Sunday 9 July 2023

I have been reading...

I just DNFed a book I was really looking forward to reading. Isn't it disappointing when that happens? I'd waited for the Kindle price to come down, grabbed it when it did, and there it sat waiting for the right moment. 'Summer' I thought (and actually it turned out to be a 'winter' sea setting, not a summer one, 'duh'). But it turned out I 'really' didn't like one half of the detective duo, couldn't seem to recall who the heck was who and didn't care about them when I did. 31% in and I just had to give it up. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

On to more positive things. Two crime books I loved.

Dead Level by Damien Boyd is book 5 in his DI Nick Dixon series. This police procedural series is set here in the south west of England where I live, it covers the Bristol area, Somerset and creeps into Devon occasionally. So everything is very familiar and I really like that. This instalment starts with the brutal murder of the pregnant wife of Conservative candidate of an upcoming by-election. Is the murder politically motivated? If so, why kill the wife and not the candidate? Dixon is on suspension so another officer takes charge of the case but he sticks his oar in nevertheless because his partner is on the case. Making life difficult is that this was the year the Somerset Levels flooded, 2014: it did make for interesting reading to be reminded of all that happened that year. I gave this fives stars on Goodreads because it is very good indeed. Boyd has got into his stride with this series now, the last two were also very good. Dixon is very driven but not troubled or alcoholic and that makes a nice change. There's a lot of 'normal life' going on too, pizza in front of the telly with the dog, walking said dog on various beaches... The books are just great and this is another excellent instalment. 

Next, The Fatal Flying Affair by T.E. Kinsey.

This is book 7 of the author's Lady Hardcastle mysteries. Lady Emily Hardcastle and her companion/maid, Florence Armstrong, moved to the countryside in book 1 for a quieter life, ho ho. Murders ensued of course and now they're working for the government doing a bit of casual spying, as you do. It's 1911 and Lady Hardcastle's brother asks her to express an interest in buying an aeroplane from a company in Bristol. Not hard, as she is interested in cars, planes and so forth. There's been a death, a young man died when he jumped out of a plane testing the new fangled 'parachutes', but he shouldn't have done as they are now considered safe. Lady Hardcastle and Flo do some clandestine snooping of course and a great deal of excitement ensues. Another series I really love but in a different way. It doesn't take itself seriously, a lot of the action's a bit unlikely or completely bonkers and I'm sure two women would not've got away with what they get away with in 1911 but I'm fine with that because the dialogue is joyous as the two main characters rib each other endlessly and the brother joins in. Great stuff... I think there're 10 in the series now and I plan to read all of them. 

I've just finished a book I've been reading off and on for a year, A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Reasons Why We Can't Stop Reading Jane Austen (that rolls readily off the tongue...) edited by Susannah Carson. Essays by authors such as E.M Forster, Virginia Woolf, Martin Amis, Susanna Clarke, J.B Priestley, A.S. Byatt and lots more. Very good if you're a keen Jane Austen fan, I loved reading discussions of the 6 novels or of Austen's life, lots of opinions I'd not thought of, a keeper. 

So then I DNFed the book I mentioned at the beginning, a bit disgusted but not sure whether that's with myself or the book! LOL

And now I'm reading this one:

The premise of Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Fairies by Heather Fawcett is that they are real and that there all kinds of different ones around the world and there are scientists in 1924 studying them. One of them, Emily Wilde, is on an island off the northern coast of Norway looking to find out about The Hidden Ones, a race of faeries who are enigmatic, secretive and very dangerous as they're taking children. I absolutely 'love' it.

So, that's me all caught up. I hope you're keeping well and reading lots of excellent books.


Margot Kinberg said...

Oof, that DNF feeling! It's always such a disappointment, isn't it, Cath? I've done it myself. Still, life is far too short to spend time reading a book that has no appeal. The others you've got look great, though. I've been wanting to read some Damien Boyd, and just haven't yet; I appreciate the nudge!

Cath said...

Margot, I tried with the book but the last couple of times I picked it up my heart was just not in it. When you get to a certain age you realise you might not have enough time left to read all your books so if you don't like a book it's sensible to give it the old heave-ho.

I do feel that Boyd is worth a look. The writing is good and the plots quite complex. He's getting better and better in my opinion.

TracyK said...

Sorry about that book you DNFed. I don't do that a lot, but I am more open to the idea nowadays.

I will be looking for a Damien Boyd book at the book sale. Sounds like a great series. I like series where the characters have a normal life outside of work.

You are very far ahead of me in the T.E. Kinsey series. I read the first three in ebook editions, then bought the paper edition of the fourth one and have never read it. I do have the next three up to The Fatal Flying Affair as ebooks, so will read all of those eventually.

A Truth Universally Acknowledged sounds very good, I will have to look into finding a copy. I am now reading Jane Austen Cover to Cover, it includes facts about Austen's life also and I don't know much about that. And also SS-GB by Len Deighton.

Cath said...

Tracy: I try not to DNF too much too because sometimes when you do decide to read on it's well worth it.

Good luck with finding one of the Boyd books at the book sale.

I hope you enjoy the T.E. Kinsey books as you move forward with them. They get better and better and are a nice relief from more serious crime fiction.

