Authors I love, Book of the Week, romance

Book of the Week: Moonlight over Manhattan

I was going to save this book for one of the Christmas book posts, but as I didn’t like anything else I read last week enough to write more than a couple of paragraphs about them, it seemed a bit disingenous to call anything else the BotW.  So another Sarah Morgan book gets the nod.  Sorry, not sorry.

Cover of Moonlight over Manhattan
Moonlight over Manhattan is the latest book in Morgan’s From Manhattan with Love series, which started off with three romances for the ladies who run an events company and has now told the linked stories of the three siblings linked the dog walking company that the events company uses.  That sounds really weird and tangential, but it’s actually not and makes total sense if you read them in order.  Moonlight over Manhattan is a run-up-to-Christmas story (as in it’s Christmassy, but not so super Christmas-focused it feels weird reading it in October before Halloween is over and done with) about the shy twin from the Bark Rangers, Harriet, who is setting out to conquer her shyness now that her twin has found love and has moved away from New York to the Hamptons for a while (see the previous book).  Harriet is thrown out of her comfort zone when she ends up dog sitting for Emergency Room (that’s A&E for us Brits) doctor Ethan, whose life is turned into chaos when he has to look after his sister’s pet when his niece is involved in an accident across the country.  Ethan is recently divorced, blames himself and is determined not to hurt another woman.  Harriet had a difficult childhood and doesn’t want to be rejected by a man the way that her father rejected her as a child.  The stage is set.

Harriet is a great heroine and the thing that I really liked about this story is that she gets over her fears herself rather than the hero fixing everything for her.  Yes, she gets her happy ending, but se gets it because she did the hard work herself and not because love magically fixed things for her – or worse because the presence of The Man in her life made every thing better, or even worse The Man did everything for her.*  As a couple, Harriet and Ethan work really well together, bringing out each other’s strengths and supporting each other at times of weakness.  And that’s what I love to see in romances – and in real life to be honest – couples who bring out the best in each other and who become the best versions of themselves with the support of their partners.  Anyway, sappy bit over.

As always with Sarah Morgan, the medical bits are really good and feel like more than just set dressing (she used to be a nurse so she really does know what she’s talking about) and the setting is great too.  I’ve only been to New York once, but I always feel like the descriptions of the city in this series have been spot on.  And as a total bonus, there’s a lot of characters that you’ll have met before if you’re a regular Morgan fan – including a return visit to Snow Crystal.  This does feel like the end of the series this time – in that I didn’t spot anyone obviously being set up to be the next group of people in this, the way that you sort of did at the end of the first three of this – so I’ll be sad if it is, but it’s been a lovely series and this is a good way to finish.  I know it still seems a bit early to be starting on the Christmas books, but as I said earlier Christmas is very much the end point in this rather than the whole raison d’etre, so it’s a lovely book to read in the run up to the season before you get too fed up of it all!

My copy came from NetGalley, but Moonlight over Manhattan is out not and should be orderable from all the usual sources.  Morgan’s books often crop up in the supermarkets and WH Smith’s book display as well.  At time of writing Amazon have the paperback edition for £3.99 and the Kindle edition is £1.99 and the Kobo is £2.99.

Happy Reading!

*Tangent: this is my main gripe with Legally Blonde the musical as opposed to the film.  In the film, Elle is successful because she’s clever, she works hard and she turns out to be good at being a lawyer.  In the musical, Emmett does a lot more of the leg work for Elle and you always half feel like Elle is successful because he helped her (a lot) and underneath she can’t really do it on her own.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: October 9 – October 15

My house has furniture again!  More importantly my books are back – as you’ll know if you’ve read my new State of the Pile post.  But all the unpacking means that I haven’t read as many books as I was hoping for this week – although I have started making inroads into the newly returned backlog!

Read:

Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Fireworks in Paradise by Kathi Daley

Margaret finds a Future by Mabel Esther Allen

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter

Started:

The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin

China Court by Rumer Godden

Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett

Still reading:

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin

And given the state of the aforementioned pile, I’m redoubling my efforts not to buy books and so I have been newly virtuous and haven’t bought anything this week.  Lets see how long that lasts…

The pile

The State of the Pile: October 2017 edition

So.  My books have returned home.  So has my sofa and the rest of my furniture so life is looking up.  However, unpacking meant that it was time to face up to things and take stock of the pile.  It’s been a while since we did a state of the Pile post – nearly year in fact, which is when I first started packing up things up for the initial bits of the house renovation work.  Some of it has been in those boxes ever since, while we saved the money to do the next bits, some of it (the stuff in the top box mostly) got read while we we saving and of course more was added to the pile too.  Most of the time I like to ignore the size of the pile and it being in mostly boxes in a corner for 8 months and then out of the house in storage for another two made that very easy.  But you can’t ignore something and pretend it isn’t a problem when you have to unpack it and fit it back into your house.

