Quickies…

…aka Admitting Defeat…

During my blogging slump in the middle of the year I was still reading but didn’t have the oomph to write reviews or even take my usual fairly extensive notes. So some books slipped through the cracks, and I’ve finally accepted that I’m never going to review them now (given that I’ve pretty much forgotten all the details!). So I’m going to follow the shining example of several other bloggers, and do a little batch of quickies…

* * * * *

Due to a Death by Mary Kelly

😀 😀 😀 😀

Set on the Kent marshes in the depressed and depressing little town of Gunfleet in the 1960s, this is a wonderfully written and atmospheric novel about the death of a young girl. It’s told as a kind of flashback through the eyes of the main character, Agnes, as she sits in the peace of the church just after she’s learned of the discovery of the girl’s body on the marsh, thinking back over the summer and piecing together the events that have led to this moment. Kelly wrote one of my favourites from the British Library Crime Classics series, The Spoilt Kill, and in terms of quality of writing I think this one may even surpass that one. However, I found this relentlessly bleak, especially when the underlying cause of the death is revealed.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, the British Library.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

* * * * *

The Twisted Wire by Richard Falkirk

😀 😀 😀 😀

This is an action thriller set in Israel at the height of the Middle East conflict of the late 60s/early 70s. Our hero is that standard of thrillers – an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary events, as he gets mistaken for an American diplomat with the same name and suddenly finds himself the target of… well, just about everybody, really! I enjoyed it – as well as having all the usual thriller elements of murder, espionage and a touch of romance (or lust – well, it was the ’70s!), I felt that Falkirk gave a pretty well-balanced view of the situation in the Middle East at the time, without taking one side or the other too much, or getting bogged down in too much detail. The pace is fast, but the quality of the writing and authentic feel of the setting lift it above the normal run of pulp thrillers.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, HarperCollins.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

* * * * *

A Lonely Man by Chris Power

🙂 🙂 🙂

Two British men meet at a writers’ talk in Berlin and fall into a kind of friendship. Patrick tells Robert (our protagonist) that he had ghost-written a book for a Russian oligarch, now dead, maybe by suicide, but Patrick thinks it more likely that he was killed by Putin’s henchmen, and he believes that now they’re looking for him. Robert doesn’t know if he believes any of this, but he’s been desperately looking for a plot for his next book and this sounds to him as if it has potential. So he starts trying to squeeze more details out of Patrick, while pretending he’s just offering a friendly ear. But is Patrick a fantasist, or is there real danger? This starts out well and then loses its way in the middle, and the rather silly ending destroys any remaining feeling of ambiguity. However, the basic writing skills are all there and I’d happily read another by him to see if he improves in terms of plotting.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Faber & Faber via NetGalley.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

* * * * *

The Promise by Damon Galgut

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

As Amor’s mother is dying, Amor overhears her extract a promise from her husband that he will give their Black servant, Salome, the house that she lives in. The book is told in four parts, each about a member of the family, and how they manage to avoid fulfilling this promise over the years. How I wish I had written a review of this one because I loved it! I found each of the stories in it absorbing, and the whole gives an excellent depiction of how South Africa developed in the years following the end of apartheid. Had I reviewed it, it would doubtless have appeared on the shortlist for my Book of the Year Awards, and may even have won. I can only apologise to Mr Galgut, and hope that the Booker Prize he got for it will be some small consolation for missing out on the prestigious FF Award.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Vintage via NetGalley.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

* * * * *

Well, that’s them off my list and off my conscience! Normal service will now be resumed… 😉

