books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 4 – May 10

Had a lovely chat with my book club friends over Zoom yesterday afternoon, which really perked me up. Also the weather was glorious on Saturday so I spent a lot of that out reading in the hammock. So that all made up for anything else that had gone wrong in the week. In case you missed them, I wrote about VE Day 75 and the Rivers of London books last week, as well as all my usual stuff, like Mini Reviews from April.

Read:

Defy and Defend by Gail Carriger

Once Upon an Eid edited by S K Ali and Aisah Saeed*

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen

The Body in the Garden by Katharine Schellman

Reticence by Gail Carriger

The Smart Women’s Guide to Murder by Victoria Dowd*

A Springtime Affair by Katie Fforde*

The Cuckoos of Batch Magna by Peter Maughan

Started:

The Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt

First in Line by Kate Andersen Brower

Yellow Thread Street by William Marshall

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Still reading:

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

Still not counting, but several books have been incoming this week.

Bonus photo: Bank Holiday Saturday sky, as seem from the hammock in the garden

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 27 – May 3

An interesting week in reading and an interesting week in general, which was somewhat derailed by a train failure on my way to work on Saturday – which not only made me late for work but also deprived me of an hour of reading time. Gah. On the brightside, I have a whole string of posts lined up for you because I had a rare burst of creativity in the middle of the week. I am almost pleased with myself.

Read:

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch

Staging is Murder by Grace Topping

Dimsie Moves Up by Dorita Fairlie Bruce

The Fall of the House of Byron by Emily Brand*

An Heiress to Remember by Maya Rodale

Logging Off by Nick Spalding*

Started:

Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen

Reticence by Gail Carriger

Defy and Defend by Gail Carriger

Still reading:

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

The Cuckoos of Batch Magna by Peter Maughan

Still not counting how many books I’ve bought, but Defy and Defend came out on Sunday, so how could I not, and a copy of the new Roasting Tin cook book also found it’s way to my house.

Bonus photo: My mum found my grandpa’s nail scissors being pressed into use this week to cut twine in the garden, and there is a family joke about them never being used for their proper purpose. It made me laugh last week, so here is a photo my mum took of them, with a mug for scale.

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

books, stats

April Stats

New books read this month: 32*

Books from the to-read pile: 5

Ebooks read: 12

NetGalley books read: 9

Library books: 6 (all ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 6

Favourite book this month: False Value by Ben Aaronovitch or Dead Famous by Greg Jenner, I can’t decide!

Most read author: George Bellairs – four books

Books bought: still not counting. There are bigger problems to worry about

Books read in 2020: 129

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 561

As we all settle into the New Normal, things are starting to get a bit back to normal. I’m actually surprised at how much non-fiction I read this month, because in my head I was reading nothing but crime and romance. Turns out my head was wrong! Anyway, actually not a bad mix of stuff – across library books, actual books and genres!

Bonus picture: My hammock reading set up from last weekend when the weather was glorious…

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (3 this month)

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 20 – April 26

A better week than the previous one – in terms of my mindset at any rate. Some interesting stuff read – some of which you’ll be hearing more of, most of which fits into my current lockdown reading trends. If you missed it on Friday, check out my comfort reads post with some nice escapist reading suggestions for you.

Read:

Death Came Softly by E R C Lorac

Settling Scores by Various authors, intro: Martin Edwards

Dead Famous by Greg Jenner

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas by Jackie Lau

The Better Half by Sharon Moaelm*

Started:

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch

Still reading:

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

Logging Off by Nick Spalding*

The Fall of the House of Byron by Emily Brand*

The Cuckoos of Batch Magna by Peter Maughan

I think I bought a couple of ebooks. But I’m still not counting, because whatever gets you through right?

