Top 5 Tuesday – Top Five books with ‘Queen’ in the title

Welcome to this week’s Top 5 Tuesday post. Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for April to June see Meeghans page here.

This week after spending May looking at our reading environments, we have a freebie. Aaaagh!!! As queen of indecision, I hate being given a free choice. There are just too many options. However, as we are celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth this week, I thought a royal theme would be appropriate so I’ve gone for 5 books with Queen in the title

It would have been really easy to find 5 fantasy books that I have loved with Queen in the title but I did manage to come up with a couple of others too.

Sue Townsend was from Leicester and was a pupil at the school where I taught for 30 years. I met her when she came to visit us once so she is an author that I feel a real connection to. She is mostly known for The Diaries of Adrian Mole but she wrote other books too and this is one of my favourites.

The novel is based on the idea that the republican party win the election and the royal family are sent to live on a council estate somewhere in the midlands. The tale of how they cope with their new lives is really funny and she casts a very satirical eye on each member of the royal family. It’s possibly a bit dated now but I remember really enjoying it when it was published thirty years ago.

This is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, wife to Edward IV and covers the period from when she catches the eye of the king right up to the Battle of Bosworth where Henry Tudor took the crown. Gregory gives Elizabeth a more sympathetic storyline than she is normally given and this is another great book for anyone who loves that period of English History.

Another historical novel, this time set in the reign of Elizabeth Tudor. I love this series by Rory Clement featuring John Shakespeare, the older brother of the more famous William. This is the sixth book in the series but is actually the first in the order of reading as it covers John’s first job for his master, Sir Francis Walsingham. In this book, the year is 1582 and the young John is sent to investigate rumours of a plot to free Mary Queen of Scots. If you love historical mysteries, this is a fantastic series.

This was the book that inspired my choice of theme for this week. I’ve just finished the prequel to this ‘Beneath the Keep’ and it reminded me of how much I loved this book. It’s definitely on my radar to reread sometime soon.

The 19 year old Princess Kelsea has been raised in exile but now has to go and reclaim her throne. She is supported by loyal members of the Queen’s guard but has to confront a powerful sorceress as well as learn how to rule her country.

My final book is Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey. The Valdemar books are one of my all time favourite series and I especially love these early books. Arrows of the Queen is the first book that Mercedes Lackey wrote about Valdemar and tells the story of 14 year old Talia, who is rescued from a forced marriage by one of the legendary Companions of Valdemar and taken to the Collegium. There she discovers that she has been chosen to fulfil one of the most important roles at court.

It’s a coming of age story where a young person is plucked from obscurity to do something amazing but it’s one of the best of its type. There is excitement, danger and romance but there is also sadness which gives a darker edge than some other stories with a similar theme.

That’s my top 5 for this week. Do you have any favourite books with Queen in the title to celebrate this week’s Jubilee?

The People on Platform 5 – a review

I was excited to see that Clare Pooley had written a new novel after loving The Authenticity Project and this one certainly lived up to my expectations. It’s a lovely, warm-hearted book with a great cast of random characters whose only link is that they catch the same train each day.

Blurb from Net Galley
Nobody speaks to strangers on the train. But what would happen if they did?

Every day at 8:05, Iona Iverson boards the train to go to work. Every day, she sees the same people and makes assumptions about them, even giving them nicknames. But they never speak. Obviously.

Then, one morning, Smart-but-Sexist-Surbiton chokes on a grape right in front of Iona. Suspiciously-Nice-New Malden steps up to help and saves his life, and this one event sparks a chain reaction.

With nothing in common but their commute, an eclectic group of people learn that their assumptions about each other don’t match reality. But when Iona’s life begins to fall apart, will her new friends be there when she needs them most?

My Review
This story is told through several points of view as we meet different characters in turn. Each of the them has their own distinct voice and life and although they travel together, nobody ever speaks. However, one day, an unexpected event occurs that breaks the ice and connections and relationships begin to be formed.

