Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 20 – September 26

So, for the first time in 18 months we’ve been abroad on holiday! And it was lovely.  A week in Mallorca, enjoying some sun and relaxing and just generally not being in our house. And it meant plenty of time for reading. And no, this list isn’t quite as long as some holiday reading lists that I have previously had, but I had to wrestle the kindle off Him Indoors (who is reading some of the Amelia Peabody novels that we can’t get on audiobook in the UK) and that meant a bit of stopping and starting because the Kindle didn’t like the hotel wifi and so I couldn’t sync it to the iPad. First world problems… And I also read quite a bit of non fiction and that takes me longer than fiction does. There are a few on here that you’ll be hearing about – probably in the end of month mini reviews at the end of next week, but I reserve the right to change my mind and do a separate post after all!

Read:

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Traitor King by Andrew Lownie

A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz*

The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery*

Peter Cabot Gets Lost by Cat Sebastian 

All Night Long with a Cowboy by Caitlin Crews*

Peril in Paris by Katherine Woodfine

Death in High Provence by George Bellairs

Murder Most Foul by Donna Andrews

Started:

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan*

Hacked by Duncan MacMaster

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow*

Still reading:

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman*

Bonus photo: So because we’ve been on holiday, it had to be a holiday picture this week. Rather than a boring picture of me, or of the beach and the sea, I’m going for this picture of the path leading down to a particularly nice, quite remote and unspoilt beach on the island that we had a nice time at. I read a couple of hundred pages of Antony Horowitz on this particular beach, but it was just generally lovely to be away.

A path leading to a beach, with bushes and small trees arching over it

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley

 

Book of the Week, new releases, non-fiction

Book of the Week: The Cult of We

Have I already written about one book about We Work? Yes. Is it going to stop me from writing another one? Nope. You’re welcome and also welcome to my reading life!

Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell’s The Cult of We is, as the subtitle suggests an examination of start up culture viewed through the prism of the rise (and fall) of We Work. In case you’ve missed my previous post or in fact the whole We Work saga, We Work was set up by Adam Neumann as reimagining the work space. It was subletting office space to smaller companies – like other companies had done before – but managing to make it sound like something new and revolutionary and get it classed alongside tech startups with much lower price overheads. The company started to implode when it tried to launch its IPO – which it needed to raise more money to keep the lights on – but Neumann walked away with much of his fortune intact.

I’ve already written about Reeves Wiedeman’s Billion Dollar Loser, which also covers Neumann and We Work and yet I still got new perspectives from this. This answers some of the questions Wiedeman didn’t – partly because it had more time to see what happened, but also takes a bigger look (I think) at how the financing of these sorts of companies is done and how made investors went for unicorn start ups that weren’t making profits. It could be recency bias, but my inclination is to say that this is the better choice if you’re only going to read one – you get all the mind boggling stories about the antics of Neumann (extra cleaning on private planes because of the cannabis-fueled partying on board) and his wife Rebekah (including the recipe for Cheezy sprinkle – hint, there is no cheese but there is nutritional yeast) but you also get more detail on the high finance side of things and who was investing in all of this.

Which ever book you read though, the story of We Work probably won’t make you as angry as Bad Blood or Empire of Pain – but that may be because office rental is not as easy to get worked up about as revolutionary blood testing or the opioid epidemic. Or maybe the story of Theranos really is that bonkers. But it’s still definitely worth a read if you like a Big Business explosion story and also if you don’t want to get so angry about the contents you want to throw the book/e-reader across the room!

My copy of The Cult of We came from NetGalley, but it’s out now and should be available via all the usual sources as well as in Kindle and Kobo. It’s also available in audiobook and I would expect the hardback to be in stock in the larger bookstores – Foyles have click and collect as an option for several stores, in London and outside, which is usually a good sign.

Happy Reading.

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 13 – September 19

Lots of interesting reading last week. Not quite sure what I’m going to write about tomorrow yet either!

Read:

Misfits by Michaela Coel*

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell*

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

Death Treads Softly by George Bellairs

Yes, And by Kristi Coulter

Started:

Traitor King by Andrew Lownie

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman*

Death in High Provence by George Bellairs

Still reading:

A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz*

A little Kindle buying spree and a couple of physical books too. But that’s ok. It happens!

