Book of the Week, crime, Forgotten books

Book of the Week: Death of a Demented Spiv

A short BotW post today, and another week, another crime pick… I just can’t help myself. Crime is also most of what I’ve been reading in the last week.

It’s pouring with rain when a spiv bursts into a pub to say that there is a dead man in a local factory. The body in question is that of one of the administrators at the factory and Inspector Littlejohn is called in from Scotland Yard to investigate when the local detective fails to make headway. What Littlejohn discovers in the small town is a tangle of divided loyalties and dark secrets.

I’m on a run of forgotten detective novels and this one is a good one. The town is cleverly drawn, with economical but incisive portraits of its residents. The mystery is well set out and even if the finale gets a little overblown, you sort of forgive it for the swashbuckling flare it shows. This is my second George Bellairs – I read Death Stops the Frolic at the start of March and I liked that a lot. My only quibble with that was that I wasn’t sure if the resolution of that one was a clever twist or a bit of a cheat.  This is equally clever, but with a solution that feels fairer to the reader and detective that I prefer – which is probably unsurprising given that this is the 14th in a long series featuring Littlejohn and I think that Death stops the Frolic was the only story featuring Superintendent Nankivell.

My copy came via the publisher’s mailing list, but it’s available now for free if you’re in Kindle Unlimited or to buy on Kindle. I can’t find it on Kobo – but they do have other books in the series available.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: March 30 – April 5

Well the world doesn’t seem to have got any weirder than it already was in the last week. I mean we’re still staying home unless we really have to go out and being socially distant when we do, so I’m still reading a lot of books with resolutions. I’ve got a bonus post coming up on Wednesday as I’m on the Conjure Women blog tour – and I’m planning a special something for the Easter weekend too. Stay safe everyone.

Read:

Death Between the Pages by Beth Byers

Playing House by Ruby Lang

Murder and the Heir by Beth Byers

Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Kennington House Murder by Beth Byers

Have Your Cake by Elise K Ackers*

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora*

The Case of the Demented Spiv by George Bellairs

Started:

A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

Murder at the Folly by Beth Byers

The Case of the Famished Parson by George Bellairs

Still reading:

Anna K by Jenny Lee*

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healy*

Unflappable by Susie Gilbert*

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

I’m still not counting my book purchases – because I’m doing whatever I need to to cheer myself up, and if that’s buying a book, it’s buying a book.

Bonus photo: Another socially distanced weekend on the sofa. This is now my standard weekend view.

My knees, covered in a blanket, on the sofa with a kindle

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

book round-ups

Mini Reviews from March

Such a weird month. As I’ve already said, so much has changed in such a short period of time. And yet March seems to have gone on forever at the same time. Long, like January was long, except it didn’t come to an end and we’re still living in the new world. And my reading has gone a bit to pot. Urgh. Also I wrote about quite a lot already. Anyway. There was enough left that I hadn’t already wittered on about that I can carry on my series of mini reviews from March, even if it’s not a #recommendsday post this time!. Voila:

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

Cover of Open Book by Jessica Simpson

OK so one of my main takeaways from this was that Jessica Simpson has terrible taste in men – but this is a ride and a half. If you’re of an age with me, then there’s some serious blast from the past inside early 00s pop music here as well as some seriously ditzy and Valley Girl behaviour. I watched some Newly Weds back in the day and either she was doing a very good act or her ghost writer has done a really good job on this. There’s also a lot of God and religion along with a lot of evidence of those really awful men in her life – her dad is terrible and her boyfriend choices were also not great. I really hope her second husband is everything she thinks he is. Trigger warning though – this deals with alcoholism.

Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu

Cover of Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge

I’ve written about Ovidia Yu‘s Singaporean-set murder mystery series before, but it continues to delight me, even if I had the murderer figured out quite early on. This sees Aunty Lee hobbled by a twisted ankle and fending off attempts from her daughter-in-law to take over the restaurant at the same time as investigating the death of a British expat who had caused problems for Aunty Lee’s assistant Cherril in the past. This has got a message about the perils of internet witch hunts and social media pile-ons as well. 

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

Cover of Love and Othe Scandals

Not a lot of historical romance recommendations here recently, so I wanted to drop one in here. This is a brother’s disreputable friend and Society Wallflower story and it’s a lot of fun. The relationship is a nice animosity to friends to lovers with a slowish burn and there is no unnecessary drama to keep them apart by doing stupid things. I enjoyed it. It would be a good read for those seeking to avoid high angst at the moment!

So there you are – three more book reccs to help keep you going through this current moment. And of course there’s also all the other books from last month: Legendary Children, Murder by Matchlight (and Murder in the Mill-race), Love Hard, You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams, Answer in the Negative and American Sweethearts.

Happy Reading!

books, stats

March Stats

New books read this month: 30*

Books from the to-read pile: 6

Ebooks read: 14

NetGalley books read: 5

Library books: 5 (all ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 4

Favourite book this month: Legendary Children by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Most read author: Beth Byers – a massive glom as you saw on last week’s reading list

Books bought: not counting. There are bigger problems to worry about

Books read in 2020: 97

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 569

It feels like the world has changed completely since I posted this last month. My Bonus picture for February was a blue plaque for JM Barrie near Great Ormond Street hospital in London, that I took during an early evening wander to the theatre. Now the theatres are shut, and we’re not meant to be out wandering at all. And that revolution has affected my reading too. I’ve been stressed and lethargic and also incredibly busy all month.

