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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My Year In Books :: Jan to May 2016

Recent Reads Jan-May-16

I love reading and having found Alyson’s ‘Recent Reads’ feature at Sky Blue Pink Designs, I’ve been inspired to follow her example and chronicle all the books I read during a year – above are the books I’ve completed so far in 2016.

From hereon in I’ll make my next book post at the end of June and then aim to list them on a traditional quarterly basis. I plan to give a brief review of my thoughts about the titles I read (liked it, loathed it, could be better) without giving away any spoilers. Not having attempted reviews of any kind before, this will be an interesting (hopefully educational) exercise for me.

Of the eleven books so far read, I’ll just say more about those I found most engrossing/enjoyable, as eleven reviews all in one go is just be a bit too daunting for me until I get the hang of it! So, favourite first, here we go…

The Illegal Gardener – Sara Alexi
I really loved this book, the first in Sara Alexi’s Greek Village series, it is my favourite read of 2016 so far. This charming, gentle, beautifully descriptive story of an English woman living in Greece and a Pakistani immigrant is a heart-warming story of a growing friendship that survives and develops despite many setbacks and misfortunes.

The Swimmer – Joakim Zander
On a remote Swedish island, Klara grows up without a father. Now, twenty years later, she discovers a secret that powerful men will kill to keep hidden. Being an enthusiast of crime thrillers, especially political crime, I was looking forward to reading The Swimmer. Set between the Middle East, Belgium, France & Sweden, with all the different threads wound together I sometimes found myself a bit confused as to who was who, what was what, where was where. An otherwise really good story, full of suspense and twists well worth occasionally going back over some pages to get everything set straight.

Behind Closed Doors – B A Paris
This debut novel is a psychological thriller which seems to have polarised reviewers between hating it and loving it. I find myself somewhere in the middle, for although having read the book in a couple of days because I desperately wanted to know the outcome, I did at times become frustrated with Grace, the main character of the story. When Grace meets and marries Jack, she cannot believe her good fortune, he’s the perfect man: handsome, successful, rich and incredibly caring. Behind Closed Doors is a glimpse into the perfect marriage… or is it?

The remaining eight titles are listed in order of my enjoyment:

  • The Miniaturist
  • The Colour of Water
  • Don’t Be Afraid
  • Afterwards
  • The State We’re In
  • The Other Hand
  • One Day
  • Spare Brides

What are you reading right now?

’till next time,

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