bingeable series, romance, series

Bingeable series: Centre Stage

Now it’s not been that long since Acting Up was Book of the Week, so I wouldn’t normally be writing about the series so soon but, and this is a big but, they are all in Kindle Unlimited at the moment (Adele Buck says for the next few months) so I’m writing about them now!

These are a series of connected romance novels about actors and acting related people. I’ve already written plenty about Acting Up, but Method Acting features a character you only see through emails in that, Alicia, who is performing in a Shakespeare play in Washington when she meets political lobbyist Colin, Acting Lessons is about James and Frederick who we first see having a summer fling in Acting Up and Fast Acting is Kathleen who we met in Method Acting working with Alicia and Russell the law professor who is friends with Colin.

I read them all in order – you’ll see that I binged three in a week – but you could just pick out your favourite trope and start with that – Acting Up is friends to lovers/secret crush, Method acting is bad first impression, Acting Lessons is second chance and Fast Acting is destination wedding Fling that turns into something more. They have fun banter and nice acting and backstage details. I also really enjoyed that Method Acting was set in Washington because it mentioned a bunch of places that I visited when I was there (how is it four years ago!) and I love that sort of thing.

They were a bargain when I picked them up – but they’re even more of a bargain now if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member. Now that does mean that they’re not on other platforms at the moment, but they will be back there are the KU exclusivity is up. Meanwhile, if you’ve already read all of these, Adele’s new book Handy For You – which is the second in her All for You series – came out this week too.

book round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: September Quick Reviews

As previously mentioned September was a very strange month, with a somewhat truncated reading list, so I don’t have a lot to talk about this month at all. After all I skipped a whole bunch of Books of the Weeks for various reasons. And so there are only two quick reviews for you today – sorry about that.

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

When Bee gets her dream job working at NASA, her celebrations are cut short when she discovers that the co-lead on her project is Levi, her grad school arch-nemesis. When she arrives in Houston, her equipment is missing and the other staff are ignoring her, but maybe Levi might be on her side after all? I read this in The Week of Shingles and although I didn’t love it the way that I loved The Love Hypothesis, it was still exactly the book that I needed to read at the time. I’m a little fed up of Teeny Tiny heroines and Great Big Heroes – but that may be because I am 5’10” and no one is ever picking me up and carrying me around! I will never be tired of competency porn though, and Bee (and Levi) are very, very good at their jobs. I was expecting one strand of the plot to be A Bigger Thing in the resolution, but actually the whole of the end wrapped up very quickly – but it was very satisfying.

Bats in the Belfry by E C R Lorac

I’ve recommended a few E C R Lorac books now – and this is another good one. For some reason I don’t have a photo of the British Library Crime Classic edition that I read, so you’ll have to make do with this Crime Club cover that the kindle edition has. Anyway this is the story of the mysterious disappearance of Bruce Attleton. Bruce had a dazzling start to his literary career but has fizzled ever since. He’s been receiving threatening phone calls and then when he’s suddenly called away to Paris he seems to vanish completely – until his suitcase is discovered in an artists studio in Notting Hill. Inspector MacDonald is the man in charge of figuring out what has happened. It’s clever and intricate and worth sticking with – also it appears I’ve read three of these that are next to each other in the series – this comes immediately after These Names Make Clues, which comes after Post After Post Mortem.

That’s it. I said there were only two. I don’t even have a lot of links for the month either, so rather than depress myself further at how badly September went, let’s end it here.

Happy Wednesday everyone.

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

bingeable series, Series I love

Series I Love: London Celebrities

I’ve been running a theatrical theme for a couple of weeks now so I thought I’d start the bank holiday weekend with a bingeable series of romance with a theatrical theme.

Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities books are a series of enemies to lovers type romances set in London – initially in the world of West End theatre but in the fourth and fifth in the series expanding a little to include asetting at a country house and then two rival TV producers and. They tend to have sunshiney heroines and grumpy heroes who are actually big softies underneath and plenty of charming banter. In fact several of them were Books of the Week when they came out and I’ve mentioned them all at some point before, but now I’m finally taking them as a group.

