March was a good reading month for me, helped along by some great reads, some easy reads, and a bit of holiday time to use. I’m listing them in order of enjoyment, so if you’ve got limited time I’d recommend the first 4 and then you’re probably safe to skip the rest.
Buster: The Military Dog Who Saved a Thousand Lives , Will Barrow ***** ¦¦ This book is about Buster, a spaniel who is a trained arms and explosives detector with the Royal Navy Police. It’s written by his handler, Will Barrow, and he gives an account of the various tours they’ve done across active war zones, primarily Afghanistan. I found it a bit triggering to begin with as my cousin was killed in action in Afghanistan by an IED whilst driving a Viking, and both IEDs and Vikings feature quite heavily at first. So, getting that one out of the way first and foremost, if you think that might trigger you too then perhaps you might want to steer clear. However, if you can manage it, I think this is a fantastic book that I’d highly encourage reading. It’s written in an engaging and funny way, despite tackling very serious subject matter. Plus it falls into my favourite category, A Nice Book About Animals (ANBAA). In case you need reassurance, both Buster and his handler return from all their tours uninjured.
The Shark and the Albatross, John Aitchison ***** ¦¦ John Aitchison is a wildlife film maker who has shot for the BBC, National Geographic, and PBS amongst others and has won BAFTAs and an Emmy for his work. This is his account of the various trials and tribulations that go into producing an award winning wildlife documentary, and it’s fascinating from start to finish. Yes, he talks about animals a lot (fine by me) but also includes historical, geographical and political context to his stories. Despite the sometimes stressful nature of his work I found this incredibly calming to listen to, and I really recommend this if you like animals, nature, photography, biology, geography…
Rescue Rachel Schurig ***** ¦¦ This is the 5th book in the Ransom series and I know it’s not highbrow, but I loved these books. It’s just pure escapism from start to finish but with characters who feel like they could be real people, with real problems. I galloped through this with joy. I highly recommend the series if you’re not a serious literary type and you just want some entertainment.
Easy, Tammara Webber **** ¦¦ I loved this book too, and there’s a fairly deep back story behind the boy-meets-girl format that really makes you think. I enjoyed this book, although the characters didn’t feel quite as realistic to me as they did in Rescue – perhaps because I’ve had the rest of the series to get to know the characters in that one. Either way, I enjoyed reading it and now I really want to take self defence classes.
Tumbledown Manor, Helen Brown **** ¦¦ This was a good read. It tackles the changes that come with life and is sort of a fairytale but in real life. The protagonist is a writer who has entered a year of life with an 0 on the end of it, has two grown up children, and a husband who has just left her. She decides to move to her childhood home of rural Australia from her previous Manhattan life to refurbish the ex-family home which has fallen into disrepair. I want to take this as a grand view of the reconciliation attempts between the aboriginal people and the whites but I think that’s a stretch. Other than that, it’s a little on the predictable happy ending side but with enough amusement along the way to make it worth reading.
The Good Neighbor, A.J. Banner ** ¦¦ This is a thriller that follows woman whose house burns down, triggering her to reconsider all she thought she knew about her life. It’s the kind of book that makes you suspect everyone in turn – for most of it I thought it was the main character herself who had done it (spoiler alert: it wasn’t), but the actual person who did do it came so out of nowhere I found myself listening to the last bit with my mouth hanging open. There were no clues that would have helped you get it along the way, so it just felt like a crazy twist for the sake of it, rather than being cleverly done. Also the narrator’s voice was annoying.
Evie, Julia Stoneham * ¦¦ There was a lot of not much going on in this book. I didn’t really like the way it was written and I didn’t identify with any of the characters at all. It was written around an ensemble cast, and switched between storylines dramatically. Some stories were never resolved, some were referred to randomly. I later realised that this was because it’s an added extra bonus book that follows a prior series. I wish I’d known that before I read it.What did you read this month?