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.

Book of the Week, cozy crime

Book of the Week: A High-End Finish

New year (yes it’s still a new year even if we’ve hit the middle of the month), new cozy crime series for me and something different to talk about in today’s BotW. And you know I love a cozy crime series. So here we go.

A High-End Finish is the first in a series of cozy crimes featuring Shannon Hammer, a contractor specialising in Victorian homes in her town of Lighthouse Cove on the Northern California coast. In this first book, Shannon finds a dead body in the basement of a house that she’s working on – and becomes a suspect in a murder inquiry as she went on a blind date with the victim a few days earlier – and was heard threatening him after he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The town’s new police chief doesn’t seem inclined to believe that she had nothing to do with the murder, so Shannon starts investigating herself with the help of her friends, her nosy neighbours and a crime writer who has just moved to town.

This is a really nice set up for a new series but because there are a lot of characters to introduce and backstories to set up, the detecting is not quite as well developed as you would like and I thought the solution was a bit, ho hum. BUT I really liked Shannon, her friends and the town itself so I forgive it – because first books in series are often like this – either they don’t do a good enough job of setting up the side characters or the mystery isn’t as good as you want it to be. This usually settles down in book two – especially if it’s an established author starting a new series (which Kate Carlisle is). Luckily I picked up the next book in the series (in fact the whole series so far) second hand last month (as seen in Books Incoming) so it’s a good thing I liked them and I can also go straight on to book two to see if the problems get ironed out.

It is nice to have a home improvement/contractor theme for a cozy series though – as previously mentioned, I’m a bit cookery cozied out, and as I’m not usually into the supernatural sometimes it feels like there aren’t a lot of choices for me beyond that. Still hopefully these will keep me busy for a few weeks (at least).

As previously mentioned, my copy of A High-End Finish came via one of my Facebook book groups, but they’re available on Kindle and Kobo as well as in paperback. As they’re American Mass Market Paperbacks though, you may have trouble finding them in stores in the UK – so your best bet might be ordering from Book Depository or similar.

Happy Reading!

Best of...

Kindle Unlimited Review of the Year

Back when I first tried Kindle Unlimited, I promised to keep you posted on how long I kept it for and the sort of value for money I was getting out of it. I’ve not always been great at remembering to do that, but as I did last year, now we’ve finished another year, here is the lowdown on 2022.

If my Goodread shelves are correct, I read 39 books via KU last year – which doesn’t included another few that I started and then abandoned. It averages to just over a month, although some months I did more than that, and others less. The months where it got a bit patchy include when I had Covid as well as my bout of shingles and then obviously that massive Meg Langlsow binge that I’m still on! I’ve almost always got the maximum number of books on loan – as I have a bad habit of borrowing things when I see them with the intentions of reading it later and then… getting distracted!

I’ve used it to try out – and then reject in some cases – new cozy crime and historical crime series, which would have come under my rules about too hard to tell if they’re worth paying for from the sample rules, but I would have been annoyed if I’d paid for them when I got to the end! And yes I know I did pay for them if I got them in KU, but you know what I mean. On a practical financial angle, 18 of the 29 were British Library Crime Classics – which tend to retail at about £3 a book in ebook so that’s half the cost of the year of KU covered right there! And a lot of them were very good with some of them ending up as Books of the week – like Til Death Do Us Part, The Incredible Crime, Death of a Bookseller and Green for Danger – others have ended up in various Recommendsdays – including the specific BLCC one.

Aside from the BLCC masses, there are a few short stories, but almost everything else has been cozy crime or historical mystery books, which is exactly why I wanted KU to start with – mostly they don’t take me long to read, but the actual kindle price is over my maximum, or at least over the maximum that I’m prepared to pay for something I can read in an afternoon. They also help me tick of states in the 50 States challenge – although (spoiler alert) as we saw yesterday, I didn’t manage to complete it last year. But 2023 could be different…

So all in all, I reckon I’ve done ok on the KU value this year – but I need to monitor it slightly more carefully, particularly when it comes to how much the stuff I’m reading would be to buy to make sure it stays worth it.

Have a great Sunday everyone.

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.

