"". A Feast of Reading: September Books | Is This Mutton?

Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

Search This Blog

Saturday 16 September 2023

A Feast of Reading: September Books


Six books featured in the September Is This Mutton book reviews

Dear friends. The autumn chill has not yet arrived in the UK but it's due any day. That will signal the blissful feeling of more reading to be done in the next few months, along with mugs of hot chocolate and a cosy throw.

There's a bumper crop of excellent reads this month:  two books get my highest accolade, five stars.

The Traitor by Ava Glass  (5 stars)

Wow! I could hardly breathe at times. This is the second in a series about spy Emma Makepeace. She's 28, ambitious and determined, but also regretful that her career makes it difficult to have a partner.

Emma is sent to gather intelligence on a Russian crime ring, suspected of selling chemical weapons. Following the mysterious death of a lowly MI6 agent, found in a suitcase, Emma must infiltrate a luxury yacht owned by a Russian billionaire. She is hired as a helper, with a fake ID. But her identity is always considered suspicious by the paranoid team around the Russian.  

The tension skyrockets every time Emma manages to find a few minutes to try to search his luxury stateroom. I could hardly breathe as she tries to find somewhere to hide when his henchman turns up.

I admired Emma's determination to see the case through when she's sidelined, and her courage in taking on male adversaries with her only weapon being a hidden screwdriver or mini knife.

There's a lot of glamour too as she adopts the persona of daughter to a wealthy Russian.  It would make an excellent TV drama or film. Emma is a more enlightened female version of James Bond.  Five stars! 

The Confession Room by Lia Middleton (5 stars)

Publisher's Synopsis


An online forum for admitting your sins.

Some people confess to affairs, others to stealing. Some admit deep, dark wishes. And for former police officer Emilia Haines, reading strangers' secrets is the perfect distraction from the past.

But one day, Emilia stumbles on the darkest confession yet: MURDER.

At first, it seems like a hoax. But when a body is found, then another victim is named, Emilia can't look away.

How are the victims linked? Who is confessing to murder to publicly?And how do you catch a serial killer who is hiding in plain sight?

My Thoughts

A refreshingly different story line with a plot that grabs and intrigues from the start. I loved how it was impossible to predict what was around the corner, or the final outcome. The plot was bold and elaborate, and the tension high throughout. Devoured in two sittings. This is a must-have for those who love psychological and crime thrillers.

The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright (4 stars)

Literary fiction. A poignant mother and daughter read which also examines the impact of a neglectful father on the lives of his daughter and granddaughter.  

Carmel is reluctant to remember her beloved Dadda, an Irish poet inspired by nature. She was Phil Mcdaragh's favourite daughter and inspired his poem The Wren, The Wren. Carmel's memories are blurred by an unpleasant recollection of her father losing his watch, and pulling the sheets off his cancer stricken wife Terry, as if he thought she was hiding the watch., Carmel is often accused of having no imagination, of being very black and white. She adores daughter Nell but find it hard to show affection.  

Nell, Carmel's daughter, feels adrift in life. She is under the thrall of a coercive man and unable to find satisfaction in her work. She knows her grandfather via his poems and her aunt Imelda, who attends the occasional honours ceremony. 

Carmel rediscovers Phil via YouTube, and Nell makes some discoveries of her own, including friendship with the American he married after Terry, when she was 22. 

We also hear the haunting voice of Phil himself as he describes a traumatic childhood incident where he witnessed organised badger baiting, leading indirectly to his love for nature. 

I've never read Anne Enright's books before and am keen to read more of her delicate and multilayered writing.

I did it for you, Jayne Cowie (4 out of 5 stars)

Imagine a world where baby boys are tested to see if they possess the M gene, which predisposes them to violence. They will face segregation and have to find work in recycling " farms", or, if their parents wish, will be drugged all their lives to stifle any fight. 

It doesn't seem to be set in the future but feels like the present day in Jayne Cowie's original novel. 

Sisters Antonia and Bea are as different as they could be. Both have sons. One has been tested for the gene, the other hasn't. 

