books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: May 6 – May 12

A really, really busy week.  So busy.  But some books finished, some really good ones started.

Read:

Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton

An Unnatural Vice by K J Charles

Just Past Two by Elia Winters

Lies, Damned Lies and History by Jodi Taylor

Fence Vol 2 by CS Pacat et al

Started:

A Gentleman’s Honour by Stephanie Laurens

The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Still reading:

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

Thanks Obama by David Litt

No books bought – but a couple of pre-orders turned up.

Bonus photo: The stage set for Bill Bailey on Sunday night

stage set up for Bill Bailey

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 29 – May 5

Another busy week – because it was the local elections so I got to work on the coverage!  But those train journeys meant some good reading time – and then there was a bank holiday weekend at the end.  Not bad going at all.

Read:

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujaya Massey

Second Time Sweeter by Beverly Jenkins

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

A Duke in Disguise by Cat Sebastian

Web of Love by Mary Balogh

Out of Time by Katy Monger

Intercepted by Alexa Martin

First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh

Daily Grind by Anna Zabo

Started:

Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell

An Unnatural Vice by K J Charles

Thanks Obama by David Litt

Still reading:

Lies, Damned Lies and History by Jodi Taylor

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

Four books – that copy of Bonfire of the Vanities I mentioned in last week’s BotW post and the first three cozy crimes in a series that I spotted in the Oxfam bookshop when I was on my lunchbreak on Friday!  Oh and two graphic novels at the Comic Book shop on Free comics day too..

Bonus picture:  My view from results duty on Friday!

View of the houses of parliament from an upper floor window

 

Book of the Week, non-fiction, reviews

Book of the Week: The Right Stuff

It’s the last day of the month, and that means a stats post tomorrow, but before we get to that, here’s another Book of the Week post for you! Today’s pick may have taken me a while to finish – but it was an absolutely stonking read. This isn’t the first time I’ve recommended a space race-related book here – Lily Koppel’s The Astronauts Wives Club was a pick a couple of years ago (Editors note: more than four years ago, doesn’t time fly!) so maybe this isn’t a big surprise to you all, but it is a bit of a change from the recent run of BotWs which have been mostly romances and and romance adjacent.

Paperback copy of The Right Stuff

This is pretty much a modern classic of narrative non-fiction. Tom Wolfe tells the story of the American journey into space, starting with the history of America’s military aviators and test pilots, through the selection process to pick the Mercury Seven, then their training and the rivalries within the group and outside. Based on interviews with the astronauts, their wives, the test pilots it will take you through the early days, the competition with the test pilots working on rocket powered aircraft and the friction between the administration and the astronauts who wanted to actually pilot the missions rather than just be cargo and right to the to the end of the Mercury missions. It covers the selection of the second batch of astronauts (the New Nine) but doesn’t go beyond into the Apollo programme and the moon shot, which is probably a good thing, because you’ve grown attached to these guys and, spoiler alert, the Apollo programme did not always go well.

It is incredibly readable, for the most part you don’t want to put it down. But be warned, in the early stages where it talks about pilot training and testing, there is an incredibly high rate of attrition, which meant that I needed to pace myself a bit in reading it and is the main reason it took me longer to read*. I don’t even think you need to have any prior knowledge of the space race really, although obviously it helps. If you saw First Man last year, like I did**, it makes for a great companion piece to that very introspective look at one astronaut’s life, as it takes in the broad sweep of American ambition in space, the competition with the Soviet Union and the public and media attention that focused on the men they hoped were going to restore American dominance in the heavens.

Friendship 7 capsule
It’s really hard to get a good photo of the Friendship 7 capsule at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, but I tried!

I remember people telling me that I ought to read this back when I reviewed the Lily Koppel, but it took until Tom Wolfe’s death last May for me to get around to adding it to the to buy pile.  There has been a new edition since my version – which has a snazzy new cover and, more importantly, an introduction from Scott Kelly, the astronaut who spent a year in space a couple of years back and was (probably still is) the subject of a study into the long term effects of being in space as he has an identical twin brother (Mark Kelly, also a former astronaut who is married to former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and who himself is making a run for Democratic nomination for one of Arizona’s Senate seats) which enabled almost direct comparison.  After reading this, I’ve got a mad yearning for more space books, but also to read more of Wolfe’s works.  So I went for a wander on Amazon and discovered that Bonfire of the Vanities is only £2.99 in paperback there at the moment.  I may have bought myself a copy.  Oopsy daisy.  And I have a couple more sitting in my shopping basket, waiting for the tbr shelf to empty out a little.  If you have any other recommendations for where I should go next – drop them in the comments.

