My Year In Books :: July

July Books
During July my reading was mainly lighthearted and I finished four books; the first three, as the titles suggest, being about ladies walking dogs. The fourth novel is the first of book of a family saga set in Ireland.

The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club – Trilogy by Duncan Whitehead
When browsing the Kindle Daily Deals, the graphic and colours of the cover of this book caught my eye, and I’m glad they did. I raced through the first book in this trilogy and so badly wanted to know what happened next, immediately downloaded the next two in the series to my Kindle. All three stories take place in Savannah, Georgia, with a little back story excursion for one of the characters in the first book to Argentina.

The main dog walking club members are ladies (shall we say ‘of a certain age’?) who meet every afternoon to walk their dogs in the private park that serves the residents of Gordonston. Dog walking being the least of their activity, they sit in the park gossiping and drinking afternoon cocktails they’ve previously prepared and surreptitiously taken with them, while they leave the dogs to rush around and exercise themselves. When mourning the death of their friend who had been the founder of the club, jealousies centred on her bereaved husband arise. An infamous uncle, plots to avenge a wrong, memories that haunt a once successful children’s writer, a neighbour who has won the trip of a lifetime and someone marked for an unmarked grave are all part of the ever thickening plot. ‘He took one final draw on his cigarette before flicking the wet butt into the hole he had just dug’ is the opening line and from there on in I was hooked. Add to this the involvement of professional assassins and the secret service, all sprinkled with some lovely humour, the whole trilogy is a delightful, funny and clever tale.

A Pocket Full of Shells – Jean Reinhardt
This is book one of an Irish family saga in which a baby girl is born in 1846 to a young fisherman and his wife. The story unfolds during the Great Hunger of the Irish potato famine and follows the young family’s progress from the fishing village of Blackrock, near Dundalk, to Liverpool and Sunderland, telling of the effects it had on their lives and survival. A story of a young man’s love for his wife and child as he struggles to provide for a family in one of the darkest periods of Ireland’s history, is their love for each other and their homeland enough to sustain them or will they be forced to join the one and a half million who emigrate?

I found this to be a short and enjoyable read and look forward to reading the next two books in the saga.

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My Year in Books :: June

Books Read in JuneHaving been converted by my daughter to reading on a Kindle, the two books I managed to get through in June were both chosen from Amazon’s 99p Kindle ‘Daily Deal’ offerings. It’s certainly a great way to extend my book purchasing budget and if occasionally selecting something I subsequently don’t enjoy too much, or even abandon reading, then it’s not a big deal!

Time to Say Goodbye – S D Robertson
Billed as ‘a heart-rending story about the unique bond between a father and his daughter’, six-year-old Ella knows her father will never leave her as he promised her so when her mother died. However, life had other plans for him and the story relates the reason for him being unable to keep his promise.

Many of this book’s reviews were four and five stars, with most reviewers having loved it but with a note of caution being: ‘best given a wide berth by the cynical’. I did not realise from its description that it is a ghost story – stories of which I am not fond. Nevertheless, it started on a promising note but I did begin to find the writing style very stilted in parts. That said, the story did make me want to keep reading to the end. A good effort by a debut author, but not necessarily one that will encourage me to look out for further novels by him.

Our Kind of Traitor – John Le Carré
Years ago now I delved into the Le Carré novels ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, ‘Smiley’s People’ and ‘The Constant Gardener’ – none of which I ever finished! After watching the recent BBC series ‘The Night Manager’ and thoroughly enjoying it (Olivia Colman, Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in lead roles perhaps having something to do with that fact) Le Carré was on my list of authors to give another go. Happily, I can report getting all the way to the end of this one and really enjoyed it. Maybe I was previously just not mature enough in my reading, not ready for spy, intrigue, thriller novels or even not ready for Le Carré. It may not be the best of Le Carré suspense-wise, with committed Le Carré fans possibly finding this offering lightweight, but the writing during the slowly evolving story is superb, never making me feel I wanted to give up for lack of a fast pace.

The story revolves around Britain in the recession, with a young couple – a leftish academic and his girlfriend who is a lawyer – escaping the depressed UK for a holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua. A meeting with a Russian millionaire by the name of Dima lands the couple in a dizzying dilemma where the worlds of the City of London and the intricate corridors of espionage collide. With a plot line that travels from Antigua, through London, Paris, a village in Switzerland and a night-time journey through the Swiss Alps, it’s well worth a read.

What books did you read in June?

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