books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: February 12 – February 18

I’m really trying to get a handle on the long-running backlog in the Still Reading list – but it’s taking some time, because there’s chunky hardback non-fiction in there and literary prize winners.  I will get there in the end though.  Some of the books on the read list this week have been marked as being in the process of being read on my Goodreads account for some time – so I’m taking that as a partial win on that front.

Read:

Dimsie Among the Prefects by Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

The Astonishing Adventure of Jane Smith by Patricia Wentworth

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

The Gift of a Family by Sarah Morgan

Fire on the Ice by Tamsen Parker

The Chimneys of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston

Bump in the Night by Colin Watson

Started:

England Expects by Sara Sheridan

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

The Unfinished Palazzo by Judith Mackrell

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

Three actual books and two ebooks bought…

Book of the Week, detective

Book of the Week: A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia

So this week’s BotW is the latest in my quest to find more historical crime series.  As regular readers are well aware by now, if there are two things that I love, in book terms, it’s murder mysteries and the inter-war period.  Witness my previous ravings about my beloved Lord Peter (sidenote, I’ve just treated myself to the Radio play collections from Audible and it is glorious), Daisy Dalrymple, Phryne Fisher et al.  So during my Kindle store virtual rummagings I often pick up books that I think might scratch that itch.  This was one such purchase.

Part of the cover of A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia

A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia deals with the murder of one Ticky Maltravers.  And never was someone more aptly named.  Ticky is a tick of the highest order.  For although it appears that he’s really popular, underneath the surface something rather unpleasant is going on.  When Ticky drops dead after a meal to celebrate his birthday, newspaper man Freddie Pilkington-Soames finds himself involved – on two fronts.  Firstly his mother was in the taxi with Ticky when he died, and secondly Freddie is chasing the story to try and hold on to his job.

Freddie is Bertie Wooster on the outside, but much, much cleverer on the inside – a bit like Albert Campion in some ways, who is described on occasion as having a foolish face which leads people to underestimate him.  And that makes for an engaging read.  Freddie is straddling the two worlds in the book – the high society trying to hold on to their secretes and the forces of justice and the press.  And because of his job, Freddie has a legitimate reason to be involved in the case which, as I’ve mentioned before, is often a stumbling block for the crime solver in series like this.

I believe Freddie was a side character – a comic one – in Benson’s other series, but although I’ve read one book of hers, it was a while ago and the details have faded.  But based on how much I enjoyed this, I’ve clearly been missing out.  I’ve added the rest of the Freddie books to my Kindle watchlist, and the other series – the Angela Marchmont mysteries – too.  I was really impressed with how good this was – and for a while I thought it might be one of the forgotten Golden Age books that I’ve picked up on offer. I put that down to the fact that it comes across as a mix of PG Wodehouse and one of the Queens of Crime – witty but with a solid, slightly grubby murder.

My copy was on Kindle (I even paid for it)  – and it’s still only 99p at time of writing this – but it’s also available on Kobo or as a paperback, although I suspect that will be a special order job rather than one you can pick up in the bookshop.

Happy reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: February 5 – February 11

A strange week of reading all in all.  I finished a bunch of books that I had started the previous week, but then started a load more that I didn’t manage to finish – either because of work and real life commitments or because I was so far into them they broke my rules about not taking books with less than 100 pages to go to work with me.  Oh and I’m trying to pace myself and make A Spoonful of Murder last, because otherwise I’ve got a *really* long wait for the next Wells and Wong book!

Read:

The Husband List by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

The Song of the Abbey by Elsie J Oxenham

A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia by Clara Benson

The Lark by E Nesbit

Medal Up by Nicole Flockton and Fiona M Marsden

Started:

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

Dimsie Among the Prefects by Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

The Unfinished Palazzo by Judith Mackrell

Five ebooks (all on sale) bought on Sunday in a moment of weak willpower related to working all weekend!

Book of the Week, romance

Book of the Week: Duke of Pleasure

I was still suffering from the after effects of my virus from hell last week, so not a lot of reading got done – as you can see from yesterday’s Week in Books post.  But luckily one of the books that I did finish hit the spot.  My brain is still a bit fried and over tired, so apologies that this post is going to be shorter than usual.

Copy of Duke of Pleasure

Duke of Pleasure is the eleventh book in the Maiden Lane series – but only the second one of them that I’ve read.  The Maiden Lane series – or at least the ones of them that I’ve read – are set in the early to mid eighteenth century (around the 1730s) and have characters from the ton mixing it with the less fortunate in the East End and the Stews.  Duke of Pleasure sees Hugh Fitzroy, the titular Duke (of Kyle) on an errand from the government to break up a secret society known as the Lords of Chaos.  When Hugh is ambushed in an alley, he’s helped out of trouble by the legendary Ghost of St Giles – who turns out to be a woman.  Alf has survived on the streets by disguising herself as a man.  During the day she’s a street urchin, dealing in information, but by night she’s a masked vigilante flitting across the rooftops.  When Hugh hires Alf to work for him, how long with Alf be able to maintain his disguise as his two worlds collide?

