This is a new standalone novel from the author of the Maisie Dobbs series. This is post Second World War – so further ahead in time than Maisie has got – and features a former wartime spy whose peaceful life is disturbed by new residents of the village who are also trying to escape their past. It sounds really good and I can’t wait to read it.
Tag: New books
Out this week: New Jesse Sutanto
I mentioned it in my anticipated books post, but Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers from Jesse Sutanto who wrote Dial A for Aunties is out today in the UK.
Out Today: No Life for Lady
The stats are coming tomorrow, but I just wanted to flag a new book that’s out today. Hannah Dolby’s debut, No Life for a Lady is about a 28 year old woman in 1896 who is trying to find her mother, who disappeared ten years earlier, whilst also trying to avoid her father’s efforts to marry her off before it is too late. The Amazon blurb says “perfect for fans of Dear Mrs Bird, The Maid and Lessons in Chemistry” which as you know would suggest that it is right in my wheelhouse in terms of reading tastes. I’ve started it (because I have it via NetGalley) and so far I’m really enjoying it, not least because it’s not set in London, which so many novels set in a similar setting are. I will report back when I finish it I’m sure, but I thought it was worth mentioning today because Hannah Dolby has a zoom event with a Northumbria libraries this lunchtime but it’s also been getting quite a lot of buzz as one of the interesting debuts of 2023 so I think you’ll be spotting it in bookshops all over over the next few months.
And just before I go – I’ve already mentioned it once in this post but Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons In Chemistry is out in paperback today. I loved it when I read it, everyone who I’ve loaned my copy to has loved it to, and it made all of the end of year lists too.
Run don’t walk everyone.
When I wrote the Anticipated Books post at the very start of the year, I was lamenting the lack of detail on what was coming and when, but things are getting a little clearer now, so I’m back with a release update.
There are a couple of things coming next month. Firstly there is a new novel from Jacqueline Winspear, that is not in her Maisie Dobbs series. The White Lady is about a former spy living a retired life in 1947 Kent but who gets drawn (back) into a world of violence. And there’s a new novel from Jesse Sutano – I loved Dial A for Aunties, but didn’t like the sequel anywhere near as much, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with something different – Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murders has a 60 year old heroine who discovers a dead body in her tea shop.
The most exciting (for me anyway) might be the new Curtis Sittenfeld which is coming out in early April and is called Romantic Comedy. The blurb promises a TV screenwriter who is over romance but who meets an unlikely love interest that might change her mind. It’s nearly three years since Rodham and given that Eligible (her Pride and Prejudice retelling) is my favourite of her novels, I just can’t wait. Also in April is the new Emily Henry, which I did mention in the previous post and a new book from T J Klune – which is a Pinocchio retelling called In the Lives of Puppets.
Going even further into the future, I’m looking forward to the next Ali Hazelwood romance and Alice Bell’s Grave Expectations – a murder mystery about a medium with a ghost who follows her around and which has got a quote from Ben Aaronovitch on the cover. Talking of Aaronovitch, there’s a new Rivers of London novella coming in June called Winter’s Gifts. And there are a fair few of my regular autobuys who have books coming up – I wrote about Donna Andrews Meg Langslow series last week, and she has two more in the series coming in the second half of the year, including the fabulous pun Birder, She Wrote. Sarah MacLean’s next, Knockout is out in August, Christina Lauren have The True Love Experiment coming in May, Bridgerton author Julia Quinn is due to have a new book out in May, although there isn’t even a title yet – just a date on Amazon! And there’s a new Veronica Speedwell just a couple of weeks away too.
And no, I’m not telling you how many of these I have already preordered…
Book of the Week: Nora Goes Off Script
It’s Valentine’s Day today and we have a romance pick this week. Nora Goes Off Script is probably the easiest BotW choice in ages, for reasons which I will explain later in the post and (spoiler alert) are not the fact that it’s a romance and today is February 14th!