You should be able to get hold of a copy of The Right Stuff from any reasonable book store, it’s also available on Kindle and Kobo and I suspect that you’d have a good chance of finding a copy of it in any reasonably sized charity or second hand bookshop.

Happy Reading!

*the other reason being my long-standing rule about not taking books I’m more than halfway through on overnight trips, or books I have less than 100 pages to go on the train for the daily commute.

** I saw it at the IMAX at the Smithsonian, having spent an afternoon looking at actual space race artifacts.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 22 – April 28

After a busy week at work, I spent the weekend working, then watching Maggie Smith do an absolute tour de force in A German Life and then chasing round London supporting my little sister who was running the marathon.  So not as much reading done as some weeks.  But I had a lot of fun – and most of all my sister did it!  She finished the marathon!

Read:

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

The Grave’s A Fine And Private Place by Alan Bradley

Running the Risk by Christina Jones

Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

Chasing Down a Dream by Beverly Jenkins

Web of Love by Mary Balogh

Started:

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujaya Massey

A Duke in Disguise by Cat Sebastian

Still reading:

Lies, Damned Lies and History by Jodi Taylor

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

Three books bought – but they don’t count because they’re kindle copies of some the Cazalet Chronicles to complete the set so that I can re-read Clary and Polly and Rupert and everyone any time I want!

Bonus picture: Timothy West and Hayward Morse talking to Dr Emma Parker at an event at the British Library on Tuesday night about Joe Orton and What the Butler Saw.

Emma Parker, Timothy West and Hayward Morse

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 15 – April 21

So it turns out that rather than use my week off to finish the books I had already started, I mostly used it to go on a Beverly Jenkins binge.  What can I say, my reading brain wants what it wants – and the library was able to oblige. But given that it was Easter week and they’re Christian inspirationals, maybe it was actually quite apt.

Read:

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

Something Old, Something New by Beverly Jenkins

A Wish and a Prayer by Beverly Jenkins

Heart of Gold by Beverly Jenkins

For Your Love by Beverly Jenkins

Due Dilligence by Anna Zabo

Bronzed Betrayals by Ritter Ames

From Duke Til Dawn by Eva Leigh

Started:

The Grave’s A Fine And Private Place by Alan Bradley

Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

Still reading:

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Lies, Damned Lies and History by Jodi Taylor

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

On the upside: No books bought.  So that’s where all my willpower went!

Bonus Picture: Bank Holiday weekend sunshine.

a park on a sunny day

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 8 – April 14

Another busy week at work and another goodly pile of books read.  And I didn’t do too badly at working my  way down that ongoing reading pile.  I’m not at work this week, so my aim is to do soe more work on the NetGalley backlog as well as on the actual TBR pile.  Wish me luck.

Read:

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis

On the Road and off the Record with Leonard Bernstein by Charlie Harmon

The Binding by Bridget Collins

One in a Million by Jill Shalvis

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Twelfth Night: Mary McCartney by Mary McCartney

The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole

Started:

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

Still reading:

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

Lies, Damned Lies and History by Jodi Taylor

Two books bought:  the gorgeous Mary McCartney – which is very much a coffee table book, but as I read every word of it, it counts – and the new Cat Sebastian ebook.

Bonus picture: the theatre before Sir Ian McKellen’s one man birthday show on Sunday night!

Theatre programme with picture of Sir Ian McKellen with a stage in the background

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: April 1 – April 7

Not a bad week’s reading, considering it was a really busy week for various reasons.  But the Still Reading list is starting to look a little out of control, so I’m going to try and tackle that this week.  We’ll see how that goes!

Read:

Just One of the Guys by Kristen Higgins

Operation Atonement by Talia Hibbert

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Not Quite Over You by Susan Mallery

It’s In His Kiss by Jill Shalvis

Takeover by Anna Zabo

The Return of Mr Campion by Margery Allingham

Started:

He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

Lies, Damned Lies and History by Jodi Taylor

Still reading:

The Binding by Bridget Collins

On the Road and off the Record with Leonard Bernstein by Charlie Harmon

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

No books bought!  Hurrah!

Bonus picture: Misty London on Monday morning. NB: for Maisie Dobbs fans, the square I’m about to walk into is Fitzroy Square where Maisie has her office!

View of the BT tower and Fitzroy Square