romance, series

Romance series: Chance of a Lifetime

With a new Kate Claybourn novel out this week, it seemed like the perfect time to talk about her Chance of a Lifetime series which I read over the last couple of months – and yes, like so many things it would have been quicker if I hadn’t gone on the Meg Langslow rampage. So sue me.

So this is a trilogy featuring three friends who win a lottery jackpot after buying a ticket on a whim. Each book features one of the women finding love and a happily ever after. Beginners Luck is about Kit, a materials scientist who has spent her adult life building herself the stability that her chaotic childhood didn’t have. She uses some of her lottery win to buy a fixer-upper to turn into her first real home. But standing in her way is Ben who has returned to his home town to try and recruit Kit for a corporate gig. Book two is Luck of the Draw, featuring lawyer Zoe who uses her winnings to quit the job she hates and to try and make it right for some of the people whose cases she was involved in. Aiden’s brother died in a wrongful death case that Zoe worked on – but when she turns up at the family home to try to make amends instead of sending her away he asks her to pretend to be his fiancée to try and help him buy a campground as part of his brother’s legacy. And finally Best of Luck is Greer who uses her winnings to go back to college and try and finish the education that she missed out on and to prove to her overprotective family that she’s independent. But when she discovers a problem that might stop her graduating. Alex is a world renowned photographer and Kit’s brother – and back in town for her wedding – and finds himself agreeing to help Greer with the photography projects that she needs to complete to get her degree.

I had trouble picking my favourite – I lurch between Kit and Zoe, but maybe give it to Zoe because the set up for her romance is so difficult that I wasn’t sure it was going to be fixable. I mentioned the fact that Ali Hazelwood has blurbed Georgie, All Along yesterday and if you like heroines with jobs in Stem, definitely go for Kit and Beginner’s Luck. I liked Greer’s story – but I did mostly want to strangle her family who take infantilising her to whole new levels, even if there is some reason for it. Of course there is a chance that I came to Greer’s story having read too much Meg Langslow where there is a tight knit family, but it all has a humour about it, that these don’t have so it may be a me thing.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a romance trilogy to read, these would be a good choice. Equally if you’ve just read the new Kate Claybourn and want more – these would be a good place to go to. As you’ll see I managed to buy one of the series twice, but I got them all on offer so I don’t begrudge it. And it made me laugh that I managed not to have a matching set despite owning one of them twice. Anyway, these are easily available from your ebook vendor of choice – Kindle has the three book omnibus for £3.99 at the moment, but the single books are £1.99 for book one and three or 99p for book two as I write this.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: January 16 – January 22

So last week was the annual January trip, and this year we stayed in the UK and did lots of sightseeing, rather than going abroad and sitting on a beach. So the list isn’t quite as long as it can be for a week away, but we had a blast, I’m super relaxed and I have a bunch of new ideas too. So a total win really.

Read:

The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews

This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle

Murder Most Fowl by Donna Andrews

Death Spins the Wheel by George Bellairs

The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland*

Started:

Exes and O’s by Amy Lea*

The Three Dahlias by Katy Watson

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn*

Still reading:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

The Empire by Michael Ball*

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe

Oh an absolute tonne. Nine just on the holiday, and then a couple more before we left… Oopsies.

Bonus photo: out of control fringe, that can’t be entirely blamed on the wind, but here I am at Lands End last week, hopefully looking as happy as I felt (also quite cold).

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

Book of the Week, cozy crime

Book of the Week: A High-End Finish

New year (yes it’s still a new year even if we’ve hit the middle of the month), new cozy crime series for me and something different to talk about in today’s BotW. And you know I love a cozy crime series. So here we go.

A High-End Finish is the first in a series of cozy crimes featuring Shannon Hammer, a contractor specialising in Victorian homes in her town of Lighthouse Cove on the Northern California coast. In this first book, Shannon finds a dead body in the basement of a house that she’s working on – and becomes a suspect in a murder inquiry as she went on a blind date with the victim a few days earlier – and was heard threatening him after he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The town’s new police chief doesn’t seem inclined to believe that she had nothing to do with the murder, so Shannon starts investigating herself with the help of her friends, her nosy neighbours and a crime writer who has just moved to town.

