Adventure, Authors I love, Book of the Week, historical, Series I love

Book of the Week: Imprudence

This may be one of the least surprising BotW picks ever, considering that the first book in the Custard Protocol series was a BotW,  as were several of Gail Carriger’s other books (Sumage Solution, Manners and Mutiny and Timeless) and she was one of my discoveries of the year back when this blog was but a child.  In fact, the only question you have may be: What took me so long to read Imprudence, given that it came out in July last year.  Fear not.  There are answers ahead.

The paperback of Imprudence on a shelf next to Prudence

Firstly though, the plot:  Rue and her crew are back in London after the events of Prudence, which have landed her in a whole heap of hot water with the powers that be.  On top of this, her best friend keeps getting engaged to unsuitable military types and there’s something going on at home.  Rue’s vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is not himself, and her mother is being even more difficult than usual.  What is going on?  Finding out will take the Spotted Custard and her crew to Egypt and beyond

Now, part of the reason this has taken so long for me to read is that it was all boxed up with the to-read pile at the back end of last year, but the reason it was still waiting to be read at that point was a line in the blurb: “her werewolf father is crazy”.  Having read Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, I had a fair idea what was going on there, and I was worried about how it was going to resolve itself.  I love and adore Rue’s Paw – Conall Maccon and although he has his stupid moments (to whit, his idiotic behaviour in Blameless) I was a bit worried about what might happen to him.  And I had a few rocky moments early on in the book, which involved near tears and sniffling.  But I got through it and I was ok.  And that’s as much as I can say without it all being a big old spoiler.  And while we’re talking about the Parasol Protectorate, I found myself wishing that I’d re-read Timeless before I read this, because a lot of the action is in Egypt and there’s a lot of references to the events of that book.  It did all come back to me, but I think I would have been cooing with delight sooner if I’d done a reread first.  And so of course now I need to go and do that reread to check if there were any references that I missed in Imprudence.  There are old friends here – and some who are less friendly.

If I have a quibble, it’s that everything is wrapped up very quickly in the end – the main romantic through line and the adventure-quest one.  I could have read another 50 pages of that resolving itself.  But maybe that’s just me.  And if you’re wondering what prompted me to read this now, it’s the fact that the latest novella that Carriger has written is set after this book, and I *really* want to read that and so needed to do things in order. Because I’m like that.  And we all know that I’ll be pre-ordering the next in this series, Competence, just as soon as there’s a paperback preorder link.  Because I’m like that too.

As always in posts like this, I’m going to remind you all that this is the second in this series, but really actually the seventh if you’re counting Parasol Protectorate (which as you may have guessed have a fair bit to do with this) and eleventh if you’re going chronologically and including the spin-off prequel Finishing School YA series.  So don’t start with this one.  If you’re impatience, go and read Prudence first, but really, what you want to do is start with Soulless and work your way through Alexia’s story before you come to Rue.  And then do the Finishing school, because that is so much more fun once you start to work out who everyone is and how it all fits together.  Just my two-penneth.  They’re all available in Kindle and Kobo and Audible* and you should be able to order the paperbacks from any good bookshop.  Like the Big Green Bookshop.

Happy Reading!

And for longtime readers: No, I still haven’t sorted out the size mismatch issue with my Parasol Protectorate books, I still don’t know the best way to shelve them, but at least I haven’t caved in and bought a second copy of Heartless! There’s still time…

*Although NB, the first audiobook pronounces Lord Akeldama’s name wrong.  It’s Ak-el-dama not A-keel-duhma or however she says it.  It’s fixed by book 2 and I can just about cope with it in book one, even if my brain does repeat it pronounced correctly after every time it’s used.

Some of the Heyer collection
Authors I love, non-fiction, romance, Series I love, The pile

Greatest Hits: My 500th post!

