books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: August 1 – August 7

Two nights away from home, three theatre trips and an evening at the Commonwealth Games. Truly it is a miracle I read anything this week! But I did, go me. This week is looking equally frantic, so goodness knows what next week’s list will look like too.

Read:

Husband Material by Alexis Hall*

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham

Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver

A Dream of Sadlers Wells by Lorna Hill

Veronica Goes to the Wells by Lorna Hill

Started:

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra*

The Twist of the Knife by Anthony Horowitz

Still reading:

Godemersham Park by Gill Hornby*

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Another Time, Another Place by Jodi Taylor

Femina by Janina Ramirez*

Castle Shade by Laurie R King

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

Two books in Foyles on Monday. I said the willpower wouldn’t last!

Bonus photo: theatre trio three – Glass Menagerie, which I studied at school but had never seen.

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

not a book, theatre

Not a Book: Jack Absolute Flies Again!

Back in the theatre with this Sunday’s post because I had a wonderful night out on Monday night at the National Theatre. In fact it’s one of three trips to the theatre this week, which might be a record even for me!

So Jack Absolute Flies again is the new play by Richard Bean – who was behind the smash hit One Man, Two Guv’nors – and Oliver Chris. Like One Man… it’s based on another classic play, in this case Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals, written in 1775. They’ve moved the action to 1940, and our sets of not so star crossed lovers are now taking part in the Battle of Britain.

If you haven’t seen the Rivals, it’s the story of Lydia Languish, a teenage heiress and Jack Absolute. It’s all very complicated with disguises but basically Lydia and Jack are in love but she wants a big romance and when Jack’s father arranges a marriage between Jack and Lydia she rejects it. Cue much tooling and groping. Or at least that’s what I think happens…

Funny story: I’ve technically seen The Rivals, but when we went to see it at the Southwark Playhouse more than a decade ago, it was an evening production on a Saturday night, after I’d worked a early shift at the radio station (and at the end of a six day week of earlies). No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stay away (and I had a nap in the interval in the hole it would improve things) and neither could Him Indoors. I’m still cross about it because it was a really cool venue and an excellent cast – including Celia Imrie – and I wish I’d managed to stay away. But it was in fact a legendary night in our relationship – where we both fell asleep on the train home and missed our stop and ended up three stops down the line, at the wrong end of Southend, three miles from home and not a cab in sight. And this was the pre-Uber era…

Anyway, back to Jack Absolute. It’s rather freely adapted, but there are still competing suitors for Lydia – this time from among the pilots – and it’s all a lot of fun, but with an undercurrent of peril behind it. And even if you haven’t heard of The Rivals, you’ve probably heard of one of its characters – Mrs Malaprop, who constantly uses words that sound like the one she means but… aren’t. Bean and Chris use this to maximum effect – often getting really quite saucy. The age recommendation is 12 plus – and I would endorse than unless you want to be trying to explain things you’d maybe rather not! Caroline Quentin is very good as the mangler of the English language – and does a good job of trying to steal every scene that she’s in.

Genuinely this was a funny and thought provoking evening and a clever update to the original which has gone it’s own way at times to add some interest and depth to some of the supporting characters. There’s a lot of fourth wall breaking which really worked for me and the projections for the flying scenes were very good too. I hope that this does really well – it was a bit empty around the top when I saw it on Monday, but tickets are very reasonably priced and it was very well worth the £20 I spent!

Jack Absolute Flies Again is at the National Theatre until September 3, and is coming to NT Live in cinemas in the autumn.

books

Books in the Wild: New Release edition!

I’m always saying at the end of book of the week posts that I don’t know how easy a book will be to find in stores, so as I had a little wander through a few book shops this week, so I’m in a position to provide an update!

And let’s start with the fact that Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is getting a big push – which is great. Two spots in the front of Foyles. And I’ve raved about it so much that one of my colleagues has bought it as her holiday book. I hope she likes it now!

I’ve still not finished it, but also getting a good spot near the front is Janina Ramirez’s Femina. Side note: Jarvis Cocker’s Good Pop, Bad Pop is interesting to me, but not in hardback!

After spotting it in Birmingham last week, and at the airport the other month, proof the Richard Coles is everywhere! Also – the Ian Moore is the sequel to Death and Croissants which I read last year and enjoyed the setting more than the mystery – but loved the setting so much I would happily read a second book set around there.