Bonus photo: a Tuesday night theatre trip! Only my second show back but it was wonderful on all counts

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley

 

Book of the Week, Forgotten books, mystery

Book of the Week: The Secret of High Eldersham

Back with another murder mystery again this week. It’s another British Crime Classic, but it’s a new to me author so that makes variety right?!

Scotland Yard are called in to investigate the murder of the landlord of a pub in an East Anglian village known for its insular nature and hostility to outsiders. Samuel Whitehead was a stranger to the neighbourhood, but somehow he seemed to be making a reasonable go of it – right up until the point that someone stabbed him in is own bar around closing time one night. Detective Inspector Young is struggling to make inroads in the case, so he calls on a friend and amateur sleuth, Desmond Merrion, to help him solve the murder.

This is the first book by Miles Burton that I’ve read, but it has a number of recognisable Golden Age crime tropes – east Anglia and it’s villages being a bit strange (see also: a fair few Margery Allinghams, but particularly Sweet Danger, Sayers’ The Nine Tailors, the Inspector Littlejohn I read the other week) and of course the gentleman amateur detective. Burton’s Merrion has a military background – but this time it’s the navy, which is useful because there is a lot of sailing in this plot. It’s a bit uneven in places – the focus of the narrative switches abruptly to Merrion from Young, Mavis the love interest is a little bit of a one dimensional Not Like Other Girls character and the secret is, well. But if you’ve read a lot these sort of classic murder mysteries it’s worth a look – to see how someone different tackles all these things. I would read some more of these – partly just to find out what Merrion turns into and see if he evolves the way that some of the other similar characters did (but particularly Campion). The British Crime Library have republished at least one other of these so I’ll keep an eye out.

My copy of The Secret of High Eldersham came via Kindle Unlimited, but it’s also available as a paperback – which you can buy direct from the British Library bookshop as well as the usual sources.

Happy Reading!

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 6 – September 12

Another busy week (do I have anything but busy weeks these days?) but some interesting reading – some of which I’ve already told you about!

Read:

Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

The God of the Hive by Laurie R King

Beekeeping for Beginners by Laurie R King

The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton

Before Her by Jacqueline Woodson

Parable by Jess Walter

A Wedding Thing by Shea Serrano with Laramie Serrano

Started:

Misfits by Michaela Coel*

Death Treads Softly by George Bellairs

Still reading:

A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz*

The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell*

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

After last week’s splurge I have been very well behaved and haven’t bought anything else!

Bonus photo: Another day out at the racetrack… this time for British Superbikes

British Superbikes racing

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley

 

Book of the Week, fiction, historical

Book of the Week: The Chelsea Girls

Yes I finished this on Monday. So yes, I’m cheating for the second week in a row. I make the rules, so I can break them if I want to. Anyway, you should all just be glad that I didn’t pick another mystery!

Maxine and Hazel meet on a USO tour in the last months of the Second World War. They meet again in New York in the 1950s when Maxine is an up and coming film star and Hazel is an aspiring playwright. Both living in the famous Chelsea Hotel, soon they’re working together on Hazel’s first play which is going to be staged on Broadway. But the red scare is well underway and the production and their careers are threatened by the witch hunt for communists turning its attention to the entertainment industry. As the pressure starts to build what will happen to the women and their friendship?

The Chelsea Girls follows a twenty year friendship between two women forged through a trauma in Italy, through the ups and downs of their careers. They’re both engaging and intriguing characters – Hazel’s mother is always comparing her to her brother who was killed in the war and finding her lacking, while Maxine is using the theatre to build a better life for her and her German immigrant grandmother. And as the red scare comes to Broadway, they both find themselves in the spotlight because of the actions of Hazel’s brother years before. And as well as being tense it’s also a wonderful portrait of the Chelsea Hotel – famously home to artists and bohemians, it becomes Hazel and Maxine’s refuge as they battle the outside forces trying to tear their lives apart.

I’ve been wanting to read this for ages. It came out two years ago and it’s been on my want to read list for about that long – so I’ve no idea where I even heard about it to start with. I read one of Fiona Davis’s other books a year or two back and liked the idea but didn’t love the execution, but this one really worked for me. It took me a day or two to properly get into it, but then I read 200 pages at a sitting because I wanted to see where it was going. I am fascinated with Old Hollywood, in fiction and non-fiction and this lives adjacent to that. I’ve written about some other books in this area before (like Trumbo and Karina Longworth’s Seduction) and this fitted right in to my wheelhouse. Well worth a look.

