It’s time for another book haul

I’m trying quite hard to cut back on buying new books. Long-term readers will be aware that I rarely buy physical books now because there is no more shelf/floor/window sill space chez Bride, but it’s just so easy to click that order button when browsing Kindle editions, so I need to work on that even though it goes against every fibre of my being 😀

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

These are the things that have made it onto my virtual (with one exception)stack so far in April:

My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood

Life is hard enough for a teenage girl in 1950s suburbia without having a mother who may—or may not—be a witch. A short story by Ms Atwood is not to be missed.

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

This was a pre-order. I’ve read several (but not all, and not in order of publication) of Jennifer Egan’s books starting with Goon Squad and I understand that this new book builds on that earlier work & might even be a sequel.

Watch Me by James Carol

I mentioned in my last post that I had read and quite enjoyed the first Jefferson Winter serial killer thriller Broken Dolls and thought I would give the second one a go to see if its a series with which I want to continue

Jane’s Country Year by Malcolm Saville

Mr B and I sadly attended the funeral of a friend and former colleague a few weeks ago, and on of her interests was the work of Malcolm Saville, a children’s author from the mid-twentieth century who was completely new to me, so I thought I would pick one to try out, and this tale spoke to me the most. Originally published in 1946.

Business as Usual by Jane Oliver

I can’t resist a story constructed from letters, so when I cam across this novel from 1933 I thought I should give it a try, especially as it concerns a young woman from Scotland trying to make her way in London by working in what is clearly meant to be Selfridges.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. 

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch

The ninth entry in the Rivers of London series; I am so far behind in reading these but I know I’ll get to them eventually. Plus this is one of the few authors I read in hardback and I have a lovely matching set, which counts for a lot in my world.

Letters to Gwen John by Celia Paul

Gwen John is one of my favourite artists and I thought this book, by the artist Celia Paul would be interesting, though I understand that its likely to be more about Celia than Gwen…

Hide by Nell Pattison

I can’t remember where I saw this mentioned (another blogger? a newsletter? a website recommendation?) but it involves hiking, a group trying to rekindle the friendship and a murder. Known as Nowhere to Hide outside the UK I think, looks like fun.

Agatha Christie’s Poirot by Mark Aldridge

From Agatha Christie’s earliest conceptions and publication history, to forays on the stage and screen, the story of Poirot is as fascinating as it is enduring. Mark Aldridge tells this story decade-by-decade, exploring and analyzing Poirot’s many and often wildly different appearances, following the detective to present day when he is enjoying a worldwide renaissance. 

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

I have already started reading this, having bought it because of a reference in the afterword to Adam Nevill’s Last Days and seeing information about the soon-to-be-released TV adaptation starring the wonderful Andrew Garfield. Murderous fundamentalist Mormons are fascinating it seems. To me at least.

Have you read any of these? Are they already on your TBR list? Or is this the first time you’ve heard of these titles? Let me know in the comments.

Stay safe everyone!

April so far…..

How did we get halfway through April without me posting anything (yes, I know my posting “schedule” is always erratic at the best of times)?

I’ll tell you why – coming down with the dreaded lurgy, that’s why.

Saying that, I should make it clear that I am not talking about Covid, just your common or garden spring head cold with added allergies (tree pollen is going mad at the moment) but it’s the first cold I’ve had since long before the pandemic and I was wholly unprepared, though in a (misguided) generous impulse as I recovered I gave it to my husband.

So I basically spent the last seven days or so slumped on the sofa. The good news was that I didn’t have any headaches so I was able to read…

A few thoughts on the books I finished:

Broken Dolls by James Carol – I am unable to resist a hunter of serial killers and this is the first in the Jefferson Winter series. I enjoyed it enough to buy the sequel, but this is clearly the introduction to a new character and suffered a tiny bit from that, but like I said, intriguing enough for me to want to read more.

Mimic by Daniel Cole – talking about serial killers, Mimic is the latest novel from Cole, who wrote the Ragdoll trilogy which I liked very much (but don’t ask me about the TV adaptation unless you really want a bit of a rant). This is a standalone novel, set initially in 1989 then jumping ahead to 1996. So no mobile phones or any other whizz bang technology, just good old fashioned police work. I liked it.

Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water by Vylar Kaftan – possibly my favourite author name in recent years; I can’t remember on whose recommendation I got this, but it’s a very atmospheric novella set on a prison planet where Bee, a telepath, is being held for crimes she can’t remember. It’s a strange book but was quite moving and beautifully written.

Suspects by David Thomson – better known for his non-fiction work on the history of the movies, this is the first of Thomson’s novels that I’ve read and I found it really intriguing. It’s basically a biographical dictionary of about a hundred (I didn’t count) characters from film noir, giving them backstories and often details of their probable future taking place outside the films in which they appear. I can see that a lot of people wouldn’t like this because there isn’t really an easily discernible narrative but I found it fascinating, though I definitely got more out of the characters whose films I had seen.

Currently reading:

  • The Cabinet by Un-su Kim – a literary work from South Korea, I’m not sure if it’s a novel or a set of linked short stories but it is definitely interesting and I just need to remember to pick it up…
  • Unquiet Spirits by Bonnie MacBird – the second in her Sherlock Holmes series, all about ghosts, murder and of course whisky; I’m struggling with this a bit because I’m just not in a Holmesian mood at the moment, so will probably set it aside and come back to it later….
  • Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants by Brian McDonald – as much about general London lawlessness as it is about this all woman shoplifting syndicate, I’m not quite a fifth of the way in and haven’t yet met Alice….
  • The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne – the Franco-Prussian War, the siege of Paris, the fall of Louis Napoleon and the Commune; if you’re at all interested in French history, especially where it intersects with war then you should definitely read Horne’s work
  • Last Days by Adam Nevill – independent filmmaker is hired to make a documentary about a cult focussing less on the disastrous ending of the group and more on the potential supernatural elements; definitely not going to end well and I probably shouldn’t have started reading it at bedtime….

What I’ve been watching:

No films this month(so far), but I really enjoyed working my way through:

  • Peaky Blinders S6: the last outing, on TV at least, I had never watched this series before though the Mr B has been encouraging me to do so. The presence of Diana Mitford as a key character got me interested and I was hooked. Will be going back to the very beginning to watch the whole thing
  • The Ipcress File: I remember watching the sixties movie starring Michael Caine which in some respects can’t be beaten, though this was a very stylish and well acted version of the story; I hope they adapt the remaining Harry Palmer books

Hope you are all staying safe. How is your April going so far?

The Autopsy of Jane Doe [2016]

EVERY BODY HAS A SECRET

My husband does not like horror movies. I want to be very clear here; he doesn’t mind monster movies (vampires etc.) but he does not like the kind of horror movie that has situations which could conceivably happen to real people. So when he said that he would be going out to dinner with a former colleague leaving me home alone I took the opportunity to watch The Autopsy of Jane Doe which has been on my radar for ages.

They said don’t watch this alone. But I did, even as it was getting dark (clocks in the UK had not sprung forward as yet). I am brave that way as only someone with Thai food and a large glass of wine can be.

Like I said, I’m brave, me.

So we start at a home where a number of people have been bloodily murdered, and in the basement the police find the body, apparently unmarked, of a naked young woman who has no connection to the crime scene that can be ascertained. The officer in charge needs a cause of death so that he can deal with the press the following morning, so takes the body to the coroner (played by Brian Cox) and his mortuary technician son (Emile Hirsch) and asks for them to work on identifying how this young woman died.

It is late at night. The mortuary is in the basement, and although the place where autopsies are carried out is well-lit etc., the rest of the basement is a bit creepy, with an unhelpful corner around which things (should there be things) can lurk to catch the unwary. There is also a cat, so that’s one potential jump scare accounted for.

No-one should be carrying out an autopsy under these conditions. No one.

Things do not go at all well.

I really enjoyed this unsettling, well-made and gruesome horror/thriller. Did I work out what was going on? In part, yes, yes I did. Did I at one point shout at the TV because (given the evidence they’d found) the answer was kind of obvious? Might have. Did it have one of those endings that means all of the bad stuff is likely to continue? You’ve guessed it. Does the cat survive? Not saying (Spoiler – no).

