Book of the Week, non-fiction, reviews

Book of the Week: Pretty Honest

A different pick this week for BotW as it’s a beauty book.  I’ve had Pretty Honest on the shelf for a while – and have dipped in and out and read bits here and there (and bought a copy as a present for 13 year old cousin after reading the teen beauty section).  But the last week or two I sat myself down and read it from cover to cover.  And it’s really good.

Sali Hughes is a beauty writer and journalist.  This is here guide to all things beauty, make up and grooming and it’s really, really good.  It covers pretty much everything – from skin care routines and the best makeup routine for the train to bridal make-up, post-baby beauty and how to look the best you can in pretty much every circumstance.

It’s heavy on text, not on pictures, but I didn’t feel like I needed a storyboard to work out what Sali was telling me.  It’s a little bit having a funny mate who knows everything about looking amazing chatting to you to help you and stop you making stupid mistakes.  And unlike some beauty manuals I’ve read, it’s not trying to turn out clones of the writer.  Sali may prefer red lippy, but she’s not going to force it on you.  She just wants you to know how to do your chosen look the best you can – and be totally confident about it in the process.  What’s not to love?

In fact the only downside of Pretty Honest is that I now have a list of extra things that I want to buy and know I need to do a clear out of my make up and beauty drawer(s)!  I reckon you should be able to get Pretty Honest at any good bookshop.  My copy is a very giftable (and Sali has ideas about that too which I may implement) hardback – but it’s out in paperback now too.  For your ease and convienience, here’s a link to the pretty pink paperback on Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones – all three also have the hardback too.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: May 23 – May 29

This week started quite slowly – but ratcheted up at the end as I finished some books that had been on the go for a while (because they were hardbacks not because they weren’t any good).


Act Like It by Lucy Parker

It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Dead is Better by Jo Perry

Lucia in London by E F Benson

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


The Long View by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Bury Her Deep by Catriona McPherson

Still reading:


And I didn’t buy any books either.  Go me.  I’d be impressed with myself, except that I’m fairly sure it’s not going to last.


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

Book of the Week: Death of a Nobody

The Fahrenheit Book Club subscription comes up trumps again – this time with Derek Farrell’s Death of a Nobody – the second book in the Danny Bird series.  You may remember me raving about Death of a Diva in my Easter Recommendations post but as it didn’t get a BotW then, it means I can do this one now – Hurrah.

So, to fill you in.  Danny Bird runs a pub in South London.  He hopes it’s an up and coming gastro pub, after his attempt to turn it into a gay bar resulted in a corpse.  Sadly he’s being hampered the fact that the pub’s owned by a mobster, who has also foisted an unwilling and unpaid extra employee on him. On top of this they’ve got a post-funeral do to cater for a local girl turned Lady.  Danny’s already been asked to investigate some poison pen letters when a corpse turns up in the loo.  Soon he, Lady Caroline, the Asbo Twins and the gang are in the midst of a murder mystery in high(ish) society.

What I really like about these books is the humour.  It’s snarky and caustic and everyone gets some great zingers.  My favourite in this one is possible when Caz describes Danny as “Poirot on poppers” – which made me attract attention to myself on the train by snorting with laughter.  It’s not graphic or violent – the gore level is pretty much cozy crime – but this is much more fun and sly than stories about bakers or home decorators or country policemen.  Imagine a Gay Stephanie Plum was running a pub instead of chasing criminals, but kept stumbling across bodies and you’re sort of kind of half way there.  Maybe.

And the supporting cast are a hoot too. The dynamic between the pub’s workers is a joy – and the gang have everything you need to make you laugh – a posh bird, the Asbo twins (who do exactly what they say on the tin), a hard boiled bar managed and a gangster’s spoilt little princess with her own criminal tendencies.  If that doesn’t sell it to you I don’t know what will.

Get your copy from Kindle or if you like the sound of it and Death of a Diva and the Sam Jones series, then you might want to look at the Fahrenheit Press Book Club – for a stream of crime fiction appearing through your inbox through the year.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: May 16 – May 22

Another positive week in reading – I’m practically up to date with NetGalley – and I’m continuing to work my way through the to-read bookshelf before I refill from the pile…


The Locked Room Mystery mystery by Jasper Fforde

Rock-a-Bye Bones by Carolyn Haines

Death at a Fixer-Upper by Sarah Hobart

A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde

Miss Mapp by E F Benson

Death of Nobody by Derek Farrell

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Philips


I finished everything I started!