The main character focus is Iona, a 57 year old agony aunt who is feeling threatened at work by a young editor who feels Iona is too old for her role. It’s Iona who breaks the non-speaking rule and who the other characters revolve around. Although, for me Iona is the star, all of the characters are brilliantly written and I love the way that they gradually begin to connect with each other.

There isn’t really a plot as such. Each of the characters has their own story and their own problems which we learn about in their separate chapters. During the space of the book, each character must overcome or deal with their difficulties but they all grow through doing this. A character who possibly has the most dramatic journey through the book is Piers. Initially he seems really unlikeable but as we find out more about him, our views change. The book contains a lot of humour, some despair and a bit of romance and they all combine to make an extremely satisfying read.

Everybody needs an Iona in their lives to take us out of our shells.

Thank you to Net Galley and Random House publishers for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.

The People on Platform 5 was published on May 26th by Random House.

Sundays in bed with …… Quicksilver Court

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). This week my book is Quicksilver Court by Melissa Caruso.

I took this on holiday to read but didn’t get round to it so it’s my current read this weekend.

Blurb from the book cover :
Ryxander has failed. Unsealed by her blood, the Door hidden within the black tower of Gloamingard has opened. Now for the first time since the age of the Graces, demons walk the world.

When an artefact with the power to wipe out all life in a domain is stolen, Ryx will do whatever it takes to save her home from destruction. But success may demand a larger sacrifice from Ryx than she could have imagined.

This is the second book in Melissa Caruso’s latest trilogy set in the world of Eruvia. I enjoyed the first book and this one is good too. However, this series doesn’t quite have the appeal of the original Swords and Fire trilogy which I really loved. Ryx and her friends are likeable enough but don’t seem to have the fire or spark that I felt for Amalia and Zaira in the earlier books.

What’s by your bed this weekend?

Stacking the Shelves 44

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It’s Saturday and the sun is shining again. The temperature has definitely dropped though as this time last week we were in glorious Venice. We had an amazing holiday and were really sorry to have to leave.

St Marks at Night

However, today we are back at home and it’s time for my weekly Stacking the Shelves post. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

My STS posts are generally my library books. The library is where I get most of my books and I hope that maybe I can inspire other people to use their local library. Our libraries are constantly under threat of closure but the more people that use them, the less likely that is. My library is also how I manage to read a lot of newly released hardbacks as I can order them. Sometimes they can take quite a while to arrive if a title is really popular though.

This week I have a brilliant selection of books to read.

The No Show by Beth O’Leary
I have loved all of Beth O’Leary’s books ever since my daughter recommended her to me a couple of years and I have been waiting to read this new one for ages. I’ve heard that it’s different to her precious books and more of a tear jerker so we will see.

Elizabeth of York – The Last White Rose by Alison Weir
This was just sitting on the shelf facing the door as I entered the library this morning. I love all things connected to the Wars of the Roses and I’m really looking forward to this story of Edward IV’s daughter who married Henry Tudor

The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon
I’m not sure if I’ve ever read any of the Maigret books so I decided it was time to put that right and picked this one up off the shelf.

StoryLand by Amy Jeffs
This is my next non fiction read which I ordered from the library after seeing it featured as this month’s Non Fiction book of the month at Waterstones. The subtitle is A New Mythology of Britain and it’s all about the myths and legends that Britain is full of as well as the places that gave birth to the stories.

I’m really looking forward to reading all of these as well as hopefully reading a couple of the June releases that I’ve still got lined up on my Net Galley shelf.

What’s on your bookshelf this weekend?

WWW Wednesday May 25

Welcome to Wednesday which means that it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three simple questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

I’m posting this from sunny Italy where we’ve just got a couple more days left of our holiday. The weather has been amazing and we’ve been out a lot so haven’t done as much reading as normal

What I’m currently reading

Jade War by Fonda Lee
I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to get around to reading this after reading the first one at the end of last year. I loved Jade City and this one is promising to be just as good

What I have recently finished reading

Kagen the Damed by Johathan Maberry
I’m really grateful to Tessa for recommending this one (see her review here . It was a brilliant epic fantasy read and I loved the ending. I can’t wait for the next instalment

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would. I’m not sure why as it should have ticked all the boxes for me.

