Book previews, previews

Out today: Godmersham Park

I’m actually quite excited about this – you may remember that I loved Miss Austen a couple of years ago, and now Gill Hornby has written another book with Jane Austen and her family in it. I have a copy, but I haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t write a review (yet) but I wanted to mention it here today because I haven’t seen anywhere near as many mentions of this as I did of Miss Austen when that was about to come out!

Book of the Week, Book previews, historical, new releases, romance

Book of the Week: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting

There were lots of options for this post today. I like a week like that. I’ve gone for a historical romance because it’s been a few weeks and this was a lot of fun and I needed something fun and frothy and if I hadn’t written it already, another entry for the marries the person you’re trying to save someone from post.

Kitty Talbot’s parents have died, leaving their daughters with debts and an uncertain future. Determined to secure her sisters’ future, she decides the solution is to marry well and heads to London with the last money they have to try to secure a rich husband. She’s never moved in this sort of society before, but with the help of her mother’s best friend she’s sure she can succeed. And indeed she soon attracts a suitor and is intent on reeling him in, until his older brother, Lord Radcliffe comes to town to put a stop to it. He knows she’s a fortune hunter and is determined to keep her out of his family, but somehow he finds himself helping her ingratiate herself with the ton…

As you might be able to tell from that summary – which doesn’t even cover half the book – this has got a lot of plot and a lot of twists. It rattles along so fast that you don’t have time to think about it, but when I was trying write that plot summary I realised how much had gone on beside the whole fortune hunter main idea. It pulled it off, but I do wonder whether there are any ideas left for Sophie Irwin’s next book! But I enjoyed this a lot so I’ll definitely be looking for it when it comes to see. It’s “not quite in the common way” of the historical romances I have read recently, not least because the steam level is basically smouldering glances for most of the book and never gets higher than kissing – so not so much enemies to Lovers as enemies to soon to be marrieds!

My copy came from NetGalley, but it’s coming out on Thursday in ebook and hardback and if you pre-order it today it’ll drop onto your Kindle or Kobo or your doormat on release day.

Happy Reading!

Book previews

Squee: New Linda Holmes coming!

I honestly don’t know how I had missed that this was coming. Linda Holmes’ debut, Evvie Drake Starts Over, was one of my favourite new releases of 2019 and I’ve been really looking forward to whatever she wrote next.

Flying Solo is out in mid June and is set in the same town as Evvie Drake. According to the blurb, our heroine Laurie is returning to her hometown to handle the estate of her great aunt. While she’s back, she discovers a love letter to her unmarried aunt and gets caught up in “a righteous caper” to track down a mysterious wooden duck that goes missing from her aunt’s possessions. Doesn’t that sound excellent? I’m super excited anyway, and currently figuring out the best way of getting my hands on it!

Book previews

Anticipated books 2022

We’re a few days in to 2022 now, and after the orgy of posts about the past year, it’s time for me to have a little look ahead to the books we have coming our way in this new year.

So the obvious place to start is with the stuff that I’ve got pre-ordered already. Firstly there’s the follow up to Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian, which I’ve been waiting for for ages. It’s called the Missing Page and coming out in the middle of the month (a little late birthday present for myself). Also before the end of January is the Alexis Hall’s first historical romance called Something Fabulous. Also from Alexis Hall, but not pre-ordered yet, and not out until August is Husband Material, the sequel to the wonderful Boyfriend Material.

Away from the romance-y side of things, there is the fourth in the Isabel Rogers’ Stockwell Park Orchestra series. The Prize Racket is out in January and sees the gang taking part in a TV music competition. I can’t wait to see what havoc they wreak. There’s a bit longer to wait for the the Vinyl Detective series, which is out in May, is called Attack and Decay and the musical genre this time is… Death Metal. I cannot wait.

