As we stare into the abyss of another sort-of-kinda-pretty-much-a-lockdown, I’m reminded of a blog post I meant to write about my local library’s solution to the last one. I thought the time had passed for this blog, but as our esteemed government has given me a second chance, I thought I’d get it up quicker this time around.
To encourage people to still use the library, but also reduce the risk of contamination with people picking up books, like many others, my library started offering ‘Ready Reads’. You pick the genres you’re interested in, how many books you want and add any notes that you like, and they’ll select the books for you. They were waiting for me by the entrance of the library and had already been checked out, so I didn’t have to use the checking out machine or anything like that. (Or at least I wouldn’t have had to, had I not been a greedy goblin where books are required and checked out another 4 or 5 at the same time. I have a problem, I know this. But right now I’m not prepared to do anything about it!).
I asked for three books (I didn’t want them to know how much of a book hoarder I am). I told them that I was after funny romance books or crime – and that I was particularly fond of cosy crime a la Agatha Christie.
When I went to pick up my books, I was told that they’d had fun choosing them for me – I think there are quite a few romance fans among the staff!
I received A Country Escape – Katie Fforde, Almost a Bride – Jo Watson and The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds – Alexander McCall Smith.
I read them all while on holiday, because that’s the sort of social being I am. My long suffering fiancé knows better than to try and jam any itinerary too full because I’ll stubbornly sit on any available chair with my book until he gets the hint.
A Country Escape – Katie Fforde
You know where you are with Katie Fforde and this was exactly the sort of book you want to read on holiday. I’ve read pretty much all of her books over the years, some are better than others, some are very silly (but not silly enough to stop me reading them because hey, a girl wants a nice romance story sometimes).
This one follows Fran who has always dreamed of being a farmer. When an elderly, distant relative aunt conveniently appears and offers her the chance to inherit the family farm – she jumps at it.
It’s country-ish and comforting. There’s a couple of bumps along the way but ultimately you know how it shouldend – you’ve just got to see how it unravels to that point. I read it in a day, I enjoyed it. I learnt quite a lot about the cheese making process. I’d probably only read it again if I was having a lazy day and wanted a quick read.
Almost A Bride – Jo Watson
I struggled with this one, I really did. At first, I thought one of the librarians might have heard of my plight (never coincide your wedding plans with a global pandemic, folks), and included this as a bit of a joke. But then, how would they know?
Oh goodness me. This was awful. It wasn’t even funny to make up for the ridiculous plot.
Annie believes her boyfriend is about to propose. Alas, that same day she finds him in bed with another woman (and nipple clamps no less..). She also manages to get fired and arrested in a particularly bizarre turn of events.
Anyway, thanks to some rich friends, she finds herself in Mauritius having a lovely time until the ex-boyfriend arrives. She finds another chap who agrees to pretend to be her boyfriend.
I found it incredibly irritating. Daft beyond belief. And there was none of the comedy I was promised. I’m all for a bit of escapism, but some of the characters have to be at least likable. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this one with a barge pole.
The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds – Alexander McCall Smith
I’ve never read anything by Alexander McCall Smith before, much to my chagrin. I’ve always intended to, and I’ve had his novels recommended lots of times before, so I don’t really have an excuse. Mind, I was about 25 before I read my first Agatha Christie novel, so I am often a little bit behind.
I really enjoyed The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds. It wasn’t what I was expecting – actually as the book went on, it kept being not quite what I expected, but in a good way.
Part of the Isabel Dalhousie series, Isabel is asked to investigate the theft of a valuable painting from a wealthy Scottish collector.
The crime mystery is set against a background of Isabel’s musings on ethics and the human condition, parenting and a few other smaller stories. This was the bit which surprised me, and I found I did really enjoy.
I’ve seen from some other reviews that a lot of people haven’t enjoyed this Dalhousie novel as much as some of the others. If I ever get to the bottom of my TBR list I’ll enjoy giving some others a try.
So those were my Ready Reads – enjoying two out of three isn’t bad going, especially given how snobby I can be about books. (I know you wouldn’t necessarily think it from reading my blog. I generally just don’t write blogs about books I don’t like, unless I feel really compelled).
Given the brief of funny romance or cosy crime, are there any books you’d recommend for me to read?