Book of the Week, romance

Book of the Week: Manhunting

Back with a romance book this week – a contemporary romance at the time it was written, but given that that was the early 90s, not quite contemporary now! I’ve written about Jennifer Crusie’s books a few times before and as I read two of them last week it feels like they’re turning into a regular comfort read for me. And I needed some comfort reading. Anyway, to the book.

Kate Svenson is a successful businesswoman, but she’s unlucky in love. She’s been engaged a few times – but found out just in time that the men were only after her (father’s) money. But she’s fed up of being alone and wants someone to spend her life with. So she comes up with a plan: a two week holiday at a Kentucky resort. The Cabins is full of eligible bachelors – surely one of them must be the guy for her? But everytime she goes on a date, something happens to the guy. Jake Templeton’s brother owns the resort and he works there. He’d sworn off women even before he picked one of Kate’s rejects out of the swimming pool. He’s not interested in her, and she’s not interested in him – so why are they spending more time together than Kate is with anyone else?

This is a fun, frothy romantic comedy. You know exactly where it’s going to end up, but there are enough complications to keep it interesting, and the various situations that Kate finds herself in with the prospective boyfriends are a hoot. Obviously life – and technology – have changed a bit since 1993 when it was written, but I don’t think there’s anything here that’s dated in a bad way – which isn’t always the case! It’s just the sort of book I love reading – the stakes are fairly low, it’s funny but the humour isn’t nasty or based on humiliation and you come away with a nice warm feeling inside.

The bad news is that this doesn’t seem to be available on Kindle or Kobo at the moment, but Amazon have a bunch of paperback copies for a couple of quid.

Happy Reading

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: October 12 – October 18

So it’s been a bad week in my Real Life. I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but I’m fine. I’m hoping that next week will be better, but given the way 2020 has gone so far, I’m not holding my breath. Still I ticked another two states off my 50 states challenge list, I’m nearly halfway through my NetGalley list for the month and I’ve got a couple of Bonus posts nearly finished. So lets count them as small wins. Onwards and upwards.

Read:

Vanishing Act by Charlie Hodges*

Lumberjanes: Campfire Stories by Shannon Watters et al

Grave Secrets by Alice James*

Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie

Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump

Started:

Sweet Dreams by Dylan Jones*

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas

Still reading:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

This Green and Pleasant Land by Ayisha Malik*

Jeeves and the Leap of Faith by Ben Schott*

Still not counting, still don’t care

Bonus photo: I spotted this postbox on my walk the other day – and it seemed like an apt photo for this week. Why I hear you ask? Well I’ve been sending a lot of post to people through the pandemic – including a whole bunch of cards to people last week, I’m in a research study about covid antibodies in the general population that involves me sending blood samples by post and one of the things that keeps coming up at work at the moment is postal voting in the US Election. This isn’t the flashiest or biggest postbox – but it is a King George one – which means that it’s at least 68 years old, but could be 100. A pillar of stability in a crazy world.

A red postbox in a wall

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley

Book of the Week, new releases, non-fiction

Book of the Week: The Haunting of Alma Fielding

Lots of non-fiction reading last week. You’ll hear more about the Kate Andersen Brower anon (or you can find my previous writing about her here), but in the meantime, this week’s BotW is new release (well on October 1) non-fiction that feels really appropriate for the run up to Halloween!

Cover of the Haunting of Alma Fielding

Nandor Fodor is a Jewish-Hungarian refugee in 1930s London. He’s also a ghost hunter and he starts to investigate the case of Alma Fielding, a surburban housewife who says she’s being plagued by a poltergeist. As he starts to investigate as part of his work for the International Institute of Physical Research, the phenomena intensify and he discovers Alma’s complicated and traumatic past. And all this is happening against the backdrop of the rise of Fascim in Europe as well as the obsession/renaissance in spiritualism that happened in the post Great War period.

