I read a bit more than I have been doing in July, partly because my workload was less intense, but mainly because I didn’t work at all in the last week and instead headed up to Shetland to spend time in my soul home where I can sit in my favourite conservatory and drink cups of coffee and read to my heart’s content. Read on to find out what I read in July.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Everyone has been raving about this book so I thought it high time I read it for myself. In case you’re the only person who hasn’t read it yet, I won’t give too much away here. And if you are that person who hasn’t read it yet, I suggest you get to it quick. It’s every bit as good as everyone says with twists and turns and psychological intrigue galore.
Basically the story is about a couple who, on the surface, seem to be happily married. When Amy (the wife) disappears and the police begin to investigate it becomes apparent all was not as it seemed. Is Nick (the husband) really a bad-tempered bullying ogre who murdered his wife when he found out she was pregnant? Or is Amy a manipulative deranged sociopath who will stop at nothing to get her own way?
As you can probably tell I liked this book.
Facing Up by Bear Grylls
This is Bear Grylls’s autobiographical account of his expedition to climb Mt Everest. I say autobiographical because references to his personal life – his family and childhood, time in the SAS, religious beliefs, etc – are interwoven into the story of the expedition. He writes about all aspects of the expedition including the attempts to get fundraising, the training and the physical and mental hardship of actually being on the mountain.
It’s a very readable account and I learnt quite a lot about what the people who are members of the very select club of Everest summiteers go through to stand on top of the world. I’ve never had any desires to climb big mountains and, unlike a lot of people, I don’t even have Everest Base Camp on my bucket list. Reading this has confirmed my belief that I make a much better armchair mountaineer than I ever would a real one.
Facing the Frozen Ocean by Bear Grylls
Not having had enough of being an armchair adventurer I launched straight into Bear Grylls’s next book. This one is about his expedition to cross the far north Atlantic in an open inflatable boat. Again the tale is told in autobiographical fashion which adds to the frisson when waves are lashing over boat and a happy ending seems less and less likely. Having ‘got to know’ his family you get some sense of what it must have been like for them waiting at home not knowing when, or even if, they would see him again.
Worth Dying For by Lee Child
Jack Reacher can find trouble in the middle of nowhere. This time he’s passing through a small town and finds himself squaring up to the Duncan clan who dominate the town and its people. Of course, the Duncans are the least of his problems and as bigger and more malicious criminal gangs get involved the tension ratchets and the story veers towards an ever more macabre outcome. As usual Lee Child has written a thriller that kept me turning the pages long after I should have been asleep.
The Story of Busta House by Marsali Taylor
This slim volume by Shetland writer Marsali Taylor is the story of a house. Busta House is a real house, an old house and a house with a lot of history. It even has a ghost. The book moves from the times when the house was owned by one of Shetland’s most prosperous families, through to times of misfortune when the house fell into disrepair. Today it has been restored and serves as a country hotel. It’s not the sort of book to appeal to a casual visitor to Shetland, unless maybe they were staying at the Busta House Hotel, but in my quest to know everything there is to know about Shetland I found it informative. And it’s another Shetland book to add to my collection which is no bad thing.
Death on a Longship by Marsali Taylor
My second book of the month by Shetland writer Marsali Taylor. This is first in a series of books featuring local sailor Cass Lynch and Scottish kilt-wearing detective Gavin Macrae. I’ve known of this book for a while, but hadn’t picked it up because I assumed, from the title, that it was an historical detective novel and so didn’t fall into one of my must-read categories. When I took the time to look at it properly it’s actually modern day and the title refers to the replica ship Cass scores a job on. Doh! I’ve been missing out all this time! Fortunately I realised as I’ve read all the Shetland books by Ann Cleeves and needed another Shetland-set crime series to fill the gap.
What have you read recently? And what do you think of what I read in July? Share your thoughts in the comments below.