Chick lit, cozy crime, crime, historical, holiday reading, romance

Summer Reading Recommendations 2016

So you’ve read my Comfort Reading Picks post, now you want the Beach Reads don’t you?  Well, here we go…


Curtis Sittenfeld’s retelling/reworking of Pride and Prejudice is my top pick for the beach. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of this before it came out here in May and had to restrain myself from raving about it straight away.  It’s part of the Austen Project and it’s so clever.  Sittenfeld has taken P&P and rather than translating it direct to the current day, she’s thought about what the modern equivalent of the books situations might be.  So we have Lizzy the magazine writer brought home by her dad’s health scare,  Jane the Yoga Instructor, Bingley the Reality TV star (and doctor) and Darcy the neurosurgeon.  Kitty and Lydia are crossfit obsessed Paleo fans and Mrs B is a kleptomaniac desperate to marry off her nearly 40 year old oldest daughter. I thought it was brilliant – funny and smart and spot on.  I lent it straight to my mother – I wasn’t sure if she’d buy into the changes the way I did, but she loved it too.  Perfect beach reading – it’s a hardback, but I’m hoping there’ll be airport paperback copies too if you’re buying en route.  If not: Amazon, Waterstones, FoylesKindle, Kobo.

Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins

If you’ve been watching the ITV series, you may already have read James Runcie’s books about Grantchester’s vicar.  I prefer them to the TV version and I particularly like their episodic nature – each book has several mysteries, some (most) involving deaths and some which don’t.  As you work your way through the series you see Sidney grow and mature.  He’s 32 in the first one – which is set in the 1950s, and by the fourth one we’re into the 1960s.  I haven’t read book five yet – because it’s only out in paperback, but if you’re looking for a series to read while sitting in the garden enjoying the British summer, a visit to Grantchester might be an ideal option for you.  I think it would work best if you start at the beginning of the series, but the latest paperback (Forgiveness of Sins) should be fairly easy to find in the shops at the moment. Forgiveness of Sins: Amazon, Kindle, Foyles, Waterstones, Kobo.  Shadow of Death: Amazon, Kindle, Foyles, Waterstones, Kobo.

Fahrenheit Press

Ok, so this is a second crime recommendation – and a much broader one.  Go have a look at Fahrenheit Press’s catalogue.  There will definitely be something that you’ll like.  I’ve already picked Black Rubber Dress, Murder Quadrille and Death of a Nobody as Books of the Week, and I could have added others to that list.  I have their subscription – and I have several books waiting for me to read on my Kindle – including more Sam Jones which I’m saving for a holiday binge.  There’s thrillers, more cozies, historical and pretty much every other type of crime there, all with a slightly different perspective.  I defy you not to find a beach read there – and more are being added at a rate of knots.  They’ve only just started bringing out actual physical books – so the best way to find them is to search for Fahrenheit Press on Amazon – or check out their website.

The Highlander

This is about as close to an Old School Historical Romance novel as you get in new books these days – and does all the best bits of those late 80s and early 90s books, but without the rape and rapey bits I find so problematic.  This is not subtle.  It’s big, it’s melodramatic, it’s very Scottish.  I recommended The Highwayman last year – and this isn’t quite as good as that, but it is very good.  It has governesses and secret identities – which I like – but also an asylum (which I didn’t like and might be triggering for some) and a subplot with a brother which I didn’t like.  I know that sounds a bit less than enthusiastic from me – but it’s not – I kept turning the pages and I was engrossed.  Worth a look if you like your romances Gothic with brooding damaged Scottish heroes.  Amazon and Kindle are probably your best bet for this, as although Waterstones lists the two earlier titles in this series, it doesn’t have this one there yet.

So there you go.  My Summer reading suggestions.  Slightly later than planned (sorry) but hopefully still in time for the summer.  And if you’re still at a loss – I’ve stuck to books I haven’t recommended before, so don’t forget The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts, Sunset in Central Park, The Tumbling Turner Sisters and Jane Steele which would all be great to read on the beach.

Book of the Week, fiction

Book of the Week: The Canal Boat Cafe

This week’s BotW is Cressida McLaughlin’s latest novel, The Canal Boat Café.  With the exception of this, I had a bit of a lacklustre week of reading last week – so I was glad to have something that I enjoyed and could actually recommend!

Paperback copy of The Canal Boat Café
Say hello to my garden table and my copy of The Canal Boat Café!

Summer Freeman returns to the waterside village of Willowbeck after her mother’s death to sort out her mother’s narrowboat, the titular Canal Boat Cafe.  Summer has been avoiding returning to the boat, but the family friend who has been keeping it going has run into some difficulties and needs Summer to take the reigns.  Soon she and her dog Latte are moving on board and making new friends as Summer tries to work out what her future holds and what part the canal plays in it.