Plastic storage boxes full of books
Two boxes are the downstairs keeper shelf. Another two and a half are the backlog

We’ve done a bit of a reorganisation too, so that I’m no longer keeping my to-read pile in a little bookshelf by my side of the sofa with the overspill on an increasing number of piles hidden behind my sofa arm.  Instead, I’ve got the formerly-DVD bookcase for them.  And it’s pretty full…

A very full bookshelf
One very full bookshelf containing the pile

Yeah.  That’s an Ikea half-Billy  bookcase double-shelved with unread books. Well except for the top section, which s going to have some CDs in it when we unpack that box.  It’s a little scary how many unread books I’ve got, but I think it’s going to be helpful or them actually to be out in the open.  Why?  Well because I now have a finite amount of space for the unread stuff.  I’ve promised myself – and Him Indoors – that I won’t let the pile get so it won’t fit in this bookcase.  And being on shelves means that I can organise it and get at stuff more easily, which I’m hoping will help stop me from getting in one of my “I have nothing to read” moods and going out and buying more books because I’ve forgotten about some of the really good stuff that’s hidden at the bottom of the furthest pile behind the sofa arm.

So now the nonfiction books are together, the romance books are together, the crime books are together, the literary fiction is together.  Nothing is harder to get to than the back row of a shelf.  If I’ve got more than one book by an author waiting to be read, the first one in the series is on the front shelf so I read it first.

And in unpacking and sorting I’ve found some books that I’d forgotten I had (not a surpise) and realised that I have books waiting to be read that fit some of the #ReadHarder squares that I’m missing – which is *amazing* because we’re in October and I still have a fair few to go (see September Stats for current progress) and only two and a half months to finish it in!

So, now I’ve been reminded of all the good books that I’ve got waiting to be read, lets see if it helps restrain my book buying urge.  It’s going to have to for a few weeks at least – because there’s no space for anything else yet!

I want to hear from you if you’ve got any tips for managing a book backlog and for restraining your bookbuying urges as I’m fairly sure I haven’t seen the last of the restless feeling of not being able to settle down to a book and having nothing to read!

Adventure, Book of the Week, Fantasy, historical, mystery

Book of the Week: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Lots of painting and filling and cleaning in my week off work, and not as much reading as usual, but in the end it was an easy choice for this week’s BotW – Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog. Delightfully this was a recommendation from a work colleague who thought I would love it and he was totally right. I love it when that happens.

Ned Henry has time-lag. He’s been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s trying to find a hideous artefact in the ruins of Coventry cathedral. But all those jumps have scrambled his brain and he’s sent to Victorian England to recover away from the demands of Lady Schrapnell – who is rebuilding the original Coventry cathedral in the middle of Oxford. The bad news is he has one job to do in the nineteenth century before he can relax. The trouble is, the time-lag means he can’t remember what it is. There’s a boat trip, eccentric dons, drippy maidens, dopey undergrads, a cat and a fellow time traveller called Verity Kindle.

I loved this so much. It’s got so much of my catnip in here: it’s got modern people having to grapple with the Victorian era, it’s full of references to other books – of particular interest to me through thread of Peter Wimsey and Golden Age crime novels – and a mystery adventure plot as they try and hunt down the Bishop’s Bird Stump and prevent the future from being altered because of their actions.

To recap: time travel, history, humour, literary in-jokes and Peter Wimsey references galore. What more could I want?

This was my first Connie Willis book, so now the research is going on to figure out which of her other novels might be my cup of tea. If you like the Chronicles of St Mary’s series, by Jodi Taylor, you should definitely try this but I can’t think of many other books to compare this to (If you have any other suggestions for fun time travelling novels please do let me know) although I think if you like steampunky novels this might work for you, ditto books full of references to books. I need to go and read Three Men in a Boat because that’s a big influence here, and I’ve never read it. I also need to go and buy myself a copy of this because I want one for myself so I can lend it and I’m going to have to give this copy back.

You can get a copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog from all the usual sources.

Happy reading!

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: October 2 – October 8

A week off work – where we should have been going on holiday, but ended up working on the house.  So not as much reading time as I would have had had I been on the beach.  But the list is deceptive – I’ve also read my 30+ first round submissions for #Noirville and I can’t wait to tell you about my favourites!

Read:

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

The Ninja’s Illusion by Gigi Pandian

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

In the Market for Murder by TE Kinsey

Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott

Started:

The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin

 Still reading:

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

 I may have bought a few books – but then I was on holiday and what’s a girl to do? You’ve got to have a holiday book or two!*

*NB actually six – two ebooks and four actual books. 

Some of the Heyer collection
Authors I love, non-fiction, romance, Series I love, The pile

Greatest Hits: My 500th post!

