Book of the Week

Book of the Week: The Colour of Murder

Another week, another crime pick, and another British Library Crime pick, so what if it’s been less than a month since I last picked one – I couldn’t help myself because this was so clever and so readable.

The Colour of Murder is told in two parts. The first, Before, is a psychiatric report on John Wilkins. Told in his own words, it sets out his life, his unhappiness in his marriage and his job, his mysterious blackouts when he drinks, and his flirtation with a local woman. The second part, After, is the story of Wilkins’ trial for murder. It’s really unusual for a murder mystery in that for half of the book you don’t know who the victim is and you also don’t see any detection at all. And that is beauty of it – it lets you draw your own conclusions – or perhaps more accurately make your own assumptions – all the while adding more details and information.

It’s quite hard to talk about this book because it would be easy to say too much, but I don’t think it’s giving away a lot to say that John is a massively unlikeable man. He’s unhappy in almost every part of his life, but you don’t really feel much sympathy for his because he’s so awful even in his own words. His wife isn’t much more likeable according to him, but she has all the disadvantages of being viewed through his self-obsessed eyes – as well as suffering from the lack of opportunity and independence that a stay at home wife had in the 1950s. 

I absolutely raced through this, it’s not long but it’s also a massive page-turner. The writing is so clever that I kept changing my mind about what was happening. I read it via Kindle Unlimited but it’s also available to buy from all the usual sources.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: February 17 – February 23

A really bookish week – but lots of nights spent away from home, which affected the reading somewhat.  Had a wonderful time on Monday night listening to Ben Aaronovitch talk to Temi Oh about Rivers of London and his writing. I nearly got all the still reading books finished – but then I had to head down to London ready for more earlies on Monday – and my copy of Bellweather Rhapsody is a hardback and I didn’t have space in my luggage, so that didn’t happen. Next week…

Read:

An Unsuitable Woman by Cat Gordon

Room Service by Rochelle Ayers

What Would Wimsey Do? by Guy Fraser-Sampson

Meat Cute by Gail Carriger

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg*

The Colour of Murder by Julian Symons

Started:

Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble*

Year of the Mad King by Antony Sher

Still reading:

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Three books bought – one impulse purchase online, and then at Foyles for the Ben Aaronovitch talk, I bought a hardback copy of False Value so I could get it signed – even though all my other copies are paperback so it won’t match – and I bought Temi Oh’s Do You Dream of Terra Two too. And then four ebooks bought – including Guards! Guards! which doesn’t really count because I’ve already read it, but I wanted a kindle copy because I love it and it was on offer, Meat Cute (which you can see up above I’ve already read because I have been waiting for this for so long) and She Said by Jodi Cantor and Megan Twohey because that was also on offer, and having read Ronan Farrow’s book about Harvey Weinstein, I want to read theirs too.

Bonus photo: from the aforementioned Ben Aaronovitch and Temi Oh chat at Foyles. They have signed copies of False Value if you want them…

Ben Aaronovitch and Temi Oh at Foyles

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

Book of the Week, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Burnout

Burnout is a topic on lots of people’s minds.  Anne Helen Peterson‘s essay about Millennial Burnout just over year ago started a conversation – and she has been writing a book about the subject ever since (it’s due out in September). This week’s book of the week looks at female burnout and stress.

The blurb for this is: “This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men – and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions and live a more joyful life. The gap between what it’s really like to be a woman and what people expect women to be is a primary cause of burnout, because we exhaust ourselves trying to close the space between the two.” I think this is quite an accurate description of what is inside the book without sounding either too way out or too serious. Emily and Amelia are identical twins – Amelia is a choral director and Emily is a sex educator and between them they explain the science and emotions behind female burnout.

As has been noted in the past, I have mixed results with self help and self improvement type books, but I actually found this really quite helpful. To use an Americanism, it’s quite validating in some ways to see things that you have experienced or suspected talked about in a “proper” book. I particularly liked the section on the stress cycle and how dealing with your stress doesn’t necessary mean actually solving the problem that is causing you stress per se but actually finishing the cycle and releasing the stress somehow. I’ve already started implementing some of the ideas from this, although I actually need to sit down with some of the worksheets on other areas.