I love Brian Cox, he is the first and best Hannibal Lecter and of course Scottish so I may be biased. I once saw him play Titus Andronicus on stage and he was fabulous. The rest of the cast is also very good but I will admit that Mr Cox was the main draw for me. Recommended, may watch again.

Dazzling details: The Autopsy of Jane Doe is rated 15, runs for 1h 26 (which is refreshing) and directed by Andre Ovredal (his movie Trollhunter is also really good – I even reviewed it back in the day)

February wrap

Well, after a fairly ordinary January, I found myself devouring books in February for no particular reason other than picking some really absorbing titles and, if I’m honest, finishing a couple of books that didn’t quite make it the previous month.

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

The Stats

Books read = 10 (I know!)

Pages read = 3,861

Goodreads progress = 22% of my goal, 4 books ahead of schedule

I’m going to cover the books I read in a couple of posts over the next few days so look out for them. I will mention one DNF or (more accurately) one set aside for later as I think I still want to read it. That book is The Quantum Curators & the Faberge Egg by Eva St John. I picked it up because I had been reading a lot of intense and dark stuff and thought I could do with a bit of humour and whimsy but apparently I was wrong. Nothing negative to say about the book, I was just in the wrong frame of mind, and intend to pick it back up at some point.

March pre-orders

Coming up this month:

  • Stars and Bones by Gareth Powell – this may look familiar as I mentioned it last time; due originally for publication in February I actually received it this morning
  • Sundial by Catriona Ward – Stephen King says it’s authentically terrifying so who am I to argue?
  • The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James – a true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for….
  • Femina by Janina Ramirez – a new history of the middle ages focussing on the women written out of traditional narrative, really looking forward to this
  • Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough – another book about not being able to sleep – feel drawn to this theme at the moment even as my own intermittent insomnia is dormant (I’m probably going to regret saying that…)
  • A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear – Maisie Dobbs #17 – I am very behind with this series also
  • The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd – maps, I love maps
  • Dark Queens by Shelley Pulaski – more medieval history focussing on women; i think I see a pattern here
  • Escape from Yokai Land by Charles Stress (the 12th Laundry Files book – I really need to catch up with this series being only at book 7) – also arrived this morning and now I look at it properly it is (a) a novella and (b) actually book 7.5 so will probably shoot up my TBR 🙂

Currently reading Gallows Court by Martin Edwards but haven’t picked my non-fiction read as yet.

What are your plans for March? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great month everyone, stay safe!

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She’s worked with the revered crime writer for years and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It’s just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway…

Magpie Murders is a beautifully constructed murder mystery in two timelines, with the two stories linked by the author Alan Conway. One is a book within a book, Conway’s latest Atticus Pund mystery, and the other is set in the modern day where Susan Ryeland is trying to find the missing last chapter of the book, following Conway’s sudden demise.

I love Anthony Horowitz and I remember buying this not long after it came out several years ago, but failed to read it at the time (which is sadly normal for me these days). I hadn’t forgotten about it exactly but two recent events definitely brought it back to mind:

So what else could I do? And I’m glad I did pick it up because it is such fun and of course beautifully written. One of the things that I really loved was that the bulk of the Atticus Pund story is front-loaded so that we are reading it along with Susan and come to the realisation that the final chapter is missing and the story just stops dead along with her.

Why do English villages lend themselves so well to murder?

The modern day mystery is also very enjoyable as Susan goes off in search of the missing chapter and to fins out what actually happened to Alan Conway, whom she doesn’t even like, but who is their company’s biggest seller. Both aspects are excellent in their own right, but together they create something special.

I have also seen the first episode of the TV series and I can recommend it highly. Horowitz has written the script and changed the structure to fit the screen better. Wonderful cast and beautiful locations, I am deeply envious of all of the outfits that Lesley Manville (who plays Susan) is wearing in the series.

There is a sequel which I will try to pick up sooner rather than later.

Have you read this, and if so what did you think?

It’s a Book Haul – Sunday 6 Feb

Mostly birthday gifts with a single pre-order and a couple of impulse purchases. Let’s get to it….