Still reading:

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

The only books I bought this week were travel guides for holiday planning.  I’m almost impressed with myself…

Book of the Week, Classics, new releases, women's fiction

Book of the Week: Northbridge Rectory

A tricky choice for BotW this week – I loved the Ben Aaronovitch that I read last week, but it is the 5th in the series (not including comics) and you really should read them in order.  And I already wrote about the first book Rivers of London in a previous BotW post 11 months ago and I recommended it in one of the Christmas Gift guides.  So it felt a little overkill (so just go buy the first one).  But the latest Angela Thirkell release from Virago was a lot of fun – even if it wasn’t my favourite of hers – but that bar is pretty high!

Northbridge Rectory is the tenth of Thirkell’s Barsetshire novels – they started in the 1930s and by this point we’ve reached the war years.  There are officers billeted at the Rectory, where Mrs Villars is struggling to adapt to life as a Rector’s wife rather than a Headmistress’s wife.  There are some transferable skills though…  Northbridge’s unmarried ladies, widowed ladies and officious ladies are all out in force – taking control of the war effort and trying to assert their authority over each other as best they can.

Thirkell excels in creating believable grotesques – her books fill a similar hole for me as the Mapp and Lucia ones, except that in a Barsetshire novel they are the side dish not the main course.  In this one we get a truly terrible officer’s wife – who has not idea how horrible she is, an old maid who likes to suffer and who has been cultivating a spineless writer who has his own issues,  a vicar who is trying to escape the attentions of his elderly lady parishoners and an officer who doesn’t realise that he’s talking himself into a transfer.

A trip to Barsetshire is always fun and there are some familiar faces here too.  I still think that Summer Half is my favourite – closely followed by High Rising and Pomfret Towers.  I’m thrilled that Virago are reissuing them – even if I’m a little bit annoyed that some of them are e-book only because I wanted a matching set in paperback.  Get your copy from Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones or if you don’t want the paperbacks you can get the Kindle edition.  I’m off to make puppy dog eyes at Before Lunch and try to resist breaking the book-buying embargo.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: May 9 – May 15

Quite a quiet week in reading this week – lots going on in the real world and a busy time at work as well.  You’ll notice I went on a Lorna Hill kick – they were part of that big second-hand/collectable order that I put in with my favourite book dealers a few months back and have been sitting on the side of the to-read bookshelf – so came to the top of the pile as part of my clear-the-bookshelf-so-I-can-refill-it kick.  I think I had read Swan Feather before – but a very long time ago and some of the time line in the Wells books overlaps a lot, so it’s hard to be sure when it was so long ago (20 years I think) so I’m counting it!  The Sali Hughes – which I’ve been dipping in an out of on an as-and-when basis for about 9 months – joins the in progress pile because I’ve started reading it from cover to cover…


Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Northbridge Rectory by Angela Thirkell

Principal Role by Lorna Hill

Swan Feather by Lorna Hill

Back Stage by Lorna Hill

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris


Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

Still reading:

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I continue to exert my willpower to the max – and haven’t ordered any books.  One of the secondhand books I ordered a few weeks back arrived from America this week (the next Charles and Melanie/Malcolm and Suzanne book) so I’m still feeling like things are arriving which is nice.  I’m also trying to be very good with the NetGalley requests too – I’m nearly up to date and want to keep it that way!

Book of the Week, books, children's books, detective, new releases

Book of the Week: Mystery and Mayhem

I had real problems chosing my BotW this week – a fair few things that I liked, but several were sequels where you really need to have read the preceeding book.  So I went left field and I’m going for Mystery and Mayhem – an anthology of middle grade mystery stories.

Mystery and Mayhem
Mystery and Mayhem in the wild! (ie a bookshop)

Now I was attracted to this because it has stories from Robin Stevens and Katherine Woodfine who I’ve read and really liked recently.  But there are lots of stories to like here.  They’re not all historical – some are set right here and now – they’re not all tie-ins to other books (and even if they are you don’t need to have read the novels they’re linked to), there’s all types of heroes and all types of mysteries.

I enjoyed them all – and even worked out who had done it a fair few times, which wasn’t a problem, because the introduction basically tells you to try and figure it out for yourself!  I’ve also got a big old list of authors to go find more stories by now, but only once the pile is shorter obviously.