What I am intending to read next

Quicksilver Court by Melissa Caruso
This is the middle book of this trilogy by Melissa Caruso. It seems appropriate try and read it during our time in Venice as I’ve always felt that the country of Raverra in her Swords and Fire trilogy was inspired by Venice.

That’s the current state of my reading this week. What does your WWW Wednesday look like?

Stacking the Shelves 43

Welcome to the weekend and another Stacking the Shelves post. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

This week’s stacking the shelves post is coming to you from sunny Venice!!!!!! I can hardly believe that we are actually here. We booked this holiday way back in the autumn of 2019 before anyone had heard of Covid and it’s been cancelled two years running. However, we are here and it’s absolutely glorious.

View from our hotel room

As I’m on holiday, there’s been no library visit this week so this post is looking at the books that I have recently added to my Net Galley shelves. I’ve currently got 20 books on my shelf and I’m being very good and reading them more or less in publication date order. I’m currently reading books that are due to be published in June.

These are the latest books that I have added to my shelf and am really looking forward to reading over the next couple of months.

Knave of Secrets by Alex Livingstone
I’ve seen so many posts about this book and was really excited when my request was approved last week. Described as a “twisty tale of magicians, con artists and card games, where secrets are traded and gambled like coin” It sounds right up my street.
Publication date 7th June

The It Girl by Ruth Ware
It was Hannah who found April’s body ten years ago.
It was Hannah who didn’t question what she saw that day.
Did her testimony put an innocent man in prison?

I love Ruth Ware’s thrillers and this one sounds fascinating.
Publication date 3rd August

Murder Before Evensong by Richard Coles
A local priest, Canon Daniel Clement, discovers a body at the back of his church. This is the first book by media vicar Richard Coles and I think it’s probably a cosy crime novel but I’m looking forward to reading what he’s come up with.
Publication date June 9th

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater
Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.
Regency romance meets the fae. What’s not to love?
Publication date June 30th

The Hidden Palace by Dinah Jefferies
I loved Dinah’s first novel last year about three sisters in Nazi occupied France and I’m really looking forward to reading the next instalment
Publication date September 15th

The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves
So excited by the prospect of reading a new Vera novel. Vera Stanhope is one of my favourite fictional detectives both in books and on the TV as Brenda Blethyn does an absolutely amazing job of portraying her.
Publication date September 1st

Picture You Dead by Peter James
Another of my favourite crime series that has made the jump to TV. I’m not sure about this adaptation yet but I do love the novels set in Brighton.
Publication date September 29th

Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman
I loved The Bookish Life of Nina Hill last year and was very excited to discover that this newest book is about the same characters.
Publication date May 17th


I’ve managed to keep my review rating above 80% this year and have become a bit more selective about the books that I request so that the shelf stays manageable. I’ve currently got a review rating of 85% which I’m really happy with.

These are the ARCs that I have recently added to my shelves. What have you added over the past week?

Book Blogger Hop – May 20th

 The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, it was relaunched on February 15, 2013 by Billy @ the Ramblings of a coffee addict. . Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog. 

This week ‘s question is:

Do you drink tea or coffee while reading? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

Yes. I often drink coffee while I’m reading. I always read if I’m having lunch at home and will generally have a coffee with my lunch. Sometimes I’ll have a cup of coffee mid morning especially if my husband is working from home and makes me one. I don’t dislike tea but prefer coffee so that’s my hot drink of choice.

WWW Wednesday 18th May

Welcome to Wednesday which means that it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three simple questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What I’m currently reading

Warrior by Jennifer Fallon
I’m continuing my reread of this fantasy series by the Australian author Jennifer Fallon. This is the second book of this trilogy focused on Marla Wolfblade. She is definitely a woman to have on your side. She uses her brains to survive and gain power in a society totally dominated by men. She has a lot in common with Mara of the Acoma in the Janny Wurts/Raymond Feist Empire Series. In this book, she is focused on protecting her children especially her first born Damin who is heir to the High Prince.