The Gifts

  • The Fall of Robespierre by Colin Jones – an hour by hour analysis of the last 24 hours in the life of Maximilien Robespierre, architect of the Terror; a major turning point in French history. Fascinating stuff
  • Woodsmoke and Sage: The Five Senses 1485 -1603: How the Tudors Experienced the World by Amy Licence – “woodsmoke and sage, peacocks and cinnamon, falcons and linen” – an examination of the tactile world in which the Tudors lived
  • Cecily by Annie Garthwaite – a fictional take on Cecily Neville, a key figure in the Wars of the Roses, wife of the Duke of York, mother of 12 including Edward IV and Richard III, and politically very astute – looking forward to reading this
  • She Walks in Shadows, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R Stiles – a collection of Lovecraftian weird stories written by women – “they emerge from the shadows, to claim the night”
  • The Lunacy Commission by Lavie Tidhar – Adolf Hitler is a man forgotten by history, a man who never came to power, and who spends the 1930s making a living in London as a private detective; how could I not want to read that?
  • Pageant of Kings: the Nine Sovereigns at Edward VII’s Funeral by Julia P Gelardi – “Of all the impressive sights that they beheld, the gun-carriage carrying the late King’s body had made a profound impression. But so, too, did the unprecedented sight of nine reigning monarchs astride on their horses. For here gathered the monarchs of England, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Bulgaria, and Denmark to pay homage to King Edward VII. Follow these monarchs’ lives whose stories are filled with drama, pathos, tragedy, and heroism.”

The Rest

  • The Grand Tour by Agatha Christie – a century ago Agatha Christies toured the British Empire and this book collects the letters and photographs she made on that trip – a glimpse into a past long gone (and a good thing to)
  • Trio by Aram Saroyan – I can’t remember now what led me into a Wikipedia rabbit hole but where I ended up was Saroyan’s book about the close and long-term friendship between his mother Carol Matthau, Gloria Vanderbilt and Oona Chaplin – the roll call of husbands alone ,are this a must read for me
  • Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt – “Travel journalist and mountaineer Nick Grevers awakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. Nick’s own injuries are as extensive as they are horrifying. His face wrapped in bandages and unable to speak, Nick claims amnesia—but he remembers everything.”

Lots of history, a chunk of horror – not bad at all 🙂

Saturday Night at the Movies #1

At the end of the year the Book God and I reinstated Saturday Night is Movie Night chez Bride, and there are many good movies that for various reasons I haven’t talked about here as yet, but that’s all going to change with what I hope will become a regular monthly movie update.

DUNE Part 1 – 2021 * 2h 35m * Denis Villeneuve

Beyond fear, destiny awaits

I actually quite enjoyed the David Lynch version of Dune despite its occasional silliness and terrible ending, but I was very excited when I heard that Denis Villeneuve was going to direct a new versions, and I wasn’t disappointed. Such a great cast, stunning visuals and a fairly faithful representation of the story made this a real pleasure to watch. If you like beautiful, intelligent science fiction then this is for you, but let me warn you, its a long one…..


ETERNALS – 2021 * 2h 36m *Chloe Zhao

In the beginning…

… were the Eternals, immortal beings planted on Earth for reasons we don’t find out for ages, influencing humans, being celebrated in myth and legend and coming together after many years apart because the bad guys turn up and cause havoc. They are a nicely diverse bunch with different powers who have fractured as a group over time but are determined to save humanity from the nasties. Doesn’t turn out to be quite that simple. Cue two and a half hours of enjoyable shenanigans I didn’t know much about this aspect of the MCU before going in but I managed to keep up and it was certainly a spectacular film, though perhaps a tad too long. I’m, sure I’ll watch it again, especially given that one of the Eternals is very, very Scottish, which I appreciate. And my girl crush on Angelina Jolie remains intact.


THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE – 2004 * 2h 9m * Jonathan Demme

Everything is under control

Towards the end of last year I finally got around to watching the 1962 version of The Manchurian Candidate, based on Richard Condon’s novel and starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey & Angela Lansbury. I enjoyed it, although it was very much of its time. I decided that I would like to watch the remake where Sinatra becomes Denzel Washington, Harvey is Live Schreiber & Meryl Streep is the new Angela Lansbury, and the setting is moved from the Cold War to the aftermath of the first Gulf War, but the story is still the same – a group of soldiers is kidnapped and brainwashed to nefarious ends. Having watched them both I think I favour the 2004 version; there’s a feeling of dread and paranoia that’s missing from the original. Well worth a watch.

January wrap-up

It’s time for the first monthly wrap-up of 2022, and this post coincidentally (not really) falls on my actual birthday. I am 60 today; how did that happen so quickly? Anyhow, there will be a small book haul to celebrate in a separate post, but this is all about the month just ending, so here we go….

Books read = 4

Pages read = 1076

Goodreads progress = 6% of 65 book target (1 behind schedule)

Actually quite pleased with that; I don’t pay much attention to where I am on the schedule but it’s nice to know I suppose

I didn’t write reviews of the four books I read so here are the details and a few thoughts:

  • A Killer by Design by Ann Wolbert Burgess – a memoir of her career including the many years she collaborated with the FBI BAU – she is the basis for Anna Torv’s character in Mindhunter. I hadn’t originally intended to buy this but I heard her talking on The Murder Squad podcast and she sounded fascinating, so I gave in and actually devoured the book in a couple of sittings. A worthwhile addition to any true crime library
  • Love, Bombs & Molesters by Kenneth V. Lanning – the author is one of Ann Burgess’s colleagues in the BAU, specialising in the sexual exploitation of children; I didn’t warm to him as a person as much, but his thoughts on the “Satanic Panic” about which he became increasingly sceptical, and the impact of his Catholic faith on his work stood out to me as highlights
  • Beneath a Pale Sky by Philip Fracassi – a really interesting collection of horror stories; will definitely be reading more from this author
  • Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by GS Denning – if you have been here for a while you will know that I love all things Sherlockian and this was huge fun; I giggled a lot and have already bought the rest of the series.

February’s pre-orders:

I’m trying to be more intentional about my pre-orders, making sure that I’m sticking to those books I really feel that I absolutely must have with everything else going on my wishlist. So I am limiting myself to:

and an actual physical book, Holy Terror by Cherie Priest. Looking forward to receiving all of these.

I hope you are all doing well, staying safe and have a great reading February!

The Bride’s Blogiversary

Here we are at yet another anniversary for this blog in all of its incarnations. The Bride is now 14 in blog years.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

I was 14 in 1976 (if you’re paying attention you may be aware that a significant birthday is on the horizon)

What do we know about 1976?

  • some of my favourite acting talent was born in 1976 – Ryan Reynolds, Cillian Murphy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keeley Hawes & Kelly McDonald;
  • it was a leap year;
  • the summer Olympics were held in Montreal, and fellow Scot David Wilkie won a gold medal in the swimming pool;
  • Agatha Christie died (I remember this vividly);
  • the UK won the Eurovision Song Contest with the “classic” Save Your Kisses for Me;
  • All The President’s Men & Carrie were released; and most importantly
  • Mamma Mia was No. 1 on my birthday. Here I go again….

I may have a small sherry to celebrate later!

What’s coming up in January 2022

Feels very strange to be typing that number….

But here we are 😀

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

I have set a Goodreads goal for the year, and will be aiming to hit 65 books. In the past two years I have managed to reach 66 but didn’t want to stretch too much beyond that. I feel pretty good about the target I’ve set but we’ll see what happens when I hit the inevitable slump 🙂

This is also the year (and in fact the month) when I will turn 60, about which I am surprisingly excited. Again, we’ll see what happens when the day actually arrives but I feel pretty secure about my feelings.

I am trying a new (actual) schedule for my blog posts, aiming for two per week likely to be on Wednesdays (like this one) and Sundays, with additional posts inserted if there’s something I want to talk about separately. I have been thinking seriously about whether I wanted to continue with this blog, but to be honest why the hell not, so let’s keep going.

January pre-orders:

That’s it for the first month of the year. Hope you are all well and staying safe and I’ll see you in my next post!