I realised earlier that my next post would be my 500th and it seemed a shame for it to go by without being marked and just be a normal Week in Books. So instead a little bonus post looking at what we’ve discovered in 500 posts…

I think, if we’re being honest we could sum most of my reading up as falling into one of three categories: romance, crime and history. To be honest, sometimes it hits all three…

Romance

Artistically arranged Heyer novels
A selection of my favourites

 

Back in the very early days I wrote about my abiding love of Georgette Heyer so it would be remiss of me not to mention her here (especially as some do hit that trifecta – Masqueraders, Talisman Ring, Unknown Ajax for example) but it’s not just about Regency romances. I already loved Trisha Ashley, but while I’ve been writing the blog I’ve become a massive fan of  Sarah Morgan and Jill Shalvis who both wrote contemporary romances, which a couple of years ago I would have told you that I don’t really read unless they’re romantic comedies. Romantic comedies have become harder to find over the years, but they’re still there if you look hard enough – like Kirsty Greenwood, my old editor at Novelicious who is funny and a little bit rude.*

Crime

Four books
The four books that feature Peter and Harriet

The only way to start this section is with Lord Peter Wimsey. I still love these stories as much as I did when I wrote that post. I still listen to the audiobooks and radio plays with Ian Carmichael monthly. They’re a sure fire way to make me relax at the end of a long day and my favourite of all the Golden Age crime. One of the greatest things about the ebook revolution is the reappearance of some more forgotten classics like Edmund Crispin and a lot of the British Library Crime classics. Another great thing about ebooks are the smaller presses – if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know about my love for Fahrenheit Press because I’ve gone on about it so much over the last 18+ months. And then there’s the cozy crime. My favourites are the ones with a sense of humour – like Meg Langslow and the Royal Spyness series.

History

Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham
Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham

This is actually quite a broad category – I’m using it to cover straight up nonfiction history books, like The Greedy Queen, and fiction set in the past like Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig’s books. A lot of my reading is set in the past in one way or another, which perhaps isn’t surprising given that I’m a history graduate. I’ve learned more about Ancient Egypt and the Victorian rush to excavate it through Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. I tend to stick to books set after 1600, but I do venture back further if something catches my eye. I have a love for the interwar period – non fiction books like Flappers and Queen Bees and novels – like one of my all-time favourites Gone With The Windsors, or mystery series (overlap!) like Daisy Dalrymple and Phryne Fisher, both of which are overdue for new novels too.

 

And all this hadn’t even touched on my love of boarding school stories – new and old – or ballet books, and classic children’s books in general.  Or the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett. Or Gail Carriger’s supernatural world. Or Charlaine Harris’s. Or the Janet Evanovich obsession. And just writing this has made me realise how many great books I’ve read and written about for this blog.

One  of the aims of Verity Reads Books was to try to reduce my to-read pile  I don’t think we can really count that as a success as the pile took up three boxes when it went into storage. But I do think I think more before buying books and NetGalley means I get advance copies of things now, which don’t take up actual space, but obviously mean I have less time to read Books from the pile. But really, there’s no such thing as too many books! Plus I really like writing about what I’ve been reading and chatting to people about what I’ve been reading on various social media platforms, so that’s been a total bonus.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, and here’s to whatever I discover in the next 500 posts!

Happy Reading.

* Kirsty’s Big Sexy Love is 99p on Kindle at the moment and you should totally buy it!

Authors I love, Book of the Week, Fantasy, romance

Book of the Week: The Sumage Solution

This week’s Book of the Week was an easy choice – I devoured the Sumage Solution as soon as it was published last week, and read it as quickly as I could within the restrictions of having to work and go to bed to get enough sleep to work.  I don’t read a lot of male/male romances, but because I love all of Gail Carriger‘s other work I had this on pre-order and was prepared to give it a go.

Cover of the Sumage Solution
The cover is a distinct shift from Carriger’s other books – but it works.

This is the first in a new contemporary paranormal series, which Carriger is self-publishing under the name G L Carriger because they are (very) different to her Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol series.  And she’s not wrong.  This book made me blush reading it, and I’ve read a lot of romance over the years.  This is a modern day version of the same world as we know from the other books – although it has evolved somewhat – but with a lot of explicit sexy times here.  A lot.  So be warned.  If you don’t want to read about  what a werewolf and his bad boy mage get up to, then just give this book a miss and go and read the Parasol Protectorate or the Custard Protocol series or if you don’t want any sexy times at all, the Finishing School series.

So, that disclaimer out of the way, if you’re still interested, this is the story of Biff, who has just moved to San Francisco with his brother and his brother’s new werewolf pack, and Max, a failed mage who works at the magical equivalent of the DMV.  They meet when the pack paperwork comes in front of Max and soon they’re trying to prove the idea that werewolves and mages must hate each other wrong.  Along the way they’ve got to deal with an enchanted house and the vexed question of whether the pack will get permission to stay in San Francisco.

