Book of the Week, memoirs, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Educated

Well. I’m going to preface this with a Not For Everyone warning, and I’m going to depart from my recent well trodden path of crime and romance recommendations and go with a nonfiction memoir. And I’m only about four years behind, which is fairly par for the course for me to be honest as you all well know.

Educated is Tara Westover’s memoir about growing up in a doomsday prepping, fanatically religious household in Idaho and about how she struggled free. Her father is convinced that the end of days is coming, and that the government is plotting against him. This means that Tara is home schooled, but home school actually often involves working in the family junkyard. Her father also doesn’t believe in doctors or the medical profession in general and so injuries and illnesses go untreated. Eventually Tara manages to escape to university and finds herself in a world that she is ill equipped to deal with and lacking basic knowledge that others take for granted. But conflict with her family remains and she has to find a way to navigate that.

This needs all the warnings. I don’t think it’s giving too much to say that there is an incredible amount of violence in this – and whatever injuries you’re imaging went untreated, you are not imagining anything bad enough. I had been warned by my sister and I still wasn’t prepared. So go into this expecting: child abuse, child neglect, sibling violence, bullying and pretty much any behaviour that triggers a mandatory child protection referral if a teacher were to suspect it was going on. But of course Tara wasn’t in school so, yeah. It just goes on.

But if you want to know more about survivalists and some of the extremes of some of the offshoots of Mormonism then this will give you that. And some. Tara Westover has built a fresh life for herself and, spoiler alert, has managed to build healthy relationships – some of which are with some of her family. Unsurprisingly perhaps, her parents disagree with her descriptions of her childhood – and her mother has in fact written her own book in response to this, which she has self-published and in doing so has given all the real names of the people who Tara had given pseudonyms to. If you fancy an interesting half hour, after you have finished Educated, you can go and read the reviews of that on goodreads. I’m not sure you need to do any more than that because I think you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions from that.

Now I’m fairly sure my copy of Educated came from NetGalley, but so long ago now that it’s not even funny. You can get Educated everywhere. It has been on all the lists, been recommended by everyone who you could want to recommend it. I’ve seen it in pretty much every bookshop and some supermarkets too. And of course it’s on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

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

The Week in Books: November 22 – November 28

So I can confirm, that this was the week where I realised that I have just over a month until the end of the year and a lot of states to still tick off from my Read the USA challenge this year. Thus, a bunch of books got abandoned midway through while I started a scramble to try and get some more states ticked off. And I actually did ok – with three more off the list and some stuff ordered for some of the other missing states so things are feeling a bit more possible again. But I can feel a theme for the next few weeks reading coming along…

Read:

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R King

Fangirl Vol 1: The Manga by Rainbow Rowell, Sam Maggs and Gabi Nam

Educated by Tara Westover*

Snowbound Squeeze by Tawna Fenske

The Ex Hex by Erin Stirling

If the Fates Allow by Rainbow Rowell

Model Home by J Courtney Sullivan

Started:

Blood at the Bookies by Simon Brett

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

The Tormentors by George Bellairs

As I’ve already mentioned it at the top, I can’t lie – there have been a few books bought this week because of the aforementioned reading challenge and the fact that the tbr bookshelf isn’t going to help me with some of my missing states! I did pick up books for a few of them via Kindle Unlimited though, so that’s something right?!

Bonus photo: some comfort cooking for the picture this week, because there’s nothing like coming home from a sunny holiday into top temperatures of 4 degrees to make you want to eat something that will stick to you ribs…

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: November 15 – November 21

So I have a confession. I’ve been on holiday again. I valiantly went to Gran Canaria for a week to help Him Indoors use up some leave before the end of the calendar year. And it was delightful. Very chilled out and lovely and warm. I also did a lot of reading. I’m making good progress on the Barbara Pym biography – but it’s very long, and I have been reading it on the iPad and my kindle wouldn’t hook up to the Wifi to sync so I couldn’t read it on the beach – so it’s not finished yet. And I didn’t take Almost English and Heroine Complex with me so they’re still ongoing (since last holiday – eek!). But I did read really quite a lot and lots of it good. Plenty of stuff to talk about. I just need to figure out when I’m going to do it. This week is back to normal really – I just need to catch up on everything I’ve missed in the last week… wish me luck!

Read:

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville

IQ by Joe Ide 

Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant*

Wish Upon a Cowboy by Donna Grant*

Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris*

Death Under the Dryer by Simon Brett

Stormy Weather by Carl Hiassen

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Shucked Apart by Barbara Ross

Started:

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R King

Theroux The Keyhole by Louis Theroux

The Tormentors by George Bellairs

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

I have been very restrained and haven’t bought anything since the two books at the airport last weekend. Check me out!

Bonus photo: Of course it’s from the holiday. What else would it be. Here’s the lagoon by the beach at Maspalomas. And it was as lovely and sunny as this looks.

