Sunday, October 1, 2017

September Reading

It was a mystery book month here, with a few other things tossed in. I even discovered a few books that are set in Inishowen. Those were fun! And now, another month of reading commences!

A Prey to Murder by Ann Cleeves
The next book in the cosy mystery series involving George and Molly Palmer-Jones. He is a retired Home Office guy and keen bird watcher. She is a retired social worker who has a knack for listening and observation. In this book, they go back to the village in which he grew up, where the woman running the manor house turned hotel is discovered dead in the area where the bird of prey exhibition is being held as part of a fundraiser.

Sea Fever by Ann Cleeves
The next in the series--a boat full of bird watchers ends up being one person short when one of the participants is found floating.

Agatha Raisin and the Curious Curate by M.C. Beaton
I have read a few books in this series in the past. I feel lukewarm about them, but they are enjoyable enough. However, I have listened to BBC Radio dramatisations starring Penelope Keith as Agatha in the past and liked them. When I came across the audiobooks on the library website and saw that she is the reader, I decided to check them out. I started with one that was well into the series, but rather than go back, I just went on from there. One day in a pop-up charity shop, I came across this book, so added it to the pile. I’ve been listening to the audiobooks now and then and reached this title, so I read it and then went back to the audiobooks. For some reason, even though I was hearing Penelope Keith in my mind as I was reading this book, I still prefer her audiobook versions. She does a great job and in my experience with audiobooks, the reader makes or breaks them. I have stopped listening to some e-audiobooks that I was interested in because I was finding the reader to be highly annoying and I’d rather read it myself. With these books, it’s the opposite--I’d prefer to listen.

Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski
This was a fun book, which I came across while scrolling through the e-book section of the library website. The author does just what she says she will in the subtitle--explain why small things in our everyday lives work the way they do. What is going on when you pour milk into your tea or push down the lever on the toaster? Why don’t ducks have cold feet? How do these small things relate to bigger things in the world/universe?

Another Man’s Poison by Ann Cleeves
In this book in the Palmer-Jones series, Molly and George discover her aunt has died the night before they arrived for a visit. Who might want her out of the way, and why?

Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill
I came across this title while scrolling through the library e-book site. I’ve read a little bit of the author’s previous work and enjoyed it, so I borrowed this one. It’s a short book of short stories, all with a supernatural element. I quite liked it. I think there are some e-audiobooks of hers on the site as well--I’ll have to check them out!

Inch Levels by Neil Hegarty
This book was published last year, but I hadn’t heard of it until The Irish Times started doing reviews of it this month, when it was selected for their book club. I was interested for a couple of reasons. Part of the story takes place in Inishowen. In fact, important parts of the book unfold in a place that sounds quite like Moville and Inch Levels is an actual place. Also, one of the reviewers talked about how well he captures the culture and communication style of people in small Irish villages, particularly those that are up here on the edge of the island. There is a common feeling here that Donegal is ‘the forgotten county’ and that this is the forgotten part of the forgotten county. Mind you, when we lived in Mayo, they also considered themselves hard done by, but every place has its own particular culture and the reviewer was right--he did a good job of illustrating this one. The book begins with a little girl riding her bike when something happens. Then the story starts shifting. Each chapter is constructed with short sections that move from one event to another or from one person's perspective to another. At times, the same event is told first by one character and then another, so the reader sees it from different angles. Eventually, these bits start coming together--like a quilt that someone constructs from little bits of fabric--to tell the story. It is a multi-layered plot that weaves together several strands, with the main character being Patrick, a middle-aged man who is in hospital, dying. He thinks back to his life and a secret he’s been carrying around. As his mother and sister come to visit him, the focus shifts sometimes to their point of view and how their pasts, their families, and the history of the places in which they lived continue to impact their lives. I did not settle in with the book right away because of the quick shifts in focus and narration, but before too long, I was into it and compulsively turning the pages.

Death at Whitewater Church by Andrea Carter
I had not heard of the mystery series in which this is the first book until I read a review of Inch Levels by the author. Both this book and the next one were on the shelf at our wee local library, so I checked them out, brought them home, and whipped through them. They were quite enjoyable--good reading for a rainy afternoon with a nice cuppa or two.

Treacherous Strand by Andrea Carter
This is the second book in the series about Benedicta O’Keeffe, a solicitor who is a blow-in to Inishowen and who gets involved in some bad situations. The character lives in Malin, which is an actual town and works in the fictitious Glendara, which in many ways, though not all, sounds like Carndonagh. I think the third book in this series is due out in October. I’ll request it when it becomes available.

The Truth and Other Stories by Sarah Clancy
I learned of this poetry collection while listening to the poet read some of her work on The Poetry Programme on RTE Radio 1. I looked it up on the library website and requested it. I like her work and will be looking for more of it.

happy reading!

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