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.

books

Books Incoming: December edition

A smaller selection this month – and you’ve already seen two of them – Last Hero was a BotW already, and the Rainbow Rowell was a book I bought myself for Christmas! Then there’s a proof copy of Triple Cross that just appeared, my copy of Death of a Necromancer that I contributed to the Kickstarter for (and my bonus content!), the latest – and one of the last Girls Gone By Chalet School Books before my collection is complete and the new Jen DeLuca. Nice.

book round-ups

Buy myself a Book for Christmas

As I mentioned in last week’s Buy me a Book for Christmas post, I did a bit of purchasing while I was putting that post together, so this weekend, here’s the stuff I bought, in case you need further inspiration!

Firstly I should say that the way that I put together the Buy Me a Book post is the same every year – I go through my Amazon wishlists of Books and my Goodreads to-read shelf to look for books that I’ve added over the course of the year but haven’t bought. And then I go wandering around the various book buying websites to see how easy (or otherwise) they are going to be to get hold of. And secondly I try not to ask for books that might go on offers, be available in the supermarket 2 for however many offers and thirdly I should say that I was writing the original post in November, but it’s now December, so bear that in mind if I’m mentioning offers. Oh – and there are no graphic novels on the list because I buy those from my local comic book store and want to give them the custom.

Fiction picks

And the reason that the Buy me a book post was non-fiction heavy was partly because a lot of the fiction I was after was on some kind of offer! So I picked up the latest Emma Straub novel, This Time Tomorrow, and also the next book in Alexis Hall’s baking show series, Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble. I also preordered the next in Jen DeLuca’s Willow Creek series Well Traveled as well as the new Olivia Dade (which as you know already came out and I’ve already read), and I finally bought Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow. And because I happened to wandering around the Waterstones site, I picked up a signed copy of Rainbow Rowell’s new short story collection Scattered Showers. I did look at the British Library Crime Classics selection too – but that just added a load of books to my Kindle Unlimited list! Finally there’s Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, which was on offer in a special tie-in edition because the movie came out a couple of months back.

Non fiction picks

I’ve had my eye of Julia Boyd’s Travellers in the Third Reich for a while and this year a follow up is out. but both Travellers and A Village in the Third Reich were on offer on Kindle when I was putting the post together so rather than asking for the paperbacks, I just bought them! The new Anne De Courcy about Nancy Cunard (another in that group from the 1920s who pops up a lot) Five Love Affairs and a Friendship was on offer on Kindle at a sensible price for non-fiction, as was Mary Churchill’s War (the wartime diaries of Winston Churchill’s daughter, edited by Emma Soames) and Spying and the Crown by Richard J Aldridge and Rory Cormac. Then there is Heiresses by Laura Thompson, about heiresses from the Seventeenth Century to the present, which is in Kindle Unlimited at the moment, so I borrowed it. Oh What a Lovely Century would also have been on the list for this Christmas – if I hadn’t found that copy in the work charity book sale.

And I think that’s the lot. Have a great weekend everyone!

books, stats

November Stats

Books read this month: 30*

New books: 30

Re-reads: 0 – which is frankly astonishing given this year so far

Books from the to-read pile: 8

NetGalley books read: 5

Kindle Unlimited read: 8

Ebooks: 9

Library books: 0

Audiobooks: 0

Non-fiction books: 1

Favourite book this month: Probably Carrie Soto is Back – for all that it took me ages to read

Most read author: SJ Bennett on that binge read of HM the Queen Investigates series

Books bought: Oh dear. Quite a lot. Because of the research for the Christmas books posts. Yes, posts. About 20 books, including a couple of pre-orders. Eeeeeeeeep.

Books read in 2022: 350

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 667

Well. This is quite an interesting list. I have two audiobooks that I’ve nearly finished, but not in time for this list. I’m on a big podcast kick at the moment, and the proportion of my listening time that is audiobooks has gone down. And the fact that I didn’t reread anything is interesting. But then it’s nearly the end of the year and I have been trying to get on top of the NetGalley list again so have focused on that a little. But good progress in reading stuff off the physical to-read pile so that’s good. Win some and lose some.

Bonus picture: an action shot from the figure skating. As I said, hard to do on a phone but this is the best I have!

*includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels – including 3 this month