Book of the Week, Forgotten books

Book of the Week: The Young Pretenders

I said yesterday that I thought I was going to set a new record for the number of authors I’d already featured in the list, but today’s BotW pick is one of the exceptions. But it was also last months book from my Persephone subscription which is turning out to be one of the best gifts I have recently been given. Thoroughly recommend.

Set in the mid 1890s, The Young Pretenders is the story of two children, Teddy and his younger sister Babs. At the start of the book they are told that their grandma has died and find out that they’re going to move to London to live with their aunt and uncle while they wait for their parents to return from India. Having done pretty much as they wanted in the countryside – including basically running wild in the garden – the adjustment to city is not an easy one, especially for five year old Babs, our heroine. She is described as a grubby sturdy little girl, and not the cherubic blonde Angel that her aunt Eleanor was hoping for. And as if that wasn’t enough, Babs has an unerring knack of saying exactly the wrong thing to her aunt. For Babs has no idea how to fit in in the artificial world of London – and no idea what she is expected to do or say. So she just does what she thinks or says what she has heard the adults say and it lands her in trouble.

This was written for children, but is absolutely a book that adults will adore. I mean I did, but also adults who don’t usually read children’s books. For children Babs’s missteps will be nothing but funny. For adults you see her stumbling through her new life and assess the mistakes and weaknesses of the adults around her. It’s hard to explain what I mean without given massive spoilers, so you’ll have to trust me on this. I enjoyed it so much I read it in one evening, it would have been one sitting, but I started in the sofa and then carried on reading it when I went to bed and consequently got less sleep than I should have done.

As I said, my copy was part of my Persephone subscription picks from and you can get it direct from them but you can get Persephone Books from good book shops too – like Foyles.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 23 – May 29

Happy Monday everyone. It’s a three day week here in the UK because we have bank holidays for the Queen’s Jubilee at the end of the week. And we’re not the only country with holidays this week – it’s Memorial day in the US today. Anyway, as far as my week goes, this may be a new record for books that I’ve already written about as well as authors I’ve written about before. Still not making massive inroads into the still reading list – I’m going to blame the Vicky Bliss binge for that as well as the ongoing Phryne re-read. I’ll try and do better this week. If the weather continues to be nice, I might even get the Hammock out for some reading time! I’m down in London for a couple of nights this week – I have theatre tickets – so who knows what the end of month list will look like, and the end of week list, but hey, all books and no play makes Verity a dull girl.


Attack and Delay by Andrew Cartmel

Deep Water ed Martin Edwards

Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr

The Young Pretenders by Edith Henrietta Fowler

Death on a Midsummer Night by Kerry Greenwood

Trojan Gold by Elizabeth Peters

Miss Moriarty, I Presume by Sherry Thomas

Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters


Jumping Jenny by Anthony Berkeley

Mirror Lake by Juneau Black*

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan*

Still reading:

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare*

Cinderella Goes to the Morgue by Nancy Spain

One ebook and that’s it. Very restrained. I’m amazed at me.

Bonus photo: I do love peonies. The plant in the garden only ever produces about two flowers, but luckily, my monthly bouquet of flowers included them this month, and aren’t they beautiful?

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


not a book

Monaco baby!

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow, but today is the Monaco Grand Prix and I can’t resist writing about it. If you only recognise one Formula One circuit, it’ll probably be Monaco. The street circuit it incredibly distinctive and although the races might not be the most exciting and don’t have the most overtaking, for glamour and glitz it’s unmatched.

Here I am standing on the hairpin when went there three years ago. It was week or so after the race and they were still dismantling the track and it was genuinely one of the thrills of my life. In person it’s even smaller than you expect and some of the buildings are not as fancy as you expect but walking the circuit was amazing. And then we drove it too.

If you ever get the chance to go to visit do it, just maybe go for the day – it’s as insanely expensive as you expect! And in the meantime, once you’ve watched the race, you can watch last season’s Drive to Survive!


Bookshelfie: Twentieth Century (mostly) mystery

Say hello to the Peter Wimsey collection and its current shelf mates. Fun fact: the Margery Allingham*, Gladys Mitchell and Edmund Crispin books used to live on this shelf too, but they got bumped down to the Ngaio Marsh shelf when the British Library crime classics collection got too big – the gap is because there are a couple of books out on loan – BLCCs with my dad and Miss Buncle’s Book with my sister. But as you can see we’re getting tight for space again – especially as I’m getting a new Persephone Book a month at the moment from Little Sis – so this is going to be in need of another reorganisation soon. I can already feel that it’s going to be complicated – it’s one of the narrower shelves in the book case so it looks nicer with shorter books, but I also like to keep similar books together and I’m getting to a point where that’s going to be tricky. Yes, deeply first world problems. I know. Wish me luck. I’ll show you a picture when it’s done…

* Margery Allingham may make an appearance in one of the Nicola Upson Josephine Tey books…

bingeable series, historical, mystery

Bingeable series: Lady Emily

Another historical mystery series this week, because it’s been oh, two whole weeks since I did a historical mystery (as opposed to just a mystery). This week I’m moving a bit further back in time than the 1930s to talk about Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series of late Victorian (and eventually early Edwardian) mysteries.

