Three Entertaining Books

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I was writing reviews for the following books when I realised I was repeating myself. Although all three have different writing styles and settings they share many other qualities and so I thought I’d combine my thoughts into one post, giving you a trio of entertaining reads to add to your TBR pile.

All three books captivate the reader, making you want to turn the pages quickly in order to find out what happens to the characters. They are all easy to read and the writing flows beautifully. If you are after an entertaining read I can’t really fault any of them – just pick the one that appeals the most and I’m sure you’ll enjoy being transported into its world.

The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Five words from the blurb: Greece, Heroes, King, war, immortal

Fleur Fisher drew this book to my attention. I have always wanted to know more about Greek mythology and so this well researched re-telling of Achilles’ story appealed to me. The book is narrated by Patroclus, a young prince who forms a strong bond with Achilles. We see them grow up together, learning to become warriors. Their friendship strengthens as they reach adulthood and embark on a journey that leads them into the Trojan war.

The Song of Achilles managed to combine humans and Gods in a way that seemed completely natural. I loved the vivid descriptions of this ancient time and the way the narrative brought the characters to life. The emotions felt real and I enjoyed seeing the love between Achilles and Patroclus blossom. It was wonderful for me to learn the full story behind the snippets of mythology I already knew.

If you have any interest in Greek mythology then I’m sure you’ll appreciate this emotional book. Recommended.

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Gillespie and I

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

Five words from the blurb: Glasgow, encounter, tragedy, mystery, humour

Gillespie and I is set in Glasgow at the end of the 19th century. The book is narrated by Harriet Baxter, a women who embarks on a journey to Glasgow in order to see the International Exhibition. Whilst there she meets the Gillespie family and becomes increasingly involved in their lives. Unfortunately the family is plagued by problems and Harriet is unable to prevent the tragedy that eventually occurs.

This book is packed with Victorian atmosphere, but is far lighter and chattier in tone than any of the other books I’ve read set during this period. It is impossible not to be warmed by Harriet’s banter and she charmed me into reading this 500 page chunkster twice as fast as I’d expected to.

I loved the way that snippets of information were sprinkled through the text, but I also liked the fact that many of my questions were left unanswered, leaving me to think about this book long after I’d finished it.

If you are after an entertaining Victorian mystery then I recommend getting hold of this book. 

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The Poison Tree
 

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

Five words from the blurb: London, dead, life, love, past

I first heard about this book on Steph and Tony’s Blog. She compared it to Tana French and I have to agree – this compelling thriller shares Tana French’s writing style and her skill for character development. The plot is a little different in that there is no police investigation; instead we follow the lives of the criminals as we discover what led them to commit their crime. 

The Poison Tree is set in London and follows Karen, a student who is drawn towards a brother and sister who lead a glamorous lifestyle. The family’s problems are revealed slowly and although the plot isn’t particularly original, the structure is very clever. The book is gripping throughout, but I especially loved the last 50 pages – they ended the book perfectly.

Recommended to anyone looking for a character driven mystery.

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Have you read any of these books?

Did you enjoy them?

Which one appeals to you most? 


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28 Comments

  1. FleurFisher says:

    Well, you know that I loved The Song of Achilles. I liked The Poison Tree, with a few reservations, and thank you reminding me that I must pick up Gillespie and I soon. It’s on the dining table, waiting for the right reading mood to strike.

    1. Jackie says:

      FleurFisher, I agree that The Poison Tree wasn’t perfect, but it was so entertaining that I forgive its little flaws. I hope you enjoy Gillespie and I.

  2. Steph says:

    Yay! I’m so glad that you enjoyed The Poison Tree! I don’t think I’ve read a bad review of it yet, but since I championed it, I’d hate for someone to pick it up and then not enjoy it. And I know the pitfalls of comparing someone to a much loved author only for them to fall short, so I’m really pleased you enjoyed this one.

    I really like Jane Harris when she writes mysteries/thrillers (Gentlemen & Players was the first book I read by her and it remains my favorite), so Gillespie and I sounds like the kind of Harris book I would like a lot. I haven’t heard much about it so I’m glad to read such a favorable review of it here. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a copy of it at McKay’s in a few months’ time!

