I didn’t really read much in September for various reasons (mostly sad kinds of reasons) but I picked things back up a bit in October. So here’s a summary of what I read in both months smooshed together.
The Collectors – Philip Pullman *****
(audio) ¦¦ I’m not sure this counts as a book because it’s a 30 minute audiobook but… I thought it was excellent. Even if you haven’t read the His Dark Materials trilogy you’ll find this short story thrilling, dark and incredibly atmospheric. It reminded me a lot of the works of MR James, which can only be a good thing. Bill Nighy does an incredible job as a narrator, hands down the best performance of an audiobook I’ve heard. The voices of the characters were beautifully acted and distinguishable from each other without it sounding too much like cheesy ‘voices’ if you know what I mean. Plus I listened to the whole thing walking home from work one day. All-around-winner.
The Last Summer Of Us – Maggie Harcourt ****
(audio) ¦¦ Apparently I’m mourning the end of summer (did we ever have one?) with the contents of my recent reads. The style of this book is a little ‘young’ which took me a minute to get used to, but was actually excellent. The narrator has a dry humour and I loved the Welsh accent and elements of the story. It was horribly fitting as life imitated art just the day after I finished reading (the book deals with the death of a parent) but in a way, it oddly prepared me for what was to happen. Anyway, if you can do YA I’d really recommend this.
A Home Of Their Own – Garry Jenkins ***
¦¦ My Mum and I are notorious in my family for needing A Nice Book About Animals to read when we’re feeling sad/stressed/down. September was certainly the time for ANBAA. This is actually well written and gives a good history of the dogs home as well as some nice stories about particular animals, but steers clear of being too saccharine or mawkish. I think that’s fairly unusual for this genre of book, which is why I’ve rated it so highly. It’s not life changing, no, and clearly the point of the book is to encourage donations, but given all that I think it was done extremely well.
Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman ***
(audio) ¦¦ Ooh he’s a bit brilliant, isn’t he? This collection of the slightly weird had me hooked from the beginning, but 10 stories of the macabre in and I was flagging a bit. And then it just kept going. Things began to feel a bit samey, and I read back the titles of the stories and honestly there were a few I couldn’t even remember. I think this is best enjoyed in short bursts, or else you get out-supernaturaled quite quickly.
The Ice Princess – Camilla Läckberg ***
¦¦ This is your token scandi-crime novel, which even though it starts out describing a fairly dramatic murder scene is really quite slow to get going. There is a lot of character development which slows things down to begin with but means you do understand the characters well by the end. Some reviews were annoyed at the fact there was a relationship in this book that was given a lot of words. I quite liked it, to be honest. There were a few subplots which weren’t resolved, and some which were totally meaningless, but I think there’s a follow up which may resolve some of them.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day – Winifred Watson **** ¦¦ This was given to me by my sister when I asked for a non-stressful holiday read. I loved this book! The old fashioned dialogue, descriptions of London in the 30’s, and pleasant happenings were all most enjoyable. No, this isn’t a literary great. But it’s a fantastic story and I’d highly recommend it as a light holiday read.
If you had to pick one book to recommend I read next, what would it be? I’d recommend Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, I think. I can’t see how anyone would not like that book!