The plot: Nora is a scriptwriter for a romance channel, but after her husband leaves her and their two children she uses their breakup to write a script that doesn’t end in a chaste kiss and a happily ever after. And it sells to a movie company who want to film part of it on location at her farmhouse. Along with the film crew comes the film’s star: Leo Vance, former sexiest man alive and playing Nora’s ex. But when the film crew leaves, Leo doesn’t. And what turns into a week for him to clear his head turns into something more, something that can break your heart…
The Goodreads blurb calls this Evvie Drake Starts over meets Beach Read, and although I haven’t read Beach Read (yet) I have read Book Lovers and have been comparing it to Emily Henry to people so let’s call that pretty accurate. It’s romantic and sweet but it’s also relaxing. Yes Leo and Nora’s relationship doesn’t go smoothly but there’s no peril, and actually Nora does that thing I love in books of figuring out who she is and what she wants and the fact that she gets a handsome man by the end is a delightful bonus not the solution to her problems. Did that make any sense? It’s like in Legally Blonde: Elle is successful by the end because of her hard work and brains not because of a relationship. Yes she ends up with Emmett but he’s not the reason why she wins the case and gets voted valedictorian*.
I bought this while writing the Recommendsday post, started it in bed on Tuesday night and read nearly 100 pages without noticing (and definitely not what I meant to do and had finished it before bedtime on Wednesday. And then I read the last 20 percent again on the train to work on Thursday. Yup. I liked it that much. In fact writing this has made me want to go and read it all over again. It’s Annabel Monaghan’s first adult novel and I am already really looking forward to her second one which is due out in June. If it’s anything like as good as this I’ll be a happy girl.
As I said last week – this is 99p on Kindle at the moment and I don’t think you will regret it. I don’t know how easy the paperback will be to find – I couldn’t see it in Foyles on Friday, but that’s not foolproof.
* this is the crux of my biggest issue with the stage musical version of the show where Elle definitely succeeds because Emmet helps her and tells her what to do. But I digress.
Book of the Week: Death of an Author
Another classic crime reissue from the British Library this week – this is the book I mentioned that I hadn’t finished in time for the Quick Reviews and in the end that’s turned out to be a good thing as it means I can write about it at a greater length here. And I’m also relatively timely for once – as this was one of the BLCC’s January releases.
The author of the title is Vivian Lestrange, the reclusive person behind several bestselling mystery novels. He is reported missing by his secretary – who arrived for work one day and found the house locked up and her boss – and his housekeeper – vanished without a trace. But the investigation is mired in confusion from the start – there is no body and there is even doubt about whether Lestrange really exists. Could the secretary, Eleanor, perhaps be him? Bond and Warner from Scotland Yard have a real job on their hands.
I enjoyed this so much. Lorac has set up a seemingly impossible crime and laid so many red herrings around that you can’t work out what you’re meant to think. And then there’s the humour. As previously mentioned E C R Lorac is a pen name for Carol Carnac, a woman mystery writer. And it’s clear that she’s having a lot of fun at the expense of reviewers and readers of the time who couldn’t believe that a woman could write mysteries the way that she did. It’s just delightful. I read it in about two giant sittings, across 36 hours and if I hadn’t had to get on with my normal life I would have read it even faster! It was first published in 1935 and has been incredibly rare and hard to get hold of until now – which is a bit boggling because it is so good – so thank goodness for the British Library!
I got Death of an Author through my Kindle Unlimited subscription, so that’s the only ebook platform you can get it on at the moment, but you can of course buy it in paperback direct from the British Library shop where they are doing three for two at the moment so you could pick up some of the others that I have recommended recently – or potentially through your local bookshop that carries the BLCC series as it only came out in the middle of January so it may well be in their latest selection.
Book of the Week: Georgie, All Along
Continuing the Kate Clayborn theme of the last few days, but I’m not even sorry about it because this was delightful and it’s new and it deserves a bigger mention than just Thursday.