The Jane Austen essays were very good. I have other books too including 2 biographies and various fictional offshoots. I'll look up Jane Austen Cover to Cover as I don't know that. I don't know a lot about her life either and need to remedy that.

Jeane said...

Oh, I've been wanting to read the Encyclopaedia of Fairies book! It sounds a tad similar in premise to A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan which I read recently and need to finish the series now. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of the faery one.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Don't feel bad about not finishing a book. As you say why read on when you realise you might not have enough time left to read all your books - that has been brought home to me this year with my recent health problems.

I am tempted to read Damien Boyd's DI Nick Dixon series after reading your posts so I've bought the first one - As the Crow Flies - and I'm hoping to enjoy it.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

I definitely want to catch up with the Damien Boyd series, although I'm not sure whether I can handle having a detective who hasn't got personal problems and baggage, which always seems to overflow into their working lives! :)

I really want to read the T.E. Kinsey series too, although I just checked and I still have the first book on my Kindle unread, so that doesn't bode too well! I have no idea why the concept of series reading escapes me so badly - Perhaps it is just that I enjoy the variety of reading an eclectic mix of stand alone stories - Who knows!

I checked back through my Goodreads 'Books Read' index, and I can't find a DNF book since I joined in 2014. I must admit that there are times I have thought "Well, that's another I don't know how many hours of my life I can't get back", when I have slogged through a particularly soul destroying story, but on the whole, I am just too darned stubborn to admit defeat.

Sorry you had to discount one book from your reading target, but I hope you have many more good reads in July, to make up for it :)

Fanda Classiclit said...

I've found the Lady Hardcastle mysteries for the first time the other day - I think I was stumbled upon it when browsing interesting series on my Google Playbook. I've saved the first book, and knowing you loved the series that much, I think I'm going to read it sooner than later. So, thanks for that! :)

Cath said...

Jeane: Yes, coincidently, I have been thinking while reading that Emily Wilde in not unlike the Lady Trent books, so you're spot-on. I think I might end up liking the Emily Wilde slightly more, we'll see come the end.

Cath said...

Margaret: I completely understand why that has been brought home to you this year. We never quite know what's around the corner when you get to our age, which is a sobering thought.

I like Damien Boyd's series a lot. I do realise though that it does have a bit to do with how local they are to me. But, regardless of that, they are very good police procedural stories.

Cath said...

Yvonne: LOL! I know... terrible isn't it, when a policeman has no personal baggage apart from being diabetic.

I think possibly that your hectic reading schedule doesn't allow for much in the way of series reading. And with all these series that are now available it's impossible anyway to keep up with them all. I have a chosen few and I don't stray too far from those, the rest of what I read are standalones.

I rarely used to DNF too, feeling that had failed somehow but these days I realise that I'm knocking on and life's too short to read something I'm not liking very much. To be honest I don't have a reading target so it makes no difference whether I discard a book or not.

Cath said...

Fanda: I hope you enjoy the Lady Hardcastle books if you get to them. I find them excellent for cheering myself up. :-)

Sam said...

I'm definitely going to have to look into the Damien Boyd series; it's one I'm unfamiliar with. And I kind of like the sound of the "faeries" book, another I'm really curious about.

As for DNFs, I've had only five so far this year, but had one yesterday that really surprised me. It's the new short story collection from George Saunders and all the critics have been raving about it. I only discovered Saunders three or four years ago, and despite never quite knowing what each book is going to feel like, this is the first one I just can't get into at all. His stories have been getting "stranger and stranger" in the last couple of collections, but this one crossed some kind of line that left me totally confused after reading 15 pages of the first story. Just chucked it after it made my headache worse than it had been when I picked the book up. :-)

CLM said...

I've got the first Damien Boyd from the library (also the final Elly Griffiths about Ruth Galloway - this won't be good for my 20 Books of Summer, despite my finishing two last night).

I recently reviewed a book by Heather Fawcett and considered buying more when I was in Canada last month but was in the mood for something different. That book looks interesting.

Lark said...

I just DNFed a book, too. And there wasn't anything I really disliked about it, but I wasn't loving it either. The writing didn't draw me in, neither did any of the characters. It was one of those middling books that I'd probably end up giving 3/5 stars, and I'm shooting for better books this year. Like Dead Level. I wonder if I can get my library to buy a copy of that one. Fingers crossed. :D

Cath said...

Sam: I think the Damien Boyd series is well worth looking into. I really enjoyed The Faeries book I must admit, something a bit different.

That must've been really disappointing about the Saunders book. It's especially so when you're expecting a good read as I was with the one I DNFed. It should've been everything I liked in a crime novel... 'nope'.

Cath said...

Constance: Well, I think you can swap books can't you? To be honest that's why I didn't do the Summer challenge this year. I'm such a butterfly when it comes to making lists and sticking to them, I can change my mind overnight let alone in 3 months.

The Faeries book was pretty good, very different although it did remind me a bit of the Lady Trent dragon books by Marie Brennan. Those suffer from not having enough dragons though, whereas there were plenty of faeries in this book.

Cath said...

Lark: I completely agree, sometimes average is just not enough. I hope you can get your library to get Dead Level, that series is just going from strength to strength.