Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 3 – May 9

Lots of fun stuff in last week’s list. I think I’ve decided what’s going to be Book of the Week tomorrow, but it’s a close one. The weather here has been distintly mixed, which has enabled a fair amount of reading time too.

Read:

Drop the Mikes by Duncan MacMaster

April Lady by Georgette Heyer

Vera Kelly is not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Love at First by Kate Clayborn

The Clue in the Clam by Kathi Daley

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters*

Started:

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal*

Frieda by Annabel Abbs

Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander*

Let There Be Suspects by Emilie Richards

Still reading:

Fabulosa! by Paul Baker

Bonus photo: Regulars around here will know that Elections weeks are always busy ones for me – and this week was no different, so here’s a picture of a polling station sign to represent that!

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

Recommendsday: April 2021 Mini Reviews

Ok, so slightly cheating this month, in that I couple of these were actually finished in the first two days of May, but I’m giving them a bye because they came out in April. Oh the ways in which we deceive ourselves…

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny*

Cover of Early Morning Riser

Jane is a teacher in Boyne City, Michigan. When she locks herself out of her house she meets Duncan – not actually a locksmith, but a carpenter who can fix locks as well. Soon they’re dating – but as Duncan has already dated almost ever woman in town, she never quite feels like she has him to herself. Soon Jane is caught up in a web of relationships with some of Boyne City’s eccentric residents – including Duncan’s ex wife and her new husband. After a terrible car crash Jane, Duncan and Aggie’s lives are permanently linked, but is there actually a different sort of happy to the one Jane was expecting waiting for her if she just looks for it? Standard Deviation was a book of the week pick here, a couple of years back and this is Katherine Heiny’s latest novel. Back then I said that I wouldn’t actually want to be friends with the leads in that, but I think I would like to be friends with Jane – although Duncan would be a bit of a trial to have as a boyfriend! This is warm and funny but bittersweet. It’ll make you laugh and make you cry and then you’ll want to tell everyone you know to read it too. I need to buy a copy so I can lend it out.

The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan**

Cover of The Devil Comes Courting

Courtney Milan’s latest novel is the long awaited third in the Worth Saga, but set on the other side of the world. Amelia Smith was adopted by missionaries as a child, but has always been waiting for her real mum to come back for her. When Captain Grayson Hunter offers her a job devising a code to transmit Chinese characters by telegraph, she doesn’t think she’s the person he’s looking for. But after some persuasion, she decides giving it a go is a better option than marrying another missionary. Grayson is determined to lay the first transpacific telegraph cable and achieve the dream his brothers aren’t here to complete. Convincing Amelia that she’s the missing link that his company needs is a hard task, but soon the sparks are flying between the two of them – even though both of them are determined to ignore them. As well as the romance this is also examining the damage that missionaries did going out and forcing their beliefs on to other cultures around the world. This will may make you feel uncomfortable, but it’s meant to and you probably need to sit with that. I liked the romance well enough, but what I really loved was watching Amelia come into herself and make the life that she wants to have, not the one that her adoptive mother things she should have. And if you liked the meddling relatives in Dial A for Romance, this has a couple of characters who are doing a similar sort of thing – just in nineteenth century China. If you’re fed up of Regency or even just European-see historicals, try this.

Wicked Enchantment by Wanda Coleman*

Cover of Wicked Enchantment

Ok, so let’s preface this with the fact that I’m not a big poetry person. In fact I’m still holding a grudge agains Wordsworth, Tennyson and the Brownings after my A-Levels. But every now and again I venture in and this was one of those times. And it was also my first encounter with Wanda Coleman and it has absolutely made an impression on me. This is a thought provoking and well put together collection of more than 130 poems from across Coleman’s forty career. The order is drawn from Coleman’s own preferences and examines her life and black American experiences as she saw them. It’s gritty and rule breaking and I sometimes felt totally out of my depth. You’ll have to think and concentrate and probably read out loud to understand the rhythm. And although some of the poems are forty years old, the themes and experiences still feel strikingly relevant today.

The Fear-fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones*

Cover of The Fear-Fighter Manual

This is a readable and insightful look at the importance of speaking up for yourself and how to navigate that without blowing up your life or reliving your mistakes forever more. This is dedicated to the author’s grandmother – a formidable Nigerian woman who overcame substantial obstacles, lived her life as she wanted and spoke out when she thought it was needed. I particularly enjoyed reading about how the author’s upbringing – split between Nigeria and the US has informed her perspective and the lessons that she has taken from the strong women in her life and the squad she has built around herself. It is quite American-self-help book in tone at times- which is not always my style, but I enjoyed it and found it just on the right side of my personal line for that. I’m not sure how much of this is applicable to my life – but there are some important ideas and lessons here that I will sit with (as the Americans say) and digest and try to use to inform my thinking and behaviour. Also I already couldn’t wait to be able to meet up with people in person again, but after all the sections about her friends and her squad, that’s only got worse!

