previews

Out this week: New Olivia Dade

The third book in Olivia Dade’s Spoiler Alert series came out on Tuesday so I couldn’t help myself but post about it. I wrote about All The Feels last year and I can’t remember why I didn’t make Spoiler Alert book of the week, although I did also write about 40-Love so that might be why. Anyway this is a story about two actors who had a one night stand and then end up working together on a fantasy TV show (think Game of Thrones) for six years. But one the last night of filming that one night stand thing happens again and this time he doesn’t want to let her go. And that’s all I know – because my copy is a hard copy and it’s arrived at home after I have left for nights away. But we all know what I’m going to be reading when I get home later in the week. And the only reason I’m not reading the kindle sample in the mean time is because I know it’ll annoy me that I can’t carry on reading – and I really can’t justify buying the kindle edition when I have the paperback at home!

previews, romantic comedy

New this week: Better Than Fiction

Well it was a delightful treat from Past Verity when this dropped onto my Kindle on Tuesday morning – because I had completely forgotten that I had preordered the new Alexa Martin novel! I’ve recommended her football romances before, but I think her last novel and this are moving more towards the Rom com than the straight Rom. I shall report back. This promises a reluctant bookstore owner being converted to book lover by a best selling romance author. I can’t wait!

book round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: October Quick Reviews

As promised yesterday, here is this month’s batch of quick reviews – and stay til the end for the links to the other bits and bobs from this month.

The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Croft

The first of two British Library Crime Classics novels this month, this features a really intriguing series of disappearances. The Hog’s back of the title is a ridge in the North Downs near where Dr James Earl and his wife live. When the doctor disappears from his home, initially it seems like a domestic affair – with a husband giving up on an unhappy marriage, but then other people disappear mysteriously – including one of his house guests. Yesterday I mentioned that the suspense element of When Stars Collide doesn’t follow the rules of mysteries – well this not only follows the rules, at the end when Inspector French is talking you through his solution, it gives you the page numbers for the clues!

Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

The second BLCC is a variation on the locked room mystery – with the victim in a compartment on a moving train when he is shot. At first it seems like Sir Wilfred Saxonby has shot him self, but there’s no motive and soon inconsistencies appear and a murder investigation is underway. I had the solution- or most of the solution worked out before the end of this but it was still a good read, although if you’re only going to read one of these, maybe make it Hogs Back because that’s a totally baffling one for a long time.

The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatio Sancho by Paterson Joseph*

This was the very last book I finished in October and definitely deserves its mention here. This fits into the fictionalised real lives genre – in this case the life of a black writer and composer who lived in Regency London. As you might expect there are significant challenges facing him – and they are presented in this in the guise of a diary designed for his son to read when he is older (and it is suggested that Sancho will not be around to tell him them himself). Sancho was born on a slave ship and was given as a gift to three sisters who brought him up to be their servant before he escaped from them. I won’t say much more than that because it gives too much away – maybe I have already. The author is the actor Paterson Joseph who has spent two decades researching the life of his main character which he turned into a play before he wrote this novel.

And there’s a stack of other books I’ve written about – including older lady killers and other adventure stories, plenty of Halloween options if you still want spooky reading but also a really moving memoir and four series to get into

Happy Humpday!

previews

Out Today: Christmas Sarah Morgan!

Yes, it came out in the US last month, but here in the UK today is the day for the Christmas Sarah Morgan novel – this year’s is called Snowed in for Christmas. This is somewhere between a contemporary romance and a women’s fiction novel – yes I know, I’m not a fan of that as a term, but I don’t think there’s another shorthand that works as well – it has a romance at the heart of it but it’s not just a romance, and it feels like it’s not quite the same as Morgan’s previous romances – although you’re still going to get a happy ending. Or at least I hope you are – I haven’t finished it yet!

Book of the Week, memoirs, new releases, non-fiction

Book of the Week: A Pocketful of Happiness

It’s a memoir for this week’s pick – and it’s really good but it’s also heartbreaking. So bear that in mind when picking a moment to read it – I ended up a snotty mess more than once.

Depending on how old you are, you’ll know Richard E Grant for something different. Withnail and I, Spice World, Girls or if you’re my sister me: Jack and Sarah. He was nominated for an Oscar in 2019 for his role in Can You Ever Forgive Me. But what I didn’t know was that he had one of those rare things: a long and happy marriage in showbiz. And I only found that out when I saw his post on social announcing that Joan had died. A Pocketful of Happiness is a memoir of his wife’s illness, intercut with stories from their life together.