Regular readers to my posts about romance will be aware that one of my favourite historical romance tropes is people in diguise.  Usually it’s women dressed as men – Twelfth Night, Heyer’s These Old Shades – ocassionally it’s the other way around – Heyer’s Maskeraders – but really, I’ll read anything about people in disguise.  And this scratched that itch nicely for me.  It’s a bit overblown at times – a bastard son of the king working as a spy can have that effect – but I just couldn’t put it down.  Alf is a great character and I liked Hugh’s complicated family and backstory.  It all wrapped up very quickly in the end, but the set up for the next book was intriguing.  I got this one from the library – I can only hope they’ve got a few more!

You should be able to get hold of this from your preferred purveyor of romantic fiction – Amazon have it in Kindle and paperback – but I suspect you may have to have a rummage for it in the bookshops.

Happy reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: January 29 – February 4

So the good news is that I’m not poorly any more, the bad news is that I’m still exhausted after being poorly.  So not a lot read this week, because once I was back at work I was mostly just sleeping to try and get myself back to normal.

Read:

Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Murder on the Rocks by Shean Reilly Simmons

Ballet Shoes for Anna by Noel Streatfeild

Coffin, Scarcely Used by Colin Watson

Started:

The Song of the Abbey by Elsie J Oxenham

The Husband List by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

Medal Up by Nicole Flockton

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

The Unfinished Palazzo by Judith Mackrell

And we went to York for the weekend, and I *may* have spent some money in the charity bookshop on old Girl’s Own hardbacks.  So four books bought.

books, stats

January Stats

Another January, another slightly tweeked Stats post – this time to add in the second reading challenge I’m doing this year.

New books read this month: 33*

Books from the to-read pile: 18

Ebooks read: 14

Books from the Library book pile: 1

Non-fiction books: 4

#ReadHarder categories completed: 3

Pop Sugar categories completed: 2

Most read author: Angela Brazil

Books read this year: 33

Books bought: 5 – 4 ebooks and 1 book

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 515 (I don’t have copies of all of these!)

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics (6 this month)

Book of the Week, books, detective, historical, mystery, Series I love

Book of the Week: Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble

As discussed in yesterday’s Week in Books, I was not a happy camper last week what with being stuck at home (and mostly in bed), laid low with the lurgy.  However, one bright(er) spot in the week was reading the latest Dandy Gilver novel and so it was an obvious choice for my BotW this week.

paperback copy of Dandy Gilver and a Spot of Toil and Trouble

This is the twelfth book in the series and sees Dandy called in to help out one of her old friends, who is hoping to restore her family’s fortunes by exploiting the potential of the family pile.  The pile in question is a rundown castle, which happens to be located just down the road from a much grander stately home which is due to open for tourist tours shortly.  So Min and the Bewer’s have invited a theatre troupe to their castle to put on some Shakespeare, in the hope of attracting some of the visitors as they pass on their way to their rivals.  Why does Min need Dandy and Alec?  Well, there’s the small matter of a missing jewel, a curse and a long-vanished man that all need ironing out post haste.  And as it turns out there is also a host of secrets and lies lurking just under the surface.

This has got pretty much everything I’ve come to expect from a Dandy mystery – banter and friendly rivalry between Dandy and Alec, a huge (and somewhat complicated) cast of characters and an interesting setting and set up.  It doesn’t have a lot of Dandy and Hugh, which is a shame because they’re often a lot of fun and there’s very little Bunty in this either.  But it does have a mystery which will keep you turning the pages right to the end, even if I did figure parts of it out before the big reveal.  I’ve said before that one of the things that I like about the Dandy books is that although they appear to be a historical cozy crime series, the solutions to the mysteries are often a lot darker than you find in other similar books – and this keeps that trend going nicely.  I’m also impressed that McPherson manages to keep finding fresh settings for these books – I don’t think we’ve really repeated anything much yet through the series.

If you haven’t read any of the previous books, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start – although this one doesn’t have a lot of explanation of the backstory to Dandy and her business with Alec.  I know I usually advise that you start at the beginning of a series, but this one did a fair bit of evolving over the first few books and which I don’t think really got going properly and hit its stride until about book five.  If you want to know more – check out my Recommendsday post about Dandy from last year.

You should be able to find a selection of the Dandy books in any large-ish bookshop and my library always has a couple in as well.  The hardback edition of this is available now, but my copy came from Bookbridgr ahead of the paperback release on February 8th, so if you’re an ebook reader it might be worth hanging fire on buying it until after that as the price often drops when the paperback comes out and the Kindle and Kobo versions were an eye-watering £13.99 at time of writing.

Happy reading!