historical, series

Series I love: Emmy Lake

This week’s series post was an easy choice because the third Emmy Lake Book came out in the UK yesterday (it’s not out in the US until August) and I’ve read it and it’s good. It’s also a long time since I’ve written about a historical series that’s *not* a murder mystery one so it’s also a nice dash of variety for you all!

When we meet Emmy Lake at the start of the series, it is 1940 and she is applying for a job at the London Evening Chronicle and dreaming of being a Lady War Reporter. But what she actually gets is a job working for a women’s magazine, as secretary to their Agony Aunt. Mrs Bird doesn’t want any “Unpleasantness” included in the column, But as Emmy reads the letters coming in, she realises that some people need actual help with real problems, and takes matters into her own hands. The sequel, Yours Cheerfully, was a BotW when it came out back in 2021, and now we have a third. I’ve puzzled about how much of the plots of each of the sequels to talk about – because obviously there are spoilers a plenty here. I said you didn’t need to have read Dear Mrs Bird to enjoy Yours Cheerfully, and the same is true of Mrs Porter Calling, but as this is a Series I Love post, I’m encouraging you to read all of them and I don’t want to give too much away.

What I’ve decided that I can say is that the first book shows Emmy finding her feet in the world of magazines, the second shows her getting involved in the war effort, and the third has a threat to the future of the magazine that she loves. And then there is Emmy’s private life, which runs through all three books – her best friend Bunty, some romance, and then obviously living in London during the Second World War. Emmy has a can-do attitude and is very cheerful, which makes her a fun character to follow around – at the start of the series she’s quite sheltered – or at least not very worldly, but obviously that’s evolved as she’s seen more of life. As you know, I’m a Girl’s Own reader – and I’d say she’s a bit like one of the school girls from those series grown up and let lose on the world. It is a book set in the war, so it is inevitable that sad and bad things happen in this – but if you’ve read a few books set in London in the Second World War you can see what’s going to happen in the first book coming* so you’re slightly forewarned.

By the end of the new book, we’ve reached the start of 1944 so I’m hoping that means we have another book to come, because there are still some questions unanswered, but as it’s taken at least two years between books so far, I’m resigning myself to not getting any answers until 2025 at the earliest! My copy of Mrs Porter Calling came from NetGalley, but I think you should be able to find it fairly easily in the bookstores – I’ve seen Yours Cheerfully on the shelves in the last few weeks ahead of this one coming out too – and of course they’re all also in Kindle and Kobo. And if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member, the first book is in KU at the moment as well.

Have a great weekend everyone!

*Slight spoilers: This book may have been the origin of my unofficial Cafe de Paris rule. If you know, you know. I’ve tried to write a post about it the idea, but it would be full of spoilers. So full of spoilers…


Bingeable series: Fixer-Upper Mysteries

This Friday I’m talking about a distinctly bingeable series, which has a new instalment out this week – even if my preorder hasn’t arrived yet – it’s Kate Carlisle’s Fixer-Upper mysteries.

The set up for these is a good one: Shannon Hammer is a building contractor in coastal California, having taken over her father’s business when he retired for health reasons. She’s lived in Lighthouse Cove all her life and has a group of close friends as well as family living there. There’s an old classmate from high school who is always out to make trouble for her and divide in town between the people who live there year round and the seasonal folks which adds a bit of friction on top of the regular appearance of bodies. In the first book in the series the town’s police chief is a new arrival and there’s also a crime writer who has just moved to the area as well. So there are plenty of regular characters and lots of options for the mystery plots.

I recommended the first in the series, A High End Finish, when I read it back in January, and since then I’ve read the other eight that were already published – which is the very definition of a binge! Without giving too much away, the romantic subplot in this doesn’t go the way that I was expecting/fearing from the first book, and in the later books some of the issues I had with the resolution of the first one are ironed out. Lighthouse Cove keeps developing new historic buildings or sites to facilitate plots, which is amusing but also keeps the series from feeling repetitive if you’re reading them one after another. Basically they’re fun, solidly plotted cozy crimes with a good heroine – and that’s actually harder to find that you’d think at the moment!

