Holiday Reads: September 2019

Right. I’ve overthought my ‘return’ to blogging regularly for long enough and it’s time to just get writing. I could start by blathering on about all the things that have distracted me and all the reasons I haven’t been blogging but that would be a waste of everybody’s time so instead we’re starting the best way I know how – with books.

For the last two weeks of September, my husband and I hopped our way across four Greek islands – Naxos, Santorini, Syros and Mykonos. I’m planning a ‘She Roams’ post to chat a bit more about the different islands, drop in a few tips that we picked up along the way and generally wax lyrical about how fantastic it all was. For now, suffice to say it was absolutely delightful. Much delicious food was eaten, local wine was drunk and, handily for this post, books were read!

On the flight out, I finished Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kowaguchi. Apparently this was a hugely popular book when originally released in Japan and I hope that it gets the same level of love over here now that it’s been translated into English. It’s a bit of a strange one on the face of it – in a cafe in Tokyo, customers can travel back in time. They can only travel back within the cafe (and so can only ‘visit’ people who have also been to the cafe), nothing that happens in the past will change the future and they can only stay in the past for as long as it takes for their cup of coffee to go cold. I suppose it might sound like it’s going to be quirky and all style and no substance but it absolutely isn’t. It’s sparsely written but beautiful. The exploration of what you could use time travel for if you knew it wouldn’t change anything was perfect – you might not be able to change your present, but you might just change your outlook on a situation and improve your future, for example. I cried on the plane. Twice. 100% recommended and I might write about it a bit more soon because I’m still thinking about it a few weeks on.

I often use holidays to delve into my Kindle back catalogue and pick out random books I’ve had for years. First up on that list was Nemesis by Brendan Reichs. If I’m perfectly honest, I can’t really decide what I thought about this one. It follows Min, a teenager who ha been stalked and murdered by a mysterious stranger every other year on her birthday since she was eight, only to wake up unharmed in a field a little while later. What I can say is that it’s very action-packed – there’s the frequent murders, a local government conspiracy, the impending destruction of Earth by a meteor, general teenage angst and a Lord of the Flies style climax. The plot barrels on relentlessly and it’s an easy read but it’s a bit…well, a bit much. I might pick up the next in the trilogy because I’m intrigued enough about what Reichs is up to but I’m not in a rush. Cautiously recommended to fans of Lost.

Next up, Troy by Adele Geras. I’ve had it for years and I figured what better time to read about Troy and Ancient Greek gods than while I was in Greece occasionally visiting Ancient Greek ruins. Sadly, it was a bit of a let down. I liked the fact that it’s told from the perspective of those within Troy, rather than the usual Greek take, but it was unbelievably repetitive. There are about five central characters, all of whom seem to be in love with one of the others who in turn loves someone else. There are regular visits from gods who give a character (and readers) spoilers for what’s coming up, before ensuring that the characters promptly forget what they’ve heard. It happened at least 10 times and it became super annoying. It isn’t dreadful but I wasn’t impressed. If you want to read about Ancient Greece, go for either of Madeline Miller’s books instead!

After Troy, I wanted a bit of a banker and something fun. Enter Moonlight and Mechanicals by Cindy Spencer Pape. I won’t say a lot about this. It’s the fourth in a loosely linked ‘series’ following various members of the Order of the Knights of the Round Table in a steampunk Victorian London that also happens to feature werewolves, vampires and the like. They might not be top drawer literature but they are a great diversion from the real world and they definitely meet the fun brief. There’s always a strong romance thread and a mystery/investigation of sorts and this was one of my favourites so far on both fronts. I actually would tell you to pick them up if you like your romance a little more adult!

For the second week, I wanted to get stuck into something long that I wouldn’t normally have the time to get into. With the release of the final book fast approaching, I boldly took the plunge into the Thomas Cromwell trilogy with Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Given that it’s sort of a global phenomenon at this point, I won’t labour on about this but, surprise surprise, I loved it. It’s huge and detailed and oh so rich and worth waiting seven years for. I did a Tudor History A-Level (I know, niche) so the events are familiar to me but the colour that Mantel adds is just incredible. I wasn’t prepared for how readable, accessible and funny it would be. I’m glad I read it while I was away because it gave me the time I needed to really get absorbed into Tudor England and Cromwell’s political wranglings. I will obviously be picking up Bring Up the Bodies so I’m all caught up for 2020’s finale.

And that was my holiday reading! Tell me what you’ve been reading lately! Let’s catch up friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.