books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: October 24 – October 30

So as you’ll see, there is a massive Harper Connelly binge as the start of the week and a weekend away at the end of it. And I still managed to get some other stuff read and made progress on the long runners even if you can’t tell that from the list. So it’s a net yay me. And this is the end of October, so we have all the usual things coming up this week for your delectation.


Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris

Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Willis Crofts

Rooted in Deceit by Wendy Tyson

Some Hauntings Never Go Out of Fashion by Rose Betancourt

When Stars Collide by Susan Elizabeth Philips


Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan*

Dashing through the Snowbirds by Donna Andrews

Still reading:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra*

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatio Sancho by Paterson Joseph*

The Empire by Michael Ball*

One book bought – but I was going on holiday so it’s practically a requirement!

Bonus photo: some monastic ruins and historic buildings out the back of Canterbury Cathedral cloister. I love a good cathedral.

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

film, not a book

Not a Book: Addams Family movies

I’m finishing the Halloween-y themed posts with two of my favourite films of the early 90s that also happen to be very weird and the perfect films to watch at this time of year – whether you’re an adult or a kid.

So the films in question are the early 1990s live action Addams family movies, which I think are pretty much the perfect kids scary movies where there is something for the adults too. My favourite is Addams Family Values, for reasons which I will come to but they are both pretty blooming brilliant. I had watched some of the black and white TV series (although I think I had seen more of the Munsters than the Addams) but never read any of the actual cartoon strips so the characters existed to me already – but these movies are the way I see them in my head. Angélica Huston and Raul Julia are Morticia and Gomez to me and their relationship is a perfect alchemy of creepy and nuts about each other.

The plot of the first film sees the reappearance of Gomez’s long lost brother Fester – or is he? He’s in train with two con artists who have designs on the Addams’ house and wealth. I nearly said that the plot is quite thin, and that it does a lot of establishing of the characters, but there is actually quite a lot of plot it just doesn’t always seem to hang together very well, but it does keep you guessing about whether “Fester” is or isn’t the long lost brother.

Now to the sequel, and first the plot: Morticia has had a new baby and brings in a nanny to help. Uncle Fester falls in love with the nanny, but is she all she seems? Each strand of this is great – Fester and Debbie, Debbie and the kids, the kids at summer camp. I prefer the sequel partly because it has a better plot and I think it has better one liners, but also because I think the holiday camp section is just brilliant – it does everything you could want if you have ever read a book about an American summer camp (or watched the Hayley Mills Parent Trap). I defy anyone to come away from this without having laughed at something.

These are on tv fairly regularly – and I think they will be in the next few days, but you can rent them from some of the steaming services too. You won’t regret it. And here’s some summer camp to show you what I mean!

book related

Books in the Wild: Sainsbury’s Colchester

Did I do a sweep of the supermarket book selection when I was in Essex last week. Of course I did. Was it super weird that the Sainsbury’s I used to shop in was knocked down a decade ago and there’s a completely new one a little bit across and they’ve completely rearranged all the roads at the retail park I used to go to on the way home from work? Absolutely. Did I feel really old? Yes. Did I also recreate my old commute by playing the music I used to have in my CD player back then? Ummmm. Does this mean I have had There Once Was A Man from The Pajama Game stuck in my head for more than a week? Yes.

Let’s start with the Christmas memoirs – which is basically what the hardback section is at the moment – including the Richard E Grant I read on holiday and the Alan Rickman that I’m torn about whether I want to read or not – although to be fair there’s also the Big Name Fiction, including the Michael Ball that I’m reading at the moment.

That mix of celeb Christmas book and other stuff sort of carries on in this one – which isn’t even the adjacent case but I’m going with it. I mean the organisation of this is all not great – but here’s a couple of my favourite books of the year again – Lessons in Chemistry and Murder Before Evensong – but also Carrie Soto which I really need to finish… and then the new Rukmini Iyer cookbook which is on my Christmas list!

I’m including this one because it has The Dead Romantics in it, which is one of my favourite books from this month, but also a much older Trisha Ashley in what I think must be at least it’s second rerelease/rejacketing because it was a rerelease when I bought it back in my later post-Colchester Essex era.

And finally here’s the paperback fiction and the rest of the cookbooks. Love on the Brain, Book Lovers and Malibu Rising would all make good Christmas present books – if (like me) you don’t buy only Christmas themed books for festive gifts.

And that’s your lot today. I leave you with the only video I could find of Kelli O’Hara and Harry Connick doing There Once Was A Man, which isn’t the same as the cast recording version as it’s much more jazzy, but it is still excellent.

Have an amazing Saturday everyone.

bingeable series

Bingeable series: Harper Connelly

Continuing with the Halloween-y theme from the Recommendsday post, this week’s series is Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connelly series, which as I mentioned in the kindle offers posts, is mostly on offer this month.