Bonus picture: spring bulbs in my garden. Because it’s the simple things at the moment isn’t it?

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

 

new releases, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: American Sweethearts

March Stats coming tomorrow, delayed by a day because I wanted to do a quick #Recommendsday post today.  American Sweethearts came out on Monday and I really enjoyed it when I read it a few weeks ago and I didn’t want to be a big old tease and tell you about a book that you couldn’t buy!

Juan Pablo Campos and Priscilla Gutierrez have been on and off (mostly off) since he decided that he didn’t want to be a police officer after all – right after Priscilla had signed up. These days, he’s a physical therapist for the New York Yankees, and she’s a detective – working a tough beat looking after kids in trouble. But she’s not sure it’s her dream job any more. So the last thing she needs is a private jet ride with to a wedding in the Dominican Republic with the one person who knows her better than anyone else. By the end of the wedding trip, they’ve come to the conclusion that it might be worth trying again – but can they work through the issues that have kept them apart for so long to find their happily ever after?

This is the fourth book in Adriana Herrara’s Dreamers series, but is the first of hers I’ve read.  I suspect if you’ve read the other three you’ve seen these two bickering in the background – because this also has plenty of sightings of the previous couples. This is also steeeeeaaaaamy. Like if you were allowed out – and don’t go out, stay home and save lives – but if this were normal times I’d be warning you not to read it on public transport because it might make you blush. And it’s really very good. It’s not so much a second chance romance as an umpteenth chance romance as these two try and figure out if they can put their fractious history behind them and finally make it work. It’s incredibly sex positive, and really natural about that. It also deals with what to do when it turns out that your dream career maybe isn’t the right thing for you any more (or maybe at all) and what you do next when it’s all tied up in your self  identity and your family’s dreams for you. And that’s something that’s more unusual in a romance – we have lots of people finding their dream jobs, or achieving their dreams (and finding romance at the same time) but not so many re-evaluations and people finding new dreams.

So American Sweethearts is out now – my copy came from NetGalley but you can get it on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, LGTBQIA+, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Legendary Children

So, anyone else watching the latest series of Drag Race? I could bore you for hours about my latest obsession. And in fact some of my work colleagues have had to put up with me going on at them as I binge my way through the entire back catalogue (sorry guys). So now I’m going to tell you all about Legendary Children – don’t worry, it’s not boring!

So Fabulous Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life does exactly what it says on the tin – it uses Drag Race – and RuPaul as a framing device to examine queer culture over the last one hundred years. Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez are a married couple who run Tom + Lorenzo – which looks at celebrities, fashion and pop culture and they bring their breadth of knowledge to walk you through the lives and struggles of LGBTQI+ people that have got us to a point where a show about Drag Queens competing for a crown has won a bunch of Emmys. It doesn’t shy away from some of the controversies the show (or Ru) has seen, but to be honest, the show is the way in to the wider issues. This is not a history of what happened on Drag Race and if you come to it expecting that, well you should have read the subtitle better. Insert your own Reading is Fundamental joke here, it’ll be better than anything I come up with.

I learnt so much from this book. The authors say they want you to be googling as you go along while you’re reading this – and boy was I. I look forward to seeing what Google ads serves up to me after this – because my search history is a riot. And I had to go googling some stuff beyond the people, because this is a book written for a queer audience, not the those of us who need explanatory commas (which by the way, is exactly as is should be). Fascinating, clever and touching – and you’ll watch Drag Race with new eyes afterwards. And the first episode I watched afterwards had a actual Tom of Finland mention and I felt so in the know you wouldn’t believe it.

I’m off to worry about whether the ‘Rona will be over in time for me to still get to see BenDeLaCreme in London this summer. You got Dela megamix video because it’s (mostly) safe for work. Tom of Finland is… not. Legendary Children is out now in paperback, Kindle and Kobo and as an audiobook  (read by Tom and Lorenzo!).

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: March 23 – March 29

Another very weird week. I hope you and all of your loved ones are doing ok, being kind to each other and yourselves and most of all STAYING AT HOME. I continue to be a key worker and make my trips in to the newsroom every few days, and every time it seems to have got quieter – which is exactly what should be happening so keep it up everyone.

Now you may notice a bit of a theme with the list this week – and I blame kindle unlimited for making it so that I could just go straight through a series with no guilt about spending money. Anyway I’m still mostly in the mood for romances and mysteries, but I’m trying to mix a bit of literary fiction in there too.

Read:

Legendary Children by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

Death by the Book by Beth Byers

Left-Handed Death by Richard Hull

Death Witnessed by Beth Byers

Death by Blackmail by Beth Byers

Death Misconstrued by Beth Byers

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Deathly Ever After by Beth Byers

Death in the Mirror by Beth Byers

A Merry Little Death by Beth Byers

Started:

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora*

Death Between the Pages by Beth Byers

Still reading:

Anna K by Jenny Lee*

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healy*

Unflappable by Susie Gilbert*

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

A fair few books acquired, more borrowed from the library, very little from the to-read pile read. But it still feels like normal rules are suspended, so I’m being nice to myself about it.

Bonus photo: my mother has reached the tidying out forgotten cupboard stage, so here’s a picture of me and my grandma in a pedalo that she sent me.

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