books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: April 23 – April 29

The Sue Grafton kick continues.  It’s all Bettina’s fault.  Anyway, a much slower week this week because I was back at work and very, very busy.  But some good stuff in there none the less.

Read:

F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Left Until Called For At Vivians by Patricia K Caldwell

Under His Kilt by Melissa Blue

Carpe Jugulum: The Play by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs

Going Down by Elise Sax

Man Candy by Elise Sax

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Started:

Eternity Ring by Patricia Wentworth

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

The Templars by Dan Jones

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

A couple of books pre-ordered and two ebooks bought, but generally quite restrained!

 

American imports, Book of the Week, historical, new releases, reviews, romance

Book of the Week: After the Wedding

As you may have noticed from yesterday’s post, I did a lot of reading last week – even for me.  And there were a lot of contenders for this week’s BotW, but it seemed serendipitous that Courtney Milan’s latest romance is actually out today, whereas the release dates had already passed for the other contenders.  And don’t worry, some of the other books from last week will feature in upcoming posts I have planned – there’s another cozy crime round up due as well as the traditional Holiday Reading post.  I read through my holiday so that you can benefit from it when picking your holiday reading.  Or at least that’s a happy accident of the fact that my preferred way of spending my holiday is reading!  Anyway, on to the review.

The cover of After the Wedding

After the Wedding is the second book in Courtney Milan’s Worth Saga.  I haven’t read the first, but that didn’t in any way impair my enjoyment.  Set in the late 1860s, it tells the story of Camilla and Adrian. Camilla has been moving around from family to family for years since her father was convicted of treason, but she never seems to be able to keep any of them happy enough with her to be allowed to stay.  Adrian is juggling a lot of things.  He’s trying to run the family business while trying to convince his uncle (a bishop) to recognise his family, who were disowned when his mother ran off with a black abolitionist. This sees him doing things that he would rather not be doing – like impersonating servants to obtain vital information.  When the two of them find themselves married – at gunpoint no less – they begin an awkward dance to work out what to do next.  He has definite ideas about what he wants from marriage, she can’t see how the world can make anything worse for her, but has had enough blows that she knows that she can’t rule anything else.

This is a really good historical romance – but it’s not your typical historical romance.  There is a a sadness in each of the character’s backstories that goes beyond what you normal find, and that is never going to go away or be resolved fully.  But that makes a lot of the other events of the book even sweeter.  Milan says in the afterword that this book is about hope – and I can totally get on board with that.  It’s showing two characters who face obstacles in their lives work out how they’re going to get around them – or live with them – and come to terms with themselves in the process.  The Camilla of the end of the book is not the same bowed, cowed and undermined character that she is at the start, but that’s not because everything has been magically fixed for her because she has found a man.  She’s done it for herself.   Adrian also works out what his priorities are and what he really wants but he’s also working for the best outcome for Camilla because he knows that she has even less choices than he does in many ways.  For me, the best sort of romances are the ones where the characters grow and develop and the fact that they’ve fallen in love in the process is a happy consequence, not the fix.  And that’s how it should be.   You can’t – and shouldn’t – rely on someone else to make you happy or to make your life complete.

I think this is my favourite new romance of the year so far and a timely reminder to me to go back and read more of what Courtney Milan has written.  I really, really like what she is doing with her historical romances – they’re something a bit different from what you expect and have a cast of characters who not only aren’t all dukes, but aren’t all white members of the haut ton.  And they’re stories that I want to read more of.  The conflict at the heart of this is not a misunderstanding that could have been fixed by having a conversation. And that makes for a really satisfying conclusion when you get to the happy ending.

I received my advance copy of After the Wedding from the author via her Facebook page, but as mentioned at the top, this is out today.  As I write this, I can only find it in Kindle and Kobo in the UK, but fingers crossed there’ll be some physical copies at some point.  I’m off to buy more of Courtney Milan’s back catalogue.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: April 16 – April 22

Can you tell what I did last week? Ding, ding, ding! You’re right: I was on holiday and spent my week on a sun lounger reading. Much fun was had.  However this is also the reason why some of the long-runners are still on the list – because I wasn’t taking part-read hardbacks on holiday with me!

Read:

Lonelyheart 4122 by Colin Watson

Charity Ends at Home by Colin Watson

Murder at the Mushroom Festival by Janet Finsilver

Nun After the Other by Alice Loweecey

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery by Cathy Bramley

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

The Marmalade Murders by Elizabeth J Duncan

Once a Ferrara Wife by Sarah Morgan

Detective Nosegoode and the Museum Robbery by  Marian Orlon (trans Eliza Marciniak)

The Lido by Libby Page

D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
After the Wedding by Courtney Milan
E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration England by Ian Mortimer

Started:

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

The Templars by Dan Jones

 

 

Book of the Week, holiday reading, reviews, women's fiction

Book of the Week: The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

Hello and welcome to another BotW post – this week we’re in saga territory with Sophie Green’s The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club, which came out at the start of last month, but which I only got time to sit down properly to 10 days ago.  It was nearly BotW last week, but I didn’t finish it until Monday morning after my weekend at work and so I got to save it!  And after last week’s pick celebrated female friendship for middle grade readers, this does the same for grown ups.