This is a really nice set up for a new series but because there are a lot of characters to introduce and backstories to set up, the detecting is not quite as well developed as you would like and I thought the solution was a bit, ho hum. BUT I really liked Shannon, her friends and the town itself so I forgive it – because first books in series are often like this – either they don’t do a good enough job of setting up the side characters or the mystery isn’t as good as you want it to be. This usually settles down in book two – especially if it’s an established author starting a new series (which Kate Carlisle is). Luckily I picked up the next book in the series (in fact the whole series so far) second hand last month (as seen in Books Incoming) so it’s a good thing I liked them and I can also go straight on to book two to see if the problems get ironed out.

It is nice to have a home improvement/contractor theme for a cozy series though – as previously mentioned, I’m a bit cookery cozied out, and as I’m not usually into the supernatural sometimes it feels like there aren’t a lot of choices for me beyond that. Still hopefully these will keep me busy for a few weeks (at least).

As previously mentioned, my copy of A High-End Finish came via one of my Facebook book groups, but they’re available on Kindle and Kobo as well as in paperback. As they’re American Mass Market Paperbacks though, you may have trouble finding them in stores in the UK – so your best bet might be ordering from Book Depository or similar.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week

Book of the Week: Cheats edition

So I don’t really have a book to recommend this week because as I said yesterday it was quite a week and I mostly reread Meg Langslow. So instead have a link to my thoughts on Terns of Endearment in a recommendsday last year and to Gone Gull which I technically finished the week before but was a BotW the first time I read it!

Have a great day everyone!

Best of...

Kindle Unlimited Review of the Year

Back when I first tried Kindle Unlimited, I promised to keep you posted on how long I kept it for and the sort of value for money I was getting out of it. I’ve not always been great at remembering to do that, but as I did last year, now we’ve finished another year, here is the lowdown on 2022.

If my Goodread shelves are correct, I read 39 books via KU last year – which doesn’t included another few that I started and then abandoned. It averages to just over a month, although some months I did more than that, and others less. The months where it got a bit patchy include when I had Covid as well as my bout of shingles and then obviously that massive Meg Langlsow binge that I’m still on! I’ve almost always got the maximum number of books on loan – as I have a bad habit of borrowing things when I see them with the intentions of reading it later and then… getting distracted!

I’ve used it to try out – and then reject in some cases – new cozy crime and historical crime series, which would have come under my rules about too hard to tell if they’re worth paying for from the sample rules, but I would have been annoyed if I’d paid for them when I got to the end! And yes I know I did pay for them if I got them in KU, but you know what I mean. On a practical financial angle, 18 of the 29 were British Library Crime Classics – which tend to retail at about £3 a book in ebook so that’s half the cost of the year of KU covered right there! And a lot of them were very good with some of them ending up as Books of the week – like Til Death Do Us Part, The Incredible Crime, Death of a Bookseller and Green for Danger – others have ended up in various Recommendsdays – including the specific BLCC one.

Aside from the BLCC masses, there are a few short stories, but almost everything else has been cozy crime or historical mystery books, which is exactly why I wanted KU to start with – mostly they don’t take me long to read, but the actual kindle price is over my maximum, or at least over the maximum that I’m prepared to pay for something I can read in an afternoon. They also help me tick of states in the 50 States challenge – although (spoiler alert) as we saw yesterday, I didn’t manage to complete it last year. But 2023 could be different…

So all in all, I reckon I’ve done ok on the KU value this year – but I need to monitor it slightly more carefully, particularly when it comes to how much the stuff I’m reading would be to buy to make sure it stays worth it.

Have a great Sunday everyone.

Christmas books, new releases, Recommendsday, reviews

Recommendsday: New Christmas Books 2022


It’s the final few days before Christmas, so here I am with a round up of some of the Christmassy romances that have come out this season.

There’s Something about Merry by Codi Hall*

This is a Christmas romance with a You’ve Got Mail-ish twist as the new foreman of a Christmas tree farm in Idaho falls for the boss’s daughter – except he doesn’t know that’s who he’s talking to. Merry’s spent the year working on herself and is ready for romance, but Clark definitely isn’t – he’s a single dad and he’s focussing on his son. The writing to each other stage of this was over faster than I expected, but the characters are nice, the setting is charming, and it’s got a very weird speciality knitted product to make you laugh. Fun.

Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan*

This is Sarah Morgan’s Christmas novel for this year – I’ve already mentioned that it’s a Kindle Deal this month, and obviously written about my love of her O’Neill brothers series. I don’t love this as much – it’s just got too many plot strands and a Very Definite Resolution for something that takes place over a couple of days, but the Snowy rural Scottish setting is delightful and I do love the way she creates her families. I could just have read a whole book each about two of the main plot strands so I wished there was more of each of them. I do think in years gone by she might have done this as a pair of novels set across the same period. But hey, the times they are a changing.

The Holiday Trap by Roan Parish*

Greta’s family don’t really understand how hard it is to be the only Lesbian in their tiny community in Maine. Truman’s had his heartbroken again and needs somewhere to escape to. A mutual friend organises a house swap between the two which sees Greta head to New Orleans, and Truman to Maine, where unexpected things happen to them both. Now, I should say that this didn’t work for me, because the characters rubbed me up the wrong way and the quirkiness levels were off the charts* BUT I know that it’s going to be someone else’s cup of tea because I’ve seen other people raving about this author. But if you want a swapping lives type romance – and some Jewish representation this Hanukkah week, you could do worse than try this.

And that’s your lot for today – but if you want some more Christmas recommendations- I have a lot of previous posts – so go check them out!

*I’ve had a lot of problems with Too Much Quirk recently. It’s getting tiring.

Christmas books, detective, Forgotten books, Recommendsday

Book of the Week: The White Priory Murders

As you may have noticed yesterday, last week was very much a week of Meg Langslow. But I did also finish a murder mystery with Christmas in the subtitle: which is a perfect timing as everyone* starts to finish work for the holidays.

A glamorous Hollywood actress is back in London. Marcia Tate has returned to try and get her revenge on the theatre community who snubbed her before she was a star of the silver screen. But when she’s found dead in a pavilion in the grounds of the author of the play she’s due to star in, a murder investigation starts and Sir Henry Merrivale is called in to investigate. This is a variation on a locked room mystery, where snow plays a key role. There is a large cast of suspects but it seems impossible for any of them – or anyone – to have committed the crime. And yet someone did.

Every year the British Library adds another few seasonal mysteries to their Christmas collection, and this is one of this year’s additions but despite the subtitle, the snow is the only really festive element – I think A Winter Mystery would probably be a better description. Carter Dickson is one of John Dickson Carr’s other pen names, and like his other books all the clues are there for you to figure it out if you know where to look – and he’ll give you the page numbers to prove it! Dickson’s writing style is not my favourite of that group of crime writers, but it’s a clever enough impossible puzzle that I didn’t mind too much.

I got my copy via Kindle Unlimited, which means you won’t be able to get it on Kobo at the moment, but you could also buy it in paperback from the British Library bookshop – it’s too late for posting before Christmas, but you could pop in to the shop if you’re in London, and I’m sure it’ll be on the Christmas mystery table in the larger bookshops.

Happy Reading!

*everyone else – I’m still at work until Friday night, and it’s a really busy week.

book related, books

Recommendsday: December Kindle Offers

So it’s the end of the year – which means it’s the run up to Christmas AND the best books of the year season, so the offers this month are a strange mix.

Lets start with the Christmas stuff. Last week’s series post was about a Sarah Morgan series – and her Christmas book for this year, Snowed in for Christmas, is 99p this month. My former Novelicious colleague Cressida McLauglin also has a Christmas book on offer – The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop is 99p and there’s also a Jenny Colgan Christmas novel – Christmas at the Island Hotel – which is in her Mure series. One of my favourite Christmas novels from previous years is on offer too – Christina Lauren’s In a Holidaze is sort of Groundhog Day meets festive rom com and I really enjoyed it.

