Tuesday 27 July 2010

My summer reading

Time for a book blog methinks. I’ve just been doing an interview with Authors on Show (will post link when it’s live) and one of the questions was ‘what do you read for pleasure?’. Answer: anything and everything really.
I read stupidly fast and so I get through tons of books. Lately it’s been a bit of a mixed bag so I thought I’d share them here. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts.  And feel free to give me your recommendations too...

Blacklands by Belinda Bauer (Corgi): I was desperate to read this crime thriller as it’s set on Exmoor yet somehow it left me a little cold. The set-up is great – boy writes to paedophile in prison trying to find out where the man buried his uncle – a correspondence begins – and then the murderer escapes. Can’t put my finger on why it didn’t work for me – maybe it became too hurried at the end. Also, I’m intrigued as to which small Exmoor village would have a house number 111 in it (the roads aren’t long enough!).

Never the Bride by Paul Magrs (Headline): Picked this up at Paddington station for the journey home and had a fabulous time with it. Brenda and Effie – two elderly women with monstrously (ho ho) bizarre secrets go bonkers in Whitby. Alexander McCall Smith on acid.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (Faber): a very very smart book indeed. Young student gets embroiled with a strange family as their part-time nanny. Dark secrets but also black humour. Very deftly done. Litfic for those who usually hate litfic.

The Book with No Name by Anonymous (Michael O’Mara Books): this was recommended by my local Waterstones and was apparently a self-published Internet ‘phenomenon’. It’s a caper with vampires, cowboys and a lot of alcohol. I felt it needed a darn good edit.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail): one of those books where you’re shouting at the MC ‘don’t do it!’ pretty much all the way through. Houston down-on-his-luck lawyer saves woman and gets sucked into a nightmare ‘bad town with rot at the top’ scenario. Not really my game and depressing – but it’s well-written.

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison (Alma Books): a young girl is evacuated to a large Yorkshire house, owned by a couple whose marriage is disintegrating. Great premise but the shifting POVs and rather cold writing distances the reader. This felt more like a true life account than fiction somehow. Everyone dies. House goes to the NT. Gloom, gloom, gloom.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Hodder): Adrian bought me this back from the US and it’s really rather fabulous. Set in the world of travelling circuses in the US Depression, it’s packed with great characters and shocking insights. A great yarn but also one of those books that opens your eyes. Recommended.

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (Harper): This was a surprise. The cover shouts ‘thriller’ and it is – but the deeply unpleasant vampires came as a shock. Cracking start and one of those roller-coaster rides that has ‘blockbuster movie’ writ large (the authors have big Hollywood credentials). Did I enjoy it? Hell, yes. A guilty pleasure.

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner (Orion): I won a copy of this on Twitter and had no expectations whatsoever. Have to say I was blown away. Gardner is an absolutely cracking crime writer – and actually way more than a crime writer. This is thoughtful AND exciting. I’m off to order the earlier books in the series right away.

Last but not least.....

Puppies for Dummies by Sarah Hodgson (Wiley): as you know, we now have the Soul Puppy in the Bonkers House. This came recommended on Twitter and is, I have to say, THE best how-to book on dogs I’ve come across. Now then, Dante, off to your potty place and get busy!


Suzie Grogan (keatsbabe) said...

I too read Blacklands - possibly for the same reasons as you as we used to live right on the edge of Exmoor. It was so disappointing. I rarely lose interest in a book half way through, but I actually skipped bits (a bit of a sin I appreciate). I couldn't engage with the characters and the setting didn't seem real.Shame. I will take a look at the others you recommend - thanks!

Exmoorjane said...

Really glad you said that, Suzie. I was so desperate to love it. Ooh, whereabouts did you live?

rachel said...

"Everyone dies.... gloom, gloom, gloom" Just what I need before I start a book - to know how it ends. True - it drives my son mad to see me reading the ending if a book is a bit too tension-laden for my feeble nerves, but it really doesn't spoil my enjoyment as a result. Keep the terse reviews coming - very entertaining.

Moving soon, I need to find out how "the edge of Exmoor" is defined before I start telling people that's where I'll be living!

Michele Brenton/aka banana_the_poet said...

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Exmoorjane said...

Rachel: oh gawd, I'm sorry. Hell of a spoiler. Though, actually, not everyone dies, not quite all...(hmm, does that help?)

Michele: oooh, thank you. Love a bit of blog bling.... xxxxx

Milla said...

Blacklands very childish and amateur. Have the elephants book but always put it back on shelf, will try anew but, since I've just launched self on Shataram, I May Be Some Time. Have loved Lorrie Moore's short stories (really) so am looking forward to that. Can live without the vampires and was ambivalent about Attica Locke - you've sealed it for me. Great name, though. Thought the Rosie Alison looked utter mimsy tosh, although admittedly was going by the cover, bad Milla. I like Lisa G, too, but think I've read her all out of order which is so unlike anal me.
Love other people's book lists, ta Janey.

Maggie Christie said...

Totally agree on The Very Thought of You - cold, detached and gloomy. Typos too. I love the sound of Never the Bride - must look out for that one!