Book of the Week, historical, romance

Book of the Week: Wilde Child

As I said yesterday, a busy week in real life last week and a lot of reoccurring authors on the list. But for today’s BotW pick I’m back into my romance happy place, with the latest book from an old favourite author of mine – Eloisa James.

A little bit of my historical romance reading origin story first: Eloisa James was one of the first current historical romance authors I read back when I discovered that there were modern authors doing takes on Georgette Heyer, back in my Southend days so circa 2009 – about a decade after I first read Georgette Heyer – I know. What took me so long? I don’t know – except I suppose that back when I was reading Georgette Heyer originally there wasn’t really a section of the UK market that was historical romance that wasn’t Mills and Boon – and that was what my granny read. Then – and I know exactly how it happened – I saw Julia Quinn’s What Happens in London in the window of Waterstones on Southend High Street and went to investigate. The Essex Library system was good – and I then requested and worked my way through every Julia Quinn they had and started to look for other similar authors. And it turned out there were a few authors who had made the jump across the Atlantic – and you just had to know what to look for in the cover art. My first Eloisa James was Duchess by Night – with a blindfolded lady in a corseted dress on the cover. And I ate up that series – or as much as it as was published in the UK. Which was not all of it – and at that point they weren’t available on Kindle – even if I had had one* so I started looking at the US editions, with their very, very different covers to the UK ones and started ordering them so I could get to Villiers’ story. And so what I’m saying here is that I have a long history with Eloisa James and I see her books as reliable comfort reads for me.

This is the sixth in the Wilde’s of Lindow Castle series, and the titular Wilde Child is Joan, who the Duke of Lindow has raised as his own despite the fact that her father is the Prussian count who his (now ex) wife had an affair with. This fact of her birth has made her some what scandalous – and she has done every thing in her power to scandalise the polite society who judge her for something she can’t help or change. Our hero is Viscount Greywick, who needs sensible scandal free wife but just can’t help trying to keep Joan out of trouble. The two of them strike a bargain – he’ll help her achieve her dream of acting on stage (incognito of course) and then she’ll settle down and marry a man of his choosing. We all know where this is going, without me even saying any more than that.

Now, this is not perfect. I like others of James’ books more. I think the relationship skips a stage – they go straight from antipathy to liking each other, without really properly explaining how. Yes, there are a lot of “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I can’t stop touching your hair” books out there – but there’s usually a big revelation moment where they work out that that it’s not actually hate, it’s repressed desire – and that doesn’t quite land here. I still think James’ earlier books are cleverer and funnier, but I read it this in under 24 hours and it made me smile – and having read all the other books in this series, I’m just a touch invested and I liked seeing the previous couples reappear. I am going to go on record that I have been holding out hope throughout the series that the at some point Horatius, the dead eldest son, is going to turn out not to be dead and reappear to close the series, not just because of The Drama but also because that would solve one of the ongoing problems of one of the couples – which makes a reappearance in this story (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read North’s book). James has her first book out under her own name (Mary Bly) soon – which is a contemporary women’s fiction novel – so I’m hoping this isn’t it for Eloisa James – but it may well be.

My copy of Wilde Child came from the library, but it’s out now on Kindle and Kobo as well as in paperback – and these are often spotted in the supermarkets and book stores – at time of writing, Foyles have it in stock in six of their seven stores.

Happy Reading!

* I got my first Kindle in May 2012 before I went to Poland to work at EURO 2012 – because lord knows I wasn’t going to be able to take enough books to read with me for a month.

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 17 – May 23

Every week is a busy week at the moment it seems, but even amidst all the busy and the stress, reading is a constant for me. Yes, this week is mostly old favourite authors who I’ve told you about before. No I don’t feel guilty about that – although I do feel guilty that I’m making slower progress than I’d hoped down the NetGalley list, but sometimes when you’re tired and stressed, you just want to pick up something that you know will make you happy and not have to concentrate too hard on something new.

