books, stats

September Stats

New books read this month: 30*

Books from the to-read pile: 6

Ebooks read: 9

NetGalley books read: 5

Library books: 10 (all ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 4

Favourite book this month: Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Most read author: Catherine Bybee (all three of the Most Likely too Trilogy

Books bought: still not counting

Books read in 2020: 287

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 579

So I started strongly on the NetGalley front – and then petered out when a bunch of library holds came in and library loans started to come due. But two of the ebooks were advance copies from authors (but not via NetGalley) so they sort of count right?! And the physical pile isn’t getting much smaller either. So for October, I need to focus on reading books I already own, rather than getting distracted by Kindle Unlimited and the library…

Bonus picture: Another picture from my staycation at the start of the month – this was in Skipton.

Lake surrounded by trees

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

 

Book of the Week, new releases, romance

Book of the Week: The Duke Who Didn’t

After a few weeks of crime or somewhat mystery-y picks, I’m back with some romance for this week’s Book of the Week – and the new novel by Courtney Milan, which is also the first in a new series from her.

The cover of The Duke who Didn't

Chloe Fong is super organised. She lives by her lists, and hopes that one day she’ll have the perfect day and get everything done. And beyond the daily list, she has a big plan too and it’s helping her father launch his new business. Jeremy Wentworth has been visiting Chloe’s village since his early teens, but stopped a couple of years back after Chloe told him that for anything to happen between them he would have to get serious. It’s taken him some time, but he’s realised that he just can’t be serious – or at least not the sort of serious his family wants him to be. But he’s convinced he’s the right man for Chloe and he’s back to convince her – if she can just get past the fact that he’s never told her his real name, that he’s a duke and owns the whole village…

This is a historical small town romance, set across the course of a couple of days in 1899 that happen to be the busiest in the village’s entire year – and possibly of Chloe’s life. There is a big competition called the Wedgeford Trials and Chloe and her father are using the influx of visitors this year to launch their family’s new sauce. Prepare to feel really, really, hungry – because the food in this sounds delicious. And it’s also taking a subtly clever look at colonialism through food – which is interesting and very real: I was watching Nadyia’s latest TV show this very week and she was making a recipe with Tamarind paste in it and said that if you don’t have Tamarind paste, it’s in Brown Sauce – so just use that. If you’ve read the book, you’ll get even more from that story. I promise. So go read the book.

Courtney Milan is also doing a lot of fun things with tropes here too, because the plot summary (even in my version) sounds like the story is going to be really angsty, and it’s not. It’s a perfect read if you’re feeling stressed and uncertain about the world and want to escape into another reality – there are stakes, but it’s not going to stress you out; there are conflicts, but it’s not life or death. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything going on. There’s plenty of plot, and character development – and also the set up for the Wedgford Trials of the series name – which are delightfully incomprehensible in the way that many British traditions are – even for Brits like me. Eg – in normal times, my village has an egg rolling race in the run up to Easter (I want to say on Palm Sunday but I can’t remember for sure), where you use a newspaper to hit a hardboiled egg along the road. Why did it start? I don’t know. Is there areligious meaning behind it? Probably, but I’ve forgotten. Is it fun – yes. Bingo.

My copy of The Duke Who Didn’t came from the author in return for an honest review, but it’s out now and available on Kindle and Kobo – and apparently in paperback, albeit with a very long leadtime.

Happy Reading!

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 21 – September 27

I got my reading mojo back a bit this week – which is good. A couple of fun new releases, a buzzed about book or two and a glom on a series. The still reading list is still too long, but I’m working on it. And yes I know, I always say that, but I mean it every week!

Read:

Doing It Over by Catherine Bybee

Hoax by Brian Stelter

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

The Duke who Didn’t by Courtney Milan**

Naughty Brits by Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Louisa Edwards, Tessa Gratton and Sierra Simone**

Staying for Good by Catherine Bybee

Lumberjanes Vol 15 by Shannon Waters et al

Making it Right by Catherine Bybee

Started:

Team of Five by Kate Andersen Brower

Baby-Sitters Club: Kirsty’s Great Idea by Anne M Martin and Raina Telgemaier

Still reading:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody

Vanishing Act by Charlie Hodges*

Still not counting, still don’t care

Bonus photo: Sunny autumnal afternoon in the park.