Bonus photo: I spent most of the weekend in the sunshine in the hammock in the back garden. It was lovely. Warm and sunny and away from the sound of Him Indoors playing Red Dead Redemption 2…

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

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Surviving Coronavirus: Escapist Fiction for Difficult Times

It may not have escaped your notice that times are somewhat stressful at the moment. A lot stressful. And life in the newsroom means that I can’t exactly ignore what’s happening in the world at any given time. Never have I been more glad that I stopped reading dystopian future novels a few years back. I’ve explained before that newsroom life is why I read a lot of romances and mysteries even in normal times – but that is even more true now – as recent Week in Books posts atest. Romance novels and mysteries both have a pact with the reader going in –  in a romance you’ll get a Happily Ever After (or a bare mininum Happy for Now if you’re reading New Adult or something with teen protagonists) and in mysteries the bad guys will get caught. But in uncertain times, rereading old favourites can also  help. So here are a few recommendations from me for fiction to help you out if you’re feeling a bit anxious.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

paperback copy of Heartburn by Nora Ephron

If you like Ephron’s films like When Harry Met Sally (and to be fair any other rom coms of that type) and you haven’t read Heartburn – then what are you doing? Heartburn is a fictionalised version of the break-up of Ephron’s second marriage – Rachel is seven-months pregnant when she finds out her husband is in love with another woman. Now if that sounds like an unpromising start to a novel to cheer you up, bear with me. This is so, so funny. Rachel can’t decide if she wants her ex back or wants him dead, and in between there is some great cooking. When I was asking Twitter last week for recommendations to cheer me up, this one was suggested and it reminded me how much fun it is – I read it in paperback seven years ago and still have my copy – and regular readers will know that not all books last that long on my shelves…

Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Well-loved copy of Venetia with other Heyer books behind it

I have written an authors I love post about Heyer before – but it’s over my statute of limitations, so I feel justified in recommending Venetia again and more fully here. One of my favourite tropes in historical romance is the reformed rake and this is the uber example of the genre. Damerel has been breaking rules and shocking society ever since he ran off with someone else’s wife when he was just out of university. Venetia lives on the neighbouring estate to the ancestral home that he’s been avoiding since time immemorial. She’s feisty and independent and has been running the household for her older brother who is away in the Napoleonic Wars. When he does return home and runs into her, he’s fascinated – against his will – but it turns out she’s more than a match for him.  It’s romantic but it’s also funny – Damerel and Venetia spar with each other delightfully but there’s also a cast of secondary characters that are made for comic moments. I love this so much I have it as an audiobook as well. Just joyous.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Cover of Eligivle by Curtis Sittenfeld

I love Pride and Prejudice, but if you’ve already reread that and watched your favourite of the adaptations, this might be the book for you. Sittenfeld moves the story to contemporary Cincinnati and updates the story accordingly. Bingley is a doctor from a wealthy family who became famous on a TV show similar to The Bachelor, Darcy is a neurosurgeon (and anyone who’s watched Greys Anatomy knows about the egos there) the Bennets are a trustfund family running out of cash: Jane is a yoga instructor, Lizzy a journalist for a women’s magazine, Kitty and Lydia are heavily into Crossfit. The update works, the dialogue is witty, there’s hate sex and reality TV and it’s really funny. I’ve read a lot of P&P retellings and continuations and I think this is still my favourite. It was one of my favourite books of the year back in 2016, but I’m counting it as over the statute of limitations because I think it might be what you need at the moment. In picking it up off the shelf (one of the downstairs ones because I like it handy) it’s made me want to read it all over again – although my copy is a big format paperback advance copy, so it’s also made me wonder about buying its on kindle too, because that’s where my head is at at the moment.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield

Copy of Diary of a Provincial Lady - also in front of the Heyers, including Venetia

