books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: February 10 – February 16

An interesting week in reading and one where I’m really not sure what my Book of the Week is going to be tomorrow.  I’m sure it’ll come to me. It usually does. This week coming I have a lot of earlies and a lot of nights away from home, so we’ll see what happens to the reading list because of that…

Read:

The Threat Level Remains Severe by Rowena MacDonald*

Essex Poison by Ian Sansom

In the Crypt with a Candlestick by Daisy Waugh*

World of Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies

Year of the King by Antony Sher

The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long

Burnout by Emily Nagoski*

Started:

An Unsuitable Woman by Cat Gordon

Still reading:

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg*

I wish I could say that I was restrained last week and didn’t buy any books, but I can’t.  Little Sister is stuck in China with nothing to do, so I bought a bunch of Kindle Daily Deals because we share a kindle account. Also the prequel for Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series came out so I had to buy that too.

Bonus photo: Regular readers will be aware of my love of Terry Pratchett – and so this week’s bonus is the Discworld Emporium’s Valentine’s message from the Guild of Seamstresses – which my sister sent me andwhich made me laugh a lot.

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

Book of the Week, new releases

Book of the Week: Miss Austen

So a bit of a strange week in reading.  I really enjoyed Alexa Martin’s Blitzed – but I gave a rave to Intercepted in May last year, so it’s inside my statute of limitations for repeats really.  There were a few things that I really didn’t like and a few more that I was a bit ho-hum about. But I also finished Miss Austen – which I wrote about in my 2020 preview post, so I thought I ought to revisit it now I have some thoughts.

Miss Austen: Spotted in the wild in Heffers at the end of January

So, the plot: in 1840 Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra goes to stay with the family of her long dead fiancé, in a quest to find a cache of letters sent by her sister.  It’s 20 years since Jane died, and Cassandra sees herself as the guardian of her sister’s legacy and image.  What is in those letters – and what damage could they do to the picture that Cassandra has carefully nurtured of her sister?  The story jumps backwards and forwards between the present day – where Cassandra is an unexpected (and not altogether welcome) visitor in a household in turmoil and Cassandra’s past with Jane, where her future looked to be going down a different path.

As I said in my 2020 preview, I will always take a second look at an Austen-related book.  Some of them work better for me than others – I loved Death Comes to Pemberley and still regularly recommend Eligible, but couldn’t stand Pemberley and didn’t even finish Longbourne. This is billed as the untold story of the most important person in Jane’s life and that was the hook that drew me in.  I finished it nearly a week ago and I’m still trying to decide what I thought of it. I liked the writing style and it has some really witty moments – both in the Jane and Cassandra timeline and in the Cassandra and the Fowle’s timeline. I’m not enough of an Austen scholar to be able to pick holes in the accuracy – which is probably a good thing for my enjoyment. But I’m still not sure what it was trying to do – things happened, but I think it petered out a bit at the end.  Several people have asked me about it and I’ve struggled to articulate what exactly the problem was. Thinking about it now, I think that it maybe that the plot is sold as being about the hunt for the letters, but actually when you’re reading it that isn’t as central to the action as you expect. But I did enjoy it – Cassandra’s time as an old, meddling house guest is fun – as is her sparring with the maid. Cassandra and Jane’s relationship with their sister-in-law Mary is fun – as Mary insists that her husband was the better writer, and the sisters wonder if she will spot herself in Jane’s work.  There are some other interesting characters though and Jane and Cassandra feel very real and true.

It feels strange to pick it as a BotW in a way, because this isn’t a whole-hearted thumbs up – and I can’t even explain some of my thoughts about the book very well.  But I have kept thinking about it since I finished it last week and so that makes it worthy of a bit more attention than just a shrug and move on.  It’s also had a lot of buzz – and it’s not often that I’ve read a literary fiction book like this early doors! I see a TV adaptation is in the works, and I will definitely watch that to see how it all translates.

