Category: Books

Reading Plans for 2020

Ah, planning. I like a plan. Ha! I don’t always make it to the end of one but it’s always good to have something to work towards, right?

Plus I was inspired to re-organise my reading shelf after documenting last years books read.

Here is the 2020 list including the ones carried over from 2019 – marked with a *.

  • Good Wives – Louisa May Alcott
  • The Little Sister – Raymond Chandler
  • Partners in Crime – Agatha Christie
  • Persuasion – Jane Austen
  • A Trick of the Light – Louise Penny
  • The Ladies Paradise – Emile Zola
  • This Must be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell
  • Tender is the Night – F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Death Comes as the End – Agatha Christie *
  • The Constant Gardener – John le Carre *
  • An Autobiography by Agatha Christie *
  • Uncommon Type – Tom Hanks *
  • The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins *
  • Allotted Time – Robin Shelton *
  • The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith
  • After You – Jojo Moyes (not in the picture as I was reading it!)

I did put the Constant Gardener back on the list even though I gave up on it last year. I sort of want to know what is going on! And yes there are a couple on the pile that I may just let go but we will see how it goes especially as I intend to read instead of scrolling on Instagram and the mooching on the laptop!

What I’ve been Reading 2019 – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith and A Roundup

My final read of the year was The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (or J.K Rowling!) I spotted this in a charity shop in the summer and thought my Mum would like it. She kept it for a month or so then decided she wouldn’t read it and passed it to me.

I’m so glad she did because it was excellent. Just what I needed. It was a good old fashioned detective story, introduced two loveable characters who you want to get to know better and threw in some murder and mayhem. Perfect. I knew they had made the books into a T.V series although I hadn’t watched it. From the start I had the faces of the actors in my head as I read but I didn’t find that a drawback. And the good news it that she has written more in the series. Yay another quest for secondhand books! (I have actually found the second book already!)

I wanted to write down some thoughts on last years reading and have just gone back and read my post from last January.

In the spirit of honesty I’ll just run through the pile of books and what happened with each –

  • Death Comes as the End – still on the pile.
  • Death of a Busybody – taken to the charity shop unread. It just wasn’t for me.
  • The Colour of Murder – as above.
  • Uncommon Type – short stories, read two. Still on pile.
  • Seating Arrangements – read about 50 pages then gave up. Didn’t like any of the characters.
  • Death at the Presidents Lodging – read.
  • The Constant Gardener – struggled to read about a quarter of this. Can’t bring myself to ditch it….
  • Agatha Christies Autobiography – I was already part of the way through this one. Still on pile.
  • The Song of Achilles – read.
  • The Moonstone – still on the pile.
  • Allotted Time – still on the pile.

Now I’ve written that down I see why my total number is low. I tried two books and didn’t finish them! The Constant Gardener is literary fiction and was very hard going for me. What I have read took weeks! I know I should just let it go but I can’t. And I started one that I did let go. But again what I read took a few weeks of trying to get into it which all added up to ‘lost’ weeks of reading time. But I’m not going to dwell on the small number of books I managed to read. Instead I am going to organise that pile again and commit more time to reading this year.

And a final couple of thoughts. I’m pleased that I found one book that I’ll never forget because it was so ‘beautiful’,  The Song Of Achilles and one that I’ll never forget because it was so clever, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. And of course a new detective series and more Jack! What’s to complain about?!

Read 2019 – The Holiday Books

Ah yes. Holiday reading. One of the best times to relax and read book after book…….. Um, no.

We planned on reading several books each on our trip but that simply didn’t happen. We were so busy or so tired we only managed two each! It just wasn’t that kind of holiday and that’s okay. No really Gav it’s okay…….

I only actually took three with me and one on the kindle. He insisted on six! All proper books too. Good job we had plenty of kilo allowance for the cases.

I went back to my old favourite Stephanie Plum for my first read. Hardcore 24 by Janet Evanovich. It was the usual easy read with a few laugh out loud moments. Even though these stories are virtually the same over and over I can’t seem to stop reading them. Like I say easy reading and sometimes that’s exactly what you want.

The second book was something a little different. I’d seen it previously but not bought it then I saw it mentioned on a blog I follow and decided to try it. At it’s core it’s a murder mystery but the author has given it a twist. In his words it’s a ‘time-travel, body-hopping murder mystery’. It is clever, mind boggling at times and absorbing. I took a few tries to get into it but then I was hooked. It also stayed with me for days afterwards as I unravelled things I’d missed and I had a few lightbulb moments. As I say it was complicated! Or maybe it was just me that couldn’t keep track. Just like The Song of Achilles it made me want to be in a book club so I could ramble on about it and check I’d got all my facts right!