I found Bea initially very frustrating and annoying, refusing to have Simon tested. It was like a parallel Covid anti-vaxxer universe. But later in the story she explained that she was afraid that Simon may be tested positive, and even if he was negative, the fact everyone suspected he had the M gene showed she had poor parenting skills. She realises that having feared he was M positive had led him down a road she could have prevented. 

I was intrigued by the storyline and read the book in one greedy beach sitting. The twists kept coming and at one point it was challenging to keep track of who knew what. The ending was satisfying as it delivered the justice we wanted for one of the sisters, but at what cost to their relationship?

This book is published on 31 September. Thanks to NetGalley, Random House UK, Cornerstone, Penguin for the EARC in return for an honest review.

Absolutely and Forever by Rose Tremain, (4 out of 5 stars)

Marianne Clifford's parents have low expectations of how she will do in life, and Marianne herself is bored at school and expects to marry as soon as she can.  Aged 15 she falls head over in heels with Simon Hurst, a romance dismissed as a crush by her mother. Unfortunately Simon goes unexpectedly to live in Paris and Marianne settles for life as a typist, and then as a wife with Hugo. 

This would be the end of the story for many women in similar circumstances in the 1960s. 

Marianne continues to be dismissive of her talents and her yearning for a better life. "I went about life like the tooth fairy, pretending that I existed, but in fact getting everyone else to snatch away all the fallen and discarded things in human lives and replace them with silver, because I had no silver to give." 

When she courageously decides to free Hugo from their childless marriage, she finds Hurst is also single. Is a happy ending within grasp?  Or, as she is advised by her best friend Petronella, is it the case that  "Men love in relays. One and then another and then another. On the baton goes. And the ones they held long ago, they just lie on the track for some other runner to trip over." 

Beautiful, bittersweet and wistful.  

This book is published on 21 September. Thanks to NetGalley, Vintage and Random House UK for the eARC in return for an honest review.


The Orwell Tour, Oliver Lewis  (3.5 out of 5 stars)

I was crazy about George Orwell in my teens after reading Animal Farm for O level Animal Farm. David Bowie's Diamond Dogs led me to 1984 and the rest of Orwell's oeuvre.

In this book Oliver Lewis visits all the places associated with Orwell, starting with India where he was born in 1903, in a remote area in the north, as Eric Blair. His family belonged to a now-vanished class of British society, generations of families that built their wealth on the colonial relationship between Britain and India. Orwell's family was fairly low in the hierarchy and he came to loathe the values of British India. 

Arriving in India Lewis is charged 600 rupees when he sees that the majority of guests, locals, pay as little as 100 a night. He visits the Orwell bungalow after searching for an English speaker. Apparently just 1 visitor every month makes this pilgrimage. 

The book continues in this vein, part travelogue and part history, explaining social and governmental attitudes at the time. Other places visited include Shiplake,  a village near Henley where the Blairs lived over a 15 year period; Eton College; Myanmar, where Orwell wrote Burmese Days, and Southwold which Orwell used as a base as he travelled to and from London, Kent and Paris. 

It's difficult to know who the book is aimed at. Orwell's legion of admirers for sure, but an interesting book to dive into on a rainy day. It's a fascinating account of the times in which Orwell lived and wrote. 

This book is published on 26 Sept. Thanks to NetGalley and Icon Books for the eARC. 

I hope you enjoyed this month's round-up. 

I'm Joining Sue from Women Living Well After 50, Donna from Retirement Reflections, Joanne from And Anyways and Debbie from Deb's World for the  What's On Your Bookshelf  (#WOYBS) link-up. 

Sharing this post with  #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Hello Monday at Sunshine and BooksRena at Fine Whatever#Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette, Final Friday/Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon #FridayCoffeeShare at Natalie the Explorer Crafty Creators at Life as a Leo Wife


Book Spotlight: The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves 

Book Spotlight:  All Good Things by Amanda Prowse

Book Spotlight: Becoming Liz Taylor by Elizabeth Delo

August Book Reviews


Subscribe to get the weekly Is This Mutton update email. Follow me on Good Reads.  You can also subscribe to Is This Mutton on Feedspot. Find me on InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter/X

No comments

Post a Comment

Blog Design Created by pipdig