If I'm honest, I wasn't sure I was going to beat June's The Year in Books review; Burial Rites was spectacular and I was wary of reading another book lest it be a complete let-down, but Joanne Harris' collection of short stories - A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String - really stepped up to the mark.
The stories are woven around themes that drift through the book as an underlying presence; the idea that Christmas stays all year round, for example, or that two feisty ladies in a nursing home can run rings around the staff, and more poignantly why they are forced to. The characters are lively and interesting and you really feel yourself rooting for some of them, despite the fact you meet them for only a few pages. The writing is humorous, saddening, even outrageous at times. But more than anything, the selling point of this book is the vast variety of short stories housed within its pages; I have read numerous collections of short stories but this one was different in that you could select a story to read depending on your mood or the time of year, and there would also be one that would fit. This, for me, is what reading is all about, and I will definitely be delving back into these stories again.
July's choice is something I picked up a while ago on a whim and I'm still not entirely sure what to expect, but I wanted to give something a little bit different a try. Shatter Me With Dawn by Sally Russell focuses on a celebration of country life in Georgia and revisits her years in a remote farm. I've not read much about the American countryside, so I'm looking forward to discovering what it's like over the pond.
Have you got any recommendations that you'd like to share that also focus on country life?