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My March Reads (2020)

Scotland, UK



After going through a rather busy spell work-wise at the start of the year, reading was put on the back burner. However, with this current pandemic, I've found myself with plenty of time to make a dent in my to-read list and I thought it might be fun to document my monthly reads along with mini-reviews. Lastly, just before we get into my March reading list, I just wanted to pause and say a HUGE thank you to all the key workers, you're all wonderful!

PS Let me know in the comments what you've been reading.

 My March Reads (2020)

1. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

I started the month with John Buchan's classic thriller, Thirty-Nine Steps. Ever since my literary trip to the South of Scotland, I've been keen to read the novel that is set in Scotland, been adapted into a film by Alfred Hitchcock and is said to have inspired Ian Fleming to write James Bond! The story follows Richard Hannay who is bored with life in London until adventure literally arrives on his doorstep in the form of a neighbour called Scudder. Scudder has faked his death and begs for temporary accommodation, and ends up opening up to Hannay about a plot he's mixed up in involving the theft of crucial military intelligence by German anarchists. From that point, Hannay is thrust into danger and soon flees to the Scottish Borders. Personally, I enjoyed the start of the novel and the end but I felt the middle was a bit slow going. Overall, I didn't find the read thrilling enough to be a page-turner, however, I'm grateful that this novel introduced the world to the "spy" genre!

Verdict: 3/5 stars

2. Survival Game by Gary Gibson

I was very excited to start this book! I discovered the post-apocalyptic series "Extinction Game" by chance while I was browsing my local library's 'sale' bookshelf. Since it was only 35p, I enjoy the odd sci-fi read, and the front cover reminded me of 'The Day After Tomorrow' (a guilty pleasure movie of mine), I decided to give it a go. Turns out, I absolutely loved the first instalment. For those of you who haven't heard of the series, it's written by Glasgow author, Gary Gibson, and is a thrilling apocalyptic adventure story. I can't think of a way to concisely summarise the book so just picture, post-apocalyptic parallel versions of earth, conspiracy, and intrigue. The first book followed a man called Jerry Beche, so I was a bit disappointed when the story was told from a different character's viewpoint, a Russian scientist called Katya. However, other than missing the book's original characters for the first part of the book, the story was just as intriguing and action-packed as the first. Overall, I don't think this book is quite as good as the first but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Verdict: 4/5 stars

3. Saltmarsh Murders by Gladys Mitchell

I'm a huge fan of vintage murder mysteries. For some reason, I just find them such cosy and comforting reads. However, I broke the cardinal rule of book buying (never judge a book by its cover) and bought another one of Gladys Mitchell's Mrs. Bradley novels solely down to its lovely front cover. I should have known that it wouldn't be my cup of tea as I've previously abandoned Gladys Mitchell's novel 'Murder in the Snow'. I'm not saying they're bad books, they're just not for me. The Saltmarsh Murders is the fourth of 66 detective novels featuring Mrs. Bradley and the story begins when the vicar's wife discovers that her unmarried housemaid is pregnant and that leads to a death in the village which Mrs. Bradley helps solve. My first major problem with the series is that I don't find Mrs. Bradley likeable and I'm not entirely sure you're supposed to like her but when I'm reading a murder mystery like to be routing for the detective! As well as Mrs. Bradley, I didn't take to any of the characters in the book and I found the story convoluted, a bit weird, and racist. Therefore, when it came to the big reveal, I felt more relieved to be done with the story than excited about finding out who did it!

Verdict: 2/5 stars

4. The Eyes by Edith Wharton

I found The Eyes to be an interesting short-story and not something I would normally pick up so a huge thanks to Tills Bookshop for kindly including it with my order of books. Although marketed as a spooky story, the Eyes is more of a psychological tale that makes you think. The story opens with a group of men who gather after dinner and share personal tales of their supernatural experiences, however, their host waits till there are just two companions left to share his own experience of being haunted by a pair of eyes. I remember finishing the novel and being quite confused as to what I had just read as throughout the book I'd taken his supernatural experiences literally. It was only after a look online that I understood the deeper meaning to the story which made me enjoy it more.

Verdict: 3/5 stars

5. The Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie 

I finished the month with 'The Three Act Tragedy' by Agatha Christie and it was by far my favourite read of the month - in fact, I couldn't put it down! I've been a long time fan of David Suchet's portrayal of the Belgium detective Hercule Poirot in ITV's 'Agatha Christie's Poirot' so I thought it was high time that I finally read a Poirot novel, however, I was surprised that Poirot took a back-seat in mystery, only stepping in to make light of it all in the end. But I so enjoyed Christie's characters that I didn't mind in the least. The story begins with the actor Sir Charles Cartwright hosting a cocktail party for his thirteen guests, all is well until the vicar chokes on his cocktail and dies. Despite Poirot and the police's opinion that it was a natural death, a few guests from the party have their suspicions and set out to investigate. I can't wait to make my way through the pile of Christie novels which have sat on my shelf during this time of self-isolation.

Verdict: 4/5 stars

3 comments

  1. I've been reading the bible. Its been in my flat since I moved in and thought, may as well give it a read.

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  2. In late March/early April I read "Warlight," by Michael Ondaatje. It is a nevel set post WWII and tells the story of a teenage boy, figuring out his way in the world with an odd set of caregivers while his parents are supposed to be transferred to the Asian market for work. A bit of a coming of age, though the stories are disjointed throughout, leaving you guessing till then end and after it is finished.

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  3. I am continuing to work my way through David Baldacci's books :)

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