My copy came from the library, but it’s available now on Kindle and Kobo (and at time of writing is slightly cheaper on Kobo) as well as in paperback, although I’m not sure how easy that will be to get hold of in store – Foyles have stock to order, but not to click and collect.

Happy Reading!

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: August 30 – September 5

This list looks a little deceptive – because all of those Mindy Kalings are Kindle single Essays that form one single collection – there are six in all and two were on last week’s list. I nearly just put them on here once as a whole – but they count individually in the good reads list so it would throw my whole count out for the year (unless I start keeping separate lists, and we all know that’s not going to happen). Lots of time last week spent reading The Cult of We – which is long and non fiction which always takes me longer, even in times when I’m not mostly drawn to reading mystery novels! And just to recap in case you missed it – we had the mini reviews last week, as well as the stats and all the usual stuff.

Read:

Death at Dukes Halt by Derek Farrell

Please Like Me by Mindy Kaling

Help is on the Way by Mindy Kaling

Searching for Coach Taylor by Mindy Kaling

Once Upon a Time in Silver Lake by Mindy Kaling

The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

A Knife for Harry Dodd by George Bellairs

Death in the Dales by Frances Brody

Started:

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean

Still reading:

A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz*

The God of the Hive by Laurie R King

The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell*

I went into town on Saturday between getting my brows weeded and my hair done and I accidentally bought four books. What a pity…

Bonus photo: The aforementioned book haul…

Four books on a desk

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley

 

books, stats

August Stats

Books read this month: 30*

New books: 26

Re-reads: 4 (3 audiobooks)

Books from the to-read pile: 2

NetGalley books read: 3

Kindle Unlimited read: 18 (!)

Ebooks: 24

Library books: 2 (all ebooks)

Audiobooks: 3

Non-fiction books: 8

Favourite book this month: If we’re not including Gaudy Night which I read once and listened to on audio twice in August, then it’s Battle Royal

Most read author: George Bellairs -an astonishing 7 Inspector Littlejohn books, because when I make something I can colour in I really commit.

Books bought: 5, of which 3 were preorders

Books read in 2020: 265

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 608

So basically this was the month of murder mysteries, and also one where I want a massive binge of one series. Oh and the (latest) Amelia Peabody re-read is still going, even as I’m still trying to hunt down the Barbara Rosenblatt versions of the final few books in audio, which seem to be impossible to come by in the UK. Very frustrating.

Bonus photo is the updated Littlejohn list after this month’s binge!

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (7 this month – six Mindy Kaling essays and the Gordon Corera Kindle single)

book round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: August 2021 Mini Reviews

I can’t believe the summer is nearly over. And August’s weather has been ridiculous so it feels like the summer was that one sweltering week in July. Anyway, there was a bunch of bonus posts last month (all the links are at the end as usual), so I’ve already talked about a lot of books over the last few weeks, but that’s just not enough so here are the mini reviews for August.

How to Make the World Add Up by Tim Harford*

Cover of How to Make the World Add Up

I love a good non-fiction read as you all know, but I mostly tend towards the narrative non-fiction, so this is a bit of a change for me as Tim Harford’s latest book sets out how to examine the numbers and statistics that we encounter in the world. The aim is to equip you with the skills you need to be able to work out what they actually mean and how important they are. I was really keen to read this because I’m not really a numbers person  – I got the grades that I needed to at GCSE and then promptly dropped maths (and sciences) in favour of history, languages and literature – so I thought this would be really helpful – and it was. It sets out what to look for and how to interrogate the information that you’re given so that you can draw your own conclusions about it. A really useful book.

The Two Hundred Ghost by Henrietta Hamilton*

Cover of The Two Hundred Ghost
This is a bit of a cheat as I have already written about Henrietta Hamilton this month – in the BotW post about The Man Who Wasn’t There, but when I went back through my Netgalley lists I found that I had this waiting for me – and it’s the first one in the series and the origin story.  This is a murder mystery set in the world of Antiquarian booksellers, which also features to really rather gently set up the relationship between Johnny and Sally which you see in the later books. So gently in fact that if you didn’t know it was coming (it is on the cover though) you might be a bit surprised when it actually happens towards the end. Anyway, the plot: Heldar’s shop at 200 Charing Cross Road is reputed to be haunted – and one morning after the “ghost” is spotted, the really rather nasty Mr Butcher is found dead in his office. There are plenty of suspects among the employees, so Sally – who works in the shop – starts to do her own investigation to try and make sure the police don’t arrest the wrong person. She’s helped by Johnny, one of the family who owns the story who also wants to see it all tied up as soon as possible. I loved the eccentric characters that this has – and the mystery is good too. Definitely worth a look.