And that was all I managed to read. Such a ‘bad’ year for reading but it is what it is.

Read 2019 – A Wanted Man, The Song of Achilles

I was very tempted to only post about the above book this time because it deserves its own piece of my blog.

Last year I listened to the author on an episode of the Bookclub podcast from the BBC. Over the years I have listened to many authors on this podcast and often intended to buy their books then never getting round to doing so. But this one stuck in my mind and the next time I found myself in a bookshop I bought it.

I knew it wasn’t my usual sort of book. I knew it was more literary fiction than chick lit but I was intrigued. And I may as well admit that I simply adored the film Troy……. Brad Pitt as Achilles…..I mean, come on!

Anyway this book is a re-telling of Homer’s Iliad. Told from the point of view of Patroclus, companion (and in this version) lover of Achilles in the years before and during the Trojan war.

It was simply mesmerising. Her writing is lyrical and detailed and paints the picture beautifully. Miller has worked their coming of age story into the bigger picture of the war and done it well. I fell in love with them both. You don’t have to know about Greek Mythology to enjoy this. I knew the story from my childhood, and twenty times watching Troy fixes it in your brain too, but I didn’t know all the character names and it didn’t matter I just went with it and loved it.

Makes me want to join a bookclub just so I can discuss it more. So glad I went out of my comfort zone and I can’t recommend it enough.

And now you know why I was going to just post about The Song of Achilles…..

How can the same person read both of these books? HA! That is the beauty and complexity of us humans right?

Oh Jack. Only seven left to read! Eek….. Good old action packed thriller writing. This was one of my favourites even if he did kill someone off at the eleventh hour….. By now you just know I’m a fan so I keep reading.

I’m gearing up for my holiday reads right now. Only a few weeks till we leave for the magical place and I must try and fit in a few books as well as meet Mickey and the gang!

What I’ve been Reading 2019 – Gone Tomorrow, A Lesson in Secrets

The reading has been slow these past few months. Best laid plans eh?

I picked one from my shelf of books a couple of months ago but just didn’t like it at all so put it down again. I never used to do that! I would persevere but not anymore. Too many books that I want to read to struggle with one. That set me back a little.

I picked the Tom Hanks short stories one up and read a couple of those. Then I picked up the Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Also from the shelf. It is beautifully written but again I wasn’t sure it was for me. But I was round at a friends house and spotted it on their bookshelf. I was encouraged to stick with it so haven’t given up on that one yet I just chose to read these other two first! Not from the shelf though….

I know, I know. But soon I’ll have read them all! The horror…….ha, ha. This one wasn’t bad at all. As I’ve said many time before they are all similar but he just does such a good job at drawing you in.

And then I read one that my Mum passed to me about Maise Dobbs the lady detective from the 1930’s era. Actually I think the series of books spans many years. I read the first story at the beginning of last year. A Lesson in Secrets isn’t the second in the series and usually I would not read out of order but it was there, I just picked it up and off I went. It was interesting, set just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Not sure I’ll pick up another. As I say it was interesting and made me think about the history of that period in time. There is something about the either the character or the story that I don’t find appealing. I think maybe they are too long for me and I feel that the story is being dragged out so that the author get to that magic number of words her publisher demands!

Or maybe this year is simply not a reading year…..it does fee a little like I’m just struggling. But I’ll press on!

What I’ve been Reading 2019 – The Mystery of Three Quarters, Death at the Presidents Lodging and Echo Burning

I finished The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah and the day I organised my reading shelf. It is a Hercule Poirot written by another author, much like the last few Peter Wimsey novels. This is actually the third Poirot she has written but I couldn’t bring myself to try them! My friend gave me this so I thought I better get on with it.

The thing I find about reading stories with characters originated by another author is that you have to go with it. That is a very woolly way to describe my reading experience I know. From a correctness point of view I think she did a decent job of capturing Poirot. I’m not sure the story itself was as good as Agatha’s but I did enjoy it and I may try one of the others. I’d say that if you are a fan give them a whirl.

Next up was one off my new pile! Hooray. Not sure where the recommendation for this one came from maybe from a reading post over here. Alicia reads and reads and often has blog posts where she asks for recommendations. She likes English style mysteries so I bet I got it from there. Anyway it was interesting certainly. And very ‘British’ and very old fashioned. I also found it a bit complicated and honestly felt I was wading through it in the end. But it’s read.

And yes….oh dear I could not go two months without Jack! I had no intention of picking one up so soon, honest. But I found this in a local charity shop and the purchase means that between my sister and I we have found all 21 novels at charity/secondhand bookshops. We’ve been collecting about a year or so I think. So it had to be bought and then oops…. it was read.

All that said it wasn’t a favourite. Still enjoyable though.

