book related, books

Books in the Wild: Daunt Books

And so this is the third bookshop I visited in the first week of March – walking from work to the Cockpit for John Finnemore took me right past Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street so how could I resist?

And if you’ve never been in there, it’s deceptively big. Double fronted and going right back and down and up as you can see. They were setting the event space up as I was wandering, but sadly I was insufficiently vigilant to check who it was for – partly because I knew I couldn’t stay!

Anyway here’s a nice big selection of crime hardbacks and paperbacks – including a few I’ve read – like Death Comes to Marlow, The Three Dog Problem, The Christie Affair, a couple of Thursday Murder Club books, the latest Rivers of London and the Reverend Richard Coles.

There was a really good selection of crime actually – here’s another side of that same pillar with another HM the Queen Investigates, the new Miss Marple short stories and the fresh Tom Hindle that I haven’t got around to reading yet because: binging stuff I shouldn’t be.

Over in the Children and Young Adult section there were loads of books proving that the dystopian future/alternative present genre is still going strong, but also this table with the Rainbow Rowell short stories and the Agency of Scandal which I own but haven’t really seen in the wild before.

And there were some good tables of non fiction too – bookshop trips are often where I find stuff I hadn’t heard about. The Patrick Radden Keefe is actually an older book of his, reissued to look more like Empire of Pain, but I think I would basically read any of the forward-facing books in this picture. I mean if I got time for it…

And finally, as you’ve already seen the book I bought in last week’s Books Incoming, this was my first sighting in the wild of the paperback of Lessons in Chemistry – on its release day no less. I’m hoping that the fact that the table looks a little bit empty is because they’d already sold so many copies!

Have a great weekend everyone and go buy a book.


Series: Maisie Dobbs redux

I feel like March is the month of new books from authors I really like. And as I mentioned yesterday, this week saw a new standalone book from Jacqueline Winspear. So I’m taking the opportunity to point you at my series I love post about her Maisie Dobbs series – there are plenty of them and I’m actually up to date with the series now which is a miracle given that it’s me we’re talking about. But if you haven’t read them all yet, here’s a reminder of why they’re so good. Bonus: here’s my BotW post for the first in the series.

books, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: Short Story Collections

This Wednesday, I’m looking at short story collections as I’ve read a couple of them recently and it’s got me thinking. Obviously one of them was Scattered Showers, which has already featured as a BotW, but here are a few more for your consideration.

The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood

Lets start with a collection of short stories from my favourite Australian detective – The Honourable Phryne Fisher. It only came out in the UK last year (although Australians got it sooner) so it’s even relatively recent. This collection has stories that slot in at various points during the series, including four new ones for this book. If you haven’t read the whole series, I don’t think any of them will spoil anything for you, but there are plenty of familiar faces here, including an origin story for one of her friendships. And my love of Phryne and her world is well known – it’s always a delight to get to spend any time with her.

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries by Various Authors*

This is another recent one which I’m including it because I liked *some* of the stories although it completely lost me with the last story – if you read it, you’ll probably understand why. This has new takes on Miss Marple, written by some of the biggest names in fiction at the moment including Kate Mosse, Elly Griffiths and Alyssa Cole. It does feel a little bit like Miss Marple plot bingo at times – and because they’re all done by different people there is not a lot of internal consistency. I was glad I read it – mostly because I’m a completist – and because it’s not written by Agatha Christie I’m able to ignore the bits that I didn’t like!

American Housewife by Helen Ellis

It’s been 7 years, so I think I’m allowed to mention this again now! This was my first encounter with Helen Ellis’s writing and I’ve been buying her stuff ever since. Each story peers behind the curtain of a seemingly normal American housewife and exposes the secrets behind. These are dark and darkly humorous short stories, that make for perfect bite-sized reading before bed. Its funny and quirky and you hope you never meet (or become) any of the women you meet in it!

Sweetest in the Gale by Olivia Dade

Just throwing a bit of romance in here to finish, because I can. Sweetest in the Gale has three short stories about three different couples, so you get three happy endings! There are also three different tropes – we’ve got a widowed teacher, an enemies to lovers and a marriage of convenience. They’re all set in Marysburg – which is where Tess from 40-Love is a teacher (when she’s not on holiday) as well as where Teach Me is set too. There are definite bittersweet elements to all three of them, but they are definitely romances.

Before I go, I should mention a couple of other short story collections that have been books of the week – Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women and Curtis Sittenfeld’s You Think It, I’ll Say It – and it’s only a few weeks to go before her new novel comes out, which is very exciting.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


Book of the Week: The Cricket Term

Making a change from the last few weeks, we have the first children’s book pick of the year and it’s a lesser known classic – Antonia Forest’s The Cricket Term.

This is the eighth book in Forrest’s series about the Marlow siblings, this one particularly focussing around the twins and in particular Nicola. It’s the summer term and Nicola is as determined to win the cricket cup as Lawrie is to play Caliban in the school play. Except the mistress in charge of the play has other ideas, as does the Games Captain who has a definite down on Nicola. But soon Nicola has more to worry about than getting her team into shape – unless she can do something to change things, it could be her last term at Kingscote.

This is a masterpiece of a school story. The characters are rounded and nuanced. One of the central problems of the series is a big grown up one but there are plenty of other things the girls have to deal with and it has such depth and cleverness in the writing. I mean this is the point where it had me, and it never let go:

‘Yes I see all that,’ said Nicola unwillingly. She grinned. ‘Only I’d rather have a late cut that was exceedingly characteristic.’

‘Wimsey of Balliol stuff? Only, if you remember, what also won that match was Mr Tallboy becoming inspired and throwing straight for the open wicket.’

