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?

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

Looking forward to May Releases

If my recent Net Galley reading is anything to go by, then May is going to be a bumper month for book releases. Over the past couple of months, I have read 14 books with a May release date with one more to read which is way more than a normal month. They have all been great reads – I’m obviously getting better at requesting books I will enjoy.

Here are the books that I am looking forward to being published this month.

Fantasy

The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna
This is actually the only May release that I haven’t got around to reading yet. It’s the sequel to The Gilded Ones and I am definitely looking forward to reading it this weekend.
Release Date 26th May

The Collar Bound by Rebecca Zahabi
This is an imaginative new fantasy set in a world where mages rule and the non-magical are consigned to practical and menial jobs such as farming or being a servant. It’s a slow burning novel that gradually pulls you into the story.
Release Date 12th May

The Thief by Megan by Megan Whalen Turner
This is actually the rerelease of the first book in a YA series which was first published in the 1990s. It’s a traditional quest story with echoes of the Hobbit as convicted thief Gen is taken out of prison by the King’s Magus and taken on a journey to steal a precious item. It was a fun read.
Release Date 5th May

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
I absolutely loved this fantasy which has been inspired by the Tales of 1001 nights. Again, it’s mainly a quest story but the interweaving of the tales from the Arabian Nights and the characters are brilliant.
Release Date 19th May

When Women were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
The title of this book grabbed my attention as well as the gorgeous cover. As a lover of all things draconic and historical fiction, this book seemed to tick all of the boxes. It’s a feminist story set in alternative 1950’s America. I loved the fact that the story was born out of the author’s outrage at some of the things that are still happening to women in public life to day.
Release Date 3rd May

Crime/Mystery

Requiem in La Rossa by Tom Benjamin
Requiem in La Rossa is a crime novel with an interesting plot and engaging characters which together with a gorgeous setting combine to make this a really enjoyable read. This is the third book in this series featuring private investigator Daniel Leicester but it works perfectly well as a stand alone.

After Dark by Jayne Cowie
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. I found this an unsettling novel and I’m not entirely sure if I enjoyed reading it or not. What I am certain about is that I found myself thinking about it and the society portrayed in it which means that at the very least, it has grabbed my attention.
Release Date 12th May

Dear Little Corpses by Nicola Upson
 This is Nicola Upson’s latest novel in her brilliant series featuring the novelist and playwright, Josephine Tey and I think it is possibly her best yet. Although it is part of a series, it is entirely possible to read this as a stand-alone. It’s set right on the eve of the declaration of war in 1939 and perfectly captures the feelings and atmosphere of the time. I’m currently going back and reading the stories that I have missed in this series.
Release Date 19th May

The Cook by Ajay Chowdhury
I loved the Waiter which was the author’s debut novel last year and this was just as good. Set in the area around Brick Lane in London, ex-detective turned waiter gets involved with the investigation into the death of one of his customers.
Release Date 5th May

An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle
This is a definitely in the cosy crime genre. Newly divorced and retired social worker, Julia Bird, moves to the Cotswolds. There she seems to find bodies at every turn. This was a fun read. I liked the character and the plotting of the mystery.
Release Date 5th May

Hungry Death by Robin Blake
This was a historical mystery set in 1747 and featuring Coronor Titus Cragg. It is the latest in a series but I found it perfectly OK as a stand alone read. The level of historical detail is brilliant and the mystery was absorbing.
Release Date 3rd May

Romance/Contemporary

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
This is a funny enemies to friends story set in a very small town in North Carolina. Literary agent Nora is on holiday with her sister but she keeps bumping into Charlie, an editor with who she has a less than friendly history.
Release Date 3rd May

The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley
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.
Release Date 26th May

Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan
Any thing by Sarah Morgan is a must read for me and I loved this one. It’s a lovely feel good summery read set in an idyllic seaside town near LA.
Release Date 26th May

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin
This is a Regency romance with very strong echoes of Georgette Heyer but with a more modern tone and a very strong willed heroine. Perfect release time for anyone who has loved Bridgerton.
Release Date 12th May

What are you looking forward to being released this month?

Miss Aldridge Regrets – a review

Happy Publication day to Miss Aldridge Regrets.

