Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: January 10 – January 16

Can confirm: a couple of things got in the way of the reading last week. Firstly, the figure skating was on – and you can’t read and pay attention to the skating – and secondly it was my birthday. On top of all the usual stuff, that means the list is shorter this week. Also Ashes of London is really long.

Read:

Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R King

The Hippopotamus Pool by Elizabeth Peters

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

Anthropology by Dan Rhodes

Started:

Death Goes on Skis by Nancy Spain

Spies in St Petersburg by Katherine Woodfine

Still reading:

Forever Young by Hayley Mills

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor*

A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle*

I may have bought myself a couple of books as birthday gifts. But I was quite restrained really.

Bonus photo: In years past, the photo would have been of a trip for my birthday, but the omicron wave means this was my second birthday in a row at home (after almost a decade of going away for it!) so here I am on the sofa with some champagne and a book. And this very laptop in the background on the other sofa because I wasn’t paying proper attention to my backgrounds. I’ll never be an influencer will I?!

A copy of Death of Skis rests on a tartan rug while a hand holds a glass of champagne

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

 

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: January 3 – January 9

Just when I thought I was finished with the Christmas reading, I read two more Christmas books. What am I like?! Keen eyed readers will notice that I’ve already finished one of my anticipated books and have started a second. And I’ve read one and started another from that pesky NetGalley backlog.  A couple of Wimsey’s are on here – as audiobooks – as I continue to relisten to them all as I putter around the place. I’m making good progress on Vanderbilt – which is a hardback so not quite as portable as some of the other options, otherwise I think it would be finished already! The end of year/start of year posting frenzy is coming to an end I think, but I do have some ideas for posts coming up to try and keep a bit of the momentum going, even if it’s not quite as much as it has been for the last three-ish weeks!

Read:

The Twelve Jays of Christmas by Donna Andrews

Death in the Wasteland by George Bellairs

Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers

Recipe for Redemption by Anna J Stewart*

Rare Danger by Beverly Jenkins

God Rest Ye Royal, Gentlemen by Rhys Bowen

Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari*

The Christie Affair by Nina de Grammont*

Started

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor*

A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle*

Still reading:

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R King

Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

Forever Young by Hayley Mills

Two books bought – one physical, one ebook.

Bonus photo: This week, as the only place I’ve been that isn’t my house is the park, the corner shop and Aldi, I thought I’d give you a change. Here’s an attempt to be creative – with some flower arranging…

An attempt at flower arranging

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

 

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 27 – January 2

Well I do hope you have been enjoying the positive orgy of posts over the last two weeks – and we’re not done yet! Obviously there’s a book of the week post tomorrow, but there’s also the Mini-reviews on Wednesday as usual too. But on top of that I’ve been thinking about my Kindle Unlimited reading in 2021 and my anticipated books of 2022. As for this post, because I finished the 50 States challenge just before Christmas, my goal for the week between Christmas and New Year was to try and finish off all the books that have been hanging around on the Still Reading list for weeks. And as I managed that, I threw in a last a last bit of Christmas Reading as well. I’ve also made a start on a couple of my Christmas Books, as well as what seems like my annual attempt to improve my life in some way with some self help/productivity type books. I didn’t manage finish everything I started though, so the Still Reading list may be empty for one week only! And as we were not really going out because we were close contacts of a Covid case, there was plenty of time for reading so this week’s list is a long one – and as we’re in a new calendar year, the re-read count is reset, hence the appearance of Death in a White Tie again – which was my audiobook for most of the week. 

Read:

The Christmas Card Crime and other stories by Martin Edwards

Release the Beast by Bimini Bon Boulash

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

Yule Log Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross

Blood at the Bookies by Simon Brett

Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh

Started

The Twelve Jays of Christmas by Donna Andrews

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R King

Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari*

Forever Young by Hayley Mills

The Christie Affair by Nina de Grammont*

Still reading:

n/a

I bought myself the Hayley Mills, and laid in the next Mary Russell after the one I started this week, but that was it I think. I’m kinda pleased with me!

Bonus photo: Some gorgeous colours at sunset (well nearly sunset) on Sunday after my very wet and cold trot around the park.

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

 

Authors I love, detective, Series I love, Surviving the 'Rona

Favourites Revisited: Gaudy Night

Amid the flurry of end of year posts, here is something completely different and that has been months in the making. It’s taken me a while to get this down in writing in a way that I’m anywhere near happy with and I’m still not sure I’m quite there. So why am I finally posting it now? Well, I was writing my end of 2021 post and it was starting to touch on some similar ground, so I thought I ought to get this out there first.

