Book of the Week, romance, romantic comedy

Book of the Week: Acting Up

Plenty of options to chose from this week, and I’ve gone with a romance novel to make a nice change for the summer heat. Or what I hope is going to be a summery week!

Cath and Paul have been friends since college – and Cath’s been hiding a crush on Paul all these years. Now he’s a theatre director, and she’s a stage manager and they do their best work together. As friends. Just friends. Nothing more. And that’s fine with Cath, because she doesn’t want to risk losing the friendship she has with him. This summer, they’re working on a production of a new play at a regional theatre in Connecticut. If it goes well, it could go to Broadway – but will it go well if Paul insists on hiring Cath’s college nemesis to play the leading role? When rehearsals start, Paul realises that his leading lady is making Cath’s life miserable. And also that the leading man is showing an interest in Cath. Paul realises that what he wants is Cath – but can he persuade her that it’s worth taking a chance on?

Regular readers will remember how much I enjoy Lucy Parker’s theatre-set romances and that I always say I want more books like them. Well, here is more like them. This is friends-to-lovers rather than enemies-to-lovers and it’s in American regional theatre rather than the West End, but it’s got great characters, cracking banter – they quote plays at each other everyone, including some Busman’s Honeymoon, what more could I want – and the supporting characters are also amazing. Plus more backstage theatre details than you can shake a stick at, but not in an info dump sort of way. I read it in two sittings – it would have been one sitting, but it was 2am and I had to go to bed. Then I bought the next one so that I can read it on the train to work this week when I have finished the other things I am meant to be reading.

I bought this as part of my read the samples of books on offer spree (as mentioned yesterday) and it is 81p at the moment on Kindle everyone. EIGHTY ONE. And 99 cents in the US. Run don’t walk everyone, because I suspect this offer is going to finish at the end of June. It’s also available on Kobo (for 99p) and in paperback. You’re welcome. I’m off to see what else Adele Buck has written and buy it add it to my wishlist.

Happy reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: June 20 – June 26

Well. Last week was another big news week then. Blimey. Anyway, I had some time off work, so I got a lot of reading done as you can see. I was aiming to get the still reading list all read, but as you can see I didn’t quite manage it. Maybe this week?! Anyway, it’s also nearly the end of the month, and with it the end of the first half of the year, so as well as starting a new journal I have some halfway point posts planned – so look out for those over the next week and a bit along with all the usual end of month goodies.

Read:

The Golden One by Elizabeth Peters

The Castlemaine Murders by Kerry Greenwood

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

A Lonely Little Death by Beth Byers

Betraying the Crown by T P Fielden

Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan*

Murder Before Evensong by Rev Richard Coles

Queen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood

Acting Up by Adele Buck

Started:

Shipped by Angie Hockman

Godemersham Park by Gill Hornby*

The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E Smith

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Still reading:

Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Yeah, so I had a little slip up. One actual book bought – but a whole load of e-books, including the Adele Buck you see on the list and its sequel. There was a whole bunch of stuff on offer and I did a bit of a spree on sample reading to see if I liked them, and I liked all of them. Whoopsie. Sorry, not sorry.

Bonus photo: this month’s peonies, after my best attempt to arrange them. Flower arranging is not my forte. But they do look beautiful and survived being delivered to behind my hedge on really quite a hot day.

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

 

Book of the Week, Forgotten books, mystery

Book of the Week: Death of a Bookseller

I know it’s only a few weeks since I did a while recommendsday about British Library Crime Classics, and there was another one in the May Quick Reviews, but I’m back again with another one…

When Sergeant Wigan stops to help a drunken man at the end of a late shift, he makes a new friend and discovers the world of book collecting. Soon he is beginning his own collection, following the advice of Michael Fisk, who makes his living scouring book shops and sales for valuable books. When Fisk is found dead, Wigan is seconded to CID to help investigate and use his newly acquired knowledge of the second hand and antiquarian book trade to track down a killer.

This a great pick for the 100th BLCC book. And not just because it’s about a bookseller and the book trade. The mystery is really good but it also has a side of the murder mystery you don’t usually see – the convicted man and what happens to him. In my beloved Strong Poison you see Harriet Vane in prison on remand, but she is innocent and eventually freed*. But what happens to the man who is convicted? It adds a darker edge and a sense of urgency to the book, and an aspect that is easy to forget now that capital punishment is no longer a thing in the UK.

My copy came via my Kindle Unlimited subscription but you should be able to get hold of this through all the usual sources for British Library Crime Classics – including the British Library Bookshop.

Happy Reading!

* Technically, yes this is a spoiler, but a) Strong Poison was published in 1930 b) Peter is trying to clear Harriet from the start of the book, to the point where it’s in the blurb and c) I refuse to believe that anyone who has been hanging around here for any length of time has missed my whole Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane situation.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: June 13 – June 19

A heatwave! I’ve been really trying to work on that long list of ongoing books. And also the NetGalley ones. And I’m still rereading Phryne. So it’s all got a bit mixed on the list.

