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

The Week in Books: June 14 – June 20

Massively busy week and then at the weekend we Went Somewhere and Did Something, and rather than reading books I was drinking wine and catching up with people. What I’m going to write about tomorrow, I do not know.

Read:

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

The Game by Laurie R King

The Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon

Still Knife Painting by Cheryl Hollon

The Larks of Jubilee Flats by Marjorie A Sindall

A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

Started:

The Last Party by Anthony Haden-Guest

Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake by Alexis Hall

This is not a F**king Romance by Evie Snow

Still reading:

Mrs England by Stacey Halls*

Yours Cheerfully by A J Pearce*

Bonus photo: Slightly cheating because this is from late last week, but as we had a scorcher for most of the week (and then a muggy weekend) here’s a rare (for the blog) sighting of me in my garden hammock enjoying some sunshine.

Me in a hammock

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

American imports, Book of the Week, romance, romantic comedy

Book of the Week: Second First Impressions

After yesterday’s little essay at the start of my Week in Books I feel a little bit like I’ve already talked way too much this week. But I’ve got plans in my head for a summer reading post and a couple of last weeks books are likely to feature in that. So this weeks BotW is a fun and frothy romance, perfect for reading any time of year, not just in a sunny garden in summer.

Ruthie has been working at Providence Retirement Villas for six years. That’s her whole adult life – and she’s turned the job into her entire life. She’s shrunk her world so that it revolves around the residents (human and turtles) and maintaining the place. She is nervous, risk averse, acts way older than her age and her latest fear is what the property developer who has just bought the site might do to up end her life. It turns out that the first thing he’s going to do is land Providence with his son. Teddy has run out of places to stay and needs to raise money for his share of the tattoo parlour he wants to open. He’s tall, dark and handsome – and dangerous for Ruthie’s self control. So she sets him up with the one job no one has ever lasted at: personal assistant to two rich, 90 year old trouble making ladies – who get most of their enjoyment from setting their assistants fiendish tasks. But Teddy looks set to be the one who stays the course – but is his charm for real or is is all just an act?

That’s quite a long plot summary and makes this sound way more complicated than it is. It’s a charming opposites attract romance with a sweet but wary heroine and a charming people pleaser hero who have to do a lot of figuring out about what they both want in life. The retirement village provides an excellent cast of supporting characters to make you laugh as you watch Ruthie and Teddy do some cautious getting to know each other. It does suffer a little bit from the end wrapping up too quickly (oh a common theme returns to my reviews) but I sort of forgive it because it was just so charming for the rest of the book. I’ve been hearing good things about Sally Thorne for a while, but this is the first time I’ve managed to get around to reading one of her books – even though I think I may own the Hating Game. I am annoyed that it’s taken me so long. But again: what is new there. In summary: charming escapist reading.

My copy of Second First Impressions came from the library but it’s out now on Kindle and Kobo and in (very expensive) hardback. No paperback (in the UK at least) until next year.

Happy Reading!

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

The Week in Books: June 7 – June 13

It’s strange how my reading can sometimes fall into patterns – and not just library books coming due and NetGalley release dates (when I’m paying attention to them properly). This week is probably one of the best examples of that I have recently had. Firstly, I’m going through a huge audiobook phase – rather than listening to my regular diet of podcasts. And not just any audiobooks, audio books of old favourites. So this week on the list you can see that I finished a new (to me) audiobook of Have His Carcase – one of my favourite Wimseys, but that I’ve previously only had on audio as a radio play. I’ve also been listening to Heyer’s Devil’s Cub in a new version (still not right, but better now than the previous one) and Venetia (again). We’ve finished another in the Amelia Peabody re-listen. But there are more patterns than just that. Frieda and Theatre for dreamers both deal with writers (and artists) and their muses. I’ve been taking my time over The Game because I needed to finish Alexandria which also deals with British machinations in Afghanistan and India (although a century apart). There is fodder for posts here, if only I can find third (or fourth) books to continue the themes. The question is, do I want to?

Read:

Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers

Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan*

Tiny House, Big Love by Olivia Dade

The Summer Seekeers by Sarah Morgan*

Frieda by Annabel Abbs

Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Alexandria by Edmund Richardson*

Started:

A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

Yours Cheerfully by A J Pearce*

Still reading:

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

The Game by Laurie R King

Mrs England by Stacey Halls*

A couple of books bought, but all bargains. Honest!

Bonus photo: British summer time in the park on Saturday evening. Blue skies, mid 20s, not too awfully humid.

A sunny park in the evening

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

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

The Week in Books: May 31 – June 6

Well blimey Love in the Blitz is long. And it took a lot of my reading time up this week because I was determined to finish it! Some really good stuff on this week’s list though – it’s going to be hard to chose what to write about tomorrow!

Read:

Desire and the Deep Blue Sea by Olivia Dade

Feast by Margaret Kennedy*

Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham

Deadly Decor by Karen Rose Smith

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid*

Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander*

Creativity by John Cleese

Started:

Mrs England by Stacey Halls*

Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan*

Still reading:

Frieda by Annabel Abbs

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

Alexandria by Edmund Richardson*

The Game by Laurie R King

I had to buy some books as gifts this week, so of course I bought myself one as well, because it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it? And apart from that I don’t think there were any more purchases, but I haven’t exactly investigated too closely!

Bonus photo: summer time in the UK. A couple of sunny hours earlier this week, where everything looked beautiful.

A small river and its surroundings, looking very green and pretty in the sunshine.

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

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

The Week in Books: May 24 – May 30

A varied week in reading last week – partly because of my quest to finish some stuff off before the end of the month, but also because I wasn’t very well for part of last week so the reading list reflects the sort of thing that my brain could cope with. But more generally, I’m realising that my brain is still not in a place for books where I don’t know that there is going to be a positive resolution at the end. I will expand more on this tomorrow – I promise! It’s also the end of the month today, so there’s plenty coming up this week: as well as the Book of the Week tomorrow, there will be the Mini Reviews and the Stats. A veritable bonanza.

Read:

His Bride for the Taking by Tessa Dare

The Marriage of Mary Russell by Laurie R King

Literary Landscapes edited by John Sutherland

Justice Hall by Laurie R King

Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

The Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal*

Started:

Alexandria by Edmund Richardson*

The Game by Laurie R King

Deadly Decor by Karen Rose Smith

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid*

Still reading:

Frieda by Annabel Abbs

Love in the Blitz by Eileen Alexander*

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

I’m still not counting, but I can confirm I did but a fair few books this week. It seemed like a bunch of books that appealed to me we’re on offer *and* I had got behind on my preordering. It was a real hardship… not!

Bonus photo: it’s peony season! And this is my vase full. Love them so much. So beautiful and they made me happy this week.

A vase full of Peonies in various shades of pink

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

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