books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: December 18 – December 24

Yeah.  This is a day late, but you had a nice bonus post yesterday, so I don’t feel too sorry for you.  And as it’s been another one of those weeks – all reading plans derailed by the need to catch up on Christmas preparations – you weren’t really missing out on much anyway!

Read:

Christmas at the Grange by T E Kinsey

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Started:

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Still reading:

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

French Poems of the Great War translated by Ian Higgins

Meridian by Alice Walker

A couple of books bought – but I blame the stress of Christmas!

book round-ups

Magnificent Meals

It’s Christmas Day and I’m hoping that you’ll all be gorging yourselves on amazing food.  Spare a thought for me as you do, because I’m in the News Dungeon today – working the Big Day so other team members don’t have to (and so I don’t have to next year).  You should be all Christmas Booked up by now, so to celebrate the Big Meal on the Big Day I’ve put together a list of books with fabulous food, fantastic feasts or magnificent meals.  It has ended up being rather children’s book heavy, but hey it’s Christmas and the season for reading children’s books.  Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Boarding School books

I know.  I’ve mentioned my love for boarding school series enough already.  But back in the day, the writing about the midnight feasts in Mallory Towers or the meals at the Chalet School was enough to make Childhood Verity – queen of the fussy eaters – think she might be able to get over her dislike of all sorts of things.  At the Chalet School they didn’t have midnight feasts, but they did have fresh warm rolls – so far so good – accompanied by milky coffee for Kaffee and Kuchen.  Now coffee makes me feel sick* but I was convinced that I would have loved it.  From my memory, basically pick a Mallory Towers or St Clares and there’ll be a midnight feast or a food related mishap, if you want to go Chalet School, try The Chalet School and the Lintons which has a rare example of a midnight feast in the series or start with School at the Chalet for the full on Austrian food experience.

The Harry Potter series

I argued long and hard with myself about what to do with Harry Potter – because it’s sort of a boarding school series to start with but it goes far beyond that.  So separate it is.  Whether it’s Butter Beer or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans or the celebratory banquets there’s something fabulous about the food in the Potterverse.  I was eating a packet of Jelly Beans the other day and came across a gross one (Cinnamon I think) and all I could think of was Dumbledore and the earwax flavour.

Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers

This is very nearly a spoiler including this, but the last meal of Philip Boyes is gone over in such detail in this, the first of the Harriet and Peter books, that it’s forever stuck in my mind. And although for everyone else Turkish Delight is inexorably linked with Edmund in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, for me it’s more about this book.  Not that I’ve ever liked Turkish Delight anyway, but I swear this book would put you off it permeantly too!

Away from specific books and on to food stuffs…

Chowder

I’ve read a lot of cozy crime books set in New England and I think every series has invoked chowder at some point or another.  Whether it’s the local diner where the detective talks the crime through with her friends while eating a bowl or the weird looking out of the way hut that turns out to be the home of amazing seafood, set a mystery book (or series) in New England and someone will be eating chowder at some point.  Try Jenn McKinley’s Library Lover’s series if you fancy some Chowder action.

Ices from Gunter’s

It’s not a Regency Romance if someone hasn’t mentioned Ices from Gunter’s – whether they’ve been provided for a party or an afternoon trip for younger relatives. I blame Georgette Heyer for starting it, so that’s where I’m sending you.  The Grand Sophy has some Gunter’s action (also a problematic depitction of a Jewish Money lender which I suggest you just skip past) and so does Frederica and a number of others.  If you’re Heyered out, try some Julia Quinn – there’s definitely some Gunter’s action in at least one of the Bridgerton books.

And finally, if you’re at all interested in food in history, can I suggest The Greedy Queen by Annie Grey which looks at the food Queen Victoria and her household ate and where it came from.  Really, really interesting.

Enjoy your Christmas dinner – and I hope you got the books that you wanted and will have time to read them!

Happy Reading!

*Long story, but the TL:DR is travel sick child + coffee factory = psychosomatic link between coffee and vomiting.

Christmas books

New Christmas books 2017

It’s nearly Christmas, so here are some Festive books that are new for your delectation as you settle on the sofa ahead of the big day.  I’m working on Christmas Day this year, so raise a glass to me if you’re at home  – as I’ll be raising a glass to all the people who are working and doing much more vital and lifesaving things than just sitting in a newsroom.

Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis

This is the Christmas novella in the Heartbreaker Bay series.  I enjoyed it – but I think I would have benefited from having read more than just one other book in the series.  This is a Christmas-set story that isn’t too massively into the Festive details as well – which I always enjoy.

How the Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews

The things I do for this blog.  Because I read this for this post, I’m now up to date in the Meg Langslow series, which means I’m going to have to wait for the next ones like everyone else.  This sees Michael putting on A Christmas Carol with a full cast – including the twins.  the trouble is that the leading man is somewhat difficult and it’s all they can do to get him to turn up to the theatre on time.  This is as fun and Christmassy as you could wish for.  I think it would work stand alone, but if you’ve read some Meg already so much the better.

A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon

I got this through NetGalley, and although my proof only had one of the three stories I’m still going to recommend it, because although the story was a little melancholy, it was very good and very readable.  If like me you haven’t read a lot of Maigret, now is an ideal time to start – especially as he’s back on TV this Christmas with Maigret in Montmatre.  Plus what’s not to like about 1950s Paris.

Christmas at the Grange by TE Kinsey

I’ve written about the Lady Hardcastle series before, but there’s a Kindle Short out for Christmas and it’s a lot of fun.  I can’t say why without giving too much away, but Emily and Florence are invited to spend Christmas with their neighbours and a mystery ensues.

I still have a few Christmas books waiting to be read – including Heidi Swain’s Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair and Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles by Philippa Ashley.  If you’re a Chronicles of St Mary’s fan, there’s a new novella out on Christmas Day (and there’s a string of previous Christmas short stories too).  If you’re not a St Mary’s fan, the first book is 99p on Kindle just don’t expect it to be Christmasy!

Also worth considering this Christmas, even if it’s not a Christmas book is Hester Browne’s The Little Lady Agency – which is only 99p on Kindle at time of writing.  I’m on the record as having some issues with the last book in this triology, but if all you read is the first one, you can’t go wrong.

It’s all been a bit hectic here for various real life reasons and even this list is shorter than I was hoping it would be, but I think this is my lot for Christmas reading recommendations.  But never fear, Week in Books continues as usual and if you’re all really good, there might be a bonus post or two between now and New Year too.  But no promises.

Happy Christmas everyone and Happy Reading!

book round-ups, Christmas books

Christmasy Books 2017

No Book of the Week this week, instead I have some Christmas-themed books for you to read that are not new.  Some of these may come up on offers as ebooks in the run up to the big day – so if they take your fancy it might be worth adding them to your watch list.

Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

The sixth book in the Royal Spyness series (yes I still hate the name) sees Georgie acting as a paid hostess (not like that you filthy minded people) at a Christmas house party to escape from her own relations in Scotland.  But when there’s a spate of seemingly unconnected deaths in the village, Georgie is convinced that something more sinister is going on and starts investigating.  It would probably work best if you’ve already read some of the other books, but if you haven’t, Georgie is 30-somethingth in line to the throne, daughter of a newly impoverished Scottish Earldom and trying her best not to be married off to a chinless foreign prince by her royal relations.  In order to avoid this, she needs to find a way of earning some money of her own or find someone rich to marry herself. Trouble is she’s fallen in love with the equally impoverished and somewhat secretive heir to an Irish title and there’s not a lot of jobs suitable for an almost royal, especially an almost royal with a scandalous actress turned socialite for  a mother. Enjoy!

One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis

A short but sweet seasonal novella about to ex-schoolmates sharing a ride back to their hometown for Christmas.  She’s always had a crush on him but he has reasons why she’s the last person he’d want to be with.  But being stuck in a blizzard with only his dog as a buffer between them sees secrets come out and a new way forward emerging.  This is part of Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay series, but I hadn’t read any of the other books when I read this and I enjoyed it just fine.  If you haven’t read any Shalvis before, my version had lots of first chapter (or two) previews for other books of hers two if you like it and want to dip your toe in and try more.

A Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan has a Christmas novel pretty much every year – although I’m running a few behind (it’s only a three years since I mentioned trying not to buy this…)- usually a sequel to one of her previous novels.  They work best if you’ve already read the first one – or in this case two – books in the series, but they’re better if you have.  This is the third book about Rosie Hopkins and her sweetshop in the wilds of Derbyshire.  Helpfully it has a story-so-far catchup section at the start for newbies.  Despite the title, it’s not all festive cheer – and covers a difficult, but ultimately rewarding year in Rosie’s life.  I had a little sniffle at a couple of points – and although I had a problem with the portrayal of one character (the social worker), it was ultimately an enjoyably Christmassy experience.

