bingeable series, Series I love

Series I love: Kate Shackleton

The new book officially came out yesterday – and I was lucky enough to pick up a copy in Foyles earlier in the week, so it seemed like an ideal time to talk about Frances Brody’s historical mystery series. I’ve written about a couple of these individually in the past, but not the series…

Kate Shackleton is a private investigator in Yorkshire in the 1920s. The first book is set in 1922 when she is still finding her feet after her husband was reported missing, presumed dead in the Great War. Her father is a fairly senior policeman so she has some connections which can help her at times, but she also has a male ex-policeman assistant who can go to places that she can’t and a housekeeper who also helps in some of the investigations.

I found the first book in the series a little slow going, but they have really grown and developed across the course of the thirteen novels we’ve had so far. The mysteries are on the cozy side of things, but the settings – mostly around Yorkshire – and the set ups are clever and a bit different. They often feature industrial or semi industrial settings and there is a lot less of the rich people problems – more middle class people problems.

In the new book we have reached 1930, when Kate receives a letter from a stranger asking her to meet him because he has important information. But when she arrives in the mill village, his body has just been discovered. What seems like a tragic accident at first is soon discovered to be rather more than that and Kate is soon investigating…

They should be fairly easy to get hold of if you want to – as well as all the usual places to buy them from, I’ve often spotted them at the library.

Happy Friday everyone!

books I want

Recommend Me: Halloween books

Thank you for all your Italian-set recommendations – I’ve got a list going and I’m planning a buying spree. But before I do, I’m in the mood for some Halloween-y reads – so hit me up with stuff you think I’d like – not horror, because I really don’t do horror, but stuff with vampires or ghosts or similar that you think might fit my reading tastes!

Thank you!

Adventure, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: Adventure capers

Continuing the adventure caper theme of the last ten days or so, for this week’s recommendsday I’ve got some books for you if you want some excitement that’s not necessarily murder mystery – although to be fair there are some deaths involved in most of these. And I’ve stuck fairly strictly to stuff sent in contemporary times – and without any fantasy or paranormal elements.

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

This technically a romance but it’s also an adventure story so it totally belongs in this post. Lily’s father was a famous treasure hunter – always looking for a big find. But when he died he left her with nothing but debts and his own hand drawn treasure maps. She’s turned those maps into a business – taking tourists on fake treasure hunts through canyons in Utah as she tries to raise enough money to buy her family ranch back. Then one tour the man who broke her heart and his friends turn up and the tour goes horribly wrong and Lily starts to wonder if the treasure her dad was searching for was real after all. Lily and Leo will have to work together if they’re going to fix the wrongs of the past. I really enjoyed this – it’s quite different from Christina Lauren’s usual romances as it has Actual Life or Death Peril, and in some ways I was more interested in the treasure hunt side of it than the romance!

Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen

Hiaasen writes darkly humorous adventure romps – I’ve read a few and every time I read one I think I should read more of them. Skinny Dip is the first in a series, and sees a former State investigator trying to work out who is trying to kill him after an intruder breaks into his house with a gun. His former career means he has a long list of enemies to narrow down as he tries to stay alive to enjoy his retirement. If you want to get a flavour of the sort of black comedy we’re dealing with: he kills the burglar using a stuffed fish. I saw someone describe his work as “if Florida man was a book” which is sort of fair, but sort of not. This was actually a Book of the Week back in 2018 – so i’m allowed to recommend it again now – and another of Hiaasen’s books, Basket Case, was a BotW last year too.

If you haven’t read the Da Vinci Code, that definitely counts as an adventure more than anything else I think – it feels very chase-y. I read the Da Vinci Code not long after it first came out and then read another non-Robert Langdon Dan Brown before reading Angels and Demons – and with Angels and Demons I was able to pick out the culprit straight away and I’m not sure I’ve finished another one since, although I have tried – so your mileage may vary but I do know people who have loved them all.

And of course there are a couple series that I’ve written about that fit into this too: Vicky Bliss (and Amelia Peabody although obviously that’s historical adventure and so doesn’t belong here!) and the Vinyl Detective probably counts too.

Happy Wednesday

Book of the Week, memoirs, new releases, non-fiction

Book of the Week: A Pocketful of Happiness

It’s a memoir for this week’s pick – and it’s really good but it’s also heartbreaking. So bear that in mind when picking a moment to read it – I ended up a snotty mess more than once.

