sunday-salon-2

So here’s the thing. Every time this week I have sat down to read a book I have fallen asleep, regardless of the time of day and (mostly) regardless of location i.e. I haven’t fallen asleep on public transport. Yet. Well, not because I was reading anyway.

But I’m still ahead of my target to read a book a week so I’m not panicking. Also yet.

Of course not reading – or, to be more accurate, not finishing – books hasn’t stopped me from bringing more into the house (mostly but not exclusively invisible Kindle books). This week I have managed to get a hold of:

And despite the fact that I have made no or little progress with the three books I was reading this time last week I have started a fourth – Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris, largely because I am so taken with Bryan Fuller’s TV series Hannibal (which is based on the characters and bits of the plot but isn’t a direct adaptation) that I thought I would pick up the only book in the series I hadn’t yet read, especially as it was kicking around.

Hopefully a better story to tell next week :-)

sunday-salon-2Very little reading done this week for reasons which I can’t easily identify but probably have something to do with Life :-)

I am making good progress with The Shining but wasn’t able to make it to the book club meeting which was probably just as well; enjoying it hugely – I just love Stephen King, always have.

I have continued to add to the Invisible TBR pile that is my Kindle app with the following:

  • Shutter Man by Richard Montanari – the ninth Byrne and Balzano book, a series i have become mildly obsessed with this year;
  • Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand – acid folk band recording in country house with dark secrets;
  • In Plain Sight by Dan Davies – the life and lies of Jimmy Savile, an exploration of the dreadful sexual crimes of a man who was once really huge on UK TV. reading this because of an long-standing interest in true crime but also it has been nominated for a major non-fiction award;
  • The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons – another gothic historical literary chunkster featuring Sherlock Holmes and Henry James;
  • Open Season by Archer Mayor – this is the first of 23 or so Joe Gunther mysteries set in New England; I know nothing about this author but it was mentioned in an article about S3 of True Detective and where it might (should) be set and it sounded intriguing.

Must do better :D

sunday-salon-2Astonishingly, I have actually finished a book, albeit a relatively short one and assisted by being on a train for a few hours but it’s an achievement nevertheless and I am hopeful that my reading slump is over. I still have the other three books I mentioned last week on the go but haven’t yet identified a new book in the hard copy fiction category; still mulling that over.

The book I did finish was The Collini Case and my review is here.

As I mentioned last week I am re-reading The Shining for a book club and I had forgotten how good it is; really enjoying it, which is just as well as the meeting is on Thursday and I have to finish it by then.

I’m also still buying books, though not as many as in previous months which is probably just as well. In fact only three purchases since my last post; a book of short stories by Paul Cornell on Kindle, the Emma Trevayne novel I heard her read from at the end of last month and a novel by Louise O’Neill, again on Kindle and picked up only this morning after reading a reference to it on the Book Smugglers website.

Hoping to continue making reading progress this week :D

18170949What’s it all about?

In some ways The Collini Case is both really easy and really difficult to describe. A young defence lawyer, Caspar Leinen, gets his first opportunity to appear in court when he is assigned the case of an Italian citizen, Fabrizio Collini, who has brutally murdered a prominent German businessman in one of Berlin’s swankiest hotels. I know how swanky it is because both Michael Jackson and I have stayed there, though obvs not at the same time; it’s just lovely and luxurious. Anyway, advert over, back to the point. Leinin finds out that he has a connection to the murdered man (confusion over names causes this) and tries to recuse himself from the case, but ends up taking it forward and is appalled by what he finds.

Why did I want to read it?

I love courtroom stuff and legal arguments and such like, plus I had read a couple of reviews which made it sound intriguing.

What did I think of it?

This is a book that really grabbed me and I read it in two sittings. It manages to be both very simple and very complex, because it hinges on the motive for the murder and some aspects of German law. I was aware that the author, who is an acclaimed lawyer himself, wrote the book partly to bring to everyone’s attention a particular issue which he felt needed to be addressed, and although the actual details were fascinating the campaigning part of the book (if I can even call it that) was well handled and didn’t get in the way of a tragic and compelling story of the legacy of the Second World War. Anyone who knows anything about that period and sees that the murder victim is an elderly man will probably guess what the murder may be all about but there is so much more to it than that.

This all sounds very cryptic but it’s a really fast and cleanly written story and it’s worth discovering for yourself.

sunday-salon-2I was going to do a whole what I read during July post here but to my shame realised that I haven’t been reading very much at all and in fact haven’t finished a book since 17th June. So I looked at those books I had started and decided to put them aside for the moment (they all looked great and I want to read them when my brain is working a little better) and pick others that I could come to fresh and hopefully kick-start my reading mojo again.

