Tuesday 22 August 2023

Blogging break

I've decided to take a blogging break for a couple of weeks while my husband's cellulitis heals. He has a nasty open wound on his leg now, it's worrying but he's on a second lot of antibiotics so hopefully those will do the trick. It doesn't help that diabetics don't heal as quickly as the rest of us of course and I can worry for England which also doesn't help. I will still probably be around commenting on blog posts but am just not in the mood at the moment to do book reviews. Take care and enjoy the rest of August!

Monday 14 August 2023

I have been reading...

Yet another catch-up post from me. I've been reading but not enthusiastically for some reason. Possibly not finding books to suit my mood right now. 

I was almost halfway through The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie before I realised I'd read it before. Checking Goodreads, it was 2016, long enough for me to have forgotten whodunit so I carried on. Good book, even on the second reading.

Then I read a YA fantasy, The Left-handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix, my 12th. book for  Susan's Bookish Books Reading challenge.

Susan Arkshaw has just turned 18. She lives with her airy-fairy mother in Somerset, a mother who will not talk about who Susan's father is. Longing to get away, she gets a place at an art college in London but sets off early with the idea of starting a search for her father. Going to see an uncle she's just in time to see him turned to dust by 'Merlin', a young man who is a member of a secret organisation, The Booksellers of London. They are guardians a of a sort, protecting the world from the dangerous creatures of myth and legend of The Old World. The Booksellers fall into two categories, left-handed or right and thus have different skills and abilities. It soon becomes apparent that there's something different about Susan and someone sees her existence as dangerous. Who, from The Old World, is after her? It's quite clear that her father really must be found. So, this was a fun read. A bit sort of 'Chosen One' in theme, but that's fine as I quite like that. I thought the world building - an alternate 1983 - was very good: Garth Nix is a seasoned author with a lot of experience of that, witness his 'Old Kingdom' series, which is terrific. There're a lot of bookish references in the story, so that's fun. I enjoyed the dash across England to The Lake District too. So, not a bad start to a new series, I think book 2, The Sinister Booksellers of Bath, is already out so I'll read that at some point. 

Lastly, A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yardwood-Lovett. This was free with Prime Reading, along with the next two in the series.

Dr. Nell Ward is an Ecologist. Bats are more or less her life apart from the secrets she doesn't share with her colleagues. She's surveying a tunnel that runs under a house when she hears an odd noise and leaves because it unnerves her. Next thing she knows she's a suspect in a murder case because a woman is found dead not far from where she was... the woman she was supposed to meet at the house a bit later in fact. She didn't know her but the police thinks she did and things begin to spiral out of control very quickly. Because she knows the police are barking up the wrong tree and that there's a murderer on the loose, Nell and her colleague, Adam, begin to investigate. It's not long before Nell begins to suspect she's been set up. So, this was another quite enjoyable crime yarn. The ecological aspect was different but I did feel the author wanted us to know how much she knew about bats. I felt like quite the expert by the time I'd finished the book. I also felt the triangular love interest thing was rather a distraction, two men after one woman is ok for a bit but I got the feeling this was going to drag on into subsequent books and could quickly become old. (I completely agree that I'm ancient and thus not the target audience for this kind of thing.) Anyway, not a bad first book, different enough to keep me reading the Prime Reading instalments but possibly not enough to buy a load.

Having talked briefly last time about my husband's various illnesses, he caught me on the hop last week and found a new one: Cellulitis. We've no clue where it came from but the angry, red inflammation on his leg turned out to be just that and I'm so glad we nipped to the doctor sharpish and caught it early. A lot of people worry about bothering the dr. unnecessarily, including 'me'. My advice is 'don't'. If something's doesn't look right, it probably isn't - get it looked at. Here endeth the first lesson...

Happy reading, August here in the UK continues to feel just like autumn and that's fine by me but I do feel for people around the world who're going through awful things at the moment, the island of Maui for instance. We live in challenging times. 

Thursday 3 August 2023

Books read in July

I seem to have been a little AWOL recently. No particular reason, just busy, July seemed to be full of routine medical appointments for my husband, he's diabetic with heart problems, a newish tendency towards pneumonia and now cataracts that need operating on. Fun, fun. In better news it's our Golden wedding anniversary tomorrow, I'm not certain where 50 years went but 'went' it did... We'll be celebrating over the weekend with the family.

