Sometimes books work best if you haven’t read the blurb before diving in. I mean, I always read the blurb before deciding whether I’ll request/borrow/buy/read a book (unless it’s one of my go-to authors and Linwood Barclay probably makes that list anyway!) but here for example Barclay opens with a prologue that – had I just read the blurb – I’d realise what was going to happen. Or at least maybe happen. Instead I’d kinda bonded with the likeable (potential) victim, not realising they may soon be gone. So… my breath was [indeed] a little taken away initially.
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard is the first book I’ve read to centre around the Coronavirus. I mean, it’s not specifically about the virus but its plot turns upon the arrival of the virus in Ireland in 2020 and its resulting upheaval.
Of course many other novels have started to reference Covid in some way or another. Generally it’s a reflection on recent concerns or extra cautions required, but 56 Days is very much about the early days of the virus and I was surprised at how evocative this was. I quite enjoyed being reminded of our thoughts and feelings back then. When we knew so little.
I’ve talked before about the fact that I’m not a big traveller. My parents weren’t either and I was well into adulthood before I ‘travelled’ just for the sake of it… or to ‘see’ stuff.
After working overseas for a while and travelling quite a bit for work however I became almost antipathic about the idea of travel and spent a dozen years having staycations or visiting family or friends on holidays before finally renewing my passport in 2016 to see my bestie who’d moved to New Zealand. My travelling cherry re-broken, as I’d always dreamt of going to Italy, I then headed off on a writing retreat in Tuscany in 2018.
I’d not long watched the movie, The Father, featuring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman (about an ageing father and his daughter) when I read Lily Harford’s Last Request by Joanna Buckley. My own father had dementia and I know the toll it took on my mother as his carer. And as a middle-aged woman myself I’m conscious of my ageing mother’s needs and most of my friends are in similar positions – assisting elderly parents or making decisions about future care and support.
I LOVE Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X / Nowhere Man / Evan Smoak series. They’re a go-to read for me and I was surprised we’re up to number 7 already.
Of course it means – sorry #spoileralert – that Evan doesn’t obviously die at the end of book 6 as could have been expected given his penthouse exploded and he was blasted out of his shatterproof window.
I’ve not done much writing in the past couple of months. I mentioned late last year that I was adjusting to working from home (full time) and spending 7-8hrs glued to my desk. Having said that November to January are usually slower reviewing months for me anyway because of the plethora of non-fiction books released at Christmas. It seems every man and their mother wants to buy memoirs, books about sport or cookbooks. None of which interest me at all.
Rouda’s talent seems to lie in offering up flawed characters but luring us into their world, so we bond and feel sympathy or empathy before twisting things until we realise we’ve been duped. Often along with other characters we’re following on the journey.
I’ve now shared a few posts promoting controversial debates. Such as global warming and peace in the Middle East. Just kidding. I’ve pondered whether you’re a shoes-inside wearer, like pockets in clothes and think soup is a real meal or not.
And there was the earth-shattering discourse on whether you are a PJs or a nightie kind of person.*
I have plenty more of these dilemmas up my sleeve because, as a keen purveyor of the human condition I tend to
overanalyse ponder whether my thinking and behaviour is normal, or if I am weird and others… not-weird.
The Vacation by John Marrs is a difficult book to write about. It’s certainly an addictive read as I was desperate to see how it ended – or more accurately – how our characters all fared.
In some ways it’s a bit like a Woody Allen-esque movie featuring a series of vignettes with an array of characters, all with their own stories that come together in some unbelievably coincidental way at the end.