As usual I've been reading quite a lot but not doing much in the way of talking about said books on here. So... time for a catch up via some quick reviews.
First up, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
Nora Seed is in her mid thirties and feels her life to have been a failure. Currently estranged from her only family, a brother, over her unwillingness to start a band with him, her best friend doesn't speak to her as she decided against going to Australia with her and then Nora gets the sack for not being cheerful enough to the customers in a music shop. The last straw comes when someone knocks on the door to tell her her cat, her only company, has just died out in the street. Nora decides life is just not worth living and that she will end it all. Except the end isn't what she expected. She's now in a library that seems to contain books that have inside of them all the lives Nora could've lived if she had made different decisions. Can she find one amongst the thousands of alternatives that she actually wants to stay in? So this was interesting in that it dealt with all those 'What ifs?' that we all have in our lives. Those decisions we made that took us in one direction when a different decision might have taken us elsewhere and led to a happier more fulfilled life... or 'not'. I suppose it asks questions about alternate universes where we all exist but living different lives, with different people, different jobs etc. It's an interesting concept to consider. I like a book that makes me think and this was very good in that regard.
Next, I read The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie. Thoroughly enjoyed this, one of the first Miss Marple books published after The Murder at the Vicarage. This is a series of connected short stories wherein a sort of murder club is formed over or after various dinners with friends that Miss Marple attends. People talk about various mysteries they've encountered and Miss Marple inevitably solves said mystery. I thought it was delightful.
That was followed by a contemporary fiction story entitled, Retreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas.
Eliza is a single parent with three grown-up children. Her husband left her when the kids were quite young and now they're adults and have flown the nest she's sold the family home and has a small 2 bed flat. Problem - for one reason or another they're all back and the place is bedlam. Eliza is taking a course and has an exam deadline but can't work in the chaos, so, on a whim, she answers a 'house-sitter required' ad and finds herself in Spain looking after a pig farm while the owner's away. The plan is to write her essay while it's quiet but Eliza reckons without the draw of the local ex-pat club who're learning Spanish, or trying to. This is one of those light books you get sucked into and I certainly did - starting and finishing in one day. I liked Eliza, in her mid-forties and just trying to better herself with a bit more education. The Spanish village setting was a delight and I learnt a bit about a local delicacy, Iberico ham. I've read three or four books by Jo Thomas and always enjoy her less than perfect heroines.
Lastly, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel.
This a science fiction story... it's as well I didn't know it was a time-travel yarn because I might not've started in the first place. It did actually begin quite well with a 'second and thus not inheriting much, son' travelling to Canada to start a new life in 1912. Something happens to him in the forests of British Columbia which is connected with some things which happen to others in 2020, 2203 and 2401. There are colonies on The Moon in this story, and I thought those were particularly well depicted. There's a pandemic involved (not ours). And the writing was very good indeed but as always I found the time travel aspect confusing no matter how clever the author was at bringing various timelines together and surprising the reader at the end. A solid 3 star read, I was slightly disappointed in this but bear in mind that reflects my dislike of time-travel stories, your mileage may vary. (A time-travel book I 'did' quite like - To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.)
I hope you're all keeping well and enjoying some good books.