And finally not a book that I’ve read, but one that I spotted for the first time in the store and now really really want to read: Young Bloomsbury by Nino Strachey. Bright Young Things, 1920s, artists, Bohemia – this is all so far up my street it’s unbelievable. But I can probably wait for the paperback or for a kindle price drop. On to the Christmas list it goes!

Happy Saturday everyone one.

historical, mystery, series

Historical mysteries: Amory Ames

Back with a historical mystery series this first Friday in August, and we’re in my sweet spot for mysteries again: between the wars!

Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman, who when we meet her in 1932 is somewhat regretting her marriage, five years earlier, to a handsome playboy called Milo. When her former fiancé asks for her help, she joins him in a trip to a hotel where someone soon turns up dead. And of course when her ex-fiancé is arrested for the murder, Amory starts to investigate. And then her husband arrives. You get the idea.

It’s a little bit of a spoiler to say that Amory and Milo’s relationship survives the first book, but their somewhat dysfunctional relationship is one of the threads running through the first couple of books. I actually found myself liking the series more as they went along – there is a lot of setting up and characters to introduce in book one which makes it a little busy! But if you like Royal Spyness, then you should try these – Amory is not royal but there’s definitely some similarities between Georgie and Darcy and Amory and Milo.

There are seven books in the series – which I think might be all we’re going to get, as there hasn’t been a new one since 2020, and Ashley Weaver has started a new series. But as the first two are in Kindle Unlimited at the moment, it’s not a bad time to check the series out.

Have a good Friday everyone!

books, stats

July Stats

Books read this month: 29*

New books: 16

Re-reads: 13 (6 audiobooks, 7 books)

Books from the to-read pile: 5

NetGalley books read: 3

Kindle Unlimited read: 1

Ebooks: 6

Library books: 1

Audiobooks: 6

Non-fiction books: 2

Favourite book this month: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Most read author: Kerry Greenwood as I finished the Phryne re-read

Books bought: 13 – 3 books and ten ebooks.

Books read in 2022: 232

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 657

A fairly steady month in reading. I didn’t go too mad with purchases, but we also had a heat wave where it was too hot to concentrate and I’m back in the groove of a night or two in London each week with a social life going on. And then there’s the commonwealth games. So not quite as much read as I expected, but not too bad all in all.

Bonus picture: the Lionesses Mural going up on Thursday evening on Euston Road

*Usually includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels – 3 this month graphic novels

book round-ups, Recommendsday, reviews

Recommendsday: July Quick Reviews

I’ve already written about so much this month and there were so many re-reads that I was worried I wouldn’t have a lot to write about that I liked and hadn’t already. But I’ve managed to pull three books out of my hat so well done me!

That Woman by Anne Sebba

My interest in the Abdication crisis is well known at this point. This has been on the list for a while as it is meant to be one of the more definitive ones and I picked this up second hand in the nice charity shop near work a few weeks back and got to it promptly so that I can lend it to mum! It’s interesting, but there’s not a lot of focus on her post war life. I think Andrew Lownie’s Traitor King has more on her post war life than this does – and that’s focussed on him! But it is good on her childhood and pre-duke life as well as her potential motivations.

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy by Chynna Clugston Flores et al

My love for Lumberjanes is also well known, and well publicised on here, so I’m not quite sure how I’d missed that there had been a Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy crossover book. But there was and it came out in 2017 so I’m well behind the times as I filled in the gap in the series. I haven’t read any Gotham Academy, but that didn’t matter as this is essentially a two schools run into each other, are rivals and then have to work together to defeat a baddie story. And it’s got a possessed house and 1980s theme so it’s a lot of fun.

Shipped by Angie Hockman

And finally a quick mention for this one. It was billed as “The Unhoneymooners meets the Hating Game” with a marketing manager for a holiday firm forced to go on a cruise with her work arch-nemesis and I love an enemies to lovers romance, but didn’t quite work for me as well as I wanted because it hit some of my “why are you acting like this” buttons and the heroine really, really annoyed me. But I know that a lot of that is a me thing, so people with a higher (lower?) embarrassment threshold will probably love it. However, if you want a book with a cruise ship and a romance (even if the romance is a bit secondary) then try The Unsinkable Greta James.

And finally, a reminder in case you need it of this months Books of the Week: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow; Mendelssohn and Murder; The Incredible Crime and the aforementioned Unsinkable Greta James, which I actually read right at the end of June but was reviewed in July. The series posts were: the Affair of… series; The Grantchester series, Vicky Bliss and a revist of the Phryne Fisher books. And finally the Recomendsdays were novels about Friendships and mysteries with Vicars.

