Not a bad week if truth be told, in that not very much happened. It was bitterly cold so I stayed indoors without even an exercise walk, so I need to get back to that this week. I’ve downloaded some suitable classes I can take at home but haven’t yet found the best way to integrate them with what I laughingly call my daily routine.
The big excitement of the week was not Valentine’s Day – we don’t really celebrate that any more after *cough* 32 years together – but the arrival the day before of my new dishwasher. So exciting. I am in love.
I couldn’t settle to any one book this week, so I’ve been dipping in and out of the six that are on my Goodreads Currently Reading shelf, which you can see over there in my sidebar.
I did finish one book though – The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy, an investigative journalist. This is the story of what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight 370 which disappeared seemingly without a trace in 2014. Totally fascinating subject; over the years I’ve watched the various documentaries and read the newspaper stories covering the various theories about what happened and why, but as de Changy says:
At the risk of stating the obvious, a Boeing 777 doesn’t just disappear. Such a plane might be hijacked, it might be the target of a terrorist attack, it might explode if a bomb goes off on board, it might be the victim of the pilot or co-pilot’s murderous madness, it might experience a serious fault that the pilots are unable to fix, or it might be shot down accidentally or on purpose in an act of war.
She highlights the way the media contributed to the official theory by blindly accepting the information given to them even when it doesn’t make sense. She has absolutely no time at all for the Malaysian or Australian governments, and presents her own suggestion of what might have happened, very much stressing the “might” as she acknowledges even her plausible explanation still contains gaps.
If you are interested in this sort of unexplained event then I think you would enjoy this. I certainly did.
There are no new books in this week’s round-up. This is not because I didn’t get any (heaven forbid), just that I am still planning to publish a book haul post in the next few days. I’m also hoping to finish at least one of the books on my reading list; we shall see how that goes.
Plus a better late than never January 2021 round-up!
So (at the risk of offending those people who don’t like those of us unable to start a sentence without using SO) it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post which wasn’t an intentional gap but I think we can all allow ourselves some grace during the Great Quar (as coined by the Bananas podcast). When I last left you I had had a pretty bad week, but things have really improved since then.
So let’s start with a look back at January
Books read = 5
Pages read = 1636
Goodreads challenge (2021 = 60 books) = on target!
It was my birthday at the end of January – which helped with the improvement in mood – which means that I have more new books than it’s sensible to mention here. I’m probably going to do a separate book haul post. That seems like a good idea, doesn’t it? But it’s worth mentioning here the pre-orders heading my way in February.
Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford (already delivered) – November 1944. A German rocket strikes London, and five young lives are atomised in an instant. November 1944. That rocket never lands. A single second in time is altered, and five young lives go on – to experience all the unimaginable changes of the twentieth century. Because maybe there are always other futures. Other chances.
The Library of the Dead by TL Huchu (already delivered) – Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.
The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy (not only already delivered but currently reading) – subtitled The Impossible Case of MH370 – writing for Le Monde in the days and months after the plane’s disappearance, journalist Florence de Changy closely documented the chaotic international investigation that followed, uncovering more questions than answers. Riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions and a lack of basic communication between authorities, the mystery surrounding flight MH370 only deepened.Now, de Changy offers her own explanation.
Princess Mary: The First Modern Princess by Elisabeth Basford (already delivered) – Princess Mary was born in 1897. Despite her Victorian beginnings, she strove to make a princess’s life meaningful, using her position to help those less fortunate and defying gender conventions in the process. As the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, she would live to see not only two of her brothers ascend the throne but also her niece Queen Elizabeth II. Another entry in my collection of biographies of very posh women.
The (Other) You by Joyce Carol Oates – In this stirring, reflective collection of short stories, Joyce Carol Oates ponders alternate destinies: the other lives we might have led if we’d made different choices.
The Requisite Courage by Tracy Cooper-Posey (Adelaide Becket Book 1) – In Edwardian England, Lady Adelaide Azalea Margaret de Morville, Mrs. Hugh Becket, lately of the Cape Colony, was born the daughter of an Earl, but is now the widow of a commoner. She straddles two worlds, speaks fluent German, and can ride, hunt and shoot. Her talents draws the eye of spymaster William Melville, who recruits her to help him fight a shadow game with German agents both at home and aboard.