Georgie is back in Virginia after years away working as a PA in LA. Most of the time she’s too busy to think about anything except the next job on her list. But suddenly there are hours and days and weeks stretching out in front of her. She’s meant to be helping her best friend – who has just moved back to their home town too ahead of having her first baby – but it doesn’t feel like she really needs Georgie. And then they find a diary they wrote in high school full of plans for the future. Are these the ideas Georgie needs to figure out who she is and what she wants? And then there is the problem of Levi, her unexpected roommate and former town bad boy and current dock builder and semi recluse, who offers to help her on her quest…
This was a really lovely, calming read – and also romantic. There is very little peril (maybe no peril?), just two people trying to figure out who they are and what they want in the world. And if you’ve ever wondered what you’re doing with your life and why everyone seems to have things better planned than you, this may well speak to you on a cellular level. I often say that I’m very lucky because I knew what I wanted to do for my job at a very young age, and turned out that be good enough at it that I’ve been able to earn my living doing it (so far!). But I don’t really have a grand plan. I’m much better at knowing what I don’t want to do, than what I *do* want to do and so I really enjoyed watching Georgie working out what she wanted from life and also the way it all resolved – and I can’t really say more, because: spoiler.
So if you want a charming romance that will make you swoon-y happy but without making you anxious, then this may well be it. My copy came from NetGalley, but it’s out now in various formats: in Kindle and Kobo in the UK – it looks like the paperback option is the US version (at the moment at least).
Out this week: new Kate Clayborn!
It’s nearly the end of January and there’s a bit of a rush of books by authors I like coming out over the next few weeks. Today it’s Kate Clayborn and Georgie, All Along. You may remember that Kate’s previous books, Love Lettering and Love At First were Book of the Week picks here, so I’m a fan (and there’s more tomorrow on that front). This is about a personal assistant who returns to her home town from her hectic life in LA and has to put herself first for once. I’ve started it – and so far, so good! The Ali Hazelwood blurb on the cover is useful – if you like her, you may well like this although Clayborn’s heroine tend to be less tiny woman and HUGE MAN!
Georgie, All Along is out now in Kindle and Kobo in the UK, the paperback comes out here later in the year but I think in the US you can get it today.
Book of the Week: The Three Dahlias
I had a lovely week off last week and read some good stuff, but interests of not repeating myself, today’s pick is a book I finished on Monday. Yes I know it’s cheating, but the book is really good so I’m sure you’ll let me off!
The three Dahlias of the title are three actresses who have played or are about to play the same character – a legendary heroine of golden age detective fiction. They’re spending a weekend at a fan convention organised at the stately home the author lived in. But then there is a suspicious death and they have to work together to find the killer.
I mean could this be any more up my street? Honestly it ticks so many of boxes of things that I like: A murder mystery set in a country house! A classic crime connection! A group of actresses! A convention! It almost seemed too good to be true. But it wasn’t. It was really, really good. I was 100 pages in before I even realised it. I really liked the way the narrative switched between folllowing the three different actresses and I think it did really well at making each of them seem distinct. I did have the murderer figured out (or at least narrowed down) but I couldn’t figure out why so it had me partly fooled.
I loved the golden age crime tie in – from what you can work out, Dalhia is a bit of 1930s Phryne Fisher type character – glamorous and rule breaking and with a police man in tow (but written at the time) – and like some of the Golden Age detectives, the series went on being written for many years, although wisely the books didn’t move through time at the same pace as the author! And each chapter starts with a quote from one of the books and it works really well – making you want to read a Dahlia book without really ever telling you much about their plots!
A sequel is coming later this – which is both excellent news and really interesting to see if the formula can work again! I will be keeping my eye out for it for sure.
My copy of The Three Dahlias was part of my post Christmas book buying spree, so I think it should be fairly easy to get hold of in your format of choice.
Out Today: new Amy Lea
Actually this is another of those strange split releases that we seem to be getting so much now as the Kindle edition was out on the 10th, but the paperback is out today. Exes and O’s is the next book in the series that started with Set On You last year. This features unlucky in love Tara, who is revisiting her exes to try and find her shot at a second chance romance with her new flatmate Trevor as her sidekick. I have this on the to-read pile, but haven’t got to it yet, because: Meg Langslow binge, although writing this has reminded me why I really wanted to read it. It’s blurbed by Beth O’Leary and Ali Hazelwood if that helps you make your decision in the absence of a review from me!