Thursday, August 31, 2017

Glad to Have the Books!

I am always really tired by the time August rolls around. Summer and I do not get along and every year, I slowly find myself wearing down as the summer inches along. It seems to take forever and once we hit this time of year, I am in great need of rest. I knew it would be even worse this year, since I did not get the usual winter respite that I rely on. This year it was all compounded by the fall I took at the beginning of the month, so all the annoyances combined to make a month filled with discomfort, pain, and an inability to do much beyond the basics. I was happy, therefore, to have plenty of books around to distract me from August. I read a lot of fluffy stuff, along with a few that were not quite so mindless. And last night, I thought I might settle in with some more fluff, but instead, I crawled into bed at 9:30 and slept and slept and slept. I finished the e-book this afternoon.

So, starting at the beginning, here are some of the books I read in August and a bit about them. I'll post the rest tomorrow.

Maiden Speech by Alice Renton
Susanna and Peter live in Kent with their three young adult children. He is a solitictor and she breeds ponies. Her mother lives in her own dwelling on their property. Peter decides he’d like to try to stand for Parliament. Susanna is not overly excited about the idea, but supports him because it’s important to him. Neither of them think he has much of a chance, but through an unlikely series of events, he wins a seat. Things do not go as planned. The family is put under a good deal of strain and in the end, a desperate plan is hatched to save the day. I picked up this book at a pop-up charity shop and brought it to read on an overnight trip to Sligo. It was perfect for that. It was quite funny at times and I found myself laughing more than once. I was particularly amused by a short comment about Susanna’s mother and her elderly friend becoming interested in foraging for mushrooms. Their interest was piqued by a community ed class they were taking called ‘Death or Dinner?’ Bill did not, for some reason, find this as funny as I did.

After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry
I’d read the author’s second book, The Essex Serpent, and loved it, so I requested this one. I didn’t like it quite as much, but it was a good read. It was weird and I felt like I was not quite sure what was going on in the strange house with the odd cast of characters. Not to give away plot twists, but the story begins with John Cole, a book shop owner, leaving London in the middle of a very oppressive heat wave. He plans to make his was to the home of his brother and his family, but his car breaks down before he gets there. He goes to the nearest house, which is not in the best shape and gives off an odd vibe. Even more odd is the fact that the strange people there seem to be expecting him and they call him by name. The story unfolds from there.

The Windermere Witness by Rebecca Tope
A couple of months ago, Bill picked up some cosy mysteries for me in a pop-up charity shop. One of them was the second book in a series, so I decided to read the first one first, reserving the e-book version. It was an enjoyable read, and perfect timing, since I was in pain from a fall I’d taken. Small town, society wedding, unfortunate and untimely death--whodunit?

The Pale Gold of Alaska and Other Stories by Eilis ni Dhuibhne
Spotted this while in our wee local library branch and being a fan of short stories, picked it up. This is an author I’d not read before. The stories all involved Ireland in some way.

Chef Interrupted: Discovering Life’s Second Course in Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis by Trevis Gleason
This is a book Bill saw and requested from the library. When it arrived, he chose a different book to read first, so I read this one. It is basically the story of and the author’s reflections on 89 days he spent in County Kerry in a cottage he rented after he was diagnosed with MS. He has since come back to Ireland. In his old life as a USian, he was a chef, but his illness caused him to change course. The book is pretty lighthearted, mostly, and it was interesting to read his first impressions. There were sections where he talked about MS and the ways in which he had to cope with the effects of the disease on his body. He includes various recipes in the book. These range from scones and soda bread, to a main course, to a dessert.

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
I found this collection of short stories when browsing the library e-book offerings. The title is taken from a piece of writing by Katherine Mansfield, who was an important influence on the author. The stories in this collection are autobiographical and deal heavily with mental illness and suicide, as well as writing, choosing to be a writer (as opposed to a scientist, in the author’s case), the influences of other writers, her childhood in China, writing in English, and her relationship with her mother. From start to finish, it felt like an odd book to me. As I understand it, this author is primarily a novelist who does not write autobiographically in her fiction, so this book may be a sort of outlier for her.

I hope you are enjoying the end of summer and have some entertaining reading in your pile, too!

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