Book of the Week, mystery, new releases

Book of the Week: Attack and Decay

Yes yes I know, so many rules broken here – I finished this on Monday AND I wrote about the series on Friday, so this is a short post today.

The latest book in the series sees our intrepid crew making a trip to Sweden so the Vinyl Detective can assess and acquire a rare audiophile copy of a controversial death metal record. There’s no hunting involved – they know where the record is and the owner is prepared to sell it to them, so this should be a nice easy trip, with plenty of time to scour the local charity shops for records, designer clothes and crime fiction novels, right? Wrong. Soon bodies are turning up in various gruesome ways – and it looks like the killer is taking his inspiration not from the Scandi Noir but from the death metal.

The mystery is good, the gang is fun, the residents of the town add to that, the writing is witty and the references to crime novels are great. I’m assuming there are some death metal references in there too, but I know even less about that genre than I did about folk music! The only downside of having read this in week of release is that now I have to wait until the next one comes. Still at least my dad can borrow it now – I hadn’t finished it when he came over at the weekend and so he has to go home empty handed!

As I said on Friday, you should be able to get these from any good bookshop, but I do suggest reading the series in order.

NB – Rules broken today:

  • Finished on a Monday
  • Not the first in the series
  • Repeating an author too soon
  • Repeating a series too soon

I reckon you could probably count it as two – because three of them are around repeats of different types right?!

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!

mystery, new releases, Young Adult

Out This Week: The Agathas!

I actually read this one earlier this week so wanted to give it a mention today as depending on where you are it is either out today or in the last few days. The Agathas is a YA Murder mystery set in a California town where the citizens are divided between the haves and have nots. Alice is one of the haves, but after she went missing last summer after her boyfriend dumped her, her friends don’t want to know her. Iris doesn’t live in a mansion and her mum works in a bar. She’s been assigned to tutor Alice. Then Brooke, one of the popular girls who used to be Alice’s friends, disappears. Soon the two girls are investigating – Alice because her ex boyfriend is the main suspect and Iris, well because Brooke’s grandmas is offering a reward. Can they figure out what really happened the night that Brooke Donovan disappeared?

I really enjoyed this – it’s a twisty high school Murder mystery with an interestingly flawed cast of characters and a crime fighting duo who bring out interesting sides to each other. Also I’m so glad I’m not a teenager now and that I didn’t go to American high school. It sounds awful.

My copy came from NetGalley, but you can get it in Kindle or Kobo now or in paperback. And the good news is that it’s listed as the first in a series…

Book of the Week, memoirs, new releases

Book of the Week: Stories I Might Regret Telling You

It’s been a while since we had a memoir as a Book of the Week, but it makes a change and having already written about the new Mhairi McFarlane and with a lot of rereads on last week’s list, it’s really a good thing that I enjoyed reading this so much!

This was actually on my pre-order list, and as I mentioned in that Martha Wainwright is a singer songwriter who has had a special place in my heart for a long time now. In the book she describes her self as a “child of… twice over” as both of her parents are well known musicians, and added to that her brother Rufus had mainstream success at a time when she was also trying to make it in the music business. This memoir looks back at her life and the decisions she’s made and the people she knows. She comes from a fiercely competitive family, with lot of competing egos and careers and it is very, very interesting to get the inside scoop on all that – from her point of view at least.

And the title isn’t joking – she’s probably already regretted some of this, as an earlier manuscript of the book was used in her divorce. It’s probably the most honest and unvarnished memoir I’ve read since Viv Albertine’s first book. Wainwright is fairly self aware and with the benefit of time, can see patterns in her own life and how things have affected her. And of course her music has always been the same way – but there’s a difference between a three minute song and a 200 page piece of extended writing. As well as the career and her relationships with her siblings and parents, it also looks at the pressures of juggling a career and motherhood – which is not exactly new, but it does feel a bit different because the arrival of her oldest son was unexpected and traumatic and came at a really difficult time in her life – as her mother was dying of cancer – and when she was in the UK rather than at home in Canada. All in all, a really interesting read for a fan like me – and I suspect there’s enough here for people who aren’t fans too.

