August got off to a very slow start as it took me a lot longer than I expected to get through Watching the Door, a book about the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
However, we picked up the pace a little towards the end of the month and I managed to make my way through five books in total, edging ever closer to my target of 52 books for the year.
I will pre-warn not to expect much in September as we’ve recently moved to London and with moving and getting settled, along with a new morning gym routine, reading has taken a little bit of a back seat.
Watching the Door by Kevin Myers
Watching the Door is the memoir of an ordinary young man who drifted into a war zone, made it his home and, somehow, emerged unscathed. After Kevin Myers graduated from university in 1969, a chance job application landed him a position as a journalist in Belfast. There, he was absorbed quickly into the local community. Soon he became privy to the secrets of Protestant and Catholic paramilitaries alike. In his darkly funny account of life on the streets, Myers evokes with searing clarity a society on the brink of civil war. His memoir is a remarkable portrait of those divisions, from the dedicated violence of loyalist gangs and provos to the behaviour of paratroopers, squaddies, Northern Ireland’s police force and the wider population. Raw, candid and courageous, Watching the Door recalls the bloodiest time in Northern Ireland’s recent past. It is a coming-of-age story like no other.
My rating: ★★★★
I think this is my third book about the Troubles this year, and again I picked this book up in a Little Free Library in Edinburgh of all places, just down the street from our AirBnB. I enjoyed the perspective from Kevin Myers who was an English journalist, studied in UCD Dublin and was stationed in Belfast to report for RTE. The book only covered two-three years of the Troubles and so didn’t give the full scope of what went on, but it was a good indication of the first few years and what initiated the next 20 or so years. I would definitely recommend for a perspective from both sides, and an outsider.
Run Away by Harlan Coben
You’ve lost your daughter. She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found. Then, quite by chance, you see her busking in New York’s Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is wasted, frightened and clearly in trouble. You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home. She runs. And you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Where criminal gangs rule, where drugs are the main currency, and murder is commonplace. Now it’s your life on the line. And nowhere and no one is safe.
My rating: ★★★★★
You’ll notice that Harlan Coben has started popping up more regularly in my monthly reviews as I keep coming across more and more of his books in charity shops and snapping them up. I really enjoy his writing with so many unexpected twists and turns, as well as some reappearing characters and the fact that all of his books seem to be set in New York/New Jersey. Run Away in particular was full of twists, gore and unexpected endings. Thoroughly enjoyed.
The Canning Town Murder by Mike Hollow
September, 1940. As the Blitz takes its nightly toll on London and Hitler prepares his invasion fleet just across the Channel in occupied France, Britain is full of talk about enemy agents. Suspicion is at an all time high and no one is sure who can be trusted. In Canning Town, rescue workers are unsettled when they return to a damaged street and discover a body that shouldn’t be there. When closer examination of the corpse reveals death by strangling, Detective Inspector John Jago is called upon to investigate. But few seem to really care about the woman’s death, not even her family. As Jago digs deeper he starts to uncover a trail of deception, betrayal, and romantic entanglements.
My rating: ★★★
I received The Canning Town Murder in a Christmas box (I know, I’m a bit late) but it’s actually book number 2 in a series. However, it didn’t actually take away from the book at all. I did find it a bit freaky that while I was reading this, we found our apartment for London and our nearest tube stop is Canning Town… anyway, the book is set back in World War II and is every bit London/Cockney as you’d expect. I enjoyed, but found the characters a little confusing and the ending a little bit expected.
The Country Village Summer Fete by Cathy Lake (Gifted)
Emma Patrick’s life is spiralling out of control. On the cusp of her 50th birthday, she realises that she’s been so focused on work that she’s lost any real connection to people. When Emma’s ageing father needs her help, she decides to go back home to the countryside to spend some time with him. But returning to Little Bramble after years away is filled with complications and people she’d rather avoid. To her surprise, as Emma settles in she finds herself loving village life. When the opportunity to get involved in the running of the summer fête comes her way, soon she’s embracing jam making, cake baking and bunting. And with romance brewing, Emma begins to doubt the glamorous city life that she worked so hard to build…
My rating: ★★★
This is the perfect summer read for the beach or a lounger by the pool. It did remind me a little bit of The Switch by Beth O’Leary as it centres around a woman leaving the hustle and bustle of London to return to her little village and falling in love with someone from her past. Quite cliche, but still a lovely read for summer.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Everyone’s invited. Everyone’s a suspect. Bristling with tension, bitter rivalries, and toxic friendships, get ready for the most hotly-anticipated thriller of 2019. In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year. The beautiful one, the golden couple, the volatile one, the new parents, the quiet one, the city boy, the outsider. The victim. Not an accident – a murder among friends.
My rating: ★★★★
I really enjoyed The Guest List by Lucy Foley, so had high expectations for The Hunting Party. One thing I noticed right away was that it was laid out very similar to The Guest List, where an event has taken place and the book tells the story from the run-up to the event but also mixed in with the post-event happenings. And that each chapter is told from a different perspective. It’s very Agatha Christie/whodunnit kind of book, but it really makes you engage with the characters and try to suss out who the guilty person is. I really hope she continues to bring out some similar books in the future.