An honourable mention has to go to Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, about a murder in fundamentalist Mormon country. I gave it a mention in my post about podcasts when I was talking about Short Creek – and if I hadn’t listened to that I would probably have given it a whole list of its own. But it’s a little out of date now, and Short Creek will do you a lot of the same things, just in updated podcast form – the main change is the Rulon/Warren Jeff’s situation.

In case you missed any of them, the Books of the Week posts in April were Dial A for Aunties (published in May, but read in April!) He’s Not My Boyfriend, Rosie Danan’s Roommate duo, Enjoy the View and Billion Dollar Loser.

And here are the links to the mini reviews from January, February and March.

Happy Reading!

new releases, Thriller

Book of the Week: Dial A for Aunties

As I said yesterday, lots of reading done last week to finish of April. Mini-Reviews coming up tomorrow, but today’s Book of the Week is quite hard to define by genre, but it’s one of the most fun books I’ve read so far this year. And bonus: it was new last week so I’m on time with my review again!

Cover of Dial A for Aunties

Meddelin Chan has always thought that her family are a pain. Her mum and her three aunts are always messing in her life, and not just because they all work together in the family wedding business. But when Meddelin accidentally kills her blind date, the aunts swing into action to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately it’s also the night before their biggest job yet: a swanky billionaire’s wedding at an island resort. An already tricky situations – trying to find a way to get rid of the body and make the wedding perfect – gets even worse when it turns out that Meddelin’s The One That Got Away is on the island too. Can the Chan’s pull it all off: disposing of a corpse, the perfect wedding and getting Meddy’s ex back into her life?

This is just the funniest and also weirdest book I have read in ages. It’s a farcical comedy thriller caper with a romantic subplot and yes that’s a lot of genres but it’s just wonderful. Meddelin is a charming character – she’s trying to figure out how to live her own life and achieve her dreams but without disappointing her family. But when the date goes wrong it turns out that her family have got her back no matter what. The aunts and their bickering is hilarious. But they’re all also very good at their day jobs – which is why the body disposal is so much fun. And yes, as a premise it’s a bit dark, but just go with it and the dark humour all gets balanced out by the fun and frothy wedding antics. And I loved the details about Meddy’s Chinese and Indonesian heritage.

I hope this is absolutely massive – I hope like my future is full of people asking for recommendations for books like this – even though there isn’t really anything like it that I can think off. Think Steph Plum crossed with Aunty Lee, with a dash of Crazy Rich Asians and you’re sort of getting there. the afterword says it’s already been optioned by Netflix and I can’t wait to watch what they do with it.

My copy of Dial A for Aunties came from NetGalley, but it’s out now in Kindle and Kobo as well as paperback. I still haven’t made it into a bookshop, so I don’t know whether they’ll have it in stock, but Foyles are showing copies available to order with a short delivery time, so I’m hopeful it’ll make it to the tables in the end.

Happy Reading!

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 26 – May 2

The end of another month has come – so all sorts of goodies coming up here to wrap up my reading from April. I’ve also managed to get myself in gear and have no long running books on the list for once. Loads of good stuff last week though, so I have a lot I want to tell you about once I get my act in gear!

Read:

Dying for Devil’s Food by Jenn McKinlay

The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Runaways by Rainbow Rowell

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan**

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutano*

Jill, Lone Guide by Ethel Talbot

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny*

Wicked Enchantment by Wanda Coleman*

Started:

Fabulosa! by Paul Baker

Vera Kelly is not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht

Still reading:

N/a

Bonus photo: This week’s bonus post is a rare horticultural success for me. This is our peace lily, which my mum says is now so big it needs splitting. This is a miracle as usually plants only last for a matter of weeks in my house. I currently have four plants alive – a record – and I attribute it all to the fact that I’m home all the time so remember to water them!

A happy and large peace lily

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

April Stats

Books read this month: 32*

New books: 37

Re-reads: 5

Books from the to-read pile: 8

NetGalley books read: 4

Kindle Unlimited read: 1

Ebooks: 6

Library books: 8 (all ebooks)

Audiobooks: 5

Non-fiction books: 4

Favourite book this month: Dial A for Aunties by Jessie Q Sutanto

Most read author: Georgette Heyer with a bunch of audiobooks or Rosie Danan with two new reads

Books bought: about 9

Books read in 2020: 134

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 602

A fairly steady month in reading in the end – Irritatingly the Duncan MacMaster Fahrenheit Zine isn’t in goodreads – even though the Jo Perry equivalent was, so I’m going to have to figure out a way of counting that in future months when I’ve forgotten it’s not in the raw goodreads count. Wish me luck with that! Probably not as much progress on the NetGalley list as I should have, but there’s been a lot going on in the world and my brain has been a little fried. Here’s hoping May is better.

Bonus picture: Some bluebells in the woods the other weekend.

Bluebells in a wood

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (5 this month)