Saturday, 7 June 2014

What I read in May

May didn't feel too busy but as I only managed to finish 3 books, I have to assume that my social life ramped up a gear. The things I do remember doing are a) London whisky festival, b) Cambridge beer festival and c) an engagement party where approx 60 bottles of fizz were consumed (no lie). I suppose those may have slightly reduced my reading time a tad. Anyway, I read three books, very varied this month; historical fiction, YA and a war autobiography. Who says I'm not cultered? Nobody, nobody says that.

Burial Rites - Hannah Kent (Paperback) 8/10

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this by The Reading Agency so I could take part in their Bailey's Prize readalong. Set in Iceland in 1829, this is the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, who has been sentenced to death for the murder of her lover. While awaiting her execution she is sent to stay with a farming family, in a barren and brutal landscape. There's sadness, mystery and even a bit of humour sprinkled throughout Agnes' story, and in time her hosts find out there is more to their guest than they first suspected.

I really enjoyed this book and was hooked from just a few pages in. Kent's descriptions of the Icelandic landscape are so evocative that I felt transported to the early 19th century every time I picked it up and I've since given it to my sister who finished it in 2 days. Unfortunately it didn't win the Bailey's Prize but I remain adamant that it was a worthy choice for the shortlist.

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart (Kindle) 9/10

Cadence Sinclair spends every summer with her extended family on a private island near Martha's Vineyard; swimming with her cousins, picnicking on hidden beaches and planning their privileged futures. But two years ago she suffered an accident which has left her memories of the island loosely pieced together.

This is definitely one of those books that is more enjoyable when you don't know much about it so I won't say more than that except to say it's excellent and I am urging everyone to read it. Technically it's YA, but any fans of heady summer mysteries will love it.

I've got a real soft spot for books where families are reunited for a trip so this was always going to be a winner for me. It reminded me a lot of Tigers in Red Weather, one of my favourite read from 2013 that I'd also recommend if that's your thing too!

A LITTLE HEADS UP! We Were Liars is only £1.89 on Kindle right now. Seriously, go get it.

Goodbye to All That (Penguin Modern Classics) - Robert Graves (Kindle) 4/10

With this being the centenary year of World War One, my book club opted to read some war literature this month. I've never studied WW1, and only studied WW2 up to GCSE so this is probably the first time I've read about this war in over a decade. 

It's a hard book to say that I liked, mainly because of the subject matter but also because the author wasn't very likeable in my opinion. I was quite shocked at how blasé he was about the many deaths he witnessed, the tragedies surrounding him boiled down to an off the cuff remark. It's impossible for me to know what that experience was like though, and in reality I expect that was just Graves' way of dealing with what happened to him and his friends.

Worth picking up if you are looking to commemorate the centenary with a book or two.

Today I'm off to Spain for a week as my little sister is getting married over there. There have been various discussions in this house about what books to take and at one point I think I'd packed about ten! Have whittled it down now though, but get set for June's round-up which should hopefully be jam-packed!

Leave me a comment or tweet me and let me know what you've been reading lately.