Then there is the stuff that I haven’t pre-ordered yet because I’m waiting to see who has the best edition of it. So that’s books like Amongst Our Weapons, the ninth Rivers of London book. I’ve managed to get the last couple of those in nice signed editions from author events and I’m hoping to do the same again. Also in this category is Heartbreaker, the second in Sarah MacLean’s Hell’s Belles series – this year I got Bombshell sent over from Word in Brooklyn to get a signed copy of the American edition, but I’m hoping that by this summer we may be at a point where Sarah MacLean can come over again and there will once again be a tea party, although my mania for matching sets means I’m not ruling out buying in the American version again…

On top of all of that there are a few things that I have already waiting for me in the NetGalley pile, for I am a very lucky duck. Included in that is Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair, out later in January and which is a fictionalised look at what happened in the 11 days that Agatha Christie disappeared for in 1926. I do love a fictionalised real life person book – see my enduring passion for Gone with the Windsors and also my various posts about other examples over the years. Also on the historical mystery front and on the same day is Tom Hindle’s The Fatal Crossing, which is a murder mystery set on a transatlantic crossing in the 1920s. A Scotland Yard detective happens to be on board and so starts to investigate, but he only has a few days to figure out what has happened. Also out the same day as is the very buzzed about The Maid, which features a murder victim discovered by a chambermaid at a fancy hotel. It’s already been optioned for a movie and the info on NetGalley talks about a lot of elements that I like but it also has a couple of people giving it blurbs that make me wonder if it’s going to be too dark for me. We will see…

I’ve had a bit of a fallow period on the historical romance front – with even a few of my old favourites letting me down – but I have high hopes for Sophie Irwin’s debut A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting, which is set in 1818 and features a young lady who needs to catch a rich husband so the bailiffs don’t move in, but who’s plans could be thwarted by the brother of one of her suitors. Based off the blurb it ticks a lot of my boxes – I’m hoping for it to be a bit of a modern mash up of The Nonesuch and Masqueraders. It’s out in May, so you may have to wait until then to find out if I’ve got the right signals…

I’ve tried to be a bit restrained with my requesting finger on NetGalley, because I still have a lot of books outstandint there – and (once again) one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to deal with that, so just one more to talk about on the advance copy front. Dial A for Aunties made it onto in my best books of the year list for 2022, and I have the sequel Four Aunties and a Wedding via NetGalley already – it’s out in March.

Also on my best books of last year list was Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain. He has a new book out in June – called Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks. The blurb says it’s bringing together some of the best of his writing in the New Yorker – and as I’ve read quite a lot of his New Yorker stuff after I heard Winds of Change (and before my New Yorker subscription expired!), I want to see it in the flesh and have a flick through before I buy it, in case I’ve already read a lot of it, but if you haven’t got a New Yorker subscription, this should definitely be on your list.

You may have noticed that a lot of the books that I’ve talked about so far are for the start of the year. I suspect that’s because the pandemic and the supply chain issues are conspiring to mean that some of the stuff that should already have come out has been pushed back into early 2022 and that some of the stuff that would already have been announced is still waiting on dates and details. So this is where this post gets a bit speculative. The fourth in Jen De Luca’s Well Met series, Well Travelled is due out in September, it’s still long enough away that pre-ordering the Kindle edition isn’t an option in the UK, but as I’m still waiting for my library hold on Well Matched to come in, I can cope!

Over on Facebook Kerry Greenwood has written about the fact that she’s writing a new Phryne Fisher novel called Murder in Williamstown. She’s hoping it will be out in Australia by the end of 2022, but we do often have to wait for the UK edition, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much. I’m also hoping there will be something new from Gail Carriger in 2022, but so far she’s not giving any dates for anything in her newsletter so it’s all very up in the air. I’m also hoping the the 2024 date for the next Tessa Dare book gets revised back to 2022, but The Bride Bet is still showing as TBA on her website so anything could happen there too. Despite even less information – it hasn’t even got a title on Amazon or Goodreads yet – I’m more hopeful that the sequel to Battle Royal will be out in 2022 – Lucy Parker usually releases a book a year, so I’m clinging to that.

Book previews

Books I’m looking forward to in 2020

Happy New Year everyone. It’s the start of 2020, so after looking back at 2019, it’s time to look ahead to some of the books coming out this year that I’m excited about.  And as with last year’s list, it’s fairly weighted towards the start of the year – because that’s just how it always happens.  Will one of these be this year’s Daisy Jones and the Six for me? Who knows.