The Provincial Lady lives in Devon, in a nice house, with a nice husband and (mostly) nice children. Her husband is not a vicar, but if you’ve ever watched the Joan Hickson Miss Marples, she’s a bit like Griselda in Murder at the Vicarage – there’s an image that she needs to live up to, but how does everyone else make it look so easy? Written in the 1930s, it’s wickedly funny and very low stakes and sufficiently different from the reality of day to day life at the moment that I think it makes a lovely escape that doesn’t make you wish about what could have been.  And if you read this and like it, there are sequels – my paperback is an omnibus, which is great, but did mean that I couldn’t justify buying the pretty Virago designer hardback with the Cath Kidston print cover.  Angela Thirkell does a similar thing in her Barsetshire series – the trials and tribulations of various bits of the not quite gentry in the interwar period. And if you want less housekeeping and more village scandal, then try Miss Buncle’s Book by D E Stevenson – in which an unmarried lady discovers that her income is drying up and turns to writing fiction to make some money. Trouble is, that the book she writes is based on her village…

And as well as all of these, there are a few others that I’ve written about within the statute of limitations for a repost that you might really quite like, for example:

To Bed with Grand Music by Marghanita Laski – need an antiheroine in your life? Meet Dreadful Deborah who can rationalise whatever awful thing she wants to do in her quest for a glamourous bohemian life in wartime Britain while her husband is on a posting to Cairo.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – need some Old Hollywood glamour and scandal? I’ve talked a lot about Daisy Jones and the Six, but this should also not be ignored. Evelyn is a reclusive Hollywood star who grants rare interview to a junior reporter at a magazine – and stipulates that she will only do the interview if it was with her. It turns out that what she really wants is for Monique to write her biography – it’s the opportunity for a life time for Monique but why has Evelyn picked her? Oh and it’s 99p on Kindle at the moment!

And writing this post has made me realise that there are a whole bunch of series that I love that I have not yet written about – and that’s really perked me up and given me some stuff to reread and write about!

Happy Reading – and stay safe.

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 13 – April 19

I’m going to be honest – I really struggled with everything last week. I’ve lost track of how long this has been going on for, what day of the week it is and everything is blurring into a mass of same-ness. My concentration was a bit shot and it was easier to watch Drag Race than it was to read anything – and I found that really hard to deal with because reading is usually my escape and go-to fix for when I’m feeling blue. Fingers crossed things improve a bit this week.

Read:

A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

Anna K by Jenny Lee*

Death in Room Five by George Bellairs

A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon

The Papers of A J Wentworth BA by H F Ellis

He Dies and Makes No Sign by Molly Thynne

Started:

Dead Famous by Greg Jenner

Death Came Softly by E R C Lorac

Settling Scores by Various Authors

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

The Cuckoos of Batch Magna by Peter Maughan

Still reading:

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

Logging Off by Nick Spalding*

The Fall of the House of Byron by Emily Brand*

The Better Half by Sharon Moaelm*

Bonus photo: My week has been very boring – just around the house and all the bits of London I’ve already sent you pictures of, so here’s something a different. Not my upcycling, but my parents – painting a bench my great-grandfather made in the 1950s. Why did I pick this? Well it felt like something productive, but also because this bench featured highly in pretend games I used to play with my friends when we were little – and these were heavily influenced by what we were reading. So this featured as various things in games about boarding schools, ballet dancers, the Faraway Tree and more. We think it played a petrol pump at one point – although I have no clue what we were playing at that point!

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 6 – April 12

I  hope everyone has had a good Easter.  In case you missed them last week – check out my posts about The Cazalet saga and Conjure Women.  Another week of the new normal, and another week where I’ve been finding it easiest to read authors and series that I already know and like. Which of course poses some problems for book of the week picks. I do make like hard for myself sometimes, don’t I?