As I said, I had my copy preordered so got it on the day it came out two weeks ago – but Foyles now have signed bookplate editions with a couple of quid off and everything, so I’m almost regretting that. But I have a ticket to see her live in London later in the year, so maybe I’ll take it along to that. I do already have a signed ticket from the last time I saw her (at the small but brilliant Stables in Milton Keynes where I would have gone to see her again if it wasn’t for the fact that the evening she’s playing there is the same day as we’re seeing The Glass Menagerie in the West End. Why does this always happen?) so it’s not like I’m missing out really. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Anyway, it’s out now in hardback, Kindle, Kobo and audiobook read by Martha herself.

Happy Reading!

new releases, romantic comedy

Out today: Mad About You

Here’s a confession. I meant to read Mhairi McFarlane’s new book well in advance of its release date. But that pesky Covid thing that’s making me binge reread things I’ve read before got in the way. So I started this on Tuesday night, read about 50 pages before bed and thought “well I’ll keep reading it tomorrow and write a post saying I haven’t finished it yet but on past record I trust that it’s going to be great.” I’d even stated the draft of a post saying just that.

Except on Wednesday night I finished it. I was glued to my sofa reading it from the moment I put the dinner in the oven. I read 350 pages basically in one big gulp – ok I stopped to eat dinner and there were a couple of loo breaks in there too, but that’s it. The TV was in on the background, but I think Him Indoors could have been watching a gory movie and I wouldn’t have noticed. I stayed up late to finish it because I couldn’t bear to Lea it it to the train in the morning – and as it made me get all weepy at the end, I think I made the right choice. It’s that type of book.

And now I realise I’ve written two whole paragraphs without telling you what on Earth the plot is. So, here we go: Harriet is a wedding photographer in Leeds. Business is booming, but despite being around happy couples at work all day she doesn’t want a marriage of her own. When she finds herself in need of a new place to live, she moves in with Cal. He’s handsome and charming and his love life is also a complete mess. But is this the start of something good for both of them?

Now there’s a lot more to the plot than that – but I’ve tried to stick with not giving anything more away than the blurbs on Goodreads and Amazon do. Harriet is a brilliant heroine – she’s independent, resilient and smart and she and her friends have some great one liners. Cal is an attractive hero too – mysterious (until he’s not) with a ride or die best mate of his own. The Amazon strap line calls this a romantic comedy – and it is – but a big part of the book is a Harriet dealing with issues in her own past so that she can move on and move forward – and there are some tricky issues in there which definitely aren’t funny. But the resolution is punch the air brilliant and it all ends up alright in the end.

Now I realise in writing this that I’m doing myself out of a book of the week option on Monday, but hey, sometimes I break with my own rules and traditions – and it’s nice to mix it up a bit and do a review on release day – especially when it’s a book that I’ve enjoyed so much. Mad About You is out now in Kindle, Kobo and paperback. Enjoy!

detective, new releases

Out today: New Rivers of London!

And I’ve already got my copy of Amongst Our Weapons in my grubby little hands as you can seee! I told you that I’d got a signed copy pre-ordered from Big Green Books – and they appear to have some of them left if you’re in the market. As it’s the ninth book in the series, it’d be breaking all my rules if it ends up being a Book of the Week – but I’m not ruling it out, although if previous books are anything to go by, you really need to have read at least some of the others to get the most out of. So instead, I’m going to remind you that I have a Series I Love post about them from two years ago from not long after the False Value came out.

Book of the Week, new releases, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Get Rich or Lie Trying

I know I said that I was mostly reading romance and mystery at the moment, but I’m veering outside that today for this week’s BotW, with a new release book that’s looking at the influencer economy and how it is changing our daily lives.