What I have recently finished reading

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley
Another non fiction read for 2022, I think that’s 6 so far so certainly smashing this challenge. This looks at Jane Austen’s life through the houses that she lived in. It was a really interesting book and I don’t think I quite realised before what a precarious financial position she was in for much of her life.

Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon
Chronologically, this is the first book in the Hythrun Chronicles and focuses on Marla Wolfblade, the 16 year old sister of the High Prince is determined not to spend her life being married off and running a household. She gets help in this from a surprising source, Elezaar, the dwarf slave also wants to have some autonomy over his life and luckily he has knowledge that Marla needs. He begins to teach her the rules of Gaming and Wielding Power and Hythrun will never be the same again.

What I am intending to read next

Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman
This is certainly my next read. I’ve been wanting to read this for ages but even more so when I discovered that it features some of the same characters as in The Bookish Life of Nina Hill which I absolutely loved last year.

That’s the current state of my reading this week. What does your WWW Wednesday look like?

Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 places to read

Welcome to this week’s Top 5 Tuesday post. Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for April to June see Meeghans page here.

In May, the topics are all about our reading environments. So far, we’ve looked at food and drink while you read and this week it’s all about your favourite places to read.

My favourite place to read will always be a comfy chair. I’m not someone who really enjoys reading in bed but much prefer to curl up in a squishy armchair. On a Winter’s evening, there’s nothing better than drawing the curtains and curling up with a new book in my armchair. If the cat decides to keep me company, then that’s even better.

My next favourite place to read is in our sun lounge or garden room. This has a glass roof and so even on dull days, it’s lovely and bright which makes it a great place to read. As I get older, I find that the amount of light is really important when I’m reading 😒

I do love to read outside though as soon as the weather is warm enough. We have a really sheltered area in our garden with a seat and table and it can be warm enough in February to sit out in the sun

When Summer is really here, then I love to get my sunlounger out and read in the garden. I’m always to be found under the huge pine tree in the shade but it’s so peaceful sitting outside with the birds singing and a good book.

If we’re talking about location, then my absolute favourite place to read would be somewhere where I can sit and look out at the sea. Some hotels only have one comfy chair in each room and I’m always the one sitting in that, looking out at the sea while my husband has to sit on the bed!

Where are your favourite places to read?

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting – a review

Blurb taken from Net Galley:

The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose…Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.
With only twelve weeks until the bailiffs call, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her, and Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.
The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost, especially when it comes to his own brother falling for her charms.
Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…

This was a light-hearted fun romp through Regency London. Newly orphaned and jilted Kitty Talbot decides that the only way she can repay all her parents’ debts and look after her younger sisters is by travelling to London and finding a wealthy husband.

She and a younger sister go to stay with their mother’s oldest friend who has a distinctly murky past and try to join elite society in order to attract a wealthy suitor. The book follows her in her search for an eligible husband and all the trademark notes of a Regency romance are present here: officers returned from the horrors of Waterloo, Almacks and Hyde Park together with the essential balls.

Kitty is a likeable but strong-willed character who will not be put off her objective even though she has the occasional doubt about whether she is doing the right thing. Some of the best scenes are when she justifies her actions by pointing out the fact that she has no other alternatives open to her. Her main opposition to achieving her ambition is James who is determined to prevent her marrying his brother. This isn’t quite an enemies to lovers scenario but there is certainly a great deal of suspicion and bad feeling between them. This results in some very lively scenes between them as neither of them can see good in the other.

There are some lovely secondary characters too who also add humour to the book. Many of these characters will feel familiar to lovers of Georgette Heyer  and the book has many similarities with her classic Regency romances. However, Sophie Irwin has a lively style of her own and the character of Kitty brings this genre right up to date. She is far more outspoken than I suspect any well brought up woman would be at that time but I think that makes her far more relevant to a modern reader. I also liked the fact that in true Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer style, the book is very chaste. There are no steamy sex scenes in this story which might disappoint some readers. However, I really enjoyed this novel and will certainly be reading more by the author.

Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Collins for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting was published on May 12th

This is another book for my Historical Fiction Reader Challenge. For details see the May page here