Sunday Salon | 5 April

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in SW London, windows are open and the birds are singing and I’m staying inside because that’s the sensible thing to do. There’s a lot of moralising here about people going to parks and so on and I won’t weigh in on that as we all have to make our own choices but I will say that as someone who really enjoys being a homebody even I’m beginning to get a bit stir crazy, so I understand the desire.

I did go out for a 40-minute walk around the neighbourhood yesterday and I looked like I was off to rob a bank. The selfie is on my Instagram (link above) if you’re interested in what the shabbily chic potential criminal is wearing these days!


I still haven’t got back into the blogging habit and I’m going to cut myself some slack because there’s just so much going on in my brain that sitting and concentrating on being coherent is all a bit much. This doesn’t count because it’s all stream of consciousness anyway.

A couple of commenters last week (waves hello to Bryan and Jenny) asked what I’d been watching, so here’s a quick round-up of the TV stuff we’ve finished in March:

  • The Expanse S2 (we’ve also started S3)
  • Doctor Who S13
  • My Life is Murder S1 (Australian light crime drama with Lucy Lawless)
  • Traces (Scottish murder mystery co-created by the great Val McDermid)
  • Stockholm Requiem (Swedish noir)
  • Star Trek: Picard

I’m still watching Criminal Minds and preparing for it to end, except I’m not prepared at all – what will I do without Spencer Reid and Penelope Garcia? And I am also really enjoying The Mandalorian – any suggestion that I have pre-ordered a Baby Yoda toy would be entirely accurate!

The TV highlight this week was a BBC film by Mark Gatiss on the life and work of Aubrey Beardsley, designed to accompany an exhibition that none of us can visit. Such a thoughtful and intelligent programme, do watch it if you can.

The Peacock Skirt (1893) – Stephen Calloway

And I am reading – finished three books this week and well into a fourth!

Hope you are all keeping well and staying safe. Until next time!

Sunday Salon | 29 March

Well, it’s been a while since I last posted here and the world has gone to hell in a handcart as my old Gran would declare.

There isn’t much more to say about the current situation apart from it being good to see in a time of genuine crisis that there are vastly more kind people than there are idiots, though I’m sad to say that most of the biggest idiots are in positions of power and their decision making has not been stellar.

But no more about that.

Richmond Park, March

Like everyone else, here at Chez Bride we have been staying home and trying to be sensible. Both Mr B and I have existing chronic conditions and are being careful to minimise our exposure and also to behave as if we might infect others.

Of course, I had to develop a nasty cough because, apparently, I don’t like being left out of anything. I have had no other symptoms, so I think I’ve been suffering from a mix of a cold (which in my case always leads to a cough), irritation due to dust exposure as I occupy myself with some major decluttering, all topped up with seasonal allergies. It’s been sunny and windy here in my corner of London and as I have been exclusively indoors since 20 March I’ve been making a point of opening the windows as often as I can, so the pollen etc. has been coming to me as I haven’t been able to go to it.

I’m beginning to get cabin fever though and hope to be able to venture out tomorrow on a grocery run and we’ll take it from there.

I have been reading and watching film/TV and really do want to start blogging again so that I can bore you all to tears with my various observations on stuff so watch this space. I will not, however, be admitting to the number of new books that have made it into my collection since my last post; I will start afresh in April.

I hope you are all keeping well and staying safe and I’ll be back here again soon.

Sunday Salon | 16 February

I’m currently writing this on Sunday afternoon as Storm Dennis has whipped its way across the UK. It is wet.

I’ve not been reading quite as much this week as I’ve been a tad under the weather (pun not intended). I met up with my friend Silvery Dude for the first time this year and we exchanged book and TV show titles to look out for and uncharacteristically did not have any alcohol.

I finished the second Charlie Parker novel and am now officially obsessed and I now have all the titles up to and including volume eight which isn’t even halfway through the series. I sense a project here.

At home, we dipped our toes into The October Faction and Locke & Key and will probably continue watching them as they were very promising.

And we went to see the Birds of Prey movie which I will review soon but the highlights are that this is an absolute hoot, Margot Robbie is fabulous and sleazy Ewan McGregor is the best Ewan McGregor.

