More Summer Reads

I read a load of books when I was in South Carolina and I’m still catching up with posting them. Here’s the latest instalment featuring Neil Gaiman, Jane Green, Caz Frear and Louise Penny. 

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology is Gaiman’s retelling of some of the main myths of the Nordic countries. I know a little about the area, being a historian of Paganism, but it’s not my specialism so I don’t consider myself an expert on it.

If you’re into fantasy and folk tales, you’ll probably enjoy this book. I picked it up because I like Neil Gaiman as a person – from what I can tell online, anyway – but it’s not really the kind of book I enjoy. I’m not a fan of fantasy because I’m not good at suspending reality enough to lose myself in it, and if I’m reading about folk tales I prefer my sources to sound more factual, rather than reading like a story.

However, if those aren’t considerations for you, I imagine you’d enjoy this: it’s a fun foray into Norse mythology and a sympathetic look at even some of the more tricksy characters *waves at Loki*.

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

A long time ago, when she was drinking too much and not in control of her actions, Cat did something really stupid. Now, twenty-odd years later, she’s trying to make amends.

Cat lives in the UK and has had a patchy past. She’s struggled with alcoholism, isolated those around her – including the father of her child – and generally messed stuff up. But she feels it’s time to make a proper new start, so following the steps recommended by Alcoholics Anonymous she gets on a plane and flies to the USA to talk to her estranged family and seek their forgiveness.

I’d read this book before, I realised as soon as I opened it, but I had a nine-hour plane journey ahead of me and not quite enough books to fill it, so I re-read it anyway. It was good: classic Jane Green, light but skirting around some deep and difficult subjects. Great for holidays, beaches and plane journeys.

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

Cat has a fractured relationship with her family. Now a police officer, she only really talks to her sister, and even then just because she loves her nephew Finn. Her brother has never been a good guy, following in her philandering alcoholic father’s footsteps from a young age.

But what if her father isn’t just irresponsible? What if there’s something even darker at play? Because when Cat was on holiday with her family in Ireland as a child, a teenage girl went missing. The same teenage girl she’d spotted her father talking to on several occasions – and then he lied about it to the police.

Now, in London, the missing girl has finally turned up: over a decade late, and very dead. With the body found practically on her father’s doorstep, Cat has to work out what to do next. Should she tell her superior officers about her potential involvement in the case, complicating her own life and stopping her from working on the investigation, or should she keep going and hope they never find out?

When the investigation is finally over, its solution smacks Cat in the face. Will she be able to keep hold of her job – and her life?

This was a fast-paced, gripping thriller with an interesting and complex ending. A little unbelieveable in places, it nonetheless highlighted some of the pertinent issues in UK & Irish society today, and gave food for thought about ethical dilemmas and what to do about them. Recommended if you’re a fan of crime fiction.

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

A strange and mysterious figure is haunting the Canadian town of Three Pines. Dressed all in black and wearing a mask, it stands in the centre of the village green and doesn’t react when people try to interact with it. It’s obviously human, but no one knows what to do: keep talking to it? Tear off its costume and see who’s underneath? Beat it and run it out of the town?

Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache is on the case, though it’s a strange one. And when someone turns up dead, it only adds to the complications. Gradually it becomes obvious that there’s much more mystery to this town than just a figure dressed in black…

Glass Houses is an odd book, and if I hadn’t been reading it on a plane I probably would have put it down and picked up something else instead. It falls down a lot of irritating traps: constantly interjecting French words when people are speaking French, but not all of the time; a bit of a clunky plotline; characters who aren’t quite well-rounded enough to be believeable. It’s certainly readable, but it didn’t do much for me.

What have you enjoyed reading recently? Leave me some recommendations in the comments!


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