WWW Wednesday November 30

It’s Wednesday again and it’s the last day of November. This time last year we had snow and I took the photo that I’ve just put back at the top of this page. Sadly we have no snow this year. It’s just grey and dull.

However, although the weather is miserable, Wednesday 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

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd
Two children, a young girl travelling on a ship with her nurse in 1628 and a young boy travelling to live with his grandfather in 1989. Both of their mothers are dead. That’s about it so far. The book is written in the present tense which I always find a bit jarring at first but then gives a real feeling of being there.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Earth by Chris Hadfield
This is the eleventh book in my Non fiction reader challenge and so I’m well on track to read 12 non fiction books this year. This is a very easy book to read but very interesting to see how his experiences and training influence the way he thinks and behaves.

What I have recently finished reading

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
This was a brilliant read and I found it really hard to put down. Sam and Sadie met in a hospital and then didn’t see each other for years. They finally bumped into each other again at Harvard and renew their friendship. I really enjoyed the way Sam’s backstory was revealed to us and how the two of them had a friendship that never quite made into love.

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
This was similar to Tomorrow as it had the main character’s back story gradually reveal itself to the reader. It was a good story but it didn’t grip me as much as the Gabrielle Zevin did.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
I really enjoyed this urban fantasy set in an alternate 1930’s America. I loved the Character of Gunnie Rose and how self sufficient she was in a dangerous society.

What I am intending to read next

The Christmas Holiday by Phillipa Ashley

It’s the first of December tomorrow so we will be officially in the run up to Christmas and I will celebrate by reading actual Christmas books. I think I’ve got enough sorted on my TBR to have at least one a week for the weeks up to the big day! And then of course, there are Christmas films to watch too.

What are you reading this week?

Advertisement

Top Five Tuesday – My Top Five unfinished Fantasy Series

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 Oct to Dec see Meeghan’s post here.

This week we have a freebie. Yay!!! It’s perfect timing as I’ve had this post in my head for a while but not got around to doing it. This post is about the series that I am impatiently waiting for the authors to finish. And no, I’m not talking about Game of Thrones or Name of the Wind. I’ve given up on George Martin or Patrick Rothfuss ever completing their series. These are current series where the end result is in sight (mainly) and I can’t wait to complete them.

Rooks and Ruin Trilogy by Melissa Caruso

The third book, The Ivory Tomb is out in December 2022 so not long to wait until I can complete this one on my shelves.

The Rook and The Rose by M A Carrick

The third book Labyrinth’s Heart is due to be published in August 2023. I really can’t wait for this one to come out as it is my favourite new series this year.

The Drowning Empire by Andrea Stewart

I absolutely loved the first two books in this series too. The third volume, The Bone Shard War is due to be published in April 2023

The Last King of Osten Ard by T A D Williams

This is the series that I have been waiting on for the longest as I read The Witchwood Crown way back in 2017. However, Navigator’s Children is scheduled for release in November 2023 so not too long to wait now.

Eve of Man by Giovanni and Tom Fletcher

This is the series that seems as though it’s most likely to become another Name of the Wind. I bought the first two books during lockdown in 2020 thinking that the third one was due out soon. However, I was wrong and I still can’t even find a title for the final or next book let alone a release date.

However, four out of my five unfinished series that I’m waiting on are due to be completed in the next 12 months so that’s not too bad.

What books in a series are you eagerly waiting for?

Agatha Christie – a very elusive woman. Book Review

I really enjoyed this Biography of possibly the world’s most famous female author. Despite having read nearly all of Agatha Christie’s novels, I didn’t actually know that much about her. I knew about the mysterious disappearance and also that she married an archaeologist who was younger than her but that was pretty much it. When I saw that Lucy Worsley had written a new biography it was a must-read for me.

Official Blurb from the book:
“Nobody in the world was more inadequate to act the heroine than I was.”

Why did Agatha Christie spend her career pretending that she was “just” an ordinary housewife, when clearly she wasn’t?  Her life is fascinating for its mysteries and its passions and, as Lucy Worsley says, “She was thrillingly, scintillatingly modern.”  She went surfing in Hawaii, she loved fast cars, and she was intrigued by the new science of psychology, which helped her through devastating mental illness.

