book round-ups, Recommendsday

August Quick reviews

There’s definitely not as much to write about this month – because I’ve already written about so many books that I read in August! Still I have scared up three books to tell you about today so, yay me.

Quick Curtain by Alan Melville

I talked about a bunch of theatre-set books of various types in August – and here’s another which was part of my haul from the conference book sales. Alan Melville’s murder mystery is another that sees an actor murdered on stage in front of an audience. Where it differs from the Ngaio Marsh novels with a similar premise is the satirical slant it takes on the detecting. On that front it’s closer to Nancy Spain’s Cinderella Goes to the Morgue, although this does care about solving the crime! A very nice way to spend an afternoon.

Femina by Janina Ramirez*

This is a fascinating look at the Middle Ages via the lives of writings and artifacts left behind by some of the women who lived through the period. Some of the names were people I had heard of, but I knew very little about any of them except for Margery Kempe. This is easy to read, but incredibly well researched and has plenty of pictures of the artifacts being talked about. It also has a huge bibliography at the back if you want to go and read more about any of the women. Well worth a look, even if you don’t usually do books on the Middle Ages. I mentioned this on publication day and it’s taken me a while to finish – but that’s because my brain has been fried and I only had the concentration for small bursts. Luckily it’s broken down into nice bite-sized sections!

Knit to Kill by Anne Canadeo

This is more of a lesson in doing more research than a review, because I picked this up on Kindle Unlimited thinking it was a first in series – because it says it is in the title but when I started reading it it really confused me because it didn’t read like introducing a new set of characters. So off to Goodreads I went where I discovered it was actually the first since a change of publishers – and actually the ninth book about this set of characters. Then things made more sense. Remind me to research the KU stuff the same way I do the rest of the books in future!

And in case you’ve forgotten, here’s all the other books I talked about in August: Piglettes, A Time to Dance, Thank you for Listening, Husband Material, A Twist of the Knife, the Sadler’s Wells Series, Swallows and Amazons series, London Celebrities series, Amory Ames series, books set in theatres, late summer romances and Actor Memoirs.

Happy Wednesday!

book round-ups

Favourite not-new books of first half of 2022

So yesterday we did the new releases, and today I’m back with my other favourite books of the year so far – the ones that aren’t new, but that I’ve read for the first time this year. And it’s a slightly random mix of the nearly new and the really old.

I’m going to start with the really old – and that’s two of my Persephone subscription picks. I’ve had five of my six books through now and read three of them and A House in the Country by Jocelyn Playfair and The Young Pretenders by Edith Henrietta Fowler both got five stars from me. The Two Mrs Abbotts got four stars – and that was mostly because I wanted more Barbara herself and even as I write that I wonder if I was being too harsh and I should upgrade it! All three of them – and the other two Miss Buncle books are great if you want low peril reading in your life at the moment – and who doesn’t to be honest.

Then there are two nearly new books that I’ve given five stars as well so far this year – there’s Greg Jenner’s Ask a Historian answering fifty questions about history that people have asked Greg. And then there’s very recent BotW pick Acting Up by Adele Buck, which is a theatre-set romance which I loved so much I immediately bought the next book in the series. Honestly June was such a good month of reading for me.

Close behind these there is also Emily McGovern’s Bloodlust and Bonnets if you want a gothic-spoof graphic novel – I mentioned Julia Quinn’s Miss Butterworth… in Quick Reviews the other day and they’re actually quite and interesting pair. Or there is Roomies by Christina Lauren if you want another hit of theatre-set romance after Acting Up. And an honourable mention to to Julia Claibourn Johnson’s Better Luck Next Time and Stephen Rowley’s The Editor.

It’s been a good year in reading so far folks.

book round-ups, reviews, stats

Best new books of the first half of 2022

As promised, here is part one of my favourite books of the year so far – and we’re starting with new releases. I’ve already read 200 books this year, so I’ve got plenty of books to chose from but it’s no surprise that I’ve already written about most of these at some length.

