bingeable series, romance, series

Bingeable series: Centre Stage

Now it’s not been that long since Acting Up was Book of the Week, so I wouldn’t normally be writing about the series so soon but, and this is a big but, they are all in Kindle Unlimited at the moment (Adele Buck says for the next few months) so I’m writing about them now!

These are a series of connected romance novels about actors and acting related people. I’ve already written plenty about Acting Up, but Method Acting features a character you only see through emails in that, Alicia, who is performing in a Shakespeare play in Washington when she meets political lobbyist Colin, Acting Lessons is about James and Frederick who we first see having a summer fling in Acting Up and Fast Acting is Kathleen who we met in Method Acting working with Alicia and Russell the law professor who is friends with Colin.

I read them all in order – you’ll see that I binged three in a week – but you could just pick out your favourite trope and start with that – Acting Up is friends to lovers/secret crush, Method acting is bad first impression, Acting Lessons is second chance and Fast Acting is destination wedding Fling that turns into something more. They have fun banter and nice acting and backstage details. I also really enjoyed that Method Acting was set in Washington because it mentioned a bunch of places that I visited when I was there (how is it four years ago!) and I love that sort of thing.

They were a bargain when I picked them up – but they’re even more of a bargain now if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member. Now that does mean that they’re not on other platforms at the moment, but they will be back there are the KU exclusivity is up. Meanwhile, if you’ve already read all of these, Adele’s new book Handy For You – which is the second in her All for You series – came out this week too.

bingeable series, historical, romance

Bingeable series: London Highwaymen

Is it a series when there are only two books? A duology? A pair? A duo? Anyway, to fit in with my titles, I hereby christen Cat Sebastian’s two London Highwaymen books a series and they are definitely a bingeable one, because I read them one after another across the space of 48 hours.

So what we have here are two stories featuring the same characters but focussing on different couples. Firstly we have retired (through injury) highwayman Kit, who is dragged into helping Percy, Lord Holland with a robbery he needs to save his family. Of course it goes wrong, but can they make it work together despite that?

Then there’s Marian, she’s been being blackmailed by a charismatic criminal, but it’s him she turns to when she shoots her husband. No, it wasn’t an accident, no he wasn’t a nice man. So the question is can she escape punishment for the shooting and can she make a new happy ending with Rob the Ex-highwayman.

You need to read these in order. Trust me when I say it will spoil some of the fun if you read Marian first. I don’t read a lot of highwayman stories, but these were right up my street. They’re very easy to read, there is peril but (for the most part) no misunderstandings that could be cleared up by a simple conversation. If you’re after some historical romance that has less of the balls and ton and more of the coffee shops and normal people, these will do the trick for you I think. They certainly did for me.

I got my copies on Kindle, but they are (I think) also available in paperback although I haven’t seen them in an actual bookshop yet.

Happy Reading!

bingeable series, Series I love

Series I Love: London Celebrities

I’ve been running a theatrical theme for a couple of weeks now so I thought I’d start the bank holiday weekend with a bingeable series of romance with a theatrical theme.

Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities books are a series of enemies to lovers type romances set in London – initially in the world of West End theatre but in the fourth and fifth in the series expanding a little to include asetting at a country house and then two rival TV producers and. They tend to have sunshiney heroines and grumpy heroes who are actually big softies underneath and plenty of charming banter. In fact several of them were Books of the Week when they came out and I’ve mentioned them all at some point before, but now I’m finally taking them as a group.

They’re all set in the same world and there is character cross over but – like many romance series – each story is selfcontained and features a different couple. Act Like It has a fake relationship between two co-stars who can’t stand each other to try and help a bad boy fix his image problem. Pretty Face has an actress who’s been pigeonholed as her man-stealing period drama character taking on a West End role and fighting with the director who doesn’t want to give her the part. Making Up has an understudy who takes over the leading role and a make-up artist who is working on thes show after his professional reputation took an unfair battering. The Austen Playbook has a daughter of an acting dynasty taking a role in a new Jane Austen TV series being filmed at the ancestral home of a descendant of someone her grandmother had an affair with. And Headliners has two rival TV presenters who are forced to work together on morning TV to save the show and save their careers. And don’t they all sound delicious? I mean I started reading the series again just to write this post, and that’s a bit of a disaster in itself to be honest, because I have a long list of things I’m meant to be reading and these aren’t on it.