I’ve already mentioned a lot of Sarah Morgan books this year – and in the last few months – but her Christmas romances are rotating through offers at the moment – so here is my review of Moonlight over Manhattan – but the Snow Crystal Christmas books and the Puffin Island Christmas book are also very good.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: December 11 – December 17

The less said about this week the better.  Let’s just move on and get to Christmas and hope things get better.

Read:

Maigret’s Christmas by Georges Simenon

Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookshop by Robin Sloan

Schoolgirl Jen at the Abbey by Elsie J Oxenham

Runout Groove by Andrew Cartmel

Started:

Christmas at the Grange by T E Kinsey

Still reading:

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

French Poems of the Great War translated by Ian Higgins

Meridian by Alice Walker

One ebook bought.  Admirable restraint shown in the face of stress and temptation.  This may not last

Authors I love, Book of the Week, romance

Book of the Week: Suddenly Last Summer

Yes.  I know. This is late.  And short.  But Christmas preps + work + Noirville = stressed and behind Verity.  Sorry.  Normal service will be resumed soon.  I hope.  Or at least if it doesn’t I’m going to cry.  Any how.  It was also a hard choice this week – I loved the new Gail Carriger novella, Romancing the Werewolf, but it’s only been a few weeks since Imprudence was my BotW.  I also read a lot of Christmassy books – some of which you’ll be hearing about soon so I couldn’t use them either.  So this week’s BotW is the very unseasonal Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan, because I read two of the three Snow Crystal books last week, back to back, because they were so much fun.

Cover of Suddenly Last Summer

Suddenly Last Summer is the middle book of the three – the other two are Christmas-themed – and I read the first one in December last year and then the third one last week when it was on offer for this Christmas and I discovered I already had this on my kindle waiting for me. Yes.  I have so many books on my Kindle that I don’t know what’s on there.  I don’t know why that surprises you given everything you know about my to-read pile.  Moving on, so this is the story of Sean-the-surgeon and Elise-the-French-chef.  Sean is too busy for a relationship – not that that stops women from trying – and Elise has sworn off relationships for good.  They had a fling the previous year – and spark is still there.  Will they be able to work things out to get a happy ending?

Well they do of course, because this is Romancelandia, but the fun is watching them get there. The chemistry between Sean and Elise is great – they have a firey passionate relationship that starts out as just a physical thing (or at least they tell themselves that) but develops into something more than they were expecting or can handle.  This also has a really strong sense of place and family ties.  It’s set in and around the Snow Crystal resort that Sean’s family owns and he has a very conflicted relationship with the resort and it affects how he gets on with his family.  Sean loves the place – or at least he does when he spends enough time there to remember how much he likes the outdoor life and the things that come with it, but he hates the responsibility that comes the family’s ownership of the resort and how it affected his father and stopped him from being able to do what he wanted.  Elise is French and is struggling with events that happened in Paris in her past and that is colouring how she makes all of her relationsjips.  Watching the two of them work through their issues – because as always with Sarah Morgan, love doesn’t solve the problem – is really rewarding.

I read this at totally the wrong time of year, but I still really enjoyed it.  In fact it made a nice break from Christmas stories and Noir.  As I’ve said before, Sarah Morgan writes great romances where characters have real problems to solve and where finding love isn’t the protagonist’s main goal – they’re trying to sort their lives out in some way and finding love is a delightful side effect of that.  Morgan is a prolific writer and there always seems to be one of her books on offer for 99p on Kindle – as I write this it’s former BotW Moonlight over Manhattan, which I highly recommend.

Suddenly Last Summer is available on Kindle, Kobo and in paperback if you can find it – Amazon have it, but I suspect you’ll have to order it in to your local bookshop rather than find it on the shelves.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: December 4 – December 10

Still reading #Noirville entries this week and less of everything else.  Still a nice week of reading though, even if I do have way too many books on the go at once as I try and finish off my #ReadHarder challenge.  I suspect this week won’t be much better – because it’s Christmas party week.

Read:

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Christmas in New York by Holly Greene

Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger

Started:

Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookshop by Robin Sloan

Meridian by Alice Walker

Still reading:

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

Runout Groove by Andrew Cartmel

French Poems of the Great War translated by Ian Higgins

A couple of Christmas ebooks bought or preordered, but really quite restrained.