This is a sobering look at the changes that social media has brought to the world – particularly when it comes to the blurring of lines between real and fake and the Wild West of promotions, adverts and sponcon. Symeon Brown is a correspondent at Channel Four news and in his first book he examines realities of influencer culture – and what lies behind the carefully curated lives that people are presenting on social media platforms. And it turns out that what is behind the glossy facade is even murkier than you are imagining. For every success story, there are countless people handing over their own money in the hopes of being the next big thing.

Across the course of the book, Brown takes you through the full range of online smoke and mirrors – from predatory plastic surgery firms taking advantage of young women who want to look more like their filtered photos, the promises of quick riches through crypto currencies or various new types of MLMs, streamers who get paid to be racially abused, influencers who are making serious money out of activism and much, much more. But at the centre of it all there are a lot of vulnerable people desperate for a better future who are being preyed on or exploited.

I’ve recommended books about scammers or frauds here before, but they’ve usually been about single people or companies perpetuating a con – whereas this covers a huge range of ways that people are being bamboozled as part of online hustle culture. It’s well written and hard to put down – and it’s going to give you a lot to think about. Very, very sobering.

Get Rich or Lie Trying came out last week – my copy came from NetGalley – but it’s available now in hardback and on Kindle and Kobo.

Book of the Week, new releases, romance, romantic comedy

Book of the Week: Playing for Love

After a few weeks of murder mystery picks of various types, I’m back with another romance book for this week’s BotW – and it’s even a new release! Check me getting new books read in a timely manner. I know. Astounding

Ever since her mum died, Samadhi has watched YouTube streams of video gamers to help her destress. Sam plays games herself as well, so when she’s selected in a contest to partner her all-time favourite streamer, Blaze, in a competition to promote a new game, it’s her lucky day. Except that in real life she’s trying to get her fashion business off the ground and she needs all her time to do that. Blaze is a swashbucking pirate type – with a big following and as well as wanting to make sure she doesn’t embarrass herself in front of the internet, she’s also got a bit of a crush. Ok, make that a lot of a crush. But what she doesn’t know is that in real life, Blaze is actually Luke – the shy guy from her office who has been helping her with her crowdfunding campaign. And of course Luke doesn’t know that Sam is Bravura. And every day as Luke is working up the courage to ask Sam out, Sam is falling a little bit harder for Blaze. How will the competition end – and will Sam realise who Luke is before it’s too late?

So I love a double identity/mistaken identity romance which is something I could list a whole bunch of historical romances with that trope but I’m going to save that til tomorrow (!) and obviously there are also films like You’ve Got Mail, Pillow Talk and Some Like it Hot. And this is a delight. I really appreciated that Luke never took advantage of the fact that he realised who Sam was first (which is my problem with You’ve Got Mail and Pillow Talk if I think too hard about it) and there is also plenty of competency porn and calling out of people being icky to women in the gaming world and in the bottom half of the internet. But the slow burn romance is the main attraction here – and it’s a delight to watch especially as I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to work out.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Jeevani Charika – but she also writes as Rhoda Baxter and I’ve heard her interviewed before on the Smart Bitches podcast and have been meaning to try and read some of her books. And I enjoyed this so much that I’ll definitely be doing that. If they’re all as much fun as this, I’ve got some really good reading in front of me. I complain a lot about wanting more romantic comedies and how hard it is to find them – so I really enjoyed finding one and I’m hoping that the act of buying some of the back catalogue will help the algorithm put some more my way!

My copy of Playing for Love came from NetGalley, but it’s out now and is a bargain 99p on Kindle and £1.99 on Kobo as I write this. And it’s also coming out in paperback, but not until April – and don’t worry Foyles will let you preorder it.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, new releases

Book of the Week: The Prize Racket

Oh I’m breaking rules again today. You know I am and I know I am but I don’t care because today I shall write about the new Stockwell Park Orchestra book because it made me laugh so much last week and I don’t care that it’s the fourth in the series…