One of my very earliest posts on this site was about my love of Peter Wimsey. And over the years since then I have reread and relistened to the series over and over. But until the summer it had been years since I had Gaudy Night – in full at least and not as a radio play. But then I treated myself to the audiobook in August and listened to it. And I was enjoying it so much that I got the book off the shelf too. And then I realised that I was behind on my podcasts because I wanted to carry on listening to Gaudy Night rather than listening to them. And when I got to the end, I started all over again. And now I have a lot to say about it and Spoilers ahoy, not just for Gaudy Night but for most of the rest of the Wimsey books. Be warned.

A reminder, if you need it, that Gaudy Night is the third of four books featuring Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey. It is the book where Harriet’s relationship with Peter moves towards a resolution. The final book of the quartet sees the pair get married and Gaudy Night is the bridge that explains how they got from the tetchiness of the murder at Wilvercombe (which was already a step on from her mistrust and confusion in Strong Poison) to a point where Harriet has realised that she is in love with him and that taking a chance on another relationship might be the right thing to do.

She fell a victim to an inferiority complex, and tripped over her partner’s feet. ‘Sorry,’ said Wimsey, accepting responsibility like a gentleman. ‘It’s my fault,’ said Harriet. ‘I’m a rotten dancer. Don’t bother about me. Let’s stop. You haven’t got to be polite to me, you know.’

Worse and worse. She was being peevish and egotistical. Wimsey glanced down at her in surprise and then suddenly smiled.

‘Darling, if you danced like an elderly elephant with arthritis, I would dance the sun and moon into the sea with you. I have waited a thousand years to see you dance in that frock.’

‘Idiot’ said Harriet.

Have His Carcase

I have had the audiobooks of a lot of the other books in the series for years. In fact Busman’s Honeymoon was one of my earliest picks on Audible and I soon picked up as many of the others as I could that were read by Ian Carmichael. But he didn’t read all of them, so I filled in the gaps using radio adaptations of the series – again starring Ian Carmichael as Peter. I had Murder Must Advertise read by someone else, and Five Red Herrings read by Patrick Malahide (in a delightful crossover with my love of the Inspector Alleyn TV adaptations) but until thus summer I didn’t have either Have His Carcase or Gaudy Night in full on audio. But as I was working through audiobooks at some pace, I decided to take a chance on the Have His Carcase that Audible were offering. Now I have reread Have His Carcase a few times – because I think it’s a particularly well worked mystery – but I’d stuck to the radio play version because of my attachment to Ian Carmichael narrating. But actually after a little bit I got used to Jane McDowell, and although the code breaking section makes no sense to me as audio (it’s hard enough on paper), because it was told from more Harriet’s side than Peter’s the female narrator grew on me. So I bought Gaudy Night.

The thing it is easy to forget reading now is that Sayers spaced out the Peter and Harriet with other novels with just Peter and the poor readers at the time had no idea what was going to happen – if anything – between them. So when you realise Strong Poison (1930) was followed by Five Red Herrings (1931), it adds the context that perhaps the reason Peter has gone off to Scotland is perhaps to clear his head after Harriet’s trial. Have His Carcase is next (1932), when Harriet finds a body on the beach and Peter comes down to solve the crime (as she thinks) but also as the reader knows, try and make her situation better. Then it’s Murder Must Advertise, which focuses on Peter in his advertising alter ego but with a blink and you’ll miss it nod to what is going on with Harriet.

Wimsey put down the receiver. ‘I hope,’ he thought, ‘she isn’t going to make an awkwardness. You cannot trust these young women. No fixity of purpose. Except, of course, when you particularly want them to be yielding.’

He grinned with a wry mouth, and went out to keep his date with the one young woman who showed no signs of yielding to him, and what he said or did on that occasion is in no way related to this story.

Murder Must Advertise

Then the following year was the Nine Tailors before (at last) Gaudy Night in 1935. And early in Chapter 4 of Gaudy Night, Sayers sets out for you what has been going on in the background all along. I’m struggling to think of another series with a moment quite like it – where an author says “by the way, while these mysteries were going on, there was also something I didn’t tell you about”.

Was it too late to achieve wholly the clear eye and the untroubled mind? And what, in that case, was she to do with one powerful fetter which still tied her ineluctably to the bitter past? What about Peter Wimsey?