Read:

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

O Jerusalem by Laurie R King

Wrapped by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Wilde Child by Eloisa James

Lumberjanes Vol 18 by Shannon Watters et al

Elizabeth and Monty by Charles Castillo*

Her Big City Neighbour by Jackie Lau

Started:

Justice Hall by Laurie R King

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

Still reading:

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal*

Frieda by Annabel Abbs

Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander*

Bonus photo: It has unlocked even more here now – and so I had my first evening out with friends this year last week, for the second semi final of Eurovision. There was prosecco, there was schnitzel, there were some terrible songs and some even worse performances and I loved every minute. Thus, it is this week’s bonus photo.

A glass of prosecco in front of a large screen showing Eurovision Semi final 2

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, LGTBQIA+, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Fabulosa!

A few options under serious consideration from last week, but in the end I settled on Paul Baker’s Fabulosa! because it was really, really good and I’m not sure it will have come onto people’s radar. So this week’s BotW could be seen as the latest in a line that has already included Legendary Children and Diary of a Drag Queen – and also Art of Drag – which you can actually see in the background of my photo below.

In case you don’t already know, Polari is a language that was used mostly by gay men in the first half of the twentieth century. It had a brief moment in the limelight in the mid 1960s when it featured in Julian and Sandy sketches on the radio show Round the Horne, and then dropped away again. In Fabulosa! Paul Baker examines the language’s roots – in Cant, dancers’ slang and Lingua Franca – the reasons why it was spoken and the reasons for its decline. Baker is a linguistics professor and the foundations for the book are from of his PHD research – and interviews conducted with surviving speakers of Polari.

This is part linguistic study, part social history and really very enjoyable. There are a fair few word which crossed over into common usage from Polari – as well as the origins of a few of the words you may have encountered in Drag Race. One of the main roles for Polari was a means of communicating with a level of camouflage – but it’s hard to work out at this distance how successful that was. Baker is very frank that it was hard to find people who spoke it to interview, and there is very littl documentation about it and so it’s hard to work out how Polari was actually used – and whether it ever reached the level of a language rather than a variety, and whether people who didn’t speak Polari would have recognised it as something spoken by the gay community and been able to expose this and thus defeat the object.

IF you’re interested in language or social history – or both, this is well worth a look to discover a hidden part of the recent past. I bought my copy from Foyles – where the hardback is now out of stock but they do have the paperback, but it’s also available on Kindle and Kobo. You’ll probably need a reasonably large or specialist bookshop to be able to wander in and pick up a copy.

Happy reading!

And one last bonus – here are Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick reviving Julian and Sandy – on camera for a BBC programme in the late 1980s, shortly before Paddick’s death. Both this and the clip above are discussed in the book.

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 10 – May 16

Another incredibly busy week. And a fun set of books on the list too as I attempt to counteract the seriousness of the world situation with some lighter hearted reading. And of course the Amelia Peabody re-listen continues. I’ve got rather too many books on the go at the moment though, so a project for this week has to be to see to that a little I think.

Read:

Themes and Variations by David Sedaris

Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham

Let There Be Suspects by Emilie Richards

The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by K J Charles

The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

Fabulosa! by Paul Baker

The Case of the Canterfell Codicil by P J Fitzsimmons

Started:

Elizabeth and Monty by Charles Castillo*

O Jerusalem by Laurie R King

Still reading:

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal*

Frieda by Annabel Abbs

Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander*

Bonus photo: You know I watched the film of Sense and Sensibility this weekend, for the first time in years – maybe decades. And I had forgotten how good it is. I remain convinced though that Colonel Brandon deserved better and that so did Elinor, poor woman having to sort out her family and be sensible and strong while they all throw hysterics around her. Alan Rickman did so much with just the twitch of the face – what a loss. This is his dawning hope face!