This is full of snarky humour and the witty banter that I’ve come to expect from a Carriger novel.  As well as making me blush, it made me smile and laugh.   I had so much fun watching Biff and Max work their way towards their happily ever after.  The world building is great – a lot has moved on from the nineteenth century, but there’s enough nods back to the history of the paranormal in the Carriger-verse that a regular reader doesn’t feel at sea or confused.  The rest of the pack is great fun as well and I’m hoping that this will sell enough copies that Ms Carriger will write some more installments for the other members.

If you want to get a bit of a sense of what’s going on here, try the novella that started it all (and has now turned into a prequel) Marine Biology which is 99p on Kindle and Kobo at time of writing ( and so must be worth a punt surely?).  It’s the story of Biff’s older brother Alex and his merman boyfriend.  If it turns out that’s not for you (and it’s not as explicit as Sumage Solution) then you’re not going to like the series proper.  But if you do like it or you’re already an avid reader of M/M romance (and I know there are plenty of you out there), then Sumage Solution is available in Kindle and Kobo as well as in paperback from Amazon.

If you’ve got any suggestions for some more M/M romance for me to try, please do put them in the comments, because nothing makes me happier than making my to-read pile bigger!

Happy Reading.

Book of the Week, Children's books, children's books, new releases

Book of the Week: Mistletoe and Murder

I know, you all looked at my list of books I read last week and just knew that this was going to be my pick for BotW didn’t you?  So sue me.  Today feels momentous and a little terrifying with what is going on in the world, and what better way to take your mind off what may or may not be about to occur than a charming children’s novel about school girls solving mysteries.

Mistletoe and Murder
A Christmas book in early November? Bite me.

Long standing readers will be familiar with my love of Robin Stevens’ Wells and Wong series (see here, here, here and here) and Mistletoe and Murder (which incidentally shares its name with a Daisy Dalrymple mystery which is also very good) is the fifth installment in the series and sees the girls spending their Christmas holidays at Cambridge visiting Daisy’s brother.  But of course the girls can’t help but run into an investigation – this time in competition with their rivals at the Junior Pinkertons.  But soon suspicious accidents have turned deadly and the girls are in a race against time to figure out who did it and why.

I’ve said before that these books are the perfect blend of Agatha Christie and St Clares stories and I stand by that – they’re brilliant and inventive and I wish they’d been around when I was the “right” age.  I practically gobbled this up in one sitting, which was a mistake  because I’d already read the Halloween short story and now I have to wait months and months and months for the next one.  This would make the perfect Christmas book for the young reader in your family – or the big kid if you’re like me.  It’s the perfect escape from the trials and tribulations of the grown-up world.


But if you’re not into middle grade fiction (more fool you) and still want some escapism, I can also heartily recommend Gail Carriger’s latest novella – Romancing the Inventor – in which we see one of the most beloved side characters in her steampunk world, Madame Lefounx, finally get over the pesky Angelique and find love again.  It probably works best if you’ve read the Parasol Protectorate series, will work even better if you’ve also read the Finishing School series.  I loved it – it’s a great, fun love story with some guest appearances from old favourites.  What more could you want?

Robin Stevens’ Wells and Wong books should be available where ever children’s books are sold (if they’re not, ask them why), but here are links to Mistletoe and Murder on Amazon, Kindle, Waterstones, Foyles and Kobo.

Romancing the Inventor is one of Gail Carriger’s self published works – so it’s not quite as available in the shops, but you can get it on Kindle and on Kobo or special order it in paperback from AmazonWaterstones and Foyles.

Happy reading!

fiction, reviews

My Favourite Books of 2015

It’s that time again, where I look back at what I’ve read in 2015 and try to pick out some highlights.  It’s been a tough task as I’ve read a lot of books and so many of them have been really very excellent. As many of them have already featured here as Books of the Week, I’ve linked back to that review where relevant – and added my thoughts about why this has made the list rather than reviewing afresh.  I’ve also tried not to repeat myself too much with things that I’ve recommended recently – a lot of my other favourites from the year – that would have featured here too can be found in my Christmas gift idea posts – particularly in Books for Her.