Gaudy Night

And then across the course of 500 pages, Harriet tries to solve a poison pen mystery at her old college, but decide exactly what about Peter Wimsey. She works her way through her hang ups after her disastrous relationship with Philip Boyes and starts to come to a better understanding of who she is and what it is about her that has caused Wimsey to propose to her once a quarter for years on end. And the reader understands him better for it too.

I have listened to the radio play version of Gaudy Night more times than I care to count, because even though Ian Carmichael is really quite old by that point, he doesn’t sound it and it is such a clever mystery as well has having a great setting in Oxford. But as I listened to it unabridged, I realised both how cleverly that radio adaptation had been done and how much had been taken out from the original novel. Reggie Pomfret’s whole plot strand is neatly snipped out and part of the evolution of Harriet’s feelings goes with it. And because it is a radio play you also lose the internal side of Harriet’s world and of course the glorious set up explaining what had been going on in the background with Harriet and Peter was missing too – because how on earth do you jump through a time line like that in a radio play?

After I finished Gaudy Night, I bought the Jane McDowell Busman’s Honeymoon and listened to that as well for the contrast with the Carmichael that I have listened to so many times. And it was interesting, but then I went back to Gaudy Night again. And again.

And so here we are, several months on. And I’ve probably listened to it in full half a dozen times. And my edited highlights half a dozen more: that chapter four description of the three years between Wilvercombe and Harriet’s return to her old college for the Gaudy. Her first encounter with St George and her subsequent discoveries about Peter’s relationships with his family – and then Peter’s reaction to that. His arrival in Oxford and their afternoon on the river. The chess set. The resolution of the mystery. The resolution. What it is about Gaudy Night that means it is what my brain needs at the moment I don’t know. But it is.

I’ve written bits and bobs here about the pandemic, but it’s been a rotten nearly two years for everyone. And it turns out that my brain had decided that the best way to get away from what’s happening in the real world and to help it relax, is to listen to the same audiobooks over and over again. Gaudy Night. Busman’s Honeymoon. Sylvester. These Old Shades. Artists in Crime. Death in a White Tie. And that’s ok by me, even if it does mean I’m months behind on podcasts I previously listened to religiously. But hey. These aren’t normal times. As is evidenced by the fact that I’ve just written the longest thing I’ve ever put on this blog to dissect my obsession with Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. Now if you’ll excuse me, Harriet is trying to write a letter to Peter about St George…

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 20 – December 26

Hands up anyone else whose Christmas didn’t quite work out as planned? Yes, quite a lot of us really isn’t there. Still in our case it could have been worse – there was only one positive test, and the rest of the family are still clear. For now. Anyway, it came at the end of a very, very busy week and consequently this week’s list is mostly the tail end of the 50 states challenge (I finished!) and then Christmas (or at least festive) themed novellas. But that was what I fancied reading, so it’s allowed! Onwards to the last few days of the year. Coming up this week we have the end of year extravaganzas – as long as I manage to write them all…

Read:

Buzz Off by Deb Baker

Movie Night Murder by Leslie Langtry

A Very Beery New Year by Jackie Lau

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R King

The Ordeal of the Haunted Room by Jodi Taylor

Toast of Time by Jodi Taylor

Oh. What. Fun. by Chandler Baker

Started:

The Christmas Card Crime and other stories by Martin Edwards

Release the Beast by Bimini Bon Boulash

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

Blood at the Bookies by Simon Brett

A couple of books received for Christmas, a couple more bought on the Kindle. Positively restrained.

Bonus photo: a scene of Christmas Eve chaos – as the present wrapping gets done even later than ever before…

Wrapping paper, gift tags and other gift wrapping acoutrements!

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

 

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 13 – December 19

Six more states ticked off! I’m so nearly there now that it’s tempting to add more targets for the end of the year, but I shall valiantly resist the urge. It was a busy week last week and this one is going to be another one as I try to get everything done before the big day on Saturday. Wish me luck!

Read:

In the Dead of Winter by Nancy Mehl

Dakota Home by Debbie Macomber

Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles

My Dear Friend Janet by Keke Palmer with Jasmine Guillory

The Laughing Corpse by Laurel K Hamilton

Christmas in Paradise by Kathi Daley

Ghostly Paws by Leighann Dobbs

Started:

Buzz Off by Deb Baker

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

Blood at the Bookies by Simon Brett

I preordered a couple for me and ordered the last of the Christmas gift books, but they don’t count right?!

