Saturday 23 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 23

Despite all the baking, making and Christmas prep there has also been a lot of reading going on of late... often in the early hours as sleep has been elusive recently. Although I should probably point out that what follows is a couple of months reading not just the past couple of weeks.

The two most recent book club reads were Days Without End, by Sebastian Barry, which I did not enjoy and Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which I loved. I could see why Days Without End was well rated, the language was quite poetic at times and there were whole sections that were beautiful to read but I didn't feel I knew the characters and there were long, tedious descriptions of the American Indian and Civil wars that just didn't engage me. It felt like the book without end! But it was not a view shared by the rest of the book club who mostly enjoyed it. Shadow of The Wind however, I found to be an intriguing and compelling read. It's atmospheric setting of post civil war Barcelona, its engaging characters and search for truth pulled me in right to the end.

Wanting something light to read after those two, I chose The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan, recommended to me by my sister-in-law. It was a bit of a far fetched story, rather too obviously sentimental and predictable for my liking, but having said that it was a quick and entertaining read.

Next I read The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler, which I won in a givewaway from Love Those Cupcakes. This one I really enjoyed - no great intriguing plot but beautifully observed characters carefully crafted observation of human behaviour and misunderstandings as it traces the story of a family and a marriage over three generations. It was a delight, so thank you for sending this my way Liz.

Another delight was The Blackwater Lightship from Colm Toibin. It tells of three generations of a broken family who gather together as their grandson, son and brother faces death from Aids. A painful read at times but so beautifully written and with such wonderfully drawn characters I couldn't put it down. Maybe that's why I don't sleep!

After such an intense book I wanted something less taxing for my brain so picked up a Jo Nesbo from the charity shop. Nemesis is a page turning thriller and I like the character Harry Hole (It was also  Liz that introduced me to the charms or not as the case may be, of Harry Hole) but I'm about 80 pages from the end and it is starting to lose me. Too many plot twists and I think I've worked out "who dunnit". It reminds me why I only occasionally read thrillers, although I quite enjoy them when I do.

There are still plenty more unread books piled up beside my bed so I'm looking forward to plenty more reading time over the holidays. What will you be reading this Christmas?


  1. At present I am reading Monty Don's book about his dog Nigel, and previous dogs he has owned. It is delightful and beautifully written with wit, but Monty is not afraid to address the sad and tragic moments of owning pets.

  2. I've just finished The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons, the second in the DC Max Wolfe series. Very far fetched (unless I had a particularly boring career) but entertaining nonetheless. I'm going to read The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths next - she's coming to our book club in February, so I thought I'd read a couple more of her thrillers, which are set in Norfolk.

  3. I am presently gripped by The Glass of Time by Michael Cox. I picked it up in the hospital charity book shop. I didn't realise there was one before it. But I find it is a brilliant book on its own. In fact, there is much more mystery/intrigue to the background of the main character because of that. You are only discovering her past as she does.
    Almost a combination of style of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, as it is set in that part of the 1800's. But Michael Cox was Senior commissioning editor at Oxford University Press, amongst other things like having a recording contract with EMI.
    The paperback version I have has Very Small I have to use my needle threading glasses. But it is worth it!

  4. Reading has become a whole different experience for me since I lost my sight. I have an iPod onto which I download talking books. The narrator can make or break a book, some make the book much more exciting than i think it would have been in print - others are so awful that I give up even when i like the book. I can't cheat though if I am reading a thriller to find out the end as I can't just flip a few pages!

  5. Days Without End does seem to be a love it or hate it book. We read it at our book group and there were only a couple of us who really liked it: I was one of them. Books don't often make me cry, but this one did.

    I'm halfway through Lincoln in the Bardo, and enjoying it. Much easier to read than I expected. A Maigret awaits in the wings. Bliss.

    I've been trying audio books to help me sleep - . The problem is that I often fall asleep while they are on, wake up half asphyxiated by my earphones having slept through several chapters and have to spend ages trying to find out where I dozed off. Maybe I should stick to the radio.

    1. I would definitely fall asleep with an audio book!

  6. Do hunt out more Anne Tyler books. They are all quirky but all delightful. One of my favourite authors.
    Too late to wish you a happy Christmas I will instead wish you a good new year. With thanks for a year of interesting, and sometimes moving, blogs.
    Kath (nb Herbie)

    1. I have read three or four Anne Tyler's and have enjoyed them all so happy to read more. She has such a gentle observational style. Thank you for your kind words Kath and happy new year to you too xx


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