So why—despite all the evidence to the contrary—did Agatha present herself as a retiring Edwardian lady of leisure? 

She was born in 1890 into a world that had its own rules about what women could and couldn’t do. Lucy Worsley’s biography is not just of a massively, internationally successful writer. It’s also the story of a person who, despite the obstacles of class and gender, became an astonishingly successful working woman.

With access to personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen, Lucy Worsley’s biography is both authoritative and entertaining and makes us realize what an extraordinary pioneer Agatha Christie was—truly a woman who wrote the twentieth century.

Blurbs for non-fiction books are definitely getting better. This one really made me want to read the book and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Lucy Worsley has a really easy writing style and her prose carries you along effortlessly. I’ve only watched a couple of her television shows but the same enthusiasm that she showed there is also apparent in her writing.

This is an extensively well researched biography and the author also uses Agatha Christie’s own autobiography which helps us to really get a picture of her subject. We learn about her life and how her writing fitted into that and also how her writing arose out of what was happening around her. The subtitle is very true as the biography clearly shows the less well-known side of her character; the retiring woman who would rather not be the centre of attention.

I had only ever seen pictures of her as an elderly woman and so it was fascinating to read about how attractive she was when younger. The work she did during WWI was also interesting and the parallels that Worsley drew with Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth as both the women were in a similar situation.

Obviously the most famous part of her life was the mysterious disappearance in 1926 and the biography covers this in detail. A lot of this was new to me although possibly won’t be to people who know more about Agatha Christie. I had no idea that the hunt for her was on such a large scale or that public opinion about it was so negative. Lucy Worsley paints a sympathetic picture of why Agatha felt the need to disappear which seemed very plausible to me.

She doesn’t gloss over the problematic elements of the Christie novels either. She shows Agatha’s Christie’s casual use of racist language and characterisation that would be unthinkable today. She was also very much of her upbringing and the working class were often portrayed in stereotypical ways in her earlier works. However, she also shows that these attitudes did change over time.

Agatha Christie was a much more interesting person than I had imagined. I loved finding out about how adventurous she was. From her coming out season in Cairo, to running archaeological digs in Iraq, she loved to travel and again, these experiences fed into some of her best known novels such as Death on the Nile.

The main interest though for me was Christie’s writing. We see how committed she was to writing and how she constantly kept notebooks with ideas for plots and characters. Her books have always been incredibly popular and Lucy Worsley makes the point that they reflected life for a lot of people at the time. Now, the life that is shown is historical fiction but at the time they were published, they reflected a changing society. Her financial affairs are interesting too, especially the arguments with the US tax authorities

This biography is best read if you have already read a lot of Agatha Christie’s work or if you have a poor memory as there are several spoilers contained in the biography as Lucy Worsley discusses the novels.

This is my tenth book Non-Fiction book so far in 2022 so I’m well on track to hit my Non-Fiction Reader Challenge this year. The Non-Fiction Reader Challenge is hosted at Book’dout and you can find the details of the challenge here

Stacking the Shelves 70

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is marlene-stackingshelvesfinal-768x524-1.jpg

It’s Saturday again, Thanksgiving has been and gone and Advent begins tomorrow! Where has the year gone?????????

Saturday means it’s time for my weekly Stacking the Shelves post. This is my 70th Stacking the Shelves post which feels fairly impressive to me! 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. I’m a great supporter of libraries, mainly because I could never afford to buy all the books that I want to read, and visit mine every week whenever possible. I love the fact that I can look at the online catalogue and request books to borrow. This is great for books that are recommended to me by different bookbloggers. After being away last week, I had a bumper set of books to collect.

This week’s library haul 😃 They are all a lot shorter than Black Ink Heart which is nice.

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd
I saw this in the bookshop and thought that it looked interesting. Ir’s a dual time-line book set in 1628 and 1989 about two children, one on board a ship and the other on the coast of Australia. I’m hoping it’s better than the last one I spotted which I didn’t finish.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
I’ve seen lots of great reviews and so I ordered it from the library. It’s a great story about two children who meet in hospital and go on to design computer games together as adults. It works really well after Robert Galbraith’s Black Ink Heart which had an online game at its centre.

