August Wrap-up – Part I

Here’s a wrap-up of the books I’ve read so far this month:

 

The Floating Admiral by The Detection Club:

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*****

I picked this up in a charity shop for £1 back in April (I’m always looking for Agatha Christies) and loved the idea of this mystery story with each chapter written by a different author, but for some reason it just sat on my shelf until now. I thought it might be quite a good way to find new authors to read – maybe thats why I put it off, I had too many books on my TBR to fall in love with a new author’s work with an entire bibliography to scour, haha.

Anyhow, I was not disappointed.

It is a story of Admiral Penistone, found stabbed in a boat by a fisherman in the early hours, and how he came to be there. There are all the components of a good detective story – plenty of red herrings, motives and alibis.

It was thoroughly engrossing like any good golden age detective story, but I found the epilogue particularly interesting because it included all the possible solutions to the story written by each author. There were so many ways the story could have gone and it really makes you appreciate the work of the great detective fiction writers, I think.

It was also particularly great because it started out as a game between members of the club (which included Agatha Christie, GK Chesterton, Dorothy L Sayers, etc.) and it wasn’t written necessarily with the intention of publication but I for one am very glad it was published – such an interesting concept and a gripping story!

Can’t wait to read more of these story-games from the Detection Club!

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney:

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Rooney’s “Conversations with Friends” has been on my TBR for quite a while but it’s just been another one of those which never quite made it to the top of my pile…

However, our lovely Faber rep brought a proof copy of Rooney’s new story, “Normal People” to the shop and I just had to take the opportunity to read her work, and again, I was not disappointed. It got read in a day.

It’s a story of Marianne and Connell growing up, battling social norms, dealing with bullying and anxiety but the story doesn’t approach these subjects in a cliche way. Rooney’s characters are so deep and well-rounded that I got so absorbed into their relationship with each other and the people around them, I want a whole series to read just about them and their lives.

There’s not much more to say; just go and read it.

(n.b. Conversations with Friends has been ordered.)

 

Pietr the Latvian – Georges Simenon

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The first in the series starring Inspector Maigret, I was keen to start reading these as I found out they were on telly and I do like to read a book before seeing an adaptation.

There was plenty of murder and action and identity crises and I would definitely recommend it, however it took me longer than usual to read considering it was only 160 or so pages, which I’m not sure was a reflection on the book or on my use of minimal spare time. Maybe a bit of both.

Will be keeping my eye out for more of these – I know Penguin are currently translating a new Maigret story every month and are now on around #67? I better get cracking.

 

The Consolation of Maps – Thomas Bourke

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An interesting story about a young gallery worker from Tokyo who deals in antique maps, getting a job offer to work in the US and then meeting the interesting Theodora Appel.

The story was good, I mean the book was only like 206 pages long so it was pretty easy to get through. It was paced well until the very last chapters where a LOT happened way too quickly. I don’t think the plot had anywhere near as much impact as it would’ve done had there been a little bit more to it.

I did think about the story when I wasn’t reading it, however, which is a sign of a good, immersive story – right?

 

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

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I managed to finish off the audiobook of the first Sherlock Holmes story, narrated by Stephen Fry, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I do love listening to audiobooks when cooking, cleaning, building new bookcases etc so when I found the new Stephen Fry series on BorrowBox (my local library’s ebook and e-audiobook service) I had to borrow them!

I’ve seen the Benedict Cumberbatch TV adaptations of the Sherlock stories, but it was really interesting seeing how much they differ from the original stories, and I love them both! Conan Doyle seems to be a brilliant writer, and I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the series! (And read them in book form one day…)

 

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock – Imogen Hermes Gowar

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Another 5 star book! I’ve been putting this one off for a while because it’s quite chunky, but I’m so glad I got around to it!

I never think historical fiction is my thing, and I really didn’t have high hopes for this – not because I didn’t think it was good but just that it wouldn’t be my cup of tea – but I was so wrong! Now, I did try this on audiobook a couple of months ago and genuinely didn’t get on with it – I suppose that’s a testament to the format you consume books in being important in how to engage with the story.

