Wednesday 27 October 2021

The books that I read on holiday

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

I always spend a lot of time thinking about which books to take on holiday! On our recent trip I decided to spend some time with my Kindle in an effort to save space in the suitcases. I managed to read three books, all of which I enjoyed, so I thought I'd share them here in case anyone is looking for some reading inspiration.

A Day Like This by Kelley McNeil 

I chose this book from Amazon First Reads, which lets Prime members pick a free new Kindle book to download each month. It will be published on 1st November.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a modern story about Annie Beyers, an artist, who has a car accident while driving her young daughter to the doctors during a storm. When she wakes up in hospital she's told that she doesn't have a daughter, is no longer with her husband and that she lives in a flat in the city instead of her idyllic home in the country. The story really keeps you guessing - is the life that she remembers with her family all in her imagination, is there a supernatural or a scientific explanation, or is something more sinister going on? 

I found it a really gripping and exciting read, very sad at times as Annie deals with the loss of her daughter and perfect life, and struggles to come to terms with her new reality. It was also fascinating to think through all the possible explanations to explain what was happening.   

This book was a second Amazon First Reads account, this one from my husband's account. It will be published on 1st November.

This book tells the story of Eliza, who along with her half-sister is glad to leave behind a tragic past in New Orleans and move to rural England when she inherits a country house from her Aunt. She quickly  discovers that in order to receive her inheritance she needs to marry within three months. Luckily she's instantly attracted to her handsome yet mysterious neighbour, but he turns out to have plenty of secrets of his own.

This was another enjoyable read, a late Victorian gothic romance/ghost story with plenty of twists and turns. Some of them were quite predictable but others were less obvious and it was one that left me keen to find out what would happen next.

Pachinko book cover on a Kindle

This book was an Amazon Prime Reading book, another great Amazon Prime benefit where you can borrow up to ten books at a time for free from a large list of both old and new books. Pachinko was published in 2017 and it tells the story of four generations of a family, beginning in Korea in 1911. It follows the family through Japanese rule in Korea, their immigration to Japan, their experiences during WW2 and the post-war years, finishing in the 1980s. A major focus of the story is the way that the Japanese treated people of Korean heritage, something that I knew nothing about, and the discrimination that they faced.

I was unfamiliar with the word Pachinko, which is the name of a popular vertical pinball game played by adults in Japan. Gambling is illegal in Japan but pachinko bypasses that as the player wins prizes not money, which can then be exchanged elsewhere for cash. It's a huge business and many of the pachinko parlours are owned and operated by Koreans. Pachinko parlours play a vital role in the lives of many of the characters and it's also used as a metaphor in the novel for the way that the people are caught up in seemingly random events and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. 

It's a long book with many characters but I didn't find it at all difficult to keep track of people and their relationships to each other as there were plenty of reminders embedded in the text (much easier to follow than books where I have to draw a family tree for myself to keep things straight!). The story moves along very quickly, often a new chapter will start several years after the previous one ended, with a brief line to update you on what has happened since. This means that some quite important parts of the story, like the deaths of major characters, are skipped over. However I liked this style of writing because it kept the story interesting along with the many different locations and life events.

It was a long read but it didn't feel like it and was another really enjoyable book that I'd definitely recommend.

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