I haven’t read a lot of nonfiction this year and not much of it is new-new but I have read Stories I Might Regret Telling You by Martha Wainwright and it’s such a good one. As I said in my BotW review back in April, this is one of the most unvarnished memoirs I’ve read. Martha Wainwright is as clear eyed about her own faults and her life as you will find someone and is prepared to put it out there in a book. Even if you don’t know her msuic, this is well worth reading – especially if you’re interested in the effects of famous paretns and/or competitive siblings and/or life in the music industry and particularly life in the music industry as a woman. And it turns out to be easier to get hold of than I thought it would be.

On to fiction and most of my favourite reads (that aren’t in series) are either romance or romance adjacent. There is the fabulous and sunny Book Lovers by Emily Henry and the redemptive and ultimately hopefuly Mad About You by Mhairi MacFarlane. They have very different plots, but they also both have heroines who know what they want in life and what they deserve. Mad About You has darker moments than Book Lovers, but you will come away from both with a big happy smile on your face.

Then there are two books that I have read in the last couple of weeks. I actually finished Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E Smith one day apart and then had a massive book hangover from two of my favourite books of the year so far. Greta is this week’s Book of the Week so you can read all about that there, and Lessons in Chemistry was the top review in Quick Reviews yesterday – and wasn’t actually that quick a review.

And as I mentioned earlier – there have also been a few really good new entries in series that I like – there is The Prize Racket – the latest in Isabel Rogers’ Stockwell Park Orchestra Series, the latest Rivers of London book, Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch, and the latest Vinyl Detective novel Attack and Decay by Andrew Cartmel.

And lets finish with a couple of honourable mentions – all the books above got five stars from me on Goodreads, but there are a couple of really, really good books nipping at their heels – like Jill Shalvis’s The Family You Make and Harvey Fierstein’s memoir I Was Better Last Night which I still haven’t written about here but will undoubtedly figure in my long planned actor memoir recommendsday post, just as soon as I read the other actor memoirs I have on my shelf!

So that’s half a year done – fingers crossed that the new books in the second half of the year are as good. Tune in tomorrow for my favourite new-to-me books of 2022 so far!

book round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: June 2022 Quick Reviews

I read a lot of books last month. But there were also a lot of rereads, and I do have this terrible tendency to have already written about al lot of books by the time we get to this point in the months. But I have a plan to try out for that in July, so I’ll keep you posted…

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Cover of Lessons in Chemistry

Elizabeth Zott is a scientist. The trouble is that it is America in the 1960s and women apparently women aren’t meant to be scientists. Her Nobel nominated colleague Calvin can see that she’s a scientist and a lot more and the two of them start a relationship. But three years later Elizabeth is a single mother and is presenting the world’s most unconventional cooking show on regional TV. I need to give you a warning serious sexual assault early in this book and a death a little while after, but if you can cope with that once you get out the other side you’re ok. And we all know that I’ve had trouble with dealing with stuff like that recently and I was find with this. Elizabeth is an brilliant character – she knows what she wants to do and refuses to understand people who tell her no or change what she’s doing if she thinks she is right. The book is told from various different character’s perspectives, including her dog and her daughter and it’s just a delight. Six Thirty is the smartest of us all. This s Bonnie Garmus’s debut novel and it’s such a delight it was nearly BotW yesterday. It’s had a lot of buzz so you should be able to get it really easily – and if you are going on holiday, it was definitely in the airport bookshops when we were there!

Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron by Julia Quinn and Violet Charles

This is much referenced in the later Julia Quinn novels, and now we finally have (a graphic novel version of) Miss Butterworth! In the books it’s a romantic and gothic novels – much play is made of its outlandish plot – a character is pecked to death by pigeons for example. And it’s everything you would expect – utter, utter madness, beautifully illustrated by Quinn’s sister Violet Charles. I enjoyed this and I’m so glad it got published – for reasons that will become clear if you read to the end.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

Benjamin and Edgar Bowen head out into Europe on a Grand Tour that their mother has devised for them to help them meet People of Quality so they can come back with an enhanced social standing to help the family. But when Benjamin meets Horace Lavelle, the brothers’ paths and goals diverge. This came out in 2020 – I got a copy from the work book sale a few weeks back and then realised that I had it in the NetGalley backlog as well. Oops. Anyway, I liked the premise and the writing style, but it was a bit too bleak for me in the end. I don’t do well with books that are hurtling towards disaster at the moment, even if they are dealing with expectations and society and judgment and constructs and stuff that I am interested in. I wanted it to be ok for Benjamin; but I knew it wouldn’t be. But historical fiction isn’t always neat and happy, and may be that is the point. I suspect that pre-pandemic I would have been more enthusiastic about it – so I suspect other people who are not in need of neat resolutions and/or happy endings at the moment may really enjoy it.

