We've been on our summer holidays! That will have to wait for another post, because right now I'm all ready to talk about the books I've managed to get under my belt in the ongoing quest to meet the target I set myself of 25 for the year. Things hadn't been going too well in the first part of the year, mostly due to the cross-stitch that took up a lot of my time, but in the two-and-a-bit weeks that we were away on holiday (plus the few days that we've been back), I've managed to add a whopping five to the total, bringing me up to 17 for the year so far. Just eight to go to meet my target...
Let's kick off with back-to-back cosies. Secrets on Saturday by Ann Purser is the sixth in the Lois Meade mystery series, featuring (of course) Lois Meade who solves crimes while running a cleaning business. I generally enjoy the books in this series which are a little grittier than the average cozy, but this one was pretty dire. The story didn't make much sense, the subplots were odd and pointless, it wasn't engaging, the subject matter was unpleasant (badger baiting), the characters were also mostly unpleasant and not very well drawn. All in all a rather disappointing read considering how much I have enjoyed the previous books in the series; I'll still read the next one, but I really hope it's better!
Thank goodness the next book (the first of my holiday reads) was a better choice. Blackwork by Monica Ferris, the 13th in the needlecraft series set in small-town Minnesota. Again, this is a series that I very much enjoy, it's had the odd duff moment, but generally my reviews would be positive. This was the series that started my love of cozy crime so I tend to feel like I'm treating myself when I read another tome featuring Betsy Devonshire, Godwin et al. Sad but true. This book has a Halloween theme, but it's not scary, gruesome or spooky (not that cozies ever are.) The method of killing was mostly easy to figure out (it must have been, if I managed it!) and I even had an inkling of 'whodunnit', so the massive suspending of disbelief that the police never seem to figure out the mystery before the amateur sleuth is necessary once more. But I can usually forgive the author of this series most things as long as the story is well written and in this case it was an enjoyable read that trotted along at a good pace, the usual characters made an appearance and were fleshed out and new characters were introduced. All in all, another thumbs up.
Now, on to the 'holiday reading'; as I've said many times before, I tend to take books on holiday that I think I won't mind leaving behind. First on the list was Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (probably best know for her Shopaholic series); as a holiday read it was just right. Yes, it was chick-lit, yes it was ridiculous, but it was still enjoyable and I looked forward to getting on with reading it at every opportunity (and there were plenty since we were on holiday). I'd certainly recommend this as a holiday book, or if you're looking for a light and easy read. It features Lexi (can't remember her surname) who wakes after a car accident to find she is successful, beautiful and married - none of which she was pre-accident, as far as she can remember. The book follows her struggle to fit in with the new life she doesn't know at all - new house, new husband, new career, new friends; will she manage, will she remember anything?
Holiday read number two: The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas. This was a stonker of a read for the first 450 pages, but I felt that the last 100 or so pages really let it down. It was a gripping psychological-ish thriller, quite creepy in parts and not what I was expecting at all from the cover or the blurb on the back, and actually that was a pleasant surprise as it wasn't a chick-lit, rom-com kind of read. Apparently, the book has been likened to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, but I must shamefully admit I've never read it so I can't say whether or not it's true.
Sarah meets Alex while on holiday in Italy and agrees to become his housekeeper and nanny to his son. When she moves in to his home she discovers his beautiful, talented (of course) wife has recently disappeared without trace. And so begins the mix of romance (ish), suspense, mystery, possible ghostliness which kept me guessing and second guessing as to what was actually going on and who-dunnit, if indeed anyone had done anything. As I said, I really was gripped for the majority of the book but I felt the end let it down very badly; that said, I would definitely read another book by this author and I would still recommend this as an interesting read.
The last book I fully finished on holiday was The Real Katie Lavender by Erica James. This had echoes of Remember Me? in that it was about a girl whose identity isn't quite what she thought it was - Katie receives a letter from beyond the grave from her mother to say that the man she thought was her father, actually wasn't. And so begins the task of tracking down her real father and getting to know him and her new family. It's not a bad read, but I'm not sure it would make me rush to get hold of anything else by this author, except perhaps as another holiday read. Possibly my least favourite of the books in this bunch, not terrible, but underwhelming.
I started this book while we were away and finished it when we got home. It's another cozy, the fifth in the Knitting Mystery series set in Colorado. I keep on with this series because I do quite like it, even though I'm expecting (and discovering) each offering to be quite poor; in a sad-but-true way, I feel at home when I start reading anything in this series probably because I like the characters and the location. Only for fans of cozies, and even that might be stretching it a bit, so I won't bother going in to detail. It's only a 5/10 but I know I'll read the next in the series!
I must try and knuckle down to blogging more often, but I just don't know where the time goes at the moment. At least I've managed to finish this post!