Monday, 9 November 2020

More catching up

I'm so behind with reviews that this needs to be yet another quick catch-up post.

My first book for November was Jew(ish) by Matt Greene. 

This was a free book from Amazon Prime's 'first reader' thing that they do. I was in the mood for something like this so I read it as soon as I downloaded it. It's a very interesting report on what it's like to be Jewish. Although the author is what he refers to as 'lapsed', having a new baby made him consider what it is to be a Jew and whether he should bring the child up as such, the child's mother being non-Jewish. It's a series of essays really and it taught me a lot, especially in the way that Jewish people feel apart from the rest of us, somehow 'other'. There's quite a debate going on too about whether being Jewish means that you must automatically support Israel and its policies. Also included, naturally, are Holocaust testimonies and lessons about how many Nazis were actually caught and prosecuted after the war... just 15% if I recall correctly... thus, it was a good book to read at this 'Rememberance' time of year. Plus The Holocaust is a subject I've taken an interest in for years despite being told I'm ghoulish for doing so (I'm very good at ignoring that kind of judgement.) It lost something for me when it got overly political as regards British politics but  generally speaking a good book on the subject of being Jewish, about which I knew very little.

Next up, The Pull of the River by Matt Gaw. This is my book 23 for Bev's Mount TBR 2020.

A friend of the author, James, built a canoe to see if he actually could and he and the author, Matt Gaw, then set about exploring the waterways around their home in Cambridgeshire. Local rivers first, the Granta, the Waveney, the Cam, and then branching out further affield to explore rivers such as the Thames and the Severn. The inspiration came from the writings of two authors, Roger Deakin and Robert Louis Stevenson who canoed some of the rivers of Belgium and France and wrote about it in An Inland Voyage available for free on Amazon. I thoroughly enjoyed this recounting of the joys of messing about in boats. The author is very honest, it's not all wonderful, they have accidents, one very serious in which they could've died, it rains on them, finding camping spots is not easy and so on. But really it's quite clear that they absolutely 'love' having adventures on the river and thus the book is an absolute joy to read.


And now for something completely different, as they say. Information Received by E.R. Punchon is vintage crime story written in 1933, the first of the author's 'Bobby Owen' series.

Constable Bobby Owen has been with the police for 3 years. He's currently stationed in rather a quiet area of London and being quite ambitious is not too happy. Then city magnate, Sir Christopher Clarke, is found murdered and Owen is on the spot and a witness to the events surrounding the killing. It means he can be quite involved with the investigation, although he has to tread carefully around the CID officers assigned to the case. As is usual with these cases the dead man is not particularly nice. He has a daughter and a step daughter both of whom he's manipulating as regards who they can marry and why. The two men they want to marry are therefore suspects but who are the other strangers seen lurking around the house and why have they completely disappeared? This was a very well written crime yarn, quite complicated and yet I did have an idea who'd done the deed and was right. Nevertheless all the twists and turns were very entertaining and I liked the main protagonist, Bobby Owen, and his dogged determination to find out the truth. This is a long series, 35 books, whether I shall get to end of it I don't know but I've downloaded a few more to my Kindle as they're only 99p each and well worth a read in my opinion.


Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I haven't chosen a book yet from Amazon's 'First Reader' selection this month as I couldn't decide what I wanted to read. So I was glad to see your review and it's made me think this could be more interesting than I first thought. I like the sound of Information Received too, so I'll have a look at that one too.

I am now way behind with writing reviews and am thinking I may never catch up.I have 8 waiting to be written!!

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

At first glance I thought, 'there's nothing here to interest me this time'. But then I read your text and realised that the Punshon book was a classic crime story, although I probably wouldn't have worked it out from the cover art alone. In fact, this is what I was faced with when I checked out the author and series, over at Fantastic Fiction - I'm glad I don't get migraines!

Definitely another series for my list, although whether I shall ever get to them is another matter.

I now deal quite regularly with a publisher called 'Bookouture', who are great people. The only drawback is that all their Blog Tours are full reviews only, so I am into a regime of read, review, repeat... It's good for keeping my reviews a bit more up to date, however I never really get time to draw breath and just chill out for a few days if I don't fancy picking up a book. I even have tour dates through to next April!

Still, at least I can't complain about being bored during Covid :)

Thanks for sharing and Stay Safe xx

Lark said...

The Pull of the River sounds awesome. I love reading books about true adventures like that. :)

Sam said...

Interesting selection, Cath. Now you've gone and made me wish I'd chosen the book on being Jewish rather than the one I ended up choosing almost by default. None of the selections really tempted me much this month.

I like the sound of The Pull of the those "road trip" memoirs even when they are on water.

Cath said...

Margaret: I don't always find the First Reader selection to be all that interesting. I think this is only the second one I've read. Still, it's a free book.

I've just started a long book and I'm actually quite glad as it means no books to review for a bit... unless I finish The Golden Age of Murder at last.

Yvonne: The reissues of the Punshon books seem to have 2 choices of covers and both of them are hideous. Such a shame. Perhaps the BLCC will reissue some and give them presentable covers.

Gosh, tour dates through to April! You're made of sterner stuff than me, I would sink under the strain.

You stay safe too.

Lark: Yes, we share a love of that kind of travel adventure book. And this one is particularly good.

Sam: I agree the FR choice this month was not great. But I've wanted to read something about the Jewish faith for a while now so when I spotted this I pounced on it. It wasn't perfect, a bit preachy in places, but mostly it was very interesting.

Travel books are a real weakness of mine and this one is really gentle and well written.

Nan said...

I've read the Punshon, and several others by him. I like these books a lot. Though I couldn't tell you any plots!

TracyK said...

I am glad you reviewed Jew(ish). It sounds very interesting. And I looked into Amazon's Prime First Reader, which I have never done before. And I have added the E. R. Punshon book to my Kindle, plus the 2nd one. Definitely worth trying.

Nan said...

There's a writer I think you might like. Harriette Ashbrook. Very inexpensive on Kindle.

Cath said...

Nan: I think there are so many Bobby Owen books by Punshon - 35 if memory serves - that anyone would struggle to remember the plots! LOL

I'll look up Harriette Ashbrook, I've not heard of her.

Tracy: 'Jew(ish)' was very interesting, if you ever read it I would be interested in your opinion. Yes, with your love of vintage crime authors I think you will find E.R. Punshon worth a try. He was unknown to me until I read The Golden Age of Murder (which I've now finished).

Susan said...

You had an eclectic reading month sounds like! I love the sound of JEW-ISH. I'm fascinating by Jewish religion/culture. Coming from an all-encompassing kind of religion myself, I think I would understand some of the author's feelings about his religion. Definitely sounds like an interesting read.

TracyK said...

Interesting that Nan mentioned Harriet Ashbrook. I was just going through my Kindle books yesterday and was reminded that I had bought 5 or 6 of them based on a review I saw. But I haven't tried any of them yet. I should do that.

Vintage Reading said...

Really like the sound of The Pull of the River. Thanks for mentioning it, Cath!

Cath said...

Susan: Yes, I too am interested in Jewish faith and culture but have never really been able to find the right books to read about it. The search is still ongoing I think.

Tracy: I still haven't looked up Harriet Ashbrook, been a bit busy, but I must do that.

Nicola: The Pull of the River was very good and well worth a look.

Anca said...

The first book, on being Jewish sounds intriguing. I read a lot of books on the Holocaust recently, a book on Israel, and so this one would fit nicely with what I read before.

Cath said...

Anca: Jew(ish) was very interesting and there is quite a bit about the Holocaust in it, various testimonies and so on. So it sounds like it would fit your reading at the moment. Thanks for stopping by!