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

So this was one of the longest of the long runners on the still reading pile. And that’s partly because it was a paperback so didn’t go in the work rucksack but mostly because I managed to lose it for ages! Anyway, this is a legendary book about American football in the 1960s when a journalist managed to persuade the Detroit Lions to let him join their preseason training camp as a quarterback. Obviously a lot has changed in professional football since then, but this is a fascinating glimpse of how sportsmen trained and lived at the time as well as the workings of an NFL team. If you like sport it’s definitely worth looking out for.

Enjoy!

Recommendsday

Recommendsday: Nonfiction roundup

Yes, this was meant to have more than two books in it. Yes, I’ve been working on this for a while. Yes, it’s because I’ve been on a binge of re-reading old favourites and not reading a lot of non fiction. And then I used it for a book of the week. Looking at you Ask a Historian. So I’m going with the two, and then I will endeavour to pull myself together.

Worn by Sofi Thanhauser*

This is an interesting but also quite depressing look at clothing and the way that it is produced today. From fast fashion to microplastics and more, it covers all the issues that you know about from modern discourse about sustainability and clothes, but also explains the history of everything and how we got to this point. After reading it, I’m not sure that there is any fabric that isn’t in some way problematic and that it’s harder than I thought to be sustainable in your clothing choices. There aren’t a lot of solutions to that presented here – but as it’s a history of clothing perhaps that’s not a surprise!

Agatha Christie’s Poirot by Mark Aldridge

This is a really quite nifty look at Poirot through the ages, but manages to do that without actually giving away who any of the murderers are! I certainly hadn’t realised before reading this how long a duration the Poirot books were written over and that Christie kept him contemporary to when she was writing, rather than when she had started writing them. I suspect this is probably because I read a lot of these when I was in my early teens after watching some of the TV versions (which stay static in the inter war period) so didn’t notice/realise the time period differences in the books. I also enjoyed seeing the way that Poirot has been adapted for other mediums – and how many more of them there were than I was aware of, despite the fact that I’ve watched quite a lot over the years!

Voila. I have read some memoirs as well, but they sort of deserve there own post…

Happy Wednesday!

Book of the Week, historical, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Ask a Historian

I offer you a non fiction book this week – and after a few weeks where I’ve been recommending new (or newish) releases, here’s one that’s not quite as new a release because it came out in October…

Anyway, Greg Jenner’s latest book does exactly what it says on the tin – it answers fifty questions from history that are the sort of thing that most people actually want to know – as opposed to the sort of history people thing they ought to know. So you can find out how women dealt with their periods in the past – but also how historical periods got their names, where history starts and pre-history ends and why people are so obsessed with the Tudors (see also the question about how many nipples Anne Boleyn had) and then more horrible histories type stuff like how much horse manure was created each day in London or what the Flintstones got right. And because it’s fifty questions it makes for great bite sized reading – I read a couple of questions a night before bed.

As I’ve mentioned before, Greg and I overlapped at the same university and we did student radio at the same time although in different departments (I was news and he was speech) so we didn’t really hang out together although we were in the Langwith bar at the same time a few times after the weekly meeting. I really like the niche he’s carved himself as a public historian – he is incredibly knowledgable but wears it very lightly and his writing style is fun and accessible. And he’s the sort of history writer who wants to appear like he knows it all right off the top of his head – he’s not afraid to show his working and tell you which historians or other experts he spoke to in the main text and not hidden in the footnotes. And if there’s something you’re particularly interested in, there’s always a further reading list at the back – complete with notes about which are the more academic books as opposed to the more lay person friendly ones. As well as working for the grownups, I think this is also the sort of book that would appeal to a kid who read horrible histories and is now looking for something else fun and historical. It’s got a few swear words in it, but I think that teens and tweens will love that (and parents: they’ve heard all the words already at school, that ship has sailed)

My copy (complete with signed book plate) came from Big Green Books, but it should be fairly easy to get hold of from any reasonably sized book shop as well as on Kindle and Kobo. And if you read it and like it, then try Greg’s other books Dead Famous (definitely more for the adults) and A Millions Years in a Day. And as a bonus Greg reads his own audiobooks, which is always delightful – if you listen to his podcast You’re Dead to Me you know what he sounds like and it would be weird for it not to be him narrating!