I think you’re going to have to order these in from the book giant – I picked up the first nine secondhand from a book group I’m in on Facebook and I preordered the latest from Amazon to complete the set.

Happy Reading!

books, mystery, series, Thriller

Mystery Series: Charlotte Holmes

This isn’t the first time I’ve written a series post about a Sherlock Holmes related series – I think this is the third now, and that’s only the tip of the Sherlockian universe. But this time it’s a young adult series set in a New England boarding school so you can see that this might have appealed to me!

Yes I only have three of the four books!

So in the first in the series, A Study in Charlotte, we mean Jamie Watson who has just got a rugby scholarship to a Connecticut prep school. He’s not massively keen on the idea – it’s too close to his estranged father but it’s also where Charlotte Holmes goes to school. She’s a descendent of Sherlock and Jamie would has spent his whole life trying to play down (or ignore) his connection to the the famous detective’s chronicler so the last thing he needs is for the two of them to be in the same place. But after a student dies at the school, the two of them are being set up to take the fall so they start working together to find the real culprit.

There are four books in the series and the first book is the most standalone of all of them – and when I first read it I was expecting any sequels to be self contained mysteries but the other three are very much interconnected. Charlotte Holmes is a Holmes reimagined, Mary Russell is a Holmes continuation and Brittany Cavallaro is doing Holmes the new generation – in a world where Sherlock’s adventures with Watson are famous and have left a legacy (and a fortune) for his descendants.

The pace of each novel tends to start of slowly and then pick up pace as the mysteries start to hurtle towards their conclusions. The final book is a little different because it’s less thriller, more mystery but it is a satisfying end to the series. I read the first in the series when I was in the US when the first one was the only one available and read the series across a period of years as they became available which was actually slightly complicated in the UK as they didn’t become available in paperback straightaway and they are not on in Kindle in the UK. They’re still a little tricky to get hold of if you’re here but hopefully not entirely impossible.

Have a great weekend everyone.

books, series

Bingeable Series: The Hellions of Halstead Hall

Happy Friday everyone, and happy pay day for those of you who get paid on the last day of the month. I hope you’re enjoying getting spammed with payday offer emails! Anyway Sabrina Jeffries has a new historical romance out this week and I’m taking the opportunity to talk about one of her older series.

So the premise to this series is five siblings, who lost their parents in a carriage accident when they were children, who are told by their grandmother that they must marry within a year or lose their inheritance from her. Her parents started a brewery business, which she still owns and runs and it is her money that is keeping them all afloat, so it’s not an ultimatum that they can easily ignore. Each book can be read standalone, but obviously they are linked by the sibling relationship so that the other siblings will pop up in each others books. There is a sixth book in the series, which features a character who appears in two of the previous books in the series.

The first book in this series came out in 2009 and when I read them starting in 2016, it was one of the first historical romance series I read with a family a business. Obviously there are quite a few of them now – and also a lot of historical romances set among the “middling sort” rather than the aristocracy – but at the time I remember it being a bit of a novelty. And obviously because all the five siblings are being told they have to marry the tropes lean towards the fake engagement and marriage of convenience tropes, which as you know I really love. My favourites are the first two in the series but they are all very easy to read and enjoyable.

In terms of how to get hold of them, I own the first one in paperback and the last one on Kindle but I read the rest of them back in the day on Scribd – which I had forgotten existed until I looked back at my good reads tags, but which I had a subscription to in its early days before it started introducing metering and restrictions on popular titles and so its value to me dropped. They are all available on Kindle and Kobo but as they’re all older (and American) I suspect they’ll be hard to find in the UK in paperback. If you’re in the US you may be luckier – maybe even in your local library.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Series: Vera Kelly

Breaking away from the romance theme of the last few weeks for something different today. And this series is actually a trilogy, but it’s my blog and I’m not changing my title rules. Sorry, not sorry.

Anyway, to the books, which are about a female spy turned detective and have such great covers that how can you not want to pick them up? In Who is Vera Kelly, we meet our heroine in New York in 1962, where she is struggling to keep her head above water, working nightshifts at a radio station. But when she’s noticed by the CIA she suddenly finds herself in Argentina trying to infiltrate a group of student radicals and wire tap a politician. But after a coup she finds herself abandoned and has to find her own way home. In Vera Kelly is not a Mystery, she is rebuilding her life after the events of Argentina and in the final book, we’ve reached 1971 and she finds herself trying to solve her own girlfriend’s disappearance.

