Books wot I read on my hols

Reading. I don’t do enough of it at home, with too many constant distractions, not least the TV and the internet. Perhaps I should get into a routine which includes a half hour of reading in bed before turning in at a sensible time?

One of my jokey responses to “I’m sorry to hear that you have lost your job!” is “I have a plan to fill my time: I will read all the books in the house I have never read; then watch all the DVDs I own and have never watched; then play all the computer games I got through the first level and flung at the wall. But first… I will drink all the liquor in the drinks cabinet!”

Well, the final part of that I have done a little, and I have played a little Tombraider. But as many people have said before me I don’t know how I ever found time to be a councillor when being alone at home all day is so time consuming!

And I’ve been really poor at doing any reading at all, and when I have read things, it has been new books, purchased for my Kindle, rather than the far more sensible and parsimonious approach of reading the tonne of titles on Mount Toberead.

Anyhoo, here are some pocket reviews.

<a href="Deadfolk by Charlie Williams

I bought this at the recommendation of David Belbin, Nottingham author of Bone and Cane, and it was brilliant. It opens with the phrase “I were standing on the grass…” and that had me at first slightly puzzled and then hooked. The whole book is written in a semi-dialect that sounded very similar to what people speak in my hometown of Leominster: genders for nouns, interesting conjugations, and a handful of dialect words you have to guess from context. As it opened, my first thought was to hope it didn’t continue in dialect, but as the story unfolded, it gripped me. It seemed authentic enough, and I’m sure I went to school with some of the characters. When I got to the end, I found the author is Worcester-bred, which is a hop skip and jump away.

Five stars, awesome, v good.

UPDATE: I find there’s a sequel, Booze and Burn. It’s slightly spoilery to say… how is that possible?!

Lifeblood by Thomas Hoover

Three or four stars for this one – gauche thriller with obvious attempts to manipulate you by bringing in loved ones in peril, and lots of appeals to biological clocks and desperate urge to have babies, that didn’t really speak to me. I was so aware of things being used to try to ramp up the tension, that I didn’t actually feel the tension. As such, I’ve been dipping in and out of this for a couple of weeks. I think I bought it because it was high up the bestseller list and under a quid, or something.

For Sale in Palm Springs by Albert Simon

Again, high up the bestseller list and very cheap. This has never been published in book form, as far as I can see, but as my blogging friend Wenlock touches on, the Amazon Kindle is allowing a whole new revolution in self publishing. (And indeed, hopefully, Lord Alexander’s Cypher will appear in a future review).

For Sale in Palm Springs is securely located within the genre of California PI fiction, and is a worthy entry. Highly readable, with one caveat: Albert Simon is not a native speaker of English. I do not know if that is the reason, but the whole tome could really have done with a good editor. Every paragraph had irritating run-on sentences at least one or twice. The whole book is written in a style that is very similar to spoken word but technically ungrammatical written English. I’m not sure how many readers this would bother, but it certainly bugged me!

The Unremarkable Heart by Karin Slaughter

This is at once good, and annoying. This was the only remotely affordable Karin Slaughter title for Kindle; when it gets down to it, you discover it’s a chilling, nasty (in a good way) short story, and, for padding and advertising purposes, the first two chapters of two other books.

The short story is ace. Both of the first chapters seem to be things I’d like to read, if and when I can afford them. The other two are: Broken and Fallen.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

I’m a huge fan of Mary Roach, who writes witty and humourful books about the parts of science that are often unexplored. She’s amongst the very few non-fic writers I really enjoy – almost all of my leisure reading is crime fiction, so I nearly never touch on any actual fact.

I enjoyed Stiff so much it set me off recording a piece for Pod Delusion on donating one’s body for medical science. I still have the forms to donate my own body… perhaps one day I will fill them in. Bonk was awesome, horrifying and embarrassing, and I’m so glad I read it, but not able to lend it to anyone else in case they, you know, want to discuss it out loud.

Spook didn’t quite do as much for me as the previous two, because whilst normally Roach is interviewing scientists, half of Spook was about talking to hogwash merchants of the first order.

Really, I’m just biding my time till I can afford a copy of Packing for Mars, which sounds really fascinating.

Outdoor Cooking by eBook World

No link – as the book no longer appears available.

No great shakes as it wasn’t very good. I always worry that most of my cooking when camping is useless – tins, boxes, and things I’d never eat at home, with the odd barbecue for fresh meat.

This book wasn’t really the answer. It had some suggestions, but mostly it was one of those weird American cookbooks with horrifying ideas of what constitutes an ingredient (eg “one box white cake mix”)

I think campsite cooking will have to form an entirely other blogpost some time.

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