2020,  books and reading,  Quarantine 2020

A Month of Reading

It’s nearly a month since I last updated on here about what I’ve been reading. And there’s a fair amount of books to share about. There’s also quite a few I have read part of but not finished which I won’t list.

On VE Day I started reading a series of books set in the Second World War. Those were Quarantine Reads 12 – 15. I read the first one cover to cover in one day and finished book 4 in the series a week later. I enjoy books set in that period as it’s one that interests me and the books tend to be quite character driven rather than gritty. So reading them felt like a good way to have a relaxing bank holiday but also mark the occasion. This time it was the Rationbook series by Jean Fullerton. The books are A Rationbook Dream, A Rationbook Christmas, A Rationbook Childhood and A Rationbook Wedding. I found the first one took my a while to get into and I had to persevere almost but I was glad I did. Once I got into it I liked it and I enjoyed the later books in the series more. I hope there will be a book 5.

Book 16 was Spitfire Girls Fly For Victory by Jenny Holmes. Not the best book I’ve read mostly because the first one in the series was better (although now I write this I wonder if the problem was that with almost a year since I read that I didn’t remember the characters that well). But I did enjoy it and I’ll definitely read book three when it comes out later in the year.

Interestingly I read the first book last August when I was housebound due to my powerchair being broken. And I read this one before I started going out for little bits (I’ve since been to the post box, the park and my parent’s garden) so I was housebound then too. I hope not to be housebound when book three comes out!

Next I read The English Agent by Claire Harvey which has been sat on my shelf for an embarrassingly long period of time since a friend passed it on to me (it was a stupid long time before lockdown but luckily she understands). I discovered part way through that this is actually book 2 featuring the main character. I don’t think not having read book 1 made any difference to my enjoyment or understanding. I wont read book 1 any time soon because there were enough snippets to have a good overview of the plot and so it would be spoiled. Which is a shame because I might have enjoyed that more.

Going back to The English Agent itself, I would say it was OK. Part of the problem with my enjoyment was probably my mood in that it was getting a little flat at that point (looking at the date of my Facebook post about the book). But the other side was definitely that it just suffered from my having read so many war books in such quick succession.

Last week I read two books, each of which I read cover to cover in one day. And in the days in between I tried to read another book which has a premise I love but I just couldn’t get into it because I had a book hangover from the first one.

That was To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers. Back in summer 2018 I was in a huge reading slump and her (then) three books were the ones that broke it – I read them all in 9 days, making two special trips to book shops for books 2 and 3.

So I was so excited one evening last September when I spotted To Be Taught If Fortunate in Foyles on a night away. And then immediately disappointed and put it back on the shelf. when I read the back and discovered it wasn’t part of the Wayfarers Series. I would still love another Wayfarers book (and a friend tells me one is being written) but after getting it for my birthday and few months later, then leaving it on my shelf for a few months after that I picked it up and read it.

I was wrong to be disappointed by that and also by how short it is. Because when you read the book, it’s just brilliant. Really well crafted and a powerful read. It is really short, and I definitely wanted more. But that said it’s pretty much the perfect length. I think to find out what happens next would probably have ruined it, despite my curiosity.

Next I read So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I read another book of hers, The Cows, last year. I’d read the back and liked the idea of The Cows but been put off by her fame (I’ve read other books by famous authors that weren’t good, just clearly published because of who they were) but when it came up as 99p on Kindle gave it a shot. And loved it, read it cover to cover in one day.

So when I heard about So Lucky I was really keen to read it. And I also really wanted to read it in one day like I had The Cows (some authors are “book in a day” authors for me) so it had to wait for the right time.

So Lucky is a story female friendship and the lies we tell ourselves (and others). It was well written, really honest, punchy and slightly gritty. Not your standard chicklit as it was slightly more in depth and unpredictable. And definitely not a case of a famous person having a mediocre book published.

Finally (for now) I read The House at Silvermoor by Tracy Rees. My Mum had asked me to get her a book for her birthday back in May and I added this and one other for me to the Waterstones order. I’ve had a lot of new kindle books (either bought or via NetGalley) since lockdown but it was really nice to have a new physical book. There’s just something about the feel and the smell of a brand new book that I really love.

This was another historical fiction book set in a time and area (1899, early 1900s, Yorkshire mines) that I know little about. So I enjoyed the chance to read about that and also the dual narrative of the story. It kept me guessing throughout (I was sure I knew what was happening but didn’t) and was just another stunning read from Tracy Rees.

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