I’ve long recognised that my ability to read is at its best when I have a range of books on the go at once and can dip in and out as I please, so I have come up with the following:

  • Non-fictionInventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet “delving into such Victorian passions as advertising, interior decoration, sex scandals and serial killers”
  • KindleOsiris by EJ Swift – book one of the Osiris Project, dystopian sci-fi (and I have met the author who is just a lovely person)
  • Hard copy fiction  – The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach – a legal thriller translated from the german; I’ve seen several good reviews of this and have the added frisson of having stayed at the hotel in Berlin where the murder takes place
  • Re-read – for the Horror Book Club meeting in August I am re-reading The Shining by Stephen King. It’s been a while so looking forward to re-acquainting myself with young Danny Torrance.

And though I may not be reading I am still buying books; I had an especially productive spending spree after the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club meeting on Tuesday last, where there were readings by Sophia McDougall, Emma Trevayne, Gareth Powell and Alex Lamb. All very different but all very enjoyable.

sunday-salon-2I am now fully back at work after my illness and unfortunately that’s coincided with a dip in my reading, probably because medication means that my brain is slower than normal and I can only manage one thing at a time so have focussed on getting back into the real world rather than losing myself in fictional ones.

I have also stepped back from any challenges though I’m hoping to re-read The Shining for the Horror Book Club meeting in August, partly because I haven’t read it in years and partly because it will also contribute to my tally for the 2015 Horror Reading Challenge and I do like a two birds with one stone scenario.

I haven’t been buying lots of books recently, but have picked up the following in the last couple of days, mainly as a result of going book shopping with friends who were stocking up on reading material for their holiday.

It would have been really impolite not to join in :D

So….

  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – everyone knows about this one and I’ll probably be the last person in the universe to read it and in a pleasant twist it was actually a present from my friend Silvery Dude
  • Empty Space by M John Harrison – I know nothing about this book at all but thought it sounded intriguing and only when I got it home did I realise that it was the third in a trilogy; luckily we already have the first part and I will hunt down the second shortly
  • The Rival Queens by Nancy Goldstone – as some of you will know the 16th Century is my thing and the Book God drew this to my attention; it’s the story of Catherine de Medici and her daughter Queen Margot and it looks fascinating
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green – a download recommended to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it; I know a tiny bit about the story because of the movie version but that’s all, and I like YA so I’m definitely going to give this a shot.

I’m hoping to get my reading mojo back this week, especially as I have a business trip on Wednesday and will be travelling for 7 hours or so and thus will have no excuse.

I actually didn’t read that much non-fiction while I was away from the blog, probably because my fuzzy brain was incapable of dealing with anything too complicated. But I did manage the following:

4259Nick Hornby’s Housekeeping vs the Dirt and Shakespeare Wrote for Money

These are the last volumes collecting together Hornby’s book columns from The Believer magazine. As I think I’ve said somewhere previously, whether you enjoy these or not will depend almost entirely on whether you like Hornby’s personality (at least as it comes across here) but I definitely do so I was very happy reading 4457297these. After all, this is a man who has been able to articulate why I have never got on with the works of Thomas Hardy, to wit:

Hardy’s prose is best consumed when you’re young, and your endless craving for misery is left unsatisfied by a diet of The Smiths and incessant parental misunderstanding.

It is worth mentioning that I never got The Smiths either.

24861532Val McDermid’s Forensics (subtitled The Anatomy of Crime)

I love Val McDermid. I am ashamed to say that I have not kept up with her novels but I think she is just fabulous, and I will remedy the book thing at some point (I have at least made a note of what I haven’t read so that i can do the thing.) This was a fascinating book; I can’t resist this sort of thing as my dedication to  watching CSI and related shows will testify, and this was a great introduction to the various techniques and how they have developed over time using key historical (and more recent) cases as illustration. So well written, I devoured this in a couple of sittings. You will notice that there is a fly on the cover. It appears in random places throughout the book and I can’t tell you the number of time I turned the page and forgot what it was and tried to brush it off the paper. Idiot that I am :D

So the blog was on hiatus for a few weeks while I was dealing with some health issues which means that I have ten, count them, TEN book reviews to write and publish. But as part of my post-illness strategy is to not put pressure on myself, plus adjusting to the meds I’m now on during this period means things are a wee bit fuzzy, I’ve decided to write two posts, one each for fiction and non-fiction, with my short impressions of the books. So I can both satisfy the nerd part that wants everything recorded, while keeping the anxious part quiet. So here we go with *drum roll* fiction.