You should be able to get them on all the usual ebook platforms – there’s even an omnibus edition of the first three if you’re feeling ready to commit. Also Lucy Parker’s newest novel Battle Royal – which was a Book of the Week here almost exactly a year ago – is £1.99 at the moment. No news yet on when the sequel to that one is coming though…

bingeable series, detective, mystery

Mystery series: The Affair of… Mysteries

This week I’m going for a trilogy of country house-set mysteries that I’ve been revisiting in audiobook format about a decade or more after I first read them.

First published in the late 1970s, James Anderson is trying to recreate that Agatha Christie, Golden Age crime novel feeling, but with a bit of a knowing twist. In the first book for example, you’ve got a diamond theft, stolen antique guns, a diplomatic incident, unexpected guests and a body in the lake. And as the books go on you have a host who is very aware that every time he throws a house party bad things seem to happen and that’s a delight too!

The second book has a film star and his movie mogul producer, and the third a family funeral that turns murderous. All of them have the local detective Chief Inspector Wilkins presiding over the investigation, telling you all the time that he knows how they do it in books, but it’s not like that in real life! What’s not to love?

These should be fairly easy to get hold of – my original copies were the 2009-ish era Alison and Busby ones, with 1930s inspired covers in red and green and yellow, which you used to see fairly regularly at the library and in the charity shops. As you can see from the picture on the post, there’s another reissue since then (I think this year) with blues and lilacs for the covers. I haven’t seen these in the shops yet, but I will be looking in the crime section for them next time I make it into a bookshop!

Happy Friday everyone!

bingeable series, Series I love

Series revisit: Phryne Fisher

Oh I know. I’ve already written about one Phryne book this week and I did one of my very first Series I Love posts on the series, but today I thought I’d mention some of my other favourites now I’ve been back through them again. I mean obviously start at the beginning for preference – and Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates is also called Cocaine Blues depending on where in the world you are. I have that one on audiobook too and Stephanie Daniel did a great job of the audiobooks (with a few tiny exceptions, mostly around singing!) and it really does set everything up. But with that proviso out of the way, my particular favourite of the rest of the series are coming up!

Murder on the Ballerat Train is a creepy mystery – when an entire carriage of people is knocked out how can it be anything else? – and you also first meet Jane and Ruth who form a key part of the Fisher household going forward. I love a good theatre-set book (see posts passim ad nauseum) and Ruddy Gore is one of these and a good mystery too. I’m not a operetta person really, but every time I read it I think that I must really get a ticket to see a good production of something Gilbert and Sullivan! Plus it has the bonus of being the first appearance of Lin Chung.

Away with the Fairies is another favourite – as I love the women’s magazine and its staff. It has a similar added appeal to me as Pym’s Publicity in Murder Must Advertise (which is on offer this month!) – seeing how things used to be done (or at least how Kerry Greenwood has managed to find out they were done!) as well as solving a mystery. And I like the Phryne out and about books too. I mentioned Death by Water a few weeks ago, but there are several other Phryne on holiday stories – like Dead Man’s Chest which has added early movie making to boot.

And finally the next book in the series looks like it is going to be another house party book – and if it’s anything like Murder in the Dark it will be a lot of fun. That has some Bright Young Yhings having a final hurrah to see in the new year and features threats and kidnapping rather than actual murder, which does make for a nice change.

Murder in Williamstown is due out in the autumn – all the rest are available now and if anyone knows why my kindle doesn’t group Murder by Mendelssohn in the series with all the others, let me know! (I have Death in Daylesford in a different format so that’s also not there).

Happy Friday everyone.

Authors I love, bingeable series, Book of the Week, detective, mystery

Book of the Week: Murder and Mendelssohn

So a slightly cheaty pick this week, as it’s not a book I haven’t read before, but as I finished the Phryne reread last week, I’m going to let myself break the rules!

Murder and Mendelssohn is the twentieth book in Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series and has a lot of the key threads in the series running through it. Inspector Jack Robinson asks Phryne for help investigating the murder of an unpopular conductor. Jack thinks the killer may come from among the choir he has been rehearsing so Phryne decides to infiltrate the choir and find out. But at the same time, one of her old friends from World War One is in town and needs her help keeping a mathematical genius alive.