An Astronaut’s guide to life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
This was recommended by Carol at Reading Ladies and I’m looking forward to reading it as part of my Non Fiction Reader Challenge.

The Christmas Holiday by Philippa Ashley
I’ve read a few Christmas books as ARC’s but this is the first physical Christmas book that I’ve picked up. I think I might save it until Dec 1st though

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
I remember seeing lots of positive comments about this one when it first came out so I thought I would pick it up when I saw it on the shelf yesterday.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
This series was recommended by Lady Tessa at Tessa Talks Books and this is the first one. It’s about a young girl/gun for hire Gunnie Rose who hires herself out to protect travellers and set in an alternative 1930’s US where the country has fragmented into different states. Sounds fun.

That’s what I’ve added to my book shelves this week. Have you read any of them? What did you think?

What’s been added to your bookshelves this week?

Book Blogger Hop November 25

 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.

I just love this meme and the questions that come up. They generate so much discussion which is great.

This weeks question is: Which print size do you prefer: small, medium, or large? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

I have to say that my answer to this has changed over time. I used to be perfectly happy with books that had a small print size as I preferred the books themselves to be smaller. Paperbacks used to be small enough to fit into a reasonably sized coat or jacket pocket and so it was easy to take a book with you where ever you went.

However, age has caught up with me and now I do find it much easier to read modern paperbacks that have a larger format and a bigger font size. They are much easier on the eyes especially when I’m reading at night by artificial light.

I also think that a larger print size looks a bit more inviting to read. There can be something a bit daunting about a book where the font size is quite small and the pages look a bit dense.

What about you? Which print size do you prefer?

WWW Wednesday Nov 23

It’s Wednesday again and that 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 weather here has been very dull and wet but the weekend was gorgeous and sunny so we took a quick drive down to the New Forest and the coast. It was lovely walking in the forest and the beach as well as eating lots of lovely food that I didn’t have to cook.

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

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
This isn’t my normal type of read but I’ve seen a couple of good reviews for it so I thought I would ask for it at the library. It also seems appropriate to read a book about two people creating a computer game after The Ink Black Heart where the online game was such a big part of the plot.
It’s a brilliant read and I found it really hard to put down. Sam and Sadie met in a hospital and then didn’t see each other for years. They finally bumped into each other again at Harvard and renew their friendship. Sam’s backstory gets told gradually along side the real time story and I just want to keep on reading to find out what happens (or what happened next).

What I have recently finished reading

The Ink Black Heart took ages to read and I am totally convinced that it didn’t need to be that long. I think that this was the most disappointing book in the series so far. The online chats went on for pages and were quite hard to follow and the story itself seemed to be too padded out. I love Cormoran and Robyn but this wasn’t their best outing.

I really enjoyed Agatha Christie and will review it soon as part of my Non Fiction reader challenge. Lucy Worsley is a very easy author to read.

The Golden Oldies Book Club was a fun, cosy read that I polished off in an afternoon while we were away. I loved the fact that the main character was 72 years old. It’s a lovely story about a group of 4 women who are all dissatisfied with their lives and end up doing something about it. The section where they all go on holiday to a cider farm in Brittany was excellent.

Devils Way by Robert Bryndza
I love Robert Bryndza and was really excited to be approved for an ARC of his latest Kate Marshall mystery. Kate is an ex police officer who is now a Private dectective. While in hospital, she meets a woman whose grandson went missing eleven years earlier and agrees to look into his disappearance. In contrast to Ink Black Heart, this was a brilliant read and I would definitely recommend Robert Bryndza to anyone who loves crime thrillers.

What I am intending to read next

I just have one of the books that I hoped to read over the weekend left so The Ivory Tomb is definitely next on my list.

What are you reading this week?

Top Five Tuesday – Books set in an alternate universe

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 Oct to Dec see Meeghan’s post here

This week we’re flying off to distant suns. I’m not quite sure what’s meant by an alternate universe but I’ve taken it to mean somewhere else that humans live that isn’t in our solar system or galaxy. That means that I can include some of my favourite Science Fiction novels.

