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?

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

After Dark – a review

I’m still not entirely sure if I enjoyed reading this book or not. What I am certain about is that I found myself thinking about it and the society portrayed in it for a long while after I finished reading it which means that at the very least, the book has grabbed my attention. I’ve read a lot of books lately about women fighting for their rights in male dominated societies but this book takes women’s rights to a whole new level.

Set in a not too distant future, to stop violence against women, all men over the age of 10 are tagged and are subject to a 12 hour curfew. Despite this, a women’s body is found showing that she has been battered to death.

The police authorities are convinced that the murderer cannot be a man as all the men are under curfew. If the curfew is found not to be working, then that would raise issues about whether it should actually be in place or not and that is unthinkable. However, the police officer running the investigation has a broader view and is prepared to consider wider possibilities even though that brings her into conflict with her superiors.

The book has two timelines, the actual murder investigation carried out in real time and then a timeline four weeks earlier where we meet our cast of characters in the weeks prior to the murder. The murder mystery itself was interesting and I liked the fact that there are different possibilities. The story shows us the lives of several women in the lead up to the murder and we are not sure which one of them is the victim of the murder.

The investigation of the crime and the use of the dual time line was really good and the plot twists kept me interested right up to the end. The individual female characters each had a clear personality and I enjoyed the way that the links between them were gradually revealed.

The idea of men being subject to tags and a curfew to keep women safe felt very uncomfortable to me but fiction has a role in exploring ideas that might disturb us. However, what I really disliked about the novel is that there is not a single sympathetic male character. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling anyone’s reading but I felt that there needed to be much more of a balance in how men were portrayed in the book.

I feel that this is a book that will definitely divide opinions. I thought it was thought provoking and will certainly read more by this author.

I’m very grateful to Net Galley and the publishers, Penguin, for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

After Dark was published by Penguin on May 12th. It is published in the USA under the title of Curfew.

The Last Book I ……… Book Tag!

It’s Thursday which is always a good day to do a book tag. I saw this tag on Becky’s Book Blog but it apparently began on Instagram before Becky adapted it for her blog post. It’s a really simple fun tag so let’s get started.

The last book I bought

I bought this two days ago in preparation for going on holiday next week. I love the world that Melissa Caruso has created in this series and her previous trilogy and I’m really looking forward to reading this latest instalment.

The last book I borrowed

I borrowed these books from the library on Monday, again in preparation for our holiday next week. I am so excited about going to Venice next week!

The last book I was gifted

The last time I received a book as a gift was at Christmas when I received this from my son.

The last book I gave to someone else

The last time I gave books to anyone else was also at Christmas. I gave A Little Hatred to my husband and Defy the Night to my daughter.

The last book I started

I’m really enjoying this tale of family secrets as an estranged brother and sister find out a lot more about their mother than they expected after her death.

The last book I finished

This was my last finished book which is a Net Galley ARC. Set in Aquitaine, France, Chief of Police Bruno is faced with a terrorist incident when a folk song becomes the subject of political uproar and the songwriter might the focus of an assassination attempt.

The last book I rated 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this story of the aristocratic Count Rostov who is sentenced to house arrest at the Hotel Metropole. It’s quite a gentle slow moving story that details his life over the next 3 decades. At its heart, it’s the story of found family.

The last book I rated 2 stars ⭐⭐

This sounded brilliant but I was just bored with it. Apparently it’s a TV series and it seemed to have been written with that in mind rather than a novel to be read.

The last book I DNF’d

I couldn’t get on with this at all and when the snake started to contribute to the story it was time to give it up.

The last book I listened to

I don’t listen to audio books so I think the last book I listened to was the radio dramatisation of the Hobbit years ago.

This was a fun tag to do. Thank you Becky for creating this version.

What would your ‘last’ books be?

Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 drinks for reading

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.

We’re moving away from last month’s scavenger hunts and now it’s May, the topics are all about our reading environments. This week’s is all about your favourite things to drink while you are reading.

Like snacking, my choice of drink will often depend on the season. My preferred drink on a cold winter evening when I’m curled up on the sofa is very different to what I want to drink when I’m sitting in the garden.

Probably my most common drink while I read is coffee. I love to read while I eat my lunch now that I’m retired and don’t have to spend my lunch times marking books so lunchtime reading is generally accompanied by a mug of coffee.

My other favourite hot drink while reading would be hot chocolate. That would ideally be in the late afternoon, just as it’s getting dark on a winter’s evening and maybe accompanied by a chocolate off the Christmas tree.

Winter is behind us now and so I’m in the mood for more summery drinks. Probably my favourite drink in the evening when I’m relaxing with a book would be a glass of cold, dry white wine.

If I don’t have any wine in the fridge, then a gin and tonic would be another good choice. I was given some lovely gin glasses as a retirement present last year so I often use them if I have a drink in the evening.

I am conscious that I shouldn’t drink too much alcohol though so I am just as likely to have the tonic without the gin. There are some lovely flavoured tonics out there and they all have that slightly bitter kick to them which I love.

What do you like to drink while you read?

The Cook by Ajay Chowdhury – A Review

May seems to be a bumper month for book publications. Maybe because the publishers want all their lovely new books on the shelves ready for us to read on our holidays. That means I have a bumper load of reviews to publish on the blog and today is the first of them.

The Waiter was one of my favourite crime novels of last year and I was really excited to see that Ajay Chowdhury had written a new story about the ex-detective Kamil Rahman. Kamil is now a cook in The Tandoori Knights restaurant on Brick Lane in London and is feeling almost content with his new life. Then he discovers a customer of the restaurant murdered in her flat. The girl was a fellow student of his girlfriend and he is persuaded to begin his own investigation into her death. At the same time, there is a mysterious spike in deaths among the homeless men in their area. The two things seem to be completely unconnected but things are definitely not as they seem.

The previous novel was set both in Pakistan and London but this one is very firmly based in London and we get a vivid picture of the area around Brick Lane and the other parts of the city that Kamil visits as part of his investigation. I loved the attention to detail in the settings and the double plot works brilliantly. The depiction of the homeless men really brings home their situation although it doesn’t overpower the narrative. It’s also great to have such a positive role for the mosque and the Imam and to see the part that these play in the lives of many people.

Kamil is a really likeable character who wants to do the right thing and is unsure what his path in life is.  Anjoli, his friend and manager of the restaurant is also a brilliantly vivid character who definitely knows her own mind and will not let the issue of the homeless deaths be ignored.

Amateur detectives who get members of the public to talk to them are always a bit dubious but the author deals with this well by Kamil using his status as a detective in Pakistan and also his friendship with one of the police officers actually investigating the crime.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to find out what happens to Kamil next.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Cook was published by Random House UK on May 5th