You won’t believe it, but I’m reading my first ebook – on my phone!! Since bookstores are a little harder right now, I’ve been using the Overdrive app to borrow ebooks through my local library. It’s great borrowing something quickly just to glance through, or borrowing it for the standard 3 weeks to read on my own time!
If you want a popular book, there is still a waitlist, but older books are usually available right away. You can download the book to the app on your device or to your kindle, so you can read it without being connected to the internet! I’m a little addicted now!
All the more reason to get a library card and support your local community!!!
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
I was captured from the first sentence: I suppose my mother could have been a witch if she had chosen to. From this follows a tale that is just barely on the fantastical side, so grounded in the English countryside and mythology that one is fairly sure that it must be a memoir as opposed to fiction.
In a few quick chapters of Thornyhold, we get the childhood of Geillis Ramsay – largely hard and dull, with occasional flashes of magic. She’s the daughter of a witchy woman and a thoroughly normal vicar with a parish in the harsh conditions of the interwar coal-mining North.
Gilly’s main happiness in childhood comes from visits with her mysterious Cousin Geillis (Jilly is of course named after her). This happiness is returned to her in adulthood, after the twin tragedies of WWII and the death of her parents, when upon her death Cousin Geillis leaves her a cottage in Wiltshire, Thornyhold.
Gilly flees south to the cottage, finding it to be exactly the balm she needs to soothe her soul – and to remember how to be happy. She is immediately drawn into the gentlest of mysteries. A neighbour that seems slightly off, dreams that seem overly real, and the sneaking suspicion that Cousin Geillis might just have actually become a witch…
This is most certainly a comfort read, full of beautiful description and the rhythms of Britain in the immediate post war period. Highly recommended.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a hard read to put into few words! Eleanor is a 30 year old woman in Glasgow, working for a design firm in accounting. The book begins with a romanticized love story for Eleanor soon followed with a second potential match. Quickly, however, you learn that Eleanor isn’t what you expect (and neither is this book).
Friendless and with almost no family (just weekly calls from her locked up mother), Eleanor also has little understanding of modern culture. She constantly questions the practices, names, and usual rigamarole that make no sense to her.
While I first found her judgement of culture cumbersome, at some point it became rather comical. You begin to understand how sublimely odd some of the things we do really are.
As Eleanor seeks to better her looks on the outside for this mysterious lover (whom she never meets), she befriends Raymond – the IT guy at her company who is very patient with Eleanor’s differences.
While the storylines of everylife and love unfold, you start to understand that Eleanor’s childhood and mother were very traumatizing. She slowly starts to work her way through all of this, but it isn’t easy.
You begin to befriend Eleanor emotionally and start rooting for her – her makeover, her friendships, her love life. The first half of the book was a slowish read for me, but I tore through the second half, loving the story that took place and the reminders sprinkled throughout the book to appreciate the little things we so easily take for granted!
Lock In by John Scalzi
Lock In is one I’d only recommend if the idea of reading about a fictional pandemic doesn’t have you running for the hills. In this near future science fiction mystery, a virus has crossed the world, infecting millions, and leaving a percentage of victims’ permanently altered. Their minds, fully intact, can no longer control their bodies, leaving them ‘locked in’ with Haden’s syndrome.
Those impacted by this become known as Hadens, and a massive push of federal funding led to the development of many technological solutions to give those affected their lives back. This allows Hadens to pilot robot bodies and use the internet to meet virtually, among other things.
The book opens in the midst of a big change, though, as the federal assistance plan that fuelled these innovations has just been revoked.
It is in this world that we meet Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, both FBI agents specialising in Haden affairs. Shane is a celebrity (one of the most prominent Haden faces in the world) trying to be unassuming, Vann a hardened veteran.
On Shane’s first day on the job they catch a truly bizarre murder, that draws them into the larger political and corporate structures of this new world, as well as the new Haden culture.
Scalzi does an excellent job of imagining our world, just a little changed, and like his other books, it is very funny. There are also two great audiobook versions of it, so do give those a try if you like to listen!