So the set up here: Harper was struck by lightning as a child, and she has been left with the ability to sense dead people and see the last moments of their lives. She makes her living helping track down bodies – and across the course of the series she tackles four jobs that get her in more trouble than usual. She’s accompanied by her stepbrother Tolliver – who is her best friend and business manager and Definitely Not Her Blood Relation. Tolliver’s dad married Harper’s mum, blended their existing families and had two more kids together. The parents were also drug addicts and Harper and her sister Cameron along with Tolliver did a lot of the work to bring up the babies, while their older brother Mark moved out and tried to earn money to help. All this came crashing down when Cameron when missing. Eight years on, Harper is still searching for her sister’s body.

I’ve actually tested the bingeable nature of this series this week – because once I started rereading the first one at the start of the week ahead of writing this post, I ended up reading all four of them back to back. If that doesn’t make them bingeable what does. Yes I still have some resignations about the turn the series takes in romance terms – although on the reread the signposting is clearer – and the first sex scene remains not great – but I got sucked back into the individual cases and really into that overarching story of the series.

Aside from Harper’s special ability, there’s not a lot of other paranormal or supernatural action in this – in fact a lot of the time Harper meets with extreme scepticism about her abilities and her job lands her in both trouble and danger quite a lot. But there’s also a connection to one of Harris’s other series: Manfred Barnado appears in this in increasing frequency through the books and of course he’s the main character in the Midnight, Texas series where it becomes clear that Harris is working in an extended universe type situation, which adds to the Halloween appropriate-ness of it all.

Anyway, they’re very readable, and as I mentioned in the Kindle deals post the other day, three of the four are 99p at the moment, so although you will have to pay more for the first one, you can get the whole lot for less than £9, so the average price is pretty good

Have a great weekend everyone.


Out Today: Christmas Sarah Morgan!

Yes, it came out in the US last month, but here in the UK today is the day for the Christmas Sarah Morgan novel – this year’s is called Snowed in for Christmas. This is somewhere between a contemporary romance and a women’s fiction novel – yes I know, I’m not a fan of that as a term, but I don’t think there’s another shorthand that works as well – it has a romance at the heart of it but it’s not just a romance, and it feels like it’s not quite the same as Morgan’s previous romances – although you’re still going to get a happy ending. Or at least I hope you are – I haven’t finished it yet!


Recommendsday: Halloween-y reading

Pumpkins and skeletons are everywhere now, and even the Great British Bake-off has done a Halloween episode (even if it was a week early) so the time is clearly right for some Halloween-y reading recommendations. And by Halloween-y I mean featuring witches, magic, ghosts or the supernatural in some way, set around Halloween or just creepy. But I don’t read a lot of creepy as you know.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

If you haven’t read this already, you should. And not just because it’s been turned into a TV series (with a second season coming!). This is Pratchett and Gaiman’s take on the end of the world – as prophesied by Agnes Nutter (witch), complete with a fussy angel and a reckless demon and a missing antichrist. It’s bonkers and funny and a nice way into both authors if you haven’t read any of them and don’t know where to go. And did I mention the TV series?

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Katie Racculia

Cover of Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

I was delighted to realise that this is out of the statute of limitations and I can talk about this again. This is the story of an Edgar Allen Poe inspired treasure hunt, set by an eccentric billionaire. The Tuesday of the title is trying to solve the mystery, along with her self-appointed best friends, but there’s also more than a little mystery in Tuesday and her friends’ backstories too. It’s a gothic adventure caper -and it’s lots of fun. Also: writing this has made me realise that there isn’t another book from Katie Racculia yet – I hope she’s got one in the works, because Bellweather Rhapsody was really good too. NB: this is called Tuesday Mooney Wore Black in the UK.

Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale

This is a really readable non-fiction story about a ghost hunter who investigates the case of a woman who says she is being haunted by a poltergeist. It’s the late 1930s, the tail end of an era where there was a craze for spiritualism and mediums (as frequently seen in murder mysteries of the era) and this follows Nandor Fodor as he tries to work out what exactly is going on with Alma. Because it’s non fiction, it’s not tidy, but it is fascinating.

And finally, there are a few things I’ve already recommended within the last year that would work for Halloween too: recent book of the the week The Dead Romantics, The Ex Hex and bingeable series Sookie Stackhouse.

Happy Wednesday everyone

American imports, Children's books, Young Adult

Book of the Week: Cherry Ames – Boarding School Nurse

Back in the Girls Own niche this week, with one of my purchases from Book Conference and my first foray into the Cherry Ames series.

In case you didn’t guess from the title, Cherry is a nurse and each book in the series sees her taking on a different type of nursing job. The jacket of this one says it’s book six in the series, but it’s clear from reading it that it’s actually book 17, although the author situation is complicated (two different authors, across three periods and 25 years) so maybe we’ll let it off. I picked this up from the bargain box because I like boarding school books and I thought it might be a good way in to Cherry Ames, considering I never got into Sue Barton – who was her British nursing novel equivalent.

