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 the book by my bed (or on the arm of my sofa) is Babel by R F Kuang
I really enjoyed the Poppy Trilogy by R F Kuang and I loved the idea of this book and the tower of Babel being a centre of translation in Oxford so this was a book that I was really looking forward to reading.
Blurb from the book:
An act of translation is always an act of betrayal
Oxford 1836 The city of dreaming spires
Ir is the centre of all knowledge and progress in the world
And at its heart is Babel, Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation
The tower from which all the power of the empire flows
Orphaned in Canton and brought to England by a mysterious guardian, Robin Swift thought Babel a paradise.
Until it became a prison. But can a student stand against an empire.
So far I’m about a third of the way through and I am really enjoying the story and the ideas. I loved the discussions between the characters about how translations can never be totally honest as words don’t translate exactly into other languages. I’ve come across this problem in music when a translation that sticks very closely to the original words often doesn’t work as well as one that changes the words more but conveys the sense better.
You know it’s nearly Christmas when the snowy scenes start appearing on the covers of the new releases. Sarah Morgan is one of my favourite Christmas authors and I was thrilled when I was approved to read this year’s Christmas release by her.
This was the perfect Christmas read
The Miller Family always celebrate Christmas together in the Scottish highlands but this year, all three siblings have secrets that they don’t want their parents to know about. Meanwhile, PR expert Lucy is in danger of losing her job if she can’t win a major piece of work so she decides to travel to Scotland and deliver her proposal in person in the hope that this will enable her to get in ahead of the competition. However, none of them paid any attention to the weather forecast!
The result is that the entire family plus Lucy are snowed in together for the days immediately before Christmas. The grown-up siblings Ryan, Alice and Clemmie all try to avoid awkward questions from their parents which leads to misunderstandings all round. As I read it, I laughed, cringed at some of the actions taken and had a lump in my throat on several occasions.
I love the family relationships in this book. The bickering siblings who still always look out for each other feel very real as does Mum Glenda who feels guilty that her children don’t feel that they can’t talk to her. The comment “Your child is always your child, no matter how old they are. You want the best for them” stood out a mile for me as it is so true. That’s what I love about Sarah Morgan. Her characters feel like real people and do and say things that you can imagine being said by people you know or by yourself.
The siblings all love each other and each have their own characters. They were all interesting but I empathised most with Alice. Her ability to be perfectly competent in her professional life but feel totally inadequate in her personal life really struck a chord with me. I loved the way her relationships with her fiance and her family worked themselves out.
The stand-out character for me was that of Nanna Jean who at 86, is not changing her attitudes towards anything and provides a lot of the comic relief in the book. She definitely reminds me of my own mother who is a very similar age and has a similar attitude to doing exactly what she wants.
It’s a Christmas romance and we know how the characters are likely to end up but it’s how they arrive there that makes Sarah Morgan’s books so special.
I loved this book and it really put me in the mood for Christmas and making some shortbread.
Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers, HQ, for providing the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Snowed in for Christmas was released in the UK on October 27th
This is my final post for Blogtober 2022. I have published a post every day for the whole of this month!!!!!!
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 the book by my bed (or on the arm of my sofa) is The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman
I really enjoyed both of Richard Osman’s previous books about the Thursday Murder Club so was very excited when this latest one arrived in the library this week.
Blurb from the book: It is an ordinary Thursday and things should finally be returning to normal.
Except that trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A decade-old cold case leads them to a local news legend and murder with no body and no answers
Then a new foe pays Elizabeth a visit. Her mission? Kill……… or be killed.
As the cold case turns red-hot, Elizabeth wrestles with her conscience (and a gun) while Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron chase down clues with help from old friends and new. But can the gang solve the mystery and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?
The Murder Club at Coopers Close have reassembled to look into the disappearance of journalist Bethany Waites ten years ago and enlist the help of the local TV star who knew her well. At the same time, Elizabeth is given the task of killing an old acquaintance and if she doesn’t, Joyce’s life will be in danger. All of the threads from the previous novels are pulled together early in the story including the love lives of Inspector Chris Hudson and his sergeant Donna. I’m enjoying the continuity of the book from the previous one as it starts quite soon after the last one finished although I’m not sure how easy it would be to start the series by reading this one.
I love Elly Griffiths’ crime novels especially the Ruth Dalloway series. This is a newish series featuring a young Sikh policewoman but is promising to be just as good as the Dalloway books.
Bleeding Heart Yard is another great outing for the newly promoted Inspector Harbinder Kaur. No longer living in Sussex, in this third book, she has now moved to take up a new role in London heading a detective team. This means she has finally moved out of her parents’ house and is now sharing a flat in London. A new life beckons.
