which is being hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun.

Here's my shelf for today:

You couldn't call this shelf anything other than 'random' to be honest. They are all non-fiction but subjects range from crime fiction writing to rivers (2), stations, World War 2, anthropology, Nigel Slater's cooking, landscape and travelling in the UK, birds, Krakatoa, and Michele Obama. It might help sometimes if I could narrow down the things I'm interested in, then my tbr pile would not be as massive or so completely random!

To pick out three of the heftier tomes.

Nicholas Crane is a Geographer, expert cartographer and former presenter of the BBC TV series, Coast, one of my favourte ever TV programmes. In this book he traces the origins of the British countryside and landscape and investigates the link between people and place. This is such a beautiful book.

One of my favourite TV cooks, Nigel Slater, presents notes, stories and 100 recipes all based around the traditions of Christmas. Another very beautiful book which I plan to read in the run-up to Christmas this year.

This is a Folio Society book that I picked up while on holiday last year for the princely sum of £4. I can't exactly remember where but I think it was in a charity shop in Malmesbury, or in the Abbey bookshop. Anyway, it charts the author's travels around England in the late 1920s and is beautifully illustrated by Peter Bailey. I also have the author's In Search of Scotland which was given to me by my lovely friend Pat from Here, There and Everywhere.

So that's my Insane post for this week. Happy reading and stay in and stay safe.


Wednesday 1 April 2020

Books read in March

So, I read seven books in March, four down on February but seven is much more the norm for me. Plus, I've been jigsawing and knitting and there's only so much time, even now.

The books:

18. A Sense of Place edited by Roly Smith.

An antholgy of favourite places in the British Isles by writers who're members of the Outdoor Writers' Guild. I think they must consist mainly of mountaineers because the choice of essays is very much slanted towards mounteering and hill climbing. Scotland, with its many mountains, features a *lot* but also Cumbria, Dartmoor, The Peak District and so on. I thought it was a bit patchy to be honest, some offerings very good, others not so interesting. One for the charity shop box.

19. Castle Skull - John Dickson Carr

20. Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell

21. Dashing for the Post - Patrick Leigh Fermor

22. The Mapping of Love and Death - Jacqueline Winspear.

23. Fell Murder - E.C.R. Lorac

Garthmere Hall is a large farm in an area south of the Lake District known as Lunesdale. It's been farmed by the Garth family for generations and 82 year old Robert Garth, cantankerous but fair with his tennant farmers, is head of the household, although his daughter now runs the farm. His eldest son who should inherit left for Canada after a row with his father. When Robert is found dead, shot in the head, in an old cow barn, the whole household comes under suspicion, even the missing son. Chief Inspector MacDonald from Scotland Yard is brought in to solve the murder but has his work cut out getting past the locals' natural suspicion of strangers. The sense of place in this one is wonderful, I gather the author loved the area and it certainly shows. It's quite an insular story, very much centred on the farm and the family who live there, a few neighbours etc. It means you get to know them all very well. The detective, MacDonald, doesn't appear until half way into the story and that alters the dynamic somewhat. I'd forgotten that a book I read last year, Fire in the Thatch, was also a Chief Inspector MacDonald instalment. In fact there are 46 of them! I'm sure I'll be reading more.

24. The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue - Frederick Forsyth. This was my 4th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020 challenge.

British author, Frederick Forsyth has written some very iconic spy/thriller books: The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War and so on. He's also lived rather a colourful life, he was the youngest pilot ever to qualify with the RAF, he was a journalist in East Germany in the Cold War of the 1960s, and he also covered the Biafran War in the late sixties. Returning from that broke and not knowing what to do with himself he decided to sit down and write The Day of the Jackal. The rest is history. Apparently the author didn't want to write an ordinary autobiography so this book takes the form of talks or essays about important parts of his life. I thought it worked pretty well, I found some bits more interesting than others, his spell as a journalist in East Germany was fascinating to read about, we forget what things were like during The Cold War and that brought it all back. I haven't actually read any of his fiction so I downloaded The Odessa File to see if it's the kind of thing I might enjoy.

Not a bad month anyhow. Four fiction - all crime yarns - and three non-fiction. Twenty four books read so far this year, eight of which are non-fiction. Quite content with that. I thought the lockdown would lead to me reading a lot more but that hasn't happened, mainly I think becuase I'm also knitting and jigsaw puzzling, but also I'm taking the opportunity to give the house a good spring-clean.

I hope anyone reading this is taking care and staying safe and coping with the whole 'staying indoors' thing.