Now although reads like the plot of a novel, this is actually non-fiction. It’s sometimes hard to believe this while you read it though as Alma continues to manifest material affects after she’s been strip searched and put into a special costume provided by the Institute. But it is and its fascinating. Fodor is rational although he wants to believe, but as he develops doubts about Alma, he handles it in a much more sensitive way than I was expecting. I’ve almost said to much here, but it’s really hard to talk about non-fiction like it’s a novel, when so much of whether it works is about the research and the story and whether it feels satisfying. On that front, I wanted a little bit more closure about Alma and her haunting, but I appreciate that in a work of non-ficiton, you can only work with what the sources tell you.

The juxtaposition of Alma’s story and the wider context of the late 1930s also works really well. If you’ve read Dorothy L Sayers’ Strong Poison* you’ll have encountered the wave of spiritualists of the era – and seen some of their trickery exposed (to the reader at least) by Miss Climpson, but this really sets what Fodor was doing and the organisations that he worked for into the wider context. I was fascinated. If you’re looking for something to read for Halloween, and don’t want fiction, this is really worth a look.

Unlike most of the rest of the world (it seems) I haven’t read the Suspicions of Mr Whicher, but reading this has definitely made me more likely to. My copy of The Haunting of Alma Fielding came from NetGalley in return for an honest review, but it is out now in hardback and should be easily available in bookstores as well as on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

*I love it when I get to mention Lord Peter Wimsey, and Strong Poison is one of my favourites, if I haven’t worn you down yet, go and read it.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: October 5 – October 11

Another week where I had a lot of trouble concentrating. But I did read a lot of non-fiction and that always takes more time and brainspace so can’t really complain.

Read:

Baby-Sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey by Anne M Martin and Raina Telgemaier

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

The True Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale*

Team of Five by Kate Andersen Brower

Growing Up by Angela Thirkell

The Memory of You by Jamie Beck

Started:

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump

Jeeves and the Leap of Faith by Ben Schott*

Still reading:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Vanishing Act by Charlie Hodges*

This Green and Pleasant Land by Ayisha Malik*

Still not counting, still don’t care

Bonus photo: My show posters (and the corner of the to-read bookshelf), newly back from the framers. The best thing that happened in my week last week, despite the cost!

Six show posters

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley

book round-ups

Recommendsday: Mini Reviews from September

Here we are again, another month is over, and I have more books to tell you about from my last month in reading. So without further ado, here we go.

Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger

Cover of Furious Love

My love of Old Hollywood is well known and this is a very thorough and well researched look at the relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. “Liz and Dick” were the biggest story in the world when they met and fell in love on the set of Cleopatra (while they were both married to other people) and their tumultuous relationship lasted for the rest of Burton’s live. This was written while Taylor was still alive and with access to her private papers, even if she maintained her stance of not talking about her relationship with Burton after his death. I think you probably need to know a little bit of background before you read this, but probably nothing you couldn’t get from listening to this episode of You Must Remember This or a quick google search.

The Art of Drag by Jake Hall et al

Hardback copy of The Art of Drag

This is a lovely illustrated overview of the history of Drag with brilliant art from a group of authors. The colour palate remains consistent across the book but the art styles are different. I had my favourites but they all had a perspective and a sense of fun and vitality. I was going to save this for my Christmas recommendation post, but that feels like a long time to wait, and I’m fairly sure there are other people out there who have Drag Race and drag show withdrawal and could use this right now

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Cover of Such a Fun Age

This is one of the buzziest books of the year. Which means it’s surprising that I’ve actually read it before the year is out! When a white blogger calls her African American babysitter to help out in a family emergency, it sets in train a series of events that will ripple through both of their lives and families. This is being sold as a great book club book – and I can see why because there’s plenty to dissect about the characters and their decisions. I thought the ending was really quite clever too.

Naughty Brits

Cover of Naughty Brits

Sarah MacLean is one of my favourite historical romance authors and this anthology has her first contemporary story in it. It’s my favourite in this collection, which are all tied together by an event at the British Museum. MacLean’s has a secret duke with a yearning for privacy and a photographer trying to rebuild her career. Sophie Jordan’s has a selfhelp author who is assigned a bodyguard for her book tour, Louisa Edwards’ is a writer who runs into Hollywood’s hottest action star, Tessa Gratton an ex-soldier who is sent to Wales to buy a pub and Sierra Simone a woman who re-encounters the man who left her at the altar. I think there’s something for most tastes!