Happy Reading!

bookshelfies

Bookshelfie: Hardback Non-fiction

This is another corner that is prime for reorganisation because it’s a bit fragmented and could be split up. You can see the edge of the fancy Pratchetts here – with my very old copy of Sourcery – and next along from that are the Virago hardbacks which will soon need more space because of those IWD sale purchases that I haven’t read yet. And so when it does this is likely to be where the space comes from.

I’m trying to get a corner of Hollywood and acting books and memoirs together and you can see the start of that here with the Antony Sher, Anne Helen Petersen, Helen O’Hara and Trumbo. I have more actor memoirs waiting to be read (or in the process of being read in the case of the Harvey Fierstein) so this will need some more space. Where that space comes from I don’t know. The bottom shelf of this bookcase (along from the fancy hardback pile) is a bit of a mishmash of non series Girls Own books, not all of which I’m sure I want to keep, so it may be that I relocate them to somewhere else, maybe sell some of them and use that space to make it the hardback collection – with the fiction ones from the other week and the non fictions. Of course then you have the issue around separating authors where I have mixed hardbacks and paperbacks but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

Anyway, also on this shelf are the Kate Andersen Browers – which I’ve mentioned before in various posts – and I’m fairly sure I also have The Residence somewhere, so I probably need to check on that and keep them all together. My suspicion is that one of them got loaned out at some point and they got split up in that shuffle. Taking of books on loan, this is where my copy of Tom and Lorenzo’s Legendary Children should be (who did I lend that to? I must track it down!) and that’s why Fabulousa is here. The History of Drag is on the shelf below with the Art/coffee table books so it’s similar proximity if not together-together. The Anne de Courcy is the one that seems to not belong here – but again that’s here because Chanel’s Riviera used to be here before it got loaned out – and while it was gone the space got used up and that got filed under the fancy hardback shelf.

Loaning books out and then using their shelf space for other things is a common problem here – currently sitting in front of this cabinet are Vanderbilt and Dead Famous which have just returned from my parents and which should been in this bookcase, if only there was room for them…

Book of the Week, memoirs, new releases

Book of the Week: Stories I Might Regret Telling You

It’s been a while since we had a memoir as a Book of the Week, but it makes a change and having already written about the new Mhairi McFarlane and with a lot of rereads on last week’s list, it’s really a good thing that I enjoyed reading this so much!

This was actually on my pre-order list, and as I mentioned in that Martha Wainwright is a singer songwriter who has had a special place in my heart for a long time now. In the book she describes her self as a “child of… twice over” as both of her parents are well known musicians, and added to that her brother Rufus had mainstream success at a time when she was also trying to make it in the music business. This memoir looks back at her life and the decisions she’s made and the people she knows. She comes from a fiercely competitive family, with lot of competing egos and careers and it is very, very interesting to get the inside scoop on all that – from her point of view at least.

And the title isn’t joking – she’s probably already regretted some of this, as an earlier manuscript of the book was used in her divorce. It’s probably the most honest and unvarnished memoir I’ve read since Viv Albertine’s first book. Wainwright is fairly self aware and with the benefit of time, can see patterns in her own life and how things have affected her. And of course her music has always been the same way – but there’s a difference between a three minute song and a 200 page piece of extended writing. As well as the career and her relationships with her siblings and parents, it also looks at the pressures of juggling a career and motherhood – which is not exactly new, but it does feel a bit different because the arrival of her oldest son was unexpected and traumatic and came at a really difficult time in her life – as her mother was dying of cancer – and when she was in the UK rather than at home in Canada. All in all, a really interesting read for a fan like me – and I suspect there’s enough here for people who aren’t fans too.