My favourite Phrynes are the ones with a large cast of suspects, a love interest and a historical connection – and this has all of that. The full Fisher menage is here – with the exception of Lin Chung, and it has has Greenwood’s take on Sherlock Holmes in Rupert Sheffield, former codebreaker and current irritant to all around him except John Wilson.

I wouldn’t suggest you start the series here, because you’ll miss all the fun of getting to this point, but if you do make this your first taste of Miss Fisher, then it will give you a pretty good flavour of what everything is all about. One last thing – a warning: if you’ve watched the TV show, don’t expect this to be the same. I’ve enjoyed the series, but it’s a teatime drama and they have adapted the series to fit that – which means they’ve done a few things to Phryne’s love life, added some running plot strands that don’t exist in the book and reduced the size of the Fisher household somewhat. So treat them as separate entities if you can.

You can get Murder and Mendelssohn in all the usual ebook formats – Kindle, Kobo and the rest – and that’s probably the easiest way to get hold of them.

Happy reading!

bingeable series, historical, mystery

Mystery series: Grantchester Chronicles

Hot off the heels of the vicar mystery recommendsday post, here is another historical mystery series featuring a vicar, written by someone with a clerical connection. James Runcie’s father was the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time when Richard Coles’ novel is set!

The Grantchester of the series title is the village just outside Cambridge where Sidney Chambers is vicar. The books start in 1953 and move through towards the changes of the 1960s. Sidney is a bachelor in his early thirties and Grantchester is his first parish of his own. His best friend in the village is the detective Geordie Keating and the two of them solve mysteries together. The books usually feature a series of smaller mysteries alongside Sidney’s attempts to balance his calling and his previous life. There is also a romantic thread to the series – there are several women who Sidney is interested in at various points, although of course their relationships have to follow the rules because: vicar in the 1950s. In fact the fact that he is ordained is one of the major obstacles to his romantic life. The other major characters in the series are his housekeeper and then a few years in, his curate.

The books have been made into a TV series, which is now onto its third or fourth vicar of Grantchester, still solving crimes with Geordie after they ran out of the plot from the books with Sidney…

Adventure, bingeable series, mystery, Series I love

Series I Love: Vicky Bliss

So I’ve finally finished my Vicky Bliss reread after getting distracted on the Phryne Fisher read. And so today’s series I love is dedicated to the *other* Elizabeth Peters series…

Vicky Bliss is an art historian, who specialises in medieval Europe. Across the course of six books she careers around Europe and Egypt in the search for missing items and trying to solve mysteries. In the first book she is working at a university in the US, but as a result of that adventure, she gets a job in Munich, which becomes her home base for the rest of the series.

In contrast to Amelia Peabody, Vicky is tall and blonde, but the two women share an adventurous spirit and a tendency to attract all sorts of men. In Borrower of the Night Vicky is challenged to track down a missing masterpiece of wood carving in a strange castle in Germany and ends up in competitions with her her sort of boyfriend. Thankfully she sees the light with him very early on and by the end of the book she has acquired a new friend and sidekick and in the second book gets a much more satisfactory love interest who continues through the rest of the series. Across the books there is ancient gold of various types, ancient relics and forged jewellery. You are best reading them in order because characters from one book do pop up in others which will spoil some resolutions for you

They’re set in what you might call the floating now – the first one was originally set when it was written in the 1970s and Peters wrote the first five over the course of about 20 years before returning to the series in the mid 2000s to write one final adventure. Now technology didn’t change that much between the mid 1970s and the early 1990s, so there are a few things but you don’t really notice, or at least it doesn’t really jar.But if you read them all back to back and you get to the final book where there is the internet and mobile phones I suggest you have a little pause (like I did!) before you read the final book and then take heed of Peters’ introduction where she says basically just go with it. It is work it because it has call backs to previous books in the series and more. In fact the final two books both feature Egypt, and there a few Amelia references thrown in there for those in the know!

As we know, I’m a sucker for an adventure caper and these are so much fun. I hadn’t read them since before the Pandemic, and I curse myself for a fool for not having thought to revisit them sooner. I’ve been trying to pick a favourite but I’m unable to chose between them – it comes down to Silhouette in Scarlet and Night Train to Memphis I think, but really they all have things to recommend them.

