Books to read in JuneHello! Sorry for the gap there – I’m finally writing up my holiday reading, after posting the last of my Icelandic reads while in Iceland (I don’t like telling people when I’m away – I have been to Iceland and there will be a blog post and pictures soon … ). So today we’ve got two books I read early on during our holiday. I was a bit dim with my holiday reading – knowing we were going to meet up with a couple of Reykjavik BookCrossers, I thought I’d take the opportunity to read a few books that were already registered on BookCrossing, then pass them on. However, I hadn’t considered that we were meeting Bjorg and Birna fairly early on in the trip, and I’d only read the first of these two by the time we met them. Oops! But I passed that one on, collected one from them to read on the way home (actually I took three then for some reason the bags, even though they were minus some toiletries and a pile of books, were not having any of it, and I had to leave two of those), and left a nice pile of books in the guest house kitchen. In other dimness news, I took my tablet along, having carefully downloaded all of my Kindle books onto its Kindle app, then managed not to read on it at all. But it came in handy when Matthew’s book wouldn’t fit in the packing, either, but was handily on my Kindle, so he could read it on the way home.

Anyway, on to two books by people I’ve actually met, which is quite a nice pairing …

Catherine O’Flynn – “Mr Lynch’s Holiday”

(01 June 2014 from Gill via BookCrossing)

Dermot, newly widowed, decides to visit his son, Eamon, in his crumbling apartment in a Spanish resort that has fallen foul of the economic downturn and remains an outpost of expat civilisation, full of feral cats (nothing bad happens to the cats) and centred around a swimming pool with no water. Is the place depressing Eamon, or was he depressed already? And what’s happened to his girlfriend?

Practical Dermot sets to work trying to sort things out, in the neglected flat, in Eamon’s disconnected life, and then in the community at large. He encounters the ex-pat community in a different way from Eamon, missing out on the cues about the on-going rivalries and oddnesses, but developing his own routines and friendships, including with the outcasts in that outcast group.

It’s a lovely warm and moving novel, set partly in Birmingham, examining masculinity and the world of work, political correctness and friendship, marriage and family, while remaining a light read and one eminently suitable for a holiday read.

Paul Magrs – “Brenda and Effie Forever!”

(05 January 2014 from Gill via BookCrossing)

The last of the Brenda and Effie books – there are six altogether. I did do BookRays for the other books in the series, but they have gone all chaotic, so I decided to read this and then release it in Iceland, to see what the Icelanders (or people from our hostel) make of it – it is possible to read it as a standalone, although more fun if you’ve read the others.

This one roams from Paris to the land of Faery, via Haworth, as antique shop owner and powerful witch Effie remembers a missing portion of her past, and we encounter the ghostly Bronte sisters, who are not all that they seem. There’s a scary set of folk in town, Brenda’s having troubles of her own, the vampires are rustling around, and Panda (who is in others of Paul’s books) makes an appearance – a very good new character for these books who’s a bad-tempered sentient soft toy of uncertain habits. We have all the old characters, too, and Robert’s friend Gila, the lizard boy, is central to the plot; in addition to this, we find out how the books came to be written (in the Brenda and Effie world).

There are twists and turns, flesh-eating mini mermaids and dodgy magicians, old characters and new, the plot works well and almost everything is explained in the end … a good read and a good end to the series.

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Coming next – four more reviews of books read on the holiday and on the way home, plus a write-up of the Iceland trip at some stage. And then I’m galloping through my TBR, having added only one book to it and read it immediately, and having discarded Bill Gates’ “Business at the Speed of Light” when I realised that reading a book about digital business that was published in 2000 would not be that fun (too new to be archaic or interesting when viewed through the lens of history, too old to be relevant).