The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong

This is a book that I read this year. I really loved this novel which included lots of travel in space, a found family and a circus. My review is here

Winter’s Orbit by Evarina Maxwell

This was one of my favourite Science Fiction stories from last year although I also loved the new book, Ocean’s Echo. I love the universe that these books are set in and there is lots of scope for more books to come.

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg

What would it be like if your world was never dark and then one day, night fell? Asimov’s original short story was first published in 1941 but is still brilliant. I do love the novel where he and Robert Silverberg looked at what came before and after the events of that event though.

Partnership by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball

The Brain ship books were inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s short story, The Ship who Sang. This is probably my favourite of the books about spaceships that are powered by human brains. It’s an idea that has been explored by several authors recently too.

Dune by Frank Herbert

This is still one of the best books set in an alternate universe/world. Herbert’s vision of a universe powered by a mysterious spice and women who control a human breeding program to try and create psychic powers is still a great read. The latest film was good too.

Cosy Crime – A trio of reviews

I love crime and mystery novels and have done ever since being brought up on the mystery and adventure stories of Enid Blyton as a child. I enjoy the whole range including authors such as M W Craven and Robert Bryndza but I also like a gentle cosy crime mystery sometimes. It’s nice to have a relaxing read after some of the grittier novels around. I seem to have a read quite a few lately so I thought I would do a post containing 3 shortish reviews of my recent reading.

All three books were provided to me as ARCs by Net Galley and the publishers but my opinions are entirely my own.

Death at the Auction by E C Bateman
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Set in the historic town of Stamford, this murder set in the antiques trade is a brilliantly plotted mystery. Felicia Grant rushes to Stamford to run her father’s auction one Saturday after he fell over the cat and broke his leg. The auction is proceeding normally until things are disrupted by her ex-husband suddenly appearing on the scene and the discovery of a dead body in a wardrobe. After that inauspicious start, life gets even more complicated for poor Felicia who finds that she is not only a suspect in the investigation but also that there seem to be attempts being made on her life.

It’s less of an amateur sleuth mystery than some cosy crime novels as the local police are definitely in charge including the almost sinister Inspector who has the extremely inappropriate name of Heavenly. However, despite threats to her safety, Felicia is unable to keep out of the investigation and she is the one to find the key to everything that has gone on. 

I really enjoyed this crime story. The antique trade is a great set up for a murder mystery with plenty of eccentric characters to add local colour.  The characters of Felicia and her son and ex-husband are interesting and I enjoyed the family dynamics between them. There is a fair amount of humour interspersed with the drama and plenty of red herrings to keep the reader on their toes. I love novels when I can visualise the setting and the town of Stamford is vividly described which was a real plus for me.

I can definitely see this series being one that I need to look out for.

Death at the Auction is published by One More Chapter on 24th November 2022

Waste of a Life by Simon Brett
⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love Simon Brett’s crime mysteries and this relatively new series is a great addition to his books. A Waste of a Life is the third in the Decluttering series but I think that you could easily read it as a stand alone.

Ellen’s job as a declutterer takes her into people’s houses and these people are often elderly or vulnerable so possibly easy victims. This time she goes and works at the house of Cedric who has become a recluse after the death of his wife. On one of her regular visits, she discovers him dead in bed. Ellen assumes that he has died of natural causes but the post mortem reveals traces of poison and the police become involved. Ellen is also working at the house of Mim, a retired school teacher who led a very active social life in the 1960’s. At first Mim and Cedric appear to have nothing in common but gradually a link appears between them.

I really enjoyed this mystery. There were a lot of twists and turns which kept me interested and I liked the host of secondary characters. This is a cosy crime novel but Simon Brett still keeps us in touch with reality. Mim increasingly suffers from dementia and there are several characters in the book with mental health problems including both of Ellen’s children. The book is set very firmly in the city of Chichester which is another thing that I love about it. I always enjoy it when I can visualise where characters are in a book.

Waste of a Life is published by Severn House on December 6th 2022

An Act of Foul Play by T E Kinsey
⭐⭐⭐

This is the ninth outing for Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid Flo and the setting is now 1911. Lady Emily is at the theatre for a birthday treat with her maid and partner in crime solving Flo, when a murder occurs. As the curtain rises for the second act of a comedy, one of the actors is discovered on stage having been stabbed to death.