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers Book 4) – when a freak technological failure halts traffic to and from the planet Gora, three strangers are thrown together unexpectedly, with seemingly nothing to do but wait.
The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War – A Tragedy in Three Acts by Scott Anderson – At the end of World War II, the United States dominated the world militarily, economically, and in moral standing – seen as the victor over tyranny and a champion of freedom. But it was clear – to some – that the Soviet Union was already executing a plan to expand and foment revolution around the world. The American government’s strategy in response relied on the secret efforts of a newly-formed CIA. The Quiet Americans chronicles the exploits of four spies.
The Edge by James Smythe (The Explorer Book 3) – Years ago, a vast and mysterious object known as the Anomaly was discovered in deep space. All missions to explore and explain it failed.Now, the Anomaly has almost reached Earth, threatening to swallow the planet whole. On an orbital research station, a team of scientists desperately search for a way to stop it or destroy it.
On This Day She: Putting Women Back Into History, One Day At A Time by Tania Hershman et al – On This Day She sets out to redress this imbalance and give voice to both those already deemed female icons, alongside others whom the history books have failed to include: the good, the bad and everything in between – this is a record of human existence at its most authentic.
The Divines by Ellie Eaton – The girls of elite English boarding school, St. John the Divine, were notorious for flipping their hair, harassing teachers, chasing boys and chain-smoking cigarettes. They were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued, and cutting in the way that only teenage girls can be. But for Josephine, now in her thirties, her time at St. John feels like a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another Divine in fifteen years, not since the day the school shut its doors in disgrace . . .
I’m hoping to get back to properly posting on books read soon, but there are a couple that I’ve finished recently but won’t review fully:
Death in the City of Lights by David King explores the case of Marcel Petiot, a doctor in Paris during WWII who was exposed as a serial killer responsible for the murders of at least 27 people, most of whom were Jews who had come to him for assistance in escaping the Nazis. Deeply appalling. The description of his trial is quite astonishing – his arrogance and claims that he was a member of the Resistance killing people who were collaborating with the Germans were just so awful, but the investigation itself was messy, not least because the Parisian police had to contend with potential interference by the Gestapo.
Shards by Ian Rogers – a very effective horror story with a Cabin in the Woods vibe. I probably shouldn’t have read it at bedtime as it lingered with me. Loved it. Creepily nasty.
The first week of February has brought me fascinating non-fiction and a really excellent crime novel which already feels like it’s going to be a favourite read of 2021. Also my dishwasher died so purchasing a replacement was my focus for the week, but, you know, I used to buy things for a living so that was OK.
And it’s sort of snowing at the moment, so that’s cool. Literally and figuratively.
Hope you all have a great week. See you next time 🙂
Last week was a bit of a horror to be honest – a short but intense depressive episode, a couple of bouts of insomnia and a narrow escape from a phishing attempt – so I’m just not going into the details. You can probably guess not much reading got done so we’ll just skip that for now.
One of the things I missed was my Blogiversary! The Bride is now 14 years old; who’d have thunk it 😀
I turned 14 in 1976. Centuries ago!
Kelly McDonald, Sir Chris Hoy, Martha Wainwright, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ryan Reynolds & Chadwick Boseman were born. I love all of these people.
Agatha Christie, Howard Hughes & some bloke called Mao died
Mamma Mia was number one in the UK on my birthday. This explains a LOT
Star Wars began filming, Brotherhood of Man won the Eurovision Song Contest back when Britain still won that sort of thing, the summer Olympics took place in Montreal and Hotel California (one of my perennial favourite) was released.
So this week we finally took down our Christmas tree. We normally do this around Twelfth Night (as is both traditional and difficult to spell) but self-care demanded that twinkling lights were required for a bit longer. Sad to see it go, but it did dominate the room and it is nice to be able to fully see out of our living room window again, even if it was only to look at rain bucketing down. But I’m from the west of Scotland and rain is a way of life.