Her first murder enquiry is a high profile one when a prominent MP is found murdered at a school reunion. To complicate matters, her sergeant, Cassie, was also at the event and as a possible witness, cannot be involved in the case. The murder victim was one of an elite group who were all pupils at the school and there seems to some link to the unexplained death of one of their school mates 21 years ago. When another of the group is murdered, things become darker and it is unclear who can be trusted
I enjoyed both of the previous books in this series but this is my favourite one so far. I love the character of Harbinder and it’s great to see her moving on both in her career and her life. She is gay, non-white and small of stature so life in the police is likely to be difficult. However, she is completely competent and soon gains the confidence of her new colleagues. Harbinder’s character seems very real to me. She knows that she is good at her job and has confidence that she can do it properly. However, in her personal life she is a lot less confident and Elly Griffiths does a great job in showing us the different sides of her character. I have really enjoyed seeing how Harbinder has developed over the three books so far.
The other characters are all written with the author’s customary skill. Harbinder’s colleagues are a mixed bag including one who is a friend of the murder victim and could possibly be a suspect. I also love the way that the settings are so vivid in Elly’s books. Bleeding Heart Yard is a real place in London with an actual bistro and the author’s use of this setting adds a feeling of reality to the story
The book is written from different points of view and sometimes we see the same scene twice as we revisit it through the eyes of a different character. I enjoyed this aspect of the book as it’s always interesting to see how different people can view the same event.
I loved this book and am eagerly looking forward to the next one.
I received this ARC from the publishers and Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.
Bleeding Heart Yard was published by Quercus Books on September 29th
Autumn is always a brilliant time of year for new books as the publishers hope to get us all to put books on our lists for Father Christmas. This year, there seem to be even more amazing books coming out than usual over the next couple of months. These are some of the ones that I am really looking forward to.
Detective Superintendent Roy Grace finds himself plunged into an unfamiliar and rarefied world of fine art. Outwardly it appears respectable, gentlemanly, above reproach. But beneath the veneer, he rapidly finds that greed, deception and violence walk hand-in-hand.
Harry and Freya, an ordinary couple, dreamed for years of finding something priceless buried amongst the tat in a car boot sale.
It was a dream they knew in their hearts would never come true – until the day it did… They buy the drab portrait for a few pounds, for its beautiful frame, planning to cut the painting out. Then studying it back at home there seems to be another picture beneath, of a stunning landscape. Could it be a long-lost masterpiece from 1770? If genuine, it could be worth millions.
One collector is certain that the painting is genuine. Someone who will use any method he can to get what he wants and will stop at nothing.
And Harry and Freya are about to discover that their dream is turning into their worst nightmare. .
I’ve read all the Roy Grace books since Peter James first started the series and am definitely looking forward to this next instalment which is actually published today.
This is the 18th book in the Inspector Gamache series and he’s still going strong in the small town of Three Pines. There doesn’t seem to be any blurb available for this one though.
1917. New York.
Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperon duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?
From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!
And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.
When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.
But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby . . .
If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.
Spies, music and a New York setting – Who could resist?
When Tennal – a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster – is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him.
Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds.
Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.
I loved Winter’s Orbit by the same author last year. This is another stand alone novel set in the same universe.
Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.
Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.
But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…
Another Science Fiction book that sounds so intriguing and has had great reviews. I just hope that I’m not disappointed.
And of course, a couple of Christmas books to look forward to. I love both of these authors.
A bit of crime, a bit of Science Fiction and a dash of Christmas romance. These are some of the books that I am looking forward to reading over the next couple of months. What about you?
Book details and images from Net Galley apart from A World of Curiosities.
Lydia is almost 40 and living in her parents’ spare room after her husband of 20 years left her. She feels that life is passing her by when she discovers a bucket list in a shopping trolley. She has never done any of the things on the list and decides to try and complete the 9 tasks herself in the hope of winning back her husband. She even manages to find a companion to do the tasks with and has high hopes that she can show her husband that she isn’t the dull, boring person that he seems to think that she is.
I loved the setting of this book, it’s refreshing to have a romance not set in London or Cornwall and there are some lovely scenes set in and around Leeds. The supporting characters are also brilliant. Lydia’s family and friends especially her mother are vividly portrayed and there are some great comic moments in the family scenes. I loved the Polish family background and Lydia’s frustration and love for her family feels very real.
I really felt for Lydia as she tried to conquer her fears and complete the challenges. I think the fact that the bucket list wasn’t her own made this more interesting. They weren’t challenges that she had thought of so the effort to complete them was greater. Her personal journey throughout the story is a lovely one as she discovers who she really is.
The romance between Lydia and Jake is quite a slow burn as they come together to complete the challenges. Lydia wants to be somebody else which leads to her deceiving Jake. At first this doesn’t seem to be important but as he comes to mean more to her, her deception becomes more of an issue. However, Jake has secrets of his own and both of them have to decide whether or not to be open and honest with each other.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it. It’s a great debut novel and I will certainly look out for future books by Katherine Dyson
Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Lily Bennett’s Bucket List was published by Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter on September 9th.