Joan Washington was one of the acting world’s leading dialogue and accent coaches. She and Richard met when she taught him at acting school, soon after his arrival in the UK from Swaziland. Ten years older than him and recently divorced, they fell in love when she coached him to help iron out his accent and they stayed together for 38 years.

Richard’s love for Joan shines through in every page of this – but you can also see how loved she was by other people and how much impact she had on their lives. At the end Richard has included some of the tributes to her from people that she worked with – some of which were gathered when her friends tried to get her an honour from the Queen before she died. It’s a memoir of grief and nursing someone through a terminal illness – but it’s also full of wonderfully showbizzy stories. Richard’s unashamed joy at being nominated for an Oscar was obvious at the time – but in this you see the behind the scenes as he goes to the awards season events and meets every famous actor he’s ever dreamed of working with – but also his all time heroine: Barbra Streisand. The showbiz stories help break up the heavy bits but also tie together with the story of the last few months of Joan’s life. It’s one of the best actor memoirs I have recently read – and as you know, there have been a few on the pile!

My copy came from the airport, but it’s out now in hardback, Kindle, Kobo and audiobook – read by Richard himself.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, reviews, romance

Book of the Week: The Dead Romantics

Did I finish this on Monday? Yes. Am I still writing about it? Absolutely. After the dumpster fire that was my late September I’m giving myself a pass on a lot of things. Anyway, this is fun.

Florence is a ghostwriter with a problem: after a messy breakup, she doesn’t believe in love any more – but she still has a book she has to finish and her new editor won’t give her an(other) extension. Then she gets a call from her mum: her dad has died and she needs to go home to help prepare for the funeral. But she’s been running from her small home town for a decade and she’s still not ready to deal with her issues with it. And then on her first night home, there is a knock at the door: it’s her editor. Except he’s a ghost and he doesn’t know why he’s there either.

Now regular readers will know that I’m not a paranormal or spooky reader usually. But I really liked Ashley Poston’s Beauty and the Geek series, I’ve heard a lot of hype about this and it was 99p and my defences are low at the moment so I couldn’t help myself. And I’m so glad I did. This is fun and funny and I loved Florence and her family and their funeral home and quirky ways. And Ben is lovely too I will admit that I was worried about whether there could be a happy ending (because he’s a ghost!) but I shouldn’t have been because it just works. And bonus points for the surprise Mulan reference.

We’re coming up to Halloween (I mean it’s October!) and if you want something seasonally appropriate but not scary or overly paranormal, this might well be the book for you. Especially if you like romance novel’s getting name checks. And if you’ve read the Beauty and the Geek series there are some Easter eggs for you too. Just delightful. Yes it made me cry, but if it hadn’t there would have been something wrong right? And it was worth it if you know what I mean.

As I said earlier, this is 99p on Kindle at the moment and it’s the same on Kobo. It came out in June so it’s still relatively new – but I haven’t spotted it in any of the bookshops yet* but Foyles have click and collect copies at the moment so I clearly haven’t been looking hard enough and you might be lucky.

Happy reading!

*and yes I did go back through my Waterstones Piccadilly photos, and no I didn’t take a picture of the P section of the romance shelves to double check

previews

New arrival: Carrie Soto is Back

Is this the book I have written about the most this year before it even came out? Probably. And it came out on Tuesday so this is a couple of days late because I’ve only just got home from a couple of nights in London to get my hands on it. But I have already read all of the Kindle preview while I was away and I’m ready to dig in to the rest. I don’t think I had appreciated that the release date coincided with the US Open, which would have been a nice touch but is now an excellent touch as Serena Williams is currently competing in her (probably) final tournament – and this is a book about a female tennis great coming out of retirement to reclaim her crown…

American imports, binge reads, Book of the Week, fiction, new releases, reviews, romance, romantic comedy

Book of the Week: Thank You for Listening

Taking a break from the Girls Own and book conference related content for this week’s book of the week. This is another recent release – the same day as Husband Material in fact – and one that I had heard a lot of buzz about and discovered was on offer while I was writing the August offers Recommendsday post.

Thank you for Listening is a romantic comedy about a former actress who became an audiobook narrator after an accident halter her on screen career. When Sewanee is sent to an audiobook convention by her boss she has a whirlwind night in Vegas with a mystery man. But when she returns to California, she finds an offer to narrate a beloved romance novelist’s final book. The trouble is, she doesn’t do romance novels any more, but money could pay for her beloved grandmother’s nursing home care so she resurrects her old pseudonym and starts recording the book with one of the genres hottest and most secretive male narrators, Brock McKnight. There’s a steady back and forth of chatter between them, but as secrets are revealed, can Sewanee get the happily ever after that she doesn’t believe in?

