Friday Fiction – Books and movies are great company

Welcome to Friday Fiction #7

Books really are great company

Last time on Friday Fiction, I wrote about all the ‘confronting’ reading I’d been doing. I can’t believe my last Friday Fiction post was way back in May! I have been busy in the intervening months I suppose and have read quite a few books, some easier and more enjoyable than others.

It’s interesting that many family and friends have found it hard to get into reading with everything that’s going on. Some have said they can’t concentrate, can’t relax, can’t get into books and generally have just stopped reading. How are you going with reading? We all react in different ways don’t we?

Many are using Netflix and movies as a distraction with reports that binge-worthy shows have been quite popular. I have only just got back into watching Netflix and will list a few of my favourites below.

You’re never too old, too whacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child!

Dr Seuss

This quote is very apt at the moment, especially as I’m doing a course on Writing Picture Books for Children.

So what books have been good company lately?

The Ruin and the Scholar by Dervla McTiernan 4*

The Ruin – Goodreads:

The Ruin is book #1 in the Cormac Reilly series. It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey. 

The Scholar is book #2 in the series.

When DS Cormac Reilly’s girlfriend Emma stumbles across the victim of a hit and run early one morning, he is first on the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him. The dead girl is carrying an ID, that of Carline Darcy, heir apparent to Darcy Therapeutics, Ireland’s most successful pharmaceutical company. Darcy Therapeutics has a finger in every pie, from sponsoring university research facilities to funding political parties to philanthropy – it has funded Emma’s own ground-breaking research. The investigation into Carline’s death promises to be high profile and high pressure.

As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself. Cormac is sure she couldn’t be involved, but how well does he really know her? After all, this isn’t the first time Emma’s been accused of murder…

My thoughts

I actually read The Good Turn book #3 in the Cormac Reilly series first, back in April, and then went on to read the others. I found this was fine and managed to pick up the story without any problem. I really enjoyed these books and would definitely recommend them.

Grown Ups – Marian Keyes 4*

The blurb from Goodreads:

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

My thoughts

This was a family saga with lots of issues going on! It was pure escapism.

The Wall by John Lanchester 4*

Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall―an enormous concrete barrier around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and are a constant threat. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. A dark part of him wonders whether it would be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if he had to fight for his life. 

My thoughts

This was one of our book club books and I hadn’t heard of it but I found I enjoyed it, especially given the current pandemic situation. A bit dark but a good story nonetheless.

The End of October by Lawrence Wright 4*

In this riveting medical thriller–from the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author–Dr. Henry Parsons, an unlikely but appealing hero, races to find the origins and cure of a mysterious new killer virus as it brings the world to its knees.

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons–microbiologist, epidemiologist–travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city… A Russian émigré, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare… already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by one, in the face of a pandemic… Henry’s wife Jill and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta… and the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions–scientific, religious, governmental–and decimating the population. As packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, Lawrence Wright has given us a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.

My review

I did enjoy this book but found it quite eerily weird as we are currently living through this scenario. I also had to check that it was written before 2020 as it was so factual, especially in the beginning. I thought parts were written really well and others not so well but the premise was very clear. It actually taught me more about the virus than I thought it would, especially as it’s a novel! It seemed to be well researched with many of the events mentioned actually happening. It kept me reading that’s for sure!

Spoiler alert: If you are triggered by the current pandemic in any way, this book might not be for you.

My rating system

1* did not finish/terrible; 2* OK; 3* enjoyable; 4* really good ; 5* excellent

My Reading Challenge for 2020

So far I’m up to 64 books for the year in my Goodreads challenge , I set myself 100 books for this year.

I started my Friday Fiction series a while ago, to share what I’ve been reading, what has taken my fancy or what I’d like to read. This is post number 7 so far in my series. I don’t post every Friday (obviously as my last post was in May), only when I feel I have something to share.

This series was sparked by an item on my list – 12 things to do before turning 60 – which was to write more book reviews and share them on my blog. I’m down to less than 5 months to go until my birthday so the pressure is on. I really must re-visit this post and update it.

Watching on Netflix

Movie – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga 5*

The Story of Fire Saga was initially scheduled for a May 2020 release to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. However, after the 2020 Eurovision contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was released a month later, on June 26, on Netflix. It received mixed reviews from critics. Source

This was the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. Yes it’s a bit weird and whacky but it was just what I needed to watch. My daughter recommended it to me, mainly due to our Iceland connection and I have to say I absolutely loved it! I’ll be watching it again. Have you watched it?

The Rain 5*

When a virus that is carried by rainfall wipes out almost all humans in Scandinavia, Danish siblings Simone and Rasmus take shelter in a bunker. Six years later, they emerge to search for their father, a scientist who left them in the bunker but never returned. Along the way, they join a group of young survivors and together they travel across Denmark and Sweden, searching for a safe place, and for the siblings’ father, who may be able to provide answers and a cure. Source

This is a Danish TV series and Season 3 has just been released so I’m working my way through the final series now. I mentioned The Rain recently in this post Shout Out Saturday

I must say watching The Rain, a Netflix series about a virus affecting the world, while the rain is pouring down outside and COVID-19 is raging around the world, probably wasn’t the best show to start with!

