The last few books in June – I have chipped away a fair bit at Mt TBR although with the whole re-reading in July thing, it won’t be getting much smaller next month!

Anonymous – “The Secret Olympian”

(01 June 2012)

A fascinating behind the scenes exploration of exactly what it’s like to go to the Olympics as an athlete (and promoted up Mt TBR for obvious reasons). In this case, it’s someone who was at Athens in 2004, but they interview people who were at Beijing, as well as many of the earlier Games. It covers the run-up, including choosing your sport, the selection announcement, training, pre-camp, the Games themselves and all sorts of interesting areas like accommodation, food, sex, drugs and parties in what seems like honest depth. Some of the people interviewed are anonymous, too, but it’s a good read, except that the copyeditor and fact checker seem to have given up around p. 120 (or the version control went wrong and the wrong section was published), and there are several howlers, including the claim that the announcement of London’s winning the 2012 Games was in 2006 – I distinctly remember it being in 2005! This did take the edge off it for me, I’m afraid, but otherwise very informative and a good preparation for my TV viewing experience next month.

Debbie Macomber – “1105 Yakima Street”

(13 Jan 2012)

We fall back into Cedar Cove like settling on the sofa with a cuppa, possibly under a blanket, to watch a favourite soap opera. Although this concentrates on newlyweds, Bruce and Rachel, and their difficulties, most of the characters from the previous ten books are brought in and updated, with that way Macomber has of reminding you who they are and their relationships to one another. Comforting, and it’s sad that the heavily prefigured sequel is a Christmas story only, and apparently the last one in the series.

Jane Smiley – “Secret Horse”

(21 January 2012 – from Geoff)

Second in Smiley’s series about Abby and her horsey life. As Abby starts to negotiate a new school year and to learn about families and ways of life other than her rather ascetic, religious, horse farm one, a mystery starts to surround the foal, Jack, who she is training up after the death of his mother. Was she a stolen horse and does Jack belong to someone else? Meanwhile, she learns to show Black George off to his best advantage … so that he has a chance of being sold. Obviously written from a love of horses (and it’s even her second book in the same genre – there is a third one, too) and she gets both the training and riding details and the amount of these details she puts in the book just right, in my opinion.

Nisha Minhas – “Bindis and Brides” (DNF)

(9 Jan 2012 – Poundland)

I seem to accept the more chick-litty end of the spectrum when the book has an added cultural dimension, so this story of two sisters, one of whom has escaped a violent marriage, running an Asian wedding shop should have been a fun, if silly read. Unfortunately there was a really off joke about anorexia half way through, which made me put it down very hurriedly. This was my first Did Not Finish of the year, though!