books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 3 – December 9

So jet lag was really kicking me around a bit this week, and on top of that I was trying to get my head around my “normal” job after nearly three months away.  So I’m quite pleased that the list looks as good as it does!

Read:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

The Proposal by Jasime Guillory

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver

Rivers of London: Action at a Distance 2 by Ben Aaronovitch et al

Simple Irresistible by Rachel Gibson

Started:

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Still reading:

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fear by Bob Woodward

No books bought.  Not restraint, just lack of opportunity!

 

 

American imports, Book of the Week, mystery, Young Adult

Book of the Week: A Study in Charlotte

And I just can’t help myself.  For the second time in three weeks, my BotW is a Sherlock Holmes-related novel: Brittany Cavalaro’s A Study in Charlotte.  But this time it’s Modern Sherlock descendants at a New England Boarding School so it is Completely Different from Sherry Thomas’s A Study in Scarlet Women. Even if the titles would lead you to think otherwise.  Honestly.  It really is.  Let me prove it to you…

Jamie Watson has won a rugby scholarship to a prep school in Connecticut.  He isn’t happy about it – not only doesn’t he want to leave London, he doesn’t really like rugby and the last thing he wants is to be closer to his dad and his step-family.  The only bright spot in this whole situation is that Charlotte Holmes also attends the school.  The Holmeses and the Watsons have been intertwined for generations – every since Sherlock solved mysteries and Watson wrote them down.  But Charlotte seems like more trouble than Jamie can (or should) handle:  she arrived at the school in mysterious circumstances, she runs a poker game at weekends and is rumoured to have a drug problem.  But the thing is, the two of them seem drawn to each other nonetheless.  Then a student is killed.  And not just any student – one who Watson had a very public fight with after he hassled Charlotte. And Holmes and Watson are being framed for the crime.  Charlotte may be the only person who can solve the case – but by investigating it may put them in the wrong place at the wrong time and make things even worse for them.

This is exactly my sort of YA.  There’s drama and peril and some angst here, but it’s not end-of-the-world or dystopian or bleak.  There’s school stuff and a mystery, but the issues are slightly more adult (drug addiction, sexual assault, stalkers) than you get in middle grade school stories and mysteries.  Jamie and Charlotte are incredibly engaging characters – and once again I had fun watching and seeing how Cavallaro had woven in the Sherlock-lore into her modern day characters.

I’ve actually had this on my reading wishlist for a while – Goodreads tells me I shelved this in November 2016 – but it’s not available in Kindle in the UK and it hadn’t come my way at the library or in the bookshops.  Or at least not at a point when I remembered to look for it anyway.  Luckily I found it in the library near my flat in the US and it was part of my marathon library book binge last week.  There are two more books in the series that have already come out and a fourth installment due in 2019.  I’m going to be be making proper efforts to get hold of them.  I might add the next one to my Christmas list…

You can get a copy of A Study in Charlotte in hardback or paperback from Amazon, but I’ve had trouble finding it for sale on any other UK-based vendors.  Which is a real shame because it is really very good.  But if you’re heading to the US anytime soon, put it on your to-buy list!

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 26 – December 2

Well, the reading was going ok until the jetlag got me and my brain stopped being able to concentrate on words on a page and although I started a few things over the weekend, all I actually finished was comics.  Hey ho, fingers crossed it doesn’t last for too long.  As you may have seen in yesterday’s Stats post, I did a good job of clearing the library book pile before I left the US, so at least I have that to be happy about.

Read:

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallero

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Star Trap by Simon Brett

An Amateur Corpse by Simon Brett

Rivers of London: Water Weed 4 by Ben Aaronovitch et al

Rivers of Londong: Action at a Distance by Ben Aaronovitch et al

Started:

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Still reading:

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fear by Bob Woodward

Simple Irresistible by Rachel Gibson

No books bought.  A miracle, achieved only because of lack of suitcase space and willpower not to visit a bookshop at the airport!