I did a lot of reading this week but only finished one book – Savage Spring by Mons Kallentoft; I’ve immediately started the next book in the series as Scandi noir is my thing at the moment, though after this one I might take a break and head off into other realms. In terms of what else I’m currently reading, no change from my last post. You can always see my Goodreads currently list in the side bar —>
The Poet by Michael Connelly – Mr B and I have been slowly working our way through the various Bosch series on Amazon Prime and on his recommendation I decided to expand into the wider Bosch universe; we recently watched The Lincoln Lawyer and I bought this book which is number 1 in the Jack McEvoy series.
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar – my inner X-Files fan picked up this, apparently the untold story of the Dyatlov Pass incident, which is the kind of thing you will have heard of if this is the kind of thing you find fascinating.
Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan – “The devil’s daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, a man who lives a dual life. But the real reason she’s there is to bear him and his barren wife a child, the consequences of which curse the tenement building that is their home for a hundred years.” A new author to me and I’m intrigued by her previous novels.
The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch – The Silence of the Lambs meets Interstellar say the blurb so how could I resist?
And then there was WandaVision – so weird but such fun and a good replacement for our previous ideal Friday night’s watching (The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Discovery – welcome to nerd-central)
Coming this week – several pre-orders, my blog’s anniversary and a trip to the dentist, a bit stressful during Current Times. Hope you guys have a great week and stay safe!
Here we are almost at the end of the first full week of January and given the events of the past week I’m not hopeful that this year will be much better than the one we’ve just endured, but I can be a bit of an Eeyore so let’s hope I’m wrong.
I often am 😀
This is the first post I’ve uploaded since early October. I just wasn’t in a blogging frame of mind for the last few months and I decided that I really wanted to start with a fresh slate, so I won’t be looking back at books read and movies watched in the last quarter if I haven’t already reviewed them.
A wee look back
Having said that, I thought I would share the results of my Goodreads challenge for 2020 – I had a target of 60 books and managed to reach 66, representing 21,320 pages. I’m really pleased by the result given that I had a couple of slumps; just goes to show what being stuck at home can lead to.
Where I am now
Savage Spring by Mons Kallentoft – this is the fourth in the Malin Fors series; I read and thoroughly enjoyed but did not review the first three novels. Scandinavian noir still looms large in my TBR;
The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James – no new ghost story for Christmas on the BBC (sadly) but Mr B and I dipped into our DVD collection to watch some of the old adaptations, which led me to start a major re-read and I’m very glad that I did;
Death in the City of Light by David King – the story of the serial killer Marcel Petiot who was active in Paris during WWII and how he was caught. The guillotine might be involved….
Bought since the beginning of the year:
Marion Lane & the Midnight Murder by TA Willberg – “plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.” [Pre-order]
Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard – “When a mysterious corpse is found in the quarters of Vân’s student, Vân and Sunless Woods find themselves following a trail of greed and murder that will lead them from teahouses and ascetic havens to the wreck of a mindship“
The Man Who Didn’t Fly by Margot Bennett – “Four men had arranged to fly to Dublin. When their aeroplane descended as a fireball into the Irish Sea, only three of them were on board. [..] Who was the man who didn’t fly?“
Wintering by Katherine May – “a poignant and comforting meditation on the fallow periods of life, times when we must retreat to care for and repair ourselves.”
Cardiff by the Sea by Joyce Carol Oates – “a bold, haunting collection of four previously unpublished novellas.”
Hopefully I’ll be posting back here soon on my first completed book of the year. Hope you have a great week, stay safe!
A week late, but what a week it’s been! So many distractions, but I did still want to come on here and register my reading progress for October.
Books read = 4
Number of pages = 1401
Drum roll, please………
I have hit my reading goal for this year – 60 out of 60 books with two full months to go. To early to say how many more I will read before the end of the year, but I will be reading more that’s for sure.
Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood – New York, 1946. Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in the city, but her health is failing. She hires an assistant to help with the investigative legwork. Willowjean Parker is a circus runaway. Quick-witted and street-smart, she’s a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set – and together they investigate the murder of a wealthy young widow. First in a anew series, couldn’t resist.
One by One by Ruth Ware – Snowbound thriller full of tense corporate shenanigans plus avalanche. I haven’t read any Ruth Ware before, so very much looking forward to trying her out.
