The Fox’s Curse (Crow Investigations Book 3) – Sarah Painter – 30.06.20 AND The Pearl King (Crow Investigations Book 4) – Sarah Painter – 02.07.20

I had pre-ordered The Pearl King because I love this supernatural series about a young woman born into one of the ‘magical families’ of London who had tried to separate herself from the family’s influence, but finds herself more and more drawn in. The Pearl King follows on seamlessly from the cliffhanger ending of The Fox’s Curse, but because it’s a wee while since I read The Fox’s Curse, I had no clue what was going on, so went and re-read it before going back to The Pearl King. I enjoyed reading both books very much – Lydia (the main character) is a private investigator, who lives with a ghost, is dating a police officer and is under pressure to take up the reins of leadership of The Crow family – a mafia-like controlling criminal magical family with tenuous allegiances/rivalries with the other main families: The Silvers, The Foxes and The Pearls. The first three books in the series were fairly light-hearted, but The Pearl King takes on a darker note as Lydia is forced to show her mettle due to the pressures that surround her. It’s gripping, still funny at times and a satisfying and compelling read.

The Familiars – Stacey Halls (AUDIOBOOK) – 26.06.20

This novel is set in the early seventeenth century in Lancashire and mixes fiction with true events surrounding the Pendle Witch trials. I liked it okay. Nothing about the story annoyed me, and I was mildly interested in the characters, although I found it a bit pedestrian and unsurprising. I liked the narrator’s nice northern accent.

The Motion of the Body through Space – Lionel Shriver – 23.06.20

This book follows a married couple in their sixties over a couple of years. The wife had spent her life quietly dedicated to exercise – running, cycling, swimming and doing aerobics on her own working around her career and family. Due to crippling arthritis, she had to stop, and this is when her naturally slim but not particularly active husband decides to take up running – first aiming for a marathon, and then a triathlon MetalMan event. Their previously happy marriage is pushed to its limits as the husband gets more obsessed and consumed by his new passion and the wife comes to terms with losing hers. I found the book funny, but a bit close to the bone and I almost wanted to give up because the acrimonious bickering between the couple was making me feel stressed and unhappy. There’s something compelling about it though, and I persevered, until eventually staying up far too late yesterday night reading the final third of the book in one sitting as the excitement racked up with the drama of the MetalMan event and I actually liked the ending and found it reassuring and uplifting.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (AUDIOBOOK) – Grady Hendrix – 23.06.20

This is my second book by Grady Hendrix and it’s set in the same town as My Best Friend’s Exorcism, but this time the protagonists are adult women who are members of a book club. Strange things start to happen and one member realises that a new man in town is hiding a sinister secret. She has to battle with her family and friends and eventually with a vampire to save her children and the whole town from this evil. Again, like My Best Friend’s Exorcism, the book has great characterisation and the plot unfolds slowly with building menace. I think I enjoyed this one better of the two, and the narrator was less annoying.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism: A Novel (AUDIOBOOK) – Grady Hendrix – 17.06.20

I was googling what audiobooks are recommended , and a book by Grady Hendrix came up on a couple of lists so I checked it out on Amazon. Turns out it was kind of a sequel (or at least companion book) to this one, so I bought them both and listened to this one first. It’s set in the 1980s in one of the Southern American states (I spent a year in California in 1985, so it was quite fun remembering the American cultural stuff that was about then) and is about a group of high school girls whose lives are thrown into turmoil when one of them becomes possessed by a demon. I thought the story was very well told (although I found the narrator’s voice a bit screechy and annoying) with lots of characterisation and slow building menace and I enjoyed listening to it.

Little Fires Everywhere (BOOKGROUP) – Celeste Ng – 17.06.20

I watched the Amazon Prime TV series based on this book after I’d bought the book, but before I read it, which I really enjoyed. Paul and I watched the series together and found it provoked a lot of discussion about racism, classism, mother daughter relationships and other stuff, and I told the ladies in my book group about it during our Covid 19 zoom book group chat and we decided to read the book as our next book group read. Then I read the book. It’s funny because usually (especially for a film adaptation) the book delves deeper into the story than the film, but in this case, the book was a fairly short read compared with the ten hour long episode series and the show actually had quite a bit more content than the book. I’m hoping that the book group ladies (none of whom saw the tv show) like the book – for me it was a bit weird reading it so soon after seeing the programme.

Himself – Jess Kidd (Audiobook) – 15.06.20

Another lovely Jess Kidd audiobook with a gorgeous Irish narrator. Like other Jess Kidd books there’s magical realism as the main character Mahony (with emphasis on Ma and the middle consonant sounding like you’re clearing your throat) constantly seeing and being able to communicate with dead people. He recieves a letter with a clue to the mystery of what happened to his young mother who ‘abandoned’ him to an orphanage shortly after his birth and he returns to the small Irish town where she lived to try to uncover the truth. Some of the town’s folk try to help him, but many close ranks and try to intimidate him out of town. I loved the book.

Only Forward – Michael Marshall Smith – 13.06.20

I bought this because I enjoyed Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence and wanted to read more by the author. This book is more adult, but still good. It’s a kind of sci-fi, noir, private detective, alternate reality, what’s real what isn’t mend bending kind of a book and really quite an enjoyable read (with a lot of cats!). It’s quite gory in places, so be warned.

Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence – Michael Marshall Smith – 06.06.20

Hannah Green discovers that her grandfather works for the Devil. He used his singular skills as an engineer to create a machine that keeps evilness flowing out of Earth and into Hell, and when bad things threaten to destroy the machine, Hannah must help her grandfather battle the forces of evil and restore things to the way they should be. It’s a fun read – kind of young adulty and yet with some very dark themes and some quite scary and violent scenes. I liked it enough to buy another book by the same author.

Shades Of Grey – Jasper FForde (AUDIOBOOK) – 05.06.20

I remember reading this book ages ago and really liking it, so when I saw it going cheep as an Audible audiobook I bought it. Set in a very controlled hierarchical society where most people have lost the ability to see much colour and one’s position in society is determined by how much of certain colours you can see, it is an interesting mix of PG Wodehouse type buffoonery and very dark dystopian themes which strangely works really well! Its funny, intriguing and thought provoking, and the ending leaves one gasping for more. The book was supposed to be the first in a trilogy, but since it came out in 2011 there’s been no sign of another book in the series. Come on Jasper FForde, don’t leave us hanging like this!!