The Mirror and the Light – Hilary Mantel (March)

Cover of The Mirror and the Light

Lets start with the big name, potential blockbuster released.  The final part of Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy has been so long coming.  It’s about 7 years since I read Bringing up the Bodies – I know because it was pre-this blog, but after I started working at the BBC (I know because I read it during a run of nightshifts up behind the old BBC World studio, which means the latest it can have been is autumn 2012).  I mean it’s even been a few years since the TV adaptation of the first two parts. Whether it can live up to the hype and awards of its predecessors, who knows, but I’ll be reading it to find out.   I studied the Tudors back in the day, and one of the big achievements of this series is to make Thomas Cromwell likeable. I know how this story ends (hint: not well for him) but I can’t wait to see how she finishes it all off.

Miss Austen – Gill Hornby (January)

Cover of Miss Austen

Why did Cassandra Austen destroy a cache of letters written by her famous sister, more that 20 years after Jane’s death? My love of Austen-related books is well known, as it my love of mysteries and books about books and authors so I’m hoping this will be right up my alley.  It’s out at the end of January and I’ve got a copy from NetGalley waiting on the Kindle already, so if I do like it, chances are you’ll be hearing about it.

The 24-Hour Cafe – Libby Page (January)

Cover of The 24-hour Cafe

I really liked Page’s debut, The Lido, when I read it back in April 2018, and I’ve got high hopes for this. Set in a cafe, where two best friends work together, this is promising a story of friendship and community.  The 24-Hour Cafe is another January release that I have a copy of from NetGalley and I’m hoping this will be a nice uplifting book to carry me through the dark and cold of the post-Christmas, pre-birthday period.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle (April)

Cover of The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle

Per the blurb Benjamin & Edgar Bowen head off on a Grand Tour of Europe to meet People of Quality, but it turns out the People of Quality may not want to meet them. But then Benjamin meets Horace Lavelle and his education really begins.  I love a grand tour novel and this sounds like it might be right up my street.  I have a copy from NetGalley and so this is another one which you may hear more about sooner rather than later.

The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman (September)

This is probably one of the more anticipated books for next year. The blurb for this promises a group of octogenarians, who meet up at their retirement village every week to investigate unsolved killings, investigating a real crime when a property developer ends up dead near by. Sounds right up my street already doesn’t it?  Add to that the fact that Richard Osman is the tall guy behind the desk on Pointless and back when I worked at TV Centre, one of my treats to myself during tea breaks was to go and stand in the viewing gallery and watch episodes of Pointless being filmed and you’ll see why I’m really quite excited about this one and have been since it was announced back in May. It feels like it’s been a long wait already.

So there you have it, five books that I’m looking forward to this year.  The list could have been longer – there are new books coming that I’m looking foward to from Lucy Parker, Gail Carriger, Deanna Raybourn and more, but I thought I’d try not to be too predictable!

Happy Reading!

Book previews

Books I’m looking forward to in 2019

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope you had a good night last night and are able to relax and unwind today.  I’m working this New Years Day, so think of me if you’re cozy at home and if you’re also working, you have all my sympathy!  The final stats post of 2018 is coming tomorrow, but instead of a Book of the Week post today, I’ve got a look ahead at some of the upcoming books that I can’t wait to read in 2019.

I’m a sucker for a novel based on real events and real people when they’re done well (see my love of Gone with the Windsors) and I’ve heard a lot of good things about A Well-Behaved Woman by Theresa Anne Fowler.  It follows Alva Smith – better known as Alva Vanderbilt as she navigates her way through Gilded Age society.  The Kindle edition is out now in the UK with the paperback coming at the end of January and I have an advance copy sitting on my kindle waiting for a quiet afternoon in front of the fire…

Another one sitting on the Kindle waiting for me is the Sidney Chambers prequel The Road to Grantchester which comes out in March.  I was sad when the series proper ended (the books, not the TV series – I gave up on that during the 3rd season), so the idea of a look at how Sidney came to be in Grantchester really appeals to me.

Also in March is Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  About the events leading up to the unexplained break-up of a hugely successful band in 1979, it’s already been optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production company.  I have a mixed record with stories about bands – but enough of them have ended up being Books of the Week that I’m optimistic about this one.

Even further into 2019 is The Doll Factory by Elizabeth MacNeal, which is being billed as being a historical novel about art, obsession and possession – when an aspiring artist become the model for a pre-Raphaelite artist.  It’s out at the start of May and is getting a lot of buzz – so I’m looking forward to reading it, but I’m a little worried it might be too dark and scary for me!

