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!!

The Murmur of Bees – Sofía Segovia, Simon Bruni – 30.05.20

This book was recommended to my by my daughter, and since it was only 99p on kindle I bought and read it. It’s translated from Mexican and set in the early twentieth century. The story is told to the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the spread of Spanish Flu, along with the Great Depression and World War I. It was interesting reading in the time of Covid 19 about the quarantine rules to stop the spread of Spanish flu. As is traditional in South American/Central American fiction, there are elements of magical realism, particularly in the character of Simonopio, an abandoned baby found covered in swarming bees and followed his whole life by bees with whom he shares a deep bond. I found the book interesting and the language beautiful, although if I’m honest I did get a bit bored by it at times and was glad when I finished reading it.

Burn – Patrick Ness (AUDIOBOOK) – 24.05.20

I was really looking forward to this book, as a big fan of Patrick Ness, but I have to say I found it a little hard to get into at first (you could say it was a bit of a slow burner -wah wah wah!). Once I had listened for a while though, I found myself more and more drawn into the plot and invested in the characters. It starts in a world very like our own except that the existence of dragons is a fact and fairly commonplace and an (uneasy) alliance exists between dragons and humans. The main characters, including two dragons then jump into our world where dragons formally only existed in legends. This is clever and well done. The book is exciting and the characters are well drawn and the story has aspects of coming of age with child/parent relationships, young love and finding a place in the world as strong themes.

The Hoarder – Jess Kidd – 21.05.20

The funniest thing just happened! I keep a word document which I update whenever I finish reading a book or listening to an audiobook so I don’t forget when I get behind writing up my blog (which is pretty much all the time…) and I was so convinced that I remembered the lovely Irish voice narrating this story to me that I changed the listing from Kindle book to audiobook, but just to check I looked at my read books on my kindle and my listened to books on my audible app, and it was a kindle book not an audiobook! I guess the story just spoke to my inner voice so strongly I was sure I’d listened to it!! I loved the story – part whodunnit, part ghost story, part just lovely character driven drama – Jess Kidd is my current fiction writer crush!

Polystom – Adam Roberts – 18.05.20

I have read quite a few of Adam Roberts books and some I absolutely love and others I am a bit meh with, this one sadly fell into the later category for me. It’s somewhat confusing working out if it’s set in our distant future, or in an alternate reality, and while the end of the book sheds some light on what’s going on, still a lot is left to the reader to decide. I found the main character really unpleasant, and the general thinking of society to be uncomfortable, and although with hindsight I can see that this it to illustrate that a completely different society would feel odd and not right to our sensibilities still it made me tempted to give up on the book. I’m glad I didn’t give up because the ending what kind of interesting, but I still didn’t love it.

Machines Like Me – Ian McEwan (AUDIOBOOK) – 14.05.20

I listened to this while making my most recent patchwork quilt (https://www.instagram.com/p/CAkRQ2Jgeio/) so it’s forever linked in my mind with sewing squares together! I found the audiobook very interesting – a young man buys a prototype android and owning it has profound implications to his life. The book raises a lot of issues about what makes us human and sentient and if you can or should own a sentient machine. It’s sometimes hard to know who to root for as all the characters are flawed but it is certainly very thought provoking.