What I am reading

Last Light by Alex Scarrow

I picked this up because I was curious about the environmental theme and the world's reliance on oil.   It seemed to be a novel in the moment.   As it turns out it is a mix of conspiracy and environmental with references to current events and issues.   I fairly rattled through it mainly because the characters had a believability feel to them and also because there was a 'sense' to the challenges our over reliance on oil brings to the everyday and the questions 'how would we manage without'; 'how quickly would society break down'.

There are some interesting analogies made in terms of problems in the delivery of oil being likened to a blockage in the worlds arteries.

Would it happen; could it happen; this novel paints a picture of possibility which perhaps we should listen to.

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

The background setting for this novel is the miner strikes of the 1980's.   I remember it well.   This novel has two intertwining stories one about a miners disappearance and the other a child abduction years later and chapters go from one to the other.   One set in Scotland the other Italy.   However by the middle of the book I was guessing as to the outcome so that kind of spoiled it for me - I was hoping for an end twist but no.

The Barracks by John McGahern

I've had this book on my shelves for ages and took it down recently - it attracted me because its based in the west of Ireland and if I'm honest apparently it was banned when it came out first.    I have to say I cannot fathom why.

The central character is Elizabeth  and the book portrays her story of returning from nursing soldiers in London; marrying a widower with two children and eventually falling ill with cancer.   It is a bit dark and the pace of the book is slow and pondering.   Its as if through the characters McGahern asks those big life questions and like the rest of us get no answers.  

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

 As you can see I'm still on the Indian reading theme.   I'd taken this on holiday but never got round to reading it and so it had to wait until my return.   This was a joy to read.   The characters so different and each painted with their own foibles.   Humour runs throughout in very gentle ways from comments made to described expressions.   Indeed it is the descriptions used which allows the reader almost to feel as if they have taken up residencye alongside each of the characters.   Having just returned from India I loved the references to the impact India was having on each of the residents some more surprising than others - and you will have to read it to find out.   Of course it has now been made into a film which on general release.   I feel a visit to cinema coming on.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Have been to India?; want to go to India? - This is a novel in five parts each depicting events which are losely based on the authors experiences.   Part one gives a truly excellent insight into India and its people of Mumbai.  

Through the medium of the novel the author shares his insights into people their lives; relationships and survival.

For me the elements in the novel which focused on Mumbai and its places as well as the friendships made along the way were the most satisfying part especially as I was able to physically put myself in the streets and cafes mentioned.   A vist to Leopolds Cafe for example for a cooling drink and bit of people watching as a rest from sightseeing is recommended.

Having said that however this is a 'rip-roaring' adventure as they say and at times I was irritated when I had to stop reading as the fasten seatbelt sign went on.

Before I Go o Sleep by S J Watson

Finished this novel last night before I take my ereader off with me on my hols. 

This is a first novel by this author and I highly recommend reading.   The story recounts the re-awakening and re-awakening of Chrissy / Christine the central character who has lost her memory in such a way as that when she goes to sleep each night it is wiped clean and she wakens not knowing who she is or indeed who is sleeping next to her!

Woven within this story of remembering is a psychological thriller which gradually unfolds as Chrissy regains some of her remembering.

I found it hard to put down and will certainly be looking out for the next one.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

I realised that I've not been keeping you up to date with my reading:

This book is reminiscent of 'Lovely Bones' in that the central characters have been badly injured in a fire and so carry the book in quite an ethereal way by virtue of 'out of body' interaction.   

Although there is a 'who dunnit' element to the book  - to identify who set the fire.   The book is much more than that by the way relationships and other characters are deeveloped alongside the very genuine emotions of loss and giving.

I simply wanted to get to the end to find out who..........

I don't know how she does it by Allison Pearson

I finally got round to reading this book which has been on my bookshelves for a wee while.   Gosh how it took me back to those mornings when the children were young and the bedlam trying to get everyone fed; bags packed; sports gear out of the dryer - or in dire emergencies a quick squirt with air freshener and in the bag for a second outing.   Worse still were the dreaded words "I don't feel well Mum" - usually coinciding with a work event which meant that no way could I take time off.   The ready refrain of "You'll be fine by the time you get to school" rings in my ears still as well as praying that the school did not phone to say they really were unwell and all the inferences of 'bad parent' working on by guilt levels.

This book resonates on so many levels I was able to empathise with the guilt of not juggling work and home very well.    My life was not in comparison with the lead character Kate's I didn't earn lots of money; work in a high powered job or indeed have a nanny.   Clearly where I went wrong!

However it captures the experience so aptly from the day to day attempts at juggling to the wake up moment when you know things have got to change.

My wake up moment was a comment from my daughter asking if she could get a slot in my diary - 'nuff said.

Solar by Ian McEwan

This is a tale which centres around the lead character Michael Beard and deals with a number of different subjects from climate change; male ego; relationships and how they crash together.   In this case the result of several 'crashes' is relayed using humour which is visual and very funny.   At times though I got a bit lost with the science, however the character with all his flaws draws you back in.

When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

I heard a review of this book while I was driving home from work.   I thought the title intriguing and the reviewers seemed to be taken with different views.
The book is about a brother and sister growing up and their relationship.   It's set in contemporary time so things like music and world events over 40 years make their way into the narrative which makes the story so compelling.   
The main characters Elly and her brother Joe grow up throughout the book and for me it is the way the book tells its story through the child's voice and being really funny in places because of this and also at times desperately sad which meant I couldn't get the book out of my head.   

Waterline by Ross Raison

I was attracted to this book because it is set in Glasgow.   It focuses on people and in particular Mick the central character in dealing with relationships; work; family, change, opportunity and loss.   Especially loss and in this case the death of Mary (Mick's wife) and Mick's emotional and physical guilt surrounding this.   The author very gently paints the picture of Mick's retreat into the world of the lost and homeless.
Don't get me wrong while there is a sadness the book is interspersed with self deprecating Scottish humour and phrasing.   Indeed I was struck by the way the author has captured the language and its pace provides the reader with time to reflect while reading.

I would thoroughly recommend this.