The cover of The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club (such a long title, but I forgive it) is set in Australia’s Northern Territory in the late 1970s and early 1980s and follows Sybil, Kate, Sallyanne, Della and Rita.  Sybil came to Fairvale station 25 years ago, but she remembers how strange it felt compared to her life as a nurse in Sydney, so when her son brings his new wife Kate from Britain she comes up with the book club as an idea to adjust and make friends.  Sallyanne is stuck with a difficult husband who’s turned to drink while she brings up their three small children.  Della is a transplant from Texas at the next station over – she left her father’s ranch to find some freedom and her own place in the world.  Rita has been friends with Sybil since they were young nurses together and is now working for the Flying Doctors service in Alice Springs.  Across the course of the book all four women face trials and difficulties and find support and friendship from the rest of the group as well as finding someone to talk about books with.

I absolutely loved this book, which seemed to me like almost a what-happened-next to the outback life that I had read about in Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice.  I read that back in my teenage years  – it’s one of my mum’s favourite books and although it’s all good, my favourite part of it is the third part, that deals with Jean’s life in Willstown.  And Fairvale Ladies Book Club shows you another wild and inhospitable part of Australia that is almost inconceivable to me in its remoteness and challenges.  I  loved reading about Fairvale and the town of Katherine and wanted to be friends with all the women.  I’ve read quite a few of the books that the women read for the club – but this has reminded me that I still have Thorn Birds sitting on my kindle waiting to be read and has also given me some ideas for more reading about the Australian outback and a way of life that seems almost impossible to believe in.

I really enjoyed reading this and it brought a tear to my eye more than once. I think it would make an excellent beach read if you’re getting to the time of year where you’re thinking of holiday books – and as it’s over 400 pages long it would last a while as long as you don’t read as fast as I do!  It would also make a great book club pick – there are plenty of things to talk about here.

My copy came from NetGalley, but you should be able to get a copy from all good bookshops – like Foyles, Book Depository and Big Green Bookshop.  The Kindle and Kobo editions are already a bargain at £1.99 (at time of writing) but it cropped up as a Kindle Daily Deal about two weeks ago, so that may come around again if you’re not in a hurry and have a system for keeping track of these things.

And if you’ve got any recommendations for books set in the remote bits of Australia – or other remote parts of the world – let me know in the comments.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: April 9 – April 15

A lot of time spent this week finishing The Vanity Fair Diaries, which turned out to be a bit of a slog. Certainly not quite what I was expecting. But still, not a bad list all in.

Read:

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark

Started:

The Templars by Dan Jones

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Two ebooks bought and one actual book.

 

Book of the Week, Children's books, graphic novels, new releases

Book of the Week: Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up

Firstly, it came to my attention slightly belatedly over the weekend, that Anita Shreve has died.  Her last book The Stars are Fire was a BotW back in May last year – it’s out in paperback in 10 days time and is well worth a read.  She’s definitely on the list of authors I need to read more of – just as soon as I get the TBR pile down…  Anyway, this week’s BotW is not out for a few weeks yet (sorry, but it had to be done), but I enjoyed it so much and have things to say, so I picked it anyway.  The Moon is Up is second Lumberjanes novel and it’s been a while since I wrote about the series (nearly a year in fact ) so I thought it was ok to mix it up a little bit and go back for some more middle grade action.

If you haven’t come across the Lumberjanes before, you can read my previous posts about here and here, but I’ll give you the quick rundown now too:  the series follows a group of campers at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.  Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley  are te girls of Roanoke cabin.  They all have different backgrounds and different strengthgs but they’re also  feisty, fun and best friends who look out for each other whatever the circumstances.  The graphic novel series runs to 9 volumes now, and this is the second spin off novel.

Cover of Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up

In The Moon is Up, the girls of Roanoke are taking part in the Galaxy Wars contest, which sees them up against their fellow campers in a series of space-related challenges and competitions.  There is the usual weird creature of the week type plot – this time a Moon Pirate – that we get in the graphic novels, but the novel format gives us a chance to see a bit more inside one of the characters – in this case Jo, who is trying to make a decision about whether she should take up the offer of a place at a prestigious science camp, and who also happens to be trans.

Apart from the excellent storytelling and fun adventures, one of my favourite things about the Lumberjanes graphic novels has always been the fact that it has a really diverse cast of strong female characters, who have a range of interests and strengths and support each other and know that when they work together they’re better.  And this novel is absolutely doing the same thing.  Jo is the analytical one in the gang and it’s fun to see inside her head as she tries to work out what the right thing to do is and to see the other girls giving her space to work out whatever is bothering her.  It’s a great example of how female friendships should be – and how people with different interests can be the best of friends.

All this makes it sound like the book might be a bit preachy and boring, but it’s the total opposite of that.  It’s a fun adventure romp that absolutely fits in with some of my favourite camp stories from when I was younger.  My copy was an advance e-copy from NetGalley and didn’t have the final artwork, so I know I’m going to be trotting out to the shops to have a look at the finished article as well as looking for the first book in the series too.  The novels are a great addition to the Lumberjanes universe, and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up is out on May 8, and is available to preorder now in Kindle and Kobo and hardcover from Amazon, Book Depository and Foyles.  The first in the series, Unicorn Power is available now from all the same places.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: April 2 – April 8

A couple of books off the long runners list – so that’s good – and I’m working on a couple more.  A fun (and varied!) week’s reading!

Read:

Death by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge

Blame it on the Duke by Leonora Bell

The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre by West End Producer

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

The Marlows and the Traitor by Antonia Forest

Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Brooklyn Allen

Started:

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Still reading:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

Lots of discussion going on last week about diversity in romance and the problems faced by Authors of Colour – so I may have had a little ebook buying spree there as a result!  And I bought one paperback too.