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, romance

Book of the Week: Love at First

I like writing about swoony romantic books, so although I really liked the new Duncan MacMaster – I mean a murder mystery set at a Fyre-esque festival is lot of fun and I’m sure I’ll write about it properly at some point, but I just loved Kate Clayborn’s Love at First, so my inner romantic won out. Again.

Nora loves her flat, and the building it’s in. She’s loved it since she was a kid and visited her Nona every summer. Now her Nona is gone but the community of her friends is still there and Nora has taken over looking after them. She moved across the country to Chicago to live in it, she’s got her remote working situation sorted and now she just needs to make sure the building’s new occupant doesn’t change the atmosphere. For Will, the flat is an unexpected inheritance from an uncle he didn’t know and didn’t want to. He can’t imagine living in it – so he just wants to deal with it and move on. Soon Will and Nora are low key feuding as she tries to gently sabotage his plans. But it’s more like frenemies than enemies because there’s just something between the two of them…

So this has a lovely prologue setting it up, and then a delightful romance with enemies to lovers and friends with benefits stuff going on. Will and Nora both have reasons why relationships are tricky territory for them and watching them find their way towards each other is lovely. I also adored the other residents of the building with their quirks and their fun and sparky relationships with each other. I really liked Clayborn’s previous book, Love Lettering – I mean it was a Book of the Week and one of my favourites of last year – but I think maybe I like this one even more!

I borrowed this from the library, but I suspect I’m going to be ordering myself the paperback so that I can lend it around – after all I own Love Lettering in paperback and on Kindle… At the moment it’s only available as an import paperback in the UK but when I asked Kate Clayborn on Twitter what was going on, she said she thinks it’s just transitioning to a new imprint. I hope that’s what’s happening – because I have two books of a three book series of hers and I really need the third at some point, so I’ll keep my eyes open and try to remember to update you all when it’s on Kindle and Kobo again.

Happy Reading!

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 3 – May 9

Lots of fun stuff in last week’s list. I think I’ve decided what’s going to be Book of the Week tomorrow, but it’s a close one. The weather here has been distintly mixed, which has enabled a fair amount of reading time too.

Read:

Drop the Mikes by Duncan MacMaster

April Lady by Georgette Heyer

Vera Kelly is not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Love at First by Kate Clayborn

The Clue in the Clam by Kathi Daley

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters*

Started:

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal*

Frieda by Annabel Abbs

Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander*

Let There Be Suspects by Emilie Richards

Still reading:

Fabulosa! by Paul Baker

Bonus photo: Regulars around here will know that Elections weeks are always busy ones for me – and this week was no different, so here’s a picture of a polling station sign to represent that!

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 round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: April 2021 Mini Reviews

Ok, so slightly cheating this month, in that I couple of these were actually finished in the first two days of May, but I’m giving them a bye because they came out in April. Oh the ways in which we deceive ourselves…

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny*

Cover of Early Morning Riser

Jane is a teacher in Boyne City, Michigan. When she locks herself out of her house she meets Duncan – not actually a locksmith, but a carpenter who can fix locks as well. Soon they’re dating – but as Duncan has already dated almost ever woman in town, she never quite feels like she has him to herself. Soon Jane is caught up in a web of relationships with some of Boyne City’s eccentric residents – including Duncan’s ex wife and her new husband. After a terrible car crash Jane, Duncan and Aggie’s lives are permanently linked, but is there actually a different sort of happy to the one Jane was expecting waiting for her if she just looks for it? Standard Deviation was a book of the week pick here, a couple of years back and this is Katherine Heiny’s latest novel. Back then I said that I wouldn’t actually want to be friends with the leads in that, but I think I would like to be friends with Jane – although Duncan would be a bit of a trial to have as a boyfriend! This is warm and funny but bittersweet. It’ll make you laugh and make you cry and then you’ll want to tell everyone you know to read it too. I need to buy a copy so I can lend it out.

