The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice I’ve skipped April. ‘What happened to April?’ I hear you ask… well, now, there’s a story. (Speaking of which, apologies for not getting through and reading and commenting and all those other good bloggy etiquette things to do… I’ll be better in June… I promise…)
Seriously though, it began to feel weird writing about what I’d read in, say April, when the post was being published almost 3 weeks after the month ended.
So, this, dear reader, is a catch-up. It’s not what I read in April, or what I’ve read so far in May, it’s what I’ve read since we last caught up and talked about books. And yes, there is a lot of books, but it’s almost 2 months’ worth…
New (to me) series…
I’m pretty sure it was Deb who first put me onto Elly Griffith’s Dr Ruth Galloway series…and I’m loving it.
The last book I read – The Dying Fall – I inhaled on a return flight to Sydney last week. I should have used the time to write, but, well, I had exit row seats which meant my bags had to be up top, and, well, it seemed like such an effort to get my laptop out and put it away again and… you get the idea.
Anyways, that will be it for now as I need to wait for the reservations in the library to come in.
I’ve told you before about Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series, well, there’s an earlier series she wrote – as Julia Stagg – set in the French Pyrenees – and it’s fabulous too. I’m currently reading the last one now.
New in a series…
Speaking of Julia Chapman and the Dales Detective agency, the latest in that series is finally out. I’d accidentally preordered the audio version, but loved it. A fantabulous rounding out of Samson and Delilah’s (yes, I still cringe at that) story with all the quirky characters playing their parts beautifully. This was definitely my April read of the month.
I’m not sure if this is the last book in the series – Chapman has tied everything up so well it could be – and I’m not sure where else she can take the characters, but I’ve loved this series so much I cashed in some points in the reward and recognition scheme we have at work for Booktopia vouchers and have bought the series in paperback to reread some time.
New on NetGalley
I got an advance copy of this one from Net Galley for review purposes. While I’ve rated it 4 stars, it’s probably somewhere closer to 3.75 as I struggled a tad with the start. I suspect this was because it’s not that long since we read Jane Austen’s Emma in book club and this is a modern retelling of that novel. Once I put that aside I did, however, end up enjoying this sparkly romp set in New York.
Book Club Reads
In book club we finished Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.
The former I loved loved loved and the latter, while I can’t say I enjoyed it, I “got”…if you know what I mean.
Dickens brings scenes to life in such a way that it’s almost visceral – you’re there in that misty churchyard with the convict and his clinking chains, and you can smell the decaying remnants of Miss Havisham’s bridal tables and the stench of market London… it’s as if you’re standing beside him watching it all unfold.
Anyways, we all loved it.
Our traditional end-of-book club bake was apple and cinnamon scones. If you want to know why I chose that – and, of course, get the recipe – you’ll find the post here.
As for Mrs Dalloway, the opinions weren’t quite so unanimous, but it prompted more discussion than we’ve had in many meetings.
With no chapters and, quite frankly, weird punctuation, this is a difficult book to read and with day job life being as it is I don’t have the brain capacity to deal with that. Instead I listened to the Audible version narrated by Juliet Stevenson and it brought it alive for me. While I can’t say I enjoyed it, in many ways it spoke to me and I suspect will be a book that stays with me for a long time. In fact I find myself liking it more in hindsight…or appreciating it more…
Because it’ll be a couple of months before we can get together again there’ll be no baking for this book (although I might just sneak in a bake in honour of it).
Next, we’re heading down the rabbit hole with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
I tried to tell Grant about this while we were walking one morning. About how Humble, who lived on a farm in Wales, had bought a sheepdog pup she wanted to train up as a working dog and how that had taken her on a journey to find out how wolves had evolved into domestic dogs who worked with us in partnership. I get that his attention span sometimes isn’t great but all he heard was sheepdog, Wales, and wolves and wanted to know why there were wolves in Wales and what that had to do with sheepdogs. Heavy sigh.
Anyways, this was a fabulous read (or, in my case, listen) and I learnt so much about the domestication and evolution of the breeds, the astounding things dogs do and are capable of doing, and how even though they share much of the same DNA these days the differences between wolves and dogs is similar to how we’ve evolved from chimps. Fascinating stuff and a must-read for any dog lover.
Oh, and as an aside, apparently a small pack of wolves has been introduced into Wales.
Check out this post for more on these…
Deb, Donna, Sue, and I would love you to share what you’ve been reading…the linky is below.
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Hi, Jo – Excellent reviews (as always). “Visceral” is the perfect word to describe Dickens’ writing in Great Expectation. I truly smelled that decaying cake (amongst other things).
I am now off to our online library to see if they have a copy of Friend for Life. Fingers crossed!
Hi Jo, I’m an Emily Griffiths fan as well because of Deb. I’ve read four so far and yes, I’m looking forward to the latest one in the series. I love Samson and Delihah although I do think of Tom Jones’ song rather than the biblical version. x
I love your reviews Jo. I have the first Elly Griffiths book on my list and looking forward to it. I’m sure I will love it. I also have Great Expectations on the list for a re-read. All I need it more time in my day to get through a pile of books quickly.
Our bok club did Mrs Dalloway a few years back and the group was divided but heavy on the ‘no fans’ side. I saw the play of A Room of One’s Own and really loved it, so keen to read that one.
I’m excited for you reading Alice. I love that book so much. I think it’s given to children too early and then dismissed by them as childish….It’s almost a guide to living. What would Alice do? (There is a very good book on Alice & Philosophy and my favourite essay in that is titled exactly that “What would Alice do?” and basically in moments of indecision, you should ask yourself that and plough forward in her confident and unflappable manner….)
Your post made me smile as you have a great sense of humor 🤗 I just posted on Sue’s blog about Mrs. Dalloway (or maybe it wasn’t posted, I got a strange message that it was a duplicate?) that it keeps showing up in my life that I feel like I should read it. I think I might even have it in my personal library which consists mostly of hubby’s books. Great summary!
Those Julia Stagg books look wonderful!
They’re a great read…
Very keen to get stuck into Dr Ruth Galloway. Those covers look amazing together. I don’t recall ever reading Virginia Woolf but if there’s no punctuation I’m outta here. Can’t stand that.
Quiet an eclectic mix and now I have Ruth Galloway curiosity. I’ve saved a link and will be sussing her out in the not too distant future. Not so sure about Mrs Dalloway – might stay ignorant with that one!
Yes it was me who set you on the Dr Ruth Galloway series Jo, and I’m so glad you’re enjoying them. I found another of her novels in Tesco here the other day and I’m enjoying it although I’m missing Dr Ruth! I’ve read the first in the Dales series but have had trouble getting the next ones for some reason. Emma of 83rd Street sounds a great read so I might look for that too. I’m so busy being on holidays my reading time has shrunk to the size of a pea! I agree with your thoughts on Mrs Dalloway and loved our discussion. Thanks for your great reviews and co-hosting WOYBS 🙂