On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous –  Ocean Vuong. I finished the book on December 31st, by which time I’d posted my Dec 2020 Reading Round-up, so here it is starting off the January reviews. What a book! The writing is visceral, passionate, at times unbearable. Its not an easy read, and falls into the Unforgettable Reads category. Little Dog writes a long letter to his mother, who cannot read. Its his life story, his experience of growing up a Vietnamese immigrant in America. If you’re an animal lover, you will find parts of the book difficult, if not unbearable. Strong stuff, but what a read!

A 2019 hit memoir, On  Chapel Sands, proved to be an unusual and interesting read because it was the careful excavation and piecing together of Laura Cumming’s mother’s early history: her adoption, kidnap and family background. The final outcome proved, yet again, that truth is always stranger than fiction. But this apart, I enjoyed the social history aspect, the portrait of life in rural England in the late 20s and the 1930s. My heritage is British, and I grew up in a British Colony; I was surprised at the similarities with my own life. A recommended read. 

January is a long and usually bleak month, so a fluffy Rom-Com read was called for. I hit the jackpot with Sophia Money-Coutts Rom-Com, The Wish List. She has written columns for a number of British newspapers and magazines, notably four years at The Tatler, and her background shone through the narrative of her funny and charming rom-com. Life in London, posh blokes, champagne, everybody catching taxis, political  grand events (a Black & White Ball, if you please, at which our heroine appears in eye catching crimson – ooops. Not one of her better moments). The book sparkles with charm, offers some spicy sex, and  best of all: some humour. Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Craig Johnston-Walt Longmire series. I’ve tossed in the towel and started reading the series on my Kindle. Craig Johnson is a master storyteller, and seldom disappoints. I’ve read and loved most of the Longmire series, but in this book Walt’s retirement (no, surely not!) or demise (much more likely, he attracts bullets like a magnet) is hinted at. Up until now, he’s been indestructible despite daunting odds, but … I suppose all good things come to an end sometime.


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous –  Ocean Vuong. The Vietnam War casts a long toxic shadow on Vietnamese immigrants to the USA. Highly acclaimed, adjudged a masterpiece. But not for the faint hearted.

Paris Echo – Sebastian Faulks. Present day plus WWII Paris; Moroccan runaway teen; earnest academic. The characters and plot didn’t engage me, so it was a D N F for me, but Francophiles and history fans will enjoy it.

Deadly Feast – Lucy Burdette. A foodie mystery, set in Key West, Florida. Well written with credible characters and plot. An enjoyable light read.( A Kindle Cozy Mystery).

Key Lime Crime – Lucy Burdette. More of the above, with enough interesting variations to make it an enjoyable read. (e-book).

The Wish List – Sophia Money-Coutts.  British Rom-com; feel good with a happy ending. Some posh men who turn out to be absolute cads and get dumped when the girls involved come to their senses. Oh, and a cat called Marmalade, so what’s not to like? (e-book).

The Birthday Mystery – #1 Jenny Starling Mysteries, – Faith Martin. A classic whodunnit, in the great tradition of Agatha Christie et al.  A cut above the Cozy Mystery genre, well written and plotted. I enjoyed it. (e-book).

Land of Wolves – Craig Johnston. #16  Walt Longmire series. Walt is getting older, severely  battered and bruised, probably suffering from PTSD,  but gamely solves another mystery despite dreadful odds, and a threatening personal computer on his desk. Oh the horror! Wolves in the high country of Wyoming, and the Basque community feature in this book. Recommended. (e-book).

Logging Off  – Nick Spalding. Funny Brit  light read, written & narrated by a man. Andy Bellowes decides to log off completely, and do a cold turkey detox from all things electronic, media, gadgets, the works. The results are hilarious but there’s also a thought provoking warning. Internet addiction exists and it could well be ruining your health and your life. Balance is the key word. (e-book).


The Ultimate Wodehouse Collection – P G Wodehouse. Published by Blackmore Dennett & available on Kindle. I’m currently enjoying the Jeeves & Wooster series. Perfect light, funny reading for difficult times. I can dip in and out and be beguiled for half an hour.


On Chapel Sands – Laura Cumming. ‘This memoir-cum-detective story becomes a remarkable search for truth.’(Sunday Telegraph.)


4 thoughts on “JANUARY 2021: READING ROUNDUP

  1. This is a very impressive list, Alison. I cant match it. In Kindle Unlimited, I have read all the Faith Martin books. Janet recommended them to me when they were here in October 2019. I have been having boxed sets of crime books, as they count as only 1 item.😁

    Eileen Turner E-mail: eileen.eileenturner.turner@gmail.com

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