BOOKMARK September 2020 Book recommendations

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Three new ideas and for those of you who enjoy listening to audiobooks, I’ve added some of those that I’ve also enjoyed recently.  All this month’s choices are fiction: the balance will be redressed for October with non-fiction and a few new American fiction titles.

The Bear Pit by S G Maclean 
Historical fiction of the highest calibre from Shona Maclean, whose other novels include a series set in 17th century Scotland. This one, set in London in 1656, is the fourth in a series set in the years of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate and has as its main character Damian Seeker, who is on the trail of a would-be assassin of Cromwell. Superb evocation of time and place, blended with marvellous characters both fictional and historically true make this an unforgettable read. (on our shortlist for BOOKMARK Book of the Year 2020)

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce 
Rachel Joyce (best known for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) has excelled herself with this latest novel. Miss Benson, a middle-aged unsuccessful teacher (who has never recovered from a childhood tragedy which opens the book) decides to uproot herself and fulfil a childhood dream to travel to New Caledonia in the 1950s to discover a rare golden beetle. She is accompanied by her polar opposite, Emily Pretty, who has her own reasons for needing to run away from Britain, and they are followed by a man deeply traumatised by his experiences as a Japanese POW on the Burma railway. This is a novel about real and psychological journeys; about trauma and the hope of redemption; about the gaining of wisdom and the loss of innocence. Terrific. (also on our Book of the Year shortlist)

Sight Unseen by Sandra Ireland
We were lucky to have Sandra at our AGM in January where she gave us some clues as to this, her new novel. Her new character, Sarah Sutherland, lives in a small village on the East Coast where past and present combine in the most unexpected ways. Everyday concerns are blended expertly (Sandra is excellent at plotting her books) with an intriguing tale of witchcraft and mystery. We look forward to reading more of Sarah’s exploits in future books.

Audiobooks
Bluebird, Bluebird and Heaven My Home by Attica Locke. These are two novels about Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, and his investigations in small communities in East Texas.
The Guardians by John Grisham. I’m not really a fan of Grisham but I enjoyed listening to this tale of an organisation who work for those on Death Row who are wrongfully convicted.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton.  A school in the south of England is held hostage for three hours by gunmen. Who are they? What are their reasons? I was so glad I listened to this at home – my occasional shrieks attested to the strength of the writing and the way the suspense was built up. So often thrillers like this can have disappointing or predictable endings – I can assure you this does not!

All books are available from Waterstones in Perth and Adventure Into Books in Blairgowrie.


The Bear Pit
The Bear Pit by S G MacLean
(Quercus, 2019)
Historical Fiction

Historical fiction of the highest calibre from Shona Maclean, whose other novels include a series set in 17th century Scotland. This one, set in London in 1656, is the fourth in a series set in the years of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate and has as its main character Damian Seeker, who is on the trail of a would-be assassin of Cromwell. Superb evocation of time and place, blended with marvellous characters both fictional and historically true make this an unforgettable read. (on our shortlist for BOOKMARK Book of the Year 2020)

Miss Benson's Beetle
Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce
(Doubleday Books, 2020)
Fiction

Top of the list is the winner of our Book of the Year Award. Everyone I know who has read (both men and women) this have loved it. Rachel Joyce’s keen sense of story-telling, and its mix of comedy and tragedy make this novel a firm favourite.

Sight Unseen
Sight Unseen by Sandra Ireland
(Birlinn, 2020)

We were lucky to have Sandra at our AGM in January where she gave us some clues as to this, her new novel. Her new character, Sarah Sutherland, lives in a small village on the East Coast where past and present combine in the most unexpected ways. Everyday concerns are blended expertly (Sandra is excellent at plotting her books) with an intriguing tale of witchcraft and mystery. We look forward to reading more of Sarah’s exploits in future books.

Bluebird, Bluebird
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
(Mullholland Books, 2017)

Audiobooks Bluebird, Bluebird and Heaven My Home by Attica Locke. These are two novels about Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, and his investigations in small communities in East Texas.

The Guardians
The Guardians by John Grisham
(Doubleday Books, 2019)

Audio Book I’m not really a fan of Grisham but I enjoyed listening to this tale of an organisation who work for those on Death Row who are wrongfully convicted.

Three Hours
Three Hours by Rosamund Lipton
(Viking, 2020)

Audio Book A school in the south of England is held hostage for three hours by gunmen. Who are they? What are their reasons? I was so glad I listened to this at home – my occasional shrieks attested to the strength of the writing and the way the suspense was built up. So often thrillers like this can have disappointing or predictable endings – I can assure you this does not!


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