Monthly Roundup – May 2021

May has been mostly cold and dreich but with occasional bright spells – in life as well as weather. With the gradual removal of certain lockdown restrictions I welcomed the prospect of increased freedom for people to choose how they go about their daily business. It has been cheering to see our local pubs and cafés busy again, albeit with masked waiters. I am even tentatively optimistic that husband and I may be able to travel to Belfast over the summer to scatter my parents’ ashes, sixteen months after their deaths. This will be dependent on the lifting of certain rules such as wearing those litter-generating masks. I need to feel welcome in any hotel or restaurant booked. We won’t arrange anything until we know it will be allowed to happen – so no last minute health test requirements for travel on the car ferry. The invasive and costly nature of complex and ever changing guidelines may yet keep us home for another season.

Husband has been left idling this month following a ransomware attack on the client he had been working with. Given current limitations there were few options for filling the free time unexpectedly available. Thankfully he has now agreed an alternative contract starting after the bank holiday. This one comes with the added bonus that, initially at least, it will be office based. He is looking forward to mixing with colleagues again.

Daughter returned to London for her final few weeks working wards before starting her permanent position in July. She will move out of her London flat next month, without husband and I having seen it other than in pictures. This past year has denied us so many pleasurable memories. We have missed out on treating her, our boys and ourselves while visiting the capital and other places of interest. Putting life on hold feels such a waste at my age.

Before daughter left we celebrated elder son’s birthday at home together. He chose a Nepalese takeaway and we were able to source him presents he seemed pleased with. It can be hard to buy many items with supply and demand knocked out of kilter. Of course, I recognise we are fortunate to be able to afford useful gifts.

Younger son is currently sitting stress inducing exams. A year of on-line learning has taken its toll and he is considering his options for next year. With only a year of his course left to complete it is sad he is in this position. Like so many students, university has not been the experience he hoped for. Our young people have been badly let down by the various responses to the pandemic.

I continue to: visit the gym for strength training, run around our local lanes, cycle loops from home that take in Wiltshire’s pretty towns and villages. I got in a car for the first time in many months to deliver sacks of books and other items to a charity shop last week. I can’t say I have missed this mode of transport with the dangers it brings from drivers frustrated by others using ‘their’ space. Many roads now feel as busy as they have ever been – a factor I consider when choosing routes to cycle. Lockdown did bring some benefits.

I reviewed twelve books in May, mostly new releases and all of them worth reading. I also posted a guest review written by Peter Wild, head honcho at Bookmunch. Robyn added a further twelve reviews from her TBR pile and NetGalley. It is now a year since she joined me on the blog. I do hope our readers have enjoyed her input.

As ever in these monthly posts, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.


hashtag good guy  bitterhall
Hashtag Good Guy With A Gun by Jeff Chon, published by Sagging Meniscus
Bitterhall by Helen McClory, published by Polygon

atomics  netanyahus
The Atomics by Paul Maunder, published by Lightning Books
The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen, published by Fitzcarraldo Editions

the high house  emmet-and-me
The High House by Jessie Greengrass, published by Swift Press – guest review by Peter Wild
Emmet and Me by Sara Gethin, published by Honno

panenka  what willow says
Panenka by Rónán Hession, published by Bluemoose
What Willow Says by Lynn Buckle, published by époque press

Translated Fiction

the others
The Others by Raül Garrigasait (translated by Tiago Miller), published by Fum D’Estampa Press

Short Stories

stay-alive-till-75-  3-x-1
Stay Alive Till ’75 by Adelle Stripe, published by Ration Books
3″x 1″ by Bill Drummond, published by Ration Books


we are all somebody  well-meat-again
We Are All Somebody compiled by Samantha Richards, published by Fly on the Wall Press
We’ll Meat Again by Benjamin Myers, published by Ration Books

Robyn Reviews

1leig  1john
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, published by Orion Children’s
The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne, published by Orbit

1tbo  1gene
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, published by Jo Fletcher Books
The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, published by Titan Books

1eliz  1heat
Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal, published by Picador
The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner, published by Titan Books

1kace  amstr
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, published by Faber Children’s
In the Ravenous Dark by A. M. Strickland, published by Hodder & Stoughton

1mina  1nico
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, published by Harper Collins
The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis, published by Titan Books

1andy  1ashl
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, published by Del Rey
A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth, published by Hodder & Stoughton

Sourcing the books

As mentioned, Robyn is on NetGalley and is grateful for all approvals of titles requested. She also purchased and was gifted a number of enticing titles.

robyn received may 21

I received a fine selection of book post that I hope to read soon.

Jackie received May 21

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is much appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx


5 comments on “Monthly Roundup – May 2021

  1. Fingers crossed for that Belfast trip Jackie x

  2. BookerTalk says:

    So hard to plan anything isn’t it with the rules changing so much – especially challenging when you need to travel. It’s interesting to observe how people’s reactions to the easing of restrictions has varied – we went out for a birthday meal and expected to find the restaurant busy but it was only half full. Friends have reported the same experience so there must be a lot of people still nervous about going out.

    • Jackie Law says:

      We’re waiting for all the rules and restrictions to be lifted before eating out but places round here that have reopened look busy by day. Not all have reopened though. Sad to see established businesses fail – understandable given they were banned from trading for so long 😦

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