The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie – survivors of a cult digging into their past, releasing memories and trauma that they have repressed for years. The answers will no doubt be found at Red Peak.
Last Stand in Lychford by Paul Cornell – Exploding fairies, the architect of the universe and a celestial bureaucratic blunder make this a satisfying conclusion to the ever-popular Witches of Lychford series.
That’s it from me! Hope you all have a great reading week.
Whenever I see the name Chris Carter I immediately think of the X-Files but this Chris Carter is not the creator of the Truth is Out There, but the author of several (I haven’t gone to look at exactly how many) crime novels featuring his homicide detective and all-round whizz-kid Robert Hunter.
Hunter’s expertise is such that he gets all the really weird and gruesome murders that are almost always carried out by serial killers.
Earlier in the summer, I read the first three novels in the series, which are:
The Crucifix Killer – the body of a young woman is found in an abandoned cottage; tattoo on her neck is the signature of said Crucifix Killer but surely it can’t be him because he was caught, convicted and executed. More deaths follow. Did Hunter get the wrong man?
The Executioner – the body of a priest is found in his church on the altar steps, grotesquely mutilated and with the number 3 written on his chest in blood. More deaths follow, all numbered. What links the victims and who knows what they fear the most?
The Night Stalker – a woman has been abducted and murdered in a deeply gruesome way. More deaths follow. What links the victims and why are they being killed like this?
First things first, I really enjoyed these novels. The style, which is very straightforward and almost journalistic, is reminiscent of two other favourites writing in the genre – Richard Montanari and Chelsea Cain, both of whom I love.
The key to whether you’ll enjoy these books, assuming you are willing to accept without flinching the descriptions of murder and mutilation, is whether you like Robert Hunter or not. He has a very specific set of characteristics:
he is super-intelligent, a child prodigy who raced through school and college and whose unpublished thesis is, of course, required reading by those in the field
he is damaged – of course he is – for him it takes the form of insomnia
he self-medicates with single malt whisky so he gets extra points from me for that 😀
he is extremely good looking, and every woman he comes into contact with flirts with him
he is empathetic
he is attracted to strong women but these relationships do not end well, usually for the woman but just as often for him
people around him often get hurt; it is risky being his colleague
is there anything he doesn’t know and did he really learn it all from books?
At the moment I like him, and also the author’s style with one exception – his tendency to be overly specific about cars; I will definitely be reading the whole series.
It has been a very quiet week chez Bride. I’ve been somewhat under the weather and spending a lot of my time not sleeping well then napping, so on and so forth.
Naps are something new to me – when I was younger I just couldn’t sleep during the day unless I was ill, and now that I’m pushing 60 it’s staying awake that’s the problem 😀
I didn’t finish any books this week, and I’m still reading the third Malin Fors novel which I would like to complete as I’m itching to get into some creepy books for Hallowe’en season. I have a nice little list from which to select and I’m going to pick randomly from them as my fancy takes me.
I’m pleased to report that I only bought one book that wasn’t a pre-order, and that was Poems to Save the World With, selected and illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Chris Riddell.
I don’t read poetry very often but how can you resist a book which contains this image (to represent Ozymandias by Shelley):
What I have been doing instead of reading is decluttering my wardrobe, listening to podcasts (as always) and watching TV with Mr B. Season 1 of Evil has turned into something of a hit with us, and we were sad to see the end of S2 of The Boys – we both loved the comics and reckon the adaptation captures the spirit of the original, including the gore.
The big revelation has been Elementary. Yes, I know that I’m probably the last person in the universe to watch this, but in my defence Sherlock with Mr Cumberbatch got to me first, I had space for only one Holmes at a time, and I thought (wrongly) that the man himself may have been Americanised rather than just the setting moved to New York.
I admit it. I was wrong.
Not only is it really, really good but Jonny Lee Miller may be one of my absolutely favourite incarnations of Holmes (Basil Rathbone will always be my No. 1. I know his films are flawed. Don’t at me). I’m devouring the first season and looking forward to steadily working my way through the lot.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. Hope you are all staying safe and well, and have a great reading week.