Depending on how old you are, you’ll know Richard E Grant for something different. Withnail and I, Spice World, Girls or if you’re my sister me: Jack and Sarah. He was nominated for an Oscar in 2019 for his role in Can You Ever Forgive Me. But what I didn’t know was that he had one of those rare things: a long and happy marriage in showbiz. And I only found that out when I saw his post on social announcing that Joan had died. A Pocketful of Happiness is a memoir of his wife’s illness, intercut with stories from their life together.

Joan Washington was one of the acting world’s leading dialogue and accent coaches. She and Richard met when she taught him at acting school, soon after his arrival in the UK from Swaziland. Ten years older than him and recently divorced, they fell in love when she coached him to help iron out his accent and they stayed together for 38 years.

Richard’s love for Joan shines through in every page of this – but you can also see how loved she was by other people and how much impact she had on their lives. At the end Richard has included some of the tributes to her from people that she worked with – some of which were gathered when her friends tried to get her an honour from the Queen before she died. It’s a memoir of grief and nursing someone through a terminal illness – but it’s also full of wonderfully showbizzy stories. Richard’s unashamed joy at being nominated for an Oscar was obvious at the time – but in this you see the behind the scenes as he goes to the awards season events and meets every famous actor he’s ever dreamed of working with – but also his all time heroine: Barbra Streisand. The showbiz stories help break up the heavy bits but also tie together with the story of the last few months of Joan’s life. It’s one of the best actor memoirs I have recently read – and as you know, there have been a few on the pile!

My copy came from the airport, but it’s out now in hardback, Kindle, Kobo and audiobook – read by Richard himself.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: October 10 – October 16

Well I’m making some progress on some of the long runners, but the first week back from holiday has been a super busy one. But it always is. And I don’t think this week coming is going to be any calmer. But we will see.

Read:

April Lady by Georgette Heyer

Murder at the Theatre Royale by Ada Montcrieff*

A Pocketful of Happiness by Richard E Grant

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone*

A Dancer from the Abbey by Elsie J Oxenham

Fangirl Vol 2 by Rainbow Rowell and Sam Maggs

Started:

Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

The Empire by Michael Ball*

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*

Did I buy anything this week? I don’t think I did. So that’s something right?

Bonus photo: back on my walk through Fitzroy Square after the holiday!

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

Books in the wild: Sicily!

The other thing that happens when I go on holiday, is that I have a look in the bookshops there to see what I can spot in translation – so for an extra treat this week, here are my Sicilian spots!

Super easy to start with – here’s former BotW The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood and Netflix sensation (that I’m currently working my way through) Heartstopper. I haven’t read the Elena Armas – but she’s another of the TikTok/BookTok authors – this one is The Spanish Love Deception.

Next up we have a string of former Books of the Week – starting with T J Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, which I recommended to someone only last week. I also spotted the newest Klune adult novel as well – which reminded me that I really need to get hold of that at some point. I must keep an eye open next time I’m in Foyles/a big Waterstones.

Then we have Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston which a friend messaged me about the other day to say how much he was enjoying it – which meant I was able to recommend a whole bunch of other books to him on an if you like… then this basis. And you can also see One Last Stop nestled next to it – which as I mentioned on Wednesday is 99p this month.

Then we have Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners, which I think is the first time I’ve spotted one of their books on holiday, but you know me, I forget things. I’ve written a lot about Christina Lauren – but this one is in their sweet spot for me – a fake relationship romance that doesn’t have the pranks/meanness issues that I have with say Dating You/Hating you.

And finally this is the one that I keep seeing but haven’t read yet – What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli (Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda) and Adam Silvera. The second book in this series is in the Kindle offers this month, but you know me and reading sequels before the original. I don’t like it and I won’t do it and I won’t suggest you do it either. Anyway, this is suddenly everywhere – I saw both of them in Foyles when I was in there the other month, but ended up buying Piglettes instead – and now it’s coming up in my suggestions on goodreads and amazon. It must be a sign right?