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 adjacent, Children's books, Surviving the 'Rona

Surviving Coronavirus: Baby-Sitters Club

Another in my occasional series of posts about things that have been getting me through the Coronavirus, and this is one that dovetails with my love of middle grade books, despite the fact that I’m no longer a middle grader – and in fact am easily old enough to have a middle grader of my own!

If you’re my sort of age, The Baby-sitters Club was up there with Sweet Valley High as a series that you binge-read from the library. Or at least it was for me.  The books – with the building blocks logo and the house with the illustration of the story in the window were instantly recognisable. It’s hard to remember so many years later, but I’m fairly sure I read almost all of the first 50 books, and all the early super specials as well as some of the mysteries. So, I was excited – but also a little trepidatious – to see that Netflix had adapted it. How do you update a series written in the pre-internet, pre mobile phone world so that it works for children today?

As it turns out, they’ve done it really, really well. The personalities of the girls are the same – but Dawn is Hispanic and Mary Anne is biracial. Stacey still has diabetes, but now she has an insulin pump rather than having to do injections. There are mobile phones, but Kristy and Mary Anne still have flashlights to signal between their houses – because Mary Anne’s dad is so overprotective. Would modern parents really trust a bunch of barely teenagers with their kids? Well the series does try and address that. It’s got a strong focus on social justice, which I think is both true to the original books and inline with what the kids today (!) are interested in and it has enough easter eggs in there for the grownups too – like the handwriting on the episode titles being the “right” ones for each girl from the original books, Alicia Silverstone as Kristy’s mum, Kevin from Brooklyn 99 as Mary Anne’s dad. As grown up, sometimes it was all a little bit ott but I’m not the target audience- and i find that with a lot of children’s shows. It was perfect though for watching while ironing. And low-stakes drama is about all I can deal with right now. At the end of the series Mallory and Jessi were introduced, which means I’m hoping there are plans for a second series – but obviously these strange times we live in could have thrown all that up in the air and mean that the cast age out faster than expected.

Anyway, you can find the Baby-sitters Club on Netflix – and I’m off to read one of the new Babysitter’s Club graphic novels which have been adapted by Raina Telgemeier.

Happy reading!

 

Book of the Week, historical, historical

Book of the Week: Her Last Flight

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it was somewhat of a strange week last week for me, reading wise. Still don’t quite know why, but I do know that I really, really enjoyed Beatriz Wiliams’ latest book at the start of the week, so it made for a really easy pick for Book of the Week. Which is good, because decision making is not my strongest suit at the moment.

Cover of Her Last Flight

It’s 1947 and former war correspondent Janey Everett is researching a planned biography of a forgotten aviation pioneer. Sam Mallory was a Great War fighter pilot who went on to take part in flying races and barnstorming displays before going missing while flying planes in the Spanish Civil War. Her quest for the truth takes her to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, to talk to Irene Lindquist, owner of an island hopping airline, who she thinks might actually be Irene Foster, Sam’s former student whose mysterious disappearance during a round the world flight in 1937 remains an unsolved mystery. At first Irene won’t engage with Janey, but when she finds out that Janey has found the wreck of Mallory’s airplane in a Spanish desert, she starts to reconsider. And that’s as much as I’m going to tell you about the plot.

It’s an incredibly readable story with two fascinating women at the heart of it. Structurally, it is split between Janey’s first person account and extracts from a book about Irene – so a time-slip novel with a bit of a twist. It works really, really well. I have a slightly patchy history with Beatriz William’s books – but when she works for me, it really works and this might be my favourite so far. It’s a complete page turner – it’s tense and emotional at times and it’s got plenty of twists (only one of which I predicted). I would say this is a perfect beach read, but it feels like beaches are back to being a long way off again, even if the weather has been lovely for the last week.

