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.

Stacking the Shelves 42

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It’s Saturday and the sun is shining again. We certainly seem to have some beautiful weather this Spring. 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!

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

However, for a change, this week is about the books that I have actually bought. As we’re going on holiday next week, I’ve been making sure that I’m fully supplied with books to read so this is what I’ve bought to keep me going.

Quicksilver Court by Melissa Caruso
The second book in this latest trilogy by Melissa Caruso. I love the world that she has created in this and her previous Mage Fire trilogy.

Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen
I loved the Queen of the Tearling series and found out this week that the author published a prequel last year. The reviews are good so I’m looking forward to this.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells
I’ve seen so many great reviews for this series that I had to finally get round to reading it.

Jade War by Fonda Lee
Jade City was the last book that I read in 2021 and I loved it so I’ve been looking forward to reading this next one for a while.

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold
I saw this series in a review by Shelleyrae at Bookdout and it definitely sounded interesting.

Kagan the Damned by Jonathan Maberry
This was recommended this week by Lady Tessa at Tessatalksbooks and I am definitely looking forward to reading it. As is my husband as it appealed to him too.

It looks like being a real fantasy fest over the week that I’m away although I’ve got a couple of crime novels sitting on my Net Galley shelf if I fancy a change.

What’s on your bookshelf this weekend?

Book Blogger Hop – May 13

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

This week ‘s question is:

Do you post negative reviews? Do you promote those reviews if you post?  (submitted by Heather @ MM Romance Reviewed)

I only post negative reviews if I have to. So, for my Net Galley ARCs where I have to write a review, I will post a negative review if I haven’t enjoyed the book. These reviews are also posted to Goodreads. I don’t post these on my blog though so I don’t publicise or promote them. I do try to be selective in the books that I request from Net Galley as I don’t want to be in the position of having to review something I haven’t enjoyed. Sometimes books take you by surprise though and even though it sounds fantastic, it just isn’t for me.

Reading is such a personal experience and I ‘m very aware that just because I don’t like a book, somebody else won’t love it. I do try to make it clear that this is my personal opinion and other people may have a completely take on the books.

Even though I don’t generally post negative reviews on my blog, I will often post negative comments about particular books in posts such as WWW Wednesday so that I do give a true reflection of my reading.

However, I do think that negative reviews are important. I’ve just read a negative of a Colleen Hoover book and it was so refreshing to see a different opinion of an author who seems to be everywhere at the moment. Which has now made me wonder if I ought to post negative reviews more often?

This is an interesting question and I’m looking forward to seeing other people’s answers.

PS – If anyone is interested in the negative review, it’s on Siena’s blog at Booksophobia. Ir’s a great, thoughtful review and explains really clearly why she didn’t enjoy the book.

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

Stacking the Shelves – 41

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It’s Saturday and the sun is shining again. We certainly seem to have some beautiful weather this Spring. 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!

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

After last week’s bumper collection of library holds arriving for me, I didn’t have any books arrive this week so my choices are just picked off the shelves.

This week’s library haul

Apprentice in Death by J D Robb
Another instalment in the brilliant Eve Dallas detective series set in New York in the middle of this century. There are so many books in this series that they will keep me happily occupied for quite a while.

Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
I’m currently working my way through the Nicola Upson series of books that include Josephine as a character in a set of murder mysteries so I thought it would be interesting to actually read some of the real books. I read Daughter of Time and Brat Farrar years ago but haven’t read any others.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
I’ve seen loads of great reviews for this book so just had to pick it up when I saw on the library shelf yesterday.

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley
A non fiction choice. I’ve already got a biography of Jane Austen but this one is supposed to have a fresh look at her life by focusing on the places where she lived.

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

What’s on your bookshelf this weekend?