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.



Lark said...

Michael Palin is always good for a laugh. And I do enjoy Krueger's mysteries. I haven't read Iron Lake yet, but it sounds good. :)

Sam said...

Krueger seems to be everywhere lately, and every book of his I read about sounds really good to me. Can't believe I haven't read him yet, but with all the attention he's getting on the blogs I read most often, that can't last much longer. I've just got to figure out which of his books to begin with now.

As for Mr. Palin...I simply love pretty much everything the man has ever done. He's entertained me for most of my life now, and anything with his name on it grabs my immediate attention. Talk about a man of many talents...

TracyK said...

I know exactly what you mean about not enough time. I have finally settled into "staying at home" (at least for now) and feel like doing things yet it seems like I cannot keep up.

I am very glad you liked Iron Lake. Boundary Waters was the first book I read in April and I liked it a lot.

I read a good number of books in the Mrs Pollifax series back in the eighties I guess, and I liked them a lot. And they are the perfect thing to read now. Upbeat, fun. I bought the first one for the Kindle to re-read. Unfortunately the later books are not as cheap for the Kindle but that can wait.

And I would like to continue the Sea Detective series also. I have had the second book on the shelf for four years.

Cath said...

Lark: Michael Palin is what we refer to over here as 'A national treasure', in my opinion he is anyway. Brilliant man. Iron Lake *is* good!

Sam: Yes, I've seen Krueger around a lot too, several blogging friends mentioning him and as I've now read one of his books I understand why. I can recommend Iron Lake as a very good place to start.

Michael Palin is a bit of a genius in my opinion and I love his writing style, it's just exactly as he is, laid-back, amusing, gentlemanly.

Tracy: I truly expected to have lots more time but I really don't. Too funny.

Iron Lake was a huge success with me so thanks for the recommendation of the series.

I'm really looking forward to travelling around the world with Mrs. Pollifax and her adventures. I love the gentle sense of humour of them.

That second Sea Detective book is *excellent*. And the third one that I'm currently reading is too. Good series.

Marg said...

I really enjoy Michael Palin's TV series but I haven't actually read any of his books.

Kay said...

Glad you enjoyed Iron Lake. It's a good series. My husband has read all the books. I think I've read 4 or 5 of them. So glad that you picked up Mrs. Pollifax on Nan's suggestion. I love that series and first read it probably in the '80's as well. It's good on audio too. I have some favorites among the series - the first book, which you've just read and also Mrs. Pollifax on Safari and also when she goes to China. All are very good, but I do have those that I love best. Enjoy, Cath!

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I can't keep up either - my reading time seems to have been eaten up with other things - the same as you except for knitting, I haven't got that out yet. I've begun a jigsaw that I got for Christmas and that is so absorbing, the time flies by. And I've never spent so much time on Facetime with family so many times before either. Today we're doing painting linking 3 (maybe 4) houses together via an outline system. I don't know how it works but my husband does.

Anyway back to books - I loved The Malice of Waves - and Michael Palin (of course) but haven't read any of William Kent Krueger's or Dorothy Gilman's books. they both sound excellent - it's good to find 'new' authors! :)

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

All of your fiction books are by new to me authors and I would read any one of them.

If I had to be really selective though, I think I would quite like to go back to the beginning of the 'Sea Detective' series. This sounds like a whole new sub-genre on the murder/mystery theme, however I am getting the impression that if I were to read the book you feature in isolation, it might not work quite so well as a stand alone!

See, I even have that word isolation on the brain when I am talking about books. Three weeks have seemed like forever and the longer it goes on for, the more I am struggling to see how things are going to ever get back to 'normal' as we knew it!

I have managed to waste plenty of time doing very little and have made very little dent in the mountain of knitting wool, pile of jigsaws and shelves of books, which I have stashed away!

I hope that your marathon jigsaw puzzle is coming together. I have just completed another 1,000 piece one, which I shall be featuring soon and I have loads of book tours coming up that I need to prepare for.

Enjoy your virtual Easter and Stay Safe :)


Cath said...

Marg: Up until last year I hadn't read any of his books either. Then I read Around the World and realised that he's an excellent writer as well as TV presenter. Lovely dry humour.

Kay: I'm really looking forward to reading more in the Cork O'Connor series, such a wonderful setting for them. I'm pleased I tried Mrs. Pollifax too, as an armchair traveller I think they will be right up my street and she is a joy.

Margaret: There's nothing like doing a jigsaw to eat up the time is there? It's the one thing I do where I can completely forget time. We're doing Google Duo on the phone with the family, nice to have these things to use even if we can't be with them in real time.

I finished The Malice of Waves and thought it was excellent. I think there's a book 4 out now as well.

Yvonne: The problem tends to be, I think, 'too many' tempting new authors. And no way can we read them all even though we might really want to. Such a shame.

Oddly enough, I think The Sea Detective might be one series where you could read the books in isolation. I've just put this book on Peter's library pile and he doesn't think he's read any of the others. He reads very quickly and is almost through his pile, so I thought he might appreciate one or two of mine to read.

My daughter called today and we were both wondering how on earth things will ever get back to normal too. Personally I think we'll be let out of lockdown slowly and perhaps younger people will allowed out before us older ones. To be honest with you I don't want to go out before it's safe to do so and I suspect we're looking at at least another month. I may be wrong.

Well done on your jigsaw, look forward to seeing you feature it in a post. My 3,000 piece one is almost done, I should say about I'm about 7/8 there but what's left is a bit tricky.

I hope all your book tours go well, pleased to hear you now have some as last time we spoke you mentioned how they had almost dried up.

Happy Easter to you, Yvonne, and you stay safe too. xxx

Val said...

Ok I think you should seriously consider adding a subtitle to your blog header... "Be warned this blog may SERIOUSLY increase your TBR pile"
You are an incorrigible book temptress....completely incorrigible and I love that all kidding aside thank you...Oh and Mrs Pollifax here I come...(audio version I'm rubbish at keeping my nose in a book at the moment)

Robin said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed Mrs. Pollifax, Cath!

Cath said...

Val: Hmmm... I just found this, for some reason I didn't get notification of it.

Anyway, sorry about the tbr pile. LOL But I think you'll enjoy Mrs. Pollifax.

Robin: I really did did enjoy it, Mrs. Pollifax was such a fun character.