As you will all know by now I love mysteries, adventure capers and snarky heroines and this has all of that and an interesting setting to boot. If you like the Kinsey Milhone series, then you might want to try this. I wasn’t that familiar with the situation in Argentina in the 1960s, so that was interesting even beyond the spy caper and then the all of the detail of life for queer people in America in the 1960s and early 70s is also really interesting. And obviously it has clever mysteries for you to try and figure out. But mostly you’re there for Vera and to see how she manages to get herself out of the situations she finds herself in and how she manages to build a life for herself.

I originally heard about the first book when it came out in the US in 2018 and really wanted to read it, but it wasn’t easily available in the UK (imported only on amazon and not on Kindle at all) so I had to wait until I was in the US for the midterms – which is why my copy of Who is Vera Kelly is a different size to the copy of Lost and Found. And the situation was similar with the second one – until it won the Sue Grafton memorial award (see my comment above about being interesting to fans of the Kinsey Milhone series) at which point we suddenly got the second and third books in paperback and they all appeared on Kindle. As you can see I found the second two in Foyles the other week in the mystery department and this week I found the latest one on the romance shelves! And even better – the first one is in Kindle Unlimited at the moment in the UK if you are a subscriber and want to give it a try.

Happy Friday everyone.

Series I love

Series I Love: Well Met

It was Valentine’s Day this week, so we’ve got a romance pick for this week’s series post. But before we get to the books, can I just say how typical it was that literally hours after I published a post about upcoming releases mentioning that there’s an untitled Julia Quinn coming in May, that the Bridgerton account posts that there is a Julia Quinn and Shonda Rimes Queen Charlotte book coming out in… early May. Oh the timing!

Anyway, in keeping with the low-peril vibe of Nora Goes Off Script, I’m talking about Jen DeLuca’s Renaissance Faire series where there is no peril at all for the heroines, just self discovery and a happily ever after. Anyway at the start of Well Met we meet Emily, who has moved to Willow Creek for the summer to help her sister who has been in a car crash and needs some help looking after her teenage daughter. Emily ends up volunteering at the renaissance fair along with her niece where she meets Simon, grumpy school teacher who Definitely Doesn’t Like Her. And of course romance ensues. The second book is a a Cyrano-type thing which it just about manages to pull off without being catfishing, the third book is Emily’s older sister, now recovered from her broken leg and who finds her self agreeing to a fake relationship with a toy boy and finally we have Well Traveled with Mitch’s cousin Lulu and Dex the playboy musician.

While I’m convinced that their fake ye olde English accents are about as convincing as my American one, these books are basically a big comforting hug in the form of a crazy summer faire tradition and a found community. Oh and the romances are excellent, but I think that goes without saying. We’ve got a while to wait for more from Willow Creek – Jen DeLuca announced a new book deal at the start of this month and although she’s signed for a fifth Ren Faire book, it’s coming after the first in a new series set in a coastal town, which a woman whose new house is haunted. Intriguing.

In terms of buying these, I’m going to warn you that it’s a bit confusing on Amazon – I think they’ve done something behind the scenes that has made things go a bit wonky because it didn’t know I already own Well Met – so I bought it because it’s 99p at the moment and then discovered two copies in my Kindle account – and Well Traveled isn’t linked to the rest of the series. So your easiest thing on Kindle is to just search for Jen DeLuca and cross reference against your device. On Kobo none of them seem to be linked as a series at all, so same thing – search on the author name. You’ve seen that I’ve got Well Traveled in paperback because it was in Books Incoming as I preordered it, but the ggood news is that these seem to be available in bookshops in the UK now I think because they’ve got some TikTok buzz (and adding that to their amazon pages may be the root of the trouble) so if you have a reasonably large store you may be able to find them – perhaps even on the “TikTok made me buy it” table.

Have a great weekend everyone.