Anyway the big thing I noticed this holiday was how many of the english translation books are now keeping their English cover art in their translated editions – this might be an italian thing that’s been going on a while, but it definitely wasn’t how it’s been in Spain when I’ve been looking there both before and after the pandemic – or in France last time I was there (which was pre-pandemic times). So I will keep an eye next time we go anywhere to see if this is now A Thing.

books

Books in the wild: Gatwick airport

We’ve been on holiday – so of course this means I’ve got some more airport bookshop pix to report for all of you who like to leave your holiday book purchases to the last minute and want to see what you might be able to pick up.

Lets start with the chart – because the number one book is one half of my purchases at the airport! I’ve written about how much I like Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series, but as I said yesterday, if you haven’t already read the first two, don’t start on book three!

Next up is the new non fiction shelf which has the other half of my Buy 1 get 1 Half Price offer – Richard E Grant’s memoir. There’s also the Edward Enninful autobiography which I read the other week, and the Lucy Worsley Agatha Christie biography that I have waiting on the pile.

I own three books on the last shelf, but I have even more on here: We have the paperback of The Christie Affair (on offer this month as mentioned in the Kindle deal post), two Taylor Jenkins Reid’s: Malibu Rising and Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Love on the Brain.

But the record goes to this one: the latest TJR, which you all know I’m still reading, but also Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Lessons in Chemistry, Murder Before Evensong and Twist of the Knife (the latest Hawthorn mystery). All of which adds up to the fact that it’s getting increasingly hard for me to buy books at the airport, because all the stuff that is in my wheelhouse is stuff that I’ve already read or bought! This is good news for my poor long suffering partner, who puts up with my huge piles of books and hardly ever rolls his eyes at my acquisitions, but slightly less good for me!

Happy weekend everyone.

Series I love

Series I Love: Thursday Murder Club

I’ve decided that this is the week of adventurey, mystery, capers novels – so this weeks series post is about Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder club seomries – the third of which was (one of) my holiday book present(s) to myself for Sicily!

The set up is this: four friends who live at the same retirement complex meet up every Thursday morning to examine unsolved murder cases. Excerpt somehow Ron, Ibrahim, Joyce and Elizabeth keep getting mixed up in actual murders and mysteries. As we’ve gone through the series we’ve learned more about each member of the group – but also added more characters into the wider circle. I think you could have read the second book without having read the first and still got most of it, but in book three you definitely need to know what has gone before.

They’ve been credited as reviving the cozy crime genre in the UK, which I think is a bit of a stretch because there were lots of good mystery novels before these appeared, but they are doing something a little bit different. Most of the other series have focused on one person solving the crime, but this has the core four – and the narrative switches between an omniscient narrator floating over the action where the reader knows more than any of the characters and sections written from Joyce’s point of view.

Elizabeth actually has a lot in common with Billie in Killers of a Certain Age, but the rest of group are very different – Ron was a trade union rabble rouser, Ibrahim was a psychologist and Joyce was mostly a housewife and all of them have issues relating to their age that they have to deal with it (I’m not telling you what though and this also adds a richness and texture to the books – where they can bring tears to your eyes.

Would they have broken through if someone else had written them? Well, Richard Osman is obviously a well known name here in the UK which meant that they had an enormous amount of hype and prepublicity before the first one came out – but they’re still selling and doing well three books in and I don’t think people would still be coming back in such numbers if there wasn’t something a little bit special about them. And they’re a book that lots of people I know have read – even if they don’t normally read this sort of book so they make for a great swiss army recommendation – if you can just find someone who hasn’t already read it yet! I’ve been keeping an eye on the charity shops too – and these don’t seem to be cropping up in the same sort of numbers as some of the other celeb-written novels either. And if you want to know more about the first two – you can read my book of the week posts about them here and here. They’ve also spawned a string of similar sort of novels – as big sellers often do. I’m trying to work my way through a few of them so I can offer some recommendations for people looking for a similar sort of vibe. Watch this space!

Anyway, if you haven’t already read them, start at the beginning and go from there. You can buy them pretty much everywhere and in every format.

Happy Friday!

books I want

Recommend Me: Italian set books

After a week wandering the streets of Sicily, I’ve got a hankering for books set in Italy. I was going to say Sicily, but I’m worried all you’ll give me are Mafia books – and I don’t read those – but if you do know some stuff in my areas of interest that’s set in Italy, bung it in the comments. Thanking you!

books on offer, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: October Kindle Offers

It’s officially autumn according to Amazon – and they’ve got a bunch of Kindle offers to celebrate. So here we go again with another batch of Kindle offers to test your will power and tempt you into a bit of impulse purchasing!