Wonder by RJ Palacio

I loved this when I read it back in March – and it has stayed with me.  Auggie’s story is touching, funny and a little bit heartbreaking. I’ve recommended it several times and had nothing but positive responses.  Reading the also excellent One at the end of 2015 reminded me how much I enjoyed Wonder and how many really good YA books there are out there, that also teach grown-ups a thing or two too.  If you haven’t already read it, it’s in Amazon’s 3 for £10 promotion again.

Prudence by Gail Carriger

Ms Carriger’s fabulous steampunk world was one of my discoveries of 2014, and in 2015 I was thrilled anew by the start of her new series – Prudence.  An unconventional heroine, a dirigible painted to look like a ladybird, India, werewolves, other were-creatures and much more. I’m working my way through the Parasol Protectorate (the preceding series) audiobooks at the moment, but I know I’ll get to Prudence too.  And the last Finishing School book was pretty spiffing too.

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

From the start of a series to the end of an era.  It wouldn’t be a round-up of my favourite books of the year without the final Terry Pratchett novel and the end of Tiffany Aching’s story.  I’ve already written at length about my thoughts about the late Sir Terry and this was a Book of the Week as well.  I want to read it again – but my copy is currently with my sister – who was next in line after my father.  I am listening to the audiobook as well, but it makes me cry in public so it’s slow progress!  I’ve been watching the repeats of Sky’s adaptations of Colour of Magic and Going Postal over Christmas (and crying over Sir T’s cameos) and I’ve still got everything cross we get some more Discworld on TV.

First Class Murder by Robin Stevens

My thoughts on boarding school books and murder mysteries are well known.  And Robin Stevens’ series continues to combine all the best bits of both.  There were two released this year – but I think First Class Murder is my favourite – because who wouldn’t love Murder on the Orient Express meets Mallory Towers/St Clares.  Hazel and Daisy get taken on a train trip by Hazel’s father and get entangled in another death.  They’re desperate to help solve it, but Mr Wong is not at all keen on the idea. What more could you want.

Stealing the Show by Christina Jones

And my final pick is this fabulous romantic comedy set in and around the world of a travelling fair.  This is one of Christina Jones’s older books but has recently been re-released in ebook form.  I loved the setting – and was totally fascinated by it.  Jones’s father was a circus clown and she writes brilliantly about the itinerant lifestyle of a travelling show folk.  The romance is star-crossed and and fraught with complications and with a deeply satisfying conclusion. And it explained a fair bit about where the fun-fair that pops up in in a lot of the later books comes from!

So there you are.  Five of my favourite books of 2015.  I can’t wait to start making new favourites in 2015.  Please share your favourites from last year in the comments – I’m always looking for recommendations (despite the size of the pile) and I’ve found people in real life are often hesitant to suggest books for me – perhaps because of how many I read they’re worried I’ll have read them already.  So rather than trust the Goodreads and Amazon algorithms for what to read next, I’d love to hear from you – after all if you keep coming here to see what I’ve written, you may well have the same sort of tastes as me!

 

Authors I love, Book of the Week, Fantasy

Book of the Week: Manners and Mutiny

Apologies for the late arrival of this week’s BotW post – I’d somehow convinced myself that I’d already written this piece because all I seem to have done this week is think about the end of the Finishing School series.  But no, clearly I dreamt it.  Anyhow, it’ll be no surprise to anyone who’s been following my social media in the last week that the BotW is Manners and Mutiny – the last book in the Gail Carriger’s Young Adult Finishing School series.

My Kindle tells you all you need to know about last week’s reading matter!

In book four, we find Sophronia back at school on board Madame Geraldine’s floating dirigible, but with a somewhat denuded gang.  No-one’s listening to her warnings about the Picklemen and she’s still not really sure where her future lies.  When danger threatens the ship and life as she knows it, she has to put all her training to the test as we what happened to make Sophronia’s world of mechanicals turn into the society we know from the Parasol Protectorate.

And that’s about all that I can say, without giving away big old spoilers. And even that last sentence is a bit of a spoiler, but I think Carriger readers have all been waiting since Etiquette and Espionage to see what on earth happened to turn one world into the other!  Or if you’re like me and E&E was your first Gail Carriger book and the gateway to the rest, to explain the moment at the start of Soulless where you were all “Huh?  Where did the mechanical servants go?”