Read:

What Bloody Man Is That by Simon Brett

Rotten to the Core by T E Kinsey*

A Matter of Love and Death by Carmen Radtke

Away with the Fairies by Kerry Greenwood

Death of a Bookseller by Bernard J Farmer

Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare*

Started:

A Lonely Little Death by Beth Byers

Still reading:

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan*

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Murder Before Evensong by Rev Richard Coles

Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans

A couple of books bought. But I tried to be restrained!

Bonus photo: Tuesday morning in central london – beautiful blue sky and BT tower remembering the people who died in the Grenfell fire five years ago.

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

 

Book of the Week, Children's books, children's books

Book of the Week: The Unforgettable Guinevere St Clair

Last week it was a graphic novel, this week it’s a middle grade novel, I’ve got mystery book posts planned and all sorts for June. I really am giving you the full range this month aren’t it!

Amy Makechnie’s The Unforgettable Guinevere St Clair is about a ten-year-old girl who moves to Iowa to try and help her mother’s recovery from a brain injury that has left her unable to remember anything past the age of 13. Crow is where her parents grew up and Jed is desperately hoping that coming back will jog Vienna’s memories. Gwyn and her little sister Bitty are used to the bright lights of New York, so small town life comes as a bit of a shock to them, especially their new neighbour Gaysie Cutter. They soon make friends with Gaysie’s son Micah and his friend Jimmy, but they also discover that Gaysie was friends with their parents when they were at school. When Gaysie’s only friend, farmer Wilbur Truesdale, goes missing Gwyn is determined to solve the mystery but she may also find out more than she wants to know about her parents’ past.

Because of Jed’s absence and the age of Gwyn’s grandmother, the children are able to spend a lot of time running around outside without a lot of adult supervision. This gives the story an almost out of time feel – except for the references to current pop culture. The neighbourhood is full of interesting characters for Gwyn to met and things for her to try and work out. Gwyn has decided that she wants to be a lawyer and she is obsessed with finding out people’s stories, but often jumps to the worst possible conclusions (which is understandable given what has happened to her family) but also isn’t actually very good at asking the right questions or showing empathy to people. She wants to solve problems because there is one big problem that can never be solved – Vienna:

Gwyn calls her mum Vienna – because she’s not a mum to her because of her injury. Her dad is obsessed with trying to find a cure for her but as you go through the book you realise that what is initially described as memory loss is actually not amnesia, but massive and irreversible brain damage. Gwyn knows this. Gwyn’s grandmother knows this, everyone in town knows this – even if they’re not saying it – but Jed thinks a miracle is possible, because Vienna has survived this far. This all means that Gwyn is older than her years in someways, but she has her own trauma from what happened to her mum. She’s taken on the role of her sister’s protector, but she can’t see when she is hurting other people’s feelings – most notably when she is throwing herself into what she has decided is a murder investigation- heedless of Micah and Jimmy’s feelings.

Looking through the reviews and blurbs for this, I can see comparisons to To Kill A Mockingbird and I can sort of understand that – small town, weird neighbours, gang of roaming children – but there are a lot of differences too. Lots of things about Gaysie Cutter do remain unexplained, but she is a much more visible character than Boo Radley is, and you can often see glimpses of what is going on and understand her a little bit, even if Gwyn can’t.

It’s a really interesting read – and I’ve just realised that I’ve got this far without even mentioning that Gwyn has a pet cow, or the Big Peril at the end. It even made me get a bit teary eyed. And I’m still thinking about it, a couple of days on from finishing it, which is a recommendation in itself.

Anyway I read this in paperback (as you can see from the photo!) but it’s also available in Kindle and Kobo. I bought my copy online a so I’m not sure how easy it will be to find in stores – but I suspect it will be tricky as I can’t find it at all on Foyles website… But if you do happen across a copy it’s worth it.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: June 6 – June 12

Well, what a crazy busy week. I had two nights in London – which included my trip to Ben de la Creme – and then a book launch on Thursday night for Lizzy Dent’s The Set Up. Then we went out for dinner on Friday, we had a busy weekend with my sister and her partner visiting from Carlisle and lunch out and a car show with them and my dad on Sunday. And all the usual work stuff too. Is it any wonder the list is shorter than usual?!

Read:

Death in Fancy Dress by Anthony Gilbert

Burying the Crown by T P Fielden

Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood

The Unforgettable Guinevere St Clair by Amy Makechnie

Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron by Julia Quinn and Violet Charles

Started:

Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans

Rotten to the Core by T E Kinsey*

Murder Before Evensong by Rev Richard Coles

Still reading:

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare*

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan*

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Bonus photo: This was the venue for our Friday night meal – and it gave me such strong Happy Valley-but-make-it-rural-England vibes, that it just had to be this week’s picture!

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

 

Book of the Week, graphic novels

Book of the Week: Bloodlust and Bonnets

It was a really fun week of reading last week – and I had a few options for this today. But I decided to pick a graphic novel for the first time in a long time this week and it’s a really fun one.

Bloodlust and Bonnets is a pastiche of romantic literature, where a trio of misfits go chasing after vampires for Reasons. Lucy is an innocent and highly suggestible debutant. Shram is a mysterious bounty Hunter. Lord Byron is, well Lord Byron. There is a psychic eagle and a talking castle and lies, flirting and manipulation. And lots of gory slapstick stuff. It’s a lot of fun and very clever.