As I said, I had my copy preordered so got it on the day it came out two weeks ago – but Foyles now have signed bookplate editions with a couple of quid off and everything, so I’m almost regretting that. But I have a ticket to see her live in London later in the year, so maybe I’ll take it along to that. I do already have a signed ticket from the last time I saw her (at the small but brilliant Stables in Milton Keynes where I would have gone to see her again if it wasn’t for the fact that the evening she’s playing there is the same day as we’re seeing The Glass Menagerie in the West End. Why does this always happen?) so it’s not like I’m missing out really. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Anyway, it’s out now in hardback, Kindle, Kobo and audiobook read by Martha herself.

Happy Reading!

book round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: Interesting Women

Yes, yes, I’m a day late for International Women’s day, but for Recommendsday this week, I’ve gone for books about or by interesting women, because it seems fitting somehow. And yes, I meant to read a whole bunch of books ahead of writing this post but see all my previous notes about my inability to read stuff that’s not romance or mystery. I know. Best laid plans. But maybe I’ll have read some of them by next year!

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

Cover of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud

Anne Helen Petersen deconstructs eleven women who have been deemed unruly or too much in some way. It’s such a good insight into the forces that drive perception of women – and the boundaries that are still there and the celebrities pushing against them. I read this a couple of years back – and it was a BotW at the time -and as I said thenI didn’t always like all the personalities involved here then, and I like some of them even less now, but Peterson’s arguments are really compelling and I had to examine my own thinking and challenge myself a little about my own perceptions after reading this.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shelterly

This is honestly a fabulous book shining a light on a formidable group of women who fought against a system stacked against them and played a key role in the US side of the space race. It is really, really good. I’ve read books about the Mercury 7 and the early American Astronauts but I hadn’t really got any idea of the maths and actual process behind their achievements until I read this. And I am in awe of people who can figure out not just the maths of it, but which maths is actually needed because my brain absolutely does not work like that at all. Really, really good. And then you can watch the film afterwards and see how they adapted it!

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I can’t believe it’s nearly eight years since Maya Angelou died and I wrote about the impact her writing had on me. As I said back then this was on the extended reading list when I was studying Color Purple and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit at A Level. I can’t even begin to explain the impact it had on me (although I did try in that post). I bought the other volumes of Angelou’s autobiography and have taken them around with me from house to house ever since. The writing is amazing, her story – in this volume – is heartbreaking but she overcomes. if you haven’t already read this, you really should

First Women by Kate Anderson Brower

This group biography is six years old now, and my notes about it from when I read it (in early 2017) are that it is written from a point of view that seemed to be expecting that Hillary Clinton would win, but if you want a group biography of the First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama during their time in the White House and afterwards this is a good place to start. Very well researched and very interesting.

Happy Wednesday!

book round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: Vanderbilt-adjacent books

As I mentioned in yesterday’s BotW post, you may well come away from reading Vanderbilt wanting to know more about some of the people and situations in it. And I can help with that because this is not my first rodeo with this family or with American High Society in the Gilded age. So for today’s recommendsday, I’ve got a selection of books that tie-in in some way with some of the events or people that feature in Anderson Cooper’s book.

Lets start with the non-fiction, because that’s probably the short of the two lists. First of all is Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clarke Newell. I talked about this in my non-fiction Rich People problems post a couple of years ago. It’s the investigation into the life of a reclusive heiress, who wasn’t photographed for decades and who lived in a hospital for twenty years, despite owning mansions on both coasts of the US. Huguette Clark isn’t a Vanderbilt, but her family money was made at the same sort of time, she moved in the same circles and her family also had a penchant for building giant mansions. It’s mind boggling and she only died a couple of years back. Also mentioned in that 2019 post is The Unfinished Palazzo by Judith Mackerell, which features as one of its leading characters Peggy Guggenheim. Again, not a Vanderbilt, but another one of those big American families that you may well have heard of. Off the back of reading Vanderbilt, I’ve ordered myself Anne de Courcy’s The Husband Hunters, which is about the thirty year period where the British aristocracy looked across the pond to replenish their family coffers with American money by marrying American heiresses. I shall report back, but in the interim, may I suggest the tangentially related The Fishing Fleet, also by Anne de Courcy about the women sent out from Britain to India to try and snag a husband. Lastly, you can read Consuelo Vanderbilt’s own memoir – The Gitter and the Gold but I slogged through it last year, so you don’t have to. It’s a fascinating story, but she (and her ghost writer) aren’t the best at telling it and I definitely don’t suggest you read it first, because she doesn’t give you a lot of context about who the people are that she’s talking about, so you may well find yourself utterly lost or googling every few pages!

