books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: January 23 – January 29

So I’m realising that the problem with some of the long runners (I’ll let you work out which) is that they are books I need to concentrate on, and also a bit miserable. And this means that I need to be in the right mood for them (and one of them is also a hardback) and my brain is a bit frazzled right now, so it’s been happy to carry on down the Meg Langslow binge reread (only one left now!) as well as romance. I’m working on it though. I’ll get there in the end.

Read:

The Three Dahlias by Katy Watson

Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh

Missing Christmas by Kate Clayborn

Twelve Jays of Christmas by Donna Andrews

Vintage Murder by Ngaio Marsh

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn*

Round Up the Usual Peacocks by Donna Andrews

Started:

Irish Coffee Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross*

Still reading:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

The Empire by Michael Ball*

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe

Exes and O’s by Amy Lea*

Well I may have picked up a couple of books (one ebook, one actual book) but that’s much, much better than last week so I’m counting it as a total win!

Bonus photo: A new plant, to soothe my wounded heart after I killed off a couple a few weeks back. Say hi to Fern-mino!

*next to a book book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley.

romance, series

Romance series: Chance of a Lifetime

With a new Kate Claybourn novel out this week, it seemed like the perfect time to talk about her Chance of a Lifetime series which I read over the last couple of months – and yes, like so many things it would have been quicker if I hadn’t gone on the Meg Langslow rampage. So sue me.

So this is a trilogy featuring three friends who win a lottery jackpot after buying a ticket on a whim. Each book features one of the women finding love and a happily ever after. Beginners Luck is about Kit, a materials scientist who has spent her adult life building herself the stability that her chaotic childhood didn’t have. She uses some of her lottery win to buy a fixer-upper to turn into her first real home. But standing in her way is Ben who has returned to his home town to try and recruit Kit for a corporate gig. Book two is Luck of the Draw, featuring lawyer Zoe who uses her winnings to quit the job she hates and to try and make it right for some of the people whose cases she was involved in. Aiden’s brother died in a wrongful death case that Zoe worked on – but when she turns up at the family home to try to make amends instead of sending her away he asks her to pretend to be his fiancée to try and help him buy a campground as part of his brother’s legacy. And finally Best of Luck is Greer who uses her winnings to go back to college and try and finish the education that she missed out on and to prove to her overprotective family that she’s independent. But when she discovers a problem that might stop her graduating. Alex is a world renowned photographer and Kit’s brother – and back in town for her wedding – and finds himself agreeing to help Greer with the photography projects that she needs to complete to get her degree.

I had trouble picking my favourite – I lurch between Kit and Zoe, but maybe give it to Zoe because the set up for her romance is so difficult that I wasn’t sure it was going to be fixable. I mentioned the fact that Ali Hazelwood has blurbed Georgie, All Along yesterday and if you like heroines with jobs in Stem, definitely go for Kit and Beginner’s Luck. I liked Greer’s story – but I did mostly want to strangle her family who take infantilising her to whole new levels, even if there is some reason for it. Of course there is a chance that I came to Greer’s story having read too much Meg Langslow where there is a tight knit family, but it all has a humour about it, that these don’t have so it may be a me thing.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a romance trilogy to read, these would be a good choice. Equally if you’ve just read the new Kate Claybourn and want more – these would be a good place to go to. As you’ll see I managed to buy one of the series twice, but I got them all on offer so I don’t begrudge it. And it made me laugh that I managed not to have a matching set despite owning one of them twice. Anyway, these are easily available from your ebook vendor of choice – Kindle has the three book omnibus for £3.99 at the moment, but the single books are £1.99 for book one and three or 99p for book two as I write this.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: January 16 – January 22

So last week was the annual January trip, and this year we stayed in the UK and did lots of sightseeing, rather than going abroad and sitting on a beach. So the list isn’t quite as long as it can be for a week away, but we had a blast, I’m super relaxed and I have a bunch of new ideas too. So a total win really.