Bonus photo: not my sticker – I haven’t got a single one – but I got my booster jab last week!

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

 

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 6 – December 12

Is this week’s list entirely dominated by books for the Read across the USA challenge? Yes. Was there some fun stuff there? Absolutely. Am I on track to finish it before the end of the year? I think so. As you were.

Read:

Basket Case by Nancy Haddock

Ukulele Murder by Leslie Langtry

Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer

Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn

Moonlighting in Vermont by Kate George

Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson

Started:

Dakota Home by Debbie Macomber

The Laughing Corpse by Laurel K Hamilton

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

Blood at the Bookies by Simon Brett

A couple bought for some of those pesky missing states, but also a bunch of free books because I was wandering Amazon looking for the missing states…

Bonus photo:  I made a wreath. And I’m reasonably pleased with it. And it’s nearly Christmas, so lets be festive.

A festive wreath

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

 

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 29 – December 5

A bumper week of posts last week – some scheduled, one not. As I suspected last week, I’ve been mostly focussing my reading efforts on finishing my Read Across the USA challenge for the year – with four more states ticked off. I’m starting to get vaguely optimistic that I might complete it, but it’s early in December yet and who knows what I might get distracted by…

Read:

The Tormentors by George Bellairs

Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

Her Pretend Christmas Date by Jackie Lau

Maid for Love by Marie Force

On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay

Whisky Chaser by Lucy Score with Claire Kingsley

These Alien Skies by C T Rwizi

Started:

Basket Case by Nancy Haddock

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

Blood at the Bookies by Simon Brett

Bonus photo: I didn’t actually take a lot of pictures last week, but getting a neat square out of my lasagne on Sunday night may be the high point. What does that say about me?! At any rate, it made me happy in the it’s the small things way!

A square of lasagne

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

 

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 22 – November 28

So I can confirm, that this was the week where I realised that I have just over a month until the end of the year and a lot of states to still tick off from my Read the USA challenge this year. Thus, a bunch of books got abandoned midway through while I started a scramble to try and get some more states ticked off. And I actually did ok – with three more off the list and some stuff ordered for some of the other missing states so things are feeling a bit more possible again. But I can feel a theme for the next few weeks reading coming along…

Read:

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R King

Fangirl Vol 1: The Manga by Rainbow Rowell, Sam Maggs and Gabi Nam

Educated by Tara Westover*

Snowbound Squeeze by Tawna Fenske

The Ex Hex by Erin Stirling

If the Fates Allow by Rainbow Rowell

Model Home by J Courtney Sullivan

Started:

Blood at the Bookies by Simon Brett

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

The Tormentors by George Bellairs

As I’ve already mentioned it at the top, I can’t lie – there have been a few books bought this week because of the aforementioned reading challenge and the fact that the tbr bookshelf isn’t going to help me with some of my missing states! I did pick up books for a few of them via Kindle Unlimited though, so that’s something right?!

Bonus photo: some comfort cooking for the picture this week, because there’s nothing like coming home from a sunny holiday into top temperatures of 4 degrees to make you want to eat something that will stick to you ribs…

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

 

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 15 – November 21

So I have a confession. I’ve been on holiday again. I valiantly went to Gran Canaria for a week to help Him Indoors use up some leave before the end of the calendar year. And it was delightful. Very chilled out and lovely and warm. I also did a lot of reading. I’m making good progress on the Barbara Pym biography – but it’s very long, and I have been reading it on the iPad and my kindle wouldn’t hook up to the Wifi to sync so I couldn’t read it on the beach – so it’s not finished yet. And I didn’t take Almost English and Heroine Complex with me so they’re still ongoing (since last holiday – eek!). But I did read really quite a lot and lots of it good. Plenty of stuff to talk about. I just need to figure out when I’m going to do it. This week is back to normal really – I just need to catch up on everything I’ve missed in the last week… wish me luck!

Read:

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville

IQ by Joe Ide 

Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant*

Wish Upon a Cowboy by Donna Grant*

Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris*

Death Under the Dryer by Simon Brett

Stormy Weather by Carl Hiassen

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Shucked Apart by Barbara Ross

Started:

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R King

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

The Tormentors by George Bellairs

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

I have been very restrained and haven’t bought anything since the two books at the airport last weekend. Check me out!

Bonus photo: Of course it’s from the holiday. What else would it be. Here’s the lagoon by the beach at Maspalomas. And it was as lovely and sunny as this looks.

Lagoon and sand dunes with glorious blue sky

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