We rejoin the lovable scamps from everyone’s favourite community orchestra soon after the viral excitement of their European tour. And more excitement is heading their way: firstly a poet wants to be artist in residence with them, then they’re approached to take part in a TV talent competition for classical music groups. And so we’re off on another adventure. Your favourite side characters are here – think terrible singers and handsome horn players – along with some newcomers. The running jokes are glorious. I love the group dynamic that they have and the sarcastic and slightly sly humour. And as a bonus you get the orchestra sight reading their way through Ruslan and Ludmilla overture (aka the theme from Cabin Pressure) and imagine their horror/come out in a cold sweat if you’ve ever had to play a piece with lots of runs and scales at speed on an instrument. I for one still have nightmares about the wind band arrangements of the Theme from Big Country (the clarinets get all the twiddly bits that the violins get at the start and then none of the delightful tune) and the Candide Overture (clarients get twiddly bits galore and endless shifts in rhythm and tempo to boot) and neither of those are anything like as bad as Ruslan and Ludmilla – although equally delightful when it’s going well!

As you can tell, I am a wind band veteran (photographic evidence here), so it makes it hard for me to predict how it will land for people who didn’t play instruments – and who never had to mime their way through difficult sections so they didn’t get picked on by the conductor but Isabel Rogers has created such an engaging group of characters that I think it will work for non musicians. And if you have a healthy scepticism about talent competitions then so much the better. I ate it up with a spoon and then went off to relisten to some Cabin Pressure because I had the theme stuck in my head (the Ottery St Mary episode if you’re interested) which only increased the joy. I can’t wait for the next one.

I had mine pre-ordered on Kindle and it’s also on Kobo, but it turns out you actually got it quicker if you ordered it directly from Farrago – who have it as both ebook and paperback.

Happy Reading!

book round-ups, new releases

Recent releases

Time for another quick round up of some recent releases that I’ve read but not yet told you about…

Shady Hollow by Juneau Black*

This is possibly the most unusual book I’ve read in a while. It’s a small town cozy mystery, except that the residents of the small town are woodland creatures. Or at least creatures that you would find in a north American woodland. Apart from that, there are the usual staples of cozy crime – a local reporter (who is a fox), a bookshop (owned by a raven), police officers (who are bears) and a murder victim (a toad). Think Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crime series, but more cozy crime than comic crime. I’m still not quite sure how the differing scales of the animals works – is it more Animals of Farthingwood or Arthur the Aardvark? – or how the interspecies relationships work, but I read it and enjoyed it and would happily read the next one. This is the first in a series that was originally published in 2015 but is now being republished by Vintage – this came out last week and the next one is out in early March and the third (and final so far) follows in April.

The Missing Page by Cat Sebastian

This is the long awaited sequel to Hither Page and came out at the end of January. James is called back to the house where he spent his childhood summers for the reading of a will and discovers that he may not know the whole truth about what happened the last summer that he spent there. It is basically a country house murder mystery, except that the murder happened decades ago. Part Agatha Christie, part cozy crime, part romance, you get to spend more time with Leo and James and get to know them better Side note: the reading of a will is always such a great device for a murder mystery. Anyway, this will work better if you’ve read the first book – which is why it didn’t get a slot of its own, but it is delightful, so I wanted to talk about it!

Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Smugglers Secret by Annabelle Sami*

This is the fourth book about Zaiba and her group of friends who investigate crimes. It’s the first one that I’ve read, but I love a middle grade mystery series – and I would say this would work best for the younger end of the age group – it’s got illustrations and the language is simpler so it’s more of a first chapter book than say Robin Stevens‘ books – and there’s no murder which means it works for younger kids too. It’s fun, a little unlikely in patches – adults accepting eleven year olds helping investigate stuff – but no less unlikely than some other stories in the genre. I loved the sections with Zaiba’s aunt in Pakistan and all the food references made me really hungry! It’s out now in paperback, with the ebook following next month. These are going on my list of books to suggest for younger children – although I think all of the people I regularly purchase for are too old for this now sadly.

Happy Thursday everyone!

*denotes that my copy came via Netgalley