I’ve read a few books around aviatrixes – fiction and non fiction – if you read this and like it try Deanna Raybourn’s City of Jasmine for another fictional aviatrix or for a fictionalised account of a real aviatrix, try Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun about Beryl Markham. If you just want time-slip novels in general – try Lauren Willig or Chanel Cleeton. My copy of Her Last Flight came from the library, but it’s just come out in paperback. I still haven’t been in to a bookshop so I can’t speak for how easy it will be to get hold of, but as ever, give your local indie a call and I’m sure they’ll be able to order it in if they don’t have it in stock. It’s also available on Kindle and Kobo and as an audiobook.

Happy Reading!

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 14 – September 20

I lost all motivation and ability to concentrate at some point this week. And it coincided with a weekend at work which are always tricky for me. I don’t know why or what did messed with my reading mojo, but hopefully it’s not going to last. Cross your fingers for me.

Read:

Lumberjanes Vol 14 by Shannon Waters et al

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts

A Duke, the Lady and a Baby by Vanessa Riley

Starboard Secrets by Hope Callaghan

Started:

Doing It Over by Catherine Bybee

Vanishing Act by Charlie Hodges*

Still reading:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Hoax by Brian Stelter

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody

Still not counting.

Bonus photo: a Bloomsbury mews at dusk on Saturday night. Way out of my price range, but so pretty!

London mews close, with cobbles

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, detective, mystery

Book of the Week: Death at the Seaside

So as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we went on a little break last week – although I’ve still been going in to work twice a week, Him Indoors has been working from home since April and has barely been further than a couple of miles from the house and he was going stir crazy and just wanted to go and see some different walls other than our own. So after I ruled out anywhere abroad (I can’t cope with the stress of the changing travel regulations), he found us a lovely log cabin to stay in in woods in Yorkshire and we pootled off up there for three nights. And this week’s BotW was purchased on our trip to Whitby – and is set in the town – so feels like a really good choice.

It’s 1920-something and as nothing ever happens in August, private investigator Kate Shackleton is taking a holiday. She’s planned a two week break in Whitby to visit a school friend and her daughter. But before she goes to see Alma, Kate takes a walk through the town and finds herself outside the jewellery shop where she and her late husband (who was killed in the War) bought her engagement ring. Determined to make a fresh memory she goes inside – and stumbles on a body. And as if that wasn’t enough to be dealing with, her friend’s daughter – Felicity hasn’t come home. Soon Kate is hard at work investigating once more.

This is the eighth book in Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton series, but you really don’t have to have read the rest of the series to enjoy this. I’ve read four of the series so far – way out of order – and it’s not like some of the other 1920s set series (like Daisy Dalrymple or Maisie Dobbs) where there are big personal life developments that you need to read in order – or at least there aren’t in the ones that I’ve read! Kate is smart and competent and sensible – which are all things I really like in my detectives. This has a clever mystery with plenty of twists and an interesting cast of supporting characters. And I know this only applies to me, I got a real thrill about reading a book set in Whitby right after visiting the town. Brody does a really good job of describing what the town was like in the 1920s, and putting Kate in places that people who are familiar with the town will recognise. And in case you were worried: Dracula is not involved in the mystery!

I bought my copy of Death at the Seaside from The Whitby Bookshop, but you should be able to get hold of them fairly easily in a reasonably sized bookshop with a mystery section. They’re also available on Kindle and Kobo and as audiobooks. The series is still going on – the eleventh book is out in October – and as I bought a couple of other books in the series at the same time as this one you can probably expect to see more of these on the weekly reading lists!

Happy Reading!

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 7 – September 13

So it wasn’t to somewhere hot and abroad, but we did go away for a few days last week. And during our appropriately socially distant break, I got a bit of reading done. After making a really good start on my NetGalley reading this month, I’ve fallen back a bit – not only did I buy a couple of books for the holiday, I have library books coming due and  I’m behind on the bookshelf (check out the August Stats if you don’t believe me) and I’m trying to catch up. I’m also trying to pace myself with Rodham and make it last a bit, but who knows how long that will last for.

Read:

Tales from the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi*

Dover One by Joyce Porter

Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody

A Leader in the Chalet School by Elinor M Brent-Dyer

Mrs Pargeter’s Pound of Flesh by Simon Brett

The Art of Drag by Jake Hall, Sofie Birkin, Helen Li et al

Murder on a Girls’ Night Out by Anne George

Started:

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams

A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody

Still reading:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Hoax by Brian Stelter

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Still not counting.

