So, we have arrived at the first Reading Roundup post of 2022! After I have written about my latest books, I will try to say something about my reading during 2021.
Welcome to a new year of reading!
I have read three books since the last Reading Roundup on 22/12/21. Here is the first one…
I was putting off reading Bernard Cornwell’s final book in The Last Kingdom series: War Lord. I simply didn’t want to arrive at the end! But I was in need of a really absorbing read, so I succumbed (and I am glad that I did).
Here is the blurb:
”The time has come!
The final book in the globally bestselling historical series.
After years fighting to reclaim his rightful home, Uhtred of Bebbanburg has returned to Northumbria. With his loyal band of warriors and a new woman by his side, his household is secure – yet Uhtred is far from safe. Beyond the walls of his impregnable fortress, a battle for power rages.
To the south, King Æthelstan has unified the three kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia – and now eyes a bigger prize. To the north, King Constantine and other Scottish and Irish leaders seek to extend their borders and expand their dominion.
Caught in the eye of the storm is Uhtred. Threatened and bribed by all sides, he faces an impossible choice: stay out of the struggle, risking his freedom, or throw himself into the cauldron of war and the most terrible battle Britain has ever experienced. Only fate can decide the outcome.”
And this is my response on the Goodreads website:War Lord by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, I just had to give this final book the full five stars! Because it was the last book in one of my favourite series. Also, because the author dedicated it to Alexander Dreymon – what a great touch!
In many ways, it wasn’t the best book of the series, but I cannot really fault the way that the story was crafted to bring the series to its conclusion. Our hero, as an old man, still had some of his youthful faults, but also showed his wily and hard-learned experience. We had passages showing events from Uhtred’s younger days as he reminisced about his exploits in the company of old friends, enemies and the women he loved. We also had a great and momentous battle, leading to a suitable ending.
It was also interesting to read the notes at the end about the period and the importance of the battle. Many thanks to Bernard Cornwell for this brilliant story – it’s a shame that the TV series is not carrying on until the final book!
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So, we bid a sad “farewell” to Uhtred of Bebbanburg! By the way, I have seen Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland and the rock upon which the much later castle was built is huge and imposing. We didn’t have the time to take a look around, but it is a wonderful and very atmospheric part of the UK.
Now for the final book of 2021…
This was one of my serendipitous choosing from the ebook collection: While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams. This is the blurb:
”An explosive secret
When legendary Washington judge Justice Wynn falls into a coma and puts his law clerk, Avery, in control, Avery’s world is turned upside down. Because Justice Wynn had a secret. One that nobody wants to come out…
A life in the balance
As Wynn lies in hospital, Avery begins to unravel a sequence of clues, and realizes the puzzle will lead her directly into danger.
A showdown that will change everything
But how high a price can you put on the truth? And is Avery brave enough to expose the White House itself?”
I am so pleased that the book caught my eye! Here is my short review:While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Having read some of the responses on Goodreads, I have realised that I came to this book from an entirely different angle to most of the other readers. As I am British, I had no idea of the author’s background at all and took the book at face value. I found it an interesting read with some exciting and gripping moments. The plot was enjoyable, the characters developed nicely and the whole was satisfying.
As a British reader and a non chess player, I found some parts of the book completely baffling, so I tended to skim over these sections. Of course, the backgrounds of readers have nothing to do with the author, so I have awarded the book four stars for its overall impact.
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If you are even vaguely interested in this book, please read other more enlightening reviews!
Right, so this next book was the first choice for the new reading year…
Well, I had to choose something special for the first book and my eyes lit up when I saw a MacBride book which I hadn’t read before. You may know that he is one of my favourite authors, mainly for his very dark humour.
And this book is very dark indeed! Here is the blurb:
“A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.
A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.
An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.”
Well, that blurb really drew me in. This is my response to the book:The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Phew! Another cracking read by one of my most favourite authors. Do not even attempt if you can’t cope with stomach churning violence and the blackest of black humour. MacBride’s writing is sharp with incisive and amusing descriptions, page turning plots, and creatively depicted and often grotesque characters.
I loved the nice touch of the Reading Group’s reaction to the book they were discussing: one from MacBride’s other great series! Very funny.
What a great beginning to a new year of reading! Now, how do I keep up the momentum?
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I feel that 2021 was a very satisfying reading year. I managed to read quite a variety of books, with only two or three “duds”. Of course, this is thanks to our local library service’s ebook collection as I still cannot cope with print books.
I tried to put a montage of my books from 2021 here, made using a widget from the Goodreads website where I list all of my reading, but it doesnt’ work properly. Never mind! I may attempt this again on another day.
Anyway, I must return to my latest book. What is it? Well, you can find out in next week’s Reading Roundup post!
Love and best wishes,