It’s a futuristic world that unfortunately I can relate to!

I have tell you the titles of each episode – they really resonated with me when I read them given the current climate! How timely are they?

Season 3 eps: Don’t give up, Never let go, Stay strong, Be the change you want in the world, Love yourself, And this too shall pass 

Season 2 eps: Avoid contact, The truth hurts, Stay in control, Save yourself, Keep it together, Survival of the fittest

Season 1 eps: Stay inside, Stay together, Avoid the city, Trust no one, Have faith, Keep your friends close, Don’t talk to strangers, Trust your instincts 

Sometimes when these sorts of things happen it hits me as a bit creepy – you too?

Over to you, so what are you currently reading or watching?

Have you read or watched any of these, and would you?

I accessed most of these books for free, via our regional library app. Sometimes I have to wait for them to be available but generally it works well.

Leave me a quick comment with what you’re reading at the moment and how it’s going. I’m currently reading Phosphorescence by Julia Baird but although it has great appeal and has beautifully written bits, I’m struggling to pick it up each night for some reason.

Thanks for joining me for Friday Fiction. I look forward to reading with you again soon.

Deb xx

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23 Replies to “Friday Fiction – Books and movies are great company”

    1. Yes I’m a bit like that too Carol and wonder if it’s why I can’t get into Phosphorescence as it really needs my undivided attention and concentration. Yes I have heard about Hamilton but not seen it yet!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve been discovering some new crime fiction (my favourite) series. I’ve just started “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde. I’m only a little way in but it seems like good fun a la Terry Pratchett. I will post my review when finished.
    I like the sound of the Dervla McTiernan series. I’ll add it to my long, long list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Deb – It’s interesting how some people feel that they have not been able to concentrate on reading during the pandemic months. For me, it’s been just the opposite. I greatly enjoyed the books that you have reviewed here. I haven’t read any of them…yet. I’m currently reading ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry.’ That darned author is running my sleep because I never want to put her books down once I begin them! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same Donna, I have so many books I want to read and am churning my way through them as fast as I can! I think everyone is different and some have lost their ability to enjoy reading with everything else that is going on. I have Big Girls Don’t Cry in my queue, we can compare notes and as for that author…. 🙂


  3. Hi Deb
    Great post to read on this rainy Friday morning.
    I’ve read the first three in Dervla Mctiernan’s first three books and loved them. I can’t get the fourth on Amazon UK for some reason.
    I couldn’t get into Grown Ups at all and yet I loved all Marian Keyes other books.
    I’m currently on the ninth book from Robin Hobbs fantasy Trilogies about the Farseers. I’m absolutely hooked on these books.
    Have just finished watching The Fall with Gillian Anderson which hubby and I both enjoyed.
    I loved your little cartoon about books so relevant to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for joining me on this wet and miserable day Alison! I must admit it did take me a while to get into Grown Ups and it ended up being pretty good. I do enjoy some fantasy so thanks for sharing your enjoyment of them. I will add The Fall to my Netflix list now, thanks so much! Have a great weekend and yes that cartoon was a late edition to my post but very appropriate for us book lovers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Deb, I’m putting the Cormac Reilly series on my to-read list… I love a good detective novel. Right now, I’m reading a bunch of romance novels. I needed some basic escapism with happy endings so bought a shopping bag full of romances at the half-price book store last month – some authors I know (like Susan Mallery) and some new ones. Nothing to rate a 4-5, but fun summer reads (yeah, it is still heat of summer here!).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are a great role model Deb. I recall having this conversation with you about not being able to focus on reading. I looked at my stack of books the other day and vowed that I need to try again. less time on Netflix and media and more time in the books. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thanks Sue that’s very kind of you to say! It’s an issue many of my friends and even my sister, has had, they just can’t concentrate on reading. Wishing you well as you try again! What have you been watching on Netflix that you can recommend?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure what your taste in screen time might be. I found Indian Matchmaking quite fascinating. Currently on Season 3 of Marcella which is completely opposite, dark thriller mystery. If you haven’t seen This Is Us I highly recommend it. Schitt’s Creek is a good laugh and up for 15 Emmy nominations. The Crown is another solid recommendation. And the list goes on…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have an eclectic mix of likes. I have enjoyed Schitt’s Creek and The Crown. I’ve just started The Fall which is a dark thriller too and watched The Life of Us years ago when it was on TV and did enjoy that. Thanks for your recommendations Sue!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read each of the Dervla books and loved Grownups. I’m currently reading The Flat Share and watching a rerun of Shetland and the latest series of Vera. Eurovision is definitely on my list.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have now watched it 4 times Albert and love it each time. Weird and whacky is a perfect description. I made my husband sit and watch it with me last night and luckily for him, he also enjoyed it – phew!!

      Liked by 1 person

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