Well, of course I have... but not necessarily reviewing (it's veggie planting time in the garden). So it's high time I did some kind of catch-up post and because it's a wet and windy morning, so no gardening (my poor back is quite happy about that), today's the day for catching up.
So after my Cornish holiday light reading I read a book called Ghosts Among Us by James Van Praagh. I gather he's well known in the USA as a TV presenter but I'd never heard of him. I'm not particularly religious but I am very open-minded spiritually and I found this book about hauntings and why they happen incredibly interesting. The author writes well - with empathy and a willingness to explain his point of view. I will read more by him.
So then I returned to my usual stomping ground of dead bodies abounding. (Although, seeing what the previous book was about, perhaps 'returning' is not quite the right word. ;-) ) Long Road to Mercy was my first ever book by David Baldacci. Not sure why as my husband reads heaps of his books but I never have.
Atlee Pine is a female FBI agent who covers the area around The Grand Canyon. She's a survivor. Aged six and sharing a room with her twin sister, Mercy, a man broke into their room, took her sister but left Atlee behind. Obviously it's now Atlee's mission in life to find out what happened to her sister. She thinks she knows who did it too. But currently her focus is on the present. A dead mule is found on the trail down into the canyon. It has intitials curved on its side and this begins a long and dangerous mission for Agent Pine, involving a missing man and all kinds of government shenanigans. She gets taken off the case at one point so her and her older female PA go off on a road trip to Washington DC. Great stuff and I enjoyed the thrillerish tone to this one, it started off as a crime yarn and morphed into something a lot more 'spies and national security'. Atlee is quite typical of a modern crime thriller phenomenon, that of the 'kick-ass' female detective figure, usually with a past, but always a match for the men. I liked this one a lot and will definitely read more in this series and investigate others that Baldacci has written.
Next, I read a non-fiction travel book, Stans by Me by Ged Gilmore. This was my May book for the Round the World: Book Voyage reading challenge, this month's region being Northern Asia. The author puts his lone-traveller principles to one side and takes a guided tour around the 'Stans' of Central Asia, Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and so on. He travelled with about eight other people and to be honest I found the people he travelled with a lot more interesting than his insights into the countries he went through. Perhaps that was the idea, I don't know, but the book was fine, I liked it, I didn't love it.
Lastly for this post, I read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I wanted to give this science-fiction author another chance after being a bit so-so about her book, A Psalm for the Wild Built, which didn't really wow me back in March. I had a feeling there was more there and I was right.
Rosemary Harper needs to escape her family's past on Mars so takes a clerk's job on the beat-up spacecraft, Wayfarer. I'm not sure I completely understood what the ship did, something about tunnelling or creating wormholes I think, but that didn't matter because this is a book about a crew - who and what they are and how they deal with situations. The captain is a decent sort named Ashby, there're two tech types, Kizzy and Jenks, a doctor who I think looks like a caterpiller, Sissix is a reptilian pilot, the navigator is a furry alien with a host virus that makes him a genius at seeing patterns in navigation and there's an algaeist who's rather confrontational. Pretty much all of them have secrets. Also onboard, Lovie, the AI controlling the ship's systems, part of the fabric of the ship, at the moment anyway... Reading this was a bit like watching half a dozen episodes of Star Trek strung together but with a non-military crew. I was completely charmed by how hard they all tried to get along and with the diversity of the crew and how they dealt with each other and some of the situations they got themselves into. The captain picks up a dangerous mission in an area of space peopled by a race split into factions which are constantly at war. But first they have to get there and that's not as simple as it sounds. Adventures abound and I loved that. Such imagination on display as regards the future of Earth, where the people went who left there, how they evolved and then went on to interact with other life forms in the galaxy. There is conflict, of course there is, but 'respect' is the most important message and this is a very positive book overall. I loved it and will be reading more in the series.
So that's me up to date. I'm waiting now for the 20 Books of Summer challenge to start on the 1st. June, in the meantime I'm reading this:
Along the Med. on a Bike Named Reggie by Andrew P. Sykes is pretty much what it says on the tin - a travelogue of the author's cycle trip from the tip of Greece to the coast of Portugal. I read his book about cycling from Spain to Norway a couple of years ago and enjoyed it and this one is equally as good.