Friday, 16 November 2018

Five in October

I read five books in October.

Lucky me. I spent three days in Melbourne in October and the rest of the month touring New Zealand, a trip that katewritesandreads readers will be hearing more of in due course. Don’t worry, I won’t be showing you all of my photos …

I thought I would read more than I ended up doing – somehow plane travel doesn’t seem conducive to reading peacefully and any time in the evenings was mostly spent writing up my diary about that day’s adventures and planning the next day’s. However, I fitted in five books, four on Kindle and one paperback.

The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt
The lives of wealthy Rebecca and of just-making-ends-meet Tessa would never normally coincide, but one summer, in their adjacent but oh-so-different holiday cottages by an upstate New York lake, they do. To begin with, their children hate each other and Tessa is in awe of this privileged, elegant woman who seems to want to be friends with her. But, as the title indicates, all is not as it seems – in either of their lives. The book, told from their alternate viewpoints, explores several modern issues in a gripping way but – spoiler alert – the ending seemed to me unnecessarily harsh.

Through the Years by Kate Hewitt
Kate Hewitt, a USA Today best-selling author, is so prolific it’s hard to keep up with her. She also writes under the name Katherine Schwartz and as such recently had a serial in The People’s Friend, so not only prolific but very versatile. Through the Years is an enjoyable collection of five historical romance short stories originally published in magazines.

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly
I read Erin Kelly’s The Poison Tree, her first novel, when it came out in 2011 and thought it was absolutely terrific. This is her fifth – I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss the others but I will remedy that. This is a twisty page-turner about the aftermath of a brutal attack witnessed by Laura and her boyfriend Kit, against the backdrop of eclipse-chasing.

Effie’s War by Philip Paris
Read in paperback. I was intrigued to read this as it’s set in a part of the world I know quite well but was inspired by a piece of real history I knew nothing about. In 1943 a family in the farming community on the Tarbat Peninsula in Ross shire was given notice to leave by the government – their land was to be used for a purpose intended to aid the war effort. Perhaps this was not enough to sustain a whole book because there is also a spy element and a love story – and with the latter Philip Paris’ research for a previous book of his, on the Italian Chapel in Orkney, must have been useful.

The Taste of Marmalade by Tessa McWatt
This has been on my Kindle for ages and I cannot now remember what prompted me to download it. I found it to be a convincing and well-written tale – of Katrin, a Polish woman working in London. She wants to bring her mother to live with her but the difficulties are insurmountable – her landlord won’t let her do that, her erstwhile lover is unable to help plus her boss at the cafĂ© is giving her grief. I also didn’t remember that this is a Kindle Single, ie a long short story, so was surprised when it ended so quickly.

 I’ve just realised that by chance four of the five books I read this month had downbeat endings. That I didn’t notice this at the time I attribute to being in blossomy New Zealand, trying to decide which delicious piece of bakery to try next (such as this warm Morning Glory fruit loaf). Back home in Scotland, eating porridge in dark November, will call for some up-lit ...