WWW Wednesday ~June 12th 2019



WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

I have two books on the go at the moment, Robert Harris’ An Officer and a Spy and Never Be Broken, the sixth in Sarah Hilary’s crime series featuring DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake.

An Officer and a Spy is the second of my 15 Books of Summer.  It’s one of the longer novels on my list so I thought I would get started on it earlier rather than later; it must be really dispiriting to get to the middle of August and discover that you still have three or four epic length tomes to read.  I picked this partly because I’ve enjoyed some of Harris’ other novels (I got bogged down in the Cicero series and didn’t finish book two) but mainly because it is about the Dreyfus Affair and this is an episode in history about which I have always wanted to know more.  History at school, for me at least, stopped in 1870 and this is set twenty-five years later in a France made paranoid by their loss of the territories of Alsace and Lorraine to the Germans.  So far I am enjoying it very much.  It’s very readable and my biggest problem, which is keeping track of all the characters, is ameliorated to some extent by the fact that Harris has provided a list of the dramatis personae.

Never Be Broken, like all the Marnie Rome novels, is set in modern day London and is a harsh reminder of what life is like in the capital both for the displaced and disaffected youth and under class, and the police who have to deal with the consequences of their circumstances.  Always underlying the tensions in these books is the fact that Noah is black and given that this particular instalment is concerned with knife crime this is especially relevant, as by many of the people with whom he comes into contact he is seen as a traitor; he has thrown his lot in with the wrong side.  Noah’s difficulties are compounded by the death of his brother, Sol, a victim of just such an attack while in gaol for gang related crimes.  This has mentally destabilised Noah, who only feels ‘comfortable’ when he can feel Sol’s presence at his side.  I’m about half way through this and I’m still not quite certain where it’s going. I suspect we may be in for a debate about the extent to which knife crime is being ‘encouraged’ by some of the very individuals who are so vocal about the disgrace of allowing ‘such people’ on the streets.  We shall see.


Recently Finished

I’ve recently finished Zoë Heller’s Notes on a Scandal, which was the first of my 15 Books of Summer and which I reviewed here and Elly Griffiths’ new novel for children, A Girl Called Justice.  Last week I said that I was going to curl up on Sunday afternoon with the second of these, a pot of tea and a plate of cake, which is just what I did.  However, the book didn’t prove quite as enjoyable as I had hoped.  A mixture of detective novel, school story and watered down gothic horror, the novel is set in 1936 when twelve year old Justice Jones is packed off to boarding school after the death of her mother.  Home schooled up to this point, Justice doesn’t quite know what to expect and while Highbury House, situated in the middle of Romney Marshes, isn’t quite Dotheboys Hall, with its freezing cold bedrooms and appalling food it isn’t far off.  Justice’s father is a Defence Lawyer (he defends murderers) and her mother was a detective novelist so, as you can imagine, it isn’t long before their daughter is on the trail of a mysterious death.  Aided and abetted by the maid Dorothy, she works her way through most of the Gothic and School Story clichés before triumphantly exposing the villain and setting us up for further adventures by deciding that perhaps boarding school life isn’t so bad after all. My problem was that I couldn’t see who I would give this book to. It wouldn’t appeal to boys at all and most of the Year Five and Six (9-11 years) girls I’ve taught would feel themselves far too sophisticated for both style and content.  However, equally, it would be a fairly advanced eight year old who could cope with the language and have the necessary reading stamina.  A bit of an enigma.  Would it have got published if it hadn’t been Griffiths?


Reading Next

At some point this week I am going to have to start Becky Chambers latest book, A Closed and Common Orbit.  This has been chosen for next week’s book group meeting and I have to say that I am rather wary as to how the discussion is going to go.  To begin with it is a sequel to an earlier novel and although the blurb says that it stands alone I am not sanguine that that will prove to be the case. In addition it is Science Fiction and the group as a whole aren’t keen on that particular genre.  I think the meeting could be a bit rough going.  The Amazon introduction reads:

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has to start over in a synthetic body, in a world where her kind are illegal. She’s never felt so alone.

But she’s not alone, not really. Pepper, one of the engineers who risked life and limb to reinstall Lovelace, is determined to help her adjust to her new world. Because Pepper knows a thing or two about starting over.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that, huge as the galaxy may be, it’s anything but empty.

Have any of you read this or any other books by Chambers?  Am I worrying unnecessarily.

I’m also intending to start M W Craven’s second Washington Poe novel, Black Summer.  When I reviewed the first in this police procedural series, The Puppet Show, I wrote about how much I had enjoyed meeting the young statistical genius, Tilly Bradshaw, who acts as Poe’s sidekick.   Tilly does literal like no one else you will ever have met and as someone with Asperger’s I immediately felt at home with her.  I’m hoping she will have an even bigger role in this latest outing for the pair.


13 thoughts on “WWW Wednesday ~June 12th 2019

  1. Jules_Writes June 12, 2019 / 9:08 am

    Happy reading, I intend to read The puppet show soon I must catch up before everyone reads the second one 😀


    • Café Society June 13, 2019 / 1:07 pm

      Craven was my police procedural discovery of last year, Jules. He has also written a couple of others under the name of Mike Craven, but he gets his hero into such a mess at the end of the second that I couldn’t see him ever getting out of it. Perhaps that is why the change of name and the change of lead character.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Elle June 12, 2019 / 9:41 am

    I think Becky Chambers is actually a great, gentle introduction for people who “don’t like science fiction”, so I wouldn’t worry too much. And although Pepper and Lovelace make appearances in the first book of the Wayfarers series, there’s really not much in the way of a common plotline – I don’t think there are any other characters in common. Fingers crossed for the book group!


      • Jeanne June 13, 2019 / 7:24 pm

        I love this book (A Closed and Common Orbit) as I’ve loved everything else I’ve read by Becky Chambers. She is such a good writer.


      • Café Society June 21, 2019 / 5:02 pm

        I can see how this book would suit you, Jeanne. Have you read the third one? A friend felt it was too dark for the other two?


      • Jeanne June 22, 2019 / 12:27 pm

        I have read the third one, and loved it as much or more than the other two. I don’t think fiction can easily be “too dark” for these dark times.


  3. BookerTalk June 12, 2019 / 11:51 am

    It seems strange that a book group that doesn’t much care for science fiction would choose to read a sci fi novel. Or are you all challenging yourselves to read outside a comfort Zone?


    • Café Society June 13, 2019 / 1:08 pm

      We each take it in turn to chose a book, Karen and it does mean that sometime we are reading work many of us wouldn’t normally tackle. Often it works out very well. I think I was more concerned about this being a sequel, but Elle has put my mind at rest about that.


  4. alibrarylady June 12, 2019 / 8:45 pm

    Like you I don’t always enjoy books by Robert Harris, I gave up on Pompeii, but found An Officer and A Spy a fascinating read. It shed light on an event that I didn’t know much about. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book too.


    • Café Society June 13, 2019 / 1:10 pm

      I finished Pompeii, but I didn’t think it was a patch on some of his other books. Ironically, because I don’t normally like novels being turned into drama either for the screen or the stage, I found the dramatised versions of his Cicero books far more accessible than the books themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. mlegan June 15, 2019 / 2:05 pm

    I’ve just checked Officer and Spy out of the library, thanks for the recommendation. Oh to have a summer of reading like we were 12!


    • Café Society June 21, 2019 / 5:03 pm

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Mary Lou. Having finished the last of my lecture preparation before the beginning of September, this morning, I’m hoping that I really can have a summer of reading.


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