July 2015 TBRWell, I’m not sure that these books have very much in common, apart from the fact that they were both registered on BookCrossing (although one was acquired a while ago and the other more recently), and they were slimmish paperbacks. And both of these reasons meant that I took them to read on our recent long weekend jaunt to the seaside, as they packed well, and I could leave them behind and make more room in the suitcase.

Ian Sansom – “The Delegates’ Choice”

(acquired via BookCrossing 01 February 2015)

The third in the amusing Mobile Library series, and I’ve either become more tolerant or they’ve got better, as the few issues I’d had with the previous volumes (follow the links for reviews of Book 1 and Book 2) were resolved and it was just an entertaining and fun read. Israel Armstrong, north London Jewish librarian marooned in Northern Ireland running a mobile library van is trying to resign from his job, yet again, but then there comes the opportunity to attend a mobile library conference in England, aka a free ticket back home!

First he has to persuade his partner-in-library-van, Ted, to go, too, and only then can he look forward to the chance to see his mum and his girlfriend, Gloria. But his mum’s moving on with her own life, and gets on better with Ted than with her own son (in some hilarious scenes) and then Gloria seems strangely unobtainable and distant. To make matters worse, the library van then goes missing, and there’s a madcap search across several counties, peppered with interesting and weird characters and situations, with a side visit to an uncle of Ted’s who is not quite as he seemed back home.

It’s funny with a melancholy undertone, and there are some places where it’s a bit un-PC (but those who are less modern in their thinking are criticised for it). I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment.

This book would suit … someone with a slightly silly sense of humour and a love of puns, possibly someone who’s liked Jasper Fforde although the world is not so involved and is rooted in the real world.

Jane Gardam – “Going into a Dark House”

(acquired via BookCrossing 17 July 2015)

I love Gardam, but I think I prefer her novels on the whole, as there’s more to get into. These are very well done stories, however, and excellent character studies, with the slightly odd situations and characters that I love in this author’s work – some nuns taking a colleague to the hospice see a strange wild cat; an elderly woman thinks of the ghosts of her young children when sitting on a bench in a wood, etc. The story “Bevis” is more characteristic of her novels that I like (I haven’t read the recent ones, but love “Bilgewater” and “God on the Rocks”), a bit longer and with a blundering teenager trying to be sophisticated and getting things wrong.

Some of the stories are a little creepy, but not as much as her other volume of short stories, which has a description that puts me off on the back!

This book would suit … a Gardam fan or a fan of short stories in general – not my personal favourite form.

Currently reading – I’m currently loving “Our Hearts were Young and Gay” by Cornelia Otis Skinner, recommended by Simon from Stuck-in-a-book and loaned to me by Heaven-Ali. Two more reviews to come soon, as I’ve finished my sixth John Galsworthy and have also finally finished Tony Benn’s “Years of Hope” (which is on my #20BooksOfSummer list, as is the Otis Skinner).

Oh, and here’s a photo from our seaside holiday …

Photo of Liz and Matthew Dexter on a boat