I read nine books in August.
Bombs and Bougainvillea: An Expat in Jerusalem by L. E. Decker
Read on Kindle (also available in paperback). I do love books about expats; this is one with a difference though because the Decker family, after twenty years in various countries in the Middle East, are moving from Jordan to Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the central West Bank north of Jerusalem where even the school run is fraught with danger. However, life has to be lived day to day and the family looks for the positives – and there are plenty of those, in the food, the culture(s), and new friendships. I enjoyed my vicarious stay with them enormously and learned a lot from it (also enjoyed the recipes!).
The Mum Who Got Her Life Back by Fiona Gibson
Read on Kindle. This is the first Fiona Gibson book I’ve read and I loved it – usually books described as ‘laugh out loud’ don’t make me, but this one did especially during the ‘cathedral in Aberdeen’ conversations (variations of which I seem very prone to having myself).
Nadia is a single mum whose twins have left to go to university. Just when she’s beginning to enjoy being an empty nester with a budding romance, son Alfie drops out and returns home.
The Mum Who’d Had Enough by Fiona Gibson
So I bought another one but I’m afraid I didn’t take to it. A more accurate title might be The Wife Who’d Had Enough: A Mystery, the mystery being why Sinead ever married Nate in the first place.
The book is narrated in the first person by Nate – whose name could well be Gnat because he has the emotional depth and maturity of one of the wee irritating beasties.
However, I'll give FG the benefit of the doubt because of the previous title and give her another go sometime.
Meet the Malones Books 1-3 by Lenora Mattingly Weber
Read on Kindle. I happened to see online an article where various American authors were asked what they’d been reading during lockdown. Most of the answers were the serious, literary books you might expect them to say (while not necessarily believing them) but one of them mentioned this series for children/young adults which I’d never heard of so I looked it up.
It sounded just my cup of tea: impoverished motherless family (but with a fab crusading journalist dad), set in Colorado, beginning in 1943 (when I think it was first published), fourteen books in the series taking it up to 1963.
Print copies are prohibitively expensive and the e-books aren’t cheap, at around £5.40 a throw, so I am rationing their purchase.
In the first one, Mary Fred (no explanation of her second name) has been given fifteen dollars by a kind friend to buy a ‘formal’, a prom dress – but instead she spends it on a lame horse.
Amazon isn’t very clear about what order the books come in but I found a list on Goodreads.
Blue Moon by Lee Child
The last one he’s said he’ll write before his brother takes over the series.
The writing is like a child’s reading book much of the time: Reacher slid out of bed. He found his pants. He found his T-shirt. He found his socks. But you don’t read these books for the prose but for the adrenalin rush and that’s delivered by the page-turning bucketful. Even more cartoony violence than usual when Reacher contrives to set two mafia-type gangs against each other, thus ridding a city of its protection racketeers.
And the incident that sparks the whole thing off makes you even more thankful than usual for the NHS.
Near Neighbours by Molly Clavering
First published in 1956, republished by Greyladies Books and out of print from them too. Second-hand copies are a ridiculous price but a friend kindly lent me her copy (which I returned without first scanning the cover so have none to show you and can’t find it online).
Similar style to D.E. Stevenson. Set in Edinburgh in the 1940s. Two sets of neighbours get to know each other – one elderly (or what counted for elderly in the 40s) whose domineering sister has died leaving her free to make friends; the other a family mostly composed of delightful daughters with tree names: Willow, Rowan, Holly and Hazel.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Here the author of the multi-selling Me Before You transports us to Kentucky during the Great Depression and a group of women who set up a library and travel on packhorses to deliver books to those in remote areas. Very happy to be involved, as she has nothing else to do, is Alice who, unhappy at home, has made what turns out to be a disastrous marriage to get away from England. The other women have their problems too.
The horse-riding librarians did exist all over the Appalachian mountains between 1935 and 43; they must have been tough cookies because the terrain is very difficult especially in the winter. A good read.