I loved Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient in 2018, so I’m very excited for the follow-up The Bride Test which is also due in May and looks like a twist on the marriage of convenience/mail order bride trope with another neurodiverse leading player.  I can’t wait!

And halfway through the year, in June, is Montauk by Nicola Harrison, which tells the story of a summer by the Long Island seaside in 1938.  We all know that I love a rich people problems historical novel, and this looks like it could be spot on for me.  According to the blurb, Beatrice is hoping that the summer at the beach will help her revitalise her marriage.  But instead she’s stuck in a huge hotel with people she’s never fit in with while her husband is back in the city.  Instead she’s drawn to the year-round community and a man who is very unlike her husband.

And finally, this is not quite a next year book – as it cames out here on December 27th – and I don’t really do business improvement/self-help books but after hearing about it in an email Karen Wickre’s Taking the Work Out of Networking Connections: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections That Count sounds like something I could really use.  I am not a naturally outgoing person – I’m very bad at networking and making connections and use social media as a crutch to get over the fact that I just can’t bring myself to call people I haven’t spoken to in ages just for a chat and a catch up.  Perhaps 2019 is the year to change that?

Let me know what you’re looking forward to reading in 2019 in the comments!

Book of the Week, Book previews, crime, mystery, new releases

Book of the Week: The Riviera Express

Nightshifts are well underway here, so hopefully I’ll be asleep when this publishes.  I say hopefully, if day one is anything to go by I’ll have been woken up half a dozen times by  assorted phone calls, tradesmen and delivery people.   Anyway, as I said last week, I’ve been looking for a new cozy crime series. And as you know, I’m always looking for new historical crime series.  So this week’s BotW is a new historical crime novel from the cozier end of the spectrum which I’m hoping is going to be the start of series.

Cover of The Riviera Express
Cover of The Riviera Express

The Riviera Express is the first book from TP Fielden* about Judy Dimont, a newspaper reporter in a south-coast seaside town in the 1950s.  Miss D has a nose for a scoop, an editor who doesn’t always appreciate her and a rivalry with the paper’s other lady reporter.  The Riveira Express is both the name of the paper and the name of the train which brings holiday-makers to the resort of Temple Regis and one of Miss Dimont’s regular jobs is meeting the train if it’s got a celebrity on board.  But when she and her photographer arrive to meet film star Gerald Hennessey, they find him dead in his first class compartment.  Called away from the scene to a second death, Judy becomes convinced that there is a link between the two – even though the police aren’t convinced that either is the result of foul play.  Soon she’s investigating the links between the film star and the seaside town as well as between the two men and dealing with a couple of highly strung actresses who are mourning the dead star.  Will Judy find out the truth – and if she does will her editor let her publish it?

I hope that sounds like fun, because this book is a lovely romp through an English seaside town with pretensions of grandeur led by a charming character in Judy Dimont.  One of the toughest things to do in stories like this is create a leading character with an excuse to go poking about in murders and mysteries – and a reporter is an ideal one.  Judy has a perfect excuse to nose around and to get information from the police and the authorities.   It also means that she is going to keep coming across bodies in a more natural way than a private citizen would.  And it makes a change from private detectives of all shapes and sizes well.  The secondary characters are well drawn and there’s plenty of potential here for on-going plot strands without it feeling like there’s lots of set up being done.  I’m looking forward to finding out more about Miss D’s past in the next book.

Here’s the rub – The Riviera Express isn’t actually out for another 9 days yet – but you can pre-order the hardback from Amazon or Waterstones  and hope it turns up on the day or on Kindle or Kobo and it’ll download itself on the 23rd as a lovely treat.

Happy reading.

*I would love to know who TP Fielden is – this doesn’t feel like a first novel and there’s very little information that I can find on TP, but their Goodreads biography says that they are a “leading author, broadcaster and journalist” so it feels like a pen name – and I’d love to know who is behind it!

