Sunday, 3 May 2015

what to read in May

How was your April reading? Mine was a bit hesitant. I didn't feel like starting my April read, 'Secret Purposes' by David Baddiel. Instead, I listened to the next installment of Jussi Adler-Olsen's crime series, 'The Marco Effect'. The central characters (other than the detective and his side kicks, introduced here), is Marco, an illegal immigrant who wants nothing more than to be Danish and to be able to go to school. Instead he is forced to steal for his clan, ruled with an iron fist by his uncle Zola. When Marco discovers a buried body, revealing the true extent of his uncle's criminal activity, he goes on the run. As it turns out, his uncle is not the only one who wants Marco 'vanished'. There is embezzlement of aid money destined for development projects in Africa, there are child soldiers and there is petty crime and dark cover-ups. You won't be disappointed, it is a well constructed crime novel, based on characters rather than blood and gore. 


Because I couldn't decide what to read next, I dug out an audiobook I had started a year or so ago, 'Perfect' by Rachel Joyce. I really enjoyed 'The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry' and was -at the time- looking forward to listening to Joyce's new novel. I didn't get very far then and I didn't get much further now. It is a story with two threads, that of Byron in the 1970s and that of Jim nowadays. Byron's and Jim (James) were childhood friends. The story  starts with the addition of two seconds to time in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth (call me ignorant, but I don't know if this is actually fact or fiction!). Then, Byron's mother, late for the school run makes a devastating mistake, shattering in Byron's perfect world, slowly but inevitably. It is not that perfect actually, Byron's father is a mostly absent but hugely controlling personality, not allowing his wife to have friends, deciding what she ought to wear etc. Byron and James embark on 'project perfect' to undo all the wrongness but of course all is not going to plan. In the now, James/Jim is a middle aged man, working in a supermarket cafe. In and out of mental institutions all his adult life, insecure, disabled by his obsessive compulsive behaviour, Jim discovers his love to Eileen. I am afraid that's where I am, I just can't bear to continue and I will probably never find out what happened to Byron, nor why Jim is so ill. I am not sure if it is the narrator of the audiobook, or the story, it develops so so slowly that it makes me want to listen at 2x speed just to get somewhere. Alas, I have given up.

Disappointed, I picked up my April read, 'Secret Purposes' by David Baddiel. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book  as I hoped it would be. I read 'The death of Eli Gold' by the same author and really enjoyed that, too. The story takes us back to the beginning of second world war, to Koenigsberg in East Prussia, where we meet Isaac and Lulu Fabian. Isaac is a Jewish communist, Lulu a Catholic of no particular political conviction. They married against the wills of their families and on the eve of the second world war manage to emigrated to the UK with their baby daughter. They hope to find freedom they were not allowed to enjoy in Germany but amidst prejudice, ignorance and suspicion, Isaac is interned on the Isle of Man. There his life becomes entwined with that of June Murray, a civil servant determined to shed light on the atrocities being perpetrated against Jewish individuals across Europe. It is a rich story, full of life and emotion and history. I will look out for Baddiel's next book.

I then downloaded an audiobook which I also enjoyed. It is 'Our endless numbered days' by Claire Fuller. Eight year old Peggy is taken from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods in a remote part of Germany by her survivalist father, James. There he convinces Peggy in the most cunning way that the rest of the world has been destroyed and that they are the only survivors. They make a life for themselves, hunting and gathering, barely surviving the harsh winters. When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest she begins a search for their owner, and as time moves on, she unravels the series of events that brought her to the woods. She eventually finds the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she thought she’d lost. It is rather dramatic. Back home (now 17) the truth of her escape and what really happened in the forest is slowly revealed. The story moves forwards and backwards in time, from forest to London. I'll leave it to you to find out more.

For May, I have dusted a book from my shelves, 'Traveller' by Ron McLarty. I read Ron McLarty's first novel, 'The memory of running' and loved it. This was one of my first ever audiobooks, downloaded in 2008. I probably bought 'Traveller' because I so much enjoyed 'The memory of running'. I may have read it but not with the attention it deserved. I am looking forward to reading it. 



If my books don't tempt you, you could always click your way through to 'The Year in Books' over at 'A Circle of Pine Trees'. I find it truly inspiring what other people read and have discovered new authors aplenty. Go on, what are you waiting for?!