The characters were excellent, the plot was so good, I can’t wait to read more of Gowar’s work! I think readers who may think they’re not fussed on historical fiction should definitely give this one a go as well as people who love it. It kind of makes me want to try out more but what if its boring?

 

Good Bones, Simple Murders and The Tent – Margaret Atwood

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I finally got around to finishing the audiobook I started for Read-eh-thon over a month ago!

There was something I didn’t really like about it, and I think it might actually have been the narrator of the audiobook. I thought the stories were really imaginative and although I don’t read many short stories, I do like the format.

I think I’ll try them in book form one day and see. Or maybe I should just try one of Atwood’s novels instead?

 

That’s it for now! What a busy half of the month! And some good 5 star books there.
Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

 

Read-eh-thon Wrap Up

(If you haven’t seen it already, you can find my Read-eh-thon TBR post here)

Hello!
It’s the end of Read-eh-thon! Thought I’d just update you on how it went…

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So I started off with The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill and absolutely loved it! 100% of my favourite books I’ve read this year.

I enjoyed the format where every other chapter was about Pierrot or Rose (the two main characters) – their lives running parallel to each other. Without giving too much of the story away, it’s so satisfying when you can piece together clues in each other’s story about where the other person is and what they’re doing, but they have no idea. Don’t you think?

I found the ending really well done and I didn’t expect it, and I would highly recommend this one.

I also had a look on Goodreads afterwards to see what other people thought and soooo many people thought it was an awful, crass story but I think it’s just reminiscent of the era it’s set in. I loved it, did I say that already?

 

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Next up was Murder on the Canadian by Eric Wilson. Now I’m well into my cosy crime and thought this was a really great short story – I know it’s meant for children but I think it’s definitely worth a read if you can squeeze a 94 page book into your TBR.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more in this series because it was well-written, the ending was somewhat unexpected and I read it in one sitting. Always a plus.

 

 

Then I realised I needed to read a library book that was due back on the 6th and I couldn’t renew it because someone else decided they wanted to read it too! How dare they. It was The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti if anyone is interested – which I found readable enough, it just lacked a bit of spark to me, there was not enough of a story and maybe a bit too much talking about mountains? I don’t know, I still thought it worthy of 4 stars.

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Back to my Read-eh-thon TBR, I read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel which I didn’t realise was post-apocolyptic/speculative fiction. Because I hadn’t read the blurb. Now, speculative fiction normally isn’t my jam, whatsoever, however I found Station Eleven so readable and interesting that I must have read it just over 24 hours – when I had been at work for 8.5 hours, and slept for about 8.5 hours of that. Basically, it’s good! Even if you don’t think its your cup of tea, you should definitely give it a go!

 

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By this point (Saturday evening), I had of course realised I probably wasn’t going to get to Life of Pi and decided to try and find an audiobook on BorrowBox instead, that was written by a Canadian author etc. and I found Margaret Atwood’s Good Bones, Simple Murders and the Tent, which is a collection of teeny short stories. I will admit, it’s Monday now, the readathon finished last night and I haven’t quite finished this one but I am enjoying it! I love me some tales about misunderstood fictional people telling their stories.

 

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I also managed to get to Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland, which was fine, but certainly didn’t live up to the hype. I also went into this one not realising it was a bit post-apocalyptic, but just felt that Station Eleven was far more interesting? I don’t know, maybe its just because I read that one first.

Girlfriend in a coma was fine, and you should give it a go if speculative fiction is your jam but this one just wasn’t for me. I think it was written in a bit too much of a teenage voice for me? However the character development was good and the girl-being-in-a-coma-for-17-years was somewhat interesting as a plot device.

 

So all in all, I managed to read 5 and a half books in eight days, bringing my 2018 total to 63 so far! And I enjoyed nearly all of them – yay! Considering early last year I didn’t read anything besides non-fiction for my dissertation I am very proud of myself.

What did you read for the Read-eh-thon if you took part? Also, have you read any of these books & what did you think of them? I definitely want to read more Heather O’Neill and Emily St John Mandel after this week.

Let me know your thoughts!

Amy x