Final book?

The weekend was spent in Carrara as F had had the extra week’s holiday and kept the dogs with him.

And, I managed to finish The Buried Giant. Good book and interesting story – but not the WOW! book.

And I have, at home, so many books still unread.

I would say that, overall, it was a disappointing book summer. I should have stuck with my usual – the short list of the Bailey’s Prize For Fiction. Next year, I won’t forget.

And the weekend almost signals the end of the “summer”. The forecast is OK for next weekend, at the moment, but it’s no guarantee. Then there’s Mantova in two weekends. OK, so if the weather holds up there arre still a couple of weekends left in September, so we’ll see.

F certainly wants to go down and would really like to go down next weekend as he wants to talk to his brother about buying up his share of the house. He doesn’t talk to me about it very much but he’s quite keen to buy him out and then he can do what he wants to the house. He includes me (as in: we’ll be able to do this; we may have to wait to do this) but I can’t really be too involved. Things are different than before.

Again, he suggests that next year we’ll do more day trips.

But, that’s next year. And this year? Well, it might not be the final book if the weather holds up, I suppose.

The short stories win

The Mistletoe Bride was good. A selection of short ghost stories and one play, the stories were interesting and well-written. It almost matched Stone Matress.

I finished it the day before yesterday. Yesterday we went to Portovenere – but, like posts about some restaurants, I shall tell you about that when I’m in front of a proper keyboard – so no reading yesterday.

This morning I’ve started The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.

But it seems the books I enjoyed most this summer were the books of short stories, which I wouldn’t have expected.

Well, at least I have the winner of the Worst Book!

A “Sunday Times bestseller” is highlighted at the bottom. “A wildly funny novel” is prominent elsewhere.

But did they apply this to the wrong book? For this was neither wildly nor funny in any sense. It will be the very top of my list to give away to a Jumble sale.

A story of the old wealth and upper classes divisions in the UK, it seemed to try to sway me that all was ok with the typical English social games. Neither that nor the lack of sympathy for any of the characters went to make this a “must read” book. Indeed, I would further add that I won’t read anything by the author again.

That was Snobs and now onto the second Kate Mosse book for this summer – The Mistletoe Bride – a selection of short stories by her.

The Detectives

Well it seems that is the theme this year.

When I was a kid I had and read all the “Mystery” books by Enid Blyton. I loved them. Then, as I got older, Agatha Christie and, I guess, I was pretty sated with detective books by then.

And that hasn’t really changed. But, by pure chance, this year’s summer books seems to be mostly “detective”.

Alchemy was a couple of stories rolled into one. It was ok but the connection between the stories seemed quite weak to me. Not the “special” book for the summer.

Then, over the last 36 hours there’s been The Risk Of Darkness by Susan Hill. She is very “readable” but it’s not a “wow” book.

And now to Snobs by Julian Fellowes. A book I’ve had for ages and ages (second hand, I’m sure) and it doesn’t really appeal but I’m determined to get it out of the way.

Wish me luck!

One old and two new (well, new to me)

Well, as I suspected, I had read Fatal Voyage before. It was ok but, if I’m honest, really not worth the second read. But it is annoying in that I could have been reading something new!

So, onto new. The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. Now I understand he’s popular as he’s certainly been at Hay but I’m not really sure why. Ok, so it was a readable book but I kept thinking it was a cheap version of an Agatha Christie novel. With AC you get clues (even if they’re not usable clues) but with this story you didn’t much. Plus the “detective” seemed, in the main, bloody useless and only solved the case by accident. Still, light enough and easy to read.

And then on to Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. Another bloody detective! However this was thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve looked it up and there are more Maisie Dobbs novels and I just might be persuaded to read another.

Just one thing – for a book set in England between the wars, the spelling of the American “theater” instead of the English “theatre” really angered me. Especially as she had gone to all the trouble of spelling Cockney English correctly!

And now to Alchemy by Maureen Duffy. At least I’m getting through them at a decent rate now and I have a stack of them (finished) to take back home in a week’s time!

Stone Mattress

After finishing Holy Sh*t yesterday I treated myself to the Margaret Atwood book I got last year.

Holy Sh*t was really interesting. Detailing swearing from Roman times to the present day (English – US and UK) but this wasn’t a ¡novel, of course, being more of a history book. Great fun though and I learnt a lot.

But on to Margaret Atwood. There’s something about her writing. I feel that I could just read only her work, forever, if only she would write more – much, much more.

This was a collection of 9 short “tales”, each one different in almost every sense except one – they were about old people, more or less.

I’ve always liked “old people” things. Drawings, paintings, films, etc. The older the people, the better. And so, this was a wonderful book with wonderful tales.

This year I didn’t bring The Blind Assassin, my favourite book of all time – and now I wish I had.

Instead, I’ve started Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs – another book I think I’ve read before. Another one I probably didn’t put in the “books I’ve read” cupboard. *sigh*

No Special Book Yet

The Various Haunts Of Men (Susan Hill) was from last year – but I can’t stop reading a book once it’s started. It took me a little over 2 days.

Next up was So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. A good book to do with our current desire to humiliate And shame people through Social Media.

And On to Holy Sh*t by Melissa Mohr – a study on the history of swearing (therefore of particular interest to me since I swear a lot). More Importantly, it seems I’m back to my usual pace which makes me much happier.

Still no spectacular book yet…….

Citadel – Kate Mosse And slow reading

Well, I finished it but not at my normal rate. Sure, it was a thicker book than most but also because a) Best Mate is here and b) the book didn’t race along until about halfway through and, then again, towards the end.

Anyway, it was quite good but I doubt if it will be the number 1 book of the summer for me.

Now I’m on to The Various Haunts Of Men by Susan Hill who, I’ve discovered, comes from my neck of the woods. Except, I think, I read this last summer!

Another one bites the dust.

Vary sadly, The, from where I have been buying my books (not wanting to grace Amazon with my custom) has ceased trading.

So, I went on the hunt for another bookshop to buy from. It’s not easy. At first I tried Hay on Wye but the only bookshop that had what I needed priced everything in US dollars and I couldn’t find a way to change it to either Euro or Pounds.

Eventually, I found one in Liverpool called News From Nowhere.

They had all the books I wanted (from my “saved list” at and so I entered them and, to try it out, bought 3 books. In theory, they will be with me when I come back with Best Mate from our holiday.

Still, Bookstore were truly great and I shall miss them. I’m sorry that I couldn’t buy more (if that would have helped to keep them alive). Further, it’s a shame that another independent bookseller has hit the dust.

How To Be Both/Citadel

So, it seems I’m back to normal in that I finished How To Be Both, by Ali Smith, yesterday evening – so, a couple of days, more or less.

It’s won lots of awards, including the Bailey’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction). But, although clever and interesting, it doesn’t match A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing from last year. Nor does it make me want to rush out to read other books by her.

So, I have the next book which is one of a couple or series, I’m not sure which. Except I picked up the wrong one. It’s not the first. Damn. The first is back at the house. So I trudge back to our cabin to swap it for the other book I brought today – Citadel by Kate Mosse.

And here, I should confess, I read her books because I know her. I mean, know to speak to – from the Hay Festival days and the early days of the Orange Prize when we used to get invited to the party where they announced the winner.

She probably doesn’t remember me. But that’s ok. She’s a lovely lady and so I read her stuff. Sometimes I really like her stuff, so we shall see with this one.