Read:

The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews

This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle

Murder Most Fowl by Donna Andrews

Death Spins the Wheel by George Bellairs

The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland*

Started:

Exes and O’s by Amy Lea*

The Three Dahlias by Katy Watson

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn*

Still reading:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

The Empire by Michael Ball*

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe

Oh an absolute tonne. Nine just on the holiday, and then a couple more before we left… Oopsies.

Bonus photo: out of control fringe, that can’t be entirely blamed on the wind, but here I am at Lands End last week, hopefully looking as happy as I felt (also quite cold).

*next to a book book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley.

Best of...

The Year in Rereading

This time last year I wrote a post about revisiting Gaudy Night. And in 2022 I included rereads in my total (for the first time?). And it’s been a year of revisiting old favourites. So it’s time to take a bit of a look back over one of the big themes of my reading year.

Firstly it should be said that I’m still listening to Gaudy Night fairly regularly. I could probably recite along with some of it by this point, but I’ve definitely done all the Peter and Harriet books a couple of times this year and I think I’ve listened to the whole series – just not as much. I’ve also worked my way back through many of the Alleyn mysteries but this time in audio. I haven’t read those anywhere near as much so it’s been interesting hearing them and noticing new things. I’d done some in abridged versions before but I’ve switched to the unabridged in the main now. Having watched all the BBC Miss Marples again this year, I’ve reread a few of them to remind myself of the changes in the adaptations. The same actually for some of the Alleyns and a Poirot or two after I read the book about the series.

This year I have also reread the entire Phryne Fisher series and binged two thirds of the Meg Langslow series in December alone. I’ve also done most of the Amelia Peabody series again in audio and all the Vicky Blisses (not in audio!). I’ve also revisited a bunch of Georgette Heyers as new audio versions have been published of ones that had narrators I hated before (like Devil’s Cub) or just plain weren’t available (Masqueraders).

A lot of the audiobook revisits have been because I’ve spent many more nights away from home in 2022 than I did in 2021 and so they’ve been my regular listens to get to sleep. I am very bad with silence at the best of times and I mostly stay in hostel dorms and I like to have something to listen to to block out what ever is happening in them. And that something needs to be something that I don’t have to concentrate too hard on and that I’m not so interested in that it will keep me awake. This means more often than not it’s something I’ve read before at least once.

And for that reason I expect the rereading to continue in 2023 – I’m in a hostel for most of this week because of train strikes so I expect I’ll be back to an old favourite to drown out the sound of the traffic on the Euston road!

Book of the Week, graphic novels

Book of the Week: Death of a Necromancer

So the first BotW of the new year is the last book that I finished in the old one. Which is sort of cool I think. Anyway, this is a slightly more obscure pick too so that’s fun as well.

Death of a Necromancer is a graphic novel that follows the town of Tibbin and their resident Necromancer Dr Victoria Hedgewood. At the start of the story we see Ralph resurrected after a work place incident and then we jump ahead to a town that seems to be almost more zombie than living. But what do the newly living dead lose in the transition? And is it worth is? Ralph is becoming less and less sure, but Victoria and the town seem dead set on going full steam ahead.

I loved Nick Bryan’s Hobson and Choi mystery novels a few years back and have been watching his graphic novels ever since. Death of a Necromancer is a really engaging read – the story is clever and the art is really, really attractive and (this may sound weird) I love the lettering. This was the subject of a kickstarter campaign to get published – which I backed and that’s how I got my copy (and some extra goodies) – so I don’t actually know how easy this is to get hold of. I know Nick is selling it at conventions he goes to, but beyond that, I’m not sure. But if it does come your way, it’s worth a look.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 19 – December 25

It’s Boxing Day here at the end of a very emotional Christmas week. Big changes at work just before Christmas mean a longer Christmas break for me than usual, so I’m clinging on to that. And Christmas Day was lovely. I’m still on a Meg Langslow binge though… will I ever finish those long runners?!

