How my reading habits have changed! It was only a few years ago that I read mostly paper books, but these days I read mostly e-books – six out of the nine books I read in September are e-books. Another major change is the amount of review copies I read. This month I read five review copies that came to me via NetGalley. I also read one library book and the other three books are all my own books – but only one of those is an actual physical book! And only one of the nine books is non-fiction.
They range from 5 star to 2 star books and are a mix of crime and historical fiction plus one biography. My ratings are based solely on my reactions to the books.
I’ve written about five of these books – click on the links to read my reviews:
- The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry 5* – historical fiction set in Edinburgh in 1847 as Dr James Young Simpson, a professor of midwifery, discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform.
- The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon 3.5* – one of the early Maigret books, set in Belgium not France.
- The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Karen Morton 3* – historical fiction set over multiple time-lines and with multiple narrators. I loved parts of it and it’s richly descriptive, but found it hard to keep track of all the characters and separate strands of the story.
- Appleby’s End by Michael Innes 3* – an Inspector Appleby book. It’s surreal, a macabre fantasy with a complex and completely unrealistic plot and strange characters.
- Down to the Woods by M J Arlidge 2.5* – crime fiction, a DI Helen Grace murder mystery, tense and dark with several twists and turns. Not my favourite book of the month!
Here are some brief notes about the remaining four books:
Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton 5* – Sharon Bolton is a brilliant storyteller and this is a brilliant book – complex, very cleverly plotted, full of suspense and completely gripping with great characters and set in Northumberland. It begins with a balloon flight that ends in disaster and only Jessica survives as the balloon crashes to the ground, but she is pursued by a man who is determined to kill her. I loved this book.
Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore 4* – a biography of Mary Eleanor Bowes, who was one of Britain’s richest young heiresses. Her first husband was the Count of Strathmore – the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, was a direct descendant of their marriage. Her second marriage to Andrew Robinson Stoney was an absolute disaster. He was brutally cruel and treated her with such violence, humiliation, deception and kidnap, that she lived in fear for her life. This is non-fiction and is full of detail, but even so it reads like a novel.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck 4* – the story of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly re-enact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. I enjoyed this beautifully written book, which begins slowly, but not as much as The Grapes of Wrath, which I thought was amazing. It’s long – too long really – and to my mind it reads like a morality tale of good versus evil. There are many parallels to the Bible stories, with surely one of the most evil characters ever in Cathy. I liked the way Steinbeck set out the moral dilemmas and gave the characters choice using the Hebrew word ‘timshel‘, meaning ‘thou mayest’.
The Gaslight Stalker by David Field 2* – historical crime fiction set in London in 1888. This was a disappointing book, that provides a new solution to the Jack the Ripper murders. There are two elements to the plot and I don’t think they mixed well. I liked the historical facts based on the evidence in the Jack the Ripper case and thought they were well written, if a little repetitive. But the romance between Esther, a young seamstress and Jacob Enright, a young police officer, felt out of place and is too simplistically narrated.
9 thoughts on “Books Read in September 2018”
You’ve had an interesting reading month, Margaret. I’m glad you’ve had your share of highly-rated reads, too. And it is interesting, isn’t it, how we change our way of reading (paper books, ebooks, etc..) over time, isn’t it? I’m glad you mentioned Wedlock, as that’s one I would like to read. I appreciate the nudge.
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I’m also reading more ebooks, in my case because having moved into a much smaller property I simply don’t have room for any more physical books. The only ‘real’ books that I read now are from the library. One of my criteria for which books came with me was whether or not they would be available as an ebook should I want to read them again. If they were then the physical copy had to go.
I’m afraid we are going to have to disagree over Dead Woman Walking. I really didn’t like it. In fact, I haven’t got on with any of Sharon Bolton’s books since she stopped writing about Lacey Flint.
Lots of variety here – I’ve always wanted to read East of Eden because I loved The Grapes of Wrath. I’m not sure I realized how long it was! Thanks for the reviews – what’s up for October?
I can totally relate with you about reading more e-books. Next month, I will try to balance reading both formats.
I go back and forth between hardcover and ebooks but if I really like a book, I make sure I have a physical copy of it. Great post Margaret.
Glad you ended up liking East of Eden–Cathy is truly one of the most evil characters ever conceived.
An excellent reading month for you, Margaret. I’m attracted by The Way of all Flesh and also plan to read that Maigret for ‘Belgium’ for the European Reading challenge.
I don’t read many e-books because I read mainly at night and reading e-books then interferes with my sleep. maybe when I am retired and can read more in the day.
I have got to read more books by Michael Innes. I read a lot of them when I was younger and I want to see if I still like them or if my tastes have changed.
Great list of books, interesting to read about. You definitely take more chances with books than I do.
I hear ya on the book change. A few years ago I wouldn’t touch an ebook, but now it’s mostly what I read. 🙂 Happy October!
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