The Cricket Term by Antonia Forest

Yes, the climate is a cricket match. Yes, it’s as brilliantly written as the cricket match from Murder Must advertise so casually referred by Rowan and Nicola at the start. Yes, it leaves you with a happy smile on your face as all the threads are tied up and the villain gets a wonderfully dismissive final send off. Yes, I wish I had read this when I was “the right age”.

And why didn’t I, I wondered. I actually completely missed out on Antonia Forest when I was a child and I think that’s probably because my mum didn’t read them, so she wasn’t looking out for them to buy for me. The Cricket Term is actually written in the 1970s and didn’t get that many editions. So they didn’t come my way until I started getting deeper into the Girl’s Own genre as an adult. I read one of the holiday Marlows because I picked up a cheap second hand copy of a Girls Gone By edition, then I bought The Autumn Term at my first Book Conference. And it was good – really good, in fact it was a BotW. But they’re still quite hard to get hold of, and I am meant to be controlling myself, so I didn’t pick up this one until Book Conference last summer, and I’ve been saving it because I had heard it was good. And last week I decided I deserved a treat. And oh boy, what a treat.

If you want to read this, you’re probably going to have to have a hunt around for a copy – Amazon‘s prices are frankly insane to the point of suggesting they don’t have any, and Abebooks isn’t much lower, see also Ebay – I am however feeling much better about how much I paid for my copy! Girls Gone By have published an edition too – but theirs is also out of print, so you’re going to need to find a book dealer with a copy – and given that their print runs have decreased in recent years, that may be a hard ask. Good luck…

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: March 13 – March 19

Another busy week, with last minute changes to my plans and all sorts going on. Also several nice meals – some of which I cooked myself! But March marches on and the still reading list has got even longer. But some of them are a lot closer to being finished – that’s why the finished list this week is a little shorter. But I will get there in the end.


The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

The Cricket Term by Antonia Forest

Tough Cookie by Diane Mott Davidson

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton


R in the Month by Nancy Spain

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Still reading:

No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby*

The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes by Kate Strasdin*

Shadows of London by Andrew Taylor*

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

The Empire by Michael Ball*

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton*

One arrived that I bought the other week, a couple of preorders paid for, and two ebooks!

Bonus photo: I started the week with a night out at the Palladium listening to some of the cast of Neighbours talking about working on the show. You weren’t meant to talks pictures inside so you get this I’m afraid!

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

books, The pile

Books incoming: mid-March edition

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I usually lead with the photo but honestly this year I’m not doing very well with the self restraint and I’m almost scaring myself. It is a little more than a calendar month’s worth but February is quite a short month so it probably evens out, so no excuse there!

It’s bad isn’t it? Really bad. I mean the books are good. But the amount of them is bad. I mean the good news is that some of them are already off the pile because I read them even before this post! Death in the Stars is a Kate Shackleton and I read that the other week and The Cereal Murders is one of the Diane Mott Davidson’s that is not available on kindle so I read that too. White Mischief is one of the books about the Happy Valley set that I haven’t read yet and I picked it up in Bookends, which is also where The Ladies Auxiliary, the Edmund Crispin and the Jennifer Crusie came from.

The Crichel Boys and Young Bloomsbury are from two different wanders through Foyles – one before Noises Off and the other the same one I bought Death in the Stars as well. Bookman Dead Style is from that delightful cozy crime selection in Waterstones Gower Street. To The One I Love Best is from my walk over to see John Finnemore (I’ll explain next week!) and the Vanderbeekers, How to Fake it in Hollywood and the Tracey Thorn were impulse purchases off the internet after several different bad days. Because books make me better, right up until I’m confronted with the evidence of how many I’ve bought!

Have a great weekend everyone and go buy a book.

American imports, historical, Series I love

Series I Love: Lady Sherlock

I’ve done a couple of Sherlock Holmes related posts over the last few years, so as the new Lady Sherlock mystery came out this week, it’s time for me to talk about another one of my auto-buy series

So Sherry Thomas’s take on Sherlock Holmes is that Sherlock is the creation of Charlotte Holmes, a brilliantly clever woman who is restricted by the conventions of late Victorian society. In the first book, she becomes a social pariah and sets up her own household and begins to investigate crimes after her family is implicated in a series of deaths. Over the course of the series so far, Thomas has introduced many of the elements of the original Sherlock books – including a Watson and a Moriarty and other things that are too spoilery to mention.

The latest book is the seventh and really does follow on from the sixth book in the series – and I cannot stress enough how much you want to read these in order – the latest book sees Charlotte taking a sea voyage, but even reading the blurb gives you spoilers for the previous book. I made A Study in Scarlet Women my Book of the Week when I read it – so I can point you back at that as well.

These are historical mysteries but they have a fair amount of suspense to them – is historical mystery suspense a genre? At any rate, they’re not thrillers and as Sherry Thomas was a romance writer before she turned to mysteries, there is a (very) slow burn romantic thread running through these too. Basically they are quite hard to confine to one genre, which is probably why I like them so much. In terms of comparisons, I would say that if you like any of Deanna Raybourn’s historical mystery series – Veronica Speedwell or Lady Julia Grey – or Phryne Fisher (even though this is Victorian not inter-war) then you should think about trying these.

They are all available on Kindle in the UK – I even picked up the first one on a deal back in the day – but at time of writing they’re fairly pricy, but you never know, we might get some special offers for the new book. I own most of the rest in paperback (and I think we all know I’ll probably fill the collection in at some point) but my pre-order for the latest one was cancelled a few months back. As you can see, I tweeted Sherry Thomas about it and she thought it could be because of the release date getting bumped back – so hopefully/maybe it will appear in the UK soon so that I can get my hands on an actual copy. Fingers crossed

Have a great weekend everyone.