With my poor record of having read the classics, I think I’ve read more books about Romantic literature or pastiching romantic literature than I’ve actually read of actual classic novels this is based on, but I still got most of the jokes – especially about Byron after I read The House of Byron last year. And I really love Emily McGovern’s art – I have one of her Life as a Background Slytherin prints on my kitchen wall – and this is just as delightful. She does so much with not many lines and it’s so clever. As you can see from the cover, the faces are basically eyebrows and dots and yet they convey so much. It’s a delightful way to spend a few hours. This was McGovern’s first graphic novel – her second, Twelve Percent Dread, is out in July and I already have it on order at the comic book store.

My copy of Bloodlust and Bonnets came from my local comic store, and you should try yours first for it too – if they don’t have it they can order it in for you. Otherwise, you should be able to order it from the usual sources.

Happy reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 30 – June 5

Well that was quite a weekend. The Platinum Jubilee was quite a spectacle – and the weather in my part of the world was quite a ride! I had a good week in reading too – even if the rain showers meant I still haven’t got the hammock out. But that will come. Another week with a lot of authors I’ve read before in the list, but I’ve started some new to me authors too – including a few books from last month’s Books Incoming post.

Read:

A Reconstructed Corpse by Simon Brett

Jumping Jenny by Anthony Berkeley

Making Money by Terry Pratchett

Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood

Mirror Lake by Juneau Black*

Paint the Down Dead by Nancy Silver

Cinderella Goes to the Morgue by Nancy Spain

Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern

A Likely Story by Jenn McKinlay

Started:

Death in Fancy Dress by Anthony Gilbert

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Still reading:

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare*

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan*

One pre-order and one kindle purchase. Very restrained given I had a four day weekend!

Bonus photo: We went for a delightful wood around a forest near us on Friday – so here is part of my slice of the British countryside in early summer.

A woodland path

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

 

Book of the Week, Forgotten books

Book of the Week: The Young Pretenders

I said yesterday that I thought I was going to set a new record for the number of authors I’d already featured in the list, but today’s BotW pick is one of the exceptions. But it was also last months book from my Persephone subscription which is turning out to be one of the best gifts I have recently been given. Thoroughly recommend.

Set in the mid 1890s, The Young Pretenders is the story of two children, Teddy and his younger sister Babs. At the start of the book they are told that their grandma has died and find out that they’re going to move to London to live with their aunt and uncle while they wait for their parents to return from India. Having done pretty much as they wanted in the countryside – including basically running wild in the garden – the adjustment to city is not an easy one, especially for five year old Babs, our heroine. She is described as a grubby sturdy little girl, and not the cherubic blonde Angel that her aunt Eleanor was hoping for. And as if that wasn’t enough, Babs has an unerring knack of saying exactly the wrong thing to her aunt. For Babs has no idea how to fit in in the artificial world of London – and no idea what she is expected to do or say. So she just does what she thinks or says what she has heard the adults say and it lands her in trouble.

This was written for children, but is absolutely a book that adults will adore. I mean I did, but also adults who don’t usually read children’s books. For children Babs’s missteps will be nothing but funny. For adults you see her stumbling through her new life and assess the mistakes and weaknesses of the adults around her. It’s hard to explain what I mean without given massive spoilers, so you’ll have to trust me on this. I enjoyed it so much I read it in one evening, it would have been one sitting, but I started in the sofa and then carried on reading it when I went to bed and consequently got less sleep than I should have done.

As I said, my copy was part of my Persephone subscription picks from and you can get it direct from them but you can get Persephone Books from good book shops too – like Foyles.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 23 – May 29

Happy Monday everyone. It’s a three day week here in the UK because we have bank holidays for the Queen’s Jubilee at the end of the week. And we’re not the only country with holidays this week – it’s Memorial day in the US today. Anyway, as far as my week goes, this may be a new record for books that I’ve already written about as well as authors I’ve written about before. Still not making massive inroads into the still reading list – I’m going to blame the Vicky Bliss binge for that as well as the ongoing Phryne re-read. I’ll try and do better this week. If the weather continues to be nice, I might even get the Hammock out for some reading time! I’m down in London for a couple of nights this week – I have theatre tickets – so who knows what the end of month list will look like, and the end of week list, but hey, all books and no play makes Verity a dull girl.

Read:

Attack and Delay by Andrew Cartmel

Deep Water ed Martin Edwards

Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr

The Young Pretenders by Edith Henrietta Fowler

Death on a Midsummer Night by Kerry Greenwood

Trojan Gold by Elizabeth Peters

Miss Moriarty, I Presume by Sherry Thomas

Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters

Started:

Jumping Jenny by Anthony Berkeley

Mirror Lake by Juneau Black*

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan*

Still reading:

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare*

Cinderella Goes to the Morgue by Nancy Spain

One ebook and that’s it. Very restrained. I’m amazed at me.

Bonus photo: I do love peonies. The plant in the garden only ever produces about two flowers, but luckily, my monthly bouquet of flowers included them this month, and aren’t they beautiful?

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