They’re all set in the same world and there is character cross over but – like many romance series – each story is selfcontained and features a different couple. Act Like It has a fake relationship between two co-stars who can’t stand each other to try and help a bad boy fix his image problem. Pretty Face has an actress who’s been pigeonholed as her man-stealing period drama character taking on a West End role and fighting with the director who doesn’t want to give her the part. Making Up has an understudy who takes over the leading role and a make-up artist who is working on thes show after his professional reputation took an unfair battering. The Austen Playbook has a daughter of an acting dynasty taking a role in a new Jane Austen TV series being filmed at the ancestral home of a descendant of someone her grandmother had an affair with. And Headliners has two rival TV presenters who are forced to work together on morning TV to save the show and save their careers. And don’t they all sound delicious? I mean I started reading the series again just to write this post, and that’s a bit of a disaster in itself to be honest, because I have a long list of things I’m meant to be reading and these aren’t on it.

You should be able to get them on all the usual ebook platforms – there’s even an omnibus edition of the first three if you’re feeling ready to commit. Also Lucy Parker’s newest novel Battle Royal – which was a Book of the Week here almost exactly a year ago – is £1.99 at the moment. No news yet on when the sequel to that one is coming though…

book round-ups, fiction, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: (Late) Summer Holiday Reading

Yes, this is very late now, but it’s a bank holiday weekend coming in the UK this week and last week I had three nights away from home so I *finally* pulled my finger out and read the rest of the books that I had been thinking about for this post. I know – I started writing this in late June, but I got distracted by the rereads and exciting new series. And some of the books I was going to put into this ended up in other posts, or as books of the week (Acting Up I’m looking at you) I am such a mood reader. I don’t even know why I try to make lists and plans of what to read when. And yes, this is all romance or romantic comedy or adjacent genres, but that is what I like to read on a sun lounger. Sue me. As usual, if it has an * next to the title if came from NetGalley, otherwise I paid for it with my very own money. And you’ll be glad to know I’ve already started on the Christmas reading post. Maybe I’ll get that one done on time…

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan*

Sarah Morgan‘s summer novel this year follows the ex-wife of a TV chef in the immediate aftermath of his death in a car crash. Stay with me, I know that sounds like it might be miserable, but don’t worry. To return to the plot: Joanna’s marriage to Cliff was dysfunctional to say the least and carried out in the glare of the media spotlight. So when she finds out that there was a young woman in the car when it crashed and that the woman is pregnant, Joanna knows she has to help her. The two women head to Joanna’s house in the town that she grew up in to hide from the paparazzi. Joanna hasn’t been there since she ran away with Cliff in the aftermath of a breakup with her high school boyfriend and she’s soon going to have to face the past and the community she left behind. Ashley needs space to plan her and the baby’s future – but there are still a few secrets to come out… This is a delightful sun lounger read, if you can just get past the death-y bit at the start, which I did – but that’s why it was on the list for a couple of weeks! It’s basically a small town, second chance romance with relatively low peril.

The Friendship Pact by Jill Shalvis

On to another regular author of mine and Jill Shalvis’s summer ‘22 book is a second chance romance for two characters who have been damaged by their childhoods. Tae spent her childhood worrying about money and about her mum’s attempts to find a man to make them a family. Riggs’ dad was an alcoholic who liked to hit his kids. But the two of them were friends in high school – until they weren’t. Now Riggs is back in town to visit his brother and his company providing adventures for athletes with disabilities and wounded veterans. Tae’s events planning company is organising their summer programmes. The two of them reconnect, but there are obstacles to a happy ending for them. I read it in 24 hours and was nearly late back from my lunch break because I was enjoying it so much. There’s a testimonial for you!

In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer*

Franny Doyle is already having a bad day before her dress catches in the subway door: she’s just been made redundant. But now her dress is ripped but even worse – the whole subway can see her bum and her knickers. luckily fellow passenger Hayes lends her his jacket to save her blushes. That would be the end of it – except someone has posted what happened to their Insta stories and now they’re viral sensations – #SubwayQTs. Their new found fame (notoriety?!) means they end up seeing each other again, and again, and again: but is there more there than just a hashtag? This has a buttoned up and awkward hero who comes off as aloof and a creative heroine with a tight knit group of friends. If I hadn’t had to do actual things, I could probably have read this in one giant sitting – it’s light and fluffy and endearing.

Donut Fall In Love by Jackie Lau

And finally, this isn’t a summer new release (it came out in October last year!), but I’m giving it a quick shout out because it feels like it would be a fun read if you were on a sun lounger. This has a Hollywood star and a normal person pairing (which I like – see Olivia Dade!) and it’s also got a bakery and a baking show. What’s not to love.

