Rounding Up and Looking Forward ~ May ~ June 2020

book stack books contemporary cupI’m sure no one will need to ask why if I say it’s been an unsettled month. Halfway through I suddenly found that the speed at which I was doing everything had been cut by half and so a lot of the reading that I projected at the beginning of the month came to nothing. In addition, given the freedom to go out more than once a day, I’ve been walking five or six miles just because I can and also because it’s something I don’t normally have the opportunity to do. It does cut into the reading time however, and so I’ve only managed to get through seven books – almost unheard of for me. Five of these were Arcs and thus the reviews will not appear for some time, however, I can recommend, once they’re available, the latest novels by Olivia Kiernan (If Looks Could Kill), Caz Frear (Shed No Tears) and Claire Askew (Cover Your Tracks) who each have the most recent instalment in their respective crime series forthcoming in the next few weeks. In children’s fiction I read Tracy Darnton‘s current offering, due at the beginning of next month, The Rules. This was quite scary, given that the main character is the daughter of a Prepper, who has been planning for ages how he is going to survive the very type of situation we now find ourselves in. Perhaps someone should give the author a crystal ball and she if she can foresee how we’re going to find our way out of our current position. However, by far and away the best of the arcs that I read this month was Emma Straub’s new novel, All Adults Here, due out in the UK in the middle of July. I only picked this one up because it had been recommended by Elizabeth Strout; if I just read the blurb I would have assumed it was the sort of book that would never appeal to me. It’s typical Strout territory, set in a small town in the Hudson Valley and focusing on the relationships between parents and their children and I have to say that I loved every word of it. I read it as slowly as I possibly could because I simply didn’t want to leave the world that Straub had created and given the opportunity I’d go straight back there just to find out what happened to her characters as their lives progressed. If you like Strout you must put this on your tbr list. I would say it’s my book of the year so far.

The other two books I read were both published long before even I was born: Arthur Ransome’s Pigeon Post and Margery Allingham’s Police at the Funeral.  As you will know if you’ve read the reviews I wasn’t particularly impressed by the Allingham, but revisiting the lives of the Walker, Blackett and Callum families as they scoured the Lake District hills for gold was a great pleasure and seem to bring back happy memories for many other bloggers too. This prompted a desire to return and explore some of the other children’s books that I had enjoyed so much when I was working in the field and so you won’t be surprised to find that there are a couple of tried and tested volumes in my growing pile for June. I have to say though, that I’m reluctant to make too many predictions about what’s going to happen over the next thirty days given the almighty mess I made of it last month. So please take what follows as a list of possible as opposed to a list of probable, reads.

flowers on opened book

I’m pretty much up-to-date with my arcs for July, but I notice I’ve got six that are due for publication in August so I’m going to have to read at least a couple of those. For once there aren’t any crime novels amongst them so it looks as though I’m going to be fairly short on my favourite genre. However, there are three new police procedurals due out in June that I haven’t been able to pick up for review which means that I will therefore have to speak nicely to Jolyon Bear and see if I can sweet talk him into letting me buy copies.  Our finances are not as tight as they were at the beginning of the lockdown, so I think that means we will definitely be seeing M W Craven’s The Curator, Roz Watkin’s Cut to the Bone and Jo Spain’s After the Fire, joining the pile. However, three in a month is very much shortcomings for me where crime fiction is concerned so that probably means that I will be digging into the fifth episode in Albert Campion’s career, Sweet Danger, which sees our intrepid hero off to a small Baltic country in order to restore its rightful rulers to the throne. I just hope that Lugg is around this time to leaven the dough. I haven’t had much success with the other Golden Age crime writers that I’ve tried, leaving aside the obvious Christie, Tey and Marsh, but I’m not averse to giving someone else’s work’s a spin.  Does anyone have any suggestions as to authors from that period that I might look into?

In the case of children’s books one of the arcs I do have is by an author called Catherine Fisher, whom I’ve always felt is not as well known as she ought to be. With that in mind I’m currently reading the earliest of her books which I remember encountering, The Snow-Walker’s Son. It’s the first of what was originally a trilogy and then was added to with a fourth novel later on, and is probably aimed at 10 and 11-year-olds. Certainly, I would have read it with my Year 6 classes. I’m very much enjoying it and will definitely  go on to read the others. I’ve also got two further old favourites sitting on the shelf, Lucy M Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe and Australian author, Alison Croggon’s The Gift. Again, both of these are the first novels in a sequence and if they live up to my memory then I will almost certainly read the later instalments as well.

Other than that, I have to say I’m a bit at a loss, especially as books that were due out in June have been pushed back by the publishers. David Mitchell’s new novel, Utopia Avenue, was expected towards the end of the month but is now advertised for July and the same is true for Ali Smith’s final volume in her seasons quartet, Summer, rescheduled for August. I said I would hang on and read all four books when the final volume was available, but given the complexity of her work I’m not sure I have the little grey cells to handle that at the moment. A question of wait and see, I think. Still, I’m quite sure that the book fairy won’t let me go short of reading material. I just hope that I managed to get through more this coming month than I’ve managed in the last.