The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan**

Cover of The Devil Comes Courting

Courtney Milan’s latest novel is the long awaited third in the Worth Saga, but set on the other side of the world. Amelia Smith was adopted by missionaries as a child, but has always been waiting for her real mum to come back for her. When Captain Grayson Hunter offers her a job devising a code to transmit Chinese characters by telegraph, she doesn’t think she’s the person he’s looking for. But after some persuasion, she decides giving it a go is a better option than marrying another missionary. Grayson is determined to lay the first transpacific telegraph cable and achieve the dream his brothers aren’t here to complete. Convincing Amelia that she’s the missing link that his company needs is a hard task, but soon the sparks are flying between the two of them – even though both of them are determined to ignore them. As well as the romance this is also examining the damage that missionaries did going out and forcing their beliefs on to other cultures around the world. This will may make you feel uncomfortable, but it’s meant to and you probably need to sit with that. I liked the romance well enough, but what I really loved was watching Amelia come into herself and make the life that she wants to have, not the one that her adoptive mother things she should have. And if you liked the meddling relatives in Dial A for Aunties, this has a couple of characters who are doing a similar sort of thing – just in nineteenth century China. If you’re fed up of Regency or even just European-see historicals, try this.

Wicked Enchantment by Wanda Coleman*

Cover of Wicked Enchantment

Ok, so let’s preface this with the fact that I’m not a big poetry person. In fact I’m still holding a grudge agains Wordsworth, Tennyson and the Brownings after my A-Levels. But every now and again I venture in and this was one of those times. And it was also my first encounter with Wanda Coleman and it has absolutely made an impression on me. This is a thought provoking and well put together collection of more than 130 poems from across Coleman’s forty career. The order is drawn from Coleman’s own preferences and examines her life and black American experiences as she saw them. It’s gritty and rule breaking and I sometimes felt totally out of my depth. You’ll have to think and concentrate and probably read out loud to understand the rhythm. And although some of the poems are forty years old, the themes and experiences still feel strikingly relevant today.

The Fear-fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones*

Cover of The Fear-Fighter Manual

This is a readable and insightful look at the importance of speaking up for yourself and how to navigate that without blowing up your life or reliving your mistakes forever more. This is dedicated to the author’s grandmother – a formidable Nigerian woman who overcame substantial obstacles, lived her life as she wanted and spoke out when she thought it was needed. I particularly enjoyed reading about how the author’s upbringing – split between Nigeria and the US has informed her perspective and the lessons that she has taken from the strong women in her life and the squad she has built around herself. It is quite American-self-help book in tone at times- which is not always my style, but I enjoyed it and found it just on the right side of my personal line for that. I’m not sure how much of this is applicable to my life – but there are some important ideas and lessons here that I will sit with (as the Americans say) and digest and try to use to inform my thinking and behaviour. Also I already couldn’t wait to be able to meet up with people in person again, but after all the sections about her friends and her squad, that’s only got worse!

An honourable mention has to go to Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, about a murder in fundamentalist Mormon country. I gave it a mention in my post about podcasts when I was talking about Short Creek – and if I hadn’t listened to that I would probably have given it a whole list of its own. But it’s a little out of date now, and Short Creek will do you a lot of the same things, just in updated podcast form – the main change is the Rulon/Warren Jeff’s situation.

In case you missed any of them, the Books of the Week posts in April were Dial A for Aunties (published in May, but read in April!) He’s Not My Boyfriend, Rosie Danan’s Roommate duo, Enjoy the View and Billion Dollar Loser.

And here are the links to the mini reviews from January, February and March.

Happy Reading!

new releases, Thriller

Book of the Week: Dial A for Aunties

As I said yesterday, lots of reading done last week to finish of April. Mini-Reviews coming up tomorrow, but today’s Book of the Week is quite hard to define by genre, but it’s one of the most fun books I’ve read so far this year. And bonus: it was new last week so I’m on time with my review again!