When I saw this book on Net Galley, the cover, the blurb and the author all appealed. I thoroughly enjoyed Louise Hare’s previous book, This Lovely City and the idea of a murder mystery aboard a trans-Atlantic cruise liner was something I was definitely eager to read.


The story opens in London in 1936. Lena Aldridge is a singer who has never managed to achieve the heights of success that she dreamed of and is singing in a dingy night club when she receives an almost too good to be true offer of a role in a new musical on Broadway. That night she witnesses the murder of her boss by her best friend and feels that she has no option but to take the job and sail for New York on the Queen Mary.

While on board, she comes into contact with the wealthy Abernathy family and is witness to another death. The story is told as a dual time line: one as she travels across the Atlantic and the other as we see the previous week  and the events that lead up to the voyage. There are also diary entries from an unnamed protagonist who appears to be present at all of the significant events and also pulling the strings of the characters.

I loved reading this story. The settings both in London and on the liner are well described. We go from the sleaziness of the night club to the sumptuousness of travelling first class and both come alive for the reader. The character of Lena was really well written. The issue of race and the treatment of non-white people isn’t such a big part of the book as in This Lovely City but it is still a major part of Lena’s character. She is the mixed race daughter of a black Jazz pianist but is able to pass for someone of southern European heritage and has not really been the subject of racial prejudice before this. Lena grows up in more than one way during this voyage and her understanding of her heritage is part of this.

The other characters cover a wide range: we have the wealthy but unpleasant Abernathys with their sense of entitlement; the corrupt night club owner Tommy who is married to her best friend; Will who is a black pianist on the ship and a host of other minor characters who all flesh out the setting. All of the characters came alive for me and the Louise Hare’s ability to show the different social settings is brilliant.

The plot is interesting and definitely has echoes of an Agatha Christie mystery as the limited cast of characters fall under suspicion one by one. I felt that the weakest part of the book was the conclusion of the mystery and I wasn’t totally convinced by the murderer. However, I did enjoy the journey and love the author’s writing style.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers Berkley Books for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. Miss Aldridge Regrets is published today, April 28th.

Stacking the Shelves 38

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It’s Saturday and it’s a holiday weekend as it’s Easter tomorrow. The weather is also being kind and we have glorious warm sunshine here in the Midlands. 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 weekend, we’re actually building the shelves that the books will be stacked on. After a trip to IKEA and lots of decorating, we are ready to build the bookcases to complete our book room.

As usual, this post is mainly about the library books that I have picked up since my last library post. I’m a huge fan of libraries and really wish that more people used them. They are an incredible public resource of books that is accessible to everyone.

After last week when I had no reservations waiting for me, I had three waiting to be picked up today. I’ve also had several Net Galley requests approved this week so I’m well set up for reading over the long weekend break.

This week’s library haul


The Dying Day by Vaseem Kahn
I really enjoyed Midnight at Malabar House and was excited when I realised that there was another book about India’s first female detective Persis Wadia. This one is about a missing 600 year old copy of Dante’s Inferno and is set in Bombay in 1950.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towle
I’ve heard a lot about this and Lincoln Highway and decided that it was time I read one of them for myself.

Neon Prey by John Sandford
I have never read any of John Sandford’s books and this was just sitting on the shelf this morning so it’s this week’s random choice.

Wind Swept – Why Woman Walk by Annabel Abbs
I have wanted to read this ever since I read about it somewhere. It’s about the walks taken by some famous women including Georgia O’Keefe, Daphne du Maurier and Simone de Beauvoir.

I’ve also added these to my Net Galley shelf this week

I’m especially excited about Book Lovers and the latest Vera Stanhope book from Ann Cleeves

So that’s what I’ve added to my shelf this week. What about you?

Saint Death’s Daughter – Book Review

What a brilliant read! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

When I saw this on Net Galley, I loved the cover and the blurb sounded interesting but had no real expectations beyond it being a new fantasy. It’s so good when you then discover a book that you absolutely love.

We first meet Miscellaneous (Lanie) Stones as a young girl after the death of her parents. She is the youngest daughter in the family of royal assassins and is that rare thing, a necromancer. However she also has a severe allergy to death and violence and suffers echo wounds whenever she is in the presence of these. She lives pretty much alone in the family mansion apart from Goody Graves, an old family servant who is actually a revenant. Then her elder sister returns and Lanie’s life is changed completely.