My copy of Miss Austen came from NetGalley, but it is out now in hardback – and should be available in any decently stocked bookshop – as my photo from Heffers proves. It’s also available on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: February 3 – February 9

A busy week at work – including a weekend, so lots of train reading here, hence the growing list of still reading – there are actual books and non-fiction that my brain has been too fried for. Still I have days off now, so fingers crossed…

Read:

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby*

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan*

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

One Enchanted Evening by Anton du Beke*

2019 Holiday Epilogues by Cat Sebastian

Redressed by Cat Sebastian

Blitzed by Alexa Martin

Started:

The Threat Level Remains Severe by Rowena MacDonald*

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg*

Still reading:

Burnout by Emily Nagoski*

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Essex Poison by Ian Sansom

Year of the King by Antony Sher

One book bought, two ebooks bought (including that copy of Love Lettering I mentioned in my post) and two more pre-ordered. And one of my existing preorders turned up.

Bonus photo: I was working all weekend, so I stayed in London, which meant I got to go out on Saturday night. And I chose some Cabaret. I’ll leave you to guess which song was finishing in this photo (hint: it’s from a musical).

Michael Twaits singing

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

Recommendsday, reviews

Recommendsday: Mini reviews from January

I feel like I covered a lot of ground in January already, but there were a couple more books I wanted to talk about quickly before I forgot.

 

Copy of Maigret and the Killer on a bookshelf

First lets start with another one of my airport purchases from the holiday: Maigret and the Killer was another of my airport purchases.  I keep meaning to read more of Georges Simenon’s classic French detective – especially after the recent TV adaptations with Rowan Atkinson and this was an interesting change.  It’s clever and intriguing and more psychological thriller than typical procedural murder mystery.

Cover of Applied Electromagnetism

Over in romances – Applied Electromagnetism by Suzannah Nix. This is a forced proximity contemporary, where the heroine gets sent on a business trip with the office hottie.  She thinks he’s overconfident and rude and he can’t stand her either. But as the trip goes from bad to worse when a storm rolls in, things start to change. I had a few quibbles with the way this was set up to start with, but the longer the book went on the less it bothered me! And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve led what this was trying to do. This is part of a series of standalone romances with heroines working in STEM and we definitely need more of those. I’m going to be looking out for more of them.

Cover of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

There’s one kids book that I wanted to give a mention – Caitlin Doughty’s Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? I’ve read her first book for adults, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, about her work as a mortician and in a crematorium which was matter of fact and fascinating, and I have her second book, about death rituals in different cultures, on my wishlist.  This one may be aimed at kids, but it’s still fun and informative for adults too. Probably not one for the recently bereaved, but I enjoyed it, although I think if I’d read it at the “right” age, it might have scared me a little bit – but then I was very afraid of death as a child! Very good and suitably gross, which we all know most kids love!

Cover of Naturally Tan

And finally a memoir – Tan France’s Naturally Tan. I’m not a big viewer of Queer Eye, but this is an interesting memoir of growing up gay and south Asian in northern England and then finding career success and happiness in his personal life too. I didn’t love the writing style always – but I think it would work really well as an audiobook because of the chatty style. Lots of exclamation marks! Lots of talking directly to the reader! And if you’re a big fan of the program, obviously it’s probably a must read and even better it’s 99p on Kindle and Kobo at the moment!

Voila, four more books that I liked in January and all in keeping with the general themes of my reading – romance, mystery, kids and nonfiction!

Happy Reading!

Uncategorized

Book of the Week: Love Lettering

After a classic crime pick last week, this week it’s a romance – and one that’s had a lot of buzz. The buzz is good, because Kate Claybourn’s latest novel came out on December 31st – and so was too late for anyone’s 2019 roundups, but sort of doesn’t count as 2020 either. Anyway – to the plot.