American imports, cozy crime, series

Series: Library Lovers

This Friday it’s another cozy crime series – and another from Jenn McKinlay. I wrote about her Cupcake Bakery series about a year ago, and now we’re on the other side of the US with her Library Lovers one.

Our sleuth is Lindsey, library director in the small coastal town of Briar Creek. At the start of the start of the series she is recently arrived in town and getting to grips with her new job and the characters and rivalries at the library. As the series progresses Lindsey gets more and more established in town and develops a group of friends and love interests. Obviously there is also a murder each book – not always in the library thank goodness, because otherwise who would dare borrow a book – but some how Lindsey is always involved enough to start detecting – I mean it wouldn’t be a cozy otherwise, would it!

I’m only seven books in to the series – there are fourteen – because they’re relatively hard to get hold of over here – but so far there’s enough progression in the running strands to stop them getting repetitive (or annoying) and the murders are pretty varied too. I don’t like them as much as I like the Cupcake mysteries, but they still make for a nice comforting read when you need that sort of thing.

If you’re in the US, you should be able to get hold of them fairly easily. If you’re in the UK, it’s trickier because they’re not available on Kindle if you have a UK account. But I think I have spotted them in bookshops on occasion- and obviously Amazon have the paperbacks…

Happy Friday!

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!

Best of..., book round-ups, series

Series of the Year 2022

So this is the point where I look back on the series I’ve read this year and pick out some highlights for you.

Let’s start with a new to me discovery – Her Majesty the Queen Investigates. These were fun cozy Murder mysteries with a royal twist. As I said in my series post about them, I think they work best in slightly closed settings – or at least not London – but I liked the characters and the tone a lot. It’s a shame there’s a year until the next one.

Moving on to Richard Osman. This year we got the third Thursday Murder Club book and they continue to be both clever and witty and fun but occasionally heartbreaking. This is the series that spawned the copycats that are popping up all over the place at the moment – I’m reading my way through some of them so you don’t have to!

I really enjoyed the Nanette Hayes mysteries, but I wish there were more of them. I am still looking for more 90s crime series that I missed out on (too young at the time!) and can catch up on now because they do seem to work for me – see some of the Fahrenheit series I’ve enjoyed. And I have another of the Liz Evans books waiting that I picked up from the charity book stall at the shopping centre. If you have any suggestions please do whack them in the comments please.

I’ve also carried on working my way though some of the other series I’ve been reading for years. I’m up basically up to date on the Kate Shackleton series now, as well as Dandy Gilver. It continues to be tricky to find new historical-set mystery series that I don’t wish to throw across the room, but I’m still trying. I hope Carola Dunn is having a happy retirement but I do miss her and the prospect of a new Daisy Dalrymple. But I’ve basically binged the Mary Russell series over the last two years, which has been good, but that age gap still annoys me. Royal Spyness continues and Kerry Greenwood has written a new Phryne that I’m saving for a special occasion. All hail Kerry.

Roll on 2023!

Christmas books, series

Bingeable series: Holidays with the Wongs

Continuing my festive-y seasonally appropriate sort of theme in a way, this week’s series is the Holidays with the Wongs novella collection by Jackie Lau.

This is a four novella collection based around holidays – starting with (Canadian) Thanksgiving, then Christmas, Chinese New Year and Valentines day. The premise is a set of siblings trying to avoid the matchmaking attempts of their parents, but finding love in the process. In trope terms we have only one bed in the Christmas story, where the hero and heroine get stuck in a snow storm, fake relationship, sort-of second chance and then no strings relationship turns real. I really enjoyed these – they’re funny as well as being romances and the Wong family are a hoot across the whole series. And as an added incentive, this series of novellas has just had the film rights bought – so you never know, you might be seeing them on a movie channel near you in the next few years

If you haven’t read any Jackie Lau before, they’re a really nice place to start. Lau writes really fun Canadian-set romances. And she has several other Christmas-set novellas too if you like them as well as full length novels. I recommended Donut Fall in Love in my late holiday reading post, but there are several of her books that I’ve really enjoyed over the last couple of years.

So you can buy these individually, but they’re also available as a bundle of all of them on Kindle and Kobo which is actually the best value way of doing it.

Have a great weekend everyone!