It’s not strictly Christmas – but it has had a festive rejacket/recover, so it makes a nice segue through to the other stuff – Rev Richard Coles’ cozy crime debut Murder Before Evensong is 99p. I included it a Recommendsday about Mysteries with Vicars back in the summer, and a second Canon Clement book is due in June (and a third also planned!).

Mrs England Cover

In the best books of the year type stuff, a bunch of the award winners or nominees from the last few years are on offer – like Jonathan Freedland’s The Escape Artist and Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain. Stacey Halls’ Mrs England is on offer again – and the wintery Yorkshire setting would make it a great fireside read if you need one. It would be atmospheric at this time of years – but more I cannot say for fear of spoilers – but you can see a review in the July Mini Reviews. Sara Collins’ The Confessions of Frannie Langton is also 99p – which I really enjoyed back in 2019. I also wrote a whole post about Philippa Gregory’s Tudor books – and The Other Boleyn Girl is also on offer this month. And another one I’ve written a tonne about is Theranos – Bad Blood, the book by John Carreyrou that started it all is 99p this month. Read it before you watch the TV series.

This months’ Terry Pratchett is Unseen Academicals at £1.99, the Hamish MacBeth is Death of a Green-eyed Monster and the Agatha Raisin is Dishing the Dirt. The 99p Georgette Heyer is my beloved These Old Shades, but it’s sequel Devil’s Cub and my beloved Masqueraders are among the £1.99 ones at the moment. If you want some historical romance that has been written a bit more recently, The Lady Most Willing a joint novel by Bridgerton’s Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockaway is a bargain at the moment too. The Peter Wimsey are the very first in the series, Whose Body and The Collected Short Stories, which I think I own twice in paperback. Or at least I own some of the stories in it at least twice. Also in series, the latest Maisie Dobbs, A Sunlit Weapon is £1.49, and To Die But Once and The American Agent are £1.99 which is a good price for this series.

And as ever there are also a few things that I bought while putting this together – The Kiss Curse, the next in Erin Sterling’s series that started with The Ex Hex, Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake (I think it’s on offer because the next in the series has just come out).

Happy Wednesday everyone!

books

Books Incoming: December edition

A smaller selection this month – and you’ve already seen two of them – Last Hero was a BotW already, and the Rainbow Rowell was a book I bought myself for Christmas! Then there’s a proof copy of Triple Cross that just appeared, my copy of Death of a Necromancer that I contributed to the Kickstarter for (and my bonus content!), the latest – and one of the last Girls Gone By Chalet School Books before my collection is complete and the new Jen DeLuca. Nice.

Book of the Week, crime, detective, Forgotten books

Book of the Week: Green for Danger

Another week, another British Library Crime Classic pick – and I would apologise except that this is really really good and a new to me author so I’m not really sorry.

Green for Danger is set in World War Two, at a military hospital in Kent. At the start of the novel, a postman delivers seven acceptance letters to people who want to work at the hospital. A year later, he returns to the hospital as a patient, and dies on the operating table during what should have been a routine operation. At first it is thought to be an accident, but Inspector Cockrill is sent to double check. When he is stranded at the hospital during an air raid, events start to unfold that prove that Joseph Higgins’ death was no accident.

This is a really clever and atmospheric novel – enough to make you afraid of ever having an operation again, for all that it’s set in the middle of World War Two and technology has obviously changed and moved on since then. I didn’t guess who did it – but I probably could have done if I had tried hard enough because the clues were there if you thought about it hard enough. As I said at the top, this is the first Christianna Brand novel that I’ve read – having spotted this on the BLCC table at Waterstones in Piccadilly a couple of months ago and waited to see if it would rotate into Kindle Unlimited – which it has. And if they are all as good as this, I’ve got a treat coming, even if this is her most famous mystery. And I chose my words wisely there – because she’s also the creator of Nurse Matilda – which was adapted for screen by Emma Thompson and turned into Namny McPhee, which is one of my favourite kids films of the last twenty years. And not just because it has Colin Firth in it!

Anyway, the paperback of Green for Danger is fairly easily found: in the British Library shop, and I’ve seen it in several more bookshops since that first time in Piccadilly. And as I said it’s in KU at the moment, which means it’s off Kobo for a while, but should be back there at some point.

Happy Reading!