Lagoon and sand dunes with glorious blue sky

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: November 8 – November 14

For some reason I’m on a mega murder mystery kick at the morning  even more than usual I mean. I’m putting it down to there being lots of good options in Kindle Unlimited at the moment, but it could just be that it’s autumn and I want to be curled up on the sofa with a good book and the mystery options have appealed more than the romance ones so far!

Read:

These Names Make Clues by E R C Lorac

The Body in the Attic by Judi Lynn

Murder in the Basement by Anthony Berkeley

Resorting to Murder ed Martin Edwards

The Stabbing at the Stables by Simon Brett

What Child Is This by Rhys Bowen

Take the Lead by Jessica Simpson

Started:

Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant*

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville

Death Under the Dryer by Simon Brett

IQ by Joe Ide 

The Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris*

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Two actual books and an ebook. Positively restrained!

Bonus photo: somewhat unoriginal this week I have to say, but here’s a misty morning in London.

Fitzroy Square on a misty morning

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: November 1 – November 7

Such a busy week. And sort of more like the old days in some ways, in that I stayed three nights down in London – except that the nights were in a Travelodge not a Youth Hostel (the hostels are still doing one booking one room and the only room they had left had 8 beds so the hotel was cheaper!) and there were two parties in the evenings. Less like the old days in that I managed to fall over on Wednesday lunchtime and turn one ankle over and graze the opposite knee, leaving me with one ankle larger than the other, a limp and the laughter of the builders who saw it happen ringing in my ears. Still at least my tights weren’t ruined – that would have made my embarrassment even more acute. It turns out there is something to be said for expensive opaques after all. Any way, all the partying had a bit of an effect on the reading. Never mind, at least nothing is broken. Oh and if you missed them last week – don’t forget the Mini Reviews from October!

Read:

The Witness at the Wedding by Simon Brett

Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

A Surprise for Christmas edited by Martin Edwards

Isn’t it Bromantic by Lyssa Kay Adams

A Cup of Joe by Annabeth Adams

Started:

The Stabbing at the Stables by Simon Brett

These Names Make Clues by E R C Lorac

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Nothing – except for an ebook copy of The Unknown Ajax, which I already own in paperback, hardback and audiobook so can hardly be said to count…

Bonus photo: I could have used a picture of my injured ankle, but no one wants to see my Foot of Many Colours, so instead, here’s my Sunday night out at Jools Holland – a gig I booked two years ago and that should have happened a year ago but also the reason why I didn’t finish These Names Are Clues on Sunday…

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: October 25 – October 31

So I’m getting there on getting that still reading list down. The sticking points are the ones with physical copies – and the fact that my bag is full enough for the commute without adding one of them in. Excuses, excuses. And as today is the first of the month, a bumper crop of posts this week – we have Book of the Week tomorrow, mini reviews on Wednesday and October Stats on Thursday. Check me out with the organisation. I both love and hate when the first of the month falls on a Monday.

Read:

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi*

All The Feels by Olivia Dade

The Black Pages by Nnedi Okorafor

Stealing the Crown by T P Fielden

The Hanging in the Hotel by Simon Brett

Pirate King by Laurie R King

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan*

2043: Merman I Should Turn to Be by Nisi Shawl

Started:

The Witness at the Wedding by Simon Brett

Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Still reading:

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

A pre-order arrived – but I don’t think I actually bought anything…

Bonus photo: a misty Tuesday morning in London last week – as previously mentioned, this is Fitzroy Square – sometime home to the offices of Maisie Dobbs in Jaqueline Winspear’s series.

Fitzroy Square in London

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: October 18 – October 24

Am I reading the Fetherings series at a pace that looks like it could be a classic Verity Binge? Why yes. Should I be reading other stuff? Almost certainly. Do I care? Well, slightly, but not enough to exert any will power! Another busy week as well – with two more trips to the theatre (!) and a bit of socialising too. How did I use to fit all this in?!

Read:

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman*

The Torso in the Town by Simon Brett

One More Christmas at the Castle by Trisha Ashley*

Murder in the Museum by Simon Brett

Peggy of the Chalet School by Elinor M Brent Dyer

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Marilyn Monroe by FX Feeney

Started:

The Hanging in the Hotel by Simon Brett

Stealing the Crown by T P Fielden

Still reading:

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan*

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Pirate King by Laurie R King

I mean I was going to say that I bought less books than last week, but that might be a lie, as I put in two more preorders, the Chalet School on the list was a preorder that I ended up reading straight away and another preoreder arrived to. And on top of that it was a good week for cheap kindle books…

Bonus photo: This is from &Juliet on Monday night, which was truly the most astounding musical I have seen in a long time. I have a lot of thoughts, upper most of which is that I need to go again because David Bedella was off when we saw it!

