April 2018 books

A much better book month for me, this month, six books with only one real hmmm. I discovered a new series, which I loved, although unfortunately, the series is currently only two books, I want more *stamps foot petulantly*.

Blackwater: The Complete SagaBlackwater: The Complete Saga by Michael McDowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me a little longer than I normally do for Michael McDowell books, to get into Blackwater, but by the end I was eking it out because I desperately didn’t want it to end. Blackwater tells the story of the Caskey family, a mill owning family in Perdido, Alabama. It opens in 1919, when a flood hits Perdido and Oscar Caskey, with his servant Bray, rescue a mysterious woman, Elinor, from the flood hit hotel. Elinor gets adopted into the family and we follow the family’s trials and tribulations up until the 1970s, as births, deaths, feuds and vengeful ghosts, come and go. All the characters were brilliant, some in an “ooh I could just whack you round the head” sort of way whereas others I fell head over heels in love with and this is not really a spoiler, considering the time span this book covers, when those characters die, it’s definitely a *gulp* moment.

As usual with Michael McDowell books, there are very definite themes that run through a lot of his other books; there are strong powerful women, downtrodden slightly clueless men, craft gets mentioned (I always like that), the houses are characters in their own rights and the environment the story is set in has its own power. I’m feeling rather sad that I’m running out of Michael McDowell books to read now and it is so sad that he was taken at a young age. It’s brilliant that McDowell’s books are being reprinted again, so more people can discover them, some excellent audiobooks are also being recorded for them. I mostly listened to the audiobook of Blackwater, read brilliantly by Matt Godfrey but I loved the story so much, I also bought a physical copy of the book, particularly as I loved the cover art on the new version so much and although I don’t reread books that often, I can definitely see myself coming back to the Caskey family again and again.

The WatchersThe Watchers by Neil Spring

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

On paper this book should have been right up my alley, set in the 1960s and 70s, mostly in Wales, there’s UFO sightings, is it aliens or is it the Americans or is it something supernatural? But ugh, the writing style did not agree with me, I don’t mind adjectives but there were way too many in this book and the main character had an annoying habit of going on way too much about the appearance of every woman he met (either positively or negatively, there was one scene for example where the character kept going on and on about the post office lady’s lips, so much so I became convinced that the lips must be a massive clue for something, spoiler, they weren’t). There was a bit too much tell not show as well.

Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the WorldQuirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World by Melissa A. Schilling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quirky looks at a number of ‘serial innovators’, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Marie Curie, Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, to try and work out what things enabled them to invent / discover so many things and whether these things were common across the group. So, part biographies, part social study. I enjoyed the biographies (although having already read a biography of Steve Jobs, I didn’t learn anything new there) and some of the discussion of the serial innovators shared traits was interesting, although sometimes those bits did get a bit dry and academic. I also thought that the book was quite inspiring, people are often told just to concentrate on one thing but those serial innovators certainly didn’t / haven’t.

The Silent CompanionsThe Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a little while to get into The Silent Companions but once I’d got into the book, I devoured it. Set in the 1800s with some diary flashbacks to the 1600s, it tells the story of Elsie, newly widowed and off to a ramshackle old house with her companion, Sarah. Elsie and Sarah discover a silent companion, a life sized cut out portrait, in the garret and when they move it down from the garret, things start to happen. I love these sorts of stories, where something on the face of it, is really innocuous, can be made to be terrifying, it can be, when done right, far more scary than out and out gore and The Silent Companions is one such book.

Carter & LovecraftCarter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book, telling the tale of an ex-cop PI called Carter, he inherits an unusual bequest and meets bookshop manager, Lovecraft. Carter gets drawn into a very unusual crime and soon both Carter and Lovecraft are involved in a world of maths, magic and HP Lovecraft novels. This was one of those lovely books where you’re immediately drawn into the story straight away and I loved the style of writing with Carter’s PI drawl.

After the End of the World (Carter & Lovecraft, #2)After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After The End Of The World is the second in the Carter & Lovecraft series (please Jonathan L Howard, write some more!), it follows on from the first book where Carter and Lovecraft are now in a different version of reality where the Nazis won World War 2. Carter and Lovecraft’s lives are not that much different in this version of reality, they still both own a bookstore, Lovecraft managing it whilst Carter is a PI. They are still both being manipulated by the mysterious Mr. Weston. Carter ends up going undercover as a security guard at the university, in a physics lab where the Nazis and the Americans are working together on a project and of course, weird stuff is happening. Think mad scientists, Nazi conspiracies, sea monsters, magic, books and rather sexy British marines.

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