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 round-ups, Recommendsday, reviews

Recommendsday: July Quick Reviews

I’ve already written about so much this month and there were so many re-reads that I was worried I wouldn’t have a lot to write about that I liked and hadn’t already. But I’ve managed to pull three books out of my hat so well done me!

That Woman by Anne Sebba

My interest in the Abdication crisis is well known at this point. This has been on the list for a while as it is meant to be one of the more definitive ones and I picked this up second hand in the nice charity shop near work a few weeks back and got to it promptly so that I can lend it to mum! It’s interesting, but there’s not a lot of focus on her post war life. I think Andrew Lownie’s Traitor King has more on her post war life than this does – and that’s focussed on him! But it is good on her childhood and pre-duke life as well as her potential motivations.

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy by Chynna Clugston Flores et al

My love for Lumberjanes is also well known, and well publicised on here, so I’m not quite sure how I’d missed that there had been a Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy crossover book. But there was and it came out in 2017 so I’m well behind the times as I filled in the gap in the series. I haven’t read any Gotham Academy, but that didn’t matter as this is essentially a two schools run into each other, are rivals and then have to work together to defeat a baddie story. And it’s got a possessed house and 1980s theme so it’s a lot of fun.

Shipped by Angie Hockman

And finally a quick mention for this one. It was billed as “The Unhoneymooners meets the Hating Game” with a marketing manager for a holiday firm forced to go on a cruise with her work arch-nemesis and I love an enemies to lovers romance, but didn’t quite work for me as well as I wanted because it hit some of my “why are you acting like this” buttons and the heroine really, really annoyed me. But I know that a lot of that is a me thing, so people with a higher (lower?) embarrassment threshold will probably love it. However, if you want a book with a cruise ship and a romance (even if the romance is a bit secondary) then try The Unsinkable Greta James.

And finally, a reminder in case you need it of this months Books of the Week: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow; Mendelssohn and Murder; The Incredible Crime and the aforementioned Unsinkable Greta James, which I actually read right at the end of June but was reviewed in July. The series posts were: the Affair of… series; The Grantchester series, Vicky Bliss and a revist of the Phryne Fisher books. And finally the Recomendsdays were novels about Friendships and mysteries with Vicars.

Welcome to August everyone!

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 of the Week, romance, romantic comedy

Book of the Week: Acting Up

Plenty of options to chose from this week, and I’ve gone with a romance novel to make a nice change for the summer heat. Or what I hope is going to be a summery week!

Cath and Paul have been friends since college – and Cath’s been hiding a crush on Paul all these years. Now he’s a theatre director, and she’s a stage manager and they do their best work together. As friends. Just friends. Nothing more. And that’s fine with Cath, because she doesn’t want to risk losing the friendship she has with him. This summer, they’re working on a production of a new play at a regional theatre in Connecticut. If it goes well, it could go to Broadway – but will it go well if Paul insists on hiring Cath’s college nemesis to play the leading role? When rehearsals start, Paul realises that his leading lady is making Cath’s life miserable. And also that the leading man is showing an interest in Cath. Paul realises that what he wants is Cath – but can he persuade her that it’s worth taking a chance on?

Regular readers will remember how much I enjoy Lucy Parker’s theatre-set romances and that I always say I want more books like them. Well, here is more like them. This is friends-to-lovers rather than enemies-to-lovers and it’s in American regional theatre rather than the West End, but it’s got great characters, cracking banter – they quote plays at each other everyone, including some Busman’s Honeymoon, what more could I want – and the supporting characters are also amazing. Plus more backstage theatre details than you can shake a stick at, but not in an info dump sort of way. I read it in two sittings – it would have been one sitting, but it was 2am and I had to go to bed. Then I bought the next one so that I can read it on the train to work this week when I have finished the other things I am meant to be reading.

I bought this as part of my read the samples of books on offer spree (as mentioned yesterday) and it is 81p at the moment on Kindle everyone. EIGHTY ONE. And 99 cents in the US. Run don’t walk everyone, because I suspect this offer is going to finish at the end of June. It’s also available on Kobo (for 99p) and in paperback. You’re welcome. I’m off to see what else Adele Buck has written and buy it add it to my wishlist.

Happy reading!