Read:

To Get to the Other Side by Kelly Ohlert*

The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews

Some Like It Hawk by Donna Andrews

The Many Dates of Indigo by Amber D Samuel*

Hen of the Baskervilles by Donna Andrews

Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews

Started:

The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland*

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

Still reading:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

The Empire by Michael Ball*

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe

Several books received (watch this space) and the new Rivers of London graphic novel but that’s it…

Bonus photo: what else could it be but a Christmas tree?

*next to a book book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley.

Christmas books, detective, Forgotten books, Recommendsday

Book of the Week: The White Priory Murders

As you may have noticed yesterday, last week was very much a week of Meg Langslow. But I did also finish a murder mystery with Christmas in the subtitle: which is a perfect timing as everyone* starts to finish work for the holidays.

A glamorous Hollywood actress is back in London. Marcia Tate has returned to try and get her revenge on the theatre community who snubbed her before she was a star of the silver screen. But when she’s found dead in a pavilion in the grounds of the author of the play she’s due to star in, a murder investigation starts and Sir Henry Merrivale is called in to investigate. This is a variation on a locked room mystery, where snow plays a key role. There is a large cast of suspects but it seems impossible for any of them – or anyone – to have committed the crime. And yet someone did.

Every year the British Library adds another few seasonal mysteries to their Christmas collection, and this is one of this year’s additions but despite the subtitle, the snow is the only really festive element – I think A Winter Mystery would probably be a better description. Carter Dickson is one of John Dickson Carr’s other pen names, and like his other books all the clues are there for you to figure it out if you know where to look – and he’ll give you the page numbers to prove it! Dickson’s writing style is not my favourite of that group of crime writers, but it’s a clever enough impossible puzzle that I didn’t mind too much.

I got my copy via Kindle Unlimited, which means you won’t be able to get it on Kobo at the moment, but you could also buy it in paperback from the British Library bookshop – it’s too late for posting before Christmas, but you could pop in to the shop if you’re in London, and I’m sure it’ll be on the Christmas mystery table in the larger bookshops.

Happy Reading!

*everyone else – I’m still at work until Friday night, and it’s a really busy week.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 12 – December 18

Ah. Oh dear. Well it’s not really oh dear because I have enjoyed myself. But I have been burning through the Meg Langslow reread – because I was still poorly (or at least not 100 percent) and it was so cold outside and they’re such lovely comfort reads. Of course this means I have no idea what I’m writing about tomorrow! Never mind. It’s nearly Christmas and you’re allowed a treat!

Read:

A Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh

No Nest for the Wicket by Donna Andrews

The Penguin who Knew too Much by Donna Andrews

Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews

Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews

Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews

The White Priory Murders by Carter Dickson

Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews

Started:

Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe

Still reading:

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

The Empire by Michael Ball*

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd

The Many Dates of Indigo by Amber D Samuel*

To Get to the Other Side by Kelly Ohlert*

Well, I bought a stack of second hand copies in a cozy crime series and they arrived – does that count? And I bought the Patrick Radden Keefe because it was on a kindle deal.

Bonus photo: shamelessly using one of mum’s picture this week as I barely left the house – but here is the Dachshund in the snow – I treated myself to a Christmas hoodie this year that says “Dachshund through the snow” so I’m going to claim this is a festive photo too!

*next to a book book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley.

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!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: September 26 – October 2

Another hectic week. I’m working on that huge ongoing list and I will get there eventually. If only so many of them weren’t hardbacks! Still at least September is over. Please, please, please can October be a better month. Please.

Read:

Dead Room Face by Simon Brett

The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger

To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear

A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

The Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

The American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear

A Visible Man by Edward Enninful*

Started:

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Still reading:

Godemersham Park by Gill Hornby*

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Another Time, Another Place by Jodi Taylor

Going With the Boys by Judith Mackrell

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra*

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Yeah – at least six. But I’m not counting. I deserve a treat.

Bonus photo: I feel like my empty pill packets for the antivirals make a good metaphor for how empty I feel after September!

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley. ** indicates it was an advance copy from a source other than NetGalley.