So, it’s no secret that I’m a big Carriger convert, having basically read everything she’s written over the past year (see 2014 Discoveries post, my BotW posts on Timeless and Prudence and E&E’s mention in my YA Roundup) – and I was worried that this wouldn’t live up to the hype that I had set up in my head.  So many questions needed answering and it seemed like a bit of a mammoth task for one book to deal with.  I went so far as to re-read all three of the previous books at the start of last week so that I had everything fresh in my mind for the last book – and I can’t say that I spotted anything that wasn’t addressed or tied up (with a bow).  And it’s still a good read.  It doesn’t feel like a tying up the loose ends book.  It feels like Ms Carriger had a plan at the start of the series, and has executed it masterfully – leaving a trail of breadcrumbs through the books for us to follow so that in this last one it all slots together and clicks into place. And as you do this, you smack your head and wonder how you missed the clues.  So clever.

But I have to say that this is not the place to start your Carriger experience.  Do yourself a favour and start with the first book in the series.  Or if you’re not technically a Young Adult, start with Soulless and read them first and then come to Finishing School and see how clever it all is.  I’m so sad Finishing School is over, but it was a deeply satisfying series and never felt like it was going on too long.  If I hadn’t just finished listening to Soulless on audiobook, I’d be going straight on to read that again. As it is I’m halfway through the recording of Changeless, so I’m still in Carriger-land.  And I can’t wait for Imprudence.

Get your copy of Manners and Mutiny (if you’ve already read the others) in paperback or on Kindle.  Or start with Etiquette and Espionage – paperback or Kindle.  The complete-ist in me really wants to buy myself the paperback copies of all of them so that I can put them on the shelf next to the others, but as I’ve already bought two Carriger audio-books and the e-books of Soulless and Changeless this week (so I can read whenever I want…) I’m valiantly resisting for now.  Lets see how long that resolution lasts…

Book of the Week, Fantasy, new releases, reviews, Uncategorized

Book of the Week: Prudence

This week’s BotW is Gail Carriger’s latest – Prudence – and you can’t say that I didn’t warn you that this might happen.  Because I did, even if it’s a few weeks later than I thought it might turn up here.  And that’s because I took an executive decision to save it for my holiday book – for our trip (to Vienna in the end) to mark a Significant Birthday for The Boy.  A holiday book should be a treat, preferably something that you know you’re not going to hate, and as it was already on the to-read pile, saving this meant I didn’t incur the wrath of The Boy for buying books again…

Gail Carriger's Prudence
I really like the purple and pink theme. And I’m not usually a pink person…

Anyway, Prudence is the first book in Carriger’s new series – the Custard Protocol.  Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School books, there are some familiar faces, not least Prudence herself – last seen as a toddler in the Parasol Protectorate series. When Rue is given a dirigible, she names it The Spotted Custard and heads for India on a secret mission.  But the situation there is not as simple as she had been lead to believe (and that wasn’t that simple to start with) and before long she’s dealing with dissidents, kidnappings and a pack of Scottish werewolves and it will take all her metanatural skills to deal with it.

Now, I’ve read all (I think) of Carriger’s other series, but I don’t think it would spoil your enjoyment of the book if you haven’t read them* as Carriger has been very careful not to give away too many spoilers for the plots of her previous books.**  However, for those of us who have read the previous books, you get the delicious enjoyment of being better informed about the past than our heroine, and equally delightful anticipation of confrontations and revelations yet to come.

When I read Timeless, I spotted a few dangling threads left that I hoped were teasers of stuff yet to come – and I was on the right track.   Again, my spoiler policy makes it difficult to be more specific than that, but I really like the direction that this series looks to be heading in.  The only problem with having read Prudence in fact is that I now have to wait (probably) a year to find out what happens next in Imprudence – and it’s still more than six months until the final Finishing School book – Manners and Mutiny – where I finally get to find out how Sophronia’s world became Alexias.

You can buy Prudence from all the usual sources – like Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles and Kindle.  I’ve also spotted it in  my local library already – which I haven’t seen before – and is brilliant, because hopefully it’ll introduce more people to Gail Carriger and then they can fall in love with her world like I have.

* Although the Parasol Protectorate is the more relevant to this book if you want somewhere to start

** Although the identity of Rue’s parents is a bit of a spoiler for Souless, there’s no way to avoid that!