So our plot here is that Cherry has taken on a job as the resident nurse at a girls boarding school in Illinois. On her way to the school, she meets one of the other pupils, a new scholarship girl called Lisette who has a book she doesn’t want anyone to see the title of and a strange obsession with flowers and the school’s garden. Soon Cherry is trying to keep peace among the girls and ends up investigating a mystery with the strangely aloof Lisette. I don’t think any of you are going to read this, and the good reads summary gives it away any way so: Lisette is actually the headteacher’s niece, the school is in the former family mansion and Lisette has a diary written by their common relative which suggests that there is a valuable secret hidden somewhere in the school. The secret turns out to be the formula for a perfume, which Cherry, her new beau the local doctor and Lisette try to make to try and save the school which is struggling financially.

That’s a lot of bonkers isn’t it? And that’s before you mix in all the nursing that Cherry does, which includes but is not limited to: a broken arm, a preemie birth, a car crash and a student who makes herself ill to get out of doing exams. All in under 200 pages. It’s fast paced and kinda hilarious – it’s like Nancy Drew crossed with a nursing manual. And as a connoisseur of school stories, I can confirm that Cherry would not have lasted long at the Chalet School because she’s far too close to the students and not maintaining A Proper Distance! I had a hoot reading it, and it was worth every penny I paid for it. Which wasn’t many, because: bargain box, but you know what I mean.

If you want to try out any Cherry Ames, you’ll need to find a specialist book seller or try Abebooks.

Happy reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: October 17 – October 23

So I spent five nights away from home last week. Five. And that’s probably all you need to know about why the list looks like it does. Still I achieved a lot in the real world – even if I didn’t in the actual reading – so I can’t be cross with myself. I even know what I’m writing about tomorrow already so that’s a bonus too.


Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

A Mansion for Murder by Frances Brody

Double Dip by Gretchen Archer

Cherry Ames: Boarding School Nurse by Helen Wells

Heartstopper: Vol 3 by Alice Oseman


The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Willis Crofts

Still reading:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra*

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatio Sancho by Paterson Joseph*

The Empire by Michael Ball*

I went to Foyles and bought two books – including that new Kate Shackleton that i mentioned on Friday and have now finished. I also picked up the new Marian Keyes because it was a Kindle deal on Sunday. Apart from that, I’ve been very restrained!

Bonus photo: two bonuses this week – here’s me and my friends out playing mini golf on Tuesday – swipe through to see me celebrating and possible the best photo of me in half a decade. And then check out the flowers I got at the school I visited as a speaker at their careers day on Friday!

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

film, not a book

Not a Book: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Today’s post is the latest instalment in my very loose collection of stuff about religion, which had previously featured stuff like Under the Banner of Heaven (now a tv series that I haven’t watched yet!), Murder Among the Mormons, Educated, Lula Rich and Unfinished: Short Creek.

Tammy Faye Bakker was a televangelist. Starting in the 1960s she and her preacher husband Jim were regular features on Christian TV channels – including founding their own network: The PTL network (PTL stands for Praise The Lord). This is a biopic of her life, following her from her childhood in Minnesota through the highs and lows. I don’t know how much I should tell you about the rest of the plot, because I don’t know what’s common knowledge and what’s not because I’ve read a lot about this sort of thing over the years! Jessica Chastain is Tammy – and was nominated for a bunch of awards for it. In fact the makeup department won the Oscar – and if you watch it, you’ll see why. Andrew Garfield is Jim and he’s very good too, although her performance was the one that was picked out.

It’s two hours long – and I think it’s a good watch, even if you’re not interested in the American religion nexus like I am. If you want to watch it, you’ll need Disney + in the UK – there are various trials around, and of course if you do get one, you can also watch The Dropout!

Happy Sunday everyone


Books Incoming: October Edition

A real bumper crop this month, undoing all the good that I did by being restrained last month. There are two main factors at play here – firstly all the books that I had asked the comic book store to get in for me came in at once – that’s the left hand side. Then we have what I’m going to call the Shingles impulse purchasing as what I thought were insect bites had already appeared when I bought myself Death and the Brewery Queen in Waterstone’s Picadilly and then the Ali Hazelwood, Catriona McPherson and Jacqueline Winspear were all bought when I was on my sickbed ad feeling sorry for myself! And I’ve already read three of the four…

If you take those eight out of the equation, what you have left are two preorders – Blonde and Vera Kelly, two airport purchases (the Richard Osman and the Richard E Grant) and two purchases because I wanted them. Which would have been a reasonable month. So it’s all totally fine and explicable. Nothing to see here. Carry on.