Lanie is an absolutely brilliant protagonist and I loved reading her journey as she grows up and comes into her powers. She is fiercely loyal to those that she loves and extremely intelligent which is what enables her to survive everything that attacks her and her family. She doesn’t always get things right which just makes her more human.

The plot is complex but basically involves the Stones family fighting for their survival against other powerful families. There is a lot of political intrigue and double dealing as well as magic and the gods taking a direct hand in what is happening. The world building is incredibly detailed even down to footnotes in the text. There were one or two moments when I felt slightly confused as there is a lot happening, but these moments did not spoil my enjoyment of the story. I loved Lanie’s magic and the way that the different characters all have their own magical abilities.

The author has created a perfect blend of slightly macabre fantasy with a real sense of humour. For me, there were definite echoes of The Addams Family at the start, especially with the naming of the characters. There is a bit of romance, but this is very low key and certainly not the focal point of the book. The real themes are about caring for and fighting for those that you love and that your real family is those people, not necessarily the family you were born into.

The book is a stand alone book at the moment and ends with a good resolution so you aren’t left hanging and having to wait for the sequel to appear. However, there is plenty of scope for further novels and I really hope that the author does write more about these characters.

I can see how this book might not appeal to everyone. It can be quite long winded at times but if like me, you love beautifully crafted, multi layered fantasy, then give this one a try.

This is definitely one of the best fantasy books that I have read this year and I’m really grateful to Net Galley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

March Wrap-Up

March is done and dusted so we’re now a quarter of the way through 2022. It seems scary how quickly time seems to pass nowadays.

March was a quiet month with no holidays or excursions anywhere which of course meant that there was more time for reading. In fact I managed to read an amazing 27 books. It’s incredible how much more time I have to read now that I’m mainly retired. I also had one book that I didn’t finish. That’s really unusual for me as I generally skim read my way to the end of a book but I couldn’t get to grips with No one is talking about this by Patricia Lockwood.

My own or library books read this month
Net Galley books read in March

I made a real effort this month to only request books that I definitely wanted to read and to try and reduce the number of books on my Net Galley shelf. I think I did fairly well as my review rating is now up to 86% and I have less than 20 books on my shelves.

Apart from the DNF, all my books this month were 3 stars or higher and most of them were 4 stars, books that I really enjoyed reading but just not quite at that amazing level of my favourites.

My ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reads for this month were:

Saint Death’s Daughter by CSE Cooney (NetGalley)
To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flynn
Medalon by Jennifer fallon (reread)

April might be a slightly quieter month in terms of reading as we have various things planned but I have some amazing books lined up to read.

Traitor in the Ice – a review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed Daniel Pursglove’s first outing in The Drowned City so was excited to see that K J Maitland had written a new instalment. Like the first book, the background to this is an actual weather event. In this case, the great freeze that happened in the Winter of 1607/8. As with the floods in Bristol in the earlier book, the weather and its effects play a huge part in the story and the actions of the characters.

The story revolves around James 1’s continued suspicion of both Catholics and the existence witchcraft. In this case, he is convinced that Battle is sheltering Catholics loyal to the Pope and Daniel is despatched to find proof of the treachery. What he finds is that everyone is hiding something and as he investigates further, the body count rises.

Life in early Stuart is vividly captured. We see how the ordinary and more wealthy people live as well as get a feeling for the superstitious beliefs held by many people, both great and small as well as the ever-present suspicion of Catholics after the failed Gunpowder plot. We get a lot of detail but this is well woven into the story and doesn’t end up feeling like a history lesson. The author creates a very dark atmosphere full of mystery, suspicion and betrayal. Nobody is quite what they appear to be and no one can be trusted.

The plot is very complex with different elements to it that all come together at the end. I did love all of the different threads and enjoyed the way that the author intertwined everything. There is a large cast of characters and at times it became difficult to follow who everyone was. Daniel is an engaging character and his basic good nature despite everything that life has thrown at him comes through clearly. You really want him to survive and succeed in his task. The other standout character for me was Lady Montague who plots and plans to maintain her family’s survival.

