Holiday Reading

One of the great joys in owning a kindle is you can go off on holiday for two weeks and as long as you remember the power lead and have a power supply I can read more books than I would have been able to fit in ‘Baby’ along with everything else that was needed to be packed in her for two weeks.  So without further ado here is my holiday reading:

‘The Alchemist’s Secret’ by Scott Mariani.  I said one of the joys of having a kindle was the number of books you could take another is the cheap ones you can buy to introduce you to an author or series of books.  Often you can get the first in a trilogy free from new authors.  Mariani is a well kent pen on the book writing scene, albeit not someone I have read before, therefore rather than being free I picked up his first ‘Ben Hope’ book for 49p!  The blurb compared him to Dan Brown which didn’t greatly enthrall me however the subject matter, the Cathars, did.

Actually I think it would have been better to describe the book as Bond unravels long kept secrets that neither the scientific or ecclesiastical worlds want told, while the male version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo pursues him across France.  Every time Ben Hope the hero of the book sprung into action I pictured Daniel Craig, every time Bosco the Inquisitor caught someone and inflicted his particular violent torture upon the I remembered Lisbeth Salander with her guardian.  The story is well told and as the title suggests it is about alchemy in particular a quest for the manuscript of Fulcanelli, a real life figure who is considered one of the greatest alchemists of all time and the guardian of important knowledge.  Will the unveiling of who Rudolf is surprise you as much as it did me?  Did you know that Isaac Newton was a great believer and experimenter of alchemy?  And just what has the famed architect Le Corbusier and his fascination for ‘the Golden Ratio’ got to do with it all?

The 13th century Albigensian Crusade which Pope Innocent III instigated becomes the starting point to a romp through the villages and towns of Southern France.  The characters are rich and complex and while the episode in Raven House grated as it was too unbelievable and both endings a bit weak (The end of the story and the end of the book, in fact on reflection the book ending it totally unnecessary and the last chapter should have been edited out!) I have already downloaded the next book in the series of 10 Ben Hope stories.  Like Dan Brown?  No better, much better.

‘A Means of Escape’ by Joanna Price was also a kindle bargain costing, wait for it, 1p!  It too is the first in a series of books this time the main character is DS Kate Linton a feisty detective who reminded me of  Merrily Watkins without the dog collar.  Of course that might be down to the subject matter of this first book which beings with an American couple finding a body on Glastonbury Tor.

We learn of Kate’s personal life and of the people she works with as the unravelling of the not only the opening dead body but also two other deaths at Avebury are investigated.  Much of the book is exactly what you expect and for me that makes good holiday reading.  There are twists and turns and finally you discover after falling for a few red herrings you were right in your assumption and that was who did it and why.   Like Mariani’s book I have already downloaded the second in the series, this time as a loan book for free, so I guess that means Kate will replace Merrily until I run out of her adventures too.

‘A Lever Long Enough’ by Amy Deardon.  Archimedes wrote, “Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and single-handed I can move the world.”  With this quote the book is introduced and its title explained, well kind of.

In the Qumran mountains an experiment in time travel is underway, ever since the reconstruction of the third Temple and sacrifices a new religious fervour has swept the country Jewish Orthodoxy has been matched by a groundswell of followers of the Way the country was on the brink and a decision had been reached. If only they could send someone back to when Jesus was crucified and prove that his body was stolen from the grave and he didn’t rise from the dead order would return and the country could live in peace.  However there is a problem, despite the reliability of the time machine something happens and they end up in the wrong year.  The story that unfolds is interesting if not riveting reading, I did end up wondering what a more accomplished writer could have produced with the story line.

‘If Nobody speaks of Remarkable Things’ by Jon McGregor.  I had been looking forward to finishing this book which I began while on retreat at the end of September and it didn’t disappoint, this book is a sheer delight even when it is uncomfortable.  I just don’t know where it has been hiding up till now, how did I not know about it?  If you like your reading to be full of action and speech then this book isn’t for you it is rich with description.  McGregor paints the most vivid pictures by describing the people of a London street, what they get up to, their pasts, their hopes and fears, their individual lives pulled together by one instance on one day.

We get very very few names, people are known by their house number, their children, the colour of their hair, their age, the colour of the paintwork.  Indeed probably much like most streets in most cities despite the nod of a head a casual hello the daily recognition of the habits and timetable of a neighbour’s life, knowing who lives in which house, no one actually knows anyone name.  The event that starts the book is finally revealed as the book comes to its end the realisation of what is about to happen just before it does with no way to stop it puts you in those peoples shoes.  In my opinion this book deserves to become a classic.

‘Snowdrops’ by A D Miller, not the flower but the dead bodies that turn up when the snow melts in Russia!  ‘Snowdrops: the badness that is already there, always there and very close, but which you somehow manage nor to see.  The sins the winter hides, sometimes for ever.’  So the introduction ends as the story which can’t be spoken of is written down to be read before life once again changes for ever.  This book didn’t really do anything for me, other than remind me of my next book.

‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  I had downloading it a while back when I discovered it as a freebie and never having read it enjoying other Russian novels of the time I thought I should.  Of course I had never got around to it as non work related reading always ends up getting pushed right off the to do list!  Now with a roaring fire and pouring rain outside I decided that now was the time.

It is a surprisingly real book, set as it is in another time, in another country, in another place.  However this book is about life regardless about who you are and what you do.  It is about the choices that are set before us, what drives us, how we deal with our fears, and questions us to think just what would you do.  It will need to be re-read again soon!

‘His Wife and Daughters’ by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga took me from one extreme to another.  While the story is much like many others on the bookshelves of airport newsagents for people to grab as they head off to the sun it is never the less a riveting read.  A US Congressman has an affair, the scandal breaks when the woman disappears, eventually she reappears and over 20 years later the news breaks she is about to publish a book to tell the world what really happened.

The book is written from the point of view of his wife and two daughters at this later date, how they felt then, how they feel now, what happened to their lives in the intervening years and how their lives are still impacted by a 20 year old secret.  A read that satisfies and makes me want to visit San Francisco, but wont tax the brain cells.

2 thoughts on “Holiday Reading

  1. Hi Kirstin. I lost touch after returning from my magicspello adventure, so glad to have spotted you again. I have read several of these books. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is a book which has stayed in my mind – original storytelling that I loved. Keep up the good work, and do pop over to my current blog,, from time to time. Mary


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