That latter statement is not up for debate 😀

New Books

  • What We Did in the Dark by Ajay Close – a fictionalised account of author Catherine Carswell’s first marriage
  • The Decent Inn of Death by Rennie Airth – Snowed in at a country manor, former Scotland Yard inspectors John Madden and Angus Sinclair find themselves trapped in the company of a murderer.
  • The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep – The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world

I finished Dark Hollow by John Connolly – Charlie Parker #2

I am currently reading The Killing Kind by John Connolly – Charlie Parker 3

There is a pattern here, I think :-), can you tell?

Hope you all have a great reading week!

January in Books

Photo by Kara Eads on Unsplash

Only 2 weeks later than planned (oops), here is a round-up of my reading adventures and new books that weren’t gifted; for my birthday book haul see here.

Now for the stats

  • Books started = 7
  • Books finished = 9
  • Pages read = 2356

Books bought – here’s the list!

The Pre-orders

  • Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire – The fifth installment in the award-winning, bestselling Wayward Children series
  • The Other People by CJ Tudor – Three years ago, Gabe saw his daughter taken. In the back of a rusty old car, covered in bumper stickers. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. 
  • Motherwell by Deborah Orr – Just shy of 18, Deborah Orr left Motherwell – the town she both loved and hated – to go to university
  • Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman – Memory defines us–but what if you lost all memory of who you are? Or where you came from?

The Ones from my Christmas Wish List

(which somehow didn’t appear under the tree but were absolutely necessary to have)

  • The Wake by Linden MacIntyre – An incredible true story of destruction and survival in Newfoundland by one of Canada’s best-known writers
  • The Death of Mao by James Palmer – In the summer of 1976, Mao lay dying, and China was struck by a great natural disaster. This title recreates the tensions of that fateful summer, when the fate of China and the world were in the balance

The True Crime Ones

  • Devil in the Darkness by JT Hunter (already finished) – the second book about Israel Keyes on my list
  • The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper – On the scorching February day in 2009 that became known as Black Saturday, a man lit two fires in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, then sat on the roof of his house to watch the inferno.

The Ones Inspired by Watching TV

  • The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward by Anthony Summers – The Profumo Affair was the political scandal of the twentieth century. The Tory War Minister, John Profumo, had been sleeping with the teenage Christine Keeler, while at the same time she had been sleeping with a Russian spy. The ensuing investigation revealed a secret world where titled men and prostitutes mixed, of orgies and S&M parties.
  • Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson – In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. 

Non-Fiction

  • The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey – In 2016, Samantha Harvey began to lose sleep. She tried everything to appease her wakefulness: from medication to therapy, changes in her diet to changes in her living arrangements. Nothing seemed to help.
  • Working Stiff by Judy Melinek – The fearless memoir of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner, and the cases—hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex—that shaped her as both a physician and a mother.
  • The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy – When James Pope-Hennessy began his work on Queen Mary’s official biography, it opened the door to meetings with royalty, court members and retainers around Europe. The series of candid observations, secrets and indiscretions contained in his notes were to be kept private for 50 years. 
  • The Ladies Loos by Kate Harrad – Drawn from the popular web community, The Ladies’ Loos, this new guide represents the collected knowledge of hundreds of ladies on numerous subjects. 

The Rest

  • Mem by Bethany C Morrow – MEM is a rare novel, a small book carrying very big ideas, the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
  • The Other by Thomas Tryon – Holland and Niles Perry are identical thirteen-year-old twins. They are close, close enough, almost, to read each other’s thoughts, but they couldn’t be more different. 
  • Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone – Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes – meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. 

February has already started off well so watch this space!

Sunday Salon | 2 February

It’s that time of year again – here is a gift book haul and other celebratory stuff. Although THEY organised Brexit for my birthday I was not deterred and had a really lovely day. Book stuff first, as always 😀

The Book God got me:

My brother gave me a gift voucher and I spent some time deciding whether to buy a couple of more expensive books or a pile of Kindle editions. (You can take the girl out of procurement etc. so of course I went for the latter!)

This is what I ended up with:


We had a really lovely lunch the day before my birthday in a super Viennese restaurant in Marylebone, but before that, we popped into Daunts and I treated myself to a couple of books


The big event of my birthday was a trip to the theatre to see Endgame and Rough Theatre II by Samuel Beckett. I’ve never really been a Beckett admirer but this production starred two of my favourite actors, Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe. Really excellent evening out.


