I seem to have been AWOL for months but in fact it's only been two weeks, one of which I spent in Cornwall on my hols... 'reading'. Well not just reading, we met up with lovely relatives and mooched around the cliffs and gardens of west Cornwall and generally had a nice time. I zoomed through three books too so I'll do a quick catch-up in this post.
First up, The Search by Nora Roberts.
Fiona Bristow lives on the island of Orcas off the coast of Washington State. Her life and business revolve around training dogs, although she always says it's as much about training their owners as it is about training the dogs. She and her own three dogs are also an important part of the region's canine rescue centre. Fiona is also a survivor. Some years ago she was kidnapped by a serial killer but managed to escape and it was down to her that he was eventually caught. But it came at a dreadful price and all she wants to do now is live a quiet life and forget what happened. But someone does not. A woman is killed using the original killer's trademarks but it can't be him as he's safely locked up in prison. When more murders follow, the FBI and Fiona realise that he is moving up the coast towards her and the safe life she's constructed for herself could be destroyed forever. Well, this was an excellent thriller type book. But it was a lot more than that. I learnt so much about dog training from this book and although that's not really my thing I thoroughly enjoyed it. Fiona's dogs, all named after movie stars from way back, were great characters in the story, every bit as much as the people. There is some romance, I wasn't mad keen on the love interest but that's ok. And the setting of coastal Washington State was absolutely 'wonderful'. Nora Roberts continues to impress with her standalone thrillers. I like how the books are not all about the killings, they concentrate a lot on people's lives and families and what makes them all tick. Pleased to say I have several more from her on my library pile.
Next, The West Country Winery by Lizzie Lovell. A lovely cousin gave me a bag of books while I was visiting and these next two are from that selection.
Chrissie and her family, husband and two girls, both from previous relationships, live a busy life in London and Chrissie likes it that way. She's an events manager and constantly juggling family life and career. She thinks they're all happy with life as it is but her husband, Rob, drops a bombshell one day. He says he's always wanted to cycle from Cape Town to Cairo, which is news to Chrissie, but Rob is adamant and plans to do it. Soon. Then Chrissie's parents, who own a winery in Devon, call for help. The grape harvest is ready but they can't manage alone, they need assistance. Chrissie decides to take the two girls to live in Devon while Rob is away for a year, but is she doing the right thing? There are thousands of these sorts of contemporary lit books around these days. I don't read them all the time but occasionally they're just what I'm in the mood for and this one was great fun. The author does a lovely line in gentle humour as the only adult in the room, Chrissie, deals with the demands, quirks and tantrums of just about everyone else in the story. I loved the Polish cleaner, Melina, who ends up going with them and turns out to know all about wine production. Priceless. Nicely written and I'll read more by this author as and when she writes it as I believe there are only two books available by her so far.
Lastly, Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber.
Four women meet every Thursday morning at 8am to talk about what's going on in their lives and support each other. (I forget how they met but it came to an end and they wanted to continue meeting.) Liz is in her late fifties, widowed a few years ago and has a responsible job in a hospital. She's wondering whether or not start on a new relationship with a doctor. Clare, is very recently divorced, her husband having left her and their two older teenage sons for a much younger woman. Then something happens to him. Julia, happily married with two teens, a boy and a girl, suddenly finds she's pregnant. This is not necessarily welcome news... Karen is the youngest of the four, she's in her twenties and wants to be an actor. Her family are against this, parents and married sister, so life is a constant battle for her. Basically, we follow these four women for about a year as life happens to them. It was a good book, Macomber always concentrates on people and their stories and always has so much happening that you're on the edge of your seat a bit, wondering what's going to happen next. I didn't really feel I had a lot in common with any of the characters but that was fine, a good storyteller can make a reader interested in people no matter who or what they are. And our human problems are universal after all. This is set in California but that didn't really come over for me, I felt like it could've been anywhere apart from the acting mad Karen who I think might be quite typical of California. But not a bad read, all in all, I find I quite enjoy these contemporary stories, usually written by women and about women's lives. Makes a change from heaps of dead bodies and carnage all over the place. :-)
And it's now May already and I have no idea how we can be a third of the way through 2022. I turned 69 on Sunday too and am also wondering how that happened! I hope all is well with you and that you're finding some good books to read.