59 thoughts on “Quickies…

  1. I don’t think anyone has time to really review everything, FictionFan. I give you credit for all of the reviews that you have done! These look good, and I’m glad you’ve been happy with them for the most part. I’ve been wanting to read the Galgut, so it’s good to know you thought so highly of it. And the Kelly looks very good as well. Short or not, your reviews are always worth the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! 😀 Yes, I occasionally let books slide past unreviewed if I really can’t think of anything much to say about them, but I felt bad about these ones because they were all review copies, and I mostly enjoyed them. But there comes a point – like when you can’t remember the characters’ names or the plot – that you have to accept a full review is no longer feasible! 😉 The Galgut really is great – I was so pleased it won the Booker – a well deserved winner for once!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I really liked his writing and it got off to a great start, but he didn’t sustain it – still worth reading, I think, but maybe with slightly lower expectations. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know exactly what you mean – I just cannot keep pace with my reading. I have to make peace with the fact I won’t get to review anything. And the funny thing is that when I first started blogging, I couldn’t care less if I didn’t review everything. I would review maybe 1-2 books a month (while reading 16). So why do I feel so guilty now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s crazy that we put so much pressure on ourselves! I occasionally let books slide without reviewing them if I felt they were just okay and I don’t have much to say about them, but these four were guilting me out because they were all review copies and I mostly enjoyed them and felt they deserved a decent review. Part of my problem is that I’ve allowed my reviews to get longer and longer. In the early days I seemed to be able to be concise – not a word that I feel applies to my recent reviews… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope you feel better for having got these off the list. Hope the after-effect from the double shots isn’t too nasty either. Delighted you loved the Galgut. Not that I’ve read it yet but I’m very keen to get to it and even in this concise format, your review has nudged it up the list a notch or two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The two shot thing was a bit of a worry since I felt pretty rough after the first two Covid vaccs, but actually I was OK this time except for the extreme pain in my Covid arm! Haha, I hope we don’t have to do this every six months… 😉 The Galgut really is wonderful and I think it’s your kind of thing. I was delighted when I heard it had won the Booker!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Phew, I’m glad the booster didn’t cause too many issues for you. My first jab had me slumped on the sofa for a fortnight but no reaction at all from the second so I’m hopeful for the booster which is booked for a couple of weeks’ time. That said, I’m looking forward to Galgut much more than the booster 😆 (I’ve had the flu shot – wasn’t going to risk them both together 😂)

        Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you’re enjoying The Promise too – I was delighted when I heard it had won the Booker! It’s not often I agree with the judges. 😉 Maybe the Power will work better for you and it is worth reading for sure, but I think lowering expectations is wise…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. GOOD for you, FF — and what an outstanding solution to the dilemma! You’ve told us just enough to pique our interest — while easing your conscience … and proving you’ve been mighty busy. Weekend’s here — go have some fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, it does feel good to get them off my conscience! 😉 I wouldn’t have bothered except that all four were review copies, but sadly my memory doesn’t retain enough detail to write reviews months after the event! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Taken note of The Promise and a huge well done to you, I’ve had a few books that I’ve just let slide (and actually feel quite liberated for doing so!) but when they’re good it sort of gnaws away doesn’t it – it doesn’t seem fair that they don’t get their moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I don’t mind letting them slide if they’re nothing special and if I bought them, but I always feel guilty about not reviewing review copies, especially when they’re good! And especially, as was the case with one of these, when there are no reviews at all on Goodreads!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I, too have to limit the number of books I can review. Sometimes I just toss a coin among the ones I really like, but I try to at least tweet or show covers of others on my social media feeds. The Promise does, indeed, sound like a great book. I may have to slip that one onto my pile…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being a retired lady of leisure and not a particularly fast reader, I can usually keep up with reviews but if I develop a backlog for any reason it begins to weigh me down and puts me off writing any reviews at all! I was so pleased to see that The Promise won the Booker – it’s not often I agree with the judges, but this one feels like what I think a Booker winner should be!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I would like to be able to write reviews this brief all the time. It seems like once I start a review I cannot stop writing. And I am a perfectionist (even though I never live up to my expectations).

    I am glad you took the time for these because two of them I might never have come upon… Due to a Death and The Promise. Regarding The Promise, I ignore prize winners unless I read good reviews of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find it harder to write short reviews than long ones, a problem I’ve always had, long ago struggling to stay under max word counts for school essays! I actually read and loved The Promise before it was shortlisted – like you I don’t pay much attention to awards these days. Due to a Death is well worth reading so long as you don’t mind bleak stories.

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  8. Well, you know I’m not a serious reviewer and monthly wrap-ups were all I could muster for awhile there. So, I love short reviews like these… they’re more compatible with my “brain fog”. Mr. Galgut might have missed out on the prestigious FF Award, but I bet what you’ve shared here will still put his book on quite a few TBR lists. It’s not available at my library (though another of his is), so I’ll have to check my other options. It sounds very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve added The Promise to my list and am hoping it comes my way soon.
    It sounds as if you’re not the only one who feels ‘review guilt.’ I know I do. I let a few slide by, usually when I can’t think of anything nice to say.
    Hope the after-effects of the vaxxes have now passed, yay for flu shots and COVID boosters. How lucky are we to live at a time when these are available to us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh good, I hope you enjoy The Promise as much as I did! Yes, I always feel guilty if I miss a review, especially if it’s a good book and a review copy. I don’t mind so much if it’s one I bought myself.
      The pain in both arms wore off after a couple of days and otherwise just a little shivery for a few hours. Well worth it to feel safe though! I was laughing at myself groaning and ouching every time I reached for anything – who knew we use our arms all the time? 😉

