AFTER the upsurge of reading in January came the drought. I have been content to re-read and listen to audio books of old favourites as the hours in the day ran away from me, as they are want to do.
THE February-March changeover is always a busy time of year in Korea. The school year changes without the usual 6 week break that many are accustomed to, and in addition the elementary school teachers rotate within and between schools. As you can imagine, it’s a time of massive upheaval with everything happening at double-quick time and no short of Korean surprises. But now everything has settled down, routines are in order and plenty of forward preparation has been made, reading is back on!
I’M a speed reader, I can devour books at great speed, and have a tendency to jump from one to another! (It’s a long-time family joke that I always had a stack of books on my bedside table! Now, thanks to the good old kindle its a veritable library!) So now that I’ve been reading again, let me share with you all the books I’ve devoured this April!
The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel (March 2017)
OH boy! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. This book was dark and oh-so disturbing, yet the writing was so captivating I had to keep going through the skin-crawling awfulness that is the driving force of the book.
ENGEL hides nothing, the subject matter is alluded to from the beginning and just build and builds and builds as Engel jumps between our protagonist, Lane’s, past and present whilst weaving in additions here and there from other characters perspectives. Engel’ writing is subtle and alluring and you can’t help but want more.
WAS this a pleasant read? No! No book with this subject matter could be classed enjoyable, but in the right hands it is sharp, poignant, heartbreaking and tinged with the faintest glimmer of hope. To not give anything away, it is not a book for the faint-hearted, but it is one I would recommend for it’s haunting grasp on your attention.
The Pick, The Spade and The Crow – Bill Rogers (27th September 2016)
CRIME fiction has long been a favourite of mine, but it’s been a while since I’ve read anything that’s gripped me as this did. I had no idea who Bill Rogers was before this book popped up on the Kindle Spring Sale list. The reviews were promising and it was set in Manchester. I was sold.
I was hooked very early on and demolished the book in 2 days – the only reason it was spread over two days was because of a visitor (and you can’t spend all your hours reading when you have company!)
I was drawn to the the characters instantly (and like our protagonist Jo Stuart even more now, as you’ll read below). Rogers really does create a believable and genuine cast of characters. They’re none of them perfect, but their intentions are solid. And the plot! Since reading this book, and going on to read more of Rodgers books, I have come to the conclusion that Rogers is incredibly thoughtful with his subject matter and makes sure he himself really understands things before he commits the finer points of his story to paper.
I may be deeply biased as this (and all his other books) are set in the North of England, but either way it’s a cracking crime novel and I shall most definitely be reading more!
The Cleansing – Bill Rogers (25th August 2012) *The second kindle edition
I realised, as characters were being introduced in this book, that the Tom Caton Series came chronologically before The National Crime Agency Series. Not that I felt I had missed anything not having Jo Stuart’s backstory! It was a delight to start reading and find a familiar face in the line-up (no pun intended) and it pulled me into the story even more as I was already invested.
TOM Caton is quite unlike Jo Stuart, although this “origin story”, if you will, does go a fair way in explaining why Jo Stuart is the police detective she is. I liked that I was able to see where she had come from. I also very much like Tom Caton himself. Unlike so many novel detectives, he isn’t an alcoholic or a self-saboteur. He has his deamons – what self-respecting detective doesn’t – but he’s much more of a “whole” human being. It’s quite refreshing.
THIS particular case was fascinating. The subject matter drew me in, I kind of saw the ending coming, but was never 100% sure. I like that in a crime novel.
ROGERS writing is perhaps not the most technical but, much like J.K. Rowling, that doesn’t stand in the way of an excellent story.
The Head Case – Bill Rogers (19th September 2010)
I just couldn’t keep myself away! Upon finishing The Cleansing, I had to carry on. There is lots of lovely character development and this story really builds upon the first. The irony is that my visitor is a teacher. We had just had a discussion about teachers unions before a 4 hour bus journey, then I start reading and… lo and behold, teachers everywhere!
IT should probably be noted that Rogers writing is not always as tight as it could be. Things are said by characters which should have been picked up on earlier than they were by our detectives, but it’s a novel. I’ll let it slide. I totally see what he did there, and I’m not mad at it.
AS is seemingly becoming a pattern for Rogers, regardless of technicalities, his stories are thoroughly enjoyable, and much as I love the flaws of Rebus and Wallander, it’s nice to have a detective who’s got it together a little more! It’s a refreshing change, but having said that I see Rebus re-reads in my future…
The Lost Art Of Letter Writing – Menna van Praag (16th February 2017)
ONCE again, the Kindle Spring Sale worked it’s magic and with a title right up my alley and a price of 99p, this book made its way not-so-sneakily into my kindle library. After making my way through so many crime novels, it was time to lighten the mood a little.
I am a huge advocate of snailmail, with penpals and friends with whom the made mode of communication is letters, so it’s little wonder that this title appealed to me! It turned out to be nothing like I was expecting! Whilst the story began as expected, strands were woven in along the way that were fantastical, or deliberately left of field. That’s not to say this is a bad thing, but I found the jumpiness and lack of apparent relationships of any kind between characters hampered my enjoyment. In the end, from first page to last, I only really cared for one character and could have quite happily done without the rest. This book didn’t really seem to know who it was, what it was trying to say or quite what to do with itself. I but of a damp fish in the end!
Soppy – Phillipa Rice (8th January 2015)
I can hardly claim to have “read” this book in the traditional sense, but I’m going to include it here nonetheless as I must have gone through it all by now! I like to dip into it every now and again. It’s an uplifting book, reminding you that even the little things are precious and it really is a soppy as it’s title suggests. Books are healing as much as they are enlightening! I like having this around, somewhat of the book version of cosy blanket.
Here’s hoping that May contains as much reading, though a little more diverse perhaps!
What have you been reading? And any recommendations?