The Illegal by Gordon Corera

Cover of The Illegal

This is a Kindle single, so it’s short, but don’t let that put you off.  The Illegal looks at the practice of embedding spies in countries during the Cold War through the case of Canadian businessman Gordon Lonsdale – actually a Russian called Konan Molody – who arrived in London in the mid-1950s. If you’ve read any John Le Carré or watched any spy films, this will be of interest to you. It looks at how he was chosen, how his cover was established, what he got up to and how he was caught. It’s under 100 pages, but it’s packed with information and will probably leave you wanting to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy again.

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

Cover of Hang the Moon

So this was one of the potentials for the Summer reading post, but I already had plenty of romances there, so it’s here instead. This should also come with a note that it’s the second in a series and I haven’t read the first so I absolutely didn’t get the most out of this in terms of the references to the couple from the first book.  Anyway, this is a sweet romantic comedy featuring a heroine who arrives to surprise her best friend with a visit only to discover that her friend is out of town. So instead of hanging out with her bestie, Annie ends up hanging out with Brandon, her friend’s brother. Brandon has had a crush on Annie for years and is a proper romantic who has developed a dating app. Annie has given up on dating. You can see where this is going. I didn’t love it, love it, but it was a pleasant way to while away an afternoon in the garden.

And in case you missed any of them, the Books of the Week posts in August were nearly a full set of mysteries: Black Plumes, The Man Who Wasn’t There, A Third Class Murder and Death at Dukes Halt with just Battle Royal breaking the detective monopoly. The bonus posts were summer reading and history books. And finally in the link-fest here are the rest of the year’s mini reviews: January, February, March, April, May, June and July.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, cozy crime, detective, fiction, mystery, new releases

Book of the Week: Death at Dukes Halt

I’m finishing the month as I started it, with another murder mystery book pick for my Book of the Week, in a slightly cheaty move because I finished it on Monday, but I’ve talked enough about Inspector Littlejohn recently already, and that was pretty much all I actually finished last week! But before I get down to my review of the new Derek Farrell, a quick reminder that tomorrow is the Mini Reviews and Thursday will be the August Stats.

Danny Bird is facing up to a scary prospect: a weekend at a country house to help Caz fulfill a promise to a dead friend. Pub manager Ali is chauffeuring them down to Dukes Halt where they find a mismatched set of weekend guests: a Hollywood actress, a right-wing MP and an Albanian gangster among them. Soon there’s a body in their midst and Danny is detecting again to try and clear himself and his friends. But he’s also trying to work out what happened at the house decades ago when he discovers an unhappy boy’s secret diary.

This is the fifth outing for Danny and the gang and it’s a good one. Farrell has taken Danny out of the Marq (the Asbo twins are left in charge of running a talent night while they’re gone and I look forward to seeing how that works out) and put him into a country house murder mystery in the grand tradition of the genre. It’s got everything you would expect from an Agatha Christie – but updated to the present day. In one of the earlier books in the series Danny is described as Poirot on poppers, which is a great line but doing Danny a slight disservice now because he is not the isolated external figure that Poirot is. He’s got friends, relationships, a perspective and that all comes into focus in this. You also see him more on his own in this that he has been in the previous series so there’s a lot more about who Danny is and what he believes in that you’re used to and that’s a really good development. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of witty banter and oneliners. The pandemic means there has been a longer break between full length books than I was hoping when I finished Death of an Angel (although Death of a Sinner did help) but I think Death at Dukes Halt has been worth the wait.

You can get Death at Dukes Halt direct from the publisher, Fahrenheit Press, who have it in various ebook formats and paperback. If you do get the paperback from them, you get the ebook with it as well which is nice – I started reading the paperback and then switched to the kindle so I could read it on the move. But you can also get it on Kindle.

Happy Reading!