I’m also midway through reading Tiny Habits at the moment and the two are proving to be quite a good pairing for me. One is tackling my stress, the other one is helping me figure out how to change a few things about my life without increasing my stress with unrealistic goals or trying to do too much too fast.

My copy of Burnout came via NetGalley, but you should be able to order it from all good bookseller or buy an ebook copy from all the usual sources (Kindle, Kobo). And if you like this, I’ve also read Emily Nagoski’s other book Come As You Are abut female sexuality. And if you’re not quite sure if this is one for you, there are episodes of the Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast for each book with interviews with Emily (both) and Amelia (for Burnout), which will give you a bit of an overview – here’s the Burnout one, this is Come As You Are (NB it’s at times like this I realise how long I’ve been listening to Smart Bitches!).

Happy Reading!

Bonus photo: the very boring kindle cover – hence my use of the Apple Books cover up-post!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: February 10 – February 16

An interesting week in reading and one where I’m really not sure what my Book of the Week is going to be tomorrow.  I’m sure it’ll come to me. It usually does. This week coming I have a lot of earlies and a lot of nights away from home, so we’ll see what happens to the reading list because of that…

Read:

The Threat Level Remains Severe by Rowena MacDonald*

Essex Poison by Ian Sansom

In the Crypt with a Candlestick by Daisy Waugh*

World of Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies

Year of the King by Antony Sher

The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long

Burnout by Emily Nagoski*

Started:

An Unsuitable Woman by Cat Gordon

Still reading:

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg*

I wish I could say that I was restrained last week and didn’t buy any books, but I can’t.  Little Sister is stuck in China with nothing to do, so I bought a bunch of Kindle Daily Deals because we share a kindle account. Also the prequel for Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series came out so I had to buy that too.

Bonus photo: Regular readers will be aware of my love of Terry Pratchett – and so this week’s bonus is the Discworld Emporium’s Valentine’s message from the Guild of Seamstresses – which my sister sent me andwhich made me laugh a lot.

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

Book of the Week, new releases

Book of the Week: Miss Austen

So a bit of a strange week in reading.  I really enjoyed Alexa Martin’s Blitzed – but I gave a rave to Intercepted in May last year, so it’s inside my statute of limitations for repeats really.  There were a few things that I really didn’t like and a few more that I was a bit ho-hum about. But I also finished Miss Austen – which I wrote about in my 2020 preview post, so I thought I ought to revisit it now I have some thoughts.

Miss Austen: Spotted in the wild in Heffers at the end of January

So, the plot: in 1840 Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra goes to stay with the family of her long dead fiancé, in a quest to find a cache of letters sent by her sister.  It’s 20 years since Jane died, and Cassandra sees herself as the guardian of her sister’s legacy and image.  What is in those letters – and what damage could they do to the picture that Cassandra has carefully nurtured of her sister?  The story jumps backwards and forwards between the present day – where Cassandra is an unexpected (and not altogether welcome) visitor in a household in turmoil and Cassandra’s past with Jane, where her future looked to be going down a different path.

As I said in my 2020 preview, I will always take a second look at an Austen-related book.  Some of them work better for me than others – I loved Death Comes to Pemberley and still regularly recommend Eligible, but couldn’t stand Pemberley and didn’t even finish Longbourne. This is billed as the untold story of the most important person in Jane’s life and that was the hook that drew me in.  I finished it nearly a week ago and I’m still trying to decide what I thought of it. I liked the writing style and it has some really witty moments – both in the Jane and Cassandra timeline and in the Cassandra and the Fowle’s timeline. I’m not enough of an Austen scholar to be able to pick holes in the accuracy – which is probably a good thing for my enjoyment. But I’m still not sure what it was trying to do – things happened, but I think it petered out a bit at the end.  Several people have asked me about it and I’ve struggled to articulate what exactly the problem was. Thinking about it now, I think that it maybe that the plot is sold as being about the hunt for the letters, but actually when you’re reading it that isn’t as central to the action as you expect. But I did enjoy it – Cassandra’s time as an old, meddling house guest is fun – as is her sparring with the maid. Cassandra and Jane’s relationship with their sister-in-law Mary is fun – as Mary insists that her husband was the better writer, and the sisters wonder if she will spot herself in Jane’s work.  There are some other interesting characters though and Jane and Cassandra feel very real and true.