Bonus photo: This was our home for our little break – a log cabin in woods in Yorkshire. Isn’t it gorgeous? Not the place to be reading anything creepy though!

A log cabin with a grassy plant covered roof in woods

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, detective, mystery, new releases

Book of the Week: The Thursday Murder Club

Well, well, well. As you might have noticed I managed to bring the ongoing list down a bit last week. I’m quite pleased with myself, but my book of the week is one of the many that came out last Thursday. I wasn’t intending on this being the featured review this week – it’s not exactly low profile, but it was the book that I liked the most last week and thought that I would have the most to say about. Also I had a very wafty weekend and spent more time watching Formula One and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader: Making the Team than I did reading, so some of the other stuff I had planned for the week didn’t get read…

Cover of The Thursday Murder Club

First, before I get to the plot, I have been excited about this book since it was announced more than a year ago. If you’re in the UK, you’ll know Richard Osman as the one with all the answers on Pointless or the host of House of Games. He’s got a lovely way about him on Twitter, he always comes across very well any time you hear him talking and the plot synopsis sounded great. In fact it all sounded so good that I was worried it couldn’t live up to my expectations – especially as a debut novel. I mean murder mysteries aren’t exactly easy to pull off.  The fact that I’m writing about this here, indicates that I have good news for you! Anyway, to the plot.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron all live at frankly rather nice sounding retirement village in Kent. Every Thursday they take over the Jigsaw room meet up to discuss unsolved murders (under the guise of a society for fans of Japanese opera to keep away the nosy). Then the owner of the retirement village is found dead, just after a consultation meeting about an expansion. Now they have a live case to solve – they’ve got the skills to do it, but will they manage it before it’s too late?

Now reading that plot synposis you’ll think that you’ve read stories like this before. And yes this does have some similarities with cozy crime series featuring an older protagonist. But it’s not really a cozy crime. The mystery is twistier and more complicated. I can’t say much about the solution, because that would be spoiling things and you know that I don’t do that, but it doesn’t quite fit the cozy format. And as well as the mystery, there are proper side plots. It’s all told as a mix of narrative and Joyce’s diary – which really works as she is the newest member of the club and gets to do a lot of the exposition – but all four members of the Club are properly realised characters with backstories that you hear about, hopes, worries and fears. And the two police officers are great too. It’s also got a strain of melancholy to it – they are old people and they’re not done with life, but they do worry that this might be the “last time” that they do something and worry about the things they have lost (and in some cases develop strategies to try and combat this). Oh and it’s funny. Dryly funny and witty not pratfalls and stupidity funny. Wry observances and witty asides type funny. It’s great. I would happily have spend another 100 pages with the gang.  If there’s another one, you can sign me up to read it now.

My copy of The Thursday Murder Club came from NetGalley, but you should be able to get this everywhere. I’ve been out to London today and walked up Charing Cross Road and Tottenham Court Road and could see it in the front section in the Big Foyles and it was in the Window at the Waterstones. It’s that sort of release – probably in the supermarkets too, and definitely in the airport bookshops, if you’re lucky enough to be going somewhere. When I went looking for links, Amazon was out of stock of actual copies – which means it’s an even smarter choice to order if from your local indie. And of course it’s out in Kindle, Kobo and Ebook.

Happy Reading!

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: August 31 – September 6

The schools are going back and the holidays are over. Normal life is resuming. Or is it? Can it ever? Well who knows, but these are still quite strange times. However, I’ve used whatever back to school energy I could summon to reduce the number of books on the Still Reading List a bit. I’m quite pleased with me. In relative terms anyway.

Read:

Real Men Knit by Kwana Johnson

She Represents by Caitlin Donohue*

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman*

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts

Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho

Uneasy Lies the Crown by Tasha Alexander

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward*

Started:

Hoax by Brian Stelter

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Murder on a Girls’ Night Out by Anne George

Still reading:

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi*

Still not counting.

Bonus photo: the latest addition to the to read pile. Isn’t it beautiful? And it’s signed. And I got a Reading is Fundamental print too. Thank you Foyles.

Copy of The Art of Drag

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