Cover of Love Lettering

Meg Mackworth is know as “The Planner of Park Slope” because of her hand-lettering skills, which she puts to use designing custom journals for those in the know in New York City. But she has a secret – sometimes she weaves secret patterns into her work, like the one she left in a wedding program for a couple she was sure wasn’t going to last. When Reid, the handsome and mathematically-minded groom, appears in her shop a year later to demand how she knew his future wasn’t going to last, it looks like it’s coming back to haunt her. Grappling with a case of creative block, Meg comes up with a plan to try and fix the situation. As the two wander the city getting to know each other and opening up, a connection develops. But Meg can see signs everywhere of problems ahead – how can this lead to a happy ending?

From the description above, Meg sounds a bit like a Manic Pixie Dream girl – one of those characters from quirky movies with improbable jobs and glamourous lives. She’s not. She’s guarded, anxious, likes routine, hates confrontation and sees letters in everything that she does. Her relationship with Reid is such a slow burn – just to friendship, let alone to more. But it’s such a joy to watch develop. The games they invent as they’re walking around the city, the way it makes Meg develop confidence and her ideas as well as the romance. And on top of that, the book itselfs really well designed – it’s got different fonts and lettering dropped in so that you can see what Meg is seeing in her head. It’s just lovely.

Also I think we can conclude that the tense a book is written in doesn’t bother me – because I’ve seen several reviews mentioning that it’s written in first person present and they still liked it, but I didn’t even notice really. I was so swept away by the book that I was just thinking about what happened next. Thinking back now it does feel like it had a sense of movement and uncertainty that was generated by the present tense – but at the time I wasn’t even thinking about tenses – just about Meg and Reid.

I absolutely ate this up with a spoon. I mean – I borrowed this from the library, but it’s on offer for 99p on Kindle (and Kobo) at the moment, so I’ve bought it so I can go back to it now my loan is up, and I may also have pre-ordered the paperback (out in March) so I can see what the all the different letters look like in the print version. It is so much fun.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: January 27 – February 2

Four late shifts last week – but I was driving part way to work for two of them, which cut my reading time substantially.  But still, some interesting stuff on there (although not a lot of NetGalley progress, oops) and a very easy choice for tomorrow’s Book of the Week.  In case you missed it on Saturday, here are my January stats – and coming up on Wednesday there’ll be some mini reviews of the best of the rest from January.

Read:

Love Lettering by Kate Claybourn

The Prince of Broadway by Joanna Shupe

99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown

Paper Girls Vol 4 by Brian K Vaughan et al

Fence Vol 3 by CS Pacat et al

Wedding Cake Crush by Jenn McKinley

The Mind Readers by Margery Allingham

Started:

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Essex Poison by Ian Sansom

Year of the King by Antony Sher

Still reading:

Burnout by Emily Nagoski*

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby*

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Two ebooks bought – one of which was a copy of something I read from the library and wanted a copy of…

Bonus photo: I had a very boring week, so this week’s photo is courtesy of my dad – and my mum’s snowdrop display.  She has a bit of an obsession…

Snowdrops

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

books, stats

January Stats

Welcome to the first stats post of 2020 and as is traditional, there’s a slight rejig to this post for the new year.  It’s been a busy month in reading and I want to highlight the best bits as well as go through the numbers.

New books read this month: 36*

Books from the to-read pile: 8

Ebooks read: 1

NetGalley books read: 13

Library books: 14 (all ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 12

Favourite book this month: Headliners by Lucy Parker

Most read author: Jenn McKinlay (two Cupcake Bakery mysteries)

Books bought: 11 books (mostly at the airport or in Cambridge…) and one ebook.

Books read in 2020: 36

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 544

A promising start to the year in reading terms, with the non-fiction trend continuing and a good list of NetGalley books read as I work on reducing my outstanding titles.  Less promising in book buying terms, with a distinct lack of willpower at the airport, and no will power at all in Heffers!  I have started keeping a list of books incoming each month though, to guilt myself into being better!

Bonus picture:

A tempting vista of Heffers, where my willpower was at its weakest!

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (1 this month)