January has been a really good reading month, and I’m hoping that February will continue that streak. How is your reading going so far this year?

Carpathia | Matt Forbeck

It has been a very long time since I have written a standalone book review. I had to go back to September 24, 2019, to find one so apologies if I’m a little bit rusty 🙂

It seems fitting that the book I’m talking about today is one I’ve had in the stacks for absolutely ages – Carpathia by Matt Forbeck.

When the survivors of the Titanic are picked up by the passenger steamship Carpathia, they thought their problems were over. But something’s sleeping in the darkest recesses of the ship. Something old. Something hungry.

Something that’s trying to get back to the Old Country. Yes, you’ve guessed it – vampires.

Vampires have always been my favourite supernatural monster-type thing, going way back to reading Dracula of course, but mostly I blame Stephen King and Salems Lot, both the TV version starring David Soul and the amazing book it’s based on, still my favourite of King’s vast output. However, I had drifted away from them due to a combination of the increasing daftness of Anne Rice’s novels and the twinkly dark romance of the Twilight saga.

Then, over the New Year, we watched the BBC Dracula which was awesome, and as I was looking for my next read I decided Carpathia would be just the ticket.

And I was right – it’s great fun as long as your idea of fun is out of the frying pan (the freezing Atlantic post-iceberg) into the fire (a band of vampires travelling back to Europe because they were becoming too visible in America – spoiler – not all of the vampires are happy about that) with a love triangle and early feminism thrown into the mix.

Our main protagonists all have names derived from the original Dracula and in a nice touch it becomes clear that their parents (a) knew Bram Stoker, (b) were referenced in the novel and, (c) had a lot of garlic and crosses around their homes when the kids were growing up, from which you can draw your own conclusions.

The descriptions of the sinking of the Titanic and the ordeal survivors went through are well done, and the willingness to believe in actual vampires by a (small) number of the characters arrives quickly given the evidence of their own eyes. I’m often exasperated by the tendency of figures in horror blithely banging on about how there must be a rational explanation for the handsome man in a cloak chewing on someone’s neck.

I also really liked the idea that “modern” vampires might be reckless compared to the older ones who are more reserved (and have therefore survived) and will not listen to their advice.

It gets a bit breathless towards the end and there is a lingering suspicion that a sequel may have been on the cards, but overall I liked it.

6 Underground

This is a Michael Bay film. Just warning you.

Meet a new kind of action hero. Six untraceable agents, totally off the grid. They’ve buried their pasts so that they can change the future.

I was going to say that I have a love/hate relationship with Michael Bay but that wouldn’t be true. I just don’t like his stuff very much. I went on IMDb to have a look at his directing credits and found out that the last one I willingly watched was the first Transformers movie and the last one I can say that I enjoyed (with reservations) is Armageddon.

Armageddon was released in 1998.

So given all this, you may be wondering why I was willing to put myself through watching 6 Underground. I have two words for you.

Ryan Reynolds.

Now some of you have been here a while and will know that I do not really do romantic comedies, and by not really I mean not at all. For this reason, quite a lot of Mr Reynolds’ performances have passed me by. Until Green Lantern, which was universally panned (including by the star himself) but which I enjoyed quite a bit.

Then came Deadpool and I was smitten.

Therefore, I am always willing to give his movies a shot and this looked like it might be fun, plus it was on Netflix, so could be watched in the comfort of my own home. This is a big advantage when you are looking at a film that you are totally unsure about

So what did I think?

Put it this way – I gave it 2 stars on Letterboxd (see here) simply because of the lovely Ryan. One of those points was purely for the excellent product placement of Aviation Gin, a company which he owns.

It’s loud and stupid with lots of car chases and explosions and a disjointed plot which doesn’t really make sense. You will also note from the poster that there are actually seven people in Ryan’s gang. Though not necessarily all at the same time.

In short, to quote my legendary compatriot, Macbeth, it is a story

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.

(Still love Ryan though)

Dazzling details: directed by Michael Bay, this is 2h 8m long and rated 15 for (takes a deep breath) strong bloody violence, gore, sex, sex references, very strong language.

Seriously, what do you need to do to get an 18 these days – like I have said more times than I can remember?