In the first book in the series we meet Emily Ashton, who only married her husband to escape her mother and then was widowed six months later when he was killed in an accident on safari. But two years after his death, she discovers that the man she thought was indifferent to her at best was actually in love with her and she becomes fascinated with this new perspective on him. His journals also reveal him to be a collector with an interest in antiquities and she starts to learn more about them to try and understand him more. And of course then she’s drawn into danger and secrets and stolen artefacts and we go from there.

There are now fifteen books in the series (with a sixteenth coming in the autumn) following Emily as she moves through Victorian society in town and in the country, at home and abroad, solving mysteries wherever she goes. There is a romantic subplot through the first few novels before Emily remarries and becomes part of a duo – and gains a bit of diplomatic status to help her on her way. There are a few similar lady detective type series set in this period, and these ones tend towards the creepier and suspension end of the range. They also don’t really have the same wit as my favourite Lady Julia Grey, and the love interest here is not Brisbane. But they are a very fun way to pass an afternoon and very easy to move on from one to the next.

I’ve read thirteen of the fifteen currently available – with the first two on kindle and the rest paperback. The only reason I haven’t read the latest ones is that they haven’t crossed my path at a sensible price yet – or via the library. They’re sitting on my kindle watch list waiting though. And I live in hope that eventually the later books in the series will turn up in The Works the way the earlier thirteen did.

You can pick these up on Kindle fairly easily – book 1 (And Only To Deceive) is £1.99 as I write this and although you should really read them in order, I have to point out that Dangerous to Know (book 5) is only 99p!

Happy Friday!

life update

Thursday reading?

It’s been a long week already hasn’t it? We woke up on Wednesday morning to another school shooting in the US and it’s all feeling pretty bleak. I wanted to have something about a new release to write about today, but instead I carried on reading the fourth Vicky Bliss so I haven’t finished either of the options I had. I regret nothing. Instead I’m going to drop a link here to my escapist reading post from back in Peak Covid times, and go back to Vicky’s adventures.

Stay safe everyone.

Updated: One of my book deal emails has just dropped and the new Nicola Upson book, Dear Little Corpses, is 99p on Kindle today, so if you liked the sound of that series in my Josephine Tey mystery series post, then there’s that there for you!

mystery, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: More British Library Crime Classics!

One of the consequences of the Great Steam Scald of Sunday was reading some more of British Library Crime Classics while I couldn’t hold a paperback. Of course as soon as I could I abandoned them in favour of Attack and Decay. But I’ve been planning this post for a while and I’ve now finished the other books I wanted to review so here we are!

Post after Post-Morton by E C R Lorac

When a member of a family of writers dies, it is initially thought to be a suicide – until her brother receives a letter from the deceased, which had got delayed in the post. He calls in Superintendent Macdonald to find out the truth behind his sister’s death. I’ve reviewed a couple of Lorax’s books here before (These Names Make Clues, Murder by Matchlight and Murder in the Mill Race as well as Crossed Skis under one of her other pen names ), and this one is right up there. It has plenty of twists and turns as Macdonald tries to prove whether it was murder or suicide.

The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude

Fancy a murder carried out with a bow and arrow? Read this! There’s no shortage of suspects either as several residents of the titular square are keen archers and the murdered man is very unpopular. Solving this is Superintendent Meredith (last seen on this blog in The Lake District Murder) helping out a friend while on holiday. The setting is part of the charm of this – you can really picture the houses clustered around the square and their residents and their resentments and jealousies.

Deep Waters edited by Martin Edwards

This is one of the BLCC’s themed collections – all of the stories here have a nautical theme. There are a bunch of names in this who I have read full length novels from, but by a miracle not any of the other three authors in this post! There is also a huge range of styles of mystery – the authors including Arthur Conan Doyle, Christopher St John Sprigg, Edmund Crispin, Michael Innes and more. They also tend towards the shorter end so if you don’t like one it’s over quickly!

Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr

A blazing body is seen running around in the battlement of Castle Skull near Koblenz – but who did it. The castle is a maze of passages and awash with legends and stories of magic and ghosts. There is a small pool of suspects, and two detectives competing to solve figure it all out. This is the least Verity of all of these – but I include it because although it’s not precisely my thing, it is a good creepy, chillery, thrillery mystery. Atmospheric is probably the word.