A God in Ruins

24524712I read the bulk of this on a very pleasant train journey from Edinburgh at the end of May. It’s one of those books that everyone but everyone has been reading and reviewing so I’m not sure that I can add much that’s meaningful to all the words already out there, except to say that I really enjoyed it, Teddy is a wonderful character, it’s beautifully written, the parts about Teddy’s war service are astonishingly good and it was very moving. I’m not entirely sure that I understood the ending, and I think I may still (very slightly) prefer Life After Life, but this was a goodie.

Day Four

IMG_0273This is sort of a sequel to The Three which I read and enjoyed last year. It’s another creepy horror novel, this time with a group of people stuck on a cruise ship where Something Goes Terribly Wrong in an is it aliens or something else we don’t understand but is out to mess with us kind of way. I liked it a lot.

There were lots of characters with no redeeming social features who got what they deserved but enough reasonable people to root for, and it was nicely done. And has reinforced my view that cruises are simply not for me.

The Stolen Ones

The seventh in the series by Richard Montanari, I have to confess that this is a bit of a blur.

The structure is the same as always, alternating viewpoints between Byrne and Balzano and the perpetrator, and there is definitely something to do with an asylum and their personal lives develop further and I know that I enjoyed reading at the time but that’s all I’ve got for you, sorry.

IMG_0275The Doll Maker

The eighth and as far as I’m aware the latest Byrne and Balzano story, this is the one with the dolls, obvs. And Byrne buys a house which used to belong to a convicted killer from a case he was involved in before. And the POV of the killer(s) is even creepier than you might expect from this series, which has been consistently enjoyable.

But again the details are a bit vague which is probably just as well as you really want to come to these fresh. By the way, I hate this cover SO MUCH.

Death is a Welcome Guest

IMG_0277This is the second in the Plague Trilogy; I devoured the first volume last year (my review is here) and was looking forward to this one being published and got my hands on the e-book as soon as it came out.

Different set of characters trying to deal with the sickness that has decimated the population and the impact that it has had on society. Violence and peril and alliances and danger and sacrifice. beautifully written, very compelling, I enjoyed it immensely and I’m already hankering after the third volume which I understand from a Twitter exchange with the author will have lots of jeopardy.

51+N1aOiaZL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_The Hellbound Heart

The novella by Clive Barker which was the basis for the Hellraiser moves, I was mildly astonished that I hadn’t read this before (honestly, call myself a horror fan?) and this was actually a book group read for a meeting I didn’t manage to attend. It’s a nasty little story full of blood and guts and torture and I thought it was great. Quite different from the film version though and *whispers* I think the story is better.

The Rhesus Chart

IMG_0281The most recent of the Laundry Files (well at least until this week when the next volume is published and before you ask, yes I have ordered it), this is basically about the bit of the civil service which deals with occult nonsense as described previously, but this time involves vampires. In the City of London. And other weird stuff.

I liked it a lot. I just really love Bob, the main protagonist, and his wife and the stuff he has to deal with and the endless bureaucracy and the fact that he doesn’t always have an answer for everything and bumbles along. I’ve seen a couple of mentions on Twitter and elsewhere that suggest others had problems with this entry in the series but I don’t exactly know why and I’m not sure I care enough to look. I am anxious about the fate of one of my favourite characters though…

So that quick canter through recent fictions reads brings me up to date. I feel a little guilty that I’m not giving these books the full treatment they probably deserve but the alternative was just to ignore them and I would have felt even worse about that, so there we are.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 4.47.12 PMWhat did I say I was going to do?

As I said in my sign up post, I am aiming to be a Brave Reader, which means reading 6-10 books during the course of the year. My first quarterly update can be found here.

How am I doing?

Not too bad considering that I’ve been struggling with health issues and my reading has been patchy to say the least. My blog has been on hiatus and I’m still deciding how I’m going to handle reviewing the books I have read since late May, but where I have already reviewed I’ve provided a link.

  • The Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge – shortlisted for the first James Herbert Award
  • Day Four by Sarah Lotz – a sequel to The Three which was a favourite read from last year
  • The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker – astonished I had never read this before given that it’s a bit of a classic
  • The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross – the fifth in The Laundry Files series – vampires!

I’ve still got a few horror novels on my TBR list so fairly confident I’m going to exceed my target for this challenge :-)

out-sickOver the past few months I’ve mentioned on and off that I have been struggling with some health issues. This has now all come to a head and I’m off work for the next few weeks at least. To help with my recovery I’ve decided to put my blogs on hiatus until I feel better, and I’m cutting back on social media as well. I’ll still be reading of course and will have lots to talk about when I do come back.

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, entering my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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