Julia Whelan is a renowned audiobook narrator so this is is filled with insider titbits from her experience as well as being a love letter to the romance genre. They even joke about how many tropes they’re ticking off more than once. And it’s a delight. Swan is an intriguing leading character, with a complicated family and some issues to deal with. And the shadowy and mysterious Brock has great banter. And, well, it’s very well put together – with a swoony ending and a nod and a wink to fans of the genre. What more could you want.

If I could have read this in one sitting I would have – but unfortunately I had to go to work, so instead I decided not to go to the theatre one of my London nights and instead read this on the sofa at the hostel, and then in my bunk when it got too noisy. No greater testament really.

My copy of Thank You For Listening came from Kindle for the bargain price of £1.99. It’s also on Kobo for the same price and available in paperback from Thursday – although how easily it will be to actually find I don’t know – Waterstones (Foyles’ owners) are having some distribution issues. I will try and remember to check Foyles’ romance section a few weeks after release…

Happy reading!

Book of the Week, LGTBQIA+, new releases

Book of the Week: Husband Material

Yes I finished this on Monday – but it’s out today so it’s actually time appropriate. Check me out with the ever so slightly forward planning.

Husband Material is the sequel to Boyfriend Material which was a Book of the Week back when I read it in early 2021. We rejoin our erstwhile heroes two years into their actual relationship (as opposed to the fake one, see Boyfriend Material) and its all going well for Luc and Oliver. They’re making their relationship work – Luc’s trying not to bring the chaos and Oliver’s getting therapy and it’s all lovely. Except that suddenly everyone is getting married and Luc thinks maybe they’re meant to too, because that’s what you’re meant to do when you love each other, right? Right?

I have strongly mixed feelings on sequels usually. I know I’m always saying that I want more of the happily ever after at the end of my romance novels, but I appreciate that an actual novel needs tension and conflict. Most sequels do this by breaking the couple up and getting them back together (or variations thereof) and that often drives me mad. Particularly when the breakup is because of something you could solve by having a conversation. This does not do that. There is conflict, but I was not really ever worried that Luc and Oliver going to end up together – just how were they going to work it all out. And I can’t really explain any more than that without massive plot spoilers.

All the supporting cast are back too – Luc’s friends, his crazy mum, thankfully not too much of his awful dad. And there’s lots of banter and pop culture references. And if I didn’t quite love it as much as the first one, it was a pretty high bar to hit and it was lovely being back with some old friends for a few hours. This is apparently a universe now – so there’s a third book coming, but about a different couple, one of whom briefly featured in this book. So that’s fun too.

My copy of Husband Material came from NetGalley (thank you bookish gods) but it’s out today in Kindle, Kobo and delicious paperback, including from Words and Kisses where they have signed ones. You definitely need to have read Boyfriend Material to get the most out of this though.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, new releases

Book of the Week: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Making a change from the run of BotW picks recently, this week I’ve gone for something (pretty much) new and also that’s not a romance or a mystery. You can thank me later.

Sam and Sadie first met when they were children. Then they didn’t see each other for years – until one day Sam sees Sadie on the subway platform. This chance meeting starts them on the road to success as video game designers. You follow Sam and Sadie over thirty years – as they play games, design games and grow up, always linked together but sometimes pulling in different directions.

You all know that I’ve been reading mostly stuff with happy endings or resolutions for the last *checks calendar* two years or so and this took me a little while to read because I wasn’t sure I was going to like how it all worked it. But I’m so glad I stuck with it because it is just wonderful – even if there was some crying involved, thankfully not on a train though. You watch Sam and Sadie grow and develop and try to help each other through life’s challenges. I can’t really say too much more than that because it’s going to give to much away.

I was a PC gamer when I was younger – mostly simulators like Sim City, the Sims and Transport Tycoon, but also Commander Keen and some of the other shareware games of that era, so I’ve played some of the games that Sam and Sadie played when they are kids and I understood the sort of games they were trying to create even if they weren’t my sort of games. But I don’t think you have to be a gamer to get this novel, don’t worry. It’s two people navigating friendship while working together. And it’s 400ish pages, so if you need a book for the beach this could be it!

I haven’t read any of Gabrielle Zevin’s books before, although I’ve had The Storied Life of A J Fikry on the list of books I would like to read at some point for years. But if her other books are anything like this one, I need to get to them sooner rather than later, just as soon as I’m in a more resilient state of mind, because this broke me at various points.

My copy of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow came via NetGalley but it’s out now in Kindle and Kobo and in hardback. And you should be able to get hold of it fairly easily because it’s had window displays in some bookshops which always a good sign – and Foyles have click and collect copies too.

Happy reading!