Welcome to August everyone!

Book of the Week, LGTBQIA+, new releases

Book of the Week: Husband Material

Yes I finished this on Monday – but it’s out today so it’s actually time appropriate. Check me out with the ever so slightly forward planning.

Husband Material is the sequel to Boyfriend Material which was a Book of the Week back when I read it in early 2021. We rejoin our erstwhile heroes two years into their actual relationship (as opposed to the fake one, see Boyfriend Material) and its all going well for Luc and Oliver. They’re making their relationship work – Luc’s trying not to bring the chaos and Oliver’s getting therapy and it’s all lovely. Except that suddenly everyone is getting married and Luc thinks maybe they’re meant to too, because that’s what you’re meant to do when you love each other, right? Right?

I have strongly mixed feelings on sequels usually. I know I’m always saying that I want more of the happily ever after at the end of my romance novels, but I appreciate that an actual novel needs tension and conflict. Most sequels do this by breaking the couple up and getting them back together (or variations thereof) and that often drives me mad. Particularly when the breakup is because of something you could solve by having a conversation. This does not do that. There is conflict, but I was not really ever worried that Luc and Oliver going to end up together – just how were they going to work it all out. And I can’t really explain any more than that without massive plot spoilers.

All the supporting cast are back too – Luc’s friends, his crazy mum, thankfully not too much of his awful dad. And there’s lots of banter and pop culture references. And if I didn’t quite love it as much as the first one, it was a pretty high bar to hit and it was lovely being back with some old friends for a few hours. This is apparently a universe now – so there’s a third book coming, but about a different couple, one of whom briefly featured in this book. So that’s fun too.

My copy of Husband Material came from NetGalley (thank you bookish gods) but it’s out today in Kindle, Kobo and delicious paperback, including from Words and Kisses where they have signed ones. You definitely need to have read Boyfriend Material to get the most out of this though.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: July 25 – July 31

Well it’s been an amazing week – Martha Wainwright, Commonwealth Games Gymnastics and then England won the women’s Euros. Is it any surprise that the list is slightly shorter that usual this week? It’s the end of the month too so we have the usual array of review posts coming up this week too. You’re welcome.

Read:

Mean Baby by Selma Blair

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

Infamous by Lex Croucher*

The Affair of the Blood Stained Egg Cozy by James Anderson

Riviera Gold by Laurie R King

Rhode Island Rooster by Charlotte Carter

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

Started:

Husband Material by Alexis Hall*

Castle Shade by Laurie R King

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

Still reading:

Godemersham Park by Gill Hornby*

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Another Time, Another Place by Jodi Taylor

Femina by Janina Ramirez*

No books bought – despite that visit to Waterstones. Don’t worry. It won’t last!

Bonus photo: the giant bull from the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in Birmingham city centre 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.

not a book

Not a Book: Commonwealth games!

As you will have spotted yesterday, I was in Birmingham on Friday – and why was I there? Well, this is why!

Yes! I was at the first day of action at the Commonwealth Games to watch the Men’s Team Competition in the gymnastics. Side note for those of you of a certain age, the competition was held at Arena Birmingham, formerly known as the National Indoor Arena, host of the Eurovision Song Contest last time it was held in the UK but more importantly the venue for iconic 1990s TV series Gladiators, teatime viewing for me and my sister for years. Did have a conversation about where the travellator would have been, and how tall the Wall must have been? Absolutely. Anyway, we’ve never been to see live gymnastics before and it was absolutely epic. Excuse my terrible photos, taken on max zoom on my iPhone, but here is defending rings champion Courtney Tulloch doing an Iron Cross in his top-scoring routine (right in front of us!):

And here is home town boy Joe Fraser during his Horizontal Bar routine that clinched team England the gold medal. Honestly, Fraser was so impressive all day – we heard some people around us say that he had a foot injury and that was why he was only working four pieces and would miss the all around final, but we found out when we got home that it’s only five weeks since he had his appendix removed. Insane.

As I said, England won the gold – but Cyprus won the bronze after missing out four years ago and were totally delighted about it – including their top scorer (and second highest in the all around qualification) Marios Georgiou who appeared to hurt his hand (dislocated a finger or thumb we thought) in his dismount from his final apparatus the pommel horse. Team Cyprus’s celebrations were epic – and fingers crossed Mario is ok for the final.