So, I have been reading but not as much as usual: I read just six books in July, although I've just finished two others started last month too, so it's more than 6 really but I will count those for August as it makes no difference whatsoever. 

These are the books:

59. The Fatal Flying Affair - T.E. Kinsey

60. A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Reasons Why We Can't Stop Reading Jane Austen, edited by  Susannah Carson. This is pretty much what it says on the tin - 33 essays by all and sundry about Jane Austen's books, characters, the settings and of course Austen's life. I've been reading this slowly for months and it was well worth the effort, very interesting indeed.

61. Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries - Heather Fawcett

62. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires - Grady Hendrix

63. Every Dead Thing - John Connolly. I've read 13 of Connolly's 'Charlie Parker' books but never read book 1... now I have. Parker's wife and small daughter are brutally murdered and policeman, Parker, follows the trail to New Orleans to root out the culprit. Truthfully, I don't think I learnt anything I didn't already know but I'm glad I've now read the first book. I fancy subsequent books are better though.

64. Jane Austen: A Life - Claire Tomalin. An absolutely superb biography of Jane Austen. I learnt *so* much and found knowing these things helps make more sense of her books . Highly recommend.

Looking at Goodreads I see I gave every book I read 4 stars apart from Jane Austen: A Life to which I gave 5. So it was clearly a pretty good reading month despite being a bit on the slow side.  

Quick reviews of the two books just finished.

First up, My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni.

Tracy Crosswhite is a police officer working in Seattle but back on her home turf of a small town in the Cascades in Washington State. It's where her sister, Sarah, disappeared  20 years ago, driving home after a shooting match on a lonely road. Tracy has never forgiven herself for allowing Sarah to drive home on her own, in a snowstorm, while she went with her fiancĂ©. A man is in prison for the murder, despite the lack of a body. Tracy, however, feels the conviction was unsafe and convinces a childhood friend, now a lawyer, to reinvestigate with the aim of reopening the case. Of course, what she doesn't realise is that she'll also be opening a brand new can of worms. For those who like their crime books with a good dose of winter, lots of snow, mountains, back roads and so on, this is a perfct read. I enjoyed it despite the fact that there were a lot of courtroom scenes, which is not a favourite 'trope' of mine in murder mysteries. There was enough other action to keep me hooked and reading and not wanting to put the book down. I was sort of expecting the outcome, but that's fine, I'm always more interested in the journey than the destination and I loved the setting to bits. This is book one in the author's 'Tracy Crosswhite' series and I'll read more if I come across any. 

Lastly, The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray.

Mr. Knightley and Emma (from Emma of course) are having a house party and invited are various heros and heroines from Jane Austen's other books. Darcy and Lizzy for instance, plus their son, Jonathan, Captain Wentworth and Anne, now married, Marriane and Col. Brandon. Halfway through dinner one night they're interrupted by a new arrival, Mr. Wickham who ran off with Lizzie's sister, Lydia, in the plot of Pride and Prejudice. Absolutely no one is pleased to see him. It seems Wickham has involved some of the people present in some financial scheme that has failed and money has been lost. When he's found battered to death in the long gallery, the list of suspects is as long as your arm. Only two people have no motive and are likely innocent, Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney, daughter of the Tilneys from Northanger Abbey. Naturally the two set about trying to find out who's responsible for the murder of Mr. Wickham. If you're not keen on your favourite characters from favourite classics being mucked about with then this book is likely not for you. It does involve a bit of suspension of disbelief not least because I couldn't understand why anyone would trust George Wickham enough to plough money into his schemes. Regardless, I did enjoy this romp, daft as it is, it was fun to imagine what has happened to the various married couples after the books they appeared in, finished. The author created a timeline, working out how old people would be, so some are not long married, others middle-aged with older children. Jonathan and Juliet worked well together despite the difficulties and manners of the day and I gather their adventures continue in book 2, The Late Mrs.Willoughby. I plan to read it.

 I hope you had a good reading month in July and find lots of great reads for August!