It feels strange to pick it as a BotW in a way, because this isn’t a whole-hearted thumbs up – and I can’t even explain some of my thoughts about the book very well.  But I have kept thinking about it since I finished it last week and so that makes it worthy of a bit more attention than just a shrug and move on.  It’s also had a lot of buzz – and it’s not often that I’ve read a literary fiction book like this early doors! I see a TV adaptation is in the works, and I will definitely watch that to see how it all translates.

My copy of Miss Austen came from NetGalley, but it is out now in hardback – and should be available in any decently stocked bookshop – as my photo from Heffers proves. It’s also available on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: February 3 – February 9

A busy week at work – including a weekend, so lots of train reading here, hence the growing list of still reading – there are actual books and non-fiction that my brain has been too fried for. Still I have days off now, so fingers crossed…

Read:

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby*

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan*

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

One Enchanted Evening by Anton du Beke*

2019 Holiday Epilogues by Cat Sebastian

Redressed by Cat Sebastian

Blitzed by Alexa Martin

Started:

The Threat Level Remains Severe by Rowena MacDonald*

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg*

Still reading:

Burnout by Emily Nagoski*

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Essex Poison by Ian Sansom

Year of the King by Antony Sher

One book bought, two ebooks bought (including that copy of Love Lettering I mentioned in my post) and two more pre-ordered. And one of my existing preorders turned up.

Bonus photo: I was working all weekend, so I stayed in London, which meant I got to go out on Saturday night. And I chose some Cabaret. I’ll leave you to guess which song was finishing in this photo (hint: it’s from a musical).

Michael Twaits singing

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

Recommendsday, reviews

Recommendsday: Mini reviews from January

I feel like I covered a lot of ground in January already, but there were a couple more books I wanted to talk about quickly before I forgot.

 

Copy of Maigret and the Killer on a bookshelf

First lets start with another one of my airport purchases from the holiday: Maigret and the Killer was another of my airport purchases.  I keep meaning to read more of Georges Simenon’s classic French detective – especially after the recent TV adaptations with Rowan Atkinson and this was an interesting change.  It’s clever and intriguing and more psychological thriller than typical procedural murder mystery.

Cover of Applied Electromagnetism

Over in romances – Applied Electromagnetism by Suzannah Nix. This is a forced proximity contemporary, where the heroine gets sent on a business trip with the office hottie.  She thinks he’s overconfident and rude and he can’t stand her either. But as the trip goes from bad to worse when a storm rolls in, things start to change. I had a few quibbles with the way this was set up to start with, but the longer the book went on the less it bothered me! And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve led what this was trying to do. This is part of a series of standalone romances with heroines working in STEM and we definitely need more of those. I’m going to be looking out for more of them.

Cover of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

There’s one kids book that I wanted to give a mention – Caitlin Doughty’s Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? I’ve read her first book for adults, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, about her work as a mortician and in a crematorium which was matter of fact and fascinating, and I have her second book, about death rituals in different cultures, on my wishlist.  This one may be aimed at kids, but it’s still fun and informative for adults too. Probably not one for the recently bereaved, but I enjoyed it, although I think if I’d read it at the “right” age, it might have scared me a little bit – but then I was very afraid of death as a child! Very good and suitably gross, which we all know most kids love!

Cover of Naturally Tan

And finally a memoir – Tan France’s Naturally Tan. I’m not a big viewer of Queer Eye, but this is an interesting memoir of growing up gay and south Asian in northern England and then finding career success and happiness in his personal life too. I didn’t love the writing style always – but I think it would work really well as an audiobook because of the chatty style. Lots of exclamation marks! Lots of talking directly to the reader! And if you’re a big fan of the program, obviously it’s probably a must read and even better it’s 99p on Kindle and Kobo at the moment!

Voila, four more books that I liked in January and all in keeping with the general themes of my reading – romance, mystery, kids and nonfiction!

Happy Reading!