Books I’ve been reading – Early Summer 2016

The effort to read more books is going well. My penchant for buying books is also going well. Amount of books read that I’m posting about here: 4. Amount of books purchased in bookshops, second hand shops, author launches and received from publishers: eh… 27? I have no idea, it’s not that much, but it’s a LOT. I’m trying to alternate my reading but because I’m due to get stuck back into my own book edits soon and it’s historical fiction, I think I should really concentrate on that genre – it would probably help with my zone.

I have started making more time to read though. I’ll bring a book with me down to the couch with the toddler and if she’s quiet (rare) I’ll try and get through a few pages. It’s not exactly the most enjoyable type of reading but it’s functional. Anything that’s functional is never pretty, is it?

I’ve also stopped feeling guilty for reading. Before, I saw it as a leisurely activity, something only to be done when everything else was done – housework, shopping, meal prep, washing, writing. It meant I never got any time to do it. There’s ALWAYS something else to be done. So, when I can, I nip up to the room or I spend longer reading at night. The sunshine helps too, because I can splay out in the garden and just read – no questions asked. It’s glorious. Besides, I now realise that reading is an important part of being a writer – I need to do it to improve, a bit like writer homework.

At the moment it’s taking me about two weeks to read a book. I know that’s slow and I am now hanging round with people who read full books within hours (how, can they take it in, really???) So I’m trying to hurry up, I really am. Hopefully next time, I’ll have made great progress on the TBR pile (that’s to be read, in case you didn’t know – I didn’t until recently!)

Here’s what I read over the past two months:

fallen

Fallen  by Lia Mills

I picked this book up at Doolin Writers’ Festival back in March. I hadn’t heard of it at the time but I was drawn by the cover and the setting – first world war and the 1916 rising. Lia Mills was also speaking at Doolin Writers’ Festival and it had been described to me as ‘a lovely book’. I really enjoyed reading it. It was crafted, the writing explored and detailed – it forced me to think about things that I’d never really considered before about the emotions involved in war. It follows Katie Crilly, a young woman whose twin brother Liam goes to fight on the Western Front and brings us through the before stages of the 1916 rising. I think this was was the best part of the book for me – the shock of the rising as it unfurls on the streets of Dublin. The historical details were breath-taking – I can only imagine the research that Lia put into this book, but at no point did it feel stuffed with historical references to ensure genre. It’s a very literary book – I had expected the story line to go in perhaps a different way, especially given the cover, but it didn’t. I had read some other reviews where people felt the book left them a bit empty – I didn’t experience that – I thoroughly enjoyed all the references and the exploration of the relationship between Katie and Hubie Wilson. The book got a huge amount of coverage during the 1916 celebrations and scenes from the book were played out as dramas, which I’d liked to have seen. Recommended if you enjoy literary fiction and historical fiction.

Sisters and Lie by Bernice Barrington

I received Sisters and Lies from Penguin Randomhouse for review and had to unfortunately miss the event they held for book bloggers where you could go and sisters and liesmeet the authors.  I absolutely flew through it – it was one of the books that the toddler allowed me to read while she was perched in front of Peppa Pig. The story follows Rachel Darcy who receives a call one night that her sister Evie has been in a car crash in the UK. She must drop everything and leave Ireland and go to her bedside. Rachel slowly begins to unravel a web of uncomfortable truths about her sister and in turn herself – and there’s a very interesting ‘bad guy’. (Is he or isn’t he?) The story is told from both Rachel’s and Evie’s perspectives, as Evie talks through her coma. There are lots of twists and it kept me guessing right until the end, you really do begin to question every character.  I’m generally a fan of more literary books, so this was a tiny bit chick lit for me (sorry), but if you’re looking for a good, easy read, especially for the sun lounger, this would be it.

angels and rabiesAngels and Rabies by Manchan Magan

As I run the How I Write series on my blog, I do try to read the authors I feature. I bought Manchan’s book when I interviewed him some weeks back – it was also to support his Green candidacy in the general elections (Go Greens!)  It’s a travel book about his adventures in South and North America and I absolutely loved it. It opens with a scene where he is being abused and berated by a weird child neglecting sect deep in the South American jungle. What’s not to love? If you ever listen to Manchan’s travel diary on Newstalk Radio you’ll know how animated, detailed and encyclopaediac he is when he speaks. In this you get to understand a little more of the man behind the travels, his demons, his self-esteem issues, the torments that drive him away from home and deep into different worlds to purely explore. I was at home with his writing style – funny, quirky, wordy and descriptive. While googling afterwards some readers were questioning whether some of the tales had actually happened at all, but I had no reason to believe that anything I read was not true – it’s far too sincere a book for that. Recommended if you enjoy travel books, a good yarn or have ever gone back-packing.

The Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

I was sent this book by Hazel’s publishers and was very impressed by the size of the book and also its prettiness – I think it’s a stunning front cover. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll knowgirl from savoy that I this book to give away here, that I interviewed Hazel for How I Write here and that I attended the launch for this book and posted about that here. I enjoyed reading this, it’s Hazel’s third novel. and it’s sent in the swinging 1920s scene of London. It tells the story of Dolly Lane, a downtrodden chambermaid who dreams of more. And who can’t relate to that? Again, here is another author who had done her research and Hazel has a great knack of describing everything in detail, so much so that you really are transported back in time when you open the cover to read. You won’t find any gritty sex here, it’s a comfortable enjoyable read and certainly one you would be well placed on the sun lounger with or curled up in front of the fire in winter time. Recommended if you enjoy historical fiction, commercial fiction and reading about decadent times gone by. (Read with a gin cocktail in hand – I think that’s actually written somewhere as an author direction. Who am I to argue? (Slurp).

 

Have you read any of the these books and would you agree with my opinions on them? I’d love to hear from you and your own book recommendations too.

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