If you’re a grown up who likes kids books still (aka my kind of person) then this will fill an afternoon nicely.  If you have a upper primary school age kid (aka middle-grader) who has read some Wells and Wong or some Clockwork Sparrow and is looking for something else to try, this would be a good place to find some ideas.  Equally if you’re desperate for your under 11 to get into murder mysteries but you think they’re too young for Agatha Christie (they probably are, I got the heebie jeebies from reading Miss Marple and Poirot in year 6) then this would really work really well for them too.

My copy came from NetGalley, but I’m hoping this is going to be everywhere – I know it’s in Waterstones because that’s where I took my photo – but here’s the link for Amazon, Kindle and Foyles as well.  Go forth and read crime for kids!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: May 2 – May 8

A very profitable week’s reading.  My quest to empty the to-read bookshelf continues – as does the 50 page challenge (if I’m not enjoying it/interested by it by page 50, I give it up).  At current rate of progress I’ll be replenishing the bookshelf in no time!


The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

Mystery and Mayhem by Katherine Woodfine, Robin Stevens et al

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Reining in Murder by Leigh Hearon

A Muddied Murder by Wendy Tyson

Miss Buncle Married by D E Stevenson

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch et al

The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons

Death and the Lit Chick by GM Malliet


Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Still reading:

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

And I didn’t buy any books either.  Total result.  I’m almost proud of myself.  I would be if it wasn’t for the huge pile of books nestling behind my sofa arm!

Book of the Week, books, Young Adult

Book of the Week: Fangirl

This week’s BotW was an easy choice.  I fell head over heels for Fangirl.  I devoured it, nearly didn’t get enough sleep because of it and was annoyed when it broke two of my handbag-books rules (hardback, and at the point I was thinking of taking it to work I only had 150 pages left) so I had to wait longer to get back to it and finish it.  And we should just contemplate for a minute, why it has taken me so long to read this.   Yup. The state of the pile.  Exactly.  Hence my new shelf-reading kick (mentioned in yesterday’s post) to try and get down the pile.

Fangirl tells the story of Cath’s first year at college.  Her twin sister Wren seems to be rebelling against their previous closeness, and she’s struggling to find her own way and place on campus with out her support.  Then there’s Cath’s career as a successful Simon Snow fan-fiction author – the release date for the last book in the series is looming, and Cath has to finish her alternative ending first.  And then there’s her worries about their dad, loving and sparky – but fragile – and now at home on his own.

I loved this so much.  It tapped into some of my own experiences when I was Cath’s age.  I’m not a fan fic writer, but I was a child who spent hours in pretend worlds based on the books that I had read.  I could spend hours out in the garden during the summer, pretending I was in a series that I loved.  Then when I was finishing A-levels I fell in love with a West End show and got heavily into its online community.  I totally identified with Cath as she tried to fit Simon in with her “real” life.   And while I’m not anxious to the extent that Cath is, I am quite shy and I can remember the terror of starting university – and not knowing *anyone* – so I was with Cath as she baby-stepped her way into college life.

This isn’t the first of Rainbow Rowell’s books that I’ve read – I read Eleanor and Park a few years back and really liked it, but this is the next level.  I could go right back and read it all over again.  And I do now have Carry On (the story that Cath was writing) sitting on the pile – and I have Attachments on the shelf too, which I’ll be reading sooner rather than later.

I’m late to the party, but you should be able to get this *anywhere* that is selling books.  Amazon have it in their 3 paperbacks for £10 and it’s only slightly cheaper in Kindle.  Waterstones and Foyles have it too – and I suspect it’ll be in W H Smiths, maybe HMV and perhaps even some of the supermarkets still too. Go forth and read it.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: April 25 – May 1

A bit of an action-adventure-mystery-y week – with a time-travelling romp, a spy romp and cozy crimes among the reading matter.  And a bit of YA.  And some romance.  I need to get my non-fiction reading hat on again though as I’ve been a bit lax in that direction.


A Symphony of Echos by Jodi Taylor

Read It and Weep by Jenn McKinlay

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This One is Mine by Maria Semple

Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinley

Her Only Desire by Gaelen Foley

The Mask of Night by Tracy Grant


The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons

Still reading:

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

One actual book and a couple of ebooks (all sequels) purchased – and I’ve gone on a big kick of picking my next “real” book off the shelf – not the piles and leaving the gaps so I can see progress.  Then I can refill from the pile at an appropriate point and make the pile go down, rather than constant replenishment of the shelf, which leads me to keep adding to the piles.  We’ll see how long that lasts…