Read:

The Case of the Famished Parson by George Bellairs

Corpses in Enderby by George Bellairs

A Match Made for Thanksgiving by Jackie Lau

Shirley Flight: Air Hostess in Spain by Trudi Arlen

Murder to Music by Margaret Newman

The Bystander Effect by Catherine Sanderson

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healy*

Murder at the Folly by Beth Byers

Unflappable by Susie Gilbert*

Started:

Logging Off by Nick Spalding*

The Fall of the House of Byron by Emily Brand*

The Better Half by Sharon Moaelm*

Still reading:

Anna K by Jenny Lee*

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

I probably bought some ebooks, but at this point time is blurring together and I have no idea whether it was this week or last week…

Bonus photo: Easter lilies blooming right on time in my very sunny garden on Saturday.

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: March 30 – April 5

Well the world doesn’t seem to have got any weirder than it already was in the last week. I mean we’re still staying home unless we really have to go out and being socially distant when we do, so I’m still reading a lot of books with resolutions. I’ve got a bonus post coming up on Wednesday as I’m on the Conjure Women blog tour – and I’m planning a special something for the Easter weekend too. Stay safe everyone.

Read:

Death Between the Pages by Beth Byers

Playing House by Ruby Lang

Murder and the Heir by Beth Byers

Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Kennington House Murder by Beth Byers

Have Your Cake by Elise K Ackers*

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora*

The Case of the Demented Spiv by George Bellairs

Started:

A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

Murder at the Folly by Beth Byers

The Case of the Famished Parson by George Bellairs

Still reading:

Anna K by Jenny Lee*

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healy*

Unflappable by Susie Gilbert*

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

I’m still not counting my book purchases – because I’m doing whatever I need to to cheer myself up, and if that’s buying a book, it’s buying a book.

Bonus photo: Another socially distanced weekend on the sofa. This is now my standard weekend view.

My knees, covered in a blanket, on the sofa with a kindle

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

books, stats

March Stats

New books read this month: 30*

Books from the to-read pile: 6

Ebooks read: 14

NetGalley books read: 5

Library books: 5 (all ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 4

Favourite book this month: Legendary Children by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Most read author: Beth Byers – a massive glom as you saw on last week’s reading list

Books bought: not counting. There are bigger problems to worry about

Books read in 2020: 97

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 569

It feels like the world has changed completely since I posted this last month. My Bonus picture for February was a blue plaque for JM Barrie near Great Ormond Street hospital in London, that I took during an early evening wander to the theatre. Now the theatres are shut, and we’re not meant to be out wandering at all. And that revolution has affected my reading too. I’ve been stressed and lethargic and also incredibly busy all month.

Bonus picture: spring bulbs in my garden. Because it’s the simple things at the moment isn’t it?

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (1 this month)

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: March 23 – March 29

Another very weird week. I hope you and all of your loved ones are doing ok, being kind to each other and yourselves and most of all STAYING AT HOME. I continue to be a key worker and make my trips in to the newsroom every few days, and every time it seems to have got quieter – which is exactly what should be happening so keep it up everyone.

Now you may notice a bit of a theme with the list this week – and I blame kindle unlimited for making it so that I could just go straight through a series with no guilt about spending money. Anyway I’m still mostly in the mood for romances and mysteries, but I’m trying to mix a bit of literary fiction in there too.

Read:

Legendary Children by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

Death by the Book by Beth Byers

Left-Handed Death by Richard Hull

Death Witnessed by Beth Byers

Death by Blackmail by Beth Byers

Death Misconstrued by Beth Byers

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Deathly Ever After by Beth Byers

Death in the Mirror by Beth Byers

A Merry Little Death by Beth Byers

Started:

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora*

Death Between the Pages by Beth Byers

Still reading:

Anna K by Jenny Lee*

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healy*

Unflappable by Susie Gilbert*

She-Merchants, Buchaneers and Gentlewomen by Katie Hickman

A fair few books acquired, more borrowed from the library, very little from the to-read pile read. But it still feels like normal rules are suspended, so I’m being nice to myself about it.

Bonus photo: my mother has reached the tidying out forgotten cupboard stage, so here’s a picture of me and my grandma in a pedalo that she sent me.

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.