Let’s move on to fiction – and more particularly fictionalised real-lives, a corner of fiction that I really enjoy. In the later stages of the book, we see more of Anderson Cooper’s mother’s life. Gloria Vanderbilt was the subject of a notorious custody case when she was a child, but as an adult she was part of the group of women who Truman Capote called his Swans. I’ve read a couple of novels about this group – which probably means there are a stack more that I don’t know about. I read The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin back in 2016, before I knew much more about Truman Capote than you can get from the film Capote. And that fact made the reveal of how that little group blew up work really well although I was somewhat hazy about where the real life stuff ended and the fiction began! I read Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott a couple of years later – about the same group and the same events – and that was a BotW. In Swan Song you know what Truman has done quite early and you really see the consequences of his actions for the women concerned – you just need to stick with it beyond the initial few chapters which are a bit confounding until you figure out what is going on.

Downton Abbey prompted a surge of books set in the Gilded Age or featuring American heiresses, both in historical fiction and straight up historical romances. In the former category I’ve read My Last Duchess (known in the US as The American Heiress) by Daisy Godwin who is the writer behind the TV series Victoria. Cora Cash is American heiress whose marriage is going really quite badly and who is also having to navigate British High Society with very little help and a lot of people willing her to fail. I preferred The Fortune Hunter which she wrote a couple of years later and which is about Sisi, the Empress of Austria, but that doesn’t really fit this post does it? And then there’s Theresa Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman, which is about Alva Vanderbilt and her quest to be queen of society. I found it tricky because everyone in it is really quite unlikeable – and it doesn’t have the humour that can make reading about horrible people fun, but I know that other people enjoyed it more than I did.

On the romance front, Eloisa James’s My American Duchess was one of the first to hit this trend – it came out in 2016 and I reviewed it for Novelicious back in the day. It’s got a heroine who has already jilted two fiancés and a hero who wants to marry a Proper English woman. You know where this is going, except that it’s more than just the fish-out-of-water, comedy of manners, forbidden love novel that you expect from the blurb. I haven’t reread it since, but at the time I said that it wouldn’t be a bad place to start if you want to dip your toe into the historical romance genre, and I would stand by that, because Eloisa James in this period was one of the most consistent of the romance genre. Joanna Shupe has written a couple of series set in Gilded Age New York, but my mileage with her varies a little – she tends towards more melodrama than I like and her characters tend to do abrupt about faces that annoyment. But I did quite like Baron, from the Knickerbocker Club series, which features a fake medium who needs to seduce a railroad millionaire in order to stop him from exposing her latest scheme and also Prince of Broadway from the Uptown Girls series which has a casino owner and the daughter of a family he is trying to ruin financially. More recently there’s Maya Rodale’s An Heiress to Remember (published in 2020) which sees an American heiress return to New York after her divorce to try and claim her family’s department store for herself. Only trouble is that it’s being run by the man whose heart she broke when she married a duke. It’s the third in a series – but I haven’t read the others, so I can’t speak to whether they work as well as this one did (for me at least).

And finally, there have also been a couple of murder mystery series set in and around the mansions that the Vanderbilts and their rivals built in Newport, Rhode Island. Of the ones that I’ve read, the best was Murder at Beachwood by Alyssa Maxwell, which is a historical mystery set in 1896 with a debutant heroine who is a fictional cousin of the Vanderbilts (an actual Vanderbilt connection! yay me!) who ends up trying to solve a murder after a baby is abandoned on her doorstep. It’s bit meladramatic – but that works with the time setting. It’s also the third in a series, and writing this has reminded me that I haven’t read the other two and I’m not sure enough of the Anderson Cooper book is set in Rhode Island for me to be able to use it for the state if I do the 50 states challenge again this year.

So there you are, a monster Recommendsday post with – hopefully – something for everyone. Happy reading!