Earlier this week the Irish Times published a review of writer Dolly Alderton’s debut novel Ghost. The review was negative and its tone caused some major controversy on social media. There were plenty of people who believed the review shouldn’t have been published and was overly harsh. Something that was deemed even worse considering the novel was her first fictional release. I wasn’t planning on discussing it all because I haven’t read the book in question. In fact, I’ve not ready anything written by Alderton so I wasn’t exactly emotionally invested in the saga. This week, something happened to change my mind. Something that wasn’t linked to this story in anyway but certainly got me thinking about it.
Yet again, I find myself without a finished book to review on a Wednesday. So, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to write instead. I was toying with a rant idea but I think I need to gather my thoughts a bit more. Instead, I decided to turn to an old favourite in the arsenal of any book blogger: the quotes post. Autumn is the perfect time for cosy crime and I am craving a good Agatha Christie session at the moment. In honour of that, I thought I’d share some of wisest words. As it was her 130th birthday last week, I picked a quotation for every decade since she was born.
It’s always going to be big new when a famous person turns their hand to writing a novel. There is always the question of how good it is going to be. Plus, you have to wonder if they’ve been handed a publishing deal that should have gone to someone else. I mean, Katie Price has published loads of books but did she deserve it? Yes, she gave a ghostwriter a job but those books are just empty of quality. Or at least the ones I’ve read. The publishing industry is unfair and it’s already incredibly difficult for new writers to get their start. So, the new that Richard Osman got a 7 figure deal, £1.1 million, does raise questions. Was his book going to be worth reading or was it just an obvious cash grab? It’s from how well it’s done, that the money won’t be an issue but what about the content? I had to find out.
So, thanks to a localised lockdown in my area, I’ve spent August inside again. That’s 5 months of not really going out. I’ve seen family occasionally and seen a couple of friends since March but it’s not much. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to socialise. Thankfully, my isolation has finally seen an increase in the number of books I’ve read. It’s so large that I’m not entirely convinced that I haven’t made a mistake. It feels as though I haven’t read anything this month but, according to Goodreads, I’ve done pretty well. Better than I’d normally do anyway.
Number of books read: 9/10
Number of books on hold: 1
Number of physical books: 5
Number of ebooks: 4/5
Number of audiobooks: 0
As I said in my review last Monday, I always like doing what I can to help writers promote their work. A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a couple of poets via Instagram offering me the chance to read their latest poetry collections. As someone who is always trying to read more contemporary poetry, I readily agreed. This Sunday, after having a small issue with Amazon, I sat down to read The Daylight Plays Tricks on Us by Julieanne Hoffmann. I hadn’t planned to finish it in one go but that’s exactly what happened.
Talk about “exciting times”. There was a huge question mark over whether or not I’d get this book finished in time to write my review today. I had a bit of chunk left on Monday night but I had an early blood test the next day. This meant minimum late-night reading. The plan was to finish it on my lunch break on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that never happened. A big issue with working from home is the proximity of my bed to my workstation. I tend to eat lunch as I work and have a break later in the afternoon. This means I can spend the whole time doing nothing. Yesterday, I set my alarm for an hour and had a nap. It was pathetic. I’m not going to be fit for anything once I’m no loner shielding. Still, it got me through the rest of the day. It did mean that I had to quickly get through the final 60 pages and write this review all in the same night. As you can guess, I managed it and with a pretty good chunk of time to spare. It’s all down to the power nap.
Another month is done and, as of late on Thursday evening, I’m back to shielding again. At least it means I’m not being forced back to work but it does mean I’m not going to be getting out of the house for a few more weeks. Time really has become meaningless this year. Do you remember back to January? January always feels so slow but that’s nothing compared to the last few months. We’ve only just got to August and it feels both too soon and too late. I’ve barely seen anyone beyond my family since March. I’ve gone nowhere but the doctors in the last few weeks. Yet, I still haven’t achieved anything that I thought I would at the start of lockdown. I’m managing to just about keep my reading pace but I’m not reading more. I’ve got loads of unfinished puzzles to do and I’ve not been using the time to apply for jobs. All I’ve done it watch the same old shows over and over again. Can we just pretend 2020 doesn’t count towards our individual achievements?
I must have bought a copy of this book when it was super cheap on the Kindle store because it definitely isn’t the kind of thing that I normally have much hope in. I’ve also never read anything by Louise Candlish before. Still, there was obviously a time when it appealed to me and I ended up buying the ebook and audiobook version. After finishing Animal Farm last week, I decided that I wanted to read something silly and an audiobook sounded like a great idea. I’ve been so tired that even reading exhausts me. I had reached a point when I couldn’t get my way through a chapter before I started falling asleep and I hate stopping halfway. It just makes me feel uneasy. As if I’ll have no idea where I am when I start reading again.
Not long after Donald Trump became President of the United States, there was a massive increase in sales of 1984. The George Orwell dystopia received a boost after Kellyanne Conway uttered the phrase “alternative facts” in a TV interview. Everywhere you looked, people were turning to social media to make sure the world knew that they knew how Orwellian it was. That’s the great thing about social media. Thousands of people are having the same original thought at the same time. Just think about what Orwell would have made of Twitter. But I digress. The point is, it seemed that everyone had suddenly decided that we were living in a time that was just as awful as the one Orwell had imagined. In the same way that people had started to see the world as mimicking Gilead, we were suddenly living in a version of Airstrip One. It’s a fun idea but, let’s be honest, it’s total bollocks.
Can we all come to some sort of agreement, please? That we stop comparing contemporary crime thrillers to Agatha Christie? I know that she still has a reputation as a cosy crime writer but Christie is the type of writer that very few can live up to. She has a deep understanding of human behaviour and knows how to mislead her readers convincingly. I blame her writing for the fact that I so often guess book twists. She, and to some extent Arthur Conan Doyle, has trained me to start thinking too critically about everything I read. I’m always disappointed by modern crime books. Especially those super hyped ones that everyone loves. Like The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I’ve heard so many people praising it but I was not blown away. I’d guessed who the victim was from the start and it was super obvious who had killed them. So, I hadn’t intended to read her follow-up The Guest List. Until the ebook was on offer. It might not be a great read but at least it would dull the boredom for a while.