Bonus picture: part of Thomas Jefferson’s book collection at the Library of Congress

Some of Thomas Jefferson's books

books, stats

November Stats

New books read this month: 36*

Books from the to-read pile: 0 – too busy reading library books

Ebooks read: 20

Books from the Library book pile: 27 (including nine ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 0

#ReadHarder categories completed: 9

Pop Sugar categories completed: 13

Most read author: Cat Sebastian (four books)

Books read this year:  346

Books bought: 3 ebooks, 3 ebooks

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 566 (I don’t have copies of all of these!)

Three books bought, two ebooks pre-ordered as I burned a streak through the library book pile and panicked about whether I would have space in my suitcase for all the books I had bought (Hint: I didn’t, and nearly had to jettison a couple of unread ones at the airport)

This is a day late because I only landed back in the UK on the morning of the 1st and my brain couldn’t cope with counting.  Sorry.

Bonus picture: the Reading Room at the Library of Congress on Thursday.

The reading room at the Library of Congress

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics (4 this month)

American imports, romance

Book of the Week: Anyone But You

In case you didn’t notice, I read a lot last week.  I’m quite pleased with me.  Whether I remain pleased with me entirely depends on how far down the library book pile I get before I leave for the UK on Friday.  But despite the multitude of choices,  it was still hard to pick a BotW – not because there wasn’t anything good in the pile, but because there’s a few things on there that I want to write about elsewhere.  Luckily Jennifer Crusie’s Anyone But You was there to help me out – a standalone romance, with no series implications.  But hopefully you’ll be seeing a couple of other posts from the fruits of last week’s reading too.  Anyway, to the review.

Cover of Anyone But You

Nina Askew has just escaped her marriage.  She’s celebrating having freedom to do what she wants and not to try and be the perfect wife supporting her husband’s career any more by getting a rescue dog from the pound.  So what if she’s 40 and her family (and her ex) keep telling her that the divorce is a mistake.  She knows it’s the right thing to do, so she settles down in her new flat with her new dog.  Fred’s not exactly the dog she was expecting to get – he’s old, smelly and looks depressed – but he’s also the reason she meets her downstairs neighbour, Alex.  He’s a hotshot ER doctor, from a family of doctors who think he’s wasting his skills in the Emergency Room.  He’s also funny, smart and sexy and soon the sparks are flying between then.  But Nina can’t get past the fact that he’s ten years younger than she is – and he can’t get past the fact that he can’t give her the life he thinks she’s used to.  Can they sort out their differences for a happily ever after?

You know where this is going, it’s a romance, so obviously they can sort things out.  But this is funny, and sexy and has a great cast of supporting characters – from Nina’s unlucky in love best friend who’s writing a book about her failed relationships, to the septagenarian fitness lover on the top floor and her boyfriend.  Older woman/younger man is not usually a trope that I read, but somehow Jennifer Crusie made this one of my favourite romances that I’ve read recently.  The will-they-won’t-they in this is just so perfectly done – it never feels overplayed or dragged out, so you end up rooting for them all the more.  Some of their misunderstanding could be sorted out by serious discussion – but Crusie keeps it so that they’re not at a point where they can have that discussion – they’re just friends who watch movies together who don’t realise that they’re both feeling the same way.  And although it’s not specifically an autumn or winter-set book, some how with all the movie watching and the dog, it just felt like the perfect book to curl up on the sofa with at this time of year.

I got my copy from the library – it’s quite an old book so it looks like second hand is the way forward if you want a physical copy, but the ebook is quite reasonably priced on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 19 – November 25

I’m still blazing a trail through the library book pile.  I’m off back to the UK at the end of this week and I’m determined to read as many as I can.  But equally, there are still a few bits of sightseeing I haven’t done yet, so we’ll see how far I actually get!