Cover of Dial A for Aunties

Meddelin Chan has always thought that her family are a pain. Her mum and her three aunts are always messing in her life, and not just because they all work together in the family wedding business. But when Meddelin accidentally kills her blind date, the aunts swing into action to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately it’s also the night before their biggest job yet: a swanky billionaire’s wedding at an island resort. An already tricky situations – trying to find a way to get rid of the body and make the wedding perfect – gets even worse when it turns out that Meddelin’s The One That Got Away is on the island too. Can the Chan’s pull it all off: disposing of a corpse, the perfect wedding and getting Meddy’s ex back into her life?

This is just the funniest and also weirdest book I have read in ages. It’s a farcical comedy thriller caper with a romantic subplot and yes that’s a lot of genres but it’s just wonderful. Meddelin is a charming character – she’s trying to figure out how to live her own life and achieve her dreams but without disappointing her family. But when the date goes wrong it turns out that her family have got her back no matter what. The aunts and their bickering is hilarious. But they’re all also very good at their day jobs – which is why the body disposal is so much fun. And yes, as a premise it’s a bit dark, but just go with it and the dark humour all gets balanced out by the fun and frothy wedding antics. And I loved the details about Meddy’s Chinese and Indonesian heritage.

I hope this is absolutely massive – I hope like my future is full of people asking for recommendations for books like this – even though there isn’t really anything like it that I can think off. Think Steph Plum crossed with Aunty Lee, with a dash of Crazy Rich Asians and you’re sort of getting there. the afterword says it’s already been optioned by Netflix and I can’t wait to watch what they do with it.

My copy of Dial A for Aunties came from NetGalley, but it’s out now in Kindle and Kobo as well as paperback. I still haven’t made it into a bookshop, so I don’t know whether they’ll have it in stock, but Foyles are showing copies available to order with a short delivery time, so I’m hopeful it’ll make it to the tables in the end.

Happy Reading!

Authors I love, books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 26 – May 2

The end of another month has come – so all sorts of goodies coming up here to wrap up my reading from April. I’ve also managed to get myself in gear and have no long running books on the list for once. Loads of good stuff last week though, so I have a lot I want to tell you about once I get my act in gear!

Read:

Dying for Devil’s Food by Jenn McKinlay

The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Runaways by Rainbow Rowell

The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer

The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan**

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutano*

Jill, Lone Guide by Ethel Talbot

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny*

Wicked Enchantment by Wanda Coleman*

Started:

Fabulosa! by Paul Baker

Vera Kelly is not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht

Still reading:

N/a

Bonus photo: This week’s bonus post is a rare horticultural success for me. This is our peace lily, which my mum says is now so big it needs splitting. This is a miracle as usually plants only last for a matter of weeks in my house. I currently have four plants alive – a record – and I attribute it all to the fact that I’m home all the time so remember to water them!

A happy and large peace lily

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

books, stats

April Stats

Books read this month: 32*

New books: 37

Re-reads: 5

Books from the to-read pile: 8

NetGalley books read: 4

Kindle Unlimited read: 1

Ebooks: 6

Library books: 8 (all ebooks)

Audiobooks: 5

Non-fiction books: 4

Favourite book this month: Dial A for Aunties by Jessie Q Sutanto

Most read author: Georgette Heyer with a bunch of audiobooks or Rosie Danan with two new reads

Books bought: about 9

Books read in 2020: 134

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 602

A fairly steady month in reading in the end – Irritatingly the Duncan MacMaster Fahrenheit Zine isn’t in goodreads – even though the Jo Perry equivalent was, so I’m going to have to figure out a way of counting that in future months when I’ve forgotten it’s not in the raw goodreads count. Wish me luck with that! Probably not as much progress on the NetGalley list as I should have, but there’s been a lot going on in the world and my brain has been a little fried. Here’s hoping May is better.

Bonus picture: Some bluebells in the woods the other weekend.

Bluebells in a wood

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (5 this month)