Book previews, books

Autumn New Release Preview

Why hello there.  It’s September.  The schools are going back and the nice weather won’t last.  So to ease your pain, I thought I’d tell you about some upcoming books I’m looking forward to or have been fortunate enough to have already enjoyed.  But if that’s not your bag, here’s my books about schools post from two years ago if you feel the need to start the academic year with a boarding school book or two! So, in no particular order (well not by date anyway) here we go:

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson (22 September)

Recognise the name?  Yes, it’s that Mara Wilson – who played Matilda and was in Mrs Doubtfire – now all grown up, she’s written a collection of essays and it’s getting a lot of buzz.  It’s hard to find out what it’s about – from what I can work out it’s part memoir, part life lessons – but I’ve seen lots of good buzz about it – and the early reviews on Goodreads are really positive.  Plus I’ve always wanted to know what she did after she left films.  I’m hoping this will answer some of my questions.  Pre-order on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Waterstones, Foyles.

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (6 October)

Today Will Be Different follows a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, who knows she’s a mess but wants to tackle the little things to try and get back on track.  Unfortunately today is the day that life is going to get in the way.  I’m a little trepidatious (is that a real word or one that I got from Buffy/Clueless?) about this one.  Will this be Good Semple or Bad Semple?  I loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but I detested This One Is Mine to the point that if I hadn’t enjoyed …Bernadette so much I would have DNF’d it.  I like the plot summary and several of the book podcasts I listen to are excited about it, so I’m hoping for the best and going to give it a go. Pre-order on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Waterstones, Foyles.

How to Party with an Infant by Kuai Hart Hemmings (8 September)

Single mum Mele is trying to get over her obsession with the father of her daughter by writing an entry for a cookbook writing contest.  Except she’s doing it a little differently and going into “elaborate and shocking detail”. This is a recent addition to the list (and coming out really soon) after I saw it on Book Riot’s What We Read In August list where the contributor said “This made me laugh the way Where’d You Go, Bernadette? did.” and then I had to have it.  Maybe I’ll save it until after I’ve read Today Will be Different in case that’s a disappointment and I need a pick me up! Pre-order on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Foyles.

The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang (3 November)

Charles Wang has lost the fortune he made after he arrived in the US.  Now he’s taking his family on a cross country journey from their foreclosed Bel-Air mansion to New York to pick up his other daughter. But will the journey bring them all back together or will it split them even further apart.  And will they all even make it as far as the other coast, faced with temptations en route?  I just keep hearing about this book.  Everywhere.  So I want to read it.   Pre-order on AmazonWaterstones, Foyles.

Queen Bees by Siân Evans (8 September)

I’ve actually already read this – after lucking into a preview copy a month or so back.  This is a collective biography of six famous society hostesses in the UK between the wars. It is not the most massively in depth look at any of them – I wanted a little more detail on some of them – but you get a really good sense of the personalities of the women and the rivalries between them.  If you’ve read anything about society in this era (perhaps some of the Mrs Simpson saga, or some of the many timeslip novels set in the 1920s and 30s which feature real people as well fictional ones), you’ll have heard of some or all of these women – Lady Astor (first woman to take up her seat as an MP) and Emerald Cunard are probably the two most well known – but it’s also peppered with other people of the period – like the aforementioned Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII and then Winston Churchill, The Mitfords and the Mosleys.  This is a period I love reading about (and have read quite a lot about) and I enjoyed Queen Bees and felt I learnt stuff from it.  I’ve lent it out already – and will go and find a proper copy in the shop when it comes out so I can check out the bibliography and references – which were missing from my version – to get some more reading ideas.   Pre-order on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Waterstones, Foyles.

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch (3 November)

This is the sixth book in the Rivers of London series and if you’ve been reading my book based ramblings for any length of time, you’ll know how I feel about PC Peter Grant (see here, here and here ) – and be unsurprised that I’m hopping around with excitement at the prospect of the next book.  I’m trying to take my time reading the latest comics so I’ll be bang up to date for this one, which apparently sees Peter, Nightingale and the crew from the Folly trying to solve a bloody, magical problem in mansions of the super-rich in Mayfair.  I can’t wait.  If you’re not already on this bandwagon, do yourself a favour at start at the beginning. Pre-order on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Waterstones.

And there you have it.  Five books I’m looking forward to reading and one I’ve already read as a bonus. It may have got a touch long, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  Hopefully none of these will end up on the 50-pages and out pile and I can report back in positive terms in a couple of months time.  Please do recommend any more upcoming releases you think I might like in the comments – you know how much I love making the to-read pile bigger – and let me know if you’ve already read any of these and have Thoughts.

Happy Reading