If you want to read these, there are paperback editions – which Amazon claims to have in stock but I suspect no one else will. But they’re in all the usual ebook places as far as I can see and Borrower of the Night is 99p on Kindle and Kobo atow, so it’s got to be worth a look.

Enjoy!

bingeable series, historical, mystery

Bingeable series: Lady Emily

Another historical mystery series this week, because it’s been oh, two whole weeks since I did a historical mystery (as opposed to just a mystery). This week I’m moving a bit further back in time than the 1930s to talk about Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series of late Victorian (and eventually early Edwardian) mysteries.

In the first book in the series we meet Emily Ashton, who only married her husband to escape her mother and then was widowed six months later when he was killed in an accident on safari. But two years after his death, she discovers that the man she thought was indifferent to her at best was actually in love with her and she becomes fascinated with this new perspective on him. His journals also reveal him to be a collector with an interest in antiquities and she starts to learn more about them to try and understand him more. And of course then she’s drawn into danger and secrets and stolen artefacts and we go from there.

There are now fifteen books in the series (with a sixteenth coming in the autumn) following Emily as she moves through Victorian society in town and in the country, at home and abroad, solving mysteries wherever she goes. There is a romantic subplot through the first few novels before Emily remarries and becomes part of a duo – and gains a bit of diplomatic status to help her on her way. There are a few similar lady detective type series set in this period, and these ones tend towards the creepier and suspension end of the range. They also don’t really have the same wit as my favourite Lady Julia Grey, and the love interest here is not Brisbane. But they are a very fun way to pass an afternoon and very easy to move on from one to the next.

I’ve read thirteen of the fifteen currently available – with the first two on kindle and the rest paperback. The only reason I haven’t read the latest ones is that they haven’t crossed my path at a sensible price yet – or via the library. They’re sitting on my kindle watch list waiting though. And I live in hope that eventually the later books in the series will turn up in The Works the way the earlier thirteen did.

You can pick these up on Kindle fairly easily – book 1 (And Only To Deceive) is £1.99 as I write this and although you should really read them in order, I have to point out that Dangerous to Know (book 5) is only 99p!

Happy Friday!

bingeable series, mystery

Mystery series: Flavia de Luce

Another Friday, another post about a series here on the blog, another new post title. Today’s series is the Flavia de Luce historical mystery series, inspired by the fact that I was writing about young detectives yesterday – and Flavia is about as young a detective as you can get, although this series is definitely for adults. I last wrote about Flavia in 2016 so it’s been a while…

At the start of the series, it’s 1950 and eleven year old Flavia has a passion for chemistry and poisons and a running feud with her two older sisters. Their mother is dead, their father eccentric and their house is crumbling around them. When Flavia stumbles over a dying man in the first book she is more fascinated than horrified and the series goes from there.

In my Goodreads review of the first book I said that Flavia could occasionally be a little too all knowing, but as the character develops, she gets to a good balance of preternaturally clever but not too all knowing and annoying. And a lot of that is because although she is very book smart, her understanding of people is about what you would expect of someone her age, so there are things – quite a lot of things sometimes – that she just misses or doesn’t understand at all.

There are ten novels in the series, and as there hasn’t been a new one since 2019, I suspect that may be the lot – certainly the last book in the series isn’t my favourite and Flavia was not quite her usual self in it, so it may be that Alan Bradley has got fed up of her or gone as far as he wants with her. Or the delay could just be because of the pandemic. Because we all know that covid has messed up a lot of things.

These are usually fairly easy to get hold of – I picked up a lot of them from The Works, and read the last two from the library, but I see them all the time in bookshops. As you can see from the picture, there has been a redesign/rejacketing exercise done – in my picture the right hand side are the original style, the left the new. And obviously they’re on Kindle and Kobo as well as audiobooks – most of them read by Sophie Aldred, who if you’re my age you will remember from children’s TV and if you’re a bit older will remember as Ace from Doctor Who. You’re probably best reading them in order, but I didn’t and it didn’t really bother me too much – although it was a bit of a pain jumping from slightly more developed Flavia back to the less evolved version!

Happy Weekend!