What a gorgeous witchy read. I had no idea what to expect from this book but I absolutely loved it.
Mica Moon is a 31 year old witch who has been brought up believing that witches must always work alone and can never trust anyone with the secrets of their witchcraft. However, when she is approached to help three young witches control their powers, she sees the chance for a new start.
The three girls live in a mysterious house in Norfolk in the care of their guardian, an archaeologist who is off somewhere excavating. In her absence, Ian, Ken and Lucie look after the girls and the house. And then there’s the librarian, Jamie who is very prickly and is determined to keep the girls safe at all costs.
Mica settles into her new role and begins to feel at home which she has never done in any place before. However, then she discovers that Jamie and the others are keeping secrets from her because they do not trust her and everything she has come to believe is shattered.
This book is a gorgeous combination of fantasy and romance. The fantasy elements are set firmly within the real world and are presented as normal. I love the way that Mica can fit a completely random collection of things including a fish pond into her small car. At its heart though, this is a novel about found family and seeing how Mica finds a place for herself is heart-warming. There are very similar vibes to The House on the Cerulean Sea so if you loved that, there is a good chance you will enjoy this one.
I loved all of the characters in this book. The three girls especially are brilliant. Each of them has their own character but my favourite is Terracotta who is a typical middle child, very spiky and reluctant to trust anyone especially an unknown witch. The standout character though is Mica herself. Despite lacking love and affection in her life, she cares about everyone around her and always thinks the best about any situation. A character who is a constant ray of sunshine can be irritating but Mica has a very vulnerable side and when she was hurt, I got a real lump in my throat.
This is a gorgeous book about found family, trust and new starts. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a witchy story with a healthy dose of romance.
Thank you so much to Net Galley and the publishers for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is published by Hodder and Stoughton on 23rd August.
I have loved this series since reading Midnight at the Malabar Hotel last year and was really keen to read this latest book in the series.
Persis Wadia is the only female police inspector in India in the years immediately following partition. She has been assigned to the unit based in the Malabar Hotel which is where they put all the officers who they don’t quite know what to do with. She is a gifted detective who achieves great results but constantly has to battle with the prejudice of being a woman doing what is seen as a man’s job. In this book, she is forced to work with the senior detective Oberoi, who makes no secret of the fact that he sees no need for her and in fact, instructs her not to speak during the investigation. The occasions when Persis gets the better of Oberoi and other men who try to put her down provide some of the book’s lighter moments.
The investigation is an intriguing one. It begins when two mountaineers discover a dead body high in the mountains. This discovery is followed by the brutal murder of an Italian businessman and his Indian wife. Both men have their faces destroyed but nothing else seems to link the two cases. Then a further death occurs and the links gradually appear.
Persis is an engaging but sometimes frustrating main character and love the interweaving of the investigation and her personal life. She is feeling confused and almost hostile as she feels that changes are being forced upon her not only by her father but also the criminologist Archie Blackfinch who she is developing feelings for. Her behaviour towards Archie in particular is frustrating as she certainly doesn’t treat him well due to her conviction that there can be no future for them. She is also initially hostile to the idea of being a mentor to a young girl from the slums. You would expect this to be something she would be keen to do. However, her reluctance stems from her conviction that she can’t do a good job. This makes her a very real character with positive traits and flaws just like the rest of us
The author paints a vivid picture of Bombay and the surrounding area in 1950. We see clearly the inequalities between the rich and the people who like her young mentee, come from the slums. We also visit other locations such as the Banganga Tank and an old prisoner of war camp. Each different location is described in a way that lets the reader visualise the setting without bogging the story down in detail.
The historical background to this story is fully realised and the difficulties thrown up in the aftermath of the British leaving are clear. I enjoyed the greater importance placed on faith in this story too. The faith of the young girl Seema and the priests makes an interesting counterpart to Persis’s own almost forgotten Parsee religion.
I loved this book and totally recommend it to anyone who loves detective fiction especially with a historical element.
I am really grateful to Net Galley and the publishers, Hodder and Stoughton, for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Lost Man of Bombay will be published on August 18th by Hodder and Stoughton.
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.
AAAAAAAAAGH!!!! How can I be expected to choose my top 5 books? I’ve read some amazing books this year and picking 5 is just going to be hard.
To narrow it down, I’m going for my top 5 fantasy books that I’ve read this year so far.
Each one of these was a 5 star read for me and they were all by authors that I hadn’t read before this year.
Have you read any of these? What would be in your top 5 so far this year?
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.
The Merciless Onesby 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
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
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?