Hello Book Lovers of Bloglandia!
I don’t know about you, but August was an absolute whirlwind of reading for me.
First, it was the final month of my local library’s Summer Reading Program, which meant it was a race to get as many entries in as possible as the grand prize drawing approaches.
Second, I got walloped with COVID at the end of July and spent the first few days of August lounging around doing little more than reading, reading, sleeping, and reading some more.
As such, I ended up getting through ten books, most of which were really REALLY good (seriously, only one true dud amongst the bunch), which made selecting a top three really REALLY difficult.
But choose I did…and then I threw in a bunch of runners up.
August Book Pick #1
Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann
Okay, this wasn’t THE best book I’ve ever read, but it cavorted its way into the top three just for being possibly one of the most unique mysteries I’ve ever encountered and there were several times I was laughing out loud.
And why is it unique?
Because it’s a flock of sheep doing the detecting of the death of their shepherd, George.
George is a good shepherd. He reads to his sheep. He’s even promised them a trip to Europe. Unfortunately, the sheep have just found George has been murdered. And they’re determined to solve the crime.
The beginning and end of this book were absolutely charming and funny and clever. The sheep each have their own personalities, there’s a nice delve into the mind of a sheep (everything scary is “wolf”), and it’s hard not to giggle at their trying to figure out humans.
All of this was to make me look past some of the muddle in the middle. I understand the author was trying to show the sheep sorting out human conversations, but some of those conversations were pointless or downright confusing. As were several sections when the sheep start philosophizing to themselves about things that had nothing to do with the overall story.
Still, the beginning and end are perfect gems of storytelling. And most of the middle really isn’t too bad either as long as you can look past a few wonky areas.
Top Pick #2
Inspector Hobbes and the Gold Diggers by Wilkie Martin
This was my absolute favorite Hobbes book so far.
For those unfamiliar with the Inspector Hobbes stories, Hobbes is a detective who is…unhuman, shall we say. His bumbling sidekick is Andy Caplet, former journalist who had to move in with Hobbes after he (Andy) burnt down his apartment. With Andy trail gin along, and sometimes making a mess of things, Hobbes investigates crimes in a town that has a fair number of residents who are…also unhuman.
While I really enjoyed the first two books, the story line in this one ran far more smoothly than the first two (which can take some side tangents that leave you scrambling to get back to the main path), I loved learning more about what Hobbes really is, and Andy — although still a bumbling clod — manages a win for once.
Also Mrs Goodfellow (Hobbes’s elderly housekeeper who also teaches martial arts) just gets funnier and funnier, and the puns and play-on-words jokes keep getting more and more grin-inducingly groan worthy : )
I feel you’d be a little lost if you started the series with this book, and the characters’ progression wouldn’t be as meaningful, so although this one was great, I’d still recommend reading books one and two before diving into three.
And I strongly recommend the audiobooks over the eyeball versions since the narrator really makes all the bad puns and character quirks come to life.
Top Pick #3
Winter World by A.G. Riddle
Ok, I’ll admit, I almost put this book down after the first chapter because the first person, present tense point of view didn’t work for me.
But the premise of the story intrigued me, so I tried another chapter. And then another. And then another, and…yeah, I was hooked.
The story centers on the earth having suddenly gone cold. Very cold. As in almost-entirely-covered-in-ice cold. A team with the ISS had been trying to figure out the problem when they were attacked. And it’s not long after that when the government realizes it’s not a natural phenomenon causing the cold. It’s something extraterrestrial.
Cue new space mission to solve the problem…or try to as they risk the same fate as the ISS. Overall, I really liked the story. Just when I thought the book was spending too much time in space (when I wanted to know what was going on on Earth), the story returns to Earth and we get to see how society is dealing with the fast depletion of resources as the sun’s energy fades.
The book is the first in a series and does set things up for Book Two, so don’t expect everything to get wrapped up, although it’s a satisfying enough tale on its own.
My only real complaint about this book goes back to that first person narration. The story alternates chapters between two characters: James and Emma. It’s very easy to tell which character is narrating when they are apart (yes, the chapter heading tells you, but sometimes you’re gobbling up the story so fast you forget to take note).
However, because there’s no real distinction between the two characters’ “voices”, when they are together it can get confusing as to who’s narrating which chapter. It’s not a deal breaker and I’ll definitely be continuing this series, but it would have been nice to have the characters a bit more distinct.
Anyway, if you like slow-build, smart sci-fi tales that mix adventure and stakes that range from personal to world-saving, give this one a gander.
And the Runners Up…
Trust by Pete Buttigieg
An amazing quick read about how we’ve lost trust in each other and in politics and why we need to get it back. It also provided several nice glimpses into Pete’s life. The audiobook is read by Pete himself, which made it even better.
The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
The third in the Cormac Reilly series that just gets better and better. As a story, at first I thought this didn’t have much going on. But as McTiernan has a special talent for doing, tiny strings of story lines start appearing and getting woven in together to make an intriguing tapestry. Definitely a top read, and even if you haven’t read any of the series, I think you’d have no trouble enjoying this slow-build investigative thriller.
Blood Royal by Eric Jager
As with The Last Duel, Jager takes a deep, yet compelling, dive into a historic murder mystery. Easy to read, intriguing, and superbly researched.
Outside by Ragnar Jonasson
I should have slept more to aid my COVID recovery, but then I got my hands on this book and could NOT stop reading. Some of the premise is a bit odd, but overall, this thriller just keeps pulling you along.
What about you? What did you read in August? Anything good? Anything great? Anything so horrible you’re still cursing your wasted reading time?
LET’S STAY IN TOUCH!
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