This originally started out as a four part ebook story, but is now out in proper paperback format.  It’s still split into sections and there is a little bit of repetition of previous events, but as I was in the post-nightshift, too little sleep, too many hours at work haze it didn’t bother me because my concentration span was so shot!  What it doesn’t have are the big, jarring cliff hangers that you often get at the end of sections in these novelisations – the sort of thing that are designed to get you to buy the next part to see what happens, but are then resolved within a few pages.   And that is definitely a good thing.  That’s not to say that there isn’t drama – because there is, but it happens at the point that it needs to happen for the story – not at where a part needs to end.

Summer and her friends (and not friends) have distinct characters and problems and points of view and the canal makes for a really appealing setting for them all to play out.  It’s a lovely summer read, ideal for sitting out in the garden enjoying the sunshine – and it will probably make you want to go for a walk down the canal towpath, or even go on a holiday on the waterways.

You can get your copy of The Canal Boat Café from Amazon, Kindle, Foyles, Kobo, Waterstones – or like me from a large supermarket with a name that begins with T.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: August 1 – August 7

Oh boy, this week ended up a lot busier that I thought it would.  And the reading has suffered.  I was still quite post nightshift-y at the start of the week – so reading was slow and gentle, and then I did a lot of work and didn’t have a lot of free time.  All this made me tired and find it slow to settle to anything.


Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries by Various Authors

The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber

A Killer Closet by Paula Paul

The Crepes of Wrath by Sarah Fox

The Canal Boat Cafe by Cresside McLaughlin


What I Did For A Duke by Julie Anne Long

The Man on Top of the World by Vanessa Clark

Police at the Funeral by Margery Allingham

Still reading:

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink

On the brightside, I didn’t buy any books.  So progress there even if I didn’t read as much as I wanted.

American imports, Book of the Week, new releases, romance

Book of the Week: Daughters of the Bride

This was a tricky decision, but I had a Margery Allingham as BotW a couple of weeks back so I went for a romance option instead.  And it’s another contemporary romance as well! Daughters of the Bride is the latest from Susan Mallery – who has more books than I can count on Goodreads, even if this was the first of hers that I have read.

Courtney, Rachel and Sienna are preparing for a wedding  – their mother’s.   After their father died when they were young she’s found love again.  But each of the three sisters has a secret (at least) from the others.  Courtney is the misfit – she doesn’t feel as together as her sisters and she’s got a plan to prove to her family that she’s not the failure they think she is.  Sienna’s boyfriend just proposed in front of all her friends and family, but with two failed engagements behind her, has she picked the right man this time?  And Rachel has been divorced for a while now – but as her husband takes a more active role in her son’s life, she’s forced to reexamine the reasons for their break up and whether she’s ready to move on.

I really liked this book – all the sisters have strong stories and have been affected by the death of their father and the ramifications on their lives differently and it is a rollercoaster of emotions watching them work through their issues to get their happy endings.  I had a favourite (I think you always do!) but the other two behind were pretty level.  Their mum is a little harder to like at times – she’s tough and no nonsense and can be a bit self-centered, but as a reader you can understand why she behaved the way she did when her first husband died, even if you don’t understand her (seeming) inability to fully realise and acknowledge the effect it had on her children.

So there you have it – another contemporary romance book of the week and another book that would make a great beach read if you’re off to sunnier climes.  My copy came from NetGalley, but you can get it on Kindle or Kobo, although the hardback price on Amazon is ridiculous (£20.40 as I write this) so don’t do that – it’s not long enough to be twenty quids worth of book!

Happy reading

books, stats

July Stats

New books read this month: 31*

Books from the to-read pile: 17

Ebooks read: 10

Books from the Library book pile: 3

Non-fiction books: 1

Most read author: Mary Balogh and Frances Brody (3 books each)

Books read this year: 206

Books bought: 11 (5 ebooks, 6 books)

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 462 (I don’t have copies of all of these!)

Could have been much worse, considering there were nights in the back end of July!  I didn’t buy too much compared to what I can do on nights, but I did read a fair bit.  Fingers crossed August doesn’t turn into a book buying-fest!

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics (2 this month)

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: July 25 – July 31

I did five nightshifts last week, my brain had hit a go-slow by Wednesday morning and so I didn’t get as much read as  I wanted. Fingers crossed I’m back in normal working order soon!


Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery

Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham

The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by L C Tyler

Ten Little Herrings by L C Tyler

Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander

Buzz Books 2016: Romance by Various Authors


Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries by Various Authors

Still reading:

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink

Those among you who’ve been coming here a while will know that Nightshifts = book purchasing.  I was fairly restrained this time out – two Kindle sequels bought in the early hours and 3 books at the supermarket on Friday after I’d finished when my defences were low…