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: October 11 – October 17

Did I finish all the books I had on the go from last week? No. Did I make progress on them? Yes. Did I spent a weekend in London doing activities rather than on my sofa reading? Absolutely. I regret nothing. I’ve absolutely had a blast.

Read:

A Time to Die by Hilda Lawrence*

Death on the Downs by Simon Brett

Fear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson

The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is Your Time by Ruby Bridges

Started:

The Torso in the Town by Simon Brett

Still reading:

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman*

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan*

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Pirate King by Laurie R King

One More Christmas at the Castle by Trisha Ashley*

Four actual books because I went into many bookshops and ended up buying stuff in the British Library shop, Skoob books and Foyles. And a few ebooks as well earlier in the week. What can I say. I just can’t help myself.

Bonus photo: one of the real life things I did was the Paddington exhibition at the British Library which I thoroughly thoroughly recommend. And the theatre was good too.

A model Paddington sitting outside the door to Windsor gardens

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: October 4 – October 10

Am I making progress at finishing the books I started on holiday? Well sort of, but not in anyway you can tell from this post. Is it stopping me starting other new stuff? Absolutely not. Is the list of books on the go getting out of hand? Just a touch. Did I also end up listening to sections of audiobooks I’ve listened to many times before? Yes absolutely (Gaudy Night, Crocodile on the Sandbank, Busman’s Honeymoon). Welcome to my (reading) life. 

Read:

V for Vengence by Sue Grafton

Death of a Tin God by George Bellairs*

The Littlest Guide by C R Mansell

The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett

Lila by Naima Coster

Started:

One More Christmas at the Castle by Trisha Ashley*

A Time to Die by Hilda Lawrence*

Still reading:

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman*

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan*

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne*

Pirate King by Laurie R King

Bonus photo: I’m attempting to develop green fingers. I’m having mixed success, but have a picture of my downstairs window sill, where I’m attempting to sprout (is that the right word?) a baby spider plant from Cecil the Spider Plant, and an aloe vera that I’ve managed to keep alive for long enough that I’ve just ordered a fancy pot for it to live in – which is tempting fate to an extraordinary degree.

A baby spiderplant in water and a small aloe vera plant on a window sill.

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, new releases, reviews

Book of the Week: Ambush or Adore

I’m going to start this review with an apology: Ambush or Adore is a fan service piece from Gail Carriger, so really it will only work for you if you’ve already read a lot of Gail Carriger’s works. But it was also the only book I read last week that made me cry and it was the book I enjoyed the most. So sorry to the rest of you – but you have mini reviews coming up tomorrow to help ease your pain and if reading this makes you want to read some of the Carrigerverse I will provide pointers on that at the end.

Agatha Woosnoss is the greatest intelligence gatherer of her generation, but you wouldn’t know it to look at her. In fact, so skilled is she that you probably wouldn’t be able to find her in the room to look at her, even if you knew she was there. Pillover Plumleigh-Teignmott is a professor of ancient languages at Oxford. He’s also probably the only person who has always seen Agatha, even if she doesn’t realise it. Ambush or Adore spans more than forty years and follows these two from school through Middle Age, so you can see what happened to them after Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Academy crashed.

If you don’t know what Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Academy was (or how it was able to crash) this book probably isn’t going to be for you. Yes it’s a slightly star crossed friends to lovers story across the decades but really this is for the fans. It starts with the flight home at the end of Reticence, skips back to the end of Manners and Mutiny and fills in the gaps of what happened to two members of the Finishing School posse across the course of the entire Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol Series. There are guest appearances from everyone’s favourite vampire* and some of the other finishing school crew. There are references to the ones you don’t see. There are nods to the events of the series. It has pretty much everything I wanted and I loved it. As I said at the top, it made me cry with all the heartache and yearning but it’s also incredibly tender and there is such a satisfying resolution to it all.

I had my copy of Ambush and Adore preordered but you can buy direct from Gail Carriger as well as from Kindle and Kobo and the audiobook will arrive some time in the near future.. There is no physical edition at the moment, but it will be included in a hardcover omnibus of the Delightfully Deadly series that it’s a part of early next year. If you have not read any Gail Carriger before and now fancy reading about a steampunk Victorian Britain with vampires, werewolves and a society of lady intelligencers, you have two options: chronological order or publication order. I’ve written a whole post about the series, but in short chronological order puts the Young Adult Finishing School series first, publication see you start with Soulless and the Parasol Protectorate series, then go backwards to Finishing School and then forwards again to Prudence, which is set a decade or so after the end of the Parasol Protectorate. I prefer chronological because you get some delightful reveals, but that may also be because that’s the order I read them in. How can I really tell because things are only a surprise once! Whatever you try it’ll be fun.

Happy Reading!

* Lord Akeldama of course. Who else could possibly be.