Forget that you ever, ever saw me mention a no-spend policy because as you will see, I blew that plan completely out of the water. And as I have absolutely no shame, I thought I would share my purchases from mid-September to date.
The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier – “War brought the Harvest. Willa Mae Wallace is a Reaper.” Society is split along blood type lines as a result of mandatory drawing to support the war effort. There is of course a Big Secret and Willa will try to get to the bottom of it.
Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden – first published in 1939 and made into a remarkable film starring Deborah Kerr, as soon as I realised the BBC was producing an adaptation for Christmas I knew I should read the original.
That led me down a rabbit hole of classics…..
Effie Briest by Theodor Fontane – first published in 1894, this is the story of Effie, married off to a man twice her age, gets bored, has an affair with someone unsuitable which later comes back to haunt her. The consequences are fatal, of course. I will try not to think of Madame Bovary.
The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Kelin – first published in 1932, this tale of Doris who runs off to 1920s Berlin to make it big in the movies but sinks into the city’s lower echelons was a huge bestseller in Weimar Germany until it was, of course, banned by the Nazis. I will try not to think of Cabaret.
The Grand Babylon Hotel by Arnold Bennett – a long time since I read Bennett’s famous Old Wives Tale, this sounds like a very different kettle of fish. Nella is refused service in the Grand Babylon Hotel, but her father is a millionaire so buys the thing for her. Shenanigans ensue. I will try not to get this confused with the Grand Budapest Hotel.
Now back to the present/near future…..
Adaptation by Malinda Lo – vast global conspiracy ahoy, involving birds, because of course it does. Reese is involved in an accident and is in a coma or similar for about a month. When she wakes up she remembers nothing but knows one thing – she’s different now……. I believe this is the first in a series. Any similarities to The Birds is coincidental, I’m sure.
Everything Under by Daisy Johnston – nominated for the 2018 Booker Prize, this is, according to the blurb, “an electrifying reinterpretation of a classical myth” and unsettling. I like unsettling.
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – here is a confession – I haven’t read any Naomi Novik. Yet. There is a sorceress who doesn’t want to be one but has a destiny which involves changing the rules of magic. This sounds a good place to start.
Fashion on the Ration by Julie Summers – last week I was able to watch/listen to a lecture by Julie Summers via my V&A membership, talking about her latest book (which I bought earlier this year, it’s the life of the editor of British Vogue during the war years) but I was diverted by one of her anecdotes to look up this book about style in World War II and the difficulties of finding silk for your camiknickers.
Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants by Brian McDonald – the history of Britain’s first female crime syndicate, who made shoplifting kind of glamorous, hiding the stuff they stole (fashion, jewels, furs) in specially adapted clothing and blowing the proceeds on the high life.
A Wash of Black by Chris McDonald – the first in the DI Erika Piper series, a famous actress is found dead and mutilated on an ice rink in Manchester, a copy of a scene from one of her big movies. Our heroine is now hunting the Blood Ice Killer, because of course there is a nickname; there is always a nickname.
And the first few books of October……
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton – it’s 1634 and the world’s greatest detective is being shipped to Amsterdam to be executed, but once the boat sets sail nasty things start to happen. Death, yes. Destruction, undoubtedly. But demons?
The SS Officer’s Armchair by Daniel Lee – subtitled In Search of a Hidden Life. You buy an armchair and then find a bundle of documents sewn into the chair’s cushion. They are covered in swastikas, so of course you need to set off on a quest to find out who owned the chair and presumably the documents.
Mr Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd – a stranger arrives in Little Camborne and in his wake comes mystery, revenge, murder, greed and jealousy. Everyday life in an English village. Where is Miss Marple when you need her?
Mantel Pieces by Hilary Mantel – even if she wasn’t already one of my very favourite literary people, the pun in the title would have been enough to make me want to read this collection of her essays, mostly (I think) from the London Review of Books.
Witness X by SE Moorehead – Neuropsycholgist hunts serial killer in the near future. Silence of the Lambs meets Blade Runner with a tinge of Stranger Things. Apparently.
The Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti – Newly engaged. Dead aunt. Seriously ill uncle with not long to go. A mansion in the Catskills, and a sister who disappeared years ago. Nothing to see here. Move along.