Have a lovely Bank Holiday Monday, or a good start to the new week! Thanks for popping in today! Cxx

17 comments:

  1. I did read Shop Girls which is about of a group of ladies who met while working at a high end ladies clothes shop in Cambridge just after the war, great read and really intersting. I have just started Pie Mash and Prefabs again based in the late forties early 50's I am enjoying it :-)

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  2. I really like Perfect... The two parallel stories come together so well for the end - I feel like you've got so far, you might as well finish it! There is a bit of a twist towards the end and the ending is not all gloom :)
    Our endless numbered days sounds like an interesting read (not that I need to add any more to the 'to read' pile!!).

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  3. I was thinking about that David Baddiel book...I'll have to get it lined up. I've done a little better with my reading this month...just need to get around to blogging it!!

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  4. I found Perfect annoying too..... I did finish it though. I enjoyed Harold Fry but was impatient for it to end... currently reading Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson. I find audio books very hit and miss, if I don't like the narrator then I can't listen for more than a few minutes.....

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  5. Great suggestions. I have just listened to Sycamore Row by John Grisham, I read it years and years ago but was mesmerized by the story once again. I am now listening to The Appeal. I am reading The Rosie Project which I find amusing but don't think it is as fabulous as I was told. I also just finished Sarah's Key and loved it, I am a late comer to that book as it was a hit a few years back.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  6. These books are all new to me and I will definitely look for some of them. I did a lot of reading in April, surprisingly. I think the best books I read were Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe, and The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer. I also read a book about the history of Reye's Syndrome, the aspirin market and public health. That was really interesting. I've been trying to read more fiction lately but I also like a good non-fiction book that I can learn something new from.

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  7. I found the 'Unlikey Pilgramage of Harold Fry' pretty darned dull if I am honest, so not too surprised by your assessment of 'Perfect'! Sometimes I just don't 'get' a book that the whole of the rest of the world is enraptured by; 'Captain Correli's Mandolin' being another example; the best first page of a novel that I have ever read, and all downhill from there........ X

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  8. I loved "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" so much that it ruined my reading for the rest of the year after I'd read it- no other book seemed to come close so I got bored and stopped reading fiction for a while. I think all the academic papers I had to read at the time for my master's degree didn't help - I just didn't want to read any more and it made me sad as reading has always been a big part of my life. It's taken me a long time to get back into it again, but I think I'm there now. Thanks for the suggestions, I'm definitely going to look some of them up xx

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  9. I'm busy reading The Sisters: The Mitford Family Saga by Mary S. Lovell,oh my what a family, I Know This Much to Be True by Willie Lamb and I've just finished The Last Samurai by Helen deWitt and I'm betting it will end up as my favorite book of the year.
    I liked The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, but haven't read any other of the books you mentioned.

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  10. Nice to hear what you think of the books.

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  11. Hey Christina,
    I adored 'Perfect' I hope that you do return to it. I found it heart breakingly sad in places, but so beautifully written. Maybe it works better being read than heard?
    Leanne xx

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  12. Aha some interesting reads...especially as I feel like a good book for the coming weeks...I will put a couple of these on my 'want to read list' thank you!
    d x

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  13. I have Perfect on my to read list as it was highly recommended by a friend who has the same tastes as I. My reading is a little erratic at the moment family life sometimes takes over.

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  14. They all sound interesting, particularly 'The Marco Effect'. I love a good crime novel. I don't find much time for book reading at the moment but I've written this one down for future reading. I finished Kate Atkinson' s 'Life After Life' last month. I really enjoyed that one. X

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  15. I have both the Rachel Joyce books on my wish list. May be Leanne is right that some books just have to be read rather than listened to.

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  16. I haven't read the first Rachel Joyce book yet although it's on the pile by my bed. Your other choices sound good, Christina. I am still reeling from the terrible shock I had yesterday in the library when I realised I hadn't renewed my books since 20th April. Lots of books. Big fine. I must make sure that doesn't happen again...xx

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  17. I loved Harold Fry and the sequel, but have never tried the first book by Rachel Joyce. I haven't tried audiobooks, and I do think your point about wanting to speed it up would be true, I tend to devour books!! I think my May will be a little stop start as I can't get into my current book. Funny how that makes you lose the inclination a little isn't it!

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