I realised earlier that my next post would be my 500th and it seemed a shame for it to go by without being marked and just be a normal Week in Books. So instead a little bonus post looking at what we’ve discovered in 500 posts…

I think, if we’re being honest we could sum most of my reading up as falling into one of three categories: romance, crime and history. To be honest, sometimes it hits all three…

Romance

Artistically arranged Heyer novels
A selection of my favourites

 

Back in the very early days I wrote about my abiding love of Georgette Heyer so it would be remiss of me not to mention her here (especially as some do hit that trifecta – Masqueraders, Talisman Ring, Unknown Ajax for example) but it’s not just about Regency romances. I already loved Trisha Ashley, but while I’ve been writing the blog I’ve become a massive fan of  Sarah Morgan and Jill Shalvis who both wrote contemporary romances, which a couple of years ago I would have told you that I don’t really read unless they’re romantic comedies. Romantic comedies have become harder to find over the years, but they’re still there if you look hard enough – like Kirsty Greenwood, my old editor at Novelicious who is funny and a little bit rude.*

Crime

Four books
The four books that feature Peter and Harriet

The only way to start this section is with Lord Peter Wimsey. I still love these stories as much as I did when I wrote that post. I still listen to the audiobooks and radio plays with Ian Carmichael monthly. They’re a sure fire way to make me relax at the end of a long day and my favourite of all the Golden Age crime. One of the greatest things about the ebook revolution is the reappearance of some more forgotten classics like Edmund Crispin and a lot of the British Library Crime classics. Another great thing about ebooks are the smaller presses – if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know about my love for Fahrenheit Press because I’ve gone on about it so much over the last 18+ months. And then there’s the cozy crime. My favourites are the ones with a sense of humour – like Meg Langslow and the Royal Spyness series.

History

Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham
Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham

This is actually quite a broad category – I’m using it to cover straight up nonfiction history books, like The Greedy Queen, and fiction set in the past like Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig’s books. A lot of my reading is set in the past in one way or another, which perhaps isn’t surprising given that I’m a history graduate. I’ve learned more about Ancient Egypt and the Victorian rush to excavate it through Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. I tend to stick to books set after 1600, but I do venture back further if something catches my eye. I have a love for the interwar period – non fiction books like Flappers and Queen Bees and novels – like one of my all-time favourites Gone With The Windsors, or mystery series (overlap!) like Daisy Dalrymple and Phryne Fisher, both of which are overdue for new novels too.

 

And all this hadn’t even touched on my love of boarding school stories – new and old – or ballet books, and classic children’s books in general.  Or the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett. Or Gail Carriger’s supernatural world. Or Charlaine Harris’s. Or the Janet Evanovich obsession. And just writing this has made me realise how many great books I’ve read and written about for this blog.

One  of the aims of Verity Reads Books was to try to reduce my to-read pile  I don’t think we can really count that as a success as the pile took up three boxes when it went into storage. But I do think I think more before buying books and NetGalley means I get advance copies of things now, which don’t take up actual space, but obviously mean I have less time to read Books from the pile. But really, there’s no such thing as too many books! Plus I really like writing about what I’ve been reading and chatting to people about what I’ve been reading on various social media platforms, so that’s been a total bonus.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, and here’s to whatever I discover in the next 500 posts!

Happy Reading.

* Kirsty’s Big Sexy Love is 99p on Kindle at the moment and you should totally buy it!

children's books, Recommendsday, Series I love

Recommendsday: The Sinclair Mysteries

For #Recommendsday this week I wanted to talk about the Sinclair Mysteries – as the final book in the series is out tomorrow (October 5).  Regular readers will be well aware of my love of detective fiction and middle grade novels and Katherine Woodfine’s Sinclair mysteries are a great meeting of the two.

In the first book in the series, we meet Sophie and Lily – newly employed to work in Sinclair’s department store which is the biggest thing to happen in Edwardian London since, well, a long time.  Sophie’s father has recently died and she’s having to find her own way in the world.  Lily works in the shop by day and is trying to break through onto the stage at night.  Over the course of the books they gather a gang together and solve crimes, with department store owner Mr Sinclair (think Mr Selfridge) always hovering somewhere in the background.  Starting with the theft of the titular Clockwork Sparrow and moving on to things more dastardly and complicatated.  There is a big bad here, although I can’t say too much about that without giving far to much away.  Suffice it to say that although you can read this on their own, they work best as a series, building to a wonderful climax that pulls all the threads from the previous books together and ties them into a nice neat bow.

If you grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew, then these books may well be for you.  Or for your children if you have them.  I’ve lent (given?) my copy of the first one to Eldest Niece who has been tearing her way through the Famous Five and Secret Seven.  I came to these after reading the first Wells and Wong book – and needing more middle grade mystery in my life and they filled that gap admirably.  I’m sad that the series over – but really looking forward to seeing whatever Katherine Woodfine does next.

You should be able to find these in any bookstore that has a good children’s department, as well as in supermarkets – I got my copy of the first book from Tesco (although I got books 2 and 4 from NetGalley) and I can’t remember where I bought book three.  Anyway, read them in order wherever you buy them from.

Happy Reading!