Lets start with some recent releases: I read Set on You by Amy Lea back in May when it came out – as I said in the quick review post at the time: I had a couple of quibbles with the start where the heroine and hero are both being annoying to each other, but mostly it’s fun, flirty romance and definitely worth 99p! Even newer is last week’s Book of the Week, Ashley Poston’s The Dead Romantics, which (as I mentioned in that post) and even newer still is yesterday’s Book of the Week, Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age which are both 99p. Previous BotW Nina de Grammont’s The Christie Affair is still 99p – the paperback is out now so I think that’s why.

Cover of The Christie Affair

Other previously mentioned books that are 99p are Mrs England by Stacey Halls about a nanny who takes a job at a creepy house in Yorkshire – I wrote about this in Mini Reviews last June. Going further back, Libby Page’s The Lido was a summer holiday read four (!) years ago and is also a bargainous 99p. Even longer agin, Nick Spalding’s Bricking It was a BotW in 2015 and is £1 (or free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member). One of Trisha Ashley’s Christmas books is on offer for 99p too – A Christmas Cracker was a BotW in 2015 as well. Going back even further, Lucy Dillon’s A Hundred Pieces of Me is 99p – I read it when it first came out in 2014 in the early days of the blog and before the BotW posts started and enjoyed it so much it made my favourite books of the year post.

In books that I probably should have written about before now, Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn is 99p – I have a lovely Virago hardback of this and it’s creepy and atmospheric and really good (and they still have that hardback on Amazon as well if you want a really pretty book). Three of the four Harper Connelly series are on offer this month – but annoyingly not the first one. I’ve written about other series and books by Charlaine Harris, but not this one (yet) – if you’ve read other Harris series, you’ll spot some crossovers. There’s a new edition of Christina Jones’s Going the Distance – which is one of her Milton St John series – I wrote an Authors I Love post about Jones back in 2016 and if you haven’t checked out her books you should – they’re exactly the sort of romantic comedies I wish there were more of (or at least were easier to identify) these days.

In books I haven’t read, but by authors I have read, there is Reputation by Lex Croucher – I’ve read Infamous (the sequel) and that has a queer Bridgerton vibe going on – the write ups for this one say it’s “Bridgerton meets Fleabag or Bad Education”. Then there is Casey McQuiston (of Red, White and Royal Blue)’s book One Last Stop which is a rom com about a subway crush – except that the girl that August has a crush on is displaced from the 1970s. The first in T J Klune’s YA series The Extraordinaries is 99p this month – which is a proper bargain considering what the rest of his books are. In non-fiction – because I can’t do a post without some non-fiction – Dan Jones’s Power and Thrones is 99p. It’s a history of the Middle Ages – I read his book about the Templars and it was really, really good. I have his book about King John on the pile – and he has a historical fiction book (his first novel) out now too.

This month’s 99p Terry Pratchetts are Only You Can Save the World – which is the first in the Johnny Maxwell series for kids and The Long War from the Long Earth series with Thief of Time from Discworld at £1.99. Also for the series collectors, this month’s J D Robb is Conspiracy in Death, number eight (of 56!) in the series. And Busman’s Honeymoon, the last Peter Wimsey novel (and the fourth of the Harriet and Peter ones) is 99p too. Which is excellent. Also in classic crime, Daughter of Time – aka the Josephine Tey about Richard III is 99p.

In books I own, but haven’t read yet, Charlie Homberg’s Paper Magician series is all on offer – and in KU too. As regular readers will know, I’m in the process of reading Great Circle – but the ebook is £1.99 today if you want to try and finish it before me! And finally, in books I impulse bought while writing this post, we have Heidi Stephens’ Never Gonna Happen which is 99p. Heidi writes The Guardian’s live blogs for Strictly Come Dancing and Eurovision and I’m excited to read a rom com by her – this is her second book and there is a third coming out at the end of November.

And that’s probably about enough. There are a few books on offer that I have on the kindle but haven’t read yet, but as we’ve now at about two dozen books, I should probably stop.

Happy Wednesday everyone!