20 thoughts on “Rounding Up and Looking Forward ~ May ~ June 2020

    • Café Society June 3, 2020 / 11:40 am

      Yes, the whole series is worth exploring. I think my favourite has to be Stranger at Green Knowe.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. alibrarylady June 3, 2020 / 10:18 am

    I read The Children of Green Knowe last month and found it a comforting read for our current circumstances. It has a timeless quality and I found the idea of interconnections between generations and time periods interesting. The setting is wonderful too, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society June 3, 2020 / 11:41 am

      I haven’t read it since I was teaching 10 and 11-year-olds which is a very long time ago now, so I’m very much looking forward to making Tolly’s acquaintance again.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Laura June 3, 2020 / 2:05 pm

    I definitely read some of Catherine Fisher’s books as a child, including The Snow-Walker’s Son trilogy – I can’t remember much about them now but I enjoyed them at the time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Café Society June 3, 2020 / 3:07 pm

      As I said Laura, I think she’s never really had the recognition that she deserves. I particularly remember a book for all the older children than these, called ‘Incarceron’ which was very complex and rather scary. At some point I want to go back and re-read that as well, especially as I see that there was a sequel to it, ‘Sapphique’, which I haven’t read. I also very much enjoyed her four-part series, ‘Book of the Crow’. I just have to hope I can get copies of them.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A Life in Books June 3, 2020 / 2:40 pm

    After the resounding success of Elizabeth Strout’s recommendation for Writers & Lovers, I’ve add the Straub to my list. Interesting to hear that you’re walking more. I am, too, and from observation it seems this isn’t uncommon. One good thing to emerge from the dire situation the pandemic has thrust us into.


    • Café Society June 3, 2020 / 3:09 pm

      Unfortunately it’s working the other way for me, Susan. I didn’t have weight to lose before this started and now I’m actually looking at having to try to put some on! Either that or limit myself to the distance I walk each day. Thank goodness it’s raining today and I’m not tempted to go out anyway! I do hope you enjoy the Thank goodness it’s raining today and I’m not tempted to go out anyway! I do hope you enjoy the Straub as much as I did. I really did fall in love with the characters.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Calmgrove June 4, 2020 / 9:00 am

    The Alison Croggon sequence is excellent (if you ignore the frame, which it’s easy to do) and I thought the first Green Knowe book magical. Catherine Fisher I haven’t read as much of, to my shame, just three titles (including Corbenic and The Clockwork Crow, can’t remember the third). A nicely varied list, so good luck, however many you actually manage! 🙂


  5. FictionFan June 4, 2020 / 9:19 am

    I can’t remember if you’ve tried ECR Lorac? The BL has reissued several of her books now and she’s become a real favourite of mine. Her detective isn’t as memorable as Poirot, Campion et al., but her settings are wonderful and the plots are usually quite interesting. Murder by Matchlight is my favourite so far. Very impressed by all that walking, by the way!


    • Café Society June 4, 2020 / 1:45 pm

      I’ve never even heard of her, FF, but I shall look out now. As for the walking, I’m going to have to cut it down. I’m losing weight and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I can’t afford to do that. If I could drop into a café on the way for a pot of tea and a cream cake it might help matters but unfortunately that isn’t on the cards at the moment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. BookerTalk June 5, 2020 / 10:07 pm

    I havent been won over by Allingham either.. After the month or so when you were pretty much confined to your apartment it must feel wonderful to be able to get out – do you have a choice of routes?


    • Café Society June 6, 2020 / 8:49 am

      Not really, Karen, not unless I get into the car and drive quite a distance and the issue would then become finding somewhere to park that was safe. But just getting out and walking locally is really good at the moment.


      • BookerTalk June 7, 2020 / 4:08 pm

        It’s surprising what you notice when you are on foot, even in an area you know pretty well


  7. Annabel (AnnaBookBel) June 7, 2020 / 10:37 am

    I am going to read David Mitchell – finally. (I’ve also pre-ordered a signed Utopia Avenue, which does sound brilliant).


  8. Jeanne June 8, 2020 / 3:58 pm

    I’ve put the Emma Stroub on my list.
    I’ve been trying to get out and walk so I will retain the ability to walk at all, but it’s hard to motivate myself to cover the same ground day after day. I set goals, but they are shrinking as my limp strengthens. I know I need to go to the chiropracter but am unwilling, as the place is out in the country and full of people who still say the virus is a “hoax” and refuse to wear masks.


    • Café Society June 8, 2020 / 5:45 pm

      I feel the same way about going back to my physiotherapist, Jeanne. The irony being that at the moment I am helping her daughter by reading and commenting on her undergraduate dissertation as she can no longer get the support she needs from her university. That I can do long distance. The manipulation I need, not so much.


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