And that’s your lot for this month. If you’ve missed the previous posts, here are the mini-reviews for the rest of the year: August, July, June, May, April, March, February and January. And just in case you missed them, here are the books of the week from September: The Duke Who Didn’t, Her Last Flight, Death at the Seaside, Thursday Murder Club and The Miseducation of Evie Epworth.

Happy Reading!

*an asterix next to a title means it came from NetGalley, in return for an honest review (however belated that might be) ** means it was an advance copy that came some other way

Book of the Week, new releases, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Money

A lot of non-fiction reading last week all in all, so it’s probably not a surprise that this week’s pick is from the nonfiction list. Just a reminder that the mini-reviews are coming tomorrow – where among the picks is another non-fiction book from last week.

Cover of Money by Jacob Goldstein

So Jacob Goldstein’s Money is exactly what the subtitle says it is – The True Story of a Made-up Thing. It’s a an engaging and easy to understand history of money that goes right from when people stopped bartering and started developing money through to the present day with all the complications that the internet and computers have brought.

Goldstein is one of the hosts of NPR’s Planet Money podcast and has a really conversational style as well as having a knack for explaining complicated ideas in easy to understand language. In this he’s done possibly the best job I’ve found so far of explaining things like bitcoin, blockchain and what exactly happened with the 2008 crash. I mean I came away feeling like I finally understood them at any rate. Be warned though, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find the idea that there will be another big crash or breakdown in the way that we use money just a little bit terrifying and may lead to some googling to work out how safe the money in your bank is. It definitely made me think a lot about electronic banking and the cashless economy. Anyway, If you’re not a person who thinks of themselves as business or money minded, this would be a great primer/introduction for you, or if you’re starting to think about your Christmas present list, this would make a good choice for someone who likes authors like Mary Roach or Bill Bryson.

My copy of Money came from NetGalley, but it’s out now (came out in the UK last week in fact) on Kindle and Kobo and as a hardback. As usual I have no idea whether it’ll be in bookshops, but they should be able to order it for you if they don’t have it in stock. Give them a call/drop in in a safe and responsible way.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 28 – October 4

We’re into October and it feels like this year has both flown by and been never ending. If you missed it last week, her are the September stats. Coming up on Wednesday are the Mini Reviews. As far as my week in reading goes, I’m trying a new tactic around my NetGalley reading – I’ll let you know how it goes at the end of the month!

Read:

A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody

Baby-Sitters Club: Kirsty’s Great Idea by Anne M Martin and Raina Telgemaier

Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger

Money by Jacob Goldstein*

Loud Black Girls by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené*

Bear Markets and Beyond by Dhruti Shah and Dominic Bailey

Mistletoe and Mr Right by Sarah Morgenthaler*

Started:

This Green and Pleasant Land by Ayisha Malik*

The True Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale*

Still reading:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Vanishing Act by Charlie Hodges*

Team of Five by Kate Andersen Brower

Still not counting, still don’t care

Bonus photo: My copy of Bear Markets and Beyond, written by my friend and colleague the wonderful Dhruti Shah.

Hardback cover of Bear Markets and Beyond

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley

books, stats

September Stats

New books read this month: 30*

Books from the to-read pile: 6

Ebooks read: 9

NetGalley books read: 5

Library books: 10 (all ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 4

Favourite book this month: Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Most read author: Catherine Bybee (all three of the Most Likely too Trilogy

Books bought: still not counting

Books read in 2020: 287

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 579

So I started strongly on the NetGalley front – and then petered out when a bunch of library holds came in and library loans started to come due. But two of the ebooks were advance copies from authors (but not via NetGalley) so they sort of count right?! And the physical pile isn’t getting much smaller either. So for October, I need to focus on reading books I already own, rather than getting distracted by Kindle Unlimited and the library…

Bonus picture: Another picture from my staycation at the start of the month – this was in Skipton.

Lake surrounded by trees

Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (3 this month)