I have enjoyed the previous books in this series and this one felt like discovering old friends. The dialogue between Lady Hardcastle and Flo is still as sharp as ever and they are joined this time by Flo’s identical twin sister which adds to the fun.

The plot was an interesting one and I loved the theatrical theme. The usual characters were joined by the members of the theatrical company with lots of red herrings being scattered around as Emily and Flo try to discover who had a motive for the killing. As usual, a lot of time is spent on the details of their normal lives which I normally enjoy. However, I felt that this time, the murder mystery was almost secondary and there seemed to be little tension or impetus to find the identity of murderer.

It’s a fun read for lovers of this series but I don’t think that it is one of the author’s best.

An Act of Foul Play is published by Amazon Publishing on 29th November 2022

Do you enjoy cosy crime series or would you rather read the likes of M W Craven? Or maybe, like me, you enjoy both. Let me know 😃

Short or long Reviews? – Book Blogger Hop Nov 18

 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.

I just love this meme and the questions that come up. They generate so much discussion which is great.

This weeks question is: Do you like writing short or long reviews? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

Like last week, this week’s question is a really easy one to answer. I definitely prefer to write short reviews rather than long ones.

I enjoy writing reviews but often I struggle to think of what I want to write. I know how I feel about a book but sometimes I find it hard to express it in writing. I’m also very wary about giving away too much in a review so I think that I often err on the side of writing too little rather than too much

I often see bloggers post ‘mini reviews’ in which they write almost as much as I do in a full review and then I begin to wonder if I am writing enough. But then I remind myself that my reviews are not the only ones out there and if people want longer reviews, then they are easy enough to find.

What about you? Which do you prefer to write?

Stacking the Shelves 69

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is marlene-stackingshelvesfinal-768x524-1.jpg

It’s Saturday again. Doesn’t it come around quickly? This weekend we’ve treated ourselves to a weekend on the south coast. I’m enjoying typing this while looking out at the sea from my hotel bedroom window. Then we’re off out for a walk along the beach. Apparently, the temperature is about 5 degrees C so we need to wrap up!

View through my hotel room window

The Christmas decorations are already up and lit too which means that’s really pretty at night time.

Saturday means 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. I’m a great supporter of libraries, mainly because I could never afford to buy all the books that I want to read, and visit mine every week whenever possible. I love the fact that I can look at the online catalogue and request books to borrow. This is great for books that are recommended to me by different bookbloggers.

However this week, as we’re away on the coast for the weekend, I haven’t been to the library. As I haven’t got any new library books, this week’s post is the books that I have recently added to my Net Galley shelf.

I keep trying not to add books as I’m trying to keep the numbers down so that I can review them all before their publication dates. It’s so difficult though. Especially when I see reviews on blogs of ARCs and then I go and see if it’s available here in the UK. It is! Ooops, that’s another book added to my shelf😲
The books are so good though and my review rating is still at 90% which I ‘m pleased about.

These are the ARCs that I have been approved for in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been requesting a few more light hearted books lately rather than my normal crime or epic fantasy. I think my brain needs a rest after Babel and the latest Robert Galbraith!

The Golden Oldies Book Club Judy Leigh
A book club formed mainly of older women and the second chances that they get to find love and romance. I love Judy Leigh’s books and I’m really looking forward to this.

The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso
This is the concluding novel in the Melissa Caruso’s Rooks and Ruin trilogy. I’ve enjoyed this although not quite as much as the previous trilogy but then it was always going to be hard to beat that as I loved it so much.

Sunrise with the Silver Surfers by Maddie Please
60 year old Elin Anderson is newly single and decides that it’s time for an adventure so she heads off to Australia to visit relatives. While she’s there, she joins the Silver Surfers club and heads off to the coast and the waves.
Another book about older people having fun which definitely appeals.

The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner
Seances and murders all set in 1873 in Paris and London. This one sounds like a brilliant read.

That’s what I’ve added to my online shelves over the past couple of weeks and I am so looking forward to reading all of them.

What’s been added to your bookshelves this week?