I am trying to catch up with my reading series so, here, a little late, is what I read in June.
Alexander Wilson started writing in the 1920's. He worked for MI6 from 1939 to 1942 and some of his characters are based on his own time in the secret service. He wrote a series of 9 crime and mystery books about his character Sir Leonard Wallace and this one is the 7th. I normally prefer to read a series in order but these also work as stand alone books. I bought this one for a friend who then lent it to me after she had read it as she thought that I would like it too.
In this book Wallace is on the trail of a group of anarchists who are congregating in London and hatching a plot to remove all the royal families in the world. One of his colleagues joins the anarchist group to work undercover. The action goes from London to Vienna with plenty of intrigue, drama and excitement. I don't want to give too much away but you can read more about the book and some of the real events that may have inspired it here.
I did enjoy this book and I would like to read more in the series. It does suffer from some 'Attitudes of their Time', in particular a very unsympathetic stereotypical portrayal of a gay character.
I forgot to take a photo of the next book before I gave it back to the friend that I borrowed it from. That is a shame as it is a very pretty cover! It was Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn which is the first (hooray to read them in order) of her Daisy Dalrymple mysteries. I didn't realise that there are 22 in the series with the 23rd scheduled to be released in 2018. So plenty of reading to go!
The books are set in the 1920's and have a good period feel. Daisy is from a privileged background but is trying to make a career as a photographer and journalist. She goes to a country house party to write an article for Town and Country magazine and becomes involved in a murder mystery when another house guest dies on the ice skating pond. Daisy knows some of the family and becomes a go between for them with the detective from Scotland Yard. There are various secrets and bits of family intrigue that get pieced together and several twists and turns before we find out who the murderer was.
I really enjoyed this, it is an easy read and I found it rather gripping. I liked the period detail and the main character so I will definitely be reading more in the series.
I decided to have a switch to non fiction for my next read and picked this social history book which had been waiting patiently on my to be read bookcase. I hadn't read a book on the experiences of evacuees since I was a teenager, and that one was about evacuation within the UK, so I thought I would find this ever so interesting and I did. The author, Jessica Mann was an evacuee herself, sent to Canada in 1940 at the age of two and then to America. She returned to the UK when she was five. The book sets her experiences within the social and political happenings of the time and tells her story as well as the story of many other children.
The book is split into three parts. The first looks at evacuation within Britain, those who were sent overseas by private means and then the government scheme to evacuate overseas, and the voyages out. The second part deals with arrival abroad, escorts, finding new families, homesickness etc. The third part looks at the return home, settling back in and the after effects of evacuation.
It is a very interesting and very moving book and it covers many people's experiences. It is quite amazing to think that these children were sent away at such a young age, some as babies in the care of an older sibling, to go on a dangerous voyage across the world to stay with complete strangers. The author doesn't shy away from discussing the good and bad experiences that the evacuees had and also talks quite a bit about the lack of help they were given in dealing with such a traumatic event in their lives. I thought it was very well written and it left me with a much better understanding of evacuation.
The final book I read in June was this one which I got from my book group. I probably would not have chosen it as it is a fantasy book which is not my go to genre. However, I loved it! It came recommended from book group so I thought that I would give it a go. I am so pleased that I did as I was just gripped and wanted to just sit and read and read it. I have just seen that a sequel should be coming out next year so that is exciting!
The book is set in 1899 in New York and there is a lot of period detail and I really felt like I could see what the city would have been like then. The two main characters are Ahmad, the djinni and Chava a golem. A golem is a Jewish mythological creature who is made of earth/clay and is bought to life by magic. They belong to their master and must obey them in all things and they are very powerful. Chava's master dies on the voyage to New York leaving her adrift in the city until an elderly rabbi takes her underlies wing.
The djinni is a Middle Eastern mythological being made of flame who can become visible to humans when they wish to. He is released by a tinsmith from a metal flask that he has been imprisoned in for 1000 years and has to learn how to live in the city without drawing attention to himself.
The book follows these two as they learn to navigate the world around them make sense of the place that they have ended up in. There are several important human characters who assist them with this. Eventually they meet and the book follows their adventures and difficulties. I thought it was such a clever idea and it is an interesting and readable story.
What I read in July is coming soon!