Jo at The Book Jotter is running this meme again this year to summarise six months of reading, sorting the books into six categories ‘“ you can choose from the ones Jo suggests or come up with your own. The same book can obviously feature in more than one category.
If I keep on reading at the same rate for the second half of this year it looks as though 2017 will be a bumper year for reading – I’ve read 60 books in the first six months. Here are some of them:
Six books I have enjoyed: I’ve listed them in the order I read them (with links to my reviews):
Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal – a psychological suspense novel about Nora’s search for her daughter, Bonnie, now a teenager, who she gave away as a new-born baby. It has gripping storylines set against the backdrop of Vancouver and of British Columbia with its snow, mountains and plush ski resorts.
Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey – the seventh Maeve Kerrigan book, a complex police procedural. Kate Emery has disappeared. If she was killed where is her body and who had the motive and opportunity to kill her? If she was not killed why is there so much blood in the house, whose blood is it, and where is Kate?
Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister -a thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth. It’s well written, with a great sense of place, set in both Newcastle and Oban, with clearly defined and believable characters, a complex plot with plenty of twists and turns, and a dark secret.
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – a gripping psychological thriller that kept me glued to the pages. Narrated by Amber Reynolds as she lies in hospital in a coma. She can’t move or speak, but she can hear and gradually she begins to remember who she is and what happened to her.
Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: a Memoir by Chris Packham (a naturalist, television presenter, writer, etc). It is deeply personal and honest about his childhood and early teenage years in the 1970s. But pervading his story is the search for freedom, meaning and acceptance in a world that didn’t understand him.
The Stroke Ward by Tricia Coxon – a gem of a book that explores the nature of love and loss, friendship and family, and life and death. Beautifully written it vividly conveys the trauma and catastrophic effects of a stroke, the confusion and loss of dignity and independence. It is a moving story as each woman remembers the past.
Six authors I have read before
- Frances Brody – A Death in the Dales, crime fiction
- Peter Robinson – Caedmon’s Song, crime fiction
- Elizabeth Gaskell – Wives and Daughters
- Colin Dexter – Last Seen Wearing, crime fiction
- Beryl Bainbridge – Harriet Said
- Iain Banks – The Quarry
Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past
The Buttonmaker’s Daughter by Merryn Allingham – a beautiful book set in Sussex in the summer of 1914 just before the start of the First World War, a summer of sweltering heat and of rising tension not only nationally and internationally but also personally for Elizabeth Summer and her family.
The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown – based on the life of the 1640s witchfinder Matthew Hopkins. As well as a good story it is a fascinating look at life in England during the Civil War, set in 1645, a time of great change and conflict in politics, religion and philosophical ideas, coinciding with a growth in the belief in witchcraft.
See What I have Done by Sarah Schmidt – based on the true story of the brutal murders on 4 August 1892 of Andrew Borden and his second wife Abby in Fall River, Massachusetts. Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, was charged with the murders. She was tried and was acquitted in June 1893 and speculation about whether Lizzie was guilty or not continues to the present day.
Past Encounters by Davina Blake – a novel about Peter and his wife Rhoda, alternating between 1955 and the war years of the 1940s. I loved the historical detail, in particular the details of Peter’s experiences as a prisoner of war and also Rhoda’s war-time experiences at home and her involvement with the filming of David Lean’s 1945 film Brief Encounter.
Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: a King’s Obsession by Alison Weir – fictional biography at its most straight forward, written in an uncomplicated style. It is a long and detailed story told from Anne Boleyn’s point of view following her life from when she was eleven up to her execution in 1536.
Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy – set in the northern frontier of Britain in 98 AD. The main character, centurion Flavius Ferox is based at a small fort called Syracuse near the garrison of Vindolanda. Vindolanda is south of Hadrian’s Wall and predates its construction. Its defences are weak, as tribes rebel against Roman rule, and local druids preach the fiery destruction of the invaders.
Six Non-US/Non-British Authors
- Hannah Kent – Australian – The Good People, set in Ireland in 1825/6 a long gone world of people living in an isolated community, a place where superstition and a belief in fairies held sway.
- Sheena Kamal – born in the Caribbean and immigrated to Canada as a child – Eyes Like Mine – see above.
- Yrsa Sigurdardottir – Icelandic – The Legacy, Icelandic Noir and the first in a new series ‘“ the Children’s House thriller series.
- Sarah Schmidt-Australian – See What I have Done – see above.
- Fred Vargas -French – An Uncertain Place, the sixth in her Commissaire Adamsberg series.
- Arundhati Roy – Indian – The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, a long, sprawling novel with so much description, so little plot and such a large cast of characters.
Six new authors to me
Heather Gudenkauf – Missing Pieces – Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. But when his aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalised in a coma, he is forced to confront the past.
Anthony Doerr – All the Light We Cannot See, historical fiction about Marie-Laure, a blind French girl and Werner, a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. There are three story lines ‘“ that of Marie-Laure, of Werner, and of a diamond that has magical powers.
Paula Hollingsworth – The Spirituality of Jane Austen, biography and an analysis of Jane Austen’s works from the point of how they reveal her spirituality. I really enjoyed reading this book and it has made me want to re-read the novels, particularly those I haven’t re-read recently.
Jenny Ashcroft – Beneath a Burning Sky, historical fiction set in Alexandria at the end of the 19th century when Egypt was under British rule. It is a complex book but it is not so much historical fiction but more of a romantic story. Overall I enjoyed it but thought the book was melodramatic and I was hoping for more historical content.
Stuart MacBride – A Dark So Deadly, crime fiction, a standalone thriller with quite a large cast of characters, but each one is so individually described that I had no trouble distinguishing them. It’s set in Oldcastle, a fictional town in the north east of Scotland. DC Callum MacGregor has been moved to join ‘˜Mother’s Misfit Mob’, officers no one else wanted.
Alasdair Maclean – Night Falls on Ardnamurchan: the Twilight of a Crofting Family, a memoir. The main section of the book is made up of extracts from Maclean’s father’s journals of his daily life on the croft. It’s an unusual book describing life in a dying community, revealing the relationship between children and parents, particularly in an isolated community.
Six authors I read last year ‘“ but not so far this year and the books that I have sitting on my shelves waiting to be read
- David Mitchell – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
- James Naughtie – Paris Spring
- Reginald Hill – An April Shroud
- Anthony Horowitz – Moriarty
- Simon Mawer – The Girl who Fell from the Sky
- Penelope Lively – Cleopatra’s Sister
How is your reading going this year? Do let me know if you take part in Six in Six too.