What we read in July

I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

Well after a year of everyone telling me how good this book was I thought I had better read it. So I put it forward to the reading group as our next choice and thought no more about it until I started reading it on holiday. Now our reading group tends towards modern English literature, sometimes introspective and thoughtful, often very well well written. So my heart plummeted when in the first few pages we had a sex scene, a vicious murder, and a female potential terrorist. Gripping, pacey, exciting but hardly the stuff that Booker prizes are made of. That said it was great fun and I tore  through it, a great thriller, albeit with a few plot holes you could drive a smallpox laden juggernaut through.  When the book group got back together the vast majority enjoyed it for the exciting thriller it was and were prepared to overlook the literary weaknesses.

A Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller

Well I picked this one up on a recommendation and was instantly hooked. It’s all about a journalist that makes a conscious decision to get back into reading and so he takes us through a year of his life in books. This really is a great read for anyone that loves books, he’s honest, funny, smart, sometimes wrong, sometimes right but always engaging. I loved it


Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Another much hyped book but oh boy did this one stink. Apparently it had a killer plot twist, shame it was obvious within the first few chapters. Worse, it didn’t have a single redeeming character in it. not one. I wanted them all to get framed or murdered, they were so deeply unpleasant.nicely written, nice conceit but just too flawed.


Armada – Ernest Cline

This was about as disappointing as it gets. Derivative, trite, boring. Standing on its own it would have been awful but tragically it follows Ernest Cline’s debut novel Ready Player One, which was fabulous. Can’t even be bothered to give you a synopsis. Top tip, read Ready Player One. Never ever feel tempted to read this.


Foxglove Summer – Ben Aaronovitch

So I was feeling a bit anxious about this as I had been really looking forward to this. Rather like Armada. Plus two bad books on the trot always makes a reader feel nervous.  Is that it. Has the magic of reading gone? Are there no more good books? Didn’t need to worry, this was great fun. As usual. PC Grant is assigned to the Met Office Division of the Occult. Everything is normal London plus wizards and river gods and the like. Author was toying with perceptions of race / colour.  Kept me on my toes. Managed to tone it down just before it got annoying but it may jar for some.

The Winter Crown – Elizabeth Chadwick

I love historical fiction but I tend to avoid the more romantic novels and I really dislike the poorly researched books. I tried a Chadwick a few years ago and couldn’t get on with it.  Picked up The Summer Queen by Chadwick last year as it was about Eleanor of Aquataine and really enjoyed it. This is book two and is continuing in the same vein. Eleanor is a great historical figure and is being treated with great insight, right or wrong, Chadwick is convincing and tells a good tale.

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