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      • Who would have thought that something we all enjoy so much (reading, reviewing and keeping up with our community) would cause us so much pressure? Someone should invent more hours in the day.
        Your poor arms. Glad to hear they work again, though.
        Vaccine boosters are about to be rolled out here, too. I was one of the lucky ones who had no after-effects from the Covid jab, but the flu jab hurt!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know – it starts out as a little hobby and suddenly seems to take on a life of its own!
          Hope you get your booster soon, though heading into summer Australia probably isn’t due for a big wave. We’re all waiting to see if we’re going to be locked down over Christmas again – there will be riots outside Santa’s Grotto! 😉 🎅

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think there is to be a six-month gap between boosters, so I’ve got a little longer to wait.
            Some countries are taking the ‘if you’re unvaccinated then you’re in lockdown’ approach, but I can’t imagine that working over Christmas (or at any other time, really).

            Liked by 1 person

            • It started out as six months here too, but it’s now down to 22 weeks – not sure why. I think they’re just trying to get as many of us done before winter really kicks in, which of course isn’t the case down under! Yes, I’m not at all sure that Brits would go for treating unvaccinated people differently either, even though all us smug vaccinated types are fed up with the ones who refuse. They tried introducing vaccine passports for clubs in Scotland, but as usual the technology collapsed on day one…

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  10. I agree with others on the two books that especially interest me. Due to Death is on my TBR and I am on a very long waitlist at the library for The Promise. You’ve increased my desire to read this! If it hasn’t turned up by Christmas, it might become a gift request.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy to have even your mini-reviews! In spite of the bleakness the Mary Kelly sounds really intriguing so am looking forward to that, and the The Promise is a definite one for the future too. The Booker isn’t one of the prizes I get massively excited over, but was happy to see this book win this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Kelly has been a real find through the BL series. Her books are so well written they read as much like lit-fic as crime fiction, I think. I used to pay attention to the Booker but they’ve had some odd choices recently. The Promise is exactly the kind of book I used to look to them to highlight – a Commonwealth writer, rather than British or American.

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  12. I’ve never reviewed everything I read so I’m in awe of any bloggers who manage this! Your short reviews were still hugely tempting FF, except maybe the Chris Power. I’m glad you still had some really good reads happening in the midst of your slump 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I occasionally let books slide but usually ones I won rather than review copies – not reviewing review copies makes me feel guilty, especially if I enjoyed them! Yes, I was glad there were a few good ones to keep me going, but I’ve also been abandoning books right, left and centre this year. Hopefully we’ll all feel more like our usual selves next year… 🙂

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  13. I’m sure Mr Galgut can cope now he’s got the Booker! I got to transcribe an interview with him the day after and he was excellent to listen to, so I think I will pick this up. Well done for getting two vaccinations in one – Mr Liz had his flu and pneumonia together at his first diabetes nurse appointment (I still visualise her coming at him with a syringe in each hand, even though I know she didn’t!) and he’ll get his booster next month; I just got a free flu jab because I turn 50 before next March but not sure about my booster yet (we had our first and second at the same time, so I’m hopeful).

    And I don’t review absolutely everything. There’s the odd thing I don’t want to review in public due to family members being able to see them, and if I get half-way through a NetGalley book and abandon it, I put notes on NetGalley but don’t tend to do a full review here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’ll enjoy The Promise if you get to it! I usually have a mild reaction to the flu vacc for a few hours and had a stronger reaction to the AZ Covid vaccs, but still nothing too serious. So I was a bit worried about getting the booster and flu together in case the double side-effects would knock me sideways, but they really didn’t – both my arms were really sore for a couple of days though! Hope you get your booster soon.

      I occasionally choose not to review something either because it was kinda mediocre and I have nothing to say about it, or I simply run out of time. But I hate not reviewing review copies, especially if I enjoyed them!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Doesn’t it feel good to get those reviews done? I totally get it.

    The Due to a Death book does sound particularly bleak, but also really interesting – I like that format of thinking back to that time to rehash the clues, etc. I’ve never read that Damon Galgut book but I’ve most certainly heard of it, and no wonder you liked it. It sounds quite heavy as well…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does! I hate when I have a huge list of them not written – feels like work! The Promise is great and I was delighted when it won the Booker – a well deserved winner for once! Due to a Death is also great and I feel bad about only giving it four stars, but it was so bleak I actually found it a bit upsetting which doesn’t often happen to me with books…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I usually take lots of notes for non-fiction or serious fiction, though I’m lazier when it comes to crime or science fiction. But during my slump I was finding it hard enough to get myself to read much less write notes or reviews!

      Liked by 1 person

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