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, Thank you for recommending The Poison Tree (and Tana French!) to me. I look forward to reading more of their books in the future.

      I’m afraid you’re confusing Jane Harris with Joanne Harris. The only other book Jane Harris has written is The Observations, whilst Joanne Harris has written quite a few books. It is confusing :-(

      I must get around to reading Gentlemen & Players one day – as well as The Observations.

  3. Thanks for the recommendations! I’m really in the mood for something captivating as I’ve been in a book slump for weeks now. I have read Gillespie and I and while definitely a page turner I was somewhat disappointed in the end. I’m going to look up the other 2 you mentioned.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mrs. B, I quite liked the ending to Gillespie & I, but I can see why it might not be to everyones taste. I went through a mini reading slump last week – giving up on about 4 books in a row. :-( It is nice when you finally find something that grips you so I hope that one of these does the job for you. :-)

  4. I haven’t read ANY of these, but each sounds good in it’s own way. Based on what you wrote. I’d select The Poison Tree – first. Thanks for the head’s up on these.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I think you’ll love The Poison Tree – I hope you decide to read it and enjoy it as much as I did.

  5. Karen says:

    I loved Gillespie and I – I really got sucked into the story and the characters – and the ending was a nice surprise for me! I was really disappointed by Harris’ first book though which I read after this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Karen, I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy The Observations – I planned to read it after reading this one too. I hope I have better luck with it than you did.

  6. Mystica says:

    The Gillespie and I book and The Poison Tree are the two I would love to read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, I hope that you enjoy them if you get around to trying them.

  7. Leela Soma says:

    Three book reviews for the price of one! Well done Jackie. I love your succinct five word summing up at the start. Greek mythology, Glasgow and London- what a wealth of tales to read about. Naturally I am partial to the Glasgow book by Gillespie, but all three seem like interesting reads. I am busy reading Adiga’s LMIT . Will try and get the ones you have recommended to my TBR pile.

    1. Jackie says:

      Leela, I have to admit that I didn’t get that much of a picture of Glasgow through reading Gillespie – it had a Victorian charm, but apart from the mention of the International Exhibition I felt it could easily have been London (perhaps I don’t know enough about Glasgow to spot the links though?) I hope you enjoy any you decide to read.

  8. Annabel says:

    Want to read all three of these – will start with Achilles as it is on my TBR pile.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I think you’ll enjoy Achilles – I look forward to your thoughts on it.

  9. falaise says:

    Jackie,

    I’ve only read the Song of Achilles from these three and, although I thoroughly enjoyed it, I think it’s been a bit over-hyped and so I couldn’t help feeling slightly disappointed that it was just a “very good” book rather than a “Wow, how great” book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Falaise, It is interesting that you should mention hype as I’d heard no mention of this book other than on Jane’s blog. I was surprised to see it on the best-seller lists so realised it must have been a far bigger release than I’d thought. Funny how hype can totally pass you by sometimes….

      But yes I’d agree – this is a “very good” book, but not an outstanding, jaw dropping one.

  10. Amused says:

    I love books for entertainment sake! The first two sound perfect for me, thanks for the recommendations!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amused, Sometimes entertaining books are exactly what you need :-)

  11. All three sound wonderful (and so different from one another!) I’m glad you had a trio of successful reads too!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I hope I can keep finding more entertaining reads in the coming weeks :-)

  12. I’ve lived in Glasgow and am always looking for good books set there. Thanks for the flagging “Gillespie and I”. Any other you can think of?

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I can think of a lot of Scottish books, but not many from Glasgow… Have you read Buddha Da by Anne Donovan?

  13. joanna says:

    Ooh I think The Poison Tree might be for me! I rarely read thrillers, the last one was Tana French’s In The Woods and I loved it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Joanna, I don’t read/enjoy that many thrillers, but The Poison Tree managed to entertain me. Hopefully I’ll come across a few more soon :-)

  14. Stephanie says:

    I thought The Poison Tree ended perfectly too. I am glad you enjoyed it too!

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, At the half way point I was a bit worried that it would be predictable, I’m pleased that I turned out to be wrong!

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