All of these were in Kindle Unlimited when I read them, so if you keep a list of books to borrow from that, otherwise the British Library shop is doing Three for Two on the paperback versions.


Book of the Week, mystery, new releases

Book of the Week: Attack and Decay

Yes yes I know, so many rules broken here – I finished this on Monday AND I wrote about the series on Friday, so this is a short post today.

The latest book in the series sees our intrepid crew making a trip to Sweden so the Vinyl Detective can assess and acquire a rare audiophile copy of a controversial death metal record. There’s no hunting involved – they know where the record is and the owner is prepared to sell it to them, so this should be a nice easy trip, with plenty of time to scour the local charity shops for records, designer clothes and crime fiction novels, right? Wrong. Soon bodies are turning up in various gruesome ways – and it looks like the killer is taking his inspiration not from the Scandi Noir but from the death metal.

The mystery is good, the gang is fun, the residents of the town add to that, the writing is witty and the references to crime novels are great. I’m assuming there are some death metal references in there too, but I know even less about that genre than I did about folk music! The only downside of having read this in week of release is that now I have to wait until the next one comes. Still at least my dad can borrow it now – I hadn’t finished it when he came over at the weekend and so he has to go home empty handed!

As I said on Friday, you should be able to get these from any good bookshop, but I do suggest reading the series in order.

NB – Rules broken today:

  • Finished on a Monday
  • Not the first in the series
  • Repeating an author too soon
  • Repeating a series too soon

I reckon you could probably count it as two – because three of them are around repeats of different types right?!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 16 – May 22

So. Here’s a funny thing. My week in reading was going swimmingly, until Sunday afternoon, when I managed to give myself a steam scald on my thumb while doing the ironing (while watching Miss Marple) which meant I spent the rest of the day with my left hand wrapped in an ice pack and couldn’t hold a paperback. So that meant I couldn’t finish either Attack and Delay or Miss Moriarty, I Presume, and thus this week’s list looks shorter than I was expecting. I also have a slight problem for my book of the week pick tomorrow, because everything I did finish is either a reread or something that I didn’t quite like enough to recommend. So watch this space people….


Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters

Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood

A Comedian Dies by Simon Brett

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J Taylor*

Urn Burial by Kerry Greenwood

Silhouette in Scarlet by Elizabeth Peters


Attack and Delay by Andrew Cartmel

Cinderella Goes to the Morgue by Nancy Spain

Deep Water ed Martin Edwards

Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr

Still reading:

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare*

Miss Moriarty, I Presume by Sherry Thomas

Very well behaved, nothing bought, but then given the size of the Books Incoming pile, that’s probably a good thing!

Bonus photo: Another week on, and the blossoms are all gone. So pretty, but over so fast!

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


not a book

Not a Book: Hot Fuzz

Happy Sunday everyone. Another movie post today, because why not! It’s been the sort of week where I fancy watching a film that I know is going to make me laugh, and Hot Fuzz is one of my favourites from more recent times. And yes, I know that it’s closer to 20 years old than it is to ten now and I’m desperately trying to ignore that fact.

Hot Fuzz is the second in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy and is a comedy buddy cop action film. When overachieving PC Nicholas Angel is promoted to sergeant, it comes with a move to a small town in Gloucester. When he gets there, he’s frustrated by his new colleagues and their lazy ways and focus on keeping crime stats low rather than enforcing the law. Then a series of gruesome murders takes place and he starts investigating, dragging his reluctant new partner (and son of the Inspector) Danny along with him.

This references so many cop films you wouldn’t believe. And I know I haven’t spotted all of them because cop movies aren’t one of my main genres. But it’s incredibly funny even if you haven’t. There are so many lines from this that will just stick in your head for ever more. The trouble is, most of them have swear words in them so when I was trying to pick one for this post it got tricky. In the end I picked this one and had to leave out who says it because that’s a slight spoiler!

You’re not seriously going to believe this man are you? Are you? He isn’t even from round here!

Hot Fuzz

It’s one of those movies where once you’ve seen it, if you come across it on TV you’ll just end up watching it again. And you can find it on an ITV channel every other week. Although we did discover when we found it on Sky Movies that there are a few shots that the ITV edit leaves out – mostly in the mug shot sequence near the end. It’s also got an amazing cast: Simon Pegg before he was in Star Trek, Olivia Colman long before she won an Oscar, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Martin Freeman and possibly the most famous Cate Blanchett cameo in film! Oh and there’s chases like this:

Anyway, if you’re having the sort of week where you need to watch lots of shootings in incongruous settings with plenty of one liners, this is my choice.

We just sat through three hours of so-called acting constable and their kiss was the only convincing moment of it.

Nicholas Angel

Happy Sunday everyone