So there we go not too bad a start at least I have one less on that pile.

What I Hope to Read in 2019…….

Do you know I bought that wooden shelf unit about 15 years ago. I remember it well and was so happy to bring it home. The plan of course was to put it on the wall…… As you can see that never happened and it has sat by my side of the bed in that spot all this time.

I know what you’re thinking. What does that shelf have to do with reading? Well for the past 8 years it has had the same books sat on it. Gathering dust and bleaching out the pages where they extended out of the shelf. Who knew that would happen? Anyway I was inspired to clear it out at the start of this year and sort through my large ‘to be read pile’ with the intention of only putting back what I hoped to read this year.

I have recently fallen into the trap of hoarding books I know I won’t read. My Mum gives me some and I buy some on impulse from Barter Books but then wonder why as I just know they’ll stay untouched. It is time to let them go.

The ones I selected to return to the shelf are a mix of very old, old and new! Non-fiction and fiction. I will definitely read others that are not on the pile….. I mean there are no Jack Reacher and I can’t go a year without him! But I’ll start here and see what happens.

What I Read in 2018 – A Recap

What can I say? My goal to read two books a month in 2018 has failed. I think my total is only seventeen….. No wait! I forgot another Jack Reacher book…..Eighteen.  Oh well never mid eh? There is always 2019…….

Here are all the books from 2018 –

  • A Cotswold Ordeal – Rebecca Tope
  • Bad Luck and Trouble – Lee Child
  • Maise Dobbs – Jaqueline Winspear
  • The Visitor – Lee Child
  • The Paper Moon – Andrea Camilleri
  • Rooted in Evil – Ann Granger
  • Murder in the Museum – John Rowland
  • Without Fail – Lee Child
  • A Presumption of Death – Jill Patton Walsh and Dorothy L Sayers
  • The Affair – Lee Child
  • August Heat – Andrea Camilleri
  • 61 Hours – Lee Child
  • The Attenbury Emeralds – Jill Patton Walsh
  • The Enemy – Lee Child
  • Tripwire – Lee Child
  • Turbo Twenty Three – Janet Evanovich
  • The Little Scholar – Jill Patton Walsh
  • Make Me – Lee Child

You can see that I stayed firmly in my comfort zone and read an awful lot of Reacher. But I’m okay with it. I’ll pop back soon with my reading plan for 2019.

What I’ve been Reading – July, August and September 2018

Well. My reading went off the rails a little over the summer. I picked a book from the pile to start off July and kept trying to read it but in the end I decided I wasn’t bothered about finding out who the murderer was (shocking I know!) and I put it down. That wasted most of the month. I am so picky with my books that I very rarely put one down without finishing it but sometimes is has to be done.

I went back to familiar territory I’m afraid after that little disaster. The Enemy by Lee Child. This is the only photo I have of the cover as I’ve returned it to my sister who is keeper of the Reacher collection!

I think it’s pretty clear that I like these books! Quickly read and enjoyed.

After that it was more familiarity with The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Patton Walsh based on the characters of Dorothy L. Sayers. Really liked this one. Patton Walsh has taken these well loved folk and made them even more loveable.

Our holiday began with more Reacher, Tripwire by Lee Child. If you recall my sister and I are trying to buy all these books second hand and this one, the third in the series has been tricky to find. But she located a copy and kindly let me read it first.

And then I went back to good old Stephanie Plum. I read this one on the kindle so no photo. It was quick and I admit the same old same old. But for a holiday read it was fine.

So there we are three months and only four books so I’m still playing catch up. My tally for the year is sixteen. Better get cracking if I’m going to make it to twenty four!

What I’ve been Reading – June 2018

First the good news…… I read three books in June so caught up on my goal of reading two a month thus 24 in the year.

The bad news is that I am still stuck in my comfort zone. But I have decided I don’t care right now and am reading what I like!

I started The Affair by Lee Child in May but finished it in June. Like all the Jack Reachers before them they are quick to read because I can’t put them down. This one was a trip back in time to when Jack was still in the army. It takes place just before the very first Reacher novel and sets the scene for why he decided to quit that institution. Enjoyable.

Next I went back to Inspector Montalbano. August Heat by Andrea Camilleri. This one was on ‘the pile’ as I bought it some time ago from Barter Books. Have to say it wasn’t a favourite and makes me want to have a rest from this series of novels.

And oh dear yes, my third book was more Jack.

Really liked this one. Very on the edge of your seat tense and full of suspense. It also gave a hint that Jack could be fallible (I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say he always wins in then end, well in all the books I’ve read so far anyway!) which I liked because everyone is at some point even our fictional anti-heroes.

I may try something off the pile this month who knows?