Read:

Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian

Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance

What Angels Fear by CS Harris

Charlotte Holmes and the Locked Box by Sherry Thomas

Too Wilde to Wed by Eloisa James

Year of the Crocodile by Courtney Milan

Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie

How to Party with an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Death in St Petersburg by Tasha Alexa

The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Started:

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Simple Irresistable by Rachel Gibson

Still reading:

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fear by Bob Woodward

One book bought – the third Charlotte Holmes book to take home with me!

Bonus Photo: a panda at the National Zoo yesterday.

A annoyed looking giant panda

American imports, Book of the Week, mystery

Book of the Week: A Study in Scarlet Women

It’s nearly the end of my American Adventure, so my reading at the moment, as I mentioned yesterday, is mostly books I’ve borrowed from the library here.  I’m prioritising the pile too – because when I was borrowing books I was targetting books that I find it harder/more expensive to get hold of in the UK, so I’ll be gutted if I have to take some of them back unread.  And it also means that for the first time in a few weeks, I had lots of books to choose from for BotW this week, but it was a fairly easy choice – I raced through Sherry Thomas’s A Study in Scarlet Women on Saturday night – and it’s the first in a series.  Ideal.

Cover of A Study in Scarlet Women

So, A Study in Scarlet Women kicks off the Lady Sherlock series – which as you might guess is a gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes retelling.  Charlotte Holmes has never really felt happy with the life expected of a woman in upper class London in the late Victorian era.  And when her father reneges on a deal he made with her about her future, she takes matters into her own hands.  Unfortunately, that means making herself an outcast – and life as an outcast is harder than she thought.  And then there’s a series of deaths that are casting suspicion over the family she has left behind.  Soon Charlotte is investigating – under the assumed name of Sherlock Holmes – with the help of a few new friends, and one very old friend who has loved her forever.

I read this in almost one sitting** and it is so good.  Charlotte is a brilliant heroine.  The analytical mind that serves Sherlock so well creates as whole load of problems for a woman – who isn’t expected to speak up, or demand a life that doesn’t revolve around marriage.  Her deductions are clever, the mystery is great – and she’s much more sympathetic than Proper Sherlock is – she’s motivated by helping her family and her friends in a lot of what she does, not just the mystery solving.  Just a note though I’ve seen this categorized as a romance – which I think isn’t quite right.  I first head about it on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books podcast and Sherry Thomas does also write romances, but for me this is definitely Historical Mystery with a side order of unresolved romance and sexual tension.  Don’t go expecting a resolution/Happy Ever After here.

Side note, I was listening to that edition of Smart Bitches after a night shift on the way back to where I was staying, and the combination of lack of sleep, going to a different station to where I was used to heading to from Waterloo station and being engrossed in this saw me in autopilot mode and getting on the wrong train and ending up in Richmond and not in Barnes.  I have a vivid memory of sitting on the platform at Richmond, freezing cold, watching it get light, waiting for a train back the other way and listening to Sherry Thomas talking about learning English as a second language through the medium of 70s and 80s historical romance novels!

Anyway, back to the book, if you like series like Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell or Lady Julia Grey, Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily – or even some of the interwar-set detective series like Daisy Dalrymple, Phryne Fisher, Dandy Gilver or Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness – then definitely give this a try, even if you’re not usually into Sherlock retellings.  And if you are a Sherlock fan, then definitely take a look at this.

My copy came from the library*, but you should be able to get your hands on this fairly easy.  It’s available in Kindle and Kobo as well as in paperback from all the usual suspects.  You might need to order it in though.  I already have the second book on loan from the library, and I’ve ordered the third to take home with me even though I have limited space in my luggage home.

Happy Reading

*Although I’ve since found it on my Kindle where I picked it up on offer for £1.49 last summer and then it got lost in the shuffle of books.  Insert comment about the state of my tbr pile here.

**I moved from the sofa to bed about halfway through, but ended up staying up late to finish it.