The author includes historical notes at the end of the novel which help to put the real characters into the context of real events. I always love seeing how a fictional story fits into the real events of the time and how real historical figures are presented by novelists.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to lovers of C J Sansom and Andrew Taylor as well as anyone who has an interest in Stuart History. Thank you to Net Galley and Headline Publishers for my ARC in exchange for this review.

Traitor in the Ice was published on 31st March.

Yinka, where is your huzband? – A review

Blurb – Yinka’s Nigerian aunties frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, her work friends think she’s too traditional (she’s saving herself for marriage!), her girlfriends think she needs to get over her ex already, and the men in her life…well, that’s a whole other story. But Yinka herself has always believed that true love will find her when the time is right.
Still, when her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences Operation Find-A-Date for Rachel’s Wedding. Aided by a spreadsheet and her best friend, Yinka is determined to succeed. Will Yinka find herself a huzband? And what if the thing she really needs to find is herself?

This is a brilliant book about friendship, family and finding yourself. Although the title might sound as though the book is a romance, there is very actually very little romance involved. The book is about Yinka’s journey to find who she is and what she really wants.

Yinka is 31 years old and still single much to her mother’s and wider family’s dismay. She sets herself the goal of finding a boyfriend by the time her cousin Rachel gets married and plans exactly how she is going to do that. The basic plot of this story really struck a chord with me as I have known two women both in their thirties who have been in this exact position. Possibly not with the huge family pressure experienced by Yinka but that feeling of wanting to be part of a couple for a special event especially a wedding is very real for some people.

The book is deeply rooted in Nigerian culture with lots of details about food, language and clothing which I found fascinating. It is also full of brilliant characters. Yinka herself is brilliantly written. She always wants to do the right thing but often does or says the wrong one. She felt like such a real character and I was cheering her on all the way through the book.

Yinka’s friends are a very mixed bunch but they all have her best interests at heart. Her best friend Nana is the one who keeps Yinka from being overwhelmed by her family and supports her all the way through. She is definitely the sort of best friend that we all wish for. Yinka’s family are like everyone’s family, some who you love and get on with and others who irritate you but are still family and despite the irritation, the love is always there. It was a also nice to have a heroine who was religious and for that religion to play a big part in her life. Religion plays a large part in many people’s lives today but it doesn’t often feature in the novels I read.

There is a lot of humour in the book and one or two really funny moments as the best laid plans of everyone come crashing down. It’s a really lovely read and a book that I found difficult to put down.

For me, this book had everything. It was both funny and moving with brilliantly written characters. Yinka’s story will remain in my head for a long while to come.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I received a Net Galley ARC of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Yinka, where’s your huzband will be published in the UK by Viking on March 31st

Stacking the Shelves 35

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It’s Saturday and it’s another glorious Spring day here in the Midlands. 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!

As usual, this post is all about the library books that I have picked up since my last library post. I’m a huge fan of libraries and really wish that more people used them. They are an incredible public resource of books that is accessible to everyone.

However, my visit to the library was rushed yesterday and so I only picked up two new books to read. That means that I’ll have more time to read some of the fantastic books that I have added to my Net Galley shelf recently.

This week’s library haul


The Mothers by Brit Bennett
I really enjoyed The Vanishing Half last year and so was keen to pick up this one by the same author. It’s all about how the choices that you make when you are young can have a lasting impact on your life.

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
I’ve heard a lot about this author but never read anything by him. In this novel. 5 people are killed by a German bomb in 1944 but the book goes on to explore what their lives might have been like if they had lived.

The five books above are all due to be published in May so my aim is to have read them all by the end of April. I’m doing really well as my review rating is still over 80% and I’m not requesting every single book that I might like.

I’m really looking forward to all of these though.

Beach Hut Summer by Sarah Morgan
All of Sarah Morgan’s books are must reads for me. This one sounds like a perfect summery read.

The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley
I adored The Authenticity Project last year and this one about a random group of people who meet on a train sounds just as good.

After Dark by Jayne Cowie
“With men under curfew, women should be safe” What a statement to put on a book cover! I’m so looking forward to reading this.

Requiem in La Rossa by Tom Benjamin
I love crime stories set in Italy so this one set in the city of Bologna was a must pick too.

The Collar Bound by Rebecca Zahabi
This is unusually the only fantasy book I’ve requested this week but it does sound good.

So that’s what I’ve added to my bookshelf this week. What have you added to yours?